Intelligence and How it Gets That Way (5.14.10)
This morning, for example, Future Leader and Coondog woke up at the same time at 5:30, before I'd even finished my coffee. Plus, F.L. has some kind virus -- possibly Hoof and Mouth disease, believe it or not -- so I was trying to feed both of them at the same time while simultaneously typing, changing a diaper, and shooting some Advil down the boy's hatch. I feel like a Tongan man, who is so manly he's like the greatest woman alive without being the least bit feminine.
By the way, if I don't respond to email right away, now you know why. And if the posts are shorter -- which will please many of you anyway -- that's the reason. And if they are more shallow, ungrammatical, superficial, silly, or repetitive -- ditto. And if Dupree occasionally takes the wheel of the Cosmic Bus and gets off one of his gratuitously inflammatory "piece o' my mind" posts, well, he's just trying to be helpful. Which is to say, hurtful. But in a good way.
Anyhoo, before the interruptions, I was silently brooding before the blank screen and thinking to myself: before we can determine who's intelligent, we must first define what intelligence is and what it is for. In fact, even the nature of this question provides a hint, for it presupposes the ability of intelligence to "stand outside" or "above" intelligence and view it objectively. Thus, the implication is that intelligence as such implies both verticality and objectivity.
I suppose the Darwinian view would maintain -- would have to maintain, on pain of being fatally inconsistent... which it is, but let's move on -- that the purpose of intelligence is to get food and chicks. Therefore, using one's intelligence for any other purpose would have to be considered very stupid. As such, human beings would have to be considered the least intelligent of all species, since they waste so much mental energy on stupid and pointless things such as music, poetry, painting, and spirituality.
How could natural selection have created such a stupid animal that engages in so many pointless and fanciful activities? It makes no sense. For example, if we were to rate presidential greatness on the Darwinian scale, Clinton would win in a landslide, for no one surpasses him in cashing in the presidency for so much, er, Coon-tang, as Dupree calls it.
Please do not think that I am being ironic or farfetched. In the course of writing the Coonifesto, I went through any number of books by various sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists who twist themselves into putzels trying to reduce every aspect of the human mind to the plane of reproductive phatness.
A case in point is The Mating Mind, by Geoffrey Miller, who argued that most every human attribute can be explained by sexual selection. I see on the amazon page that even the hopeless boneheads at Publisher's Weekly can recognize this as a circular argument, even if they lack the sophistication to realize that all materialistic explanations of intelligence are circular.
Being that the dustjacket indicates that Miller is married, I guess I don't get the point of his book. I see that he dedicated it to "Rosalind." I'm guessing that flowers and dark chocolate would have been just as effective in achieving his reproductive mission. At any rate, if Miller's thesis is correct, then he wrote his book not because of any devotion to Truth, but to make Rosalind his intern, as our greatest president might say. To the extent that he didn't, then the book fails by its own laughty standard. We'll have to ask Rosalind.
But if the Darwinians are correct about intelligence, then perhaps instead of granting scholars tenure, we should just give them access to lots of attractive young coeds. Oh, wait a minute....
Suddenly the intellectual vacuity of academia makes sense.
Perhaps some folks have difficulty seeing God because God is doing the looking. To a certain extent this is unavoidably true, for only a "naturally supernatural" intelligence can know of God, and the intellect is a divine spark that cannot be accounted for on any purely naturalistic basis. Schuon points out that we have an "uncreated intellect" at the center of our being, which may be thought of as an extension, or prolongation, of the "divine light."
However, we also have a "created intellect," which is a "reflection of this Light at the center of Existence." The two are essentially One but nevertheless distinct, and in fact, this distinction must be maintained if we are to understand these two very different aspects of the intellect. As Schuon puts it, "when we speak of the Heart-Intellect, we mean the universal faculty which has the human heart for its symbolical seat, but which, while being ‘crystallised’ according to different planes of reflection, is none the less ‘divine’ in its single essence."
You might say that the lower intellect -- thrust as it is to the further reaches, or "periphery" of the cosmic center -- allows us to comprehend change, while the higher intellect abides closer to the immutable, which it in turn is able to contemplate or "reflect upon" -- for all intelligence must, in the final analysis, be a sort of reflection of whatever reality it is trying to understand. "Perfect reflection" would represent "perfect understanding" -- which is to say, it would embody totality and objectivity. Which is why the spiritual life may be reduced to "cleaning mirrors."
This is consistent with the Kabbalistic view, which maintains, according to Adin Steinsaltz, that our interior Coon Central should not be thought of as a kind of "point" in space time. Rather, it is "a continuous line of spiritual being, stretching from the general source of all the souls to beyond the specific body of a particular person.... and because the soul is not a single point in space, it should be viewed not as a single existence having one quality or character, but as many existences, on a variety of spiritual levels..."
It is only on this higher level that human beings are all connected. While secularists deny this higher reality, they nevertheless intuit it on some level (as all humans must), which is the actual source and motive of their collectivist schemes. Because of a sort of mistranslation, they attempt to impose in the horizontal what they deny in the vertical. In this regard, they are the mirror image of the Islama-bomba-ding-dongs, who invent a God to grant them in the vertical what they deny themselves in the horizontal -- mainly a lot of sex. Oddly enough, they end up worshiping the same Darwinian god as the sociobiologists -- the only difference being that, in the case of the tenured leftist, his 72 coeds are not likely to be virgins.
And as for these different levels of reality, we must again avoid thinking of them in material terms -- with the exception of the actual physical world. However, even then, the physical world is the "bottom floor" on the vertical scale (although there is also a subterranean basement and parking structure), which corresponds with the bottom floor of that aspect of the intellect that mirrors it (for each level of reality is mirrored by an aspect of the intellect that understands it). In fact, the spiritual view maintains that each level of reality has in interior and exterior aspect, and that the exterior is actually a function of the interior.
As Steinsaltz puts it, "The physical world in which we live, the objectively observed universe around us, is only a part of an inconceivably vast system of worlds. Most of these worlds are spiritual in their essence.... Which does not necessarily mean that they exist somewhere else, but means rather that they exist in different dimensions of being. What is more, the various worlds interpenetrate and interact in such a way that they can be considered counterparts of one another, each reflecting or projecting itself on the one below or above it."
And as one descends in the worlds -- which is simultaneously a motion from the center to the periphery -- materiality and linear causation become increasingly greater. Existence becomes "heavier," or more dense, so to speak. Put another way, nothing could be more ethereal than the mathematical equations that preside over change and continuity while abiding in the Cosmic Intellect -- except perhaps the mind of the mathematician who contemplates and understands them, and is witness to their inexplicable beauty. There is no great mathematician who is not a Platonist.
It is a matter of understanding the difference between Principles and their Manifestation. It is a kind of cosmic irony that scientists have rejected the heliocentric theory, since, as we have mentioned before, science begins at the mysterious center and moves to the periphery, where it ramifies into the multitude of various scientific disciplines. In short, it moves from a unity -- which it simply assumes but can never account for -- to the periphery.
Conversely, religion moves from the cosmic periphery back to the center which is its source and ground -- from the manifestion to the principle, the ultimate Principle being God, whose center we share -- but only on the "higher" or "deeper" plane alluded to above. As Schuon explains,
"Intellectual intuition comprises essentially a contemplativity which in no way enters into the rational capacity, the latter being logical rather than contemplative; it is contemplative power, receptivity in respect of the Uncreated Light, the opening of the Eye of the Heart, which distinguishes transcendent intelligence from reason. The latter perceives the general and proceeds by logical operations, whilst Intellect perceives the principial -- the metaphysical -- and proceeds by intuition. Intellection is concrete in relation to rational abstractions, and abstract in relation to the divine Concreteness."
Therefore, comprehending God is not exactly a kind of knowing; rather, it is more a kind of "seeing." Just as the Tongan doesn't read a book, but simply stares at it in order to extract the information he needs, this is how scripture and revelation must be regarded. In other words, we don't understand them with our lower rational faculty, any more than we would understand a scene of transcendent physical beauty -- say, Yosemite Valley or Jellystone Park -- with our rational faculty. Indeed, to try to do so would represent a kind of madness -- the same madness that afflicts the obligatory atheists such as Hitchens and Harris, who have simply found a way to exchange their metaphysical stupidity for valuable cash and prizes. Just like the suicide bomber.
In fact, if these overeducated beasts do succeed in their satanic mission of destroying the spiritual foundation of the West, then perhaps we will see them for that they are: cluelesside bombers. But then it will be too late, because there will be no one foolish enough to lay down their life to preserve the higher spiritual principles that allow a parasite such as Christopher Hitchens to flourish in a free society.
Dupree, that last crack was uncalled for. Why don't you make yourself useful and go change Coondog's diaper? Some things are beneath a Tongan Man.