Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Truth About the Truth About Truth (5.12.10)

One problem with the postmodern world is that even if people do believe that truth exists, they often have a very limited conception of what it entails -- basically empirical or rational truth. This, despite the fact that logical positivism and scientism are totally discredited philosophies. You would be a terribly crippled human crapling if you were to try to live your life as if there were a perfect correspondence between the True and the merely empirically true.

As there are diverse forms of beauty and goodness, there are diverse forms of truth. That itself is a true statement, but what sort of truth? Another way of asking it is, "what is the truth about Truth?" There is empirical truth, rational truth, artistic truth, personal truth, revealed truth, even a person who claimed to be Truth. Given these diverse expressions, are we really dealing with the same thing? Or is it some kind of failure of language that causes us to confuse these categories?

Obviously, there must be some relationship between truth and intelligence. As we have noted before, if intelligence does not know truth, then it is not very intelligent. And yet, we know full well that there is generally a disconnect between human intelligence and truth. Most intellectuals not only believe things that are untrue, but things that could not possibly be true.

Naturally, the intellect must be subordinate to truth. Thus, intelligence should always engender a spirit of humility. But due to a number of character flaws -- mostly pride -- the intellectual may come to value his own intellect more than the truth that may be known through it.

This is again why we should value good character over intelligence, since good character implies a kind of intelligence that is faithful to the transcendent object of human existence, whereas intelligence alone assures no such concordance. The former implies "cardiac comprehension," or intellection, which transcends mere mental knowing. And as we mentioned yesterday, a truly intelligent person is a humble person, since he does not fundamentally seek recognition but transcendence: "he is interested in surpassing himself; hence in pleasing God more than men" (Schuon).

Schuon summarizes what has gone wrong with the "unintelligently intelligent" person, whereby "the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error":

"The paradoxical phenomenon of even a 'brilliant' intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively 'horizontal,' hence lacking all awareness of 'vertical' relationships; however, the definition 'intelligence' still applies, because there is still a discernment between something essential and something secondary, or between a cause and an effect." But the systematic, even intentional, exclusion of the vertical -- and we see this all the time, especially on the left -- "creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill."


And this is why irreligious people tend to be so extraordinarily irrational in their beliefs. It is not that religious people cannot be irrational; that would be a completely foolish thing to say. But that is the fault of the individual believer. Ultimately it is the fault of fallen humanity as such. A proper Christian is never surprised when he encounters someone who believes nonsense -- whether religious or irreligious, it doesn't matter. Indeed, he expects it, since his religiosity both predicts and accounts for it. But secular extremists such as Dennett, Harris and Hitchens are surprised by irrationality -- as if human beings are not fallen and not prone to inhabit illusions (secular extremism being one of these pernicious illusions).

Because to be a secular extremist is to be a fully horizontal man. It is the ultimate cosmic inversion, for it is to elevate our fallen state to the highest virtue. It is "to love only terrestrial life, to the detriment of the ascending and celestial path," to be "exteriorized," and to "love only outer things, to the detriment of moral and spiritual values." Ultimately it is "to sin against transcendence, thus it is to forget God and consequently the meaning of life; and outwardness is to sin against immanence, thus to forget our immortal soul and consequently its vocation." And finally, it must be insisted that this willful horizontality engenders a kind of uniquely "human animality" that all persons with activated cOOnvision can see "is situated beneath animality as such, for animals innocently follow their immanent law and thereby enjoy a certain natural and indirect contemplation of the Divine Prototype; whereas there is decadence, corruption and subversion when man voluntarily reduces himself to his animality" (Schuon).

(Which is undoubtedly why PETA people value - and perhaps should value, in an ironic way -- animals more than themselves; but they shouldn't value animals more than normal people.)

Schuon points out that there are four functions of intelligence: objectivity, subjectivity, activity, and passivity. In the human mind, these correspond to reason, intuition, imagination, and memory, respectively. To be “objective” -- as in everyday science -- means that our knowledge "is inspired by data which are exterior to it." This is referred to as the "correspondence" theory of truth, as if the essence of knowledge is simply a mirroring of the external world. But to remain mired on this concrete level of reality is to codify stupidity in the manner of the devout atheists referenced above. It is to elevate a small portion of truth and intelligence to the totality.

But there is also subjective intelligence, which "operates through existential analogy," as in, say, scripture ("as above, so below"). Scripture is only "effective," so to speak, because it is not ultimately about "the world" but about us. You might say that it is the truth about humans, including the world humans inevitably create in the absence of this saving knowledge. The capacity to know this kind of truth is not fundamentally different than our ability, say, to know the subjectivity of another. For example, as a psychologist, my primary data is never merely rational, empirical, or objective. Rather, it is direct and intuitive, mind-to-mind. Only here do we begin to enter the specifically human world.

For example, an autistic person -- the real kind, not the newer variants that may or may not be related to true autism -- is specifically barred access to this human world. A severely autistic person is a true materialist, in that he lives in a bizarre sea of objects from which he cannot escape "upward" or "inward," so to speak. This transition was captured vividly, if apocryphally, in the film The Miracle Worker, when Helen first makes the connection between water and wetness. Suddenly she gains access to a whole new world: the human world. (And for you film buffs out there, Helen's infant sister is played by none other than Mrs. G. A coincidence? Yes.)

But something equally dramatic happens -- does it not? -- when we suddenly gain access to the "divine world" through our comprehension of revelation. As I mentioned in a comment yesterday, "there is definitely a 'phase transition' in spirtitual growth, where one rather suddenly goes from knowledge to understanding (i.e., the 'second birth'). To realize that this understanding will continue to deepen and grow is the thrill of a lifetime."


Who could say it isn't so!

As water leads to wetness, the experience of the divine (or the sacred, the holy, the transcendentally beautiful) leads to Divinity. All are passages out, up, and in, however you wish to conceptualize it. But the exact word is not of fundamental importance. Rather, the experience is. Let your words be anchored in the ground of Real experience, or of O-->(k).

Now, in its active mode, intelligence "relives, recreates or combines the possibilities which are known to it, and this is the imagination." Conversely, in its passive mode, the intelligence "registers and preserves the data which present themselves to it." Thus at once we see the subtle balance of, on the one hand, fixed dogma and orthodoxy, and on the other, our active engagement of it with our higher imagination.

I believe you will find that all of the greatest true theologians are great precisely because they respect and maintain this subtle balance. To default on the side of dogma creates a sterile conformity with no possibility of organic spiritual growth watered by the grace of personal understanding; while to default in the other direction places one in the solipsistic and narcissistic realm of the new age fantasists such as Deepak and Co. The latter approach may "feel" like movement, but it is vertically sterile -- again something that any awakened person can discern within reading just a sentence or two of Chopra's banal and/or frankly luciferic writings* (or Tony Robbins and the rest of the New Age Traveling Salvation Show).

Incidentally, only a troll could possibly think that the last sort of statement is made out of bitterness, much less "envy," as opposed to joyous good cosmic humor. I am laughing at these clowns, not angry with them. So I leave you laughing. And if you don't get the joke, it's only because you don't know about jehovial wetness.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God...

Eh mon, can I get a wetness?

*No, I haven't actually read any of Deepak's crass and vulgar books, only the grotesque and evil things he pens on Huffingtonpost; that he is capable of such alternatively sinister or crazy thoughts proves that Truth is not operative in him and that his books can only be harmful and certainly devoid of grace. By the way, he has called me much worse -- not by name, of course, but "the crowd I run with," since he is a paranoid, anti-American, barking moonbat with a terminal case of BDS. A recent sample:

"There is no viable peace movement presently, thanks to a thirty-year rise of military-industrial interests. America sells more arms around the world than any other country. We are in the forefront of inventing new means of mechanized death, including futuristic robot armies. We betray tenuous alliances, like the one with Russia, by proposing new missile defense systems that directly threaten them."

For Deepak, America, not radical Islam, is at the forefront of death and destruction. We even threaten Russia! (As if we didn't spend 50 years and billions of dollars liberating them.)

He's also a crude anti-Semite of the Jimmy Carter variety; thus, Israel's recent defensive war against Muslim barbarians "was an exercise in pure arrogance, a devastating assault on a defenseless neighbor, with the pretext being the capture [not kidnapping!] of two Israeli soldiers."

And he is not displeased that we are struggling in Iraq, because "both of these wars have deflated Israel and the U.S., and there is little doubt that the future will hold much less aggression, particularly of the unilateral kind, from either country."

Like the rest of the left, he actually wants America and Israel to lose. As I said, evil. A Rosie by any other name would smell as foul.

Can you even imagine the bottomless ingratitude of this windy Hindi?


Blogger Susannah said...


"Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost."

Taste & see. :)

5/26/2007 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


You write:

Naturally, the intellect must be subordinate to truth...

This really resonates for me. I have very strong doubts about the validity of my own efforts toward any kind of spirituality. I think I tend to be among those whom Jesus rebuked: "O ye of little faith!"

Because I am myself an intellectual, or perhaps more accurately a "pseudo-intellectual," I am always tempted to rely most on purely rational thinking, as opposed to the more direct apprehension of truth that I think you are getting at.

Sometimes when I catch myself doing this, I make a conscious effort to subordinate my intellect, such as it is, to -- at the very least -- a desire to get at the truth, the higher truth. This effort is a kind of prayer, I guess.

But to be truthful, for the most part I fail in these efforts.

Jamie Irons

5/26/2007 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, one always fails. Only grace succeeds.

5/26/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous babbling brook said...

Well, you disposed of Chopra decisively. I have read one of his books and I find his basic operating philosophy to be about the same as yours (believe it or not) but his politics veer off in a very different direction. Odd how two minds can agree on one thing and diverge so massively on the next.

In the case of Tolle I feel his basic operationg philosophy is far different from yours, and yet his book, The Power of Now, is undeniably a potent spiritual tool. By that I mean that if the reader sincerely tries on some of the recommended attitude adjustments, positive change will occur.

Tolle has but a single valid point but he presses it forward very effectively. If you don't try to make a whole system out of his work, you can gain much.

The same can be said for Byron Katie's work. These two run in the "no-time" category. You can't think like them all of the time, but if you do practice some part time "nowing" you'll get benefits.

One Cosmos provides its own flavor of evanescence that works through meditating on the thoughts the reader encounters within.

One might say that One Cosmos works by adding, and The Power of Now works by subtracting. Both bring the reader closer to 0.

5/26/2007 09:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Bob: "*No, I haven't actually read any of Deepak's crass and vulgar books, only the grotesque and evil things he pens on Huffingtonpost; that he is capable of such alternatively sinister or crazy thoughts proves that Truth is not operative in him and that his books can only be harmful and certainly devoid of grace."

This reminds me of something the Truth-man said about the effect of Truth in the world...
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." (Luke 12:49-53)

The vertical battle is reflected in the horizontal and I'm on Bob's side division - ie.continual search for and abiding in "Truth" rather than "truth".

Amazing coincidence with Mrs. G! Does she still get royalties ;-)

5/26/2007 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No royalties, just a flat fee. She thinks it was actually a couple hundred dollars. Plus she still has the original Social Security card she had to get in 1961.

5/26/2007 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

By the way, she's still as big as ever. The movies have just gotten smaller.

5/26/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

I became interested in Deepak because he was an endrocrinologist, and my wife had diabetes. His mixture of Vedic references, asssociation (in those days) with Maharishi Mahesh yogi, and a familiarity with principles of quantum physics, added extra spice to his theories about human health. All very interesting, as far as it went.

As far as I could determine, like most New Age stuff, it didn't go very far. Very long on fine words; very short on specifics. As Bob wrote, this "...may "feel" like movement, but is vertically sterile...."

But concerned about "the crowd" Bob runs with? Ha! My first truly negative thought about Deepockets came as I listened to a description of a white tie dinner for (then) President Clinton, which had in attendance all the usual suspects on the Left. Mingling and schmoozing amongst them was Mr. Chopra! By virtue of the principle called "Birds of a Feather," I knew then that he was not interested in the same category of Truth as I.

5/26/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Deepockets! How did I miss that one?!

5/26/2007 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

...there is definitely a 'phase transition' in spiritual growth, where one rather suddenly goes from knowledge to understanding (i.e., the 'second birth').

Keeping It Real
old indian trick
when upended by longpole
grip both eyes with ball

5/26/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Some plain old Cosmic American Musical Truth. Junior Brown is the world's only guit-steel player. Appropriately enough, the instrument came to him in a dream....

5/26/2007 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I had this weird dream....

5/26/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Oh yeah? Well I had a weirder dream...

5/26/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger MizzE said...

....she still has the original Social Security card she had to get in 1961....

I still have mine too. I had to get it before I could go to work in my Dad's grocery store; the year - 1956. I have it only because he kept it along with so many other things, like the essay he made me write when I was age 13 about The Etiquette of Using a Telephone. Intangible investments and dividends are still rolling in because he grounded me in a cultural authority that says there is the hard way and the easy way - easy way being Reality.

*No, I haven't actually read any of Deepak's crass and vulgar books, only the grotesque and evil things he pens on Huffingtonpost..."

I have read but one Choprasky book, that was long go and long forgotten ; apparently examples of Yahweh testing his faithful using "evil forces" are *alive* and can be found at wetless holes like HuffingtonPost.

Coons aka "the crowd I run with" may want to drop by to sip a while on Moses and Multiculturalism. Did Moses make a mistake?

5/26/2007 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

Looking for an ETG(Estimated Time of Gone). I haven't read Emily Post, strident is my middle name, will accept a challenge(even on behalf of another), I have rather large incisors, never started a thing in my life, finished quite a few and up until last Monday I had never been in the company of an individual afflicted with BDS(had WMDS too)for an extended period of time. The "starter" got us hooked up. This guy lit my radar. Everything felt all wrong, looked wrong too, including his attire. Metal spikes = death penalty. I was very close to using the, "Ya know what? I'm probably not going to finish the round. Expecting a call from the job, very important, very hush hush.", we'll take separate carts excuse. Don't own a cell or sidekick. What an effen mistake. They started off slow, feeling me out. About the 14th hole I had just about had enough and began returning the favor, ten fold. Maybe not the fear of GOD, most certainly the fear of me. Hate it when I do that. Seen plenty of them, heard plenty of them, read plenty of them. News, radio, ether. Never realized how fast they shut up before. For example, a social gathering, I'd only need to use the mirror technique - expose the false premise with a few snarky belittling remarks - POOF! They're gone. Must have been feeling a little masochistic, let them go on for three hours. "Let's agree to disagree ......" Oh, not so fast my friend. Apparently, tweaking of the nose with index finger did not agree with them. I still feel unclean. Will this pass? Time frame? Do I need prayer? ;~\

5/26/2007 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Give those coonginations a work out: Name this weird arid growth.

5/26/2007 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Reality Imitates Art Dept.:

Not out driving with the 34 million? Then you might enjoy gazing at

5/26/2007 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Those are lovely, Walt!

Was just at NASA, the Kennedy Space Center, yesterday for the grand opening of the Shuttle Launch Experience.

Words fail. Just. Awesome!

5/26/2007 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Everything Chopra thinks, writes he ripped off J. Krishnamurti.

It's not easy, but it is possible to "logically" understand Krishnamurti (without having a shred of K's actual gnosis)and then fashion that understanding into an ethic, so to speak. This is what Da Pox has done.

I should add that K, as elevated as he was, was bound by an Eastern passivity, which many think caused him to fall far short of realizing his full destiny. Chopra subscribes to the passivity sans the spiritual insight that K actually did possess.

5/26/2007 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Maybe he's just an anglophobic nazi sympathizer. There was quite a bit of that in India during WWII and thereafter. A true Aryan!

5/26/2007 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Bit o that in Ireland as well.

5/26/2007 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Aside to Jamie Irons -

In your post, you said "I think I tend to be among those whom Jesus rebuked: "O ye of little faith!"

Well, I suffer from a bit o' that dis-ease myself, at times. I found some help by considering a similar phrase that Jesus used, "O faithless and perverse generation!"

Apparently the word 'perverse' means (in Greek) "turning in many directions." So to be lacking in the quality of faith (faith-less) is linked to having no One direction to follow. For myself, this corresponded to the helter-skelter pace of modern life, the constantly changing moods I secrete, and the generally reactive and scattered condition of my personality. From seeing this, I could get an idea of what needs to be done, to re-collect and re-member myself.

Perhaps in the spirit of, becoming "a someone" that Grace can stick on-to?

Now please, I mention this to you only anecdotally; these sorts of issues are different for everyone. Little hints that people drop on this blog are sometimes useful.

(Further aside - if your profile is current, then we were neighbors until recently.)

5/26/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

The quotations out of the left field reminds me to point out the possibly obvious: That Americans who hate America are at least somewhat MORE ethnocentric than those who love it.

If you look at it objectively (which would be hard for those of you who live there), the USA has been a major force for good in a number of ways. It may not be the best thing since Pentecost, but it is definitely up there as a contender, if you even briefly try to imagine a history without it.

In order to hate America without having a strong love-bond with a rival nation, you need to have a strong hate-bond to it. You may say that these American anti-Americans are obsessed with their country. The irony is that they think they are somehow objective by the mere benefit of disagreeing with the equally unreflected nationalists in the mirror.

5/26/2007 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

Wanted to post this today, yesterday, you know ........ Hit the Web Log Link, scroll down to In Praise of Parental Guidance. I've never heard of this His Dark Materials shi ........ uh, stuff. Initially I thought Sean was having a joke. Very funny, very good guy. Possessing that intellect Dr. Godwin reminds me I do not have. Don't hold the fact that he operates Dr. Know It All's Web Log against him. Sean is like minded with a n umber of folks around here, relative to the array of mental illnesses I have succumbed to. HA! A movie from that book? Rather distressing. :~\?

5/26/2007 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Today's exploration and dissection of "the Truth about Truth," was just like fine wine, I thought. The thread you followed through yesterday's and today's post, and even the comments, just shined a Bright Light in-to the whole subject!

I was trying to figure out how people who, presumably in "sincere fashion," acquire some level of awareness, self-knowledge, and discernment, still manage to "fall" and become agents of what seems to be pure horizontality? I mean, I know the answer, but was looking for the words to express it. You gave me example after example, from multiple angles!

Also, the description from Schuon re the four functions of intelligence, with your follow-up explanations, are a really useful "model" to work with.

(I know: "Ho-hum. Just another day in the Coonden....")

Thanks, so much.

5/26/2007 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

I for one welcome our new futuristic robot army overlords...

5/26/2007 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

Welcome indeed! ;~)

wo veri: ftnrub. ft n rub, that's those Pilates
shoes, no?

5/26/2007 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Darryl said...

"I believe you will find that all of the greatest true theologians are great precisely because they respect and maintain this subtle balance. To default on the side of dogma creates a sterile conformity with no possibility of organic spiritual growth watered by the grace of personal understanding; while to default in the other direction places one in the solipsistic and narcissistic realm of the new age fantasists such as Deepak and Co. The latter approach may "feel" like movement, but it is vertically sterile -- "

I really like this discription of the need for integration, balance of intelligences. Granted people's natures are unique, weighted often more with one element than the other, but faith in the goodness of God will tell you that there is always a method of balance for each individual, probably quite unique to each individual, but nevertheless achieving something like the above quote. Those who have expressed lacking in a particular aspect may not be able to 'copy' the balance described, but knowing the goodness of God, may ask sincerely and be rewarded with the needed balance. And, from the inside out they will recognize it as so, and that it will possess lements as the above quote describes, allbeit unique processes and interelations to each individual.

5/26/2007 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Smoov said "I for one welcome our new futuristic robot army overlords".

Welcome them? If they'll clean out the garage and stain the deck, I'll even give them a lube job & battery recharge.

5/26/2007 11:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

So tired & sore... & more tomorrow - no slack for the weary.

Thanks to those military folks serving & served, for making it possible for a double-clicker like me to act as if I've got it rough.

God bless.

5/26/2007 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous klingon warbird said...

Chopra writes:

"America sells more arms around the world than any other country. We are in the forefront of inventing new means of mechanized death, including futuristic robot armies. We betray tenuous alliances, like the one with Russia, by proposing new missile defense systems that directly threaten them."

yeah, and is there anything wrong with all that? I think not.

5/26/2007 11:26:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Dingleberry quotes Chopra, and asks, " there anything wrong with all that?"

Well, yeah.
1) That it follows the sentiment Van expressed about the military, and
2) that "in the crowd Deepak runs with" it's what passes for thinking.

5/27/2007 04:00:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

One other thing about Chopra, and all others of that fake brotherhood of which he is such a sterling example - not once in all his new agey smorgasbord of nostrums does he ever speak of the trials, the challenges, the dark night that a genuine spiritual pilgrim must encounter. It's only "do this, do that, presto, you're liberated!"

This is serious garbage. This is how you can easily smoke out the fakes. These guys can throw in nifty sounding wisdom-bits into the mix, but bottom line, it's a quick fix they're selling, shallow, empty.

I'll give some credit (very little) to Rick Warren for at least alluding to the struggle of the dark night experience, but his is for the most part an omission that is very telling.

5/27/2007 04:08:00 AM  
Blogger Sal said...

I thought Klingon Warbird was disagreeing with Chopra.
But I could be wrong.

Very nicely put, Darryl.
I know I myself tend to come down more on the dogma side. But, more because they were useful structure within which a multittude of possibilities could play out - one for each individual, say. And because they were True, as far as our limited perceptions could grasp.

5/27/2007 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Sal -

If I misunderstood, then I apologize for that.

5/27/2007 07:32:00 AM  

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