The Truth About the Truth About Truth (5.12.10)
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?