Darwinists and Other Cosmic Egomaniacs (6.14.09)
And we may know with absolute certainty because the realm of the empirical ego -- which can more or less be explained on Darwinian grounds -- shades off to the transcendent interiority of the Self or Atman, of which it turns out that the ego is actually a sort of "emanation" or satellite.
In other words, the gap between ego and Self is another one of them ontological discontinuities that is infinite if viewed "from the bottom up." But if regarded "from the top down," then we see that the ego is a necessary feature of the cosmo-psychic economy. Just like maya herself, it "must be" if there is to be existence. In fact, you might say that the ego is a mirror of maya, or of the relative plane, just as the Self is the mirror of the Absolute.
In order to comprehend this more holistic cosmic economy, we must again abandon the mental fiction of logical atomism that forms the ego's point of view. In other words, if you are a materialist, it is simply because you are operating out of the material ego, so there is no surprise there. It's analogous to someone putting on red sunglasses and insisting that everything looks red. Of course it looks red. Of course our troll is an atheist. That is not a mystery but a banality, a logical necessity, just as someone with an insufficiently developed ego lives in a magical or malevolent world as a result of being swamped by the unconscious.
Now, our pardigmatic science, physics, proposes a model of reality which is literally impossible to picture in one's mind. Nor will we ever be able to picture it, for it is a not a human reality in the strict sense of the term. Not to get sidetracked, but I do need to emphasize that one of the reasons I am religious is because religion preserves the most intense forms of humanism, which is to say, of human knowledge about the human state, and its privileges and responsibilities.
To cite just one obvious example, the other day, one of the mutual readers of LGF and One Cosmos was also commenting on the increasing lurch into anti-intellectualism of the former, noting that his rabbi -- an eminent scholar -- had spent his entire life studying the Torah, and yet, had not even scratched its surface. I am sure that even someone as exalted as, say, Adin Stinsaltz, would echo the same sentiment.
But it takes no learning -- let alone, wisdom -- for a jackbooted mob of metaphysical yahoos to, as the reader put it, "pontificate with grand self-assuredness that they know fully what is meant in all the intricacies and layers of Torah and the rest of us believers are a bunch of deluded dummies. There's nothing to be said to such people." Indeed, like gleeful, deicidal three year-olds, they can tear down in the space of five minutes what it took 2500 years of spiritual genius to build.
But from whence comes the certainty on matters that far transcend their childlike, earthbound intellects? It comes from the transcendent absolute, only dissipated and "frozen" within the confines of the -- you guessed it -- quasi-animal ego.
For when someone asks if you "believe in Darwinism," let's be honest. They aren't asking if you believe in whatever the theory has been demonstrated to prove -- like a bacterium that learns a new trick. After all, Kos readers learn new tricks all the time. Rather, they are asking if you believe that it provides an all-encompassing explanation for human existence, and ultimately whether or not you are a theist. And to the extent that God exists, then Darwinism quite obviously cannot embody any kind of "total explanation." Not even close.
Again, even on logical grounds this is strictly forbidden, a la Gödel. Some people try to get around Gödel by artifically restricting the implications of his theorems, but they are not to be taken seriously. For no matter how much we learn about the human genome, our understanding will be either consistent or complete, but not both.
Along these lines, Rebecca Goldstein -- author of the excellent Incompleteness -- notes that "Gödel was a mathematical realist, a Platonist. He believed that what makes mathematics true is that it's descriptive -- not of empirical reality, of course, but of an abstract reality. Mathematical intuition is something analogous to a kind of sense perception. In his essay 'What Is Cantor's Continuum Hypothesis?', Gödel wrote that we're not seeing things that just happen to be true, we're seeing things that must be true. The world of abstract entities is a necessary world -- that's why we can deduce our descriptions of it through pure reason."
Again: things are not true because they are logical, but logical because they are true; our ability to use logic and math to describe the world is because they derive from something higher and eternal (more on which below).
Another passage from this interview is worth citing at length: Gödel's ambition was "to produce a mathematical result that would have meta-mathematical implications, or at least suggestions, about the nature of mathematics itself. It's as if a painter produces a picture that has something to say about the nature of beauty, perhaps even something to say about why beauty moves us. Mathematics forcefully raises meta-questions, since it is a priori, immune from empirical revision, necessary. How can we have knowledge of this sort? What's it about? The truths we learn about the spatio-temporal realm are all ultimately empirical; and they're contingent. They're not immune to empirical revision.... Mathematicians are cheap; they are thus cost-effective for universities -- which is another way of saying that mathematics is a priori.
"But this aprioricity and necessity present problems. What can necessary, a priori truths be about? Maybe they're about nothing at all, other than the formal systems we construct, mere consequences of manipulating symbols according to rules, as in chess. Platonism rejects this answer. It claims that mathematics is descriptive of abstract entities, of numbers and sets, that exist separately from our attempt to understand them through our mathematical systems. Platonism has always had a great appeal for mathematicians, because it grounds their sense that they're discovering rather than inventing truths."
Now, there is a way "beyond" the limitations of Gödel, but it obviously cannot reside in any form of empiricism, rationalism, materialism, reductionism, or Darwinism. In other words, we cannot escape Gödel "from below." But we can most certainly escape him "from above." Indeed, the very existence of certain mathematical truths proves that this is possible: again, the certainty of math cannot be derived from itself but from the certainty of the Platonic realm of which it is a "descent," so to speak. This is something which the neo-Platonists -- one thinks in particular of the immortal Plotinus -- emphasized.
Again, to repeat our thesis: How do we know with absolute certainty that reductionistic Darwinism cannot account for man? Because we may know with absolute certainty.
Now, one might say that the whole basis of the spiritual life involves "ascending" to the level of those Platonic truths that "cannot not be." This is again what religion is "all about." Some people understand this -- in fact, the vast majority of people -- whereas others -- we call them materialists, reductionists, Darwinists, The Tenured, Lizards, etc. -- are, for whatever tangled developmental or genetic reason, incapable of seeing it. On this they insist, a la our recent Wog. For them, blindness is just another variety of vision.
Goldstein makes an excellent point above, with the analogy of the painter who attempts "to produce a picture that has something to say about the nature of beauty," or "perhaps even something to say about why beauty moves us." This, don't you know, is precisely what I endeavor to do with words. And I know that I sometimes succeed at this, because every once in awhile we get a reader, such as Ray, who cannot see the painting. I know it's fun for you guys to knock him around, but the problem is, he doesn't know he's being knocked around, so where's the bloody pleasure in that?
This is why even Dupree doesn't participate (it's also because his step-brother, LaFayette, is visiting, but that's another story). I encourage you to chuckle at our trolls, not argue. Or at least make your points with lighthearted humor and wit (or haiku). This is the eternal Raccoon way. I don't want to say that this is a dispensation from the Thrice-Cleared Operating Thetan and Infallible One, but it's getting close.
The point is, Dupree only enjoys the clean kill, the arrow straight through the heart. I know that to some he appears mean-spirited or perhaps even "sadistic," but I can assure you that this is not the case (perhaps I should say that he is not only sadistic). Because what he wishes to kill is precisely that which is already half-dead, which is to say, the empirical ego. He wants you to rise on the stepping stones of your dead selves, to paraphrase someone. He wants to give you the wound that cannot be healed on its own level, so that you can reach up for the real medicine. He wants you to to taste the Supra-ontological essence with your own tongue. Mmm, yummy!
Here's a dense lila One Cosmos birthdei hologram addressed to your private particle. See if you can open its presence:
Ananda chance to sat down at the last resort and enjoy a little moksha (or maybe some bhakti) at somarise. Sorry, menyou have only one taste. Whoops, where'd ego?
There is only one thing that is truly proportioned to man's intellect, and that is the transcendent Absolute of which we are mirrors, links, and even deputies. Any philosophy short of this will inevitably produce a human body with no head. And folks, if you don't see a lot of headless people walking around our society, you might want to start by looking to see if your own head is properly attached and up in the clouds.
The only freedom that is proportioned to our nature is that which opens the gates towards the eternal Freedom we bear in the depths of our being, and not to that which betrays man's weakness -- especially collective man's -- to the powers of dissolution and spiritual suicide. --F. Schuon