Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Center Right and the Peripheral Left

As mankind falls from plane to plane, we can see how realist man opens the door to vital man, for as Peggy Lee sang in one of the most world weary and cynical lyrics of all time,

If that's all there is my friends,
then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is


If this is all there is, then let's have a ball. There is an age when doing so is appropriate, probably somewhat inevitable. You don’t want to prematurely disillusion a child’s innocent vitality and joyful engagement with the world. They’ll become disillusioned soon enough. If not, they will become pathetic, as they fall into the vital as a means of escape from boredem, meaninglessness, and the emptiness in the heart of one who has severed their contact with the divine planes.

Note that there is an infinite distinction between disillusionment and cynicism, for the former is to be painfully free of comforting illusions, while the latter is often to secretly long for them. I am quite sure Obama has the cynic vote locked up, demonstrating the credulousness in the heart of the cynic.

I can tell in an instant if I am dealing with a vital man, but it happens on such an intuitive level that I’ve never really put words to it. But the more you develop spiritually, the more you will recognize a gulf between yourself and this kind of person, because they will live out of a very different "center" than you do. In fact, they don't have a true center, more of a coagulated residue of the periphery. I hate to be so abstract.... How to explain....

A lot of it has to do with depth. For a two-dimensional person living in flatland, they can have no true depth. If you imagine a plane with a ball rolling over it, there will be no natural "place of rest." Rather, any resting place will be arbitrary. This is why, if you scratch the surface of these people, you will find either a kind of scattered and nonsensical world view, or else an artificially dense and hardened one that is impervious to reality (in its vertical sense). It is only a caricature of true interior coherence.

But if you add the dimension of depth, then you will see peaks and valleys in the landscape. I think of revelation as a deep valley in the mindscape, where the soul may find its genuine rest -- which is synonymous with finding our center and achieving a kind of paradoxically "dynamic serenity." You are all familiar with that feeling of when the cosmic tumblers line up and the soul snaps into place. The key, of course, is to follow that rabbit hole all the way down (or up and out), for it is at once "containing" and yet infinite and liberating.

I was just reading something along these lines in Perry's On Awakening & Remembering. When you think about it, the idea of the "center" is quite mysterious, and yet, we all implicitly recognize its existence.

In fact, human beings are the center of the creation, if considered vertically. In other words, in the scientistic view, there can be no center. But if you add the third dimension of developmental "height," then cosmic evolution results precisely in increased complexity and centration (or unity within diversity), until such a point is reached that a being emerges who can mirror the whole of creation. That would be us.

Thus, in a certain way, you could see the human being as a kind of central "point," out of which creation is projected or spreads out like a cone. We are "full" of the cosmos; which is why the cosmos is finite, while man's consciousness is infinite. The gross proceeds from the subtle. There are more potential songs, poems and paintings than there are stars in the sky.

Now that I think about it, the culture war -- of which the current political battle is just a reflection -- is really a cosmic battle over where the center is located. For leftist man there is no divine-human center. Rather, it is displaced to the collective, which creates only the false center of "opinion." But the essence of conservatism -- what we wish to conserve -- is man's transcendental center. The point of life is to live out of this center, and then pass it along to the next generation.

My generation, the boomers, declared war on this center, as they imagined that liberation would be found outside it, at the periphery. This resulted in a mass movement of radical subjectivity, or an independent herd of false centers, AKA, cosmic narcissism.

But as Perry points out, "Without the notion of the center, space and time lead to man's downfall -- space by scattering man's vital substance into a thousandfold variety of individual pursuits, and time by implacably dismantling everything he undertakes." "Liberated" from the Absolute, man is condemned to the relative, and therefore ultimate meaninglessness. The rest is just commentary, i.e., existentialism, scientism, Darwinism, deconstruction, masturbatory obamanism etc. His ascendence represents the consummation of nothing. If he makes you want to vomit, it's because he has reached the ralph nadir of American politics.

The coordinates of the center are located in the dimensions of truth, beauty, and virtue, as deployed and developed in the individual. This was the original purpose of a liberal education -- to dilate the being and allow these energies to enter and nourish the soul. But thanks the left, we have descended from the liberal uni-versity to the leftist di-versity, which encloses and deadens the soul in its petty world of grievance, radical subjectivity, and elaboration of this or that trivial detail at the expense of the whole. The entire dreary exercise is intrinsically materialistic and vitalistic, and results in the soul's gradual asphyxiation. As Perry explains,

"What is habitually concrete or real for man now is no longer the principle or the essence, but the materiality of the world which provides him with a dense or even an inverted sense of objectivity. And therefore, by a kind of vengefully compensatory reflex against the suffocation resulting in this opacity of reference points, subjectivity has parallely assumed an omnipotence whereby individual opinion becomes the de facto authority on all issues."

While the center is fluid and "alive," the periphery is associated with density and putrefaction. Note, for example, the invincible metaphysical density of our scientistic jester, which he will again demonstrate to us today. In its own weird way it is important, because it confirms everything we are discussing here.

It is as if leftist man first reduces the world to materiality, which in turn amplifies his most primitive way of knowing the world, which then ushers in his most base manner of living, i.e., Vital Man -- or a man not even worthy of his own manhood, for he refuses to ascend to it, or live up to himself. Reality recedes from him like a dream, and he dwells instead in the fantasy land of vital materialism. He will then spend his life on a fool's errand, searching for his missing parts where they can never be found. At best, he can experience fleeting pleasures, which give a pseudo-sense of the infinite while they are occurring. He never thinks of tracing them up to their source.

Incidentally, it does not matter whether a person is outwardly “religious,” because there are plenty of vital types who get involved in religion -- and not just exoteric religion. Even creepier are the vital beings who get involved in esoteric religion, for then you start to touch on the demonic -- the odious Deepak Chopra being a quintessential example.

Father Rose agrees that the fall into vitalism is at the heart of the reverse utopias of the left, which immamentize Christian hope and try to create a “vital heaven” on earth. For if higher truth is eclipsed as a result of “realism,” then leftism results from the flight from despair that such an erroneous and subhuman metaphysic entails.

Bear in mind that the spiritual impulse remains (as it must), but now it is no longer guided by traditional channels. It becomes “unhinged” so to speak. As Father Rose points out, “there is no form of Vitalism that is not naturalistic,” which again goes to the many pseudo-religions that are an expression of vitalism.

Here again, if you are remotely sensitive, you will notice this with regard to most “new age” spirituality, which is vital to the core, a cauldron of subjective fantasies, a “rootless eclecticism” of half-understood fragments, earth worship, narcissistic "realizationism," and sometimes frank satanism (even if unwitting). In reality, these pseudo-religions are “a cancer born of nihilism.” Again, Obama has their vote locked up, for the last thing a new-ager will endorse is reality.

Oops. Flat out of deep time. To be continued...

67 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Aside to Bob -
While you were watching the ninth inning last evening, I ran across a quote that reminded me of your wild run at the Godhead each morning:

"To take flight" every day! At least for a moment, which may be brief, so long as it is intense. A "spiritual exercise" every day -- alone or in the company of a person who wants to better himself.

Spiritual exercises. Leave duration behind. Try to strip yourself of your own passions, of the vanities and the rash of noise surrounding your name (which, from time to time, itches like a chronic affliction). Flee backbiting. Strip yourself of pity and of hatred. Love all free human beings. Become eternal by transcending yourself.

This effort upon yourself is necessary; this ambition is just. Many are those who become completely absorbed in militant politics and the preparation of the social revolution. Few, very few, are those who, to prepare for the revolution, are willing to make themselves worthy of it.

-- Georges Friedmann

10/02/2008 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, a daily raid on the wild godhead is indeuspensable.

10/02/2008 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having delineated the detection and general qualities of the "vital man," what is not needed now is a sketch of how to proceed with interactions with same.

Suppose, for example, that one's mate is a "non-vital man?" (And you are emphatically a vital man).


Flee? Enjoy? Tolerate? Endure? Educate?

How about one's boss or coworker?


The vital person is usually immersed in a sea of these vital beings. What is the responsibility of the spiritual subordinates towards more advanced persons?



Anybody want to address these questions?

10/02/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Mongoose said...

Bob, can you contrast vitalism
with "Great" Music and Art.

I have in mind something like the late Beethoven quartets.

This music moves me so, but I (sheepishly) wonder if I am indulging in "vitalism", egoism or idolity. This feeling disturbs my because I am so moved by the historical legacy of the West.

I hope that you get what I mean.

But just focus on the vitalism aspect, as I think I can parse the rest myself.

Thanks in advance.

10/02/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There's nothing wrong with the vital per se. Rather, it's context, or rather, the person in whom it is present. It must be transformed and made subordinate to the higher self, not repressed or ignored.

For example, I was just about to say that this is the greatest collection of James Brown I have ever heard. The man was a genius. Is it vital? It all depends. For me, it is exquisitely artful in such a way that it transcends and includes the vital. But for a vital man it will be only vital.

So, in a way, it's like alcohol. For the vital alcoholic it is poison. But for the Raccoon it is medicine of immortality.

10/02/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Note, for example, the invincible metaphysical density of our scientistic jester, which he will again demonstrate to us today.

As I said to Susannah just the other day, "just about anything can manifest itself to the person who 'dares to believe' first." Or as I noted to Thomism - "aesthetic sense driving the models despite the data." Lots of people held on to epicycles because of that.

10/02/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Because they conflated the principial and the contingent -- which is the reverse of what you do.

10/02/2008 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

"It is as if leftist man first reduces the world to materiality, which in turn amplifies his most primitive way of knowing the world, which then ushers in his most base manner of living, i.e., Vital Man -- or a man not even worthy of his own manhood, for he refuses to ascend to it, or live up to himself."

When you talk about Vital man, I always think of the Brothers Karamazov, Dmitri as an example of redemption from such a life, and his father as an example of the unredeemed.

The cynic, perhaps Ivan? Who suffered from his own illusions, reality rushing in to fill the void in his soul.

10/02/2008 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or how about Narcissus and Goldmund.

10/02/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Mongoose said...

Yes, but how does the "artful" transcend the vital?


Are we still not in the real of the Emotions? The Psyche? The Vital?

That is what confuses me.

I the case I mentioned, the experiences is transcendental. How can this be?

It makes me think that i am ot understadning you.

Mind you, I am not talking about that "cult of pleasant feelings" that "art" often is reduced to, and I am not considering this a social context.

I am still confused.

10/02/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

Perhaps also Paris from the Iliad.

10/02/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

Where the sensual particulars rise to bring man to confront the universal, that's great art doing its thing. It gathers up and engages its audience's sorrow and transforms it into joy, union with something greater. the law of art is "e pluribus unum".

Where art founders among its particulars or creates a fetish of technique, it remains below and isolated, a sheer multitude incomprehensible and uncomprehending.

Does it take an understanding about man? In a sense yes, but in another sense no: it needs a muse to point the way. Sometimes great art was just really needed, in spite of the human instrument.

10/02/2008 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Petey - I'm quite sure you don't have a firm grasp of my principia. What you're holding onto... well, comes out of yourself. :->

10/02/2008 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Democrats the party of death? Who knew?

10/02/2008 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

Hey what about my inalienable right to have the stock market always go up? Shouldn't the gubmint ban selling stocks of any kind? My rights are being violated! Come and see the violence inheriting the system!

10/02/2008 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Great post, Bob.

Not your fault but, I was expecting a riff on Sri Aurobindo – he has something to say about vital man. In fact he goes further to say that the vital is a power that we SHOULD use – after “vital surgery”. Then he gets into how we will “dry up” without the good half of it should we cut the whole thing off all together.

Also, I don’t know about you, but Biden strikes as more of a vital man that Obama. Comes with more time there, maybe. But worse, to me he just seems to not care at all about the job he may be getting. Aloof or not-very-serious. As if he has something else he’d rather be doing… something more vital, like a round of golf.. (No offense golfers)

10/02/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the metrosexual Obama seems to have no genuine male vitality at all. It's all channelled into his airy and ethereal abstractions, but also into his vile, cutthroat political instincts, which certainly represent a pseudo-form of manhood.

10/02/2008 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Mongoose said...

So it is a case of balance, alignment, proportion and priorities.

A mixture of harmony and husbandry?


Thanks, that helped.

10/02/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

Mongoose,

As a fellow Beethoven fanatic (especially the late quartets), I think you're worrying needlessly. I can't imagine a true "vital" type even tolerating such music for more than a few minutes. It would completely bore him/her. (Although some of the pieces from Beethoven's middle "heroic" period might be a different story.)

10/02/2008 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Mongoose said...

Warren, It is more of a "formal" question; I just used an extreme example to highlight it.

Actually, I think that late Beethoven use the Psyche to bridge over to the Pneuma, and that is why that music is so oddly profound.

I think somewhere in there Beethoven had an extrodinary encounter with God, perhaps greater than more artists of his caliber.

I thought I might get something like the above back, but the responses were good enough for me.

But the question still stands, and indeed, middle Beethoven could be used as an illustration.

I think that, ironically, Bob answered it with the Hesse reference: Goldmund really embodies both principles - it is not really the apposition of Goldmund and Narcissus, but rather the sysnthesis in Golmand

I am not sure that is what Bob intended.

So there is a systhesis and a sense of using what is at hand.

I should say I take a more Christian tack at least in a couple of senses:

1) All virtue and all sin abide in each of us, and there is repentance and redemption. I am uncomfortable with the notions of "types" or "classes" of people, at least in some sort of sense of a caste. I thnk that we invite our own sins of Pride when we imagine that we have some high superiority over "those Vitals" down there.

2) To me "soul" has a larger meaning than the Greek "psyche", and "spirit" is embedded in the soul (or maybe it is the other way around). That is OK though, for Bob's "holographic" metaphor works for me. I tend to find much of the ancient, classical philosophical dichotomies to be, well, pagan.

BUT ANYWAY, the creative legacy of the West is nothing to snear at, it is a large part of what speaks out of the past to us now.

I do think that the Missa Solemnis is one of the most shcking and strongest expression of faith I have ever encountered, and certainly the late quartets are among the greatest music ever written.

10/02/2008 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Mongoose said...

more artists = most artists

10/02/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

If this is all there is, then let's have a ball...
...there will be no natural "place of rest."


oscar mayer bill
a rolling ball of dry straw
blazing wood arrows

10/02/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Slightly off topic, but speaking of Obama, I can't help wondering, at what point does a man go from being merely anti-Christic to being the anti-Christ?

"I must admit, I questioned this myself. After all, would I have ever bought a t-shirt with Al Gore's face on it? Was this all he was, the newest pop culture fad? I questioned my newfound faith - was it all only a phase, like the time I thought I was Baptist in junior high? But my inner dogmatic struggle only helped cement my beliefs as I followed politics more closely than ever before. Obama's mere presence, knowledge and enthusiasm in the political realm inspired my own desire to understand what exactly had gone wrong, what exactly he could do to remedy the mess we'd made.

Then I began to realize I wasn't the only one trying to buy a WWOD bracelet and spending my weekends scouring CNN.com. The rock star-type love for Obama wasn't just because he was pretty and in the media. Others too, had seen him as a shining light, heard that mythical voice boom out over the mountaintops; people were wearing the t-shirt because they would rather wear something representing a politician than a pop star. People everywhere, young and old, were caring again. So what's the problem here?

I've officially been saved, and soon, whether they like it or not [emphasis mine], the rest of the country will be too. I will follow him, all the way to the White House, and I'll be standing there in our nation's capital in January 2009, when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America. In the name of Obama, Amen."

Now granted, this woman is a young college student, so she doesn't necessarily represent the masses on the left. But the fact that lots of people are buying WWOD bracelets, and secret Hope! Change! Bags, and they mean it...

What in the world is being unleashed?

10/02/2008 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger jp said...

Phil says:

"Hey what about my inalienable right to have the stock market always go up? Shouldn't the gubmint ban selling stocks of any kind? My rights are being violated! Come and see the violence inheriting the system!"

Oh, Phil, you don't need to worry about that.

Soon, the government will create a plan that will only permit you to buy stocks that go up in value and you will only be able to sell them after they have gone up.

That way, you will never ever have to experience the pain and sorrow of financial loss.

And then everyone can be a Quadrillionaire.

One world. One dream.

10/02/2008 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger jp said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/02/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger jp said...

Julie says:

"What in the world is being unleashed?"

Pent-up cosmic narcissism?

Sorry, forgot the tagline.

One world. One dream.

10/02/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

RE: the 'vital' music: At some point we will be able to notice the transcendent in the ordinary. Note that this isn't an emotions thing: for instance it is common to get euphoric (or if one smokes pot, etc.) and begin to actively write profundity into everything.

When I listen to 'Summertime' I can recall a series of verses which transform the song into a transcendent piece of poetry. So it's not just about 'feelings' per se, but about the interior world available to be explored through the music itself. Sometimes the door is very plain, or in the wrong side of town; but Christ sat with the sinners and prostitutes - he still does.

10/02/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Surely it is no coincidence that rock music was developed by deeply religious -- if conflicted -- souls, e.g., Elvis, Jerry Lee, Dion, Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Johnny Cash -- not to mention soul music, which would have been inconceivable without the gospel influence.

10/02/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

"In fact, human beings are the center of the creation, if considered vertically. In other words, in the scientistic view, there can be no center. But if you add the third dimension of developmental "height," then cosmic evolution results precisely in increased complexity and centration (or unity within diversity), until such a point is reached that a being emerges who can mirror the whole of creation. That would be us."

Centrist

I'm wound up, spiral
Incarnate, stripped of foggy
Central illusions.

The old master said
The wheel's main utility
Is the axle hole.

I look within me
Past the swoop of spiral shape -
Holy Nobody,

Or Everyone,
All wondrous life appearing.
All are shining holes.

10/02/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

O-whole.

10/02/2008 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Whirling, whirling wheel
The potter lifts his hand now
Ezekiel blinks

10/02/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Okay, here's something closer to my worldview.

10/02/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob wrote:

"I can tell in an instant if I am dealing with a vital man, but it happens on such an intuitive level that I’ve never really put words."

What Bob is describing is only the first part of a standard spiritual screening, caled the "initial impression." An actual spiritual assessment is indeed put into words, or more specifically a report.

The full screen includes a minimum of three 1/2 hour interviews, two interviews with friends and/or family, a one hour discreet observation of the subject in a social setting, and a record review of the subject's education, social history, work history, and political affiliations.

These evaluations are not cheap but certain organizations use them.

10/02/2008 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

L. Ron! How's it going? What's it like in hell?

10/02/2008 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, you mean one of these tests? Do they check thetan levels, too?

10/02/2008 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Are you nuts, Ray? Even if I was desperate to understand your foolish worldview better than I already do, I wouldn't read that whole thing. Blah, blah, blah.

10/02/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous son of a preacher man said...

Ray do you agree with ...?

Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility, that is, its contribution to happiness or pleasure as summed among all persons. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome—the ends justify the means. Utility – the good to be maximized – has been defined by various thinkers as happiness or pleasure (versus sadness or pain), though preference utilitarians like Peter Singer define it as the satisfaction of preferences. It may be described as a life stance with happiness or pleasure as ultimate importance.

*cut and pasted from wiki

10/02/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"A lot of it has to do with depth. For a two-dimensional person living in flatland, they can have no true depth. If you imagine a plane with a ball rolling over it, there will be no natural "place of rest." Rather, any resting place will be arbitrary. This is why, if you scratch the surface of these people, you will find either a kind of scattered and nonsensical world view, or else an artificially dense and hardened one that is impervious to reality (in its vertical sense). It is only a caricature of true interior coherence."

Yes, if you release your focus from the central Truth, you have no choice (self imposed determinism) but to chase scattered facts - it is all that is left to you. Without that central integration, relations will not be perceived, and what was to a principled person, an obviously related, even self evident, progression, becomes to the materialist, data related by chance alone.

10/02/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Phil said "Perhaps also Paris from the Iliad."

Oh yeah, I'll seconde that one.

10/02/2008 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Warren said "I can't imagine a true "vital" type even tolerating such music for more than a few minutes. It would completely bore him/her. (Although some of the pieces from Beethoven's middle "heroic" period might be a different story.)"

Now... yes... but Beethoven was what could be called THE Vital man, of the Romantic period, he broke open the rarefied air of music, with big, dramatic, blasts, pauses and rhythm's, and Wagner took that ball and ran with it as well.

It's only hard to imagine a Vital person today listening to The Big B, because they've been proregressivly 'vitalized' ever since, into creatures unable to grasp the Vastly larger whOle, Beethoven was only punctuating... most are unable to hear that anymore, only able to notice the nerve twitcing punctuations.

I think that kind of highlights what Gagdad noted, that with the O firmly grasped, the Vital takes on a contributory punctuation. Without the O, all that remains are blips, much must be continually ratcheted up into ever louder and faster and BLIPS, and for only BLIPS sake.

10/02/2008 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "Okay, here's something closer to my worldview."

Gee... that's a surprise Ray. Ray link's to a glowing review of J.S. Mill, including "Reeves rightly calls “On Liberty” “the greatest celebration of the value of human freedom ever written.”

I would call it the greatest devaluer of True Freedom, into little freedoms, ever written. Mill was the one who kicked kooky Bentham's moral calculus into the mainstream (from Ray's link), and helped to introduce us all to relativism,

"...utility principle is installed, as one might install a piece of software, but is employed only fitfully. No shrewd new proof is proposed. It is the negative side of Mill’s claim that changes everything. He reverses figure and ground in the argument. When he asks us to think about liberty, he doesn’t want us to ask, Can this odd thing people are doing be deduced from some ethical axiom that lets me call it “good,” and permits them to go on doing it? He wants us to ask something simpler: Is this practice causing me any real harm? Not potential harm to my feelings, not social harm to my idea of right, not damage to the great precepts of religion or to my stuffy uncle’s sense of propriety. Unless the speaker is actually about to cut your throat, you have to let him work his jaw."[empasis mine]

Mill, who dismissed free will, and did nearly as much to unhinge logic from reality as Kant did, succeeded in injecting a pernicious devaluation of True Freedom into notions of freedoms, by discarding the idea that principle could be grasped and understood at all. Mill insisted that you could not claim to have any understanding of anything you didn't know first hand to be factual, and that you hadn't put your own, personal, unique stamp upon - here was the birth of the mass market individualist clone, all walking and talking alike and loudly "expressing myself!". After J.S. Mill, the move away from central Wisdom towards specialists in facts, was nearly complete, and has ushered in a destructive conceptual egalitarianism, that has nearly reduced evaluating a persons understanding, judgment and character, to how well they answered some random factoid from something like a katie couric on the evening sound byte.

Theodore Dalrymple, in "In praise of prejudice" put it as

"Conformity to any rule is felt as a wound to personal sovereignty, as is the exercise of any authority exterior to that of the ego. Far from settling questions of the rightful exercise of power of one person over another, the attitude engendered by a partial reading of Mill (or handed down as a kind of philosophical rumor) turns all human interactions into questions of power."

10/02/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

Maybe also Jack Kirouac of On the Road?

10/02/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

now here's guy who gets it!

http://www.cfnews13.com/News/
Local/2008/9/10/obama_
sign_in_yard_stirs_up_
neighbors.html

teehee

10/02/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Ah, I see Mill's error. A bit fearful maybe? Let me correct what I see is an error...

"Mill insisted that you could not claim to have any understanding of anything you didn't know first hand to be factual, and that you hadn't put your own, personal, unique stamp upon"

When we of course know that we can't claim to understand something until it has pressed firmly its stamp into our individuality. That's what makes us unique - getting carved up real good...

10/02/2008 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Austracoon said...

"Note that there is an infinite distinction between disillusionment and cynicism, for the former is to be painfully free of comforting illusions, while the latter is often to secretly long for them."

Num 16:28 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.


Num 16:32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

10/02/2008 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous matthew said...

the republicans/right have just as many shallow and ridiculous viewpoints as the 'peripheral' left, as you call it. There's no monopoly on stupidity, vapidity, and moral hypocrisy. You imply that those who are not the left-center Obamarons-- Republicans? Conservative Christians? Are somehow more moral, consistent, coherent, or 'right' than the alternatives.

While it's easy to rip apart the falseness and shallowness of boomer/60's non-values (which you do ably and accurately) I don't see any evidence that the Republicans and their values are anything but worse. Not believing in evolution by natural selection is SOMEtimes a mark of intelligence, but believing that the world is literally 6000 years old and that global warming isn't happening, are marks of dangerous stupidity.

10/02/2008 11:41:00 PM  
Anonymous matthew said...

but an important point you make, re-phrased: the CENTER-- the vital, alive, true 'man is the measure' thriving core of existence-- can be termed 'Moshiach', monarchy, kingship. Nobody dreams of being a democratic citizen: we dream of being kings, princesses, emperors. The monarch is the absolute mirror of the soul. Anarchy and monarchy are far closer to each other than one might think.

But only people who have a real confidence in their own faith in God can dare to cast themselves as true heroes, 'tselem elokim' ("in god's image), fully realized human beings who have real values. The abstract collective that the left leans on is surely missing this core. But I'm not sure the right knows where it is either.

10/02/2008 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger phil g said...

Matthew,
Why must I 'believe' that global warming is happening or not happening?

I think you just gave a bit of the game away...global warming, i.e., anthropomorphic global climate change, is a belief system, a substitute false religion used to fill the void of a true, transcendental one.

I'd say that falling for the charade of 'global warming' is a mark of ultimate stupidity.

While I don't agree with the literal creation of the earth a mere 6000 years ago, it is no more stupid, perhaps in ways less so, than the belief in absolute evolution divorced from any external source of intelligence or energy.

While we can argue about some of these details, I look at how a candidate's overall life/religious orientation influences their political judgment. Even though I don't subscribe to Mormonism, I would still vote for Romney based on Romney's world view as expressed through his political judgment...personal responsibility, liberty, limited government, fiscal responsibility. I'm more aligned with Romney's world view than self described Catholic (of which I am), Joe Biden, or Obama's black liberation theology.

10/03/2008 04:11:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Nomo - I wouldn't want to overflow your buffers. Take it a day at a time; since you can absorb a Bob column every day, it shouldn't take you more than four days. :-> (To be fair, the article's trying to sum up someone's entire life, though.)

And Van - You might want to read your Dalrymple quote more carefully. What would be the result of "a partial reading of" Christianity "(or handed down as a kind of philosophical rumor)"?

Oh, wait, we already know.

10/03/2008 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

matthew said "There's no monopoly on stupidity, vapidity, and moral hypocrisy."

A point you ably proved.

10/03/2008 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

as did Ray

10/03/2008 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Son - Not really. From the article re: Mill, "He borrowed the term 'self-development' from the German Romantic philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt, and considered that, rather than utilitarian pleasure, to be the end of life."

And an anonymous quote I collected somewhere: "Trying to be happy is like trying to build a machine for which the only specification is that it should run noiselessly." Happiness is a byproduct of figuring out what's important and pursuing that. (Because I love my family, I do things for their well-being, for their example. When it works, I'm happy.)

That definition of 'utilitarianism' is superficially accurate, but uses the wrong terms to express things - which is how it comes to conclusions like "the ends justify the means". Certain ends preclude certain means.

An analogy: in physics, distance, time, force, and mass are all related in a specific way. But there are different ways of describing those things. In British units, you have fundamental units of distance (foot), time (second), and force (pound), and from those you derive the unit of mass, the slug. In metric units, the fundamental units are distance (meter), time (second), and mass (gram). The derived unit is force (Newton).

You get the same answers either way, but there's a difference of perspective - of what are "the principial and the contingent", one might say. Imagine an alien race that found it most natural to use fundamental units of force, mass, and distance, then derived time from those... they might not have the problems we do grasping relativity.

10/03/2008 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

River & Van - I recall someone putting 'understanding' differently than you paraphrase Mill. That the only way to really understand something was digest it so thoroughly that it affects your thinking in a holistic sense - "holographically" in Bob's terms. (That doesn't mean you have to accept bad ideas to understand them; perhaps in rejecting them, you come to a better understanding of what you do believe.)

10/03/2008 07:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Algore said...

Dear Ray,
In my interest of saving the planet, please stop wasting so much energy. There’s only so much to go around and you’re not using yours wisely.
Don’t make me come in there.
Thank you.
Love,
Algore

10/03/2008 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "Not really"

Ray likes to be able to pick and choose the portions of principles he agrees with, and pretend the remaining ones won't notice.

If Ray approached Physics as he does Philosophy, he'd say something like this:
"An analogy: in physics, distance, time, force, and mass are all somewhat related in specific ways, but if it makes my butt look big, I reduce the mass just a touch"

10/03/2008 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "That the only way to really understand something was digest it so thoroughly that it affects your thinking in a holistic sense "

Good, healthy food, should and needs to be digested; bad, rotten or poisoned food gives no benefit from being digested, and indeed causes harm.

Digestion starts with tasting, and chewing - if you find a bone you spit it out, if you find the food to have gone bad, you spit it all out. If you don't detect it in time, your body may cause you to vomit it up, or you can take ipecac to manually do so. Attempting to fully digest rotten or poisoned food can make you ill, extremely ill, or even cause you to die.

Anyone concerned with a good philosophical diet should read Descartes, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Godwin, Bentham, Marx and Mill... but they should chew carefully, and I would strongly suggest that you not swallow.

10/03/2008 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Sorry for an OT pivot, on the bailout being voted on today in congress,

"My congressman also wrote that he was opposed to "bailing out Wall Street firms and business leaders who have speculated recklessly, endangered our country's consumers and homebuyers, and resisted regulation that would protect the public interest." But apparently he is not opposed to simply nationalizing their property, should it serve his version of "the public interest."

Well, I beg to differ. This crisis was not caused by financial executives who resisted the whims of regulators. Those executives spent millions of dollars trying to obey the regulations. The cause was the regulations themselves: decades of coercive government interventions in the economy, all of which distorted the markets and undercut the ability of business managers to make sound financial decisions. "


Just say noooooooo....

10/03/2008 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Matthew: Republicans != conservatives

Here's the exercise: write it fifty times like this

Republicans != conservatives
Republicans != conservatives
Republicans != conservatives
Republicans != conservatives
Republicans != conservatives
Republicans != conservatives
...

etc

10/03/2008 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van - If I wanted to argue like you, I'd claim that y'all weren't consistent with your principles because you didn't take them to their logical conclusion and be fascists like Perry.

However, I at least am perfectly willing to accept that you might have some principles in common with him, but also important differences as well. Put simply, I'll tell you what I think, not what you think.

10/03/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van - actually, there was a bit of deregulation that went a long way to contributing to this particular mess. In 2004 the SEC rules were changed to allow banks to dramatically increase their debt-to-asset ratio (their 'leverage') and let the banks themselves assess their own risks. Oddly enough, they underestimated those risks...

Of course, what you won't read at that site is, because of widespread regulation, people often don't feel the need to investigate such banks and assess the risks for themselves. So regulation did contribute to the problem, but in a lot less straightforward way than many presume.

Of course, I too oppose "privatizing profits and socializing losses", as the bailout's been characterized.

10/03/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Algore - see here. Have a nice day.

10/03/2008 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray, it's a principle, so I recognize that's kind of a murky area for you, but any regulation, and I'll likely be vastly in the minority in saying this, but ANY regulation of banking or anything else, is unprincipled and anti-free market, anti-capitalism, anti-freedom, an attack upon property rights and so an assault upon all of our Rights. Any regulatory agency, any regulation of business (not talking about regular criminal actions, fraud, etc, but regulatory controls) is unprincipled, anti-freedom, and destructive not only to the markets, but to our society as a whole and weakens the constitution and rule of law as well.

Once a regulation, let alone an entire code of them, have been laid upon a business, the proper operations of the free market have been corrupted and polluted, then you're in the position of having to make necessarily unprincipled actions to stop up this leak while enlarging that crack, in a never ending whirlwind of ineffectual attempts to keep control of your controls.

I'd rather you didn't respond, some scenes of ugliness I'd rather not look upon.

10/03/2008 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "Van - If I wanted to argue like you " ... you'd have to learn what you were talking about. Go ahead, get back to me in a few years when you begin to get a grasp upon it.

"I'll tell you what I think, not what you think."

You are 'thinking' with thoughts you don't know of or understand... quite literally you. don't. know. what. you. think.

10/03/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

And, yes, Van tells me what I think. You could get a lot of money from James Randi for demonstrating telepathy like that. :->

10/03/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "And, yes, Van tells me what I think. You could get a lot of money from James Randi for demonstrating telepathy like that. :->"

It's ok Ray, I understand that seeing the Truth that will unfold based upon the principles involved must appear like magic to those who haven't discovered the power of Principles... sorta like new guinea tribesmen's reaction to airplanes flying overhead.

Just try to keep yourself from buying up empty cargo.

10/03/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van - There's a possibly-apocryphal tale about some peasants in 17th-century France who saw a meteor strike. They had some 'natural philosophers' come out and examine the crater.

But, of course, they were told that the heavens were fixed and unchanging, from obvious first principles. Nothing could fall from there, and even if it could, it would long since have done so. But look at this melted lump of metallic rock at the center of the devastation - it must have been buried there, and struck by lightning...

Then there were the economists who were surprised that Nash Equilibria were not automatically pareto optimal.

Of course, unlike them, you have nothing more to learn, even about subjects you've thoroughly canvassed before. I understand, it's a burden. :->

10/03/2008 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "Of course, unlike them, you have nothing more to learn, even about subjects you've thoroughly canvassed before"

I am so very aware of the minimal amount of knowledge I have, it ain't funny. My Dad could have casually pointed out gaps in my knowledge and understanding between bites of hordevores, and then gone about explaining how I could best fill them in. My Grandfather would have wiped the floor with my posts, laughing all the way.

Neither was a scholar.

I am always looking to find and fill in those gaps. I often slip up, David Taylor, over at Lances blog, caught me up in one just yesterday.

You are just so pitifully under informed and over assured that you make it easy for me to look good.

It doesn't take a wizard to notice someone who violates the most basic of principles with his every comment.

:->

10/03/2008 03:28:00 PM  

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