Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Art and Recollection: Where There's Holy Smoke, There's Divine Fire (1.10.12)

[T]he world is fundamentally neither a mechanism, nor an organism, nor even a social community -- neither a school on a grand scale nor a pedagogical institution for living beings -- but rather a work of divine art: at one and the same time a choreographic, musical, poetic, dramatic work of painting, sculpture and architecture. --Meditations on the Tarot

What if we actually lived only in a world of scientific truth but no intrinsic beauty? In addition to being an "impossible world" -- existence as such being an exteriorization of the divine beauty -- our very lives would be a cold and joyless task, like removing the Guy Ritchie tattoos from Madonna's wizened hide.

"Beauty is a crystallization of some aspect of universal joy; it is something limitless expressed by means of a limit" (Schuon). Beauty is both container and contained (♀ and ♂), or an explosive force within a limiting boundary. The world is this boundary, or the "frame" around God's canvas.

Now, as UF explains, the idea of the world as a work of art is implicit in Genesis, being that existence is a result of a creative act. So-called creationists focus way too much on the inevitable result of the act, rather than the act itself, which would have to constitute the very source and essence of creativity.

Furthermore, it is vital to bear in mind that the cosmogony of Genesis is a vertical, not horizontal, act. When Genesis says "In The Beginning," it really means in the beginning of the eternal creative act that is always happening now and which sustains the universe.

This is actually not merely an esoteric Bobservation, but standard Thomistic philosophy. "In the beginning" refers not to the temporal beginning, but to the atemporal beginning, or the beginning of time as such -- which "flows" from (and back to) eternity. It is the metaphysical, not the physical, or scientific, beginning. Therefore, as Aquinas knew,

"God is necessary as an uncaused cause of the universe even if we assume that the universe has always existed and thus had no beginning. The argument is not that the world wouldn't have got started if God hadn't knocked down the first domino at some point in the distant past; it is that it wouldn't exist here and now, or undergo change or exhibit final causes here and now unless God were here and now, and at every moment, sustaining it in being, change, and goal-directedness" (Feser).

In short, the "first cause" is above, not behind. But because it is above, it is necessarily ahead, which is in turn why the present cosmos is the "shadow" of its final fulfillment: "I am Alpha and Omega."

Similarly, as Perry observes, "from the cosmological perspective, creation is a progressive exteriorization of that which is principially interior, an alternation between the essential pole and the substantial pole of a Single Principle." Again, of the two, essence is the more interior, and therefore takes priority. Essence could never be derived from substance alone, which is one more reason why it is absurd to insist that consciousness could ever be derived from matter.

What? Oh yes. Petey would like me to remind you that this is the meaning of "One's upin a timeless," as it refers to God's eternal creative activity, which, because it constitutes the true (vertical) beginning, necessarily encompasses the end of all things, or the eschatology of the world. Was that unclear? Perhaps Schuon can shed a little more obscurity on the subject:

"Art has a function that is both magical and spiritual: magical, it renders present principles, powers and also things that it attracts by virtue of a 'sympathetic magic'; spiritual, it exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the 'kingdom of God that is within you.' The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle, or so that the 'I' might return to the Self; or simply, so that the human soul might, through given phenomena, make contact with the heavenly archetypes, and thereby with its own archetype."

In turn, this is why, as Eliot observed, our end precedes our beginning, and we may travel round the cosmos only to return to the beginning and know it for the first time.

Zero, point, line, circle, and repent as necessary. The Father is O, the Son is •, and the Holy Ghost is (↓↑). Please note that the black fire of the dot is written on the white fire of the unKnown Godhead, while the arrows are the smoke and flames, respectively. Where there is "holy smoke," the flames of agni cannot be far above. Thus the "agni and ecstasy" referred to on page 16 of my book.

The movement from essence towards substance is also the movement of "the center toward the circumference" and "unity towards multiplicity" (Perry). Nevertheless, the center is always there at the periphery -- hence God's immanence and the resultant sacredness of the world -- and the unity is always in the multiplicity -- hence the possibility of the recollection of both union and unity, at any time or any place. Except perhaps at a strip mall in Idaho.

Now, as UF notes, the self-beclowning materialist or scientistic jester is "like the reader of a manuscript who, instead of reading and understanding the thought of the author, occupies himself with the letters and syllables. He believes that the letters wrote themselves and combined themselves into syllables, being moved by mutual attraction, which, in its turn, is the effect of chemical or molecular qualities of the ink as 'matter' common to all the letters, and of which the letters and syllables are epiphenomena."

Of this, Petey would like to say, And you pay good money to have your children exposed to this absurd crap?

[B]eauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love'.... All terrestrial beauty is thus by reflection a mystery of love. It is, 'whether it likes it or not,' coagulated love or music turned to crystal, but it retains on its face the imprint of its internal fluidity, of its beatitude and of its liberality... --Schuon

53 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Completely off-topic - in fact, haven't read the post yet - but I had to share.

12/17/2008 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Yeah Julie... um... the about 14th down? with the belly up? in the flower box?

Skully.

12/17/2008 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Zoltan said...

As evidence for or demonstration of the existence of God, of the Vertical, there are two classical lines of presentation, one called the cosmological argument or proof and the other called the ontological argument or proof.

Neither one achieves its purpose, as Kant and others show conclusively. All arguments from existence (or substance, as referenced in this post) to essence assume their conclusion, making them tautological and therefore not proof of anything.

The attractiveness of both of these arguments or proofs is, nonetheless, demonstrable and persistent, as evidenced, for example, by Kant himself using a variant of the ontological argument to support his doctrine of the categorical imperative.

(The word "category" is a philosophical term of art of a great importance that is missed by common usage of the word.)

So-called "creationists" use a variant of the ontological argument. So-called "intelligent designists" use a variant of the cosmological argument.

Neither accomplishes their stated purpose, which is to convince auditors of the existence of God and their -- the auditors' -- responsibility, in view of God's existence, to bend the knee one way or another to God.

Aesthetics can be used as a variant of either the cosmological or the ontological argument and has been: e.g., Bergson, cosmological, and Schelling, ontological. Schweitzer, with his commitment to both Stocism and J.S. Bach, tends to combine the two arguments throughout his work, including his exegesis of the music of Bach.

This post uses an aesthetic variant of the ontological argument, an argument from beauty to God.

The fact that both arguments, although they fail to achieve their purpose, nonetheless fascinate and attract with seemingly limitless power indicates that something valuable is in them.

They are not valuable as arguments for the existence of God. That is certain. First, God does not exist. And second, no proof of that which has no second is possible because it has no second by which to be proved.

(Goedel made this point from the direction of topology, although the same point, from the direction of non-dualistic logic, is standard issue Vedic and Logos doctrine.)

However, these two arguments, the cosmological and the ontological, are valuable as descriptions of the dialectics that characterize the man-God relationship.

That is the value and what we see in this post.

12/17/2008 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh?

12/17/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Van - lol, I thought that tail looked familiar. That one with the cabbage patch kid looks rather like Lafayette...

12/17/2008 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

In short, the "first cause" is above, not behind. But because it is above, it is necessarily ahead, which is in turn why the present cosmos is the "shadow" of its final fulfillment: "I am Alpha and Omega."

Hmm... (frontal lobe swirl beginning, all ahead flank speed [how'd I do there Ben?])

12/17/2008 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

So I'm back to reading The Spiritual Ascent, and just this morning came across the quote from the bottom of page 629 to the top of 630. Puts a whole other dimension into the smoke and fire theme...

12/17/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Zolton said "The attractiveness of both of these arguments or proofs is, nonetheless, demonstrable and persistent, as evidenced, for example, by Kant himself using a variant of the ontological argument to support his doctrine of the categorical imperative.
(The word "category" is a philosophical term of art of a great importance that is missed by common usage of the word.)"


The "categorical imperative" being one of the most lethal tools for halting and destroying reason available in the philosophical saboteurs black bag of tricks. It's implications are readily available for viewing in the leftists determinedly clinging to Marxist policies, no matter how much failure, how much misery, or how many millions of bodies are piled up in its wake.

12/17/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Ah. Another issue is, of course, if we 'exist' or can be said to have 'existence' then by that measure God 'does not exist' as in his existence is so unlike ours that if we are to literally take comparisons - anthropomorphisms for example - as describing the Godhead, we will find all of our arguments insufficient. Likewise if we are to use our current understanding of Goodness to mean God's goodness, that is we are to admit no incompleteness in our understanding, then God most certainly is not good, which is to say, really, just (in this case) so Good that we can't begin to grasp it. The reverse is so with evil; God is not just 'not evil', but so removed from evil that our comprehension of his being 'not evil' if taken to be exhaustive can be proven false, thus giving the appearance of maybe God being evil. This is why cataphasis (affirmation of characteristics) must be tempered with apophasis (negations.)

12/17/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Petey said "And it goes without saying that they have no efficaciousness against a "bad spirit" who is disinclined to accept and follow them where they lead."

"Lead" as opposed to "Proof", being the key word and concept there, IMHO. Those who seek real and actual proof of God, IMHO (stop laughing), are seeking to be relieved of the burden of reasoning upon the matter at all. Pursued beyond the point of realization that it will not be found, I think they seek escape, not enlightenment..

12/17/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Revised version:

What Zoltan means is that the cosmological, ontological, and aesthetic demonstrations all presuppose certain spiritual qualifications.

One must be careful not to conflate rationalism, which "concludes," with intellection, which "sees" by the light of these metaphysical demonstrations (not arguments).

And it goes without saying that they have no efficaciousness against a "bad spirit" who is disinclined to accept and follow them where they lead.

12/17/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"Those who seek real and actual proof of God..."

Those who, like our scientistic jester, demand something tangible and irrefutable which, as you say, requires no reason and leaves no room for even the slightest smidge of doubt will not see any evidence as proof. This is because everything that is is of O, and therefore a horizontal explanation exists for any observable phenomena. So long as the SJ believes the horizontal explanation to be complete, he will be incapable of seeing the vertical.

God: I love you!
SJ: I don't believe you. Prove it!
God: *turns on the Light*
SJ: Ow! That hurts my eyes. You're mean! You don't love me!
SJ: *Closes eyes, puts on heavy-duty blindfold*

And so it goes...

12/17/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"Essence could never be derived from substance alone, which is one more reason why it is absurd to insist that consciousness could never be derived from matter."

Umm, shouldn't 'never' be 'ever' in that sentence in paragraph 9?

12/17/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Grammar schmammer.

12/17/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Zoltan -

I was born/raised in Hemet. In those days, it was just a small town, maybe 2500 people.

Quite a few interesting people set up shop in that area. I may have left too soon.

12/17/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Cuz, it figures you would somehow be involved when an inappropriate N-word got tossed in.

12/17/2008 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Beautiful post today.
Some folks on the internet have a less sanguine view of raccoons than we do. But, damn it's funny.
BTW James, if you're reading, I sent you an e-mail

JWM

12/17/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Toots Mondello said...

Disgusting.

12/17/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

In short, the "first cause" is above, not behind. But because it is above, it is necessarily ahead, which is in turn why the present cosmos is the "shadow" of its final fulfillment: "I am Alpha and Omega."

In turn, this is why, as Eliot observed, our end precedes our beginning, and we may travel round the cosmos only to return to the beginning and know it for the first time.

Nevertheless, the center is always there at the periphery -- hence God's immanence and the resultant sacredness of the world -- and the unity is always in the multiplicity -- hence the possibility of the recollection of both union and unity, at any time or any place. Except perhaps at a strip mall in Idaho.

I was playing with palindromes last night for no apparent reason except to wake up this morning to find an answer at OC.

The recollection and recognition of that which is reflected above to below, the same forward in one as reversed in the other - the hermetic palindrome. Huh. Gong.

Available at re-tail outlets nationwide, excepting Idaho strip malls.

12/17/2008 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Looking to get in touch with your inneray?

“I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess”
Without the constraints of organic life, the female robot is not shackled to the tyranny of the reproductive cycle; she becomes a metaphor for female power, paradoxically more potent because it is barren.

Check out ALLURING ANDROIDS, ROBOT WOMEN, AND ELECTRONIC EVES and don't miss The Fembot Mystique

12/17/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Julie - Can you point out where I asked for something tangible and irrefutable? Feel free... (Here's some help.)

Ximeze - I actually get the print magazine. They mention that web-gallery or whatever in this month's issue, and I haven't bothered to look it up. Heck, I've already got the real thing - I like real maple syrup instead of the ersatz stuff, too.

12/17/2008 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ray, believe it or not I have better things to do than search Bob's blog for your specific quotes. However, what I had in mind was your statement, some months back, that if you could just have solid proof - a miracle of some kind, or having the scales removed from your eyes a la Saul, then you might believe. I seem to recall you requested a Damascus moment. It was hubristic enough that it stuck in my head.

12/17/2008 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

I don't know, Ray. You won't settle for ersatz syrup, but you will settle for an ersatz life? Emphasis on the "will".

Aren't you glad God doesn't make you believe?

12/17/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments. I realized a few weeks back that any further spiritual progress will not involve me adding anything to myself. It will involve letting things go. The problem is I go through some very uncomfortable withdraw symptoms. I keep hoping for a magic bullet to ease the transition to sober, but I think learning to deal with extreme paranoia, keeping my mind calm and quiet, is something God can help with, but he won't do it for me. The basis of my addiction is not the love of the chemical high, but the fact that my baseline mental state is so uncomfortable that I have to do something extreme to escape it. I must fix this otherwise I'll just end up doing something else silly and extreme.
I like the idea of trading my addictions up. That has been my strategy with pot. While pot is illegal and causes all sorts of problems, compared to other bad habits, it is relatively safe. I'll trade pot addiction for God addiction any day. That's not a bad thing to pray for at all.
I'm trying to detox over the holidays. Things get extreme and sometimes I want to hide under the bed, but things aren't busy at work, so it is easier to deal with it.

12/17/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

James:

Why don't you consult with a psychiatrist? If you have a real chemical imbalance that you're self-medicating with cannabis, it may be as simple as going on the proper medication. Problem solved.

12/17/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"Heck, I've already got the real thing"

Ok, I'll bite:
Ray, you've already got your very own Fembot?

12/17/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

James - Not that GB needs a second from me, but a hearty ditto. From the experiences of people near and dear to me, there is tremendous help available. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the balance, but it is well worth it. Absolutely no shame in that (Tom Cruise aside).

12/17/2008 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Bob,

I have an appointment in February. I'm hoping to avoid having to take anti-depressants or more likely anti-anxiety drugs. I've read up on them, and its a little scary. Although, to be completely honest, I'm chickensh*t when it comes to doctors and pills.
Right now I'm on a drug called Campral. It's amazing. Things are still uncomfortable, but I can sleep and there are no giant spiders. The plan is by February I should be over most of the withdraw symptoms and the Dr. can get a better idea if I need to take something else.
My father had drinking problems. All my life I stayed away from drinking and smoking because I figured addiction ran in the family. Then I try pot because I believed the story that pot is not addictive. Now here I am playing the fool. I just mention this because while I don't favor prohibition I would have never tried it if I thought I would get hooked. I was sold a lie, I believed the lie, and I've wasted the last few years because of it. Stay away if addiction runs in the family.

...

Of course it just occurred to me, a Raccoon moment if you will, that if it wasn't for this addiction and my organizing my life around it I would have never found the OC. My mindset was actually pretty close to where Ray is now when I arrived here a few years ago. I'm just not quite so stubborn.

Thanks again for everyone's kind support.

12/17/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

James:

I have no idea what you've read about SSRIs or anxiolytics, but it sounds *kooky*. They are among the safest and most well tolerated medications out there. With many people, they work wonders. There's not a rational reason in the world to be frightened of them, although many people are, for a host of irrational and sometimes self-defeating reasons that are a symptom of the disorder.

Just remember, if you hear something "crazy" about a psychotropic medication, the story probably originated from a crazy person. Conversely, some people have died from taking aspirin, so there are always anecdotes one can cling to to justify a predetermined conclusion.

12/17/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

James,

Bob is definitely right. They don't always make everything better, but I've seen no anti-depressant induced disasters, and I've been closely involved with hundreds who have used them. The side effects are usually tolerable or nonexistent.

What you may be looking for is something to take the edge off so you can get started on the work you need to do. Just avoid the trap of trying to make every little thing better with medicine, which may require you keeping your shrink in line.

Meanwhile, it's now clear to me that I should have been studying philosophy instead of smoking dope.

12/17/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Derailing a bit, I see you're reading Meister Eckhart, Bob. Today I was Googling Mechthild of Magdeburg, which led to a comment about the Beguines (whom I had never heard of before), which led to a mention of the Free Spirits and Meister Eckhart. Interesting travel; one of the problems with picking up a thread in the Bewilderness adventure is that it's like taking a sip from a trickling faucet, only to have it cranked up to full blast unexpectedly. Every day, I realize all over again just how much I don't know, and how much less I know that I know each day...

12/17/2008 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh yes, there was a real flowering and harvest of Christian mysticism in the 13th and 14th centuries....

12/17/2008 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Julie - All I said was, and I quote, "I have asked for god(s) to manifest themselves to me (up to and including a Saul of Tarsus experience), but no luck so far."

I didn't say that that was the only thing that would convince me - I kinda specifically talked about a range "up to" scales falling from eyes. But it's easier, I guess, to portray that as a "demand [for] something tangible and irrefutable".

I'm cautious. The adherents of every single religion say "We're certain, but all those other people are fooling themselves." What if they're all half right?

12/18/2008 04:20:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Ximeze - I'm actually a little disappointed. Why would you go for the cheap shot?

I mean, you could have lamented for my poor wife (who, a few dental fillings aside, is entirely carbon-based) being saddled with a "husbot". You could have made a joke about the artificial guy desiring real food (and there's opportunity for allegory there, too). You could have just asked, "How would you know?"

Instead... well, I'm used to a higher class of abuse around here. :->

12/18/2008 04:29:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ray (Jester) - Although you've got the "fool" part of the job description down pat, you could kick up the entertainment aspect a couple notches.

Just sayin'.

12/18/2008 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I'm cautious. The adherents of every single religion say "We're certain, but all those other people are fooling themselves." What if they're all half right?

They do? Or just at least one for each? Do you know what the 'seeds of the Logos' are?

12/18/2008 06:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Physics, biology, chemistry, neurology.... they can't all be right....

12/18/2008 06:39:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Whinerbot it is then.

12/18/2008 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"What if they're all half right?" Uh, Ray, wouldn't that still make you ALL WRONG?

12/18/2008 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

No, Ray. Seriously. That's actually not true. While you can find (as comes to the news every other day) people who claim exclusivity on the knowledge of the truth entirely, this is not widely held outside of fundamentalist circles in any case. In Orthodoxy, for instance, our claim would be the fullness of the faith, something that is substantiatable through history and a study of liturgics and patristics. We believe that the truth is a person, i.e., the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, thus none of us can have 'exclusive' access to him, though we may be the only ones who have particular gifts or benefits, such as, we believe, the correct doctrine of the faith. (Thus the term Ortho-dox.)

However, the 'we're right and everyone else is wrong' is a strangely flat and unsophisticated argument from one who does quite a lot of thinking, as you do. It's more of a question of what a given religion is right about, and what it matters that a given religion is right about. It would be foolish for anyone to argue that Moses was right about everything, considering that he had never been exposed to nanotechnology, for one. The argument would be, or should be, 'what is sufficient for salvation is what the religion ought to be correct about.'

Beyond that, which is worldly knowledge and other esoteric pursuits, is optional in general, but may for some be an important part of the salvific work God is doing in them.

12/18/2008 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Petey - Physicists say that chemists are wrong, and vice versa? Could you point out an example?

Nomo - I never called myself jester. If the title doesn't fit, talk to the guy who tries to apply it to me...

12/18/2008 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Nomo - My statement had two parts. Which half could they all consistently be right about?

12/18/2008 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

My mindset was actually pretty close to where Ray is now when I arrived here a few years ago. I'm just not quite so stubborn.


James, it is not that Ray is stubborn. He would consider that a compliment.

Ray is dishonest. A teeny little living part of him knows this to be true.

Not that he's a liar, in the sense of say, [insert favorite politician here], because as far as Ray gnos, he himself is an honest man. But that's not very far, really.

It is only his dishonesty that keeps him coming back here, as well, for he seeks no knowledge but merely wishes to be significant-- a sop which is thrown to him daily by Bob's kindness and which Ray consumes greedily, without a real thought.

And that is Ray's biggest departure from being an honest man. He actively chooses to ignore so much good will around him, and placates the hounding doubt with codicils of, "This place would be a bore without me."

I bear no malice toward Ray, but his dishonesty must be addressed, not cross-dressed with some other red-herringbone veil of niceness. The only violence his dishonesty does is to his own eternal being. Toward that particular trait, mercy would be a dubious benefactor.

12/18/2008 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ray - God has been known to harden the hearts of those whose pride (dishonesty) repeatedly determines to exclude Him from reality. Again, take care…be open. He may not make you choose, but you can make Him choose (so to speak).

12/18/2008 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Joan said "Ray is dishonest. A teeny little living part of him knows this to be true."

I think it’s less a case of Ray being dishonest, and more a case of him being not even honest. That's the lot of skeptics, they possess (or are possessed by) an unrestrained sense of doubt, which arbitrarily doubts any and all claims to truth and certainty.

When doubt is disconnected from its legitimate sources, it delegitimizes all around it. Doubts should be raise warning flags over issues such as an unsupported assertion seemingly at odds with other information; some newly discovered lack of information (made visible by a new observation or otherwise new information); discovering that existing information has been misidentified, or the presence of something incongruous to the perceived nature of the particular whole. Those are legitimate reasons for doubt, and should be used to direct questions towards satisfying the issue, and once satisfied, then those doubts are allayed.

But as that suggests, before doubts can be raised, its is important to know what makes raising them illegitimate, to know what Knowing IS. Before you can be aware of what qualifies as doubt, you have to understand the nature and identity of what qualifies as certainty and truth.

When doubt is let off its leash, it begins to arbitrarily doubt all around it, seeking some flat 'absolute certainty' which is true in all situations regardless of context - it is context itself it attacks and resents, and anti-contextual inevitably means anti-conceptual, which puts it in opposition to the very nature and existence of human knowledge.

“Well how do you know that? Well how do you know the sun will rise tomorrow? How do you know a cosmic gamma Ray burst isn’t going to obliterate our solar system in the next 4 hrs?”

Once you give in to arbitrary doubting, as do very young children, you are lost and can have no ground to stand upon whatsoever. Children ask incessant questions out of a vast lack of information, skeptics do so out of having turned what information they once had, into disintegrated and suspect assertions. Children integrate their information to build knowledge and eventually learn that there really is such a thing as a stupid question. Skeptics have forgotten that or never learned it in the first place.

Truth is contextual, or rather we are able to grasp it only in context, it is ever alive, ever vibrant and resistant to any attempts to cage it with flat declarations and 'categorical imperatives'. The skeptic wants 'proof of life' that is frozen and dead.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Ray not 'buying into' the claims of any religion. I have a problem with Ray's skepticism, his refusal, either directly or through coy diversions and qualifications, to acknowledge that there IS truth, and that we can know it and the world within which we grasp it. He'll make various claims and assertions (he'll probably google-fu up a link where he's made one claim or another), but ultimately he will doubt it - directly or while holding to another claim which undercuts that.

The skeptic can't even be honest, because for him there is nothing True to be honest about.

12/18/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Joan - "This place would be a bore without me."

That's not anything I've ever said. At least one of the trolls who posts anonymously has said it, but that ain't me. (And I don't like people who troll instead of discuss, anyway.)

I don't even necessarily expect my posts to be of interest to others here - I find it interesting to see things discussed from such a divergent viewpoint. It does, like changing the lighting, bring out details that might otherwise have been missed.

If I were a troll, then ignoring me would be a sure-fire means to banish me...

Van, of course, doesn't like the vocabulary I use and leaps from that to concluding things I never said and specifically repudiate. Not accepting absolute truth is like not being able to reach absolute zero, or the speed of light. You can't get perfect in the real world, but you can get close enough for real purposes.

12/18/2008 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I think it’s less a case of Ray being dishonest, and more a case of him being not even honest.

Well, yes. Without going all the way there, myself, but yes. It is quite sad.

It's not even the conclusions I draw, it is Ray saying, "I never said that." Which of course, I know.

It is as if we all tell Ray he has a nose on his face, but he refuses to raise his hand to discover it.

12/18/2008 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "Van, of course, doesn't like the vocabulary I use and leaps from that to concluding things I never said and specifically repudiate."

It's not the words you use, it's the ideas behind them, and the positions you support which presuppose those same ideas, which you then try and claim to repudiate.

You tell me how you hold that some variation of gene-mechanics and algorithms is responsible for life, consciousness, personality and free will – support the views and positions of Dawkins and Dennett and Hume (you may try to hedge on Hume, but you continually express his views), and pop up a determymistical link for every statement here that endorses beauty & spirit… and then on the other hand claim that you are not at all a skeptic, revere truth, etc.

If you’re skeptical about your being a skeptic… you’ve got far more problems than just needing me to point out the meaning of the words you use to you.

12/18/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Zoltan said...

Ray is running circles around almost everyone commenting on OC. He deserves to.

What cannot withstand the blast of radical skepticism, including obdurate radical skepticism, cannot be true.

Who cannot let doubt run a complete course cannot discover certainty or earn peace.

Truth is both mysterium fascinosum (absolutely attractive) and mysterium tremendum (absolutely terrifying).

Ray is answered with condescending sentimentality or irrelevant linguistic constructions. Both betray the presence of jejune ichor.

He deserves better. Or, as he says: "If I were a troll, then ignoring me would be a sure-fire means to banish me..."

Ray is a theologian of high ability and perhaps even accomplishment.

Certainly he is running the comment section of this blog whenever he wants to do so.

That is power and power is truth.

12/18/2008 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous I Montoya said...

Ray is running circles around almost everyone

Zoltan=almost everyone

12/19/2008 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Zoltan said "Ray is a theologian of high ability and perhaps even accomplishment...That is power and power is truth."

I suspect Zoltan's inner Kantian hath been tweaked, and while the two lines above probably say all that needs to be said, but in memoriam to Ray, I'll pass the torch and ask "How would you know?"

12/19/2008 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Zoltan said...

Van, it were not amiss to regard me as a nobody, and by extension, what I write as unimportant. I am and it is.

12/19/2008 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Zoltan, I don't regard you as a nobody.

Your comments to this point, though I usually feel an initial caution, usually prove to have much worthwhile in them. I suspect there are some principles we disagree upon, whether or not those are fundamental deal-breakers, I don't know.

In either case, disagreement doesn't necessarily mean opposition, and certainly doesn't mean I regard you as a nobody or that what you write is unimportant.

12/21/2008 10:16:00 AM  

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