Darwinians and Other Cosmic Egomaniacs
I've been mainly harvesting now for going on four years. I have no idea how that happened, since it has pretty much rendered paragraph one inoperative, unless the cycles are now just longer than they used to be. Perhaps bigger plants require longer cycles. Or maybe its just a condensed cycle. The first book required my whole life up to that point. The next one will only require the time from then to now.
So with all the harvesting, now I've got this huge silo full of grain. What do I do with it? Just keep piling more on top? I guess the point I'm making is that I really enjoy digging through the arkive. I'm starting to look forward to the weekends, since I get to go down into the basement and roam around. It's a totally different vibe -- like enjoying a museum vs. building one.
Or, it's like someone who accumulates a lot of wealth. At what point do they stop making more, and just enjoy what they have? So if I do decide to take a vacation, I imagine I'll spread the wealth around and repost things... We'll just have to see if this reflective mood persists. If it does, I don't want to try to override it. The meta-Cosmos knows best.
How do we know with absolute certainty that metaphysical Darwinism cannot account for Man? Because we may know with absolute certainty.
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 higher Self, of which it turns out that the ego is a sort of "emanation" or satellite.
[I would now correct this to say that Darwinism can't really account for the ego, which, after all, is an aspect of the miracle of subjectivity; it can, however, provide a "likely story" of how it came about, especially for very simple people whose minds are hardly separate from their bodies. Being that there are billions of such people, that's not nothing.]
Now, the gap between the empirical ego and the higher Self is another one of those 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 at all. In fact, you might say that the ego is a subjective mirror of maya, or of the relative plane, just as the Self is the mirror of the Absolute. Yes, man in his highest aspect is ultimately in the image and likeness of the Creator. But there are parts of us that are merely in the image and likeness of culture, or biology, or college, or television, or whatever.
In order to comprehend this more holistic cosmo-psychic economy, we must 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 because you are operating out of the material ego, so there is no surprise there: you are simply placing the existential cart before the egoic horse. 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 largely ruled by unconscious or supraconscious forces he does not comprehend.
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 station and its privileges and responsibilities, its origin and destiny. You can know nothing of this reality if you restrict yourself to the material -- let alone sub-material -- domain.
To cite just one obvious example, the other day, one of the mutual readers of LGF and One Cosmos was 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. For those of us in a position to know, this qualifies as a truism. But for those not so positioned, it's hard to know what they think about this, if they think about it at all.
It takes no learning -- let alone, wisdom -- for a jokebooted 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. This is the power of No!, which parents of two or three year-olds know all about.
This No! is not without its developmental importance, as it is the first attempt to erect psychological boundaries between the me and not-me, and to gain control over what one will allow into one's head. But the pathological narcissist is often fixated at this developmental stage, the result being that they omnipotently destroy (or deconstruct) with the No!, but don't have any real Yes to replace it with (one thinks of Bill "Just Say Yes to Hookers and Porn Stars" Maher). The narcissist can tear down but cannot build, as we see with the left.
For example, the ACLU mercilessly attacks the Boy Scouts, but it would never occur to them to simply start their own group of God-hating boy scouts. Likewise, it's easy enough for homosexual activists to try to undermine marriage, but why not invent a new sort of institution to deal with homosexual relationships, which share nothing in common with the sacred bond between male and female?
One may well ask how these people arrive at their belligerent 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 quasi-animal ego. Living truth becomes dead when co-opted by the ego in this manner.
When someone asks if you "believe in Darwinism," let's be honest. They aren't asking if you believe in whatever the theory of natural selection has been demonstrated to prove -- like a simple bacterium or dailykos diarist that learns a new trick (yes, I know, that was redundant). 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 possibly embody any kind of "total explanation." It would be absurd to think so.
Again, even on logical grounds this is strictly against the law, and Sheriff Gödel does not take kindly to existential scofflaws. 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 a result of 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, least of all, metaphysical 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," and then "embodying" them in the herebelow. 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, Darwinians, The Tenured, Lizards, etc. -- are, for whatever tangled developmental or genetic reason, incapable of seeing it. 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 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 Godinpotty who cannot see the painting and therefore forcefully proves my case.
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, or a head with no heart. And folks, if you don't see a lot of headless and heartless 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 where it belongs.
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