Monday, August 31, 2009

Darwin's Death Panels and the Spirit of '76

A brief sidebar as we amble through the proofs of God. I think I've just noticed a little inconsistency in Schuon's thought, which divides us on the issue of evolution. My views on evolution are of course explicated in my book and extended in many subsequent posts, but I think the one other person who shares my deep Coonfusion is our Unknown Friend.

I don't have time at the moment to dig out the exact reference, but UF talks about vertical and horizontal causation being unified in the Cross. A purely horizontal science is a metaphysical impossibility. Rather, it must be "crucified" to the vertical in order to arrive at a truly integral science. There's much more, but you get the essence of the gist of the nub of the drift: In the eternal beginning God creates the vertical and the horizontal (please note how the vertical must be in the present, not past, tense, since it is "outside" time).

Schuon writes -- accurately, in my view -- that "Divine causality may be said to have two dimensions, one relating to the nature of things, the other to their destinies: God is at once the cause of perfections and the cause of of their ultimate limit" (emphasis mine).

The static "nature of things" obviously abides outside or beyond the categories of time and space. This is the vertical. But if we only existed in the vertical, change -- and evolution -- obviously could not occur. Rather, it is only in the horizontal world that we can manifest our vertical destiny -- which you might say is the purpose of the world.

Once again we see that the vertical is the "condition without which" -- i.e., the necessary cause -- whereas the horizontal is the "condition with which" -- i.e., the sufficient cause.

I imagine God before Creation to be a little like Bob Dylan on Maggie's Farm: he has a headful of ideas that are drivin' him insane. The only way to express them all is to create, which he almost cannot help doing, being the kind of being he is, which is to say, Being.

But creation always requires time. Perfection does not simply fall out of us fully formed. To say that creation as such has a purpose is effectively to believe in evolution -- again, for the hundredth time, not the watered-down evolutionism of scientistic natural selection, but in the literal meaning of the word.

Natural selection is obviously a subset of evolution, not vice versa. To insist otherwise to believe merely in change, not in evolution. As I have mentioned before, anti-evolutuonary Darwinians have highjacked the word "evolution" in exactly the same manner that illiberal leftists have highjacked the word "liberal." And it is no coincidence that these are generally the same people, for clearly, there is no basis for [real] liberalism if we are simply horizontal replicating machines with no higher purpose. The implicit assumptions and aims of Darwinism and leftism converge.

There again, you can see how this critical distinction plays out in my political differences with Schuon, for as always, politics follows ontology and anthropology. Since Schuon overemphasizes the vertical to the exclusion of the horizontal (his above statement about the two forms of divine causation notwithstanding), he was an unapologetically anti-democratic royalist. Conversely, the illiberal leftist, since he is a purely horizontal beast, overemphasizes the horizontal to the exclusion of the vertical, since for the materialist, the vertical does not and cannot exist except as illusion.

But America is different. It is the only country that was explicitly and consciously founded upon both horizontal and vertical principles. Much of this formula was worked out in the Federalist Papers, which remains a timelessly true meditation on the nature of good governance, which must take into consideration both horizontal and vertical realities.

The Founders were very aware of the dangers of a purely horizontal democracy, which they knew would not work, and would devolve to tyranny. For them the idea of an irreligious and non-virtuous citizenry being capable of self-governance was a non-starter.

But how to incorporate the vertical without reverting to the static system of monarchy? This is, of course, the dynamic synthesis of classical liberalism, which balances the libertarian "creative destruction" of the free market with the vertical traditionalism of spiritually evolved (and evolving) man. Thus we can affirm: "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often" (Churchill). This truism is only paradoxical if you exclude either the vertical or horizontal.

Now, will this system devised by the Founders work? That's a whole different story. This delicate formula has only existed on earth for some 235 years, whereas some of those static vertical dynasties lasted for thousands, e.g., Egypt.

Imagine thousands of years with no change -- changelessness being the whole "point" of traditional cultures. For a traditional culture, change is always associated with decay and degeneracy, as it drifts away from its static archetype. There was not even the idea of "progress," i.e., that things could improve with time and bring us closer to the ideal.

You could say that classical liberalism "discovered" progress (which naturally brings with it the possibility of regress). As I mentioned in my book, if you go back to where things stood with man in 1600 or so, the future looked rather bleak. For the average man, things were no different than they were 1,000 or 2,000 years ago: famine, disease, illiteracy, tyranny, backbreaking toil, etc. For all you strict traditionalists out there, if that is your preferred mode of life, I say go for it! Don't just dress up like an Indian and a smoke peace pipe on weekends, go live like one. Stop reading. Stop eating modern food. Stop using air conditioning, antibiotics, analgesics, automobiles, audio systems. And that's just the A's!

The thing is, these people never have the courage of their convictions, any more than do the Darwinians. They too never (at least nowadays) draw out the implications of their metaphysic, that life is an utterly meaningless struggle for survival.

I say "nowadays" because in the not-too-distant past, progressives and fascists did indeed draw out these implications in the form of eugenics, forced sterility, abortion, etc. There is nothing in Darwinism that makes such practices -- or any practice -- "wrong," much less "evil." It is simply a truism that natural selection does not know right and wrong, only survival and death. And survival is merely "death delayed."

But what if you don't want to spend your life standing in front of one of Darwin's death panels? Too bad. No primordial soup for you! No tenure, either!

Extremes meet. This is why a political system of purely horizontal causes ultimately leads to the various static leftist tyrannies that littered the 20th century. And now in the United States we have an illiberal, anti-American president who is the very embodiment of the horizontal divorced from the vertical. Only a revolution will save us: but it is simply the same vertical revolution that is always occuring in 1776.

43 Comments:

Blogger River Cocytus said...

It would seem that Schoun's unwillingness to formally confront the Cross (As it were) possibly made his work unable to formally confront evolution as a general concept, especially transformist evolution.

Even the Fathers largely reject such an idea, but this is founded on the notion of natures, which do not change, and then how can a mouse become a dog? We really haven't *solved* that problem formally - even the scientists - and what evolution does to us in the current state is further widens the divorce between the world experienced and the world thought. For we experience 'nature' - we know a horse and a dog and so forth, but then we are saying they are mere collections of cells and impulses and parts of populations and drifts? The horse is lost in the data.

It seems though, that the 'crux' of the issue is that, as I have heard someone say, the Incarnation (and all that follows) was the 'first new thing under the sun.'

If that's not progress, then what!

8/31/2009 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Also, just a thought, I think that something can have more than one nature

For instance, we share natures with every biologically living thing, from the bacteria up, while also being in nature human. What is to say that natures that were nascent do not come into expression by 'uniting without confusion' with another nature? Is there any confusion between our cellularity and our humanity?

So when we look at fossils we may find 'bridge' creatures; creatures which show for the first time the nature of 'bird', of 'rodent', of 'primate', which themselves do not change, but come into being progressively? For the first primate might have well also been a rodent. And the first bird also a dinosaur, a lizard, no? What then is the confusion about it?

Makes me wonder...

8/31/2009 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, there are different cosmic "centers," and human beings participate in all of them.

8/31/2009 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, a key point is that the lower animals are vertically descended from man, whereas horizontally speaking it is the reverse. Thus we see "traces of humanness" in the lower animals, and traces of animality in man.

8/31/2009 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Yes, to say that Adam "names the animals" is to say that man knows their vertical essences.

8/31/2009 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Excellent post, short on time today and too many gems, will settle on two, one capper:

"This is why a political system of purely horizontal causes ultimately leads to the various static leftist tyrannies that littered the 20th century. And now in the United States we have an illiberal, anti-American president who is the very embodiment of the horizontal divorced from the vertical. Only a revolution will save us: but it is simply the same vertical revolution that is always occurring in 1776."

IS Always Occurring, definitely, and also is always being opposed... or apathetically allowed to languish, but it must always be fought. Thomas Paine is a mixed bag in some ways, but he sure had this right,

"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it Now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorius the triumph."

... in more ways than One.

8/31/2009 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

... and this one,
"I don't have time at the moment to dig out the exact reference, but UF talks about vertical and horizontal causation being unified in the Cross. A purely horizontal science is a metaphysical impossibility. Rather, it must be "crucified" to the vertical in order to arrive at a truly integral science. "

One of the most fascinating concepts dealt with here, is that of the cross, the intersection of horizontal and vertical, and of being crucified to the vertical. I mostly tend to being a spectator on full issue, but I hope it comes up more soon.

8/31/2009 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, we're always fighting the same reactionary counter-revolutionaries. It's an enduring principality or power, while its tools and useful idiots come and go.

8/31/2009 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"The thing is, these people never have the courage of their convictions..." Or, as my husband said when we were discussing this very topic a couple of days ago..."Funny, how they never put any skin in the game..."

8/31/2009 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Susannah, it's the armchair quarterbacking of verticality.

For the average man, things were no different than they were 1,000 or 2,000 years ago: famine, disease, illiteracy, tyranny, backbreaking toil, etc.

Heck, you don't even have to go that far. A century will do (don't read if you have tender sensibilities).

8/31/2009 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Page 474 of MOTT -- a way toward synthesis of the what and how of the world..?

8/31/2009 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Then again, UF talks about evolution a lot, just in MOTT. So synthesis of his thought on the subject may be hard to nail down to one passage, if at all.

8/31/2009 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

On a related note, if we are to believe chance plays such a critical role in Darwinian-flavored evolution (can chance be critical?) why don’t we see evolutionary tracks of say, for example, many different “arrivals” of "mouse", but coming from different sources at different times? I mean, the potential is there. And they multiply like rabbits, so… In other words, with all this “blind chance” bouncing into each other all over the place, shouldn’t we see “mouse” popping up all over the timeline and also on different “trajectories”?
It just seems to me, and I think it was UF who brought me here, that “mouse” was the perfection of the "mouse" track, and that mission all along. Mouse was going to get there no matter how long it took. Chance merely played a role in the “how” long.

8/31/2009 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, that's why Schuon didn't believe in transformist evolution, since each species was the perfection of its archetype. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see why the vertical archetype can't be realized in horizontal time.

8/31/2009 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I think it's ineveeatapple.

8/31/2009 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Maybe this is too obvious, I can’t tell any more, but does not the human race evolve right before our very Beyebles?

8/31/2009 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good point. The difference between a human baby and even a four year-old is more shocking than the difference between a rock and an amoeba.

8/31/2009 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Yes.
Bob, have you ever heard someone while trying to describe the mental level of a dog make the suggestion that a dog has the mental level of a two year old…or how ever they put it?
When I’ve heard it, thankfully not often, it makes me cringe like fingernails down a chalkboard.
Now I love dogs, but the two cannot be compared. And I don’t even mean in terms of potential. I say a human baby at any age “looks at the world” completely differently than any dog at any age.

8/31/2009 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Otherwise a baby is just a really really really smart dog.
With a funny shaped head.

8/31/2009 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

RR--

Anyone who thinks there's some essential commonality between children and animals just has no idea what language is. Everything is language, but only humans are interior to it.

8/31/2009 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which is why their heads often have those odd shapes. This is because the growth of their neocortex often outpaces the face. You may have noticed that in many children, their foreheads extend beyond their noses.

8/31/2009 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Julie -
You might get a kick out of The Good Old Days--They Were Terrible!

8/31/2009 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Yes. And the shape is not the cause but the other way around.

8/31/2009 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

In other words, the shape is preparation for the cause.
Preparation shape, you could call it.

8/31/2009 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Ximeze!

8/31/2009 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Have you been in super-extra-lurk-mode?

8/31/2009 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ximeze, thanks! One more to add to my ever-expanding wishlist.

8/31/2009 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ximeze!

Throw any snowballs at Hoarhey yet?

8/31/2009 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Back to the post for a moment,

But America is different. It is the only country that was explicitly and consciously founded upon both horizontal and vertical principles. ...which remains a timelessly true meditation on the nature of good governance, which must take into consideration both horizontal and vertical realities.

Just ran across this passage in an article over at First Things:

"The great question that exercises modern culture is the meaning of human autonomy and especially sexual freedom. But this struggle is fundamentally a struggle over a religious question—a question that revolves around the reality of a transcendent order. One way of putting it is: “Did God create us, or did we create God?” The limited scope that secularism is prepared to concede to religious beliefs is based on the assumption that we created God. As long as the supremacy remains with man, as long as faith is understood as a private, therapeutic pursuit, it is permissible. But when people insist that faith is more than this and that the supremacy is not ours, religion must be resisted—increasingly through the law."

8/31/2009 08:37:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Ricky

Actually, super-extra-bailed-out-of-CA & moved to Alaska. Been off-line for over 3 weeks, except for 20 mins open time at the public library when it can be snatched from the cruise-tourists who flock there to check their email.

Now my sea-side pad is wired-up, so OC reading is possible again.

8/31/2009 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Alaska sounds wonderful.
Don't mind if I do.
Alaskaaaa
See?
Give our future President a kiss for me if you see her, please.

8/31/2009 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Godinpotty-rack-a-bye-baby in 5..4..3..2..

8/31/2009 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Glad to have you back, Ximeze.
Now we just gotta find Walt, Robin, Mushroom, Dr Zero, Ben, QP, JWM, Scipio..

Just kiddin Ben! (and JWM, QP..)

Night :-)

8/31/2009 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

New feature -- best search of the day:

bonehaed math

Runner up:

drunken raccoon

(obviously someone searching for Skully)

8/31/2009 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A note on evolution:

Upon meditation it must be conceded that God already knows the outcome of the evolutionary struggle at hand.

It could not be otherwise. She is not limited by time.

Soooooo, let us spin the implications.

God can step back and admire the vertical and horizontal as a movie, that is, unfolding in time;

Likewise She can admire the WHOLE shebang at once as a hologram, painting, or mural, completely finished.

Where does that place us, and our free will? It's a dicey question. It cannot be solved adequately.

Therefore the proper conduct of a person always defaults to doing the will of God, BECAUSE it may be well nigh impossible to do otherwise, OR, it is most efficient and expedient in how we perform our "scene" in the movie or our "tile" in the mosaic, or both.


The other implication is a rock bottom optimism that the outcome of things will always shake out correctly. It is the ultimate trust and faith.

In the meantime the God lover retreats into the NOW at the intersecton of vertical and horizontal, as the place most likely to hold the intstructions on how to live, MOMENT BY MOMENT. Amen.

8/31/2009 11:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve Yeager said...

So there you have it. Schuon was wrong, the early Fathers were wrong, but Darwin was right. Thank heaven for modern science, with all its insights into human nature, how we developed, and how our globe is warming. Four out of five dentists surveyed....

9/01/2009 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Whatever. Having established that I differ with Schuon, I trust you will now go away.

9/01/2009 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Vetera novis augere et perficere. -- Leo XIII

9/01/2009 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Gagdad Bob said...
Yes, we're always fighting the same reactionary counter-revolutionaries. It's an enduring principality or power, while its tools and useful idiots come and go."

Aye. The illiberals seek power over life, liberty n' property while us classisical liberals seek the power of life, liberty and property (in both the horizontal and vertical sense).

9/02/2009 02:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Classisical? Is that another new Raccoon word or does Cap'n Ben need another grog?

9/02/2009 02:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Gagdad Bob said...
New feature -- best search of the day:

bonehaed math

Runner up:

drunken raccoon

(obviously someone searching for Skully)"

I'm not even on the first page! What's up wit that? Over a brazillian results though. I like to think I done my part.

9/02/2009 03:02:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Ximeze!
We missed ya! Glad to see you're hooked up now! :^)

9/02/2009 03:03:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Gagdad Bob said...
New feature -- best search of the day:

bonehaed math"

Or bonehead, for you english majors.

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Moral Entropy, Bonehead Math, and the Open Cosmos

That was a good one. And no math test at the end was a plus! :^)

9/02/2009 03:15:00 AM  

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