Saturday, August 29, 2009

No God, No Me, No Justice, No Mary Jo

Let's finish up this chapter on the limits of pure rationalism.

By the way, our Peevish Traditionalist commenter points out that Schuon and I agree on only 2% of his views. Which in my view is not necessarily a bad thing, because if it were more than that, these posts would be even longer. As it is, it will require dozens of posts just to explicate this single 200+ page book. (I frankly think the 2% figure is absurdly low, but we'll give him the last word.)

It's also a good thing -- or possibly bad, depending upon one's point of view -- that I don't believe Schuon was omniscient, otherwise I would be devoid of my own creativity and reduced to scouring the internet for heretics and commenting on blogs that deviate from the 100% Standard of Agreement.

To put it another way, I will have failed as a cult leader if I become one -- that is, if any of my readers agree with me 100% of the time. In fact, "agreement" is not really the right word, for agreement is perfectly acceptable so long as one has arrived at the same conclusions independently. But there again, "conclusion" is not the correct word either, for what I mean is that, when it comes to realities that transcend the senses, agreement is acceptable so long as we are looking at the same object.

But of course, even then, your view will deviate at least slightly from mine, since you are you and not me. Furthermore, it will hopefully be expressed in your own "idiom," and idiom is indistinguishable from "self." As I mentioned a few posts back, I believe I've discovered a new idiom for expressing timeless truth -- or at least I've never encountered anyone else who rolls in the precise manner I do. But this is ultimately just another way of saying that I have discovered me. And if I have discovered me, then it follows -- logically -- that I have discovered God, since the true self is an "idea" of God -- or, let's keep it neutral and just say "an emanation of O". True, it is in a sense "my God," but God nonetheless.

Now, it goes without saying that only I can discover me. However, if you are a materialist of any sort, then the question doesn't even come up. There is no self to be discovered, and therefore no personal idiom that is its very life and expression. You are not a mode of the infinite, just a freak of the finite.

Schuon uses the image of the circle with the central point radiating out in all direction. Imagine a series of concentric circles around the point. Each circle is a mode of reality, e.g., matter, life, mind, spirit. One of these circles is called "humanness." Thus, each of us is situated at a point on the circle of humanness. We are like different frogs looking at the same haystack from diverse spatial and temporal perspectives.

Being a point, we are our own center. But if you manage to grow to spiritual maturity, then you graduate from the geo-centric (or ego-centric) to the helio-centric view, and realize that your little point orbits around a vastly lager one (and without which there could be no subjective points at all).

Or, you regress to the ec-centric view that there is no center -- neither the little one nor the big One -- only periphery. Yes, it's a strange belief, but someone has to believe it, since this is a full employment cosmos, and it takes all kinds to make a world. In the long run, every insanity and inanity will be believed by someone, given enough monkeys and sufficient tenure. In our Age of Stupidity, belief in one of these impossible realities is often conflated with discovering one's unique idiom. But while "unique," these idioms have nothing universal about them, and cannot be reproduced by another person in his own unique way.

It reminds me somewhat of something Dennis Prager mentioned about how the left is guided by compassion, not standards. He was discussing a townhall meeting in which some poor woman had lost her health insurance and was hysterically weeping while incoherently relating her story. The moonstream media wanted to know: would this tragic tale change the heartless senator's view on the need for socialized medicine? "No."

The point is, compassion cannot be the guiding ideal of the state, since compassion is particular, not universal. Therefore, it is intrinsically unfair. For example, I am infinitely more compassionate toward my own child than I am toward millions of children in Africa. Therefore, if you want to be an idiot about it, you could say that in being compassionate toward my child, I am being cruel and uncompassionate toward the children of Africa.

But this is the nature of compassion. You cannot be equally compassionate toward everyone. And the moment the state tries, it becomes uncompassionate. If it chooses to be "compassionate" toward blacks by mandating racial quotas, then it is by definition uncompassionate toward Asians and Jews who will be displaced. If it lavishes money on AIDS research because of left wing homosexual activists, then there is less money for, say, diabetes research. If it gives "free" healthcare to millions of selfish people who refuse to purchase health insurance, it must take the money from someone else. Etc.

No, a government must be guided by universals, such as justice. Obviously no terrestrial justice can be perfect, nor is it possible to enforce it equally in a non-totalitarian state. But, say, a speed limit of 65 mph does not "discriminate" against people who like to drive 80 mph, even though they will be burdened with the bulk of the speeding tickets. Nor does capital punishment discriminate against blacks just because they commit a disproportionate number of the murders.

If you try to interpret justice through the lens of compassion -- as the left always does -- you unleash hell on earth. This is why the crime rate increased over 100% in the 1960s and then 50% on top of that in the 1970s. This is what happens when a government is motivated by compassion instead of justice.

Again, justice is universal, compassion is particular. A state can be just, but it cannot be compassionate in principle. This does not mean, of course, that it cannot engage in particular acts of compassion, only that this cannot be the first principle, for it inevitably ends in unfairness and lack of compassion. Institute racial quotas for blacks, and soon enough female losers want in on the deal. Then hispanic losers. Then homosexual losers. Then transgendered losers. Pretty soon you have a tyranny of losers whose only real power is the power of the state to discriminate against the worthy. "Social justice" is simply a systematic way for the left to deny justice by replacing it with compassion.

And this all goes back to our original theme on the limits of reason. Rationalism is universal only as it pertains to a single circle around the central point alluded to above. As soon as it tries to reason about those circles closer to the point, it goes off the rails -- literally! A total rationalism would be a totalitarianism, pure and simple, because it would represent a closed system with no center: Ø instead of ʘ.

It very much reminds me of the panic that was engendered in the Soviet Union when Pope John Paul II visited Poland in the early 1980s. It is impossible to convey the depth of what happened, but it was as if a divine ray from above broke thorough the dreary closed system of Marxist totalitarianism, or the spiritual center crashed into the material periphery of the world. People were quite literally revived. Suddenly there was hope. Hayward writes that after the Pope's visit, suicides fell by a third in Poland, while alcohol consumption dropped by a quarter. (Hayward's book, The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980-1989, is Highly Recommended.)

Indeed, it is becoming difficult to convey the depth of the transformation that occurred in this country with the ascendence of the cheerful, strong, confident, wise, and optimistic Ronald Reagan. Perhaps not. Just think of the dour, weak, humorless, pessimistic, and ignorant Obama, and imagine the opposite. It's like Welcome Back, Carter. Note that the latter character traits are privations, so that of the two, only Reagan approximates the universal. But in so being, he was paradoxically -- but nonetheless naturally -- "one of a kind."

Conversely, as one of our trolls recently reminded us, if one is only "compassionate" -- meaning, of course, liberal -- enough, one is free to betray one's country and transgress the most elementary standards of justice and decency. One can become a good monster.

16 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"Now, it goes without saying that only I can discover me. However, if you are a materialist of any sort, then the question doesn't even come up. There is no self to be discovered, and therefore no personal idiom that is its expression and its very life."

Yeah! This, and the entire lead up to it, hits the nail on the head.

From my perspective anyway.

Other perspectives may see the same thing... from a slightly different angle.

8/29/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Whoa!
Not to mention while reading this I have in eye-shot one of the very many "haystacks" (not the wrestler) on my wall here. Yet it is not the original. But beautiful just the same.

wv: bulsis
No. It's true!

8/29/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Also, Bob, I've long lost track of how many times our posts seem to "overlap".

8/29/2009 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A synchronicity is just a spiritual pun.

8/29/2009 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Of course they exist.
I've come to look at it this way:
We both hit the hay staring at the ultimate subject. It's no wonder we end up staring at the same something a little more down the way independant of one another.

8/29/2009 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"the left is guided by compassion, not standards"

Yep. Driven by effects, justifying their actions as responses to effects, they ignore the principles which caused them. The are oblivious (I hope) to the fact that all of their efforts only exacerbate the sort of effects that originally affected them, and generate untold numbers of new and more deplorable effects.

From reacting to the effects of poverty, their actions in creating welfare programs, led inexorably to the effects such as teenage drug addicts attempting to flush their babies down the school toilet - and because they are utterly ignorant of the principles their own actions ignore or violate... they will frantically try to cure the latest effects, can cause even more unimaginable horrors because of it.

8/29/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Again, justice is universal, compassion is particular. A state can be just, but it cannot be compassionate in principle. This does not mean, of course, that it cannot engage in particular acts of compassion, only that this cannot be the guiding principle, for it inevitably ends in unfairness and lack of compassion. Institute racial quotas for blacks, and soon enough female losers want in on the deal. Then hispanic losers. Then homosexual losers. Then transgendered losers. Pretty soon you have a tyranny of losers whose only real power is the power of the state to discriminate against the worthy."

Just wanted to see it again.

wv:totoculp
Yep, they're totally culpable.

8/29/2009 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"It very much reminds me of the panic that was engendered in the Soviet Union when Pope John Paul II visited Poland in the early 1980s"

On related lines, I watched a Booknotes talk this morning by the authors of Reagan's Secret War: The Untold Story of His Fight to Save the World from Nuclear Disaster which made some mention of Reagan's contacts with Pope John Paul II as well, looks quite interesting, seemed to be focused on how Reagan had a singular idea of what needed to be done, from as far back as 1963, and focused over the following decades on bringing it to pass.

Anyone know of it?

8/29/2009 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"A synchronicity is just a spiritual pun."

Heh, I like that.

8/29/2009 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

It’s come to this: Dems task Teddy’s grandson with leading funeral prayer for ObamaCare

8/29/2009 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

For Cory:

I came across this today and thought it appropriate for you as regards your comment the other day...

"The more perfect faith is, the darker it becomes. The closer we get to God, the less is our faith diluted with the half-light of created images and concepts. Our certainty increases with this obscurity, yet not without anguish and even material doubt, because we do not find it easy to subsist in a void in which our natural powers have nothing of their own to rely on.

And it is in the deepest darkness that we most fully possess God on earth, because it is then that our minds are most truly liberated from the weak, created lights that are darkness in comparison to Him; it is then that we are filled with His infinite Light which seems pure darkness to our reason."

-"New Seeds of Contemplation", Thomas Merton

8/29/2009 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"...because if it were more than that, these posts would be even longer." LOL! Well, this "literalist" enjoys your blog, so I think we're looking at the same object.

8/29/2009 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Gagdad Bob said...
A synchronicity is just a spiritual pun.

Now that's punny! :^)

8/30/2009 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aaron-

Apropos Merton quote. Thanks! :^)

8/30/2009 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Social justice" is simply a systematic way for the left to deny justice by replacing it with compassion."

Which turns into slavery without compassion. They deny Justice, Liberty and Truth while proclaiming they are for it.

8/30/2009 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Russell said...

It's been said before: those that are kind to the cruel are cruel to the kind.

"Social justice" is a game played by the materialists and communists, because they are always playing with a zero-sum deck.

8/31/2009 11:04:00 AM  

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