Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Much Updated Ruin From a Much Outdated Style

A word of caution:

"The rule of every serious esoterist should be to be silent -- often for a length of years -- concerning every new illumination or inspiration that he has, so as to give it the necessary time to mature, i.e., to acquire that certainty which results from its accordance with moral consciousness, moral logic, the totality of spiritual and ordinary experience -- that of friends and spiritual guides of the past and present -- as also with divine revelation, whose eternal dogmas are guiding constellations in the intellectual and moral heaven" (Meditations on the Tarot).

Yes, unlike climate change cultists, we have objective standards of proof.

Even Jesus apparently spoke little of these matters until around age 30 -- which, back then, was rather elderly, since life expectancy in ancient Rome wasn't much more than 20 or 30 years.

Ironically, things are so much easier for us today, that they can actually be more difficult, in that every unqualified yahoo has instant access to the most sublime wisdom. We're well past "every man his own priest," and even "every man his own prophet"; for this is the dark age of "every man his own god" -- which can only make it much more of a challenge to identify actual prophets and the real God.

Just because one can read, it hardly means one is literate, much less that one understands. Rather, it merely gives the illusion of literacy and understanding. Plenty of liberals have gone to law school, and yet, do not understand the first thing about the Constitution.

Unfortunately, our president is one of them. He has sworn before the almighty to preserve a document he no more believes in than the strange god to whom he has sworn to preserve it. I guess you'd call that a "negative tautology," similar to the ACLU's ceaseless effort to have the Declaration of Independence nullified on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, since it mentions God.

Nor do post-literate atheists understand religion, to which they stand as living (or is it dying?) proof. Only a kind of cosmic narcissism allows them to convert a sad disability into a virtue, to elevate a confession of ignorance to a witness of truth. It's incredibly childlike, really, for children are also unable to stand back from their immediate perceptions and appreciate their intrinsic limitations.

Once detached from the vertical, one is in the "zone of mirages." Now, just because this zone isn't real, it doesn't mean it isn't "creative." It's just that it is a kind of worthless creativity (the protean world of "infertile eggheads") that bears on no eternal truth or beauty transcending itself. It is "art for art's sake," which is no better than "tenure for tenure's sake" or "science for science's sake."

Liberals think that conservatives are "anti-science" because we understand that science must always be grounded in, and converge upon, something that is not science, at risk of becoming demonic. One can never derive values from science -- the ought from the is.

This is the monstrosity of reductionistic Darwinism: not that it is "true," but that it replaces the integral Truth of which it can only be a tiny reflection. For if Darwinism is the unvarnished truth of man, dreadful consequences necessarily follow -- not the least of which being the impossibility of Truth and Virtue. I won't even bother to catalogue them, for only a gold-plated intellectual and spiritual cretin such as Charles the Queeg could be unaware of them.

That Darwinism can satisfy his barren intellect is a statement about his intellect, not about Truth. Such ingrates have no idea what religion has done for them, because it has all been done collectively and subliminally through a kind of cultural and historical osmosis. But to be unaware of the extraordinary spiritual sacrifices others have made in order to make your insignificant life possible is to live as a barbarian. Your whole miserable life is lived in borrowed -- no, stolen -- Light.

What is true will always be so. Scientific fads and fashions will come and go, but Man will always be in the image of the Creator, a meta-cosmic truth from which our rights, our duties, and our dignity flow. Only man can -- and therefore must! -- live by the light of eternity, so that all we do, say, write, create and think, can resonate with the Real and thus "pass the test of time":

"Artists, like esoterists, are obliged to make their works pass the trial of time, so that the poisonous plants from the sphere of mirages can be uprooted, and there remains only the wheat -- pure and ripe" (MOTT).

When I write something, I want it to stay written -- or, for the benefit of my devoted trolls, to stay rotten. I am always writing from the standpoint of eternity, not because I am grandiose, but because it is the least one can do. Otherwise, there is no point whatsoever in putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, at least regarding the temporally nonlocal matters we belowviate upon down here. This is not a shopping list or editorial, much less something as trivial as an academic paper.

In order to properly do one's omwork, one's writing must be "objective," even while being "transparent," or perhaps "translucent," in that it must be both rock solid and capable of refracting the Light. Why? Because this is the way in which the Divine Spirit works, which is to say, through a reflecting medium. What, you thought it was just magic?

To get the ego out of the way merely means to try to transcend all pettiness, all that is time-bound, all that refers back to oneself instead of pointing beyond. I must decrease so that He may increase: one "becomes poor, so as to be able to receive the wealth of the divine spirit..."

This is "the gesture of actualizing below that which is above," so that one's very life becomes a work of sacred art -- which is again to be transparent to that which transcends us. So,

men of fame
Can never find a way
Till time has flown
Far from their dying day
--Nick Drake

49 Comments:

Anonymous lurker uncloaking said...

Nick Drake...may GOD have mercy on his troubled soul

12/23/2009 08:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't particularly want it to stay written. You might consider deleting it all.

12/23/2009 08:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Comments too? For surely you know that without the host the parasite ceases to exist.

12/23/2009 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/23/2009 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

>I must decrease so that He may increase: one "becomes poor, so as to be able to receive the wealth of the divine spirit..."<

Bingo. Something's got to give, as the cup is forever too full to receive, though too leaky to contain ... and the monkey up in the trees never stops chattering!

Somewhere along the line it became obvious to me that 1)I wanted access to Silence, even though 2)I am embedded in It. And it's heartening to find the subject peppered in religions and traditions, from the earliest times.

Is it just me, or does this time of year seem quieter, as though the volume knob on Ordinary Life has been turned down? Whatever it is, your words/ideas ring very clear!

12/23/2009 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

A good summation by VDH of what we face politically, titled Where Did These Guys Come From?

12/23/2009 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

“Such ingrates have no idea what religion has done for them, because it has all been done collectively and subliminally through a kind of cultural and historical osmosis. But to be unaware of the extraordinary spiritual sacrifices others have made in order to make your insignificant life possible is to live as a barbarian.”

In Gil Ballie’s book, Violence Unveiled, he makes the argument that the only reason we are shocked by Christ as innocent victim on the cross today, is because of it then. In that sense, it is still happening now.

RR

12/23/2009 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

“When I write something, I want it to stay written -- or, for the benefit of my devoted trolls, to stay rotten. I am always writing from the standpoint of eternity..”

This was clear when reading MOTT. It sounded ancient. Or rather, UF did. Certainly not from, what was it, the 70s or 80s. Doesn’t matter, does it?

12/23/2009 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Excuse me, "sounds".

12/23/2009 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> One can never derive values from science -- the ought from the is.

Ehhh, not so sure about that. I think that the Scholastics would give you an argument about it. The statement is completely true if you are assuming a materialistic, mechanistic model of reality (as all modern science does). But if you admit formal and especially final causes into your model, then in theory it should be possible to derive "ought" from "is", at least to some extent.

Excellent post today.

12/23/2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Bob, Very thoughtful and worthwhile post, as always. Please allow me to wish you a Very Merry Christmas, with all the complements of the Season.

Please forgive me for a minor quibble. That the life expectancy at birth in Judea 2,000 years ago might have been 30 years or so, does not mean that Jesus would have been considered at all elderly at 30. Most of the mortality that accounts for that average life expectancy probably took place before the age of 5 years, and the classic threescore-and-ten would have been accepted by most people then as a good, full human lifespan. The desirable lifespan would have been 120 years, but that would have been rarely achieved.

I think that a man of 30 years would have been considered to be in the prime of his life.

12/23/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

From what I have read, that is not at all true. Life was so terribly difficult back then -- especially for the 95% of peasants and slaves -- that one was generally in terrible shape by 30.

12/23/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bob:

It is interesting about the short lifespan theory in Judea.

What were your sources on that?

My previous studies in anthropology supported the view of Gandalin, i.e, the average life span figure skewed by high infant mortality.

When looking at aboriginals we find life not especially hard, tending towards quite a bit of leisure. Infant mortality and even adult mortality we find fairly high due to infectious diseases, nonetheless plenty 50's on up aged people.

12/23/2009 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The first thing I googled indicated that if one was lucky enough to make it to 30 (because of the high rates of infant and child mortality),

"After the age of 40, more people began dying of diseases and of things like cancer, heart attacks, and strokes, as they do today [not to mention infections]. Without medicines, most people died in their forties and fifties. Because of this, most people did not ever know their grandparents, who died about the time they were born, and many kids lost one or both parents before they grew up. About a third of Roman boys seem to have lost their father before they were grown up."

12/23/2009 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, that is false about aboriginal man. All that stuff about the edenic life of the savage has been thoroughly debunked.

12/23/2009 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Regarding aborginal man, Sick Societies, by Robert Edgerton, is highly recommended. Disease, famine, natural disaster, malnourishment, chronic GI disturbances due to parasites, not to mention chronic violence and early death due to murder -- it was no picnic.

12/23/2009 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There was also much more mental illness, by the way, except that it was collective instead of individual.

12/23/2009 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

Re life-expectancy: I tend to side with GB on this.

In my own case, modern medicine (antibiotics and/or surgery) have saved my life at least three times now - and I'm only 50. I don't think my case is at all atypical.

In Ireland in the mid-19th century, the average life-expectancy for a peasant was 19. Even in America, at the beginning of the 20th century, it was only in the 40s.

12/23/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Imagine how many must have died just from the flu...

12/23/2009 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Bob,

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of my quibble.

I admit that this is a minor point, which does not really have any impact on your post as a whole. The difference between life expectancy at birth and the average longevity of a population is just something that worries me.

There are 3 separate issues in your comments here:

1) What was the life expectancy at birth for people in Judea at the time of Jesus?
2) What was the usual longevity of those who survived to adulthood?
3) What was the physical and mental condition of those who reached whatever ages they reached?

The first thing we have to admit is that the data are very sparse, and we have no way of knowing if the sketchy data that we do have (e.g. ages and conditions of skeletal and mummified remains, inscriptions on tombs or other funerary monuments, written records that may record the ages of people at the time) are representative or accurate.

I would not necessarily extrapolate data from populations elsewhere within the Roman Empire.

You are right, that the health of people in ancient and in pre-and non-industrial socieities is no better than the health of people today, at least as far as the available data permit us to estimate.

On the other hand. I think you will agree, however, that the picture conveyed by the accounts in the Gospels of Jesus engaged in an active ministry throughout much of Judea does not suggest that he was either infirm or elderly.

The imagery of the Passion always suggests that he was crucified in the prime of life. The idea that Jesus was worn-out, decrepit, or sickly would not, I think, be the ordinary way of portraying him.

At any rate, as I said, this side-discussion has very little to contribute to your major points. Merry Christmas, and let us pray that we have a much happier 2010.

12/23/2009 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

I believe Bob's original point was speaking on maturity of the mind/heart and not the brain/pump.
RR

12/23/2009 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I refute the point about aboriginal life expectancies.

Living populations of hunter-gatherers extant today are not seen to be especially useful and generate a crop of oldsters quite reliable.

These elders can be seen on films and in person.

All without antibiotics.

GB is wrong, has been caught with his pants down, and is displaying his usual congental inability to retract a point once he's made it.

Because GB has narcissistic tendencies and the rest of you don't even bother trying to deny it. You know what I'm talking about.

12/23/2009 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/23/2009 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

A few thoughts:

1. There is a Johannine Tradition (that is, a tradition coming from the Fathers whose main teacher was St. John the Evangelist / Divine) that Jesus also experienced old age. Now, God already identifies with the old as he is Ancient of Days, so in some sense it would be unnecessary for him to actually become old in years as a man. But that is the tradition.

2. It largely depended on the time and place - rather than on more freely willable factors - how miserable life was. We are confused because of data noise - there were no doubt from the very beginning men that lived very long and we might confuse with 'noble savages' - but my impression is that for the majority life was brutal. Therefore both sides of the coin could justify their position; both the Hobbsean and the Romantic.

The salient point seems to be that going back to an aboriginal state would be a tremendous gamble; you might find yourself in somewhat edenic circumstances, or they might be nasty and brutal. You might be born to wise and good parents, or to superstitious savages. We don't have it too much better overall, but I think it *is* measurably better, even though we can easily exaggerate it either way.

A second thought was something a good friend noted: most 'adults' were actually teenagers; no wonder there was so much imaginative myth!

3. Among the Jews in particular life spans were particularly long, probably because lawkeeping - even if done in a legalistic fashion - helped preserve longevity. Mary the Mother of God's parents were quite old (60's?) as was Simeon, Anna the Prophet, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and so forth. Longevity generally goes up with civilization since it by default seems to mitigate many factors which cut lives short.

Civilization, like Chesterton has warned, can however be simply a great old veneer, or in Carlyle's words 'a sham' - or in Bob's, a cabal of tenured, long-lived vertical barbarians. I dealt with one today who thought me a puke or grunt and threatened me and claimed I did not know what I was talking about RE: web technology. I looked her up: degree in Mythology, PHD from California, 'Taoist Christian' and 'Buddhist'. Her only subtlety was in her cruelty.

Savages often do wicked things, but the veneer of civilization provides cover for even greater evils.

Isn't it interesting, that God should be young again every 25th of December!

12/23/2009 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

To deal with the anonymous coward's point, it is often the case that out of 200 or so folks at least one or two manage to make it to old age.

It's called the lie of photography; take a slice of something and you can make it look any way you want.

12/23/2009 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Oh, not to mention that civilized presence in many places stops tribal warfare and limits the roving of large predators. So you're not getting a correct sample either.

We can't separate one condition from the others; not to mention many of the tribes extant now were the most successful. So the bias is simply idiotic.

But this is typical of 'progressive' anthropology.

12/23/2009 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

River Cocytus - puke/grunt not!

12/23/2009 02:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

I'm not so good with the html...here's an interesting google life expectancy chart by country:

http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_dyn_le00_in&idim=country:USA&q=life+expectancy+united+states

I find it a curious aspect of the left to want to believe that being a hunter-gatherer is a healthier lifestyle choice. I've heard that one for a longtime now. But just try to pry their iphone away from them...and things will get caveman pretty quick!

And anon...no one is saying that earlier societies didn't have old people. Certainly there would have been...and even occasionally a very healthy, lively octogenarian or perhaps even older. But I see little reason to believe they would have made up the proportion of the population that they do now.

A chart of life expectancy during the Roman Empire:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/lifetbl.html

compare with this for the U.S.:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Uspop.svg

12/23/2009 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/23/2009 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

I don't know who invented "dead men tell no tales", but he's pretty smart! I mean, old!
RR

12/23/2009 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking just from personal experience, at my present age my father looked 15 years older than I do. Or, just look at photos of middle-aged people in the depression...

12/23/2009 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

"I'm not so good with the html..."

That's alright, Jack. Neither is Blogger.

:-)

RR

12/23/2009 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Or photos of Moses Heston.

12/23/2009 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

But isn't the desire to see hunter-gatherers as healthier, long-living, and happier an integral part of the lefty worldview?

I think it's clear that the underlying belief is that either *nothing* but death, oppression and evil has come from civilization...or if they do admit a some good things, that they are only relatively good compared to the high costs.

Of the many ironies of this viewpoint is the fact that such types often LOVE to travel to far off lands and see no contradiction in their worldview and intercontinental plane travel (which is how I assume hunter/gatherers got around). But woe unto they who dare throw out a cardboard coffee cup or who use too many paper napkins!!

Yes, civilization is not for free and it may often be disorienting to many of us--there are costs, psychological and otherwise. But it's capacity for lessening the ills of the human condition (at least those ills susceptible to remedy) all but the most recalcitrant lefty surely must see.

12/23/2009 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh no they don't. People who give up religion remain religious, but just shift their faith to other things, like socialized medicine or Keynesian economics or global warming, which are not subject to rational reflection.

12/23/2009 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Back when the ultra-lefty "Rage Against the Machine" was popular, I pointed out to a friend who was a fan the irony of such a band being on Sony Records. You should have seen the fumbling and rationalizations that came out of my friend's mouth.

What is it about this lefty narrative that allows such an intellectual disconnect? Does it play into some deep adolescent fantasy? Some sort of risk-free way of pretending to be David throwing rocks at Goliath while Goliath is the one who is providing you with such a relatively easy life?

There has to be something compelling about the lefty narrative that it taps into something seemingly impervious to logic. I think the last Batman movie showed that the conservative (more or less) view can also create a compelling narrative. What gives?

12/23/2009 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> I find it a curious aspect of the left to want to believe that being a hunter-gatherer is a healthier lifestyle choice

These are the people who call themselves "progressives", whose constant whine is that conservatives "want to turn back the clock"!

Being a conservative Catholic, it's true that I'd like to turn back the clock to about the 13th century, but only to have a different go at this Modernist experiment. Seems like there should be a way to get most or all of the scientific benefits of the modern world without all the overt Satanism - just a hunch.

But "progressives" want to turn back the clock to around 10,000 BC.

12/23/2009 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> There has to be something compelling about the lefty narrative that it taps into something seemingly impervious to logic.

That would be Envy and Pride.

Those will always be more compelling to most people than anything conservatives can offer, at least this side of the Eschaton.

12/23/2009 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a card carrying leftist. I'm so left that I write with my left hand, and I'm biologically right-handed.

I named my first born Marx. That's right, Marx not Marco.

So, believe me when I tell you we lefties do not romanticize the old days or idealize the nomadic barbarians of today or yesterday.

However, we watch T.V., and I tell you on those New Guinea shows there are gray-haired dudes and old ladies all over the place, as numerous or more so as the young women with the more shapely hoo-haws.

Now explain that. Same in the Amazon, in the Eskimo shows, in the Bushemen shows, in the Outback shows, and in the Mongolian shows. Old. All over the place. Women with attractive hoo-haws, not so much seen. If no body was getting old, then what the heck gives?

So if Judea old timey was on T.V, probably lots of gray to be seen.

I think we've said enough. Let's shut this thing down.

Tasurinchi.

BTW I'm very old and I live in the Andes. I'm an "Indito." But civilized.

12/23/2009 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous don juan said...

Anagram for "Indito":

n' idiot

12/23/2009 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"For if Darwinism is the unvarnished truth of man, dreadful consequences necessarily follow -- not the least of which being the impossibility of Truth and Virtue. I won't even bother to catalogue them, for only a gold-plated intellectual and spiritual cretin such as Charles the Queeg could be unaware of them."

True and truer.

12/23/2009 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

“Ironically, things are so much easier for us today, that they can actually be more difficult, in that every unqualified yahoo has instant access to the most sublime wisdom.”

Including every one of Dr. Seinfeld’s cure-alls, now available without a subscription.
RR

12/23/2009 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Jack said "I find it a curious aspect of the left to want to believe that being a hunter-gatherer is a healthier lifestyle choice."

The modern left got that, and most every other debased notion, from Rousseau and his notions of 'noble savages'. I posted on it a while back here, with links to his gunk, Rousseau said,

'“I might affirm, with many others, that languages arose in the domestic intercourse between parents and their children. But this expedient would not obviate the difficulty, and would besides involve the blunder made by those who, in reasoning on the state of nature, always import into it ideas gathered in a state of society. Thus they constantly consider families as living together under one roof, and the individuals of each as observing among themselves a union as intimate and permanent as that which exists among us, where so many common interests unite them: whereas, in this primitive state, men had neither houses, nor huts, nor any kind of property whatever; every one lived where he could, seldom for more than a single night; the sexes united without design, as accident, opportunity or inclination brought them together, nor had they any great need of words to communicate their designs to each other; and they parted with the same indifference. The mother gave suck to her children at first for her own sake; and afterwards, when habit had made them dear, for theirs: but as soon as they were strong enough to go in search of their own food, they forsook her of their own accord; and, as they had hardly any other method of not losing one another than that of remaining continually within sight, they soon became quite incapable of recognising one another when they happened to meet again….”

Make no mistake, this is the ideal and true nature of man, which Rousseau reveres, and which he believes civilization corrupted and fell away from. In Rousseau’s merry little mind, he concluded that prior to having such thoughts, men were better off and blissfully free of all responsibility (always his ideal and primary concern - read his confessions)...'

If anyone tries to counter that "But... but... it was Rousseau who said that "Men are born free, and everywhere are in chains"", never forget that a few paragraphs further down, he clarified what he meant by that, that common men were incapable of knowing what they should want (which elites like Legislators DO know), and so "... that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free "

In education and legislation, Rousseau set the tone, and the the terror of the French Revolution is the full score, always waiting in the wings....

12/23/2009 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Van-

Yes. Thank you. That makes sense and it explains a lot about the assumptions of my lefty friends. Not only their politics, how they view life, but mainly how they raise their kids (no surprise then that narcissism rises with each generation!).

I've just finished reading Dalrymple's "Life at the Bottom" which chronicles the results of this line of thinking in England. Not pretty to say the least.

I think I need to think on this a bit as the lights are going off in my head. :)

12/23/2009 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

In any case, to be able to shut up about one's revelations from the age of 12 till 30 is certainly a miracle of biblical proportions.

I have lately become aware of the iceberg theory of spiritual teaching, as espoused by a certain tax-cutting Buddhist: At any time be sure to make public no more of your revelations than the part of an iceberg that is above sea level. If an iceberg exposes more than about 1/8 of its substance, it loses its balance and is overturned. This is not something one would want to experience as a spiritual teacher.

12/24/2009 07:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Warren said: ..I'd like to turn back the clock to about the 13th century, but only to have a different go at this Modernist experiment. Seems like there should be a way to get most or all of the scientific benefits of the modern world without all the overt Satanism - just a hunch.

Right, you want all the benefits of modernity without paying any of the price (rationalism, disenchantment, rootlessness, the breakup of traditional modes of life). Good luck with that. And you call the left infantile.

12/24/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Warren said:"...I'd like to turn back the clock to about the 13th century, but only to have a different go at this Modernist experiment. Seems like there should be a way to get most or all of the scientific benefits of the modern world without all the overt Satanism - just a hunch."

aninnymouse said "Right, you want all the benefits of modernity without paying any of the price (rationalism, disenchantment, rootlessness, the breakup of traditional modes of life). Good luck with that. And you call the left infantile."

We call you infantile, because you and the left persist in believing that any good can come from error and lies (see glowbull warming, silent spring, Mao's Cultural Revolution, etc, etc, etc ad nauseam). What good and advancements that have attended modernity, have been in spite of the them (and greatly reduced from the wonders we might otherwise have experienced), not because of them.

Warren, I don't think we would need to go back as far as the 13th century... most of the developments from then, forward, were likely inevitable, and necessary, pendulum swings back towards awareness of the reality we inhabit. If we're going to play the 'What If' counter factuals with modernity... only a few changes would have produced vast changes. I don't think Machiavelli or Hobbes's works need to have been meddled with, their views and errors are self refuting and soph revealing, if not given the cover of later dark glamour's.
(annoying blogger break)

12/24/2009 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

The most consequential, and most plausibly open to nudging out of it's dark orbit, was Descartes, because I think his errors were honest... or at least unintentional. If someone had sat him down and had a chat about how his method of doubt, would unavoidably center thought on the unreal and legitimize the arbitrary, thereby unbalancing reason, rather than strengthening it... I think he probably would have done much to correct his meditations, and vastly changed the course of modernity.

The next most consequential, and the most virulent source of modern darkness, would be Rousseau. However, Rousseau made no such honest errors, he was purposefully malevolent from the get go, and it's highly doubtful that he could have been corrected or talked out of his 'ideas'... but without accepted foundation of Descartes' philosophy, the effects of his bilge would have been greatly reduced. Perhaps if a well placed pneumonia virus during one of his midnight flashing excursions... leftist thought and wackademia would be nothing like it is today.

The last consequential tilt, and because likely due to honest errors and influence from Descartes and his responders, would be Hume. If someone could have pointed out that causality wasn't a substance to be found, but the cumulative expression of all of the properties, nature, of all objects involved in a given context, he might have been spared the extreme results of his skepticism... and all of science might have been spared the radical materialist mindset which followed from him, it would have remained self evident that each IS implies an OUGHT, and though he would have still insisted that a rigorous process of Reasoning be exercised to discover what that ought, ought to be, it would have remained a capital 'R' Reason, rather than the logic chopping little 'r' excuse for reason, we are mostly saddled with today.

Of course there's no real way of saying that things would have turned out better... maybe the acceptance of their ideas, preempted still worse strains from emerging... but in the game of counter factuals, it can be very clearly shown that the direction of modern philosophy, and modernity as a whole, would have been greatly cleansed.

12/24/2009 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Jack, btw, Dalrymple's "In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas" does an excellent of showing the folly of one strain of Descartes ideas, as expressed through J.S. Mill, and the awful damage they've wrought on modernity.

12/24/2009 12:32:00 PM  

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