We Hold These Truths and Virtues to be Soph-Evident
Allow me to explain. As I have discussed in the past, the possibility of truth is rooted in freedom. Likewise, the possibility of freedom is rooted in truth. That is, if truth isn't freely discovered, it isn't truth (i.e., you can't compel truth, as the left tries to do). And if freedom doesn't lead to truth, then one isn't really free (i.e., to live a lie is only the illusion of freedom).
There are people who do not believe in free will. For them, truth is impossible. Others do not believe in objective truth. For them, freedom is impossible. And there are others who do not believe in the soul, or an essential self. However, that sophistry can be easily disproved, for if man had no essence, he couldn't know it. To speak a truth is to know -- to be -- an essence.
The same principle applies to beauty and morality. If these were not objective categories, we couldn't even know about them. So when our liberal founders said, "we hold these truths to be self-evident," they said at least two things that are offensive to the modern left, that there is objective truth and that it is self-evident to the intellect (which transcends the reason, or empirical ego).
But for the Founders to add that all men are created equal and that they were made this way by their Creator -- I'm surprised that the ACLU hasn't found a way to overturn the Declaration of Independence on the grounds that it's unconstitutional.
There is horizontal freedom and vertical freedom. The former is "freedom from," the latter "freedom to." The former doesn't necessarily lead to the latter, while the latter always implies the former. That is, if one is truly spiritually free, one is free. But the horizontal freedom of the left -- which is only horizontal -- might as well be tyranny. Note as well that it necessarily excludes beauty and morality, except accidentally, not essentially.
In the post of three years ago, I was musing about music. Let's see if we can't tie it in with the above:
When it comes right down to it, the vast majority of music is just ephemera with no lasting value. There are a lot of things I can enjoy, but then not feel compelled to listen to a second time.
It occurred to me that we’re so focussed on the now and the new, that we may not realize that the musical “now” is not a week, or a year, or even a decade. For example, in my case, the musical "now” extends back to the mid 1920’s or so, when Louis Armstrong emerged as the greatest star in jazz -- which, bear in mind, was the popular music of its day. It wasn’t like today, where jazz is considered a scary or esoteric art form for initiates and idle beatniks who gobble down reefer pills all day.
But Armstrong revolutionized singing in a way that is still felt today. You can trace all pop vocalists in a more or less continuous line that eventually leads back to him. Naturally, in the 1920’s, you couldn’t have known this. The records he recorded then were considered ephemera, just cheap trinkets tossed into the marketplace in hope of some quick sales. It never occurred to anyone at the time -- least of all Armstrong -- that they were producing timeless art that would influence music forever, not just in America, but all over the world.
Another thing the average person wouldn’t have noticed in the 1920’s is how singular Armstrong was. Just like today, thousands of records were made by various pop and jazz acts, but how many of them are of any interest to us today? Very few. In hindsight, we can see that only a handful of musicians were even in the same league as Armstrong.
It’s obviously the same way with classical music. There you can survey even larger expanses of time and see that only a few geniuses stand way above the rest -- Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms, etc. -- all of the usual suspects.
But now the now is more distracting and dizzying than ever, obviously not just with regard to music, but with everything -- religion, philosophy, psychology, you name it. There is so much information, so many choices. On the one hand, this has undeniably positive aspects, but on the other hand, it can leave us drowning in the trivial and transient, when the purpose of life is to see through the accidental to the essential -- to know the truth, and for the truth to set us free.
I am fascinated by things that you might think are subjective, but which are actually 100% objective -- perhaps even more objective than what we call “objective reality,” since that reality is always changing, plus it is colored by our vantage point and by the limitations of our neurology. Does the subatomic world consist of particles? Or waves? Who knows? It depends on how you look.
But there are certain musicians and musical performances that can catch your ear in such a way that you know in your bones that they cannot be surpassed. I'm thinking of, say, Frank Sinatra or Ray Charles between '53 and '61, or Aretha between '66 and '73, or so many others. Sometimes it's just a single song by a particular artist that achieves a kind of perfection that they can never again duplicate.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Today, because of the influence of science, we suppose that the only self-evident truths are found in math or science. But the opposite is true. Science is constantly evolving, changing, progressing, outgrowing old truths. Before Einstein -- the Louis Armstrong of modern physics -- published his revolutionary papers in the early 1900’s, physics was considered essentially complete. College students were discouraged from entering the field, because, with the exception of a couple of “unresolved clouds on the horizon,” physicists had wrapped up their work. But Einstein ignored the received wisdom of his day and forged ahead with his unorthodox ideas.
So, Bob, what's your point? My point is this: religious truth is of the same order as artistic truth, only more so. It too might appear to be subjective, but it is not. In fact, it is the most objective truth available to human beings. There are people who can recognize it, others who, for whatever reason, cannot or will not.
At the time Jesus lived, only a few people recognized what was going on. But they did so in an instant -- John the Baptist, for example. Not to trivialize it, but he clearly experienced something that was as obvious and objective as hearing a perfect musical performance which you just know is true, even though you could never explain why.
More generally, there has probably never been another time in human history when it has been easier to overrun the truth and continue searching for it long after you've found it, as if it never happened. Our founders discovered the keys to liberty, decency, and prosperity. Meanwhile, Obama is busy changing all the locks.