Saturday, December 12, 2009

Omniscience, Contempt, and the Sealed World of the Left

This is kind of a rambly, free-associating post. Oh well, it's Saturday, so there's no need to adapt to the rigid style dictates of the Conspiracy.

As I have mentioned, I came to my senses in the usual way, initially going off the shallow end through atheism, liberalism, and non-dualism, before eventually recovering my sacred Slack. Indeed, even at the time I completed my book, I certainly didn't think of myself as any kind of "spiritual authority," so not only was I less willing to identify those self-styled gurus whom I now consider to be destructive frauds and con-men, but I probably still had one foot in that world. (I still don't think of myself as an authority, but I do have a clearer vision of the spiritual landscape, so I can better distinguish up from down.)

It's the same way with one's political philosophy. Most former liberals can testify to the difficulty of embracing and identifying with a group that one had previously demonized. In George Nash's excellent Reappraising the Right: The Past & Future of American Conservatism, he has a chapter on the history of neoconservatism. I had been aware of the broad outlines, but not all the details. Perhaps there is a fable in here.

Briefly, for those of you who don't know the whole story, the original neocons were a group of liberals who became increasingly disaffected with the Democrat party as it was gradually taken over by the left, in a process that was more or less complete with the nomination of the radical McGovern in 1972.

Specifically, the liberal neocons were disgusted by the rampant anti-Americanism of the left, along with their dangerously weak and naive foreign policy. Initially they attempted to reform the Democrats from within, by championing such people as Scoop Jackson and especially Daniel Patrick Moynihan. But by 1980, it dawned on them that it was a hopeless case, and that the Democrats were not going to deviate from becoming the regressive and reactionary clowns they are today.

Still, the neocons had a great deal of difficulty identifying with the conservative movement, and jumping in with both feet. One reason for this is that they were what you might call urban intellectual snobs. True, many were Jewish as well, but that doesn't so much go to religion as it does to education. Jews, since they are disproportionately educated, are quite naturally disproportionately indoctrinated in the strange ways of the left -- that is, if they are secular, or merely culturally Jewish. None of this applies to seriously religious Jews, such as Dennis Prager, who are overwhelmingly conservative.

Thus, for these men, there was a kind of double distrust of conservatism, since they were largely Jewish + intellectual, while much of the right is Christian + regular folks who live in the real world, not the abstract fantasy world of the liberal looniversity bin.

Also, the neocons disproportionately came from the world of the social sciences, whereas most conservative intellectuals were more literary men (in the old sense of the term, like a T.S. Eliot, not in the post-literate postmodern sense). As such, they still clung to the idea of the liberal welfare state (which had been given a huge boost by a corrupted sociology and psychology, and their odious Doctrine of the Immaculate Victim), only finally letting go of it when empirical proof came of its destructive nature with the publication of books such as Losing Ground, by Charles Murray. After that, there was no way one could remain a welfare state liberal and still live in reality. (In other words, they still needed scientific proof of the destructiveness of liberalism, as they were alienated from the religious and literary worlds of wisdom, whereby one knows truth intuitively and directly).

In hindsight, I think this is when we really see the Democrats become completely unhinged, to the point that it is no longer possible to have a rational conversation with a liberal. It's not even necessarily that they are dishonest, although many of course are. It's just that they live an a completely insular bubble, and feel superior to anyone who lives outside their secure little feeltank. Their main argument is not even an argument, just an attitude: contempt. It's so transparently childish: if Bush says it, it's contemptible; but if Obama says the same thing, it's brilliant and visionary.

Liberals affect the same attitude toward climate change skeptics, -- really, on most any issue. (While looking for the hockey game the other night, I caught a few minutes of Stephanie Miller on Larry King, cluelessly insisting that AGW was an unquestioned truth, and that anyone who thought otherwise was a contemptible tool of evil oil companies.) And they are able to get away with it because of a compliant media that shares the identical worldview, so they never learn how to argue. This is why they attack Fox and talk radio, because their very existence is an insult (and unconscious threat) to their omniscience. Conservatives routinely go on liberal programs such as Meet the Press, but it is impossible to imagine Obama submitting to an interview with Dennis Prager or Rush Limbaugh. It would truly be a battle of wits with an unarmed twit.

Again, I well remember this attitude, because I once held it. Yesterday I was talking with Mrs. G. about this. How, she asked, is it possible for these people to remain so sealed off from reality? I thought back about what I was like in the 1980s, when I was a Reagan-hating, NPR-listening, Nation-subscribing graduate student. Not only was I completely outside the reach of any conservative influences -- for back then there was only National Review, and that was about it -- but I sealed my fate with the reliable defense mechanism of contempt -- or what is called in the psychoanalytic literature "envy" or "devaluation" -- which is one of the most common means to maintain omnipotence.

Thus, if I had met a conservative, I would have simply had contempt for him, thereby relieving me of the need to take him seriously and actually engage his arguments. I mean, I was in a Ph.D. program! What are you, some kind of corporation-loving businessman? 'Nuff said! I remember one such conversation with a conservative. It occurred one morning on the graveyard shift, when I was still working in the supermarket. It was a 24 hour store, and we'd get two or three customers between midnight and six, at which time you'd have to stop what you were doing and mosey on up to the cash register.

Somehow, the customer and I got into a discussion of politics, and he calmly explained to me the economic miracles that were being unleashed before my very eyes, with Reagan's transformation of the economy -- however many consecutive quarters of extraordinary economic expansion, not to mention record tax revenues, which only failed to reduce the deficit because of a recalcitrant congress that would never have allowed significant government cuts.

But I literally could not hear the argument, and I mean that literally. It just didn't compute, because mine was a faith, not a philosophy. And not the good kind of faith, because it was not open but closed, in the manner of the atheist or Darwinist who reduces reality to his silly little monkey way of knowing it.

Er, remind me. Is there supposed to be some kind of fable here? Yes, well, to continue the story, it took even longer for the neocons to not only come to peace with the religious dimension, but to actually begin exploring and embracing it. Only in so doing can one become a truly deep thinker, so the irony is that these heretofore conventional intellectuals are now moving into the realm of what I call the "meta-intellectual," or perhaps "trans-intellectual," or mind in service to its transcendent source. Perhaps someday they will catch up with the neocoons, for we're nothing special, just people who enjoy living in reality in all its modes and dimensions, which, at the very least, must include mind, body, and Spirit.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Selfishness of the Selfless

With regard to non-dualism, you may ask yourself, "what's in it for me"? The answer is, of course, bupkis. Not that one should adopt a religion solely for reasons of self-interest. Still, there's a limit, isn't there? For one may be unselfish without obliterating the self. In fact, one may only be unselfish if there is a self to push against. Without gravity holding us down, we could never jump and achieve vertical liftoff. Rather, we could only float around from nowhere to nothing.

One important area in which Christianity and non-dualism radically diverge is over the question of hope. In the former, not only is hope permitted, but it is one of the theological virtues. In contrast, in non-dualism there is nothing to hope for and no one to hope for it, for neither sappy hope nor the dopey hoper are within the scope of the Real.

A couple of days ago, some astute commenter -- Warren, it was -- mentioned that one of the benefits of non-dualism is that it authorizes one to indulge one's impulses without having to feel guilt or shame before the transcendent Other. Non-dualists may dispute this characterization, but they really don't have an ontological leg to stand on, for just who is doing the disputing? And just what are they pulling if we have no legs? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Is it any wonder that the list of self-styled non-dualists and "independent gurus" who have set up shop in the West -- e.g., Da Free John, Chogyam Trungpa, Deepak Chopra, Krishnamurti, Rajneesh, and all the rest -- reveals a litany of duplicitous sexual, financial, and spiritual abuse? They are always -- either conveniently or inconveniently -- blindsided by the very desires they deny and claim to have transcended.

Are there Christians who engage in such bad behavior? Of course! But at least we are able to affirm that it is objectively and intrinsically wrong, and to ground morality in unchanging standards. Nor are there Christians who, after busted, claim that they are "crazy wise" spiritual teachers using paradoxical means to spur enlightenment in their followers -- you know, "it wasn't sexual abuse. I was just trying to teach the boy not to dissociate spiritual love from physical pleasure" or something. (Allen Ginsberg used to say this of the graduate students he sodomized.)

Bolton points out that if the non-dualists were correct, then there could be no objectively real developmental scale of being, especially as applied to human maturation. For them, "self development" could only mean a greater and more persistent reification of the very entity that causes all of the problems. To say "self development" would ultimately be indistinguishable from "illusion development," or "elaboration of the primal cosmic fantasy."

But that is not at all what happens in real psychospiritual development; rather, the opposite occurs. Indeed, I can see it in my own son, who came into the world a completely self-centered bundle of raging desires that needed to be satisfied now, if not sooner. He had no "self," no ego to moderate, transform, symbolize, or channel these impulses. Now that he has a blossoming little self, he is (becoming) kind, empathic, generous, and even capable of delaying his impulses, so he's already ahead of Tiger Woods on that score.

As Bolton puts it, "the degree of self-awareness which we have now does not, as such, make anyone self-centered unless it is corrupted. On the contrary, it makes one aware of self-centeredness as such, so that it can be corrected.... Only self-reflection can correct faults like self-centeredness. It would therefore follow that higher degrees of self-reflection should make possible so many higher degrees of unselfishness at the same time." Animals are never selfish or immoral, because nothing in them transcends their impulses and appetites. But enough about Hollywood liberals.

The non-dualist claims to trump Christian metaphysics, since the great scale of being of the latter is again ultimately subsumed into the realm of maya. But this, in my opinion, is one of the primary reasons why science either never developed or was prematurely quashed in these cultures. As Bolton writes, it is "the monistic schools of thought which can be seen to have the more limited option, that of confining the whole range of higher reality to the human state."

In other words, Christian metaphysics fills the gap between human and God with a whole hierarchy of spiritually real stations. There are only gaps in existence if we consider it from the bottom up -- e.g., the infinite ontological discontinuities between nothing and existence, matter and life, life and mind, etc. But if viewed from the top-down, the discontinuities vanish -- including ones we don't even know about until we arrive there through spiritual practice. Thanks to God, we are not "points" that vainly strive from the bottom up, but "lines" dangled from the top-down. If not for those lines, we could never be "fishers of men." There would be no exit from the closed circle of matter.

A human being can never totally "know himself," or he would be God, the Absolute. This is another way of saying that consciousness cannot know itself; or, it can know that it is, never what it is. Thus, there is surely "something self-contradictory about a supposedly absolute knowledge of God residing in an entity which cannot explain itself to itself," but rather, only extinguish the question by abolishing the questioner.

To paraphrase Bolton, disease is not cured by killing the patient. Unless Obamacare becomes law.

It seems that I barely get warmed up before it's time to go. To be continued...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I AM is Somebody

Chapter four of The One and the Many discusses the well known fallacy of ignotum per ignotius. Need I say more?

Er, yes. Actually, I had never heard of this fallacy prior to reading this book, but it's a big one that infects bad philosophies at the very foundation. And exactly what is it? It involves "an unknown thing supposedly being made known by means of some other unknown thing" -- like two negatives adding up to a positive. (The most extreme case must be the postmodernist who claims that "nothing can be known and I know it!)

As we have discussed in the past, science proceeds from the known to the unknown, i.e., (k) --> O, whereas religious practice proceeds from the unknown to the known, or O --> (n); or, on a slightly more concrete plane, you could say that science proceeds from facts to principles, whereas religion proceeds from principles to facts.

According to Bolton, "Genuine explanations relate the unknown factor to one which is already understood, while the more superficial ones relate it to something familiar, though not well understood."

To rip an example from the headlines, look at the intrinsic fallacies involved in the tautological science of "climate change" (climate stasis -- now there would be a novel theory!). The warmystics take something with which they are familiar -- their computer models -- and substitute it for something they want to understand -- the "global climate." But as Bolton says, "unfortunately, familiarity can be confused with understanding, and in such cases, things can appear to be understood when they are not." For example, I am familiar with electricity. But I would only be pretending if I said I understood it.

If I may take the liberty of translighting Bolton into plain english, the nondualists try to explain reality, which they do not understand, with reference to consciousness, which they also do not understand. Voila! Perfect understanding.

B-b-b-but hold on a sec. The fallacy here is that nondualism "aims at a state of awareness, which is taken to be an ideal despite the fact that a non-self-aware consciousness is in any case the normal condition of nearly all forms of animal life." Indeed, this is the case for the great majority of human beings, most especially the further we travel into the past or the left, when people were "aware of themselves more as members of races or tribes than as individuals."

In fact, in a patented, non-greasy formula I have applied at length, "developmental time = cultural space," so that different nations, cultures, and subcultures reflect differing levels of psychospiritual development. As Bolton puts it, "Insofar as we can understand past cultures, it appears that large numbers of ordinary people in the last few millennia had little awareness of their own egos, not through any spiritual practice, but simply through ignorance. And yet, despite such facts, monists and non-dualists look to this twilight zone of consciousness as though it were the embodiment of some fine ideal" (emphasis mine).

As a psychologist who often deals with these types of human beings, I can assure you that they're out there -- people who have not yet reached the stage at which their self can be an object to itself. I don't like to say this, only because willfully malevolent assouls take it the wrong way, but these people occupy a shadowy zone somewhere between animal and human. Either that, or some people are "supermen," like a new species that has emerged from the soil of the humanimal hybrid. (To be clear, I don't agree with either characterization.)

Bolton touches on a subject that is central to my thinking, and arises out of my understanding of developmental psychoanalysis. Specifically, there is no doubt in my mind that human consciousness unfolds along a developmental coontinuum, and that it has a telos, or purpose, just as in the case of any other organ; it is just that this organ -- consciousness -- happens to be nonlocal and hyperdimensional instead of local, material, and fixed in four dimensions.

Non-dualists (and one could easily add multiculturalists, moral relativists, and romantic anthropologists), according to Bolton, "ignore the fact that self-aware consciousness is the highest kind of consciousness in this world, and regard it as a burden instead, and envy what they take to be the unreflecting peace of the backward parts of mankind among whom tribalism rules."

Well, first of all, it is a burden. Duh! It's not a struggle to be as stupid as Harry Reid or Barbara Boxer, who "travel light," if you catch my drift. I am reminded of when William F. Buckley was asked why he always remained seated during his television program -- something to the effect of, Because of the great weight of what I know. Who wouldn't want to cast this burdensome knowledge aside and go native once in awhile? But that's what beer is for. As Toots Mondello taught us, you can't spell "beer" without BE. Which is why he was always 'AMmered.

This is something I simply cannot accept: that the human subject, with all its marvelous abilities, is just a "a spiritual dead-end," as Bolton puts it, or a nul de slack as Petey does. Is it really that simple? That the modern self that is painstakingly won from the formless and infinite void should just be tossed back there like a little fish?

This is like saying that the human organism, in all its infinite complexity, is really of no more ultimate value than a simple rock star. Does the arrow of spiritual development really point down and back, to a "place" where humans never existed?

Not for me, and not for Bolton, who asks, "What if these higher orders of self-awareness could become as concretely real as the one we already possess? In that case, the path of spiritual advance would move into ever-greater complexity, not into reduction. The fact that man has a self-aware consciousness, even if only one degree of it, confirms the belief that he belongs to the order of spirits."

One important caveat, however. In my belief and experience, "complex" is not synonymous with "complicated." To the contrary, the more spiritually advanced the person, the more simple and transparent -- not to mention humble -- they become. Why? Because they have successfully incorporated and assimilated more consciousness into a higher dynamic unity, with fewer split-off and semi-autonomous parts at cross-purposes with oneself. In contrast, complicated and convoluted people -- the beasts of high maintenance -- are almost always "unspiritual," because they lack the wholeness -- both in time and space -- to truly embody the spiritual. So,

If your I be single, your whole body will be full of light.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The New Sons of Liberty and the Cosmic Scofflaws of the Left

Judging by the comments, it seems that many readers are already aware of the relationship between metaphysics and political philosophy. Again: get the first question wrong, and everything else follows with it. Not only must you get your ontology straight, but also your anthropology. Otherwise you step into the abyss, which is what virtually every government did prior to the establishment of the United States.

I'm currently reading an outstanding book on this very subject, We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future (it must be temporarily out of print, because it shouldn't be nearly that expensive, but it is highly recommended when the price comes down). I'm going to try to weave in some of Spalding's insights as we further discuss Bolton's critique of nondualism -- which, if the latter forms the basis of one's ontology, leads to a radically different conception of politics, being that it eliminates the individual, whereas America's founders were precisely concerned with protecting the individual and allowing him to flourish.

In so doing, the Founders thought deeply about how and where to ground individual liberty. In other words, to simply affirm liberty without grounding it in something metaphysically real is no less rootless or self-serving than to affirm the absolute right of your leftist neighbor to the fruits of your labors. And if "all is one" -- if the individual is an illusion -- then your neighbor surely has that right. If I am you and you are me, then hey, your stuff is mine. Party at Deepak's walled compound! Dibs on the ruby eyeglasses!

Spalding quotes John Adams, who was responding to a question about the real meaning of the American Revolution: "The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution." In other words, this was primarily an interior revolution; nor could it have been successful if this hadn't been the case, for merely exterior revolutions -- as nearly all revolutions are -- only bring about a new set of tyrants.

And it is of course highly higher and highestly important to again emphasize that conservatism is interior and interiorizing whereas leftism is exterior and exteriorizing (i.e., the latter diminishes free will, effaces the individual by reducing him to a group member [e.g., black, female, homosexual, etc.] and promotes his passive victimhood).

Again, consider the stark epistemological consequences that follow from the different ontologies of left and right: "[A]mong the learned elites of our universities and law schools -- those who teach the next generation, shape our popular culture, and set the terms of our political discourse -- the self-evident truths upon which America depends have been supplanted by the passionately held belief that no such truths exist, certainly no truths applicable to all time" (Spalding).

Which is why, ever since this truly sinister metaphysic has become common currency, the federal government can today act "with little regard for the limits placed upon it by the Constitution, which many now regard as obsolete." The leftist assault on the Constitution has been so thorough, that to even point out the truism that a government takeover of healthcare is shockingly unconstitutional is to auto-marginalize oneself.

In other words, for the left, to be American is to be un-American. Obama himself was uncharacteristically honest in acknowledging his belief that America's founders "got it wrong" in their failure to address the issue of material inequality (which, of course, they did address by creating a system through which the self-interest of the individual could freely operate to the benefit of all).

America was intended to be the "workshop of liberty," not the sweatshop of collectivist serfdom. Ironically, Obama is the one public official who swears to God that he is a conservative -- that he will preserve and protect the Constitution, not allow it to be maimed by the tenured pettifuggers of the left.

It is no coincidence whatsoever that the left must eradicate any trace of religion in order to eliminate the principle barrier (along with the sanctity of private property and the family, and the chrome to back them up) to the intrusive and acquisitive reach of the state.

For to affirm God is to sharply limit the state; indeed, it is to affirm that the state and its laws have no legitimacy to the extent that they contravene the transpolitical Laws of Nature and of Nature's God (as the Declaration expresses it). We have no obligation to obey laws that are fundamentally immoral.

For the Founders, "the idea of human dignity, that we are created in the image of God, forms the theological underpinning of the ideas of human nature and human equality -- core principles of liberty" (Spalding). Which is why, for the ACLU and its fellow travelers, the Constitution is unconstitutional. And which is why they feel so free to change it into something more congenial to their interests. But a Constitution that doesn't mean what is says and say what it means, merely means what powerful men want it to mean, and we are right back to the Rule of Men, not of Law. Which, of course, is the whole point of the left.

But metaphysical conservatism stands athwart the left and says STFU! Here is how John Dickenson put it back in the day (1766): the rights essential to human happiness "are created in us by the decrees of Providence, which establish the laws of our nature. They are born with us; exist with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human power, without taking our lives. In short, they are founded on the immutable maxims of reason and justice" (quoted in Spalding).

Radical then, radical now. In this wide-angle cosmic context, one can see that the leftist counter-revolutionaries are entirely reactionary. Job one for them is to undo what the Founders done did.

Note as well that Nature's Law, as understood by the Founders, obviously did not -- and could not -- apply only to America. Rather, to the extent that it was true, then it was true for all time and for all peoples and even humanities departments. So much for diversity and multiculturalism!

In this regard, Spalding references William Blackstone -- a deep influence on the Founders' thinking -- who wrote that the metacosmic law "is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original."

Thus, real conservatism is simply impossible -- for it is grounded in "nothing" -- if its archetypal, transpolitical roots are not perpetually watered from above.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know They're Blowing Smoke Up Your Behind

The preferential selection of certain ideas which give a unity and a coherence to one's worldview, is, in itself a sign of intelligence, but if these ideas are defended to the extent of putting them beyond critical study by not allowing the most essential among them to be examined, we must suspect that there is in fact some 'sleight-of-hand' involved, possibly because of doubts as to whether the whole position would be defensible if openly stated. --Robert Bolton

Yesterday a drive-by troll urged readers to pay me no mind about the weathergate scandal, since I am not a scientist. True, I'd be the first to acknowledge that psychology is not a hard science. But it quite obviously intersects with science in an irreducibly complex manner, and the whole point about reality is that this is the rule, not the exception. The most interesting (and prevalent) systems are complex, non-linear, and hierarchical -- the mind itself being perhaps the quintessential example. To try to reduce mind to brain is a non-starter, at least for those of us not scarred by autism or tenure.

But to exclude neurology, biochemistry, and brain anatomy is equally daft. The problem, however, is not this seeming dualism. Rather, the problem is in our insistence that reality conform to our assumption -- whether scientistic or religiously nondualistic -- that it must be as simple as the tools we use to explore it.

Again, this is one of the fundamental errors of the scientific materialist, who confuses method with ontology -- as if what we know isn't limited and even defined by the way in which we study it. In point of fact, the scientific reductionist has no idea whatsoever how mind and brain interact. Rather, he just makes the problem go away by defining it out of existence -- by what Bion called premature closure of the psychic field.

Back briefly to yesterday's drive-by troll; no, I am not a scientist. But I am, conveniently, a forensic psychologist, so I've spent many years gleefully blowing the legs out from under attorneys and unscrupulous psychiatrists who try to defraud insurance companies by using the deductive method to prove that their client has sustained an "injury to the psyche."

In this deeply corrupt approach, the psychologist begins with the conclusion that their client has a mental condition, and then they retrospectively cherry pick "stressful" events from the workplace in order to support the contention that the mental condition was caused by work, or by whoever it is they happen to be suing.

In so doing, these hacks have no interest in gathering a serious history from the patient, since it will inevitably turn up other causes of their mental illness, and thereby threaten the source of their larcenous "funding." Nor do they undertake a serious analysis of psychological test data. Rather, all roads of inference lead to the Rome of cash and other valuable prizes.

It's frankly very similar to what so many defense attorneys do. That is, they begin with the conclusion that "my client is innocent," and then desperately try to impose a narrative in which this could be true. For example, all of that DNA can't belong to O.J. Simpson, because those gloves are too tight. Here we can see how a bogus empiricism -- hey, the gloves are a little snug! -- overrules a mountain of evidence and common sense.

It's the same with the gaia worshippers at Our Lady of Perpetual Climate Change. Temperature goes up? Global warming! Temperature goes down? Natural causes! In short, heads I win -- I am man of science -- tails you lose -- you are a science denier.

As Bolton says in another context, "the sense of standing on moral high ground is satisfying [to say nothing of lucrative] enough to discourage any attempts to look very closely at the validity of this position." This is a fine example of how the ego may merge with the superego to create an omnipotent "epistemological morality" that vaunts one's intelligence while sealing one's stupidity.

But again, this corrupt mode of moralistic thought pervades the left. Oppose racial quotas? Then you, sir, are a racist. Oppose socialized medicine? Then you are no better than apologists for slavery. Oppose the redefinition of marriage? Then you hate homosexuals. Question the settled science of climate change? Then you are a holocaust denier.

Now, what does this have to do with the book of esoteric theology we have been discussing, The One and the Many? Plenty. For starters, I would commend for your review Letter IX of Meditations on the Tarot, in which UF explains how Christian metaphysics reconciles the otherwise irresolvable philosophical antinomies of idealism <---> naturalism, philosophical realism <---> nominalism, and faith <---> empirical science.

(And if for some silly reason you don't have MOTT, see these three posts from last year: Herman's Hermits and Toots' Drawers, Naming the Nameless and Doing the Reality Dance, and Do I Dare Disturb the Obamaverse?)

Bottom line: when dealing with humans, it's always word and flesh, not either or. And when the flesh is as corrupt as the weathergate researchers, well, buddy... Not what goes into his melon defiles a man; but what comes out of his piehole, this defiles a man.

As Bolton writes, "The oracular and the irrational, if held with enough determination, thus lead inevitably to tyranny and violence, which is an additional reason why cultic thought like that of non-dualism should be critically examined." But again, please note that religious nondualism and scientistic monism converge in their denial of the ontologically real degrees of reality, i.e., the vertical plane of qualities.

And this is where the violence comes in, for scientistic or nondual monism can only be a complete account of man if great violence is done to man -- and therefore God -- which is to say, the totality of that which is.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Scientistic Simpletons and the Church of the Immaculate Deduction

Just a brief speedpost, as I'm pressed for time....

So, if Bolton is correct, then extremes meet in the monistic Darwinians and Deepakians, who are monistrous reflections of one another, being that both exclude the Creator and replace him with the idol of human consciousness.

This fundamental nihilism also leads directly to a leftist political orientation, which abstracts intelligence from reality in the naive belief that it can be controlled and mastered by said "intelligence," i.e., the cult of expertise and specialization. Their mutual "denial of both God and personality and their worship of intelligence in one form or another are of the essence of the modern mentality, and keep it in being" (Bolton).

Perhaps this idea of the "worship of intelligence" is new to you, but it is the blue thread that runs through the modern left extending over the past century or so. Although it is primarily a narcissistic exercise in self-flattery, those who are not members of the cult are not just considered wrong, but dismissed as morons. But one of the bases of wisdom -- which transcends the mere intellectualism of the tenured -- is to know the limits of intelligence. And the left repeatedly fails in this regard, again, because of the replacement of God with human (small r) reason.

Nearly every leftist policy failure falls into this trap, and yet, the prescription is always more of the same. As intelligent as these people believe themselves to be, they never actually question the assumptions of their worldview, much less set out to determine whether their policies are actually effective (much less frankly destructive).

For example, the so-called "war on poverty" that was begun in earnest in the 1960s has not only been a failure -- which one could live with -- but profoundly destructive of the very people it presumed to help (cf. Losing Ground or most any book by Theodore Dalrymple, such as Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass).

Likewise, even despite the revelations of weathergate, these pinheads persist in their insane project of destroying the world's economy -- its wealth-producing mechanism -- to "solve" a problem that doesn't exist. Millions will die as a result -- just as millions have died of malaria in Africa due to the "success" of radical environmentalists in banning DDT. For these radicals, the death of one child due to malaria is a tragedy, but the death of 50 million is a smashing success.

It seems that much of the left's overvaluation of intelligence has to do with the failure to appreciate the irreducible complexity of non-linear systems such as the economy, the climate, and culture. They seem to think they can tinker with one aspect of these systems without affecting the entire system in a fundamentally unpredictable manner. This applies to every complex system, including, say, marriage. For example, every psychotherapist knows that if one spouse becomes healthier, this poses a threat to the marriage itself. You can't just mess with one part of the family without disrupting the whole system.

This appreciation of unintended and unpredictable consequences is the basis of the adage that more tears are shed as a result of answered prayers than unanswered ones. Perhaps God, in his infinite wisdom, is aware of the incredibly complex and delicate web that makes anything function at all. Nonlinearity is the rule, not the exception in the cosmos.

Which is why, of course, science mostly deals with systems that are special cases, not the rule. This was one of the central insights of the brilliant Robert Rosen in his Life Itself: A Comprehensive Inquiry into the Nature, Origin, and Fabrication of Life. To imagine that biologists and Darwinists "understand life" is almost insane in its grandiosity. In reality, the Darwinist replaces reality with a crude abstraction, reifies the abstraction, converts it to an idol, and then brands as heretics those who do not worship at his ego altar. The same goes for the warm-mongers, as their emails have demonstrated.

You will note that one of the characteristics of this kind of bad science is that it is entirely or overly deductive, to the exclusion of inductive observation. This is again because it converts reality into an abstraction, and then deduces from it. Thus, the facts don't matter because the theory is "true" -- observations that fail to fit into the deductive theory are either not seen, or else attacked if they are noticed by someone else.

This is why both Darwinism and "climate change" are unfalsifiable, thus failing even to meet one of the requirements of a true scientific theory (i.e., how is it possible to falsify "climate change" when change is precisely what climates do? Or, name any human trait, and I will provide you with a sociobiological fairy tale that "explains" how it came about).

This is exactly how skeptics are treated by religious fundamentalists. But there is supposed to be a difference between religion and science, one of the main ones being that religion does indeed deal with the world of invariant metaphysical principles, so that it is generally acceptable to deduce facts from them, whereas science is supposed to proceed from facts to principles.

To cite one obvious example, it is a principle of Christianity that man is in the image of the Creator. From this, one may deduce all kinds of useful "vertical" analogies that illuminate both God and man.

Conversely, it is not helpful -- for it leads to no wisdom, to say the least -- to insist on the a priori principle that man is just an accidental conglomeration of selfish genes, and then deduce everything about man from that. For among other inanities, one of the first deductions must be that the truth of man is forever unknowable to us, thus undercutting the entire basis of their omniscient logico-deductive fantasies.

144. In what deserves to be called “science,” you save the drama for your mama. People debating science, getting angry and testy about the skepticism from others, are advancing and defending what would more properly be called “religion.” --Morgan, via Vanderleun

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Meaning, Unity, Creation, and Salvation

[T]o be wrong about creation is to be wrong about everything. --Robert Bolton, The One and the Many

As we have discussed in the past, meaning, purpose, and unity (or wholeness) are all functions of one another. To see the whole is to understand the meaning, and vice versa. For example, you can't understand the purpose of the heart if you don't situate it in the context of the body it serves. Likewise, words take on entirely different shades of meaning depending on the sentence in which they are situated.

Again, one of the important points Bolton raises is that nondualism is nihilism; or, you could say that the meaning of existence is its ultimate meaninglessness. He points out the irony that the principle of karma -- of moral cause and effect -- is central to Buddhism.

And yet, when it comes to the totality -- the whole -- "they deny that there is any cause for the world as such. Their passion for causality suddenly evaporates just where causality approaches its most significant consequence." (And please bear in mind that Bolton is not being remotely disrespectful, only trying to clearly describe the differences, and their consequences, between atheistic nondualism and theistic dualism.)

One reason why Bolton's analysis is meaningful to me, is that it exactly describes the trajectory of my own interest in religion. Religion meant nothing to me until I found a form if it that was acceptable to my existential commitments, which were rational, materialistic, and essentially atheistic.

Again, another of Bolton's points -- and it was certainly true of me -- is that Buddhism (especially "bare witnessing" or Zen varieties, which are almost purely technical) is the ideal religion for jaded Westerners who are convinced that they have "risen above" their own "mythological" tradition. Looked at in this way, Zen looks "scientific" (cf. Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness) while Christianity looks very much pre-scientific. Which is why I would now call my approach "post-postmodern," more on which later.

But consider what Buddhism and scientism have in common: "the whole conceptual world of science is absurdly imagined as functioning just the same as though none of those minds which create sciences were part of it," just as "religious anti-personalism imagines a perfect consciousness without any conscious person." This "parallel between them is so close that the two systems may well proceed from the same deep flaw in human consciousness, a selective mental blindness" (Bolton).

Indeed, it is almost as if western science sees the world through the lens of the left brain, while the east sees it through the right (and there is actually scientific confirmation of this idea -- cf. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... and Why).

But Raccoon doctrine insists upon the centrality of the transcendent position, or psychic third, that is simultaneously born of, and unifies, left and right, east and west, conscious and supraconscious, wave and particle, boxers and briefs.

Bolton notes that "the final destiny of all beings cannot be separated from their origin," which, of course, was the point of the circular structure of my book, in which everything revolves around our descent from, ascent to, and descent back from the Creator. Again, the world of scientific materialism is purely linear, in which case my book could only have ended with, say, an eternal ellipsis (.... .... ....) or perhaps something like pi, which just goes on forever: 3.141592653589793238462643 and on and on and on...

But as Eckhart observed, "Being is God's circle, and in this circle all creatures exist."


Only if there is an end can there be a meaning. And Bolton observes that "if we hold that all things are created by God, this final destiny must likewise be God. Conversely, if there were no Creator, there would be no origin and therefore no ultimate destiny for existing beings" -- in which case, nondualism can by no means offer what we call "salvation," since it goes about systematically obliterating precisely what Christians wish to save!

Bolton does not mention -- but I believe it to be the case -- that we needn't first posit God in order to know that existence is meaningful. Rather, it is possible to have experiences of such surpassing meaning that God must exist by implication. To know, for example, that your child is of infinite worth, is to know that God exists. To know that murder is wrong is to know that God exists. To know that we are surrounded by natural beauty is to know that God exists. Etc. Each of these "bears upon" God, and could not exist in the absence of that cosmic vector of metaphysical transparency that draws us back up to our repenthouse mansion. The celestial eschatolator is everywhere!

Conversely, if the world is not created -- if it is not meaningful -- then the most sublime knowledge or beauty are just illusions that must fall into that first principle's orifice. And the converse is equally true: if one does not know love, or truth, or beauty, one surely will not "see" or know God. Rather, one will assume that the cosmos is every bit as meaningless as one's one life. Thus, the "non-God" is just a projection of an alienated ego prematurely exiled from our cosmic womb with a pew.

For in reality -- as Eckhart knew -- we give birth to God as he gives birth to us, in a kind of circular or spiraling flow of intrinsic -- and deepening -- meaning: "Wherever I am, there is God." The I AM "boils over" from the ground of being, until it then overflows into something surpassing it. It doesn't just flow out of the pot and into the flames below. Rather, "In my flowing-out I entered creation, in my breakthrough I re-enter God." Or, "just as God breaks through me, so do I break through God in return" (Eckhart).

Or just say, "All creatures flow and return to their source. Transformed knowledge and love draw up and lead and bring the soul back into the first source of the One, the Creator of all in heaven and on earth" (Eckhart). Please note that this is not "poetry" but a literal description.

No, this here is poetry:

I know, I know... no Plan at all
Is thought by some to be the plan,
And yet what is this sheen of thought
That seeks to measure more than man?


To stand Once within a meadow,
And feel the hands of wind,
Is ample compensation
For the Gift the years rescind.

To be continued...