Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unhinged Skepticism and the Supreme Value of Nothing

Although the atheist believes he knows the reasons for his devout atheism, he actually has no idea that he is naively immersed in a discredited metaphysic that he simply "assumes," and therefore requires no defense. For him, it's just "common sense." Which in a way it is, since it is stuck down in the animal, infrahuman senses, far below the realm where intellection roams free.

In the materialist view, it is incumbent upon believers to prove to him the existence of God -- even though he is the one making the extraordinary claim, given the relatively tiny number of doctrinaire atheists who exist and who, for whatever reason, are unable to apprehend the spiritual dimension. The average person obviously doesn't have this deformity, even if he cannot articulate why with reasons that could satisfy the eccentric cognitive needs of the atheist.

Polanyi felt that the contemporary madness of postmodernity began with the idea of a complete and perfect objectivism, which is supposed to be the ideal of science and of all reliable knowledge in general: "All personal and subjective elements came to be regarded as disturbances to the attainment of this perfect objectivity. Every effort therefore had to be made to eliminate them."

It was as if Nature spoke directly and unamibuously to us, and that all we had to do was disinterestedly listen to her without any preconceptions -- as if there really could be knowledge at the level of the senses, divorced from the imaginative synthesis that takes place in mind of the creative knower.

This ideal, which may at times be appropriate for certain limited, very simple operations, eventually insinuated itself into most fields of knowledge. But this epistemological revolution had ontological and anthropological consequences, as it served to undermine traditional authority and create a kind of hyper-individualism operating outside the domain of any legitimate (i.e., vertical) authority.

This irrationally rational revolt reached a kind of peak in the late 1960s, when the supposedly "rational" rejection of religion in particular and tradition in general facilitated an absurd leap into what amounted to a childish, romantic irrationalism. Since there is no legitimate authority, each person then becomes a law unto himself: do your own thing, and all that.

For example, marriage is better then living together? Prove it. A fetus is a human being? Prove it. Beethoven is better than rap? Prove it. Heterosexuality is preferable to homosexuality? Prove it. Men and women are fundamentally different? Prove it. One is obligated to tell the truth? Prove it. America is exceptional? Prove it. Etc., etc. In each case, the moral truth is accessible to human beings, but not through the application of mere reason. Leftist always demand "studies" to prove the existence of those realities to which they are blind.

This kind of simultaneously omnipotent and nihilistic style of thought eventually overcame continental Europe (e.g., communism, fascism, nazism, socialism, deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism, etc.), but not the Anglo-American sphere, where there was "an alogical [not illogical] reluctance to pursue the accepted philosophic premises to their ultimate conclusions" (for example, Darwinians should be thankful that no one takes Darwinism serious enough to follow it through to its ultimate grisly conclusion). In turn, this reluctance was rooted in "the distinctive religious character of Anglo-American liberalism" (or what is now confusingly called conservatism, as distinguished from our illiberal leftism which went the way of the Europeans).

On the European continent, there were no such restraints against unalloyed skepticism. Rather, "the movement there was antireligious from the start.... When a feudal society, dominated by religious authority, was attacked by radical skepticism, there emerged a liberalism unprotected by either a religious or civic tradition against destruction by a logical extension of the philosophic skepticism to which it owed its origin." In short, in old Europe, universal standards of reason could not be reconciled with their radical skepticism, whereas Anglo-American liberalism maintained a balance between reason and tradition.

This dichotomy is still present today in the vast differences between conservatism (i.e., traditional liberalism) and liberalism (i.e., illiberal leftism). Leftism continues to be riddled with contradictions that are rooted in its initial philosophical error. For example, one of their rock-bottom beliefs is that there is no rational or universal way to arbitrate between the values of one culture or nation and another. Therefore, it is wrong to stand in the way of any nation that wishes to realize its powers, say Iran, or Cuba, or Venezuela. But when America exercises its power, there is universal condemnation from the left. How can this be?

Once again it has to do with the unhinged morality of the left. Being that their disordered skepticism bars them from the spiritual dimension, they are unable to reliably distinguish between good and evil -- i.e., for them, these are simply arbitrary categories. Reduced to flatland materialism, they instead divide the world into visible, empirical categories such as "haves" and "have-nots."

As such, leftists conceive a material explanation onto which they graft their unhinged moral passion. They do the same thing with other material categories, such as race, gender and "sexual orientation." As such, all of the moral energy which, in a spiritually normal person, is reserved for distinguishing between good and evil, decent and indecent, is ruthlessly, and even sadistically, applied to these meaningless substitute categories.

This explains the grotesque and perverse moral passion of the left, for example, the condemnation of the Duke lacrosse team by dozens of leftist professors and a liberal media who do not see good and evil, only "white and black." And they still haven't apologized, since the "narrative" or template they imposed on the situation is their pseudo-absolute, and cannot be falsified. Likewise, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the left obviously cannot see the moral gulf between Israel and her barbarous enemies.

In old Europe, "the replacement of moral ideals by philosophically less vulnerable, because more basically animal, objectives was carried out in all seriousness. Human appetites and human passions were actually substituted for reason and for the ideals of man in this framework of thought." "Begun in the name of reason, they ended by reducing reason to a caricature of itself: to a mere rationalization of conclusions predetermined by desire and eventually to be secured and held by force.... If thought and reason are nothing by themselves, if they are only the effects of social causes, then it is meaningless to demand that they be set free."

Slavery is freedom, lies are truth, ugliness is beauty, amorality is morality, man is an animal, and animal passion is virtue.

A civilization not in contact with the Real will eventually perish. As it should. To put it another way, dying on the vine is a possibility, but dying off the Vine is a certainty. Supernatural selection is severe but just.

*All quotes taken from Michael Polanyi: A Critical Exposition

22 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, besides MOTT are there any other books on the Hermetic tradition which you could recommend? I've come across Mary Ann Atwood on Amazon, but would like more options before buying.

Thanks much,

GW

3/16/2010 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"...Prove it. America is exceptional? Prove it. Etc., etc. In each case, the moral truth is accessible to human beings, but not through the application of mere reason. Leftist always demand "studies" to prove the existence of those realities to which they are blind."

Buttt... that's not 'Reason', mere or otherwise, only skeptical rationalism and logic chopping at best.

"Leftism continues to be riddled with contradictions that are rooted in its initial philosophical error. For example, one of their rock-bottom beliefs is that there is no rational or universal way to arbitrate between the values of one culture or nation and another."

The refusal to know what they know but can't come up with an immediate detailed and flawless explanation for, is the root, and excuse, for all the evil they've done..

Descartes: "Do I even knowww for absolutely certain that I have a body? Or that the universe even actually exists? Uhhh nooo... I don't think s... Oh! I can think!(!) Therefore I am!"

Hume: "Was that door slamming shut behind me really communicating anything to me about reality? Or have I just been conditioned to think so? Oh my gosh... that means I can't even know for sure that the sun will come up tomorrow! But... how do I know I don't know? Doh... this is no good. Buttt I can't think of anything else though... so I'll just go with it... and make a science of it."

Rousseau: "[What? You mean it's actually considered legitimate to say you don't know for sure that the world even exists? Ooohhh am I ever going to get have fun getting back at the world with this!] Kids should be allowed to learn what ever they want to learn, at their own pace, and only if they have an interest... children are sooo valuable you know [except for all our children who I took at birth and sent to to die at the foundling hospital]. And Property and Marriage and customs of sexual restraint and all the refinements of civilization are at the root of all of our problems... and all your feelings about them prove it, but we'll teach you what you should believe and force you to be free. [Oh this is rich! Heads will roll!]"

Kant, Hegel, Marx, Lenin, etc, had no choice but to follow from that.

3/16/2010 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dennis Prager is like Navy SEALs!

3/16/2010 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Slavery is freedom, lies are truth, ugliness is beauty, amorality is morality, man is an animal, and animal passion is virtue. "

And Nancy Pelosi has a smile.

3/16/2010 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"A civilization not in contact with the Real will eventually perish. As it should. To put it another way, dying on the vine is a possibility, but dying off the Vine is a certainty. Supernatural selection is severe but just."

Scary but true... so true.

3/16/2010 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Obviously Bob's categories (e.g. Anglo-American sphere) are generalized and reflect overall historic movements rather than particulars.

One will find for example more true classical liberals per capita in Poland today than in the UK. America still leads the world as a bastion of classical liberalism despite the fact that she is infested with leftists. Conversely, there are many truly enlightened Frenchmen despite the strong left-wing cultural bias there.

There are even classical liberals in the Arab world, although they tend to lose their heads before they can have much influence.

3/16/2010 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

In 2002 life-long socialist and Democrat Michael Walzer wrote an essay entitled Can there be a decent Left?.

For above (below) almost everything else the Left is reliably indecent at every turn. This isn't a simple issue of prudery versus libertinism -- the Left's indecency goes all the way to the bone, as Walzer dejectedly conceded. The latest flap over the New Republic story about "Tea Party moderates" is simply the visible tip of a very large iceberg of soul-sickness.

Fortunately though leftism is abandoned by millions of people every year, so there's always hope!

3/16/2010 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

You're right, there are classical liberals everywhere -- we've just mostly have better things to do than work in government. By definition we are not control freaks; we don't worship Caesar, and we're not collectivists. It puts us at a disadvantage in terms of press coverage, but "the gods of the copybook headings with terror and slaughter return."

Sounds like Slaughter is returning in D.C. anyway. And I saw the best headline I've seen in a long time yesterday -- I don't know the source, but it said, "Slaughter House Rules".

3/16/2010 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

The leftist lives for politics because politics is power- the power to force others to live as the leftist sees fit. The classical liberal (conservative) almost by definition hates politics. We have better things with which to fill our time and our minds. For the conservative, politics is largely defensive, ie: conserving our liberty from the state.

JWM

3/16/2010 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

OT: Just got the Census 2010 form. Think we raccoons could get away with listing "upper Tongan" for race?

3/16/2010 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For example, marriage is better then living together? Prove it. A fetus is a human being? Prove it...In each case, the moral truth is accessible to human beings, but not through the application of mere reason.

I'm still stuck on the 18th century from the last post. I can just imagine you types sitting around a tavern in colonial Boston arguing with the revolutionaries, since it is clear to all that a society without a king must be vastly inferior to one with. Maybe they'd ask you to prove it, and you could reply that "the moral truth is accessible to human beings, but not through the application of mere reason." Then they could go about doing the business of the Enlightenment and letting you sit on your smug Tory asses.

3/16/2010 06:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Don't blame me for the sins of the monarchy. I didn't vote for Obama.

3/16/2010 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

So the Obamunists are going about the business of enlightenment? Like it's a logical progression from where the country originated? And you claim to understand anything that is written here?
Please.

3/16/2010 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

There is nothing new under the sun.

"And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.

"'According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.

"'Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.'

"So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, 'These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.

"'And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.'

"But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, 'No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.'

"And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Obey their voice and make them a king.'"

3/16/2010 07:47:00 PM  
Anonymous NickB said...

Most of the atheists I come into contact with have a very reactionary knee jerk hostility to all perceived hierarchies. For them God is a simple social construct of a political/religious power structure. Religion of any form is conflated with spirituality; such that there is no inherent difference between Ayatollah Khomeini and Ibn Arabi.
By various erroneous perceptions do they substantiate their 'atheism', thus demonstrating what a low order level of intellectual enquiry or intuitive capacity they are inhabiting. I feel it is a pity that so many of these people arbitrarily shut themselves off from any and all spiritual insight.

It is one thing to question authority in either religious or secular matters. But to deny any hierarchical authority is simply silly. Yes we are all equal, but a Sri Aurobindo or Ramana Maharshi is much more equal than most! Even though their infinite Self realised humility would not allow them to express this. To then transcribe a naive hostility to all moral and intellectual hierarchy onto a false notion of God as big brother or Judge must necessarily be juvenile thinking.

3/17/2010 02:18:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

Anon at top:

An author I am devoted to, born the same year as Tomberg whose works might very accurately also be labelled 'Christian Hermeticism'

nice photo
here

3/17/2010 04:17:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Nick, I know what you mean, but most of the atheists that I know seem to think that they believe in God.

Bob,I don't know what's to be done about it, but the latest Anon just sank to depths of depravity with that last comment that I wish we did not have to be exposed to.

Perhaps we can agree that those who do such things -- in this case frivolously throwing out a term that refers to a favorite technique of those who sexually abuse children -- be carefully ignored until they go back into their holes.

3/17/2010 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What can you do? Light attracts darkness.

3/17/2010 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Anon:

I don't know that I would necessarily recommend the hermetic tradition per se, as much of it is idiosyncratic or occult, and deviates from perennial truth. I would just stick with the esoteric or mystical side of orthodoxy, such as those books in the Christian section of the Raccoon Store. One book that was very helpful at the time was A Different Christianity: Early Christian Esotericism and Modern Thought. Also, another book by the author of MOTT, Lazarus, Come Forth!. McGinn's book on Meister Eckhart is also quite profound.

3/17/2010 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said ... well it doesn't matter what it said, thankfully it's been deleted.

Unfortunately my email wasn't deleted - the aninnymouse reminds me of the post he linked to. The poli-sci proregressor who wrote it is either our aninny, or one of his students, which is to say one and the same.

If you're in the mood to be disgusted, read his 'about me' or his 'political creed'.

Merely horizontal doesn't cut it, it's salt flats flat. And I don't doubt it's teaching in the universities. Sick stuff.

3/17/2010 07:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, you apparently thought that my little analogy was calling you a Nazi. It wasn't really, it was just calling you wrong.

But anybody who has a link to Jonah Goldberg's odious book, with its silly cover and comparisons of Hillary Clinton and Whole Foods to Hitler and Nazis, can't really complain about stuff like that.

3/17/2010 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Russell said...

"odious"?

Was that the Word of the Day on the calendar?

3/17/2010 08:49:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home