Epistemic Closure and Ontic Collapse (5.16.11)
Pot kettle black!
PowerLine discusses the matter here, and to a certain extent, all that remains is to laugh at the leftist who imagines that his ideology is not only the essence of epistemic, but of ontological, closure. For it is not just that the leftist lives in a closed intellectual world, but that he closes himself to whole worlds, i.e., the vertical world, or every ontologically real degree of being that transcends matter.
Many of my readers are former liberals who left the left precisely because of its narrow, closed, and cramped worldview, histrionically enforced by the femailed fist of political correctness.
One could list the many issues which are not debatable on the left -- e.g., that the Constitution is both a malleable document and unambiguous in its upholding of the sanctity of abortion -- but that is not the point of this post. For one thing, mocking the left in this conventional way is too easy. Rather, we wish to mock them in a more revelated and laughty manner.
In order to do this, we must begin at the very beginning, for again, if one's anthropology is wrong, then so too will one's political philosophy -- and everything else, for that matter -- be wrong.
For example, if it is true that man is just another animal selected by the environment through random mutations, he is by definition epistemologically closed, for he is limited by what his selfish genes want him to know (and we would have no way of knowing otherwise).
On the other hand, if man is created in the image of God, this places no limit on what he may know, since he partakes of the very substance of the Absolute.
Schuon notes that true -- or traditional -- philosophy involves "knowledge of the stellar world and all that is situated above us." But this is precisely where knowledge shades off into wisdom, the latter having to do with immutable ideas and archetypes, i.e., our Cosmic Clueprint. It is "knowledge of first causes and principles, together with the sciences derived from them."
This knowledge is both essential and true, hence, liberating: it is the truth that sets one free, but only so long as one both knows it and lives in conformity with it (for the latter implies that truth has mingled with one's own substance).
It is here that truth touches on intrinsic morality -- or where knowledge has its limits and responsibilities. For all normal men know that truth may be defined as that which we must know and are obligated to defend. Only an already lost soul believes that truth doesn't exist or that it carries no moral obligation with it.
But for the secular leftist -- or any profane thinker -- there can be no philosophy as such, only various parodies of it, such scientism, rationalism, Darwinism, existentialism, etc. Since the world of transcendence is a priori closed to him, the profane thinker (or infertile egghead) is reduced to "reasoning" about phenomena, or secondary causes (i.e., diddling around ønanistically with cosmic maya). Thus, his philosophy becomes the dry dream within a dream that Lao Tse warned us about.
Do you see the problem? Logic itself is a closed system -- for its conclusions arise necessarily from its premises -- but becomes doubly closed when one applies it only to the shifting empirical world of secondary causes.
Not only does the profane thinker try to reason in the absence of truth, but he seriously attempts to arrive at truth through reason, which no serious person would ever attempt to do. Such individuals imagine "that the norm for the mind is reasoning pure and simple, in the absence not only of intellection but of indispensable objective data" (Schuon). The problem, of course, is not logic, but knowing the purposes and the limits of logic.
Now, as a kind of compensatory mechanism, the secular thinker exchanges vertical openness toward the transcendent with a kind of faux horizontal freedom -- for nothing pleases the leftist more than to believe that he is a fearlessly "free thinker" who has thrown off the shackles of convention and tradition. He is the very opposite of those religious yahoos who believe in ontological realities transcending matter -- little things like truth, love, virtue, beauty, or Slack.
But how could freedom exist in any meaningful sense in the absence of truth? If there is no truth, then there is no freedom, only random or arbitrary movement. And if there is Truth, then by freedom the leftist merely means freedom from it. But you knew that already.
Again, the profane thinker is reduced to "observing causations in the outer world and drawing from his observations the conclusions that impose themselves on his sense of logic" (Schuon). This does not deserve the name "philosophy" any more than Keith Olbermann deserves the name "journalist." But the leftist cannot exclude what his impoverished philosophy tries to deny, so he necessarily lives in a world of ghostly demonic presences that he projects into the conservative.
In other words, for the true leftist, the transcendent is collapsed into the immanent and located in the malevolent other, who becomes the essence of everything he denies in himself. Only in this way could a doctrinaire leftist flatter himself by imagining that he lives in an epistemologically open world. Whereas a normal person vertically "brings his troubles to God," so to speak, the leftist projects them horizontally into demon teabaggers, anti-immigrant nazis, Obama-hating racists, and other malign figments of his ontologically closed imagination.