Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On the Subject of Objects

Another quick and dirty post. Pressed for time this morning....

Continuing with our discussion of the bifurcation of reality into subject and object, the reason why the subject may know -- and the object may be known -- is that they descend from a Oneness that is anterior to them. If this were not the case, then there would be no possibility of real knowledge, or truth, or cosmic intercourse.

A critical point is that we begin with the idea that the world is true because created, and that it in-forms the subject for the very reason that it is an ex-form of the Cosmic Subject who bears the objects within. This is very much in contrast to Eastern religions that regard the world as maya, or something from which we must escape (which in itself is a misunderstanding of the maya principle, since maya is real and even necessary on its own plane, just not the "ultimate Real").

Nevertheless, the human subject is not nothing -- as if its only function is to be a mirror of the object world. Rather, as Schuon points out, "it bears the element object within itself, in the sense that pure subjectivity potentially contains the metaphysical essence of the knowable."

This is reminiscent of the idea that God is not in the cosmos, but vice versa. Being that we are mirrorcles of the Absolute, we can equally say that we are not in the cosmos, but vice versa, hence, the possibility of the actualization of real knowledge. In other words, the soul is not in the cosmos, but vice versa.

Furthermore, no object is merely an object, or it couldn't properly exist (for it would be like an outside with no inside). Rather, every object -- if it is an object -- has the potential to be known by a subject. In other words, to say that there could be objects that cannot be known is an absurdity. An object is by definition "on the way to" knowledge, like an arrow shot toward the subject who "completes" it in slackful contemplation.

Now, subjectivity comes to us in two modes, one unconscious, the other conscious, which is to say Life and Mind, respectively. Life itself tends toward conscious mind, while the conscious mind obviously has deep roots in unconscious life. One can draw no fundamental line between life and mind, at least for embodied humans (angelic beings are another matter).

This is another dialectic, or complementarity, that prevents consciousness from coagulating into the dead letter of rationalism. Rather, consciousness is always nourished by waters from above and below, which is why man is "condemned to transcendence." Thank God reality is what it is, on the one hand, but always more, on the other!

Schuon points out that the word "objectivity" has moral connotations, which is entirely appropriate, since it is really another way of saying "truth." To know truth we must be objective, impartial, and dispassionate, and overcome petty self-interest.

But at the same time, "subjectivity" has wrongly taken on negative connotations, as if it is a "defect" -- you know, "pay no attention to Bob's ranting, it's all subjective nonsense."

It is obviously possible for subjectivity to become imbalanced and disproportionate, but Schuon says that this ought to be called "subjectivism," just as the scientistic rationalist who pretends that reality can be stripped of the human subject ought to be called an "objectivist" (he wasn't referring to Randians).

Schuon says that ideally, "objectivity" ought to imply "conformity with the nature of things," which comes very close to the cardinal virtue of prudence, pieperly understood (more on which later). And "subjectivity" ought to convey on the one hand the idea that "the kingdom of God is within you," but also that in encountering the object world, we ought to do so with a view to interiorization and a return to our Self.

In other words, the object world is not like a flat, two-dimensional surface; rather, it has a degree of metaphysical transparency that can only be known by a human subject. It radiates not just truth, but beauty and other spiritual essences, from Subject to subject, or O --> (¶).

I am reminded of a commenter at American Digest -- I think that's where it was -- who asked why all of those Hubble photos of stars, planets, and galaxies are are so beautiful. I mean, that's the first thing you notice, isn't it? It's such a strange property to be present in a cosmos, and yet, almost a mundane observation. "Another beautiful galaxy. Whatever."

The Beauty of Woman is quite easy for the Darwinian to explain, since he can assure us that the attraction is just an illusion created by our genes in order to compel us to drag her into the nearest bush and dispatch our genes into the next generation. But this is to put the immanent ass before the transcendent horse, as if the horse's ass is the first and last word of this marvelous cosmos. Which is of course the quintessence of a backassward metaphysic.


julie said...

This is probably a stretch, but speaking of Darwinian horse's asses, this is one of the main topics at Yahoo today, written by one Hope Yen:
Interracial marriage rates slow down.

Women, minorities hardest hit...

black hole said...


Great post, top form.

Please say more about "angelic beings" as came up in your line: "One can draw no fundamental line between life and mind, at least for embodied humans (angelic beings are another matter)."

I would be especially interested in any firsthand knowledge or experience of these beings.

To add to Julie's note, I would say that humanity started off brown, developed pale and darker variants over time, and will slowly return to solid brown after further centuries of global intermarriage.

When choosing a mate one consideration could be their variation. To aid this project of blending it is preferential to select a mate of a different racial stock.

I will accept the usual denigration and slurs, but ask you make them colorful and entertaining. Thank you, BH.

Van said...

I'm all thumbs again, but wanted to saythis was an awesome post.

And remember folks, don't feed the troll unless it entertains you first.

julie said...

In line with the more general trend of recent topics, via a commenter at Gil Bailie's place today I came across a rather interesting (and surprising) article discussing a book about the difference between being pregnant in Israel vs. being pregnant in Japan.

Surprising to me is the apparent mindset of modern Israel concerning the unborn:

Ivry categorizes pregnancy for Israeli women as a "risky business." Unlike the mother-baby dyad of Japanese pregnancies, Israeli pregnancies are strictly woman (not mother) and fetus. "When a woman walks into my office and says 'I'm pregnant,'" Ivry quotes an Israeli ultrasound expert as saying, "I don't touch her. I don't say anything to her, I open a new card, and I write that I recommend an abortion. Then I sign her up on a paper that says that she is aware of all the testing that exists. Now we can begin to talk."

Of all the places in the world I would expect to see this extent of horizontalized knowledge of the developing object (since they apparently don't see it as a subject), with a view towards disposing of it if it fails to meet stringent material standards, I think Israel would have been just about last. Then again, I can't claim any knowledge of the life of the average modern Israeli.

I had always considered Judaism to be, if anything, more life affirming than most other cultures. Does that not extend to the unborn? I honestly don't know.

black hole said...

Julie may I suggest increasing sample size before drawing any conclusions about Israeli attitudes.

julie said...

*eyes rolling*

Oh, for crying out loud - do you really think I would consider one review of one book by one woman who happened to live in both places to be the definitive and all-inclusive resource? For all I know, she's a complete secularist who lives in the Israeli equivalent of Orange County. I'm guessing the Orthodox communities probably have quite a different experience.

I would never be so arrogant as to extrapolate from one book review what the total cultural experience of a foreign nation must be. In case you missed it, I expressed ignorance about modern Israeli life above. Obviously, I had some pre-conceived notions. Obviously, this review brought those into question, and I considered that questioning to be worthy of mention.

Anything else you draw from that is none of my business.

Tigtog said...

To Julie and BH re: Sample Size

There are too many "writers" trying to find something meaningful to write about. Combine that with their inner drive to sound like the talent on PBS (I know its a stretch) and the result is pure drivel. Most media is merely filling the same box they filled last week. It is annoying. I personally just ignore it. As an example, Julie's post of the inter racial marriage rates was unreadable beyond the second paragraph. Who cares what an inter racial metric is and why assume when it changes direction it must be "white racism"? Why not ask why its not black, asian, latino racism? Pedestrian and pedantic all in one. I guess the author is prepared to become a Presidential speech writer or a talk show host.

julie said...

Tigtog - re. the first link, I concur. Just glancing through was enough to note that there was very little real thought put into the article; it was simply an opportunity to reinforce the stereotype that white people are racists if they don't marry outside the lines.

I hope the second link was a little more worth reading. Of course, it's entirely possible I only found it interesting because of certain temporal sympathies...

In any case, here's a third link on a completely unrelated topic, but it's Doc Zero so how bad can it be? This one caught my attention because of the "Magic Eye" reference:

The sloppy craftsmanship and outrageous over-reach of ObamaCare make it a “magic eye” portrait of an incompetent president and party. As you stare at the countless little fraudulent cost estimates, unplanned side effects, and economy-killing mandates, a 3-D image of an upraised middle finger materializes.

It's a metaphor that's been used here with some frequency, though in a different way.

Tigtog said...

To Julie re Obamacare and Magic Eye

Enjoyed the read. Made me think of the "magic eyes" people in Azerbaijan and especially Turkey buy to ward off evil spirits. Too bad they don't work on socialists and fascists.

julie said...

(*forehead slap*

I just noticed I never included the link to that article about the Israeli lady. Sorry about that, it would have provided some context, instead of just me spouting off.

Having provided the lion's share of comments for the day, I think I'll just shut up now. Sheesh.)

julie said...

Okay, so I do have one more thing to add, but this is really important: I think Lileks has found the answer for BH and A.

Who knew the solution could be so simple? The Light Test should clarify everything!

And with that, I hope everyone has a lovely evening :)

Gagdad Bob said...

Ixnay on the aldorfway. You'll put psychologists out of business!