Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Useless Truth and Useful Idiots

Josef Pieper notes that "Truth is the self-manifestation and state of evidence of real things. Consequently, truth is something secondary, following from something else. Truth does not exist for itself alone. Primary and precedent to it are existing things, the real. Knowledge of truth, therefore, aims ultimately not at 'truth' but, strictly speaking, at gaining sight of reality" (emphasis mine).

If Pieper is correct -- which he is -- then when we speak of "truth," we must add the qualifier of, since different things -- or diverse levels of reality -- are known (and reveal, or give of themselves) in different ways. Matter and mind, for example, reveal themselves in very different ways. In fact, one cannot know the mind of another, unless the other cooperates -- truthfully! -- in revealing himself (and this applies quintessentially to self-revelations of O). To study O as if it were a physical object -- as materialists are condemned to do -- is to render oneself stupid.

A good working definition of reality is something that doesn't go away when we aren't thinking about it. Thus, material objects are obviously real, in that they are antecedent to our knowledge of them. Therefore, to know the truth of a material object involves aligning our minds with its properties, such as weight, mass, color, etc.

But again, the truth of matter is very different from the truth of man, much less the truth of O. Or, you might say that matter speaks one way, while consciousness speaks another. And O speaks yet another way -- although O is also the very basis of all the otherwise inexplicable "speaking" and "hearing" that goes on in this very talkative cosmos.

The idea that matter inheres in its own truth, and that it speaks this truth to human minds is weird enough. Weirder still is that it speaks not only quantitatively -- i.e., mathematically -- but qualitatively, something which known to every poet, even good ones. For example, rivers, mountains, oceans, wind, trees, seasons, storms -- in fact, nature in general -- all of these material things whisper their secrets -- their truth -- to the human soul (which is one way a fellow knows he's got one).

As we have discussed before, the radical environmental movement represents what you might call a godless effort to preserve this aspect of divine reality -- a sort of hollow remurmuring of the fullness of God's self-revelation. The environmentalist loves this divine truth -- or one part of it -- but not the source of this truth, which is to say, principial reality. Thus, he often slides into the barbarism of pantheism, or at least becomes the functional equivalent thereof. (And it should go without saying that every normal person loves virgin nature without having to descend into neo-paganism.)

Similarly, if we attempt to understand man in the same way we understand matter, we will simply generate confusion and paradox. And if we attempt to build a philosophy and a way of life around this misunderstanding, we will create a human nightmare, for we will have created a misanthropic world that is quite literally unfit for human habitation. This anti-human trend affects us in a thousand little ways, so we must constantly be on guard against it. We are truly being overrun by horizontal barbarians, e.g., the tenured flatlanders who suffocate the souls of children with their own ignorance.

This is reason #847 that leftism is a waking nightmare, for not only does it elevate matter to the ultimate, but it necessarily elevates our most primitive way of knowing the world to the highest wisdom, which is the denial of wisdom, precisely. This would be reason enough to reject the radical atheists such as Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins, since in rejecting reality, they not only reject God, but declare war on man as such. Theirs is truly a reactionary misosophy aimed at the most base and common demonimatter.

This is why Aristotle noted that while all other disciplines are more necessary than philosophy, none is more important. To which I would add, "except theology." That is, the higher the discipline, the less necessary for mere physical survival (at least in the short term), but the more significant. At the same time, the higher the reality -- i.e., the more Real -- the less important the particular thinker, since it is closer the the one truth.

Again, truth is a secondary phenomenon, contingent upon the ultimate Real. Since religion is the science of this ultimate real, we must ultimately eliminate ourselves, so to speak, if we would fully comprehend it (or rather, it us). And this is why religion involves both revelation and faith, for revelation is the manifestation of the ultimate real in terms the average human can understand, while the "full emptiness" or "empty fullness" of faith is the anticipatory mode of knowing it.

And of course, this is where our divine Slack comes into play, for if it is true that philosophy must serve no merely pragmatic purpose in order to remain philosophy, then theology must be completely and utterly useless. In other words, theology can never serve anything other than Reality -- and certainly not the insidious designs of some grasping bipedal hominidiot. It cannot be made to serve manmade, "practical" ends. Rather, we were made to serve it. And serving it is the sufficient reason for our Slack, which is otherwise simply a "waste of time." The difference between "doing nothing" and "non-doodling" is pretty much infinite. Gosh!

Slack is that which makes us free insofar as we are engaged in an activity that serves no purpose outside of itself, the ultimate case being worship of God, or conformity with the Real, if you prefer. In losing our freedom, we regain it. Or, in dying, we are reborn. However you wish to put it. But it is an actively passive state, which is why it is more analogous to hearing (which is feminine) than to seeing (which is active and masculine):

"Leisure amounts to that precise way of being silent which is a prerequisite for listening in order to hear.... Leisure implies an attitude of total receptivity toward, and willing immersion in, reality; an openness of the soul, through which alone may come about those great and blessed insights that no amount of 'mental labor' can ever achieve" (Pieper).

When we talk about the true meaning of "separation of church and state" -- one of the favorite phrases used by people who hate Reality -- the deeper meaning is the preservation of our divine Slack, which is the purpose of the state, not vice versa. Only a fool or a knave believes that the state is the source of cosmic slack.

As Pieper writes, this free and slackful space is exactly "what is meant by the ancient term scholé, which designates 'school' and 'leisure' at the same time. It means a refuge where discussion takes place, in total independence -- that is, without the interference of practical goals."

Rather, it is a "zone of truth" that is "set aside in the midst of society, a hedged-in space to house the autonomous engagement with reality, in which people can inquire into, discuss, and assert the truth of things without let or hindrance; a domain expressly shielded from all conceivable attempts to use it as a means to achieve certain ends." In short, it is a place to be human, and a completely useless one to boot.

Not only must this slackademic space be defended and preserved from without, but also from those threats that arise from within "as an infection of intellectual life itself." We know some of these nasty infections by the names "political correctness," "social jusdtice," "diversity," "tolerance," "multiculturalism," "critical theory," etc.

Thus -- at risk of being a champion of the bobvious -- the problem with our schools is that they are no longer schools (scholé), which is to say, pointless and disinterested centers of leisurely slack serving no merely practical end. Instead, they are centers of indoctrination that reduce human beings to serving the ends of leftist ideology. This leftist ideology is also the essence of selfishness, in that it is the polar opposite of the selflessness required to know higher truth. Obammunism is just the same old leftist whining in a new battle.

25 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Nice little school you conduct here each day! Kind of hidden by its own curriculum.

Our culture drives us to survive, to acquire, to grasp, to get with the program -- how a message of uselessness and slack must affront it!? I confess to have wrestled with it myself, though not much lately.

I ask, where else can we study "...that precise way of being silent which is a prerequisite for listening in order to hear...an attitude of total receptivity toward, and willing immersion in, reality; an openness of the soul, through which alone may come about those great and blessed insights..."??

Hah??

Truly (literally), OC is an educational blog!

5/18/2010 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Who you calling useless?!

5/18/2010 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just heard this guy on Prager. Sounds like a good read...

5/18/2010 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

But it is an actively passive state, which is why it is more analogous to hearing (which is feminine) than to seeing (which is active and masculine):

Anticipating Van's objection to passivity, I thought I'd just highlight the "active" part. Which is to say, it's not the passivity of mere dense matter (which is really just inertia, and any living thing that is truly inert is either dead or so close as to be virtually indistinguishable), it requires a kind of willful relaxation. That is, the mind has to take part in its own letting go. Which, once again, is much easier said than done.

We know some of these nasty infections by the names "political correctness," "social jusdtice," "diversity," "tolerance," "multiculturalism," "critical theory," etc.

You forgot "trolls..."

5/18/2010 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or perhaps like the "passivity" of being with child!

5/18/2010 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That book title reminds me of a song...

5/18/2010 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Or perhaps like the "passivity" of being with child!

:)
Or that.

5/18/2010 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One of the many iterations of Mary <--> Word...

5/18/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

...which touches back on where you started yesterday, in that once you catch a glimpse of it in one place, suddenly it's everywhere. And then you realize you're standing in a boat, and there's a waterfall nearby...

5/18/2010 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic but hilarious, mind under matter.

5/18/2010 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

So, what actually needs to be done?

What is indispensable? What is a waste of time?

Cosmoslogists think our world is an accretion of stardust; our heavy elements were created in a supernova.

The destiny of the physical planet does not seem affected by human activity, or rather any action or inaction we could possibly take won't amount to much in the end.

But what about non-physically? What kind of product or service can be effected which actually has lasting significance?

That is the question before us.

Another: what is a complainer? How do they get that way? Does it help anything to complain?

5/18/2010 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

BH:
'What kind of product or service can be effected which actually has lasting significance?'
this
comes quickly to mind...
or
this?

5/18/2010 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"This is why Aristotle noted that while all other disciplines are more necessary than philosophy, none is more important. To which I would add, "except theology.""

To whichAristotle would say "Me too",

"...But if there is something which is eternal and immovable and separable, clearly the knowledge of it belongs to a theoretical science,-not, however, to physics (for physics deals with certain movable things) nor to mathematics, but to a science prior to both. For physics deals with things which exist separately but are not immovable, and some parts of mathematics deal with things which are immovable but presumably do not exist separately, but as embodied in matter; while the first science deals with things which both exist separately and are immovable. Now all causes must be eternal, but especially these; for they are the causes that operate on so much of the divine as appears to us. There must, then, be three theoretical philosophies, mathematics, physics, and what we may call theology, since it is obvious that if the divine is present anywhere, it is present in things of this sort. And the highest science must deal with the highest genus. Thus, while the theoretical sciences are more to be desired than the other sciences, this is more to be desired than the other theoretical sciences. For one might raise the question whether first philosophy is universal, or deals with one genus, i.e. some one kind of being; for not even the mathematical sciences are all alike in this respect,-geometry and astronomy deal with a certain particular kind of thing, while universal mathematics applies alike to all. We answer that if there is no substance other than those which are formed by nature, natural science will be the first science; but if there is an immovable substance, the science of this must be prior and must be first philosophy, and universal in this way, because it is first..."

5/18/2010 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"Everyone understands the usefulness of the useful, but no one understands the usefulness of the useless" -Zhuangzi

5/18/2010 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

""Leisure amounts to that precise way of being silent which is a prerequisite for listening in order to hear.... Leisure implies an attitude of total receptivity toward, and willing immersion in, reality; an openness of the soul, through which alone may come about those great and blessed insights that no amount of 'mental labor' can ever achieve" (Pieper)."

One of my favorite passages.

"When we talk about the true meaning of "separation of church and state" -- one of the favorite phrases used by people who hate Reality -- the deeper meaning is the preservation of our divine Slack, which is the purpose of the state, not vice versa. Only a fool or a knave believes that the state is the source of cosmic slack."

Anyone who reads Jefferson's Danbury letter (especially with the edits which this one keeps), Jefferson wasn't so much concerned for keeping Govt safe from Religion, as with keeping Religion safe from Govt - something the Harris & Dawkins set are unlikely to ever grasp.

5/18/2010 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"As Pieper writes, this free and slackful space is exactly "what is meant by the ancient term scholé, which designates 'school' and 'leisure' at the same time. It means a refuge where discussion takes place, in total independence -- that is, without the interference of practical goals.""

B-b-but... what about teaching kids to earn a living? A-a-a-nd keeping up with the Chinese? and the Japanese? And ... O... wait... that's right... that's just proregressive education... back in the Founder's time that type of 'education' was still known to be unworthy of the name, mere training to fit you to be a tool, and unfit to be regarded as Education for Free Men.

If my memory is right, it shouldn't be surprising to hear that Law School, was the first skill to set itself up as worthy of being called and Education.

First thing we do is....

5/18/2010 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"This leftist ideology is also the essence of selfishness, in that it is the polar opposite of the selflessness required to know higher truth. Obammunism is just the same old leftist whining in a new battle."

Heh... you should take a look at the post I tossed up this morning before work. Everyone's all bent out of shape about the obamaoist Posner who apologized to the Chinese early and often about our 'troubling' Arizona 'situation'... but what really ought to perk up a few folks, is that the Chinese, the still Communist Chinese, are actually providing schooling to us US Americans... in many cases in American 'schools'... isn't that special?

5/18/2010 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Anticipating Van's objection to passivity, I thought I'd just highlight the "active" part."

Ok, ok, I'm sure I've been picky enough lately to deserve that... but I wasn't speaking against passivity the other day, or before that with Tigtog, but against (with Tigtog) discounting the importance of 'Understanding', in relation to simple 'Discovery' (and which somehow strayed off into pro's and con's of pattern recognition), and this weekend I had a problem with the impression, perhaps only on my part, that 'Understanding' and 'Reflection' came off as too close to simple mechanistic mirroring (hey... exaggeration is allowed... a little).

But if anyone's getting the idea that I'm all for action, I'm completely with Pieper and Aristotle, that without Leisure, nothing of lasting value will be realized.

5/18/2010 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

;)
I know, Van - I was just tweaking you a little.

Also, I think the distinction between inertia and active slack is an important one, which maybe I wouldn't have thought much about had you not made the point about mirrors on Friday's post.

5/18/2010 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Or perhaps like the "passivity" of being with child!"

Oh my... brave words best said from the other side of the internet!

When that 9th month begins rolling around (uhm... no pun intended (as I said, brave words from the other end of the internet)), such thoughts are best left only passively thought.

5/18/2010 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Julie-

Thanks for the link to the borderline sociopathic blog for boys.

Holey moley that made me laugh.

5/18/2010 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

It's funny, Van - people keep asking DH if everything is his fault yet, or variations to that effect. I don't know anything about that. It's just not in my nature to lash out (well, with a couple of deserving exceptions online, but I think they've earned their whacks), even if I were cranky. Which I'm not.

We were just talking about that, in fact; there's too much to look forward to right now, and in a couple weeks everything is going to be different. And challenging, but in a good way. What would be the point of being moody? All that does is ruin perfectly good Slack time.

5/18/2010 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You can read an interesting bio of Pieper in this book, along with some details of his singular contribution to the advancement of coonical pslackology.

5/18/2010 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I like his approach:

"I do not want to know 'what others thought,' but 'what is the truth of things.'"

5/18/2010 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Thank you for the link, Bob...he sounds like my kind of philosopher.

5/19/2010 10:37:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home