Loafing and Laughing Our Way Toward the Real Singularity
He is a prime example of despair masquerading as hope, of extreme materialism masquerading as transcendence, and of grandiosity masquerading as magnanimity. Not to mention abject foolishness masquerading as wisdom. No wonder he has so many honorary doctorates. Then again, one more and he gets a free carwash.
Suffice it to say -- as we have discussed before -- man is born with a religious instinct; or, as Schuon ironically expressed it, he is "condemned to transcendence." But just as our sexual instinct can become disordered, so too can our religious instinct. Indeed, this is such a truism that it hardly needs to be said. Just as there are sexual perversions (although in the polticially correct world of clinical psychology they are now called "paraphilias"), there are religious perversions (metaphilias?).
Although the list of man's sexual perversions has become shorter with his "evolution" and sophistication, the current resumé includes Exhibitionism, Fetishism, Frotteurism, Pedophilia, Sexual Masochism, Sexual Sadism, Transvestic Fetishism, Voyeurism, and attraction to Rosie O'Donnell. With further evolution, I would expect Transvestic Fetishism to soon be stricken from the list, followed by the sadomasochistic tango.
If we were to compile a list of religious perversions, what would it include? We could say obvious things such as Islamism, except that it is by no means clear whether or not the Grand Jihad that motivates the Islamists is actually normative for their religion. I don't want to say it. Or draw a picture. You do the myth.
But I don't want to get into specific cases anyway, only the more general cat- and dogmatories. To a certain extent we've already covered this ground in our recent posts about intrinsic intellectual heresies. Furthermore, acquaintance with the debates of early Christianity provides a useful education in the delicate balance required in order to avoid these various pitfalls through which one really does fall into the pit.
Let's just focus on the theological virtue of hope, along with its corollary, hopelessness. Why would hopelessness be a sin and a heresy? Indeed, our reader Anon informs us that depressed and hopeless people are actually more in touch with what he calls "reality," because a couple of the tenured said so. In his upside down world, the disease is the cure. But how do we know for sure if those two are really depressed and in touch with reality, or just faking it? Anyway, some books are written with the assistance of psychoactive drugs; this one could have been avoided with them.
According to Pieper, there are two kinds of hopelessness, despair and what we will translate as presumption. Both involve a kind of anticipation: the former is "a perverse anticipation of the nonfulfillment of hope," while the latter is "a perverse anticipation of the fulfillment of hope." And I didn't expect him to use the word "perverse," but there it is. We are on the same cosmic page.
But why are these perversions? Because man is again always on the way. You might say that just as God's essence is his being, Man's essence is his becoming. God is who he is -- his name is I AM THAT I AM -- while man is who he is to become. His orthoparadoxical name is I AM THAT I WILL BE.
Both despair and presumption therefore undercut man at the very root, since they "destroy the pilgrim character of of human existence" and are "opposed to man's true becoming" (Pieper).
Note that the substance of real hope "flows" -- can only flow -- between (•) and O. Despair is to live only in (•), while presumption is to assume the acquisition or conquest of O; it is to conflate (•) and O in such a way that (•) is expanded to O.
Man is only in the image of the Creator. He is not the Creator. While the human station uniquely allows him both to create and to know, this conceals the fact that man cannot actually create or know the essence of a single thing.
In other words, both knowledge and the limitation thereof are a result of the same ontological reality, the very structure of being. Because we are an emanation of O, we may truly know; but because we are not O, knowledge is literally inexhaustible.
The same may be said of our creativity. Although it too is inexhaustible, man clearly cannot create something from nothing, which is the true essence of creativity that only God possesses.
Now, as mentioned in the book, man is a uniquely open system, both vertically and horizontally. Therefore, in order to "grow" in either direction, he must remain an open system at disequilibrium.
Both of these are fundamental, i.e., openness and disequilibrium. For example, there is a word we use when your body has reached equilibrium: death. Likewise, there are a number of words for a system that has become closed: starvation is one that applies to the horizontal, while sin is a word that applies to the vertical (i.e., rejection of an open relationship to God).
The kind of hope being peddled by Kurzweil is really just despair mimicking hope. You might say that it recapitulates man's original creation of a closed system that excludes God, in that it elevates man to God (both Kurzweil and the serpent agree that "you shall not die").
But any way you cut it, life in a purely horizontal world is already a kind of death. Kurzweil cannot really promise life forever, only death forever, with no real reason to hope for anything. Please note that Kurzweil is full of hope. But I can guarantee him that he will soon be dead, and that his childish (not childlike) hope is entirely misplaced.
One way we maintain vertical openness is through the virtue of humility. But this can go awry in two directions, not just one. Obviously, grandiosity and presumption run counter to genuine humility.
But Pieper notes that despair can represent a kind of false humility that makes it impossible to maintain a vertically open system. He discusses this in terms of the capital sin of acedia, which has no precise translation, so that it is generally thought of as "sloth," which is quite misleading, since it has nothing to do with laziness per se.
For example, as Pieper explains, it is entirely possible -- likely even -- for a workaholic to indulge in acedia, the real meaning of which is a kind of "sadness in view of the divine good in man," and a rejection of the "God-given ennobling of human nature."
You might call it spiritual laziness, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the divine Slack required to properly contemplate and abide in O. Slack is only the true Slack if it is oriented toward its proper spiritual end. Yes, the Raccoon is not just some kind of loafer, but a gentleman loafer. Furthermore, he loafs in God's vertical bakery, where the bread is baked fresh daily.
To be continued....