Monday, January 17, 2011

Free Atlas, Great God Almighty a Free Atlas!

I just finished reading Robert Bolton's Foundations of Free Will, which touches on many of the sane themes we've been discussing lately.

For example, Bolton agrees that freedom and necessity are not opposites but complementary, and that one would be impossible (and even unthinkable) in the absence of the other. Necessity relates "to free will as the earth with its fixed shape and cardinal points relates to the direction-finding of a traveler" (ibid.).

If we remove such constraints we are "free," but in a way that is just as meaningless as being fully determined. Without these constraints, freedom devolves to "just another word for nothing left to lose."

Bolton also reminds us that man "is situated on the dividing-line between two realms, those of nature, where necessity rules, and of the spirit, where freedom rules." Thus, without objective epistemological and moral constraints -- i.e., truth and virtue -- we could be no more free than a person floating aimlessly in space with no orientation whatsoever.

And this, of course, leads to one of our core Raccoon principles, that freedom is a function of truth, and vice versa. If truth does not exist -- or, if man cannot know it -- then freedom is strictly impossible and even inconceivable.

Conversely, because man was made to know truth, he is created to be free; or, in an even higher sense, he is created to create, which combines the most felicitous union of truth and freedom with their fair sister beauty. For the superior man, nothing should be done artlessly.

This is not a principle that should be passed over lightly, for it is one of the keys to this whole existentialiada with free holiness on the side. For it entails its corollary: that those who embrace the Lie are not -- and cannot be -- free. Lies can only ape a facsimian of freedom, for freedom is obviously not free if it is oriented toward error.

If you spend your life in subjugation to the Lie, you will have wasted the uppertunity of a lifetome, for you will have lived as an illiterate slave. Might as well not have been born, except at least your bad example can serve as a tutelary tale and cautionary tool for those who are tempted to believe that truth is relative or a mere cultural construct.

We all know people who spend their lives buried beneath themselves in a tomb of illusion, which is why the unexhumined life is not worth living.

Think of those cardinal points alluded to in the first paragraph. What if there are cardinal points all around, but they all arbitrarily point the wrong way? A person will rely upon them to guide him through life's journey, even though they lead precisely nowhere.

Therefore, this person's subjective sense of freedom -- irrespective of how "real" if feels -- is completely illusory. Such is the "academic freedom" of the tenured, which is supposed to be a means, not just a deadened nul-de-slack. Severed from truth, such faux freedom perishes with each vain publication.

Bolton also agrees with us that freedom cannot be an either/or proposition. Rather, it exists on a coontinuum, and not just because of the evil and lie-bound assouls who would deprive us of it.

Rather, in a free society such as ours, obstacles to freedom are clearly situated primarily within. As we ascend vertically, we can flush away these impurities, which is why man is his own best enema.

At any rate, freedom "is a possibility which develops out of an originally unfree state" (Bolton). And unless the reality of freedom is emphasized from the outset, "most human beings will not bother to develop their natural capacities to the full" (ibid.), as we see in the Islamic world. Since they believe everything is fated by Allah, why bother trying to improve oneself?

The same spiritual illness afflicts the left, in that their principle lie is that human beings are mere objects who are defined by race, class and gender, and who react in a deterministic way to the environment around them.

This leads logically to their theory of government, which posits a large and intrusive state to manipulate people toward its preferred ends. Of course, they never explain how the elites who determine the preferred ends are able to escape the chain of epistemological causation and freely perceive a reality unconditioned by their class-based "false consciousness."

You don't even have to believe in free will in order to know it is real. Bolton uses the example of two people, one of whom believes in free will, the other of whom does not. As a consequence of believing in it, the person will conduct himself quite differently than the one who does not. One little spud will endeavor to actualize his potential, while the other will remain a half-baked potato too lazy to even invent the couch.

Thus, we see how belief of any kind enters the causal chain to alter human reality. Again, this is rather obvious when we consider cultures that cherish freedom vs. those that deny it. Ye shall know the latter by their fruitlessness, both individually and collectively.

Unfree cultures tend to produce worthless people, as in the Palestinian terrortories or the New York Times idiotorial board, to cite a couple examples of low-hanging fruitlessness.

If providence subsists prior to fate, this must be analogous to what we were saying the other day about entropy being parasitic on order. Obviously we could not speak of disorder in the absence of order.

Therefore, no matter what physicists say about the priority of the second law of thermodynamics, God exists prior to the world, not just in the horizontal past, but in the descent of each vertical moment. If there is any order, there is only One transcendent order and one theography course to pass through. And that's an order!

So don't just recycle that free atlas the Creator issues us at birth, for it is a map to the stars.

27 Comments:

Anonymous INTERLOCUTOR X said...

The take home message from the post is that there is a right way and a wrong way to believe.

Those who have it wrong are wasting time.

The left and the tenured have it wrong. They are therefore worthless beings.

This leads to your quote:

"We all know people who spend their lives buried beneath themselves in a tomb of illusion, which is why the unexhumined life is not worth living."

Questions arise as to how you decide the unexhumined life is not worth living.

What is a worthy life and what are its accomplishments?

Worthy to whom? Why?

What are the consequences of being worthy?

What are the consequences of being unworthy?

Is there any enduring effect of a wothy life versus an unworthy one?

Are you worthy?

1/17/2011 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Are you sane?

Rhetorical question.

1/17/2011 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous dloye said...

Home run in my ball field.

...If we remove such constraints we are "free," but in a way that is just as meaningless as being fully determined. Without these constraints, freedom devolves to "just another word for nothing left to lose."

The little Baptist U where I got some edumacation with my degree had as its motto, "veritas vos liberabit." The truth will set you free. I always figured that to be a total nonsequitur, as if you know the truth, doesn't it bind you? But it's becoming more and more evident to me that it's a wonderful paradocs of truth, faith and light. This post will be useful to me as I continue to try to digest some of "Lazarus come forth."

1/17/2011 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Dloye:

Ditto.

1/17/2011 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm reminded of a big chunk of tripe I read yesterday via Schniederman, which basically argued for materialism but claimed "Over the past few decades, geneticists, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and others have made great strides in understanding the inner working of the human mind. Far from being dryly materialistic, their work illuminates the rich underwater world where character is formed and wisdom grows." However, once you reach the end of the article, that's basically where you are left - a strange sort of materialist mysticism that doesn't allow for anything beyond physical processes, but makes it alright because everything's connected.

"There weren’t even words for the traits that matter most—having a sense of the contours of reality, being aware of how things flow, having the ability to read situations the way a master seaman reads the rhythm of the ocean."

No, dude, there are plenty of words for those traits, they just aren't to be found in neuroscience or physics or biology.

1/17/2011 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Rather, in a free society such as ours, obstacles to freedom are clearly situated within. As we ascend vertically, we can flush away these impurities, which is why man is his own best enema."

Very true, butt... could have done without the visual.

Just sayin'

1/17/2011 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Fleet don't fail me now!

1/17/2011 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Hey, there's a joining button! If we get with the collective, do we have to pay dues?

Dupree - so wrong. I laughed anyway.

1/17/2011 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Marx said...

I don't think I'd want to join any group that would have me as a member...

1/17/2011 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Ye shall know the latter by their fruitlessness

As an antidote to all the liberal insanity that's been injected into the body politic, here's a new interview with one of the more fruit-FUL Americans alive today.

Thomas Sowell: A Conversation With One of America's Leading Conservatives

1/17/2011 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The book in the sidebar about Dante is a real gem. Far too rich for one sitting. I keep getting up and walking around after every paragraph or two to try to digest it.

1/17/2011 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

From the excerpts available, it does look good. I picked up The Divine Comedy a few months back, but didn't get very far into it. I was too tired to focus. Maybe worth trying again sometime soon...

1/17/2011 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

...their principle lie is that human beings are mere objects who are defined by race, class and gender, and who react in a deterministic way to the environment around them.

This leads logically to their theory of government, which posits a large and intrusive state to manipulate people toward its preferred ends. Of course, they never explain how the elites who determine the preferred ends are able to escape the chain of epistemological causation and freely perceive a reality unconditioned by their class-based "false consciousness."


Been quite a while since I commented here, but this coincided a bit too perfectly for me not to say something. I have been mulling this idea for the past two weeks or so, and next thing you know, it pops out here, fully formed. Sweet!

The gears got turning after recently hearing a news clip on the radio. I'm not entirely sure what caught my attention (probably my disgust with the popular use of statistics... don't get me started), I don't even remember the story, but I remember noting that everything was discussed as though a person had no individual choice in anything. The assumption through all of it was that people (as individuals and as a group) will react predictably to given inputs, like, say, animals. And the more I think about almost anything I have read in the paper or heard on the news (as little as I expose myself to either), the more pervasive I find this assumption to be. I suppose that when you remove the burden of responsibility from individuals, treating them in this manner a logical outcome.

As a brief aside, Bob, any thoughts on the work of Christopher Lasch?

wv is 'bongs'. Heh.

1/17/2011 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I would say Lasch is unnecessary to a cosmic education.

1/17/2011 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger debass said...

Enema-wasn't he a (?)rap artist?

Excellent post again today. You have been on a hot streak lately.
Even music is not free. If you eliminate every musical constraint, you have white noise. Free is often delineated from free will. The freedom to choose is what the left wants to eliminate and half the country wants someone else to choose for them. Because with choice comes responsibility and consequences. All these leftist ideas are about limiting your choice while boasting about being pro choice.
I've started asking my liberal friends, "Besides the extermination of Jews and the unborn, can you think of any successful leftist ideas? They usually exercise their freedom to leave at that point.

wv-meaverjo-a tribe of average native ameican prostitutes?

1/17/2011 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad, this one was a new one on me, have you seen an argument against free will like this one before? I don't think the poster could have come up with it himself, but bizarre doesn't seem to cover it,

"...We DO have consciousness. However, nothing within our causal universe – including us – can have moral “free will” as a matter of the axiomatic laws of thought and deductive logic.

2. Since the concept of moral "free will" is fallacious, it's an impossible situation like living our lives backward from old age to birth. This impossibility renders the phrasing of your clarification meaningless, akin to speculating how well suited any system of politics would be to governing a collection of individuals who live life in reverse...
"

I haven't had a chance to check around on it yet, just curious if you've come across it before.

1/17/2011 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Never seen that specific sophistry before. This person sounds a little psychotic. Besides, "the axiomatic laws of thought" prove the existence of moral and intellectual freedom.

1/17/2011 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger debass said...

Van-

I've seen that before. It's double speak from an Ivory League Institution. When I was in grad. school, a prof. gave me a sheet of paper with a bunch of similar phrases. The directions were to use your phone number or any number combination and match them up to the phrases to make a complete nonsensical sentence.

1/17/2011 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Besides, "the axiomatic laws of thought" prove the existence of moral and intellectual freedom."

Yeah, as you can imagine, I already drilled him on the logical impossibility of morality or even logic, without free will. But that bit really threw me... at first I thought he just garbled his comment, but he's serious. Hasn't yet fessed up with a source.

"...This person sounds a little psychotic..."

Well... full out leftist... yeah.

Debass, lol, I'll be some of those random combinations made more sense than this one.

Thanks guys.

1/17/2011 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

GB said: The book in the sidebar about Dante is a real gem.

I've had the book for a few years now, I was glad to see it in the sidebar. Any chance you might take a tour through at some point? I've yet to find my way into the book yet...

1/17/2011 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger debass said...

Death by Liberalism-should be an interesting read.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/death_by_liberalism.html

1/17/2011 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Thus, without objective epistemological and moral constraints -- i.e., truth and virtue -- we could be no more free than a person floating aimlessly in space with no orientation whatsoever."

This reminded me of (one of) Obama's stupider platitudes during that AZ memorial puff rally he went to:

"But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together."

Ace and many others have done a good job fisking Obama's speech (a lot not to like, including Obama's more Carterlike than Carter lack of leadership), and there's a crapload of fiskable material in that speech.

I also agree with most conservatives that this is probably the very best we can hope for from someone like Obama... yeah, it could've been worse.

But this part I haven't read any commentary on yet:

"...expand our moral imaginations..."

Okay, wtf is that? We already know Obama is average in intelligence at best, and registers bupkis in wisdom, but c'mon! WTF is that?

Perhaps Obama is simple(yes he is!)y sayin' that neo-coms like him who have no moral constraints must try to imagine what good morals are since he obviously doesn't know (otherwise why seek to imagine it)?

Afterall, it's not like there's anything to read (and learn from) about morals and the goodness and necessity of moral constraints, his blackberry bible (Black Liberation God Damn you Whitey, Jews and America edition) verse of the day notwithstanding.

"Moral imaginations" much like his "audacity of hope" slogan demonstrates once again what a moron and proxymoron Obama really is. Sheesh.

1/18/2011 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A truly vacuous blowhard. But beyond that, he creeps me out, so I can't even pay attention to what little content he purveys anyway.

1/18/2011 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I think you'll all get a nice spontaneous "Doh!" from this. It seems my time travelling leftie was attempting to find a cute and catchy way to sum up the irrefutable 'logic' of determinism and 'axiomatic' impossibility of free will.

I think he seriously meant that since everything is caused, every thought and action is the result of the current sum of all previous causes and effects... sooo... if someone were to actually have 'moral free will' to freely make a choice, that would mean that in order to avoid screwing up the space time continuum, you & Doc Brown would have to go back in time and change the entire chain of cause and effect in your life, in order to result in the 'choice' you just made -

[jaw agape while staring]

How's that for an exercise in 'whatever I say proves that your disagreeing with me is wrong'? Leftist word for the day: 'rationalism'.

1/18/2011 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

"Of course, they never explain how the elites who determine the preferred ends are able to escape the chain of epistemological causation and freely perceive a reality unconditioned by their class-based "false consciousness.""

They don't have to because they're obviously by their position elite.

1/19/2011 02:40:00 AM  
Blogger philmon said...

"For the superior man, nothing should be done artlessly."

Your wordploys accomplish this quite nicely. I really enjoy them.

A picture may paint a thousand words, but a good word fusion paints quite a picture itself.

1/19/2011 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger philmon said...

"let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations" - Big O

Yeah, that one sort of stuck out at me as well as a particularly outstanding example of high sounding rhetoric that means bovine solid waste.

My initial reaction to the excerpts I heard were ... for an Obama speech, it was pretty good considering the political climate, but the more I think about it, the more a lot of it sounds like "Hope" and "Change". Sound and fury that don't mean nutin'. And might mean worse.

1/19/2011 08:01:00 PM  

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