Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Adamology of Sin

O pure and noble conscience, you in whom / each petty fault becomes a harsh rebuke!

You know you're in purgatory when you feel the presence of the conscience, which is the interior grumpass that always reveals true north.

The conscience -- which is nonlocal and universal -- must be distinguished from the culture-bound superego, which Freud mistakenly conflated with it.

The latter is mere adaptation to a particular world, whereas genuine morality struggles to make the world reflect its standards, which are both timeless and universal. One of the characteristics of hell is that the people there have a superego that sanctions evil. Is there any doubt that the idealistic Hitler thought he was performing a service to mankind?

For just as truth cannot be relative and still call itself truth, nor can virtue be a matter of mere cultural conformity. As Burke said, custom reconciles us to everything, no matter how immoral -- human sacrifice, genital mutilation, the designated hitter.

One might say that conscience is vertical, while secular law should be a horizontal prolongation of this. Laws that intrinsically violate the conscience are not laws at all; to the contrary, the good man is obliged to underlook such laws.

Schuon writes that it is incumbent upon us to recognize this distinction "between what is good according to the law and what is good according to virtue," for "a base man can obey the law, be it only through simple constraint, while a noble man may be obliged, exceptionally, to transgress a law out of virtue." But The fool, seeing that customs change, says that morality varies (Don Colacho).

Pope Benedict discusses this in terms of apodictic vs. casuistic law; the former involves "metanorms" such as the Ten Commandments, which come straight from God, whereas the latter are more conditional instantiations of the Law, analogous to the distinction between principles and rules.

So long as we fall short of perfection, the conscience is there to remind us of it. To put it another way, Perfection is the point where what we can do and what we want to do coincide with what we ought to do; or, Ethics culminates where the rule appears to be an expression of the person (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

One might say that "manners" or "politeness" or "ethics" must pass from mere outward action to interior being; or that being must increasingly infuse action. I don't want my son to merely do good but to be good -- which is to say, happy.

Until that point, it is as if we are inhabited by an Other who does not rest until it is either assimilated -- i.e., it becomes one with our own substance -- or we kill it.

But one cannot actually kill the conscience. In this regard, it's a little like the Terminator, who can be smashed into bits, but the bits have a tendency to want to come back together. Therefore, you have to keep shooting and shooting, just to keep him dead. Or, you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place. The hellhound is always on your trail.

As Bion describes the process, "In so far as the destruction is successful, the patient experiences a failure in his capacity for perception.... [The] sense of imprisonment is intensified by the menacing presence of the expelled fragments within whose planetary movements he is contained."

Note that one of the most dreadful characteristics of the left is to externalize the conscience in the form of their endless proliferation of law. A fool or knave imagines that if he obeys "the law," this makes him a good citizen. But We can never count on a man who does not look upon himself with the look of an entomologist (Don Colacho).

I would say Adamologist. For if one doesn't get the gist of Adam, one's moral philosophy will be a jest.

In reality, the externalization of conscience leads to a situation in which the soul is bereft of interior guidance. It is reminiscent of the income tax system that is designed to compel us to be "charitable," but in practical terms forces us to find any way possible to avoid being charitable, through loopholes, tax shelters, deductions, and what not.

Note that the free market has a way of converting man's faults into virtues. Conversely, leftism has a way of turning our virtues into faults.

The "invisible hand" of the left -- the left hand -- externalizes energy from the conscience that should properly be directed at the self. This not only gives the self a free pass, but can even result in a kind of secular sainthood, a la Al Gore or Jimmy Carter -- both of whom are bad men (the former because he is a liar, the latter because he is a hater) who are magically "cleansed" of their faults by systematically blaming others.

More generally, you can be fairly certain that anyone who accuses the wealthy of "greed" has never exhumined his own buried motivations, and for this reason has a warped view of mankind.

For to suggest that a man is "greedy" should be a banality of the first rank. The question is, what are you going to do about your greed? Make it go away by confiscating from those who have more than you? Envy, like evil, cannot be appeased. Rather, appeasing it fuels it.

The above considerations explain how and why there is no one more aware of his faults and failings than the saint, for his conscience is the most developed. Charity begins at home, by modestly ridding the world of a single assoul. "The first act of charity is to rid the soul of illusions and passions and thus rid the world of a maleficent being; it is to make a void so that God may fill it and, by this fullness, give Himself. A saint is a void open for the passage of God" (Schuon).

Also, to give materially with no spiritual strings attached is not an act of charity. As Pope Benedict explains, "When God is regarded as a secondary matter that can be set aside temporarily or permanently on account of more important things, it is precisely those supposedly more important things that come to nothing."

The nightmare of Marxism of course proves this, but so too does the lootmore of the left, which adds insult to injury by making its beneficiaries worse people, or maleficiaries. In this pathological dance, the left wing politician gets to indulge in pride, while the recipient gets to feel entitled to his envy. It's a win-win for the Crafty One!

Damn conscience! Must you follow me everywhere!

19 Comments:

Anonymous Early MOrning TrOll Attack said...

One of your best posts. It touches upon the necessity for spiritual sincerity.

Sincerity is defined as the completeness of one's alignment towards God.

Any parts that lag, would rather do something else, are pursuing a separate agenda, or insist on the right to do evil, make one insincere. We all harbor these parts in different measures and combinations.

You wrote: "In reality, the externalization of conscience leads to a situation in which the soul is bereft of interior guidance."

Certain major players have suggested, and I second the motion, that the soul IS the source of internal guidance and is always infallible.

If you can sincerely let your soul lead, then there is no more need to worry about morality. You will automatically be 100% virtuous depending on your degree of surrender to the leadership of the soul, and the solidity of your sincerity about making this surrender complete in all parts of the being.

That being said I don't know who Jimmy Carter hates.

3/30/2011 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

Off topic but here's a Reagan Quote you might be able to use. Found at Word On the Net.

“You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down–up to a man’s age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order–or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course."
-Ronald Reagan

3/30/2011 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Kafka meets Adam Ant.

3/30/2011 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . there is no one more aware of his faults and failings than the saint, for his conscience is the most developed<<

A St. Francis story (I love SF stories):

One of SF's spiritual colleagues, aware that SF had the rep of a saint, once asked SF just how he viewed himself - did he in fact see himself as a saint?

SF reaction was to wring his hands and exclaim that he was one of the greatest sinners on earth. Hmm, thought the colleague, that confirms it, this guy really is a saint.

Compare and contrast to a jackass self-proclaimed Christian I once saw on some evangalistic cable show. This self-inflated doofus claimed that he was so spiritually advanced, it was impossible for him to sin.

This is what you get, unfortunately, when those who should be bearing the spiritual obligation surrender it to the spiritually ignorant.

3/30/2011 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>That being said I don't know who Jimmy Carter hates<<

You gotta be kidding.

No, on 2nd thought, you're probably not.

Just check out who Peanut likes. Then you'll know who he hates.

3/30/2011 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"For to suggest that a man is "greedy" should be a banality of the first rank. The question is, what are you going to do about your greed? Make it go away by confiscating from those who have more than you? Envy, like evil, cannot be appeased. Rather, appeasing it fuels it."

Yep. Not surprisingly, appeasement is the lefts preferred strategy in dealing with bullies and monsters... especially themselves.

3/30/2011 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Note that one of the most dreadful characteristics of the left is to externalize the conscience in the form of their endless proliferation of law. A fool or knave imagines that if he obeys "the law," this makes him a good citizen.

Ironically, it is just this proliferation of law that, in truth, has already made every one of us a felon.

3/30/2011 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>Note that one of the most dreadful characteristics of the left is to externalize the conscience in the form of their endless proliferation of law. A fool or knave imagines that if he obeys "the law," this makes him a good citizen.<<

There are also mullahs who endlessly proliferate their version of spiritual law, which makes those who obey it believe they are spiritual citizens.

3/30/2011 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie, I'm not able to get video here (I'm assuming that's what's on the InstaPundit page), what's the story about?

wv:sippitif
sip it if it doesn't have hemlock

3/30/2011 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Nope, no videos - just links to older stories. I used Instapundit's links because I remembered he was the one who noted that "we are all felons now."

From the first article at Reason, the money quote:

"We're perpetually expanding police and prosecutorial power, a process only occasionally slowed by the courts. Congress and state legislatures rarely take old criminal statutes off the books, but they're always adding new ones. A 2008 report from the Heritage Foundation estimates that at the federal level alone, Congress has been adding about 55 new crimes to the federal criminal code each year since the 1980s. There are now about 4,500 separate federal crimes. And that doesn't include federal regulations, which are increasingly being enforced with criminal, not administrative, penalties. It also doesn't include the increasing leeway with which prosecutors can enforce broadly written federal conspiracy, racketeering, and money laundering laws. And this is before we even get to the states' criminal codes.

In his new book, the Boston-based civil liberties advocate and occasional Reason contributor Harvey Silverglate estimates that in 2009, the average American commits about three federal felonies per day."

And the second, a specific example from Classical Values:

"Henceforth, all wood is to be a federally regulated, suspect substance. Either raw wood, lumber, or anything made of wood, from tables and chairs, to flooring, siding, particle board, to handles on knives, baskets, chopsticks, or even toothpicks has to have a label naming the genus and species of the tree that it came from and the country of origin. Incorrect labeling becomes a federal felony, and the law does not just apply to wood newly entering the country, but any wood that is in interstate commerce within the country."

3/30/2011 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . one cannot actually kill the conscience<<

Wish I could be sure of this, but I'm not. It's not something I like to dwell on, but there are times I'm pretty well convinced that there are a few (mercifully few) soul-less, conscience-less "people" walking among us.

3/30/2011 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think it returns in some transmogrified and unrecognizable manner, generally as paranoia -- which is a kind of externalized judgment on the self....

3/30/2011 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Will, interestingly enough I was just thinking about this, as something Dante indicated in Canto 33 of the Inferno (which I had meant to bring up last week, but since Bob didn't mention it in a post I didn't get around to discussing it).

"I think you are trying to take me in," I said,
"Ser Branca D'Oria is a living man;
he eats, he drinks, he fills his clothes and his bed."

"Michel Zanche had not yet reached the ditch
of the Black Talons," the frozen wraith replied,
there where the sinners thicken in hot pitch,

when this one left his body to a devil,
as did his nephew and second in treachery,
and plumbed like lead through space to this dead level."


In other words, the implication is that there are those who do, in a sense, so give themselves to evil that the soul moves on and down, and the body is filled instead with the demonic.

Come to think of it, that's quite fitting with today's post, being the exact opposite of the first act of charity. Whether it is accurate, though, I couldn't say. I don't like to think that someone could be so far gone in this life that there is no possibility of repentance, but there are certainly plenty of people who at least seem to be just that.

3/30/2011 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Julie, I agree that such emptiness could only be relaced by the demonic.

I think that if the soul - which here I will equate with conscience - exists, it must exist as, be composed of some kind of substance. Not material substance of course, and one far beyond the detection of the modern physicist, but a substance nontheless. It can be seen with the non-physical eye, by the way.

As a substance, the soul needs a medium in which to exist, further it will need a certain "nourishment" to continue to exist just as all organisms do. I imagine (in the Blakean sense) that the soul is something of a flower that of naturally requires light to exist, by which I mean a certain influx of Light.

I have to think then that deprived of Light, the soul-flower literally wilts and eventually decomposes, scatters its atoms to the astral winds.

The physical being would still be out walking it's midnight creep.

That's why I wonder about whatever message the Zombie Culture might be sending.

Bob and I could both be right, but are simply stating it different terms.

3/30/2011 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie and Will,
Was reading last night in the Philokalia a reference to Matthew 12:43-45:

"When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first."

3/30/2011 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Rick, thanks. Looked at in that sense, and tying in with Bob's explanation, it could be imagined that the vacated soul/ conscience, though ejected from the body (or perhaps more accurately, the heart), still exists on the outside, rapping at the windows and crying through the locks, as it were.

Thus the externalized judgment.

If that makes any sense.

3/30/2011 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Early MOrning TrOll Attack said...

Will:

I believe you are mistaken in your thought that one can discern what peanut hates by what he loves.

Some people just don't hate anything.

For instance, you. You do not hate.

A human soul is ancient and immutable; it cannot be defaced or diminished. It can only be hidden, or enlarged and nourished. So say the seers.

Rebirth is the case. You know it because you sense it.

Therefore, all humans are going to make it. It is now a matter of at what rate. It is not a small thing; because the Master wants to get certain experiences and to rush it would not do.

To go too slowly would also not do.

Therefore, leftists, peanuts, founding fathers, and concerned americans mix it up in a gray zone.

However, keep in mind that all will be well. Take the best care of your own soul growth; it is the best gift you can give to the world.

Drop gluttony, lechery, avarice, anger, envy, sloth and pride.

Let as much go as possible. Which you have my good man. You are far along the road.

3/30/2011 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger philmon said...

I never liked Carter from a political standpoint - I saw him as a well meaning, nice guy with the wrong ideas to minimize problems (the Left doesn't seem to understand that everything is a tradeoff -- there are no "solutions" ... just trading for lesser evil).

I thought he was a good ex-president for a while, too.

But something has happened to that man. There is some kind of negative feedback going on in that brain of his that has warped him but good.

I wish him all the best, but I doubt he can be helped.

3/30/2011 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger philmon said...

In reality, the externalization of conscience leads to a situation in which the soul is bereft of interior guidance. It is reminiscent of the income tax system that is designed to compel us to be "charitable," but in practical terms forces us to find any way possible to avoid being charitable, through loopholes, tax shelters, deductions, and what not.

You know, I've been mulling this idea over for some time now. You're the first person I've run across that has spelled it out that succinctly.

It fosters the I gave at the office attitude, combined with so where's mine?

Plus, when you give charity, you choose the target on what merit you ascribe.

Various "charitable" groups have learned to use the blunt tool of government coercion, appealing to our sense of compassion at voting time, to forcibly take from everyone what only some would have chosen to give to that cause.

"The Government" is, at the top, mainly comprised of people who crave power generically. But they are manipulated by those who wish to use that power. And anyone who doesn't think that perhaps well meaning but ultimately misguided, and dare I say "greedy" by proxy -- people don't do this at least as much as corporations looking for favors often do ...

well, the image of an ostrich comes to mind.

3/31/2011 05:24:00 AM  

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