Wisdom is Not Autism and Life is Not Death
In other words, even the merest scrap of knowledge always points in two directions, or has an interior and exterior horizon. As we ascend the hierarchy of being, this division of interior and exterior becomes increasingly apparent. When we look at another person, we always know that there is an interior hidden from us -- by which we do not mean blood and guts, but interiority per se. For just as there is a dark side of the moon, there must somewhere exist an infinitesimal bright side of the moonbat.
There are exceptions to this rule. Most conspicuously, severely autistic people do not have access to the human interior, resulting in a bizarre world of arbitrary and unpredictable "human furniture." But autism, like most forms of mental illness, runs along a continuum. We all know people who are reliably "clueless" about human reality. One of them is a frequent commenter here. You may know him by his impregnable head of solid rock.
Importantly, our first and most enduring orientation to the world is via this human interiority. We do not start off "autistic" and only then enter the human interior. Rather -- and this is obvious both personally and historically -- the interior precedes the exterior.
Only very gradually has mankind evolved so as to disentangle mind from matter, so to speak, and view the world scientifically, which is to say, objectively. Science provides knowledge of exteriors. But this hardly means that real reality consists of exteriors only. Insisting otherwise constitutes a metaphysical boo-boo that is fundamental, pervasive, and naive in the extreme.
In reality, there can be no real separation between the poles of fact and value, quantity and quality, knowledge and mystery, known and unKnown. Yes, there can certainly be a methodological separation between them, but the scientistic mind makes the elementary error of confusing method and ontology -- which is very much analogous to the absurd belief that there just so happen to be no fishes smaller than one's net.
A net pulls up creatures of a certain size, and no smaller. Likewise, Newtonian physics captures "facts" of a certain size, while quantum theory catches even smaller ones. But one would have to be slightly autistic or severely tenured to imagine that we're even close to catching everything in the ocean.
As was Gödel, but that doesn't mean his logic was unsound. Indeed, it probably required a maladjusted person -- someone external to the consensus reality -- to recognize the real one, or at least rule out the false ones.
At any rate, "this insight gives us the means to resist any division of 'value' and 'being' into two different spheres. Such a division, we recognize, is not only untenable but is nothing less than a mortal blow to the mystery of being" (Balthasar).
Again, we have no problem whatsoever with methodological dualism. If I should ever have open heart surgery, I'm cool with the idea that my surgeon looks at the heart as a blood pump. Conversely, I wouldn't want to see a psychologist who regards the brain as a thought pump.
In his The Phenomenon of Life, Hans Jonas describes our primordial, interior relationship to the world. Given the fact that modernism exiles us from this interior world, while postmodernism imprisons us in a purely personal one, it is difficult to imagine the "enchanted" mentality of premodern man, when
"Soul flooded the whole of existence and encountered itself in all things. Bare matter, that is, truly inanimate, 'dead' matter, was yet to be discovered -- and indeed its concept, so familiar to us, is anything but obvious" (Jonas).
Again, we begin -- both individually and historically, or psychologically and anthropologically -- with the interior. It could not have been otherwise, for the same reason that we don't start off autistic, and then begin to deduce the presence of the human interior by studying the parts of a face: "Let's see, the lip is upturned and the skin around the eyes is crinkled. This must mean Mother is happy. Whatever that is."
Please bear in mind that we would be the last to argue for some kind of Rousseau-ian reenchantment of nature. Ironically, this is what the scientistic types end up doing when they aren't busy disenchanting the world with their unreal abstractions. The latter activity -- unleavened by any spiritual sensibility -- results in an unreal, desiccated world, and therefore a longing for some kind of connection to primoridial reality, untouched by the chilled hand of scientism.
I'm pretty sure this is how one ends up with the retrograde paganism -- i.e., Gaia worship -- concealed in the climate changers. It's what happens when the religious instinct is denied, only to return in morbid form (which indeed occurs in virtually any kind of doctrinaire leftism). (And please recall that we do not necessarily deny "climate change." We just don't make a religion of it.)
Jonas notes that what we call a philosophical "problem" is in essence "the collision between a comprehensive view (be it hypothesis or belief) and a particular fact which will not fit into it."
Now, one way to deal with such problems is to deny the existence of any facts outside one's belief system. For example, for the left, it is impossible that other valid economic theories might exist, therefore, those of us who hold another theory are in actuality terrorists.
The psychologist in me would not minimize the feelings and perceptions of the left. Rather, if the left were my patient, the first thing I would do is acknowledge the psychic reality of the Terror. There is surely terror going on, but let's not jump to conclusions about where it is emanating from. Let's just sit with it for awhile, explore it, find out where it leads, what it is connected to in your psyche.
"You mean their psyche, right Doc?"
No, my dear Mr. (or Ms.) Leftist. Let's forget about them for awhile, at least for the hour we're here together. This time is for you. Let's just talk about you and your thoughts and feelings, and leave the world out of it for the time being. Let's pretend the world is a kind of canvas you paint upon, or a dream you dream."
Anyway, for premodern man, Death is the great riddle, the great exception to the rule of Life. But "modern thought, which began with the Renaissance, is placed in exactly the opposite theoretic situation. Death is the natural thing, life the problem" (ibid.).
As a result, "it is the existence of life within a mechanical universe which now calls for an explanation, and the explanation has to be in terms of the lifeless.... That there is life at all, and how such a thing is possible in a world of mere matter, is now the problem posed to thought" (ibid.).
Again, bear in mind that we are not arguing for a romantic reversion to animism; rather, the orthoparadoxical Raccoon argument is for the transcendent position, i.e., the psychic Third that integrates the other two. As such, we also reject the philosophical stance of the dead and tenured, who insist upon a universal ontology which negates Life (to say nothing of Mind and Spirit) "by making it one of the possible variants of the lifeless" (ibid.) -- as if life is just a weird way of being dead.
You are, of course, free to believe this, so long as you refrain from treating others as lifeless objects to be manipulated by your wonderful policies.
But in believing this nonsense -- or onlysense, rather -- please understand what you are destroying. For "to reduce life to the lifeless is nothing else than to resolve the particular into the general, the complex into the simple, and the apparent exception into the accepted rule" (ibid).
This represents the polar opposite of what was elucidated in yesterday's post vis-a-vis the particular representing the ultimate, i.e., a person. Conversely, in the scientistic view, we only become truly ourselves when we are a corpse, no longer subject to this illusory hoax of nature called an "interior."
Thus, in the conclusion of Jonas, "Our thinking today is under the ontological dominance of death."
The bottom lyin' is that one cannot be upside-down without rendering oneself inside-out.