Friday, January 20, 2012

Matter Über Alles and the Elimination of Man

Before we risk sticking our foot in the mouth of the sacred river,

"The rule of every serious esoterist should be to be silent -- often for a length of years -- concerning every new illumination or inspiration that he has, so as to give it the necessary time to mature, i.e., to acquire that certainty which results from its accordance with moral consciousness, moral logic, the totality of spiritual and ordinary experience -- that of friends and spiritual guides of the past and present -- as also with divine revelation, whose eternal dogmas are guiding constellations in the intellectual and moral heaven" (Meditations on the Tarot).

Consider the fact that even Jesus spoke scarcely a word of these matters to another human being until around age 30. Proof of this is found in Luke 2:41-50, in which the 12 year old Jesus runs away, and three anxious days later is found by his parents in the temple, hashing things out with the rabbis and amazing his parents with his spiritual knowledge. Who knew? Not Jesus! (This will become clear as we proceed.)

Interesting that on the threshold of manhood -- 13 in the Jewish world -- the boy Jesus disappears for -- what else? -- three days, only to reappear, now capable of matching wits with the best and brightest menschen. His parents are amazed at the transformation, and frankly confess to not understanding his oblique explanation.

Luke 2:47 notes that his interlocutors were "astonished" at his answers and his understanding, which obviously cuts both ways -- like a newborn baby who looks just... breathtaking!

Knowledge is one thing, understanding another. Sometimes there is an overlap, while often -- especially the higher up the epistemological food chain one proceeds -- the less this will be the case. For example, there is pretty much of a complete overlap between the form and content of radical Darwinism. To know it is to understand it.

Conversely, one may know virtually everything about religion, and yet, understand none of it. Not to get sidetracked, but this was one of Bonhoeffer's consistent themes, and it was indeed a... breathtaking thing to say in a Lutheran culture that tended toward bibliolatry. For this reason, Bonhoeffer uttered many Eckhart-worthy statements that... astonished his fellow theologians, for example, in his advocacy of what he called "religionless Christianity":

"What Bonhoeffer meant by 'religion' was not true Christianity, but the ersatz and abbreviated Christianity that he spent his life working against." He warned that "the time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, was over..." Rather, "God always required something deeper than religious legalism" (Metaxas).

Thus, in another Eckhartian orthoparadox, he commented that "every sermon must contain 'a shot of heresy,' meaning that to express the truth, we must sometimes overstate something or say something in a way that will sound heretical -- though it must certainly not be heretical" (ibid.).

Along these lines, Bonhoeffer said that in order to become "fully human," we must bring the Creator into our "whole life, not merely into some 'spiritual' realm" (ibid). But only a willful moron would take this to mean that, say, an embryo, or infant, or disabled person, isn't "fully human," as did the Nazis.

Another one: "Where God tears great gaps, we should not try to fill them with human words." The same applies to the psychological dimension, especially in more intelligent, literate, and articulate patients, who have a rapid-response ability to paper over such gaps.

The "intelligent atheist" operates in just this manner. It's all so glib, but apparently self-satisfying in a way that is difficult for the more open-minded person to comprehend.

One wants to say: "Okay, let's assume your analysis is correct up to the point you have carried it. But why are you arbitrarily stopping there? Why not take the next step, to that for which your manmade explanation does not and cannot account?" In short, why not dive into the deep end of 〇 instead of standing there in the wading pool?"

Just because one can read, it hardly means one understands. Rather, it merely gives the illusion of understanding. Plenty of liberals have gone to law school, and yet, do not understand the point of the Constitution.

Nor do atheists understand religion, to which they stand as living proof. Only a kind of cosmic narcissism or spiritual autism allows them to convert a disability into a virtue, to elevate a confession of ignorance to a vehicle of truth. It's transparently childlike, really, for children are also unable to stand back from their immediate perceptions, appreciate their limitations, and take a more objective and disinterested view. I mean, if human knowledge is the ultimate, then knowledge is nothing, right?

Once detached from the vertical, one is in what unKnown Friend calls the "zone of mirages."

Now, just because this zone isn't real, it doesn't mean it isn't "creative." It's just that it is a kind of lesser creativity (the world of the infertile eggheads) that bears on no eternal truth or beauty transcending itself. It is "art for art's sake," which is no better than "science for science's sake," for it is a chicken swallowing its own egg. But at least it answers that eternal question of which came first, the chicken or egg: neither!

Conventional leftists imagine that conservatives are "anti-science" because we understand that science has obvious limits, and that it must always converge upon something higher than itself, at risk of becoming demonic. One can never derive values from science -- the ought from the is. Or, one can, but at risk of instant dehumanization and rebarbarization.

This is indeed the monstrosity -- the monstrous element -- of reductionistic Darwinism: not that it is "true" in its own limited way, but that it replaces the Truth of which it can only be a tiny reflection.

For if vulgar Darwinism is the integral truth of man, dreadful consequences necessarily follow -- not the least of which being the impossibility of absolute truth and objective morality. I won't even bother to catalogue all of the consequences of a blind materialism, but Bonhoeffer himself was one of its victims -- a victim of matter über alles.


julie said...

Vanderleun has had some very apropos links on his sidebar this week:

On Spiritual Autism goes especially well with today's post.

Also, along the lines of knowledge, understanding and Darwinism, and stopping arbitrarily in the shallow end, this link seems an almost perfect demonstration. If intelligence is evolutionarily useless (and if one is being honest, that does seem the case), what does it serve?

One other seems fitting today, over at Cracked: 6 Scientific Discoveries that Laugh in the Face of Physics. Of course, being Cracked, you may want to take it with a shaker of salt, but interesting nonetheless.

julie said...

Also, the breathtaking is cracking me up. Perfect.

Rick said...

Bob, how is the Roger Scruton book?

Gagdad Bob said...

Too soon to say. Whenever a book is not worth the effort, it will be discretely withdrawn from the sidebar without comment. If it is, it will somehow be tossed into the mix.

John Lien said...

"The rule of every serious esoterist should be to be silent -- often for a length of years -- concerning every new illumination or inspiration that he has, so as to give it the necessary time to mature, i.e., "

Won't argue with that but, sometimes a raccoon has to howl into the night and listen for howls back from those on the path ahead of him.

Gagdad Bob said...

That's different. That's just beating the tribal drum.

mushroom said...

One can never derive values from science -- the ought from the is.

This is where I know I'm old. We used to understand this so well. Everybody knew science was wonderful -- as a freaking tool. Even Archimedes needed a place to stand.

mushroom said...

Sad news. At Last

Gagdad Bob said...

I know. One of the few remaining immortals has passed....

julie said...

Sad, indeed. RIS, Etta.

Verdiales said...

You can't derive an ought from an is?

That's always struck me as a little facetious. Try the following is'es.

Smoking causes cancer.

The train is coming toward your intersection at 85 mph.

As a principle, it seems weak. I must be missing something, or am insufficiently troubled by academic questions.

What people typically mean by "you can't derive an ought from an is" is that you have no business telling them how to behave with their reproductive organs, so don't even think about it.

Gagdad Bob said...

There is no necessary "ought" connected to the correlation between smoking and cancer. For one thing, at least 2/3 of smokers don't get cancer. Besides, what if the person enjoys smoking? Or doesn't care if they don't live to 85?

With regard to avoiding the speeding train, that falls under the heading of "self-preservation," and is therefore one of nature's prime is's, not a conscious ought.

But it is true that liberals deny -- and must deny, in order to be consistent -- any ought associated with human sexuality (although of course they have any number of covert oughts which have no possible foundation, e.g., two people can marry, but not three or ten or twenty).

Verdiales said...

Mary and Joseph must have walked the walk pretty well. Christ watched them closely. His grasp was infinitely deep. He was probably imperturbable, wore his learning lightly, and had eyes that looked right through you. The kind of guy who, while others dispute loudly, draws on the ground with a stick, listening. A still waters type. Unnerving to the garrulous, especially when he cut to the heart of the matter, or made brilliant analogies with no effort at all.

Just imagine what he was like when he came back from the silent desert.

Verdiales said...

The scientific method isn't a method for producing values, that's for sure. We're agreed also that evolutionary theory elevated into an anti-ethical posture is, like all lies, poison.

MOTT has a really interesting reflection in The Lover about biological and historical evolution without divine grace. The result is an "egregore" not created by God above, but an artificial being generated from below.

A disaster, naturally.

julie said...

Heh - here's another ought from is scenario:

Some folks are allergic to perfumes; there oughta be a law!

Verdiales said...

I'm allergic to people who want to ban perfume outright.

Maybe if our public servants were all required to wear hypoallergenic space suits on the job, there would be fewer of them.

julie said...

Oooo, now there's a great idea! If being a state employee were as onerous as actually using (or being subjected to) state services usually is, small government might actually become a possibility once more.

Rick said...

Ace has a link in the sidebar to a Hotair piece on Thomas Sowell endorsing Gingrich.

julie said...

Off topic (or is it?): On "breathless twats on the Discovery Channel" who hyperventilate over the Mayan calendar. Via Vanderleun, as usual.

Van said...

"Just because one can read, it hardly means one understands. Rather, it merely gives the illusion of understanding. Plenty of liberals have gone to law school, and yet, do not understand the point of the Constitution."

Sooooooo true. We were flying back home to Vegas last week (for my in-laws 50th anniversary), and so to make it through the 'turn off all electronic devices' periods, I grabbed an old fashioned, low tech knowledge interface unit (a paperback book) that I'd picked up about 15 yrs ago, Cicero's "The Good Life" (a pre-Tootsistoric uber-coon), and in the essays 'On Duties' I'd written a number of comments & questions that me-today found baffling.

"Didn't you just read the same thing I just read? What, were you an idiot? How could you not understand the words you & I just read, it's right there in black & white?!"

But that ignores the deep-dimensional, and (potentially) integrated nature of knowledge. It's not just the depth, but the breadth, of the nature of knowledge, if you go deep, but don't go wide (integrating outwards and inwards), you have the sense of 'knowing what you are talking about', and you do, but only to a foreshortened point.

And that's assuming that the ideas you are pursuing are based in truth... if you are hunting falsehoods, seeking to 'discover' what is not there... you'll find it... but it won't expand your understanding, it will only darken and restrict it, as with our leftenured teaching on the Constitution.

Same words, but where they will take you, can take you, depends upon where you are willing to allow them to take you.

mushroom said...

The biology of politics. Conservatives want to deal with bad things directly while liberals want to dwell on the pleasant.

The conclusion is that political opinions might have a biological basis.

I guess it never occurred to the researchers that biology might be affected by ideology.

Gagdad Bob said...

From the non-frivolous corner of academia, this looks like an interesting piece on the origins of envy. I haven't had time to read it, but it seems consistent with what I've written in the past about envy being innate and adaptive to life in small bands of hunter-gatherers. It again emphasizes why progressives are so ironically named.

And there will be no post today. I barely had time to type that comment. Rain in SoCal is a catastrophe, so it will take me twice as long to get to where I'm going.

julie said...

Interesting article. I saw some surprising examples of the Stone Age Trinity last night while reading an article about parenting Susannah had linked on Facebook. The article itself is nice enough, and I think true for most people, but (as usual) the circus was to be found in the comments. About half were positive. The others were overflowing with envy, resentment, and indignation, and that was just from Catholics and other Christians. Then at some point the story was obviously shared with some feminist group or other, whose members could not resist shrieking at the author to stop breeding and save the earth.

Back to the envy article, it's interesting that, as he states, "Hoarding is taboo; sharing is mandatory." I would have thought that hoarding behavior is more deeply instinctual than sharing, given that children are natural hoarders, and most need to be taught (over strenuous objections) that they must share some things. I've never met a little one yet who has so much that he doesn't want a little more, especially if it seems to belong to someone else...

Thanks for the link, Bob. Stay dry!

mushroom said...

I agree. I don't think sharing is at all instinctual for most individuals. Sharing is a learned benefit.

Animals share with those that "smell like them" -- their offspring, mates, pack, etc., in order to promote their DNA.

That Mencken was not envious is interesting. I would say a lack of envy is the positive virtue of contentment.

Aloysius said...

Too bad Metaxas doesn't get Bonhoeffer. He is cheering for Newt. How discordant is that?