Thursday, April 12, 2012

Logosphere and Idiolotry

Purcell raises a subtle but critical point about our common Quest -- that it is not just something personal and idiosyncratic, but "universal." In other words, just as in science, we are dealing with an objective world that therefore yields "public" information.

Indeed, when a spiritual journey goes wholly "private," so to speak, into the realms of personal imagination and fantasy, this is not just the way of Error, but of (oc)cultism, gnosticism (religious and/or political), and potential tyranny, because tyranny occurs whenever we are forced to bow before a truth that we cannot prove to ourselves.

America, for example, is rooted in natural law, which posits universal moral principles that any normal person can discover and confirm for himself, e.g., that all men are created equal. In fact, when you think about it, the entire category of morality must be quintessentially "scientific," in the sense that it deals with principles that are both abstract and universal. A "private morality" is no morality at all.

In other words to affirm that morality is relative is not just the opposite of morality as such, but renders morality strictly impossible. If morals are relative, then there is no such thing -- just as if there are no laws of physics, there is no physics.

At present we see a dangerously media-inflamed lynch mob of the left in an uproar over a man who allegedly defended his life against a budding criminal who was beating his head against the sidewalk. Undoubtedly additional and perhaps even contradictory facts will emerge through the legal process, but why a moral relativist should be offended by the law of the jungle is a mystery, to say the least, for if there is no universal morality, there is only power, i.e., "might makes right."

Conversely, conservatives know that there is a universal moral law. If, therefore, it turns out that the facts are not as we know them, and that Zimmerman victimized a wholly innocent person, then we will be the first to express moral outrage and to demand justice, because it is a first principle of morality that one doesn't harm innocent persons unless one has a damn good reason, e.g., self-defense.

Purcell discusses a psychological phenomenon that made the ascent of Hitler possible. He references Voegelin, who escaped Nazi Germany and was therefore in a position to understand what was going on there.

Voegelin gave the phenomenon one of those extremely long German names, but it essentially comes down to a willful blindness, a refusal to perceive, a deliberate avoidance of "understanding what was going on." He traces the malady as far back as Heraclitus, who wrote that "those who refuse to ask questions of existence... are (spiritually) asleep."

The key point here is again a detachment from the Real, usually accomplished through what Bion called "attacks on linking" (the word "attack" is apt, for there is always an element of intra-psychic violence in this defense mechanism). That is to say, the easiest way to maintain the Lie is to sever any cognitive links that lead to Truth. This all happens unconsciously in a rapid and pre-emptive manner, which is why it is so difficult to correct.

In other words -- and this should go without saying -- in order to promulgate the Lie in a systematic manner, one must on some level be aware of the Truth. If one isn't aware of the Truth, then the lying won't be at all organized, but just ad hoc, chaotic, and scattershot. One might say that leftism is a systematic lie, hence its "robustness." It attacks truth at the very root, which saves a lot of time and trouble.

But for the same reason, it is not susceptible to correction until reality exacts a terrible vengeance, for example, in the slow-motion collapse of European socialism, or the Obama debt-bomb that imperils our future. The longer one ignores reality, the more severe the retribution tends to be, for the cosmic scales must be balanced. Way it is.

The source of our common reality -- and the possibility of intelligibility and meaningful communication -- is, of course, the logos. But as Voegelin explains, "many live as if they had a wisdom of their own. Those who are awake have a world [kosmos] one and common, but those who are asleep each turn aside into their private worlds" (in Purcell, emphasis mine).

This results in the pseudo-doctrine -- the absurd principle-of-no-principle -- represented by relativism, i.e., "perception is reality." If perception is indeed reality, then again, there is no possibility of an intelligible cosmos, neither scientifically nor morally. Man is then reduced to animal, but then again, not really, for animals are at least guided by an unerring instinct universal to the species. Man alone would be condemned to his own private hell.

Voegelin continues: "Through spirit man actualizes his potential to partake of the divine," which "is that which all men have in common..." Conversely, he "who closes himself against what is common, or who revolts against it, removes himself from the public life of human community. He becomes thereby a private man, or in the language of Heraclitus, an idiotes" (in Purcell).

To live inside this private idiosphere is to live outside the logosphere, which is again our common world. This very much reminds me of a discussion in Maritain's Degrees of Knowledge, about what are called "beings of reason."

That is to say, the mind of man "does not conceive only real beings, i.e., beings capable of existing." Rather, it can also construct "objects of thought that are incapable of existing outside the mind... which the ancients called beings of reason..."

Maritain points out that "God does not make beings of reason." Rather, they are products of the human mind, and are always intrinsically contradictory. An example would be Marxism (and all philosophies derived from it), which can only exist in the mind in general or the university in particular, never in reality. It can be forced upon reality, of course, but again, reality eventually takes its vengeance.

Better stop. Getting late....


Blogger robinstarfish said...

Way off topic, but I couldn't help but note that Scott Walker is showcased on Aquarium Drunkard today. Thought you'd appreciate that.

Still can't say I like or understand him myself, but then it took me years to understand Beefheart too. So there's hope. :-)

4/12/2012 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Conversely, he "who closes himself against what is common, or who revolts against it, removes himself from the public life of human community. He becomes thereby a private man, or in the language of Heraclitus, an idiotes" (in Purcell).

Notably, too, this is possible not only with an individual, but within groups. One of the fruits of multiculturalism is that it not only allows, but practically demands that each group have its own relative morality, generally rendering them idiotic. The result is all too often the sort of tribalism that results, again, in lynchings, mob violence, and the type of rioting seen in England last year. Absent a common morality, absent a system of equal justice under the law, only man's basest nature tends to prevail.

4/12/2012 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


I certainly can't say I appreciate the whole oeuvre, mainly the first four solo albums recorded between '67 and '70. A kind of permanent imprint was made on my brain when I was absently rifling through the bins at my favorite record store one dreamy Sunday morning, and on the store stereo system came The Seventh Seal, which sounded like some weird hybrid of Sinatra and Morricone in a medieval spaghetti western. Something in me snapped, and I'ver been a fan ever since.

4/12/2012 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Sinatra and Morricone... yes, I think you nailed it. A combo that either fires or fries the eardrums, depending on taste and circumstance.

4/12/2012 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

That is to say, the easiest way to maintain the Lie is to sever any cognitive links that lead to Truth.

They often use those magical, saturated words to break the links. We've all heard the incantations.

The image that always comes to my mind is from The Two Towers where Eomer is trying to show Theoden the sign of the "white hand" on the Orc helmet. Grima hisses that he is disturbing Theoden's already troubled mind with his "warmongering".

Say the magic word.

4/12/2012 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

music never off-topic?

Bordering-on-schmaltz pop slow-dance song that i nevertheless am haunted by, thanks to oldies radio in my car

as they sing in the karaoke clubs of ol' tokyo:
'sirence is gorden'

4/12/2012 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The result is all too often the sort of tribalism that results, again, in lynchings, mob violence, and the type of rioting seen in England last year.

Julie is right -- as always, but the language bothers me.

I don't know where I was reading it yesterday, but somebody was talking about conservatives and said that if Mars attacked Earth, conservatives would automatically become Earthists.

Well, of course.

Bob's a Dodgers fan (5 and 1, go Blue). I'm a Cardinals fan. That is because of where we grew up. I think there may be a "good" tribalism and a "bad" tribalism.

I have no problem with rushing to the defense of the like-minded when they are unfairly attacked. I don't think there is anything wrong with instinctively standing up for my family or my friends.

As Bob points out with Zimmerman, the difference is that we are willing to be bound by the truth. I have a close relative, like a brother to me, who is locked up in federal prison and will be for another fifteen or twenty years. It doesn't it make me love him any less, but he did the crime. He can do the time.

4/12/2012 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


Sports is clearly a benign way (excluding soccer hooligans, Raiders fans, and inner city championship celebrations) of engaging in our innate tribalism. That's why it's so bracing, even though, when you come right down to it, we're just "rooting for different colored laundry" (as Seinfeld put it).

4/12/2012 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Good stuff.

Tribalism is the elevation of gang membership over reason.

Tyson is acting tribal. He even looks like a tribal warlord. A rapist and barbarian, he should be mocked and reviled by every public person, including Sharpton and his ilk. But he won't be, because they are tribalists, too. They just wear suits and use larger words.

I don't know why Bill Cosby never "won" in the cultural sense over the tribalists whose agitation keeps their constituency in such angry poverty. I suppose the Marxists just won that battle, and there's no more to say about it than that.

The food critic in the movie "Ratatouille" ends up saying, "Not everyone can become a great chef, but a great chef can come from anywhere."

Precisely, but tribalists don't agree. You can be a tribalist from the Ivy Leagues or a tribalist from the south side of Chicago like Phonykhan -- same thing. You have your peeps and to hell with the rest of us, by force if necessary.

And force is *always* necessary. They have nothing else.

4/12/2012 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of tribes, I can't imagine saying that "if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," because if my son dressed like a hoodlum, you'd better believe he'd hear about it from me. It has nothing whatsoever to do with race, but manners, breeding, and common sense. To say that you want your son to look like a hoodlum makes you unfit for parenthood.

4/12/2012 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The only thing that unites the diverse tribes of America is hatred of white conservatives, just as the only thing that unites the UN and the Arab world is hatred of Jews. Otherwise the tribes would be killing each other, as happens when they are stuck together in prison.

4/12/2012 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon

Notice that this came from the gut. It wasn't "let's be calm and like Americans presume innocence until facts prove otherwise beyond reasonable doubt." No, it was tribal feeling that burst out.

Once again, Obama disgraced us all.

4/12/2012 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Egregores and tulpas.

4/12/2012 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

OK, I think I get it. It's the mob mentality. The mob is always by necessity acting from the unconscious. Mob behavior is the subconscious made manifest. What we are calling tribal behavior is the mass subconscious being acted out within the [relative] anonymity of the group.

4/12/2012 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Mushroom - yes, that's what I was talking about. Not simply membership in a group, but the kind of situation where individual identity is trumped by group expectations, and importantly, where anyone not in the group is deemed as being not only lesser, but not even really human - and treated accordingly.

Re. "if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," yes, that was deeply disturbing. Who cares what the kid would look like? If my mom's cousin Chris had had a son, his flesh would have looked like Trayvon's, too - but I'm pretty sure if the kid had gone around dressing and acting like Trayvon, his dad would have done something about it.

Personally, I make it a point to be wary of anyone who "looks" like Trayvon - not the skin color, but the whole gangsta bit. If Trayvon had been dressed as an Eagle scout, and carried himself accordingly, I doubt very much we'd be having this conversation at all.

4/12/2012 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

" but why a moral relativist should be offended by the law of the jungle is a mystery, to say the least, for if there is no universal morality, there is only power, i.e., "might makes right."

Conversely, conservatives know that there is a universal moral law."

Exactly the case.

Whats fun to ask them, is ' Why are you offended? Is there some standard or Right you feel has been violated? Really? Based upon what?' If it's one of the knowingly corrupt, prepare for a festive barrage of insults & profanity, but if it's one of the innocently useful idiots, they just might help you talk them back to reality.

Rare, but it happens.

4/12/2012 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

The search for what is true, leads to principles that are true always, and they serve as guides for your life, keeping you steady and deeply rooted in all time.

When you abandon the search for what is true, you have nothing to go by but what is familiar - and that can tolerate nothing deeper than mere surface appearances - and what gets you what you want, which leaves you with nothing and no other options than force - nothing else but power can provide you with any claim to anything, and so you've chosen your master.

All who seek power are tribalists... they have no choice but to always push towards the lowest and rawest.

4/12/2012 05:53:00 PM  

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