Thursday, April 26, 2012

We Don't Need No Steenking Sufficient Reason!

Time only for a brief post. Gotta run. But it shall be continued...

Schuon is -- to express it in a breezily non-Schuonian way -- very big on the principle of sufficient reason, which simply means that things happen for a reason, and that this reason -- i.e., cause -- must be proportionate to its effect.

Or, to put it the other way around, if you're going to try to explain an effect, the cause needs to be sufficient to do the job.

Gee, sounds kind of obvious when you put it that way, Bob. What's your point?

Right away I can think of a couple of potential pitfalls with this principle. For example, one of the things that drives conspiracy theorists seems to be the disconnect between cause and effect, for example, vis-a-vis the JFK assassination.

In that case the effect was of world historical significance, but the cause was nothing more than a chronically embittered leftist worm. Hence the search for causes more proportionate to the effect -- the CIA, the Mafia, Castro, LBJ, etc.

Another area of potential misunderstanding has to do with natural selection. Darwin coined the term "exaptation" to describe characteristics and traits that are selected for one reason, but end up being used for another.

For example, although noses hold up eyeglasses, that is not why noses were selected. Likewise, my hand fits perfectly around a beer bottle, but they tell me that that is not why hands were selected. Who knew?

But the theory of exaptation -- like Darwinism in general -- quickly becomes absurd if pushed too far. For example, the above linked article suggests that our pursuit of truth might be an exaptation of "the human ability to use logic and reason [which was] originally evolved to win arguments and convince others."

Now, does this explanation pass the test of sufficient reason? Did it win the argument and convince you? This is an example of how Darwinism eats its own entailment and paints itself into a logical coroner. It's like suggesting that baseball was invented in order to win games, which any Cubs fan knows is untrue.

As we all know, I do not believe that natural selection provides sufficient reason to account for the human state, which is characterized by such things as truth, free will, love, objectivity, disinterest, beauty, and nobility of character, not to mention sanctity, valor, wisdom, mystical union, etc. It has nothing to to with religion per se, just the minimal demands of logic.

The Darwinian fundamentalist will respond that his theory does indeed account for these things, but then again, he is admittedly just using logic and reason because it was naturally selected to win arguments and convince others, surely not because it is true, of all things. For to believe otherwise would put the horse before the cart, and we all know that horses were invented to pull carts.

Echoes of Perennial Wisdom is by far Schuon's most compact book, and he has a literary style that is already as compact and precise as it can possibly be. No one, in my experience, says more with less, which makes him the anti-archetype of the tenured, the ultimate instance of which being deconstruction, which tells us everything about nothing.

What if we affirm, with Schuon, that "Truth is the reason for man's existence"? This cuts right to the chase, and says that nothing less than Truth can be the sufficient reason -- an adequate explanation -- for man as such. Could it be true?

Well, let's define our terms, beginning with truth. What is it? It is conformity between subject and object, or intelligence and reality; it is to discern the substance in the accident, the essence in the form, the principle in the manifestation, the center in the periphery, indeed, the cause in the effect (to bring us full circle).

Personally I am more partial to love being our sufficient reason, but as we shall see, it is impossible for a man to love lies and remain a proper man.

17 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

... but then again, he is admittedly just using logic and reason because it was naturally selected to win arguments and convince others, surely not because it is true ...

You would think that statement alone would be sufficient to convince any reasonable person.

4/26/2012 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Or, to put it the other way around, if you're going to try to explain an effect, the cause needs to be sufficient to do the job.

Another example that comes to mind is the mysterious way that one person's writing can have a physical effect on the brain of another, even across time and space. The effort involved in putting squiggly lines on paper (or pixels on a screen) has almost no relation to the way those images act on the brains of others: some will be completely unaffected, while others may experience a profound change in the direction of their thoughts and consequently, their lives. The mere fact that after 2000 years, people are still reading the Bible and experiencing life-altering effects as a result ought to be an indication that there is more to it - or to any genuinely enduring work - than simply meets the I.

4/26/2012 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

it is impossible for a man to love lies and remain a proper man

True, and excellently expressed.

It's true too that it's impossible for a man to be satisfied with ignorance, or even partial truths, and remain a proper man.

It is natural for us to want to know everything, and always to know more. Nothing will satisfy this restlessness, this curious urge after urge, except the plenitude of truth, the whole existentialada.

Being satisfied with half-truths and lies is so ... pitiful.

When it comes to truth, we are made for the stars.

4/26/2012 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Speaking of love, the C.S. Lewis Blog has been interesting for the last week or so. Today's post speaks of Lewis' "practical theology" with regard to what love is and how it works.

If you treat someone right -- that is, in a loving manner, you will come to love them. If you mistreat someone, you will come to hate them.

Hence, you wind up with some pissant calling people who work for a living and go to non-racist churches "bitter clingers". The more they take from us, the more they hate us.

4/26/2012 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Bob, Great post. I like your definition of truth. I had never really attempted to define it but it was something I recognized when I saw it, kind of like... um, nevermind.

Mushroom. Interesting link. Seems backwards but I get it.

4/26/2012 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Or, to put it the other way around, if you're going to try to explain an effect, the cause needs to be sufficient to do the job."

The key, I suspect, to avoiding using that in order to provide satisfying explanations for things like JFK's assassination with incomprehensible plots of the CIA, the Mafia, Castro, LBJ, etc, instead of realizing that the chronically embittered leftist worm really did do the deed, is to seek only a sufficiency whose reason for being is simple reality, rather than the satisfaction of your expectations.

Knowing where Art and Image diverge and intersect, is a handy talent.

4/26/2012 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

""What if we affirm, with Schuon, that "Truth is the reason for man's existence"? This cuts right to the chase, and says that nothing less than Truth can be the sufficient reason -- an adequate explanation -- for man as such. Could it be true?"

Or to ask the other question, 'What if we don't affirm that?'

If Truth is not the Reason for man's existence... what could there possibly be in man's existence that would be sufficient cause for being able to Reason?

If lies, if sensory experience, if Power were sufficient causes for your reason to exist... would you, could you, in fact, exist?

"Well, let's define our terms, beginning with truth. What is it? It is conformity between subject and object, or intelligence and reality; it is to discern the substance in the accident, the essence in the form, the principle in the manifestation, the center in the periphery, indeed, the cause in the effect (to bring us full circle)."

My personal bloodless definition is 'A factual identification of things as they are, within a given context.', which, if you allow your heart to start pumping again, brings you around to the same central point within the sphere, and you cannot begin applying it without eventually enveloping and full-filling the entire Orb, with each point integrating into, and becoming, the whole.

Can Truth and Love be separated?

Not with a straight face.

4/26/2012 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Personally I am more partial to love being our sufficient reason, but as we shall see, it is impossible for a man to love lies and remain a proper man."

Speaking of which, apparently ratings are more important than the truth to dr. Phil:
dr. Phil: PTSD takes us from heroes to monsters

I know, nothing new for dr. Phil or the mostly leftist media.
Shows just how much they support the troops though, which is worse than not at all.

As one commenter at that site said: "Phil is the Jerry Springer of psychology."

At least Springer doesn't pretend to be something other than he is.
And as far as I know, Springer has never hurt our veterans like Phil (or the media) is doing by perpetuating the myths of PTSD.

4/27/2012 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Mushroom said...

"You would think that statement alone would be sufficient to convince any reasonable person."

It is. :^)

4/27/2012 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Right away I can think of a couple of potential pitfalls with this principle. For example, one of the things that drives conspiracy theorists seems to be the disconnect between cause and effect, for example, vis-a-vis the JFK assassination. In that case the effect was of world historical significance, but the cause was nothing more than a chronically embittered leftist worm. Hence the search for causes more proportionate to the effect -- the CIA, the Mafia, Castro, LBJ, etc."

However, just because conspiracy theorists (or anyone for that matter) don't find the cause to be sufficient or proportionate doesn't mean it isn't.

Then again, nothing is ever sufficent to those inclined to believe otherwise.
The reality, or cause doesn't meet up to their expectations.

Perhaps the question is: why does it seem like the cause isn't always sufficient or proportionate?

In the second example I concur that the cause of exaptation isn't sufficient but it's also not logical as you point out, so it can't be even at that level.

What cause that is true isn't sufficient?

Or am I not getting what Schuon or you said (wouldn't be the first time)?

4/27/2012 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Speaking of Love... sorry, but I just gotta pass this one on. More good news from the Middle East - Death is no barrier to good sex.

Yep, that's right. In Egypt husbands can now have sex with their dead wife... but only for up to six hours after death... standards, ya know.

You know what's really disturbing? That he could... er... manage... to do it. That seeing his wife there, dead, would be just the ticket to toss the Viagra away.

Good news though, it is equal opportunity so turnabout is fair play, the wives can also have sex with... the stiff.

The level of sickness involved in that culture is beyond comprehension.

New meaning to Rest In Peach

4/27/2012 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

...er... 'Peace'... Rest in PEACE.

sheesh.

4/27/2012 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not tonight dear, mummy has a headache.

4/27/2012 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, the Koran is at least balanced, in that it also permits men to beat their wives one last time.

4/27/2012 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Lol!

4/27/2012 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

"The Darwinian fundamentalist will respond that his theory does indeed account for these things, but then again, he is admittedly just using logic and reason because it was naturally selected to win arguments and convince others, surely not because it is true, of all things. "

Yea. Sophism and sociopathism. The intelligent ape. Loss of Divine nature. Tough to spot in a person at first.

5/06/2012 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

"Truth is the reason for man's existence"?

Yea. See Truth and you will perceive Eden - the gift given to us in all its glory. What a treasure.

"Personally I am more partial to love being our sufficient reason, but as we shall see, it is impossible for a man to love lies and remain a proper man. "

The structural bones of Truth without the living flesh of Love? Truth without love is dead structure. A Skeleton. Yet, Love without Truth can be corrupted ...and lost... alot easier.

Hmmmm... I agree, Love is greater the Truth. Its the Divine Breath, our inspiration. Without it, what else is there?

5/06/2012 05:50:00 PM  

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