Monday, May 07, 2012

The Cause and Cure of Causes and Cures

For the last several weeks we've been elliptically circling several subjects that appear to be implicitly related, otherwise we wouldn't be circling them.

The fact that we keep flitting from topic to topic -- along with the discontinuous nature of the flight (which is a little like trying to resume a dream the following night) -- may obscure the fact that we have indeed been orbiting around a center and trying to zerʘ in on it. It's just that this center is what is called a strange attractor, in fact, the strangest of all attractors, specifically, O.

In other words, I'm sure I have a point, or rather, that the point has me (in its orbit). The wiki article includes a helpful image of a strange attractor, which looks something like this (although each one is necessarily unique, which suggests to me that each individual human person is none other than a strange attractor).

As you can see, it's a little like a roller coaster in hyperspace. Which is a good metaphor for life.

You may recall that this strange and complex thread began with Brendan Purcell's From Big Bang to Big Mystery: Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution, but eventually homed in on Eric Voegelin, beginning with his Hitler and the Germans. After that I leapt with both feet into Voegelin's oceanic corpus, where many men have drowned. It seems that all he ever did was think and write, and no thought was left unwritten.

He also changed his mind in fundamental ways that affect all his previous work, so it's not as if you can just grab one piece out of context and run with it. Rather, it's more like the Bible, in which one must have a view of the whole in order to comprehend the particulars.

And the Whole is precisely what we are dealing with in this thread (indeed, this blog), which is to say Cosmos and Man, or Macrocosm and Microcosm, or Time and Eternity, or ultimately -- to express it in a completely unsaturated manner -- O and ʘ. That latter equation is irreducible to anything less, because there is always man and ground, however one formulates it.

As mentioned in the book, the cosmos is either absurd or it is not absurd. Indeed, we can begin with a kind of flow chart, with that question at the top.

But if you deicide at the outset that the cosmos is absurd, then you may stop. Game over. Philosophy is not possible. Thinking is a waste of time because reality is unknowable. The cosmos -- and Darwin -- is finished with you, assuming you have passed your genes on to the next absurd generation. Or not, depending upon your fitness for genetic duty.

However, if the cosmos is not absurd, then this is where things get interesting, for we are thrust into the strange attractor referenced above. If I grasp Voegelin rightly, it was his purpose to actually describe this attractor in as much detail as humanly possible. He called the attractor order, hence the title of what many people feel to be his magnum opus, the five volume Order and History.

Now, bear in mind that exhaustively describing this order -- i.e., containing it -- is precisely what man may never do, since this transcendent order contains us.

But man doesn't like this idea, and has had difficulty swallowing it ever since Genesis. There we learn that it was All Good, so long as man subordinated himself to the cosmic order, and didn't try to invent one of his own.

Thus the birth of ideology, which is always wrong, only more or less demonically so. An ideology is any system of thought that superimposes a second reality on the first, which has the practical effect of severing man from the ground in more or less coercive or violent ways. Ideology ends in the murder of man, either physically or spiritually (and usually both).

One important point of, er, order. It is quite clear that man's lust for ideology is, or might as well be, intrinsic -- as if we are all infected with Adam's mind parasite. Thus, there is nothing that cannot be "ideologized," including the very cures for ideology, e.g., Christianity or American (not European) style conservatism.

A useful point of entry into Voegelin is his Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. One reason it is so helpful is that in it he recovers a certain transtemporal unity of man, in tracing the modern ideologies -- e.g., scientism, positivism, Marxism, fascism, progressivism (but I repeat myself), socialism, etc. -- all the way back to antiquity.

And "prior" (ontologically or vertically) to antiquity is mythology. Myth occurs at the horizon of history, and tells us vital things about ourselves that cannot be recovered through the historical method. Again, Genesis would be a prime example.

If we are aware and respectful of the cosmic order, then it is a kind of unknowculation against ideology. Properly speaking, Christianity, for example, should not be an ideology, but rather, a ground-level encounter between persons. "Dogmatic order" is obviously important, but is posterior to the Person and all it implies.

Nor should conservatism be reduced to an ideology, but rather, should simply be a healthy respect for the Nature of Things, whether human, societal, economic, political, spiritual, or in any other way. The point is, reality always comes first, not the ideology (very much what Gerard means by American.)

Voegelin is responsible for the bold claim that the "essence of modernity is gnosticism." What did he mean by this?

Well, we're out of time again, so we'll have to resume this dream tomorrow. Meanwhile, have a good day, and don't let the headbugs blight.

27 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

You beat me to it on the Vanderleun link. American, indeed; I've often wished that was a permissible response any time some questionnaire demands to know what race one is, as well.

Thus the birth of ideology, which is always wrong, only more or less demonically so.

The Anchoress last week had a post up that began with a very similar idea, a quote from St. Gregory of Nyssa:

“Ideas lead to idols; only wonder leads to knowing.”

5/07/2012 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For Voegelin it is a matter of loving wisdom (philo-sophy) vs. presuming to possess it, or more to the point, imagining it has no transcendent source.

5/07/2012 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"although each one is necessarily unique, which suggests to me that each individual human person is none other than a strange attractor"

This is the closest that you've gotten to my "pet theory of personality".

And I would also point out that we each have our own unique geometry.

Our geometry is our interior. The pattern of our "attractor" is our exterior.

Maybe.

Go, Bob!

5/07/2012 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, our geometry -- what I call our pneumatography -- is a multi-dimensional phase space.

5/07/2012 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It is quite clear that man's lust for ideology is, or might as well be, intrinsic -- as if we are all infected with Adam's mind parasite.

Yes, we are. That is a good way to put it.

5/07/2012 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

But if you deicide at the outset that the cosmos is absurd, then you may stop. Game over. Philosophy is not possible. Thinking is a waste of time because reality is unknowable.

Ah, but zat ees not ze Frawnsh way of sinking.

The game you indicate might be over, but the French say, well, just play the game for play's sake, i.e. philosophy becomes art. Absurd, yes, but pleasurable.

Aimless libertinism, as in other spheres.

5/07/2012 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Of course there is no way to keep score, but the point is to show off while playing. And gain tenure.

5/07/2012 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Or in the case of ze Frawnsh, the point is to gain early retirement, extra vacation time, and more bennies for all.

5/07/2012 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"Yes, our geometry -- what I call our pneumatography -- is a multi-dimensional phase space."

I figure that we can actually connect the TOE/string theory to the pneumatography of the universe itself.

So, the multi-dimensional phase space of the individual person is, quite literally, a fractal of the multi-dimensional phase space of the two Calabi-Yau manifolds of the universe.

I talked about this after I was drinking at a dinner party. I don't recommend talking about how your personality is a specific multi-dimensional phase space at a dinner party, particularly when you are tipsy.

And thus, I connect theoretical physics to theoretical Bobics.

Winning!

5/07/2012 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I would say that "the multi-dimensional phase space of the individual person is, quite literally, a fractal of the multi-dimensional phase space" of the Absolute. I wouldn't say that we are a fractal of the immanent cosmos, because that is pantheistic.

5/07/2012 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

You guys are so hard on the Frogs. I think it is in "Glory Road" that Heinlein's protagonist talks about needing something to do, because -- unlike the French, he can't just sit in a cafe and "stack coffee cups".

5/07/2012 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

OT but headline news from the stars!:

I spoke to someone today taking a mundane astrology class where they analysed the 2 contendah's charts for Election Day: Barack's looks terrible, and Mitt's looks great, she reported with chagrin while I masked a grin

oh Yessss

5/07/2012 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm the only person I know of who predicts a landslide for Romney. I predict it for two reasons: first, he is the best candidate Republicans have had since 1980, and before that, 1924. Second, Americans can't be so stupid/crazy as to re-elect this disaster. Obama polls higher than he should for a number of reasons, including a fear of appearing "racist."

Having said that, I am resigned to being incorrect.

5/07/2012 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"I would say that "the multi-dimensional phase space of the individual person is, quite literally, a fractal of the multi-dimensional phase space" of the Absolute. I wouldn't say that we are a fractal of the immanent cosmos, because that is pantheistic."

I'm not shooting for pantheism.

It's more along the lines of Adam Kadmon and the specific geometry would only apply to this immanent universe, meaning that each universe would have it's own multidimensional phase space, which would be a multidimensional phase space of the Absolute as well as each person being a multidimensional phase space of the Absolute.

I go with the multiverse model of the cosmos, meaning that this universe is one universe among many in the complete cosmos and the "TOE" only applies to this universe (which makes it not a TOE).

I'm basically riffing on Mormonism here as well as the Adam Kadmon concept.

But, yes, ultimately, each individual would necessarily be a fractal of the Absolute while simultaneously being a fractal of the underlying geometry of this particular universe.

Just my thought for the last several years.

5/07/2012 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

PS re astrology---election day mercury goes retrograde---like was for Bush-Gore, expect snafu's, delays

5/07/2012 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That would be unsurprising, if Romney seems to be winning. If they can't win fair and square, I've no doubt they'll try to win dirty again.

It would be nice to see Romney win in a landslide. I still can't say I'm completely on board - Romneycare still bothers me a lot - but he can't be worse, hopefully he'll be much better, and even more it would show that at least some of the voting population has come to its senses again, even if only for a little while.

5/07/2012 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Not fractal -- Vine and branches. The fractal thing is one of the Mormon misunderstandings. The fractal implies that I am a smaller version of Christ, doing the same thing. But Christ is the Source. I am the terminus, the part that bears fruit.

We are sheep. He is the Shepherd. Sheep can reproduce from here on out, and they will only produce more sheep -- no shepherds.

5/07/2012 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

An ideology is any system of thought that superimposes a second reality on the first, which has the practical effect of severing man from the ground in more or less coercive or violent ways. Ideology ends in the murder of man, either physically or spiritually (and usually both)."

That's gettin' down to brass tacks and a superb way to explain what ideafollygy does!
Nothin' short of destruction of individual humans in a collective manner.

Don't accept collect-ive calls.

5/07/2012 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Nor should conservatism be reduced to an ideology, but rather, should simply be a healthy respect for the Nature of Things, whether human, societal, economic, political, spiritual, or in any other way. The point is, reality always comes first, not the ideology (very much what Gerard means by American.)"

Healthy respect for reality and a humble heart I might add (which I did).

5/07/2012 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie:
With a much more conservative Congress to work with I think Romney will refrain from any left of center proclivities he has.

And even if he doesn't I doubt most representives (R) will sell out their constituents like the self-described bluedogs did under Obama.

So there's that.

5/07/2012 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Bob called it correctly last time. And astrology is more reality-based than Keynesian economics. I hope people have come to their senses.

I'll vote for Romney. I might even put up a Romney sign -- something I couldn't bring myself to do for McCain. I voted for Romney in the primary in '08 -- given the choice between him, McCain, and Huckleberry Hound.

And, yes, I voted for Ron Paul in the primary this time -- though it was "non-binding". But, in my defense, I just could not bring myself to vote for Newt, and Santorum is a loser in the long-run. So it was Ron or Mitt, and the old freak in me went with Ron.

5/07/2012 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Great series of posts, Bob!

This is some deep kimchi (the good kind) you're delving into and I like kimchi. :^)

5/07/2012 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I won't hold it agin ya Mushroom. I almost voted for the good Newt until the evil Newt took over again.

And Santorum always makes me wince. Mainly because he tarnishes conservatives and Christians.
He is the left wing caricature of both. Ugh.

We could do a lot worse than Mitt.
I do hope that Allen West considers running next time. :^)

Not that I consider West (or anyone for that matter) a conservative messiah figure, but he does have pretty sound principles and knows more about our Constution than most politicians.

5/07/2012 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And Constitution.

5/07/2012 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"But if you deicide at the outset that the cosmos is absurd, then you may stop. Game over. Philosophy is not possible. Thinking is a waste of time because reality is unknowable. The cosmos -- and Darwin -- is finished with you, assuming you have passed your genes on to the next absurd generation. Or not, depending upon your fitness for genetic duty."

Wouldn't it be nice if they'd take their absurd beliefs seriously in their own minds first, before they started looking for ways to spread their Hellth around?

5/07/2012 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"An ideology is any system of thought that superimposes a second reality on the first, which has the practical effect of severing man from the ground in more or less coercive or violent ways. Ideology ends in the murder of man, either physically or spiritually (and usually both)."

, and,

"Nor should conservatism be reduced to an ideology, but rather, should simply be a healthy respect for the Nature of Things, whether human, societal, economic, political, spiritual, or in any other way. The point is, reality always comes first, not the ideology (very much what Gerard means by American.)"

Just wanted to see them together again, nothing much to add but an "Amen!"

5/07/2012 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Olden Ears said...

An ideology is any system of thought that superimposes a second reality on the first

I read once (maybe here?): reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, is still there.

5/07/2012 10:38:00 PM  

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