Tuesday, May 08, 2012

From Uncertain Truth to Certain Untruth

Okay people, we've got a big problem, and it has to do with truth.

The way I sees it, one first has to establish that the world is intelligible and that man may know it (which are two sides of the same coin).

This is another way of saying that we must first determine whether or not this cosmos is ultimately absurd -- or, more to the point, if there is a cosmos (an all-encompassing order) and not just a chaosmos.

If we're in a big chaosmos, then we don't have a problem, and certainly not the problem addressed by this post. However, if it is true that this is a chaosmos, then you have another sort of logical conundrum you'll need to resolve on your own. Good luck with that.

Next, one needs to propagate that truth to others.

No, I take that back. Rather, one can always just horde the truth and keep it to oneself. More for us! But interestingly, virtually no one wishes to do this. Instead, when a normal man stumbles upon a truth, he has an intrinsic desire to share the joy with others. Indeed, truth radiates, just as does beauty, but in a slightly different way. I would say that truth partakes of the Absolute, beauty the Infinite. Truth doesn't need to be compelled by force, as the left believes, because it compels assent by its very nature. Only lies are compulsory.

As an aside, wouldn't it be nice if some people would keep the truth -- or what they regard as the truth -- to themselves? If they had just done that, then there would have been no Soviet Union, no Nazi Germany, no Islamism. We'll return to this topic later, i.e., the impulse to propagate the Lie, and what it means.

In any event, in order to propagate truth, man must be able to formulate it in his head, put it into words, and transmit it to others. Right there you've got another problem, because, as it says in Vanderleun's comment section, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SPEAK IN SUCH A WAY THAT YOU CANNOT BE MISUNDERSTOOD. Did you understand that? Good. That means that some simple things, at least if you if you say them slowly and loudly, can be understood. Communication is difficult but possible.

But what about the complex things, like the truth of man? When we say "truth of man," we have several things in mind, but they essentially come down to three areas: our origin, our destiny, and our present purpose. Or in other words, where did we come from, where are we going, and what should we do? Or even more simply, Who (are we), Why (are we here), and What (are we supposed to do with our lives), respectively.

Now, any sane man acknowledges up front that ultimate -- or transfinite -- truth is impossible for a finite being. Unless, of course, this truth is somehow communicated -- which is to say, revealed -- to man from outside, above, beyond, or behind the cosmic system. Some will say this is impossible, and leave it at that. However, if you have senses of irony and humor, you will recognize that only a god would be in a position to affirm such a thing. Or in other words, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it.

Back to our problem. What if someone 1) discovers a critical truth, 2) formulates it, 3) publishes it, and 4) no one but a few fertile eggheads pays attention?

What I specifically have in mind is Voegelin's Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, which strikes me as densely packed with vital truths about man. And when I say "vital," I mean that man cannot survive -- not as we know him, and not in the long run -- without knowing them.

First, we should point out that Voegelin is hardly the only person to discover truths that no one wishes to hear. But more importantly, if this is the truth, then it is doubtful in the extreme that he would have been the first to discover it.

Indeed, Voegelin once quipped that one of the hallmarks of truth is unoriginality. Just as animals come equipped with various mechanisms of defense, man's intellect has always been able to arrive at certain salutary and guiding truths (to paraphrase Schuon, as unwavering instinct is the animal's intellect, unwavering intellect is man's instinct). But since we also have free will, we can ignore these truths.

This lines up with something else Schuon said, to the effect that everything has already been said, and even well said, but it still needs to be discovered anew by each generation. And as mentioned above, when discovered, there is an intrinsic joy associated with sharing it, i.e., the cosmic Woo Hoo!

One of Voegelin's themes is that when a man moves from faith to ideology, he falls from uncertain truth to certain untruth. Obviously, man has a lust for certainty, but this must be a means, not an end. If this passion does become an end, then one has entered a state of pneumopathology.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Voegelin made the statement that "the essence of modernity is Gnosticism." What did he mean by this?

First, let's discuss what impels a man to Gnosticism. First, the would-be Gnostic "is dissatisfied with his situation," which, in a certain sense, is neither here nor there, for all men are dissatisfied with their situation. This is just another way of saying that man is a finite being with infinite appetites. Life is tough. Deal with it.

Ah, but that is precisely what the Gnostic refuses to do, which is to say, accept reality. For the Gnostic does not consider the constraints of existence, let alone the nature of man.

Rather, he concludes that the community of man is just "poorly organized," and that "salvation from the evil of the world is possible." No one doubts that things can improve, but everyone should doubt that, say, an Obama has it in his power to do such a thing, especially with no unintended consequences, no losers, no trade-offs, no victims, etc.

But the Gnostic believes "that a change in the order of being lies in the realm of human action" and "that this salvational act is possible through man's own effort." Remember Obama's 2008 promise -- or was it a threat? -- that he intends to fundamentally change this nation. But of course, it has always been known that any idiot can make history by changing things.

Usually the Gnostic has his own personal issues, which he avoids by inflicting them upon the rest of us. I mean, no one cares if Obama thinks he can save the world. It only becomes a problem for the rest of us if he is given the power to try.

To be continued...

27 Comments:

Blogger ge said...

yikes, disappointing-to-see use of an overused term!
'Gnostic', 'Gnosis' should I vote be reserved for positive meanings more like Tomberg's [you know where] imo... or as Keith Dowman has used in translating the illustrious Tibetan term 'rigpa'

How does Voegelin define it?
must be related to Dead Sea Scroll 'gnosis', 'gnostic systems', yet if there were ever anything un-systematizable, i'd say it's Gnosis!

-Obama a gnostic in any sense??
hold that order, chef

Quik definition of
Academia: where Gnosis is unknown

5/08/2012 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Instead, when a normal man stumbles upon a truth, he has an intrinsic desire to share the joy with others. Indeed, truth radiates, just as does beauty, but in a slightly different way.

I'm reminded of the tendency of the newly initiated (whether into a church, a political campaign, or the latest awesome pyramid scheme guaranteed to make you rich) to not just "share the joy," but to obnoxiously expect or even demand that everyone else experience the same joy. It has been my experience that the more someone wants to enthusiastically share his or her particular joy, the less I want to have anything to do with it, and almost always with good reason.

Contrast that with the genuine sage or saint, one who radiates truth in such a way that another can learn from him merely by watching him lace his shoes...

5/08/2012 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

ge -- yes, we'll get more into the definition tomorrow, but Gnosticism is not to be confused with (lower case g) gnosis.

5/08/2012 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Obviously, man has a lust for certainty, but this must be a means, not an end. If this passion does become an end, then one has entered a state of pneumopathology.

Certainty is a Trivial Pursuit.

5/08/2012 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Concerning Gnosticism and gnosis - that is one of the things that confused me for quite some time after I stumbled through the batwing doors of OC.

I finally realized that Gnostics, like Liberals, had usurped a perfectly good word for immoral purposes.

5/08/2012 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

OT - who didn't know this? Reduce pain by swearing.

5/08/2012 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That is indeed a critical point, and one I'll be getting into in more detail. But gnosis simply refers to that part of ourselves that may know spiritual truth (pneuma), in distinction to that part which may know rational truth (ratio).

Faith, for example, is really a form of gnosis, in the sense of being "evidence of things unseen" and "substance of things hoped for." As Voegelin says, the first is a statement about epistemology, the second about ontology, i.e., truth and reality. In short, faith would be impossible if there weren't an object proportioned and answering to it.

5/08/2012 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

It's time for Gnostrums of all kinds to be shown the door.

But then Frawnce goes and elects Hollande.

5/08/2012 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As Hayek said, it is the Fatal Conceit. But again, Genesis was there first.

5/08/2012 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Voegelin calls it Demonic Mendacity.

5/08/2012 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Gnostic ideas are always reductive and inward-looking. Two bad signs.

Not for Elaine Pagels & Co., LLC., but still.

5/08/2012 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They also fallow the pattern of Paradise --> Paradise Lost (and someone is responsible, e.g., the One Percent) --> Paradise Regained (by the Gnostic, who will gladly force it on you)

5/08/2012 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

" The way I sees it, one first has to establish that the world is intelligible and that man may know it (which are two sides of the same coin)."

O, after the last few days I've had, you've no idea just how welcome and refreshing a sight that is.

5/08/2012 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"I would say that truth partakes of the Absolute, beauty the Infinite. Truth doesn't need to be compelled by force, as the left believes, because it compels assent by its very nature. Only lies are compulsory."

Woo Hoo! (Hey, we all approach this material at different levels)

5/08/2012 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For the left, the truth sets you out the door.

5/08/2012 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

... or sets you free of your employment.

5/08/2012 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Here's Schwaller de Lubicz's usage/definition, gnosis= inborn knowledge concerning 'the secret of becoming'

5/08/2012 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The "secret" part is troublesome, because it implies a cultish elite to whom a hidden, saving knowledge is available.

Inborn, yes. But the key is grace -- and participation in grace -- not knowledge per se. Or knowledge infused by grace.

5/08/2012 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The Taranto article is almost funny -- aside from Riley losing her job.

I suppose I always assumed that people who did dissertations for "black studies" were probably just playing the system and not taking it too seriously. Apparently I was wrong. Add to that the lack of self-awareness of those same people accusing Riley of being "lazy".

5/08/2012 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

How is it that after four years of the Won throwing people under the bus, I've never heard of the word "hypovehiculation" until now?

Learn something new every day, I guess...

Mushroom - indeed. I find it... interesting... that black women supposedly have some sort of authoritative knowledge of childbirth. Isn't that kind of like claiming black women are Magic Negroes?

5/08/2012 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The majority of black doctorates are in these loopy, made up fields, or else education or sociology, which are just as bad. It's sad, because it certainly doesn't help blacks, but is just designed to make white liberal plantation owners feel good about themselves.

5/08/2012 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

How's this for funny, a friend of mine got a visit from the FBI today for making a quip about care bears.

Seriously.

I've put my tongue in firmly in cheek here, but anytime you've got to explain to your wife why the FBI is at the door, is not a good day.

Proregressive leftists are humorless. Period.

5/08/2012 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Ho-ha: searched 'rigpa' & 'gnosis'... got the below, w/ unsought 'secret' included!:

"One might say that the experience of pure intelligence is possible only for the only Being, for God, but no one can stand outside of the only Being. The only Being includes all. And undoubtedly there is a certain process by which one can attain to this pure intelligence. Man is not conscious of it anymore—he has lost the habit of experiencing what pure intelligence is. But all the meditations and concentrations, the whole process by which the mystic treads the spiritual path brings us finally to the realization of that pure intelligence. If one asks what benefit one derives from it, the answer is that since all that benefits us comes from one source, that source must be perfect. It must be all-beneficial. It is beyond our limited imagination, but it is the greatest thing one can attain in one’s life.”

In these few words spoken spontaneously to a small group in 1926, Inayat Khan pointed to the “secret” of nondual awareness at the heart of the spiritual path — not only of sufism but also at the heart of humanity’s entire mystical heritage. What is this secret? How can it be experienced? I would like to reflect here on a few of the key elements mentioned in this passage, and the possibility of direct realization of this “greatest secret.,,”


http://theopenpath.wordpress.com/writings/direct-realization/

5/09/2012 03:54:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

the above might read richer with the opening para. of talk included:

“What is consciousness? Consciousness is the knowing faculty, but it is the knowing faculty when it has some knowledge—it is only then that we call it consciousness. One is conscious of something, consciousness must always be conscious of something. When consciousness is not conscious of anything it is pure intelligence. It is in this realization that the greatest secret of life can be revealed."

5/09/2012 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Indeed, truth radiates, just as does beauty, but in a slightly different way. I would say that truth partakes of the Absolute, beauty the Infinite. Truth doesn't need to be compelled by force, as the left believes, because it compels assent by its very nature. Only lies are compulsory."

And, as you have mentioned, truth is also connected to beauty, the good, love, etc..

That's why someone who radiates truth (particularly along with joy and love) attracts others seeking the truth.

It's difficult sometimes to think of these things as both seperate and connected.
Certainly requires more contemplation of the deep depths and heights and meaning of truth while also avoiding the saturated facts.

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

Julie: that's how I learnt to tie my shoes. :^)

5/10/2012 05:05:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ben - :D

I had to check back through what I said on Tuesday; at first I thought you meant you learned to tie them by being thrown under a bus. Or taught by a Magic Negro. Either of which would be pretty peculiar, even for a raccoon...

5/10/2012 07:24:00 AM  

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