Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Open Wide to Avoid Truth Decay

The Religious Sense. What is it? Obviously man would have no access to the divine in its absence, just as his world would be dark and silent in the absence of eyes and ears.

Spiritual development is coterminous with the heightening or deepening or perfecting of this sensibility.

I prefer the word "sensibility," because it has broader connotations; to merely sense something doesn't necessarily imply understanding. We share the same senses as any rank and foul person, but we do not share the same sensibilities, to put it mildly.

Sensibility is "acuteness of feeling" or "responsive feeling toward something." Not only is it a "refined sensitiveness," but it is reciprocal, involving both perceiving and responding to the more subtle dimension it discloses.

As our senses relate to material phenomena of varying degrees of subtlety, our spiritual sensibility relates to O (which, like the natural world, also manifests in a hierarchy of intelligibile degrees).

As the foreword to the book makes clear, in order to understand anything, man is drawn out of himself. This is summarized in Giussani's reminder that the method of research is imposed by the object.

All ideologues forget this dictum, and end up superimposing their own ideas, theories, and sensibilities over the object -- and ultimately over man and the world. Which only results in the impossibility of discovering either man or world (both of which emanate from O).

We agree with the better sort of scholastic of the High Middle Ages that: all that exists is true. Sounds uncontroversial, but in this post-Kantian world it is considered flatly false, not because it is a tautology but because this thing called "reality" is not reachable by human beings.

Note that with this first Big Lie under our belt, we can safely ignore the notion that the method of research must be imposed by the object, because there are no objects, only the projection of subjective human constructs. Reality has been reduced to perception. Thus, "the opposite of transcendental truth" is "a dream mistaken for reality." Except it quickly turns into a nightmare.

To paraphrase the perspicacious Pieper, the Way of the Tenured doesn't even succeed in opening up any interesting dead ends, for which reason we call it a blind nul de slack.

Yesterday we had a commenter with a radically different sensibility to ours, so perhaps be can teach us something about what has gone so dreadfully wrong in such a person. He begins with the observation that "Christianity is based on the presumption that human beings are inherently separate from the Living Divine Reality, from the World Process, and from each other."

Now, I do not call this a "presumption." If it is a presumption, then we are doing exactly what the ideologue does in projecting his thoughts onto the world.

In my case, I do not presume that I am inherently separate from the Divine Living Reality.

No, I rechecked this morning and discovered once again that there is a... call it an orthoparadoxical intimate-distance between us, and that I am not He (even though his simultaneous immanence implies that I can be nothing but).

I also rediscovered -- to my great relief -- that I was separate from my wife and child, because I had to roust both from bed, and each of them was "resistant," so to speak, as if they were independent objects beyond my direct control.

To put it another way, if they weren't independent from me, my life would be, yes, easier, but definitely poorer, because there would be no one to love but me, and that gets old pretty fast.

(Relative) separation is precisely what creates the possibility of love; except I would put it inversely and say that since love Is, distinction must Be. The alternative is a florid case of pathological cosmic narcissism.

Besides, I personally like the male-female and adult-child polarities. I find them more interesting than the leftist alternative looniverse of adultolescent shemales and femen.

Mr. Froth continues: "The fiction of separateness, and the denial of the universal characteristic of prior unity, is a mind-based illusion, a lie, a terribly deluding force, and a profoundly and darkly negative act."

Where have we heard this before? Yes, National Socialism. Communism. We also heard it at the DNC, i.e., "the State is the ONLY thing to which we all belong. Or else."

To say that something exists is to say that it is "something apart." After all, if it were not apart, then we couldn't know of its existence. If there are no separate things, then there is no possibility of knowledge or the Truth upon which it is dependent.

Mr. Froth's sub-infantile version of omniscience is actually Absolute Stupidity -- literally, not just as insultainment. A thing is only knowable because it exists, and it can only exist if it is "separate."

Let's move on. But not without a wise crack from Pieper that might well apply to the above Chopraesque pneumababble: it derives its clarity "from nothing else than its lack of depth." In short, nothing is that superficial, let alone everything!

Again, we can know the world because 1) it exists, and 2) because we are attracted to it, and thereby drawn out of our frothing little private idahos.

And this ontological openness goes directly to Giussani's more expansive understanding of Reason. The tenured essentially reduce thought to (lower case r) reason, but as we have discussed in the past, a thing isn't true because it is rational but rational because it is true.

For the G-man, Reason "is opened wide to reality, it takes it all in, noting its connections and implications. Reason discourses about reality, seeks to get inside its perceived meaning, moving from one angle to the next, storing everything in its memory and tending to embrace it all."

We must indeed open wide in order to take in the whole existentialada and become sensible to the one cosmos under O.

20 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

...because there are no objects, only the projection of subjective human constructs. Reality has been reduced to perception...

What disturbs me most about this is that it works after a fashion and for a time. Another example can be found HERE.

12/11/2012 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

a thing isn't true because it is rational but rational because it is true

And if you don't believe that, try having a discussion with someone who has one of those paranoid personality disorders. You will likely lose the argument, but the other guy is still crazy.

12/11/2012 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I really found the entire Foundation series somewhat disturbing and bizarre, especially the weird final ending.

I liked Nightfall, though. That was a fun read.

From Mushroom's article:

"A non-nerdy concern – or anyway, a less nerdy concern – would be this: Now that I'm a social scientist myself, or at least as close to being one as we manage to get in these early days of human civilisation, what do I think of Asimov's belief that we can, indeed, conquer that final frontier – that we can develop a social science that gives its acolytes a unique ability to understand and perhaps shape human destiny?

Well, on good days I do feel as if we're making progress in that direction. And as an economist I've been having a fair number of such good days lately.

I know that sounds like a strange claim to make when the actual management of the economy has been a total disaster. But hey, Hari Seldon didn't do his work by convincing the emperor to change his policies – he had to conceal his project under a false front and wait a thousand years for results. Now, there isn't, to my knowledge, a secret cabal of economists with a thousand-year plan to save our current civilisation (but then I wouldn't tell you if there was, would I?). But I've been struck these past several years by just how much power good economics has to make correct predictions that are very much at odds with popular prejudices and "common sense".

To take a not at all arbitrary example, a standard macroeconomic approach, the IS-LM model (don't ask) told us that under depression-type conditions like those we're experiencing, some of the usual rules would cease to apply: trillion-dollar budget deficits wouldn't drive up interest rates, huge increases in the money supply wouldn't cause runaway inflation. Economists who took that model seriously back in, say, early 2009 were ridiculed and lambasted for making such counterintuitive assertions. But their predictions came true. So yes, it's possible to have social science with the power to predict events and, maybe, to lead to a better future."

I'm not sure quite what to say here.

12/11/2012 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I'm pretty sure that the "rules" didn't apply because we just blew a massive credit bubble that then imploded.

So yes, filling up the hole with new, government-backed credit, will, in fact, fill the hole.

Now, what's the next step?

Oh, that's right.

We don't exactly know how to unwind the new sovereign debt.

12/11/2012 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"... summarized in Giussani's reminder that the method of research is imposed by the object."

Actually thrilled me to read that & more like it - enjoying the book.

12/11/2012 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"... Reality has been reduced to perception... "

Yep. One of Kant's telltale philosophical tics, is to switch the 'how' for the 'what' and then make his getaway in a blizzard of words & neverending sentences.

The uncautious reader soon finds his grip on reality floating away....

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

There's not much to say, JP. Krugman exists in another world. In fact, I found that via the Circle Bastiat guys who thought that maybe his fascination with Foundation explained a lot.

Asimov was all right as writer. I used to get his magazine back in the olden days. Nightfall owes a lot to Silverberg.

12/11/2012 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Mushroom said "...guys who thought that maybe his fascination with Foundation explained a lot."

I'm... thinking that Asimov & the Foundation Trilogy (some of my favorite Sci-Fi books) do zip to explain krugman - only krugman explains krugman - which is a scary thought all its own.

12/11/2012 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Besides, I personally like the male-female and adult-child polarities. I find them more interesting than the leftist alternative looniverse of adultolescent shemales and femen.

Along those lines, thanks to Vanderleun I've just stumbled across an interesting (well, to a woman at least; ymmv) article about the traditional role of the guerilla housewife.

12/11/2012 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

From that article, a keen observation on feminism:

"The cowardice of women’s liberationists is shocking; they don’t seem to possess the most elementary female courage. At this crucial juncture they are proclaiming out loud that women are no good at all, that to qualify as human beings they must be like men."

12/11/2012 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Mr. Froth continues: "The fiction of separateness, and the denial of the universal characteristic of prior unity, is a mind-based illusion, a lie, a terribly deluding force, and a profoundly and darkly negative act."

This is also a mistaken interpretation from Advaita and some Buddhist schools. That is why I have moved away from those metaphysical narratives, and have begun to embrace a more Judeo-Christian ethic with an evolutionary, inclusive perspective. Yet, those Eastern practices do have more refined methods to experience that "ortho-paradoxical intimate-distance."

12/11/2012 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger David J Quackenbush said...

"As the foreword to the book makes clear, in order to understand anything, man is drawn out of himself. This is summarized in Giussani's reminder that the method of research is imposed by the object."

Interesting that the first use he actually makes of this principle is with regard to the religious sense itself: "How then must we conduct our inquiry? Since we are dealing with something that occurs within me, that has to do with my conscience, my "I" as a person, it is on myself that I must reflect; I must inquire into myself, engage in existential inquiry.

So I'm drawn out of myself to understand anything, even myself, and even when I'm looking within myself to do so.

12/11/2012 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

"So I'm drawn out of myself to understand anything, even myself, and even when I'm looking within myself to do so."

Makes sense to me.

12/11/2012 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

I think that Krugman was thinks that he can make economics into a kind of psychohistory-esqe mathematical model.

History rhymes, but there are a ton of contingent things out there, including free will, that cause prediction problems the further you get from the Everpresent Now.

12/11/2012 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

David:

Correct. We only discover the self through the other, beginning with the (m)other. In discovering the (m)other who first discovers us, we discover our own interior horizon.

12/11/2012 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

1. Reality exists.
2. To exist is to exist as something having identity.
3. Through our awareness of what exists, we become conscious of ourselves.

Stands to reason that the more we become able to identify - and the deeper we do so - the more deeply we come to know our own identity.

12/11/2012 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"is opened wide to reality, it takes it all in, noting its connections and implications. Reason discourses about reality, seeks to get inside its perceived meaning, moving from one angle to the next, storing everything in its memory and tending to embrace it all."

Aaah, you're talking about the authors of the Bible.

'cured to me today that, if God cared not for the intellect, reasonable nor sensible men to know Him, He would not have spake in parables.

12/11/2012 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Ravi!

amazing touching holy tune
happier amazing tune

12/12/2012 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"And this ontological openness goes directly to Giussani's more expansive understanding of Reason. The tenured essentially reduce thought to (lower case r) reason, but as we have discussed in the past, a thing isn't true because it is rational but rational because it is true."

Along those same lines, and hopefully not jumping ahead, but this passage of Giussani's that I read this morning, really struck me (wham!).


"That is why the fundamental criterion for facing things is an objetive one, with which nature thrusts man into a universal comparison, endowing him with that nucleus of original needs, with what elementary experience which mothers in the same way provide to their children. It is only here, by affirming this common identity, that we overcome anarchy. The need for goodness, justice, truth, and happiness constitutes man's ultimate identity, the profound energy with which men in all ages and of all races approach everything, enabling them to an exchange, of not only things, but also ideas, and transmit riches to each other over the distance of centuries. We are stirred as we read passages written thousands of years ago by ancient poets, and we sense that their works apply to the present in a way that our day to day relations do not. If there is an experience of human maturity, it is precisely this possibility of placing ourselves in the past, of approaching the past as if it were near, a part of ourselves. Why is this possible? Because this elementary experience, as we stated, is substantially the same in everyone, even if it will then be determined, translated, and realized invery different ways - so different, in fact, that they may seem opposed."

(emphasis mine)

Bellissimo.

12/12/2012 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Julie, that Guerilla Housewife link was great! Tweeting it out line by line. Thanks.

12/12/2012 09:42:00 AM  

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