Monday, January 21, 2013

One Big Error, Countless Problems

A few more points from Gilson's Methodical Realism before the bus moves on -- either to the next topic or back to the previous one (which we never finished), or possibly in another direction altogether, a circular revisitation of Meditations on the Tarot.

Regarding the latter, several weeks ago the Office of the Cosmic Dispatcher received a request that we embark upon another chapter-by-chapter field trip into that classic work of esoteric Christianity, so those of you who don't already have the book may want to pick up a copy. If you want to ride along on the bus, that is. And don't forget the signed permission slip from your guardian angel.

You may have noticed that modern philosophy has mostly devolved to a lot of pretentious windbaggery and nut-numbing obfuscation. It is a dreary factory system in which tenured hacks pretend to publish important ideas for other tenured hacks to pretend to read.

No light results from this verbal jirque du cercle, but that's obviously not the point. The point is -- well, we're seeing it in today's reimmaculation of His Royal Pain in the Ass: the successful displacement of truth by raw power.

Remember what was said at the end of Friday's post, because there is indeed a "practical" element to postmodern thought. The thinking itself is of no practical value, i.e., in assimilating the truth of reality.

Rather, its practical application lies in defining reality so as to appropriate power. It's similar to Lenin's crack to the effect that "who controls the past controls the present."

Likewise, who controls indoctrination more generally controls the indoctrinated.

So, as mentioned at the end of the previous post, "once we detach ourselves from reality, it follows that we no longer know what the individual is or what he is for."

"The result is a monadic individual who exists only for himself -- this is the selfish and amoral side of leftism -- and the need for a leviathan state to control all these selfish and amoral monads. This ends in a combustible mixture of moral anarchy and tyrannical collectivism, each reflecting and aggravating the other."

As in the class warfare of the left, this type of thinking results from the reification of a pair of "false opposites," in this case, individual and collective. In reality, there is no abstract "individual man," nor is there a purely collectivized one whose identity can be legitimately subordinated to the state.

Rather, man is a social animal (ultimately because of his trinitarian structure that orders him to love), and in the absence of culture, there is no such thing as a man. There is no prior "state of nature" in which man appears, unshaped by culture. Our individual-ism and social-ism (in the non-political sense) are two aspects of one being.

But Gilson points out that Hegel, for example, "lives by" such antinomies, "and thinks that the effort to surmount them is what constitutes philosophy."

Conversely, the task of realism is to avoid such false dualisms, but to harmonize them in the real unity of the human person. (In psychoanalysis we call it the development of mature dependency as opposed to immature dependency or pseudo-mature independence.)

Because that is the simple reality: again, human beings unproblematically harmonize any number of dualities, both vertically and horizontally.

For example, we harmonize religion and science, or sense and intellect, or lust and love, or mind and matter. It is only when the thinker abstracts and reifies one or the other that the appearance of a "problem" emerges. But it's a pseudo-problem caused by one Big Error in methodology.

Gilson: "if there is a single initial error at the root of all the difficulties philosophy is involved in, it can only be the one Descartes committed when he decreed, a priori, that the method of one of the sciences of reality was valid for the whole of reality."

Thus, for the left, ideology defines all. First they sunder reality by superimposing their favored abstraction (e.g., race, or class, or gender), and then do violence to the person by placing him in one of their abstract categories.

The result is a genuine death culture: death to the spirit, death to the intellect, death to beauty, death to love, death to the human vocation (because we cannot actualize our vocation if we are denied our vertical station). You can still "develop," but only toward nowhere and into nothing.

So: "Consequently, it goes without saying that the fate of metaphysics as a science is sealed in advance. Deprived of concepts, it no longer has anything but ideas and finds itself irrevocably trapped in their antinomies" (Gilson).

And the most undignified antinomy of all is the one that creates millions of little guys who are dependent upon the only really actualized men -- those benevolent liberal fascists who control the levers of state power.

But if you actually imagine that the state can render you anything other than the pathetic little guy it sees you to be -- and helped create for its own purposes -- then your auto-degradation is irreversible. Party on! The Big Guys will gladly foot the bill.

23 Comments:

Blogger JP said...

"Regarding the latter, several weeks ago the Office of the Cosmic Dispatcher received a request that we embark upon another chapter-by-chapter field trip into that classic work of esoteric Christianity, so those of you who don't already have the book may want to pick up a copy. If you want to ride along on the bus, that is. And don't forget the signed permission slip from your guardian angel."

Will you be renewing the old posts or just renewing the future posts?

1/21/2013 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'd prefer to dive in fresh, in order to encounter it with the present me.

1/21/2013 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"No light results from this verbal jirque du cercle, but that's obviously not the point. The point is -- well, we're seeing it in today's reimmaculation of His Royal Pain in the Ass: the successful displacement of truth by raw power."

He still feels kind of inert to me.

I think that the state is kind of tired. It really lacks the revolutionary ardor of the good old days.

1/21/2013 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Re MOTT, maybe I'll combine old & new by drawing a fresh toke on each chapter, before considering it in light of the stale bobservations.

1/21/2013 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A post by the PeoplesCube Guy that has some resonance with today's topic.

1/21/2013 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I guess the One Big Error results in 36 varieties of tyrannical little assouls.

1/21/2013 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Gilson: "if there is a single initial error at the root of all the difficulties philosophy is involved in, it can only be the one Descartes committed when he decreed, a priori, that the method of one of the sciences of reality was valid for the whole of reality.""

Nice. I'm really liking this Gilson too (I wonder if his book is available on Nook? I'll find out). Of course Descartes' method followed from his premise (or pre miss), and his even worse method, that of Doubt, but this sums up the method by which that premise has come to corrupt every aspect of the West, ever since.

Ugh. Frenchies (with apologies to Bastiat. And Say).

1/21/2013 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

His next book, Thomist Realism and the Critique of Knowledge, is even better, as it is partly in response to critics of Methodical Realism. Fascinating stuff that really cuts to the essence of what reality is and what human beings are. Interestingly, Gilson had no training in Thomist philosophy, but arrived at the same conclusions on his own, which is pretty much what has happened to me. It seems that the attractor creates the convergent paths.

1/21/2013 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

"(In psychoanalysis we call it the development of mature dependency as opposed to immature dependency or pseudo-mature independence.)"

Mature Dependency strikes me as foundational to Western Civ's contract law. Well.. the pre-post modern Western Civ... :)

1/21/2013 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Really, it comes down to the religiously informed classical liberalism of the founders, which is situated between the extremes of libertarianism (abstract independence) and leftism (immature dependence).

1/21/2013 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Obama: "Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action."

Yes, it's called obeying the Constitution. You wouldn't like it.

1/21/2013 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. going back to MoTT, I was just thinking last week when you mentioned a dry spell that if this were some other sort of art form, the thing to do would be to go back to basics. In art, for instance, one might focus on drawing, or basic color schemes; in music, it might be practicing chords or arpeggios; in sports, focusing on form.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like MoTT serves a very similar purpose in this endeavor...

1/21/2013 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Gilson's book for the cheap folk out there.

And for that matter, MOTT too.

ultimately, best to buy from Bob's book recommendation widget so he get's some well deserved royalties for his excellent blog.

1/21/2013 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Along the lines of our recent discussions, Ace makes the point that for idealist leftists, Obama has been a smashing success merely by virtue of being such an unabashed leftist. That his leftism has made the world worse in every measurable way is inconsequential. After all, that's only reality.

1/21/2013 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And speaking of a declaration of political war on individual liberty...

1/21/2013 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

So, as mentioned at the end of the previous post, "once we detach ourselves from reality, it follows that we no longer know what the individual is or what he is for."

"The result is a monadic individual who exists only for himself -- this is the selfish and amoral side of leftism -- and the need for a leviathan state to control all these selfish and amoral monads.


This goes along with something I saw in 2 Thessalonians chapter where it talks about “the lawless one” or “the man of lawlessness”. We have the New Testament, but before that, we had “the Law and the Prophets” – as in: “if they will not hear the Law and the Prophets, they will not hear one risen from the dead."

This isn’t law as statute and regulation, this is LAW as in gravity, as in fire is hot and water is wet. God’s law isn’t what He thinks we ought to do to be good little children, it is reality. Truth = reality = law.

Lawlessness isn’t bad behavior so much as it is the denial of reality. You can get away with this for a while. The Lord says He punishes the lawless “to the third and fourth generation” – which I think means it takes time for the flaunting of truth to bear its bitter fruit. Considering the progressives and FDR and LBJ, that probably brings us to about now.

1/21/2013 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"I don't want my son to be a gentleman."

This reveals how leftism charts the devolution from realism, to idealism, to surrealism.

1/21/2013 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yeah, I was just reading that. The only concern I'd have in that situation is whether the girls aren't also being taught to be ladies, and not simply entitled little princesses...

1/21/2013 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I just sent it to Taranto, and got an immediate response to that effect, discussed here (second item).

1/21/2013 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - apropos the third item on that Taranto link, apparently hot women may be causing global warming...

1/21/2013 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

If I ever catch a guy treating my wife like an equal,
I'll punch him square in his ugly gorilla face.

1/21/2013 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

maybe useful irrelevancy dept :
#325
re Mott The Hoople, “All The Way From Memphis” (from 1973’s Mott):

Ian Hunter: That song was a pain in the ass, actually, because I wrote the thing on piano, and all the white notes on my piano had gone, so you had to go on to the black notes. And I didn’t know anything about the black notes. That’s when it’s best, because nothing’s relevant. I wrote “Roll Away The Stone” on the black notes as well. I didn’t know what I was doing. The minute you know what you’re doing, you’ve had it.

[one of the more unsung rock superstars imo]

1/22/2013 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Christina M said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/23/2013 07:09:00 AM  

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