Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Unexamined Lie is Not Worth Loving

Two points: I don't see what purpose religion can serve if it doesn't speak to man as he is, i.e., in his essential nature; or if it affirms principles (such as determinism) that no one can actually live (i.e., no one lives their life as if they lack free will). In other words, a religion can't do us much good if it applies to a different species.

I found the Hartshorne quote I was looking for the other day, that "every major mistake about God involves a mistake about human nature."

In short, erroneous anthropology necessarily leads to erroneous theology. Which is why, for example, liberation theologians worship a Marxist God, or why Islamists worship a genocidal one, or why Al Sharpton worships an angry pimp. That is, they simply worship their own projections, which amounts to idolatry.

That's all well and good -- or unwell and bad -- but just how are we supposed to distinguish truths from mistakes about human nature? Isn't this an area that is hopelessly subjective? After all, since the 1960s we've "evolved" into the view that there are no permanent truths of human nature -- let alone good and bad ways of being human -- and that we should celebrate all these wonderful differences.

So instead of hewing to the principle that the unexamined life is not worth living, our elites tell us that the un-diverse life is not permissible. If you should examine your life and discover unalterable truths, you're not just wrong, but evil.

For example, if you should examine human life and discover the truth that marriage involves the union of a man and woman, the prerogatives of an omnipotent diversity -- of political power -- trump truth.

Which itself is a great perversity, for humans, alone among creatures, have access to truth. To deny this principle is to prevent man (and maim him in the process). And yet, this is precisely what diversocrats and relativists do. And in so doing they cause collateral damage to God, given the above noted analogy between God and man.

Hartshorne writes that "We can only conceive God by analogy to ourselves as conscious beings, but we destroy the analogy if we impose requirements upon God that contradict the very meaning of consciousness."

I hope I don't have to remind anyone that the purpose of the analogy is not to reduce God to human proportions, but rather, to elevate us beyond our own limitations. For example, God knows truth perfectly, while we see it through tinted -- or sometimes frosted -- glass.

So, we don't only want to examine ourselves in our own peculiarities and idiosyncrasies -- although that's part of it -- but rather, examine ourselves with the view of discovering universal truths that apply to everyone -- or to consciousness as such.

Now, what are some universal truths of human consciousness? Well, not to belabor the point, but there is no such thing as a consciousness that is not intersubjective and in relation. We are not sealed off monads, but interiorly related: we are intrinsically members of one another. I suggest -- no, I insist -- that the notion of a "closed" consciousness is both inconceivable and impossible.

Which certainly goes to this otherwise bizarre and inexplicable idea that God is both one and three. His threeness is not to be understood in a quantitative, but rather, a qualitative way. If you ask how it is possible for three to be one, the answer is simple, because the same principle is reflected in us: a man whose consciousness is not open to the other is not superior, but rather, severely autistic. Every act of cognition involves knower, known, and knowledge, just as love involves lover, beloved, and loving.

In this context, God is not only sympathetic to (moved by) human suffering, but, in the words of Hartshorne, possesses an omniscient sympathy. He is surely the Mover, i.e., the Creator; but there is no reason to insist he is the absolutely unmoved mover.

Along these lines, he quotes the eminent Rabbi Heschel, who said that God is the most moved mover. In fact, Hartshorne tweaks the phrase, suggesting that God must be "the most and best moved mover" -- or in other words, the most perfectly sympathetic being.

Another grave fact you will unearth if you exhumine yourself is that you are free. No, not wholly free -- which is indistinguishable from Sartre's nothingness -- but rather, a mixture of necessity and freedom.

In fact, we can conceive of freedom in no other way, because unconstrained freedom -- like an unrelated consciousness -- is an inconceivable absurdity. It is just meaningless chaos, not meaningful freedom.

Here again, our own freedom is an analogy to, or reflection of, God's principial freedom. But is God's freedom a completely unconstrained chaos? I don't think so.

Rather, it seems that God is "constrained," so to speak, by his own nature. The difference here is that man can indeed violate his own nature, and in the pursuit of a spurious freedom, become unfree, which is to say, become -- or unbecome -- someone else entirely.

Leftists elevate this error to a principle in their struggle to create a new man who is no longer man at all. Thus the Raccoon tradition (or running gag) of greeting leftists with a sarcastic, Hello, new man.

Conversely, when we imitate God and become true to our own nature, this "sets us free."

11 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

So instead of hewing to the principle that the unexamined life is not worth living, our elites tell us that the un-diverse life is not permissible. If you should examine your life and discover unalterable truths, you're not just wrong, but evil.

Not finished reading yet, but this reminds me of a news article that came out a few days ago, about how elites adore diversity, until they have kids.

Actually, just scanning the article I have to wonder if part of the change between now and 1970 is simply that affluent people who have children are less likely to be leftists, and more likely to want to raise their kids around other people who actually have kids. Because lets face it, bringing your younguns up in a diversity-loving place like, for instance, San Francisco is practically child abuse...

10/23/2013 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think the left likes diversity because they know that if you believe that, you'll believe anything.

10/23/2013 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which of course reduces to nothing.

10/23/2013 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, in response to someone's question the other day, Allah is not constrained by anything, including his own nature, so there is no rational way to approach him. He just does what he wants when he wants. He's essentially like what Nixon said of the presidency: "If the President does it, then it's legal."

10/23/2013 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I'm getting more out of this as we go along.

To deny this principle is to prevent man ...

That explains a lot of things that go on, almost like dealing with non-humans. Fortunately, we can change and become real men.

Rather, it seems that God is "constrained," so to speak, by his own nature.

I think as long as we keep this in sight we will not lose our way in the wilderness of process.

10/23/2013 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

We are not sealed off monads, but interiorly related: we are intrinsically members of one another. I suggest -- no, I insist -- that the notion of a "closed" consciousness is both inconceivable and impossible.

Literally. I'm probably belaboring the point, but have come across several articles recently dealing with the modern world's diminishing interest in reproducing. In Japan, apparently close to a third of young people are not only uninterested in sex, they actually recoil at physical contact by members of the opposite sex. Then there was the article in Vanderleun's sidebar, addressing the phenomena of the media labeling as "weird" an NFL player who is happily married, and whose wife is expecting their sixth or seventh kid.

Anyway, to tie the ideas together, with increased modernization there has been a dramatic decrease not only in procreation, but in relationship in general. Thus, modern man can, "in the pursuit of a spurious freedom, become unfree, which is to say, become -- or unbecome -- someone else entirely." And something less than fully human.

10/23/2013 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

No wonder the Democrats hated Nixon so much. He was playing the game by their rules.

10/23/2013 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He sure was (but in fact, not nearly to the same extent). Just yesterday I was thinking about how ironic it is that Nixon is such a figure of hate for the left.

10/23/2013 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Love this:

"I found the Hartshorne quote I was looking for the other day, that "every major mistake about God involves a mistake about human nature."

"In short, erroneous anthropology necessarily leads to erroneous theology. Which is why, for example, liberation theologians worship a Marxist God, or why Islamists worship a genocidal one, or why Al Sharpton worships an angry pimp. That is, they simply worship their own projections, which amounts to idolatry."

Thank you.

10/23/2013 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Julie, indeed. I think it would be even weirder, if a philosophically inclined person who had declined to know themselves philosophically, were to feel any urge to know another Biblically.

10/23/2013 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

What to make of this? A Russian thinker [and advisor to Putin!]
defines Gnosis
his way...

10/24/2013 05:35:00 AM  

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