Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Nonsense and Sensibility

We all recognize that the physical world "obeys" various laws.

But as in the Matrix, some laws can be bent, others broken. It is assumed by materialists that no laws are broken -- or even bent -- with the appearance of Life. Can this possibly be true? Or does biology reveal its own laws that are just as intrinsic -- and universal -- as the laws of physics?

It is also assumed that no physical laws are transgressed with the emergence of humanness. Here they are on even shakier ground, because in the effort to close the materialist bruteloop, they end up unexplaining both their theory and themselves -- or just say truth and subjectivity. But a theory that denies truth and subjectivity is what and where, exactly?

Is it possible that, as with Life, Mind has its own logic and its own laws? Any theory of "natural law" would so imply. Of course, these laws do not negate the physical or biological, but it is difficult -- okay, impossible -- to avoid the conclusion that they transcend them.

I frankly don't give these matters a great deal of thought. Rather, I either stumble upon something that resonates Deep Within and makes Total Sense to me and then forget about the rest, or I am struck by some sort of spontaneous Interior Revelation that is accompanied by a Sense of Certainty, at least in so far as I am concerned.

That is to say, I have a number of beliefs that could not be any different than they are unless I were fundamentally different than I am. In other words, in order to believe certain things, I would have to be a different person. You know -- sensibility. If you share the same sensibility, it's difficult not to have many of the same beliefs. In this regard, it seems that the sensibility is prior to the specific beliefs, for which reason it is difficult to embrace a belief that fundamentally clashes with one's sensibility.

Speaking of which, I'm sure this principle accounts for a great deal of political... friction. I personally know people who, even now, maintain unswerving devotion to Obama and to liberalism more generally. It seems that nothing -- nothing in the real world -- can cause them to deviate from this beautiful abstraction called liberalism.

Why? Sensibility. Much if not most of this sensibility revolves around Conservatives are Evil, so it is very much fear-based. A liberal is always terrified of something, especially if it doesn't exist, or it is totally disproportionate to the fear it provokes, e.g., global warming, racism, homophobia, the Patriarchy, the Tea Party, Fox News, Christianity, etc.

Which is another important point. In both Proverbs and Psalms it is said that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. Now, there are many ways to interpret this wisecrack without assuming that God is a Scary and Punitive Monster. For example, we could simply begin with the truism that man is afraid. Of course he is! Upon discovering this fear -- which essentially comes with self-awareness, or awareness of separation -- what should we do with it? Where should its focus be placed?

To turn it around, the leftist has the same fear as any other human, except he denies God. Therefore, where does the fear go? It goes everywhere. This is a variation of Chesterton's observation that people who don't believe in God don't believe in nothing, but rather, anything.

Just so, liberals have no fear of God. But does this translate to being unafraid? Hardly! Indeed, the whole project of liberalism involves the creation of a godlike state to take away The Fear. (Ironically, Obama wishes to put the fear of God into us, but he's really just talking about being terrified of normal Americans.)

But with the undeniable reality of Obamacare, even reliable LoFo Democrats are beginning to fear the state. When this happens, panic will set in, which essentially means that the Fear has become uncontained. The purpose of myth (in the vulgar sense) is to contain the fear, so the unraveling of the myth results in a recrudescence of primordial terror, the Nameless Dread.

Speaking of law, not to go all Godwin on you this early in the morning, but this is precisely what happened with 1930s Germany. Fear became uncontained -- their national myth completely unraveled -- creating a vacuum for the Nazi myth to fill. This myth provided a clear focus for the fear; ironically, wisdom began with fear of the Jews. (This guy explains it well: "Some people turn to God in their hour of need, I turned to Adolf Hitler” (HT American Digest).

Back to this notion of religious sensibility. I'll give an example. I am currently reading a book by Hartshorne called Philosophers Speak of God. On the one hand, I am learning all sorts of "new" things. But on the other, it is like reading my own mind, or "remembering" what I truly believe. Hartshorne is simply explicating things I implicitly know, in a lucid and compelling way that I cannot deny, because this is Who I Am.

Now, I don't mention this for purposes of sensational autobobography. Rather, I think we're talking about something universal which must be particularized in the individual. Being an individual means being this person and not that. But where does the individual leave off and the universal begin? For if there are no universals, then we are condemned to a corrosive relativism and chronic doubt.

In The Experience of God, Hart provides a partial list of the things human beings universally encounter upon entering the human state, and which simply cannot be explained with recourse to any materialist metaphysic. These include the qualitative dimension of experience, abstract concepts, reason, the transcendental conditions of experience, intentionality, and the unity of consciousness.

It seems that the qualitative dimension of experience would be most relevant to the question of sensibility, for this is ultimately the "irreducibly subjective feeling of 'what it is like' to experience something," the "inalienable dimension of personal awareness, without which there could be no private experience and no personal identity at all" (Hart).

Obviously, personal identity has nothing to do with the world of quantity. Rather, it is a world of pure quality. But how do qualities get into the cosmos to begin with? Do we actually discover them? Or are we simply trapped (a la Kant) in the echo chamber of our own neurology?

If that is the case, then mind and world are utterly divorced from one another, with no possibility of reconciliation, or even civil discourse. Hence the undisguised hostility of the atheist crowd toward any transcendental experience(r).

In reality, not only does man enter an impossibly rich world of qualities upon becoming man, but "these seem to exist in excess of all the objectively detectable physical processes with which they are associated"; they "differ from one another far more radically than any one neuronal event differs from any other." I mean, you've seen one neuronal event, you've seen them all. Like the digital code of a computer, there are only two possibilities, on or off. But look at the unimaginably complex world to which this gives rise!

The problem is that everyone knows a computer is programmed, so it is not as if digital bits spontaneously cohere and evolve into the program. But the materialist/mechanistic metaphysic insists "that only the quantitative physical properties of the world are really real" (ibid.).

But note what they are doing: they begin with the experience of reality, as we all must (where else to begin?). But they then distill an idealized abstraction -- devoid of qualities -- from the far richer world as experienced, and proceed to concretize the abstraction -- which is what Whitehead referred to as the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. Once you have swallowed that fallacious Blue Pill, you have chosen to stay in materialist matrix, with no exit. Conversely, religion is -- or should be -- the Red Pill, the way out of the materialist/leftist/tenured/mass media matrix.

The other property I'd like to discuss is intentionality, which refers to the fact that consciousness is always "about" something. In other words, it always refers to something outside or beyond itself, which, when you think about it, poses grave problems for any materialist metaphysic. For how can matter be "about" anything? Rather, it just is.

But humanness is absolutely suffused with this Aboutness, and on every level. For example, our intrinsic intersubjectivity means that human beings are inherently about others, just as others are about us.

Hart doesn't get into this, but in my opinion, this must follow the Aboutness of God, or, more specifically, the Trinity. For what is the Father about? The Son. And what is the Son about? The Father. And what are they about? The Holy Spirit.

It reminds me of what the adolescent Jesus said when his anxious parents found him running circles around the elders: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?"

To be continued...

10 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

I personally know people who, even now, maintain unswerving devotion to Obama and to liberalism more generally. It seems that nothing -- nothing in the real world -- can cause them to deviate from this beautiful abstraction called liberalism.

Ha - yes! I almost vented here (on yesterday's post) this morning about this very issue, as people I know and love cannot contain their pure enthusiasm for all things Obama, and Obamacare in particular. I can only think this must be at least partially due to the fact that they aren't being personally affected, and so to the extent that they are aware of any problems, they simply don't believe it's anything but bad press from rightwingers.

Much if not most of this sensibility revolves around Conservatives are Evil, so it is very much fear-based. A liberal is always terrified of something, especially if it doesn't exist, or it is totally disproportionate to the fear it provokes...

Yes, just so...

11/05/2013 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie, I don't remember if it was the book Gulag or one about Father Arseny but there was an account of aTrue Believer who for whatever reason was thrown into the camp as a garden variety prisoner, alongside his enemies, and remained a True Believer no matter what injustice was done to him. He kept thinking "it's some mistake. They'll figure it out. They're getting to the bottom of it. Any day now.."

11/05/2013 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yeah. That's why I never bother arguing. There is literally nothing I could say and no evidence I could produce that would change their minds. And even if I could, they would just latch on to some new kooky obsession. The End is always at hand, one way or another...

11/05/2013 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It is assumed by materialists that no laws are broken -- or even bent -- with the appearance of Life.

This reminds of that warning on the car commercials where somebody is drifting a Hyundai. "Professional driver on closed course."

Do not try this on the 405.

11/05/2013 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

For example, we could simply begin with the truism that man is afraid. Of course he is! Upon discovering this fear -- which essentially comes with self-awareness, or awareness of separation -- what should we do with it? Where should its focus be placed?

Wow, speaking of revelatory, that's good. We're going to either be afraid of all that is around us or have the fear of the Lord. It's like a sort of spiritual homeopathy.

11/05/2013 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

One more and then I'll shut up. About Obama and all, I think even the most skeptical among us have a natural expectation that someone will tell us the truth. The more easily a lie may be exposed, the more likely we are to think that the person telling us the story is being truthful -- or at worst merely honestly mistaken. Who in his right mind would lie about something that can be readily shown to be untrue?

I guess the answer's in the question: nobody, in his right mind.

11/05/2013 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

When there are only six comments, there is no shut up.

To paraphrase Churchill, sometimes in war, truth needs a bodyguard of lies.

But with socialism, the Lie needs a whole army of lies.

11/05/2013 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Which is another important point. In both Proverbs and Psalms it is said that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord."

Yeah, that's a big no can do in the modernist world. Why? Because: Fear is damaging to self-esteem, and so obviously cannot be the entry point to wisdom. Why? Because of course, wisdom is defined as the total toleration of all points of view, which cannot happen if any of them engender fear... especially fear of genders.

There ya go.

Believe it or not, that's a fair summation of an ourgoomeant recently made to me.

Whenever I hear 'No Fear', fear is just about the first thing I feel.

11/05/2013 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Off topic, but interesting

11/06/2013 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Ted, interesting... but without showing that some of those bigger dots, such as Kant, Hegel, Rousseau, Hume, Rothbard, J.S. Mill... are black holes, rather than radiating centers, it's a bit misleading.

11/06/2013 08:34:00 PM  

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