Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bob and Christopher's Excellent Adventure

The question is, does reality limit reason, or does man will his own truth? To put it another way, is reason the conformity of mind to world, or is "reality" just the imposition of mind onto an otherwise unknowable world (which reduces truth to will)?

Once again we're back at the crossroads of the Kantian bifurcation of mind and world, between the knowable phenomena and the supposedly unknowable noumenon, whatever that is. Alexander's whole project involves undoing or transcending this bifurcation, because it leads to intellectual and aesthetic chaos and arbitrariness -- from the antihuman misosophies of the left to the ugly buildings of our cities, and everything in between.

Alexander endeavors to resolve this split by positing a metaphysic in which "objective reality 'out there' and our personal reality 'in here' are thoroughly connected." I couldn't agree more, and as a matter of fact, my very first published paper in 1991 was on just this subject.

Really, Bob? Yes, I think so. But it's been 22 years. Better verify that claim.

Let's see. Each moment -- both objectively and subjectively -- is "a translation, or unfolding, of a primordial and multidimensional reality into the more familiar three-dimensions-plus-time modality." Looked at this way, the world is a sort perpetual movement from infinite to finite, or, as we prefer to say, from O to (n).

David Bohm -- whose work in physics links Alexander's to mine -- would say that each moment of time is a projection from the total nonlocal implicate order into a local explicate order, so that "any describable event, object, entity, etc., is an abstraction from an unknown and undefinable totality of flowing movement" (Bohm).

Yeah, I still think that, only more so. For Bohm, "the explicate order of the world of experience unfolds and displays the implicate." The latter "can be thought of as a ground beyond time, a totality out of which each moment is projected into the explicate order."

But it is a circular movement, one I have symbolized (↓↑). Of course, I'm talking about the spiritual world while Bohm is talking about the physical world, but the important point is that it's the same pattern:

"For every moment of time that is projected out into the explicate order there would be another movement in which that moment would be injected or 'introjected' back into the implicate order" (Bohm).

"This whole process -- forms ceaselessly emerging and then being reabsorbed -- accounts for the influence of past forms on present ones, and also allows for the emergence of new creative forms" (ibid.).

In other words, reality is not a linear machine, but again, a kind of perpetual flow of the implicate ground into familiar reality, and then back (and this is strikingly similar to Eckhart's description of the Ground; you could say that we're all -- Bohm, Eckhart, Alexander, and I -- in the same Attractor, just describing it from our own vantage points).

Some human beings, for a variety of reasons, have a compromised ability to "read out" O, the implicate order. This makes them very boring and very predictable. Lifeless. No spark. But good accountants.

Others have no stable explicate order. They can be live wires: charismatic. Life o' the party. Good actors. Just don't rely on them. And whatever you do, don't get involved in an intimate relationship with one of them. It will be fun while the fun lasts, but then hell while the hell lasts. I still have the occasional nightmare...

Alexander is at pains to point out that, in order to understand his approach, one must allow oneself to engage in a totally different kind of thinking in which we are directly connected to the world, in an unmediated way.

The world is constantly speaking to us, most especially in aesthetic terms. All day long we see a constant stream of things that evoke various feelings that are a reliable indicator of the degree of "life" or wholeness present.

Here is what I wrote about that mode back in 1991. But before getting to that, the main idea is that, instead of (k) --> O -- in which we simply project our own preconceptions onto the world -- we must enter a state of O --> (n), in which we constantly listen to subtle messages of the world.

Anyway, here's what I wrote: "Just as the physical universe of stars and galaxies is but a mere 'ripple' on the surface of the holomovement, conventional 'thought' or 'intellect' [read: (k)] is a static, constricted, and limited form of consciousness." It is "basically mechanical in its order of operation, dealing as it does with the already known."

In contrast, the O --> (n) mode is analogous to "the continuous and dynamic unfolding of the implicate order," giving access to the "freshly minted moment" (Bohm) and the "ever-moving and self-renewing present" (ibid.). Children are there most of the time, which is why it is so refleshing to be around them.

This is not to suggest that (k) doesn't have its uses. Of course it does. However, "unless there are also profoundly experiential transformations in O, evolution will only occur in (k)," fostering "a sterile evolution of the intellect bearing no relationship to the deeper self." You know. Infertile eggheads. Ideologues. Tenure.

You might say that the circle of (k) can never contain the sphere of O. Which is why, to paraphrase Ted, strange things are always afoot at the Circle K, if only you pay attention to the weirdness...

Well, I got a late start and now I'm due back in the explicate order. To be continued, pending the slightest expression of interest.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hell in Three Easy Steps

In order for the regressive leftist project to succeed, it had to undo and transform the existing system, rooted as it was in a fruitful and progressive synthesis of Athens and Jerusalem, or Reason and Revelation, Truth and Being.

For Benedict, there have been three stages, or waves, in the modern project of "dehellenization." Each wave represents the antithesis of a particular truth.

For example, in Aquinas' understanding, "man is not properly human but superhuman" -- which parallels Schuon's observation that man is "naturally supernatural."

To express it orthoparadoxically, man either transcends himself or sinks beneath himself. To remain a mere (biological) man is to fail to become (a spiritually realized) one. Man is a means to an end he doesn't create, but rather, discovers. Which is sort of the *whole point* of existence.

In reality this is just an empirical observation, because it isn't even possible to talk about man -- or any other universal, for that matter -- without touching the transcendent world.

Man has a proper end, which is the same as saying he is created. Conversely, if he isn't created, then there can be no purpose whatsoever to existence, and the left is correct: everything is just an absurd contingency (except the left, which magically exempts itself from its own absurdity).

Thus, a key principle of the modern project is "an adamant refusal on the part of man... to acknowledge anything that [isn't] exclusively human."

But nothing can be explained without reference to something outside or beyond it, which means that the first principle of the left is man's absolute stupidity. (Ah. That explains a lot.)

For this reason it is but a single step from relativism to barbarism, or from low information to Democrat, or from ignorance to tenure.

Likewise, for Aristotle it was a truism that man does not create man to be what he is. Rather, we are as we find ourselves: we have a nature, and we did not confer this nature upon ourselves.

Here again, the left promulgates the contradictory thesis, which ends in the various pneumapathologies of existentialism, which elevate existence over essence.

For those of you living in Rio Linda, this means that a boy can be a girl, a woman can be a radical feminist, my aunt can be a trolley car, and a man can marry a man. If there is no nature, nor is there any order.

In the March 11 National Review there's an article by Ramesh Ponnuru on the previous two Popes, JPII and BXVI. In it he notes that both men

"asserted that reason is capable of apprehending not only instrumental truths (how to achieve given ends) but also sapiential truths (what our ends should be). They insisted on both the reasonableness of faith and the need for faith in reason."

Let's look at this notion. Modernity has no issue with the idea that reason may apprehend instrumental truths and find out how things "work."

For example, a biologist can dissect a body to try to figure out how life works. But no biologist -- or no one else, for that matter -- can tell you why you are alive, any more than taking apart a watch will disclose the nature of time.

But is it really possible for a human being to sever the Is from the Ought in this abstract manner? For example, every proper scientist knows he oughtta publish the truth, and not just make up some shite for an end that is less than truth, e.g., wealth, or fame, or an academy award. But enough about climate science.

Thus, it's really contradictory to insist that man can know only instrumental but not sapiential truths, for the insistence that science should seek truth is itself sapiential -- and therefore transnatural -- to the core. Way it is. And more importantly, way it ought to be.

But once means are separated from ends, Is from Ought, man is exiled from reality. He no longer has "access to the whole."

This is an interesting variation on our fallenness, which leaves us wounded but not dead. However, the modern project completes the work of the Fall, and renders the wound absolutely fatal.

You might say that a reduction of the world to the categories disclosed by the scientific method -- i.e., scientism -- "closes off the very being that is worth reasoning about."

As a result, we know everything about nothing but nothing about everything. Or as Petey says, ignorance of the Absolute seals man's absolute ignorance.

However, on the positive side -- for the left, anyway -- this is an excellent way to create passive slaves.

Running late -- to be continued.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crusade My Ass

I'd like to go back to that word "rapprochement" that we were discussing last week, specifically, to the rapprochement of mind and nature. Until the appearance of man -- and not just genetic Homo bigbrain, but self-conscious man firing on all psychopneumatic cylinders -- mind and nature were "fused," so to speak, so no rapprochement was necessary. Only after man discovers his separation -- which is the same as his Adamic uniqueness and alone-liness -- is a rapprochement necessary.

For millennia, religion was the principle means of this rapprochement -- of harmonizing man and cosmos. But with the scientific revolution, a principle of separation was established, i.e., the infamous mind-matter dualism. What this implies is that our separation -- our exile from nature -- isn't accidental, but essential.

In this view, religion, instead of being rooted in the essential (i.e., the unity of things), is itself rendered accidental, i.e., just a weird contingency of anthropology. In snort, religion is consigned to history, whereas science is elevated to a kind of timeless and transhistorical realm.

In fact, for the lofo left, science is the only human endeavor that slips through the net of historicism and transcends their own self-imposed relativism. But this is really just the same old pagan religion in a new zeitguise, this one called scientism.

In other words, we still have the same need of a rapprochement of mind and nature. Indeed, this is just about the first thought a normal human being entertains, and is even the basis of thought: "Hey, there's all that stuff out there. And here's me in here. How do the two relate?" Scientism just dismisses the latter observation (of the interior subject), which is no rapprochement at all, for it's like calling divorce a form of marriage or blindness a form of sight.

Even if you get away with the linguistic theft, no fertility or vision will result. Subjective and objective aren't just separated, but the Object has obtained a restraining order barring the Subject from coming within a hundred yards. But obviously you cannot eliminate the subject from the cosmos. Rather, you can only pretend to have done so.

So, just as in developmental psychology, there are mature and immature forms of rapprochement. Again, in psychoanalytic parlance, rapprochement involves a kind of dance of separation from, and re-union with, the mother. To put it mildly -- because it means that psychologists will never run out of patients -- "Disruptions in the fundamental process of separation-individuation can result in a disturbance in the ability to maintain a reliable sense of individual identity in adulthood."

As mentioned last week, Benedict uses that same term -- rapprochement -- to describe how Christianity was uniquely able to reconcile reason and revelation -- or Athens and Jerusalem -- into a complex but harmonious unity that benefitted and deepened both partners:

"The inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history" (Benedict). This forged a unique European identity which was instrumental in turning back the tide of Islam, which very nearly succeeded in conquering Europe and sealing a caliphate worse then death (but let us not speak too soon).

Schall suggests that "it was precisely the success of the Muslim armies in former Roman Empire territories that finally turned Europe in on itself to develop its own separate culture." Crusades my ass. Who allows barbarians to plunder their empire without putting up a fight?

Oh, right. Liberals.

Now, in Islam there is one truth, and it's called the Koran. That was easy! Likewise, for scientism there is one "truth," and it's in nature. Both approaches are inherently defective, and leave gaping holes in the whole.

By way of contrast, Schall notes that "In Christianity, any thought of a 'two truth' theory," that "a truth of reason can contradict a truth of revelation, is excluded as inherently heterodox." Yes, the result may be a stubborn orthoparadox, but nevertheless, we must insist upon that rapprochement of mind and nature.

Er, why? Well, just for starters, "Christian revelation does not allow it to imagine that Christ did not actually exist." In other words, not only does the world reliably reveal truth, but even ultimate truth. Nor can the mind -- or philosophy -- deny "the existence of what does in fact exist or our ability to know reality through the powers inherent in us." This represents a HUGE difference from both Islamic voluntarism and leftist materialism.

However, as in developmental psychology, rapprochement is a never-ending process. We never stop needing other people, but at the same time, this is not a static situation but a dynamic process. A marriage, for example, is constantly growing in depth and "higher unity," so to speak.

Just so, the historical event of rapprochement (of reason and revelation) is not a one-tome deal. It's not as if, say, Thomas took care of it, so we don't have to think about it any more. Rather, "the 'event,'" writes Schall, "once put into existence, is still going on."

Why is this? Primarily because no one else can reconcile your own subject to the world, not to mention the fact that "one's own uniqueness is itself a part of the meaning of universal humanity." Secondarily, new information about the world is always coming in, and needs to be woven into the unity -- say, quantum physics, or chaos theory, or natural selection.

All of this goes against the multiculturalism and relativism of the left, because it implies a universal path for mankind. It not only explains why Europe is dying, but why "Europe's own intellectual crisis is a spiritual crisis for the rest of the world. For other countries to flourish properly, they too need to be what they potentially are." The "inner rapprochement" discussed in this post is "universal and not simply European."

This is an ironic twist on the leftist cliche of being a "citizen of the world," for the only legal path to world citizenship -- in an actually meaningful sense -- is via the timeless principles of modern conservatism. Crusade my ass. The only viable human future will revolve around the "American trinity" of liberty, e pluribus unum, and In God We Trust (or of ordered liberty, of a philosophico-scientific rapprochement of mind and nature, and of one cosmos under God).

To be continued....

Monday, March 18, 2013

Word War I

Well, I don't really have time for a proper post. Enough time for a good title, however. It reflects the fact that we really are in a three-sided war, with clowns to the left of us and jihadists to the right. But I'll have to get into more detail tomorrow. Meanwhile, in this post you will mainly learn what an incomplete post composed in about 15 minutes looks like.

Continuing with Friday's post on God's will and secondary causes, Schall points out that in normative Islam, "no objective distinction can exist between the right and wrong that Allah cannot change at will." In other words, rather than discovering objective moral truth, "All we have to do is find out whether he wills it or not." There is only the duality of authority <--> will/obedience instead of truth <--> intellect/knowledge.

Thus, Islam and Leftism are situated at either extreme of true morality, but they share the essential feature of being entirely subjective and arbitrary. This also makes them childish, because they are so wrapped up in will rather than reason.

In any event, "without logos, no reason remains for finding any distinction between right and wrong" (ibid.). In most of the Islamic world, "No academic space exists in which to examine the truth of a claim." Instead, there is "only violence in enforcing its stated and unexamined position" (ibid.).

But here again, this resembles the American university, minus the explicit violence: Schall notes "Islam has little place within it for a reasonable discussion of the truth of its own tenets." By way of compensation, both Islam and the Left simply persecute those who do have the temerity to examine their tenets, or who deviate from them. Neither has any real openness to the fulness of reality. It's the same inner pathology, just a different form.

In the Christian tradition, the cosmos is intrinsically meaningful, since it is created by God and infused with his logos. Therefore, everything that exists is truth, qua its existence.

In other words, you might say that with creation, God "doesn't deceive us," so to speak: "the world was not created before the Word, which was itself uncreated. The origin of the world is, in fact, Word" (and I believe that in Judaism one could substitute Torah for word).

For Schall, "the internal order of the cosmos presupposes the internal order within the Godhead." Obedience to God is obedience to Truth, but this Truth is not something totally apart from the Truth-logos that infuses creation.

But for the left, there can be no intrinsic truth in existence, while for Islam the truth of existence is entirely extrinsic and known exclusively to God. Both approches render existence as we find it in the herebelow absurd. (I might add that I am not discussing Islam as it is "supposed to be" or as it could be, merely as it is understood and practiced in predominantly Muslim countries, so blame them, not me. Prager's Still the Last Best Hope is very good on this point.)

Again, for us, word and being are inseparably conjoined. Not only does knowledge infuse being, but again, existence itself is a kind of truth: to exist is to exist as truth and to therefore be intelligible; or, to put it inversely, nothing intrinsically false can exist, for this would be an absurdity. Something can become false -- mostly human beings and their kooky ideas -- but this is to deviate from their prior truth. My word is my bond. Or His, rather.