Adventures in Tenure, or How to be Brilliantly Stupid
I mean, we've arrived before at this conclusion from different angles, which makes sense, because a fact so IAMmense -- so fraught with IAMplications -- is going to rIAMify in all different directions. It really borders on an axIAM, since it unifies so many otherwise inexplicable truths, like "how did 'I' -- and 'we' -- get here?"
Yes, you could just say that God breathes a living soul into man and leave it at that. But many if not most modern and postmodern primitives have lost their ear for the mythopoetic, so it can be helpful to cast the old truths in a way they can wrap their diminutive minds around.
Davie references Wittgenstein -- not the naughty one, but the good one -- who points out that this mysterious center of subjectivity, the I of the existential storm, must be "the basis of all that can be said with any sense about" the world. I like this because it turns Kant on his head and enlists him as an ally.
In other words, instead of the world simply being a form of our sensibility, our sensibility becomes the basis of the world, the condition without which the world makes no sense. "It is," writes Davie, "grotesque to suppose that the highest organizing principle, the 'I,' can be explained as the product of what it organizes."
This very much reminds me of the old crack that a liberal is someone who is too broadminded to take his own side in a dispute.
Likewise, the Darwinian fundamentalist or scientistic idolater is someone too scrupulous to defend his own side in a metaphysical dispute. It is as if he is saying: "listen to me carefully, for this is the truth: I am just the product of random mutations, and therefore not worth listening to at all."
M'kay. And they pay you for this?
Now that I think about it, it is of course important to be familiar with scripture/revelation, as it bypasses certain surface structures and penetrates directly to the deeper recesses of the heart, or the cardiopneumatic center.
But when speaking with outcasts -- that is, people who have cast themselves outside the living spirit -- it is helpful to be able to articulate the cosmic principle behind the revelation. The principles are almost always there, with rare exceptions.
I think even the Trinity, which is supposed to be a kind of pure mystery that man could never have stumbled upon unaided, is intelligible. For me it has to do with the idea that ultimate reality is not a substance, but substance-in-relation, or perhaps "self-giving interiority."
This makes total sense to me on a very deep level, so the religious doctrine fits into my intellect like a key into a lock. I frankly can't imagine the alternatives, since they leave too much unexplained and unexplainable. The miracle is that the doctrine was developed way ahead of the explicit knowledge that came much later, e.g., intersubjectivity, or "mirror neurons," or nonlocality.
Recall the essay I mentioned the other day, Understanding and Believing. Schuon says that our legitimate intellectual needs "do not in any sense mean that the thinking man lacks faith."
Rather, they "merely show that [the fertile egghead's] receptivity [(o)] is sensitive to the most subtle and implicit aspects of the divine Message; now what is implicit is not the inexpressible but the esoteric, and this has a right to be expressed."
Intelligence, of course, cuts both ways -- i.e., up and down -- and can just as easily get us into trouble as save us from it. After all, most of the problems in the world are caused by the intelligent, not the stupid. Let us, for example, stipulate that Obama is of slightly above average intelligence. 'Nuff said.
How to guard the intelligence so that it doesn't run riot or even organize a community? In a sense, just as we must control our will, we must exert control over our intelligence, which is something we don't often hear.
But it is very similar to the idea that a woman should guard her beauty, so to speak, another unfashionable truth. But in each case, we are talking about a kind of modesty. To become immodest in any sense is to repeat one aspect of our Primordial Calamity, isn't it?
Now, what is the nature of this thing that must exert control over the intelligence? Is it just a higher form of intelligence? Is it custom? Culture? Common decency? Taste? Manners? A sense of proportion? A sense of irony?
Whatever it is, you won't get it in college. Rather, the opposite. Everything potentially pathological about human intelligence will be aggravated there.
How's that? Well, Schuon points out that a proper faith serves as "the stabilizing complement of the discerning and as it were explosive intelligence."
There are two ways to understand this observation. One way is to consider what happens when faith is absent. I don't have time to go into it, but just think of all the pathological philosophies, schizzy isms, and frank misosophies that have emerged in the post-Kantian intellectual climate. The list is endless.
It very much reminds me of what caused Dennis Prager to return to Judaism. When he entered Columbia he was veering toward a sophisticated atheism, rejecting the religion of his youth -- until he actually encountered these people and their wacky ideas. If one is not born conservative, then surely any sane person is propelled in that direction by contact with the sheer stupidity, perversity, immaturity, and shortsightedness of leftist thought.
I know that in my case, my mind was never so productive as when I learned to think "within the metacosmic faith," so to speak. For me, it is the difference between playing a musical instrument with scales vs. trying to play one without any rules at all -- as if one needs to invent music while playing it.
The problem is, the intellect is a miraculous thing: it is a miracle, full stop. But as Schuon says, "an intellectual qualification is not fully valid unless accompanied by an equivalent moral qualification," at least for any knowledge above physics and entomology, i.e., human knowledge.
Back to what the intellect must subordinate itself to. For starters, this would be a little thing we call reality. If the intellect is not conforming itself to the Real, then just what is it doing?
Yes, that is correct. The technical term is bullshitting.
Just as there is an "art for art's sake" that violates the canons of beauty and therefore purpose of art, there is, as Schuon suggests, a philosophy for philosophy's sake -- or science for science's sake -- "that believes it can attain to an absolute contact with Reality by means of analyses, syntheses, arrangements, filterings, polishings...
"[S]uch thought is mundane because of this very ignorance and because it ends up becoming a 'vicious circle,' which not only provides no escape from illusion but even reinforces it through the lure of progressive knowledge that is in fact nonexistent."
Nonexistent, that is, unless there is a prior Truth and a nonlocal Intellect that may conform to it.
Aaaaaaannnnd we're out of time. Have a nice weekend and GO PUIG!