Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Common Corpus or Common Corpse

We've been exploring the controversial notion that "knowledge exists and that it is a real and efficacious adequation" to reality -- i.e., that man may know the truth of existence.

There are any number of alternatives to this soph-evident truth, but they all necessarily redound to the elevation of cosmic stupidity to first principle. It would mean that the only thing man may know with certainty is that he doesn't truly know anything at all. This stance could be encrapsulated in a kind of inverse (Cartesian) cogito: I cannot know, therefore nothing is.

And this "nothing," of course, includes the self who is putting forth the cogito, for as any tenured neurologist can tell you, there is no such thing as a self.

Speaking of which, a couple of days ago the WSJ had a review of a book called Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self. Now, right away I see problems with that title, because there can be no "science" of the "self," and because science deals only with the How, not the Why. A better title might be something like "Why Science Cannot Tell Us Anything Important About the Self," but it would be a blank book.

The author evidently searches for herself in all the wrong places, including her genes, brainscans, personality tests, and more. But as the reviewer correctly points out, "even if we could measure every atom in a brain, we would need creativity and ingenuity to add a layer of interpretation to the data, and complete comprehension would still remain beyond us."

Thus, even the most complete possible science is infinitely distant from the "object" it is attempting to comprehend. (Recall what we said yesterday about jettisoning subjectivity at the outset, and never being able to recover it.)

This isn't at all surprising, because a scientific approach to the self is like counting the digital bits in a CD to try to understand the performance it encodes. The performance by definition not only transcends the bits, but is their sufficient reason. In other words, the bits exist for the sake of the performance, not vice versa.

In her final chapter, the author suggests that self-perception may be a fiction -- a conclusion that will shock anyone who is completely bereft of personal insight. But self-deception only exists because there is a self to be deceived.

The author confesses that, in her quest for a scientific explanation of the self, she veered "dangerously close at times to the precipice of philosophy."

Oh dear! Speaking of people who are bereft of insight, how can someone fail to understand that science becomes a philosophy -- a naive philosophy called scientism -- when it tries to transform a method into a doctrine?

The self partakes of both universality and particularity. In other words, we are all unique individuals, and yet, there exist self-evident truths available to all functioning adults. Much of this has to do with our embodied-ness, that is, our common corpus. We all have the same five senses, the same brain structure, the same developmental sequence.

Which raises some interesting questions about the possibility of a "common core." This subject has become controversial, because the left wants to impose its common crap on the nation's children, even while insisting there is no common human nature. Therefore, when they say "common core," what they really mean is indoctrination -- not what all humans can know, but what all humans must know in order to be compliant subjects of the State (the one Great Body we really have in common).

A recent Hillsdale Imprimus touches on this subject. In it, Larry Arnn writes that a "true core" would have a "unifying principle, such as the idea that there is a right way to live that one can come to know."

But the leftist common core has precisely the opposite purpose: multiculturalism, for example, is founded upon the principle that all cultures are equally beautiful except ours, which is uniquely racist, misogynistic, imperialist, and homophobic.

Aren't you being a little polemical, Bob? Well, Arnn cites a passage from the Teacher's Guide for Advanced Placement, which tells us that such antiquated terms as "objectivity" and "factuality" have "lost their preeminence." Rather, instruction is "less a matter of transmittal of an objective and culturally sanctioned body of knowledge, and more a matter of helping individuals learn to construct their own realities."

Oh. Who knew we had to be taught how to live in our own realities? And who knew, for that matter, that reality had a plural? Indeed, if it has a plural form, doesn't that violate its own definition? In short, if "perception is reality," then neither of these terms exist, because in equating them they lose all meaning. In other words, perception must be of reality, and reality is what is perceived.

So, if we are going to have a "common core," I propose that it shouldn't exclude reality. Rather, I suspect that this thing called "reality" is what human beings have most in common.

This is because man is a kind of membrain between intelligence and reality. Ultimately, man is the point of contact between two spheres or dimensions.

In reading this short book on the apostle Paul, we are reminded that -- speaking of our cultural heritage -- "the lid covering the Ark of the Covenant... was considered the point of contact between God and man." Later, a sect of deviant Jews would come to regard Jesus as this point of contact, in whom we could participate in the Absolute reality. Interestingly, this is truly a "common corpus," AKA Corpus Christi.

This point of contact is actually a kind of abyss. In the absence of God, then it is the abyss of nothingness, with no possibility of a common core.

But in reality, this is an "abyss of divine goodness," and by plunging into it we are drawn up into the Great Attractor which we all share in common. In this sense, faith is a kind of conformity to reality, a cosmic Yes, whereas the faithlessness of the left is a cosmic NO! to God, to Man, and to the fertile reality in between.

22 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

The author confesses that, in her quest for a scientific explanation of the self, she veered "dangerously close at times to the precipice of philosophy."

Oh, heavens. Did it give her a case of the vapors? I hope she kept her smelling salts close to hand.

2/05/2014 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Rather, instruction is "less a matter of transmittal of an objective and culturally sanctioned body of knowledge, and more a matter of helping individuals learn to construct their own realities."

Oh, good grief. I remember, as a child, toying with the idea that the reality each person experiences might be completely different for each person - for instance, that the color called "blue" might look wildly different from one mind to another. Ultimately, I realized that was a non-starter; if there's no common frame of reference, no knowable world which is what it is regardless of who is looking, then there is no coherence and no possibility of meaning.

Interestingly, speaking of neurology, as I understand it certain studies have been done that show that perception from one brain to another is consistent. For instance, the brain waves that result when person A sees a butterfly will, if transmitted to person B, cause him to also perceive a butterfly, and not merely an odd garble of mental white noise.

2/05/2014 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos:

If you were to ask today’s employers what new college graduates are lacking, the skills to create a “grand narrative” around one’s own life and persona wouldn’t make the list. And a hefty dose of Beyoncé-inspired narcissism won’t exactly help with that pesky “sense of entitlement” problem employers keep complaining about.

2/05/2014 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

... we would need creativity and ingenuity to add a layer of interpretation to the data ...

Wait a minute, where are you getting this so-called creativity and ingenuity? Have you been holding out on me, you putrid mass of gray matter?

2/05/2014 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Rather, instruction is "less a matter of transmittal of an objective and culturally sanctioned body of knowledge, and more a matter of helping individuals learn to construct their own realities."

As we sometimes say while crossing the cow pasture, Bullshit!

I'm sorry. It's bad enough that they take three-fourth of my property tax money, and, God only knows how much of my income tax money, not to mention what they skim off the government lotteries and casinos, but to use it to pay people to purport to teach children, the most imaginative members of the human race, "to construct their own realities" -- as if that were a good thing -- it's just too much.

2/05/2014 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

As I get (somewhat) older, I begin to wonder how much of this "create your own reality" craptrap is really just a symptom of a fatherless generation. When my wife and I help someone pray through forgiveness and healing, I almost consider it cheating to start the session with, "So, how's your relationship with dad?"

We get our first sense of identity from our father, and if he's a dirtbag, or completely absent, well... it's no wonder we run around practicing harebrained epistemological alchemy.

2/05/2014 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

helping individuals learn to construct their own realities

No, that's what Facebook is for.

Education is for:

1. literacy
2. logic
3. math
4. science
5. history
6. art
7. tech

Losing shop class was a big mistake. Just think what the kids could be doing these days with 3D printers and other CAD fabrication machines.

American education needs a complete do-over.

2/05/2014 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

Paul

You're right. We won't solve anything in education without solving the breakdown of the family first.

I suspect that people don't want to hear that because it's personal for 52% of them. It's too painful. It's easier for them psychologically to look for other causes/cures.

Reading Richard Weaver at the moment on Bob's recommendation. Picked up Joel Garreau's The Nine Nations of America, too.

2/05/2014 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

By "own realities" Leftists really mean "leftist approved realities" or, to be more accurate, leftist approved delusions.

Of course, lefties don't consider their delusions to be delusions because they are metaphysical retards.

Hell, I would be happy if the progtards could just do basic math properly.

2/05/2014 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie, Julie, Julie. Did you say "white noise?"
Racist! :^)

2/05/2014 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Magister: And teaching kids how to think for themselves.
Which is virtually impossible without a father or a good father figure (or mother, for that matter).

2/05/2014 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"So, if we are going to have a "common core," I propose that it shouldn't exclude reality. Rather, I suspect that this thing called "reality" is what human beings have most in common."

And adequating us to, at least the initial, depths of that commonality, is what the core of Education should be about.

2/05/2014 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Mushroom, I hear ya. Essentially, no one really owns their home(s) anymore.

2/05/2014 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Hi ya Ben!

2/05/2014 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Hey, Ben, good to see you out and about.

2/05/2014 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ben, lol.

If lefties could do (and understand) basic math, they probably wouldn't be lefties. Come to think of it, maybe that's why the way they teach it these days is so ridiculously complicated. I think it was at Ace's place a few weeks back, somebody put up a sample of their kid's elementary-level math homework. Nothing so simple as teaching them to just remember basic addition and times tables, they are now expected to understand the kind of workarounds people naturally come up with only after years of experience. It made my head hurt to look at it, and I managed to make it up to calculus when I was in high school.

2/05/2014 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi guys! I have recovered from rioting over the Seahawks Superb Owl win!
Ok, I didn't actually riot but I did have a wee bit too much grog. Jest a wee bit tho.

2/05/2014 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Veering completely off topic, re. fitness and exercise, has anyone here read anything by Mark Rippetoe, and if so what did you think?

2/05/2014 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Rippetoe is a cool sounding name. Sounds painful however.

2/05/2014 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Common Corpse is an excellent description of the newest lefty indoctrination tactic.
I suppose the old indoctrination tactics they used wasn't working well enough so it was inevitable they would cook up something worse.

2/05/2014 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of Common Corpse math, Taranto has this today under "Questions Nobody is Asking":

"Common Core Math Question for Sixth Graders: Was the 2000 Election 'Fair'?"--headline, EAGNews.org, Feb. 4

2/05/2014 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Stupid koan of the day: If the universe ceased to exist because somebody looked at it funny, would anyone know it?

2/05/2014 03:46:00 PM  

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