Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Free at Last, Thank Matter Almighty I'm Free of Freedom!

Is there any escape from subjectivity? In a comment on yesterday's post, reader ge claims (in reference to a certain thinker) that "Once such influential immortality is reached, death is conquered."

I don't know if he meant that literally or ironically, but reader Julie responded that being "remembered by the world" is one thing, whereas "true immortality," i.e., being "remembered by God," is another thing entirely.

Or in other words, the first type of immortality is subjective, in that it resides in other subjects.

But no matter how many subjects there are or how long they remember, they are all mortal as well, so one is obviously just postponing the inevitable, which is total destruction and utter forgetfulness. Once the sun fades and the world freezes, it will be as if even the most famous person never existed. Therefore, subjective immortality is really just a brief stage on the way to objective mortality and total cosmic I-amnesia, so Michelangelo is as forgettable as Miley Cyrus. Or, each was an inexplicable miracle of equivalent incomprehensibility.

The second type of mortality is objective, in that it partakes of absoluteness. This relationship between objectivity and absoluteness may offer a clue as to the purpose of life, in that to participate in absoluteness on this side of death is to engage in a process of "immortalization." Conversely, to plunge into relativity and subjectivity is to fritter away one's life. We'll return to this idea later.

If the postmodern doctrine of relativism is true, then it is absolutely the case that there can be no escape from our subjectivity. Reality is perception and perception is an evanescent fog that burns off with the morning sun. Yes, that fog was your life.

We cannot see clearly through the fog, but not seeing clearly presupposes something there to see. If there were only fog, then no one could see it.

Speaking of fog, I can see that this cloudy metaphor is running out of steam, so let's just cut to Schuon, who forecasts that if there is indeed no escape from the fog of human subjectivity, then "the statement itself possesses no objective value, but falls under its own verdict."

The following sounds like a foggy tautology, but it is not: "It is abundantly evident that man can escape subjectivity, for otherwise he would not be man" (ibid.).

This is actually a sunlit axiom, or first principle: that man qua man is the subject who is capable of transcending his subjectivity. No other terrestrial subject can do this. We won't get into the question of whether God can also transcend himself, but we will someday return to that contentious subject, so near to our Hartshorne.

The question is not whether man is a subject, which he obviously is; rather, the question is whether he is only a subject, which strikes me as impossible.

For again, what defines man is the self-evident fact that he is "able to conceive of both the subjective and the surpassing of the subjective" (ibid.) Or in other words, as Schuon has expressed it elsewhere, it seems that man is "condemned to transcendence."

The phenomenon of man is not essentially a material proposition (or materiality is a necessary but not sufficient condition). Rather, everything that sets man apart first takes place in a higher, immaterial space. To quote Schuon again, our space of subjectivity "would not even be conceivable for a man who was totally enclosed in his subjectivity; an animal lives its subjectivity but does not conceive it, for unlike man it does not possess the gift of objectivity."

Thus, in one sense we have "more" subjectivity than other animals, in that we live in a much more vast interior space. But in another sense we must have less subjectivity, or in other words, the ability to "stand back" from our own subjectivity and view it from an objective standpoint. An animal can change its behavior but it cannot gain personal insight into it. A dog doesn't wonder to itself, "why am I always such an asshole to the mailman? It's like I can't help it or something."

So the question isn't whether we are subjects, but whether we are entirely enclosed in our subjectivity. There was a time, not too long ago, that psychology assumed a kind of closed mental system. I don't want to go into all the historical details, but this was essentially a result of psychologists trying to imitate the 19th century paradigm of classical (pre-relativistic) physics, in which everything in the universe is exterior to everything else, like a cosmic billiards table.

We now know that humans are intrinsically intersubjective. In fact, if we weren't intrinsically intersubjective -- i.e., members of one another -- there would be no way to become so after the fact. It is our own version of an instinct, only on a higher plane. For example, one can try to raise a grizzly bear as a child, but the bear has an unavoidable attraction to its own archetype and will eventually eat you.

There are, however "critical periods" of development, in which the organism must meet with an appropriate response from the environment in order to actualize the archetype (or clueprint). Thus, an infant deprived of maternal love, if he doesn't die outright, will grow up autistic, since his intersubjectivity wasn't engaged and drawn out during the critical period. Such a person will indeed be "enclosed in his subjectivity" (or "condemned to immanence," so to speak).

Since our horizontal openness is no longer up for serious debate, the more important question is whether man is also an open system vertically -- or in other words, whether there isn't just an intersubjective mygration from our own private Idaho, but whether there is also a vertical escape-hatching of the cosmic egg.

Here again, it would appear that this goes to the subject-object complementarity alluded to at the top of this post. For man's unique form of subjectivity includes "the gift of objectivity." Or at least we hope it does. If it doesn't, then there is nothing really to discuss, since we are just arguing over whose fog is better, with no reference to what is behind or above it.

Now, one of the mind parasites that corrupts leftism is the notion that truth is a function of class, or race, or economics, or some other subjective quality that is less than truth -- that "the background determines the thought and takes precedence over truth" (Schuon). If this is true, then it must always be true, so we are again hopelessly enclosed in subjectivity.

Thus, another kind of objectivity comes to the rescue, AKA power and violence. This becomes a literal object, e.g., a gun to the face, a boot on the neck, a tax on existing, etc. It is a truism that any philosophy that denies truth affirms violence. There is no question as to the "legitimacy" of the violence, because that goes to a truth that is humanly unknowable.

To put it another way, to deny objective truth is to give oneself permission to plunge into passion, which again defines leftist man. Machiavelli was apparently the first fellow with balls enough to come right out and say that politics involves only effective truth, which is to affirm the principle that might makes right.

Where would leftists be without this unprincipled principle? They would not only be freed from their own horizontal prison, but would no longer feel compelled to force the rest of us into it.

To be continued...

21 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

Seriously, sometimes God freaks me out. That's just from looking at your title.

2/18/2014 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"This relationship between objectivity and absoluteness may offer a clue as to the purpose of life, in that to participate in absoluteness on this side of death is to engage in a process of "immortalization."

One of the clearest descriptions I've heard for "being born again".

2/18/2014 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Andagain andagain andagain...

2/18/2014 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

To put it another way, to deny objective truth is to give oneself permission to plunge into passion, which again defines leftist man.

Indeed. One of the implications of materialism is that whatever anyone chooses to do doesn't matter, so long as it "doesn't hurt anyone else." This is generally an argument for giving in to one's passions, particularly those which are illicit. Of course, almost invariably such giving in does indeed hurt both others, and the uninhibited self, in ways both tangible and intangible.

2/18/2014 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Once such influential immortality is reached, death is conquered

One must have a mind of splinters, and have been tenured a long time, to believe that footnotes and citations are sufficient consolation for eternal death.

might makes right. Where would leftists be without this unprincipled principle? They would not only be freed from their own horizontal prison, but would no longer feel compelled to force the rest of us into it

I'm not so sure. I once spoke with a public official from California about her pride in affecting public environmental policy solely on the basis of her passion, which she admitted was, technically, ignorant. She referred to her passion as a sort of epiphany, which was enough to spur her to action.

Lefties are gnostics: they believe they are specially enlightened, confect grand visions of communion, and believe themselves the elect that will bring about the necessary Change! It's not their might, but their unshakable belief in their own Righteousness that makes them behave this way.

This is why they are as nervous as Nazi's, always looking to bolster their own, and each other's, Proper Objects of Hate and the like. It's why you can't have a conversation with them about Obama that doesn't include some reflexive barb about Bush or Ted Cruz.

2/18/2014 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think that's what I mean: they usually have passionate good intentions. It's the objective consequences they don't care about.

2/18/2014 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Lefties just wanna enslave us for our own good. What bothers me even more than the horrofic consequences of leftist magical thinking is this: they neber learn from their mistakes and they are never remorseful nor repentant when their BS hits the proverbial fan.

Speaking pf witch(es) here is a raccoonish thought from James Woods:
http://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/futurescape/videos/is-james-woods-afraid-of-any-technology.htm

He also has a good take on the odea of scientistic immortality.

2/18/2014 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Pf = of.

2/18/2014 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Horrofic = horrific. Although...

2/18/2014 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I can't spill today.

2/18/2014 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Once such influential immortality is reached, death is conquered."

It's a fools bargain and one that was answered by Achilles at the opening of the West. In a transcendant moment he saw Right and Wrong and turning from meaningless fame, chose Life, brief and worthy, instead. But in granting his friend a favor that would also sneak for himself a little more fame and glory, he lost his dearest friend and in fury 'gained' fame ever lasting and lost his chance for a brief life.

His fame still lives, and he still doesn't.

"'Don't try to comfort me about my death,
glorious Odysseus. I'd rather live
working as a wage-labourer for hire
by some other man, one who had no land
and not much in the way of livelihood [490]
than lord it over all the wasted dead."


Fame & Glory are enticing, no doubt I'd still take them if the chance came around again... but pay for them? Or think they'd buy me anything of real, let alone lasting value?

Nope. I've got foibles enough without chasing folly.

2/18/2014 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"..."It is abundantly evident that man can escape subjectivity, for otherwise he would not be man" (ibid.).

This is actually a sunlit axiom, or first principle: that man qua man is the subject who is capable of transcending his subjectivity...."

True, true, true. And in denying it, even with the roundabout denial of seeking after something further that proves it, or makes it more certain (or less), Truth itself is denied. And of course in doing so the door is pulled closed behind you, the way out lost. Unless maybe someOne else opens it.

2/18/2014 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

" It is a truism that any philosophy that denies truth affirms violence...

...To put it another way, to deny objective truth is to give oneself permission to plunge into passion, which again defines leftist man. Machiavelli was apparently the first fellow with balls enough to come right out and say that politics involves only effective truth, which is to affirm the principle that might makes right...."

The dirty little secret that leftists try so hard to obscure, is that you don't have to be a bad person to do evil. The flip-side to holding up people like Hitler as a "Monster!", is that they, knowing themselves to be such swell folk, could never do such things! Especially because they so passionately want to do so much good. For others! To others! Downright wrong of those others to obstruct the goodness they are so intent on spreading. They just need to be forced to accept their good intentions. That's all. Certainly nothing monstrous in that.

Isn't it funny how collectivists don't see themselves in 'others' or others in themselves?

Just wouldn't be dignified.

2/18/2014 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...arguing over whose fog is better...

It seems that really dense, impenetrable fog has won out in recent decades over light, artistic, mostly cosmetic fog.

"Our fog has forty percent more gravitas."

2/18/2014 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hey Bob, I think you're being playgerized over at Prager University!

2/18/2014 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'd send him a copy, but he died in a motorcycle accident about a year ago.

2/18/2014 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Really? Oh, that's sad; I had no idea. Prager posted the link on his Facebook page sometime in the last couple of days, so I thought maybe it was a new video. I'm not very familiar with most baseball players.

Still, at least he had a chance to not only emerge from his atheism, but also pass on some of what he learned before he met his end.

2/18/2014 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"I'd send him a copy…"

Maybe he already had one.

2/18/2014 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take...
Bless Mommy, bless Daddy
Bless Junior, bless Grandma, bless Grandpa, bless
Binky, bless Teacher, and Charley...
But DON'T bless the Devil, the Gays with the AIDS, Ellen Degenerate, the French [especially those awful postmoderns I've heard so much about!] or Kanye West or those darn Gnostics!!...O, and screw Deepak who doesn't go to church
and Crabby Appleton AND that
Slavoj Žižek while You're at it...and if any of these baddies pray to You, don't listen! OK?
Amen.

Don't forget me, God!

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

2/19/2014 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

*sigh*

Really, ge? If it makes you feel better to think that's how it is, knock yourself out.

2/19/2014 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

ge said "...
But DON'T ..."

But don't let that chasm between what is and what isn't have you falling short of what you wish it would be, eh?

You sound like you're hitting a rough patch GE, I hope things turn up for you soon.

2/19/2014 08:39:00 AM  

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