Common Nonsense: This is Heaven, but Heaven is Not This
First, we had better define the term. Before looking it up, I would say that it must have to do with knowledge accessible to every normal man by virtue of being one. It is preconceptual, or archetypal if you are Jung at heart -- not quite knowledge, but ready to become so: pre-knowledge.
In Bion's scheme, a preconception mates with experience in order to become a conception, and a conception goes on to become a grownup concept. But there can also be *bastard* concepts that are not the product of this proper union. Although this no doubt sounds abstract, it brings us right back to the left, for so many of their miscegenational ideas are infertile precisely because of this cognitive mismating.
"Homosexual marriage" would be as good an example as any, because this cannot be a preconception anchored in the nature of things, only a bastard of a concept imposed from above. And it surely cannot flow from common sense, unless every human until a few years ago lacked common sense. Among other things, the left is a war on common sense. And common decency. And our common heritage.
In the excellent Book of Absolutes, Gairdner has academically incorrect and therefore instructive chapters on the universals of human life and culture, the constants of nature, the universals of human sex and biology, the universals of language, and the universals of law. I am tempted to just say Read the Book, because that's an awful lot to cover in the spacetime of a post, especially because it's been five years since I read it.
Oh, and Gairdner has a new book coming out next year called The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree. This second book is no doubt a logical extension of the first, for what is leftism but the political implications of relativism and rejection of absolutes, i.e., a deeply principled political stupidity at war with Reason?
I'm going to try to skim that book later today and maybe get back to it tomorrow. Meanwhile, another book we haven't discussed but which I can heartily endorse is Frithjof Schuon and the Perennial Philosophy, which is an introductory guide to his trans-thinking.
Chapter five condenses his system to the very essence of what we might call Metacosmic Common Sense -- although he would hasten to add that this is no more "his system" than the sun can be private property. Rather, it shines equally upon the good and evil, the intelligent and stupid, the gifted and the tenured.
I realize this is controversial, but I am highly attracted to the idea that truth is anterior to revelation, or in other words, that we do not necessarily need the supplement of revelation to fill in the lacunae that result from our being mere creatures, or middling relativities of the Father.
On the other hand, revelation is sufficient to put us in contact with these necessary metacosmic truths, which is why, for example, a simple person of faith can be so much wiser than a brilliant scientist when it pertains to essential human truths beyond the scope of science -- and why we would prefer to be governed by the first 500 people in the Boston phonebook than the Harvard faculty.
Well, maybe not Boston...
I would also add that the metacosmic truths we are about to discuss are highly abstract, and that in the absence of revelation they are like forms with no content or a soul with no body. Also, revelation adds many details that cannot be captured in the abstract, nor can one have an intimate personal relationship with an abstraction.
Here is an example of a first principle that seems to me unassailable, that "God is ineffable," such that "nothing can describe Him or enclose Him in words." What mischief results from believing otherwise!
For it is not as if we are faced with a binary choice between a conceptual absolute posited by the mind and a paltry relativism that implicitly elevates man to God. Rather, we simultaneously posit the existence of the Absolute and our inability to contain it/him; or, if you can contain it, it is not God. (We could say that an "it" can be contained by the mind, whereas a person can never be.)
Before starting this post, the thought popped into my head: any valid knowledge of God is obviously already God and must come from God. However, the converse is not true: God is not that knowledge.
A map is not the territory, but nor is it other than the territory, in the sense that it provides points of reference on a human scale. Just so, metaphysics and revelation provide us with humanly realizable points of reference that permit us, say, to orient ourselves to eternity via time, or heaven via earth, or the celestial via the terrestrial, etc.
Indeed you could say that earth is heaven, but that of course heaven is not earth. Thus, Jesus can rightly affirm in the Gospel of Thomas that the kingdom "is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it" (#113). Some men, anyway. But we couldn't even know of paradise if we didn't sometimes catch glimpses of it herebelow.
For Schuon, "metaphysical doctrine is nothing other than the science of Reality and illusion." The postmodern secular leftist type will usually say that we can only know appearances and not reality, but we respond that we can know appearances precisely because they are appearances of a reality anterior to them; optical illusions only exist because of optical realities.
Now, the same doctrine "might be articulated in a number of ways, from a variety of viewpoints," for the same reason a truth can be expressed in different languages. You could say that a valid religion is a richly symbolic "metaphysical vocabulary" -- or that, conversely, a religion that fails to embody and communicate these truths is no religion at all.
I suppose where I differ from Schuon is that his preferred vocabulary is ultimately Advaita Vedanta, whereas I believe this fails to adequately convey certain fine points that are better expressed in the language of Christianity (although Ramanuja's interpretation of Vedanta gets the job done where Shankara fails, and is easily assimilated to Christianity).
It's getting late, isn't it? To be continued...