Wednesday, December 31, 2014

That's Innerattainment!

I can only think so clearly with this cold, but I believe I mentioned about a week ago that some of the most revolutionary blessings of Christianity are no longer seen or appreciated -- by the tenured rabble anyway -- because they have become second nature to us.

But it's not a case of second nature, rather, trans-nature -- "first supernature," or something. But since the radical enlightenment, thinkers of the left have been telling each other that these blessings represent a dramatic moving away from Christianity, rather than a prolongation of its original revolution (by far the most consequential revolution in human history).

Let us count some of these blessings. "By taking individual responsibility so seriously, the ideas of moral equality and limited government became closely associated. Outward conformity of behavior was all that had been expected in the ancient family and polis" (Siedentop).

Even prior to this, "Paul's vision on the road to Damascus amounted to the discovery of human freedom -- of moral agency potentially available to each and everyone, that is, to individuals. This 'universal' freedom, with its moral implications, was utterly different from the freedom enjoyed by the privileged class of citizens in the polis" (ibid.).

For this birth of a new freedom liberates us from inherited social hierarchies and from fate more generally, making us brotherly heirs of the one father. Fate is gradually displaced by hope and destiny -- in other words, the future becomes "open," and we have a hand in shaping it and ourselves.

Afterwards, the Christian monastic movement provided a kind of living laboratory, featuring "a vision of social order founded on conscience, on hard-won individual intentions rather than publicly enforced status differences" (ibid.).

Clearly, in order to be capable of self-rule, man had to first become capable of ruling himself, something the left always forgets. For what is the left but a two-tiered system of acquiring political power, with a 1% or 2% of elites and cronies at the top, and beneath them an ungovernable constituency of impulsive, irrational, frustration-intolerant, pleasure driven half-animals with short time-horizons and a long list of resentments. The liberal politician sells them dependency in exchange for votes, which puts in place an incentive structure that is bound to produce more of these wretched slaves.

But in order for a genuine liberal order to emerge, there must first be "obedience to rules that an individual's conscience" imposes "on itself." The left puts the cart before the horse, and imposes no prior demand of self-rule. This is why the left crowns Al Sharpton a "black leader," instead of, say, David Clarke (did someone say man crush?).

For most of history, man has been forced to obey external authority only. What does it mean to obey an "interior" authority, and what is the nature of this authority? Who or what authorizes it? In the pre-Christian world -- the world in which Christ was inserted -- "There was no notion of the rights of individuals against the claims of the city and its gods. There was no formal liberty of thought or action.... Citizens belonged to the city, body and soul" (ibid.).

Here again, this is where the enlightenment thinkers got it all wrong, because they simply made up a connection between modernity and antiquity, and invented the term "dark ages" to signify a few centuries-long discontinuity in their fractured fairy tale.

But "the liberty of the ancient citizen" was nothing like our idea of freedom. As Siedentop says, it was not a God-given space of personal freedom, but the duty of a few privileged citizens to participate in the political process. It was much more like the modern left than the classical liberalism of our founders.

Another blessing of Christianity is its universality and its abstraction. For example, if you and I have the same intrinsic rights as any caesar or prince or president, this unleashes "a process of abstraction which could and did threaten inherited inequalities" (ibid.). The idea that "all men are created equal" is both highly abstract and ineluctably universal.

I think where the left errs is in regarding these as concrete and particular, with the result that they end up with the insistence upon special (not universal) rights in order to bring about equal outcomes (in other words, for them equality is not antecedent but consequent; for similar reasons it is material rather than spiritual, which constitutes a cosmic heresy of the first rank, for a man with no spirit has no proper use for freedom).

The inner attainment of abstraction and universality alluded to above lead directly to the "rule of law," as "the logos which had been embodied in the city and its laws began to make way for a logos embodied in a universal rational order, in what would be called 'natural law'" (ibid.).

It seems to me that man had to first clear the historical space of all those concrete projected gods -- e.g., Zeus, Neptune, Aphrodite, and all the rest -- in order for the abstract logos to concretely incarnate. In order to get God into the world, you first have to get all these manmade gods out of the world, so they won't be confused.

Here again the centrality of the Jews and of the commandment against idolatry. Why is idolatry an intrinsic cosmic heresy? Because it begins with concretion instead of ending there. The Jewish God could not be so easily "pinned down." For I AM, or I-will-be-who-I-will-be, are prior to the world, and only later in the world.

42 Comments:

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Note how a Pope who is moving toward the left is necessarily moving away from our God-given freedom. To embrace global warming is more stupid than rejecting Galileo.

This too shall pass.

12/31/2014 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, eventually. There are things I like about Francis, and I think the leftist media is quick to jump to the farthest-left possible interpretation of pretty much everything he says (because they'd love it if the Pope weren't really Catholic). That said, I really wish he'd just leave off economics and environmental issues.

Speaking of which, did you guys get hit with snow, Bob?

12/31/2014 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cold here, but no snow. I really thought it might snow or hail yesterday, but it didn't even try.

12/31/2014 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

My SIL was texting us this morning that they got about an inch, and the power was out. She said it was 59º inside her house. Pretty chilly for Highland!

12/31/2014 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Disclaimer: I don't have enough details to know with certainty what the Pope believes and advocates regarding Global Warming other than he wants the UN to take up the discussion.

If he truly believes human activity is causing unnatural climate change, then I don't question his motives but I do question his understanding of the subject and his lack of skepticism regarding the scientific evidence that has been refuted, not to mention deceitfully provided.

If, on the other hand, he is joining those using the sham of AGW for political or social ends, then shame on him for representing the father of lies instead of the Father of Truth.

12/31/2014 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Agreed -- one has to be pretty naive to not know that AGW is just a way to expand state power through the side door, and is for that reason a tool of the adversary.

12/31/2014 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Clearly, in order to be capable of self-rule, man had to first become capable of ruling himself, something the left always forgets.

If people can rule themselves, what are all these leftists going to do for a living?

12/31/2014 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Given what I know about Milwaukee from my wife's Cheesehead relatives, Sheriff Clarke is a walking, talking miracle.

One thing that checks me about slamming Democrats -- sometimes -- is that one of the most sensible, conservative men I ever met a Democrat county sheriff.

12/31/2014 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Cold or no cold, you are ending the year firing on all cylinders.

12/31/2014 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

That was a great read. thanks!

Gnoticpasta

12/31/2014 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"But it's not a case of second nature, rather, trans-nature -- "first supernature," or something. But since the radical enlightenment, thinkers of the left have been telling each other that these blessings represent a dramatic moving away from Christianity, rather than a prolongation of its original revolution (by far the most consequential revolution in human history)."

Aye, for leftists it's ow unnaturale.

12/31/2014 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

I do think Pope Francis exemplifies a particular idiom much different than let's say Benedict's more aloof and heady style. Besides, there is a cultural dimension here too - as Latin cultures are not as disciplined, and usually have solidarity impulses for the impoverished. Yet, he brings a personal affability with infused humility to the papacy that I truly admire.

Happy New Year everyone!

12/31/2014 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Seems to me that Ratzinger values truth where Francis deifies feelings. So he's a natural liberal.

12/31/2014 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Yes, maybe so. Latino blood.

12/31/2014 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Spanish imperial experience was quite different from the English. Most of the places that were conquered by Spain are trainwrecks.

12/31/2014 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Several years ago, I went on a cruise in the Caribbean. One of the most interesting things about it was the difference between islands based on how they were colonized. The most decent by far, as far as standards of living, was the US Virgin Islands, but the British-colonized islands weren't bad. The rest were varying grades of awful, but the worst seemed to be French and Spanish.

Culture matters, from the top down and from the bottom up.

12/31/2014 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Some friends of ours vacationed in Belize last summer and said it was fantastic. It's the only central American country that was colonized by Britain, so they speak English. Like a little pocket of sanity down there.

12/31/2014 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I miss Ratzinger. He loves the truth.

12/31/2014 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Paging Dr. Sowell. Maybe he could do something for the Pope's economic ignorance.

12/31/2014 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm reading a couple of Sowell's books that are not quite as accessible to a popular audience. Dude's a BRAIN.

12/31/2014 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Black Spock.

12/31/2014 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ha! That's a good description. Except Sowell is more interesting than Spock.

12/31/2014 05:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So,Bob,are you recommending Seidentop yet?

1/01/2015 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just to make sure he's not making this shit up, I've moved onto some of his primary references, such as Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. And for back-up, I just ordered a book that seems to arrive at similar conclusions, The Middle Ages. Trust but verify!

1/01/2015 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Sowell, Spock, Ratzinger. We got to stop yucking it up so much on NYE.

1/01/2015 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Pope Spock.

1/01/2015 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"I think where the left errs is in regarding these as concrete and particular, with the result that they end up with the insistence upon special (not universal) rights in order to bring about equal outcomes (in other words, for them equality is not antecedent but consequent; for similar reasons it is material rather than spiritual, which constitutes a cosmic heresy of the first rank, for a man with no spirit has no proper use for freedom)."

And That is the inevitable result of modernity's skeptical pursuits; far from producing 'hard headed thinkers', it produces minds of mush, people with no attachment or care for what Good, Beautiful and True, and no spirit of their own, who desperately adopt the seeming spirit they see others aping. Their default mode is apathy, and that is easily switched over to torch bearing rioter mode, by any demagogue adept at making emotional appeals - and what's to stop them? Questions about whether they should or shouldn't? Whether or not burning down their city or shooting is police is right or wrong?

Ugh.

1/01/2015 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Here again the centrality of the Jews and of the commandment against idolatry. Why is idolatry an intrinsic cosmic heresy? Because it begins with concretion instead of ending there. The Jewish God could not be so easily "pinned down." For I AM, or I-will-be-who-I-will-be, are prior to the world, and only later in the world."

Nothing to add, just wanted to see it said again.

1/01/2015 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if there is a Promise of freedoom for the Man with no Spirit, then everymost one is in the pool.

And the worst, and the lost, get invited. The other stuff looks like erasure. Be careful to start throwing rocks.

Mirrors are better judges, and try to stay out of this stuff that is just blowback.

It is funny that what is called sentience and choices is sometimes just what remains, and what is lost.

Grace, Mercy, Sacrifice. Try it, and end up in the dirt.
That would stir more up that is from somewhere else.

1/01/2015 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

FYI, on my currently open book turntable, this one, Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction by Edward Feser, has so far, at pg 29, been a delight. He presents himself as an academic, albeit a scholastic one, but isn't above frequent barbs at the scientistic's expense. Also satisfying is how he goes right to the roots of issues, skewering Hume & Kant with barbs of fact & wit.

The book blurb gives the facts, though it fails to capture the fun:

"Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction provides an overview of Scholastic approaches to causation, substance, essence, modality, identity, persistence, teleology, and other issues in fundamental metaphysics. The book interacts heavily with the literature on these issues in contemporary analytic metaphysics, so as to facilitate the analytic reader’s understanding of Scholastic ideas and the Scholastic reader’s understanding of contemporary analytic philosophy. The Aristotelian theory of actuality and potentiality provides the organizing theme, and the crucial dependence of Scholastic metaphysics on this theory is demonstrated. The book is written from a Thomistic point of view, but Scotist and Suarezian positions are treated as well where they diverge from the Thomistic position."


1/01/2015 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Buttercup said...

Gonna dip my toe in here...

I have long thought that the biggest difference between the left and the right is that the left is concerned with the outside of a man, and the right is concerned with the inside. The left is consumed with policies that simply feed and clothe; the right is animated by policies that shape better people. I never said it as eloquently as this post, though.

1/01/2015 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

The left is consumed with policies that simply feed and clothe; the right is animated by policies that shape better people.

I dunno. That's pretty eloquent. ;)

1/01/2015 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Buttercup:

Quite true. I'm actually rethinking that question while reading this book The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. What is the ONE THING that divides us, and causes all the other issues to fall in line behind it?

I hope to have the definitive answer by next week.

1/01/2015 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh lordy. I just cliked on the Pope Spock link.

1/01/2015 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Buttercup said...

Joan of Argghh!

Thank you.

So nice to run into you here...it's been awhile. ;)

1/01/2015 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Buttercup said "The left is consumed with policies that simply feed and clothe; the right is animated by policies that shape better people."

Yep. The Left not only believes that "Clothes make the man", they feel that they can remake man in the image of how they'd like to clothe him.

The Emperor's new clothes indeed.

1/01/2015 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Buttercup said...

The Emperor's new clothes indeed.

Exactly. The left fails because it is completely consumed with the superficiality of building a perfect man as if man was really and only built out of clay. They could care less about the thoughts of man because thoughts can never be collectivized, therefore they ca never be corralled into political power.

1/01/2015 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Buttercup said...

Gagdad Bob said: "I'm actually rethinking that question while reading this book The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. What is the ONE THING that divides us, and causes all the other issues to fall in line behind it?

I hope to have the definitive answer by next week."

Most excellent! Drumming fingers impatiently on desktop...eagerly anticipating...

1/01/2015 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Van,
Your 'clothes make the man' reference reminded me of an excellent essay by Schuon's foremost Buddhist disciple, Marco Pallis.
No agenda, just thought the folks here might find it of interest:
http://vlal.bol.ucla.edu/multiversity/Right_menu_items/REPS-Pal.pdf

1/02/2015 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

From the forward of jawn's link,

"...One of the main points made by Pallis in this essay is that clothing does not entirely make the person – for to say such a thing would be to seek refuge in the materialist analysis of the academics – but that clothing does play a major part in forming and maintaining our identity, both spiritual and social...."

I lack the time or interest to read the full article, but the forward seems mostly sensible. To the extent clothing serves a "uniform" purpose, it either indicates a degree of attainment, intellectually, spiritually, competence and/or politically that Has been achieved by a person, or that is expected of them. Nothing wrong with that, and it is of real social value - You can spot a cop from across the room by his uniform, etc.

But ProRegressives tend to try and use dress to prestidigitate interval value from external means - as with the idiot Pentagon general who issued berets to all, when the previously were given only to indicate elite status had been achieved.

As always, the ProRegressives of all stripes are determinists who do not believe in Free Will, and who do believe that manipulation of the environment is key to forcing others to be 'free' and 'happy' - and that somehow the masses are extraordinarily lucky to have them to tell them how to live.

1/02/2015 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Autocorrect sigh *internal* not *interval*

1/02/2015 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "I hope to have the definitive answer by next week."

Looking forward to it, and guessing it'll have to do with whether appearances arise from internal or external factors... does Power follow from Truth, or can Power determine what will be accepted as True?

Very much an Inward/Outward question, and one of whether or not you conscientiously rid your reasoning of non sequiturs and begging the question... or not.

1/02/2015 11:11:00 AM  

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