Friday, April 03, 2015

Mind-Matter Dualism and Incarnational Trialism

Come to think of it, we can't blame Descartes for everything. After all, there's the rest of the world. It has always been a trainwreck.

Furthermore, Descartes is hardly the first to commit the error of dualism. Rather, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, neoplatonism, and even Buddhism fall into the same cosmic heresy of dividing the world into naughty and nice, and then escaping into the nice.

Yes, but isn't this the whole point of religion? How is this different from the whole satan thingy?

There is no doubt that some forms of Christianity have and continue to fall into dualism, even though the whole Christian message is rooted in a metaphysic that is supposed to render this impossible. Rather, there is one creator, and everything he creates is good. To the extent that something fails to be good, then it is not the result of an evil co-creator or co-equal force of darkness -- as, for example, Ahriman is to Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism.

I would suggest that it is a permanent human temptation to divide the world in this manner. In modern times it is most effectively practiced by the left, which cannot function without demonization, vilification, and calumny.

For example, one of the (admittedly many) reasons MSNBC has tanked so badly is that demonization works fine when someone else is in charge. When the left is in charge, who's left to demonize? Pizza parlors, bakers, imaginary rapists, nonexistent racists, dissenting tea partiers, etc.

As Ace wrote, "the left is now patrolling the already-won battlefield to find survivors and shoot them -- while forever casting itself as the trespassed-upon victim." Or as Iowahawk tweeted, "Don't compare yourself to a Selma marcher when you're unleashing the dogs and firehoses." Another tweetist reminds us of how "the civil rights movement really got going when Rosa Parks went door to door trying to find someone who wouldn't give her a ride." The left desperately searches for demons to account for the evils it unleashes.

I think it's fair to say that people truly long for a simplistic, dualistic world, because then it's so easy to recognize and eliminate the problem. But if the problem runs straight through the human heart, then it's not so easy. Then it's even possible for a negro to be racist, or a person with a vagina to be incompetent, or a sodomist to be a bully, or an immigrant to be a drain on the rest of us, or a man of tenure to be a retard!

Yesterday I saw a clip of Bill Maher going on about how all religions are stupid. Easy for him to say, since his religion of Pure Light by definition has only intelligent and virtuous people like himself.

Along these lines, I recently read a book called At the Heart of the Gospel, which is a kind of popular summary of Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, which in turn is -- in JP's view -- a summary of Christianity itself.

For at the heart of the gospel is what? A union of God and man, of spirit and flesh, of time and eternity -- as opposed to a division of these things. Not only is this is a radical notion, but it must be counter-intuitive, otherwise why would God have to go to all that trouble of making it known to us? And one reason why it is so radical is that it goes against our tendency to reach for a facile dualism.

At the heart of the gospel are actually two principles: Incarnation and Trinity, the latter of which counters the dualistic temptation from a different angle.

West starts with a passage from the Catechism: "The flesh is the hinge of salvation," and "We believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh."

But there have always been misbelievers who split "body and soul in order to 'free' love from... the 'unflattering' and 'unholy' realities of bodiliness." Again, that is the easy way out (and a mirror of the other easy alternative into a soulless hedonism): the former is "angelism," the latter "animalism" (Descartes and his descendants are angelists).

But just as Jesus is God and man, we are human and animal, not one or the other. The task is not to repress or deny the animal, but rather, to elevate it; or better, to infuse it with the same "divine descent" that came into the flesh more generally. That descent goes all the way down.

Thus, in the words of Cardinal Newman (quoted by West), the object "is to reunite things which were in the beginning joined together by God and have been put asunder by man." We need to re-integrate our dis-integration (or rather, recognize that "it is accomplished").

The "descent of God is intended to draw us into a movement of ascent" (Ratzinger, ibid). I find it useful to visualize this as a continuous spiral of (⇅), whereby man may participate in this trinitarian movement. The movement, of course, goes all the way down and all the way up -- to hell and back, you might say. We know it goes all the way to hell, because we have read and heard countless spiritual autobiographies of people who were reached in hell's kitchen and managed to turn their lives around.

We will get back to our main subject on Monday, but this is very much related to it, because "by fleeing the material world in search of the spirit, we actually embrace the essential tenet of materialism" (West).

In other words, one can be a materialist both by embracing or rejecting matter, i.e., by taking one side of the Cartesian dualism. In this way, the rejection only gives more force to its opposite tendency, otherwise those atheist activists would be out of business.

In short, "The Christian response to both materialism and spiritualism is the Incarnation," such that "there is no reaching the 'higher' without pondering the 'lower'"; or, "we reach the 'higher' precisely because" it "has descended into the 'lower'" (West). This is both the logic of the logos and the logos of logic.

And we can't accomplice this climb this without a body, "which has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world" the otherwise hidden mystery of God.

46 Comments:

Blogger Van Harvey said...

"The left desperately searches for demons to account for the evils it unleashes."

This is the key. Yes, dualism was hardly Descartes' idea, it's always been around, and though it brings problems with it, it does not, and cannot, account for the problems of modernity.

But that wasn't the novel or even critical factor that Descartes contributed to the modern muddle, his 'Method of Doubt' was. Not questioning (which is inherently positive, integrative), but 'Doubting' which even if natural, is negative in nature, but he didn't propose following up on those doubts that popped into mind during the day, he proposed pretending to have doubts, for no reason other than that there maybe... could be... somehow might possibly be a 'reason' to think there could be a problem that needs to be addressed.

So step #1 of your new plan of reasoning, is to begin reasoning without a valid reason to suspect a problem. Remember, he isn't saying that you should question deeply in order to better understand the truth of a matter, he's saying to arbitrarily assume there is a problem, and them go look for proof of that.

The disintegrating mudslide of thinking that follows from this is... all around us today.

4/03/2015 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

Hey Y'all, good to see you're still kicking' it. We're on cosmic descendent #3 now! Born the 18th of March.

About demonization, Jonathan Bowden suggested that in a dualist narrative, Evil usually is the more powerful force. Ergo, to be demonized, if handled properly, grants one power.

Alex Solzhenitsyn said that 'the line of good and evil lies along the human heart' - for without freedom evil is impossible (but so is virtue, the active good.)

I've uh, also been writing a book. ~210k words now. We'll see how it turns out.

4/03/2015 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

But if the problem runs straight through the human heart, then it's not so easy.

Very true. If that's the case, I need Somebody to create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.

A most appropriate post for Easter.

4/03/2015 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

@mushroom (I remember you commented on this one)

http://ionthesky.blogspot.com/2014/12/without.html

A heart with no memories
As bright and spotless as the sun
Does it belong to anyone
Whose heart was it before
An open heaven without a cloud
Is there such a thing anymore
It came not from the proud
Whose self-image is their disease
Nor did the lowly give it birth
Whose humble thoughts have worth
A great canyon without a breeze
A still and silent mirth
Immutable thing that moves
Here the real and ideal agrees
In the world there's no greater ease
Than once found to simply lose
A heart with no memories.

'Purity of heart' is a mystery; Taoism seems utterly pre-occupied with the state (and for good reason!)

4/03/2015 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I remember that with the nesting. Cool structure as well as the depth.

4/03/2015 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

When the left is in charge, who's left to demonize? Pizza parlors, bakers, imaginary rapists, nonexistent racists, dissenting tea partiers, etc.

Though of course, only the innocent may be properly demonized. Those who are actually guilty get a pass, or even praise.

4/03/2015 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Look only to the absence of conservatives in academia. No journalist-activists needs to go searching for a university that hypothetically won't hire one.

4/03/2015 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"For at the heart of the gospel is what? A union of God and man, of spirit and flesh, of time and eternity -- as opposed to a division of these things. Not only is this is a radical notion, but it must be counter-intuitive, otherwise why would God have to go to all that trouble of making it known to us? And one reason why it is so radical is that it goes against our tendency to reach for a facile dualism."

To add to this, the desire for liberty is also counter-intuitive to most people, or at least liberty for all.
Even in the U.S..
Because those on the left, the vast majority anyway only care about their own personal rights and liberties.
They are more than okay with conservatives not having any.

4/03/2015 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Meant to say earlier but had no time,

Hi Rive - er, Ephrem! Many congratulations on the new addition to your family!

4/03/2015 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye, congratulations, Ephrem!

4/04/2015 04:46:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ephrem! Congrats! Good to hear from you.

4/04/2015 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Also, excellent David Warren post this morning.

4/04/2015 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He makes an excellent point: the left forces us to be political when we would much prefer to be apolitical, i.e., left the f*ck alone. Which I thought was the whole point of the American founding.

4/04/2015 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's a war on the private mind. They want to reach into our skulls and either pull out or pummel into submission the parts they don't like.

4/04/2015 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Yes, because they must know at some level that what they want is unreasonable and undefendable.

4/04/2015 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The left has won the culture war. Now it is a matter of drilling down to the individual level. The left knows that one man with truth is a majority, so it's analogous to how King Herod has to murder all the male children because he doesn't know which one is the One. Better safe than sorry.

4/04/2015 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes; it seems more and more that, much as the Democratic party has moved so far left that it has left people behind, as it were, America as a whole is moving the same way. I don't feel the same connection with being American that I once did; rather, it's more like being a stranger in a strange land, and the only true home is Upper Tonga.

4/04/2015 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"The most important thing to understand about this phase of the culture war is that the left's goal is to break you as an individual, to take away your values and to replace them with their own. If it cannot do these things, it will try to destroy you and even use you as a cautionary tale to warn others" (Sultan K).

4/04/2015 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's almost funny how these bullies have co-opted the anti-bulling campaign.

4/04/2015 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's like how the UN takes up the cause of feminism by calling Israel the world's greatest violator of women's rights.

4/04/2015 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Give them credit for chutzpah, I guess.

4/04/2015 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Almost.

Though it is heartening that the owners of the pizza parlor have received so much support after all the threats. I hope they do okay in the long run; coming into such a windfall can often do more harm than good, too, no matter how well-intentioned the givers are.

4/04/2015 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

*Almost funny about the bullies, that is.

4/04/2015 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Greenfield makes an excellent point: "The left is not human. It is a system."

As in principalities and powers.

4/04/2015 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Like every system, the left seeks to control organic human institutions. It fancies itself superior to them when it is actually a parasite living on their backs."

The parasite pretending to be the host. As in Hillary's comment that private enterprise doesn't create jobs.

4/04/2015 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

They've noticed the GoFundMe thing. Very dangerous. They're probably the next target.

4/04/2015 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Wouldn't be surprising; either they'll strongarm GoFundMe into refusing to allow "hate" funding, or else they'll send people to cry fraud ("Just in case!") every time a targeted hater tries to raise funds.

4/04/2015 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Though it occurred to me only this morning, the pizza place event may have been the next necessary step toward forcing all priests to perform gay marriages. Intensional or otherwise, the event was fabricated.

4/04/2015 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The left is an autoimmune disorder. Therefore, people with weak or weakened pneumacognitive immune systems are the most vulnerable. Or just say Public Education.

4/04/2015 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It reminds me of Terminator 2. Jesus is like the good robot sent from the future. Or vice versa.

4/04/2015 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Speaking of the public education component, one wit was saying that Dana's GoFundMe account for the pizza parlor, was a put up job by the GOP - her evidence was "$840,000 raised in just a few days by only 30,000 donors?! Do the math! That's approx $29,000 each! Obviously the Koch Brothers!"

Gotta love it, as you cry. BTW, Dana also set them up with a financial guy to help them step through all the tax loops, etc, safely. They'll still need to be careful not to try and make the money bigger than they are, but at least they'll be of to a good start at the start.

The latest one is helping an elderly florist in WA who was taken down by the state for not fully fitting out a gay wedding, started informally last night and is already tallying up nicely.

Virtual flash mobs of the Right, building up, instead of tearing down.

And the Pro-regressive left doesn't like it one bit that we're impeding their regression. A new twist in battling power is coming... I'm not sure what it's going to look like, but I think it is going to be truly epic.

4/04/2015 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, wow.

Even without doing the math, a quick glance at the GoFundMe page shows the donations being made; most of them in the vicinity of $20 to $30.

And yes, they're working hard to keep people from supporting the oppressed. I wonder if this is where net neutrality will really start to shine? Just wait 'til the FCC starts penalizing The Wrong Kind of Expression. Instead of the seven words we may not say, it'll be the seven thoughts we cannot think...

4/04/2015 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Hi River!

4/04/2015 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Speaking of the Just in Case Fraud Case, there was a caller to the Rush show years ago. A youngster, and the discussion was about raising the minimum wage. He asked her how much it should be. Her perspective was from good intentions and so forth and his from consequences. Eventually he said, why don't we give everyone a million dollars. Maybe it was 10 million. No at that point you think he's getting somewhere because she admits it wouldn't be right. So he asks he why, and she says, because they won't spend it right.
She may be a kickass journalist now.

4/04/2015 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

The innumeracy is startling. God help us if these people are mixing drugs.

At least the base figures were right -- 3 * 2.9 = 8.7

But dem zeros y'all. 29 dollars a person.

4/04/2015 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Yep. No doubt as she posted that, from her computer or phone, she didn't have a calculator handy. But I'm sure she felt goods and highly esteemed about her answer.

4/04/2015 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Julie,
I think there are far more thoughts the left wants to outlaw.

Jest look at how many genders they have made up.
I wonder what they'll do when they run outta letters?

4/04/2015 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's easy, they'll just invent new ones. The Roman alphabet is a tool of the Heteronormative Patriarchy anyway.

4/04/2015 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

"So step #1 of your new plan of reasoning, is to begin reasoning without a valid reason to suspect a problem. Remember, he isn't saying that you should question deeply in order to better understand the truth of a matter, he's saying to arbitrarily assume there is a problem, and them go look for proof of that. "

This is generally how I work with decisions created by the federal bureaucracy.

Granted, I think this is the exception that proves the rule.

So, rather than creating a general philosophical analytic method, the Method of Doubt, he actually created a very specific practical tool that I use on a daily basis.

In fact, I'm using it as we speak.

And it really does work.

And you really can generate income using it.

4/04/2015 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Hi River.

Why did you rename yourself?

4/04/2015 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie,
Ha! I didn't think of that.

4/04/2015 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

Happy Easter to One Cosmonauts.
And Happy Passover to our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Blessings,
Mrs. G

4/04/2015 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

@JP

Oh, on account of muh rename also of my Twitter account. It's still 'riverc' tho.

I think I found Bob on Twitter at some point, too

4/04/2015 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thank you, Mrs. G.!
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all my brothers and sisters under the pelt.

4/04/2015 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, I'll third that. Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

4/04/2015 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Happy Easters
And may the sons and daughters of Toots have with them always a place to lay their eggs!

4/05/2015 06:44:00 AM  

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