Friday, May 22, 2015

Putting the ME into Memorial Day

I have a gnote to myself in the margin that proclaims "philosophy is autobiography." This conclusion follows from what we have been saying about knowledge and being, but it is something I realized back in graduate school while studying various psychological theorists and their theories. Which are theirs.

No, that's not redundant -- "theorists and their theories" -- because any psychological theory is going to be limited by the character its particular theorist. By way of analogy, imagine a theory of color by a colorblind theorist. Well, we're all colorblind in one way or another.

Recall Schuon's helpful schematization of our four unavoidable cosmic infirmities, ranging from the universal to the particular, found somewhere among these old posts.

The first is the Biggest, which is why it is enshrined in the First Commandment: sorry, but you are not God. You are "creature, not Creator, manifestation and not Principle or Being."

In fact, only the godless can be unaware of the fact that they are not God, which is probably the greatest source of their political mischief. As Obama might say, "there is no God, and I am he."

Two, we are not angels. We are not celestial beings but mid-vertical ones. We are not at the top of the hierarchy, nor are we at the bottom (unless we choose to fall even further than where we begin our begaialment).

Rather, we are somewhere in the middle -- which, of course, goes to the issue of free will, as we are suspended halfway between our better and worse selves. A saint is a man who has more or less succeeded in elevating himself (in accordance with grace, of course) to the border between middle and top, or time and eternity. Thus, he is like an angel on earth.

Third, I am me and you are you. We are different. Thank God! And I mean this literally, for our individual differences -- at least for the Christian -- are not accidental or purely contingent.

Rather, our differences are essential; paradoxically, our contingency -- which is to say our uniqueness and individuality -- is a kind of absolute in miniature. For those of you with more than one child, this is obvious. The differences are a blessing, not a curse. Or at least we can roll our eyes and concede that It Takes All Kinds. Every face is sui generis, and yet, an exemplar of the human family. We are all different to God, and yet, mankind is one.

Fourth are the differences that are not essential but contingent. These include relatively benign or silly cultural practices but also mind parasites, which mostly result from the scars of misbegotten relationships and assimilations along the way. They are "accidental infirmities" that cause a man to either sink beneath himself or become someone else entirely. The problem with a mind parasite is that it is not really you, but only pretending to be, thus a kind of primordial identity theft. It is a difference that is peripheral (i.e., from the earth plane or lower), not from celestial central, i.e., from the principial realm.

Hmm. There is some more fine insultainment in that post. Might as well toss it in for those who missed it the first time (albeit with some light editing):

Now, anyone can see the mischief and mayhem that result if we don't keep these categories straight. The leftist -- because he turns the cosmos upside down and inside out -- begins with infirmity #4, the wholly relative, accidental, and contingent, and then elevates it to his First Principle.

Again, this is why the Democratic party is the party of economic cranks, metaphysical weirdos, tenured mutants, celestial perverts, heterosex deniers, victim-powered losers, compulsive reactionaries, radical conformists, passive-aggressive control freaks, and MSNBC viewers. (It also attracts -- let's be fair -- a great many basically decent but just LoFo and easily manipulated folks.)

If you've followed me this far, then you will understand what Schuon means when he says that "Relativism engenders a spirit of rebellion and is at the same time its fruit. The spirit of rebellion, unlike holy anger, is not a passing state, nor is it directed at some worldly abuse; on the contrary it is a chronic malady directed toward Heaven and against everything that represents Heaven or is a reminder of it."

No kidding. The leftist is either in rebellion against God, and therefore human nature, or against human nature, and therefore God. Either way, he always confuses a prison break with solitary confinement. For eternity. Which is why he wants to force the rest of us to join him.

Once I start dipping into the arkive, I get all gnostalgic or something. It always brings back pleasant vertical memories -- speaking of Memorial Day.

This was a little fun at sometroll's expense:

"[W]hat is a bad man but a good man's teacher?" In our post about the cause of stupidity -- which is obviously intelligence, since the converse could never be true -- our stupid troll naturally takes exception to my certainty of this. Of note, he voices no objection to the actual content, only to my bobnoxious certitude.

This is odd for a couple of reasons. First, isn't it self-evident that whatever I say, I believe to be true? After all, I'm not a Clinton. But this is precisely the absurdity of the relativist: there is no truth, and that's the truth!

You know the old dada-actic gag, "this is not writing."

Second, no relativist actually believes his own BS, otherwise why get angry about someone else's BS? If relativism is true, then everything is just BS by another name, and power is all that counts. But you will have noticed that you never hear relativists say, for example, "there is no 'right' to abortion, for how could anyone be certain that a fetus is not a human being?"

Good times. We haven't had a troll in awhile, have we? I know they visit, but they no longer share their delusions with us.

Ah, now this is interesting. It actually goes to a comment yesterday by Mr. Lien, who wonders how, if understanding follows upon being, we can know that our own understanding is the right one: "I mean, how do you know which mode [of being] to choose? For many, it seems to be chosen for us. I suppose you can look around, stick your toe in the water, see if it resonates, and then dive in."

Here is how I presponded to that question six years ago:

... I am not attempting to innovate, nor to deviate from perennial truth and come up with my own system. Again, I am not L. Bob Gagdad.

Rather, I am simply attempting to convey the old truths in a new way. And not just a new way, but an utterly unique way, being that I am utterly unique (as is everyone else). This is how it is possible to simultaneously discover universal truth, even while discovering one's unique and particular self.

Do you see what I mean? Normally these two things -- universal and particular -- would stand at antipodes. But in the spiritual ascent, it is possible for the one to be a reflection of the other.

One might even go so far as to say that there is no universal, only individual instances of it. For example, there is no separate platonic ideal of a table, only actual instances of the ideal instantiated in all of the diverse tables. So there's no ideal, even though there is. Orthoparadox.

Thus, you know you're on the right track when both you and God simultaneously and increasingly come into view through the teloscape.

Continuing with this theme, I see that the next post from 4.25.12 attempts "to develop an objective definition of spiritual normality -- and therefore pathology." Let's find out what we came up with:

The purpose of metaphysics is to get beneath these accidents, precisely, and hence to a realm of true objectivity and therefore perennial truth (even though, at the same time, we must insist that existence, life, and intelligence especially represent a continuous reminder, or breakthrough, of the miraculous).

Now, what do we mean by objectivity? It must be a stance uncontaminated by contingency, passion, or perspective, for starters. There is contingent science -- or the science of contingency -- and there is the "science of the Absolute," which is none other than metaphysics.

Thus, objectivity begins with the soph-evident existence of the Absolute, which is what confers value and meaning upon human existence, which is to say, intelligence (for humans participate in the Incarnation of the logos, which is what it means to be "in the image of the Absolute").

You might say that humans are "subjectivized intelligence," in that there is surely evidence of objective intelligence in the cosmos prior to our arrival, e.g., DNA or the laws of physics. One needn't say "intelligent design." Rather, just intelligence will do the trick, so long as we know what intelligence is (i.e., a reflection of truth).

As Schuon points out, "Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing." What he means by this is that man's own intelligence demands a sufficient reason, and this reason is the Absolute. Remove the Absolute, and nothing makes sense, or can make sense, except in a wholly contingent and therefore senseless manner. This is why we insist: God or Nothing, TransCosmic Plenitude or Infrahuman Nihilism.

This same human intelligence "testifies irrecusably to a purely spiritual First Cause, to a Unity infinitely central but containing all things, to an Essence at once immanent and transcendent." Around these parts we simply call this O, AKA Unity Central.

Another helpful wise crack by Schuon: "To claim that knowledge as such can only be relative amounts to saying that human ignorance is absolute."

And if that crack provokes a guffah-ha! experience in you, you're well on the way to being cured of your existential infirmities.

More good stuff down there, but this post is probably already running long, so have a nice long weekend, and don't forget to remember the brave men who will have died in vain if Obama and the left have their way.

15 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

That last thought is truly sobering.

5/22/2015 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The spirit of rebellion, unlike holy anger, is not a passing state, nor is it directed at some worldly abuse; on the contrary it is a chronic malady directed toward Heaven and against everything that represents Heaven or is a reminder of it."

I had occasion to ponder this idea earlier this week, or rather the truism that when the eternally rebellious get what they demand, they can never be satisfied, for what they claim they want quite often contradicts their actual desires. For instance (and what made me think of it), the leftist idol of "unlimited, sustainable energy."

If they ever found such a power source, they'd cheer briefly then immediately reverse course and do everything possible to limit it, because a civilization supplied with unlimited energy would have far fewer limits on production, transportation, and most of all growth - growth which they insist is itself "unsustainable" and bad for the planet, to the point where some on the left advocate the deaths of the majority of humanity.

If mankind ever achieved heaven on earth, they would firmly believe themselves in hell.

5/22/2015 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Thus, you know you're on the right track when both you and God simultaneously and increasingly come into view through the teloscape.

Thanks Bob.

I was thinking along those lines. Although I'm on a strict Trinitarian diet, I do believe you can get THERE from many paths. So, I may be a closet Perennialist.

Y'all have an appropriately sober, yet pleasant Memorial Day weekend.

5/22/2015 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Another helpful wise crack by Schuon: "To claim that knowledge as such can only be relative amounts to saying that human ignorance is absolute.""

Such a good crack of wisdom, the unity spills forth from it in cool, cool waters.

5/22/2015 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ivo Serenthà said...

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5/23/2015 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Nice find this weekend. R.C. Sproul has all these short books on Christianity on Amazon that are *free* on kindle. His writing is clear and of a high caliber. This one is particularly good!

5/23/2015 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Third, I am me and you are you. We are different. Thank God! And I mean this literally, for our individual differences -- at least for the Christian -- are not accidental or purely contingent.

Rather, our differences are essential; paradoxically, our contingency -- which is to say our uniqueness and individuality -- is a kind of absolute in miniature. For those of you with more than one child, this is obvious. The differences are a blessing, not a curse. Or at least we can roll our eyes and concede that It Takes All Kinds. Every face is sui generis, and yet, an exemplar of the human family. We are all different to God, and yet, mankind is one."

Well said, Bob.
What a gift that is, or has the potential of becoming!

The left wants everyone to be the same. How hellish would that be? Pretty damn bad.

5/23/2015 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good post at Takimag:
http://takimag.com/article/on_sentimentality_and_compassion_theodore_dalrymple?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+takimag+%28Taki’s+Magazine%29#axzz3b5w4oyHj

"Worse still, though, the elimination of desert as a criterion of allocation of resources destroys both compassion and empathy. Need can be measured by checklist (and often is), but the assessment of desert cannot. It requires judgment, both moral and practical. To regard everyone as equally in need of compassion is the same as regarding no one as in need of compassion, for it is not humanly possible to sympathize equally with the unfortunate and the villainous. The demand for equal compassion is the demand for no compassion."

Precisely. This is the results of bureaucratic, state-run "charities," which run on pilferred, taxpayer dollars.
Of course, the bureacrats have no sympathy or compassion for taxpayers either, so at least they are consistent.

5/24/2015 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sadly, I'm not surprised that Pope Francis is doing this:
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/05/how-is-liberation-theology-still-a-thing.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+powerlineblog%2Flivefeed+%28Power+Line%29

Liberation theology is simply communism/fascism/socialism with a veneer of Christian compassion, which, in truth actually harms the poor more.

Why, oh, I dunno, good old Christianity (that reveres individual liberty) isn't good enough is beyond me. Probably because it actually works.

I suppose one could say, what about the poor, leftist politicians and their minions, that just wants to control everyone for their own good?
They gotta pay the bills too, and we should take them at their word that 6 figure salaries ain't enough.

No, better to demonize and punish productive citizens that supply jobs, risking their own money.
Surely, our state betters know best how to help the poor.
They have several decades of experience.

5/24/2015 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

*sigh*

I was just reading about the anticipation for the upcoming encyclical on the climate, too. Every expectation is that there will be calls for global governmental action (and church efforts, of course) to curb climate change.

I found this kind of amusing, though: "I think the real hope is that he says it like it is and tells us there has to be a call to action and it has to be immediate." It would be epic if he came out and said, essentially, that climate is largely due to such things as solar and volcanic activity and thus is beyond the ability of mankind to control, and that instead of wasting money and resources on bogus efforts to "fix" the climate, we should put all that energy into actually helping the poor.

Not gonna happen, I know, but I can dream...

5/24/2015 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of Memorial Day, this book on the Doolittle raid on Tokyo is one of the most compelling history books I've ever read.

5/25/2015 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Bob.
Definitely gonna get that one.

For those who haven't read it, I highly recommend American Sniper. Another very compelling read.
The film was great but it couldn't cover the entire book.
Plus, Chris Kyle had an outstanding sense of humor, which the book displays better than the film.

5/25/2015 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Couldn't put the Doolittle down, which is unusual for a history book.

Also a reminder that if our contemporary liberals had been in charge, we absolutely would have lost WWII.

5/25/2015 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger swiftone said...

remember the brave men who will have died in vain if Obama and the left have their way.

Just an intuitive flash (in the pan) but a bit of Juvenile fiction (Johnny Tremain) ends with "a man can stand up". My point here is that though the might Obie may make a hash of history, he cannot unvalue the lives and deaths of men who stood up and stood for something, unlike the great and powerful.

5/25/2015 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or as Solzhenitsyn said, “Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”

(In Jonah Goldberg's G-file this week.)

5/25/2015 07:24:00 PM  

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