Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Seven Principles, Three Streams, One Love

Referring back to those first three cosmic principles discussed in yesterday's post, they are -- in case you didn't notice -- the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love respectively. Faith is vertical openness, for which we even have a handy symbol, (o).

The second, hope, reminds me of an analogue of God's own kenosis, whereby he empties himself of himself in order to be here below; you might say that we must likewise empty ourselves of ourselves in order to be with God above, in a kind of perpetual movement "toward a fulfillment that cannot be reached in bodily existence."

This is close enough to the symbol (---), which means the attainment of silence, peace, stillness, and tranquility, such that the absolute may be made manifest in us. We must maintain this tension in order for the divine energies to be rendered operative.

The third -- love -- is again in imitation of the Trinity. Love is simply the fact of eternal intersubjectivity, mutuality, self-offering, etc. It is distinction without separation; or better, distinction for the purposes of a higher and deeper union.

Moving on to the next four principles, these are, as you might have guessed, prudence, justice, courage, and temperance, AKA the cardinal virtues.

The first one is huge, and among other things, undoes the subjective turn initiated by Kant, whereby we are trapped in our own neurology and therefore barred access to reality.

Consider: prudence involves making decisions and rendering actions based upon reality revealing itself to us. Ever since Kant, revealing itself is precisely what reality cannot do; thus the provenance of "perception is reality," which represents the precise inversion of prudence.

Yes, I am being slightly unfair to Kant, who would have been horrified at what people ended up doing with his ideas. Nevertheless, once you make that fatal choice -- of beginning with the subject instead of objects -- there is no stopping the eventual reductio ad absurdum of the tenured. As Pieper says, "Man's life is authentic only when he does not allow his vision of reality to be clouded by the yes or no of his own desire."

In short, when it comes to prudent thought and action, we must say Yes to the It Is, No to the I Wish. Note, for example, how most all of the troubles caused by our first postmodern president are due to his imprudent devotion to the I Wish of ideology. Simple as.

Although there are allied catastrophes, most notably, the gnostic cancellation of #2 above, i.e., collapsing the vertical space in order to force heaven upon us now. Ironically, this is what Obama calls hope, which is none other than the abandonment of proper theological hope oriented toward its nonlocal vertical object. Doing so is audacious. I'll give him that.

Speaking of the left, just as liberal hope represents the abandonment of (and by!) real hope, "social justice" involves the negation of our fifth principle, justice. Justice means "the art of living with others in such a way that [one] gives to each what is rightfully his."

Conversely, social justice means deploying the violence of the state to take what is rightfully ours in order to "spread it around" in a way that satisfies third parties. But theft is still theft.

Social Justice also involves the violence of the mob -- as in Ferguson or Baltimore -- to undermine the Is in the name of some mythic Wish. Likewise, there is no War on Women -- although there is surely a war on womanhood by the the left in general and feminists in particular, which represents another rejection of the cosmic Is.

Real justice requires courage, and it takes no courage to be a Social Justice Warrior raiding the public treasury. Is it courageous for Obama to have run up another 10 trillion dollars in debt in order to gift his constituents with other people's money? Yes, as courageous as it is for water to flow downhill.

In reality, it would require courage not to have done this (remember what was said above about saying Yes to Isness and No to Wishes). In contrast, the prudent man "knows that it is necessary to put himself on the line in order to realize the good in this world. He is ready -- with courage -- to accept loss and injuries for the sake of truth and justice."

Our seventh cosmic principle is temperance, "or self-discipline that protects [man] from the self-destruction of pleasure seeking." In a way, we come back to that cosmic turn to the subject and all it implies, for the last word in pleasure must involve being one's own god. In a stroke, this collapses the vertical space, places one in a loveless, narcissistic void, and authorizes desire as the law of the soul.

The very next chapter is another extremely compact one -- little more than half a page -- called Three Streams of Life. Let's see if it can put the finishing touches on what was said above. (I haven't read it yet, but I have a feeling it will be relevant, since all Principles must interact.)

Before we begin, note that around here we often speak of two streams of life, and by extension, a third, that is, (↓), (↑), and their prolongation into the horizontal world, (→).

"The supernatural life in man," observes Pieper, "has three main currents." The first is "the reality of God," which "manifests itself to faith."

In other words, faith -- which is a supernatural inclination or preconceptual readiness to reach out to our nonlocal source -- is already evidence of its object. Just as we wouldn't have eyes were it not for the existence of light, we wouldn't have faith were it not for the supernatural light detected and gathered by faith.

The second stream -- love -- is the affirmation of "the Highest Good, which has become visible beneath the veil of faith." If the paragraph above is (↓), why then this must be (↑).

The third stream is hope, which I would say must have to do with the eventual fulfillment of (↓↑), i.e,, "comprehensive sharing of the triune life of God." But we already take a share in this via (→), do we not, for what is terrestrial love but another icon of the Trinity and the Life therein?

(All quoted material from An Anthology by Josef Pieper.)

5 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

"Note, for example, how most all of the troubles caused by our first postmodern president are due to his imprudent devotion to the I Wish of ideology"

Over the holidays I've been enjoying the Thomas Sowell interviews on youtube. Man are they (he) wonderful. "I Wish" there were more. Whatacountry. What a national treasure is Sowell.

Anyway, to the quote above, sounds like his book "Conflict of Visions" is another good one. It's about the important difference between constrained and unconstrained visions. Here's an excerpt from a Hover Institute interview. Was done during Obama's first campaign. Go to around 5 mins in for an example of "unconstrained vision".

12/30/2015 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, that's a classic, as are The Vision of the Anointed and The Quest for Cosmic Justice.

12/30/2015 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Social Justice also involves the violence of the mob -- as in Ferguson or Baltimore -- to undermine the Is in the name of some mythic Wish.

I saw a horrific example of this in a news item yesterday: a group of moms and their teenage children (who apparently believed that black lives matter a lot more than anyone else's) assaulted and killed a homeless man at a gas station. Apparently, the son of one of these women claimed the man had hit him earlier in the day, thus justifying the assault. The boy lied, but no matter. Social justice was served.

12/30/2015 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Consider: prudence involves making decisions and rendering actions based upon reality revealing itself to us. Ever since Kant, revealing itself is precisely what reality cannot do; thus the provenance of "perception is reality," which represents the precise inversion of prudence.

Yes, I am being slightly unfair to Kant, who would have been horrified at what people ended up doing with his ideas. Nevertheless, once you make that fatal choice -- of beginning with the subject instead of objects -- there is no stopping the eventual reductio ad absurdum of the tenured. As Pieper says, "Man's life is authentic only when he does not allow his vision of reality to be clouded by the yes or no of his own desire.""

Other than noting that's not unfair to Kant at all, nothing to add, just wanted to see it again.

12/30/2015 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger James Sheives said...

Edward Feser discusses 'counterpoints' to the cardinal virtues in open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/11/cardinal-virtues-and-counterfeit-virtues.html

12/30/2015 11:11:00 AM  

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