Friday, November 13, 2015

A Cosmic Ramble Between the Many and the One

I wonder if it's a coincidence that our totalitarian college students are laboring under the same deficiency as our president: a congenital inability to join in with the rest of us and laugh at themselves.

One quick way to limit the "problem" of racial insensitivity on college campuses would be to end racial discrimination, AKA affirmative action. One suspects that the students who have been affirmatively acted upon are the most acutely aware of an unconscious inferiority that needs to be denied and projected into others.

People who excessively project are never funny, because what they are projecting is always a matter of fierce urgency -- which is why they are projecting it to begin with.

When I see students who looks like this,

I immediately assume they have no business being in an institute of higher learning, but that they have been inserted there for reasons of "diversity." Is this insensitive? Well, then end the racial discrimination to which I am sensitive. I don't have the same perception when I see an Asian student wandering around the engineering department. I have never wondered how on earth Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams or Shelby Steele managed to earn their PhDs.

Back to the subject of how these cosmic assouls get that way. Yesterday we spoke of how the revolution of 1776 wasn't a revolution at all, but a restatement and a recovery. There was, however, a revolution prior to it, but it was an interior revolution. In the words of John Adams,

"The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.... This radical change in the principles, obligations, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution" (in Charles).

In turn, I would say that this revolution was actually an evolution, or a psycho-pneumatic development. This is what renders it cosmically universal instead of being just an idiosyncratic feature of our particular culture. To put it another way, the principles upon which the interior revolution was founded were discovered, not invented, much less imposed in a top-down manner.

Liberty, truth, creativity, and virtue are all intimately related, such that none can be detached from the others without losing its meaning. This is the great error of a truly awful book I'm slogging through called The Evolution of Everything, by Matt Ridley. I hardly know where to begin.

Yes, most everything is evolving, but the fact that we can say this means that at least one thing isn't evolving. That would be a little thing called truth. Unless you believe nothing is true, in which case your theory of evolution falls by its own standard.

Another book I do not recommend but which contains far more truth about cosmic evolution is Charles Hartshorne's Creative Synthesis & Philosophic Method, for at least he is a philosopher, and therefore understands the religious and metaphysical implications of an evolutionary cosmos. Unlike Ridley, he is not a boneheaded materialist.

If Everything is Evolving, it means that becoming takes precedence over being, and with this axiom we have no disagreement. But just because you have eliminated the abstract and static Greek God of Pure Being, it hardly means you have dispensed with God. It just means you have dispatched a certain image or projection of God. An idol.

But what if Creativity is our first principle? Then it should come as no surprise that Everything is Evolving; plus there is the added benefit of understanding how it can be that things evolve toward higher and deeper and more comprehensive unities. Then you are not reduced to positing almighty Chance as your ultimate category, which is another way of saying that you have no explanation, or that the Answer is "just becuz."

For Hartshorne, "To be is to create." What this means is that being is actually an abstraction of becoming, not vice versa. Once you recognize this, then it all falls together. Creativity always involves the attainment of a kind of higher unity, of -- to paraphrase Whitehead -- the many becoming one and increasing by one.

The many → one vector is not deterministic. Thus, in the creative act between many and one is our freedom.

Now, that might sound a little abstract, but I assure you it isn't. Recall what was said a few posts back about our political liberty:

"In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power" (Charles). But in America it is precisely the converse: here "charters of power" are "granted by liberty.... [T]he American people were telling the government of their own creation what its powers were, not being told by that government what their liberties were."

It's quite a striking contrast: for the left, liberty is granted by power. But for us, power is granted by liberty. And liberty is completely intertwined with truth, and before that, the divine love. In other words, while the source of liberty is not in the state, it still has a source. That source is and must be God (as made explicit in the Declaration).

To be is to create, and we cannot create if we aren't free. Therefore, the highest form of freedom is really a creative becoming. Which, in my opinion, also happens to be the terrestrial icon of God, for God is free, he creates, and he is relationship, and therefore undergoes a kind of endless trinitarian "becoming." Otherwise he'd be bored stiff, and we'd be too. God is an adventure -- with us, obviously, but also in himself.

As for Ridley, who has overstepped the boundaries of his matter-mind and is trying to operate way above his evolutionary paygrade:

If anything is unscientific, it is the denial of aspects of existence because they seem inconvenient for our methods.... Science has enough to do if it seeks to trace out the mechanisms which underlie and limit creativity. The creative as such is perhaps outside the sphere of science.... philosophy and religion exist to restore the total perspective, taking all legitimate interests of man into account. --Hartshorne

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Who Wants to Help Me Get this Gagdad Person Out of this Post? I Need Some Muscle Over Here!

Continuing with yesterday's theme, what would America's founders say if they could witness the emergence of fascism on our university campuses and see that It Has Come To This -- this being precisely what they most fretted about in founding our republic?

In order to flesh out our theme, I will be playgiarizing with Yuval Levin's The Great Debate and Joshua Charles' Liberty's Secrets, both of which contain a wealth of timely observations by the founders, by thinkers who preceded and/or influenced them (such as Burke and Locke), and by people they influenced in return (such as Tocqueville).

The point is that our liberal universities have managed to completely invert the vision of the founders, such that they must be the most un-American places in America.

Here is Burke: "Men must have a certain fund of natural moderation to qualify them for freedom, else it becomes noxious to themselves and a perfect nuisance to everybody else."

Oh really? Hey, who wants to help me get this dead white male out of this post? I need some muscle over here!

Speaking of witch, Burke, commenting in a letter on the latest news from France, wrote that "the elements which compose human society seem all to be dissolved, and a world of monsters to be produced in the place of it."

I can't imagine being threatened by Halloween monsters, but I can imagine being frightened by the specter of this barbaric kookie monsteress on campus->

Ah, here is a perfect encrapsulation of what should really frighten us: "the combination of philosophical pretensions and applied savagery," of "mob rule making its case in metaphysical abstractions" (Levin).

Philosophical pretensions? Metaphysical abstractions? Surely you can't mean the esteemed Professor Click, whose gold-plated resume of left wing tenurebabble is as broad as it is deep -- everything from The commodification of femininity, affluence and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon to Lady Gaga, fan identification, and social media.

If only she would have followed her own sage advice in responding to the hegemonic masculinity of that poor journalist: Let's Hug It Out, Bitch.

Little known fact: that is exactly what Madison said to Hamilton upon passage of the Great Compromise of 1787.

I need some muscle over here. That is indeed the credo of the left, being that they worship power and not truth. Therefore, Professor Click and her ilk are hardly doctors of philosophy, but rather, enforcers of heterodoxy, i.e., Correct Opinion. If they have a doctorate, it is in kinesiology, which involves the correct movement of muscle groups.

A university degree in anything other than science, math, or engineering is the equivalent of a Participation Trophy, and worth just as much.

One of the founding fatwas of the left is the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the French Revolution. Of this abstract and unworkable crockument, Burke wrote that it was "filled with a foolish 'abuse of elementary principles as would have disgraced a schoolboy,'" and was "a sort of institute and digest of anarchy" (in Levin).

The great difference between the American and French Revolutions is that ours was never a revolution to begin with. Rather, it was a reaffirmation and reestablishment of settled rights that Americans had been living with for over a century. Being that we lived under conditions of liberty, it meant that we were mature enough to handle liberty.

In order for liberty to exist, human beings must be capable of self-rule. Note that this has nothing to do with the self-rule of democracy. Rather, this is rule of oneself, and it must be prior to the state. In establishing the democratic state, we will only be loaning a bit of our own self-rule to it. Our liberty is neither created nor conferred by the state.

Now, what happens if we try to have a democracy composed of immature and irresponsible human beings who are incapable of self-rule?

Bingo! The the ascent of Obama, of Black Lives Matter, of liberal university unrest, of borderless EUnuchs, of knife-wielding Palestinians, etc.

A question from John Adams to our boneheaded students and the feckless people who run our universities. In response to the magnificent gift of liberty bequeathed by the founders, he asked if it is really possible that we can have so many "young American[s] indolent and incurious, surrendered up to dissipation and frivolity, vain of imitating the loosest manners of countries which can never be made much better or much worse?"

Yes. We. Can!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

America's Founders Apologize for Our University Fascists

Continuing with yesterday's inquiry into the deep structure of cosmic assoulery, as we have said many times, if one begins with an inaccurate assessment of human nature, then one's politics will be accordingly messed up.

Before beginning a consideration of political arrangements, one simply must understand what man is. Failing that, man will bite you every time.

You will have noticed that for the left, the question doesn't come up, since they pretend not to believe in human nature. However, they are never consistent about this, and will hide behind it when it is expedient to do so.

For example, they simultaneously tell us that gender is a social construct but that homosexuality is genetically fixed. Or that women are the same as men, but that we need to lower standards for women.

The left argues that all cultures are equally valuable, but any culture is only valuable to the extent that it promotes human flourishing, or the actualization of human potential.

However, if we fail to respect human nature, it is difficult to actualize human potential. In this regard, it is useful to think of human nature as a fixed variable, human potential as the dependent variable. Quash or maim human nature, and human potential will be stillborn -- as, for example, in the Arab Muslim world.

"Politics ought to be adjusted not to human reasonings but to human nature, of which reason is but a part, and by no means the greatest part" (Burke, in Levin). Burke made this comment in the context of explaining how the American colonists "had over time developed robust habits of freedom and an independent spirit," such that "some reasonable effort must be made to accommodate their character."

In other words, reason had to bow before our wholly unreasonable love of freedom!

Which sounds odd, but we are clearly having the same argument today, with the Obama administration constantly undermining our "useless" freedom in the name of some "reasonable" goal, such as socialized medicine. It doesn't matter to Obama -- and to the left -- that his proposals go against our nature. What is the point of freedom, when we are in a crisis! And for the left, we are always in a crisis, so there is always a good reason to revoke our freedoms.

For example, the left manufactured a "healthcare crisis" in order to ram through Obamacare. Likewise, the government-caused mortgage crisis was the pretext to give us Porkulus.

You may not remember the "homeless crisis" during the Reagan years, because it magically disappeared once he left office. Then there was the "energy crisis" of the Carter years. To see just how silly that one was, this is all you need to know: the more oil we use, the more we find. It's like the free market works or something.

Before that was the Poverty Crisis of the 1960s, which is still with us today despite (or because of) trillions of dollars thrown at it.

And the Mother of All Crises was the Great Depression. That is indeed the archetype, because it was caused and prolonged by the very government interventions that were supposed to have ameliorated it. The left is still dining out on the myth of FDR saving capitalism from itself.

At the moment we have the Immigration Crisis and the Global Warming Crisis.

This is another fine example of the intellectual incoherence of the left, because -- using their logic -- the more immigrants that come to America, the worse the global warming, because these immigrants will leave a much larger carbon footprint here than in Central America. If there is really a Global Warming Crisis, then we must turn away immigrants for their own good and for the sake of the planet.

In Liberty's Secrets, Charles provides numerous examples of how the Founders first meditated deeply on human nature before going on to the secondary task of constructing a political system. Because they put things in their proper order, they were under no delusion that the purpose of politics was to change human nature. Rather, they took human beings as they found them, with all their greed, vanity, laziness, selfishness, lust for power, and desire for unfair advantage.

They also looked closely at history, being that history is just the prolongation of human nature. To put it another way, if you want to know what human beings are like, consider what they do. If you are honest, you will strain to produce even a tie between man's good and bad qualities and attainments. I remember Charles Murray addressing this in his Human Accomplishment:

What "can Homo sapiens brag about -- not as individuals, but as a species?... Military accomplishment is out -- putting 'Defeated Hitler' on the human resume is too much like putting 'beat my drug habit' on a personal one."

Likewise, governance and commerce "are akin to paying the rent and putting food on the table..." On the whole, "We human beings are in many ways a sorry lot, prone to every manner of vanity and error. The human march forward has been filled with wrong turns, backsliding, and horrible crimes."

And the most horrible atrocities have been committed by secular utopians who deny human nature and insist that humans are infinitely malleable products of their environment or class.

"So what was the secret of the Founders' insights?... The answer is very simple: they understood human nature and history. That is it" (Charles).

"[I]t was not as if we could evolve or mold human nature into whatever pleasing image we sought to achieve. It is what it is, but even amid the sobering reality of its excesses and imperfections, it was capable of rising above them to achieve great things, though never on a permanent basis. The 'dark side' always had to be kept in check through constant and unceasing vigilance" (ibid.).

There are many priceless quotes in Liberty's Secrets, but I think my favorite is this, from John Adams. Imagine if he could see the fascists on our university campuses today!

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.


Bad news/good news -- they'll never actualize their potential, but at least they'll destroy our culture: "These people will produce nothing. They will create no great art, write no symphonies, conjure no novels that speak across the decades, sculpt nothing of beauty. The world outside the bubble is irredeemable. It cannot, of course, be remade all at once, but tomorrow's a new day. Rome wasn't wrecked in a day" (Lileks).

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

In Search of the Deep Structure of Cosmic Assoulery

A couple weeks ago someone at PowerLine made the point that the rift in the Republican party is not so much between conservatives and RINOs, establishment and Tea Party, but between those who think our disagreements with the left are just politics as usual, and those who believe (I would say "recognize") the left is pure evil.

He didn't use the term "pure evil," but the point is that these are not normal political times, and that we cannot deal with the left as if we simply have routine policy disputes that can be settled via compromise. Or maybe you like a little feces in your ice cream.

What is the deepest of deep structures that explains the surface differences between left and right? What are the First Principles that account for all the secondary differences? You could say "ignorance," but ignorance per se has no structure. It's just nothing, so there must be some deeper reason why the LoFos trend leftard.

There are of course LoFo conservatives, but usually they are able to draw upon some deeper well of wisdom, such as religion. Which is why a LoFo conservative may well be a HiWis, whereas a HiFo liberal -- e.g., the tenured -- may be appallingly low in wisdom.

As we've discussed in the past, one of the benefits of religion is that, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, it discourages humans from trying things that centuries of collective experience have discovered to be harmful. I mean, you can hardly go wrong if you obey the Ten Commandments, even if you aren't a believer.

Yuval Levin's The Great Debate attempts to drill down to the deep structure of our politics, using Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine as archetypes. If he is implying that the differences originate in these two writers (and I'm not sure that he does), then he's wrong. Rather, these two figures are already representatives of a deeper archetypal reality.

This same archetypal difference accounts for the very different assumptions and consequences of the American and French revolutions. The latter, for example, "launched in earnest the modern quest for social progress through unyielding political action guided by philosophical principle" (Levin). And every evil revolution since then has attempted the same thing, from the Soviets to the Mullahs.

This flight into abstraction and idealism is very much in contrast to the empiricism and moderation of the Anglo-American tradition. In Europe, Marxists wield real power, whereas in America we mostly confine them to the looniversity bin of academia. Or at least this was the case until about 40 years ago, since which time the left has completely taken over the Democratic party.

Note that nothing else in nature works in the abstract, top-down manner of the left. Rather, everything in nature is organic, systemic, and complex.

Furthermore, evolution is intrinsically conservative, in that it preserves "what works" and eliminates what doesn't. Obviously the key to life -- or going-on-living -- is to preserve what allows it to flourish and avoid what doesn't.

This has direct implications for our well-being. For example, researchers "have identified increases in suicide and drug and alcohol related deaths among high school educated white Americas as the cause for a remarkable spike in the overall death rate for middle-aged white Americans. Various experts express surprise, shock, and sadness. I can understand the sadness, but not the surprise."

Exactly. What do you expect when millions of people don't just vote left, but actually incarnate its demonic principles?:

"For the last few decades, cultural leaders have been waging a war on the weak. Their goal is to dismantle traditional norms and rules for family life. They push to dismantle gender roles and other foundational categories that ordinary people use to orient themselves and make sense out of their lives....

"The upshot: reliable guides toward a normal life are removed, and potentially destructive behaviors that rich people either avoid or discretely manage are normalized. The most vulnerable pay the cost."

So, yes, the left helps the little guy. To ruin his life and even kill himself.

Speaking of traditional categories to help guide us through reality, what could be more empirical -- more of an existential given -- than the differences between the sexes?

Conversely, what could be more insanely abstract than ignoring the message of our bodies, a message that refers to its complementary opposite? Male refers to female, and vice versa. Each by itself has no meaning whatsoever. Rather, they become mere abstractions torn from their context:

"The male-female difference is a fundamental, orienting reality in every culture. Having a sense of oneself as a man or woman gives us a place to stand in the world. The transgender revolution represents that latest, most dramatic stage in today’s efforts to efface the social authority of the male-female difference."

Once again, the LoFo "little guys" the left pretends to care about are hardest hit: "kids and young adults from poorly educated households are deprived of a functional language to talk about what it means to be a man or woman. Without such a language, they can’t see themselves as successfully being men or women. And so they are deprived of a baseline adult achievement that come-of-age rituals in traditional cultures have always celebrated."

So the war on sexual differences goes much deeper than sex, all the way down to ontology. Thus, it is an attack on being, on our most primordial cosmic signposts.

One of the benefits of respect for sexual differences is that it opens up the possibility of cultural spheres that are free of sexual tension. But the left is well on the way to destroying all such sex-free zones.

Consider how quickly we went from homosexuals in the military to the federal government now forcing high school girls to shower with boys who think they're girls. In the name of the Constitution!

So now, the violence of the state is being used to deny the basic reality of sexual differences. Or in other words, diabolical Power is shamelessly tearing truth from our midst by the root.

As someone said, fascism is the violent rejection of transcendence, in this case the transcendent complementarity of male and female. Reminds me of that crack by George Orwell:

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Idolaters and How They Get That Way.

This is a continuation of Friday's post, but it is ALL NEW, not a pretread.

If the second commandment is to not worship graven images -- idols -- then the second commandment of nihilism must be to do the opposite: to venerate and bow down before things that are less than God.

One of the unblogged books on my spindle goes to this question, God and the Ways of Knowing. I see that it is heavily highlighted, so it must have had some good points.

First of all, until the arrival of modern man, there were no men who didn't know God; or, more accurately, who didn't know religion. What or who they worshipped was a different matter.

Thus, Danielou's first chapter is called The God of the Religions, for "An aptitude for religion is a human datum." In other words, religiosity is a fact about man. For secularists it is only a fact about man, but they strain to come up with plausible reasons for why man has this instinct for transcendence.

Does man have any other evolved instincts that do not correspond to any external object? For example, eyes are adapted to light, ears to sound, the sex drive to the complementary sex object.

As such, it seems to me that denial of the object-of-worship is the alpha and omega of deconstruction. For example, is it any coincidence that the same people who deny God also deny that sexuality has any proper object? Or that they sever knowledge from the known, thus abolishing truth? Or morals from morality, thus effacing virtue?

Indeed, "God reveals himself not only through the voice of the visible world, but also through that of the moral conscience." We could say that the commandments aren't just commandments but reminders, i.e., that "the divine will is also graven upon the table of the heart by the finger of God, which is the Spirit." If this weren't the case, the commandments would make no sense to us, nor could they be so readily inverted by nihilists.

"If He is always unknown, He is also, paradoxically well-known." There are no atheists, "only men who believe in God, without knowing exactly what they believe."

If man is always intuiting God, then God must always be communicating himself. Thus, "pagan religions are like rays of cosmic revelation, refracted through a humanity spoiled by sin and not yet enlightened by positive revelation." As such "error is always mingled with truth" -- or, for our purposes, idolatry with religion proper.

This, by the way, is why God has to first form a relationship with a people. To have started with a person before there existed a people to nurture and receive him would have made no sense.

Here is one of the weirder attempts I've seen recently of idolaters trying to save their idol, Scientists Say Religion Makes Children More Selfish. First of all, SCIENTISTS SAY is a transparent appeal to idolatry. The whole study is so tendentious. If they were honest, they'd just make the obvious point that being genuinely religious makes one less susceptible to idolatrous substitutes such as liberalism (and science).

"Two thousand years were needed to plant the roots of monotheism deep in a humanity" which is only too prone to raising self-reflecting altars. Note that such a worshipper still sees an "image of God," only it is his own reflected image. "And how difficult it was to uproot this element from human souls!"

The task never ends, for man's development is always on a continuum that preserves the earlier stages. For example, our minds contain recollections of childhood and even infancy that continue to shape and influence us through life. That being the case, somewhere deep down we must all be polytheistic pagans.

Which is why there is always a fertile soil for it under various modern guises -- e.g., the cult of global warming -- and why the second commandment goes to this ubiquitous temptation.

God... speaks to every human soul through the cosmos, the conscience, and the spirit. But, in its quest for God, the pagan soul falls by the wayside. Lacking the support of a positive revelation, it expresses clumsily what it sees; it falters and is deceived.... [This] explains its profound appeal as it rises from the depths of religious manhood towards that light which it will only find in the fullness of Jesus Christ. --Jean Danielou