Crossing the Phoenix Line
The Fire Bird,” wrote Chambers, “is glimpsed living or not at all. In other words, realists have a way of missing truth, which is not invariably realistic.” The “Fire Bird” refers to the classical myth of the phoenix, a bird composed of fire that, since it was consumed by flames as it flew through the air, left no body. Its existence therefore could not be proved empirically, by finding its body; it had to be seen alive or not at all. Chambers’s meaning is that Burnham’s worldview demanded empirical proof for things that by their nature could not be proved but were nevertheless known to be true by those who had seen—or felt or intuited—them.
Things that by their nature cannot be proved but are nevertheless known to be true. That goes directly to the Gödel enigma we were discussing a couple posts back. You could say that Gödel proved the existence of the Fire Bird -- or that there is a category of real things (odd birds though they might be) that must exist but can never be proved.
"It is indispensable to know at the outset that there are truths inherent in the human spirit that are as if buried in the 'depths of the heart,' which means that they are contained as potentialities or virtualities in the pure Intellect: they are the principial and archetypal truths, those which determine all others."
Truth flows downward -- for it could never be the converse -- and breaks into its variegated modes (e.g., empirical, rational, mathematical, aesthetic, moral, spiritual), just as white light refracted through a prism reveals a spectrum of colors. Just as no one can say exactly when violet becomes blue or blue becomes green, no one can identify a strict demarcation between matter and life, or life and mind. This is because the whole spectrum of existence is being illuminated from above.
The white light from above cannot be seen directly, only in its reflections; reason is like the moon that is illuminated by the sun of Intellect. Thus, "if there were not pure Intellect," writes Schuon, then "neither would there be reason, for the miracle of reasoning can be explained and justified only by the miracle of intellection."
That right there is a pure expression of the Gödel enigma -- that we are always above and beyond the reason we deploy to comprehend lesser realities. For example, in this post, the writer gets a lot right but arrives at the wrong ultimate conclusion.
Yes, it is true that science cannot inform our values, that logic has fallen out of use, and that liberals argue in a circular fashion from their own false premises. However, the writer illogically concludes that "the solution is LOGIC, yes, Vulcan, Star Trek, fucking, logic."
This cannot be the case, because something outside logic must furnish the premises for logic to operate upon. And those premises must ultimately come from above, i.e., those principial and archetypal truths which determine all others. Otherwise you are trying to resuscitate a dead parrot of truth inside an oxygen deprived tautology.
A certain kind of logic presumes to tell us we are nothing more than animals. But animals do not reason. And it's not just because they aren't smart enough, rather, because they cannot conceive of the Absolute in which reason is grounded, AKA the Logos: "in other words, if man possesses reason, together with language, it is because he has access in principle to the suprarational vision of the Real and consequently metaphysical certitude" (Schuon).
This is how we can be certain the Fire Bird exists, even if we have never seen the body.
Thus the decisive error of materialism and of agnosticism is to be blind to the fact that material things and the common experiences of our life are immensely beneath the scope of our intelligence. --Schuon