Monday, August 15, 2016

Guided Ignorance and Faithless Stupidity

If evolution is posterior to involution, then particulars must be posterior to universals. In other words, the "evolutionary space" cannot be a blank canvas, but must somehow be implicitly structured with nonlocal forms or archetypes.

Plato, of course, thought that these universal forms were more real than their instantiations, while Aristotle simply saw them as co-present in all existents: the form is somehow "in" the substance without inhabiting any shadowy realm of its own.

As an aside, many of my beliefs are simply intuitive. But intuitive doesn't necessarily mean arbitrary, because it seems to me that intuition is a kind of rapid-response, right-brainish cognition that instantaneously excludes countless other possibilities.

Indeed, this is how science itself proceeds. Polanyi has written of this at length, of how the scientist's "guess," AKA hypothesis, is founded upon a host of subsidiary clues that point toward their hidden coherence.

"Polanyi maintained this was a genuine paradox, because 'to see a problem is to see something that is hidden. It is to have an intimation of the coherence of hitherto not comprehended particulars" (Prosch). This is definitely not a deterministic phenomenon, as two scientists can look at the same set of particulars, with only one seeing the hidden possibilities.

As we've discussed before, in the years leading up to Einstein's great discoveries, it was thought that physics was pretty much "complete," with only a few loose ends to tie up. But those few unanswered questions ended up being the point of entry into vast new worlds, both on the macro and micro scales: those little holes ended up being huge windows and doorways.

So, Einstein looked at the same phenomena, only he saw deeper and further than other minds looking at the same things. But the implications were always there, at least implicitly. To put it another way, where other physicists saw only answers, he saw fascinating questions. His mental state was characterized by the Raccoon principle of Higher Unknowing, or dynamic ignorance.

Obviously, not-knowing must precede knowing, or no genuine discovery can be made. Rather, what we call a "discovery" will simply be the logical extension of what we know. However, it appears to me that worldviews function like complex systems, in that a small change in one variable can lead to massive changes at the other end. If you're aiming a rocket toward mars, the tiniest deviation at the start will cause the rocket to miss the target by orders of magnitude.

This, of course, is the problem with climate science: their models simply don't map the phenomena, such that their accuracy quickly breaks down completely. For Polanyi, "if all knowledge is explicit, i.e., capable of being clearly stated, then we cannot know a problem or look for its solution." In short, you can't have a solution if you don't have a problem.

Which is precisely why liberal solutions don't ever solve anything: they either ask the wrong question or don't properly see the problem. For example, to what is Obamacare the solution? Certainly not healthcare. Moreover, Obamacare now is the very problem it sets out to solve.

Which is almost a universal law of liberalism: liberalism is the problem it sets out to solve. Because it inhabits a closed circle of cognition -- of Bad Omniscience -- it renders progress strictly impossible.

Importantly, knowledge of a good problem is already a kind of sophisticated knowledge. The more intelligent you are, the more you will see interesting problems where lesser minds see... I don't really know what they see. Ideology, I guess. Or hedonic opportunities. Or possibilities for power. Or just surfaces, like an animal. Animals don't see any interesting problems, but are hardwired for a narrow range of solutions to a few biological and biosocial ones.

In this regard, many humans -- no offense -- but many humans are more animal than human. They don't necessarily have to be this way, but they simply choose to foreclose the Great Unknown and drift along on the surface of things. But to live this way is to cash in one's humanness, since a human being is not so much a "thing" as a vector, an arrow shot into the nature of things. You might say that we are aimed toward the only sufficient reason that can adequately account for our existence (including our relentless seeking) -- which I call O.

"Polanyi thought the intimations we have of a problem are akin to the intimations we have of the fruitfulness of any discovery that we come to accept as the solution to a problem. Somehow we are able to appreciate the wealth of its yet undiscovered consequences."

Again, note the orthoparadox: not knowing in this way is actually a richer and more sophisticated mode of knowledge. Indeed, it is a tacit foreknowledge of what is yet to be explicitly discovered.

And guess what? This is faith. The very essence of faith is foreknowledge of the as-yet-undiscovered God. Which goes to Paul's gag about faith being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Do you (un)see how this is identical to scientific faith? In both cases, faith is a kind of superior knowledge, in that it sees beyond the boundaries of mere knowledge -- or what in the book I call (k). The latter is fine, as far as it goes. It's just that we render ourselves stupid of we imagine that it is -- or ever could be --- complete.

For Polanyi, "we are guided by sensing the presence of a hidden reality toward which our clues are pointing." He's talking about science, but it is the same vis-a-vis religion. Really, "all knowledge is of the same kind as the knowledge of a problem." Ultimately we might say that faith is the answer to the problem of God, just as scientific faith is the answer to the problem of dealing with physical reality. This is one reason why science developed only in the Christian west and nowhere else: our faith in a rational creator.

Faith is "knowledge of an approaching discovery." To bring it down to bobworld, I approach each post with an attitude of faith that one will appear. They are very much structured by an attitude of open not-knowing, such that I am guided by what it is I am looking for. It very much feels as if there is an invisible attractor out there, and as soon as it starts tugging at me, it attracts the right ideas and books and other resources to fill it out. When I started typing this morning, I had no earthly idea I was going to snatch this book on Polanyi from the shelf. Rather, it just pulled me into its orbit.

But just because this is happening, it doesn't necessarily mean we have discovered a universal truth. I mean, there are false paths, dead ends, and nul-de-slacks everywhere. But you can tell when you've reached one of those, because there will be no more interesting problems.

"Our conviction" that we are on the right track "is always a fiduciary conviction," i.e., rooted in faith. Interestingly, this means that there are no "facts" out there, untouched by subjectivity. Indeed, a fact is already the result of a belief that something is a fact. One man's fact is another man's trivia, and vice versa. Think about "historical facts." Is there really such a thing? Yes, there are literally countless facts in history, but it is only the judgment of the historian that elevates one to a historical fact.

Notice that this is one of the functions of the liberal media, albeit in reverse. That is, they work furiously to "inform" (unform?) us what not to pay attention to, such as Benghazi, or the Clinton Foundation, or what actually happens during an abortion, or what happens when you raise the minimum wage, or the risk factors of homosexuality, or the science of human intelligence. Liberals literally have no faith, in that they cannot permit themselves to ask questions about these and countless other subjects.

About those nonlocal attractors that dot the psychic landscape:

"Our search for deeper coherence is guided likewise by a potentiality: 'We feel the slope toward a deeper insight as we feel the direction in which a heavy weight is pulled along a steep incline....' The gradient of deepening coherence tells us where to start and which way to turn" (all quoted material from Prosch).

28 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

And guess what? This is faith. The very essence of faith is foreknowledge of the as-yet-undiscovered God. Which goes to Paul's gag about faith being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

With my kids, I often talk about the presence of God as being like the air: nobody has ever seen air, but we know it exists because of how it moves other things. Another good analogy we used this weekend is radio waves, wifi or Bluetooth. These things are not visible, and without the equipment to detect the signal they may as well be nonexistent. They can't be seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled. Nevertheless, here we are, sending invisible messages to each other using those very unseen wavelengths, and they have a profound effect upon the everyday lives of modern humans.

In this regard, many humans -- no offense -- but many humans are more animal than human. They don't necessarily have to be this way, but they simply choose to foreclose the Great Unknown and drift along on the surface of things.

Along those lines, Drudge links to a clickbait article this morning trumpeting that There IS Life After Death!!11!!!. Except what they mean is there isn't; rather, they are stating that brain activity - some level of consciousness - can last for up to 3 minutes after the heart stops beating, as opposed to the 30 or so seconds once believed. Beyond that, they strongly imply, is nothing.

8/15/2016 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Liberals literally have no faith, in that they cannot permit themselves to ask question about these and countless other subjects.

That is an excellent point. One of the liberating things about having faith in God is knowing that there is no reason to fear truth, scientific or otherwise, because nothing that is true can negate God. Science grounded in truth (as opposed to propaganda) is simply further evidence of God.

Conversely, anyone rooted in leftist faith must guard vigilantly against the hatefacts of life, because to acknowledge them is to acknowledge that they are living the lie.

8/15/2016 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The hatefacts of life. That's a good one. It's never too early to teach a young liberal about the hatefacts of life, i.e., what to ignore.

8/15/2016 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good example of faithless stupidity in science: "no, you cannot see the clues that led me to my conclusion."

8/15/2016 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Here is an example of a kind of faith-based feminist scientific stupidity arguing that the field of chemistry is "problematized by feminist scholarship."

I think it's the other way around: chemistry (e.g., hormones) problematizes feminism.

8/15/2016 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Broads like that make me embarrassed to be a woman; worse, they give female scientists a bad name. I wonder if she supports the idea that the discovery of fire paved the way for patriarchal oppression?

8/15/2016 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There was actually an article in the NY Times last week about how the discovery of fire led to lung disease!

8/15/2016 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

So what. The discovery of food led to elevated cholesterol.

8/15/2016 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The more intelligent you are, the more you will see interesting problems where lesser minds see... I don't really know what they see. Ideology, I guess. Or hedonic opportunities. Or possibilities for power. Or just surfaces, like an animal.

I am of remarkably average intelligence, but I still struggle to accept the evaluation of someone like Bill Clinton or Obama as highly intelligent. Ideology is certainly all that Obama sees. He has committed all the leftist doctrines to memory and all his "brilliant" answers are based on that.

In fact, he is the equivalent of a fundamentalist Christian who always has an answer and takes every word of Scripture literally. For the fundamentalist all questions have been answered and our "faith" is just pressing on in the face of contradictory evidence. I'm not condemning anyone as I have been there and done it, but that's what it is.

8/15/2016 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Obama merely deduces this or that policy position from deeply flawed first principles. And if that doesn't work, he makes up a new principle.

8/15/2016 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

This post really spoke to me. At the end of the day, I wonder if faith and gnosis ultimately amount to the same thing?

8/15/2016 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Schuon talks about revelation being intellect exteriorized, while intellect is revelation interiorized.

I would say that faith is gnosis exteriorized, while gnosis is faith interiorized.

8/15/2016 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

Powerful writing today, Bob.

'The very essence of faith is foreknowledge of the as-yet-undiscovered God.'

'Faith is "knowledge of an approaching discovery."'

Those are keepers right there. So nice to get a breath of fresh air from the other side of The River, especially in these dark and difficult days. Thanks for being the bearer of glad tidings like these for all these years...

8/15/2016 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

julie sez:
"Conversely, anyone rooted in leftist faith must guard vigilantly against the hatefacts of life, because to acknowledge them is to acknowledge that they are living the lie."

Mush sez:
"For the fundamentalist all questions have been answered and our "faith" is just pressing on in the face of contradictory evidence."

Yes! Nice insights. It's the same way of thinking, isn't it?

8/16/2016 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"So, Einstein looked at the same phenomena, only he saw deeper and further than other minds looking at the same things. But the implications were always there, at least implicitly. To put it another way, where other physicists saw only answers, he saw fascinating questions. His mental state was characterized by the Raccoon principle of Higher Unknowing, or dynamic ignorance.

Obviously, not-knowing must precede knowing, or no genuine discovery can be made. Rather, what we call a "discovery" will simply be the logical extension of what we know. However, it appears to me that worldviews function like complex systems, in that a small change in one variable can lead to massive changes at the other end. If you're aiming a rocket toward mars, the tiniest deviation at the start will cause the rocket to miss the target by orders of magnitude."

Being able to use what is there, to see what isn't there, is the There, there. We naturally tend to see only what us there, fixating us on answers and more answers, but it's only when we begin seeing the questions, that we really begin to understand. When we don't see, or deliberately avoid seeing the questions, and cling instead to the answers we've already got... bad things are sure to follow, as each slight skew, sends our rocket off into the wrong solar system.

8/16/2016 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"For Polanyi, "we are guided by sensing the presence of a hidden reality toward which our clues are pointing." He's talking about science, but it is the same vis-a-vis religion. Really, "all knowledge is of the same kind as the knowledge of a problem." Ultimately we might say that faith is the answer to the problem of God, just as scientific faith is the answer to the problem of dealing with physical reality. This is one reason why science developed only in the Christian west and nowhere else: our faith in a rational creator."

Yep. Nothing to add, just wanted to see it again.

8/16/2016 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

Obama is not clearly intelligent, and in any case, it's hard to evaluate a politician like a President's intelligence beyond the scale of 'midwit'. Below average intelligence would probably show up, but then, it's possible to emulate a schtick that makes you seem dumb. Obama seems to be weak to me, a front man, and although this is true for most modern presidents (and would also be true of Trump to a certain extent by necessity of the structure of our government, or 'anarchy corralled by mendacity' ) he seems a very strong case of, "I just say what they tell me to, don't ask me what it means."

8/16/2016 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think a politician can only be so smart, because if you're too smart, you understand the true nature of our problems and how politics is powerless to solve most of them.

8/16/2016 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

There's a reason Christ was not a politician.

Meanwhile, the puppet masters' masks are slipping...

Incidentally, that's one advantage with Trump - I'm sure he can still be bought, but hopefully not by the likes of Soros and Saudi interests.

8/16/2016 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger عبد المنعم المشايخي said...

Oh Bob you strained my mind but it is worth it,so let me roam in your divine world. Not every body sees the hidden possibilities of the sacred cosmos because mechanical blindness is rampant. In our world. Always a small holes, when looked through spiritually are huge doors to the doorless universe, it is also a door to our inside to ornamented with the treasures retrieved from our visit to the divine. Cross culture,cross religious experiences are enhancers in the journey. Ibn Arabi and his role in pointing the road to him is an instructive contribution to the world ever-expanding consciousness. Not knowing is a call to know in the realm of the endless knowledge of the divine, once it goes outside that realm decadence sits in. As you said our religion is a co-created process between the finite and the infinite that requires our sincere attention and intention to benefit from his radiations to paint our personal canvass, the personal knowledge Polanyi talked about. Our cosmos is a package of the seen and the unseen, the explicit and the implicit to give the human the vast opportunity to benefit from this interplay to draw his picture on the platform of this ungraspable time space cosmos. In the quran we read , you assume that most of them do hear or do ponder,alas most are like cattle so you do not need to feel offensive when you said that some animals are bettered soft-wired in handling their tasks than most human. I do not want to continue, but like to end with this quote from chapter one of Polanyi book, the personal knowledge,, three months ago the proper light of day and indeed a very few days ago the pure sun itself of the most marvellous contemplation has shone forth,, nothing holds me, I wiil indulge my sacred fury, I will taunt mankind with the candid confession that I have stolen the golden vases of the Egyptians, in order to build of them a terbernacle to my god, far indeed from the bounds of egypt. If you forgive me, I shall rejoice if you are angry ,I shall bear it, the die is cast , the book is written whether be read now or by posterity.

8/16/2016 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Vis-a-vis the cattle people, If you peruse this ranking of countries by IQ, perhaps the problem is not Islam but Muslims. Certainly there are spiritually gifted Muslims, but perhaps there is an upper limit on the number for reasons unrelated to the religion per se. (This and other Forbidden Thoughts are being provoked in me by my current reading of the extremely naughty Why Race Matters.)

8/16/2016 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Among many other things, IQ correlates with abstraction, including a more abstract and universal conception of morality....

8/16/2016 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

The high rate of consanguinity can't be helping.

I can't help wondering, though. China supposedly has such a high IQ, but how many millions was it Mao killed off again? And even though they are capable of making some decent things, they seem disinclined to come up with their own ideas in favor of pirating them from other people. I've seen a claim bandied about in recent months that they have to buy ball bearings for ball-point pens from Germany, because they don't have the requisite technology to manufacture them there. Don't know if it's true - it sounds very unlikely - but having seen some inside views of some Chinese factories, it's not entirely farfetched. Cheating seems to be the national pastime; Chinese exchange students are beginning to get a bad reputation in American colleges.

Point being, I think it's a combination of both culture and IQ, in a sort of chicken and egg scenario: you have to have enough intelligent people for moral behavior to flourish, but without a culture based on morality, IQ only goes so far.

8/16/2016 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Levin points out that it's not just IQ that is heritable, but many other traits as well. As for China, I remember a book I read a few years back... can't recall the title, but it was about a genetic basis for various cultural traits, and how the east was so different from the west in fundamental cognitive ways. Levin touches on this -- some of the traits with a strong genetic component include sociability, timidity, impulsivity, neuroticism, achievement orientation, altruism, cautiousness, and more. One fascinating dynamic he highlights is the pathological dance that goes on between black aggressivity and white liberal guilt. A white liberal assumes he must have done something to provoke such rage. The same thing occurs between Arab Muslims and white liberals. Come to think of it, perhaps one reason why Jews vote Democrat is a higher vulnerability to guilt...

8/16/2016 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Sowell discusses this too in his Black Rednecks and White Liberals. The Scots-Irish who settled the southern US were genetically quite distinct from those who settled Massachusetts or Virginia. Thanks to our less domesticated southern brethren, we have soldiers (they serve disproportionately in the military) and rock & roll.

8/16/2016 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's interesting about the black - white dynamics. Like a racial version of codependency. I wonder if the guilt has something to do with the love of virtue signaling as well.

And of course it makes sense that there are more significant heritable traits than simple intelligence.

Having made my earlier point about China, they've apparently just launched a satellite equipped with some kind of quantum communications setup, so there's that.

8/16/2016 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

I have no specific hatred - not any specificity of hatred as such - for the Chinese, but their pressing advantage is entirely due to the USA basically selling (or giving! God forbid we consider something of the interests of the region we govern directly) tech secrets to China, which follows a pattern with Japan. When I worked for the gov't contractors, it was said China was 18 mo. behind us, which was about five years ago. What wasn't spoken, given that this was part of the Red Empire, was that this betrayal was rather doctrinaire Blue Empire activity to some extent, sales of plans for stealth bombers and such due to personal vendettas an exception rather than, I think, the rule.

Creativity on their part is unclear, and what makes a group creative is unclear except "decent IQ + ?" -- the '?' looms large, and the IQ is mostly correlation, but it matches well enough here to mark a necessity. It may simply be this combination: "Decent IQ + Christianity + Leaders who patronize creativity". Christianity important in this case because it involves an objective belief ("spiritually objective" and sincere) in transcendent truth and beauty, while not being nihilistic in regards to worldly affairs. There might also be some kind of Mandate of Heaven going on, useful to have in any case.

Of course, that lack of nihilism in worldly affairs easily goes awry as varying forms of pre and post millenialism, which although widely blamed on John's revelation have happened (without the explicity millenium) in times past among improperly ruled, creative and intelligent sorts. The risks!

There are some things that politics can do, if by politics we mean "leadership" and not "cajoling mobs and wrangling bureaucrats." The latter is decidedly futile, though encouraged because futile. It may be the case that what the Chinese lack is sincere belief in truth and beauty, and/or a leadership dedicated to the promotion of, rather than the manufacture of, creative works. It's the difference between encouraging your children to water the garden and employing them to carve wooden tomatoes, I think.

8/16/2016 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, but I think it's worth sharing here. For all the people on the fence about Trump, how many have actually read any of the speeches he's been making? This one from yesterday is pretty amazing. I can't think of a single Republican in recent history who has been willing to address any of these points, though I have often wished that they would.

"I am asking for the vote of every African-American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different future.

It is time for our society to address some honest and very difficult truths.

The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community. Democratic crime policies, education policies, and economic policies have produced only more crime, more broken homes, and more poverty."

Again, if he can deliver even a tenth of what he claims he's going to do, the country will be immeasurably better off. Conversely, if Hillary does even a tenth of what she claims she's going to do...

8/17/2016 06:20:00 AM  

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