Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Man

Sorry. This bloated and slow-moving post didn't proceed as far or as fast as I had hoped, and now I have to get ready for work...

What is wrong with man? Other animals may do damage, but it is within limits, whereas man's possibilities for mayhem seem boundless. It must have to do with our being conformed to the Absolute. That being the case, we are unbound at both ends, for both good and evil, intelligence and stupidity, beauty and depravity.

All religions -- and I suppose all philosophies -- begin with a diagnosis, although the worst ones tend to give man a clean bill of health, and instead diagnose the system in which he is embedded.

For example, Black Lives Matter finds nothing whatsoever wrong wrong with black people. To the extent that there is something wrong, it is 100% due to white people. So white people earn the diagnosis of being racist oppressors. And if you deny you are racist, that only makes you more racist -- just as a mentally ill person who doesn't know he's mentally ill is that much more insane.

You will have noticed that this reflects a larger pattern, in that the left never diagnoses man as such, but only a class of men. For Marx, you could say that the proletariat class was free of disease, whereas all classes above were sick and in need of treatment, up to and including literal eradication. For feminists, men are the problem, never women. It is written into Islam that non-Muslims are the problem, not Muslims.

Conversely, conservatives always begin with universal human nature, for both good and ill (the dividing line of which runs through the human heart). The left denies that there is any such thing, but this means there is an absurdity at the very foundation of their worldview, for if there is no such thing as human nature, then there can be no such thing as a deviation from it. The left can call its opponents "greedy," but on what basis can they say that greediness is wrong? So it's really a bait-and-switch operation, such that they deny human nature up front, only to impose their own version of it through the back door.

For example, what the left calls "homophobia" is probably a part of human nature -- and for obvious reasons if you believe in natural selection. This hardly means it must redound to oppression, let alone violence, but it does mean that it's something that cannot be legislated away. Likewise sexual differences. To imagine they can be eliminated is to have utterly misdiagnosed mankind.

This book on Polanyi is divided into four main sections: diagnosis, prescription, treatment, and evaluation. What does Polanyi say is wrong with us? And is there anything we can do about it?

"Many people today suspect that something ails the modern mind." Yes, problems have been amplified over the past century, but this is mainly due to mankind having the means to do what in the past it could only dream of. Would the Romans have nuked Carthage if they had had the means to do so? The effect was the same, only it took a lot more man-hours to to accomplish. Nor did the Romans -- unlike the US -- extend a hand of friendship and help the Carthaginians rebuild a thriving nation. When the Romans nuked you, you stayed nuked.

What if the caliphate had had nukes when they were thrown back at the gates of Vienna in 1529? Same thing. As a matter of fact, Levin highlights a problem we've discussed here, and that is a people possessing a technology that it could have never developed on its own. Which is why we don't worry about Israel possessing nuclear weapons, whereas Islamic nations possessing them is an entirely different matter.

Polanyi points out that "it was intellectuals... who played the largest part in destroying those very things" that make the intellectual life possible. The list of infertile eggheads who spoke well of communism and fascism is a who's who of modern progressivism (AKA liberal fascism), despite the fact that no intellectual life is possible in the absence of freedom.

As early as 1940 Polanyi wrote of the "prevailing progressive obsessions" which "led him to believe that the modern mind was not well." There must have been something in the air, because this is around the same time Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom, and both men ultimately touch on the nature of complex systems that are beyond the reach of intellectual knowledge and control (even though this was prior to the emergence of complexity as a separate scientific discipline).

It turns out that the same intellectual pathogen that resulted in fascism and communism was very much present in the west. Now that I think about it, this pathogen can be traced all the way back and down to Eden, in that it is the presumption of a kind of omniscience that is absolutely barred to man. Any form of socialism is rooted in three delusions about mankind, which come down to the problems of incentive, the problem of knowledge, and the problem of calculation. These three not only make socialism difficult, they make it strictly impossible.

Nevertheless, there was a "concerted movement in England in the 1930s to deprive science of its autonomy and to make it responsible to society and for its welfare." This ends up not liberating science, but constraining it -- very similar to the billions of dollars governments spend on subsidizing the global warming hysteria that inevitably results in greater government power. Can you imagine the state subsidizing research -- or even paying for an education -- that calls for its shrinkage? That's like enlisting cancer to fight tumors.

To be continued...


Blogger julie said...

Likewise sexual differences. To imagine they can be eliminated is to have utterly misdiagnosed mankind.

Worse, it is a sort of willful ignorance, a determination to believe what is patently untrue. Sexual dimorphism, whether significant or subtle, is present in the majority of species that usual sexual reproduction. Humans included.

8/23/2016 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Also, in the context of the post, for those who rail against the tyranny of patriarchy, by what principle can they possibly argue that an enforced human monomorphism would be good for mankind in any way? On what basis do they claim that sexual differences are intrinsically wrong?

8/23/2016 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...in that it is the presumption of a kind of omniscience that is absolutely barred to man.

There's a part of me that bristles to read that. That part is called the adamic nature, the flesh, the old man, etc. It's the part that had to be crucified, but, just like zombies, it doesn't want to stay dead.

8/23/2016 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ann Kellett said...

Julie, you could almost say that it is to call good, evil, and evil, good; bitter, sweet, and sweet, bitter; and darkness, light, and light, darkness.

8/23/2016 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Abdulmonem Othman said...

Polanyi spoke of the treason of the intellectuals, the pathogen that prepared the road to serfdom. We are living the serfdom of the misguided concepts and ill-fated metaphors. God wants the human to be honest,truthful and just and not consume himself in the labels of left, right, conservative, liberal, christian, moslem, jewish, buddha etc etc. Search for god has no prospect of consummation. Enquiry in the realm of the real is a kind of devotional inclination for faithful knowledge that guide the seeker to god and to provide him with the necessary protection from the distortions of the society he is bearing witness upon in humility and tolerance, making god the referee in his confrontation. We are living in a world of fragmented languages, where the language of the trio ( money, politics and media) is the domineering language, so the rising language has to really know what and how to work in this muddy environment where the majority is under trance.As you said it is faulty to imagine that humankind can be absolved of all its ills'. Life is a trial and a test to find the true from the false in this complex system where one has be very careful with his steps. We are here to understand ourselves and work on change it and understand the world and not change. One has not to forget the cycle of himself how he started weak then turned in strength then again turned in weakness and old age. Grace and bounty are unbidden. Shuon said, all our miseries are the effect of our separation from the divine principle. All creatures are born with clothes on, except the human is born naked. What a message. Whitehead says, god is the great companion, the fellow who understand both our low moments and the highs. I can testify for that. Shuon said that truth is an intellectualized virtue and the soul is a truthful morality. Christians like moslems and jews have squandered their spiritual heritages and started aimlessly shopping around. At the endless end where did you read about islam the thing you said. Guran is not a religious book in the conventional sense, its is a referential book drawing the attention of the human mind, to look to history and to the cosmos and ponder and reach his honest conclusion, negatively or positively, that is why it has begun with Read. The problem of the west as you are fully aware is reading outside the encasement of the divine. Spiritual example is a must in the journey and maintaining contact with them is a great help in this difficult journey. Thank you for the company.

8/23/2016 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Popemobile1776: popemobile/playmobile///1776/1984 said...



8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888889/nein-139- [^-]/?//?///?[?]...
Hans Urs von Balthasar meant "semiperquasi" when he said "as if"

(it's a blessing, but it's also a threat)

"superQ" reads "beyond Q" a' la Gaghdad Bob when [and whenever] he says "God is beyond being" and/or "in charge of Q" and/or someyahuuinanundershirt@yahoo.com reads "some yahoo in an undershirt"

(you heard me right)
(come to Maryland--I just dare you...we're really quite nice...once you get to know us (and always after we get to know you, or we wouldn't be Catholics worthy of the name)

Freaking Yeah! The Church of the Subgenius has nothing on us! (Raccoons)
NOTE: "Protestants" (and that means "Reformed," "atheist," and "strong agnostics who are not anthropologists" too, unless you're (a) Unitarian or (b) Quaker

Your personal threat (and I do mean each and every one of you to whom I am speaking) is sufficiently defined by: Star Trek television show show television series series "The Next Generation" / "The Next Generation" Episode 1

You "'Get in Touch with Your Inner Jesus'" Freaks! make me ssick. But "my own personal Jesus" would have to be--hmmm--I would have to say: Cambridge capital controversy a' la Vix Pervenit papal encylical (to you's 'Americans [Protestants], that's Vix Pervenit papal encyclical papal encyclical)

NOW NOW NOW WNOWNOWNOW <BILL GOD and/or ME and/or ??? "My Kiva 'friend'/'philly"brother"'" for the reast--now you don't start putting quote marks there, now, you here!?

(we're not misquitoes(mosquitos). we're tiny Catholics, and you just got buzzed! ("like by an alien" reads like by an alien))

"Signed," popemobile/playmobile//1776/1984


8/23/2016 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't say.

8/23/2016 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Sounds like Max Headroom found Religion.

8/23/2016 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...


8/24/2016 04:22:00 AM  

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