Friday, October 28, 2016

Limitless Science, Limitless State

"To limit thought you must think both sides of the limit."

I first heard that somewhere else in another form, but I can't remember where. Maybe it was Robert Rosen; he said something to the effect that no matter where you draw the line, there will be some part of one side on the other. My son ran into this dilemma a few weeks ago, when he was trying to imagine "nothing." Obviously, whatever you imagine, it will still be something.

Likewise, no matter where you draw the line between subject and object, there will nevertheless be some of one in the other. How's that? Well, to even call something an object -- to even notice it -- is to abstract some essence from it, so that it stands out from everything else. This is what Aristotle refers to as the "first act of mind," and there is no way around it short of lobotomy or tenure (but I repeat myself).

In fact, this is one of the things Socrates was attempting to explain to Kant yesterpost. More generally, a great many philosophers over the past several hundred years only believe what they do because they have simply dismissed people like Aristotle and Aquinas without bothering to understand them.

But it is written (in more than one Aphorism): To feign knowledge of a subject, it is advisable to adopt its most recent interpretation. And The only man that saves himself from intellectual vulgarity is the man who ignores what it is fashionable to know.

Truth cannot be measured by the calendar. Back when I was a liberal, I did not know this. So, for example, when I undertook the task of studying philosophy, I assumed that I could take a shortcut by ignoring pretty much everything before the 19th century, and just cutting to the chase. Why bother with all the antiquated stuff that's been superseded by better minds?

Therefore, I began at the end, with the existentialists (both philosophical and literary) -- Sartre, Camus, Nietzsche, Kafka, and even "Christian existentialists" such as Kierkegaard and Berdayev (although I was thoroughly unqualified for the latter two).

Back to the paradox of limits. I think I also encountered the concept in various works of the Catholic philosopher of science Stanley Jaki. In fact, one of his books is called The Limits of a Limitless Science. That title popped into my head the other day, because I was thinking of how the tyrannical ideas of a "limitless science" and a "limitless state" are mutually reinforcing.

Think of the founders, who created what was supposed to be a limited government. Why? Well, for one thing, they were very much aware of the limits of man. Because man is morally flawed, self-interested, warped by passion, and subject to error, the last thing they wanted to do is to give this beast more power over the rest of us beasts.

But in the new and improved view of the left, there is no limit to knowledge and virtue -- their infamous Fatal Conceit -- and therefore no justifiable limit to the powers of the state. I don't have time to get into how many progressives have expressed this deeply moronic view, but happily, Jonah Goldberg has performed this service in his Liberal Fascism.

As I have said before, the battle war between left and right is not symmetrical. Let's say I believe leftists are deluded assouls. Conversely, leftists think I am deplorable. Fine. I have no problem with that. The difference is that the deplorables wish to have less power over the assouls, whereas the assouls wish to have more power over me.

But because man is what he is, there will always be more assouls than deplorables. The attack on deplorables is really a form of ethnic cleansing. But that is what the left does: it has no limits. Which is why the state can never be too powerful, taxes can never be too high, speech can never be too regulated, and thought can never be too policed.

Wait a minute. There's a switcheroo in there: how does the left go from having no limits to imposing all sorts of limits on our freedom?

Easy. In fact, there's an Ap... horism for that: As the state grows the individual shrinks. Therefore -- and you can look it up, i.e., crack a history book -- the limitless government of left wing statists inevitably ends in mortifying existential shrinkage.

What does this have to do with a limitless science? Only everything. For if science has no limits, it means that -- paradoxically -- man has all the more.

To back up a bit, the proper name for unlimited science is scientism, and as scientism grows, man necessarily shrinks. For example, if scientism says that man is just an ape with a couple more randomly evolved tricks, this hardly elevates the stature of man.

If only what is measurable is real, then whole dimensions of humanness are violently excised from our being. If free will is an illusion, then it is perfectly appropriate for the state to ignore our God-given liberties. If there is no soul, then abortion can provoke no moral qualms. Indeed, since morality itself is just a social convention, then we can ignore it altogether.

So, why is there no limit to the Clinton's greed, ambition, corruption, and will to power? Because there is no limit to the left's.

One of the severest tests of the scientific mind is to know the limits of the legitimate application of the scientific method. --Clerk Maxwell


Blogger mushroom said...

Because man is morally flawed, self-interested, warped by passion, and subject to error, the last thing they wanted to do is to give this beast more power over the rest of us beasts.

This is the most frustrating aspect of politics, and it cuts across left and right. We need enough government to restrain and punish violations of life, liberty, and private property. Even that can be abused, but it usually small scale. Beyond that, the individual suffers loss.

10/28/2016 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Mushroom, agreed. Because man is not perfect,

But because man is what he is, there will always be more assouls than deplorables.

Oh, I dunno. Perhaps I'm just an optimist, or maybe it's just that I trust in American weirdness, but I think the numbers are closer to even. Possibly even slightly favoring deplorables. Not that they're a majority, but maybe 26% deplorables to 24% assouls, with everyone else falling somewhere in between.

Probably just a quibble, though.

And one of the best ways to awaken the sleepers to the reality that they mustn't vote assoul this time is to point out that it puts their very souls at risk. Makes me proud to be Catholic, that does.

10/28/2016 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I prefer to be pessimistic, then I can be surprised and delighted when I'm wrong.

10/28/2016 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding a limitless state, wouldn't it be prudent to align oneself with the limitless state and thereby reap the benefits? Each constituent individual of the ruling cabal, down to the street level, is supposed to get a cut of the proceeds in return for their support.
So that makes politics pretty easy to figure out. When a political bloc comes into power, or looks like it will, infiltrate that group, and then grab your slice with both hands. I don't see any other logical way to proceed.

10/28/2016 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If this world is all there is, a meaningless, Darwinian flatland that points to nothing beyond itself and ultimately has nothing to offer but nothingness, then yes, that strategy is as good as any other.

10/28/2016 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I've been commenting a lot recently at Instapundit. Got into it a little this morning with a Rational Guy who is just clueless as to the limits of reason. He seems ineducable:

10/28/2016 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

(It's more toward the bottom.)

10/28/2016 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A guy named "Piltdown Ghost."

10/28/2016 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And a good guy named Reformed Trombonist.

10/28/2016 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I've spotted you over there a couple of times. Plenty of blockheads to argue with in that bunch, especially the NeverTrumpers.

10/28/2016 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I was thinking that maybe by posting witty barbs over there, I might direct some traffic over here. Wrong.

10/28/2016 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

It's always possible a new troll might follow you back :)

10/28/2016 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I take for granted how high a level we can speak from on this blog. Elsewhere it just causes problems. You give people the truth, and they think you're arguing with them!

10/28/2016 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes - that was an interesting exchange with Piltdown Ghost. How quickly he gave up!

10/28/2016 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I remember back when I was a liberal, I actually wrote a letter to Dennis Prager in which I probably sounded more than a little like Piltdown Ghost. Prager took the time to write me back and disabuse me of my error. But it just bounced off me, as my arguments no doubt bounced off PG. The thing is, I was only trying to help -- to help him liberate himself from the structure he has imposed upon reality. No good deed goes unpunished.

10/28/2016 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Reason to be cautiously optimistic? Sounds like the FBI is reopening the email case.

10/28/2016 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I would counsel total cynicism toward Comey. Give yourself a fighting chance to be pleasantly surprised!

10/28/2016 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There's an aphorism for that: something about how with a combination of cynicism and a sense of humor, we are never disappointed or bored.

10/28/2016 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I have thrown up a couple of links to OC on Gab.

10/28/2016 01:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard some loose talk that most many jobs aren't really needed in our society. It's make- work under the banner of "You must earn a living." Sure we need truck drivers, farmers, teachers, and a host of others. But the legions of managers, and inspectors, and inspectors to inspect the inspectors, and so forth, are a creation of a system that doesn't understand (or doesn't want to understand) we've reached a tipping point where huge masses of people could be set free to pursue the arts, travel, be creative, etc, all on surplus wealth without having to grind away at some useless endeavor in the name of the "work ethic." At some point efficiency will reach such levels as only a paltry fragment of society will have to work due to automation. Therefore a strong, centralized government which ensures the distribution of the lucre would be needed. Or it could be privatized. Comments?

10/28/2016 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

No. Whatever the situation is, the answer is never "bigger government to ensure the distribution of lucre."

10/28/2016 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Unless of course you like the idea of living out the Venezuelan dream.

10/28/2016 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Back to the post..

"Likewise, no matter where you draw the line between subject and object, there will nevertheless be some of one in the other. How's that? Well, to even call something an object -- to even notice it -- is to abstract some essence from it.."

Been thinking lately that "essence" may be how memory works or what is the "imagery" we "see" in dreams. I'm not so certain we actually see images when we dream but something more like we feel the essence of an object. A person appearing to you in a dream may be more their unique essence signature (a stored feeling of the person). Could explain why the content of dreams seem more fluid (run together) than the more linear progression of events in the awake state. This essence may be a more important "part" of an object or person than it's DNA. I don't think essence is the same as soul.

I do not have any pot.

10/28/2016 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I often wonder about that -- how the dream, which is supposedly all us -- not only depicts others, but seems to capture their essence as well -- as if their soul somehow gets into our dream. Other people certainly don't appear as mere objects, nor as mere projections of ourselves. Weird.

10/28/2016 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

At this seminar on the brain I attended last Friday, the presenter mentioned something about the fact that dreams are actually quite condensed and information-rich. When we remember the dream, we play it out in real time, whereas in neurological time it is apparently much more rapid.

10/28/2016 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Christina M said...

It's funny, I followed Gagdad Bob here from LGF, because he had funny things to say. I specifically followed a reference about "cargo cults." That was also around the time I ditched LGF before it went Titanic.

I hardly ever read Instapundit comments, but Lo!, there is Gagdad Bob, today, making funny comments about the Wienergate.

I can't believe I saw that, and lifted your comments, GB.

I'm having a little fun and justice after some very painful last few days. I was starting to fight with friends.

"Erections have consequences. Suck on that Ob......"

10/28/2016 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Christina M said...

About dreams. Yes. Very efficient messaging system for me. I hardly every remember dreams, but when, I do, they are significant and I know I should pay attention. P.S. I finally got my husband to read you, and he is more faithful than I am. He will print them out for me. :)

10/28/2016 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Christina, funny about cargo cults. I used that as an example in Bible study last week; interesting how few people know about them.

Re. elections, I just got off the phone with my pop. he's a good guy, but pretty lofo and not happy about the choices coming up. I gave him an earful; don't think he was expecting that, at least not from me, lol. I usually avoid talking politics with family; I love them too much to make the alienation worthwhile. Not this year, though...

Re. dreams, yes - sometimes they are significant, to the point that they could not have merely originated in the dreamer's brain.

10/28/2016 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

Has anyone here heard of this good news?

10/28/2016 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

“The number of Isa dreams has seemed to grow tremendously since 2000, and in 2005 it seems to have kicked into another gear,” Costenbader said. “There has been an explosion of testimonies on the Web in the past two years about people encountering Jesus in dreams and subsequently becoming followers of Jesus"

10/28/2016 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Doug, that's really interesting. Thanks for sharing it.

10/29/2016 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Yes, probably true because truth is stranger than fiction. Who could have thunk that one but the Thinker.
Recalls the disciples "seeing" Christ after the resurrection-- but not recognizing him as Him at first. It was His essence perhaps that finally clicked. does one recognize Christ in a dream when there are no pictures of Him. Is one conjuring an image or recognizing essence.. If a person who looks like traditional depictions of Christ, and he says he is Christ, is that enough to convince you? It seems an actual pressence is needed. Otherwise, you just discount it as a bit of undigested beef..

10/29/2016 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

He said Jesus appeared to him and said: “Son, I am the way, the truth..."

And THAT is why I can believe his testimony is true.
He had never heard that before.

10/29/2016 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

You're welcome Julie :)

10/29/2016 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Dupree, is that you?

Funniest thing about this is it's not the first time it's happened. Raccoons just want to drive a tank.

10/29/2016 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

This just in:
reports of Clinton supporters having Trump dreams!
where he says "I am the way to make America great again."
...and lock her up"

10/30/2016 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...


I heard another one this weekend, supposedly that Muslim children are having nightmares that Donald Trump is coming to get them. Eeeek!

10/30/2016 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

I've never had any religious dreams but have had one vision at the time of my 'psychosis'.
Not of anything grand but rather ordinary.
Green leaves was all it was.
It still a puzzle for me to ponder.

10/30/2016 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Christina M said...

Julie, sorry I didn't answer until now. I'm so sporadic and had trouble finding this again. Nice to see you. The raccoon video is great. I'm lifting it.

I've been hearing about the Isa Dreams for a while now. For me as a Catholic, they have meaning and are significant.

The Peruvian president has consecrated Peru to the Sacred Heart, the Immaculate Heart.

We live in interesting times.

You know what makes me happiest? Our two sons, who have grown up, both remain faithful Mass-goers. I was not expecting that or counting on that, but it is so. One is in the military. One is at university, but is also in ROTC.

I have had several significant waking visions. One occurred after I basically decided I was going to hide from God. I had a waking vision of a place with no God in it, and me, just whimpering monotonously and endlessly. I was asked to make a choice: God or no God. I decided I didn't want to live in a world with no God.

Sometime after that, I rounded the curve in a road in Germany and suddenly caught a glimpse of a very spectacular, intense, crystal clear reality.

The third vision also occurred in Germany, during another military tour, and I saw God as a shepherd, dancing on a hill, and invading all of his creation. I have never been the same since

10/31/2016 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I love that third vision - how beautiful! The idea of God as shepherd has been a recurring theme for me the past few months; I looked it up once, and the term shepherd comes up over 100 times throughout the Bible.

10/31/2016 03:32:00 PM  

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