Friday, August 12, 2016

Predestined to Freedom

We were talking about a possible relationship between involution and universals. My intuition tells me that one is impossible without the other.

Now, first of all, what do we mean by involution? For me, it is almost synonymous with "creation," or at least with the manner in which the creator creates. In other words, because the universe is created, it has certain features that mark it as being so. Indeed, the existence of these features cannot be explained in any other way.

Our creator is intelligent, which is the sufficient reason for the intelligibility that pervades the cosmos wherever we look. Likewise our own intelligence, which both mirrors and explores the intelligibility: intelligence and intelligibility are complementary sides of the same single reality, i.e., the createdness of things.

Our creator is also -- obviously -- alive, thus we inhabit a living cosmos. As I suggested in the book, biological life is a kind of focused concentration of a more general principle, like light through a magnifying glass. This is one reason why I was so drawn to the works of biologist Robert Rosen, because he says the same thing, even though he was not a believer. Rather, he just saw that biology was more universal than physics.

This is also why I was so pleased when a reader alerted me to the works of "metaphysical architect" (my term) Christopher Alexander. Alexander says that life is everywhere implicit in the cosmos, and that it is his job as an architect to render it explicit via certain patterns and relationships. Interestingly, you would think that this is a rather abstract theory, but it is really quite the opposite.

That is, it is empirical and experiential, at least if your soul remains open to it. You have one experience in, say, the Chartres cathedral, another inside a McDonald's. The former not only is more "alive," but it also radiates or transmits a spiritual presence. Conversely, the McDonald's transmits no life and no spirit. It is barren and dry -- even more barren and dry than the empty land on which it sits.

Which goes to another point: it is not as if the living spiritual reality is only made present by man's manipulation of patterns and relationships. Rather, it is spontaneously present everywhere in nature, in mountains, rivers, oceans, clouds, the animal kingdom, the starry sky, etc. Why should this be so? And why shouldn't we trust our intuition when it conveys the reality of a spirit-saturated nature?

That is one way I think of involution: that the Creator is everywhere involved in his creation. This is not the same as directing it from above or pulling all the strings in a deterministic manner. What I am saying doesn't so much go to cause as to presence; it is more a vertical reality than a horizontal one.

When we are in the presence of the sacred, it is not something brought about causally from past to present, but vertically from the top down. Sanctity is the downward prolongation of God into our world. We don't create it, but we must be open to it. Also, we can bring about circumstances that render it more visible -- or palpable -- but again, that doesn't mean we are its source.

To say that man is created is to say that we too are a kind of prolongation of God, such that God is intimately involved in and with us. In man there are both horizontal and vertical causes, not to mention different degrees in each. In other words, there is both horizontal and vertical hierarchy.

In one sense, we are a "creation" of the past. We can each trace past causes that led to our present circumstances. However, this can never be an exhaustive explanation, because the horizontal causes are always interacting with vertical ones. We are woven by a mysterious pattern of freedom and necessity, and it is easy to overemphasize one or the other, i.e., to fall into predestination at one end (no freedom) and existentialism at the other (all freedom, AKA nothingness).

This is something I tried to convey in an orthoparadoxical comment yesterday to a post by Bruce Charlton. I'm not sure I made my point clear when I suggested that "we are only truly free to the extent that we choose what we are and what is. Only a free being can comprehend predestination, and man is uniquely predestined to be free to realize the destiny that precedes him."

That soiled gem of bobscurity was inspired by an essay by Schuon called The Question of Evangelicalism. The theme of the piece is on whether protestantism is legitimate or not (short answer: yes), but it is a wide-ranging article that touches on many primordial issues, one of which being the paradoxical relationship between freedom and predestination -- or our freedom and God's omnipotence. How can these two coexist? I know, I know, but the standard answers don't satisfy my demand for logic, or at least compelling illogic.

I'm not sure I even understood what Schuon is saying, which is why I'm returning to it. Hopefully this isn't a distraction, but will somehow relate to the topic at hand, involution and universals.

First of all, Schuon points out that there are spiritual archetypes. By definition these archetypes are ontologically prior to us; we don't invent them, but rather, discover them. Or, more likely, we simply unconsciously identify with one.

God is obviously the archetype of archetypes. You could say that the archetypes are analogous to his primordial thoughts, at least as they pertain to our world. There is a human archetype, which is to say, our nature. Indeed, you could say that Jesus is God's archetype of man, just as he is our archetype of God. Both vectors meet in Jesus, which is pretty much the whole point of his being here with (and in) us.

For Schuon, an archetype is a "legitimate spiritual possibility." There are of course illegitimate spiritual possibilities, as found in everything from Nazism to new-ageism to leftism. These all involve counterfeit archetypes.

In the case of the funny pneumatic money, it is as if they invent and bow down to their own manmade archetypes. But this only encloses them in their own absurcular microcosmos, closed and cut off from the whole, the real source of life and spirit (not to mention intelligence; or, to be precise, intelligence renders itself stupid when it cuts itself off from its own vertical source -- just as life renders itself dead when it closes itself to the environment via starvation or asphyxiation).

"Each denomination manifests the Gospel in a certain manner," writes Schuon. A Catholic would say that his denomination does so in the fullest manner, but the Protestant would reply that too much of Catholicism is at the human margin, away from the core transmission. The purpose of this post is not to arbitrate that question, but rather, to point out that religion is somewhat analogous to Alexander's conception of architecture, in that it is a kind of vertical and nonlocal "structure" for rendering spirit present -- a cathedral of the mind (and spirit).

Schuon notes that Protestantism "retains from the Gospel the spirit of simplicity and inwardness while accentuating the mystery of faith..." Interestingly, he suggests that part of this has to do with the nature and needs of the Germanic soul -- needs that are not in and of themselves illegitimate. In fact, we all deserve a God who speaks to us, i.e., in our "language of being."

I wonder if the language of being changed with the emergence of widespread literacy? It must have. The iconography of Catholicism and Orthodoxy speaks even to the illiterate. You might say it is a direct transmission to the right brain, but what happened when people became literate and therefore more left-brained? It must have awakened a new need for clarity and individuality.

At the same time, "Lutheran doctrine is founded essentially upon the anthropological pessimism and the predestinationism of Saint Augustine: man is fundamentally a sinner, and he is totally determined by the Will of God."

Is this a "legitimate" archetype? Yes and no. For Luther, "the first condition of salvation... is the awareness of abysmal and invincible sin, and hence the impossibility of vanquishing sin by our own strength." There is a tension between grace and freedom, but Luther emphasizes the former. And it is true that grace is a necessary condition -- i.e., a condition without which -- but that doesn't mean there are no sufficient conditions that can cooperate (or not) with it.

Schuon suggests that "Without works, faith would not quite be faith, and without faith, works would be eschatologically inoperative," i.e., just horizontal arrangements cut off from God, with no intrinsic meaning or value.

But Luther sacrifices "freedom to the Prescience and Omnipotence of God," and therefore "intelligence to faith." For Schuon, "this is solely a question of spiritual temperament," not of the literal reality of things. I know people who are reassured by the idea that "God is in control" and that everything will somehow work out for the best. I am just not built that way, and if I said that, I would be lying to myself.

Back to the question at hand. Schuon points out that "Absolute Being comprises both Necessity and Freedom." And because this is the case, our world is comprised of the same things -- again, think of God's involution, his involvement in creation. Therefore, "it is false to deny the possibility of freedom in the world, just as it is false to deny predestination."

It would appear that freedom and necessity (predestination) are truly complementary. But in all complementaries, one must be prior. Which is what I was trying to convey in the comment above, in that it is necessary to be free in order to know our destiny. Necessity must be a mode of freedom, because the converse could never be true. We are predestined to freedom, and there is not a thing we can do about it. Except to use freedom to choose our (pre)destiny.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ideas have Consequences, Especially this One

If we invert the materialist's cosmos, then what we see as evolution is the consequence of a prior involution. The wiki article on the subject points out that involution "refers to different things depending on the writer." That's not good. We need to specify what we mean, because it is a critical concept.

"In some instances it refers to a process that occurs prior to evolution and gives rise to the cosmos, in others an aspect of evolution, and still others a process that follows the completion of evolution in the human form."

In skimming the wiki article, I don't see anything that exactly coincides with my view -- perhaps because I've never actually explicitly thought it through, or at least written it out in plain english. (I have, however, described it in unglish in the Cosmonaught section of the book.)

Rather, for me it is a strong intuition; not only does it make sense, but perhaps more importantly, without it, nothing makes sense. It is a unifying concept. A heuristic. In this regard, it is somewhat analogous to God. Remove God and not only is there no meaning, but there is no possibility of meaning. Nothing makes sense because only Nothing Is.

This line of thought was inspired by something Mitchell says about artificial intelligence. She points out that there are several things human intelligence readily accomplishes, but which artificial intelligence can't. Each of these goes to the very nature of humanness, and has no scientific explanation.

For example, computers cannot make analogies, which "is the ability to perceive abstract similarity between two things in the face of superficial differences." But "this ability pervades every aspect of what we call intelligence."

It is also the basis of much humor. Siri can retrieve jokes. But could she invent a new one? I hear my son watching the Simpsons in the background. Homer gazes upon the Grand Canyon, and says something like, "And people say we're running out of space for our trash." The joke is based on the unexpected analogy between the Grand Canyon and a landfill.

Nor do computers have "sensitivity to context." It minds me of a Get Smart episode, when the Chief tells Hymie the robot to knock it off. In another episode Max tells him to "hit the light," and he proceeds to smash a lightbulb.

Another thing computers cannot do is describe a picture. This is because they cannot see holistically, only atomistically. For a computer, the sum cannot be greater than its parts.

But perhaps the most important deficit is the inability to perceive universals. This is truly one of the things that defines human intelligence. For Aquinas, it is the first act of the mind, the thing we must do before we can properly can think at all. A five year-old can do this with ease -- for example, see that the dog is a dog, i.e., part of a larger category of universal dogginess.

Now, the modern view appears to be that there is no such thing as universals. This is the consequential idea Richard Weaver writes about in his Ideas have Consequences. Yes, ideas have consequences, but perhaps the most consequential idea of all is that they do -- i.e., that ideas are ontologically real.

You might say that ideas have consequences, especially this one! Can a computer understand this? No, because a computer is confined to its own program, and can never take a perspective from outside or beyond itself. A computer is always in the loop. But humans routinely escape from the loop, a la Gödel. How?

Above I said that my intuition tells me that involution is a key concept for understanding reality. And now my intuition is telling me that there is a strong relationship between involution and universals. What could it be?

I guess we'll have to find out tomorrow, because I'm really out of time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What is Life?

I was just reading a post by Roger Simon on why the press hates Trump, and it goes to what we've been saying about liberals and complexity.

On the one hand, "No more perfect candidate of the status quo has ever come along than Hillary Clinton." Conversely, "Donald Trump is a wholly different matter. No one, especially the media, knows what he really intends to do. The media doesn't like this because if there's one thing they don't like, no matter what they profess, it is change. Or loss of control." It is why liberals hate the free market, the first amendment, talk radio, anything that lessens their grip.

The problem is that change is obviously inevitable. Complex, dynamic systems -- such as the weather -- are defined by change. However, they exhibit a certain type of change: too much change results in chaos, whereas too little results in stasis, AKA death. Thus, a complex system operates on the mysterious knife edge between order and disorder. Too much of either is fatal.

As it applies to the psychopolitical dimension, Chesterton said it well: "A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation." One definition of conservatism is the desire to conserve the institutions, customs, and laws that make this type of healthy change possible. One definition of liberalism is total ignorance of these same things, e.g., marriage, rule of law, private property, equality before the law, respect for the constitution, the necessity of religion, etc.

Everyone wants "change" in the abstract, because nothing is perfect. But the absence of perfection can hardly be used as the pretext for change, since nothing will ever be perfect. Nevertheless -- and here is another sharp difference between the two political philosophies -- liberals project unavoidable existential realities into the realm of politics, whereas conservatives accept man as he is, and do not pretend there is a political cure for what ails him.

To bring it down to a practical level, liberals look at the world and ask why it can't be better. Conservatives look at the same world and are astonished that it works at all. The more one studies history, the more one appreciates the rarity and fragility of what we once had in the United States. The left never appreciated that rarity, for which reason they have always been so casual about discarding the values, principles, and institutions that made it all possible.

What is the ruling principle of the left? Surely it is equality. Okay, fine. But what happens if you try to force things to be "equal" in a complex system? Complex systems are always hierarchical. For example, if equality existed in the world of physics, there would be only hydrogen atoms; if it existed in the biosphere, we would all be amoebas; and if it existed in the economy, we would all be Venezuela.

Likewise, if equality exists between man and woman, then we are all Pajama Boy, or Chris Hayes, or Lena Dunham. Olympic athlete Kerri Walsh Jennings made the error of advertising her biological inequality, declaring that she was born to have babies. The horror! "What is NBC doing to us?" "Is Donald Trump running the network?!" Kerri Walsh Jennings is a woman. But what is that commenter? Something arrested on the way to womanhood, I suppose.

Not only is complexity impossible without hierarchy, but one measure of complexity is the degree of hierarchy. For example, there is more hierarchy in a man than a mollusk. "The most important common attributes of complex systems are hierarchy and near-decomposability" (Mitchell).

Complex systems such as the human body are composed of subsystems, from organs to cells to to cellular subsystems and on down, probably even to the quantum level. And each interacts both horizontally and vertically; in man, our verticality reaches up into the realms of mind and spirit, which is why it is so fucking retarded to try to reduce a higher level to a lower one, when the whole system only exists because of its irreducible dynamic and hierarchical complexity. And there is no hierarchy without a toppermost of the poppermost.

Can you really understand, say, carbon -- the molecular basis of life -- by examining only its atomic structure as opposed to its possibilities, i.e., its power to relate, to bond with other molecules? The wiki article quotes materialist brainiac Stephen Hawking, who says that "What we normally think of as 'life' is based on chains of carbon atoms, with a few other atoms, such as nitrogen or phosphorus." Well, yes. We might also say that what we normally think of as "Shakespeare" is based on chains of consonants, with a few vowels such as 'A' and 'E" tossed in. This type of bottom-up approach doesn't explain, but explains away.

What we normally think of as life. Hawking implies that it is abnormal to think of life in his molecular terms, and surely he is correct. Note that the higher up the hierarchy we proceed, the more absurd the reduction to molecular interactions. Is it possible to consider the phenomenon of life on its own terms, instead of reflexively reducing it to a bizarre and inexplicable side effect of physics and chemistry?

Well, for starters, I thought this was one of the very purposes of the science of complexity. The hint is in its name: complexity, not simplicity, i.e., reductionism. This is why I was so delighted when I somehow discovered the works of theoretical biologist Robert Rosen. Back when I was writing the book, it was his ideas that provided me with some intellectual back-up for the vertical links between life and physics below, and life and mind above. Rosen does not attempt to reduce life to physics; rather, the converse: he maintains that physics applies only to statistically rare types of systems, and that biology may well be our paradigmatic science.

I would go much further than Rosen. To paraphrase Whitehead, biology is the study of large organisms, whereas physics is the study of the smaller ones. For the same reason, conservatism is the politics of life, while leftism is the politics of death.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Red Pill and the Negentropic God

Time only for a speed post. Perhaps enough to follow up on yesterday's loose ends.

We were discussing one of the subtle but nevertheless dramatic differences between left and right, which comes down to an appreciation of complexity. Note that when progressivism was really gaining steam in the early 20th century, conservatives had no intellectual -- or at least epistemological -- defense for it. Rather, we were dismissed as hopelessly retrograde fossils bitterly clinging to scientifically outmoded things like religion, personal liberty, limited government, and love of one's culture.

Progressives such as John Dewey would have none of this. Their whole philosophy was rooted in the idea that society was like a machine and government the operator or driver. In order for the driver to get where he wanted to go, the constitution was an obvious barrier. Rather, we should leave governance in the hands of the self-appointed experts, and let them do whatever is necessary to keep us all happy. Free blue pills for everyone. Red pills forbidden.

But society is not like a machine, and no one -- short of a dictator -- can drive it. Rather, society is much more like an evolved organism with countless adaptations that have proven beneficial over time. Take marriage, for example. Two-person heterosexual marriage -- AKA marriage -- has been so successful for so long in the Christian west, that we have forgotten how to defend it. It never occurred to anyone to defend it, even until as recently as 20 or so years ago.

Thus, because it (apparently) couldn't be rationally defended, it was taken to be irrational, or just rooted in an arbitrary and benighted prejudice. With its foundations cut from under it, it didn't take long for the final blow, delivered by a divided Supreme Court, to knock it down. "Ironically," now there actually is no rational definition of the word, for it is anything our robed clowns want it to be. There can be no principled opposition to polygamy, sibling marriages, or cross-species unions.

Levin writes that "Roosevelt and other progressives argued for an unprecedented degree of national control over the economy -- and even over the growth of personal wealth. 'We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used,' Roosevelt said." Well used? Who is this "we" who will decide if my money is put to good use? And what do they mean by "good?" A: Whatever they want it to mean.

Roosevelt continues: "It is not enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."

Hmm. That would seemingly exclude the Clintons, who have made a fortune selling their influence to the highest bidder. But it's all in the service of the a priori Good of progressives gaining power, so this ill-gotten gain is actually to our benefit.

I sense a tautology, i.e., "it's good because a progressive is doing it" -- similar to Nixon's "if the president does it, it's legal." Being progressive absolves one of any- and everything -- like celebrities who fly their private jets halfway around the world for climate change conferences, or Black Leaders who become wealthy by perpetuating the victimhood of their dupes.

Weather is a quintessential complex system. It has more variables than we know, and the variables interact in ways we cannot predict. In the case of climate science, it doesn't even know what it doesn't know, which is why its models always and inevitably fail.

Complex systems exhibit what is known as sensitive dependence on initial conditions. What this means is that even a tiny tweak in one variable can lead to massive changes in the system as a whole. Thus, even the best computer models of weather are "reasonably accurate only to about one week in the future." The best climate models aren't accurate at all. Of AGW's ideological cousin, communism, it was said the "the future is known. It's the past that keeps changing." Similarly, in the case of AGW, the future is known, even if earth refuses to cooperate.

Again, we just don't know what we don't know. And not only that. Rather, in the case of complex systems, we can never know what we don't know. In other words, the ignorance is not only de facto but de jure. "The key property is nonlinearity. A linear system is one you can understand by understanding its parts individually and then putting them together" (Mitchell). But "a nonlinear system is one in which the whole is different from the sum of the parts." In a nonlinear system, 2+2 can really equal 5. Reminds one of the Trinity, as in how 1+1 = 3.

Nonlinearity is "the reductionist's nightmare." Really, it spells the end of the dream of reductionism. But from the Raccoon perspective, it is reductionism that is the human nightmare. Who would want to live in such a cosmos except control freaks on the OCD spectrum? Novelty. Creativity. Upside surprise. A new blog post. What would life be without these unpredictable things?

"A complete account of how such entropy-defying self-organization takes place is the holy grail of complex systems science." But I don't believe complexity will ever be explained with the crude tools of scientism. In this regard, we ought to listen to Godel, who proved that any logical system contains assumptions that cannot be proved by the system. Thus, any complete explanation of complexity will be inconsistent, and any consistent one will be incomplete.

In order to understand complexity, I think we also need to take negentropy seriously. It is not just some side effect of entropy, rather, the converse. You could say that God is the ultimate source of negentropy, and that this is reflected in such terrestrial phenomena as life, mind, spirit, creativity, etc. In short, we already have a holy grail, and one is more than enough.

To be continued...

Monday, August 08, 2016

Reality: It's Complex

Last Friday we left off with a reminder that liberals are stuck in an outmoded 20th century -- 19th century, really -- epistemology which ensures that what they want to happen will not happen (and that things they never imagined happening will happen). It's like trying to use a map of London to get around Paris. This is not a new idea. Hayek realized it 75 years ago, and von Mises before him:

"Today it is almost heresy to suggest that scientific knowledge is not the sum of all knowledge. But a little reflection will show that there is beyond question a body of very important but unorganized knowledge which cannot possibly be called scientific in the sense of knowledge of general rules: the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place. It is with respect to this that practically every individual has some advantage over all others because he possesses unique information of which beneficial use might be made, but of which use can be made only if the decisions depending on it are left to him or are made with his active coöperation" (Hayek).

Thus, before there was even an explicit science of complexity, Hayek had an implicit grasp of it:

"economists are increasingly apt to forget about the small changes which make up the whole economic picture" because of "their growing preoccupation with statistical aggregates, which show a very much greater stability than the movements of the detail" (ibid.).

A complex system is one in which "many simple parts are irreducibly entwined," such that "relatively simple components with only limited communication among themselves collectively give rise to complicated and sophisticated system-wide ('global') behavior" (Mitchell). Thus, you can't reasonably hope to change a complex system by attempting to manipulate the aggregate from the top down; to be precise, you can surely change it, but you cannot predict how the system will behave.

When politicians talk about high-level abstract aggregates such as "the middle class," it is not as if you can push a button that will result in a larger middle class in some linear manner. Remember, no one ever planned this "middle class," and if it had been planned, it would have never happened. Similarly, no one "plans" science. Rather, scientific progress is a result of the automatic coordination of thousands of independent scientific actors.

Think of global warming, which is beset by two major problems. First, it has never produced a model that can accurately retrodict the past, let alone predict the future. Second, the field itself is controlled from the top down by various state and transnational actors and interests. The science is not being permitted to evolve in the usual way, from the bottom up, but is constantly distorted by the interests of organizations such as the the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

My own racket, psychology, has been ruined by activists who seek to control it from the top down. I've been licensed since 1991, but today it is impossible to pass the verbal exam without making it past the Thought Police, who force one to accept certain Truths of psychology such as multiculturalism. Nor can you even think that any homosexual has ever become heterosexual as a result of psychotherapy. Vice versa is fine, but some things are absolute and Not to Be Wondered About. Curiosity is permitted only so far and no farther.

This book about complexity proved disappointing. It started off well, but bogged down in excessive detail. The most interesting thing about complexity itself is how the details become the system, i.e., how the trees become the forest. I hadn't read a book on the subject for about a decade, but it turns out that nothing has changed in the interim: no one has a clue. There are many theories, but they all have obvious holes.

A big part of the problem -- ironically -- is that they try to reduce complexity to some scientistic explanation, when that is the whole point of complexity -- that it transcends material science itself. No mundane type of scientist is comfortable with this realization, so they are barred from using the everyday tools of the Raccoon such as teleology, AKA future or top-down organization -- let alone the strangest attractor of them all, God.

In a way, complexity is the most astonishing fact of existence, for it is the necessary condition for every other astonishing fact, including astonishment itself. A complex system is one "in which large networks of components with no central control and simple rules of operation give rise to complex collective behavior, sophisticated information processing, and adaptation via learning or evolution" (ibid) -- for example, in the brain.

Perhaps the problem is in the definition itself: it is assumed at the outset that there is "no central control," when in fact the cosmos may be filled with nonlocal attractors that draw the system from "above." Not only do I believe we live in such a cosmos, nothing and no one could ever convince me otherwise. In the absence of this principle, not only does nothing make sense, it is not possible for anything to make sense. In other words, the ultimate meaning of things transcends us. Any meaning we superimpose on the parts "from below" is just a local projection.

It is as if Mitchell searches for the meaning of complexity in something less than what the complexity points toward; she looks backward instead of forward, down instead of up. Which is fine for scientists, but not philosophers. It is what scientists do.

But again, we know in principle that there are strict boundaries around what science may know. If we pretend that science is epistemologically unbounded, then we either inflate science to a godlike status or reduce God to math and chemistry. Consider: "It was the understanding of chaos that eventually laid to rest the hope of perfect prediction of all complex systems, quantum or otherwise" (Mitchell). Not only are there more variables than anyone could ever know, the possible interactions between them are as close to infinite as we can get this side of creation.

Imagine trying to model something as complex as history. One measure of complexity is the amount of information necessary to describe the system. As it pertains to history, nothing less than the totality of history can describe itself. Indeed, think of the impossibility of describing the life of a single person, let alone the totality! You quickly find yourself lost in infinitude.

But this does't stop the left. Think of Marx's crude reduction of history to a clash of class interests. It reminds one of an aphorism: A vocabulary of ten words is enough for a Marxist to explain history.

Come to think of it, a unifying principle that emerges from Levin's previous book, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left, is the idea that conservatives respect cultural and economic complexity, whereas the left imagines it can produce better systems by the imposition of top-down control.

And now that I think about it, like Burke, this may be one of the unifying themes of Don Colacho's aphorisms, i.e., respect for complexity and skepticism toward the linear psycho-political schemes of the left and their unintended consequences:

The difference between "organic" and "mechanical," in social facts, is a moral one: the "organic" is the result of innumerable humble acts; the "mechanical" is the result of a decisive act of pride.

The error lies not in dreaming that secret gardens exist, but in dreaming they have doors.

The left's theses are trains of thought that are carefully stopped before they reach the argument that demolishes them.

Revolutions have as their function the destruction of the illusions that cause them.

The modern state is the transformation of the apparatus which society developed for its defense into an autonomous organism which exploits it.

Propose solutions? As if the world were not drowning in solutions!

Legal freedom of expression has grown up alongside the sociological enslavement of thought.

Social problems cannot be solved. But we can ameliorate them by preventing our determination to alleviate just one of them from aggravating all.

A man is called a liberal if he does not understand that he is sacrificing liberty except when it is too late

Liberty is indispensable not because man knows what he wants and who he is, but so that he can find out who he is and what he wants.

Human warmth in a society diminishes by the same measure that its legislation is perfected.

The devil can achieve nothing great without the careful collaboration of the virtues.

Society's most serious ailments usually come from the imprudence with which they are treated.

Reason, truth, justice, tend not to be man's goals, but the names he gives to his goals.

Hell is the place where man finds his plans realized.

The cause of the modern disease is the conviction that man can cure himself.

One could go on and on...