Friday, September 16, 2016

Homo Bangians and the New World

"With the advent of man," says Polanyi, "a whole new world of meanings burst into view." Absent this extraordinary Bang, it would be as if the others -- e.g., existence and life -- had never occurred. Certainly the latter two wouldn't mean anything. And in fact, nor do we Homo bangians mean anything unless we are converging upon the Singularity of singularities, AKA the Great Attractor.

A whole new world of meanings. What is the nature of this world? It is not merely the exterior world, for no meaning occurs there. Nor is it just the interior world, because with no anchor in reality, it is reduced to a dream. Rather, meaning takes place in the space between world and neurology, or between a ponderable exterior and pondering interior.

This world can only be known through personal participation; or just say persons. "Knowing of any sort," writes Prosch, "is the creation of a meaningful integration of subsidiary clues, dwelt in as a projection toward the achievement of a focally known whole -- even in the cases of perceptual objects of the sciences."

In other words, human perception is already the meaningful creation of an integrated whole. It is what humans do. In thinking about this, it must converge upon our mysterious ability to know universals. Almost as soon as we begin speaking, we are able to, for example, abstract dogginess from the dog or treeness from the tree. In other words, we organize the clues of this world into more abstract, universal, and meaningful categories.

"Perception does this, ordinary knowing does this, scientific knowing does this, poetry does this, religion does this."

Or in other words, we may regard knowing itself -- already an abstraction -- and appreciate an even deeper abstraction that unifies all its forms, from everyday perception to science to religion. If this is true, then "knowing the world" cannot be fundamentally different from "knowing God." Or, the data are different but the form is the same.

In a way, we already know this; for example, bio-logy is applying our reason to the data of life, as theo-logy is applying our reason to the data of God. Whether we are investigating bios, anthropos, or psyche, it is the same -logos that illuminates each.

Polanyi speaks of "conversion" from one worldview to another. While it applies to religion, the religious conversion represents a more universal phenomenon. Conversion as such "occurs when a person sees that a new world view would seem to open many more possibilities for a richer field of meaning than the one previously held" (Prosch).

This is why I conceptualize meaning as an attractor state in our psycho-pneumatic phase space. It is very much as if our minds are "pulled" into more stable attractors that integrate and harmonize more clues. This is very different from "imposing" meaning in a top-down manner, which always results in eliminating or obscuring important clues.

The latter involves a closed mind (and world), while the kind of exploration and discovery we're talking about requires openness and sensitivity to nonlocal (vertical) gravitational forces -- like surfing the invisible waves that flow between God and our local shores.

Speaking of gravitational forces, we are always "in the orbit" of God. In principle, thinking cannot occur without this attraction. Man is innately epistemophilic, meaning that he is a (the) truth-seeking being. No, he is the truth-loving being, hence the seeking. This accounts for the palpable joy of finding truth: it is what we are made to do.

Like any properly serious truth-loving being, Polanyi "took Gödel's theorems very seriously." Indeed, if only people would take him seriously, not only could we avoid an awful lot of philosophical mischief, we might even find a cure for tenure in our lifetimes. For it is written:

"No conceptual system can ever demonstrate within its system its own consistency." Rather, "Belief is always based on personal, tacit grounds, extraneous to the system..."

This comes very close to describing Adam's sin. For what is the Original Error to which man is always susceptible? Surely it must be imagining that his manmade system is sufficient unto itself; that it is both consistent and complete, thus having no need for that which transcends it, AKA God.

Note how this inevitably causes man to go off the cosmic rails. Again, in order for there to be be thinking at all, it must take place in the attractor space between man and Absolute. Deny this link -- this vertical trailroad -- and man only orbits himself in an act of cosmic onanism.

What we call "religion" is simply conscious participation in this orbiting; among other things, it allows us to "bring together events occurring in nature with a Cause that is not in nature," thus respecting Gödel and not incidentally the second commandment, for thou shalt have no other theorems before Gödel's.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Psychic Vomitoreum of Politics

Continuing with our Dual Track Theory of Mind and Everything Else, the next place I stumbled upon the concept was in the works of psychoanalyst James Grotstein, who writes that "Only through integration of various experiential perspectives is the illusion of unitary experience created, much as an integrated visual depth is achieved through an integration of slightly different visual images perceived by each eye."

In his case, he's talking about the complementary relationship between the conscious and unconscious minds. In the older conception, it was as if the conscious mind were built on the ruins of an older and more primitive unconscious, and understanding the latter was something like an archaeological dig.

But in the newer conception, we see that it is more of a dialectic, such that there is "unconsciousness" in all consciousness, and vice versa.

Indeed, this is what lends reality its richness, depth, and mystery; it is what makes us poets and visionaries instead of atheists or computers. Thank God, we always see (implicitly) more than we can possibly say (explicitly), which is one of the main points of Polanyi's epistemology.

Furthermore, we can never rid the world of this mystery on pain of being slapped upside the head by the ghost of Gödel. You might say that, try as we might to encircle the world with our left brain, our right brain always escapes confinement. Unless we somehow disable the latter.

Which does happen. Again, consider an extreme case such as Marxism, which fully explains man and history. But then Gödel slaps Marx upside the head, and reminds him that a theory can be complete or consistent, but not both. Which is it then Karl?

And now you know why every form of leftism since then is laughably inconsistent.


Okay, here's one chosen at random from this morning on liberals and their bogus charges of racism. Like Marxism, the liberal theory of white racism and white privilege is a complete explanation. But it cannot be consistent on pain of attributing an even worse form of racist oppression and privilege to Asians, Ashkenazi Jews, and Persian Americans.

Do not expect liberals to be troubled by their inconsistency any time soon. This would require a tolerance of cognitive dissonance to which liberals are notoriously intolerant.

The same applies to all forms of feminism, a doctrine so liberating that it can only exist at the end of a gunpoint, i.e., via state coercion.

In California schools, for example, no one is "free" to accept or reject feminism on the merits. Rather, it is legislated into textbooks, as it is into sports, into the university system, and on into statistical disparities in employment. But only for pleasant jobs. It doesn't matter if men have all the physically demanding but low paying ones.

Once you start looking for them, Dual Tracks are everywhere -- for example, in men and women. Feminists ardently desire to wish that one away, but from where does this perverse ardency emanate? For example, within my lifetime men were once ardent for women, and vice versa. But a feminist is ardent to be a man. "They are, in the end, asking women to make themselves unattractive to men and forego love and children" (Levin).

Anyway, with no less than two tracks operating at all times, one would think that the attainment of unitary experience would be difficult -- that we would constantly be aware of a kind of "split personality" within. Well, to a certain extent we are. One thing I like about Bion is that he reduces it all down to its most abstract terms, in this case Container (which he symbolizes ♀) and Contained (symbolized ♂). You could even say psychic womb and explosive seed.

Looked at in this way, you might say that Life is an unceasing attempt at containment. We are constantly being bombarded by thoughts, impulses, and emotions. From where do they come? Who knows? And as we mentioned yesterday, sometimes the process can go entirely off the rails, such that containment becomes impossible. The person-container becomes swamped by the contained, with no unity or coherence.

It just occurred to me how this is happening to the Clinton campaign. Think of the "narrative" as the container. Since Sunday, all sorts of things have broken through the container, and liberals are feverishly attempting to repair it. But as usual, they can never be consistent, only complete, however implausibly.

Another interesting dual track is nature vs. nurture. We are never one or the other, but an unsettled dialectic of both/and. Now feminism in particular, but liberalism more generally, defaults to the environmental side, with consequences ranging from ridiculous to malignant.

In fact, the consequences would be only ridiculous if not for the fact that liberals enlist the state to enforce the ridiculousness, as per the above. Similarly, I have nothing against homosexuals per se, but when the state insists that two members of the same sex can exist in a state of marriage, it is mandating compulsory absurdity.

We are all called upon to metabolize disparate experience into a unitary self -- just as when we digest food, it somehow turns into the body. But there are alternatives to digestion. For example, we can vomit, as in bulimia; we can starve ourselves, as in anorexia; we can eat indiscriminately and become fat; we can have metabolic disorders such as diabetes; etc.

Shifting to the psychic plane, one extremely common form of indigestion is projection. I'll provide a typical clinical example. A woman is at work, and sees a male coworker playfully reach up the skirt of a female coworker. The female withdraws but doesn't seem to mind. Rather, she is more flirtatious than bothered by it. In fact, she herself dresses inappropriately at work, with excessively short skirts.

Yes, the behavior is no doubt inappropriate for a workplace. But the woman who witnessed it becomes overwhelmed with anger and anxiety. The anxiety is so intense that it manifests in sweating, headache, and the impulse to vomit. And once it breaks through, it doesn't go away. It morphs into insomnia, phobic avoidance of work, and other symptoms. As in a nuclear reactor, the core has been breeched and is uncontained.

What is going on? We hear so much ridiculous blather about "triggers," that we may fail to appreciate that they do exist. For this person, the experience resonated with previously quiescent memories of having been sexually abused as a child. The memories have become "uncontained" and are spilling over into the exterior world. It is analogous to a kind of psychic vomiting of indigestible experience.

Much of politics is just management of the uncontained, especially of more primitive emotions of fear, anger, and envy. Without feminist and black rage, there is hardly a Democratic party. Likewise apocalyptic environmental fears. And then there is class envy. If liberals could merely contain these primitive emotions, then they wouldn't be liberals. Or in other words, they would no longer need liberalism to contain their primitive emotions.

Of note, they also project primitive "loving" emotions, such as the need to feel nurtured and protected by the state.

All of this presumes a developmental telos in man. In short, we all start out as helpless and dependent infants. With "good enough parenting" we will go through various developmental stages, ending with what is called "mature dependency."

This is an I-AMbiguous station, because it must avoid immature dependency on one side, and a pseudo-mature independence on the other. Indeed, it is a middle ground between the dual tracks of dependence/independence, or social-ism/narciss-ism.

This is all by way of a preluminary to the granddaddy of all Dual Tracks, man and God -- or, you might say our divine and human natures. It seems to me that all other tracks must be fractals of that one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Liberalism and Hyper-Psychosis

I'm not sure I remember when I first came across the idea of a Dual Track Mind, but it's definitely a thing, because it has subsequently popped up in numerous contexts.

It might well have been in Polanyi, who speaks of "dual control," "first by the laws that apply to its elements in themselves, and second, by the laws that control the comprehensive entity formed by them."

Such dual control is possible because "the principles governing the isolated particulars of a lower level, leave indeterminate their boundary conditions for the control of a higher principle."

This rules out reductionism, because "the operations of a higher level cannot be accounted for by the laws governing its particulars forming the next lower level." You can't deduce a novel's meaning by examining the grammar, syntax, spelling, or meanings of the individual words. Nor can any of these things account for good style, or artistry.

To be sure, there are "laws" of writing, but you can follow them to the letter, and this will not necessarily result in a good book, let alone artistry. The laws are necessary on their own level, but cannot account for the level above. Spelling or proper grammar are necessary to convey meaning, but obviously insufficient.

It is the same with organisms. The laws of physics operate within our bodies, but their boundary conditions are left open for the emergence of life. In turn, the boundary conditions of life are left open for mind. Although we rely upon the lower levels, it is "impossible to account for the operations of any higher level by the laws governing its isolated particulars."

This is why it makes no sense to reduce mind to matter, because it is identical in form to reducing semantics (meaning) to syntax (rules of word order). To the extent that a person does this, then it must equally apply to what he is saying. In other words, in order to be intellectually consistent, the reductionist must reduce his own meaning to nothing. But one cannot even affirm meaninglessness in a non-meaningful way.

Anyway, around the same time, I encountered the writings of psychoanalyst W.R. Bion, and saw the same principle at work.

Let's begin with the "raw stuff" of existence. What is it? We -- let's say I, to make it more immediate -- I am surrounded by phenomena, both outward and in. There are obviously things happening on the outside, but also things happening on the inside -- thoughts, impulses, emotions, sensations. Not to mention the fact that some of these external objects have their own interior -- persons and animals -- plus everything is situated in a flow of time from present to past or future to present.

That is a lot to juggle. How do I resolve this disparate phenomena into a unity? Sometimes it can be helpful to illuminate a process by considering what happens when it goes off the rails. Physicians, for example, learn a great deal about health by studying pathology. It is difficult to know, for example, what a pancreas is for until it stops doing it. You have no idea!

What is the mind for?

Hard to say, isn't it, when everything is going swimmingly?

First of all, the mind is an organ. Okay, what's an organ? It is "a part of an organism that is typically self-contained and has a specific vital function, such as the heart or liver in humans."

Note, however, the dual control as outlined above: a heart, for example, pumps away according to its own logic, unaware of the fact that it is situated in a higher organism that was recently asleep and is now banging away at a keyboard. The pumping is necessary for both activities, but obviously insufficient.

That most organs are physical shouldn't obscure the reality that they can be immaterial. Biological organisms are always four-dimensional, in that, in addition to their three spatial dimensions, they always operate in time. Should they cease doing so, that's how you know you're dead.

But our subjective organ -- I -- is characterized by the additional dimensions alluded to above: interior/exterior, past/present/future, I/Thou, not to mention all the many sub-categories in each of these. What could go wrong?

Coincidentally, a commenter recently alluded to having suffered a psychotic depression or depressive psychosis. What must that have been like? I would suggest that it is just an extreme example of What Can Go Wrong. In my opinion, mental illness in any form involves a "dismantling," so to speak, of meaning. At the same time, it generally involves the construction of "false meaning(s)" (for example, in paranoia).

The latter is not always true. For example, there is a form of psychosis in which each moment is a terrifying novelty, with no unity or continuity whatsoever. Interior and exterior unity are conflated, as are thoughts with impulses and ideas with environment. It's like a white-knuckle moment, only forever.

I'm remembering my first psychotic patient. One morning she told me that she had heard me outside her window speaking to her in the form of chirping birds. Obviously there was confusion between me, the birds, and the content of her own mind. I could think of additional examples, but you get the picture. There was a unity of sorts, but more like the unity of a Picasso painting.

Think of the mind as an organ for the purpose of making contact with reality. This presumes there is some pre-existent, unitary thing called reality, but the psychotic person demonstrates that this is not the case.

But so too does the reductionist demonstrate that this is not the case! Let's take a banal example that comes to mind, a high school sex education class. In the class the students are told everything about the biology and mechanics of sex. Perhaps this is all the teacher knows about the subject. Does his knowledge exhaust the subject, or is he missing something?

Another example comes to mind, "deconstruction," which you might say is a kind of institutionalized psychosis, in that it specializes in dismantling meaning and replacing it with something else. Or, it reduces meaning to power, which is about as helpful as saying that all blogging may be reduced to a beating heart.

Speaking of blogs, you might say that this one attempts to be the last word in reverse-psychosis, which is to say, hyper-sanity. How so? Well, think about it: at the very least, we are trying to perceive the unity behind -- or above -- science, religion, anthropology, metaphysics, political philosophy, economics, psychology, history, systems theory, aesthetics, you name it.

What could go wrong? Well, first of all, few people even attempt it. It's enough to harmonize the unruly phenomena of one's own mind!

And when it is attempted, instead of reverse psychosis, it generally results in (or from) hyper-psychosis. Remember, psychosis doesn't just involve the destruction of true meaning, but the construction of false. Thus, most intellectual systems -- a priori when they exclude interiority and religion -- are actually hyper-psychotic, say, Marxism. True, Marxism accounts for "everything," only by excluding everything it cannot explain (or even take cognizance of).

Just so, feminism is hyper-psychotic, as is any form or reductionism. Indeed, leftism is a kind of enforced collective hyper-psychosis. It doesn't reveal much about reality per se, except in the same way a heart attack tells you what a heart is for.

Really -- and this can definitely be true of certain conservatives as well -- it is more a system for managing the mind than for exploring reality. But it is preferable to the more active form of psychosis, in which nothing makes sense. In other words, false meaning is emotionally preferable to no meaning.

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Just Sipping Coffee while Sifting the Ruins of Liberalism

No time for a post. As a consolation prize, how about a few aphorisms that you can easily develop into whole posts inside the privacy of your own head?

Here is a Polanyi-esque one:

To understand is to find confirmation of something previously divined.

This one goes to what I would call our irreducibly Dual Track minds:

Reason is no substitute for faith, just as color is no substitute for sound.

In fact, one might add that a single eye is no substitute for two, since the third dimension only comes into view with the slightly different perspective of each eye. We might say that scientism is the reduction of science from two eyes to one. Conversely, add ears to science, and we have natural philosophy, or the philosophy of science. The integration of all senses and dimensions is metaphysics. The object apprehended is God.

A Catholic should simplify his life and complicate his thought.

In contrast to the liberal, who complicates his life and simplifies his thought. And the simpleminded thoughts are guaranteed to result in more complications, because the world is nonlinear and human nature is not like that.

What is philosophy for the Catholic, but the way intelligence lives its faith.

What is intelligence? It is first and foremost light. When this light illuminates faith, it is as if one finds oneself in a huge cathedral. Conversely, one can shine the same light through materialism, but one finds oneself in a cramped hovel unsuited for man.

Which is why

Words are not enough for civilization to be transmitted. When its architectural landscape crumbles, a civilization's soul deserts.

Liberals always rely on the "youth vote." But

Civilization is what old men manage to salvage from the onslaught of young idealists

That is all. Pleasant sifting!

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Energy Crisis of Leftist Thought

It seems that tension is everything; or that in the absence of tension, nothing can happen.

For example, the other day I overheard the wife homeschoolin' the boy, saying something about the positive and negative charges of H2O resulting in the surface tension of water. I chimed in that without the surface tension, it would be impossible to kill yourself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Think of the epistemological tension between man and world: we call it curiosity, or wonder, or imagination. Or, the tension between men and women. Without it, culture is impossible. And without the tension between man and Absolute (as discussed in the previous post), religion is deprived of its motive energy.

Interesting that the left explicitly tries to undermine those latter two (normal sexuality and religion), but the first as well (if it contradicts leftist dogma). Feminists, for example, are dogmatically pro-androgyny, which is to say, anti- (sexual) tension. They're all for other kinds of tension, most conspicuously the tension between how the world is and how they would like it to be. This produces a kind of perpoutual (e)motion, being that reality will always be reality, and frustrate feminist attempts to make it something else.

Think I'm exaggerating? It's all beautifully laid out in Levin's Feminism and Freedom -- which was published in 1987. Since then the tension between reality and feminist fantasy has only intensified. One reason it intensifies is that there is simply no way to eliminate nature. You can't wish away innate differences in strength, intelligence, ability, and interests. You can only yell at them from your safe space.

I suppose feminists will argue that Levin is unfair, being that he uses logic and evidence, which are tools of the patriarchy. Worse, he quotes all the major feminist writers, and expects them to be intellectually consistent, another tool of oppression ("as if citing facts at odds with feminism were intrinsically presumptuous").

Hmm. Do I really want to go down this path this morning? I'd had something else in mind, but perhaps this dreary subject will shed some darkness on the main theme -- that being the ontological Tension alluded to in paragraph one.

About that ontological tension: its supreme case -- indeed, its very source -- is the ineradicable tension between Creator and creation. To say "Creator" is to give a nod to this fruitful and dynamic tension that underlies all other tensions in existence.

Interestingly, for the Christian there is even a "Divine tension," so to speak, within the Godhead, AKA Trinity. The tension, say, between Father and Son is replicated in the relation between Son and Church; the Mary-Church ceaselessly incubates and gives birth to the Son who is its Father. This same tension is what elevates the spousal relation from animal to sacramental polarity.

(Incidentally, Levin is a secular materialist, so I don't want to imply that he would have anything to do with my religious musings.)

The problem with Levin's book is that there is just too much to draw from. Here's a random example. He cites one major (male!) feminist, who writes that "Just as the normal, typical adult is virtually oblivious to the eye color of other persons for all major interpersonal relations, so the normal, typical adult in [a] non-sexist society would be indifferent to the sexual, physiological differences of other persons for all interpersonal relationships."

Alright then. As it so happens, there is a Simpsons episode in which Marge challenges Homer to remember the color of her eyes. In a perfect feminist world, she would do the same with regard to her gender. Except she wouldn't get angry at Homer for failing to notice whether she is male or female. Rather, she would be flattered.

Just as it is Democrats who are the racists, it is Feminists who belittle and devalue women. For example, give a listen to Iconic Feminist Simone de Beauvoir: "The great danger which threatens the infant in our culture lies in the fact that the mother to whom it is confided in all its helplessness is almost always a discontented woman: sexually she is frigid or unsatisfied; socially she feels herself inferior to men; she has no independent grasp on the world or on the future..."

So, almost all women are sexually frustrated male wannabe nincompoops. Project much?

Out of curiosity, I am perusing her wiki article. "The Second Sex, published in French, sets out a feminist existentialism which prescribes a moral revolution. As an existentialist, de Beauvoir believed that existence precedes essence; hence one is not born a woman, but becomes one. Her analysis focuses on the Hegelian concept of the Other. It is the (social) construction of Woman as the quintessential Other that de Beauvoir identifies as fundamental to women's oppression. The capitalised 'O' in 'other' indicates the wholly other."

There is actually some very important sense buried in this steaming pile of utter nonsense. Recall what was said above about the ontological tension between Creator and creation. Existentialists deny this tension -- or invert it, rather -- such that instead of a tension between appearance (existence) and reality (essence), there is a tension between what we are and what we wish to be. Since existence is prior to essence, we are free to choose any essence we like. Which is the recipe for nihilism, the "nothingness" referred to in Sartre's Being and Nothingness.

Being and Nothingness are not analogous to Creator and Created. That is, compared to the Creator, Creation is indeed nothing. But compared to Nothing, Creation is everything. It is infused with a being that is a prolongation of Being as such. Hence the fruitful tension between our being and God's. But for the existentialist there is only a horizontal tension between one desire and another.

Levin adverts to the "scientific sterility" of feminism, which essentially comes down to its a priori rejection of any scientific hatefacts that refute feminism. He has an ironic comment to the effect that "a case can be made that religious critics of Darwin display a stronger sense of the unity of nature than do scientific critics of innateness in man."

How so? Well, first of all intrinsically, since we have an a priori belief in the unity of nature; but also because a religious person can have no objection to Darwinian conclusions about the separate tracks of sexual selection followed by males and females which has redounded to our essential differences. Or to say "God created them, male and female," is much closer to the truth than "evolution created them but they somehow ended up with no essential differences."

Levin amusingly demolishes that latter argument, because if primordial females actually believed and behaved as modern feminists, the human race would have become extinct before it ever got underway. In a word, mothers were somewhat central to the story. They were by no means alienated Hegelian Others, but rather, the intimate other with whom the baby communes in order to discover its own selfhood.

Pretty much out of time, but let me present the passage that got this whole line of thought underway. It's about Polanyi, via Prosch, and goes to the more universal principle we're driving at:

"To see a problem and to undertake its solution is to see a range of potentialities for meaning that appear to be accessible. Heuristic tension in a mind, then, might seem to be generated much as kinetic energy in physics is generated by the accessibility of more stable configurations.... These choices resemble quantum mechanical events in that they are guided by a field that nevertheless leaves them indeterminate."

Tension + Freedom = Discovery.