Friday, March 17, 2017

Variations on a Theme of Reality

More variations on a theme of Schuon. But I ended up having little time to improvise on it. Too many distractions. In any event, first the theme. Maestro:

♪♫ Man's spiritual alchemy comprises two dimensions, or two phases, which can be designated by the terms "doctrine" and "method," or "truth" and "way." The first element appears as the divine Word, and the second as the human response; in this sense the truth is a descent, and the way an ascent. ♪♫

This is pretty much what I was driving at with our old friends (↓) and (↑). Schuon is already pretty abstract, and I'm just abstracting from the abstraction and distilling the essence from the essential.

Right away this reminds me -- remember, we're just improvising here -- of something Nasr says in The Essential Schuon: that his writings "are characterized by essentiality, universality and comprehensiveness."

As to the first, "they always go to the heart and are concerned with the essence of whatever they deal with."

Or in other words -- and this is something we are always striving for as well, otherwise why bother writing? -- he tries to reach "to the very core of the subject he is treating" and go "beyond forms to to the essential formless Center of forms," in what amounts to "a journey that is at once intellectual and spiritual from the circumference to the Center."

Circumnavalgazing the whole existentialada, we call it, or sayling 'round the unsayable sea of being. Verticalesthenics. Same difference.

Essence. Exactly what does it mean? "The intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character; a property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is; the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features."

Something is essential if, when we remove it, the thing to which it attaches is no longer itself. This has many important applications, for example, what is the essence of the United States?

In order to address that question, we need to go meta, or become even more abstract and essential, for philosophy itself split in two some 700 years ago with the development of nominalism. The, er, essence of nominalism is the denial of essences, precisely, such that anyone who talks about them is talking about nothing, or certainly nothing real.

In truth, one cannot not be an essentialist, for reasons implicit in the above paragraph -- i.e., that without a notion of essence, one can't even speak of its denial. It's ultimately a variant of the postmodern "there's no such thing as truth" gag. Nominalism, like relativism, Darwinism, and scientism, is soph-beclowning.

Of course, Richard Weaver's Coon Classic Ideas Have Consequences is on just this subject.

Nominalism expands the world in a certain sense, in that everything becomes an individual instance of itself. But this is only a horizontal expansion, with no way to organize it from above.

Some people have described a bad acid trip this way: it is as if every moment becomes a catastrophic novelty, with no way to make sense of it. Psychosis has been characterized this way as well: nonstop nameless dread -- and dreadful because nameless.

In reality, it's a complementarity. Much of the history of philosophy involves some guy grabbing at one end of a complementarity and running with it. Looked at this way, a strong realist is as wrong as a strong anti-realist. For reality is a tapestry of form and substance, or music and geometry, or spirit and matter, or boxers and briefs, whatever.

But denying universals denies everything transcending experience, thus denying one's own denial. Which is an affirmation of universals.

Much of what we call "fake news" (as well as liberal fakademia) is a result of messing with concrete facts, abstract universals, and the space in between. When a Republican is caught redhanded, it's a Culture of Corruption. When a Democrat is so caught, it's just an aberration, and besides, being a Democrat has nothing to do with it. Obama? Vigorous executive. Trump? Fascist usurper.

The other evening Tucker Carlson was trying to get a Planned Parenthood executive to say whether or not a fetus is a human being. Fascinating, in a creepy way. We all know what the answer is, but she simply could not or would not say it. She was the very essence of anti-humanism.

12 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

"...without a notion of essence, one can't even speak of its denial."

I was thinking along those lines recently re. snowflakes. On the one hand, yes, each one is unique and thus distinct from all other snowflakes. On the other hand, each is also like all those other snowflakes in an way; were they not, they would not be snowflakes.

3/17/2017 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"I was thinking along those lines recently re. snowflakes. On the one hand, yes, each one is unique and thus distinct from all other snowflakes. On the other hand, each is also like all those other snowflakes in an way; were they not, they would not be snowflakes."

And that is exactly the same as human personality.

Everyone is different.

Everyone is the same.

3/17/2017 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Exactly. It's a mysterious process that goes to the heart of human knowing.

3/17/2017 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"Some people have described a bad acid trip this way: it is as if every moment becomes a catastrophic novelty, with no way to make sense of it. Psychosis has been characterized this way as well: nonstop nameless dread -- and dreadful because nameless."

So acid trips and psychosis are kind of like practicing law.

3/17/2017 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

Yep, sounds about right.

3/17/2017 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

FYI, this history of US economic power is outstanding. Highly raccoomended.

3/17/2017 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Abdulmonem Othman said...

I am therefore I pray I pray therefore I am. When Schuon spoke about invocation as the culmination of the essence of prayer that comes to fruition after gradually travelling from the first, personal petitional mode to the canonical mode entering the meditative mode toward human ascendancy and god descent because we do not know where we are going to meet him, since the divine highest point like his essence is unknown. This realm of epistemological contact is the serene place where the seeker realizes that his knowing is a gift of his knowing where he bows in humility and gratitude for the gift. Nobody knows how many steps the ladder to him contains. Each rung is a station and no one knows his station that is why everyone has to remain in full awareness of his presence and that the purification of the heart is the only way to start the journey. Schuon in my knot and one of my universal spiritual guid to the the only universal god, Schuon who went to Algier to meet Al-Alwai a sufi moslem to learn the way up unhindered by his traditional box, so also he went to Morroca then to Egypt to befriend Guenon in the way up. There is a way of contacting god those of pure heart and sincere devotion know and know how to invoke the graceful contact. Spiritual journey is not a mental exercise and no one can initiate the process without his initiation. How much is our efforts and how much is his grace is the bewlidering realm where all seekers have to endure.

3/17/2017 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Abdulmonem Othman said...

God did not make the human to make wealth but to enjoy the divine abundance that has been given to humanity freely, in a sign to tell them to do the same within the constraints and the problems the humans find themselves besieged by them, major among them the human paradoxical psyche that contains what make of them devils or angels. Our civilization has gained wealth but lost its soul according to the divine dictionary as the only criteria to evaluate the human performance. The tragedy resides in most people thinking that there is no other life but this and therefore we have to enjoy to the rim. All prophets and all sages think otherwise. I do not like to associate god with prophets which runs contrary to his free gift of everything we enjoy including our consciousness.

3/17/2017 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Jonah thought much the same...

3/17/2017 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gang.

I like Abdulmonem's comment, excerpts including "There is a way of contacting God...to invoke the graceful contact," and "Spiritual journey is not a mental exercise." I'll qualify these, the point being in addition to the intellectual joy of exploring God via reading philosophy and discussion, the God lover seeks personal contact via whatever method seems to work. In this way questions can have a direct answer from the source, and then one can also, optionally, read up on what other people have heard from the source. This will get most of the "work" of understanding God done handily.

And then of course there is the discussion of philosophy surrounding God (highly speculative usually), which is highly addictive and enjoyable in it's own right.

3/17/2017 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Abdulmonem Othman said...

Thank you Anon, I fully agree, consciousness is multi-layered tool that refuses to be imprisoned in one of its layer. The imaginative layer is the most important layer in the spiritual experience with the help of all others layers. They say, rememberance is our inlet toward the awareness of the bond we have started our consciousness with; my interest in Schuon mental journey in search of the one spiritual chalice support your right vision.

3/17/2017 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're quite welcome, Abdulmonem.

As you say, "rememberance is our inlet towards the awareness of bond we have started our consciousness with;..."

This resonates with what I intuit; we come to life on Earth from a place where we had a bond with God. Therefore, knowing God is not so much learning new things, as it is remembering what you already know, but which has become hard to access in life. At least, that is how I interpret your saying.

And, your interest in Shuon, or any other sage, "supports your right vision." This is where I think great value comes from reading our Blog Author's posts...as a sage, Godwin supports right vision, and helps us recover knowledge from within. May he live long and post profusely.

3/18/2017 07:49:00 PM  

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