Friday, April 21, 2017

Infrarational, Rational, Transrational

Just because something isn't rational -- or reducible to logical expression -- doesn't mean it isn't true (apologies for the triple negative). Nor, for that matter, is something necessarily true just because it is rational.

For example, many rational acts are immoral. But does this imply the converse, that moral acts are irrational? No, because such acts must comport with a higher logic -- i.e., they are transrational. Looked at this way, the immoral act becomes irrational -- or infrarational -- in the broader sense.

Some time ago I noticed that anti- or irreligious people tend to descend into a kind of sentimentality -- or that religious depth is replaced by emotional attachment. There is obviously nothing wrong with emotion, but by sentimentality I mean... What do I mean? A kind of cheapening -- a counterfeit, exaggerated, and arbitrary coloration.

That's convenient: I'm just now looking at an essay by Schuon called Reflections on Ideological Sentimentalism. In it he points out how, for example, a Kantian might imagine that his metaphysic is completely free of emotionality, when it is thoroughly rooted in it. For "its starting point or 'dogma' is reducible to a gratuitous reaction against all that lies beyond the reach of reason."

In other words, you might say that it constitutes the revolt of (mere) reason against the transrational.

But this revolt, no matter how superficially "rational" it may appear, is nonetheless rooted in passion, whether conscious or unconscious. For it is "an instinctive revolt against truths which are rationally ungraspable and which are considered annoying on account of this very inaccessibility."

Again, these truths may not be accessible to mere reason, but this hardly means they are inaccessible per se. I can't help thinking this is one more iteration of Genesis 3, with the temptation and fall having to do with the perennial attempt to enclose the transnational within the rational. Can't be done.

Speaking of which, for some reason I've recently been getting reacquainted with Kierkegaard, and I'm hearing rumors that his entire project must be understood in the context of a widespread Hegelianism that presumed to do just that, i.e., pretend that the real is rational (and vice versa). Well, it's not. Thank God. For if it were, then nothing could happen.

Which Kierkegaard means literally. There is actually a fleeting reference to this principle on p. 72 of the book of which this blog is an endless footnote. I suppose it's a kind of subtle point, but nevertheless important to understand: that the logically necessary "cannot come into existence, because coming into existence is a transition from not existing to existing. The purely necessary in fact cannot essentially change, because it is always itself."

The point is that real change is translogical. Admit it into your metaphysic and you've escaped Kant and anyone else who tries to confine you within its walls. For "novelty is truly creative and therefore contingent and unnecessary. If something is strictly determined, it cannot be novel or creative, for the same reason you cannot compose a symphony by merely applying a predetermined rule for the combination of notes" (ibob.). (One important implication is that evolution isn't logical, thank God again.)

Can't know the noumenal? Of course we can know the noumenal. If we couldn't, then life wouldn't be worth living.

Nor, for that matter, would life be worth living if we could actually enclose the noumenal within the phenomenal. Indeed, the whole freaking point of life is to apprehend and assimilate the reality behind appearances, not to do the opposite, i.e., confine reality to your puny ideas about it! That's crazy.

"There can be no such thing as a philosophical system embracing potentialities or meanings," because "a system presupposes a closed finality, while real life is something we are always in the midst of. We think backwards, but we live forwards..." And "he who clings to the external fact alone is content with an empty shell" (David Swenson).

Along these lines, here is an excellent orthoparadox: "The Truth is, not to know the Truth, but to be the Truth; to know the Truth only, is to be enmeshed in error" (ibid.). This goes to the distinction between (k) and (n): there is nothing wrong with (k) about the world, i.e., about appearances. But (k) about O -- or, to be precise, pretending to enclose O within (k) -- is just a total non-starter. Might as well try to give birth to yourself.

The Problem obviously has only gotten worse in our age: Kierkegaard "believed that [his] age suffered from an over-abundance of knowledge. Life was being made increasingly unreal, since living was being confused with knowledge about life. In this situation it would be superfluous and even harmful merely to increase the store of knowledge already existing.... this would only tend to promote the disease it was intended to cure."

God forbid that this blog add more knowledge to that steaming pile! That's what the other 152 million blogs are for. This one is for escaping all that (k) through the inscape of (n). I say, better to live by a transrational myth that proceeds from the weirdness of God than to subsist on the wonderless bread of absurcular logic.

What is crucial in Kantianism is... the altogether 'irrational' desire to limit intelligence; this results in a dehumanization of the intelligence and opens the door to all the inhuman aberrations of our century. --Schuon

16 comments:

Van Harvey said...

"...But (k) about O -- or, to be precise, pretending to enclose O within (k) -- is just a total non-starter. Might as well try to give birth to yourself."

AKA: The modern pro-regressive leftist's enthusiastic approach to life (so to speak).

Gagdad Bob said...

What is called "deconstruction" can contribute so long as one deploys it within a vertical perspective, i.e., deconstructing appearances in order to know reality. But if the deconstruction is for its own sake on the assumption that reality is unknowable, then it's just an Epic Fail.

julie said...

It's like knowing that the color our eyes see is actually the one wavelength of light an object reflects. Useful in some certain contexts, but lived experience tells us that roses are red and grass is green. Or like knowing that the earth revolves around the sun, even though we speak of "sunrise" and "sunset". If we live as though everything we see is a lie because the way things work is often counterintuitive, then we've drawn the wrong conclusions about the knowledge we have.

Gagdad Bob said...

Like learning that one is only attracted to the opposite sex because one's genes have been selected for the attraction. Such knowledge has zero practical significance.

Anonymous said...

Great Post! I always learn something new here. In this case, regarding the illustrious Kant and mighty Hegel.

Bob, your later comment references "practical significance" regarding knowledge. What would you consider practical significance to consist of?

Is practical significance reducible to "the matter at hand;" that is, what exactly is on the agenda? On the reproductive level, significance might be the urge to mount and thrust? On the philosophical level, might we call significance the "purpose of life?"

My take on it is there is no one-size fits all agenda, and therefore significance is very individualized; I think each soul studies a highly tailored and curated program here, with a number of objectives to reach. Why do I think that? I think I picked it up from some New Age Huckster like Chopra. These wack jobs, oddly, are not necessarily wrong all the time.

Might one soul pays scant attention to Kant and Hegel, where another soul might find them quite essential? And each would be correct about the practical significance of these philosophers?

debass said...

"you cannot compose a symphony by merely applying a predetermined rule for the combination of notes" Actually, that is what serial music is, predetermined use of notes. Total serialism is the predetermination of all aspects of music in addition to the notes; i.e.: rhythm, dynamics, form, etc. It is hard to compose this way. I think I figured out once that Anton Webern only composed about 90 minutes worth of music his entire life. Schoenberg and Boulez were more prolific.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

It is really strange how we say we are talking of god while we are talking about our idea of god. God is the potentiality of everything that can not be contained in the forms he has created nor can be captured in the actuality of our limited conceptual apparatus. Let us follow his commands in being good and honest and not wait until we understand his commands to follow them, or neglect his commands, the situation we are in and busy ourselves in searching for him in his cosmos. This does not mean to stop our imaginative faculty the only road to him from trying to understand his action and not his essence which he said is outside the human knowledge save the prophets or the sages that have excess to him. This also never to stop our spiritual fight in this violent world. The bi-polar division is our playing ground either with Kant or with Schuon. We are in a time where knowledge deny knowledge. The greatest calamity is the loss of the human center ( god)and abandoning the soul to the confusions of the multiplicity of the periphery. It seems our life require meaning and the absolute is its meaning, as Schuon said and requires the significance of such meaning in order to hold to the value and run our life with purpose. We are living in a revolutionary age that allows us to discuss anything but such large agenda should not make us lose sight of our divine narrative,the divine narrative that has been falsified in this hard-hearted humanity,where the divine language has lost its vehemence and its effectiveness and the religious impulse of the non-believers gained what the believers have lost. Anyway the cycle of change never stops. People of faith from all boxes need to unite to face this aggressive denial.

Anonymous said...

Hi Adulmomen. I liked you comment in the main, which urges an emphasis on God and the spiritual life, which most agree is a good guiding principle.

You wrote "the greatest calamity...is abandoning the soul to the confusions of the multiplicity of the periphery." But is it a calamity? And who's to blame?

The world is a confusion of multiplicities, this is beyond question. However, the world has obviously been set up to be exactly that way. And here we are, no doubt intentionally as well.

The world, a place where the soul takes a bath in confusion, as it were. Yes? Obviously the world is intended to be confusing and scary. Equally obvious, we have not been equipped with any sharp or easy discernment of God, as one might hope for. So, having been staked out like so many horses with blinders on in this wild pasture, what exactly is required of us?

Calamity? Maybe. Created by some defect in ourselves? Hardly. You want to cast aspersions on people, you speak to Management first. Who is responsible for the state of things here? He who governs should be able to explain why these vexing parameters were set forth in the first place.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Hi anon, thank you
Yes it is the challenges that face the humans who have been endowed with this excellent perceptual faculties( do not forget imagination and remembrance and what to remember) in order to be tried. Do you think humans are left on this earth, to claim what they claim without trial. Trial before it is a human tool it is a divine tool. How easy our species forget and repeat the same mistake. They have also being informed of the program before hand in order not to be taken unaware. The management has set the aims and the way to accomplish these aims and left it the humans to play the role that fit the aim or go against the aim. It is free and there is no compulsion to choose to be atheist or theist. One should not underestimate his ammunition in this fight that is why the sufis give the name strife to the process of self-realization in the way of knowing the one who puts the soul ( the breath that makes us speak ). The seekers also warn from throwing self-responsibility on others. We are all simulators of meanings in order to understand the meanings of the original simulator.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abdulmonem:

I see we agree on the basics. The Divine gives us tools to make the best of what is given to us.

The sufis give the name strife to the process of self-realization, and so there you have the main point.

Strife is the name of the game. I don't see why we can't point the finger at the rule-maker and call Him out as the strife maker as well...

Not that it would do us any good.

doug saxum said...

I don't see why we can't point the finger at the rule-maker and call Him out as the strife maker as well...

As a thought experiment, how about we put a face to the rule maker?
In the context of a court to let reason and logic be the judge.

You can use me as the accused.

What would I be charged with?

doug saxum said...

To speak about God is presumptuous; not to speak of God is idiotic. --Nicolás Gómez Davila

To think like G_D is a slippery slope, chockfull of strife.

But the trail must be traveled, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Very well Mr. Saxum, standing in for the accused:

The charge reads:

Willfull self-injurious behavior.

The accused has created within Himself conditions which lead inevitably to strife (defined as extreme discomfort). The accused subjects portions of Himself (defined as souls) to all manner of outrages, without any clear explanation or motive.

The accused now demands an explanation from Himself as to why He has done this. If a decent motive is supplied, then the charges will be dropped.

doug saxum said...

The accused has created within Himself conditions which lead inevitably to strife (defined as extreme discomfort).

Guilty, with an explanation.

The truth demands answers that can be testified to only by experience.
Empathy and imagination can only sympathize to a degree what is experienced, but minus solid proof, nothing can be defined as good/bad.

Old Man Sedgwick said...

Indeed, the whole freaking point of life is to apprehend and assimilate the reality behind appearances, not to do the opposite, i.e., confine reality to your puny ideas about it!

Contradiction?

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes and no.