Friday, June 23, 2017

Images and Artholes of God

A few days ago we spoke of the two kinds of knowledge and how they relate to God. In one it is as if God is at the center of a series of concentric circles:

In the second, God is still at the center, only now related to the periphery by an infinite number of radii:

To the right is an image that combines both:

To review, the first image depicts discontinuity between knower and known, and ultimately between man and God.

Indeed, if we were a Kantian, there would be a black hole at the center, about which we can know nothing. That would be the famous noumena (or better, noumenon). Kant thought he was saving religion by placing this unknowable black hole at the center of everything. Thanks for nothing! No, literally.

The second image goes to knowledge that is continuous with what it knows. In fact, it goes to one of our foundational principles: that any truth is a function or reflection of the one Truth. It shows in a straightforward manner how "all truth leads to God," being that any conceivable radius leads both from and to the center.

The third image suggests that the world is a tapestry of circles and radii. Which it is. You could even say that the left cerebral hemisphere knows the circles, while the right knows the radii. (I would only add that the image should be spherical and dynamic instead of flat and static.)

Which is also why all left-brained knowledge is ultimately circular. It is necessarily exterior, self-enclosed, and tautologous. Gödel's theorems are merely a formal way of expressing this.

Ultimately, if you confine yourself to circular knowledge, you cannot say how you can actually know anything at all. Rather, you are just chasing your tail around the noumenal center.

Mysticism involves radial knowledge par excellence. The whole point of mystical experience is that it is one with what it knows. But if the real world is depicted in image #3, this means that everyone is a mystic and cannot help being so.

This explains a lot.

Please note that I didn't say they were good or even adequate mystics.

Who are my favorite mystics? Let's see. Meister Eckhart. Henri Le Saux (AKA Swami Abhishiktanada). I would say Schuon, but I wouldn't want to reduce him to one category.

Come to think of it, although Michael Polanyi was not a mystic per se, he essentially demonstrated how all circumferential knowledge is actually radial knowledge. His theory of personal knowledge gives us a "post-critical" philosophy that shows the way out of scientistic tautology.

Just yesterday I was thumbing through a few books by Abhishiktanda, and then ordered one I haven't read before, Prayer. It had been out of print for awhile, but has been republished. I'm pretty sure that for Abhishiktananda, the purpose of prayer is to hop on board one of the radii leading back to God.

There is an excellent biography of Abhishiktananda called A Christian Pilgrim in India. I notice that some guy named Ted gives it his highest endorsement while namedropping a prominent Raccoon.

Oldmeadow cites some passages from Prayer that precisely describe what we mean by radial knowledge: "Truly speaking, there is no outside and no inside, no without and no within in the mystery of God and in the divine Presence." It is because God is beyond form that "he can reveal and manifest himself under any form."

Oldmeadow quotes another perennialist, Jean Bies, who makes an orthoparadoxical statement that describes image #3 above: "Every form shows Him because He is in every form. None show Him because he is beyond forms." Perfect nonsense!

This is all prelude to discussion of another distinct kind of knowledge we call faith. As Schuon explains, "Faith amounts to an objectivized heart knowledge" which helps "awaken in us as far as possible the remembrance of innate truths."

Note the (ortho)paradox: "objectivized" implies circumferential, as in image #1. But "the remembrance of innate truths" is radial, as in image #2. Therefore, faith is a gift from God -- from the center to the periphery -- that allows the periphery to know the center in an "indirectly direct" way.

Was that clear? It is to me. Similarly, what is sacred art -- AKA art -- but the "recollection" of the center in the periphery? Or, it is like a hole in the circumference leading back to the center. Light from the center is radiated through the arthole.

Now, when man falls, he falls from the center to the periphery. Or, one might say that he goes from spontaneous radial knowledge of God to self-enclosed absurcular knowledge of the (or a) circumference.

Which goes to the purpose of revelation, which is a memo from Celestial Central that allows us to get right with the radius: it shows from the inside-out (or upside down) what we need to know from the outside-in (or downside-up).

That's about it for today. Extra duties, since the wife is out of town visiting her mother.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

On Speaking Truth to Power, Light to Shadows, and Principles to Principalities

Another slow news day. Or rather, "eternals day." Slow but nevertheless foundational. Maybe we can pick up the pace tomorrow...

This morning I had an original thought: the truth sets us free.

I know. No, you can't buy some pot from me.

First of all, free from what? Second, toward what? Analogously, imagine you are trapped inside four walls with no exit. I install a door. You're free! But you still have to open the door and walk out, which points to the link between truth and will: in order to be free, you can't just know the truth but must do the truth. Truth is to freedom as knowledge is to will.

In the previous post we mentioned Kant, who effectively maintains (whether he knows it or not) that freedom isn't possible since truth is inaccessible to us. The "four walls" in the paragraph above are the forms of our sensibility (phenomena), beyond which is the noumenon we cannot know. In short, there may or may not be a reality, but there is certainly no door that leads to it.

Note the crude trick that has kept philosophers in the dark ever since -- as if to say: "man cannot know truth, and that's the truth."

Ironically, the Critique of Pure Reason was published in 1776. One can only thank God that our founders hadn't read it, and wouldn't have taken it seriously anyway. For Kant there can be no self-evident truths about ultimate reality except that we can't know it. Whatever. Go found your own nation based on the principle of unreality.

Better yet, just wait another century and progressives will have begun eating away at our founding truths. In The Political Theory of the American Founding, West writes that the founders had the audacity to claim knowledge of "living principles based on timeless truth." The nerve! Quick, find me a safe space from these fascists who presume to know ultimate truth and want to lord it over me!

Going back to our analogy in paragraph three, it is like saying: how dare you claim there is a doorway out of my little prison! Don't even think about installing one, or I'll sue!

Well, the door is there and there's not a thing you can do about it. You might say that the role of government is to maintain and protect the door. The state cannot compel you to actually use it. Rather, you have the right to leave, but no one can force you to do so.

Really, it's a very old story. One of our founding myths is Genesis 3. Another is Plato's allegory of the cave. You have the right to stop being fascinated by the shadows on the cave walls and turn toward the light. But that requires an act of free will. The state will not compel you to leave your cave.

That was before the progressive left took over the educational establishment. The purpose of education used to be to help us leave the cave -- toward the Light of universals truths -- whereas now the purpose is to rivet the mind to the shadows while denying access to the Light that produces them. Mention the Light and you are guilty of violating the "separation between church and state."

Which is a pretext for the left to enforce the separation between appearances and reality, phenomena and noumena, truth and opinion. Which is to literally efface any distinction between freedom and slavery. Which is the whole point. For if you do not possess a priori rights that the first duty of the state is to protect, then the state can do anything to you.

"Most scholars," writes West, agree with uber-moonbat Supreme Court Justice William Brennan "that the founders ideas belong to a 'world that is dead and gone.'" But how can timeless and self-evident truths ever die or go anywhere? If their world is "dead and gone," it wasn't a natural death. Rather, murder. And -- "ironically"-- Brennan was one of the murderers.

The current academic fashion is that man cannot know timeless truths. Therefore, any idiot with a Ph.D. in political science knows that it was equally fashionable in late 19th century America to naively believe in such fancies as "truth" and "freedom." Now we know better that "there is absolutely no foundation for deciding what is right or wrong," even "for preferring democracy over Nazism."

As Richard Rorty libsplains, "there is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves..., no standard of rationality that is not an appeal to such a criterion" (in West). We are sealed inside the Cave, with only competing narratives. And may the most powerful win.

Truly, the left is an organized cosmic inversion that speaks power to truth.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Doubting Doubt and Ironizing Irony

This post didn't get very far. Still, it's quite foundational. If you want to build a mansion, don't skimp on the foundation.

In the previous post we discussed the difference between cranio-psychic vs cardio-pneumatic knowledge. We didn't use those words, but we're using them now because they sound more sophisticated than head and heart.

Now, it is popular to believe that there is only one kind of knowledge, or at least only one that counts. In short, there is knowledge and there is opinion, the latter not really knowledge at all. Real knowledge resides in the head. How do we know this? Our heads told us so.

Which is a transparent case of special pleading. No one should be a judge in his own cause, and here we have the cranium judging the merits of its own content. Not fair! You will notice that the head has slipped a principle in through the side door while pretending it is simply being "objective." Clever bastard, that left brain!

There are actually two buried principles: first, that "I can prove what is true," and second, that "What I can prove is all that is true." The first simply assumes what it needs to prove, while the second assumes that other forms of knowledge aren't true. How convenient. It's like saying "only quantifiable claims are true." Okay, prove it!

In reality, the knowledge we cannot prove dwarfs the knowledge we can. None of us could get through a single day if we demanded proof of everything. A stranger is putting material into my mailbox. He says he's the mailman, but how do I know?

Here is how Schuon explains it:

"Kantians" -- a metonym for the modern mentality -- "will ask us to prove the existence of this [our cardio-pneumatic] way of knowing; and herein is the first error, namely that only what can be proved de facto is knowledge; the second error, which immediately follows the first, is that a reality that one cannot prove -- that is to say which one cannot make accessible to some artificial and ignorant mental [read: cranio-psychic] demand -- by reason of this apparent lack of proof, does and cannot exist."

Again, our cranio-psychic friends simply forget all about their assumptions, pretending to find them at the end instead of loading them in the beginning. Sneaky!

Recall the two images from last Friday: Kantian "head knowledge" is always of a circle around the center. This is because Kant limits man to phenomenal knowledge of his own categories. He can have no knowledge of the center, AKA the noumena. But why assume this? (In other words, why assume there is no "radial knowledge" through which we have direct access to the center?)

Indeed, isn't Kant's assumption really an unwarranted claim about ultimate reality? More to the point, how can one use the mind to place limits around the mind? Every boundary has territory on each side. Imagine building a wall between, say, Mexico and the US, but then pretending there's nothing south of the border.

Note the Kantian trick: pretending to have no access to ultimate reality, while affirming such knowledge at the same time. This is the precise trick pulled by my friend in the previous post. It is one of the the most popular head games of the head.

In the book Socrates Meets Kant, our premodern hero makes the founder of modern philosophy's head explode. "Suppose," asks Socrates, there is "a logical contradiction inherent in the demand for a rational justification of reason itself?"

In that case: D'oh!

All you have to do is critique the Critique and the whole thing tumbles to the ground. At which point Socrates innocently asks, "Which of us, then, is the more critical thinker, and which of us the more naïve?"

Now, if there's one thing a modern sophisticate hates being called, it is naïve. Recall my friend's anti-religious screed from the previous post. Imagine just chuckling in response to its childlike naïveté.

Imagine the same response to a Bill Maher, or Sam Harris, or even a scientific genius such as Bill Nye. But that is precisely the response they deserve. It's not intended to be snarky; rather, rich with Socratic irony.

Really, you have to out-irony the ironic, of which Socrates was the master. Truly, in our equally Athens- and Jerusalem-ized minds, he stands with Jesus as a fountainhead of Western Irony. I keep intending to delve into this important subject in a systematic way, but it will require more time than I have at the moment.

Here is Socrates again, toying with Kant: my dear Manny, have you ever wondered whether it might be self-contradictory to suggest "that reason can get outside itself and validate itself, that it can be both judge and accused prisoner, as it were?"

Indeed, "You called your book The Critique of Pure Reason, but I wonder whether you ever turned your formidable critical powers on yourself?"

In short, there are reasons for being skeptical of your cynicism. A suitable quip by the Aphorist comes to mind: Man’s moment of greatest lucidity is that in which he doubts his doubt.

Here are several more good ones. Each one smashes countless idols:

Nothing is more superficial than intelligences that comprehend everything. Scientism, Darwinism materialism, all felled with a single blow.

Reason is no substitute for faith, just as color is no substitute for sound. Habitually deploy your head when your heart should be in charge, and you'll be pretty miserable. Or maybe you've never met a woman.

We believe in many things in which we do not believe we believe. Every normal human believes in truth, free will, and objective morality, no matter what they say.

Faith is not assent to concepts, but a splendor that knocks us down. It is vertical recollection of an objective reality, more as we proceed.