Thursday, February 01, 2018

What You See is What You Grok. Or Hallucinate.

A note to myself in the margin says "What you see is what you grok." I've never actually read Stranger in a Strange Land, so I only know the word on a second hand basis. According to Prof. Wiki it has to do with deep understanding -- so deep "that you merge with [the knowledge] and it merges with you":

It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science and it means as little to us as color does to a blind man.

From context, I always thought of it as analogous to Polanyi's tacit knowledge:

All knowing, no matter how formalised, relies upon commitments.... A knower does not stand apart from the universe, but participates personally within it. Our intellectual skills are driven by passionate commitments that motivate discovery and validation.... Tacit awareness connects us, albeit fallibly, with reality. It supplies us with the context within which our articulations have meaning.

So literally, what we see is what we grok, the purpose of this blog being to grok the entire cosmos from top to bottom, inside and out. Some people (and philosophies) grok very little, while others grok in a completely insane way that has no basis in reality. Regarding the latter, I'm thinking of Joe Kennedy's response to the the President's SOTU. Here is what "we see," according to Joe:

"Russia knee-deep in our democracy. An all-out war on environmental protection. A Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day. Hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets."

In reality, only the last is more than a hallucination, but I don't think he's referring to Antifa or bitter witches marching on Washington. More:

"This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us -- they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection. For them, dignity isn’t something you’re born with but something you measure."

True, dignity is not something conferred by the state if we manage to escape the abortionist. Rather, we're created with it. Big difference.

Other targets of this administration include "the gender of your spouse. The country of your birth. The color of your skin. The God of your prayers." Kennedy is a Catholic. Neither the God of his prayers nor conservatism attacks the gender of anyone's spouse, so long as it is a spouse and not some novel, logophobic redefinition imposed by the state.

In any event, either leftists actually believe these things -- i.e., they are hallucinating -- or they are just cynical lies for the purpose of manipulating their low watt base. I have always suspected a combination, with cynical manipulators at the top -- the One Percent -- and the mob simply taking directions from above. However, due to the nature of the conscience, which has a way of persecuting us for lying, many people at the top convince themselves that the lies are true.

For example, if you take a speech by Bill Clinton from 20 years ago, or Hillary Clinton from 10 years ago, they are among those who target the gender of your spouse and country of your birth. In other words, like most people, they defended traditional marriage and understood that it is bad for the country to import millions of uneducated and unskilled people from shithole countries. Were they lying then, or are they hallucinating now?

Wow. I hadn't actually heard Kennedy's talk and am reading the transcript for the first time. It's even worse than I thought. Let's stipulate that someone is hallucinating, either them or us. But as Scott Adams helpfully explains,

if you are not experiencing mass hysteria, you might be totally confused by the actions of the people who are. They appear to be irrational, but in ways that are hard to define. You can’t tell if they are stupid, unscrupulous, ignorant, mentally ill, emotionally unstable or what. It just looks frickin’ crazy.

The question is, how do we know we aren't the ones who are hallucinating? Like so:

One sign of a good mass hysteria is that it sounds bonkers to anyone who is not experiencing it. Imagine your neighbor telling you he thinks the other neighbor is a witch. Or imagine someone saying the local daycare provider is a satanic temple in disguise. Or imagine someone telling you tulip bulbs are more valuable than gold. Crazy stuff.

Being that I am -- back off, man -- a clinical psychologist, this is my stock in trade. In other words, either the patient is somehow out of touch with reality, or I am. But I'm not the one paying the patient to talk to me, so there's that. However, how does that explain all these left wing psychologists? Easy. Change is hard. People would prefer to have their hallucinations confirmed and not confronted.

Ever noticed that Fridays tend to be rambly posts? It must be because I have more time to get lost in my thoughts. But Bob, it's Thursday. True, but until you just said that, I thought it was Friday. In any event, I have no pressing work to do, so I'm in the slack zone.

I want to try to wedge another point into this jumble, a brief aside in the biography of John Paul II that arrested my attention, that "the Holy Spirit can work his will by darkening as well as enlightening people's minds."

I'd never heard this before, but I grokked it right away. It makes total sense. However, it raises a new problem, which is to say, how to distinguish between a lie or hallucination on the one hand, and a Spirit-sponsored, providential endarkening of the mind on the other? I don't know that there is any surefire way, and perhaps we don't need to know, since we still need to confront the lie either way.

But now that I'm thinking about it, there is a kind of intoxicated lying that goes too far, and is too stupid to blame Satan. Satan is subtle. Sophisticated. For this reason, it is impossible for me to believe that he is the author of, for example, Joe Kennedy's fatuous hallucinatory blather.

Another point: hallucination is a term of art, and it is not necessarily helpful to conflate schizophrenic hallucination with whatever it is that leftists such as Kennedy engage in. Leftists may be out of touch with reality, but it doesn't mean they are hallucinating per se. What then?

Bion referred to the process as hallucinosis, or "transformations in hallucinosis," in contrast to "transformations in thought." The former occurs when emotionally-tinged mental content cannot be contained, which is to say, transformed into thought. Instead, it is projected (in what is called unconscious phantasy) into an external container. It creates a "domain of nonexistence," or a "mental world where what is nonexistent 'exists.'"

Moreover, it brings about a kind of "'freedom' that is really an enclosure and a restriction." It feels free, because, via this process, the person has indeed "freed" himself of the painful content. But the person is now persecuted by his own projected mental content.

Along these lines, another thought has been rattling around in my head for the last few days. That is, we all know about the left's incessant virtue signaling, which is done to conceal the signaler's lack thereof (for example, Hollywood predators who are the loudest feminists, or leftist professors who see everything in terms of race while accusing others of racism).

Perhaps even more problematic than virtue signaling is "intelligence signaling" (for lack of a better term). But now that you have the term, you will notice that so much of leftist hivethought is no more than a vacuous exercise in intelligence signaling. And like virtue signaling, it is motivated by its unconscious opposite, which is to say, intellectual insecurity, stupidity, and imitation.

Put conversely, intelligence signaling is a way for these vapid morons to fool themselves into thinking they are among the cognitive elite.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Cosmic Eclipse

Here is how a man loses the cosmos, and then proceeds to become lost in it. Pay close attention:

First, reduce the world "from act to fact," which results in a flattened and opaque blandscape of "absolute things." In order to accomplish this reduction, one must "separate in thought what exists together in reality," thus granting "analysis priority over synthesis" and conferring metaphysical primacy to "the analytically abstracted parts of reality... over the wholes from which they were abstracted" (Hanby).

This is all done unconsciously, of course, or at least without due diligence. Indeed, no one would invest in this dodgy isness or proceed down this path if they thought about it beforehand or reflected upon it afterwards. If there is a metaphysical equivalent to the primordial D'oh! of Genesis 3, I'm thinking this must be it.

Consider the alternatives: either the cosmos is contingent or it is necessary. There is no in between, unless, as I believe, God extends a private sphere of contingency known as free will.

But if the cosmos is strictly necessary, it is impossible to explain how beings have escaped this necessity, from life on up to free will. Certainly there is no explanation of how science could conceivably arise -- of how subjects can even exist, let alone stand above and understand the objects of existence.

Nowadays, science operates as if it can accomplish this in any old cosmos -- or not even a cosmos as traditionally understood. However, its very existence implies a very specific sort of reality. If we could only recover or re-member that reality, it would be... a good start. At least we'd have a foundation we can all agree upon, like a Cosmic Constitution.

Which, when you think about it, is what the Founders had in mind, what with all the talk about Nature (meaning the essential nature of things), Nature's God (for there can be no essences without God), createdness (or contingency and dependence), self-evident truths, and the inalienable rights that flow from these. It's all of a piece, don't you know. Shatter the primordial unity, and none of it makes any sense or has a legacy to stand on.

Which I suppose is the point of the left, which itself starts with division rather than unity. As they say, diversity is our strength! In reality, without the prior unity, it is our weakness-unto-death. As we've discussed in the past, diabolos, or diabolical mischief, comes down to division, blending of hierarchy, and applying truths to the wrong level. Most fundamentally it is a lie; or, the Fundamental Lie.

Exactly what is the Fundamental Lie? It must be "this reduction of the single actuality of the cosmos to an aggregation" (Hanby), to a vast collection of private parts, to the metaphysical nul de slack of logical atomism.

I first ran into that term -- logical atomism -- in the works of an apparently little known philosopher, Errol Harris, for example, in a book called The Reality of Time. There he writes that change and diversity are "impossible apart from some permanent and unifying matrix within which they occur and of which they are the diverse accidents."

Conversely, a strict logical atomism "leads finally to sheer chaos" because it assumes a jumble of objects "excluding all order and system that might impose unity on the plurality." But -- and I think I yoinked this exact passage for the bʘʘk -- "What is intelligibly diverse must be unified and whole, and only what is whole and unified can be intelligibly diverse. At the same time, only what is diversified can be intelligibly one."

So, this is your cosmos: "a single unity" but "at the same time a unified diversity." Moreover, "the reality of time... establishes concurrently the reality of a whole which is nontemporal." That last crack veers into a somewhat different subject, but you can nevertheless see how it must be the case: time is indeed the moving image of eternity, as relativity is the shadow of the Absolute.

Literally. Allegorically speaking. Think, for example of Plato's famous cave, where the dancing shadows can only exist because of the absolute light shining from outside the cave. Science studies these shadows -- AKA appearances -- but then pretends the shadows can subsist without light! Which is a kind of madness. Metaphysical madness, anyway.

Note that these shadows are not "nothing." However, they are indeed made nothing if man detaches them from the light that produces them. Then we're lost in the (anti-) cosmos, as alluded to in paragraph one.

From another angle, we can start with the Absolute, which is necessary being. But it doesn't end there. For Schuon, "To say Absolute, is to say Infinite," for "Infinitude is an intrinsic aspect of the Absolute." It is a way of saying that God is good, such that it is in his nature to radiate this goodness. Therefore, in a way, he can't help creating. Christian orthodoxy holds that creation is a radically contingent and pure gift, which conveys an important truth.

Nevertheless, it only applies to this creation, not to the divine creativity per se, which is what God does, or better, is: In the beginning, God creates. Period. For it is always the beginning, if you look upon things vertically. From this perspective, absoluteness radiates infinitely, all the way down and into worlds of contingency and possibility. Looked at this way, possibility is necessary, so to speak, or we couldn't have a (our) world.

But every thing that exists, no matter how contingent, nevertheless shares in absoluteness, for the distance between existence and non-existence is infinite. In other words, to exist is participate in being, which is God's primordial and continuous act.

Only man's ignorance and presumption are vast enough to eclipse the One Cosmos. It takes a big man to render man so small, and vice versa.

Monday, January 29, 2018

In the Beginning...

A brief review before we dive further into No God, No Science.

One of the most fundamental distinctions in traditional philosophy -- by which I mean the Aristotelian-Thomist stream leading to us -- is that between act and potency, which are as opposite as opposites can be, conditioning the distinctions (in my opinion) between change and permanence, many and one, time and eternity, necessary and possible, whole and part. At least from our standpoint, all of being is a division of these two rascals.

One purpose of the distinction is to account for change, for it is by no means obvious how and why it exists. But it does, which means it must ultimately be relative to something changeless -- to the ultimate cause of all change, but which does not itself change. That would be pure act, AKA God.

Conversely, potency is the potential for change. In order for that change to occur, it needs to be actualized by some other cause, since things can't cause themselves.

Let me just remind the reader that I have no actual training in this sort of thing. Rather, my only training is in psychoanalysis. Philosophy has just been picked up along the way. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, because it has allowed me to cross-reference certain home truths.

For example, I regard the act/potency distinction as one of those home truths. What would be its equivalent in my psychoanalytic bag of tricks? Well, one rough equivalent -- or at least prolongation -- would be that between ego and self, the latter being the much more expansive of the two.

In this context, you could say that a purpose of life is to become one's self, or in other words, to actualize one's potential. Being that we are in the image of God, the self is analogous (a distant analogy to be sure) to God: specifically, it shares something of God, who is pure act.

It can only be expressed orthoparadoxically: compared to God, who is pure act, we are indeed potency. But compared to the potency of the ego, the self is like act. Which, in a way, it is; recall what the Meister says about it, that "there is something in the soul which is above the soul, divine, simple." It is "higher than knowledge, higher than love, higher than grace, for in all these there is still a distinction." For me, it can be conveyed visually by the symbols O and ʘ. If God is the circle of being, we are like a circular fractal of that primordial circle.

Put it this way: God is necessary. Everything else, including us, is possible. And yet -- miracle of miracles! -- we are given a share in God's necessity. How do we know this? Well, for starters, because we know it.

No, that is not a just a cute comeback. Rather, as Schuon takes pains to elucidate -- and this is one of those principles that one either sees or doesn't see -- "The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute." You could say that in all of creation we are the only potency that knows of act. For

Man is made for what he is able to conceive; the very ideas of absoluteness and transcendence prove both his spiritual nature and the supra-terrestrial character of his destiny.

In this regard, our "destiny" can be none other than our source, in an inspiraling adventure from potency to act -- or of actualizing our divine-human potential. And if I'm wrong about this, then to hell with it. Life isn't worth the hassle of living. Here's is some further explanation by Schuon:

"Our deformity implies that our spirit is made of absoluteness" and "our will of freedom." In case you were wondering, that is how all this otherwise inexplicable truth and freedom get into the cosmos. They get in here because they share in God's eternal act.

We needed that little review in order to understand what Hanby means when he says that "The universe is an inherently metaphysical idea because the unity of the universe is a unity of being-as-act." Its presumptive unity is derivative of the transcendent unity of its creator, who is at once infinitely beyond the creation and within it; his immanence is a function of his transcendence, which is why everything is what it is, and yet, transcends what it is, most pointedly in the case of man.

Which is why we can know all about, say, an ant, and yet, never have complete knowledge of so much as an ant. The world is radically contingent, but traces of absoluteness are everywhere. All true knowledge is really a vapor trail of God.

This is all by way of trying to understand what Hanby means when he says that

The Incarnation of Christ disclosed a God at once nearer and more remote than that of the Greeks and was indeed both for the same reason: being no part of any cosmic monism, this God was so wholly other as to be able to become "non-other" in Christ without diminution of his divinity or negation of his humanity.

The universe, which is radically contingent, is paid a visit by its ultimate principle. Which makes one wonder: how did the cosmos not simply explode on impact? Well, maybe it did. How else do you explain that giant hole in history, the divine asteroid that ripped the space-time continuum such that we continue to mark time relative to its appearance?

In a way, creation is the "first book" of revelation. Adam must be the second. On the most abstract level these are subject and object, intelligence and intelligibility, which ultimately reduce to the logos that permeates everything. That's the logos that was with God from before the beginning, and with whom he made everything that was made.

Before Christ, the logos is implicit. With Christ, logos is made explicit. God first has to nurture a culture in which such an event is possible before it is made actual. Pregnancy precedes birth, even though birth is the point of pregnancy. Likewise, Mary precedes Jesus, but before Mary was, He Is.

Now, perhaps the most consequential error of scientism is to revert to a cosmos that, as it were, becomes pure act, or its own cause and explanation. It is no longer a contingency that depends upon something necessary, but becomes a kind of self-sufficient absolute. As a result, the scientistic philosopher who "knows" this is granted (by himself) a kind of sham omniscience. Science not only explains everything, but explains everything that can be explained. If it is not reducible to scientific categories, then it doesn't exist.

So, it's an inverted image of the truth:

In the beginning was Matter, and Matter was with the Facts, and Matter was the Fact. It was factual in the beginning. Through Matter all facts were made; without Matter nothing was factual that was factual.