Friday, March 23, 2018

Rambling in the Wild Godhead

The usual Friday ramble, only worse. Or better, depending on I don't know what. If I knew that, I'd have more readers. Or fewer, depending.

For those of you reading along at home, I'm trying to digest an essay by Schuon called Structure and Universality of the Conditions of Existence.

First of all, like anyone could know that. And yet, he pulls it off with such confidence and authority, one can't help thinking he's on -- or in -- to something. I'm often reminded of Blake's gag that Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not be believed. As far as I know, Blake never explained what he meant, but it seems to me that it goes to the intrinsic authority of Truth: if you get it, you got it.

Come to think of it, there are all sorts of things I believe because Truth told me so. Sometimes you hear something, and it is like a key fitting into a lock. It totally settles the question, such that it now becomes part of oneself as opposed to being something sought after. How to put it... It's a little like knowing in the biblical sense, in that it is more intimate than mere logic or sensation.

And now I'm thinking of communion, or theophagy more generally, in which Truth is not merely heard or thought, but devoured and converted to one's own substance (or is it the other way around?). Sounds strange -- a hard saying -- and yet, it is without question an analogue of what we're dealing with. Tasting is believing. And vice versa.

Let's say you want to create a cosmos with conscious beings. What needs to go into it? Lets see: matter, form, and number. Space and time.

Starting with the first, matter is "the sensible manifestation of existence itself." This is a subtle point, because it situates matter equally outside and in, on the plane where it is experienced and in the experience itself. Matter is object-sensation, as it were, not just one or the other.

But nothing is experienced or known without a form, which is its very principle of intelligibly. In other words, to know something is to know a form, precisely.

Conversely, to be ignorant of something is to not know its form. So, material objects don't just present themselves to our senses; rather, we simultaneously know or extract their form. If we can't extract the form, it's annoying, or frustrating, or frightening, or intriguing. Or just nothing -- nothing because it doesn't actually exist, or because you are actually an idiot.

Think of science, which is nothing but the pursuit of form from depth to depth. But then, so too is any discipline, all the way up to theology -- for what is theology but formal intellection of the intelligible form of God?

Or perhaps we should distinguish between theology and (lowercase) theosophy, the former applying to the forms of revelation, the latter more to the nonlocal form of God-as-such, AKA pure intellection: descent and ascent, respectively.

You might say that revelation is a form of the formless. In deep verticality, God is the being-ness of beyond-being. Or, if you prefer, the Son-Logos is the firstform of the Father.

At any rate, forms are like rungs on the ladder of ascent back to form as such. Which is just a way of saying that the intelligibility of the world isn't absurdly ungrounded (an impossibility), but rather, goes all the way up (even if people tend to stop at an arbitrary whystation along the way).

Moving on to the principle of number, it "manifests the unlimitedness of cosmic possibility, and in the final analysis, the infinitude of the Possible as such." All numbers are multiples of one -- and therefore manifestations of oneness -- "and unity in turn reflects the Principle charged with its innumerable potentialities."

This explains why everything is different but the same -- from people to sunsets to baseball games. Everything is a variation on a theme, so to speak. On the one hand, "there is nothing new under the sun"; on the other, each moment is a radical novelty. Orthoparadox. Deal with it.

Back to matter: don't think of it as the material world only. Rather, materiality is a form of matter, of what Aristotle calls "prime matter." Thus, matter has a vertical span "from extreme subtlety to extreme solidity"; in the end, it is the "divine Substance," or "the final point of the descent of the objective pole" of existence. It represents the farther shore of spirit, or perhaps its epidermis. Think of water, which appears in various modes, from ice to steam.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

All of this is situated in space and time, the former going "from the ungraspable point to limitless extension," the latter "from the instant to perpetuity." These are not infinite and eternal as such, but manifestations, or representations, or prolongations of them. For time is still the moving image of eternity, as space is the static image of infinity. And you are there.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fission for Complements

Yesterday I was thinking about fusion and fission, or the forces that hold things together or blow them apart. When things blow apart -- i.e., fission -- it's just a release of the energy that had been holding them together. So it's the same energy, only extroverted instead of introverted.

Let's dispense with the stoner talk and get a more precise definition. Says here that "The energy released by fission is a million times greater than that released in chemical reactions," while fusion releases three to four times the energy released by fission. Here it says that "In both fusion and fission, nuclear processes alter atoms to generate energy. Despite having some things in common, the two can be considered polar opposites."

Okay, I don't have time to pursue the full analogy. Let's just stipulate that I flunked high school physics, and discretely move on. My point, physics or no physics, is that there is a glue that binds people, communities, nations, and even individual minds; and that it's the same glue at each level -- just as energy is energy is energy in physics.

Come to think of it, there are four forces in physics, aren't there? There are the weak, strong, gravitational, and electromagnetic forces, and last time I checked, renown awaits the nerd who successfully reduces these to one.

At any rate, how many elemental forces are there on the human plane? Well, there are many, but they evidently reduce to one; but this one manifests in at least four ways: love, truth, beauty, and unity. Or, maybe the unity is a function of the binding power of love and truth.

Although all the transcendentals are always involved, I would say that love is primarily what holds things together in the micro realm, whereas truth is what binds things on the macro scale. For example, the founders begin with the idea that we are all bound together by certain self-evident truths. They did not begin like, say, a hippie commune, with the idea that all we need is luv.

Conversely, a marriage is not founded on self-evident truths about your partner, but with love. Of course, the marriage will fail if it is based on a lie, but truth alone will be insufficient to hold things together -- even two mathematicians or accountants.

I was thinking about this in the context of the Austin bomber. I don't know anything about him, but I'll go out on a limb and guess that he had no passionate bonds of love with any other human beings. It made me wonder if the energy that would normally bind him to others underwent a kind of fission, such that it was released in a destructive way?

Before you laugh, consider that almost all violent crime is caused by unattached males. Furthermore, these males are unattached to any father figure, and vice versa. Thus, there seems to be a problem of "male energy," which, if not bound by fusion, is released in extremely destructive ways.

Lately Tucker Carlson has had a weekly feature on the crisis of men in America. Last night he pointed out that 75% of unmarried women voted for Obama in '08 and '12. This is simply the reverse side of the destructive fission of male energy, in that these women, instead of fusing with men, fuse with the state. And it seems that men who aren't frankly destructive often fuse with video games, or porn, or some other substitute.

Let's try to probe this a little more deeply. What is the most elemental bond we can imagine? I would say it is the bond between mother and infant. Absent that, there couldn't be any bonds later in life. Maternal love is truly the foundation; however, it gets complicated, because nothing as useless as mother love could exist in nature without father strength and protection. Thus, all of these things need to come together in order for the family to emerge.

For over 50 years now, the left has been messing with this natural fusion. As a result, a tremendous amount of energy is being released, energy that once held families, communities, and minds together. What happens to male and female energy when they aren't fused to one another? What happens to child energy when it isn't fused to a mother and father, who are in turn fused to one another?

The left likes to talk about "white privilege," but the real privilege (one of them), as Dennis Prager points out, is father privilege. Blacks who have a mother and father at home do as well as anyone else. But some 80% of black children are born out of wedlock, or in other words, out of fusion and in fission. They are explosions waiting to happen.

Another key is the binding power of truth, which converges with the binding power of religion. Here again the left is systematically on the case, for multiculturalism is a nothing less than a frontal assault on the cognitive glue that binds us together. Likewise moral relativism, deconstruction, feminism, the whole smorgasbag of toxic leftism. Yesterday I was reading about how scientific objectivity is just a mode of white privilege. Well, rid the world of objectivity, and just watch the explosion that ensues!

University campuses all over America are "exploding." Why? Because of fission. Because the forces that bind us -- say, freedom of speech -- are being eroded, and destructive energy being released.

Likewise, what is religion? The word comes from religare, which means to bind, in this case, to God. What happens when this energy is released? It's happening. You might even say that leftism happens, for it is a substitute religion, with all of the same passions, only scattered and oriented to the wrong object(s).

The title of this post doesn't exactly make sense, does it? Fission from complements might be more accurate, meaning that energy is released as a result of messing with the bonds between complementarities....

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Message of the Cosmos

Continuing with yesterday's post on the keys to existence, an amazon reviewer of Means to Message explains what Fr. Jaki means vis-a-vis the distinction between means and message:

The "means" are the objects of reality which act upon the knowing mind which receives and forms the "message," since reality and the cosmos as whole are rational (that is, can be known). Jaki shows that even science itself must begin with objects that exist apart from our minds, otherwise science and philosophy become just "talk about talk," thereby confusing both means and message. When the means and message are confused, the human mind alone becomes the sole arbiter of reality, plunging humanity into all sorts of metaphysical and epistemological problems.

And political, as we shall see.

In order to for existence to ex-ist, there must be this primordial distinction between means and message. Typically we think of the foundation of things as consisting of matter, or energy, or law, but these are all somewhat beside the point if there is no Message and no Means to encode and transmit it. This means, of course, that there must also be an encoder, but we're getting a little ahead -- or behind, rather -- of ourselves.

Suffice it to say that in order for us to know anything, there must be a cosmic structure of encoder --> message --> means --> decoder; or God --> truth --> medium --> man.

In a way, this corresponds to the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, meaning that God doesn't just formulate the message, but first creates the means through which the message will be conveyed. It is not as if the world already exists, so it is only a matter of superimposing a message. This explains why the world is so shot through with truth and beauty from the inside out. It is full of objects -- means -- that transmit truth -- the message. Vertical murmurandoms are everywhere!

There are diverse methods for unpacking these messages, from poetry to science, philosophy to theology, math to music. More generally, you might say there are qualitative ways and quantitative ways. In our Age of Stupidity, there is a widespread belief that only the quantitative ways are valid, but guess what? As soon as you say that, you've made a qualitative argument, one that obviously cannot be reduced to numbers. People such as Steven Pinker who naïvely promote logic as the last word in wisdom are obviously making an extra-logical (but in this case infra-rational) argument.

Wisdom. Is it a thing, and could it ever be expressed with mathematical precision? Obviously Yes and less obviously YES -- in a way. This for me is the appeal of the Aphorisms, which express a maximum of wisdom with a minimum of words. Here are some relevant examples; I've arranged them so they build to and convey a kind of meta-aphorism:

To believe that science is enough is the most naïve of superstitions.

What is capable of being measured is minor.

Natural laws are irreducible to explanation, like any mystery.

Being only falsifiable, a scientific thesis is never certain but is merely current.

The natural sciences, where the process of falsification prevails, take only errors out of circulation; the social sciences, where fashion prevails, also take their achievements out of circulation.

Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything.

The Christian who is disturbed by the “results” of science does not know what Christianity is or what science is (Dávila).

Jaki writes that "Concern for anything serious cannot be taught in a straightforward manner, if it can be taught at all." Rather, like painting, poetry, and composing, philosophy, if not "inspired by the love of truth," reduces to banality. Thus,

the scientist singles out what is quantitative in reality and therefore he deals with matter only insofar as matter embodies quantitative features. From there the scientist proceeds along a straight track which conceptually is also an extremely narrow track.... The scientist need not probe into the deeper origin of matter as quantitatively patterned...

In contrast, the philosopher -- at least one who is open to being as such, and not just a little corner of it -- must probe the "many other aspects of reality in which the true, the good, and the beautiful are intertwined as they reveal ever greater depths that cannot be fathomed quantitatively."

None of this is to denigrate science; rather, to simply describe it.

Science not only deals with material reality, but assumes it. But as Schuon writes, "Matter is the sensible manifestation of existence itself," such that it is immediately elevated to something much more than science can say about it.

Or, put conversely, if you were to consider all the things science says about matter, they wouldn't add up to existence itself, for existence is greater than the sum of its parts. Again, science simply assumes not only that "matter talks," but -- more bizarrely -- scientists can hear what it is saying!

Critical for our purposes is that "what holds true for the universe applies equally to the soul," for the macro- and microcosms mirror each other, because each is first a mirror of the Divine Mind, the Absolute Subject, the El Supremo at the Top of the Stairs. Oh? Tell us more.

The soul is "matter" by its existential substance, "form" by its individuality," "number" by its necessarily unique subjectivity; it is "space" by its expansion and "time" by its cycles. Or again it is "spatial" by its memory, since space conserves, and "temporal" by its imagination, since time changes and transforms; it could be added that reason refers to number, since it calculates, snd intuition to form, since it perceives directly and by synthesis (Schuon).

Hmm. I just thought of something. A conservative wishes to conserve our founding principles, so this reflects the spatial orientation referenced above. But progressivism -- it's in the name -- is not only temporal (i.e., oriented to an imaginary future), but in such a way that it cuts itself off from founding (spatial) principles.

Now, properly understood, our founding principles are both spatial and temporal, in that they are the operating instructions for a rule-bound dynamism, or ordered liberty. But progressives imagine we can have meaningful progress with no ground and no telos. In short, it is pure message, or abstract idea with no concrete underpinning. Being that they begin with their ideas rather than the world, it should come as no surprise that they end up shipwrecked on the shoals of reality -- the very shoals they deny up front.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How to Exist

No time to post, so blogging will resume tomorrow. However, if I did have time to post, I'd want to talk about the nature and conditions of existence, in other words, what must first exist in order for existence to exist.

For example, in order to exist, you need a body. But the existence of bodies is founded upon any number of prior, or deeper, or more universal principles and conditions. I touched on this in the book, for example, vis-a-vis natural selection. Sure, natural selection makes sense on its own level, but to treat it as an ultimate explanation, without need of much deeper supporting principles, is only to prove you aren't very evolved.

I suppose I first ran into this idea in a book by Stanley Jaki called Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth. If you're going to say anything useful about the world, you have to begin with what you are presently doing, which is, trying to say something useful about the world. How is this even possible? So many assumptions are packed into it, and yet, intellectuals of various kinds just proceed as if they're all self-evident.

All philosophers, intellectuals, thinkers, pundits, and professors, despite different conclusions, will agree on one thing (even if the are unaware of it): that "They all use tangible means for the delivery of their respective messages" (Jaki). In order to communicate meaning, there must be a means of communication:

Therefore, if philosophers are logical, their strictly primary concern should be about the extent to which their particular philosophy justifies the use of any such means, indeed its very reality and all the consequences, both numerous and momentous, that follow from this.

Take Darwinism, for example. Is there anything in this philosophy that permits the entities explained by it to explain themselves, with no remainder? I don't see how. At best, this metaphysic traps us in an inescapable tautology, such that there would be no reason to take seriously what such a restricted being says.

In a way, it's a variant of the old Epimenides gag about all Cretans being liars. For to say that all Darwinians are telling the truth is to transcend Darwinism. As we've put it before, if Darwinism is true, it can't be. More generally,

The perusal of representative selections from the works of modern or pre-modern philosophers hardly reveals on their part a sense of the need to justify thematically the means that carries their message. Yet only in the measure in which that justification is done, implicitly or, what is far better, explicitly, may the philosopher's message become truly about truth (Jaki).

Which means that 99% of philosophers imagine they are finished -- or close to it -- when they haven't actually even begun.

And now I have to get ready for work. To be continued....