Friday, July 03, 2020

Your Choice: Unique Persons or Leftist Ants

If the left doesn't believe in universally valid truths -- including of course the very concept of a universally binding morality -- then why are they canceling everyone and everything based on them?

Imagine if the founders had behaved like this. A quantitative analysis of their writings counts exactly 3,154 citations, with over a third of them to the Bible, followed by Montesquieu, Blackstone, Locke, Hume, and Plutarch (Novak). Now, these sources are all Deeply Problematic. The writings of Plutarch, for example, mention nothing about transgender bathrooms.

Which comes first, the rights or the person who possesses them? Obviously the person comes first, because only persons can have rights. Which highlights the absurdity of various Supreme Court decisions, from Dred Scott v. Sandford, to Roe v. Wade, to the recent Gorsuch v. Biology. In each case, rights are invented and conferred while undercutting the basis for their inherence in persons.

For example, if a woman has a right to infanticide, this right can't inhere in persons, because it grants the right to destroy persons, precisely. Likewise, if a person has the right to own a person, then a person has no right to property in himself, which is the basis of personhood. Etc.

Now, if everyone is the same, then killing someone isn't morally problematic. This is why, for example, no one thinks twice about stepping on an ant or eating a chicken, because there are billions just like the deceased, and nature will never stop cranking out more identical copies.

But I know for a fact that there is no one like me. Gagdaditude, whatever it is, inheres in me -- I, rather -- alone. I have a monopoly on it, nor do I predict we will ever see my likes again. Or anyone else's likes.

The discovery of personhood is one of the blessings of Western civilization, AKA Christendom. It is why it would be a racist slur for one of us to claim, for example, that "Chinese all look alike," whereas in China they have no compunction whatsoever about murdering and oppressing Chinese by the millions.

Those damn communists are all alike, in that they insist, at the point of a gun, that persons are all alike. For them, people are just gears -- or sand -- in the Machine. It doesn't matter how many they kill, because they'll just make more, the only limit being the one child law.

It can scarcely be sufficiently emphasized that the metaphysics of the left not only denies personhood but renders it impossible in principle. You could say that this is the ground source of its pneumopathology.

And no, we are not exaggerating: either unique persons or interchangeable collective ants. And show your work: don't pretend personhood is real while holding an ideology that denies its very possibility, e.g., Marxism, scientism, Darwinism, etc.

Crosby highlights the fact that to be an individual means to be incommunicable. Yes, we can communicate with one another, but our actual selfhood is known only to ourselves. No one will ever know what it's actually like to be you or I. If our personhood were fully communicable, then it would be just a general concept rather than a unique particularity. Truly, Homo sapiens is kind of paradox or contradiction in terms, since it is a species of individual instances.

This leads straight up and into another key question, which is to say, by virtue of what principle is the principle of unique human personhood possible? Correct: the utter uniqueness, unrepeatability, and incommunicability of the Divine Person. To understand that we are in the image of the Creator is to see that human persons (because they are persons) share these divine qualities.

Does this imply that God does not or cannot communicate? Of course not. We are ceaseless recipients of vertical murmurandoms. We have only to amble to the shore -- the shore between immanence and transcendence -- and find another message in a bottle tossed from the other side. Yes, revelation as such is just that -- a message in a bottle -- but so too is the intellect itself.

Of course, this is not to imply that your body is a bottle and your soul the message inside. Rather, your body is an important aspect of the message, or the Incarnation is utterly superfluous. Rather, a book or pamphlet would be sufficient to convey the message.

STUFF I CAN USE

That was going to be the original title of this post, before it was immediately hijacked by other considerations. The title has to do with a certain well-known (to me) phenomenon whereby things literally jump from the page and yell out THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CAN USE! For what? Often I don't even know, but the knowing of it is a vital aspect of knowing what it might be referring to.

It reminds me of the title of one of Dávila's books of aphorisms: Footnotes to an Implicit Text. I am constantly being bobarded with footnotes. Where is the text? Well, I'm in the process of discovering it by paying attention to the constant clues as to what it's about.

For example, yesterday I was rereading a plump Volume of Voegelin, and various passages screamed out YOU CAN USE THIS! When this happens, I highlight the passage, but I have various ways of highlighting, depending upon how loudly the passage is screaming at me.

Here are just a couple of particularly loud examples:

[P]alpably one and the same reality is illuminated in philosophy and in Scripture, the one more heavily accenting questing reason, the other responsive faith.

The old (↑↓) dynamic, which applies to deep knowing of any kind.

"Reason [or the intellect, AKA nous] is itself a revelation," as the Logos "is no less the rational Ground for apostles than for philosophers." It is only for us to see -- or to experience, rather -- the connection. The connection is lived more than known; to the extent that it is only known, then it isn't truly known at all (going to the distinction between mere [k] and [n]).

Or the following passage, so relevant amidst the contemporary soul sickness of BLM and other diseased forms identity politics: "Against the stifling secularism," the "collectivist tendencies," the "brutal authoritarians" of our age, abides the Person.

Such a man, whenever and wherever we find him, diagnoses the existential maladies that deform reality, and resists as best he can the disorders by invoking higher truth, perhaps only vaguely known.

I only mention this because sometimes there's a man -- I won't say hero because what's a hero? -- but sometimes there's a person, and that's enough to trigger the left and make them want to cancel him.

A couple of random thoughts, or lucends:

If ignorance of history is collective amnesia, then the left has given itself an auto-lobotomy.

But they'll never know it, for an irony curtain has descended on the left.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

The Alliance of People of Color & Karens of Pallor

Every morning I receive an email briefing from the NY Times. It informs me of their ludicrously tendentious distortion of the news of the day -- AKA the Narrative -- which the Times both defines and enforces for the sake of rest of the mimetic journalistic hacks of the left.

Today's briefing speaks perfectly to yesterday's point about the nature of personhood: henceforth the Times will capitalize "Black" on the unapologetically racist presumption that such persons share an identity. Conversely, "white" shall not be capitalized, since whites don't necessarily have anything in common.

In short, Blacks are subsumed into a racial category, thus effacing their individual identity: race first, person second, if at all. Stereotype for thee, uniqueness for me. Assuming that Karens of Pallor came up with this policy, which probably isn't the case.

Rather, the black Timesmen no doubt insist on being reduced to a racial category because of the obvious privileges attached to the designation. One assumes that most of them could not be hired on the basis of journalistic or intellectual merit (Charles Blow?). But then none of the white journalists are, either (Thomas Friedman?). On what basis are the latter hired, anyway? It's not race and it's not merit. Nor can it be privilege, or half of them would be white conservatives.

Speaking of which, it's also odd that they choose not to capitalize "white" in light to the incessant reference to "white privilege." If whites share no common history or identity, how can they share the attribute of privilege?

These are all reasonable questions, and we all know it is wholly unreasonable to expect reasonable answers from the left. You get the point. In the ideological vehicle, the car always drives the man, so it's pointless to ask the man where he's going. Let's move on.

Interestingly, there's a kind of ontological Dunning-Krugery going on here, in that people who are still subsumed in a tribal identity cannot know about individual identity, any more than people inhabiting Flatland can know anything about the sphere. Children don't understand adulthood until they become adults. Barbarians don't know anything about civilization except how to destroy it. Likewise Antifa and BLM mobs.

Yesterday I was rereading a collection of essays by Voegelin. In the introduction, Sandoz makes the point that

The man who plays his role in existence in cooperation with God is the true man, and all humans are called by natural inclination [↑] as well as the pull of divine Being [↓] to be true men. In short, true human existence is self-consciously lived in collaborative partnership by every man in his own unique measure with God.

Anything that interferes with this process -- including ideology -- renders us less than the true men we are intended to be. To reduce oneself to a racial category or tribal identity is the quintessence of ontological derailment into a nebulous world of non-being.

And here is the subtle point: this derailment into an ontological netherworld will necessarily result in feelings of estrangement and alienation.

This alienation can be symbolized in terms of race, but the left, via identity politics, provides a whole menu of identities from which to choose: gender, sexual preference, religion (so long as it's an anti-American one), et al. It doesn't matter which group identity one chooses, so long as one subsumes one's actual identity into it, and then uses it to symbolize the very alienation produced by being a self-styled victim.

Of course they are victims. And deciding to identify as a victim gives them the added pleasure of participating in their own subjection. The imaginary victimizer is but the projected image they conceal in themselves. The bully is real, they just pretend they aren't it. This is a key dynamic, and you see it all day long in academia, journalism, and unsupervised playgrounds.

The superimposition of ideology over reality results in the destruction of whole realms of knowledge -- whole academic departments. At the same time, it paradoxically results in new departments of "false knowledge" such as feminism, queer studies, critical race theory, and all the rest, all dedicated to the systematic pursuit and construction of systems of non-knowledge, AKA credentialed stupidity.

Ultimately this pneumo-cognitive rebellion and regression "obscures the reality of man" and "destroys the sciences of man." There is a loss of "insights into the nature of reality," or maybe you haven't recently attended college.

But if you have, then you know the elaborate indoctrination "is not education to openness of the spirit; it is rather, a work of closure against the spirit." It "seals off its victims"

against the life of spirit; it successfully maintains its estrangement in a position of social dominance; and hinders the public of the spirit from establishing itself in the society at large.

Yes, "the public of the spirit" is the silent majority, and the only thing standing between us and the regressive social and political dominance of illiterate and destructive crybullies is President Trump.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Who & Whom of Persons & Racial Categories

The subject of race is so vapid and unedifying, no wonder the left never shuts up about it, for it ensures that they always have something vacuous to scream about, i.e., a non-problem with no political solution (or better, pretend solutions that aggravate the pseudo-problem, which calls for ever more pretend solutions, especially in an election year).

Yes, there is a solution, but the race hustlers of the left would never consider it, because it would put them out of business overnight.

To paraphrase someone, you can't expect the tenured to understand something when their whole livelihood depends on not understanding it -- in this case, a rudimentary grasp of the Golden Rule: I don't want to be reduced to a racial stereotype, therefore I don't depersonalize others in that manner.

Persons are persons, not races. They are, however, male or female. Note that, as usual, the left has it precisely backward and upside-down: they want us to pretend race is of critical importance while denying the cosmic significance of sexual differences. Indeed, the Supreme Court reads this twisted ideology into the Constitution.

Let's stipulate the formerly liberal (and always conservative) principle that a person is an individual and not a racial category. But what is a person?

Conveniently, I just finished a book on this very subject, The Selfhood of the Human Person. It started off very strong, but got a little tedious about midway through. It could have been half the length if the author had fully digested the subject instead of thinking out loud the whole time.

But I suppose that's the way it is with phenomenology. It can get more than a little.... flabby, since it is the opposite of abstract, reductive, aphoristic, etc. It gives you the whole existentialada, literally.

We prefer to look at things through the opposite end of the telescope, which is to say, principial, metaphysical, integral, and synthetic, while never ignoring the universal experience of any- and everyman in every time and place, AKA human nature. I suggest we flip through the book with this in mind, and try to subsume the raw phenomenology into our half-baked noumenology. Whatever that means.

Crosby follows the personalist tradition of John Paul II, which vindicates "that which makes man irreducible to the world." Obviously this flies in the face of all modern forms of scientistic reductionism, but also the postmodern pathologies that so cluelessly deny human nature and essence. You could say that modernism and postmodernism are just two sides of the same worthless metaphysical coin.

Which is not to say there is nothing worthwhile in science, only that it renders itself stupid when it elevates itself to a metaphysic. There is, however, nothing worthwhile in postmodernism, as it is in its essence a doctrine of idiocy when it isn't Satan's own worldview (yes, literally).

This post may be a little random. Or rather, continue to be random. Besides, I'm feeling a little fuzzy this morning, which makes it more challenging to slice through this like the proverbial hammer.

Some things are better seen and recognized when we are deprived of them. Who notices oxygen until we can't breath? Who could begin to understand time if we weren't constantly threatened by finitude?

Similarly, perhaps personhood comes better into focus when we are deprived of it. Why is life in Saudi Arabia or China or Iran or leftist campuses so awful? Because real personhood is not permitted. More ominously, why is our country lurching in this very direction, away from individual freedom and personhood toward leftist conformity, collectivism, and groupthink?

America is founded on the principle that a person is a Who and not a What -- an I and never an It. Lenin and Stalin were correct in reducing politics to the question of Who and Whom. The question is, who qets to be Who, and who is to be treated as a mere Whom, i.e., an object or means to an end? (Hint: all leftists think they will be a Who, and are always surprised when the mob comes for them.)

Note, for example, that rioters and looters are treated with great respect by the left as dignified Whos, while people who wish to protect themselves from rioters and looters -- e.g., the McCloskeys -- are Whoms to be destroyed by the media-state complex.

Am I reducing the mob to a Whom by calling them rioters and looters? Not at all, since I hold them fully responsible as persons for the rioting, looting, thuggery. Damn right they're persons! Now, treat them like it, good and hard. You'll find they won't like it.

Rather, they'll want to hide behind a Whom and say something to the effect that "race made me do it" (or variants such as "structural racism," "white privilege," etc.). I can't help it! I have no agency or free will! I'm depraved on account'a I'm deprived!

Good question: "what do we understand about persons when we understand the moral immaturity of those periods in history in which slavery was taken for granted? What do we understand about persons when we see slavery as radically depersonalizing?"

So easy to tear down statues of our founders, but why is slavery wrong? What are we recognizing when we recognize it as such?

No, we are not recognizing "the equality of races." Suppose science continues to mount evidence for the inequality of races -- for example, that Asian Americans and Ashkenazi Jews on average have higher IQs than Euro- or African-Amercans. Would this justify slavery?

No, because we are persons before we are statistical categories of general intelligence. Slavery is wrong because it is in the nature of a person to have property in himself. A person is his own end, and must never be treated as an object who only exists for the sake of another. Yes, China wants to enslave us, but it would be wrong no matter how many math and engineering majors they produce.

Nor is a person a mere part of a whole, whether it is a race, state, or tribe. Not to belabor the point, but this is why the disgusting ideology of identity politics is at antipodes to the American ideal:

there is no totality that can encompass a person in such a way as to relativize the totality that he or she is. Persons stand in themselves in such a way as to be absolute, that is, unsurpassable, unrelativizable totalities.

In short, a person can never be contained by anything lower than personhood. I'll buy that. But by virtue of what principle? Or relative to whom?

Correct: the divine person, more on whom tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Radical Anti-Racism

Perhaps you haven't heard, but slavery is wrong. So too is racism. But why they wrong? By virtue of what principle(s)?

I know why they're wrong: ultimately because all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with... you know, the thing.

So what. The founders believed the same nonsense but some of them owned slaves.

Yes, but that was wrong, and they knew it was wrong. Democrats didn't invent the positive good defense of slavery until a generation or two after the founding.

The positive good defense is rooted in very different principles from the founding, and these principles have guided the Democrat party ever since, from Jim Crow to racial quotas to the war on cops.

The latter, for example, insists that different standards should be applied to policing blacks just because blacks commit a vastly disproportionate amount of crime. This is analogous to applying different college entry standards to Asian Americans just because they commit a vastly disproportionate amount of scholarship. Which Democrats also do: different races, different standards.

Blacks lives matter. No doubt, but why? By virtue of what principle?

I know -- because ALL lives matter!

Wrong. That makes you a racist.

Hmm. I don't have a second guess. I give up. What's the right answer?

No, I really do give up. What is the Politically Correct answer? Be right back. I'm gonna go to the source.

Perfect: What We Believe. The mission: "to build local power and to intervene when violence [is] inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes." Vigilantes? I have good news for BLM: 86% of unorganized, non-state interracial violence is committed by Blacks, despite Blacks comprising only 13% of the population.

And the state? The top 20 urban areas that feature the most Black-on-Black violence are all run by Democrats, often for decades (or maybe it's 19 out of 20).

I'll cut to the chase: I don't see any principles here. There is (in their words) rage, commitment, desire, fighting, catalyzing, healing, struggling. There's a lot of talk about "Black people," but no attention to actual persons.

There'a a lot of sub-literate nonsense such as

We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.

Does that make any sense to you?

We are unapologetically Black in our positioning.

That's neither here nor there. I am unapologetically white. I'm also unapologetically male, Homo sapiens, mortal, married, a father, a baseball fan, a beer lover, a record collector... I'm not proud of any of these, just not apologetic. Why would I be? It won't help. I do, however, apologize for being a psychologist. That was never my intention. It just turned out that way.

We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world.

Ah ha. I think I've identified the essential flaw in their anthropological reasoning, and which makes for a smooth segue into our next subject, which is very nature of the human subject, AKA The Selfhood of the Human Person.

Our approach will demonstrate not only why Black lives matter, but why they are of literally infinite value. Note that this statement cannot be true if the belief animating BLM is true, that "to love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others."

This has it precisely backward and upside down. For in reality, human rights are prior to their instantiation in a racial (or any) group.

In short, these rights inhere in individuals, never in groups, races, tribes, classes, genders, political parties, etc. You possess them because you are a person, never because you are a black or white person. To believe otherwise is a truly grotesque and dangerous regression to an earlier understanding of personhood (because it is, as we shall see, a denial and defacement of personhood).

Let's begin with a question. Let's say you know nothing about me except I am Black. Knowing I am Black, do you know anything of substance about me?

That is correct: you know nothing (except that I am a person, with all this entails, which is a great deal). If you believe otherwise, there's a name for that: racist. Even if one believes different racial groups may on average do better or worse in this or that endeavor, this tells you nothing about the individual.

Perhaps you assume that because I'm, say, Asian American, I must excel at math. Maybe, but you won't know until you actually meet and get to know me. Or, maybe you think someone is "privileged" because he's white. If so, you're just another racist.

This is all so elementary, it's distressing it even has to be said. But this is the progressive Age of Stupidity we've been born into. As a psychologist, I deal with every race under the sun, but I never make any assumptions -- good or bad -- going into an interview. Why would I? I'm not evaluating a group but a person.

But what is a person? And what makes them so special? I learned in biology that human beings are just randomly evolved animals, no better than any other. I learned in ecology that humans are like any other animal only worse, and I learned in neurology that there's not even any such thing as a human self, just neural activity.

Back to our question: what is a person, anyway?

Almost every answer to this question begins in a certain independence in being and acting.... a person is never a mere part in any whole but a whole of its own... (Crosby).

Since a person is never a mere part in a whole, a person can never be reduced to his race. Indeed, no person is even a "member" of a race, certainly not in any meaningful sense, since it again tells us nothing about the actual person.

Does this mean community is of no importance? No, of course not. But it does mean a community must be of and for persons, not reduce person to group or engulf the individual in the collective:

personal selfhood provides the only possible basis for all deeper forms of community.... the defenders of community and the common good should beware of certain proposals of restoration, such as those that reject the idea of the person as subject of rights. There is a core of personalist truth in the individualism of rights, and this has to be preserved in all attempts at renewing the bonds of social solidarity (ibid.).

Any person matters because all persons matter, period. But today, radical anti-racism such as that discussed here is considered a form of racism by the racists of the left, the great majority of whom are, as usual, white Democrats, not black.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Volk Lives Matter

The moment we're living through seems more consequential than can be discerned from the usual media hysteria.

Come to think of it, being that the media is always hysterical, it is impossible to determine the importance of an historical event based upon how Don Lemon or Chris Cuomo or the New York Times react to things. Besides, is girlish hysteria ever the appropriate response to anything?

More generally, it is difficult if not impossible to gauge the cosmo- or world-historical importance of this or that present moment. Some people magnify the moment out of all proportion, while others can sleepwalk through the most significant events in history. (As to the latter, one must only notice how the MSM is ignoring what is by far the greatest political scandal in American history.)

So, we're attempting to use our pure Coon Vision to drill down to the ground of this moment, in order to discern what's really going on. As mentioned in yesterday's post, we insist that it is possible to do this via the Pure Thought described therein, i.e., to read the Signs of the Times.

And again, this does not mean it can be exhaustively described in an apodictic, systematic way, because this would constitute ideological Gnosticism and not open engagement with the ground; it would reduce to the wrong answer, whereas a Raccoon is always in search of the right questions in the correct order.

All we're asking for is a little peek outside Plato's Cave or beneath Jeffrey's Rug, and we are absolutely convinced that this is possible, otherwise there would be no need to put the honest prophets to death.

Now, this hardly means we cannot read the signs incorrectly. We all know this happened once, and we've already apologized for it. No prophet bats 1.000, not even Petey. We admit when we are wrong, even if a part of us still believes the Monkees will some day enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Let's begin with an analogy. Let's say the historical moment is like an ocean. Certain qualities of the ocean are apparent -- waves, tides, wind currents -- while others are hidden, for example, large scale circulation and depth. Who could tell by looking at the ocean that certain currents have been stably flowing for thousands of years?

Indeed, Prof. Wiki claims that some currents have "a transit time of about 1000 years" and that current velocities can range "from fractions of centimeters per second" to sometimes more than a meter per second.

This makes the analogy even more useful than I had hoped, because history also flows at different rates of speed in ways that are impossible to discern by looking at the surface, AKA journalistically.

To take only the most obvious example, the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection continue to reVerberate and flow through history, usually in an imperceptibly slow way, occasionally in dramatic fashion (for example, in the American revolution, which was at once rooted in a generation-long spiritual awakening which was in turn nested in a much longer arc of salvation and evolution, AKA salvolution).

We're in danger of running out of time before we ever get to the bloody point. Perhaps I should just jump ahead to the point, and flesh it out out as we proceed.

Much of what I'm about to say has been provoked by another providential collision with a timely book, this one called The Selfhood of the Human Person. It is so dense with implications that it's a slow read, even though the material itself isn't beyond the abilities of the average Christian Subgenius.

Concur with this reviewer:

This is a brilliant essay on the human person following the personalist/phenomonological line of thought (a philosophical approach taken by our beloved pope John Paul II).

To do this book justice, a single reading does not suffice; it needs several readings, not because it is hard to follow -- not at all! Crosby is very readable -- I found it very comprehensible and I am not trained in philosophy.

No, it is simply because there is so much in this book; such as the role of immanence and transcendence in the human person -- what does it mean to say that persons possess a kind of incommunicability?

What I want to focus on is the critical distinction between the group/collective and the individual/person, and how the Present Moment is showing us a very different conception of this from the traditional American and Christian view (the former current thoroughly embedded in the latter, as per the above).

For us -- i.e., for both Christians and Americans -- the individual is not only sacred, but a kind of intra-historical telos. You could say that the achievement of the Mature Man is the point of this whole cosmo-historical flow, and that it took a very long time to get here (only 50,000 years or so of human development).

But now we are faced with a very different historical movement (to be precise, it is an anti-historical movement, a turning back from maturity) that wants to efface individuality and plunge us back into the tribe, the race, the volk.

And just look at the intellectual and emotional maturity of the human specimens producing and produced by this movement! You can't reason with them, any more than you could teach algebra to a pig or economics to AOC.

Identity politics is a lack thereof, i.e., of proper identity and personhood; or, it is collective identity effacing personal identity rooted in trinitarian intersubjectivity.

To be continued....

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The De-Nazification of the Left

We've had two days to meditate on, or stew in, Eliot's advice that the only proper philosophical method is to be very intelligent. Well, what if the person who disagrees with you is also very intelligent? Easy: you have to be very, very intelligent.

Let's see if that chapter has any other helpful tips. Here's one:

One must never forget that all classic philosophy is built on common sense, while no ideology is built on common sense.... Realizing that is a great breakthrough (Voegelin, in Sandoz).

That is a very good point. You will have noticed....

I often say that, don't I? You will have noticed. When I do, it's probably because I'm directing your attention to something plainly commonsensical. It's a kind of compliment, because I'm assuming my readers are gifted with a fully functional common sense with which to perceive the bleeding obvious. To put another way, every troll is missing something, if not everything.

But this also means that someone who disagrees on the point at hand isn't necessarily stupid, just lacking in common sense. You will have noticed that a person can be quite intelligent, and yet, be utterly lacking in common sense. Many intelligent people, for example, believe Black Lives Matter has something to do with Black Lives instead of being just the latest iteration of totalitarian leftist ideology (but I threepeat myself).

Indeed, the observation that intelligent people can believe idiotic things qualifies as a banality, but why is it true? I'm sure we've discussed this in the past, so I won't spend a great deal of time on it. Taking myself as a prime example, I'm as intelligent as I was when I was younger (if anything, less intelligent), and yet, like any liberal, I believed all sorts of nonsensical things. Why? What was going on?

Gosh. So many things. As I said, I don't want this tangent to hijack the post. Is it possible to cut through the archetypal Jungle and identify one or two principles that explain my former idiocy? Think, Bob, think....

Okay, that phrase right there: think, Bob, think. It reveals one of my principles, i.e., that a type of pure thought can disclose the nature of reality. However, the operative word is pure, which goes to the moral requisites alluded to in yesterday's post. Does this imply a moral oneupmanship on my part? As in, "I know better than you because I am better than you."

No, I don't think so. Rather, the opposite, because we're talking about reverence and humility in the presence of Truth, which form the essence of intellectual honesty. As Voegelin emphasizes time and again, philosophy is not a body of knowledge, rather, a whole way of life.

Yes, it sounds pretentious to say I am a philosopher. That's for others to decide. But I can say I practice philo-sophy as a way of life, and that the practice of it requires several things, including love of wisdom and truth, perpetual openness to the transcendent, and lots of drugs. (I apologize. Some jokes insist on writing themselves despite one's best efforts to make a serious point.)

Back to the principle of Pure Thought. There are several wrong ways of engaging in it that we must rule out straight away, for example, any form rationalism. That's just a nonstarter for any number of reasons, but let's just say Gödel and move on.

In a way, we could place all forms of endeadening Wrongthink into one huge casket of deplorables called ideology. We might say that the way of ideology is at antipodes to the way of philosophy, largely because it reduces philosophy to a specific content and thereby closes off the divine ground, AKA reality.

Various profane dogmas, doctrines, and ideologies are indeed secondary realties that eclipse first reality (and there can be only one). These are "deadening to the living spirit of faith no less than to the living tension of the philosopher's contemplative (noetic) quest" (Sandoz).

Which reminds me of another critical point: living. Just as there exist biological life and death (the latter only intelligible in the context of the former), there are intellectual and spiritual Life. If you are lucky, then somewhere along the way you had exposure to, and were drawn into the attractor of, a Living Man who initiated you into the life of mind and spirit. If not, then you'll have a hard time understanding what we're talking about.

At the moment, we are enduring a tsunami of spiritually demented ideology washing over what remains of our civilization. It is quite obviously dead, deadening, and deadly, both spiritually and intellectually. Ironic, is it not, that its standard bearer is literally a dead man walking, Joe Biden?

No, not ironic. Inevitable.

How to combat this zombie apocalypse, or anti-political night of the living dead? Has anyone seen the movie Shutter Island? I saw it just the other night, but it's difficult to discuss without being a spoiler.

Let's just say that you can't just push back against a delusion, for the deluded person will simply incorporate you into their delusion -- like when Adam Schiff accused Tucker Carlson on live TV of being an agent of Putin for questioning the Russia hoax. Likewise, the surest way to be called a racist is to point out the intrinsic racism of the identity politics of the left.

The crisis of consciousness that has propelled alienated intellectuals' assault on all that our most venerable traditions hold dear and true cannot be met merely by reasserting dogmas even more loudly than before (ibid.).

You can't just yell back at the screamers, hate the haters, or resurrect the soul dead. "Rather, something more is needed."

The rightness of what has always been right must not only be reaffirmed but also recaptured in the hearts of men and as the living truth of a science of human affairs...

Yes, there are short-term mitigations, but let's be honest: the de-Nazification of the left is a multi-generational project, nor can it happen without divine intervention -- or better, without widespread openness to the divine ground. Which is why we agree with the Aphorist that

In history it is sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans.

Never did get to my original point. I'll get straight to it in the next post.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Qualifications of Intelligence

A short list of the evils to which man is inevitably heir would include -- off the top of my head --

--pain, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual

--death

--organic disease

--mental illness

--immorality and evil

--envy

--want (because it is infinite and therefore insatiable)

--aging

--loss

--status anxiety and the desire for distinction

--loneliness

--war

--criminality

--lies

--boredom

--oppression

--fatherlessness

--ignorance

--meaninglessness

--time (to the extent that it is limited)

--the necessity of labor

--unjust violence

--ignorance

--stupidity

--annoying people

--hair loss

None of these can be eliminated by politics, although it can ameliorate some of them at the margins. On the other hand, politics can serve as a fine distraction from them. Say what you want about the imbeciles going on about "white privilege," at least they don't wonder about the meaning of life, nor how to solve life's problems. It's easy: eliminate white people.

No wonder the left refuses to relinquish this seductive delusion, considering how it shields them from the distressing reality of genuine evils, privations, and existential nuisances. How tempting it must be to ensconce oneself in the comfort and safety of a collective hysteria over race!

What's the real solution? Ultimately there can be only one; or perhaps two or three that are ultimately reducible to one.

In The Politics of Truth, Sandoz alludes to a remark by T.S. Eliot on the character of proper philosophizing, to the effect that the only method is to be -- wait for it -- very intelligent.

Well now wait just a minute. Our political discourse -- and every other kind of discourse for that matter -- is crawling with mild-to-moderately intelligent people with idiotic opinions. Their intelligence, such as it is, does nothing to shield them from error, prejudice, wishful thinking, delusion, Trump derangement, or hateful ideology in general.

Let's try to track down the source of Eliot's comment. Surely he knew plenty of intelligent idiots, being that he worked in the publishing industry.

No luck. I do, however, have some aphoristic back-up from a man who was obviously well aware of the dangers of intelligent stupidity, but who could nevertheless affirm that

The intelligent man quickly reaches conservative conclusions (Dávila).

Yes, but what about the intelligent man who doesn't reach conservative conclusions? What happened? What has caused his intelligence to turn on itself, or to negate its own efficacy?

Well, one can obviously be quite intelligent, a genius even, and lack wisdom. There is also general intelligence and partial intelligence, or intelligence in this or that field as opposed to the Pure Intelligence that radiates through certain people.

It reminds me of "pure musicians," in contrast to a trained musician who may well be a virtuoso but will never attain the pure musical genius of even certain "primitive" and unschooled musicians out of whom musical genius flows freely. Some people make music. Others are music. Analogously,

There are men who visit their intelligence, and others who dwell in theirs.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but I want to mention something I'll expand upon later. It is the principle that real intelligence has moral prerequisites, for example -- and this is only the most obvious one -- intellectual honesty.

You will have noticed that it is strictly impossible to dialogue with the intellectually dishonest person, since the two of you are not converging upon truth; or, you don't share a passionate love for the truth that transcends the two of you. Certainly you can debate such a person, but this is a worthless exercise if it only involves defending a position as opposed to advancing together toward truth.

By the way, we're not talking about the legions of credentialed idiots who attended college, learned the right things, and have never had a creative thought in their lives -- an Obama, Cornell West, Chris Cuomo, Rachel Maddow, and thousands of others. Of these it may be truly said that

There is an illiteracy of the soul that no diploma cures.

And that

The learned fool has a wider field to practice his folly.

Rather, we're talking about the seeming paradox of intelligent stupidity, not middlebrow convention and conformity. By itself, A high I.Q. is indicative of distinguished mediocrity.

As to the moral qualifications needed in order for the intelligence to be perfected, Dávila reminds us that Intelligence by itself possesses nothing but rebellious slaves.

Boy howdy, has this proved true over the past several weeks! A reminder that

He who jumps, growls, and barks has an invisible collar and an invisible chain.

And the chain wasn't put there by us. Rather, it was placed there by white liberals and their designated "black leaders."

Almost out of time. We'll leave off with this, and explain how it can be true in the next post:

Agreement is eventually possible between intelligent men because intelligence is a conviction they share.