Monday, June 19, 2006

We are Endowed by our Biology with Certain Unalienable Illusions and Appetites (updated 9.08.07)

While trawling around for a topic this morning, I came across this idiotorial in the Guardian by Noam Chomsky, A Negotiated Solution to the Iranian Nuclear Crisis is Within Reach. Naturally he blames the United States and Israel for the problem. Unlike us, "sophisticated Iranians" are “surely not as willing as the west to discard history to the rubbish heap.” That is, “They know that the United States, along with its allies, has been tormenting Iranians for more than 50 year.” Unsophisticated Iranians presumably live outside Chomskian history as well, and perhaps think that the totalitarian regime that rules their lives is somehow evil.

But you knew Chomsky was going to say that. He doesn’t “think” so much as apply a template over reality so that it always comes out looking the same: U.S. bad, enemies of U.S. good. Chomsky, of course, is one of the intellectual luminaries of the far left, and the far left is increasingly becoming indistinguishible from the left (which long ago abandoned liberalism).

On the adolescent playground of college campuses, Chomsky's books are always among the biggest sellers. In the course of his career, like the left itself, he has only been wrong about everything (most egregiously, our last generations-long battle against evil), but that doesn’t matter, since the purpose of socialism is not to be effective or to describe reality, but to transform the consciousness of the person who believes it. Therefore, it would be a waste of time to analyze the substance of Chomsky’s ideas, which are frankly bizarre. He is much more of a religious cult figure and should be regarded as such. He cannot be discredited.

Religion is the realm of ultimate values. I was intrigued by a passing comment at the top of Chomsky’s editorial that reveals his: “The urgency of halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and moving toward their elimination, could hardly be greater. Failure to do so is almost certain to lead to grim consequences, even the end of biology's only experiment with higher intelligence” (emphasis mine).

So here we have a literal inversion of reality on every level: political, historical, ethical, epistemological, theological and ontological. The classical liberalism of American idealism is explicitly religious, even if it doesn’t explicitly favor one particular Judeo-Christian denomination over another. But clearly, there was a consensus among our founders that human beings, and only human beings, were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that are rooted in our very humanness. Liberty is meaningless without both free will and a proper divine end for our free will. In the absence of a free will that transcends biology, liberty is obviously impossible. And in the absence of the Good and True, both our behavior and our thinking can have no meaning that isn’t ultimately arbitrary. (In other words, thinking must converge on truth, just as behavior must converge on virtue.)

This is the “American experiment”: it was an experiment in the adventure of consciousness to see if would be possible to facilitate psycho-spiritual evolution by setting up the appropriate framework--to unleash human potential, in part by starting out with a more accurate anthropology and ontology. For if you get either of these wrong at the outset, then your political philosophy will be hopelessly dysfunctional.

Adam Smith’s ideas are infinitely more effective than Marx’s ideas because they begin with a very accurate and concrete assessment of human psychology, whereas Marx (and every leftist since him) begins with abstract and general ideas that are superimposed on reality. What doesn’t fit into the framework must be attacked, denied, belittled, and eliminated in order to preserve the framework. Thus, the ontological origins of the perpetually “angry left.” How could they not be? It’s inherently painful when reality doesn’t conform to your fantasies.

The mullahs and Islamonazis have their own dysfunctional version of reality, while Chomsky and the left have another. In the end, one is no worse than the other, which is probably why they find such common ground in their opposition to liberal America. In Chomsky’s religion, matter is God. A nuclear holocaust would be tragic because it would end “biology's only experiment with higher intelligence.” Turning the cosmos upside down, human intelligence is subordinate to biology. The human mind is simply an “experiment” of biology. Could this possibly be true? I don't know. You would have to ask biology. It’s her experiment, not ours.

The religious creed of the secular leftist would go something like this:

“I believe in a single substance, the mother of all forces, which engenders the life and consciousness of everything, visible and invisible. I believe in a single lord, biology, the unique son of the substance of the world, born from the substance of the world after centuries of random experimentation: the encapsulated reflection of the great material sea, the epiphenomenal light of primordial darkness, the false reflection of the real world, consubstantial with the mother-substance. It is he who has descended from the shadows of the mother-substance, he who has taken on flesh from matter, he who plays at the illusion of thought from flesh, he who has become the Human Brain. As a Human Brain, I acknowledge a single method for the elimination of error, thus ultimately eliminating myself and returning to the mother substance. Amen.” (Adapted from a passage by Valentin Tomberg.)

Stripped of their illusions of divinity, humans are then free to be what they are, with their biology unbound:

Power into will, will into appetite,
And appetite, a universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce a universal prey
And last eat himself up. --Shakespeare

Chomsky gives a pass to the ravenous wolves of Islam, just as he gave a pass to the monsters of depravity who enslaved the communist world. He has to. It's his theology. Or biology. Same thing.


Alan said...

Thesis: Those who hold to the theories of materialism, (which holds that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter) actually project their own magical/religious thinking on those who hold that consciousness/God was first.

ie. they are the ones who have blind, irrational belief (not based on any facts/provable experiments) in a magical, miraculous event that is the birth of consciousness from inert matter. They just say we aren't smart enough to have figured it out yet.

Is my argument supportable?

Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely--materialism is a completely incoherent and unsophisticated metaphysic, while religion, properly understood, deals in objective metaphysics--truths that cannot not be so.

Science is wonderful as science, but it is junk metaphyiscs--just as religion is wonderful metaphysics, but often produces junk science if the vertical is confused with the horizontal.

"Chance" is the God of the gaps of materialism.

Gagdad Bob said...


That's a very lengthy take from Mr. Lindbom. Instead of the long passage, I'm going to have to ask you to "bottom line" it for our readers.

Jenny said...

Chomsky is a nut.

Hoarhey said...

>>“Thus, the ontological origins of the perpetually “angry left.” How could they not be? It’s inherently painful when reality doesn’t conform to your fantasies.”<<

I’ve wondered about this and the inability of the left (read Dems.) in this country to come up with anything resembling a coherent policy. I’ve decided that because of their lack of a moral compass they are unable to agree on much of anything and it has become the battle of a thousand fantasies, their motto being “put us in power, we’ll figure it out from there.”

>>“This is the “American experiment”: it was an experiment in the adventure of consciousness to see if would be possible to facilitate psycho-spiritual evolution by setting up the appropriate framework--to unleash human potential, in part by starting out with a more accurate anthropology and ontology. For if you get either of these wrong at the outset, then your political philosophy will be hopelessly dysfunctional.”<<

Indeed the founders had the sights lined up fairly accurately in the formation of this country; their moral underpinnings and understanding of human nature being key to their ability to see cause and effect down the road. As we get further away from the muzzle, the accuracy begins to suffer from a variety of external influences yet the constitutional blueprint remains perpetually viable.

“A republic, if you can keep it." B.F.

Marcus A. said...

Okay, so I’m new to this whole blog thing (and your site) – and I am looking for a unifying theme for what this site is about. Where is it? I guess I have to hunt down a copy of the book . . . otherwise, most of what I see seems like rants, name calling, etc. (dueling pathology?) without solid articulation of alternatives.

Sure, I agree with a lot of what is said, but it’s way too easy to take shots at others. Yeah, yeah, yeah the world (humanity) has problems – but This Is NEWS!?!?!? Come on, the real “heavy lifting” is in creating our way out of the problems. Where is the community (and energy) for this?

dilys said...

This re-invigorates a continuing rant of mine, on the issue of "sustainability." Why is it that almost 100% of those who believe building, fuel, and various material lifestyle elements should be "sustainable," overlook the conceptual, immaterial, and moral elements of "sustainability," such as you outline here? It is as though they are weird closet Platonicists -- The idea is impregnable and immutable, so we can fiddle with the manifestations in all kinds of incoherent ways.

Whereas, in my experience, ideas and practices require a good deal of tending, handing down, training, and social capital.

Anybody else notice this contradiction?

Gagdad Bob said...

The unifying theme of the blog is found both in the book and the below the blog's title (other common themes are found in my profile):

"One Cosmos Under Bob, with Soph-Help Lumin Development, Paleoliberal Futurism, Pneumablogging Mental Gymgnostics, Leftist Noise Abatement, Darwhiggian Evolution, Supranatural Election, Isness Ministration, Evolutionary Traditionalism, Dilettantric Yoga, & Stand-up Cosmology for All."

Everyday I post about one or more of these topics. Today it was Paleoliberalism, Leftist Noise Abatement, Darwhiggian Evolution, and Supranatural Election. Tomorrow it might be jehovial witnessing, buddhaflow correcting, or extreme seeking. It just depends.

scaredstraight said...

If Chomsky's assumption about humanity being "biology's experiment" was true, a nuclear holocaust would be no more tragic than someone stepping on an ant hill. I suppose if one of the "great thinkers' on the left were to think about this conclusion he would be forced to find an argument to support it; in which case there would be no greater purpose in preserving humanity, and no noble reason to love our enemy because everything in our very existence would be reduced to a thoughtless biological drive toward self -preservation. If this is true how can we fault our enemies for wanting to destroy us, and how can we be faulted for wanting to destroy our enemies since the only thing that matters is the self? Further, if this is true how can we explain men like Chomsky who display a sort of self -hatred for the societies that work to allow them to live and breath and to express thier opinions; are they a biological abberration, a mutation, a mistake? Clearly they can not consider themselves noble, because there can not be any noble purpose in mere blind intuition.Yet, if they were to consider themselves noble for thier understanding and compassion towards those who would destroy them first, they would be forced to acknowledge the super-nobility of Jesus Christ who's selfless call to love our enemies brought Him to a brutal death upon a cross.
But alas, the "deep thinkers' on the left can't afford to explore thier theories too thoroughly because they can not stand to be wrong.

Sal said...

The young man who checked us out at Half-Price Books this morning was sporting a T-shirt that said "Mankind - Closed for Business".

No, I did not inquire. And perhaps "sporting" might be a bit jaunty.

Lisa said...

Chumpsky is so hard to read without vomit coming up in your throat. How can the world let a liar and falsifier of history to educate the masses and actually be taken seriously?

I just listened to Michael Medved's lecture about the lies of Vietnam. It is a must hear! It really does explain why the left continues to bring up our "loss" in Vietnam and try to connect it to anything worth fighting for today. The deep penetration of Marxist philosophy into academia and the democratic party is so damaging. I believe many people on the left are so completely unaware that they are being used and manipulated by the likes of Chumpsky and other people who hate the general idea of liberty and America. The "useful idiot" term definitely applies. How passe!

copithorne said...

Metaphysics are not necessary to value human life and liberty.

If you can't value human beings for their own sake, you won't be able to value them for God's sake either.

In fact, if its the metaphysics you value, you will always end up with violence towards actual people. Q.E.D.

Bubba Kartoffel said...

I have a friend who, over the years, has sent me a stream of Chomsky's work. From 'Manufacturing Consent' to '9/11' and much in between. I have read them to be polite. He is mightily impressed with all the footnotes. I wondered why anyone who lives in this country and has eyes to see could be in agreement with Chomsky's adamant, constant, misplaced hatred of the United States.
Recently I encountered 'The Anti Chomsky Reader' and am sending it to my friend. It is a series of essays which pretty much eviscerate the old hypocrite and miscreant along with his sloppy, circular scholarship - edited by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. I hope it proves to be the solution to having to read any more Chomsky. Thought I'd mention it in case any here wish to point the misguided in another direction.
I rarely comment on the site, Bob, but remain one of your avid readers. I rarely miss a day and always find something to enlighten, uplift or edify. Thanks!

Marcus A. said...

It is hard to not like the literally luscious f-lexocology you offer in your blog description and writing . . . but as a newbie, this blargonizes the way to comprehension – and leaves one looking for the meat (with apologies to vegans, vegetarians, and mad cows). I have to see if my bookshop has a copy of “One” and peruse for insight.

“I have a dream . . . “ Words of immortality, words of hope, love. Is there any to be found here? If the dreaming of this group could be summed, I wonder what voice it might find. And how then is that dream given stewardship here – or are we to just whining about the wanker next door (hello, yes, that would be me)? I know already I’m a wanker – but if I wanted to be less of a wanker, I wonder how I might do that? By saying Chomsky et al (right or left) sux – uh, yeah, sure . . . .

Sustainability, sustainability of a species, is that the dream here, or what is it?

Gagdad Bob said...

Our metaphysical dream can be found on any U.S. coin: Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum.

A leftist coin would say the opposite: Equality (which must be enforced by the state and diminishes liberty), in Matter We Trust (which fosters intellectual and moral relativism), and E Unum Pluribus (or multi-culturalism).

Petey said...


If metaphysics are not necessary to value human life and liberty, why do the places with the worst metaphysics--Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, China, or most of the Muslim Middle East--have the least liberty and the worst human rights records, whereas the nation founded on the most accurate metaphysical principles, the United States, has the most liberty and has contributed more to the betterment of the world than any other nation? Just Ronald Reagan and George Bush alone liberated millions upon millions from enslavement to evil ideologies. Communism and Islamism liberate no one. Quite the opposite. Or hadn't you noticed?

Michael Andreyakovich said...

Copi: The only metaphysics you seem to be interested in are the ones that act against the best interests of humankind: the murderous acts of Islamic radicals, the burning crosses left in the wake of the KKK (good pious Christians all), the God-Hates-America gospel of Rev. Phelps, et cetera ad nauseam.

Why not make an accounting of all the charitable acts performed by men of good will according to the dictates of their conscience? Or would that require you to mess with your highly negative image of organized religion?

copithorne said...

Petey, you're working on a correlation equals causation logical fallacy that I wouldn't try to take up fully. My philosophical point that metaphysics need play no logical role in valuing human life and liberty would still hold.

Still, it is interesting to review.

I don't know how to characterize the metaphysics of Nazi Germany. I would think they are unremarkable as the metaphysics of 20th century European bourgousie, but I suppose the point is arguable. There's blut and boden tribalism too.

It is also hard to say what the metaphysics of the American revolution were. As I maintain, there are no metaphysics necessary for a human to value human life, human liberty and the pursuit of human happiness.

The metaphysics of the French Revolution were good on paper but terrible in practice. Maybe you don't like the Egalite.

I can understand your point that the metaphysics of communism and islam are toxic.

All this is idle chatter. If you have opinions, you could put them forward. I think if people are not entranced by metaphysics, they don't initiate violence.

Michael, you seem to be interacting with anxieties in your head rather than with a person outside your head. I love organized religion. I love church. If I had my way I wouldn't miss a day.

Petey said...


As usual, you are not even wrong. You cannot make a non-trivial statement about reality without an explict or implict metaphysic, usually, as in your case, a naive or bad one.

You have no way of knowing about this, but ideas actually do have moral consequences. "All men are created equal" is one such idea. "All men must submit to Sharia is another." You live in some kind of weird, cognitively sealed vacuum.

copithorne said...

The statement that you are "unable to make a non-trivial statement about reality without an explict or implict metaphysic" is a tautology. "Reality" is a term of metaphysics.

However, it is manifestly possible to live one's entire life without making a statement about "reality." For example, there is no reference to "reality" in the either Constitution or Declaration of Independence.

Studying the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein would be helpful to you in coming to clarity on this point.

Petey said...

That is without a doubt the stupidest thing we've ever read on this blog.

At least we agree that your words have "no reference to reality."

As for Wittgenstein, he had no acquaintance whatsoever with perennial truth and wisely kept silent about it, as all profane philosophers must if they are honest.

Michael Brazier said...

Hello, Copithorne! Plaguing another psychologist?

Regarding your assertion that the American Revolution wasn't based in metaphysics: in what discipline would you place "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"? The reference to the Creator is, and was intended to be, a metaphysical basis for the argument made in the Declaration against the English Crown. Deny the metaphysics, and the charges against King George III become baseless.

Indeed, generally speaking, without a metaphysics that admits the non-material, one can't explain why life, liberty, or happiness have any value. Your own horror at warfare rests on some metaphysical premise (I don't pretend to know which) that could never be proven to a materialist's satisfaction.

Petey said...

Yes, I can't figure it out myself. Wittgenstein said that we must remain silent about things of which we cannot speak. And yet, Copithorne won't shut up.

PSGInfinity said...

Petey, its simple; he's a serial (parallel?)(SCSI?)(Ultra-Wide SCSI? miscegenator of philosophistry. Or something like that...

Just Ken said...

You said: "The classical liberalism of American idealism is explicitly religious, even if it doesn’t explicitly favor one particular Judeo-Christian denomination over another. But clearly, there was a consensus among our founders that human beings, and only human beings, were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that are rooted in our very humanness."

I don't know that this is necessarily the case, either with classical liberalism in general or American classical liberalism in particular.

European classical liberalism as expounded by such as Diderot, Destutt de Tracy, Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer or Condorcet, are not classified by a non-religious stance. Rather, their approach comes more from psychological and social theory than religion. English classical liberals, while some, such as Bright, were religious, certainly Harriet Martineau and Herbert Spencer were not.

Even amongst the American Founders, it is easy to question whether Thomas Jefferson or John Adams accepted Christian eschatology.

Indeed, the current work done by classical liberal/libertarian philosophers like Tibor Machan, Eric Mack, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl and Tara Smith necessarily leave the issue of God out of the subject of rights.

Just a thought.
Just Ken

scaredstraight said...

Metaphysics may not be necessary to value human life but if human life is more or less a"biological experiment" it would logically follow that humanity more or less operates on mere blind instinct. If this is so, there can be no real noble purpose in life; all that is left is the allusion that we are somehow noble, or as St. Paul put it-"eat,drink,and be merry for tommorrow we die".

scaredstraight said...

Ken- whatever the beliefs of modern liberal philosophers may be,by consensus, the Founding Fathers obviously trusted that liberties endowed to men came from a Creator God.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."
T Jefferson

Gagdad Bob said...

As Lincoln said, "I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the Declaration of Independence... If this country cannot be saved without giving up on that principle... I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it."

That is the difference between an extraordinarily spiritually evolved man--a man properly so-called-- and a mere philosopher, someone who simply toys with relative truths at the mental level.

scaredstraight said...

Lincoln understood that there was a truth greater than himself- he knew that man was not a "biological experiment" but a purposeful creation of a Creator God; with that knowledge Lincoln knew, at the core of his soul, that there is indeed such a thing as good and evil. Our philosphers seem to have forgotten that...

Lisa said...

I needed some reading for my wait at the airport today and came across an old bookstore in Chico. I looked for The Thirteenth Petalled Rose but could not find it. I did come across Stations of Wisdom by Schuon. I picked it up and only got to page 15 but I feel smarter already! I can see how he is such a big influence in your writing, Bob. I did come across a passage that is relevant to this thread, so here goes...

"Some will certainly raise the objection that traditional metaphysics, whether of the East or West, makes use of rational argumentations like any philosophy; but an argumentation a man uses to describe to his fellow men what he knows is one thing, and one that he uses on himself because he knows nothing is quite another. This is a crucial distinction, for it marks the whole difference between the intellectual "visionary" and the mere "thinker" who "gropes alone through the darkness" (Descartes) and whose pride it is to deny that there could be any knowledge which does not proceed in the same fashion."

I ended up sitting next to a minister and we had a lovely conversation about breath and ruach. He was so kindhearted and warm. Funny, how sometimes you don't have to look too far to find inspiration and knowledge, it seems to find you!

ben usn (ret) said...

Excellent post Bob.
You are right, Lisa.
Inspiration is everywhere, as is knowledge.
We can see it if we search and hear it if we listen.
Truth and virtue enable us to tune in
to the symphony of Life.
When we hear that rapturous music, and see how great Thou art...our souls tremble in awe, leap with joy,
and flow with Truth, with adulation of our Creator.
Moving ever nearer to that veil is to see more clear,
How can we not be inspired?

dilys said...

Animals in Translation : Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, by the very astute animal psychologist and autistic Temple Grandin, provides lots of food for thought about the intersection of biology and values. For one thing, even the non-primate mammals have a number of behaviors toward each other that seem to exhibit values more humane than the nihilist reductionist "it's only..." of materialism, which IMO resemble only a mask for the reptilian brain as a sophomore at Polysyllabic-Obscurantist U.

And claiming to know the Founders' views on "Christian eschatology" is a slippery proposition, including as it must such hints as Jefferson's incorporation into his redacted "bible" of the discourse of Christ about the Last Judgment: "And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the just into everlasting life" (Matthew 25:46).

And Benjamin Franklin's self-composed epitaph:

"The body of B. Franklin, Printer (Like the Cover of an Old Book Its Contents torn Out And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding) Lies Here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be Lost; For it will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More In a New and More Elegant Edition Revised and Corrected By the Author."

Marcus A. said...

"miscegenator of philosophistry" !?!?!? Wow you guys are great, I fell on my butt laughing! I love the word play here!

Metaphysics!? This whole damn blog is metaphysics - consciousness itself is metaphysics, what a pointless "point."

"Our metaphysical dream can be found on any U.S. coin: Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum."
Huh!? Yeah, okay and throw in mom and apple pie too if you want, what is blog about, cultivating "dittoheads?" Sorry, for my crassness but I will stop looking for insight here and look at the book before I say more. My local shop has ordered it.

Sal said...

marcus a.

"Come on, the real “heavy lifting” is in creating our way out of the problems. Where is the community (and energy) for this?"

I think, if you asked each of us separately, you'd find that individually, we are all doing things to alleviate the problems. We're just not waiting around for a group consensus before acting.

Bob provides a forum, but it's up to us to act on any ideas we pick up. And since we're all about vocation here - those actions will all be different.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid I cannot sum up well enough, so here is the link to the Lindbom article for any who wish to peruse:

copithorne said...

I don't really know whether the actors in the Revolutionary war were motivated by faith. I don't have a feel for their private lives. Lincoln was a prophetic figure. If you wanted to show that Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine, or the soldiers of Washington's army were religious or philosophical I'd be interested.

I'm religious. Religious practice is my purpose in life. Church is my favorite thing to do. For me, I wouldn't say the Founding fathers were on a spiritual path. I woudn't say that concepts of faith were principal motivations for them. That's just me. You may have a different view.

I did say human beings do not need metaphysics or religion or philosophy to value human life, human liberty and the pursuit of human happiness.


On my own authority,

I value human life.
I value human liberty.
I value human happiness.


Anonymous said...

who allowed you your own authority?