Saturday, August 26, 2006

Humanism is Subhumanism

The noble man is one who is sovereign over himself; the holy man is one who transcends himself.... The spiritual man transcends himself and loves to transcend himself; the worldly man remains horizontal and detests the vertical dimension. --Frithjof Schuon

Another important post by Dr. Sanity (ricocheted off a post by ShrinkWrapped), entitled Getting to the “Root” of Root Causes. You might want to go over and read the whole thing while Petey and I wait here. But don’t take too long, since Petey has to be “elsewhere” in a bit. (I say that in bewilderment rather than just sarcasm, because I’m not sure what “elsewhere” means to a purely vertical being.)

Both Dr. Sanity and ShrinkWrapped make reference to the willful misunderstanding and misappropriation of Freud’s ideas by the left. Specifically, since Freud argued that our behavior was determined by unconscious factors, free will is an illusion and no one is really responsible for their bad behavior. To a certain extent this misunderstanding is understandable, for there is no question that Freud was an anti-religious determinist and a materialist. However, as ShrinkWrapped points out, Freud also emphasized that behavior was “overdetermined,” meaning that a multitude of factors contributed to any particular thought or action.

Just as there are no Marxist economists outside academia, it is fair to say that there are virtually no strict Freudians outside academia either. At least for clinicians, Freud’s hydraulic model of the mind has been replaced by an emphasis on the self, which represents our total subjective experience of ourselves. By definition, it cannot be understood as an object, but as the subjective experiencer of experience, both internal and external.

Humanism always results in subhumanism, because, among other things, it denies the very free will that defines us as human. Interestingly, both Islam and the left share the common view of seeing man as determined rather than free. One of the impediments to development in the Islamic world is the concept of “fate,” meaning that Allah wills everything on a moment-by-moment basis.

This is radically different from the Judeo-Christian view, which sees God creating the universe but then “standing back,” so to speak, in order to facilitate and encourage freedom. While miracles still occur--indeed, must occasionally occur because of the vertical axis of reality--they are clearly the exception, not the rule. In Islam, it is as if every moment is miraculously caused by Allah in a top-down manner, with no horizontal causation at all. This is partly what accounts for the deep irrationalism of the Muslim world.

But while Islam is “subrational,” we might say that the left is “hyper-rational,” in that they categorically deny the vertical, which leaves them only with horizontal causation. Since free will can only be located in a vertical sphere that transcends horizontal causation, once you have successfully eliminated the vertical, you end up with the infrahuman, mechanical universe of the left. Bad behavior--as well as good behavior--is simply caused by some antecedent state, instead of being the free choice of an autonomous self that is situated above the stream of temporal cause and effect. This is why leftists believe such clichés as “poverty causes crime” instead of “bad values cause crime,” or “Israel’s existence is the cause of terrorism” instead of “delusional beliefs are the cause of terrorism.”

Another Freudian idea misappropriated by the left is the “superego,” which Freud felt was the source of morality. Since the superego is an internalized object based on family and cultural experience, this implies that there is an unavoidably arbitrary aspect to morality. One culture thinks it’s bad to eat people, another thinks that human flesh is delicious. Who are we to judge? One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, even if terrorists don’t believe in freedom. Whatever. Giant fans are no different than Dodger fans--they just express themselves by throwing batteries and used hypodermic needles at players instead of cheering and booing.

But morality actually has three sources: 1) revealed law, 2) the voice of conscience, and 3) the superego. In my view, Freud conflated the conscience--which is a living “revelation” of God implanted in our heart--with the superego, which is indeed a contingent mechanism of socialization that may or may not even be moral. The true conscience can only be located in the vertical, whereas the superego is wholly horizontal (or lower vertical). More often than not, it is actually a corrupt enabler of bad behavior than a source of objective morality. (I discussed this at greater length in a post entitled Conscience, Superego, and Huk al Berri.)

There I explained “why the emphasis on truth is so vital. For in the Arab Muslim world, they are so inundated with vicious lies about America and Israel that it would be ‘immoral’ for them not to hate us. In a racist or anti-Semitic society, the superego will actually demand that its members be racist and anti-Semitic. For example, the nazi movement in Germany was animated by extremely high ideals, without which they could not have engaged in their project of exterminating the Jews. Once the lie is established as truth, then the superego takes over, impelling the individual to act in a ‘moral’ way, consistent with the implications of the lie.”

Therefore, because of the truth-loving nature of the uncreated conscience, if you can establish a lie as the truth, the furtherance of evil will take care of itself.

What largely defines man is his free will, which implies both intelligence and objectivity, for if we aren’t free, then we cannot really possess either truth or goodness. Animals cannot leave the closed system of cause and effect, whereas human beings clearly can. In our vertical aspect, we can see a range of potential choices before us, whereas the animal is simply spurred by the demands of instinct.

Thus, to call free will into question is to make us less than human, which is why humanism is always subhumanism. The most subhuman places on earth are specifically those places where free will was and is denied or atrophied: in communist countries, in the Islamic world, and in urban areas where free will has been eroded by 40 years of leftist brainwashing and social engineering. In the latter case, you might say that poverty does indeed cause crime--the impoverished metaphysic of the left.

Liberty in itself is an aspect of divinity in which we may either participate or not participate. This is a truth that our founders found to be be self-evident, and we can be sure that, in their wildest nightmares, they did not anticipate an illiberal counterrevolution from the left that actually denied the entire basis of the American ideal.

Likewise, George Bush, who is in the philosophical mold of the founders, clearly did not anticipate the anti-liberty forces of the left or the Islamic world, who now work in concert to deny freedom to millions. Without freedom, there is no human existence--or perhaps we might say, no existence worthy of humans. For liberty is the very possibility of manifesting oneself to the utmost, of becoming fully human, of becoming what we already are--and of knowing the divine spark that manifests through us. Nothing is less human than the merely human. The “perfect horizontal man” of leftist utopian thought is simply a perfect animal or robot.

But even that isn't quite right, since there is an inherent dignity and nobility to animals in their natural state, whereas in its verticality, man's natural state is supernatural, so to speak. Thus, reduced to mere animality, man becomes lower than the animals.


Will said...

I think the "fated-ness" of Islam and the liberty inherent in the Judeo-Christian tradition is exemplified in - and maybe can be traced back to - their respective origins - Muhammad received dictation, literally, from the angel, whereas God spoke *through* Christ, not merely to him. The former brooks no real change, there is no malleability, no creative growth. The latter implies an ongoing, creative partnership with the Creator, one in which freedom/liberty is required.

For what it's worth, back when I was in grad school, the image of Freud was billboarded over all of the liberal arts - there was no escape. From what tracking I've done recently, CG Jung is making serious headway in the schools, maybe because his philosophy/cosmology is more eco/new-age/pagan, and even feminist-adaptable than is Freud's. I think many think of Jung as being "mystical" (as opposed to Freud's materialism), and obviously there's some truth to that. However, as far as I know, there is no real concept of spiritual transcendence in Jungianism, though I'm told there is now a Jungian school of thought that does underscore and support the reality of spiritual transcendence.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, you might say that there is an orthodox Jungian school, a "left wing" school of pseudo-religious new age paganism, and a more serious "right wing" school that attempts to tie Jung's ideas to modern theories of attachment. I think some of Jung's ideas can be fruitful if allied with real developmental psychology and real religion, as opposed to elevating his theories to a sort of substitute religion.

lasch 2.0 said...

I am a materialist and in many ways my critique of capitalism is a leftist critique. But I've always been astonished at how the left picks and chooses the Freud they want. They claim Freud normalized perversion, and ignore that he taught us that we must learn to love or fall ill, for example.

One of Freud's great works, that still speaks to people today, is Civlization and its Discontents, which shows Marxism to be worthless and cuts the utopians down to size.

I am an atheist like Freud but like him, that doesn't mean I believe in the perfectibility of man. Our work on this planet will be interminable indeed!

Jacob C. said...

Bob: The reason the left cannot understand that "delusional beliefs are the cause of terrorism" is that they think that ALL beliefs are delusional, and therefore they see nothing wrong with the Arab belief that Israel is a nation of trespassers. "F__k it, they're ALL insane out there. Who are we to interfere?"

Lasch: the Christian equivalent of that statement is that we can never be PERFECT, but we can always be BETTER. "Perfection" is a false goal; improvement is not.

Anne said...

I’m not sure who said it, but I read this quip in a book review a while ago - “Every other sane person in the world knows that the functions you use to theorize knowledge and truth across disciplines are the same functions you use to maximize bull…t.” When I was in college I thought I was stupid because most philosophy majors’ opinions made no sense to me. Now I know that philosophy can be used for good or evil. You gotta watch out for those evil ones.

lasch 2.0 said...

Yes, Jacob. Until the left learns that some people are merely evil, they are not fit to govern.

What astounds me is that when the left starts talking in a hyperbolic way about "underlying causes" they are magically able to ignore the fact that most poor -- even catastrophically poor -- people do not murder, steal, rob, break laws, etc.

I think it's important to work for increased social justice but not under the delusion that it will eliminate evil from this world -- or eliminate the need to destroy it and protect ourselves from it.

In some ways I wish everyone could undergo an analysis, because even quite healthy people are astonished to see the depth of their hatred, envy, and madness. If the seeds of psychosis are in a healthy person's psyche, just imagine what's in the pysche of people who are not mentally well. It ain't pretty.

Van said...

It's probably unnecessary to fret about it in this audience, but just as the Proregressives absconded with the respectable name of Liberal and devalued it into that label worn by the modern day Leftists, keep in mind that they did the same to Humanism. What once was an umbrella for the likes of Sophocles, Cicero, Acquinas, Montaigne & Matthew Arnold no longer bears any relation to what they've stuffed into the gutted label that passes for humanism today.

As far as Mankind being perfectable goes, while I think that A Man who had the reverence for Truth, the ability to identify it and the will to not deviate from it could, I suppose Would by implication, become perfected - I think such a possibility to be so remote and rare as to almost never occur.

Any future where such heroic demonstrations of integrity were to become even not unusual, would likely be so far removed from us in time, as to make that distance separating us from the dinosaurs, seem as if it were just the other day.

Leftist thought is, to one degree or another, the eagerness to use governmental force to impose on or thwart the choices of adults made of their own free will, so that the leftist can feel that all will be moving towards"the greater good"; and so in Gagdad's spectacularly on target statement "... If you can establish a lie as the truth, the furtherance of evil will take care of itself". Leftist policy must always eventually degrade into a severly flat and lifeless Stalinism.

Spinning 180 degress in the other direction, I gotta say that when reading One Cosmos, it's so common to come across an unlooked for insight that causes an almost physical churning in the top front of my brain as it works its way in - can't tell you how much I enjoy that, must be something like what the runners describe as feeling the "burn"!

geckofeeder said...

Yeah, Van, I know what you mean.
A particularly nourishing benefit of Gagdad's daily bread (for which we are so extremely grateful) is that whirling sensation in the thrid eye where this healthy Gag snack is metabolized. There are those that say this is a typical sign of a true Bobblehead. Except Lisa who probably digests the Gagfood in some special other stomach . . .but I would never deem to speak for her.

"... If you can establish a lie as the truth, the furtherance of evil will take care of itself" jumped out at me as well. CAIR attempts this at every turn. Did anyone watch Christopher Hitchens give the finger to Bill Maher's audience when they showed signs of Bush Derangement Syndrome?