Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Closed Society and Its Financier

Not sure if I'll have time to post this morning. I have a busy day ahead, plus I'm still uploading Mead's book, God and Gold, into my melon, and it's taking longer than anticipated. Most secular books can be uploaded and assimilated into one's essence (at least the valuable parts) very quickly, but not this one. He tosses off too many provocative insights that fill nearly every page. I may ultimately reject them, but he is a serious thinker who definitely knows a lot more than I ever will about history, economics and political science.

In one sense it is a joy to learn, but clearly not always. If it were an unbridled joy, then everyone would continue learning throughout their lives, instead of stopping at the age of 21 or so. But even for people who do enjoy learning, Bion observed that the epistemophilic instinct was countered by another aspect of ourselves that associated Truth with dread, since Truth is catastrophic. Thus, for example, we see the common phenomenon of tenured hack- and wackademics spending their lives defending kooky and dysfunctional beliefs, as in our leftist looniversity bins.

And when I say truth is "catastrophic," I don't mean it in the sense of a natural catastrophe, but in the parlance of chaos and complexity theories, i.e., catastrophic change. Obviously, if one is confronted with a deep truth of which one is unaware, it has the potential to fundamentally destabilize the structure of one's mind. It's what makes the societies of the Middle East and of leftist academia so "brittle."

This is what Bion felt was underneath the ubiquitous phenomenon of resistance in psychoanalytic therapy. A part of us wants to know the truth about ourselves so that we might grow toward health. But another part resists the insight, not just because change is painful and uncertain, but because there are subversive parts of ourselves -- i.e., mind parasites -- that wish to "go on being," just like any other living entity.

In a certain broad sense, there are two types of thinkers, Platonists and Aristotelians. The former are "top town" types who think and organize the world in terms of deep principles, whereas the latter are more "bottom up" thinkers who work inductively to arrive at their principles. There are clear dangers associated with each extreme, and a healthy person will find a way to live in the dialectical space between the two modes.

In a certain sense, you might say that this is the difference between theologians and scientists, dogmatists and free thinkers, closed minds and open ones, but that clearly isn't always the case. For example, one of the differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism is that the latter, in the person of Thomas Aquinas, attempted to assimilate science and philosophy by developing a rational theology, whereas the former -- with some exceptions -- made no such attempt. Rather, Orthodoxy developed a mystical theology rooted mainly in transcendent experience.

Protestants obviously broke away even further in taking the world into consideration and therefore making science possible (although now, ironically, certain "fundamentalist" protestant sects have come full circle, and are the most vocal in clinging to scriptural principles as sufficient to explain the world; and secular science itself often becomes a closed system with all the trappings of religion, as we will be discussing in a subsequent post).

Dilys touched on the irony of this in a comment yesterday -- how being "an extremely American convert to Orthodox Christianity" necessitates "doing an ungainly cultural split: The pure and untampered-with Revelation of the Trinity is indispensable; but without the adjunct of Good Common Sense and decentralization by English faithfulness to their own political and imperial self-interest, and a period of ruthless altar-stripping, there would be no American Experiment." In a sense, it is a question of the relationship between time and eternity. One can embrace and internalize the eternal (Platonic, so to speak) principles of Orthodoxy, but the Aristotelian world keeps turning. Okay, you're saved. Now what?

I'm afraid I'm rambling a bit, but that's simply a function of the temporary destabilization this book has caused me. Imagine my shock when I flipped toward the back of the book, and the name "Soros" poppered out at me. Hmm. Does he despise Soros as much as a Raccoon does? "I also want to thank George Soros for the work he has done on Karl Popper and the open society. Astute readers of God and Gold will have no trouble recognizing my considerable debt to George's work, and some of the ideas in this book were first broached in conversations at his dinner table."


And he didn't even bring a long spoon?

I mean, I realize that a man's gotta eat. But now, all of a sudden, I'm placed in a position of questioning Mead's ethics, his judgment, and possibly his sanity. When I first heard several years ago that Soros was an acolyte of Karl Popper, my only thought was and remains, "How can someone so thoroughly misunderstand the practical implications of this esteemed philosopher?," for -- unless I am deeply mistaken -- it is the equivalent of admiring Karl Marx and therefore passionately advocating the policies of Ronald Reagan. Popper was profoundly anti-communist, and in many ways, his political philosophy is the final answer to any and all versions of both left-wing and religiously closed societies (i.e., political Islam).

I've only read parts of the Open Society, but as far as I know, I agree with its broad principles. However, I believe that the same principles are much more adequately and subtly articulated in the works of Michael Polanyi, in part because Polanyi had a much deeper appreciation of the spiritual dimension. In Popper's case, he believed that no general principle could be ultimately proved, only disproved, that is, tested. This essentially throws aside all of the priceless wisdom embodied in revelation and tradition, since even an obvious statement such as "God is light" cannot be empirically falsified. As we were saying the other day, Polanyi had a much more subtle and sophisticated understanding of both art and religion, of how they can function analogously to the blind man's cane, allowing us to probe ontologically real suprasensible realms.

The philopopper Bryan Magee cites the example of the statement "God exists": "It has meaning, and might be true, but no intellectually serious person would regard it as a scientific statement." Au contraire (which I have never said before): Following Gödel, no intellectually serious person would reduce the vast realm of truth to that which can be empirically disproven, and no one but a very confused person would apply an inappropriate scientific method to study transcendental truth.

For, as thy Wilber done so ably explained, there are at least three broad domains that may be studied "scientifically," the empirical, the rational, and the transcendental. Just as our empirical eye cannot "see" the world of reason (for example, no one has ever seen the square root of negative one), the rational eye cannot see, for example, the noetic light that illuminates the vertical realm. To do that, you require the proper method, e.g., meditation, contemplation, intellection, prayer, purchasing an indulgence from Petey, etc.

(Speaking of vision, I don't really see how Magee can reconcile his deep appreciation of Schopenhauer with Popper, since Schopie comes within a whisker of disclosing the insights of the Upanishads, which constitute nothing less than a "scientific" disquisition on the nature of the nonlocal noumenon, or Brahman -- which cannot be falsified, but which is the absolute truth and ground of everything else.)

Getting back to Soros. He is an advocate of the open society, but I am quite sure he means something very different than I do by the use of that term, for he is a passionate leftist, and the left is always at the vanguard of man's regressive tendency toward the closed society. To cite one recent but extremely illustrative example, he is the financier behind Media Matters, a leftist group that monitors, harasses, and intimidates conservative thinkers for statements that they think can be distorted and exploited to their political advantage. Unlike conservative groups that simply monitor the mainstream media for leftist bias, the left wing Media Matters monitors mainly the conservative media, finding things they can take out of context to then feed to the servile mainstream media for general propagation.

Most recently, Ann Coulter was the victim of this, with the bogus charges of anti-Semitism. But even more alarming were the wholly fraudulent charges against Rush Limbaugh over the "phony soldier" comment. In that case -- thanks to the vile Soros and his vile group -- Limbaugh was condemned on the floor of the United States Sentate, in what could not be more emblematic of the closed society of the left: that is to say, shut down dissent by any means possible, including the use of governmental force to make up lies about a citizen and threaten his job.

A decent man would not just apologize, but he would shut down the whole disgusting enterprise.

Oddly, Magee writes that Popper's "critique of Marxism was widely regarded as the most effective that anyone had produced, and it was this that first made Popper's name known internationally." So how on earth can someone be so morally, spirtually, and intellectually confused as to think he is advancing the work of Popper by embracing a movement -- the illiberal left -- that stands as a monument to all of the principles Popper opposed? And at the same time, equate a good and decent man with Hitler for trying for the first time in history to introduce principles of the open society into the Islamic world?


Well, I ended up just rambling before I got to any of my main points.... It happens....


NoMo said...

"!!!???" (GB)

The words “open society” mean something quite different depending on whether God is part of the “openness” or not. Mead’s recognition of his debt to Soros may be no more than rendering unto Caesar his due (not that by doing so you endorse everything he represents or does - or anything for that matter).

Anyway, Bob, you know better than to skip ahead.

Gagdad Bob said...

At least he could have said something ambiguous, such as "George's ideas are always so... breathtaking," or "only George could have come up with such an idea."

walt said...

Mead did say in an interview that, in talking to Soros, attempts to change his outlook on various subjects met with no success...

Gagdad Bob said...

I'd be curious to know the subjects...

River Cocytus said...

Theres no doubt Soros has 'K' - but the question is of how his will wields it. For instance, all of us no doubt owe some small debt to Upton Sinclair for his work exposing the health hazards of the food industry in that day. That by no means makes us have to buy all of his bullsh*t nonsense.

Also, take into account they may have known each other. That changes the dynamic, as ideology usually takes a second place to friendship.

hoarhey said...

Thanks Bob,

I'll use this opportunity to again disseminate some info about another Closed Society financier.
Those of you who are giving your money to purchase "Progessive" Insurance, do an internet search with the names George Soros and Peter Lewis and see what you come up with. Peter Lewis being the founder and chairman of Progressive Corp. has along with Soros, given millions of your insurance dollars to leftist causes. And don't you just love the in your face name of the company?
So in effect, by purchasing "Progressive" Insurance, one is helping to underminine the true open society that the founders of this country envisioned. Let your conscience be your guide.

And another thing, didn't the Dems, during the last campaign, promise to lower the price of fuel if we were just stupid enough to put them into office? Well?

River Cocytus said...

Soros reminds me of Carnegie, who while being a magnate of sorts also had a dark side. My belief is that these men are too materialistic; and thus all of their moral drive sinks beneath itself.

Too much gold, not enough God.

dilys said...

"Top town"? Would that be Athens? Bottom up?
Would that be Vegas? [Filed under: Typos can be fun.]

Money from Soros' operation? Probably more wheat and tares. And it may ultimately help to account for any significant differences you eventually find with Mead.

Good that the antennae go up.

I imagine "open society":liberty as "free press":"free to the man who owns one."

Robin Starfish said...

lost in the flatlands
downloading new symbol sets
vertical guidance

Hoarhey - I saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Dilys' comment as well. Unfortunately I think that it is new wine for old bottles. It won't hold.

God swept away all of that to make room for new revelation... that the weak things of the world would break down the mighty and strong.

Anonymous said...

maybe Soros thinks that the american culture, (the churchgoing majority, aka "R+") is, in his estimate, a "closed society"????

River Cocytus said...

anony, possibly. Most societies seem closed from the outside, especially if one sets oneself against them.

That being said, like any organism, it is impossible for a society to be 'completely open' - i.e. tolerant of absolutely anything. (Attempts to create tolerance of 'moral' diversity create clampdowns and strictness of other laws, such as speech.)

What we need is real liberty, i.e, meaningful openness.

This would be likened to, it does a man no good to fill his mind with obscenity, but he must be open to beauty. What is the nature of this open/closed relationship? What does it say of one who has a particular opinion about it?

julie said...

Or for instance, River, like keeping an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out.

will said...

>>So how on earth can someone be so morally, spirtually, and intellectually confused as to think he is advancing the work of Popper by embracing a movement -- the illiberal left -- that stands as a monument to all of the principles Popper opposed?<<

I think Mead is an example of someone who is enlightened by proxy, so to speak, ie., by the slow spiritual transformation of the collective consciousness - this as opposed to an individual spiritual awakening. For example, our collective ever-dawning awareness of the spiritual importance of diet and exercise doesn't preclude the fact that most health pursuers are a little less than fully spiritually enlightened.

Even in the case of individual spiritual enlightenment, one must obviously "learn", through application of reason, how to be enlightened.

Smoov said...

Extreme wealth brings tremendous power to corrupt otherwise straight-arrow people. Witness the wholesale ownership of thousands of D.C. functionaries and ex-politicos by the Saudis. Saudi Arabia likely has more inflence over Washington than any other non-G8 country. Why? Money. That's the only reason.

One of the reasons people like me strive for moderate wealth is so that we are not beholden to anyone for anything.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Here's a good article that highlights how George Soros has transformed and twisted the Open Society Institute to a Closed Society Institution of Corruption-
.com/IBDArticles.aspx? id=275526219598836

Ironically, the vast majority of those indoctrinated in leftist "thinking" (actually, unreasoned emotionalism is more accurate), fail to see that Soros made his billions by using the same free market system he seeks to destroy.

Just as he seeks to destroy liberty, by a variety of means (re: polypseudoscientism seems to be his preferred method).

And, his so-called "charity work" comes with wicked hooks, again designed to eradicate liberty, disguised in a cunningly crafted pandoras box.

Underneath his congenial, "grandfatherly" veneer is evil personified.

River Cocytus said...

Yeah, wealth does corrupt. As much as the idea of having 'what you want' (though these days I am adopting more of a love-not-the-world stance bit by bit) is appealing, the idea of the corruption you face with that kind of power... I don't know. Doesn't appeal much to me.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hmmm...I hear what yer sayin' River, but I disagree that wealth, in and of itself corrupts.
There are plenty of corrupt po' folk for instance.
Envy and greed go hand-in-hand, afterall, and just as all po' folk ain't envious, not all wealthy folk are greedy.

However, corruption has some things in common, regardless of economic means, and that is:
rebellion and bitterness.
And a profound absence of gratitude.

Also, those that are corrupt seek power to impose their beliefs on everyone else.
In the case of Soros, he became wealthy to further that end.
He was already corrupt before he became wealthy.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Speaking of natural catastrophes, the Peak Oildoomologists received devastating news today.

Ricky Raccoon said...

When these former experts were asked for their reaction to the news, they responded...
“We’re PO’d.”

River Cocytus said...

That's true, Ben. I should have said, 'Riches corrupt.' Wealth is a good thing; its what you turn it into that can be bad. My concern always is the temptation to turn that ability, that potential - into riches.

True wealth is spiritual.

Anyway, it's a good distinction to make. Someone who commented here (Walt?) said:

'The rich man finds a hole in himself and fills it with the riches of the world.

The wealthy man finds a hole in the world and fills it with the riches he finds within himself.'

In this sense, some of the wealthiest people were the poorest. The rich young ruler didn't recognize that he could give up all of his material things and still have his true wealth. But then, maybe all he had was riches.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I cooncur, River, and thanks for elaboratin'. In fact, I was sure that was what you meant, but I didn't want to put words in your mouth, since you put it more elegantly yourself. :^)

I'm thankful for folks such as Smoov, and any Raccoon at heart that happens to be financially secure (or not), because I gno they help a lot of folks like myself, and those who are worse off.

But more than that, they are responsible, and beyond simply throwing money at problems, they make wise use of it.

I'm truly humbled by that, and thankful for folks in that position that help others that need the help in a wise way.

I believe a lot of financially wealthy or well off folks get a bad rap, merely because they are.
Which is why I look at who a person IS, rather than focus on their financial status.

This last voting season featured more (they never stop) referendums for higher taxes, and I voted against all of 'em, as I always do, regardless whether they would "help" me, because I gno the reason for (envy) and the end product of (corrupt power and advancement of tyranny) these higher tax referendums (with the exception of fire, EMT and police services in most cases.

There's even been times I turned down "free" services by the state, because I didn't need those services (talk about chagrined and thoroughly confused lkefties; the looks on their faces are priceless)!

Unfortunately, they never seem to comprehend why ("but it's free", they'll say- talk about cluelesside), although I attempt to explain to them.
Stealin' and extortion ain't good for the soul.

Hopefully some seeds were planted...if the soil was
good enough. I never underestimate the power of Grace, though. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good link, Rick! And good news!Thanks!
Oh, and let's not forget the vast shale reserves we got here in our own country, as well as more oil.

Now, if only we can elect enough politicians to support more refineries and drilling.

I wonder how long it'll take for the voting public to get a clue?
Gas prices ain't high enough yet?
They will be...:^)

Van said...

The last time one of ya'll pointed out the 'Progressive' link was right before we were going to switch auto insurance co's, luckily it came just in time so that like Robin, we saved a ton of money by switching to the cute gecco/caveman company (with apologies to the residents of Joan of Arghh's old blog).

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ha ha! Hiasl thanks you, Van!
Disclaimer: I have Allstate because they have demonstrated that they are the good hands people. :^)

Okay, get yer minds outta the gutters!

NoMo said...

Just like "guns don't kill people -people kill people", its not money that is the root of all evil, but the LOVE of money. (I Tim 6:10). Thank God that there are some very godly rich people.

Van said...

"(for example, no one has ever seen the square root of negative one), the rational eye cannot see, for example, the noetic light that illuminates the vertical realm. To do that, you require the proper method"

Makes me think of the Pythagorians who were so very afraid of irrational numbers... they were literaly afraid that they were dangerous... makes you wonder what made them so High, Pot 'n Noose?

But the 'danger' was in what they tried to do and how they tried to do it. It wasn't 'Number' or other arrangements of Quantity that was the problem, but merely the particular way they approached them, namely counting like any rational person, in base 10, but using base 10 for everything may not be completely rational.

If you want a number that doesn't stretch out towards infinity, base 10 will drive you nuts - like measuring 1/3 of a whole in decimal notation gets you 33.333333333333333333333333333333333... and there you have Pythagoras going nuts.

For instance Let's say I walk up to x, and see it is 10 something's tall (feet, meter's, whatever)... now, what is a third of that?

33? No, leaves some leftover... 33.3? Nah, same problem. 33.333333333333333333333333333333...?
Danger! Warning! Will Robinson! Run Away!!!

Rather than having your 33.3 skip tracks, change to Nonary, or base 9, which counts:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 ...

and so on, instead of Decimal that goes:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Now, getting a precise third of something is no problem whatsoever, and it's far from irrational, the only thing irrational is doing the same thing over and over to try to get at an answer which your own sense tells you is unattainable.

You want a precise third of that x something? Switch to base 9 instead of base 10, and you're done.

What's a third of that x? Simple.


Now you don't have to get all weak in the knees and mystical over 33.3 (unless it's playing Van Morrison), I mean calculating Pie are Squared may be of some calculative interest, but, come one, Pie's are round, cornbread are squared.

Van said...

Yep... definitely past my bed time.

Van said...

Nomo said "its not money that is the root of all evil, but the LOVE of money."

I know, it's a quibble we've gone round on before, but it's not the love of Money that is the root of all evil, it's the idea that calling something 'Money' is all it takes to make it a value; then you can avoid messy mugging and just print it up like the Fed, to swindle people out of their actual values, that is the root of all evil.

Or in other words, pretending that naming something a value, makes it a value.

The attempt to remake the world in your twisted image (hello, lucifer?).

The attempt to make something so, merely through the presstodeceitation of using words in place of reality, or to put it more simply:


River Cocytus said...

Van, I believe the three temptations of Satan do match up... you're referring to turning quantity or quality, which is, turning stones into bread. This passion (which can drive us to sin) is 'The Lust of the Flesh' (lust in this case being desire, and flesh referring to material goods) It's the passion from which greed, lust, gluttony and so forth come from. It becomes a love of worldly goods - and the pleasure they bring. Mostly I think it is a love of the way they temporarily satisfy one's fleshly needs. So while it is a joy to eat good food, the lust of the flesh tempts one to love the feeling of eating or being filled; thus turning a quantity (consumption) into a quality (love).

But ultimately the joy of good food comes from its creator, not from the food itself. So if one can rejoice in God at a wonderful meal, then that passion has little power...

walt said...

Oh, thank you, Van @ 10:07! Now you've done it!!

When Rick sees your comment this morning, on top of "New Oil", he'll be like Bobcat (Bob Goldthwaite): "floatin!"

But the rest of us? Ehhh, we will never hear the end of this, believe me....

Ricky Raccoon said...

...the tenacious young reporter finally squeezes her microphone between the wall of people and into the Executive Editor’s face, “Mr. Raccoon! ...Mr. Raccoon! …care to comment on Mr. Van’s comment, sir?”

“ comment.”

Walt, you beat me to it…
…once again.

Ricky Raccoon said...

“For the record, sir, I believe the prosecution’s Mr. Walt brought it up before I did.”

“ further questions, Your Honor.”

“You may step down, Mr. Raccoon.”

“Your Honor? Our client wishes to drop all charges.”

“Case dismissed. This courtroom is adjourned.”

“Thank you.”


Van said...

What, no third comment?
(turns and cackles off into the distance)

Ricky Raccoon said...

“…er…uh…no comment.”


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Buddy!

Someone had to say it! :^)

Van said...

River said "Van, I believe the three temptations of Satan do match up... you're referring to turning quantity or quality, which is, turning stones into bread."

I think Gagdad's line from way back... "Most everyone who doesn’t worship the Creator worships a creature.", sums it up best, and all else follows from it. When the Vertical is divorced from the Horizontal, 'it' is hollowed out and empty, whatever the apparent 'thing' was that was once valued, becomes nothing but a taunt of what it once was. Quality is shoved aside in favor of quantity, and ever more quantity is pursued in a vain attempt to again grasp Quality.

The Good, The Beautiful and The True are overturned in favor of the Expedient, the Stimulating and the Many, and the ravening Hunger sets in. There's that apetite again.

There are two types of 'love of money', one identifies 'Money' as that token which represents actual values created, and the other type worships 'money' as a totem, which that if you can get your hands on it, will fool everyone into thinking you have value. The first is Wealthy, no matter how much money they have (hello Smoov), the second is impoverished no matter how much 'money' they manage to amass. It's not 'Money' that's the problem, but what you hold it to represent.

Anonymous said...

For example, one of the differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism is that the latter, in the person of Thomas Aquinas, attempted to assimilate science and philosophy by developing a rational theology, whereas the former -- with some exceptions -- made no such attempt.

And don't forget Aquinas' Islamic contemporary Mohammed al-Ghazali, who in his Incoherence of the Philosophers totally rejected science and philosophy and reason as un-Islamic; only Faith (and the Koran) had any value. From his point onward, Islamic Faith would be the Total Blind Faith of "IT IS WRITTEN...".

Van said...

Anonymous said "...Mohammed al-Ghazali, who in his Incoherence of the Philosophers totally rejected science and philosophy and reason as un-Islamic..."

Yes indeed, I had the same thought about ghastly al-Ghazali in tomorrows comments.