Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Ontological Divide Within the Liberal West (3.16.10)

Although my visiting father-in-law thinks he knows the reasons for his devout atheism, he has no idea that he is actually immersed in a discredited metaphysic that he simply "assumes," and therefore requires no defense. It's just "common sense." In his view, it is incumbent upon believers to prove to him the existence of God -- even though he is the one making the extraordinary claim, given the relatively tiny number of doctrinaire atheists who exist and who, for whatever reason, are unable to apprehend the spiritual dimension. The average person obviously doesn't have this difficulty, even if he cannot articulate why with reasons that could satisfy the pneumacognitive idiosyncracies of the atheist.

Polanyi felt that the contemporary madness of postmodernity began with the idea of a complete and perfect objectivism, which is supposed to be the ideal of science and of all reliable knowledge in general: "All personal and subjective elements came to be regarded as disturbances to the attainment of this perfect objectivity. Every effort therefore had to be made to eliminate them." It was as if Nature spoke directly and unamibuously to us, and that all we had to do was disinterestedly listen to her without any preconceptions.

This ideal, which may at times be appropriate for certain limited, very simple domains, eventually insinuated itself into most fields of knowledge. But this epistemological revolution had anthropological consequences, as it served to undermine traditional authority and create a kind of hyper-individualism operating outside the domain of any legitimate authority.

As Hoarhey mentioned in a comment yesterday, this irrational-rational revolt reached a kind of peak in the late 1960s. In other words, the "rational" rejection of religion in particular and tradition in general facilitated an absurd leap into what amounts to romantic irrationalism. Since there is no legitimate authority, each person become a law unto himself: do your own thing, and all that.

For example, marriage is better then living together? Prove it. A fetus is a human being? Prove it. Beethoven is better than rap? Prove it. Heterosexuality is preferable to homosexuality? Prove it. Men and women are fundamentally different? Prove it. One is obligated to tell the truth? Prove it. Etc., etc. In each case, the moral truth is accessible to human beings, but not through the application of mere reason.

This kind of nihilistic thought eventually overcame continental Europe (e.g., communism, fascism, nazism, deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism, etc.), but not the Anglo-American sphere, where there was "an alogical reluctance to pursue the accepted philosophic premises to their ultimate conclusions." In turn, this reluctance seemed to be rooted in "the distinctive religious character of Anglo-American liberalism" (or what is now confusingly called conservatism).

But on the Continent, there were no such restraints against unalloyed skepticism. Rather, "the movement there was antireligious from the start.... When a feudal society, dominated by religious authority, was attacked by radical skepticism, there emerged a liberalism unprotected by either a religious or civic tradition against destruction by a logical extension of the philosophic skepticism to which it owed its origin." In short, in old Europe, universal standards of reason could not be reconciled with their radical skepticism, whereas Anglo-American liberalism maintained a balance between reason and tradition.

This dichotomy is still present today in the vast differences between conservatism (i.e., real liberalism) and liberalism (i.e., illiberal leftism). Leftism continues to be riddled with contradictions that are rooted in its initial philosophical error. For example, one of their rock-bottom beliefs is that there is no rational or universal way to arbitrate between the values of one culture or nation and another. Therefore, it is wrong to stand in the way of any nation that wishes to realize its powers, say Iran. But when America exercises its power, there is universal condemnation from the left. How can this be?

Once again it has to do with the unhinged morality of the left. Being that their skepticism bars them from the spiritual dimension, they are unable to reliably distinguish between good and evil -- i.e., these are simply arbitrary categories. Reduced to flatland materialism, they instead divide the world into visible, empirical categories such as have and have-nots. As such, they conceive a material explanation onto which they graft their unhinged moral passion. They do the same thing with other material categories, such as race, gender and "sexual orientation." As such, all of the moral energy which, in a spiritually normal person, is reserved for distinguishing between good and evil, decent and indecent, is ruthlessly, even sadistically, applied to these meaningless substitute categories.

This explains the grotesque and perverse moral passion of the left, for example, the condemnation of the Duke lacrosse team by dozens of leftist professors who do not see good and evil, only "white and black" (and they still haven't apologized, since the "narrative" or template they imposed on the situation cannot be falsified). Likewise, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the left obviously cannot see the moral gulf between Israel and her barbarous enemies. Rather, they only see "whiteness and indigenous-ness," or something along those lines.

In old Europe, "the replacement of moral ideals by philosophically less vulnerable, because more basically animal, objectives was carried out in all seriousness. Human appetites and human passions were actually substituted for reason and for the ideals of man in this framework of thought." "Begun in the name of reason, they ended by reducing reason to a caricature of itself: to a mere rationalization of conclusions predetermined by desire and eventually to be secured and held by force.... If thought and reason are nothing by themselves, if they are only the effects of social causes, then it is meaningless to demand that they be set free."

Slavery is freedom, lies are truth, amorality is morality. Memo to old Europe: a civilization not in contact with the Real will eventually perish. As it should. To put it another way, dying on the vine is a possibility, but dying off of it is a certainty.

*All quotes taken from Michael Polanyi: A Critical Exposition


hoarhey said...


You realize that if you do win the Best Religious Blog, you'll be deluged with the "God as Cosmic Wish Granter", the "I go to church to feel warm and fuzzy" and the Marxism = Christianity = Budhism = State-ism types.
You may even have to put me back on the payroll. ;^)

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, one of my opponents characterized One Cosmos as a "new age blog." As you might imagine, Dupree is pretty hopped up. He just rushed out to the hardware store, so I don't know what he has up his sleeve.

Anonymous said...

no. radical skepticism is put into the service universalism. if you think foucault and derrida and lacan conclude for nihilism or relativism, you didn't read foucault and derrida and lacan - you read about them on a conservative blog instead.

Anonymous said...

not that i have a problem with conservative principles. they're great. conservatives would do well to write about them rather than misrepresent someone else's line of thinking.

River Cocytus said...

Yes, universal annihilation. Also known as relativism and nihilism. Same thing, ultimately.

Anonymous said...

at least you make sense to you.

River Cocytus said...

Good retort.

But really, calling something 'universal' does not make it so. This was a big problem with little protestant/restoration denominations in various places back in the day. 'We're the universal church!' doesn't make you it.

The question I would pose to you is this: How does the 'radical skepticism' of Derrida and Foucault end up anywhere other than 'I think therefore I am' - ultimate universal selfishness, and since the self - you or I - are relative, ultimately relativism, and since without God we are empty, nihilism?

Anonymous said...

i know you are but what am i?

hoarhey said...

Gonna be alot ah woofin' goin on.

Gagdad Bob said...

The link between leftist indoctrination and evil:

"In fact, the record of the last hundred years -- if it argues for any link between higher education and goodness -- argues for an inverse link. Put simply, the higher educated in Western society have been more likely to have awful moral values and more likely to support massive cruelty than the less well educated."

"There is, of course, a form of education that can indeed solve most of society's problems: moral education. That would consist of teaching young people what is good and what is bad, how to develop personal integrity and providing them with the life stories of the best individuals in history.

"But little or none of that is now done in schools. "Good" and "bad" are terms that are rarely used, and usually derided as "Manichaean." Personal integrity is essentially defined as taking liberal positions on social issues such as global warming, same-sex marriage and income redistribution. And the best Americans -- those who laid the foundations of our liberty -- have generally been vilified as slave owners and racists."

Van said...

"Begun in the name of reason, they ended by reducing reason to a caricature of itself: to a mere rationalization of conclusions predetermined by desire and eventually to be secured and held by force...."

Case in point our current aninnymouse. I'd be interested ninny (may I call you ninny? Good) in those quotes and links that make credible a claim that foucault and derida were not "conclude for nihilism or relativism". I've read as much of their own material as I could stomach, and never in the least gathered their opposition to either, but I found an overwhelming amount to 'affirm' their idealization of both.

Anonymous said...

it is true, there are some of people who, without fully bothering with the actual analysis, decide that deconstruction really is "everything is everything" and "its all relative" and they proudly proclaim their affiliation with deconstruction on these grounds. it is so ironic that you are their flip side - they say, wow, deconstruction says this and its great, and you say, aww, deconstruction says this and its awful.

in fact, derrida's texts repeatedly and directly - as directly as an esoteric text can - lead to the enormous infinity of the divine. this universal selfishness, this vision of individualism run amock, this self as the originator of meaning and experience, is considered plainly false - this is a basic point for foucault. while it is true that the perspective of untethered individualism permeates much of the thinking, writing, speaking, performing in euro cultures, foucault & derrida & lacan are effectively responding to these notions and arguing for their falsity.

so when you ask, how does their universalism end up as something other than "i think therefore i am" it is obvious to anyone who bothers to crack open one of these texts that the question is ridiculous! i keep reading this blog because it is too funny - these kinds of thinkers have already always been on the side that you would like to be on.

Anonymous said...

i mean, if you want them to say "god exists, case closed" you won't get that. they don't say it. they show it. they approach the topic with all the quiet, reverent subtlety that, for many people, discussing the divine deserves.

if its true you find a thrill in these vertical calisthenics, its weird (and again, pretty funny) that when you get it, you let something as crass as politics impede your enjoyment and understanding.

Anonymous said...

van, read harder.

River Cocytus said...

Laughable. It is pointless to talk about God if you are doing so in a language only you understand.

Besides, talk is just talk. If I recall their lives correctly, there is a phrase which goes: "By their fruits ye shall know them."

I suppose all common antidote is diluted poison.

Van said...

You came here with a contrary opinion - establish it with something other than silly assertions and bad grammar.

P.S. Buck up your self esteem - when you type "I", use your shift key. We're embarrassed for you.

NoMo said...

Although most of you are probably familiar with the “Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God” (elements appear throughout Bob's writings), I found this description particularly well-done and easy to follow (even for me). Perhaps you may find it of some value.

walt said...

For the last couple of days I haven't been able to vote at the Weblog site, because the ballot would not load.

When I returned today -- trying to gain glory for Raccoons everywhere -- I found that if I immediately clicked on the widget, the ballot loaded.

(As of now, we have a ways to go...)

River Cocytus said...

'Undertake dangerous missions from Raccoons'

Anyone who played 'Animal Crossing' will get a very big kick out of that.

will said...

I took time off from my insane move from here to there - accompanied by various head colds and bone-crushing fatigue - to vote One Cosmos.

One soul entity, one vote.

Or can I vote many times?

Anonymous said...

laughable? esoteric wrtiting is laughable? you are going to claim that HERE?
look i'm sorry your reading comprehension and critical thinking processes aren't up to snuff but...well, sorry. i guess this is the place for those who seek but not too hard please.

julie said...

"i guess this is the place for those who seek but not too hard please."


We might take you a tad more seriously if you were actually coherent.

Van said...

will said... "One soul entity, one vote. Or can I vote many times?"

For you, it's one vote per life. Cumulative.

Van said...

I expect to see One Cosmos surging ahead shortly.


Van said...

anninymouse blurted "...thinking processes aren't up to snuff ..."

This from the ninny who not only has deluded himself into thinking that fauxcool and derided said something sensible to say, but is also unable to master the simpler uses of the Shift key... I mean, how HARD is that?

Anonymous said...

and in the same fashion i'd venture the reason you couldn't stomach these writers is because you didn't like the font.

Anonymous said...

(But not the Derrida Fan Club Anonymous. If I commented more often, I'd remember what the heck my Google ID is...)

OT but very Coonish: Grumpy yet loveable Catholic convert David Warren on the good, the true, the beautiful, and the paddlefish's spoonbill.

Petey said...


You can vote every 24 hours. I need you to get into the time machine and vote on the four days you missed, make a U-turn, vote tomorrow, and then travel to Thursday to see who won. If it turns out to be the present leader, then we have some more complex temporal mischief to accomplish before then. I'll keep you in the loop.

PS -- third wormhole to your right.

Van said...

aninnymouse said "... you couldn't stomach these writers is because you didn't like the font."

No, I don't have any issues with font's or shift keys.

Myself, I actually read what they had to say, took the time to consider not only what they said, but also how that squared with reality, and then on realizing that they actually had nothing at all to say, I was able to walk safely away from their massive and ugly booby traps.

A real shame about you.

Anonymous said...

judging from what you wrote about kant on your own blog, your consideration was facile at best.

River Cocytus said...

laughable? esoteric wrtiting is laughable? you are going to claim that HERE?
look i'm sorry your reading comprehension and critical thinking processes aren't up to snuff but...well, sorry. i guess this is the place for those who seek but not too hard please.

Hmm, them's some loaded ass-sumptions.

And a 'good' ad hominem.

But, if that's all ya got.

I never said 'esoteric writing' was laughable.

Just that Derrida et al were.

Anyone can write down weird sh*t and claim it's all about the beautiful and true. It's called 'phony esotericism'. IF it's so 'self referential' it can be about anything you want.

And no-one cares.

Comprehension... Critical Thinking...

Am I going to fast for ya?


Van said...

aninnymouse said... "judging from what you wrote about kant on your own blog, your consideration was facile at best."

Kant say's I'm surprised.

Anonymous said...

obviously as humans we don't need to think in lock step. but what you have dismissed as self-referential, weird, and phony is a treasure of a bridge between the faculties of reason and faith. if you find it compelling to reassert all the petty right-left politics, you will simply miss out open if subtle invitations to grace.

River Cocytus said...

Ok, master prophet - prove your claim.

It's one thing to claim it, but another to show how it is true.

Or, you can continue responding with ad hominem and promises of supposed grace.

It is your choice.

will said...

>> . . . then travel to Thursday to see who won<<

Done. And the winner is . . . but can we truly be concerned about that, considering the Arrival of the Blue Celephalapodians on Wednesday? (or, as it is to be known, the Day of Ignominius Refutation)

Robin Starfish said...

raccoons have 4 paws
and a tail with which to vote
excuses are lame


Now that everyone but me has left work, I can wander around and vote on every PC that got left on. Victory is secure!

And again at home. Everyone has a couple desktops and a laptop or two, right? ;-)

walt said...

I will, ah, just step in between the slings and arrows here, caref-u-l-l-y, and say that Polanyi's idea, "the idea of a complete and perfect objectivism, which is supposed to be the ideal of science and of all reliable knowledge in general," does seem like the cultural paradigm we've been walking through, at least since the '60's.

And no wonder things have seemed not quite right to me:
"All personal and subjective elements came to be regarded as disturbances to the attainment of this perfect objectivity. Every effort therefore had to be made to eliminate them."

Ha-ha, the polar opposite of how I've tried to live.

(Must. Read. Polanyi. Soon.)

Hey, wait! The Day of Ignominious Refutation is tomorrow! I'm not ready!

Petey said...

I was talking to Maimonides the other day, and he quipped that what is good about deconstruction isn't new, and that what is new isn't good. Hey, if you want to deconstruct the Bible, go to yeshiva, like everybody else.

He also wanted me to mention that he welcomes our new Celephalapodian Overlords.

petey said...

... say, they're not as rough as the Tongans, are they?

Big Black Steinway said...

That about sums it up, I'm thinkin.

It's the 'new coke' ....

Only good thing 'bout is it is what ain't belong to it. So why not go to where that came from and let it rot? Strainin' a gnat.

walmart shopper said...

In other words, anonymous is a PO'd lefty.

Those who come here and complain about "petty" left-right political hangups are lefties. It's an iron law, or close to it.

NoMo said...

They're not as rough, but they do have those really big hands.

wv: nhdvomta (and so it begins)

River Cocytus said...

Huh. Sometimes Yeats said it best. Speaking of being infra-human...

Mongan laments the Change that has come upon him and his Beloved

DO you not hear me calling, white deer with no horns!
I have been changed to a hound with one red ear;
I have been in the Path of Stones and the Wood of Thorns,
For somebody hid hatred and hope and desire and fear
Under my feet that they follow you night and day.
A man with a hazel wand came without sound;
He changed me suddenly; I was looking another way;
And now my calling is but the calling of a hound;
And Time and Birth and Change are hurrying by.
I would that the boar without bristles had come from the West
And had rooted the sun and moon and stars out of the sky
And lay in the darkness, grunting, and turning to his rest.


Van said...

Thanks for the heads up on the Blue Cephalopodians Will, I slipped back to last tuesday and tied their gonoduct's in knots... their hue has turned from blue to ... well... tomorrow now has a different name... something about the no good very bad day of Urethean implosions.

dilys said...

Re: the grotesque and perverse moral passion of the left
"Where in ages past the pious were content to wear sackcloth and ashes as tokens of their inner state, today's do-gooders are a little fancier." [Belmont Club]

Describes the recent Zoe's Ark incident, where a French NGO almost succeeded in kidnapping 103 toddlers apparently with living parent or parents, from Chad-Sudan region. Only for their own good, of course.

tsebring said...

384 votes and counting...YES YES YES. The Bronze Medal beckons. To Hoarhey's concerns, which are legitimate, I say BRING 'EM ON. I'm just salivating to take on a Jim Wallis type any old day.

Hmmm...if Mr. Troll likes Foucault and Derrida and Lacan that much, pretty good reason for me to stay away from them. Of course, as I said yesterday, one must know one's adversary. Well,then, I guess I have to crack open some Derrida, put Britney Spears in the headphones, and How I Met Your Mother on the TV to round out my education...what a deliciously safisfying way to flagellate one's self. Bloom would be proud of me.

Van said...

There once was a poor lil' aninnymouse,
Who dwelt in a nous deconstructed house,
With oui wee whinning fonts -
He asserted shift-i taunts -
But he/she Kant B.S. the Racoons in One Cosmos

Irish haiku (I know... leave it to Robin)

phil g said...

Glad to hear Dupree is a 'hop head'...get that man an IPA. If I ever find myself in a bar with Dupree, the IPA's are on me.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"To put it another way, dying on the vine is a possibility, but dying off of it is a certainty."

That's a great line!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Will!
Sendin' a bunch of prayers your way.
I hope you get done with the move soon. It's gettin' cold out there.