Saturday, March 13, 2010

On Speaking In and Of Reality

Science has a lot of answers. Duh! But only to very narrow and specific questions. If you ask the wrong question, for example, "Why are truth and beauty so intimately related?", or "what happens after you die?", you get no answer at all. Worse, some questions just generate paradox, such as, "what was before the Big Bang?", or "how can the same Darwinism that supposedly explains man be explained by man?"

Now, here's the deal: various sciences abstract from the meaning of being as a whole, which is only possible because truth emanates from being -- which is itself a timeless truth which we may know with certainty on pain of the impossibility of knowing anything at all. But science alone can never explain the existence of the truth-bearing scientist, any more than you can give birth to yourself or kiss your elbow.

Or, let us just say that our encounter with being begins with the dual mystery of a cosmos that is intelligible to intelligence. In fact, this complementarity reduces to the single word cosmos, which simply means order. The cosmos is "the order of the whole," but that one word presumes both the intelligence and intelligibility, the one making no sense without the other. Furthermore, the intelligence and intelligibility point beyond themselves in two directions, to the Divine mind and the intellect, or God and man, or just O and (¶).

Sciences develop diverse and technical languages to convey the truth of Being to our intelligence -- for example, the language of quantum mechanics or the hyper-sophisticated coding of the human genome. But again, these languages aren't Being itself. The map is not the territory. The human genome project is not alive, you can't make a cosmos out of mathematics, and you certainly can't give a robot a human soul by programming it with psychoanalytic theory.

Being just is; or as the biggest wag of them all put it: don't kid the keter, I Am that I AM. We can describe it any way we like, but our description can never exhaust the infinite ocean of Being. It perpetually flows into our little vessel of human knowing without being diminished one iota.

Oldtomers will pardon the brief review, because otherwise, new catecoonemates will have no idea what we're talking about. But in the wholly Bobble, I use the symbol "O" to stand for the infinite and unknowable ground of ultimate reality from which our existence is derived, the latter being like a spark thrown from a central fire. You are a spark in the dark responsible for that nasty business in the park, but that is a subject for a different post.

O itself can never be known as it is. On the one hand, we can know "about" it, which I call (k), which refers to all of our profane, everyday knowledge up to and including the highest reaches of science. We can also know in O, so to speak, which I call (n). "Speaking in O" accounts for a number of human modes, such as poetry, intuition, prophecy, and cosmo-American soul music.

Now, we can most definitely experience the energies of O -- its warmth and light, or love and gnosis -- directly. In fact, we can know many things about O, just as I can know many things about you. But I can never know you in the same way you know yourself in an unmediated way, from the inside. Only you can have this kind of "inside information" about yourself.

Thus, observational or inductive science proceeds in the "upward" direction of (k)-->O, while logico-deductive science proceeds in the "downward" direction of O-->(k). Again, (k) is the realm of everyday dualistic knowledge about O. This knowledge may be known objectively and passed like an object from mind to mind, or from the tenured to their young victims.

For example, the theory of natural selection is (k) about the ultimate unknowable mystery of the living O. It is not to be confused with O itself. For surely, O is alive, and yet, it can hardly be reduced to a biological object, which is only a distant effect, not a cause. Life comes from Life, just as love comes from Love and truth from Truth.

At risk of pointing out the obvious, the theory of natural selection cannot tell you how O evolved to the point that it could hypothesize and know a truth about itself, any more than musical notation can account for the existence of music.

Music is completely unperturbed by all the efforts to capture and contain it. All the music that has been produced in the history of the world has not yet made a dent in it. We will never "run out" of music. Although rap comes close.

No, music will continue to flow on forever, just as will language. Language will never explain the ceaseless creativity of language. It just flows and flows and flows, regardless of your theory or system or particular language. It is truly a mirror of the infinite, since it is one of the primary modes of O. Remember, "the Word" was with O from the beginning, and the beginning is always now: Yes, When He prepared the heavens, I was there. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep.... I was beside Him as a master craftsman (Proverbs 8:27).

Science must console itself with (k), which is fine. Obviously, (k) has its place so long as we exist, as we must, in the "separative illusion" of the relative world. Indeed, since most cultures revolve around (-k), I am eternally grateful that I won the cosmic lottery and live in a time and place that mostly honors (k). For any method of science is correct, on its own level, to the extent that it submits to O and allows itself to be molded and determined by the limited object or domain it is attempting to describe.

But for most of history -- and in much of the contemporary world -- this direction is reversed, and reality is determined and molded by (k), which automatically converts it to (-k). For example, Islamists are rooted in a pernicious (-n), which never touched O to begin with. (Obama's hateful Trinity Church is another fine example of (-n), or "lies about God.")

Worse yet, when (k) replaces O, one then lives in the parallel loooniverse of -O, or what I call ø, which is where so much of standard issue leftism can be situated. Whenever you deny O, you will simply replace it with ø, and fall from essence to existence. Instead of being "condemned to the absolute" -- as a self-aware man must be -- you are just plain condemned.

In fact, you may even elevate yourself to O, as do so many secular fundamentalist lunafanatics. They do this in both trivial and profound ways, from dictating how the infinitely complex systems of the economy or weather should be "governed," to making it against the law to discuss O in public schools.

We in the West suffer from a different problem than the one that afflicts so much of the (-n) Islamic world (mostly the unsufirabble parts). Unfortunately, our culture does more than honor (k). Rather, it elevates it to the highest. The secular world tries to eradicate O and replace it with mere (k), which automatically places one in an abstract, substitute, and counterfeit world at least one degree removed from reality.

Religions, properly understood, attempt to restore our primordial relationship to O. Fundamentally, they contemplate the holy and manifest mystery of Being by trying to enter it directly -- not talk about it but from within it. And when they do talk about the mystery, it is not in the manner of (k)-->O (or at least it shouldn't be). Rather, the direction is reversed, and it is O-->(n).

Again, (n) is not to be confused with (k). To take just one obvious example, it would be a grave error to reduce the words of Jesus to mere (k). Rather, Jesus spoke in almost pure (n). Indeed, you will note that Jesus used no technical terms at all.

Obviously, specialized (k) can be quite technical. Most of it is well over -- or under -- your head. But (n) is often quite homespun and plain -- even rustic -- sounding. The Tao Te Ching, for example, also contains no technical terms at all. Nor do the Upanishads or the Talmud. Nor, for that matter, did most of the great philosophers of history employ any technical language: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Schopenhauer, Bob Dobbs. Only when (k) started to become conflated with O did we see this great confusion in philosophy, a confusion that pervades the contemporary academic world.

In fact, sad to say, most contemporary philosophy has detached itself entirely from O. It now consists of nothing more than (k) about (k), which, suffice it to say, is merely (-k) as it pertains to metaphysics, the latter of which being the science of the Real.

If revelation is an objective manifestation of O, the intellect as such is its subjective manifestation, the one mirroring the other (for scripture is not only addressed to the awakened intellect [nous], but cannot be understood without one).

The scientistic middleworld of (k ) --> O is a barren one that is unfit for human hobbitation. Being spontaneously gives itself to us, but in order to appreciate that, we must adopt an attitude of receptiveness, or what I call (o). If we do not maintain this receptive attitude, the world cannot open up and give of itself from within -- from Within to within. Can I get a withinness?! Amen!

Although the way of the jnani is not the way of the bhakti, being that it is primarily the path of Knowledge, there is considerable overlap, in that it is nevertheless a love relationship. For it is phil of the beautiful Sophia, a passionate longing for Truth and Reality, the one an eternal reflection of the other.


Jack said...

"...[T]he future of music gave him [Brahms] little cause for hope. Walking along the Traun river in Ischl with Gustav Mahler he had talked about the decline of integrity in music--but Mahler, recently turned thirty-three, true to the optimism of youth, had gripped his arm and pointed to the water. 'Look, Master! Look down there!' He had looked, seen nothing, and when he had asked what he was looking for Mahler had laughed. 'The last wave! There it goes! There goes the last wave!' He had shaken off Mahler's hand with a growl. 'Very nice, but will it go into the ocean or into a swamp?'"-From Trio 2 by Boman Desai

I am not sure if this is a true story or not, but I think it illustrates the general point well.

Susannah said...

Wonderful anecdote, Jack!

Northern Bandit said...

Wonderful cooncentrated version of the core of the coonifesto. I've been looking for just such a post in the arkive -- now here it is.

Matteo said...

I don't get it. You actually mean to say that the study of secondary causes acting in a fallen cosmos is not the highest form of human knowledge? That's crazy talk, man!

Tigtog said...

Plato's theory of Forms and Ideas, Jung's Archetypes, and Chaos' strange attractors, are these the patterns that we were created to discover? Still trying to kiss my elbow.

BTW, what is the purpose of the annoying Word Verification that we are forced to fill out? Is it merely to annoy? zonteram? betosper?

Cousin Dupree said...

It discourages angry/stupid trolls and other pornographers.

Tigtog said...

To Cousin Dupree re:

It discourages angry/stupid trolls and other pornographers.

I don't know about it discouraging trolls and pornographers, but will admit it is discouraging.


Tigtog said...

“During World War II, every American was joined in a common purpose,” Obama said. “Everyone did their part. Everyone had faith that following the leadership of the Roosevelt Administration would be best for all. There wasn’t all this quibbling over individual rights and personal prerogatives.”

Now you know why leftist like WWII.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, why can't we just imprison opponents of socialized medicine, like we did with the Japanese?

Cousin Dupree said...

Speaking of which, our angry lunatic troll recently trotted out the leftist lie about thousands upon thousands of Americans supposedly dying each year due to lack of health insurance. Just in case anyone is tempted to believe it, the liberal Atlantic Monthly debunks it:

"Richard Kronick of the University of California at San Diego’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, an adviser to the Clinton administration, recently published the results of what may be the largest and most comprehensive analysis yet done of the effect of insurance on mortality. He used a sample of more than 600,000, and controlled not only for the standard factors, but for how long the subjects went without insurance, whether their disease was particularly amenable to early intervention, and even whether they lived in a mobile home. In test after test, he found no significantly elevated risk of death among the uninsured."

Hermes Trimegistus said...

Anecdotally at least, the Canadians like their healthcare system.

Our system is complicated. It is wasteful of time, money, and paper.

BUT, if you are rich you should be able to buy better health care than if you are poor. Otherwise what's the use of working hard?

Socialized medicine cuts the heart out of the American ideal, whichi is to work hard to get ahead. "Ahead" means you can get more and better goods and services than other people. We need some kind of inequality to drive our goals.

So, yes our system seems like madness to an outside observer, but it is based on our philosophy of rewarding excellence.

Anonymous said...


The annoying word verification does not stop angry, pornographic trolls. As I sit fuming in front of my computer wearing crotchless panties, the word veri does not deter me. XXXOOO

Anonymous said...

I liked this post for the most part. Your distinction between scientific, objective ways of knowing (k) and more subjective, embedded forms (n) makes a lot of sense to me.

That being said, there are some basic errors:

For example, the theory of natural selection is (k) about the ultimate unknowable mystery of the living O.

Uh, no. It's (k) about about the natural, observable, material large-scale processes of life . That's why it is science.

Now, some evolutionists will use the facts of natural selections to draw metaphysical conclusions (Dawkins being the most prominent right now). Natural selection undermines some of the basis for belief in God because it provides a natural explanation for phenomenon that used to be thought to require supernatural intervention. But natural selection itself has no metaphysics, it's not about ultimate unknowable mysteries but knowable nature.

Worse, some questions just generate paradox, such as, "what was before the Big Bang?"

No paradox, the question just indicates a lack of basic understanding of cosmological physics. In the standard theory, there is no "before the Big Bang". The BB was not an event in time but the origin of time.

or "how can the same Darwinism that supposedly explains man be explained by man?

Also not a paradox once you realize that "explain" means two very different things above. You could just as easily say that "God explains man and man explains God" is paradoxical.

Anonymous said...

Also, The Atlantic has not been particularly liberal for years. The author of that piece (Megan McArdle) is some sort of dopey libertarian. An actual liberal answers her here.

And the Tigtog's Obama quote is an obvious fabrication, and not a particularly clever one.

Cousin Dupree said...

Remarkable. This troll reads every single post, plus every single comment, and then waits by his computer all day until the moment anonymous comments are enabled, in order to breathlessly share his astounding ability to not understand a word of what Bob says. Isn't there a psychological word for that, Bob?

Gagdad Bob said...


Northern Bandit said...

I too was blown away by just how thoroughly troll fails to grasp a single concept in this post. I'm even more amazed that people like this prattle on day after day oblivious to the profound failure to understand anything of substance here. Troll extracts out words and phrases with which he is familiar then fashions them into straw men to attack. Fascinating.

Northern Bandit said...

Man I am far from perfect, but thank God at least I'm not that inert.

Gagdad Bob said...

I can't relate. I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to visit a blog that I can't stand every day, and not just read it, but read all the comments, and then take the time to make hostile and irrelevant comments that I know ahead of time will have no effect whatsoever on the readers or proprietor of said blog. The first thing I'd ask myself is, "why am I really doing this? What is my unconscious agenda? What ghost am I fighting but using Bob as a stand-in? In short, why am I an obsessed crank?"

walt said...

"I can't relate."

Somewhere in John (around 3:16, as I recall) there is a reference to people who "love darkness." This can be observed, but woe to the she/he/it who lives from it.

Of course, there's darkness lurking in me as well -- that's how I know it when I see it. I try every day to make "it" a relic.

Troll = "lonely"?
Oh, I'll bet there's plenty of company for poor baby. But you probably meant lonely on the in-sides.

ge said...

a great book just 'sadly' finished --I would even go so far as to say it's the best Christian-esoteric-symbolic work I have read since MoT:
The Dwellings of the Philosophers

-especially gratifying to me is the honor and prime place given to Biblical passages and symbolism, from alchemistic POV.
Fulcanelli is likely a group using the name, not just one writer. A pre-Egypt Schwaller de Lubicz's ideas seem to form the kernel and approach therein; and quite amazing are the J. Champagne drawings in photographic detail of the carvings discussed that inspire the book, not unlike the trumps' imagery inspiring Unknown Friend

Gagdad Bob said...

Only $999.98 for the hardcover. I'll take two!

Tigtog said...

To Anonymous, a fascists says what?

Ah for the days of true liberalism, you know, the respect for the individual's equality, the belief that freedom was the required environment to enable the individual free discovery of both objective truth/value and individual truth/value. Amazing how prescient our founders were, they seem to have understood existentialism before it was conceived. Now we have an environment that is purposely distorted into inequality based on income, class, sex, and race due to the transmitted bigotry and envy of the ivy league. However did we survive before the tender mercies of our self described betters? (John Edwards pick up the white courtesy phone - two Americas calling)

If you like Darwinian theory so much, why are you opposed to allowing it to function? Are you a Christian? Do you have some other "absolutes" that you hold higher than natural process? Can your absolutes be achieved without resorting to force? You are an interesting bundle of feelings and certainties. Can your certainties survive free "Darwinian" selection or do they require a whip?

The state of freedom is more challenging than the state of free things. Bread and circuses anyone? Caligula is in the coliseum.

anon said...

It's not so mysterious. I read your blog because I find it interesting; and I comment because I'm constitutionally incapable of letting errors and misstatements go uncorrected. If you haven't figured it out by now, I couldn't really care less what you think of me, so the personal insults are so much noise as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not sure why you think I don't understand what you are talking about. Whatever your faults, you're a very lucid writer. In the case of this post, I even agreed with your main point (perhaps I was too reductive when I paraphrased it? I didn't mean to imply that your (n) was merely subjective), and was just correcting some relatively minor side issues where you seem to be misrepresenting science. Yet you seem to take my mild corrections as some kind of full-frontal attack on your belief system. Why so defensive?

Perhaps I have more faith in your worldview than you do. It seems to me if there is any genuine spiritual value there, it ought to be able to survive contact with science. There should be no conflict between your Truth with a capital T and the more mundane truths of objective reality, the kind that science is good at producing.

[And BTW, your hero Michael Polanyi was a classical liberal who believed that knowledge arose from the free interchange of diverging views. Your efforts to block and delete my comments, while certainly within your rights as blog owner, are highly illiberal in spirit.]

Cousin Dupree said...

Sorry, mate, we were aware of the obsession but not the compulsion. Carry on then.