Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Journey to the Center of the Cosmos

If we were to define the capital intellectual heresy -- an adolescent peter pandemic in our day and age -- it would have to be the denial of the Absolute, and with it, the negation of the multitude of archetypal "relative absolutes" that give boundaries and meaning to human existence.

The immediate corollary is that all is relative, which immediately renders the mind that believes this stupid, for it posits the intrinsic absurdity -- and strict impossibility -- of "absolute relativism." (For those who might be a little slow on the uptake or haven't yet had their coffee, to affirm that "all is relative" is self-refuting, for it posits its own uniquely privileged absolute truth.)

But the intellectual left is willing to barter away the above referenced celestial boundaries in order to gain "permission," so to speak, to believe anything on earth they wish. Thus, omniscience is covertly transferred from God to man, even while the absolute relativist denies that he's doing anything special, just seeing "what's there." But once one denies the intrinsic meaning that is generated between man and his archetype(s), one is "free" to substitute any old manmade meaning one wishes.

At the end of the deity, this is the central argument of the existentialists, who insist that, since we are not "created," we must create ourselves. Every moment faces us with choices through which we forge ourselves on the anvil of existence.

In other words, our inclinations and choices do not emanate from some prior essence, i.e., our soul (although some of them essentialize the godlike genome, and attribute our choices to it). Nor do we create a "soul," since there is no such thing. Rather, in the flatland view, there are only beings and choices, which ultimately reduces to the "nothing" of Sartre's magnum dopiate, Being and Nothingness.

Thus, when an existentialist talks about "freedom," it is by no means similar to what America's founders meant by the term; really, the existentialists should get another word, because Sartre is correct that freedom can have absolutely no meaning if it doesn't bear on a higher reality (believing otherwise is an act of "bad faith").

Sartre was closer to the mark when he called it nausea, that existential dyspepsia that results from our being condemned to the nothingness of radical freedom. But in reality, man is condemned to transcendence, a truth that is proven by its every denial. (Thus Eckhart's ironic and misunderstood wise crack about how every blasphemer praises God.)

In a comment yesterday, our wisely anonymous troll expressed the existentialist view of my mid-20s, affirming his belief that "philosophy has been going for 2500 years or more and hasn't produced a single answer to anything." Again, such a boneheaded conclusion forms the gelatinous underpinning of all forms of secular leftism, since it allows the leftist to make of reality -- and of human beings, which is where the real nightmare comes in -- anything he wishes.

In other words, since a human being has no essence and no truth, the left is free to use the instrument of the state to form man into whatever he desires.

Note also the critical point that for the leftist, truth ultimately reduces -- and must reduce -- to power, since thinking (which is the essence of philosophy) cannot produce "a single answer to anything." It reminds me of a film noir -- I can't think of the name -- in which the head mobster tells one of his beefy underlings something to the effect of, I think. You hit. As we can see, nothing has changed about the "Chicago way."

Thus we clearly see the left wing convergence of freedom and nothingness; indeed, you might even say that on the political spectrum, the left shades off into the black nothing that represents the indiscriminate con-fusion of all colors, while the right (by which I specifically mean contemporary conservative classical liberalism) converges upon the white light -- i.e., the Absolute -- that, upon contact with being, breaks out into the diverse colors of terrestrial existence.

For the absolutist, "color" reminds us of God's immanence in the reignbelow, while pure Light reminds us of his transcendence in the reignabove, which form the two poles of our vertical prismhouse. A color is just "light," but not the Light -- just as a ray of sunlight that reaches the earth is nothing other than the sun, even though we can still draw an ontological distinction between it and its source in the sun "above."

But please note that you cannot draw any such existential line between sunlight and Sun, for any such line is arbitrary, a product of human convention. Furthermore, if a flatlander were to say that we are all "inside the sun," he certainly wouldn't mean what a Raccoon means by the same statement. This is an example of how the flatlander can be technically correct -- or correct on one plane -- while being not even wrong on another, as with his kooky statements about man's "freedom."

There was a brief time that I suppose I was an existentialist, or at least trying to be. It was actually before I entered graduate school, at a time when I was still completely unformed intellectually. On the one hand, I had no correct answers, but at least I didn't yet have any incorrect ones, certainly nothing I could really articulate and defend in any comprehensive manner.

As I have mentioned before, when I was around 23 or so, some kind of intellectual light unexpectedly switched on in my soul (or, one could say that my soul, or what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being," began moving to the forefront), and I began devouring philosophy, psychology, and classic literature.

Naively assuming that philosophy, like science, was a kind of linear enterprise, I assumed I could just skip the old and presumably discredited stuff (Aquinas? Please. Give me a break.) and get right to the latest findings, so to speak. (This is when I also plunged into the shallow end of new age psychological thought, again assuming that it completely superseded the dark ages prior to the late 1950s or so.)

But fortunately for me, since this philosophical adventure had been rooted in a spontaneous movement of the soul -- as opposed to any extrinsic cause such as good grades, tenure, employment, esteem, etc.), my soul could find no rest in existentialism. Rather, it quickly broke free of those finite boundaries of absolute freedom, and continued the infinite adventure of consciousness toward the Absolute -- the old eros shot into the heart of being.

The original desire for the good takes its energy from the ever-pulsating momentum of that Origin in which man, answering the creative call of God, flew across the abyss which parts nothingness from existence. It is the moment with which the possible bursts forth with a roar into the radiant dawn of its first realization: the swift current of a stream that originating in the bright darkness of mere Nature and steadily fed by its source, crosses by the dictates of innate conscience into the realm of freedom --Josef Pieper


julie said...

Naively assuming that philosophy, like science, was a kind of linear enterprise, I assumed I could just skip the old and presumably discredited stuff (Aquinas? Please. Give me a break.) and get right to the latest findings, so to speak.

Along those lines, Shrinkwrapped has a post up from yesterday about how Ivy League students can major in a science without even the most rudimentary science involved. I'm guessing most of those students are perfectly content to remain ignorant in service of a lower untruth.

Intellectual heresies, indeed.

Gagdad Bob said...

I have no doubt whatsoever that Obama falls into that category. He is truly our first postmodern president, which is why he knows nothing -- or why everything he knows is so wrong, to be precise. The horror.

Northern Bandit said...

Modern intellectuals: never have so many people known so many things that are untrue.

wv: stove
You'd think the Left would learn, yet they keep touching hot ones again and again and again.

Gagdad Bob said...

Indeed. Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society is mandatory reading. Anon helpfully linked to a site that characterized Sowell as a lawn jockey to decorate the porches of racist conservatives, so that should be the highest endorsement.

mushroom said...

I like the way William Dembski put it. In debates and discussions, atheists typically use the word science as a "conjuring word", not unlike abracadabra. There's no proof offered -- just the invocation of Science. There's a Fritz Leiber story wherein the protagonist is rescued from a monster by his girlfriend shouting, "Einstein!"

Barry the Unleaded Pencil does seem to think he can alter reality just by saturating the air with words, the meanings of which are subject to change based on wind direction.

julie said...

Just wow. Dianne mentioned today's Bleat in yesterday's comments. The article he discusses is here.

It's the very embodiment of the leftist madness described in today's post. Not to mention just about the most juvenile line of reasoning one can imagine coming from a grown man.

wv: dilmonat - one who advocates absurdly extreme ends for the "good" of an indifferent universe.

Gagdad Bob said...

At least he's honest. That kind of bleak, nihilistic surrealism (actually, subrealism) is indeed the final common pathway and end state of any secular philosophy.

julie said...

Indeed; that's why my attempt at atheism when I was younger was so brief. I saw the end of that line of thinking, just as Singer describes, and for a few days it almost made me as wretched as the hordes of commenters who logged on to agree with him. Then I pulled my head out of my rear and remembered that I don't enjoy being depressed. Also, listening to Prager helped.

Anyway, here's another article that fits in nicely with today's post, via Insty.

An excerpt:

"The American peace and disarmament movement almost destroyed human freedom. The peace movement gave intellectual and moral respectability to the cause of isolationism: the belief that the United States could safely ignore the unraveling of the world’s fragile economic and political order as British power waned after World War I. But these idealistic professors, students, preachers and general all-around-good-guys were naive, self-righteous, and smugly sure that arms cause war."

Susannah said...

What astounds me is the embracing of such crap (sorry, I couldn't think of a more ladylike word in the moment) by a so-called institute of higher learning.

And this is precisely where it boils down to power vs. truth. Somebody who possesses the hubris to attribute to himself the ability to know who should live and die, how much suffering is too much, whether suffering is of no value at all to the soul, how much two additional years of life with one's family is worth--isn't going to blink at dealing out death according to his own whim.

Singer represents the inevitable course of leftism. Left-leaning news sources like NPR and the New York Times take this guy seriously enough to provide a platform for his utilitarianism with nary a critical word.

Clearly his ideas, though more extreme than the average duped democrat's, mesh perfectly with the lefty elite's goals to enthrall every one of us to the state. They are so power-driven and amoral that the idea of stamping a price tag on a human life doesn't even repulse them. Which is not surprising; but what surprises and repulses me is when people who call themselves Christians offer themselves as tools for this satanic, anti-human point of view.

Gagdad Bob said...

Disturbing to watch, but note also the convergence of "there is no truth" and Deepak's reality is just our perception. Extremes meet, so that knowing nothing is knowing everything, and vice versa.

Gagdad Bob said...

Off topic, anon. Feel free to post your nonsense in the appropriate thread.

Susannah said...

"Thus, omniscience is covertly transferred from God to man, even while the absolute relativist denies that he's doing anything special, just seeing 'what's there.'"

Cf. the all-knowing bio-ethicist. Great insight, Bob.

Van said...

"Rather, in the flatland view, there are only beings and choices, which ultimately reduces to the "nothing" of Sartre's magnum dopiate, Being and Nothingness."

Heh... like that. Might explain why they vomit up so much bile, too.

mushroom said...

I just have one question for Deepak: Assuming all that you say is true, why are you wearing your mom's glasses?

Van said...

"Note also the critical point that for the leftist, truth ultimately reduces -- and must reduce -- to power, since thinking (which is the essence of philosophy) cannot produce "a single answer to anything.""

It really is the ultimate source of 'freedom' for the tyranical... if there are no answers, no right and no wrong, then you are free to any square peg into any round hole you'd like.

And it also makes it exceedingly easy to, like Ricky's friend from the other day, to say "Yeah..."(chuckle)", I'm a tyrant... but I'm just trying to help make things fit, and hey, at least I'm honest about it."

Van said...

Mushroom said “In debates and discussions, atheists typically use the word science as a "conjuring word", not unlike abracadabra. There's no proof offered -- just the invocation of Science.”

I put up a post the other day on the typical leftie method, when face to face with someone, of answering what they have no answer to, yet still intend to discredit and dismiss it and with the utmost certainty that they will silence all opposition: The U.S. Constitution vs The Bigotry of The Now And The Shamanic Eye-Roll.

You can almost see their crisis of faith as you bust their mojo and press the point. A cheap thrill, true, but in this economy....

"I just have one question for Deepak: Assuming all that you say is true, why are you wearing your mom's glasses?"


Gagdad Bob said...

They're only mom glasses in your own limited consciousness. In the alternate world he creates with his Quantum Consciousness™, he's Cary Grant, and no one's saying "tee hee," they're yelling "Dee, Dee!!!"

Van said...

What a sick article. That Singer is still ‘lovingly’ referenced by professors of ethics and justice, etc, says all that need be said about wackademia.

And what a portrait of the typical New York Times reader is on display in the comments... what in hell keeps them from applying their own beliefs and their own bare bodkin?!

The only heartening thing about it was a sparse few comments, such as commenter #5,
... I'm glad I'm here. I have unfulfilled desires, but I have also had a great deal of enjoyment. I experience a few minutes of profound joy every morning when my 5 year old gets out of bed, comes to my office, and crawls up into my lap for a still-sleepy hug -- and by having her, I've made it possible for her to have that joy herself some day if she has a child of her own. This sort of utilitarian, weigh-everything-on-the-scales approach is the worst sort of academic pseudo-philosophical nonsense ...“

And noticing that her comment was ‘Recommended by 740 Readers ‘, and the surrounding products of nausea reached only to 396.

Even in the NYT, there's hope.

Dianne said...

I think it would be a good start and less hypocritical on Singer's part, and people who agree with him - to go ahead and off themselves. But of course they don't mean themselves, they mean other people, who they feel have no value.

Think you're a God much?

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, as Sartre said, "hell is other people."

Gagdad Bob said...

Although I suppose he's half right. It depends on the people.

Northern Bandit said...

Accounts of the mating habits of the human bullfrog Sartre from his various "lovers" make it sound like it was rather hellish for them.

Ugh. Now I have to go wash that image from my mind with a walk in the forest.

Dianne said...

Although I suppose he's half right. It depends on the people.

I hear ya! How I deal with that in my personal life is - be kind, but keep your distance.

Gagdad Bob said...

This is kinda cute. Last night when Mrs. G. was putting Tristan to bed and snuggling with him, he says, "Mommy, I love you so much I could cry. If you were in heaven and I wasn't, I'd never get over it."

I don't know how he comes up with this stuff. Five is a great age....

julie said...

Awwwww, that just melts the heart.

Funny, I was thinking pretty much the same thing last night while snuggling mine. It's kind of terrifying to love this much.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yup. As they say, it's like your heart is walking around outside your body.

Gagdad Bob said...

I remember how Leslie used to ask, "how can you love someone so much that you didn't even know two weeks ago?"

julie said...

Yes, exactly, on both counts.

Van said...

Gagdad said "'s like your heart is walking around outside your body."

... and you're pretty darn certain that, no matter how often you tell it, it isn't looking both ways before crossing the street.

Van said...

And a double "Awww..." to both Tristan and Julie's new pic!

julie said...

Thanks, Van - I figured an update was in order.

black hole said...

Well, I don't see anything wrong with power over truth.

The project is to stick it to the white man, people.
That's what matters. Everything else is just incidental to the main event.

We want the power. All of it. We are leftists, we are brown, we are female, we are single females, so what are goint to do about it?

We don't care if we run this economy into a yawning pit. We want payback.

Afterwards, we can talk religion. Way after.

Van said...

"The project is to stick it ...That's what matters... We want the power. All of it. We are leftists... so what are goint to do about it?"

bh, have you stopped to wonder what happens when you folks finally convince those you consider 'white red necks'(and I hate to tell you, I know a sizable number of folks of darker hues who consider you their blood enemy), the mostly heavily armed 'red necks' surrounding you, that the rule of law no longer matters at all? Do you really think that the sissified metro-sexuals you see around you represent a majority of the country? Have you not seen the video's of twanging military boys blaring Metallica and turning al-qaida members into hamburger vapor with their chain guns?

Do you really think they are all safely locked up in the military? Do you realize that as many gun friendly young men AND women that are volunteering volunteering for military service (to defend the Constitution and their nation), they are only replacing those being discharged. Where do you think they are going? Do you think they are disappearing? Please, tell me, just what is it you are counting on to hold them back, when they no longer feel that their respect for the law is worth the paper it's written on and should no longer be allowed to hold them back from dealing out a bit of frontier justice they've been itching to let loose for decades?

"Afterwards, we can talk religion. Way after."

Or perhaps much sooner than you might expect.

The "white man's" society, culture, and laws are not your enemy - they are the only things keeping you from a grisly death.

You might want to rethink your opposition to the constitution and the rule of law.


Please. It's not a world I want my kids growing up in... not because I fear for their lives, but because I fear for the memories they might have to carry around for the rest of their long lives.

Might want to think about it.

julie said...

bh said:

[insert transparently absurd attempt to start an argument for the sake of stroking b's h]

Sometimes, you manage to seem intelligent. This isn't one of those times. It's a pity you can't come up with something of substance to throw around if you want to start a discussion.

ge said...

you be cruisin for a waterboarding blackie!

greyniffler said...

Power, not justice.

They abused us. That was wrong. We will abuse them. That is right.

In other words, it is one law for you and another for them. Which means that there is no Law, for Law must be universal, applying to all. Anything else is the power of the strong over the weak.

Chesterton noted that militarists and pacifists both agree that the strong should exercise (arbitrary) power over the weak. The victimologists argue that the weak should exercise power over the strong. How is one better than the other?

In 1984, O'Brian states plainly that power is its own end, the jackboot forever in the face of the lowly. And it is worth noting that the authors of the Star Wars universe made the Sith Way the exercise of power for its own sake. Power unused, they hold, is a deplorable waste.