Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wisdom is Not Autism and Life is Not Death

Anything that is knowable conceals the unknowable mystery of its own knowability.

In other words, even the merest scrap of knowledge always points in two directions, or has an interior and exterior horizon. As we ascend the hierarchy of being, this division of interior and exterior becomes increasingly apparent. When we look at another person, we always know that there is an interior hidden from us -- by which we do not mean blood and guts, but interiority per se. For just as there is a dark side of the moon, there must somewhere exist an infinitesimal bright side of the moonbat.

There are exceptions to this rule. Most conspicuously, severely autistic people do not have access to the human interior, resulting in a bizarre world of arbitrary and unpredictable "human furniture." But autism, like most forms of mental illness, runs along a continuum. We all know people who are reliably "clueless" about human reality. One of them is a frequent commenter here. You may know him by his impregnable head of solid rock.

Importantly, our first and most enduring orientation to the world is via this human interiority. We do not start off "autistic" and only then enter the human interior. Rather -- and this is obvious both personally and historically -- the interior precedes the exterior.

Only very gradually has mankind evolved so as to disentangle mind from matter, so to speak, and view the world scientifically, which is to say, objectively. Science provides knowledge of exteriors. But this hardly means that real reality consists of exteriors only. Insisting otherwise constitutes a metaphysical boo-boo that is fundamental, pervasive, and naive in the extreme.

In reality, there can be no real separation between the poles of fact and value, quantity and quality, knowledge and mystery, known and unKnown. Yes, there can certainly be a methodological separation between them, but the scientistic mind makes the elementary error of confusing method and ontology -- which is very much analogous to the absurd belief that there just so happen to be no fishes smaller than one's net.

A net pulls up creatures of a certain size, and no smaller. Likewise, Newtonian physics captures "facts" of a certain size, while quantum theory catches even smaller ones. But one would have to be slightly autistic or severely tenured to imagine that we're even close to catching everything in the ocean.

And this is leaving aside the fact that scientists are part of the selfsame ocean they are attempting to explain. Which is why anyone who fails to assimilate Gödel's theorems into his metaphysic is just like Mickey Mouse's cheating girlfriend, Minnie. That's right: she was fucking Goofy.

As was Gödel, but that doesn't mean his logic was unsound. Indeed, it probably required a maladjusted person -- someone external to the consensus reality -- to recognize the real one, or at least rule out the false ones.

At any rate, "this insight gives us the means to resist any division of 'value' and 'being' into two different spheres. Such a division, we recognize, is not only untenable but is nothing less than a mortal blow to the mystery of being" (Balthasar).

Again, we have no problem whatsoever with methodological dualism. If I should ever have open heart surgery, I'm cool with the idea that my surgeon looks at the heart as a blood pump. Conversely, I wouldn't want to see a psychologist who regards the brain as a thought pump.

In his The Phenomenon of Life, Hans Jonas describes our primordial, interior relationship to the world. Given the fact that modernism exiles us from this interior world, while postmodernism imprisons us in a purely personal one, it is difficult to imagine the "enchanted" mentality of premodern man, when

"Soul flooded the whole of existence and encountered itself in all things. Bare matter, that is, truly inanimate, 'dead' matter, was yet to be discovered -- and indeed its concept, so familiar to us, is anything but obvious" (Jonas).

Again, we begin -- both individually and historically, or psychologically and anthropologically -- with the interior. It could not have been otherwise, for the same reason that we don't start off autistic, and then begin to deduce the presence of the human interior by studying the parts of a face: "Let's see, the lip is upturned and the skin around the eyes is crinkled. This must mean Mother is happy. Whatever that is."

Please bear in mind that we would be the last to argue for some kind of Rousseau-ian reenchantment of nature. Ironically, this is what the scientistic types end up doing when they aren't busy disenchanting the world with their unreal abstractions. The latter activity -- unleavened by any spiritual sensibility -- results in an unreal, desiccated world, and therefore a longing for some kind of connection to primoridial reality, untouched by the chilled hand of scientism.

I'm pretty sure this is how one ends up with the retrograde paganism -- i.e., Gaia worship -- concealed in the climate changers. It's what happens when the religious instinct is denied, only to return in morbid form (which indeed occurs in virtually any kind of doctrinaire leftism). (And please recall that we do not necessarily deny "climate change." We just don't make a religion of it.)

Jonas notes that what we call a philosophical "problem" is in essence "the collision between a comprehensive view (be it hypothesis or belief) and a particular fact which will not fit into it."

Now, one way to deal with such problems is to deny the existence of any facts outside one's belief system. For example, for the left, it is impossible that other valid economic theories might exist, therefore, those of us who hold another theory are in actuality terrorists.

The psychologist in me would not minimize the feelings and perceptions of the left. Rather, if the left were my patient, the first thing I would do is acknowledge the psychic reality of the Terror. There is surely terror going on, but let's not jump to conclusions about where it is emanating from. Let's just sit with it for awhile, explore it, find out where it leads, what it is connected to in your psyche.

"You mean their psyche, right Doc?"

No, my dear Mr. (or Ms.) Leftist. Let's forget about them for awhile, at least for the hour we're here together. This time is for you. Let's just talk about you and your thoughts and feelings, and leave the world out of it for the time being. Let's pretend the world is a kind of canvas you paint upon, or a dream you dream."

Anyway, for premodern man, Death is the great riddle, the great exception to the rule of Life. But "modern thought, which began with the Renaissance, is placed in exactly the opposite theoretic situation. Death is the natural thing, life the problem" (ibid.).

As a result, "it is the existence of life within a mechanical universe which now calls for an explanation, and the explanation has to be in terms of the lifeless.... That there is life at all, and how such a thing is possible in a world of mere matter, is now the problem posed to thought" (ibid.).

Again, bear in mind that we are not arguing for a romantic reversion to animism; rather, the orthoparadoxical Raccoon argument is for the transcendent position, i.e., the psychic Third that integrates the other two. As such, we also reject the philosophical stance of the dead and tenured, who insist upon a universal ontology which negates Life (to say nothing of Mind and Spirit) "by making it one of the possible variants of the lifeless" (ibid.) -- as if life is just a weird way of being dead.

You are, of course, free to believe this, so long as you refrain from treating others as lifeless objects to be manipulated by your wonderful policies.

But in believing this nonsense -- or onlysense, rather -- please understand what you are destroying. For "to reduce life to the lifeless is nothing else than to resolve the particular into the general, the complex into the simple, and the apparent exception into the accepted rule" (ibid).

This represents the polar opposite of what was elucidated in yesterday's post vis-a-vis the particular representing the ultimate, i.e., a person. Conversely, in the scientistic view, we only become truly ourselves when we are a corpse, no longer subject to this illusory hoax of nature called an "interior."

Thus, in the conclusion of Jonas, "Our thinking today is under the ontological dominance of death."

The bottom lyin' is that one cannot be upside-down without rendering oneself inside-out.


Dougman said...

I can't pass up this word verification. spidemem.
Haven't you done a post on that before Bob?

Gagdad Bob said...

I've spied a meme or two in my day.

julie said...

Dang it, man, you almost owed me a new keyboard with that Mickey joke. Fortunately, I *just* managed to swallow.

Think I'll set my coffee down before continuing...

Rick said...

"Indeed, it probably required a maladjusted person -- someone external to the consensus reality -- to recognize the real one, or at least rule out the false ones."

We're still talking about John the Baptist, right?

Gagdad Bob said...

Indeed. It's hard to find a prophet who isn't pretty "out there."

Gagdad Bob said...

Which is why the Raccoon prefers to be just beyond the subjective horizon, not completely beyond it, without so much as a laughline.

Rick said...

When you look at the book of Revelation it sounds pretty weird to us. Which makes me wonder if the Gospels didn't also sound pretty weird once. As in...

"...its concept, so familiar to us, is anything but obvious (to premodern man)"

That leads to thinking that the book of Revelation has to sound weird to us. It can't not. Not yet. What I mean is, there's more evolutin' to do. Either personally or all of each person.

Rick said...

The Word doesn't evolve, only the person does.
Or not.

julie said...

Again, we begin -- both individually and historically, or psychologically and anthropologically -- with the interior.

Here again is something that can be seen in the course of a human's development. In childhood, it seems perfectly obvious that everything has a personality - hence the popularity of children's stories filled with anthropomorphized characters. Even into adulthood, most people see themselves when they see the world; indeed, it is very difficult to do otherwise, short of entering your own portal. Or in other words, it's very difficult - unnatural, even - to perceive the genuine otherness of other subjects and objects. Thus for someone who believes the cosmos and everything in it is reducible to mere matter, everything and (necessarily) everyone lacks reality in the way that the self is real. Whereas for the animist, everything is simply a projection of the self, but again (in truth) lacks its own reality.

Gagdad Bob said...

Both are guilty of the Sin of Minnie.

julie said...


Van said...

"Please bear in mind that we would be the last to argue for some kind of Rousseau-ian reenchantment of nature. Ironically, this is what the scientistic types end up doing when they aren't busy disenchanting the world with their unreal abstractions. The latter activity -- unleavened by any spiritual sensibility -- results in an unreal, desiccated world, and therefore a longing for some kind of connection to primoridial reality, untouched by the chilled hand of scientism. "

Yep, there are few with more wacked out mystical beleifs than the materialist and scientistic natureist. The problem is that their mysticism is centered around 'naked facts', nature objects, etc, which are somehow supposed to be intrinsically valuable because of what they simply are, independent of everything else, accepted because they are somehow more naturalistic than you are... meaning as far from human as it is possible to go.

Or to be brief (ahem) - these are the people who go into depression because they can't get to the blue world of Avatar.

For them, value is entirely to be found 'out there', never within.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That MoHo link at Hot Air was unpure, adulterated projection.

If the author was unknown I would've been looking for a punkedline.
Perhaps it's all the more humorous that anyone can get themselves that worked up over those of us who want accountability and responsibility .

God forbid we actually get our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren out of debt leftist leeches incurred.

Anyway, those ain't exactly cannibal/vampire/zombie traits but I don't wanna confuse MoHo with scary and mean reality when it's apparent she has invested literally everything in her little leftist fantasy.

Besides, she can't take salt without melting.
Better to leave this screechin' leech alone to her own bitter devices.

One thing I don't get though. If I was gonna live in a fantasy I wouldn't take bitterness along to harsh my mellow.

MoHo has more bitterness than castor oil. At least castor oil is good for somethin'.

I suppose MoHo is good for one thing: as an abject example of the dangers of quantum foolishness and bitter moonbat haggery.

Van said...

What was funniest about Maureen Dowd's article was

"Conjuring that last image on Monday, Vladimir Putin described America as “a parasite.”

She completely missed the fact that Putin was talking about her & D.C.'s continued jones for borrowing more than they can pay back and debasing our 'currency'.

Leftists... is there anything they can know?

Van said...

WV wishes to correct me, 'progs', not leftists.

Tomato tomatoe

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Leftists... is there anything they can know?"

Ha ha ha! They don't need to know, Van. Not when they are the one's they were waiting for.

How about that leftist meme goin' around that was started by a Yale Perfesser who says Obama can circumvent Congress by minting trillions of dollars worth of platinum coins?

Verily, it's change they can believe in! LOL!

Sadly, Obama didn't take the perfessers advice. I bet he had his lawyers look at it though. Snort.

julie said...

Right in line with the last couple of posts is the following, from Theology of the Body (emphasis his):

'Self knowledge goes hand in hand with knowledge of the world, of all visible creatures, of all living beings to which man has given their names to affirm his own dissimilarity before them. Thus, consciousness reveals man as the one who possesses the power of knowing with respect to the visible world. With this knowledge, which makes him go in some way outside his own being, man at the same time reveals himself to himself in all the distinctiveness of his being. He is not only essentially and subjectively alone. In fact, solitude also signifies man's subjectivity, which constitutes itself through self-knowledge. Man is alone because he is "different" from the visible world, from the world of living beings.'

Gagdad Bob said...

Anyone who thinks I exaggerate about the debased nature of psychology and the clowns who practice it needs to watch the clip of this tool.

julie said...

Can you imagine walking into his office for a therapy session? I think I'd have to turn around and walk right back out. With doctors like that, I'm sure it's no coincidence therapy often makes people worse...

Gagdad Bob said...

They live in such an insular, intellectually closed world because it is quite possible to be a clinical psychologist or academic and literally never meet a conservative colleague.

Gagdad Bob said...

In fact, just from his fevered characterizations of conservatives, you can tell he doesn't know any -- no different from how the Arabs fantasize about Jews without having ever met one.

mushroom said...

Martin and Deepak sittin' in a tree..., &tc.

I keep finding myself going back to the old '60's word -- Establishment. The entrenched and established powers in both the media and the political realm are really threatened by citizens who can communicate among themselves.

How dare we not get our views from the sons of Cronkite?

Van said...

Speaking of blowhards, check out a new report on NASA satellite data:

"...In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict..."

Not a surprise to us... but the autistic runners are gonna be all "algore said so... algore said so... algore said sss...."