Monday, February 17, 2014

Atheism and Other Autoimmune Disorders of Language

We are on the topic of Cosmic Fundamentals, trying to dig down to the foundation of existence.

That we are attempting to do so with words must tell us something fundamental. For either language is fundamental or it is not; if it isn't, then we're kind of stuck, since it means that our primary tool of thought isn't up to the task -- like shaving with a hammer or trying to bite a wall.

But if language can get the job done, well then, that bloody well says something special about language, doesn't it? Which is one reason I'm always surprised that the intemperate tools among us can make such sweeping statements that nullify the significance of language.

To cite the most obvious example, to say definitively -- which is to say absolutely -- that there is no God is to implicitly affirm that human language is adequate to ultimate reality. Which is a roundabout way of saying that we in are the image of the Creator. Thus, intelligence makes itself into a god instead of pointing beyond itself to its own source and destiny.

We don't make anything like that grandiose a claim. Rather, for us language can only point toward ultimate truth, not be identical with it. For language comes from the Source, so it can never contain it (one cannot be contained by one's content; well, one can, but that is what we call psycho- or pneumapathology).

Alternatively, if language simply comes "from below," from earth-matter, how could it ever presume to reach beyond itself to the ultimate signified? Besides, how would it know when it had reached it? By what criteria?

Thus, we can all agree that "relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself.... [I]ts initial absurdity lies in the implicit claim to be unique in escaping, as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility" (Schuon).

There is always a level of faith and a degree of assent -- i.e., will -- involved in truth. We hear something and say to ourselves, "ah, that's good enough." Truth itself is not sufficient to convince -- or convict -- us. Rather, we must assent to it, and assent comes from the will, which is free. We are always free to reject truth, hence our dignity. Everyone in hell is quite dignified. Or proud, rather.

Schuon expresses it well in Logic and Transcendence, distinguishing between truth and its realization, which amounts to form and substance (or letter and spirit, doctrine and lower-case gnosis). Adequate proofs of God surely exist, but they nevertheless require our assent. If they didn't, then again, we wouldn't be free, so freedom is prior to truth. In the absence of freedom, the thing we call "truth" couldn't exist, since there could be no space between knower and known.

There is no way to prove anything to a person with "omnipotent doubt," so to speak. Since most science is inductive, the sophist can always conceive of exceptions. And where it is deductive, one can always claim that its first principles aren't justified.

For Schuon, a proof on the spiritual plane "is of assistance only to the man who wishes to understand and who, because of this wish, has in some measure understood already." Conversely, "it is of no practical use to one who, deep in his heart, does not want to change his position and whose philosophy merely expresses this desire."

There it is again: will. Instead of conforming the will to truth, such a person conforms it to his desire. Or in other words, reality is the precipitate of how one wishes things to be, not how they are.

As Robert Kennedy put it, "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" We will never know if he was conscious of plagiarizing the Serpent in G.B. Shaw's Back To Methuselah, but he was expressing the fundamental credo of the left.

Think of how language is corrupted in our postmodern world. Indeed, postmodernism itself is an attack on language by language, hence, a spiritual autoimmune disorder.

And when we say "corrupted," we mean something similar to what happens when when one's hard drive is corrupted. When this happens, it is as if the computer is behaving willfully and simply refuses to cooperate.

It is no different than when a person is corrupted by a mind parasite -- for example, the notion that constitutional conservatives are inherently racist. Once one has assented to such a lie, there is no escape back to reality.

A proof of God is not God, but rather, merely points to him. One still has to look, and not just sniff my finger. For Schuon, it is "a key or symbol, a means of drawing back a veil rather than of giving light. It is not by itself a leap out of ignorance and into knowledge."

Indeed, one might think of it as permission to take the leap. But nothing liberates us from the obligation to leave our bogus certainty below and to plunge into the great unKnown, "for it is impossible to to prove the Absolute outside itself" (ibid.).

The rationalism of a frog living at the bottom of a well is to deny the existence of mountains: perhaps this is 'logic,' but it has nothing to do with reality. --Schuon


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sheesh! Those lefties know racism about as well as they know basic math.
That's a special kind of idiocy on display there.

Funny how they can't give any examples of Tea party racism.
I can give examples of liberal racism all day long and that's just off the top of my head.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Libs have ALDS, or acquired language deficiency syndrome.
Worse, really, since they also pervert language so much it becomes indistinguishable from the language of hell.

Magister said...

Indeed, postmodernism itself is an attack on language by language, hence, a spiritual autoimmune disorder.

Gilles Deleuze, suicide
Michel Foucault, AIDS
Louis Althusser, strangled his wife
Jacques Lacan, Althusser's shrink
Georges Bataille, cerebral arteriosclerosis

No post hoc here, just making some notes. It would be handy to have a comprehensive list.

Magister said...


My dad once told me to listen to lefties: if they accuse someone of something, it's usually to deflect attention from the fact that they're the ones doing it.

Funny how my old man gets smarter with age.

julie said...

Truth itself is not sufficient to convince -- or convict -- us. Rather, we must assent to it, and assent comes from the will, which is free.

Or as Ms. Bloom rejoyced, "...yes I said yes I will yes."

We are always free to reject truth, hence our dignity. Everyone in hell is quite dignified. Or proud, rather.

I'm reminded of my younger self, back when I knew so much more. I was convinced that it would be better to go to hell with and for people I cared about than to spend eternity in a heaven populated only by the irritatingly pious. In a way, I was rejecting a god I was convinced had already rejected me, along with most of the people I knew.

But of course, that mental image had nothing at all to do with the Reality.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Magister, your dad is a wise guy. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

Molly Bloom and Mary both.

Magister: let's not forget Nietzsche or the humanly worthless Sartre.

Sartre, Lacan, Foucault, etc. -- that'a a lot of frogs looking up the well.

Gagdad Bob said...

Liberal attacks reveal either what liberals are or what they are afraid of.

Van Harvey said...

"There is no way to prove anything to a person with "omnipotent doubt," so to speak."

And as Descartes named his Method of Doubt to be the starting point and arbiter of all we know, then, doubtlessly, modernity arrives at,

"I doubt it, therefore I know it all"

Gagdad Bob said...

Exactly -- why not go all the way, and doubt doubt? As Schuon says, "A subject who casts doubt upon normal subjectivity thereby casts doubt upon his own doubting..." Do that long enough and you might end up tenured or worse.

NoMo said...

Paul anticipated "disorders of language":

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. i cor 2:12-14

Magister said...

If Relative Man doubts doubt, then he may have to decide something or give priority to some truth or principle. That's a hierarchical move that Young Relative Man finds chafing. It's easier to live and let live. The worlds pats him on the back for it. So in his head, Young Relative Man has a legion of philosophical kings, all at war with each other. He kicks back, not feeling any pain (especially if tenured), but eventually the internal war and disintegration will catch up with him, one way or another.

A healthy soul is organized by faith. I'm old enough now to have watched what happens to ones that aren't, and it ain't pretty.

ge said...

On Nov 4, 1995, Gilles Deleuze opened a window of his third floor apartment and threw himself to his death. Deleuze had been in poor health for most of his life, and had been now very sick and weak—he could hardly hold a pen to write. We are the more struck by the forceful, willful nature of this act. We see there some deep core in a man who refuses to be disintegrated by the passage of the years, refuses to be dependent on others, refuses pity and self-pity, and makes his death his own act. The fact that it was from his own window, and not from some public place--a high office building, a bridge--indicates the private nature of this act: Deleuze was not making a statement to others by the way he chose to die...
Alphonso Lingis, Deleuze Conference

But it's fun to cast postmort postmod stones!

Force of Nature

Once such influential immortality is reached, death is conquered

julie said...

Deleuze was not making a statement to others by the way he chose to die...

Oh, but of course he was! I don't know anything about the guy, nor about the life he lived or the suffering he endured. Nor can I claim that I would do any better, given his circumstances, though I'd certainly hope so. But I do know that even with long-term, terrible debilitating illness it is possible to see life as a blessing. It is possible to love. It is possible to experience grace, and even bestow grace upon those who care for one; a far better experience than mere pity. In the midst of great suffering, it is still possible to rejoice and be glad.

In choosing to die, he declared that life could no longer offer him anything good, or true, or beautiful. I'm sure he probably truly believed that.

He chose to "die with dignity," at a time and in a manner of his choosing. (Though really, how dignified is it to have one's remains scraped off a sidewalk? Not to mention inconsiderate of whomever is tasked with the cleanup.) Everyone in hell is quite dignified...

julie said...

One more thing: anyone seeking immortality through celebrity or influence is chasing an illusion. Plato and Aristotle may be remembered by the world, but to the extent they have any true immortality, it is because they are remembered by God. I know which I'd prefer.

And Deleuze is no Plato or Aristotle...

Gagdad Bob said...

The thing is, the rabbis have been deconstructing scripture for hundreds of years, as have Christian theologians beginning with Origen. The problem with modern deconstruction is that what's good about it isn't new, and what's new isn't good. At least as far as I've read.

julie said...

Kind of like a lot of New Agey stuff. The first article I read about whats-her-name -Williamson(?), that woman running for your district in place of Fluke- was written by someone who attended one of her conferences. It was like the uncanny valley of spirituality: they held to some of the trappings of traditional religion, while adding in a bunch of new stuff that was just flat-out wrong and disturbing. The good bits weren't new, and the new bits weren't good. But they bore a close-enough zombie resemblance to the truth that plenty of people seemed to be slurping it up with gusto.

ge said...

Prejudging, pigeonholing and poo-pooing the likes of insanely brilliant minds such as Gilles is about as sensible-laudable as saying all tea partiers are racist...and mocking their deaths is just dippy-petty

julie said...

ge, I think you misunderstand me. As I said, I know literally nothing about the guy; to my knowledge, this is the first time I've heard his name.

I meant neither mockery nor disrespect, nor did I think anything I said could or would be taken that way. I have seen and known, first hand, people whose lives were full of terrible suffering that ended in death. I have also seen how their response to their suffering affected everything about their experience, and the lives of those around them. Those who handled it with grace were a blessing to themselves and all concerned. Those who didn't were terrors who made their families' lives even more miserable than they already were. It matters.

Also, I don't know of a nice way to observe that throwing oneself out of a window isn't actually very dignified. It just isn't, and for all I know he didn't choose a more public location because his illness made that impossible.

Again, I hope I never have to find out how I'd behave in similar circumstances, but I hope that if it happens, I might handle it better.

I can't speak to his mind, knowing nothing of that, but I can learn from his actions.

Magister said...


No "dippy petty" intended here, either. My strong feeling is that Deleuze's insistence on differentiation and non-identity as the ground of being played itself out in his life as disintegration and despair. Something similar could be said of Foucault and others.

Do you know the image of the Man of Division from the Book of Daniel? For me, that man is a handy mnemonic for an un-integrated and disordered personality. I can't help but think of anti-foundationalist philosophers in precisely the same terms.

Van Harvey said...

GE said "...Prejudging, pigeonholing and poo-pooing the likes of insanely brilliant minds suc..."

How brilliant the mind is irrelevant to whether or not they should be pigeon holed and poo-pooed. Descartes was brilliant and, by all accounts, wanted only to help humanity. Kant was brilliant. Hume was brilliant and well intentioned as well.

What counts, was were they identifying what was true, or what they wanted to be true, and especially in the case of the pomofo's, did they think Truth was even possible.

When you discover that any of their fundamentals fail on either of those accounts, you not only can, but you are being foolish to not recognize that and dismiss those conclusions of theirs which build on that error.

And if they were actually aware of those errors in their fundamentals? And continued to build anyway? Hoping to draw in tenants?

'Revile' is a word with a purpose.