Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Infertile Eggheads & Hero Sumbitches

Schuon's discussion of the man with no center -- touched on in yesterday's post -- is in the context of an essay on the spiritual anthropology of India, AKA the caste system. We've discussed this subject in the past, but I forgot what I wrote about it, and it's easier to come up with something new than to search the hull of the arkive.

The whole notion of caste goes against the American principle of being born equal, but that hardly means equivalent, only that we are equal under the law, or that the law apples to everyone equally. In reality -- and this can only be understood and appreciated in a Judeo-Christianized culture -- everyone is a unique and unrepeatable person.

Nevertheless, there are patterns, for example, introverted vs. extroverted, thinking vs. feeling, daring vs. timid, etc. The subjective center of an extroverted person is not in the same place as the center of an introverted person. Neither one is intrinsically "wrong," but can become wrong if the person lacks consistency and tries to be something or someone he isn't.

For example, we all know pseudo-intellectuals who want to pretend they belong to the intellectual class but are more suited for manual labor.

"To be normal is to be homogeneous, and to be homogeneous is to have a center" (Schuon). This center, of course, cannot be static, but is always a dynamic, open system (both vertically and horizontally) that is never at equilibrium (equilibrium equating to death).

And "a normal man is one whose tendencies are, if not altogether uniform, at least concordant..." (ibid.). We shouldn't be completely at odds with ourself, like the intellectually dishonest liberal who can never be consistent -- or honest with himself -- and remain a liberal.

Again, the reason why our center is so important is that it relates to and tends toward the cosmic source of subjectivity, AKA Celestial Central. Note, for example, how the scattered self conceives of a scattered god, i.e., polytheism. Or, the materialized self conceives of a material god, i.e., pantheism or atheism.

Thus, "the tendency toward the Absolute, for which we are made, is difficult to realize in a heterogeneous soul -- a soul lacking a center, precisely..." It is the proverbial "house divided against itself" and "thus destined to collapse, eschatologically speaking" (ibid.).

This is all covered in pp. 216-218 of the Bʘʘk of the Same Name, albeit in annoying fashion, with the pneumaticon •••(•)••• standing for the scattered and decentered self.

Now, just because the center renders us homogeneous doesn't mean that the center is located in the same place for everyone. This is where the idea of caste comes in, and even if it isn't literally true, it certainly has explanatory power in my experience. For there are men of contemplation, men of action, men of labor, and men who are good for nothing, AKA social and cosmic outcastes.

The first is "the intellective, speculative, contemplative, sacerdotal type," who "tends toward wisdom or holiness." In fact, until rather late in the modern period the connection between the two -- wisdom and holiness -- was implicitly understood. The idea of the intellectual vulgarian who dominates contemporary academia would have been unthinkable.

Come to think of it, this is covered in a book someone sent me called The Political Theory of Christ: "As late as 1800, most Western intellectuals considered reason to be a form of divine revelation" and believed that "reason revealed the true nature of God." Only in the mid-to-late 19th century did the "revelation of a completely material world" become common currency.

Next comes "the warlike and royal type" who tend "towards glory and heroism" -- and not just in the material world, for there are spiritual heroes, AKA saints and martyrs who engage in spiritual combat.

And of course, just as the caste of intellectuals makes the pseudo-intellectual possible, this caste has its own counterfeit versions. In fact, most every hero of the left is a phony version of the real thing, from Caitlyn Jenner to Ted Kennedy to Margaret Sanger to Fidel Castro and on down.

To be continued...


julie said...

And "a normal man is one whose tendencies are, if not altogether uniform, at least concordant..." (ibid.). We shouldn't be completely at odds with ourself, like the intellectually dishonest liberal who can never be consistent -- or honest with himself -- and remain a liberal.

I've had occasion to re-realize today why it is that so many young Christians from Good Christian Families lose their faith in college. For my pre-schoolers' science class, one of the other moms picked up a series of Christian (or rather, "Creationist") science textbooks, a copy of which I was paging through to plan a class on the planet and volcanoes. Since it also covers fossils, it must touch on evolution, and clearly it can't even. The argument against evolution - in a book geared for kids up to 8th grade - is that evolution isn't true because there are hardly any dinosaur fossils.

No intelligent young Christian can possibly read an argument that stupid and hang on to his belief in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, especially since Christianity purports to be about not just truth, but Truth, which must necessarily be compatible with reality. When they do go to college and find themselves caught up in nihilistic atheism, they are being intellectually honest, only to find themselves going from the frying pan of simple error to the fire of meaninglessness.

mushroom said...

Good point, Julie. The anti-intellectualism is widespread among our fundamentalist brothers, as we were mentioning a few posts back. A lot of pseudo-intellectual atheists focus on this while missing the fact that Christianity does not depend upon a literal interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis. If anything Christianity requires us to take Genesis in the much larger and richer mytho-poetic sense.