Monday, November 07, 2016

How Do We Get Outta Here?!

This post was written yesterday (Sunday), not today. As I wrote it, it had a different vibe from weekday posts. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it is more detached from time constraints, and even from any audience. It feels more like just... thoughts bubbling up from the ground. More so than usual, at any rate.

Programming note: early appointment tomorrow Wednesday, so no post. As to the election: I'm not falling for it this time, as I did in 2012, so Clinton wins easily. With a liberal-industrial complex that subsumes the media clones, the cultural zone, the feminist crones, the low IQ drones, and their wealthy padrones, she just has too many shortcuts to 270. So this world -- at least the plane they operate on -- belongs to the wicked one. What else is new? Just more grist for the cosmic mill.

So: God is simultaneously the source of our greatness and of our nothingness. Remove God from the equation, and we are certainly not great and not even nothing; rather, just an absurdity. All life becomes a kind of brownian motion writ large.

But in reality we are always situated between these two poles, from which our freedom arises. In other words, if there is only God, then we are not free, rather, only prolongations of his omnipotence; and if there is no God, then freedom is either illusory or meaningless. In other words, we are either determined, or we have "freedom" with no telos, which equates again to absurdity.

Suppose you awakened one morning in a desert or a dense forest, with no map or compass. How would you find your way out? Well, that is approximately our situation down here, isn't it? Here we are. How do we orient ourselves? Is there a north star, a fixed reference to guide us?

For most of human history, religion has served this purpose -- more specifically, religion understood as communication from beyond the world system. Within the world we have things like math, or logic, or induction, or empirical observation, but none of these can transcend themselves. Ultimately they are closed circles. They are like dry bones with no animating spirit.

Hmm. Is there perhaps something that unifies those modalities just mentioned? Yes: intelligence. Could the existence of intelligence itself lead the way out? For how did intelligence get in here, if it doesn't somehow already inhere in here?

First of all, what is intelligence? There are different ways of looking at it. There is human intelligence, but there is also the intelligence of a single cell, compared to which matter is utterly stupid. But how does intelligence arise from utter stupidity?

No, supposing that intelligence exists, we must trace it all the way down, prior to the emergence of life. It must somehow be in the nature of things.

We are accustomed to scientism denying final causation, AKA teleology. But here they also deny causation at the other end. Thus, we are to believe that intelligence simply emerges with no formal or final causation; or that an actuality exists with no prior potential to have become actual. It must therefore be an uncaused cause. Which is another name for God.

One of Aquinas's proofs of God is that every effect has a cause, and that a cause cannot give to the effect something it does not have.

By way of analogy, imagine a chandelier hanging by a chain. We may follow each link upward to try to discover what is causing it to hang suspended in mid-air. You can try to avoid the problem by suggesting that the chain just goes on forever, but this simply defers explanation of how the chandelier is hanging there in the first place. No link can explain that, no matter how many we posit.

Note that we begin with an empirical observation: a light suspended in mid-air. However, with pure metaphysics -- even if we cannot see it -- we know that there must be something like a "ceiling" to which the chain is affixed. Ultimately the power of each link derives from that -- again, even if we have no way of seeing the first.

Could intelligence be similar to the chandelier? Does it go all the way up? And down? Note that it is strictly impossible for it to go all the way up unless, like the chandelier, it is hanging from something. It can only go up if it has first come down, otherwise you are just positing a form of the "endless links" theory.

"How is it possible," wondered Einstein, "that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality?"

Note that he assumes a couple of premises: that mathematics is "a product of human thought"; and that it is "independent of experience." First of all, those two seem contradictory: if mathematics is independent of experience, then it cannot be a product of human thought; and human thought is an experience, in which case mathematics would be dependent upon it.

Most if not all of these problems vanish if we do not start by severing being and knowing. Note that Einstein tries to have it both ways: if math is a product of human thought, then it is on the knowing side; but if it is independent of it, then it is on the being side.

Even prior to Kant we have Descartes inverting the cosmos with his "I think, therefore I am" gag. In other words, he tries to derive being from thinking, which no doubt seemed like a good idea at the time, but completely fails at providing any kind of self-sufficient guiding star (remember, we are lost in the desert bewilderness, trying to find a way out).

How about starting where we always start, with Being Is? The real miracle is that Being Is, therefore I Think. For me, that would be our ground floor -- or rather, the ceiling to which the Lamp of Intelligence is affixed.

Schuon expresses it in as concise and lucid a manner as is possible:

"The first thing that should strike a man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of the miracle of intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- whence the incommensurability between it and material objects, whether a grain of sand or the sun, or any creature whatever as an object of the senses."

Not that "I think"; rather, that "thinking is." Or better, intelligence is. In fact, we can cut out the middleman altogether and just say: I AM. This presumes that existence is personal -- or rather, that Being is a Person, with all this implies. You might say that persons dangle from Personhood, as does intelligence from Truth.

"[C]ertainly, it is not our personal thought that preceded the world, it was -- or is -- absolute Consciousness, of which our thought is a distant reflection precisely -- our thought which reminds us, and proves to us, that in the beginning was the Spirit."

For "Nothing is more absurd than to have intelligence derive from matter, hence the greater from the lesser; the evolutionary leap from matter to intelligence is from every point of view the most inconceivable thing that could be."

Absurd and inconceivable, perhaps, but this has never stopped our Ministry of Truth from propagating it.

"The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve" (Eugene Wigner).

Except that we do understand it if we get our bearings right. And we even deserve it by virtue of our God-given intelligence, for intelligence without truth is an absurd cruelty.


julie said...

...intelligence without truth is an absurd cruelty.

Yes. S and I were talking about the awfulness of nihilism yesterday; this is a good distillation.

So this world -- at least the plane they operate on -- belongs to the wicked one.

This past week has brought home just how horribly, dreadfully true that is. It's bad enough when we are ruled by the merely corrupt - the grifters who are only too happy to cheat their way into power and plunder the riches of the nations. But these people are just as foul as the worst of the Roman emperors. Quite aside from the Wikileaks stuff, the more I learn about Podesta the more nauseated I become. On the other hand, though, also the more determined in faith.

julie said...

A bit of pre-election schadenfreude: Student speaker trashes Hillary at her own rally.

God help this kid; he truly just spoke truth to power.

In an honest election, I wouldn't be worried about Hillary winning. then again, in an honest election she wouldn't be running at all. Bernie supporters are extremely unhappy about that.

Gagdad Bob said...

This is ultimately a Matrix Election for the nation, maybe the last one: in our out?

julie said...

No joke.

But here's one: re. the pre-emptive MSM news warnings about fake wikileaks coming out this week, "Whatever that sheep tells you, she's lying!"

ge said...

among likely voters
the pantsuited cank wins...
it's the unlikely voters who may propel DT to Potus

julie said...

Here's hoping the monster vote is both real, and spectacular.