Friday, March 31, 2017

Reasoning is Believing, Seeing is Knowing, Being is Loving

Where are we? As mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been rereading some of Schuon's late works, which strike me as quite compressed and concentrated, as if he wanted to summarize his life's work as concisely -- and precisely -- as possible.

It appears that this one, The Transfiguration of Man was his last. Another collection followed, The Eye of the Heart, but it contains material written much earlier. After that he wrote nothing but poetry, until they moved him to that tower down the tracks. Which is to say, he became even more concise before slipping off to go looking for Shankara in 1998.

In reference to the book's title, he observes that "The image of man presented to us by modern psychology is not only fragmentary, it is pitiable."

To which I can only add a simultaneously enthusiastic and resigned darn tootin'. It has been many years since I related to "psychology" as anything other than a relatively enslackened way to make a living. This is very much in contrast to the way I came in, which was full of passion, idealism, and enthusiasm. Now I can't even.

Of course, I still have the same p, i, and e, only transposed -- transfigured? -- to a higher key. Psychology as such is just a more or less distant shadow of a higher and more fundamental reality.

For really, there are only two possibilities: either man is a kind of upward projection of animality; or a downward projection of divinity. He cannot be a purely "lateral" phenomenon, but is ultimately reducible to one or the other; or better, either reducible or... expansible.

But "modern thought," writes Schuon, "admits only animality, practically speaking."

When you think about it, so many arguments could be stopped in their tracks by bearing this in mind. Most opinions are nothing more than an animal making noises. Take, I don't know, Bill Maher. If he imagines himself to be something more interesting than a braying animal, then he undercuts his entire philosophy, such as it is.

The irony here is that people such as Maher explicitly regard themselves as Darwinian animals, but (like all leftards) implicitly as gods superior to the rest of us. Think of Animal Farm, where all the animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

The title of the book notwithstanding, Schuon would be the last to make a god of man. Rather, "we intend simply to take account of his true nature, which transcends the earthly, and lacking which he would have no reason for being."

That is a Big One: no reason for being. How could there be? "Reasons" are situated above, not below; the question is whether they are anchored above, or just suspended, as it were, in mid-air. If the latter, then they are again reducible to ashes and dust. And if that's the case, then to hell with it. Why bother?

What is called "philosophy" is scarcely better than psychology, and often worse. Indeed, many philosophies are nothing more than the formal articulation of the psychopathology of their developers. But philosophy once meant something, or referred to something real; it was real knowledge of real things.

Philosophy is of course the "love of wisdom." It is not the love of being wise in one's own eyes, which is nothing more than vanity and tenure. Nor is love of wisdom the same as possessing it -- or her, rather.

In any event, note the irreducibly relational structure, irrespective of pronouns.

Properly speaking, philosophy "is the science of all the fundamental principles; this science operates with intuition, which 'perceives,' and not with reason alone, which 'concludes.'"

Darn tootin'. The latter would indeed involve a kind of "possession." In contrast, perception occurs in the space between two realities, in this case, two subjects.

Not to bag on Edward Feser, who is certainly on our side, but I've read several books of his, most recently on Thomas Aquinas. What is it about them that leaves me a bit cold?

Now that I'm thinking about it in the above context, it's because they lack the relational / love / perceptual / mystical in favor of the "possession of conclusions," so to speak. Not my style. No doubt both approaches are needed, but I prefer plunging heartland into the wild godhead and seeing if I can bring back any useful reports.

All the reasoning in the world cannot lead back up to its source, or at least make that final leap. For man has "recourse to a source of certitude that transcends the mental mechanism, and this source -- the only one there is -- is the pure Intellect, or Intelligence as such."

This can easily be misunderstood, again, if we think in terms of possession as opposed to relation. Reason can never contain what contains it, obviously.

Not sure if this post ever got off the ground. Too many distractions. To be continued....


julie said...

Now that I'm thinking about it in the above context, it's because they lack the relational / love / perceptual / mystical in favor of the "possession of conclusions," so to speak.

Reminds me, I discovered yesterday one more reason to appreciate Bishop Barron (with apologies for probably being repetitive): in a lecture on Jonah he not only quoted, but mentioned that his favorite theologian is HvB. I imagine for much the reason above; HvB was all about the relational / love / perceptual / mystical. It's always a happy surprise when anybody has heard of him.

Gagdad Bob said...

Even more profoundly, his favorite TV show is The Simpsons.

julie said...

Seriously? That's awesome.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it bothered some of his followers. No doubt the ones who aren't bothered by Pope Francis.

julie said...

Christians can be a funny bunch. Pretty sure most of the people I know in person would be scandalized by some of the things that don't bother me, and moreso by some of the things I love. And don't love.

mushroom said...

Maher and the assumption of knowing better because of scientism reminds me of the upcoming "march for science" or whatever it is. Science should set government policies, which will doubtless involve more government funding for science. Sometimes the left brain really doesn't know what the right brain is up to.