Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Inside the Mind of Godlessness

Even more than usual I have nothing to say but a compulsion to say it. Therefore, if the posts strike you as more elliptical and wandering, you're no doubt right. We're just casually wondering and blundering around O, taking in the fauna and looking under branches and rocks, with one eye on the subjective horizon. Like a river that can't find the Sea...

Must everything have a point?! No, of course not. Far from succumbing to nihilism, man is dying from the freaking Point of Everything. No longer does he do nothing for the sake of Nothing, which is the only sure way to God (or God's way to man: you have to give him a little space to operate).

For it is literally the case that the Highest Things have no point. What is the point of love? Reduced to some kind of utilitarian calculation it becomes perverse. Same with truth, beauty, and virtue... and this blog. Its point is always the higher pointlessness of being-with-God...

If we could attain complete comprehension of reality, we would have the mind of God; or in other words, only God -- irrespective of whether or not you are a believer -- can conceivably have such total understanding. God is, among other things, the One Who Gets It (and us).

Interesting that we can posit the idea of "total understanding," which makes me suspect someone has it. Just not us.

Hegel certainly thought he had it. Marx took from Hegel the parts he liked -- in particular, the cheap omniscience -- and here we are. But nowadays the omniscience of dialectical materialism has transformed into a kind of omniscient stupidity on the part of the left.

I say this literally because, to paraphrase Schuon, to claim that relativism is the case is to (omnisciently) assert that man's stupidity is total. Like anyone could know that!

Frankly, nothing is that stupid, let alone everything. Even rocks have intelligibility built into them.

"Hegel seriously believed he had reached ultimate truth," meaning that he had managed "to contain all of reality in the conceptual net of his system" (Watts). Nor was he the last. Freud comes to mind. He was especially clever about it, because any criticism of his theory served as proof of the theory -- for example, that you are just acting out a father complex toward the Master.

The left has its own diabolical version of this trick, such that criticism of it is evidence of White Privilege, or the patriarchy, or heteronormativity, or homophobia, whatever. Indeed, this is one of the appeals of the left: a few simple tricks allows one to feel superior -- morally and intellectually -- to one's betters. Any idiot from an elite university with an IQ of 85 can shut down Charles Murray by calling him a racist. QED.

There is no soul so cosmically great that a leftist can't take him down with a single blow. You know the drill: George Washington? Slaveowner. Churchill? Imperialist.

Now, as we know, what makes God omniscient is that in him existence and essence are one; or in other words, his essence is to exist: he alone is necessary being, while the restavus are contingent. Contingency cannot be necessity, but it can know of it (at least humans can). And thanks to revelation, we can know about it as well.

But again, Hegel imagined he knew both of and about the absolute, without any upside assistance, which is surely the last word in pseudo-omniscience. I take that back. One only wishes it were the last word. In a way, it is the first word -- those first human words in Genesis 3, where man presumes to become as God.

Interesting that the first things man says and does involve a rejection of transcendent truth. Which is close to the classic definition of fascism: the violent rejection of transcendence. I suppose we have to wait for Cain to achieve that in the second generation. He is our first homegrown terrorist.

"Hegel did not believe that self-realization and ultimate truth was dependent upon the 'outside assistance' of divine grace." As he put it, "God is only God in so far as he knows himself and he can only know himself through man."

Now, that's a bold statement. In reality it's the converse: Man is only Man in so far as he knows himself and he can only know himself through God. This is self-evident: man and God are complementary; to say one is to affirm the other, at least from our perspective. And when God says Christ, he is affirming his idea of Man, just as when we do, we are affirming our idea of God. Christ is God's icon of man and our icon of God.

It's not that God can only know himself through man, but that he can know himself through man. Not in Hegel's way, but Jesus's way. Or so we have heard from the wise.

Nevertheless, Hegel tries to think his way into God, positing him as pure being. In his personal myth of cosmogenesis, he imagines that God tried to think of himself but failed. Why? Because "it is impossible to think of pure Being." Therefore God "thought nothing, which is the opposite of Being." For Hegel, this goes to the symbolism of the fall.

Eh, I don't buy it. Here is my alternate cosmic fairy tale; naturally it is all "in a manner of speaking," just my own little dream of the Dreamer. But in my dream, the Father-beyond-being "tries" to think of himself and begets the Son, and they in turn beget the Spirit. Ironically, ultimate reality is a kind of eternal trialectic, just not Hegel's kind, whereby God "evolves" in time. For him, the above-noted dialectic between Being and Nothing engenders the Becoming of God-in-history.

You might say that the thesis of Father-Being marries the antithesis of Mother-Nothing, which gives birth to the synthetic Son of Historical Becoming. This latter would be the whole creation, including us. Reality is simply the repetition of this pattern of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

The good news: eventually "society will reach its final, perfect stage of development, 'reflective unity.'"

The bad news: "For Hegel, this will be manifested by the State, in which individual human will coincides perfectly with the will of the Nation -- personal desires and feelings of personal significance and fulfillment will be rooted in, and perfectly compatible with, one's social existence and duty to the nation." Submission to the State "is to lose one's bourgeois freedom, but to gain a higher freedom."

America's founders, who had the misfortune of being born before Hegel, set in stone the bourgeois freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. But for the past hundred years or so, progressives have been trying to get around this and give us the Higher Freedom of Hegelian statism.

Woodrow Wilson, our first progressive leftist president, studied Hegelianism in Germany. Let's use the google machine to tie this all up into a neat synthesis. This ought to be just the ticket: a review of Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism by the PowerLine boys.

Question: "How did the metaphysical speculation of a 19th century German historicist, whose teachings were congenial to Marxists but are anathema to modern analytic and positivist philosophers -- as well as proponents of the Constitution as originally understood -- come to influence our constitutional law?"

"The answer lies in the concept of the 'living constitution' -- and in the influence of Woodrow Wilson." Ironic, isn't it, that the so-called "living constitution" was conceived in order to murder the real one.

It's very much as if left and right posit competing Absolutes: ether our inalienable rights or Hegel's Absolute Idea, and this cosmos isn't big enough for both:

Hegelians believe that, until we reach the end of History, "enduring" rights exist only to be negated by future generations. Thus, Wilson wrote, "Justly revered as our great constitution is, it could be stripped off and thrown aside like a garment, and the nation would still stand forth in the living vestment of flesh and sinew, warm with the heart-blood of one people, ready to recreate constitutions and laws."

The left has been throwing it aside ever since. Wilson "derided what he referred to as the 'Newtonian' underpinning of the Constitution.... Disputing the applicability of fixed laws (other than his own) to History, Wilson wound up opposing the concepts of limited government, separation of powers, and checks and balances."

Soon enough this leads to a government of, by, and for the Worstuvus. So it's a dialectal progression. Straight down.


julie said...

Frankly, nothing is that stupid, let alone everything. Even rocks have intelligibility built into them.

Tying in with yesterday's discussion, all things have an order which dictates how they interact with each other. For instance, things that are less dense settle below things that are more dense, and thus it seems they self-organize. But of course, they do so not because they intend to do so, nor because they personally wish to convey a message, but simply because that is how matter behaves - reliably and knowably. And this very reliable knowability is itself a message from the Word - I Am.

Tusar Nath Mohapatra said...

[This unique volume brings together Hegel's reflections and argues that Indian thought haunted him, representing a nemesis to his own philosophy. Further, it indicates that the longstanding critical appraisals of Hegel are incommensurate with his detailed explorations of Indian thought.
Shedding new light on Indological and Hegelian studies, this book systematically presents all of Hegel's writings on and about India for the first time, including translations of his lesser-known essays on the Bhagavad-Gita and the Oriental Spirit, along with a substantive reinterpretation and a bibliography.]



Gagdad Bob said...

I guess he was inadequate in two philosophical traditions.

Mrs. Crabapple said...


ted said...

As a counterpoint to Hegel's grand narrative, I just came across this quote by Bishop Barron:

Don't worry about doing great things in the eyes of the world, rather do the simplest things with great love!