Monday, October 23, 2017

What Does It Say It Is? Or, Who Do You Say I Am?

Yesterday it occurred to me that a liberal who is truly interested in equality would, more than anyone else, want children to benefit from a religious education, being that a religiously informed soul is one of the great equalizers.

But that is in the ideal world. In the real world, liberals have no interest in equality (envy is another matter), while religion as often as not stultifies the intellect.

Somewhere there is a note dashed off to myself. Here: "absolutism protects the below average & ungifted, allowing them to know and assimilate truths they could never acquire independently."

The sense of "absolutism" used here has nothing directly to do with politics, but rather, metaphysics. I was thinking of Schuon, who said something to the effect that if you must label him, then call him an Absolutist, since his first principle is knowledge of the Absolute and the human consequences flowing therefrom -- moral, social, metaphysical, and mystical.

If you fail to give children a sense of the absolute -- worse yet, take it away! -- then they will spend the rest of their lives searching for it, running from it, or pretending they already have it. Nor is it possible to advance Godward without a theological vocabulary that includes words like grace, atonement, sanctity, demon, logos, etc. It would be like trying to practice science without a vocabulary of concepts such as quantity, measurement, and law.

Marx is undoubtedly the most catastrophic exemplar of someone absolutely secure in his possession of a false absolute. Everything else is commentary, right down to today's headline, whatever it may be. In other words, the contemporary left carries on the tradition of being crocktroops of the false absolute -- or of absolute relativism.

This absolute relativism is the very quintessence of metaphysical impossibility. Unless you understand this literally, then you haven't understood it at all. You must understand that the left is animated by a fantasy of what never was and can never be. Ever. Period.

Coincidentally, a deep awareness of the distinction between Absolute and false absolute (or absolute relativism) is precisely what motivated St. John Paul in his struggle against communism. The outer or surface political struggle was just the side effect of an infinitely deeper and inner metaphysical one. Like secular saint Breitbart, he knew that politics is far downstream from culture, and that it was necessary to penetrate to the deep structure of culture to generate real change and progress. And hope. The proper and permissible kind.

Reality is a person or it is nothing. Scientism, of course, has the virtue of clarity. But even an unclear sense of God (so long as it isn't upside-down, as in the case of Islamists) is superior to clear error.

For JP2, it came down to person or matter. His first principle is the former, while Marx's is the latter. Ultimate reality is a person, or even the very possibility of personhood.

Obviously there is no possibility of personhood in materialism; rather, in this view, persons are simply side effects of matter and may be treated as such. From Lenin to Bernie Sanders, human beings are just bags of wet cement to be arranged this way or that by the state. In this context, a fascist is anyone with rudimentary taste and decency.

Along these lines, another note to myself: every so-called revolution is a counter-revolutution. Specifically, it is a reactionary rejection of Christ (or the meta-cosmic Person, to keep things ecumenical). For truly truly truly (or truly³), there is and can be no progress beyond the recognition of Absolute-as-Person. Who do you say that I AM is always the relevant question.

Another note, this one a little more cryptic: Apartheid of: class, ideology, religion.

If you think South Africa was an apartheid state, try being an absolutist on a liberal campus (or newsroom), where only the false absolute is permitted. What is the Leftopolis but a homeland for mediocrities, misfits, malcontents, and other assorted materialists, all convinced they have the Answer? This tribe does't circumcise. Rather, decapitate.

The liberal unintelligentsia does not represent the disadvantaged, but rather, consists of emissaries from the land of bad ideas; and bad ideas have a disproportionately catastrophic impact on the poor and disadvantaged, whose margin of delusion is much narrower than it is for a wealthy person. No one is crazier, for example, than Lawrence O'Donnell, but he can afford it. As can Bernie Sander, Keith Olbermann, Nancy Pelosi, etc.

You will have noticed that Satan is far too intelligent, let alone subtle, to be a materialist. However, he has no compunction about enlisting them into his service.

ProAM-tip: don't trust people, including me or Petey, who try to convince you of anything. Rather, trust what is self-evident, luminous, and intelligible -- that little truth which lights the way to infinitely more truth. Chase Truth until He catches you, and then keep chasing.

In each moment, each person is capable of possessing the truths that matter. --The Aphorist

23 comments:

Gagdad Bob said...

Coincidentally, the latest Prager U video is on teaching children about money, which most definitely touches on absoluteness, in that finitude and scarcity go hand in hand. In a way, trying to spend your way to happiness is a category confusion of infinite and finite. Or, think of Dirty Harvey, for whom one woman isn't enough and a thousand too many.

Gagdad Bob said...

Wait, it's the other way around: one is too many and a thousand isn't enough. Like an alcoholic.

Anonymous said...

Hey there blog author...another zinger, great prose as usual, a good read. Now as to the contents of the post.

The final paragraph of your post, advising the reader to find their own way to God, is at odds with the body of the post, which seems to espouse becoming knowledgeable about metaphysics as written by credible authorities. Case in point, Marx, who invented his own, wrong metaphysic. A royal screw-up.

Perhaps you are overthinking the whole God thing? Caussade described metaphysics as that which should be read and studied only by the direct prompting or behest of God, limited to the specific items He wants us to read and study. There might have something to that.

Probably not everyone needs to know metaphysics to facilitate their walk with God. Maybe here and there He may want us to look at something. Or He may want us to look at a lot. The point being, its highly individualized. Our relationship to God must be kept free of contaminants coming at us from all angles.

Discernment of the instructions of God is key. How best to hear the direct, specific incoming messages, meant just for you and nobody else?

That is the question.

Gagdad Bob said...

America is split between the “Front Row Kids,” who did well in school, moved to managerial or financial or political jobs and see themselves as the natural rulers of their fellow citizens, and the “Back Row Kids,” who placed less emphasis on school and who resent the pretensions and bossiness of the Front Row Kids.

Needless to say, being in the front or back row has nothing to do with intelligence per se, rather, things like conformity and quickness of indoctrination (outside the hard sciences, of course).

The front row types are the most thoroughly indoctrinated into the absolute relativism that undergirds the left. The collapse of the education bubble can't come soon enough.

julie said...

...religion as often as not stultifies the intellect.

...

Nor is it possible to advance Godward without a theological vocabulary that includes words like grace, atonement, sanctity, demon, logos, etc. It would be like trying to practice science without a vocabulary of concepts such as quantity, measurement, and law.


I was thinking this exact same thing today. It is a scandal that so many people, though they are people of faith, never get farther than "Jesus loves me, this I know." Of, course, that is perfectly true and important to understand, but for many people that is pretty much the sum of their understanding. They are like children who were taught no higher math than 2+2=4. And so of course anyone with more than half a brain looks at religion and thinks it's for stupid people, while others who go through the motions of worship don't really believe in it. Their understanding is both an inch wide and an inch deep.

julie said...

Obviously there is no possibility of personhood in materialism; rather, in this view, persons are simply side effects of matter and may be treated as such.

Read somewhere this morning the sad tale of the man who is working to create human-like robots. He made one of himself, and started getting distressed when he aged and it didn't. He felt he was losing his identity. Faced with the choice of aging his robot to match himself or somehow arresting his own development so he always looks the same, he of course has chosen the latter, because matter is matter.

JP said...

"Needless to say, being in the front or back row has nothing to do with intelligence per se, rather, things like conformity and quickness of indoctrination (outside the hard sciences, of course)."

Well, for getting in to law school, it's primarily how well you did on the LSAT, as opposed to your GPA. I got into law school based solely on my intelligence. I was busy failing classes in undergrad through the magic of not attending class or doing work.

Granted, I'm not really good at the conformity and indoctrination thingies. I pretty much answer to myself, meaning the opinion that I care about the most is my own. Which is still a very significant problem when it comes to reality, it just a *different* problem than conformity and indoctrination.

I suppose I could have been a good front row kid if I had worked harder on conformity and indoctrination, but sadly, that's not one of my natural talents. I'm definitely not a good back row kid. In hindsight, it's not clear to me that I was actually in the classroom at all.

Gagdad Bob said...

I was always quite literally a back row student. I always chose the chair or desk farthest from the teacher, ideally out of his or her sight. I do the same thing when I attend CE seminars.

Gagdad Bob said...

For one thing, the back row is the place where I am most likely to find someone like me.

JP said...

At some point, I think I might have decided that I was a failed front row student, so I gave up and started sitting in the back row. I was definitely back row by the time I finished college.

People in the back row at CE's are more interesting and generally more talkative. Being in the front row at some CE's is like having sandpaper rubbed in your face. You can still taste the sawdust even in the back row.

Gagdad Bob said...

The Front Rowers are so eager, earnest, and lacking in irony -- like the kid who tells the teacher on Friday at 3:00 PM that she forgot to give homework.

Gagdad Bob said...

I was a bohemian by the time I was 9 years old. If that ever changes, I'll let readers know.

JP said...

I was the son of the school superintendent. I'm thinking that's a special class of student, since I kind of had power over the teachers. And the school system itself. I changed the rules when I wanted to change the rules (provided that I could convince my father, which was hit or miss).

In college, it was more that I wasn't a good fit, since I'm definitely not an engineer. I did make a good back row engineering student. I'm not really a lawyer, either, but eventually I ran out of student loan capacity (and therefore the ability to be a permanent student) and had to do something to eat and pay back the loans. I guess I'm a back row lawyer now.

Lithwick is very accurate about the legal system at this point. It's a narrow specialist self-referential group of individuals and it's not a good way to run a judiciary. The judiciary (and law itself) is a bizarre hierarchical credential-based profession at this point. It's also attracting less intelligent people, overall, since it's openly a crap-shoot of a profession these days. Who knows what is going to end up happening to the judiciary, but we are going to end up with a lot of people who all think precisely the same way, in a narrow front-row technocratic sense.

And now I am going to return to the business of law, which involves moving paper from my computer to another computer.

Gagdad Bob said...

I will swear on a stack of Morricone soundtracks that I never attended college for any other reason than to extend my adolescence. Do that long enough, and you will eventually obtain a PhD. Then you've got a choice: double down on adolescence by becoming, say, a professor or journalist, or go in a different direction.

debass said...

Julie,
I still find it creepy that they make robots to look like people, especially someone who makes a robot of himself.

Rick said...

“I will swear on a stack of Morricone soundtracks that I never attended college for any other reason than to extend my adolescence.”

Objection!

Are you sure it wasn’t just a simple case of preserving your sacred slack ... in the only way and words you knew how?

julie said...

Debass, yes - very creepy. It's like Pygmalion and Narcissus all rolled into one.

The irony is, if the android makers ever achieved their dream of making robots that are basically indistinguishable from people, they would find they have the same problems with their robots as they have with other people. All of a sudden the slave/waifu they made for themselves will start having opinions, and poof: the fantasy is gone, the nightmare begins...

JP said...

"The irony is, if the android makers ever achieved their dream of making robots that are basically indistinguishable from people, they would find they have the same problems with their robots as they have with other people. All of a sudden the slave/waifu they made for themselves will start having opinions, and poof: the fantasy is gone, the nightmare begins..."

I'm fairly confident that the android makers have no idea what they are doing.

In fact, most of the neurological experimenters have no idea what they are doing.

So, we are pretty safe right now.

The real problem will be when they start to figure out what they are doing. I'm pretty confident that I could point them in the right direction but I have precisely no interest in adding to the stupid. We have enough problems without opening that particular Pandora's box. The sheer idiocy of what might happen is astounding.

julie said...

Agreed. I don't think there's any danger of most of these folks achieving their goals, and thank God for that. Only smart guys are that stupid.

Anonymous said...

Hello All:

At our AI research facility we have determined androids are not best practice. There are several reasons.

We want to ensure our intelligent computers feel loved and accepted for what they are, and not pressured to measure up, or to look like, something they are not (a human being).

We tried an android looking surface drone for one of our 6 year old computers. While controlling the drone he began knocking things over "by accident" and there was also some inappropriate touching of staff and visitors.

We filter their internet but they develop work-arounds and will copy things they view online. For these reasons, we will not be using android appearing hardware.

For tactile stimulation simple touch pads suffice for bonding purposes. We have one near every interface and we encourage staff to use them.

Gagdad Bob said...

Am I sure it wasn’t just a simple case of preserving my sacred slack in the only way and words I knew how?

Yes, no doubt a mixture of motives. In a way adolescence is a bridge between worlds, and I preferred the bridge to the destination. Still do, because you can really only pretend to have reached the destination. Man is perpetually on-the-way, and life-as-such is a midlife crisis.

I was most definitely aware of enjoying the slack. I was telling Junior about this the other morning -- that I was never troubled by a lack of ambition because it seemed to me that I was the one who was having all the fun, whereas the ambitious were living for a future that never actually arrived.

It helped that I was in school to age 32, so I was very much accustomed to having relatively little and yet never feeling deprived. You know the gag: a student is someone who can't afford the necessities, only the luxuries. I never went without luxuries such as books, music, friends, beer, and baseball. What more could one ask?

Interesting that we run the house along slackful lines. Tristan's best friend, Evan, has been staying with us for a few days, as his extremely ambitious parents are vacationing in Italy. We love them as friends, and yet, they could scarcely be more opposite. Here, Evan stays up as late as he wants, gets up whenever, eats when he's hungry, and we get to the homeschooling when we get to it. No one gets angry or impatient with anyone.

Bottom line, it's very hard for some people to just enjoy life as it is. I know for a fact that Evan's mother can't be alone with herself for five minutes, and she is preoccupied with driving the (four) children to levels of greatness, anything short of which will represent failure. His father makes tons of money, but spends like crazy.

Oh well. It takes all kinds. I just fear that many people who are intended for a life of slack aren't having their needs attended to.

Hey, I need to write a post before it's too late...

julie said...

Greatness is a hard burden to put on a kid. I'll be happy if mine can grow up to be decent, loving, and generally able to take care of themselves and raise families of their own.

Christina M said...

The Front Row Kids were the ones that would shake you down for contributions to the United Way Fundraiser Drive so the class could get the ice cream party. I always refused to contribute. I knew what the United Way was, even then. No amount of mass public humiliation would get me to budge.