Thursday, November 30, 2017

Diabolical Freedom and the Fall into Ismism

Before we begin, a benediction ("good words") from the Aphorist:

The free act is only conceivable in a created universe. In the universe that results from a free act.

Feel free to take that literally. Feel enslaved not to.

We are discussing the book Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty. That is a loaded title, since it contains a number of words that need to be defined before any meaningful analysis can take place: freedom, reality, diabolical, modern, and liberty.

Let's begin with the first: what is it? Can we even know what freedom is? Or is it just a placeholder for an unknowable reality -- a container with no content, like "death." We throw that word around too, but no one can conceive of his own death, at least while alive. In other words, if you're conceiving it, you're not dead.

Perhaps the most misleading way to conceptualize freedom is to separate it from other primordial realities. Indeed, I think Schindler would agree that this is the first act of diabolical freedom: in scholastic terms, to divide act from potency, and to then elevate the latter to priority. Doing so separates freedom from its telos, which leaves us in a nihilistic flatland, devoid of hierarchy and purpose.

Wha? Can you explain that in plain English?

Edward Feser -- I think -- says what amounts to the same thing, that "abandonment of final causes" is "the original sin of modern philosophy," to such an extent that "the whole history of modern thought" can be seen "as an overlooking of the distinction between potency and act.”

That reminds me of Whitehead's gag that the history of Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. At least up to Aquinas. After that, it's a series of footnotes to... I don't know, William of Ockham? He is the father of nominalism, and therefore the inventor of stupid.

I guess it would help to be a philosopher, which we are not. But we do remember reading Ideas have Consequences, the most adversely consequential idea of all being the abandonment of universals, and the fall into modern misosophy in all its diabolical and even tenured forms.

But not only am I not a philosopher, neither am I a historian of ideas. Therefore, I don't attempt to locate the Error at some specific point in history. Rather, the Error is somehow built into man, which is the whole point of Genesis 3: our diabolical turn is an ontological possibility, for every man at every time.

This turn can be considered from various angles, for example, the existentialist error of elevating existence over essence, which, for my money, is the same as giving priority to potency over act. It ultimately means that we have no essence; we are not created -- or worse, we create ourselves. We are "nothing" until we make the choice. You may pretend that makes you something, but you are still nothing, only a delusional nothing.

Clearly, this is the basis of the gender insanity, in which one's gender isn't given by reality, but rather, is chosen from a menu of, what, 52 flavors? The list is literally endless, because it involves the turn to a Bad Infinite. The real Infinite is of course located above, AKA God. Pursuing the infinite in the other direction only results in more fragmentation, or mindless Diversity for its own sake. This is yet one more instance of how the left is literally diabolical.

Now, the diabolical involves a primordial rejection of the Real. Okay. What is the Real? That sounds like a difficult question, but I don't think it is, because it really involves nothing more than a deep meditation on what you always already are, what you always already are doing, what you always already know (in any act of knowing), and cannot help being, doing, and knowing.

To back up a bit, when I wrote the bʘʘk, it was really a form of autobobography. I mean that literally, because the implicit question motivating the whole existentialida was How did I get here? Or, more to the point, How is Bob even possible? Or again, What must the cosmos be like in order for such a thing as Bob to exist?

These might seem like stupid or frivolous questions, but not to me. Don't we all want to know the answers to these? Indeed, everyone has some sort of answers, only bad, silly, or inadequate ones. Scientism, for example, combines all three, but it is hardly alone. Indeed, any "ism" you care to name is going to be wrong. I lump them all under the rubric "ismism," and just move on. You could say that ismism encompasses all of the diabolical alternatives to reality.

For Schindler, "Modern liberty is, in sum, a deceptive and ultimately self-destroying illusion, which cuts one off from, and indeed sets one in opposition to, God, the world, other people, the community as a whole... and even oneself, so that one's inner being, in its congenital blindness to the inner reality of everything else without exception, is smothered by endless layers of dissemblance."

Again, quite literally. Lately I've been thinking about the distinction between information and noise in scripture. Some people think there is no noise, but that is impossible, so long as humans are human and God is God. But when Jesus says that

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

You can sheer any mythological noise from that, and see it as a quite literal metaphysical description of diabolical liberty. Indeed, just prior to it, Jesus makes the famous crack that "the truth shall make you free," which is so familiar that people may not realize the metaphysical significance. It really goes to the subject of this post, which is that to imagine that liberty can exist without truth is to fall into diabolical freedom, which is another word for slavery.

Freedom from reality is not freedom, but bondage. So, feel free to take the Aphorist quite literally when he says:

The freedom to which modern man aspires is not that of the free man, but that of the slave on a holiday.


julie said...

We are "nothing" until we make the choice. You may pretend that makes you something, but you are still nothing, only a delusional nothing.

It wouldn't be so bad, if only the delusional nothings wouldn't demand that the rest of the world pretend that they are sane. Not only sane, but somehow more qualified to teach and dictate about reality than people who have at least a passing acquaintance with it.

On those lines, Insane professor points and shrieks because a teaching assistant used a Jordan Peterson discussion as a counterpoint during class time.

Anonymous said...

Interview Room

Sergeant: (Drops a brick-sized bundle on a table) "Tenure. 99.5% pure. Psychology. Where'd you get this?

Professor: "I've never seen that before."

Sergeant: "It was found in your briefcase."

Professor: "It's not mine."

Sergeant: "You're lying. Lock him up." (Officers remove the professor from the room).

Sergeant: (Secures the door. Opens bundle with a pocket-knife, removes some powder, chops it into two lines, and snorts them noisily off the table) "Damn that is good sh-t." (Leans back in chair with a big smile).