Friday, September 15, 2017

On the Rights of Man and Obligations of God

No doubt an ill-sounding formulation and not to everyone's taste, but it is meant somewhat ironically, and is more or less half-true besides.

This zinger by Thomas is a good one, because it shows the insufficiency of a sola scriptura approach, and the necessity of an integrated vertical-horizontal metaphysic:

It is quite clearly a false opinion to say that, with regard to the truth of faith, [that] it is completely indifferent what one thinks about created things, provided one has the right opinion about God; [for] an error about creatures reacts in a false knowledge of God.

We know that a false belief about God results in false knowledge about the world -- which amounts to saying that an inaccurate conception of the Absolute redounds to a skewed perspective on the relative.

Indeed, I don't even think we can speak of the One without giving the Many its due. This is my own personal belief, and therefore not an ex cathedra teaching from the Seat of Toots -- but I don't believe there can be a One without a Many, which simply means that God cannot help himself from creating. It's what he does; or rather, is: man can be creative because God is creativity.

A God without creation would be like the Father without the Son, i.e., unthinkable. God is omnipotent, but within the constraints, so to speak, of his own nature -- a nature that is being, love, truth, beauty, freedom, unity, and creativity. IMO.

Now, when we say "give the Many its due," it is obviously possible to go too far in this direction, which amounts to divinizing the world, AKA pantheism. Materialism is just covert pantheism, again, because it gives totally unwarranted godlike powers to matter. A little sense of proportion, please.

But also, a belief in God without reference to the world ironically results in an over-materialized view of God. Think, for example, of Islam, which is all-God and no-world: everything is a direct result of God, with no mediation or secondary causes at all. Ironically, this redounds even to a materialistic conception of the afterlife.

It is interesting that Churchill noticed this way back in 1898 or so, but only based upon his direct experiences with Islam and its faithful, before political correctness came along to block and deny what is present before our eyes: "A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity" (emphasis mine).

Among the "dreadful curses" which "Mohammedanism lays on its votaries" is a "fearful fatalistic apathy" that is only the logical corollary of predestination. "Insecurity of property exist[s] wherever the followers of the prophet rule or live," no doubt because everything belongs to God, nothing to man.

Except when it does: "every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property," and "the final extinction of slavery" must await the day that "the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men."

Why the slavery and misogyny? Because once you have determined that God is everything and man nothing, then it scarcely matters how you treat a person. Perhaps this will one day change, but not until such a time as they develop a correct conception of the limits of God (in the sense that he is constrained by his nature, as above) and the rights of man, i.e., the proper place of the Many in the overall scheme of things. (Note also that prior to man's rights are his duties, including especially those toward his Creator!)

The world is not nothing. It is not just maya (illusion), nor is it just God's footstool. To treat it that way is actually to mistreat God.

By the way, must Islam be the way it is understood and practiced in the Muslim world? No! Lest anyone accuse me of Muslim bashing, first of all, I'm only trying to help. Second, the mere existence of Schuon proves the point. Everything I have said above (before the Churchill material) is straight out of his playbook. Let me see if I can quickly back that up...

This is from the first book I grabbed, Logic and Transcendence. On the one hand, "Relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself." As with any form of existentialism it "postulates a definition of the world that is impossible if existentialism itself is possible."

Thus, a sole focus on the Many without reference to the One is a total non-starter. Tweaking what Schuon says above, it is literally the case that if atheism is possible, then it is impossible. QED.

What about the opposite error, of denigrating the legitimate rights, so to speak, of the creation?

"Man is what he is, or else he is nothing." And if God is what certain people believe he is, then Man is nothing on stilts. In reality our "capacity for objectivity and absoluteness of thought" prove that we have one foot in the divine reality; or that we are "in" freedom while being oriented toward the truth that surpasses us.

You might say that we have the right to freedom, but only on account of our obligation to truth. This is the very structure of the zigzag -- for all lines are straight in a deterministic cosmos -- journey we call Life. Freedom is nothing without truth, just as truth is unattainable without freedom. And God would not -- could not? -- give one without the other.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Satan is Always Working on a Better Louse Trap

Let's return to the Human Wisdom of St. Thomas. A couple posts back we pointed out that there can be no such thing as pathology in the absence of a proper order or function. Physiological pathology is generally easy to recognize, since various organs have distinct purposes. When one fails to achieve its purpose, then you're sick.

But what about the mind? What is its purpose? If we adopt a Darwinian approach and treat it like any other organ, then its purpose is to survive. But does anyone short of a psychopath actually regard his mind in this manner, as a survival machine?

For Thomas, a being "is perfect in the measure in which it reaches up to its origin." Ah, but where is the origin? For the Darwinian -- or any other materialist -- it is necessarily below. But where's the perfection in that? In fact, that is the elimination of progress altogether.

It reminds me of the Freudian idea that the purpose of an instinct is to discharge tension. The infant, for example, doesn't love his mother; rather, he only cares about the elimination of tension caused by being hungry or cold or frightened or whatever. In this view, the human links between mother and infant are eliminated, and the person is reduced to a hedonistic atom instead of a trinitarian community of love.

But the origin is not, and cannot be, below. Rather, it is above. Note that both perspectives are vertical in nature. It's just that the false view turns on itself and eliminates verticality. It is literally a case of using transcendence to deny transcendence, which is obviously a contradiction, a form of the old all-Cretans-are-liars gag, i.e., "all verticality is horizontal."

For Thomas, "The highest perfection of human life consists in the mind of man being open to God." Is this not axiomatic? Obviously the mind is situated in a vertical space, or between O and Ø. Equally evident is the fact that we can move closer to or more distant from O.

Thus, in the ultimate sense, the object of life is conformity to O. The only alternative is conformity to Ø, which is a kind of cosmic suicide. Not only does it deny the purpose of life, it denies -- again, necessarily -- purposes altogether.

In reality, "Every rational being knows God implicitly in every act of knowledge." Boom. In the absence of God, neither reason nor knowledge would be conceivable, let alone achievable.

Some atheists are honest about this, but not many. In truth, it's God or anarchy. The an-arche is literal, in that there is no order: no beginning, no origin, no source, no ground, no basis for action, no first principles of knowledge -- and each of these is a reflection of the same First Principle.

Instead of regarding the cosmos as a tree with its roots aloft and branches down below, the materialist drives his roots deep into matter. Which of course turns him into the sap.

"Nothing is knowable except through its likeness to the first truth." No doubt true, but what is the first truth that all truths resemble?

Hmm. I would have to say Trinity, which is the last and therefore first truth. I may be wrong about this, but it is as if the structure of Trinity is Subject, Object, and Intelligibility. It is a dynamic spiral in with the Incarnation allows us to participate. The Son is the real-ization of Being, and Being radiates (or glori-fies) the implicit Intelligibility of the Father.

"The natural desire for knowledge cannot be satisfied in us until we know the first cause." Really, this goes triple for any scientific discipline. It's just that each discipline (except theology and philosophy) arbitrarily stops short of the first cause.

YOU MUST HAVE A FIRST CAUSE, whether or not you call it God. But if it is not God, then you are elevating something less than God to godhood. An atheist is just someone who confers godlike qualities on matter.

"God, however, is the first cause. Hence the last end of the creature endowed with a spiritual intellect is to see God in his essence." Alpha and Omega. You can't have one without the other. The only alternative is a static and closed circle, or an absurcular tautology. If you find yourself in one, you need to get out more often. Windows and doors are everywhere, but no one can force you to take the look or leap of faith.

Returning to the vertical space between O and Ø, we have termed the former the Great Attractor. We could never even know about it unless we were lured in its direction. Conversely, we are not lured by Ø. Rather, the operative word there would be "seduced" or "hypnotized" or "ensnared."

"Liberation" -- the truth that sets one free -- involves freeing oneself from these lower vertical snares. You are not so much in need of information as dehypnosis. In the hypnotic state you can't understand the information anyway.

Lately I've been catching rats in the backyard. It's amazing how effective peanut butter is in luring them to the rattrap. The other morning I went to check out the trap, and the peanut butter was missing, even though the trap had sprung. Lucky rat! Or clever.

This strikes me as a useful analogy to the lures that surround us. The clever ones are able to snatch the peanut butter, and yet, keep on thinking. They are like zombies who are psychically dead but alive, AKA the tenured, the fake news media, and the plague spreading Democ-rats more generally...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Leftism: Come for the Messianic Fantasies, Stay for the Sadism

Regarding spiritual sickness, we agree with the Aphorist that Conservatism should not be a party but the normal attitude of every decent man.

You can take this quite literally, in that the first function of a society is to perpetuate itself. When Obama promised to "fundamentally change" the nation, he was not only serious, but giving voice to an ideology that perceives a vast system of oppression that must be dismantled from top to bottom.

Speaking of demons in democracy, Legutko reminds us that communists and socialists "sternly and ruthlessly criticized -- just as liberals did -- existing communities with long traditions, and after seizing power, ruthlessly destroyed them."

Leftists everywhere and everywhen are especially contemptuous of what is known as "flyover country," being that more rural areas are "seen as the mainstay of tradition" and "strongholds of conservatism and bigotry"-- bitter clingers, deplorables, white supremacist Trump voters, etc.

Exaggeration? I won't bother tracking down the links, but consider liberal luminaries such as Bill Maher and that actress person who regard the hurricanes in Florida and Texas as just deserts for their ideological deviance. Gaia is a jealous god!

The process described by Legutko is similar to how Democrats use blacks as vote farms while pretending to help them. Just so, communist regimes "systematically did their best to wipe out rural culture while at the same time" appearing to defend them "as victims of exploitation." Even on the face of it, how can a Democrat party that wants to import millions of unskilled laborers to suppress wages, be a friend of the working man?

But the ideologue doesn't deal with the real world, let alone real human beings. Rather, he sees only his projected ideology. There is a word for this: insanity. Except this is a kind of ready-made, off-the-shelf insanity, as opposed to the custom made kind. Give the latter credit: they may be crazy, but at least they think for themselves.

This point is worth belaboring: just as traditional religion provides a way for the average person to be wise, ideology provides a way for even the most intelligent person to render himself an idiot. Let's stipulate that Noam Chomsky has a higher IQ than, say, Margaret Thatcher. Who is the wise one, who the malevolent idiot?

For communists, "the 'proletariat' was an abstract term to which no real community corresponded; it was nothing but a requirement of political strategy" -- like an empty placeholder. Likewise, there are no flesh-and-blood little people who correspond to the left's blather about the Little Guy. To the extent that they exist, they are only there to fulfill a role in the left's existential passion play.

The same can be said of "women," which is just "an abstract concept that does not denote any actual existing community, but only an imagined collective made an object of political worship among feminist organizations and their allies." Actual women aren't even women if they deviate from the abstract ideological ideal. The same can be said of blacks, Latinos, homosexuals, etc. You will have noticed that what the left calls "multiculturalism" is the last word in homogenization -- of herding everyone into the same ideology:

Never before in human history did we see a similar phenomenon when millions of people, indistinguishable from each other, using the same patterns of thinking, politically homogeneous and oblivious to any other way of viewing the political world except according to the orthodox liberal-democratic version, are not only convinced of their own individual and group differences and proclaim the unchallenged superiority of pluralism, but also want to enforce the same simplistic and tediously predictable orthodoxy on the entire world as the ultimate embodiment of the idea of multiplicity.

Something in there sounds familiar... ultimate embodiment. Yes, just as the Incarnation is Word made flesh, the left has its own inverted version of this, in that they want their insane ideological word to be embodied in everyone, without exception. What else to make of UC Berkeley, which absolutely cannot tolerate a Ben Shapiro in its midst?

When we speak of the "body of Christ," we are adverting to a capacity for embodiment that must exist prior to this or that particular case. To make an obvious point, it is possible for the same body to embody something other than Christ; think, for example of cults, which collectively embody lies of various kinds.

Antifa is the embodiment of a (sick) word, just as was Nazism. Therefore, to say that Christianity is the ongoing embodiment of the Word is not in any way some one-of-a-kind miracle. Humans are always embodying abstract ideals. Occasionally these ideals are even true, but not often. Which is precisely why man is in need of revelation. Left to his own devices, he is clearly vulnerable to the embodiment of anti-Words of varying degrees of malignancy.

In a certain way, history is a catalogue of anti-Words made flesh. Clearly, our founders recognized this -- for example, with Madison's crack about government being "the greatest of all reflections on human nature."

This recognition of the priority of the word does not go unnoticed by the left. Indeed, it is why, in the words of the Aphorist, Rather than an ideological strategy, the Left is a lexicographic tactic. In short, their motto might well be: "in order to embody the word, we had to destroy the word."

Words like marriage, truth, normality, freedom, man, woman, constitution, first amendment, etc.

"An intellectual's sharp eye and perceptiveness will always recognize what is politically dangerous: a sentence, a metaphor, a proverb, an incorrect text on the bulletin board, a work of fiction.... there is no shortage of people who ecstatically become involved in tracking disloyalty and fostering a new orthodoxy" (Legutko).

Think of nosy Lena Dunhams everywhere, monitoring ideological conformity, "a moralist, a commissar, and an informer rolled into one." These conforming nobodies help embody the left. They "develop a sense of power otherwise unavailable," and cannot "resist the temptation to indulge in a low desire to harm others with impunity." All with the best of intentions!

There is a Simpson's episode in which Homer dreams of a job that combines his desire to help people with his desire to hurt them.

What is leftism but a way to reconcile an unhinged passion to redeem mankind with a sadistic desire to harm human beings, the former providing ideological rationalization for the latter?

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