Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Or sabbatical, and I sure as sh*t don't scrawl on my sabbath. Besides, lately I've felt compelled to reread a lot of old foundational Coon Classics, so I'd be rebleating mysoph anyway. FYI, these books have included, for example,

--Josef Pieper: An Anthology

--Explorations in Metaphysics: Being-God-Person

--The Philosophical Approach to God

--The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics


--Summa Philosophica

--Philosophers Speak of God

--The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God

--A Christian Pilgrim in India: The Spiritual Journey of Swami Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux)

--A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

--Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism

--Introduction to Christianity

--Advice to the Serious Seeker: Meditations on the Teaching of Frithjof Schuon

--God's Gamble: The Gravitational Power of Crucified Love

--Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty

--The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing

And of course The Book of the SubGenius: The Sacred Teachings of J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs

Among others, not to mention various works of Schuon, which I'm always re-rereading. Now if I could only find a way to weave it all together into one continuous narrative -- or cosmic area rug -- like I did previously once upin a timeless, only in a newer and tighter spiral.

Come to think of it, what's a sabbath for but seeking the one in the many, eternity in time, the wisdom in the information, the Connector of Dots?

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Source and Destiny of Intelligent Stupidity

If we're going to trace intelligence all the way down to the roots, we need to follow it all the way up to its source, AKA God.

Or perhaps in the context of this discussion, it's better to say "O," since God is too saturated with other connotations, emanations, and penumbras. Deploying O entails a more modest, or at least narrower, claim: that an intelligence that looks downward for its source not only arbitrarily denies its own significance, but undercuts its own efficacy. A materialist or existentialist metaphysic is just a clever or systematic way to be stupid.

In short, if there is a wholly material explanation for intelligence, then we are not intelligent, because intelligence would be just an accidental byproduct of some unintelligent substance or process.

These folkers like to accuse religion of magical thinking, but really, what could be more magical than promulgating an absolute relativism and then carving out a special exemption for oneself? How does the materialist slip the surly bonds of his own materialism?

I suppose the same way a magician pulls a rabbit from his hat: he's only revealing what he concealed there in the first place. Likewise, the materialist pulls out a metaphysic he covertly projects into matter, and calls it "true" -- as if truth still exists and we can know it. Again, intelligent stupidity.

But just because the materialist can't actually conjure a true rabbit from a metaphysical nothing, it doesn't mean God can't. For what is creation but a projection of God -- or O -- in a "downward" direction? Or better, Schuon uses the image of a circle to convey our cosmic situation -- in fact, two circles. Putting these two together, or keeping both in mind, furnishes a point of reference for our essential situation.

Each circle has a center we will call O. The first circle is surrounded by a series of concentric circles representing worlds, or dimensions of being, or even powers, principalities, thrones, and dominions if you like.

For example, one of the outer circles would be what we call sensible matter, or the empirical world. Closer to the center would be worlds of logic or mathematics. Closer still would be spiritual worlds of virtue, beauty, metaphysical truth.

Note that in the concentric view, the worlds are discontinuous. If you restrict yourself to this view, then you will quite literally have no way to understand, for example, how dead matter can come to life, or how life can host persons. The discontinuity is insurmountable, such that you will need a "magic trick" to make the leap.

But magic isn't required if you supplement the concentric view with a spiraling one. In this perspective, O is still at the center, but spirals outward, around itself. Now there is no longer any discontinuity. Not only is everything connected to O, but is an expression or echo (however close or distant) of it.

Now, these two images convey many important cosmic messages. For example, the first goes to the radical transcendence of God, while the second goes to his immanence. In the first, we are seemingly disconnected from the source, but in the second the source must be closer to us than our own heartbeat.

Extending this a bit, the first would go to such things as exile, original sin, humility, and cosmic insignificance. But this is balanced by the second, which makes us "participants in God." And the most important participant -- getting back to our main subject -- is the intellect, which is the prolongation par excellence of God.

More generally, the spiral image explains how and why life is a "journey back to God." The journey is only possible because of the continuous spiral. Obviously, in the concentric cosmos the journey would be impossible, because we could never transcend or escape our own circle.

Now, make no mistake: any modern, postmodern, or non-traditional philosophy not only entraps us in one of those circles, but worse, turns the circle inside out by placing matter at the center. Yes, literally. Think about it for a second: tracing human intelligence to material causes is like "finding" the center of reality and discovering that it is... nothing. The most meaningful thing in all of creation has managed to render itself meaningless. It has pulled a rabbit out of the hat -- a dead rabbit.

I'm looking at some passages in Logic and Transcendence that describe this exactly, only in a more elegant and less Raccoonish way. For example, any form of relativism escapes, "as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility." It jumps from the periphery to the center, but how? That's only possible in the spiral view which relativism denies at the outset.

Or how about the claim that "one can never escape from human subjectivity." Well, if all Cretans are subjectivists, then all Cretans are Cretins, and there's no reason to take them seriously. Such an utterance, no matter how imbued with tenure, "falls under its own verdict."

But here is the unavoidable truth -- a truth to which one must resign oneself, no matter how pleasant: "It is abundantly evident that man can escape subjectivity, for otherwise he would not be man."

Now, that there is a big clue as to What Man Is. It sounds suspiciously tautological, but in reality, it is our only escape from tautology, for it means that we can exit the closed loop of the circle and enter the inward-turning spiral. We can indeed embark upon a pilgrimage toward the cosmic Center.

If not, then truly truly, to hell with it. Seriously, either intelligence can know truth, or it can't. But if it can, then this discloses many meta-truths about the human station and the human situation. For again, in the inspiraling view, -- and pay attention here -- intelligence is not just the conformity of mind to truth, rather, something far more radical: intelligence is itself the substance of truth, a kind of direct revelation of God.

Somewhere Schuon says something to the effect that revelation is the objectification or crystalization of the intellect. But also, the intellect as such is a kind of subjective revelation of the divine mind. Now, if this weren't the case, then we couldn't understand revelation to begin with: revelation is "addressed" to the intellect, but the intellect is "already" the revelation. Or better, revelation might be seen as a vertical memo that is both from and to the intellect, if you catch my drift.

Going back to the enclosed world of concentric circles, "subjectivity would not even be conceivable for a man who was totally enclosed in his subjectivity; an animal lives in its subjectivity but does not conceive it, for unlike man it does not possess the gift of objectivity."

Did you catch the implications? The animal is indeed situated in one of those concentric circles, a dog or dolphin no doubt closer to the center than an amoeba or alligator, but still, with no ability to journey closer to the center.

But in the case of man, it takes a genius to prevent him from spiraling back toward the center, because man is the being intrinsically capable of doing this. Ah, but this gift can sometimes be seen as a kind of curse: since we are not fixed in any particular circle, an existentialist will see us as the very personification of nothingness: since we are "anything" then we are nothing. But notice the error: the existentialist takes the spiral for granted, but wrenches it from its context, which only makes sense if God is at the center.

It is analogous to positing a solar system and then removing the central sun that renders the system possible. Then we are indeed reduced to wandering planets, such that movement in one direction is no better than movement in any other -- "my truth" is no better or worse than any other -- except to say that this belief in the subjectivity of truth is definitely better than your fascist belief that there is only one truth and one direction toward it!

And all of this, if you think about it for two or three seconds, goes directly to our political polarization, for blue people are concentrics pretending to be spirals. For example, what is the "progress" of so-called progressives but a movement toward some transcendent ideal that is just a human projection (and displacement) of God?

Conversely, a proper redman maintains the complementarity of concentrism and spiralism. To take an obvious example, the Constitution is a concentric document for the purpose of a spiral end. Our natural rights flow from the center to the periphery, and can be explained in no other way. The Constitution is a manmade charter -- made at the periphery -- designed to protect our natural rights -- which emanate from the center.

Notice how the left simultaneously wishes to make the Constitution nothing and everything: by relativizing it, they covertly absolutize it, for the doctrine of the "living constitution" puts it in line with the more widespread metaphysic of absolute relativism, or of Total Absurdity, AKA hell on earth.

[O]ne of the noteworthy traits of the twentieth century is the confusion, now habitual, between evolution [read: progressivism] and decadence: there is no decadence, no impoverishment, no falsification that people do not try to excuse with the relativistic argument of "evolution".... Thus relativism, cleverly instilled into public opinion, paves the way for all kinds of corruption while at the same time keeping watch lest any kind of healthy reaction might put the brakes on this slide toward the abyss.

Worth rereading slowly. Progressivism is the last word in degeneratavism, disintegrism, and depravitism, and like an autoimmune disease, includes a mechanism for identifying and eradicating its own cure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Objects of Intelligence and Wisdom

Everybody wants to be intelligent, but what is intelligence, especially the human kind? Why do we have it? What is it for? And can we increase it?

Dennis Prager devotes one hour each week to "ultimate issues," and yesterday the topic was wisdom. Which got me to thinking: what is the object of wisdom? No, not the purpose of it, as in the object of a game, but what is the "thing" wisdom is about?

And how do we distinguish this from the thing intelligence is about -- the object of intelligence?

In truth, there are many objects of intelligence, from matter to logic to mathematics to "the past" (i.e. history), and each object requires the method appropriate to it: obviously we don't study physical objects in the same way we do mathematical ones.

Now, one object of wisdom must be intelligence itself. Intelligence can't see its own purpose or scope; that is for wisdom to sort out. So, for starters, wisdom is intelligence about intelligence, specifically, human intelligence. But more generally, it is intelligence about human beings -- about how to be one. After all, plenty of intelligent people have no idea how they are supposed to live. They lack wisdom.

You could say that the university is a factory for churning out the unwise, for as Prager pointed out yesterday, it is impossible to be both secular and wise. This is not a knock, rather, just a statement of fact. But it explains why universities have become such breeding grounds of intelligent stupidity.

Conversely, a religion is supposed to be (among other things) a repository of wisdom. And as we've mentioned before, one of its primary functions is to transmit wisdom to people of less than average intelligence -- which, after all, is half the population. That half will never be suited for college.

No, correct me on that. Academia is determined to be so free of intellectual standards that anyone with an IQ above 80 or so should be able to complete a degree in a fake subject such as sociology or gender studies. However, to gain a real degree in a real subject requires an IQ of around 115; for a really hard subject you'll still need an IQ of around 130 (although here again, liberals are doing everything they can to erode those standards as well).

Yesterday I was rereading an excellent book that concisely summarizes the current state of intelligence research, The Neuroscience of Intelligence. It begins with a quote by a fellow researcher to the effect that "the attack on [intelligence] tests" represents nothing less than "an attack on truth itself by those who deal with unpleasant and unflattering truths by denying them and by attacking and trying to destroy the evidence for them."

Yes, the left, doing what it does best: the deployment of intelligence to destroy intelligence. This is no small matter, and indeed, you could say that it is the very basis of clinical psychology, at least the type in which I was trained. To the extent that truth is attacked -- and it is, routinely and incessantly -- the attack must first take place in one's own mind.

And yet, there are "intellectual sociopaths," so to speak, who don't do this exactly. Rather, they are totally cynical manipulators for whom truth doesn't even enter into it.

I'm thinking of Tucker Carlson, who apparently can't get real politicians to come on the show for fear of being humiliated in debate, so he is reduced to debating this or that "DNC spokesman." These are practiced liars who will aggressively defend any policy or principle, no matter how preposterous or provably false. But just as you have to be an intelligent actor to effectively play a stupid character, you have to be a fairly bright spokesman to confidently assert such nonsense.

But the deeper point I want to make is that such intellectual sociopaths have successfully eliminated the object of intelligence from their minds -- the object being truth. And if you are going to have a fruitful dialog with someone, its fruitfulness is predicated entirely upon a mutual search for truth. It is this Mysterious Third that renders dialog fruitful; or, you could say that a fruitful dialog is always an implicit trialog.

Certainly Socrates knew this. It's what his Method is all about. The Socratic dialog "is not a civil war between two opponents but a joint raid against the common enemies of confusion, ignorance, and error, using the common weapons of the common master, Reason" (Kreeft). And Reason isn't just anything; rather, it subsumes the "three acts of mind" through which we know what a thing is, whether it is, and why it is.

Reason is easy enough to get around: just deny the existence of truth, as do postmodern relativists. "Truth is perception," they say. First of all, this truth cannot be perceived, so the statement is self-refuting on its face.

But notice something more sinister: the object of truth is reduced to subjective perception, which is to say, appearance, when the whole point of intelligence is to apprehend the reality behind, beneath, or above appearances. So, relativism is like a cognitive neutron bomb, destroying the object of intelligence while leaving the intelligence standing. It is utter absurdity, but there it is.

There's a guy who can recall 22,514 digits from pi. That's nothing, because there's another guy who can do it to 67,890 digits. Now that is intelligence. Except that his IQ is actually so low that he can't even care for himself. "His father managed all aspects of his life except when he answered questions from memory" (Haier).

You'd think memory would be critical to intelligence, and it is, but there are actually more important factors, beginning with reasoning and spatial ability. Moreover, there are two main aspects of intelligence: crystalized intelligence and fluid intelligence. The first has more to do with learning facts and absorbing information, while the second has to do with "inductive and deductive reasoning for novel problem-solving." A pi-throwing idiot savant is only adept at the first kind.

But more importantly, so too is a computer, and I've noticed my own crystalized intelligence atrophy as a consequence of the internet putting all knowledge at my fingertips. Or, even with my library, I know only a tiny fraction of what's in it, but I do know where to retrieve a factoid if I need it.

Is wisdom crystalized or fluid? It must be both. There are certain principles of wisdom, but life comes at you fast, for which reason we need fluid wisdom, which is none other than prudence.

Haier asks, "what is intelligence?" and "how do you know it when you see it?" I know it, but how do I know it? What are my criteria? Interestingly, I don't have any conscious or explicit criteria. But there's no question that some minds are coming from a more profound and comprehensive place -- it is simultaneously deeper, higher, and more integral, whereas a person of below average intelligence is all surface, either diffuse or hardened, silly or stupid.

Can you turn a surface intelligence into a profound one? That is one of the core assumptions of liberalism, but all signs -- if you believe the research -- point to no. At the moment of conception, your intelligence is baked into the cake, barring some environmental catastrophe. People don't want to believe this, and yet, it can be quite liberating in a way. It is the whole basis of Bryan Caplan's excellent The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think.

I was already raising my son in an irresponsible idiosyncratic fashion, but these books have added fuel to the fire. He is who he is, and there's not a lot I can do about it except to help him actualize it. Knowing this takes a lot of the stress out of the whole enterprise. How much of what you learned in school do you actually remember? All that crystalized intelligence is long gone. What was the point? People are much more like plants than machines. I know I was. I just naturally grew into the person I was to be, not because of, but in spite of, the environment.

I remember studying organicism in grad school, but quickly passing it over in favor of more environmentally weighted theories, in particular, attachment theory. (Intellectuals tend not to be attracted to theories that render themselves inconsequential, which is why they have always recoiled at, for example, the free market.) But at the same time, there was a concept within attachment theory called "good enough mothering," implying that good enough is more than enough, and that better than good enough adds little value.

Anyway, "Organismic theories in psychology are a family of holistic psychological theories which tend to stress the organization, unity, and integration of human beings expressed through each individual's inherent growth or developmental tendency." That is now what I believe, although with important qualifications. A seed will grow into the plant it is destined to be, but there is soil, sunlight, fertilizer, pruning, etc.

Whatever intelligence is, we all know someone -- lots of them -- who is not as smart as we are. But according to Haier, "given their rarity, it is less likely you know a true genius." That's true. I suppose I've never really met one. Lots of smart people to be sure, but what is a genius -- I mean, besides a high IQ? Is it a quantitative difference, or a qualitative one?

And what about the genius with bad programming? The other night I tried to watch a documentary about Stephen Hawking, but it was too tedious to finish. Smart guy, no doubt. Genius, I guess. But trying to philosophize within the limits of science is just stupid. The object of physics is not the object of wisdom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mind and its Materials, or Qualifications and Quality

I don't know why the titles have been so lame lately, but "Useless Science, Harmful Scientists" was another example. Obviously science is far from useless and the average scientist doesn't do any harm. The problem only arises when we apply a mode of knowing that is inappropriate to the object we wish to understand. Now, metaphysics is the science of being, or of the whole, whereas science only studies the parts of being.

Science errs when it attempts to draw a limit to thought, because doing so must involve an implicit knowledge of what's on the either side -- or at least that there is an other side. If we are limited to seeing only one side of the moon, this doesn't mean the other side doesn't exist or that there's nothing we can say about it.

More importantly, it's still the moon and nothing else, despite the fact that we cannot see it from all possible angles. No visible object can be contained by vision, but that hardly means we do not see or that vision is just a form of blindness.

Kant would limit knowledge to the form of our own sensibilities or categories, thus radically detaching knowing from being. In this view -- and it is the modern view -- knowledge is no longer even knowledge, because it is ultimately about the knower: knowledge conforms to us rather than to reality. This new perspective is said to be "true," even while draining all meaning from what it could possibly mean for something to be true. In Truth -- the real kind -- such minds are trapped in a circle while pretending to see it from the perspective of the sphere.

If you've ever wondered how the left can know so much while knowing so little, this is why: their knowledge, such as it is, is detached from being. A case in point would be "homosexual marriage," or the idea that we can choose our gender. The first is not a real marriage -- i.e., anchored in, and a reflection of, being -- any more than Caitlyn Jenner is a real woman. But if knowledge is no longer adequation to reality, then this problem doesn't arise: you are a woman because you feel like one. It's a triumph of the will, but first it is a triumph of sentiment. Intellect is bypassed entirely (i.e., intellect as disclosing knowledge that is in turn rooted in being).

I mentioned above that science errs when it attempts to draw a limit to thought, but this needs to be qualified: there are, of course, insurmountable limits to what man may know, since we are creature and not creator, contingent and not absolute. In order to know God, we would have to be God.

That limitation goes to our humility. And yet, this is compensated by another side that goes to our grandeur, and indeed to the very worth of man: that we -- in particular, our intellect -- are in the image and likeness of the Creator, which obviously confers special powers.

Now, does man have special powers? Or is our knowing fundamentally no different from animal knowing? Science says "yes," but this is an example of precisely where it goes off the rails, for it fails to shift into a different framework when going from the part to the whole. Metaphysics is a science -- again it is the science of being -- but obviously requires a different mode of adequation.

This shouldn't be controversial to an intellectually sophisticated person. We all know that our sensory apparatus cannot conform to the world of mathematics, which means that empiricism does not exhaust what rationalism reveals about the nature of reality. But rationalism in its turn cannot touch the transrational -- at least from below.

That is, we all know that rationalism can say absolutely nothing about what it proposes to reason on or with. Rather, we must first select the premises with which we will reason. After that, the reasoning is machinelike and inevitable.

So, to call oneself a "rationalist" is neither here nor there. As Schuon points out in chapter 3 of Logic and Transcendence, Rationalism Real and Apparent, there are always two extra-rational conditions we must consider in any attempt to reason about things.

First would be "the acuity and profundity of the intelligence." It is no insult to reason to say that anyone can do it. Anyone can take a logic class and understand both logic and logical fallacies. But logic in the hands of a less-than-acute-and-profound intelligence can easily render itself irrational. More generally, as we have been saying (along with Hayek), few things are as irrational as a strict rationalism, or rationalism strictly applied.

For the other problem (along with depth and breadth of intelligence) has to do with the quality of the available information. We can obviously reason about things that are "below" the level of reason, i.e., material objects. We can also reason about the purely rational objects of mathematics. In fact, we can also reason about the reasoner, or I would be out of work. For what is psychology but a transcendent view of the subject? If it isn't then I am being paid for nothing.

So, the question before the house -- the scientific house -- is why can't we also reason about the things that transcend us? Like God, for example. Or, if that word is too loaded, why not just concede that there is a transcendent reality without which the human intellect is literally inconceivable, and try to reason about it?

Not so fast. Again, we must respect the "value or extent of the available information," and at the very least, those less-than-acute intelligences are likely to reason on the basis of bad information. Or, just say New Age, i.e., deepaking the chopra (dumb people reasoning with bad materials).

Now, in the Judeo-Christian stream, we reason with the information provided by revelation, on the assumption that it has been provided by God for just this purpose. Even so, we again come face-to-face with the issue of less-than-acute-and-profound intelligences, not to mention the fact that revelation nevertheless contains a fair amount of "noise," and that it has different levels of importance. Then there is the whole question of the hermeneutical circle through which we balance and interpret the parts in the context of the whole.

For example, the other evening on Tucker Carlson I saw a pro-anti-immigration hacktivist claim that we had to let them all in on the basis of something Jesus said about being nice to children. End of issue. Deferring to this so-called principle, we would be morally obligated to bring, what, several billon poor children into the US. Is this what Jesus meant?

Again, depth of intelligence and quality information. If there are stupid theologians -- and obviously there are -- then this is why. And if there is an intrinsically stupid scientism, then this is also why.

Back to reasoning about the reasoner. Now obviously, the reasoner cannot be reduced to reason. If that happens, then the reasoner is indeed trapped in an eternal tautology, and that's that. But in reality, logic is only consistent when it transcends itself. Even if you reject religion, you ought to understand that Gödel liberated you from tautologous rationalism. You're free! You are not enclosed in reason, you transcend it. But where then will you go? Down or up?

That question is more interesting than it sounds, because there is a third possibility, a sort of lateral one into individualism, the bad kind (leaving aside the fact that if a man fails to transcend himself, he sinks beneath himself).

I alluded to this in a comment the other day -- that all bad philosophy and scholarship descends into a kind of unwitting autobiography. You could say it is Kantian only worse, in that it is a kind of crude eccentricity that amounts to little more than a rebellion against reality. I can't find the exact quote I'm looking for, but this one by Schuon will do:

Relativism engenders a spirit of rebellion and is at the same time its fruit. The spirit of rebellion, unlike holy anger, is not a passing state, nor is it directed at some worldly abuse; on the contrary it is a chronic malady directed toward Heaven and against everything that represents Heaven or is a reminder of it.

You will have noticed that winning the house of representatives has not appeased the left's unhappy spirit of rebellion, rather, only feeds it -- similar to how the redefinition of marriage made them content for a day, before they moved on to the abolition of gender -- for if gender is anything, then it is nothing. Which is of course the point, i.e., nihilism and the abolition real and fruitful (by which we know their reality) categories, boundaries, and limits.

Ah, here's the quote I was looking for:

profane thought is always the portrait of an individual even when it is mingled with some glimmerings of knowledge, as must always be the case since reason is not a closed vessel.

Thus reason gives way to individualism and arbitrariness insofar as it is artificially divorced from the Intellect.

Coincidentally, I just reread The Picture of Dorian Gray last night, and it is all about this rejection of all that surpasses us, and a rebellious descent into a complete individualism. Let me see if I can find an appropriate gag from satan's cynical emissary, Lord Henry, with which to close this post:

In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The thoroughly well-informed man -- that is the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value.

I sense that there was a more than a little Oscar in Henry. And interestingly, Oscar was received into the Catholic church on his deathbed, thus leaving the bric-a-brac shop in the nick of timelessness.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Useless Science, Harmful Scientists

As mentioned the other day, I had a single book with me during my exile, Schuon's Logic and Transcendence -- which I'd already read a number of times, but you can't get too much Primordial Truth, especially when all around you the idols of this fleeting world are in flames. You want something solid, as it were. Imperishable. Fireproof.

At the same time, a certain aphorism has been rattling around my head. It sounds extreme, perhaps even preposterous on its face. Could it be true? Or if it is true, in what sense?

Why deceive ourselves? Science has not answered a single important question. --Dávila

Now, if the average person said such a thing, we'd just ignore it. But when someone as brilliant, ironic, and profound as Dávila says it, then we are bound to pay attention. What is he talking about?

Well, amazon is always recommending books to me, for example, this one: Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts. And just look at all the others linked to that page, such as Understanding the Brain: From Cells to Behavior to Cognition, Consciousness Explained, or Understanding Our Unseen Reality: Solving Quantum Riddles, etc.

Do any of these books deliver on what they promise? How much explaining, understanding, and solving is really going on here? I skimmed the sample of Consciousness and the Brain, and it just seemed to confirm Davila's claim: the book may answer some questions, but not any important ones such as, oh, the meaning and purpose of life. In fact, if the book is correct, then it kills a lot of questions, such as, oh, whether life has meaning and purpose. It does not and cannot.

From the final chapter: some problems of consciousness "border on the philosophical" -- no, really? -- "and yet I firmly believe that they will ultimately receive an empirical answer..." As if empiricism isn't a philosophy! And what about "I firmly believe"? If his beliefs are "true," then there is no basis for either the beliefs or the I who holds them.

So much crude and naive philosophizing, one scarcely knows where to begin. "Surely something particular about the human mind allows it to turn the flashlight of consciousness onto itself and think about its own thinking." Well, yeah. But who said anything about a flashlight? What a dim metaphor.

He then -- an empiricist -- tries to discredit infanticide through an appeal to "the moral intuitions that all human beings... have equal rights to a good life," right after quoting a couple of eminent human beings who precisely reject that moral intuition. Thus, he is trying to save himself from the consequences of his own empiricism -- trying vainly to out-logic himself.

How can science -- which studies only what is -- say anything about the ought? If he's going to make moral pronouncements, he's got to say how this squares with his empiricism. But that would require transcending it and rethinking his whole life's work, and that's not going to happen.

Indeed, he even claims that "Any scientific knowledge will be better than the a priori proclamations of philosophical and religious leaders" -- even though that is quite obviously an a priori proclamation! And any scientific knowledge? How absurd.

This exquisite biological machinery is clicking right now inside your brain. As you close this book to ponder your own existence, ignited assemblies of neurons literally make up your mind.

Machinery? Clicking? Inside? Ignited? Literally? What a thoughtlessly sloppy use of language. I am so done with this guy. But I'm also done with science as any kind of remotely adequate explanation of life and consciousness. It is in this sense that we can indeed appreciate that science hasn't answered a single important question.

Now, a few aphorisms that expand on what Dávila means; notice how completely unscientific and non-empirical they are. It's not that they are "anti" anything, but rather, refer to a transcendent reality that is at a right angle to the realm studied by science:

Stupidity appropriates with diabolical skill what science invents.

The vulgar epistemology of the natural sciences is a burlesque idealism in which the brain plays the role of “I.”

The soul is fed from what is mysterious in things.

Time soon erodes what is said about the soul but it never even scratches what the soul says.

There is an illiteracy of the soul that no diploma cures.

Those who reject all metaphysics secretly harbor the coarsest.

A fool is he who thinks that what he knows is without mystery.

Literally! Each and every one of them.

One last aphorism: If good and evil, ugliness and beauty, are not the substance of things, science is reduced to a brief statement: what is, is.

The Ought (and any other transcendental such as love, truth, or beauty) is not contained by, or reducible to, the Is, so please stop pretending otherwise. Rather, the Is is and must be in the Ought -- as the relative is in the Absolute, appearance in Reality, and the many in the One.

We'll get to Logic & Transcendence later, probably Wednesday. This will have to do for today:

The rationalism of a frog living at the bottom of a well is to deny the existence of mountains: perhaps this is "logic," but it has nothing to do with reality.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Unjust Justice, Irrational Rationalism, and Backward Evolution

Before the fire chased us out of here, we were discussing Hayek and limits of reason. I want to finish that line of thought before moving on.

One key insight is that attitudes that are necessary for maintaining harmony in personal relationships become totally dysfunctional and counter-productive when applied to the vastly larger system of which we are all tiny parts. Different level, different rules. Neosporin might work fine for a cut on the skin, but you wouldn't swallow a tube for a systemic infection. Or something like that.

However, the left totally exploits our ignorance of this principle via ceaseless appeals to values that only apply to the micro but become destructive when applied to the macro -- e.g., "social justice," "equality," "fairness," etc. As we shall see, it is literally the case that social justice is unjust -- as fairness is unfair and equality is inegalitarian. None can be accomplished or even attempted without great immorality and violence at a level to which they do not apply.

You might say that morality itself becomes immoral if applied to the wrong level. And amazingly, many religious people fall into this trap -- for example, pacifists. But the entire "Christian left" interprets the macro in terms of the micro, misapplying values and virtues that are entirely irrelevant if not destructive to our collective well-being.


[W]ith an equal, or even with a "just," distribution of the [total] product, nearly all would have much less than they have now -- for the existing world population probably not even enough to maintain its numbers. The present magnitude of the total product is a result of the inequality of its distribution... (emphasis mine).

Therefore, you can impose "justice" and "equality," but this only undercuts the mechanism whereby we produce enough to sustain the existing numbers. You'll feel good about yourself, even while watching millions suffer and die.

But that is how human beings are built. Human traits were selected in the context of small bands numbering around 25. In this context, even 100 people would get confusing. Ordering 7.6 billion is beyond inconceivable.

So, childish leftists such as Alexandria Cortez "offer us as a superior moral[ity] what is, in fact, a very inferior morality, yet alluring because they promise greater pleasure or enjoyment to people they would be unable to feed." They exploit our inner caveman with an ideology that doesn't apply to a mode of living that transcends cave living. It's why for the next week we'll be hearing all about how Native American barbarians were so virtuous, while the Americans who displaced them were (and are) so evil.

For Hayek, "The silliest sentence ever penned by a famous economist" -- this book was published before Paul Krugman came on the scene -- was from John Stuart Mill, who claimed that "once the product is there, mankind, individually or collectively, can do with it whatever it pleases." In short, the pie has been baked. It's just a matter of dividing it in a fair manner.

Which means 1) this will be your last pie, and 2) you won't get much of it, if any.

In previous posts we pointed out that a rationalism unaware of its limits immediately renders itself irrational. Likewise, a personal morality unaware of its limits renders itself immoral. And you will have noticed how the left always combines these two, i.e., omniscient rationalism and unhinged moral passion. It's why they know they are smarter and better than you are.

Socialism is always brought to us by pseudo-intellectual boors and bullies (speaking of Krugman), never the laborers who will supposedly benefit from it. Ever wonder why so many Smart People fall for leftism? "Logically, a strict rationalist or positivist is indeed bound to believe in central planning and socialism, and it is indeed quite difficult to find a positivist who is not a socialist." But by definition, we can never deliberately produce something that can only occur spontaneously. "Compulsory spontaneity" is a contradiction in terms.

For which reason, economics -- or evolution more generally -- cannot be understood prospectively, only retrospectively. If it could, then we would all be wealthy. Not to mention Supermen.

Regarding the latter, it strikes me that the whole integral movement of "conscious evolution" is another attempt to take control of something that can only occur spontaneously and that no one could ever plan -- which is why New Age folk tend to be so conspicuously unevolved and even backward. Maybe there's a conservative one in there somewhere, but I've never heard of it.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Outer Fire and Inner Light

Well, I'm back in the saddle. Meaning the house. It's still here, although I'm not sure I am, at least not totally. Hard to believe it's been a full week since the drama began to unfold. I saw smoke on the horizon at about 3:00 PM last Thursday, and knew a brushfire was heading our way.

Which is no big deal. Indeed, it's rather exciting -- like a thunderstorm or <6.5 earthquake. It happens every few years, and in the past has always blown around and past us on its way to the coast. When I left the house for work Friday morning, it looked as if we were out of harm’s way, although I was a little worried about flaming embers coming from the north. But that’s what the fire department is for, right?

Picture a horseshoe with the round edge facing north. Our little neighborhood is inside the horseshoe, and is totally surrounded by open space. The Santa Ana winds blow in a northeast-to-southwest direction. So long as the firefighters make a stand to the north, then the fire comes down either side of the horseshoe, on its way to Malibu. No problem.

And again, rather exciting, especially at night. While they say it's dangerous, I've never felt unsafe in the past. Or maybe a little -- just enough to make it exhilarating. Makes you feel alive, is what it does.

But this time the fire decided to do something a little different. That is, when it was about halfway down the eastern flank of our horseshoe, the winds shifted and it suddenly blew in a westward direction -- or in other words, directly toward us. So the fire leveled seven houses that abut the open space. For reference, we're a few houses in from the open space; I'm not good at distances, but it's maybe the distance of a football field in a straight line.

I'm envious of my neighbors who stuck it out and didn't evacuate. Must have been an awesome spectacle. It reminds me of Churchill, who, when the bombs were falling during the Battle of Britain, would scramble onto the roof to watch the show. Again, it's simultaneously horrible and exciting, and you just have to accept the ambivalence. It doesn't mean you're a sadist, or that you enjoy the prospect of suffering.

Being an evacuee is pretty much a full-time job. Even if you're temporarily settled in someplace, you're worried about what's going to happen next. I didn't pack much, since I never imagined we'd be exiled for longer than a week, but I did toss a book into my briefcase on the way out: Schuon's Logic and Transcendence, which I've read many times, and is one of his best -- one of his few that is a unified work as opposed to a collection of disparate essays.

So I had time for a Very Close reading of this coonologically foundational text. I always get something new out of it. Either that or I'm getting old, so it seems new. Or maybe Principial Truth is by its nature "new." Yes, that's it. Compare it to, say, communion. I think to myself, "surely the priest must be bored after having done this thousands of times over the past 40 years." But he never looks like he's going through the motions.

Come to think of it, I do believe that "novelty" is a kind of essential reality; as is "renewal." How is it that I wake up in the morning and the world feels renewed and therefore novel? It's always the same-old same-old, and yet, new and different.

Part of it has to do with the nature of life, for what is Life itself but sameness-within-difference, or difference-within-sameness? I remember Rudolf Steiner writing about this. Let me see if I can dig it out.

Here it is: How to Know Higher Worlds (and who wouldn't want to know them?):

the moment will approach when we begin to realize that what is revealed to us in the silence of inner thinking activity is more real then the physical objects around us. We experience that life speaks in this world of thoughts....

Out of the silence something begins to speak to us. Previously we could hear speech only with our ears, but now words resound in our souls. An inner speech, an inner word, is disclosed to us.... Our outer world is suffused with an inner light. A second life begins for us. A divine, bliss-bestowing world streams through us.

Something like that. As the process continues,

We begin to form new ideas about reality. Things take on a different value for us. Yet such transformation does not make us unworldly. In no way does it estrange us from our daily responsibilities.

Speaking of which, I've got to get on with mine.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Closed Open Minds and Open Closed Minds

I was flipping through a book by Josef Pieper, trying to decide if I need to replace my worn-out and marked-up copy, and -- of course -- randomly came upon a passage that goes directly to yesterday's post on the limits of reason:

Nietzsche said that "wisdom puts limits to knowledge." Whatever he himself may have meant by this, there is no doubt that the will-to-knowledge, this noble power of the human being, requires a restraining wisdom, "in order that man may not strive immoderately for the knowledge of such things."

The question is, at what point does the will-to-knowledge shade off into the will-to-power? At what point does our natural epistemophila become an unseemly megalomania? What is the proper limit to the knowing intellect?

The answer is (ortho)paradoxical, because in a certain important sense, the intellect knows no limit, being that we -- and the intellect in particular -- are in the image of the creator. And I was about to say that people who understand our limitlessness in a religious context aren't the problem, but that would be quite naive, wouldn't it?

It seems that there are four possibilities: there are appropriate and inappropriate limits on the intellect; and an appropriate and inappropriate limitlessness to it.

For example, there are times that we need limits to vault us into limitlessness -- language being one example of this, or musical notation, or mathematics: each is an open system that uses boundary conditions to surpass itself, a la Polanyi:

the principles of each level operate under the control of the next higher level. The voice you produce is shaped by a vocabulary; a given vocabulary is shaped into sentences in accordance with a grammar; and the sentences are fitted into a style, which in its turn is shaped by our efforts to convey the ideas of the composition. Thus each level is subject to dual control: first, by the laws that apply to its elements in themselves and, second, by the laws that control the comprehensive entity formed by them.

Such multiple control is made possible again by the fact that the principles governing the isolated particulars of a lower level leave indeterminate their boundary conditions. These will be controlled by a higher principle.... Consequently, the operations of a higher level cannot be accounted for by laws governing its particulars, which form the next lower level. You cannot derive a vocabulary from phonetics; you cannot derive a grammar from a vocabulary; a correct use of grammar does not account for good style; and a good style does not supply the content of an oral communication (Polanyi).

It's not surprising that we should meet Polanyi on the road with Hayek, since they were friends and mutual influences.

Let's get back to what Pieper was saying about the subject. He writes of a certain kind of pathological knowing that reminds me of our constant obsession with politics -- of the

noise of impressions and sensations breathlessly rushing past the windows of the senses. Behind the flimsy pomp of its facade dwells absolute nothingness; it is a world of, at most, ephemeral creations, which often within less than a quarter hour become stale and discarded...

Pieper rightly calls it an addiction, but how much worse is this addictive behavior in the internet age! Even before the smartphone, it stupefied "man's primitive power of perceiving reality" and made him "incapable not only of coming to himself but also of reaching reality and truth."

What happens next? We don't know. We've never been here before, certainly not to this extent:

If such an illusory world threatens to overgrow and smoother the world of real things, then to restrain the natural wish to see [i.e., know] takes on the character of a measure of self-protection and self-defense.

In a very real sense we must become closed to this lower would in order to remain open to the higher one(s): "man should oppose this virtually inescapable seduction with all the force of selfless self-preservation" by closing "the inner room of his being against the intrusively boisterous pseudo-reality of empty shows and sounds."

Only via such self-restraint may we "preserve or regain that which actually constitutes man's vital existence: the perception of the reality of God and his creation, and the possibility of shaping himself and the world according to this truth, which reveals itself only in silence."

Do you see what he did there? Setting limits in order to approach and perceive the limitless. Failing this, the world appears to us as a kind of pseudo-limitlessness or false infinite.

Thus, we must avoid the cosmic inversion of substituting the false for the true infinite, the pseudo- for for the real thing. Prof. Wiki:

The reductionistic attempt to reduce higher-level realities into lower-level realities generates what Polanyi calls a moral inversion, in which the higher is rejected with moral passion. Polanyi identifies it as a pathology of the modern mind and traces its origins to a false conception of knowledge; although it is relatively harmless in the formal sciences, that pathology generates nihilism in the humanities. Polanyi considered Marxism an example of moral inversion.

Ah, now it's all coming together: reduction of the higher to the lower, religious passion without religious restraint, the nihilistic omniscience of materialism, and the omnipotent and omnicompetent state, all reflecting and supporting one another. The left in a nutshell.

How does this square with what we've been reading in Hayek?

[T]hat socialism is the logical consequence of rationalism does not mean that socialism is right, but rather that rationalist judgment of morals is mistaken. Man was neither clever enough to design the order from which billions of his kind now draw their sustenance nor even to recognize what he would have to know in order to direct these efforts successfully.

Paradoxically, we don't owe our progress to our own omniscience, but rather, to a kind of systematic nescience that keeps our knowledge in bounds:

We do not owe our ability to keep two hundred times as many human beings alive than we could five thousand years ago solely, or even chiefly, to our growing intellectual insight into scientific and technological problems, but at least as much, if not more, to a moral tradition of which both our innate instincts and our attempts at rational comprehension largely disapprove -- a tradition which was kept alive essentially by a faith in supernatural forces which science now teaches us is factually wrong.

The moral tradition to which Hayek alludes consists of boundary conditions or restraints on behavior that make possible "the extended order which we call civilization."

Conversely -- or inversely, rather -- socialists always ground their appeals in a kind of crude benevolence. Socialism "sounds" moral. Why does it always end in such horror?

The sad truth is that theoretical benevolence is compatible with any amount of practical indifference or even cruelty. You feel kindly towards others. That is what matters: your feelings. The effects of your benevolent feelings in the real world are secondary, or rather totally irrelevant. Rousseau was a philosopher of benevolence. So was Karl Marx. Yet everywhere that Marx’s ideas have been put into practice, the result has been universal immiseration. But his intention was the benevolent one of forging a more equitable society by abolishing private property and, to adopt a famous phrase from President Obama, by spreading the wealth around.

Combine abstract benevolence and limitless knowledge, and what do you have? Oh, Venezuela, or Cuba, or the Soviet Union, or California -- you all know the malignant roster.

What's the alternative?

"we are indebted for all the noblest exertions of human genius, for everything that distinguishes the civilised from the savage state,” to “the laws of property and marriage, and to the apparently narrow principle of self-interest which prompts each individual to exert himself in bettering his condition.”

"The apparently narrow principle of self-interest," mind you. Because it is precisely this apparent narrowing that opens us to something far surpassing itself.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Liberal Limits on the Limitless Reason of the Left

"Liberalism and democracy, although compatible, are not the same. The first is concerned with the extent of governmental power, the second with who holds the power" (Hayek).

Obviously, real liberalism is much more vital to our liberty than is mere democracy. Indeed, democracy can as easily erode liberty as any other form of tyranny. Liberalism is only protected by principles; or, to put it another way, it is not grounded in the demos but in the principial realm, which is timeless, universal, and ultimately God-given: we are endowed with certain (super)natural rights which it is the purpose of government to secure.

Teleocracy. I thought I made it up, but it's actually a real word. I was about to say that our system of government is a teleocracy, in the sense that it has the goal of protecting and extending liberty, but so too is every leftist tyranny a teleocracy, in that they have the goal of undermining liberty and imposing equality. So it's a neither here nor thereword.

In any event, notice what's been going on with our illiberal left: since its authoritarian designs are being frustrated by our liberal order, it has taken to making crude, demogogic appeals to "democracy" -- for example, abolition of the electoral college, or delegitimizing the senate, or the latest whining point cooked up by the children of Vox -- that Americans aren't prepared "for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority."

In other words, if our liberal system works as it supposed to work and has always worked, it is a crisis. Why is it a crisis? Because -- follow me here -- it will have limited the power of those who wish to extend the power of the state to limit our rights and liberties. The bottom line is that -- of course -- "a democratic government may be totalitarian and that an authoritarian government may act on liberal principles" (ibid).

I know this because I live in California. Yesterday, for example, our obedient NPCitizens voted by a wide margin to maintain a highly regressive gasoline tax in what is already the most heavily taxed state -- and with the highest poverty rate -- in the union. And of course we re-elected Diane Feinstein, who, in order to maintain political viability, made it a special project of hers to assassinate a judge.

But Hayek goes deeper into our political differences, writing that illiberal leftism and conservative classical liberalism "rest on altogether different philosophical foundations."

Of course, I would go too far and suggest that they are grounded in different metaphysical sources -- ultimately heaven and hell (or O and Ø) -- but let's stick with Hayek's more sober understanding: that genuine liberalism "is based on an evolutionary interpretation" (emphasis mine) which recognizes "the limits of the powers of the human reason."

Let's stop right there, because his point is somewhat orthoparadoxical: science and reason have allowed us to gain insight into the evolutionary process, but a deep understanding of evolution requires us to appreciate the limits of science and reason. If reason and science are limitless, then they enclose us in a kind of ultimate ignorance that the left uses as an ultimate control.

It's the difference between the reasonable use of reason vs. a tyrannical and totalitarian use of it. Evolution itself can be liberating or stifling, depending upon whether we see it as an open or closed system.

For example, no one "invented" our free market system. Rather, it evolved spontaneously as a result of a rule of law that placed limits on government interference. Only after the system was well underway did people consciously reflect upon it and give it a name: the "free market," or "capitalism." The main point is that the system not only evolved spontaneously, but never could have been created by conscious intent.

But don't tell that to the left: it is rooted in what Hayek calls "constructivist rationalism," a manmade intellectual system that "leads to the treatment of all cultural phenomena as the product of deliberate design" and insists "that it is both possible and desirable to reconstruct all [evolved] institutions in accordance with a preconceived plan." Again, notice how this encases us in the tyrannical pseudo-reason of the left.

There are further important distinctions: genuine liberalism evolves in the context of tradition, which itself was invented over thousands of years by Nobody and Everybody, the living and the dead, male and female, parent and child, group and individual, God and man. Conversely, leftism "is contemptuous of tradition because it regards an independently existing reason as capable of designing civilization."

Think, for example, of marriage, which is one of those things that was designed by no one and everyone. The left thinks it can fundamentally redefine and alter it with a top-down imposition of its own desiccated reason. But this new thing -- whatever it is -- will be no more real than, say, vitamins abstracted from the food with which man has evolved. No one can live on vitamins. And the spirit of man cannot live and breathe in the creations of the left. For proof, look at what has happened to academia and the arts.

Conservative classical liberalism "is a modest creed, relying on abstraction as the only available means to extend the limited powers of reason," whereas leftism "refuses to recognize any such limits and believes that reason alone can prove the desirability of particular concrete arrangements."

Which is why genuine liberalism is not only compatible with religion, but "has often been held and even been developed by men holding strong religious beliefs," while the anti-American kind "has always been antagonistic to all religion and politically in constant conflict" with it (except for those religions that undermine our tradition, such as Islam).

Time out for aphorisms that approach the subject from different angles -- most of which you've heard before but are always worth remumbling and remembering:

None of the high eras of history have been planned. The reformer can only be credited with the errors.

The progressive believes that everything soon turns obsolete except his ideas.

Progress finally comes down to stealing from man what ennobles him, in order to sell to him at a cheap price what debases him.

The political platforms of the left are gradually transformed into scaffolds.

Let us preserve in any institution the “defects” that the modern mentality denounces. They are the last air holes.

For the left the constitution is a shameful attack on the sovereignty of the people.

Dying societies accumulate laws like dying men accumulate medicines.

Hell is the place where man finds all his projects realized.


The excess of laws emasculates. For proof I give you California, home of the Geld Rush.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Centralized Stupidity, AKA the State

Four or five invulnerable philosophical propositions allow us to make fun of the rest. --Dávila

Hayek begins an essay called Principles and Expediency with the following quote:

The frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty.

Now, the opposite of principle is what? It might be arbitrariness, or expediency, or unscrupulousness, or opportunism, each eroding and undermining freedom in its own way.

For example, there can be no enduring freedom in an arbitrary world; in fact, not even any real knowledge. Arbitrariness must be one of the primary attributes of hell. With no rock solid principles, there is no possibility of gaining a cognitive foothold with which to climb up and out.

And expediency has to do with some immediate gain or interest. I suppose it is guided by a telos, but a very near term one -- for example, dashing out of a restaurant without paying. I wonder how many people avoid doing that for fear of punishment, vs. how many due to principle? If everyone were guided by principle, then we'd need no law against it.

Remember what Sherif Bell said in yesterday's post: "It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it." So, the less principle, the more law. And law can erode principle, because then you only avoid certain unprincipled choices for fear of being caught; or, you conflate morality with being law-abiding.

For Hayek, human beings require a condition of liberty in order to utilize what they know in order to accomplish what they want. This may sound simplistic, but the implications are vast and far-reaching. For it means that knowledge is not only not centralized, but cannot be centralized. Nevertheless, this hardly stops governments from trying.

But what do they end up centralizing? That's right: stupidity. And what is coerced stupidity? Yes, the theft of liberty: you are forced to do something stupid, and forbidden to do what you know best how to do.

Socialism would be so easy if only omniscience were possible: if the state possessed all the relevant knowledge, then it would just be a matter of logic and logistics. The concession to "liberty" would simply be a confession that there's something we don't know. But if the state knows what to do and how to do it, then liberty just gets in the way. Which is why socialism and liberty are not just incompatible, but opposites.

Liberals like to think of themselves as rational and scientific, but liberalism itself (the modern kind, not the real thing) is founded upon a total lack thereof: it is literally attempting the impossible: "knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess."

It is literally the case -- orthoparadoxically -- that civilization depends upon respect for and maintenance of ignorance, even more than knowledge. You might say that the less we know, the more we (i.e., civilization) know. In other words, knowledge is increasingly distributed as a result of the division of labor. What if the maintenance of our complex civilian were dependent upon what you or I know? It would instantly grind to a halt. As Whitehead wrote,

It is a profoundly erroneous truism... that we should cultivate the habit of thinking what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

It is remarkable in this context to consider all the long-settled questions that the left is forcing us to rethink, from free speech to marriage to the constitution. It's like having go go back and justify sense perception, or logic, or language. Which I suppose they also want us to do.

Again, in one sense, political liberty is just the state's concession that knowledge is dispersed and omniscience is impossible. This is a scientific conclusion, but the science is quite different from that which applies to the study of nature. The complex system of a spontaneous order is not at all analogous to a linear system with machine-like properties.

If civilization were a linear system, then central planning would indeed be conceivable. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, all economies are planned. The question is who does the planning, the individual or the state? I could make myself a bitter man if I dwelled on all the things I could do with the money I end up throwing at the state because it knows better how to spend it.

there is beyond question a body of very important but unorganized knowledge which cannot possibly be called scientific in the sense of general rules: the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place.

And how is this particularized knowledge of time and place rapidly coordinated? Yes, through the mechanism of price. Which is why those areas of the economy most unhinged from economic reality are those that are most interfered with by the state: medical care, college, and housing.

For example, we only know what it costs to attend this or that college. But we have no idea of the price, since the price mechanism is not permitted to function. Suffice it to say that when the state gets involved, the cost is always more than the price would have been.

Think, for example, of the layers of useless diversocrats that add to the cost of attending college. You can't put a price on them. Literally. If you did, you would immediately discover that they're worthless, because people would choose a college that avoids the cost of employing them.

I don't want to say "to be continued," because in a way I haven't even started.

Monday, November 05, 2018

There's Nothing Like a Principle

As you might have noticed from the sidebar, I've been delving into a lot of Hayek lately. I'd read his more popular broadsides such as The Road to Serfdom, The Fatal Conceit, and others, plus a lot of secondary literature, but never dug down into the weeds.

Of course, I have to skip over any weeds with numbers, math being hard and all. But the great majority of his works have no forbidding equations at all, just relentless logic and deadly (to the left) common sense.

He has rapidly risen to the top of the ranks of my go-to guys, which include Schuon and Dávila and not too many others. Why those three? One word: principles. The way I'm built, I just love timeless and universal principles that tie the cosmos together. Isn't this what we all want? Isn't the mind designed to know and cherish timeless principles? Yes. Which raises the question: if the mind is created to know principles, why do so many people ignore or reject them?

We'll leave aside the question of why some people are so beholden to bad principles. Like Anton:

He's a peculiar man. You could even say that he has principles. Principles that transcend money or drugs or anything like that.

Others will violate any principle for the sake of their One Big Principle. You know, leftists. But if the principle leads them to violate all principles, is it really a principle? Shouldn't the principial world hold together like an organic tapestry?

One of the appeals of principles is their simplicity, like truth itself. Sheriff Bell:

I think the truth is always simple. It has pretty much got to be. It needs to be simple enough for a child to understand. Otherwise it'd be too late. By the time you figured it out it would be too late.

That's an excellent point. You can spend your life searching for wisdom. Supposing you find it. Then you're an old man. What are you going to do with it? You can't go back and live your life with it the way it should have been lived all along.

D'oh! Isn't there a shortcut -- say, a body of wisdom you can use to guide your life, while at the same time checking it out for its veracity? You know, like taking it on faith at first, but verifying it as you go along?

We're talking about wisdom here, not mere knowledge. Wisdom is practical knowledge, ultimately of how to live. And you'd think Hayek -- a secular man -- wouldn't have much to say about that, only it turns out he's a better defender of tradition than most traditionalists: he gets not only its content but its function, which is actually the more important. Yes, the Function of Tradition. Good idea for a post.

Hayek, defender of the faith:

[O]ur morals endow us with capacities greater than our reason could do, namely the ability to adapt to conditions of which the individual mind could never be aware. It seems to me that what is called the "collective mind" of the group is nothing but the common moral tradition of its members, something different from and autonomous of the individual reasons, though of course constantly interacting with them.

Faith-Reason, or Wisdom-Learning, in a ceaseless dialectic. Why would you want to reinvent a wheel that man discovered 3,500 (pick a number) years ago and has been perfecting ever since? Good luck. You probably won't get it right, but supposing you do, By the time you figured it out it would be too late. Not just too late for you: too late for mankind, which will have destroyed itself in the meantime.

Let's take a bit of obvious wisdom from our tradition: get married and don't have children out of wedlock. Human sexuality is not animal sexuality. It is ultimately a sacred gift. And fatherhood -- a spiritual and not animal category -- is the basis of civilization.

Well, we've been systematically ignoring that wisdom for over half a century now, some communities more than others. What are the consequences?

I don't even have the time to explicate them. But notice as well that when you have jettisoned the principles, you no longer have them to illuminate and guide the psyche. Once you have plunged into relativity, you can't lift yourself out of the swamp by grasping on to some nonlocal principle. They're all gone. You killed them. Thus, if you are a feminist, there is no cure for feminism from within feminism; there is no cure for leftism within the left; there is no cure for tyranny once the Constitution means anything you want it to mean.

So now we have an abundance of mental illness, criminality, government dependency, and all-around dysfunction. What to do? I know: more leftism! Here we see the absurcularity of the left, in that it is the default solution to the problems it inevitably generates. Truly, it is the disease it purports to cure.

But it is ultimately a disease of principles, to get back to our main subject. "The rules of morality are not the conclusions of our reason." That being the case, if you have a principle to the effect that you will only adhere to what can be explicitly proved with reason, then you will thereby have plunged into -- well, not just unreasonableness, but anti-reason:

the tradition of moral rules contains adaptations to circumstances in our environment which are not accessible by individual observation or not perceptible by reason, and our morals are therefore a human equipment that is not only a creation of reason, but in some respects superior to it because it contains guides to human action which reason alone could never have discovered or justified....

The bottom line: "the value of traditional morals as an autonomous equipment is unintelligible to those intellectuals who are committed to to a strict rationalism or positivism." Any intellectual who "denies the acceptability of beliefs founded on anything but experience and reasoning" -- or clams that all true knowledge is a narrowly construed scientific knowledge -- such a person "must reject traditional ethics as irrational" and is thereby lost in the cosmos, plunged into the amoral darkness of chaos and tenure.

They will of course see the social consequences of their ideas -- for who can miss them? -- but blame Trump, or Russia, or White Privilege, or the Patriarchy, or Corporate Greed, anything but the actual causes.

A couple days ago I saw a remarkable missive by Ms. Occluded Cortex -- a variation on the theme that those who are traumatized by the less-then-monstrous themselves become monsters:

Six days from now, we can defeat the brutal white supremacist forces of anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant nativism, and racism. We can hold accountable the cold-hearted monsters [that's you] who have repeatedly attacked our health care.

[This is] our chance to push back against white supremacist forces across our nation, against the xenophobes who are militarizing the border, against the bigots who seek to erase our transgender families, against the apologists for sexual assault and the Islamophobes who sow hate to divide us...

We can send a message to the bigots and billionaires that this country belongs to all of us.

That is what you call a mind destroyed by hatred and ignorance. How did it get that way? Ironically, she calls herself Catholic. She's also an appallingly bad writer. Prepare to wince:

Christ came to me emblazoned on the upper arm of my beloved cousin Marc. The blue-black ink danced between the bullet scars and stretch marks that graced my cousin’s upper body. Atop this crown-of-thorns depiction was a tattooed banner with the phrase “Only God Can Judge Me.”

Well. Yes and no. Although God is the ultimate judge, there is nothing in Christianity that says we should abolish the criminal justice system and allow ourselves to be ruled by thugs. Christianity is not a suicide pact. But we'll leave that to the side.

Marc -- like several men in my family -- had been caught in the webbed threads of poverty, geography and lack of opportunity during the fever pitch of 1990s mass incarceration. Baggy-pant boys like him fit the descriptions of “super-predators” and “thugs” that dominated our national discourse at the time.

Oh. I get it. He didn't make any bad choices. Probably didn't even have free will. Rather, he was passively "caught" in various webbed threads of discourse about crime and whatnot.

I'm suffocating in bullshit. Time out for some homey wisdom from Sheriff Bell:

It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it.

Or this:

These old people I talk to, if you could of told em that there would be people on the streets of our Texas towns with green hair and bones in their noses speakin a language they couldnt even understand, well, they just flat out wouldnt of believed you. But what if you'd of told em it was their own grandchildren?

Hell, what if you told em these surreal folks is now runnin congress as of this Tuesday?

Friday, November 02, 2018

Time Has Come Today

How this post came to be: I was searching the blog for something having to do with time, and so many interesting things popped up that I decided to repost some of it.

Come to think of it, this is probably something I should do more often. I'm starting to think that all the good posts have already been written, and that I'm now just repeating myself. It's as if the new stuff is old but the old stuff is new, since I don't recall writing it; no doubt I was in my right mind at the time. And since none of it has been properly edited, I can finally get around to it. But there are also some new things sprinkled in.

The mystery of time. When I say "mystery," I mean it in a particular way. First, it is a distinct mode of understanding through which we may know an absent presence and present absence. In other words, mystery has an epistemological sense and an ontological sense; it is both a form of knowing and a form of being.

God, for example, is encountered through, or in, mystery. The more you heighten your sense of mystery, the more you are open to the transcendent. In my book, I symbolize this open be-attitude as (o).

But there is also the implicit ontological sense of the term. As I have mentioned before, I have long suspected that the various fundamental mysteries that confront man are somehow interconnected; you might say that they are diverse manifestations of O.

What I mean is that there are certain things that are fundamentally beyond the horizon of knowability -- at least in the profane or rationalistic sense. No amount of cogitation will ever resolve these riddles, which include Time, Life, People, Self, Liberty, Reason, O, and other magazines.

My apologies. That was a gag that couldn't help writing itself.

No joke: these mysteries include Time (in all its modes, but especially the Now), Consciousness, Life, Freedom, and Being (this last being our little window into eternity that can truly say -- and share in -- I AM).

In the past I have used the analogy of a three-dimensional hand passing through a two-dimensional plane. As the fingers break through the plane, they will initially appear as one, then two, eventually five, circles. But then the circles will blend together and become one at the wrist.

Think about the "place" where three dimensions appear as two. Is there such a place? Humanly speaking, it must be where free will takes place, not to mention the passage of time, which cannot be perceived absent a stationary or timeless "point." For example, prior to making a choice, we are confronted with a multitude of possibilities. Making the choice collapses the multidimensional field.

It reminds me of No Country For Old Men, which I recently read. Recall the scene in the gas station, where the proprietor's fate hinges on a coin flip. "I don't know what it is I stand to win." "You stand to win everything. Everything."

Nothing or everything, based on a coin toss. I think McCarthy is trying to say, That's Life. In fact, Chigurh says something in the book that isn't in the film:

Anything can be an instrument.... Small things. Things you wouldn't even notice. They pass from hand to hand. People dont pay attention. And then one day there's an accounting. And after that nothing is the same. Well, you say. It's just a coin. For instance. Nothing special there. What could that be an instrument of? You see the problem. To separate the act from the thing. As if the parts of some moment in history might be interchangeable with the parts of some other moment. How could that be? Well, it's just a coin. Yes. That's true. Is it?

So, you never really know when Everything is on the line, or what may by its instrument. Maybe it always is on the line -- or at least we ought to act as if it always is. We never really know what's coming. We can only pretend to know, which gets back to Hayek and the epistemological problem: we just don't know what we cannot know, and yet, we must choose.

With the gas station proprietor a coin is the instrument. With Moss, it's the leather document case filled with cash:

He sat there looking at it and then closed the flap with his head down. His whole life was sitting there in front of him. Day after day from dawn till dark until he was dead. All of it cooked down into forty pounds of paper in a satchel.

What does he do? He sees two lives before him, one already over, the other full of possibilities. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair. It wouldn't even be right. Just call it!

He latched the case and fastened the straps and buckled them and rose and shouldered the rifle and then picked up the case and machinepistol and took his bearings by his shadow and set out.

Now, that is a provocative line: He took his bearings by his shadow. I could spend the rest of the post on that one, but I think I'll move on. Judas comes to mind. All this, for thirty pieces of silver!

Back to the subject of transition from one dimension to another... not that we ever left it. This is also the only "place" where the I AM could be. On one side, you might say, is the Dreamer who dreams the dream, on the other the dream-ee who recalls it. But life is a tapestry of Dreamer and Dream-ee, isn't it? Everything opens out to the infinite on one end, and the finite on the other. Subject and object.

I think on the Subject side is "religion as such," while on the object side is such-and-such a religion. Schuon writes that the perennial philosophy or religion

is quite evidently inexhaustible and has no natural limits.... As it is impossible to exhaust all that lends itself to being expressed, and as repetition in metaphysical matters cannot be a mistake -- it being better to be too clear than not clear enough -- we believe that we could return to our usual theses, either to offer things we have not yet said, or to explain in a usefully new way things we have said before.

So if this post is tediously repetitive, that's my excuse.

Later Schuon expands upon this in a useful way:

It is indispensable to know at the outset that there are truths inherent in the human spirit that are as if buried in the 'depths of the heart,' which means that they are contained as potentialities or virtualities in the pure Intellect: these are the principial or archetypal truths, those which prefigure and determine all others....

The intelligence of animals is partial, that of man is total; and this totality is explained only by a transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned. Thus, the decisive error of materialism and of agnosticism is to be blind to the fact that material things and the common experiences of our life are immensely beneath the scope of our intelligence.... without the Absolute, the capacity of our conceiving it would have no cause.

As we've said before, profane thinking, or (k), can only arrive at O in the exterior sense; it can conceive it, but being in it is a different matter. Real ontonoetic thinking is a declension from O, i.e., that "transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned."

Now, if we were fully "in O," then time stops and we simply enjoy the divine Slack. There is duration, but no time per se. Augustine talks about being "taken up into heaven"; likewise, one thinks of Plotinus and so many other mystics down through the ages. Or, as reader Johan reminds us, it is like when Homer talks about the paradox of the beer being "in us," that we may be "in the beer."

Wo. Be-er.

Is any of this actually helpful or even interesting or at least amusing to anyone? Or am I deluding myself? I honestly don't know. Well, amusing, maybe, in a weird kind of way.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Change and Progress, Circle and Line

Yesterday it occurred to me that if there is no freedom, then time is reduced to a kind of space. It is completely solid, as it were, with no give.

Time is bound up with change, but if time is space, then change is... well, it isn't. It would be analogous to two views of the same space -- like this room: I can look in this corner or that one, but it's the same room. Nothing has changed.

When we first got our new dog last year, she'd go out to the backyard and look through the window and see me typing, and think it was a stranger. Slowly the fear turned to puzzlement, and eventually she let it go. In her case, she had two views of the same person but thought it was two people. But if time is an illusion, then everything is like that. What looks like surprise is reduced to inevitability.

Surprise. It's on a continuum, isn't it? There are good surprises and bad surprises, trivial ones and catastrophic ones. But what if there were no surprises? Life would be unendurable, wouldn't it? Goroundhog Day, in circles.

Is there an ontological basis for surprise? The answer may surprise you!

I insist that there is, because I believe creativity is an irreducible principle in God: God cannot be God and not be creative. It's in his nature. Hence all this creativity, everywhere, at all times. It's here because it is a prolongation of, or participation in, God.

Do you have a better idea? Maybe you think it's a "bottom up" phenomenon. If so, then it is anchored in a bottom that is devoid of creativity -- the atemporal block universe described by modern physics. How does creativity get in?

There is change, and there is progress. In the absence of the Absolute, progress is reduced to mere change, and change is reduced to inevitability. And for awhile, this is precisely what Marxists taught: that progressive change, ending in utopia, was inevitable.

D'oh! That didn't work out, so "progress" had to be forced upon the rest of us, which is still the current state of play.

This coming Tuesday will again come down to the choice: change or progress. Except that the people who call themselves "progressives" are really changists, and we mean this quite literally. It is not an insult, because progress is ruled out by their metaphysic:

[P]rogress implies some improvement. Improvement, in turn, implies a standard that is not itself changing. Unless I have access to a fixed standard, I cannot tell whether things are getting better or worse. I must have an idea of what would count as ideal in order to recognize progress (Brown).

Conversely, change requires no standard, which is convenient for the left, being that they have none:

Although some criterion must be used to know that there is change, it need not be a standard measure. I can use any measure I please, and the measure can be changed as often as I please. It does not even matter if my standard itself is changing... (ibid).

Again, convenient for the left. No, mandatory! Truly, it is no joke to say that in the absence of double standards, the left wouldn't have any. Thus, for example, we have to stop demonizing people and realize that white people are our biggest threat. Or stop foreigners from influencing our politics, unless they are illegal Democrats. Etc.

Here's a book we haven't discussed in a long time, if ever: The Reality of Time. Is time indeed real? Or is it just a side effect of something more fundamental? You know what we believe; still, what would it mean for time to be real? What is the meaning of real?

Reality is two things: it is what is, despite our wishing it to be otherwise. But if it is only inevitable, then this isn't any better then the timeless universe referenced above. Let's go back to Dr. Brown:

Reality includes the material universe experienced by our senses and studied by science, but also such things as thought, free will, moral principles, and love. If these things are not real, then life itself is meaningless.

Now, thought, beauty, love, meaning, and free will transcend materiality. Therefore, reality is transcendent. Or, it is immanent but always transcends its own immanence.

Again, reality is 1) what is. But reality (for us) must be a prolongation of the Ultimate Real, and this is what we call God: you might say that there is a kind of dialectical play between reality and Ultimate Reality.

Everything that exists is more or less real. In other words, to exist is to partake of reality. A bad man, for example, exists; but he exists in a state of privation, in that the absence of goodness is a measure of his privation and lack of participation in the Real. Thus, being that things are more or less real, a -- if not the -- point of life must be to become more real, no?

Let's jump-cut to one of the ultimate principles of Christianity: Incarnation. It's a very strange doctrine. What's the point? Well, for starters, it is that the Ultimate Real plunges into what we call reality, in order to redeem it: that God becomes man that man may become (i.e., participate in) God. So, we are real. The Incarnation allows us to become more real.

Really? Again, go back up a few paragraphs, to the ultimate standard against which change is measured. An aphorism comes to mind:

Christ is the truth. What is said about Him are mere approximations to the truth.

Boom. The container has entered the contained. The contained can never contain the container, only "approximate" it. Still, better than nothingness.

Try this approximation on for size:

Christ was in history like a point on a line. But his redemptive act is to history as the center is to the circumference.

The Incarnation is situated on a point in history. But history cannot contain what transcends it, i.e., its own source, ground, and telos. For with the Incarnation, we might say that the Center becomes peripheral that the periphery might become central. Which comports with this timeless nugget recalled by Schuon, and which really ties the room together:

To quote an expression of Pascal’s we favor -- Reality is “an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and its circumference nowhere.”

How does this work, exactly -- center and circumference? Like this: think of a spider's web "formed of warp and weft threads -- or of radii and concentric circles." The radii connect directly to the center, while the circles are as if "echoes" or fractals or images of it; the former are continuous, the latter separate and discontinuous.

But again, the circles, although seemingly separate from the source, are real. How to reconcile the two relationships? Via the spiral: we are not God (the central point) and yet we are not-not God (via the radii). Christ in his godhood is pure radii, while in his manhood he is situated along a historical circle.

But God is always tossing down various ropes, i.e., radii. They go under the heading of "grace," which is really a vertical gift.

And seriously, where would we be without this ceaseless provision of vertical gifts? That's right: nowhere. We couldn't live for a second.

Never did get to the Reality of Time. Maybe tomorrow. Well, here are a couple of fragmental notes to myself in the back of the book, maybe relevant:

History is the time taken by humans to explicate humanness.

Only the present has a vertical dimension through which floods being, consciousness, life, eternity, etc.

Circle and line, change and progress, respectively.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Nothing and its Consequences

Still thinking about truth, freedom, and creation. These must be ultimate categories, and as we've said many times -- or suspected many times, anyway -- all ultimate categories must somehow be related to one another, otherwise this wouldn't be One Cosmos but many; there would be one cosmos for each ultimate, with no way to reconcile them.

An Ultimate Category is both the end and beginning of thought; take, for example, truth. Truth is obviously the whole point of thinking, but one cannot begin thinking without an implicit notion of truth. The very act of thinking presupposes the truth it converges upon. Indeed, I would say that truth is the substance of thought, just as thought is the form of truth.

But again, those other ultimates have to figure in as well. Freedom, for example, must be present, or truth is reduced to a compulsion or machine. Let's say I'm a leftist who knows the Truth of Gender, and therefore force everyone else to believe there are 57 genders, or that men and women are identical, or that women Must Be Believed. That's a rather brittle "truth," isn't it?

Which goes to the more general point that all "leftist truth" is brittle, for which reason it must be protected and afforded a safe space where it isn't challenged. It's not enough that 95% of professors believe it, or that speech codes protect it. Non-believers must be persecuted and punished!

I read of a survey the other day that found that over 50% of college students are afraid to disagree with their professors. Why only 50%? I suppose because half of the students are already so indoctrinated that they can't imagine disagreeing.

So, freedom makes truth more robust. It's why conservatives are eager to argue with leftists, but leftists ban conservatives from college campuses.

I heard of another self-evident study last week, revealing that conservatives understand leftist arguments much more than leftists understand conservative arguments. This explains why the left so rarely responds to the content of our arguments, but rather, with vilification and slander. This week, for example, you're a racist if you don't like the idea of a mob of foreigners exploiting our laws in order to invade the country. Everyone knows that if we were being invaded by mobs of Republicans, the wall would already be there. With turrets. And a moat.

Creativity is also unthinkable in the absence of freedom, and both require order. Too much order stifles freedom and creativity, as too little dissipates them.

Which certainly has a bearing on how God rolls. One of the fundamental doctrines of the West is "creation from nothing." A pure nothingness would be a total negation of truth and order; I suppose it's like a substance that is curative in a small dose but poisonous if you take too much. Probably a better way of expressing it would be creation with nothing, but not only nothing; rather, it's a vital ingredient, such that that there is a residue of nothingness in everything.

For example, what residues of nothingness do we see in human life? Well, death for starters. But also ignorance, which is again perpetual and irremediable; as described in the previous post, it is both a cause and consequence of a knowing intellect separate from (and yet a prolongation of) God.

We could also say that the inexhaustibility of creativity is a kind of shadow of nothingness. In this context, the most creative person in the world may be distressed to realize that the entirety of his efforts is but a grain of sand in the ocean.

Or, think of it the other way around: what if man could create something so comprehensive and so total that it eliminated the need for any further creativity -- a poem or painting so perfect that no further poems or paintings would be necessary or even desirable, because they would distract us from the One True Painting or Poem?

By the way, that is precisely the future book I have in the back of my mind. Yes, the Impossible Dream. But wait. Unlike the first book, it would not be an attempt at synthesis and integration of diverse fields. Rather, it would go to the nonlocal order of things -- to the implicit rules that make everything possible. Like this post is doing, for example.

Is it possible to read God's mind, or hack his computer? Fortunately we don't have to, because God tells us what's on his mind, or at least what we need to know. Why then do so many people ignore it? I think because it hasn't been presented to them in the right way. In particular, I think that certain important abstractions are understood concretely, and vice versa.


Okay, the Garden of Eden. Does one understand this concretely and literally, or is there supposed to be some abstract takeaway? This isn't just a problem with non-believers. It might even be worse with believers who not only superimpose some concrete understanding onto it, but vilify those of us who don't. Remember, since it verges on the ultimate, there must be an element of freedom and creativity mixed in there as well. Such mythopoetic stories are not there to look at but through. They illuminate the whole landscape. If they don't, then you're doing it wrong.

Think of how many metaphysical lessons are crammed into Genesis -- even just the first few chapters: creation from (or with) nothing; the uniqueness of man in all of creation; the primordial unity-in-complementarity of man and woman; fallenness, which is to say, separation from the Source (in the absence of which we couldn't exist at all); a seeming principle of evil or darkness or entropy; the perpetual exile and exodus of this life; the envy-fueled and murderous impulses in the hearts of our brothers; etc.

Time out for Schuon:

Obviously, creation “comes from” -- that is the meaning of the word ex -- an origin; not from a cosmic, hence “created” substance, but from a reality pertaining to the Creator, and in this sense -- and in this sense only -- it can be said that creation is situated in God. It is situated in Him in respect of ontological immanence: everything in fact “contains” on pain of being non-existent -- on the one hand Being, and on the other a given Archetype or “Idea”; the divine “content” is ipso facto also the “container,” and even is so a priori, since God is Reality as such. But things are “outside God” -- all sacred Scriptures attest to this -- in respect of contingency, hence in respect of the concrete phenomena of the world.

If I understand him rightly, our own nothingness must be a consequence of being situated "outside" God and "inside" contingency (AKA freedom, or at least indeterminacy), even though nothing in reality can be outside or free of him. Or, everything is simultaneously in- and outside him, which, you might say, goes to the principles of transcendence and immanence. We are always what we concretely are -- immanence -- but so much more -- transcendence. And freedom is, as it were, situated between these two rascals:

The purpose of freedom is to enable us to choose what we are in the depths of our heart. We are intrinsically free to the extent that we have a center which frees us: a center which, far from confining us, dilates us by offering us an inward space without limits and without shadows; and this Center is in the last analysis the only one there is.