Monday, January 01, 2018

He Who Hesitates is... On the Right Track?

New year, new book, same subject, which is to say, Everything and Nothing.

This one is called No God, No Science? Theology, Cosmology, Biology, by Michael Hanby. The book is right up our alchemy, in that it reveals the unity of all things, from matter on up and God on down (which are two sides of the same vertical reality).

And speaking of alchemy, what is the cosmos but a system of transmuting matter into consciousness, truth, beauty, etc? This is what the cosmos does. Indeed, if it doesn't transmute energy into truth, then we can stop thinking right now, because there would be no point to it. To know a truth -- or to create beauty, or to do a good deed -- is like a little flowering of the cosmos.

Yes, you could call it a miracle. We could investigate and analyze it forever, but we will never eliminate that last leap, which is to say, the (literally) infinite gap between material objects and immaterial subjects, between immanent evolution and transcendent truth, between existence and intelligence. Or just say horizontal and vertical (and saying anything places you in the latter, the logosphere).

Hanby alludes to this at several points -- for example, that any theory of reality must include its own possibility; or that it is as if scientism understands everything about the cosmos except for the small matter of how we understand it at all. D'oh!

Take the theory of natural selection, for example. I've brought this up in a number of posts -- that it can by no means account for its own possibility, for in rendering the mind (or brain, really) completely contingent, it bars access to any permanent truth. Certainly this constraint applies to other animals, who inhabit their own closed worlds, and are not conformed or open to being or truth -- to totality and objectivity.

Does natural selection explain how we are exempted from this limitation? No. And if we aren't exempted, then no theory of any kind is "true." Therefore, if (reductionistic) natural selection is true, then it is false.

No doubt it is partially true, but to elevate a partial truth to the whole is just Genesis 3 All Over Again. Bor-ring. Natural selection must account for our ability to understand it -- or at least have the courtesy get out of the way of our understanding! Genes can be so damn selfish and bullheaded sometimes.

The same can be said for cosmology, anthropology, neurology, any field of study. Each one is only possible because -- obviously -- existence includes their possibility. So, rule one in metaphysics would have to be avoiding one in which your philosophy is rendered impossible. For example, materialism renders intelligence impossible, so it is self-refuting before it ever gets off the ground.

Most philosophies are similarly self-refuting. I am reminded of an Aphorism, that Intelligence is a train from which few do not deboard, one after the other, in successive stations. This blog serves passengers who remain on the bus for the whole journey. That is its sole purpose. That and a few chuckles along the way.

Another aphorism: Erudition has three grades: the erudition of him who knows what an encyclopedia says, the erudition of him who writes what an encyclopedia says, and the erudition of him who knows what an encyclopedia does not know how to say.

The purpose of this blog is to say what cannot be said until we finally know Nothing, for That which is incomprehensible increases with the growth of the intelligence. The God we know is just a springboard to the God beyond all knowing.

Which is true of all knowledge, isn't it? Again, this goes back to the doctrine of creation: that the only reason we can know anything is that we cannot know everything, the latter being reserved for the Creator. Therefore, man will never truly understand so much as a fly, because there is again that infinite leap between Nothing and any thing at all -- let alone our ability to comprehend it!

By the way, I've noticed this pattern, that in Schuon's books, the first essay is often the most provocative, and the first sentence or two the most pointed, as if they summarize not only the whole book but the whole existentialada. I'm currently re-re-reading From the Divine to the Human, and its first sentence is as follows:

The first thing that should strike man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of the miracle of intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- whence the incommensurability between it and material objects, whether a grain of sand or the sun, or any creature whatever as an object of the senses.

Bʘʘm. And the "should" should be taken in both senses, as an intellectual imperative but a moral one as well. It is what we ought to do, because when we forget to do it, bad things follow -- for example, the left. If wisdom is always bearing in mind what we do not and cannot know, then leftism is the last word in willful and systematic stupidity.

You might say that our knowledge is both shielded and secured by what we cannot know. Even the most virulent atheism lives in the shadow of a lost -- or forgotten or denied -- knowledge that is specifically Christian.

Which is what this book is ultimately about: that to even say "cosmos" is to have confessed faith in a transcendent unity that surpasses any particular knowledge of it. No one has ever seen the cosmos, and no one ever will. And yet, we know it in every act of knowledge, as its nonlocal unity sponsors any and all local knowing, itself a transcendent unity of subject and object.

So, scientism also performs a kind of alchemy, albeit a retarded one that transmutes the inconceivable into a banality, the latter an unreflective stupidity that could never be. In other words,

Nothing is more absurd than to have intelligence derive from matter, hence the greater from the lesser; the evolutionary leap from matter to intelligence is from every point of view the most inconceivable thing that could be (Schuon).

Or, you could say that it is precisely its conceivability that makes the materialist crocktrine so inconceivable. That sounds paradoxical, but it is literal. Speaking aphironically, you might say, Nothing is more superficial than intelligences that comprehend everything (Dávila).

Here at One Cosmos we never forget that As long as we can respond without hesitating we do not know the subject.

Therefore... er... umm... ah... let me put it this way... no, wait... let me get back to you...


julie said...

Nothing is more superficial than intelligences that comprehend everything

Yes; it is reassuring that the older I get, the less I understand about pretty much everything.

Anyway, it seems like having an intelligence that comprehends everything could only lead to exhaustion. How burdensome it would be to have complete knowledge about even one thing, and have to live amongst all the people who hopelessly lack the same!

common sense bob said...

Thanks! Great start to the new year.

mushroom said...

Happy New Year!

ted said...

Been hesitating for 51 years strong! Best decision I never made.

Rick said...

"Certainly this constraint applies to other animals, who inhabit their own closed worlds, and are not conformed or open to being or truth -- to totality and objectivity."

Illustrated in full lol rite here:

Happy New Lol!

julie said...


Van Harvey said...

"Therefore... er... umm... ah... let me put it this way... no, wait... let me get back to you..."

IOW, Happy New Year!!!

Anonymous said...

A good zinger of a post to start the New Year! Thank you. There are many great things about the post, but as I am troll and can be nothing else, I have to question the content. But not the style, sir, never the style.

The theses of the post include: People can never know everything. On the surface this is indeed the case, but:

For example, a person with impaired memory. They may know a great deal, but can't recall it. How can you be sure people are not in a partial amnesiac state in general? Because, remember, we don't just pop out of thin air. We were someplace else before we were here. Where? What was going on? What was it like? We don't know. Why don't we know? That is the question.

And do not the scriptures speak of the water of lethe, blessed forgetfulness.

Now, indeed people don't just vanish into thin air when they die. Where do they go? Of course we know what happens to the material component. Is there another component? If there is, where does that go? What does it do? That is the question.

Therefore a thesis can be forwarded, that everybody indeed knows everything, except when they are in certain states, like being alive, or asleep, or under anesthesia, etc. There's not much evidence for it, but also, it cannot be refuted either.

The between life it a thing? The scriptures tend to think so, as does Greek Mythology.

What happens there is the missing information which could support or refute your assertion. But as it stands, you don't have a lock on your thesis, and should admit as much.

Cheers, tootles, yes I am a Brit, such behaviour!!!