Friday, January 26, 2018

It's Only "Natural"

Let us beware of discourse where the adjective "natural" without quotation marks abounds: somebody is deceiving himself, or wants to deceive us. --Dávila

So, one of Hanby's points is that there can be no such category of the "natural" per se; rather, natural and supernatural (or perhaps better, transnatural, to avoid certain unnecessary baggage) define one another.

When you think about it, it makes no sense for a materialist to call something "natural," since his metaphysical presumption is that everything is natural; it is literally equivalent to existence. Everything that exists is natural; anything that is not natural does not exist. As usual, garbage in, tenure out.

Obviously that makes no sense, even on its own terms, because of the distinction between semantics and syntax. In other words, if it is meaningful to say that naturalism is the case, then naturalism cannot be the case, since meaning cannot be reduced to matter.

But this is all so much cognitive idling while we sip the morning coffee and wait for some actual inspiration. How about something new, bOb, instead of the same old same old?

A challenge, eh? Look, I don't plan these things ahead of time. I am reminded of something from the foreword of Dr. Peterson's new book -- that he's just a guy who likes to share interesting stuff. If he finds something interesting, then he assumes you will too. The difference is that his book is in the top ten on amazon, while mine is in the top two million. That's a lot of disinterest!

Which brings to mind a question: can a man control what spontaneously interests him? I can't. Truly, I just follow my nous. Certainly I can't do anything about what bores me. Which is most of the things that interest everyone else.

Perhaps we'll move on to a serious consideration of 12 Rules after we finish the present book. People tend to either idealize Peterson or regard him as Literally Hitler, but I'd like to explore the intersection between what interests him and what interests me.

Here's a trick question: has science actually increased our knowledge of the universe? Well, yes and no. Certainly there is a lot more of it, but if you add it all together, does it actually penetrate as deeply as, say, Genesis? Indeed, does it even add up to a universe?

More to the point, supposing the world is created, what does all the knowledge that denies creation amount to? But if the world is not created, how is knowledge even possible?

If you have a quick answer to that question, it is because, to repeat the words of the Aphorist, As long as we can respond without hesitating we do not know the subject. For Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything.

In short, you may know nothing, but at least you know it well.

In reality, "science's remarkable advances are premised largely upon the thoughtful destruction of any coherent notion of a uni-verse" -- of One Cosmos, you might say. It's an interesting if perverse game, in which they begin with the metaphysical principle of a cosmos and then deploy it to destroy the principle. In this sense, scientism is like a cognitive autoimmune disorder that attacks the host. Sad!

If the One and the Many are always complementary, scientism is manyness run amuck. Which is really a definition of cancer, isn't it? For cancer is a part that declares independence from the whole. As such, it occupies an ambiguous category of being a part of the body while not really being one -- analogous to obnoxious illegal aliens who demand that we treat them like citizens. But that's how we can tell we don't want you as a citizen: your presumptuous arrogance and grotesque sense of entitlement.

The thing is, many victims of scientism are no longer consciously aware of what they have lost. In other words, they have lost what they have lost, and don't know where to begin to find it. It is like a crime against the Creator with no clues whatsoever.

But the loss of the uni-verse, of the One Cosmos, "is the destruction in thought of a single order of reality comprehensive of its own intelligibility, an order large enough to include us," despite the fact that this single order "remains a necessary starting point for scientific inquiry."

That's a Big Thing, in fact, the biggest. What makes man think he's so big, big enough to take down something so much bigger? Yes, Genesis 3, but a well worn Aphorism comes to mind: In order to challenge God, man puffs up his emptiness.

How many universes are there? For the anti- and irreligious, the answer is ultimately "as many as there are people." For the heteroparadoxical doctrine of relativism is that truth doesn't exist, and everyone has it. Which is no truth at all. Or else. In other words, power and domination.

So, To believe that science is enough is the most naïve of superstitions (Dávila ). For reason is only competent in its own field if it keeps its gaze fixed upon truths beyond its competence (St. Bonaventure, in Hanby).

24 comments:

julie said...

The thing is, many victims of scientism are no longer consciously aware of what they have lost. In other words, they have lost what they have lost, and don't know where to begin to find it. It is like a crime against the Creator with no clues whatsoever.

Yes, just so, and they consider this state of mind "enlightenment." Having lost the reason for being, they lose interest in reproducing themselves; not only that, but begin to find that mankind, far from being a part of nature (except perhaps for the few "untouched" tribes living in edenic solitude), we are a cancer upon the face of our fair mother earth, and must be eradicated.

julie said...

When you think about it, it makes no sense for a materialist to call something "natural," since his metaphysical presumption is that everything is natural; it is literally equivalent to existence. Everything that exists is natural; anything that is not natural does not exist.

Heh. I was reading a post somewhere yesterday mocking a feminist who said something like, "one man, one woman, and their kids isn't natural." In a way, she's right; it cannot possibly be merely natural.

Gagdad Bob said...

If nothing is supernatural, nothing is natural either.

ted said...

Interesting excerpt from Brooks on Peterson. Not sure I agree yet, but I haven't read the book yet:

Much of Peterson’s advice sounds to me like vague exhortatory banality. Like Hobbes and Nietzsche before him, he seems to imagine an overly brutalistic universe, nearly without benevolence, beauty, attachment and love. His recipe for self-improvement is solitary, nonrelational, unemotional. I’d say the lives of young men can be improved more through loving attachment than through Peterson’s joyless and graceless calls to self-sacrifice.

But the emphasis on strength of will, the bootstrap, the calls to toughness and self-respect — all of this touches some need in his audience. He doesn’t comfort. He demands: “Stop doing what you know to be wrong. … Say only those things that make you strong. Do only those things that you could speak of with honor.”

Gagdad Bob said...

I'm afraid I agree with Brooks so far -- a lot of naive cheerleading and a lot of psychologizing of religion. Even some deepaking. Obviously a bright guy. As if brightness is enough! (But I'm only just beginning chapter 3.)

I pray I'm not just envious!

Also, most of his influences are people I read 30 or 40 years ago. They were stops along the way, but turned out not to be destinations.

Gagdad Bob said...

Seems to be a big revelation to a lot of people that Bible stories have many layers of meaning and a great deal of depth... He's kind of reinventing the wheel in that regard.

Gagdad Bob said...

And he should definitely check any idiosyncratic interpretations against tradition, otherwise one is prone to idle speculation. More often than not, originality in these matters is wrong.

ted said...

I pray I'm not just envious!

Ha! Like you once said, you would hate the attention.

Gagdad Bob said...

Okay, now it's starting to get tedious: just passed p. 100, and I've highlighted nothing in over 40 pages. Not a good sign. A lot of stuff that's not even shrugworthy -- like a polite Canadian Dr. Laura.

ted said...

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

This doesn't surprise me by some of the videos I've watched. They all have good tidbits in them, but somehow lack a greater coherency.

Gagdad Bob said...

That was my sense, although others swear by him.

ted said...

He has a lot of conviction, smart, well-spoken, and probably offers the younger culture a dose of something lacking. But that's why I'm convinced our culture has fallen so low, that any wisdom that doesn't fall into tradition (but partially pulls from it) will attract internet followers these days.

Gagdad Bob said...

I'm finding that the book is aimed rather low: at people who can't handle their bidness at all. Those people don't interest me at all, hence my disinterest in secular psychology. I mean, someone needs to help them, but my priorities are elsewhere.

Gagdad Bob said...

He even practices Dr. Hartley's famous STOP IT! method on p. 158.

Gagdad Bob said...

Made it to p. 203. I think I'm giving up and moving on.

julie said...

One of my reasons for picking it up was that I hoped it might speak to some of the young people, especially the young men, in my extended family, who probably haven't been exposed to much if any of the ideas he touches on. To that end, its not terrible - even so, I might offer, but have no idea how it would be received. I plan to keep reading or at least skimming, a little further.

He's been a professor for quite a while, used to speaking and thinking for an audience of primarily college-aged kids who are reasonably bright. As such, he's obviously great at what he does, and clearly this kind of teaching - and this kind of book - is desperately needed today.

I think most of us here just aren't quite the right audience.

Gagdad Bob said...

Probably right. The world needs wise and integrated fathers for sure.

Gagdad Bob said...

Obviously he's speaking to a need -- 188 reviews already!

Abdulmonem Othman said...

When we forget the divine nous and seek inspiration from our self nous, surely something is wrong. The intimacy of form and meaning can not be discarded like the natural and the supernatural. The law of pair, that is why humans are consistently reminded not to forget the other pair of this life. The place where every one will find the resume of his/her accomplishment. Realizing the absolute as Schuon repeatedly insist in this life is a must, before returning to Him. Let us not forget that fundamental law of our existence and the purpose thereof. Every one is prone to do what he is oriented to do in light of the divine plan that has been delivered to humanity and consistently being repeating over the ages and in light of the complete freedom given to the humans to choose any path provided that they are aware of their final destination. The doctor is repeating the story of the perennial tradition perhaps, he may help himself and others to remember the absolute and move toward it. it is a personal journey and we never know when the light strikes and at whose hand the opportunity comes. Receive the good and discard the bad without indulging in characterization because the only character we are responsible for is ours. When the objective measurement is replaced by subjective measurement the distorted phenomenon of fragmentation reigns with all its negative residues. As they said, sin is doing less of your best. We are the guests of a host of thousand ways of contingencies uselessly agitating the mind and the heart and disturbing the human attention from the transcendental truth of the absolute. We are definitely on the threshold of a great upheavals that will shake all distorted cultural boxes, to realize the truth of the absolute. There is a big difference between looking ahead and looking above. The politics of the west has abused the purity of Christianity and lost their religious independence by accepting to be a tail to the Judaic greed forgetting that Jesus has come to correct the distorted Judaic creed. The truth can not be concealed any longer. Marx said, humanism is the denial of god and the total affirmation of man. We need to look higher than our heads and leave this anti-divine mentality that consider all scriptures as corpses of the past that must be disposed with as fast as possible. Let us do not think that this trajectory has nothing to do with the divine plan that incorporate all events in their disclosure motions toward the end.Thank you all for this interesting dialogue which is part of the divine dialogue which has been prescribed to humanity in order to move upward and do not let itself be solely indulging in a materialist forward movement.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

I forgot to say that I am very unhappy with Julie sweeping statement that we are a cancer upon the face of our fair mother earth and must be eradicated. Why is all this despair that runs contrary to the loving mercy of the divine. I remember how god corrected Abraham when he asked god to sustain the believers, god said, and the disbelievers also.

Anonymous said...

Use these methods to limit readership:

Start on any subject material, but always conclude the left sucks.

Waste no opportunity to denigrate tenured professors.

Tolerate no dissent from blog commenters

More pessimism, less optimism

Always contemplate the past, never the future.

Stick to these simple rules, and you will be safe from all aggravations created by having a large readership.

You're welcome.

Van Harvey said...

Brooks via Ted "His recipe for self-improvement is solitary, nonrelational, unemotional."

I haven't begun the book yet, but that doesn't resemble anything I've heard in his lectures.

Still, the guy is a self declared Pragmatist - that alone is going to limit the scope and depth he can bring to an issue. Some of the mist enjoyable parts of listening to him, is how often he comes up against his own limits, and doesn't deny or run from them, but wonders and speculates about what the heck that could mean.

Sure, he's unlikely to point out sound answers, but that's not the attraction - in this culture, the attraction (and what I find most hopeful) is that he's asking the questions, and refuses to discredit them. That's pretty huge.

Gagdad, I'm not surprised that you're finding little to highlight... I mean, the title kinda ensured the likelihood of that (I wanted to get his "Maps of Meaning", but it was going for something like $80, so... nope, and went for the pre-order), but I am curious to see if, as in his lectures, he raises the interesting questions. Any hope there?

Gagdad Bob said...

His lectures are definitely more compelling than his writing. Maybe he's like a rock act that is much better live than in the studio, e.g., the Allman Brothers, Van Morrison, Springsteen, etc.

Van Harvey said...

:-)