Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Your Trial, Your Ego's Funeral

Continuing with yesterday's theme, it is simply The Case that no philosophy can determine the mind's limits without implicitly surpassing those limits. At the the very least, there always has to be an exception to your arbitrary rule.

For example, all thought is determined by unconscious motives except for Freud's; or minds are solely the result of selfish genes except for the theory of selfish genes; or our ideologies are a consequence of class interest except for Marx's. Which brings to mind a timeless Aphorism:

The left's theses are trains of thought that are carefully stopped before they reach the argument that demolishes them.

I have trained my son to recognize that all bad or inadequate philosophies do this -- that they always contain the self-refuting seeds of their own destruction. One can either proceed downward into an infinite regress, or upward in a progression toward infinitude. The word metanoia refers to the latter, i.e., to turning away from the shadows and looking out the cave door.

Here is a riddle: "What makes truth compelling? What is the force of reason?" (Hanby). The answer is that man is designed to know and love truth. That being the case, the pursuit takes care of itself. Except when it doesn't, for people are passionate in defense of the truth irrespective of whether it happens to be true or false. You could even say that this is man's most fundamental and persistent problem, the most obvious residue of the fall: passionate defense of the Lie.

We've said before that if Satan can get an otherwise good person to believe the Lie, then his work is done. The person will do all of his heavy lifting. For it is written: The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues (Dávila). Which is precisely why prudence is the highest virtue: thanks to the left, every day is a lesson in how justice minus prudence = tyranny. Likewise, courage minus prudence = oppression, or terror, or bullying.

Some things are true simply by virtue of their existence. They cannot not be, nor can we not believe them, at least implicitly. Of course, being that we are free, we are free to deny these truths, but only on pain of a primordial contradiction, as alluded to above. The contradiction is simply the price one pays for denying integral reality. This is all spelled out in Genesis 3.

In reality, "Philosophy in its aspiration to ultimacy is inherently open to theology" (ibid.). In other words, philosophy, in its pursuit of the ultimate principle, necessarily shades off into what surpasses philosophy. Here again, you may or may not see this, but it is you who are on trial, not the principle. The principle judges you, not vice versa. You might say that its ways are not your ways.

Any formal structure of philosophy "cannot be explicated without at least implicit reference to the absolute." Yes. I just said that. More to the point -- and this is the whole premise of One Cosmos, so pay attention --

Theology resides in the heart of philosophy because an intuition of the whole inheres in the apprehension of a part, because it harbors a legitimate aspiration to ultimacy, and because some form of the God-world relation is inherent in however it understands the subject.

You might say that theology/philosophy is an irreducible complementarity: engage in one and you are engaging in the other, so you might as well be explicit about it. Do you see this? If not, you are on trial.

Philosophy can never exhaust, much less contain, Being. You are again free to imagine otherwise, but a crack by Jesus comes to mind: he who loses his life shall find it, and vice versa. It is your self (or soul) vs. your ego, and only one can prevail. And to assimilate a truth is to die a little. In a good way.

"In the dynamic interplay between essence and existence, there is a certain bottomless depth, a certain infinity within the being of the creature itself..." (Hanby). This immanent infinitude answers, so to speak, the transcendent infinitude of God. We are an image, albeit an inverse one. In any event, you could symbolize this ultimate dialectic as O <--> ʘ; ʘ is not O, but nor is it not not O.

It's like the old Vedantic formulation: Atman and Brahman are not so much one as not-two. In our terms, the Son is not the Father, and yet they are one-in-love.

Left and right cerebral hemispheres. In a certain sense, you could say that profane philosophy is in the left, mystical theology in the right. But here again, our brains are one. We must always see the world stereoscopically, such that its infinite depth jumps out at us. Boo! We could no more demystify the world than we could remove the wetness from water.

The title of today's post was inspired by the immortal Sonny Boy Williamson:


ted said...

From Bruce Charlton (ties in nicely):

Metaphysical assumptions cannot ever be proven - they are assumptions (and assumptions are necessary for proof).

Metaphysical assumptions are not supported by evidence, so don't look for any! Because they are assumptions (and assumptions are necessary to define the nature and status of evidence).

So we must choose to assume metaphysics - and when we are contradicting the metaphysics that we have unconsciously-absorbed from society and unthinkingly reproduce - then we must consciously choose our metaphysical assumptions.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Godwin, Ted, and other commenters.

The post, and Ted's addendum, certainly ring true. A caveat:

There is the matter of human needs, drives, and desires. Any metaphysic, theology, or philosophy, if it obstructs a human need or desire, will be have to be modified to accommodate these, lest it become impractical.

Case in point: Sex

Certain scriptures, including Buddhism, Vedanta, and the Bible, don't really think sex needs to happen much, and recommend that it should, at the very least, be minimized. Because, it is very distracting and vexing to the spirit. Holy people don't have sex. Jesus would never have considered it an option.

Yet the ramification of that stance is immediately apparent...those that do create families, were settling for spiritual second best, and soiling their purity.

The Kama Sutra recommends sex. Where does the truth lay?

There are many other confusions found in our entire sacred and profane literature.

So, my assertion, is to look for truth buried within human instinct, drives, needs, longings. There you will find truths that are probably authored by God, who instills these human qualities to begin with. So next time one feels the stirrings of desire, think: who is visiting my person, God or the Devil?

Rarefied, august, and restrictive belief systems such as Jainism, etc, have garnered huge respect, but I think they are off course.

ted said...

I suppose it always comes down to our relationship to sex, money, power. Discerning God and the Devil is the real trick.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

When the spell of dislocation befalls the soul, dislodging its ruling role in the human sphere to the ego the tongue of the lower sphere of the self, perversion becomes the dominant force that shape the human visions in running his/her wagon both individually and collectively. If all the different phenomena that fill the cosmos and the self are not enough to guide me to him there is something definitely wrong in the human self orientation. The prophets that walked the earth did not come to prove god but to call people to worship him and even the evidences they produced were to prove their prophetic role ,and not to introduce metaphysical assumptions. Faith is a non- evidential concept, either take it or leave it. In the question of faith no matter how many evidences you submit, deniers will not move in the opposite direction and the stories of Moses and Jesus are proof of that truth. The divine is the source of everything and all kind of knowledge and the humans are programmed with the consciousness given to them to help them to produce theology,philosophy ,art science etc and to explore the meaning and the implications in order to be able to run their life. The catch is that these humans despite their faculties and free will, they can not run their life in a proper fashion without the divine grace and this is the whole story of religion. It is easy to be a good professional but it is hard to be a good person without faith ,the entrance to the wider realm of the divine. They can run themselves badly for sure but in the other direction they require the divine grace. As Goethe said what is the good of all these wide streets and tall mansions, all this luxury if we have lost our spiritual tranquility. The issue who is right and who is wrong can not be settled but by him that is why we have this one and there is the next one in order no body miss his reward of punishment. Let us not forget who made us speak and who impose death on us.

julie said...

Some things are true simply by virtue of their existence. They cannot not be, nor can we not believe them, at least implicitly.

Along those lines but perhaps a bit of a tangent, a very interesting video about the color blue in animals, particularly butterflies and birds. What's interesting is that very few creatures have blue as a pigment. Instead, it comes about as a physical structure at a microscopic level.

In line with the post, however, this information is presented toward the end as though the animals somehow decided that they really wanted to be blue, but since they couldn't add a blue pigment to their diet they just modified the structure of the cells of their bodies over generations and thus made themselves fabulous. Even this miracle of engineering is not permitted to be a mystery, it must be crammed into the little box of Darwinian evolution and permit no questions, only the blind insistence that selfish genes wanted it so, and so it is. To God be no glory, no matter how glorious His creation may be.

Gagdad Bob said...

"The laws of biology alone do not have fingers delicate enough to fashion the beauty of a face." Or even the beauty of blue.

Gagdad Bob said...

"From an aesthetic experience one returns as from a sighting of numinous footprints" (NGD).

Gagdad Bob said...

"A man who has recourse to a physiological interpretation is a man who is afraid of the soul."

Gagdad Bob said...

"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."

Gagdad Bob said...

"The imagination is not the place where reality is falsified, but where it is fulfilled."

Gagdad Bob said...

"Mystery is less disturbing than the fatuous attempt to exclude it by stupid explanations."

Gagdad Bob said...

"The philosopher who adopts scientific notions has predetermined his conclusions."

Gagdad Bob said...

"The honest philosophy does not pretend to explain but to circumscribe the mystery.

"The doctrines that explain the higher by means of the lower are appendices of a magician’s rule book.

"If philosophy does not solve any scientific problem, as compensation, science does not solve any philosophical problem.

"In philosophy nothing is easier than to be consistent."

julie said...


Especially the one about the stupid explanations.

Anonymous said...

"To be, or not to be?" is not the central question.

Rather: "Is everything reducible to physics, or isn't it?"

The mind may be entirely a phenomenon of sparking synapses....energized particles moving through matter/space/time. We have to face it, it is a possibility.

Or there may be something more, an entirely different variable we can only dimly perceive. Human emotions plead "Let this be so, please."

Every ounce of the blog author's effort goes towards asserting the latter, and he never tires of presenting fresh evidence to support this plea. Because faith alone, wonderful though it is, is never going to cut it for everybody.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Yes Anon, faith is not available to everyone and that is the whole story of the divine test, to find out who will dovetail to the pure sea of the divine and who will dovetail to the murky sea of the Satan. The antagonistic forces of negative and positive are the basic ingredients of our existence tapestry. Humans are made of these opposite forces to enable them to interact with the opposite forces of our cosmos that of good and evil. The religious story is very simple, to know these antagonistic forces and to move yourselves with intention and attention to the positive and do not let the negative rules your life. God knowledge is one like his oneness which he emphasized on the humans not to forget and gel lost in the diversity of the humans. God has no philosophy, theology, art etc. These are all human inventions that are created and causing all this mess, as a result of neglecting the binding principle of truth. Life is not an entertaining verbal trip but a very serious divine academy, where honest devotion and sincere meditative are at the top of its curriculum. Trust or not, it is left to the humans and god said we knows there are among you believers and disbelievers in addition to the perverters and falsifiers. It is what is behind the seen physics that is why he reminded us of the invisible, that is why we call it mystery.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abdulmonem:

I always enjoy your comments.

You write "faith is not available to everyone and that is the whole story of the divine test, to find out who will dovetail to the pure sea of the divine and who will dovetail to murky sea of the Satan."

Regarding the divine test, I'm not going to take that particular exam. I'm sitting it out.

A person might develop perfect, consistent faith, dovetail nicely into the pure sea of the divine, and...then what? God gives you an "A" on the test? A gold star?

There is a lot more to do down here than ace a test. Let's think about what else might be cooking.

However, I agree with you across the board; people make a decision about where they stand in relation to God, and it is obviously better close to Him for any number of reasons, the first being we are an appendage of same (a piece broken off). So He is always the Father, and there could be no other.

Satan never created anyone, and is if anything a jealous sibling.

Van Harvey said...

"We've said before that if Satan can get an otherwise good person to believe the Lie, then his work is done. The person will do all of his heavy lifting. For it is written: The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues (Dávila). Which is precisely why prudence is the highest virtue: thanks to the left, every day is a lesson in how justice minus prudence = tyranny. Likewise, courage minus prudence = oppression, or terror, or bullying."

Ahhh. Nothing substantial to add to that, mostly just wanted to see it again. There's been such a plague of people shouting "principles!" of late, and seeming to believe that standing on them somehow freed them from having to put in any effort towards applying them, that this was a soOothing balm.