Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Circular and Absurcular Humanism

I guess you could say I am preoccupied with What a Man Can Know -- not through any special science or particular culture, nor in any certain time in history, but in any time or place, just by virtue of being a human person.

For me, this knowledge would constitute genuine humanism, in contrast to the cosmic heresy known as "secular humanism." This latter imposter denies God in the effort to elevate man, and so devolves to a circular -- or absurcular -- humanism. Literally! For it is written:

If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors (Dávila).

But an Authentic humanism is built upon the discernment of human insufficiency. Otherwise we are trapped in a closed loop, or an ontological tautology.

Consider the following, which sounds cute or paradoxical, but is quite literal: Man is an animal that imagines itself to be Man.

In other words, remove God from the equation -- or deny the God/man complementarity -- and man is literally an animal, no better or worse than any other.

Maybe I'm just lazy. Or stupid. Otherwise, I'd go and get a Ph.D. in physics, which, if it doesn't yet have all the answers, someday will. It's just a matter of time. In other words, physics is the one and true faith, providing the kind of knowledge to which all other disciplines aspire.

Or, maybe it's just because I'm better at words than numbers that I nourish the delusion that, in the words of the Aphorist, Man is not educated through knowledge of things but through knowledge of man. And knowledge of man is unthinkable in the absence of knowledge of God.

In a purely horizontal universe, for example, aborting a baby is morally indistinguishable from kicking a rock. More generally, reality is reduced to an unrelieved and inescapable Is. Any Ought is pure fantasy. And any I is out of the question.

That's where physics leads. Because that's were physics starts. Again, this is the prison of circular humanism. Put it this way: is a human being without an Ought even thinkable? No, it is not. For in some sense, man is literally made of "oughtness," and we all know it. Man is an obligation that man often violates (Dávila).

How so? Well, everyone knows -- or used to know, anyway -- that we ought to know truth, i.e., distinguish between reality and appearances. It is why we have an intellect to begin with: to conform ourselves to reality, or knowledge with being.

Likewise, we ought to do good, which is to say, distinguish between good and evil. Imagine raising a child while systematically driving home the point that there are no such things as truth, virtue, and beauty. That's child abuse.

Now, imagine a liberal college campus where such destructive inanities are taught. That's adolescent abuse. Now, imagine paying a quarter of a million dollars to brainwash your child into believing he ought not pretend that any objective oughts exist. Rather, any and all oughts are just pretexts for blind power and unjust oppression.

That's not a university. It's certainly not a proper humanism. It's Monsters, Inc. Is it any wonder academia is so hostile to truth, sanity, and decency? Liberals in no way eliminate the Ought. Rather, they just replace the luminous and expansive God-given one with a squalid and petty manmade one.

Back to my main point. Not only do I believe man can know the truth of man, but I also happen to believe we are entitled to this knowledge.

Really, given what we have to put up with down here, it's not asking much, is it? Think about it from the other side. Would you go to the trouble of creating self-conscious beings, and then deny them the ability to know why they exist? That would be frankly sadistic. It would be as if the universe were a vast liberal campus -- an endless tapestry of grandiosity and bullshit. Life is hard enough. Impossibly hard if meaningless too.

There is a proper circular humanism, which takes place in the vertical space uniquely inhabited by man. I was reading about this just the other day, while looking up an unrelated factoid in The Orthodox Church. In it, Bishop Ware writes of how "The human being is a single, united whole; not only the human mind but the whole person was created in the image of God."

Moreover, it is as if "all creation is a gigantic Burning Bush, permeated but not consumed by the ineffable and wondrous fire of God's energies."

We can never know God's essence, any more than we can know the essence of any other person. But his energies are everywhere! "It is through these energies that God enters into a direct and immediate relationship with humankind. In relation to us humans, the divine energy is in fact nothing else than the grace of God..."

Ultimately, this circle of grace takes place between the divine transcendence and the divine immanence. Indeed, one might say the circle is composed of grace, and that it is for us to leap in and take part in it. For if it's good enough for God, it ought to be good enough for the alikes of us.

4 comments:

julie said...

Likewise, we ought to do good, which is to say, distinguish between good and evil. Imagine raising a child while systematically driving home the point that there are no such things as truth, virtue, and beauty. That's child abuse.

Yet it seems to be distressingly common these days. Or rather, they do teach these things, but inverted, such that beauty is ugliness, truth falsehood or relative at best, and virtue what you signal when somebody is looking.

ge said...

Pardon the OT sly Freudian insight that popped out re the school shooter a week ago: An interviewed student described the schmuck's modus -- he didnt enter the classroom[s] but shot out the little pane of glass in the door, poked the barrel in and sprayed....

julie said...

ge! How have you been?

Van Harvey said...

"Consider the following, which sounds cute or paradoxical, but is quite literal: Man is an animal that imagines itself to be Man.

In other words, remove God from the equation -- or deny the God/man complementarity -- and man is literally an animal, no better or worse than any other...
...Put it this way: is a human being without an Ought even thinkable? No, it is not. For in some sense, man is literally made of "oughtness," and we all know it. Man is an obligation that man often violates (Dávila)..."

There ya go: All of what each person should know, in order to become Man, and in order to seek to learn what else is worth knowing.

A nice, compact syllabus, which self expands to encompass everything.