Monday, February 19, 2018

Homo Mirabilis

Which means the "human miracle," or, more to our point, that the human station itself is our most concrete evidence of the miraculous.

And what do we mean by miraculous? Broadly speaking, I would define the miraculous as any vertical ingression that in principle defies horizontal explanation. Horizontality goes into the miracle, but cannot be its sufficient reason.

For example, the brain is a necessary condition for our humanness, but clearly not sufficient, not just on an individual basis today, but as a species in the distant past.

This latter is discussed in the bʘʘk, in the context of the sudden explosion of humanness that occurs around 40,000 years ago. Mere horizontal evolution, we are told, doesn't work that way. And yet, there it is. Something occurs vertically, and I know what it was: a vertical ingression, AKA miracle.

It's very much like Michelangelo's depiction of the creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, only in the immaterial realm: as with any myth, it is a local representation of a nonlocal truth. Only when hominid nervous systems became sufficiently complex were they susceptible to the divine touch, or vertical ingression.

Another reason why we know this is the case is that what is true today must have been true then. Humans today routinely experience vertical ingressions of various kinds -- Joy Behar notwithstanding, -- so there is no reason to believe our furbears were denied this logospheric manna from heaven. Indeed, there is evidence that they tended to conflate it with other immaterial influences (which we also still do today, most notoriously in the Islamic world).

Speaking of Islamists, note the inverse possibility: of receiving vertical ingressions even while denying the existence of God. This is the structure of leftism, as outlined by Michael Polanyi some 75 years ago, and nothing has changed in the meantime: that "despite its rejection of transcendent reality, it exhibits a high degree of moral passion."

No kidding. But never conflate moral passion and morality, especially the objective kind! There is plenty of moral passion -- even hysteria -- on the left, little in the way of detached and objective morality -- even an overt denial that such a thing exists. As such, their subjective and relativistic moral passion "is not a mark of honor -- instead, it is a mark of dishonor," for "here we have moral passion without any moral judgment":

"Polanyi maintains that a 'moral inversion' has occurred." This ontologically rootless moral passion "now invokes any means, however grotesque and immoral, to satisfy its longings. Under this guise, moral passion serves rather than spurns the cause of fanaticism" (from the foreword of The Logic of Liberty).

Which is how it comes to pass that we are ruled not only by our intellectual inferiors, but moral inferiors as well, AKA the Swamp.

Say what you like about our swamp-dwelling elites, but they are never short of passion, no matter how misguided. When one avenue is blocked -- say, "Russian collision" -- they pick themselves up as if nothing happened, and move on to the next unhinged passion. What will it be today? That's really what the FakeNews comes down to. Give me a hard-bitten cynic any day over a passionate moralist of the left!

We are still on the subject of the Human Station, and what it all means. Clearly, it must in a way mean "everything" on pain of meaning nothing, precisely. As we've put it before, the world cannot be a little bit pregnant with meaning. And the ONLY conceivable way it can mean anything is for it to be a reflection of absoluteness. Absent this, we are indeed plunged into relativity, AKA permanent and ineradicable stupidity. Who doesn't see it?

A free society is animated by transcendent beliefs -- or beliefs anchored in transcendence -- or it isn't free. And freedom is the miracle par excellence, for it has no conceivable horizontal explanation, to such an extent that those who are wedded to a materialistic metaphysic have no choice but to deny its existence. But the integral cosmic man -- AKA Raccoon -- recognizes and says from himsoph: I am free, therefore God is. Conversely, the credo of the left ought to be: I think, therefore I shouldn't. For whenever they try to think, mischief -- from simple theft to genocide -- follows.

Time out for some illustrative aphorisms:

He who does not believe in God can at least have the decency of not believing in himself.

Yes, literally, because why on earth would a tenured ape take himself seriously?

Liberals can be divided into those who believe that wickedness is curable and those who deny that it exists.

And this division runs through the very heart of the liberal, who screams that only an evil conservative could believe in the fairy tale morality of good and evil. For truly, The progressive believes that everything soon turns obsolete except his ideas.

And passions. Condemnatory passions. Which is why, When the progressive condemns, every intelligent man must feel alluded to. Yes you, you deplorable racist sexist homophobic Islamophobic fundamentalist pig!

Enough with Homo diabolos. Back to Homo mirabilis. As usual, Schuon cuts through centuries of windbaggery, and right to the essence. What we call a miracle

has in itself nothing mysterious or problematical about it: the so-called natural laws of a lower degree of Existence can always be suspended through the intervention of a higher degree, whence the perfectly logical term “supernatural”: but this degree also has its laws, which means that the miracle is “natural” on the universal scale, while being “supernatural” on the earthly scale.

So, from the naturalistic perspective, the human person is a miracle. But from the perspective of the Divine Person? Eh, not so much.

The miraculous is that which is due to a direct, thus vertical intervention of a heavenly Power, and not to a horizontal progression of causality. If one extends the notion of “nature” to all that exists, miracles too are “natural,” but in that case words would become meaningless, as it would then be impossible to make the essential distinction between blind or unconscious causes and the supra-conscious Cause, the source of all consciousness and of all power. Scientists confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary.

I wanted to throw in a discussion of what the Christian knows that the scientistic atheist does not and can never know, but we're out of time, so you'll have to think that through yourself. A hint: awareness of the Absolute, and the consequences flowing therefrom.


Anonymous said...

Great Post Bob, echoing numerous others you've done. This post promotes God-loving while pointing out the drawbacks of ignorance and disbelief in God, which if I'm not mistaken, is your bed-rock advisement to the reader.

Your message is the very same as the gist of words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth; I know you are a committed Christian so this is very consistent with your faith.

The Church also gives guidelines for service, "Admonish the sinner," and "Teach the ignorant." So, you are giving good service via this blog.

On this first Monday of Lent, we can reflect on the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by sin. But his time in the desert was also his time to reflect and to confirm his commitment to God.

The priest I heard in the Mass, stated spending time in solitude, contemplating, can strengthen a believer's commitment to God like nothing else. Therefore, let us be solitary inasmuch as we are able.

julie said...

Scientists confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary.

Yes, this is an important point. So often what is clearly a miracle is dismissed as mere coincidence or indeed, something irrational and arbitrary. And yet, thinking back to Christ and the miracles he performed during his life, they were never arbitrary nor irrational, no matter how poorly people understood and still understand to this day.

julie said...

Re. God is not Nice, looks like an interesting topic. I see so many people struggling with this, perhaps particularly women. When we study parts of the Old testament, they can't wrap their minds around the genuine awfulness of the people (most of the time) and thus struggle with the seeming harshness of God's judgment, when it comes. God is good, but goodness is not always nice.

Roy Lofquist said...

"This latter is discussed in the bʘʘk, in the context of the sudden explosion of humanness that occurs around 40,000 years ago."

That discussion jumped out at me when I first read the book lo those many years ago. It seems to me that the same idea can be found in Aristotle, Genesis and the broad outlines of evolution.

"Aristotle shared Plato's view of multiple souls and further elaborated a hierarchical arrangement, corresponding to the distinctive functions of plants, animals, and people: a nutritive soul of growth and metabolism that all three share; a perceptive soul of pain, pleasure, and desire that only people and other animals share; and the faculty of reason that is unique to people only."

This corresponds with the order of creation as told in Genesis and Natural History. OK, time for some heresy, maybe. If the archaeologists are correct that would move the genesis of Genesis back from 6,000 years ago to 40,000 years ago. This is no biggy because the Bible is rather vague about time ("A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." ~ Psalm 90:4). This brings up questions about ensoulment. Like is each soul created anew or is there a supply of souls waiting around for a body?

Now here comes the heresy? part. A supply of souls strongly hints at reincarnation. Unfortunately the Church punted on this.

"It is believed that in 553 A.D. during the Second Council of
Constantinople the idea of reincarnation was found to have no place in
the Christian Church. Although reincarnation was not officially rejected at
this council, those early Church Fathers who were accused of teaching the
idea of reincarnation had their works banned."

It appears that this was far more political than theological. They finally interred the bones of Origen who had died a couple of hundred years prior.

I really don't remember if you have addressed this topic in the book or here. Thoughts?

ted said...

Just came across these interesting talks with DBH here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Gagdad Bob said...

Great stuff! Makes me glad I'm not an academic or scholar, though. Too sober. I prefer being a visionary artist-entertainer, or something like that.

Gagdad Bob said...

This book on The Case Against Education is great -- somehow mind-blowing and obvious at the same time, like Thomas Sowell.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "This book on The Case Against Education is great ..."

... and my 'In Box' of books grows yet again....

Gagdad Bob said...

I'll bottom line it for you: a college education is 20% education, 80% signaling. What does it signal? That one is smart, one is conscientious, and one is a conformist willing to jump through hoops of boredom & drudgery. (Note that it merely signals intelligence without necessarily being the real thing.)

Of those three, it is ironically much easier to fake the first -- that one is smart. It certainly explains why our educated ruling class is so stupid, conscientious (in the manner described by Polanyi), and conformist/politically correct.

ted said...

Intelligence is a funny thing. There are many in the STEM area who are very adept in their area, but can lack a deeper intuitive Intellect. In fact, their knowledge becomes a rigid boundary to inquiring more deeply.

ted said...

I suppose you have to give credit that Bryan Caplan wrote that book as an academic. Not too many of us are brave enough to bite the hand that feeds.

Gagdad Bob said...

The irony is that once you're tenured, you can bite away. However, the tenure process is careful to weed out non-conformists. Occasionally one fakes his way through, such as Jordan Peterson.

ted said...

Those are probably the only few cases where tenure makes sense. But since the vast majority are leftists, it becomes a encumbrance to cleaning out the system. But every once in a while, you're in the right place to speak Truth. Still, there is the court of public opinion. And few have challenges in not-caring-less of what people think. Even Peterson couches his language carefully at times as to not offend. I watched a recent interview of him with Russell Brand which was an interesting pairing.

Anonymous said...

Roy: I think you're impression about reincarnation is spot on. At the very least it should be considered a strong possibility.

Most of the gang here are Christian, so they are pretty much obligated to go with the Church's ruling on reincarnation. Typically they won't respond or add to comments regarding reincarnation.

The blog author has approached it tangentially on occasion.