Friday, April 27, 2018

The Monstrous Implications of Scientism

In the previous post we touched on the complementarity of subject/object, which mutually coarise. Tallis has some novel ideas about this, or at least pushes the materialistic argument to the brink of extinction and beyond. Hey, you can accomplish a lot with reductio ad absurdum. I mean, if matter is all there is, who just said that? And who just heard him?

Really, all one needs is an aphorism or two. So much easier to realize memes than memorize reams of philosophy. The following are not so much hierarchical as mutually reinforcing, like a strong rope made of individual threads:

Man has as much of a soul as he believes he has. When that belief dies, man becomes an object.

Modern man denies himself every metaphysical dimension and considers himself a mere object of science. But he screams when they exterminate him as such.

If the soul is a myth, genocide is a simple problem of effective anesthetics.

Between animal and man there is no other barrier than a palisade of taboos (Dávila).

Speaking of reductio ad absurdum -- reduction to absurdity -- I wonder what the opposite of this would be? Expansion to certitude? "That is absurd which is contrary to the first principles of reasoning," says the venerable Prof. Fernald -- for example, "that a part should be greater than the whole."

Fernald continues: "Monstrous and preposterous refer to what is overwhelmingly absurd." Then there are the ridiculous or nonsensical, which are "worthy only to be laughed at," such as "the lunatic's claim to be a king." Or, for that matter, the Darwinian's claim to truth.

So, depending upon our angle of vision, atheistic materialism might be absurd, paradoxical, irrational, foolish, silly, unreasonable, monstrous, preposterous, ridiculous, or nonsensical. What? The power of and?

Fernald also helpfully provides antonyms of absurd, e.g., certain, consistent, demonstrable, incontestable, incontrovertible, indisputable, logical, sound, true, undeniable, etc. These are the properties -- whether scientific or religious -- we're really after, aren't they? For it's one thing to prove an argument absurd, another thing entirely to find the one that is absolutely certain.

And yet, the two are related. For example, to explicitly affirm the absurdity that all truth is relative is to implicitly utter an absolute truth, thereby negating one's own first principle. All the relativist or neuromaniac or Darwinitwit need do is draw out the implications of his creed, and voila: he is cured of the absurd!

Note that this is precisely how Jordan Peterson rocketed from cult fame to something approaching the real thing: merely by holding his BBC interviewer to her own absurd standards.

By the way, Dávila has a cautionary aphorism for Peterson: No one is important for long without becoming an idiot.

And while looking for that one, I found this, which aphorizes what we are about to prosify. Read slowly and SEE:

The world is explicable from man; but man is not explicable from the world. Man is a given reality; the world is a hypothesis we invent.

This is indeed one of our first principles. And please note that this does not reduce to some form of arbitrary subjectivism or pure idealism. If it does, then it is no better than the dodgy materialism it displaces.

Unfortunately, politics is not only downstream from culture, but from pseudoscience, AKA scientism, or the Fashionable Nonsense of the Tenured. "The assumption... that we have no free will is combined with all manner of would-be progressive social policies claiming to be rooted in neuroscience" (Tallis). Therefore, for example, if we have no free will, then our justice system is patently unjust. We saw how this played out beginning in the 1960s: an entirely predictable explosion of crime.

Ideas have consequences. If crime is not a choice but only an effect of a material or efficient causes, then it leads to the reductio ad absurdum of... of a community organizer president with Al Sharpton as Czar of Race Relations and Black Lives Matter as intellectual vanguard.

Prof. Fernald says we are abusing the word "absurd." The word we are looking for is monstrous.

"Scientism and government have always made unhappy bedfellows" (Tallis). Let us count the (progressive) ways: eugenics, high carb/low fat diets, Keynesian economics, the government-global warming industrial complex, transgenderism, heterosexual AIDS, homosexual marriage...

Hear hear: "if any ideas are important, then ideas about the kind of creatures we are must be of supreme importance." And as we have pointed out on many occasions, "if On the Origin of Species really were the last word on humanity, it could not have been written." Do we really need to explain why? Okay: a brain simple enough for us to explain would not be complex enough to give rise to the explainer.

About those novel arguments alluded to above, here's one. Scientism, in order to be strictly consistent -- or fully monstrous -- must paradoxically adopt the point of view of no point of view, or of the "view from nowhere," in which "all appearances are summarized in the abstract," but are "had by no one in particular, and consequently by no one at all..." Again, it is the "material world seeing itself but from no particular point of view."

There is so much wrong with this that we don't have time to unpack it all. You can't just obliterate conscious selfhood and then try to sneak it in via the side door. Rather, if it's gone, it's gone. You can't secretly resurrect it without recourse to the miraculous. "There are some fundamental elements of selfhood that cannot be denied without self-contradiction," one of which is viewpoint.

We'll end with this, and pick it up on Tuesday: the realm of memory

has no place in the physical world. The physical world is what it is. It is not haunted by what it has been (or indeed, what it might become): by what was and will be. There are, in short, no tenses in material world.


[I]n the physical world no event is intrinsically past, present, or future. It becomes so only with reference to a conscious, indeed self-conscious, being who provides the reference point, the "now," that makes some events past, others future, and yet others present (Tallis.)


julie said...

Therefore, for example, if we have no free will, then our justice system is patently unjust. We saw how this played out beginning in the 1960s: an entirely predictable explosion of crime.

The current iteration of this idiocy is the trend of authorities ignoring criminal behavior by protected classes of "youths," because the school to prison pipeline was unfair. After all, he's only a lad, you really can't blame him...

And thus we reach the absurdity of law-abiding kids being punished because a growing thug was allowed to act the thug for so long he finally got around to shooting up the school, just as he said he would.

Gagdad Bob said...

Prager points out that the bar mitzvah signifies that the 13 year old is fully able to comprehend the Ten Commandments and govern himself accordingly.

julie said...

To a leftist, childhood should last at least twice as long, and ideally forever. What fun is having an adult's body if you can't inhabit it with all of the self-control and agency as the average five-year-old?

Anonymous said...


I want to believe you, Blog Author. For me, though, the aphorisms and wise things said by wise people just aren't hitting the sweet spot. Have you any parables and stories which might convey the gist of your thoughts and ideas? They would be much appreciated.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Mourning the Brits.

They are no longer subjects, they are objects.

julie said...

Joan, it is hard to imagine how far Great Britain has diminished herself. Unless her people rediscover what it was that once made them great, and have the courage and wisdom to act in their own interest. They need a great revival.

Anonymous said...

Hello Joan and Julie:

Your concern for Great Britain is touching, but misplaced. We are doing fine. Our sturdy, hard-working people live well and enjoy life to the fullest.

Our future revolves around hemp. We eat it, smoke it, make airplanes out of it, everything. Our island has fine weather for growing hemp; so you see, there is nothing to worry about.

Navy? Strong. RAF? Strong. SAS? Strong. Falkland islands? Ours. The Queen? Still the most stylish woman on the planet.

We are also investing heavily in sustainable energy to combat global warming. Vegan diets are becoming more popular. Tolerance for LGBT folk? The highest in all the land.

On the other hand, Americans have reprehensible taste in most areas. Deplorable. And bad behaviour as well.

So...tea time. Tootles.

Van Harvey said...

Dear aninny-Britt: Your people have conspired, via your NHS and all that makes that possible, to force parents to witness their infants being put to death in their arms. And your response to that as to make it into a media event to fill the time between reports of Princess Kate's new baby.

You have transformed yourselves from a nation of gardeners, into a nation of Eichmann's.

The banality of British evil knows no bounds.


Joan of Argghh! said...

n.b. to Petey. I have a group on FB that has 500 members. I find great joy in defenestration and that tossing out the bots is greatly appreciated by the rest of the group. The Internet has been around a long time now, and most folks are over the whole need to seem open minded and tolerant of disingenuous commenters and bots that barely disguise their need to be nothing more than disruptive. Just sayin'....