Friday, August 10, 2018

Locating Supernatural Resources in the Extra-Cranial World

Two bits of housekeeping: 1) Posts may at times be shorter, in order to put less pressure on readers and on myself. There's no reason to make every post so damn long and burdensome every time. 2) They may get more eccentric, just me wandering around in my own head. Or, they may be less obviously "coherent" and finished, more free-associational and ramblin'.

Therefore, they may seem to lead nowhere, at least on the surface. But today's topic, for example, is a big subject to which I couldn't possibly do justice in the allotted time -- which is less than an hour -- but here it is anyway, half-baked and undigested. It has a point -- I know, because it is pulling me -- even if I haven't yet arrived at it.

To say that our current civil war results from a psychic rupture some three or four centuries ago seems so abstract, not to mention pointless. Besides, who said there's such a thing as a human norm? Unlike weather -- which leftists believe has an unchanging preindustrial standard, a "right way" to be -- they believe no such thing vis-a-vis human beings.

One reason why they get away with so much is that their only standard is the absence of standards, AKA defining deviancy down. Then they pretend to be surprised at the emergence of deviant behavior -- say, of a Harvey Weinstein operating in a sexually antinomian Hollywood (where else would such a person choose to operate? A place with no standards is a perfect fit for the man without any). And yet, people with no proper morality are shocked! at his lack of morality.

For in the words of the Aphorist, Human nature always takes the progressive by surprise.

Man is no exception to the rule that in order to exist, something must have a form. We are not just a psychic version of prime matter -- of an infinitely malleable and unformed potentiality.

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

And usually the dichotomy somehow exists in the same head -- as in, for example, "it is wrong to hold blacks responsible for their disproportionate involvement in crime" and "Trump's tweets are worse than Hitler!" Lack of principles applied to certain groups, hysterical enforcement of them in others. Or maybe you've never seen MSNBC.

At any rate, if we're going to say mankind took a wrong turn a few centuries ago, we have to posit a correct turn rooted in What Man Is. So, what is he?

The question goes back to our first philosopher, or to philosophy as such, which is to say: "know thyself." In philosophy, this question lost all interest and attention somewhere in the 19th century, with the emergence of antihuman thinkers such as Hegel and Marx, followed by such misosophic nul-de-slacks as analytic philosophy.

But then it returned in the 20th century with such developments as phenomenology and existentialism, only detached from everything that had come before. Now we had, for example, an existentialism rooted in an ontological materialism, when this sterile connection is by no means necessary. (Conversely, a young Saint Pope JP allied phenomenology to Christianity to come up with a fruitful Christian personalism.)

The point is that a Christian metaphysic can by definition take on board anything thrown at it, from Darwin to quantum physics (so long as it isn't an intrinsic absurdity such as Marxism or behaviorism). It can baptize anything, even, say, "materialism." For as Aquinas realized, you can have a material cosmos if you like, so long as you don't imagine it can be metaphysically self-sufficient.

Put conversely, there is no way for the finite mind to determine if the material world has a temporal beginning or was always here. But in either case, it must have a vertical source, or your metaphysic falls into incoherence and absurdity. Remember, Aquinas's "first cause" is not in time but outside it -- which is the whole point. To ask what was "before" the first cause is to not know what the first cause is.

Back to our human norm. At the moment, several recent books are in the process of converging and melding in my head. It is an unlikely confluence, consisting of several books that were read back-to-back-to back with no plan, and yet, are disclosing a plan.

Not to veer off course right away, but it reminds me of the Bible. A couple days ago my son mentioned that an evangelical friend of his thinks the Bible was essentially dictated by God, like the Koran or Dianetics. I reminded him that no one wrote the Bible, nor did any of its authors know about the others who would be included in this compendium we call the Bible. Rather, it was chosen and assembled long after the fact. The hidden coherence was only discovered after its contributors had completed their parts.

Which is not to say there is no such thing as a unitary Bible. Indeed, that is what makes it so endlessly mysterious -- that its authors were explicating a hidden coherence of which they knew nothing.

Ramping it down a few notches, it is equally certain that Judge Bork had no idea he was slouching into the same cosmic attractor as Matthew Crawford twenty years later (and vice versa), but here they are, touching hands in my head (or heads in my hands).

To this I could add the book When Harry Became Sally, because all three books, in different ways, speak to an enduring extracranial world that is thankfully independent of our desires -- in the latter case, not just the desire of Harry to pretend he is Sally. Who really cares, since it's a free country?

The problem is that Harry wants to enlist the state to coerce the restavus to say that Harry is Sally. Then we've not only rejected the human norm, but are forced at gunpoint to believe things that cannot be. Which is the endpoint of the wrong turn of a few centuries back, into a total subjectivism anchored in nothing outside the skull (and yet, compelled by the state).

But it's not the end. Things can and will inevitably get worse if we don't rediscover the correct path found in the extracranial world. There is a perennial vertical invasion from below, but we have to recognize it in order to repel it.

27 comments:

Van Harvey said...

"To say that our current civil war results from a psychic rupture some three or four centuries ago seems so abstract, not to mention pointless."

Hmmm... I... er... doubt... I'll have a problem with that.

"The question goes back to our first philosopher, or to philosophy as such, which is to say: "know thyself." In philosophy, this question lost all interest and attention somewhere in the 19th century, with the emergence of thinkers such as Hegel and Marx, followed by such anti-human misosophies as analytic philosophy."

Well, yes, but of course it didn't simply appear on the scene fully deformed, it took some cultivating.

Those perennial seeds were planted by Descartes, carefully fertilized, watered and brought to budd by Rousseau, tended into fullness of branch & flower by Kant, cross-pollinated by Hegel, and finally its suckyoulent fruit were ready to be plucked and brought to market by Marx.

"But it's not the end. Things can and will inevitably get worse if we don't rediscover the correct path found in the extracranial world. There is a perennial vertical invasion from below, but we have to recognize it in order to repel it."

Indeed we do have to recognize it, and identify it.

Speaking of what we weren't, reading Dennis Prager's Exodus book yesterday, in chp 5 or 6 (?), he's noting the possible meanings of YHVH, and says, from my holey memory, "... in one sense it means 'Is'...", which... brings a whole newly old meaning to "it depends upon what the meaning of 'IS', is.

Indeed it does.

Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of the return of extracranial human nature: "Virtually all heterosexuals excluded trans folks from their dating pool." Unexpectedly!

Gagdad Bob said...

Van:

Yes, the novelty of the Judeo-Christian stream is that the It Is is I Am, and the latter isn't just "anything," i.e., a radical subjectivism, but rather, structured, even (or especially) in God, i.e, the Trinity. Reality is an irreducible relationship between real terms, which is saying a lot. Certainly it is a cure for the intracranial cosmic narcissism of the left.

Olden Ears said...

Checking in.

Gagdad Bob said...

Another example of punitive standards/no standards on the left:

Times columnist Bret Stephens, an outspoken NeverTrump activist, effusively praised ABC when it fired Roseanne Barr for a single tweet, but when it comes to a mountain of racist tweets over nine years, he says his new colleague Sarah Jeong deserves a whole lot of grace and a second chance.

ted said...

Bob: Are you familiar with this book? About a former "New-Ager" who came to the Catholic Church through reading MotT. Looks compelling.

julie said...

Ramping it down a few notches, it is equally certain that Judge Bork had no idea he was slouching into the same cosmic attractor as Matthew Crawford twenty years later

That’s the wonderful thing about truth: it is, and is therefore discoverable by anyone who seeks it out.

Gagdad Bob said...

Ted--

That book sounds fascinating. I'm sampling the sample right now, and he specifically thanks Tomberg (and Belloc), whose writings "inspire me like no other." He even addresses the book to "dear lector," similar to "unknown friend." Books from Angelico Press tend to be a bit hard core for my taste, but this one looks accessible. Sold!

ted said...

I ordered a copy myself. Sounds like the author may be more of a traditionalist now also, and takes issue with modernity. Nonetheless, I find his writing style to be inviting, and his journey fits somewhat closely to mine. It was MotT that got me to reconsider the Home where I was baptized, and while I haven't jumped in with both feet I realize my mind is more Catholic than not.

ted said...

I will add this blog also had more to do with this, since you are the one who introduced me to MotT and many other rich and deep Christian thinkers.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Godwin:

I entirely comprehend your position on reality, as perceived by the senses: it is not created by consciousness.

However, as in most things, its not that simple. I'm no Choprite. Yes, everything sensed undoubtedly exists a priori, as you maintain.

However, it has to be said that happenstance is in fact directly operated on by consciousness. It is well known, and amply verified at this institute, that vehement and prolonged visualization in a single human mind can, and does, produce specific outcomes in the realm of reality. After said outcome occurs,then it is sensed in the usual manner.

So....the collective strivings of the Leftists, if focused, prolonged, sincere, and taken in aggregate, can affect reality directly. Grim from your perspective, yet so true.

For instance, a strong desire to make gender fluid may manifest in whatever way the universe can implement it. It is creative. It may give rise to increased hermaphroditic births or some other manifestation. It is actually comical sometimes how the Cosmos will implement, to the best of its ability, a desired outcome. It is not always exactly how it was envisioned, but the best approximation is produced.

Anyone can test this themselves with a little effort.

Sincerely, Greybeard of Pomona

julie said...

Right. So by the same token, if enough people imagine stable, healthy families characterized by masculine men and feminine women, the next generation should follow suit.

Seriously though, the percentage of people striving for these changes is actually quite small. However, their voices are excruciatingly loud, their demands limitless, and they are well- funded by people who hate us and everything we represent. If hermaphroditism suddenly began to increase, I’d suspect intentional tainting of the food supply over some benign and nebulous “action” of the universe in response to the will of a small subset of the population.

Gagdad Bob said...

Ted:

It also looks like the author takes an extremely deep historical dive into the western mindset, and how we went off track, of which I will soon be posting. It will be interesting to compare gnotes.

Gagdad Bob said...

The author mentions growing up and being thoroughly imbued with an American WASPism or WASPish Americanism that is at odds with the Catholic mentality. That is definitely how I feel. It's not a choice. Rather, it's as if it's simply what I am via osmosis -- like a secular Jew who doesn't want to be Jewish, but nevertheless is. Maybe I'm a self-hating WASP or something.

Gagdad Bob said...

There's a feeling that I could become Catholic or Jew or Buddhist, but I'd still be what I am. Sad!

Gagdad Bob said...

I suppose the only way out would be via grace or sacraments.

Gagdad Bob said...

Also, I can do nothing to moderate my heightened sense of irony. Perhaps my compulsive sense of humor is a massive defense mechanism, but if I didn't have it I wouldn't be me, so I try to put it to a higher use. As Prager wrote "The Rational Bible," it has crossed my mind to try to write something like "The Ironist's Bible."

My earliest memory is that the whole world -- and certainly the "grown-up world" -- is absurd and not worth the effort to seek its rewards. I remember discovering Mad Magazine when I was like 9 years old. It was one of the few things that made sense to me, because it ridiculed everything.

ted said...

Sounds supranormal to me. Or as DBH says: Wisdom is the recovery of innocence at the far end of experience.

ted said...

Or your style fits with Divila's notion that Civilization is a smile that discreetly combines irony and respect.

ted said...

Look I never got married or had a kid. Talk about not wanting to grow up!

Gagdad Bob said...

Cue Tom Waits.

Gagdad Bob said...

Ramones concur.

Gagdad Bob said...

I just had a flashback. When I was around 11, I and some friends made up a song called Never Gonna Grow Up. Admittedly not as clever as Waits. It went something like this:

Never gonna grow up,
Never gonna grow up,
Never gonna grow up,
Not me.

Anonymous said...

Bob, Ted, Julie, greetings.

Bob, regarding your earliest memory of the absurdity of the adult world: You have a symptom of a soul which has taken many, many turns on Earth and the game is starting to wear thin for you. "Adult" activities enthrall the neophyte soul for many, many centuries, but eventually, the soul becomes sated and wants more and different.

You're average Leftist will be, by comparison to yourself, a newbie. This is why the responsible way to regard the Leftist is as a dangerous child, an inexperienced soul under self-discovery and easily deluded. We perforce must love the Leftist, she is us, only bewildered.

Ted, as for not wanting to "grow up," this too is the sign of a soul which has a certain maturity due to a plethora of previous lives. Been there, done that. You now want a closer walk with God, and are leaning in the direction of simplicity, sans the entanglements of family ties and obligations, in order to meditate on God and be tranquil.

Julie, your unwavering and very staunch commitment to decency, stern love for the wrong-doer, lack of hate and harsh judgement against others, love of Jesus, and altogether virtuous conduct on this blog, mark you as an advanced and experienced soul as well.

You Raccoon are senior on this world, and of course, your discernment of reality will be much clearer than the average run. Something to consider.

Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse said "Bob, Ted, Julie, greetings"

Well. Harumph.

Anonymous said...

Hello Van:

I somehow did not greet you with the others. Pardon.

I know you have your own blog, and are in agreement with Bob on most thing, but your preference is for political thought. You are of the warrior caste, a Kshatriya. I sense you have leadership potential. As far as things mystical, not so much your thing. You are able and willing to take on adult life, and are not fazed by the civil war of which Bob speaks. Bring on the war, your soul cries. You were born for war.

Van Harvey said...

Aninnymouse said "Pardon."

Thank you Anniny, I hereby grant you a temporary capital A. :-)

"...but your preference is for political thought."

Incorrect. My interest is in philosophical thought, and in the political end only insofar as it comports with, or violates, what can be seen as philosophically Good, Beautiful and True. Law does interest me, but in the same way.

"...As far as things mystical, not so much your thing."

Also incorrect. It is in fact very much my thing, however, I am only skin & snorkel rated in those waters, whereas Gagdad is not only fully Raccoon O-Rated for deeper scuba dives, but is also mini-sub and diving bell O-Qualified for venturing down into the deeper theological depths of things.

I very much like to watch and discuss such issues, but as Julie has up'd her O-ratings over the last couple years, and usually says what may partially come to my mind, and says it better, I'm content to be an Observer, for the most part.

"You were born for war."

Nope. And over the last couple years I've mostly lost my taste for roasted troll, but... it's still nice to be noticed.