Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Common Sense Approach to World-Head Relations

There is The World Beyond Our Head. And there is the world in our head. In many ways, philosophy comes down to the possible relations between these two worlds.

For example, the Catholic tradition comes down firmly on the priority of the external world in the world-head relation. Being that I am Highly Educated, I didn't even realize this was a "thing" until I was well into my 40s -- in other words, that you really need to think through this primordial relation before you set foot into philosophy, because this is the very foundation of your philosophy, setting all kinds of limits and entailing all kinds of predetermined conclusions.

So, what is the world? What is the mind? And how do they relate?

So many wrong answers! And only one correct one. So be careful.

I still remember reading Stanley Jaki's Means to Message when it was published in 1999. I had never heard of Jaki, nor is he the kind of thinker I would have encountered in the course of my education. By then I had read plenty of philosophy of science, but I had surely never read a Catholic philosopher of science. Indeed, why would I? In my mind, the term would have been oxymoronic, "science" and "Catholic" being at epistemological antipodes.

Did I mention my extensive education?

Now, because of this education, I didn't realize I was a lot of things -- a lot of things that naturally go together and mutually support one another, including relativist, subjectivist, and liberal.

Likewise, as I gradually became conservative... Even that is putting it too strongly -- or putting the cart before the horse -- because that's not how it felt at the time. Sure, I was questioning some of the assumptions underpinning my liberalism, but that doesn't mean I would ever find common cause with those backward racist misogynist homophobic Christianists. Please. I just wanted to become a better and more informed liberal, not a conservative.

Nevertheless, I had begun subscribing to National Review in the late 1990s, just to see what these cretins were up to. Not only were they far less cretinous than I had been led to believe, but I began to check out authors praised by their book reviewers, one of whom was Jaki. So that's how he came to my attention. Otherwise, my education had involved a total embargo on anything so tainted by Catholic influence.

Anyway, the first chapter -- appropriately -- is called Objects. Turns out that everything hinges on this. You can begin with objects or you can begin with subjects, but you have to begin somewhere. Liberalism -- or rather, leftism -- begins with the latter. It is, for example, precisely the source of their KDS (Kavanaugh Derangement Syndrome), since he begins with an object called the Constitution, thereby preventing the untethered legal adventuring the left would like for us to embark upon.

Here is how Jaki begins the chapter:

A book with the subtitle, 'a treatise on truth,' must, from its inception on, convey the author's resolve to face up to the question: What is truth?

There are hundreds if not thousands of possibilities, and the more educated you are, the more possibilities there are.

In fact, if you want to be logically consistent in your liberalism, you will have to concede that there are billions of possibilities, one for each human. This is the reductio ad expandum of leftism, which is to say, unadulterated relativism (out of many, even more, you might say). Buzzwords such as diversity and multiculturalism are just the vulgar residue of this prior relativism, which soon enough devolves to nihilism.

And say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

Conversely, you will have noticed that contemporary leftism is a kind of shapeshifting pile of steaming expedience, which can change on a dime, without any awareness of having done so. It has no logical consistency, because no logical consistency is possible (or necessary) once you have rejected the world outside your head.

For example, once you have pretended to jettison biology, then there are no longer two sexes but an endless list. You can say LGB, LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTTQQIAAP... Farcebook is up to 71 genders, but you know as well as I that this benighted and narrow-minded list is totally fascist for numbers 72 on.

Ultimately -- going back to first principles -- you will have to have one gender for each person, just as a consistent relativism demands billions of truths, one per customer.

Wait a minute -- not so fast! Why only one per customer? Who said I can't believe whatever I want to believe when I believe it?

Dude, we're already there. Or maybe you don't check out MSNBC or CNN once in a while. And you only have to check in very briefly to get the gist. Don't concern yourself with the content, rather, the containers. Hell, just look into the eyes of Cory Booker or Ocasio-Cortez or Rachel Maddow or Maxine Waters or David Hogg or on and on.

Anyway, back to sanity, which is to say, Jaki. He correctly points out that Thomas Aquinas' commonsensical definition of truth has not, nor can it ever be, surpassed:

Adaequatio rei et intellect.

Or, in plain English, "the intellect (of the knower) must be adequate to the thing (known)."

Again, because of my extensive education, I didn't discover the shocking truth about the world of objects -- the objective world -- until I was into my 40s.

And now we're out of time... to be continued....

7 comments:

julie said...

Again, because of my extensive education, I didn't discover the shocking truth about the world of objects -- the objective world -- until I was into my 40s.

Just think how much mischief could be avoided in the world, if only this truth were actually taught in our schools! These days, apparently even science is no longer permitted to be science, and math no longer math, being that it somehow represents the hegemony of patriarchal white men or some such absurdity.

I can't wait until we have a generation of engineers selected solely by their victimhood status, whose employment is based not upon their grasp of the laws of math and physics but upon the experience of being (something besides caucasian and straight).

What could go wrong?

Gagdad Bob said...

After reading that comment I cracked open my Hayek, and he says

"Knowledge of the world is knowledge of what one must do or not do in certain kinds of circumstances. And in avoiding danger it is as important to know what one must never do as to know what one must do to achieve a particular result."

In short, ought follows is. I can't think of a single important dimension in which the left doesn't put the ought first.

julie said...

I keep seeing all these up-and-coming politicians making ridiculous promises about things like free universal healthcare. Astounding that after all this time, people keep falling for it, but of course it's very easy to think we all ought to get the medical care we want and need at any given moment. Who but the worst sort of vile person would be against that? Rarely do they consider the is of how, exactly, such a fantastical system can be made reality.

I have these sorts of discussions with my kids fairly regularly: "That's a fantastic idea! How do we start? Oh, okay, and how do we do that? Right, and what do we need to make this happen?..."

Not too often - no point in destroying their delightful imaginations by poking holes in every fun idea - but just on occasion when it seems necessary to remind them that there is indeed a ground.

What the left doesn't get - and can apparently never understand - is that the constraints of reality are not an enemy to be vanquished, but rather the means by which mankind has achieved the truly fantastical to such a scale that the greatest of miracles seems boringly mundane.

Given their druthers, we would all be living in dirt huts, grubbing in barren ground for scraps of sustenance which must be taken and "shared" for the good of all.

doug saxum said...

Well said Julie!

Gagdad Bob said...

That might be Hayek's rock-bottom line:

"the constraints of reality are not an enemy to be vanquished, but rather the means by which mankind has achieved the truly fantastical to such a scale that the greatest of miracles seems boringly mundane."

Except he'd be less concise and more convoluted. He never quite mastered the constraints of English.

Anonymous said...

You mention Leftist actions are a steaming pile of expedience, or Leftist put ought instead of is, but let us reflect on this a moment.

Is not expedience the very core of daily life? How can one accomplish one's agenda without taking expedient actions?

Similarly, after fixing upon an agenda, the ought becomes the controlling thought which drives every action taken during a given day.

Non-expedient is-ness is fine, as long as it does not contravene against conducting operations in support of goals.

The quality of goals is another matter. Most people try to satisfy whatever Erickson stage they happen to be in.

Babies, for instance, want tending to when they are hungry, need hygiene care, and so forth. They work to get services from a parent, and will do any expedient thing in their limited power to accomplish the goal.

And so it goes throughout life. Look to Erickson to gain understanding of what people want and do.

Van Harvey said...

"In fact, if you want to be logically consistent in your liberalism, you will have to concede that there are billions of possibilities, one for each human. This is the reductio ad expandum of leftism, which is to say, unadulterated relativism (out of many, even more, you might say). Buzzwords such as diversity and multiculturalism are just the vulgar residue of this prior relativism, which soon enough devolves to nihilism."

The 'reductio ad expandum', that, in a nutshall, is soOo exactly it.