Friday, November 30, 2018

The Source and Destiny of Intelligent Stupidity

If we're going to trace intelligence all the way down to the roots, we need to follow it all the way up to its source, AKA God.

Or perhaps in the context of this discussion, it's better to say "O," since God is too saturated with other connotations, emanations, and penumbras. Deploying O entails a more modest, or at least narrower, claim: that an intelligence that looks downward for its source not only arbitrarily denies its own significance, but undercuts its own efficacy. A materialist or existentialist metaphysic is just a clever or systematic way to be stupid.

In short, if there is a wholly material explanation for intelligence, then we are not intelligent, because intelligence would be just an accidental byproduct of some unintelligent substance or process.

These folkers like to accuse religion of magical thinking, but really, what could be more magical than promulgating an absolute relativism and then carving out a special exemption for oneself? How does the materialist slip the surly bonds of his own materialism?

I suppose the same way a magician pulls a rabbit from his hat: he's only revealing what he concealed there in the first place. Likewise, the materialist pulls out a metaphysic he covertly projects into matter, and calls it "true" -- as if truth still exists and we can know it. Again, intelligent stupidity.

But just because the materialist can't actually conjure a true rabbit from a metaphysical nothing, it doesn't mean God can't. For what is creation but a projection of God -- or O -- in a "downward" direction? Or better, Schuon uses the image of a circle to convey our cosmic situation -- in fact, two circles. Putting these two together, or keeping both in mind, furnishes a point of reference for our essential situation.

Each circle has a center we will call O. The first circle is surrounded by a series of concentric circles representing worlds, or dimensions of being, or even powers, principalities, thrones, and dominions if you like.

For example, one of the outer circles would be what we call sensible matter, or the empirical world. Closer to the center would be worlds of logic or mathematics. Closer still would be spiritual worlds of virtue, beauty, metaphysical truth.

Note that in the concentric view, the worlds are discontinuous. If you restrict yourself to this view, then you will quite literally have no way to understand, for example, how dead matter can come to life, or how life can host persons. The discontinuity is insurmountable, such that you will need a "magic trick" to make the leap.

But magic isn't required if you supplement the concentric view with a spiraling one. In this perspective, O is still at the center, but spirals outward, around itself. Now there is no longer any discontinuity. Not only is everything connected to O, but is an expression or echo (however close or distant) of it.

Now, these two images convey many important cosmic messages. For example, the first goes to the radical transcendence of God, while the second goes to his immanence. In the first, we are seemingly disconnected from the source, but in the second the source must be closer to us than our own heartbeat.

Extending this a bit, the first would go to such things as exile, original sin, humility, and cosmic insignificance. But this is balanced by the second, which makes us "participants in God." And the most important participant -- getting back to our main subject -- is the intellect, which is the prolongation par excellence of God.

More generally, the spiral image explains how and why life is a "journey back to God." The journey is only possible because of the continuous spiral. Obviously, in the concentric cosmos the journey would be impossible, because we could never transcend or escape our own circle.

Now, make no mistake: any modern, postmodern, or non-traditional philosophy not only entraps us in one of those circles, but worse, turns the circle inside out by placing matter at the center. Yes, literally. Think about it for a second: tracing human intelligence to material causes is like "finding" the center of reality and discovering that it is... nothing. The most meaningful thing in all of creation has managed to render itself meaningless. It has pulled a rabbit out of the hat -- a dead rabbit.

I'm looking at some passages in Logic and Transcendence that describe this exactly, only in a more elegant and less Raccoonish way. For example, any form of relativism escapes, "as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility." It jumps from the periphery to the center, but how? That's only possible in the spiral view which relativism denies at the outset.

Or how about the claim that "one can never escape from human subjectivity." Well, if all Cretans are subjectivists, then all Cretans are Cretins, and there's no reason to take them seriously. Such an utterance, no matter how imbued with tenure, "falls under its own verdict."

But here is the unavoidable truth -- a truth to which one must resign oneself, no matter how pleasant: "It is abundantly evident that man can escape subjectivity, for otherwise he would not be man."

Now, that there is a big clue as to What Man Is. It sounds suspiciously tautological, but in reality, it is our only escape from tautology, for it means that we can exit the closed loop of the circle and enter the inward-turning spiral. We can indeed embark upon a pilgrimage toward the cosmic Center.

If not, then truly truly, to hell with it. Seriously, either intelligence can know truth, or it can't. But if it can, then this discloses many meta-truths about the human station and the human situation. For again, in the inspiraling view, -- and pay attention here -- intelligence is not just the conformity of mind to truth, rather, something far more radical: intelligence is itself the substance of truth, a kind of direct revelation of God.

Somewhere Schuon says something to the effect that revelation is the objectification or crystalization of the intellect. But also, the intellect as such is a kind of subjective revelation of the divine mind. Now, if this weren't the case, then we couldn't understand revelation to begin with: revelation is "addressed" to the intellect, but the intellect is "already" the revelation. Or better, revelation might be seen as a vertical memo that is both from and to the intellect, if you catch my drift.

Going back to the enclosed world of concentric circles, "subjectivity would not even be conceivable for a man who was totally enclosed in his subjectivity; an animal lives in its subjectivity but does not conceive it, for unlike man it does not possess the gift of objectivity."

Did you catch the implications? The animal is indeed situated in one of those concentric circles, a dog or dolphin no doubt closer to the center than an amoeba or alligator, but still, with no ability to journey closer to the center.

But in the case of man, it takes a genius to prevent him from spiraling back toward the center, because man is the being intrinsically capable of doing this. Ah, but this gift can sometimes be seen as a kind of curse: since we are not fixed in any particular circle, an existentialist will see us as the very personification of nothingness: since we are "anything" then we are nothing. But notice the error: the existentialist takes the spiral for granted, but wrenches it from its context, which only makes sense if God is at the center.

It is analogous to positing a solar system and then removing the central sun that renders the system possible. Then we are indeed reduced to wandering planets, such that movement in one direction is no better than movement in any other -- "my truth" is no better or worse than any other -- except to say that this belief in the subjectivity of truth is definitely better than your fascist belief that there is only one truth and one direction toward it!

And all of this, if you think about it for two or three seconds, goes directly to our political polarization, for blue people are concentrics pretending to be spirals. For example, what is the "progress" of so-called progressives but a movement toward some transcendent ideal that is just a human projection (and displacement) of God?

Conversely, a proper redman maintains the complementarity of concentrism and spiralism. To take an obvious example, the Constitution is a concentric document for the purpose of a spiral end. Our natural rights flow from the center to the periphery, and can be explained in no other way. The Constitution is a manmade charter -- made at the periphery -- designed to protect our natural rights -- which emanate from the center.

Notice how the left simultaneously wishes to make the Constitution nothing and everything: by relativizing it, they covertly absolutize it, for the doctrine of the "living constitution" puts it in line with the more widespread metaphysic of absolute relativism, or of Total Absurdity, AKA hell on earth.

[O]ne of the noteworthy traits of the twentieth century is the confusion, now habitual, between evolution [read: progressivism] and decadence: there is no decadence, no impoverishment, no falsification that people do not try to excuse with the relativistic argument of "evolution".... Thus relativism, cleverly instilled into public opinion, paves the way for all kinds of corruption while at the same time keeping watch lest any kind of healthy reaction might put the brakes on this slide toward the abyss.

Worth rereading slowly. Progressivism is the last word in degeneratavism, disintegrism, and depravitism, and like an autoimmune disease, includes a mechanism for identifying and eradicating its own cure.


julie said...

Progressivism is the last word in degeneratavism, disintegrism, and depravitism, and like an autoimmune disease, includes a mechanism for identifying and destroying its own cure.

Reminds me of China. On the one hand, supposedly a nation of incredible technological achievements and innovation, and yet they can't manage the most the most basic elements of things like sanitation or even safe building construction. It all looks impressive, from a distance, but close inspection often reveals that it is all facade. The one area they really seem to be excelling is in government surveillance and control, which will guarantee that China will never be free as a nation to discover Truth.

Anonymous said...

Greetings, Dr. Godwin.

Your view of the concentric versus spiral construction of the realms, and a person's relation to such, is interesting. People I've known have been spiralists while children, gotten bogged down in concentrism in their young adulthood, and then got spiralational again while growing the silver hairs.

One of my pals who was a real miscreant at 20 is a Sannayasin at 60.

A factor to consider in any Weltanshaung is the role of O in orchestrating the movements within the Cosmos, and in particular the journey undertaken by souls. They have to start somewhere low, if they are to move on high.

All of these bonehead relativists - do you think they exist purely due to human contrariness?

Does O want all to come to Him in haste, or make grievous mistakes first? How much individual guidance is given or withheld to each of us? How much time is allotted for the soul journey? One life or many? Are we each a son or daughter beloved of O?

So many questions without answers. Or, are there answers? Or, are these questions even

Daniel T said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie:

Your comment regarding China is interesting. Large cities in Asia appear to be at two extremes. There are the cities which look grimy and disorganized at all times, like Yakutsk, Delhi, Mumbai, Shanghai, Manila, etc, and then there are the hyper-hygenic clean and organized cities like Hong-Kong and Singapore. There are some cities in the middle of the spectrum, like Taipei, Bejing, etc.

Asian governments are, by and large, intrusive by Western standards. Japanese and Korean tourists can't even smoke ganja while visiting Canada.

But an assertion the Chinese are blocked from access to Truth by their government gives too much credit to the government, I would think. Truth is accessible to all during 30 minutes sitting quietly, on a global basis. We all have it on tap.

doug saxum said...

Checking in
Are the left in the Five Stages of Grief?
They have to know that their ideas suck.

julie said...


Family member is watching CNN's retrospective on Bush. To hear them tell it, they are indeed in one of the stages., if saccharine memories of how much they really loved the guy and how swell he was counts as a stage of grief.

They know their ideas suck, but believe it only sucks for the wrong sort of people.

doug saxum said...

Hi Julie!

Yep, they'd give up liberty for all to punish us "Deplorables".

Unknown said...

Medical Hypotheses: Clever Sillies - Why the high IQ lack common sense

Whereas common sense is so uncommon.

Van Harvey said...

"Worth rereading slowly. Progressivism is the last word in degeneratavism, disintegrism, and depravitism, and like an autoimmune disease, includes a mechanism for identifying and eradicating its own cure."

Or in a word: Pro-Regressivism.

Van Harvey said...

Cool Torus .gif, Petey.

Joanne Griffin said...

"Progressivism is the last word in degeneratavism, disintegrism, and depravitism, and like an autoimmune disease, includes a mechanism for identifying and eradicating its own cure."

Just can't see it enough.