Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Case of the Missing Cosmos

Whole and part: one cannot refer (explicitly) to any object within the cosmos without alluding (implicitly) to the cosmos without it. Things don't only go on within you and without you; but any thing is necessarily within and without (or beyond) itself.

In short, parts are never independent atoms radically separate from the whole, but involved in a network of internal and external relations. And although these objects may not be biologically alive, please understand that this implicit organicism is the necessary condition for the very possibility of biological life. In other words, if the cosmos were not (as it were) a big organism, then the little ones would be strictly impossible. "Darwinism" could never get of the ground, because there would be nothing above the ground.

So, whole and part are always complementary. Another related complementarity is container/contained. Everything partakes of this relation, whether we recognize it or not. And importantly, it applies both in the objective and subjective worlds. For example, every thought in your head is contained and conditioned by a container. In fact, one might say there are levels of containment: as thoughts are contained by the soul, the soul is contained by God, the Absolute Subject.

Can we even imagine something without a container? No. Imagine, for example, a painting with no frame. Rather, it just goes on "forever." If that were the case, then there would be nothing to see, nothing to set it apart from its surroundings.

Interestingly, this also applies to time. Analogously, what if human beings had no spatial boundaries -- no containment -- but again went on forever. Then we couldn't see each other! Likewise if we lived forever: the price of being something is containment in time and space.

I can hear you now: can I buy some pot from you?

All of the above is also related to the complementarity of immanence <--> transcendence. Everything partakes of both, except that in the case of human beings we are consciously aware of having a foot in each camp. Every bad philosophy tries to eliminate one or the other, which is how we can know ahead of time that any form of idealism or materialism is wrong. It is also what makes the Incarnation possible, and is indeed its Whole Point: that it has pleased the Absolute, the MetaCosmic Person, to dwell in history and mingle among its relativities.

So, I am not at all surprised to read the following in No God, No Science:

Every conception of scientific knowledge harbors within itself a metaphysics and a [natural theology] that shape in turn both how the objects of knowledge are conceived and what knowledge of the universe itself -- truth -- is taken to consist in.

Thus, "the very idea of a universe remains irreducibly metaphysical and theological." Not to belabor the point, but no one has ever seen the cosmos, and no one ever will. No man can contain that which contains him.

To take an obvious point, even if physicists were to arrive at a Theory of Everything, in which the laws of cosmology are reduced to a single equation, one must nevertheless posit something like a divine mind in which the equation is contained. Otherwise it is like writing on an imaginary blackboard with invisible ink.

Interestingly, Genesis approaches this question in a unique -- and correct -- way. Other cosmologies posit a primordial substance with which God works, but this then reduces to the absurdity of two absolutes: God and the substance. But the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo teaches that the Creator at once creates both the blackboard and the equations written on it.

And this doctrine points back -- or up -- to the Trinity, such that creation down here is very much in the image of the primordial creativity that goes on upin there. As I have put it before, we live in an intersubjective cosmos because it is grounded in an intersubjective Godhead. Only because of this are truth, love, beauty, and other transcendentals available to us. If they're not available, then we're not even human. But we are definitely human, even if certain widespread philosophies deny the fact. Which is why secular humanism is an egregious form of un- and anti-humanism.

Exactly: "the ontology of scientific materialism, with its exclusion of intrinsic meaning, is tantamount to 'cognitive suicide' and makes ordinary experience miraculous beyond explanation." The good news: miracles are real! The bad news: they're absolutely meaningless if not frankly perverse, such that the only meaning of which we can be sure is the meaninglessness of it all. You can kill the cosmos, but human persons will be among the collateral damage.

Ultimately, the cosmos within is proportioned to the cosmos without. Which is how and why science is even possible. Every scientific discovery proves the point -- that our minds are in deep conformity with the nature of things, that "there is a single order of reality comprehensive of its own intelligibility, an order large enough to include us..."

But you will have noticed that scientism posits a universe that is not large enough -- or better, deep enough -- to contain its most vital and interesting content, AKA human persons. In short, it tosses out the vertical, such that there is no longer any space for humans to inhabit, or even any container for truth. How can scientistic minds posit scientism when the positer no longer exists? They never say.

Do you know why universities are the way they are -- which is to say factories of indoctrination into fragmentary shards of a once unified knowledge of being? Because

The universe as a comprehensive order of reality was the presupposition and impetus behind the original universities and their ideal of an order of knowledge that was comprehensive and nonreductive, unified without being uniform.

Instead, we see

The degeneration of the university into a 'multiversity' of disintegrated disciplines suppressing their own metaphysical character, refusing integration into a comprehensive view equal to the truth of human life and experience, and vying with one another to become a 'theory of everything'...

Parts pretending to wholeness, contained presuming its own containment, horizontal swallowing vertical, and ultimately man become God, AKA Genesis 3 All Over Again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Your Trial, Your Ego's Funeral

Continuing with yesterday's theme, it is simply The Case that no philosophy can determine the mind's limits without implicitly surpassing those limits. At the the very least, there always has to be an exception to your arbitrary rule.

For example, all thought is determined by unconscious motives except for Freud's; or minds are solely the result of selfish genes except for the theory of selfish genes; or our ideologies are a consequence of class interest except for Marx's. Which brings to mind a timeless Aphorism:

The left's theses are trains of thought that are carefully stopped before they reach the argument that demolishes them.

I have trained my son to recognize that all bad or inadequate philosophies do this -- that they always contain the self-refuting seeds of their own destruction. One can either proceed downward into an infinite regress, or upward in a progression toward infinitude. The word metanoia refers to the latter, i.e., to turning away from the shadows and looking out the cave door.

Here is a riddle: "What makes truth compelling? What is the force of reason?" (Hanby). The answer is that man is designed to know and love truth. That being the case, the pursuit takes care of itself. Except when it doesn't, for people are passionate in defense of the truth irrespective of whether it happens to be true or false. You could even say that this is man's most fundamental and persistent problem, the most obvious residue of the fall: passionate defense of the Lie.

We've said before that if Satan can get an otherwise good person to believe the Lie, then his work is done. The person will do all of his heavy lifting. For it is written: The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues (Dávila). Which is precisely why prudence is the highest virtue: thanks to the left, every day is a lesson in how justice minus prudence = tyranny. Likewise, courage minus prudence = oppression, or terror, or bullying.

Some things are true simply by virtue of their existence. They cannot not be, nor can we not believe them, at least implicitly. Of course, being that we are free, we are free to deny these truths, but only on pain of a primordial contradiction, as alluded to above. The contradiction is simply the price one pays for denying integral reality. This is all spelled out in Genesis 3.

In reality, "Philosophy in its aspiration to ultimacy is inherently open to theology" (ibid.). In other words, philosophy, in its pursuit of the ultimate principle, necessarily shades off into what surpasses philosophy. Here again, you may or may not see this, but it is you who are on trial, not the principle. The principle judges you, not vice versa. You might say that its ways are not your ways.

Any formal structure of philosophy "cannot be explicated without at least implicit reference to the absolute." Yes. I just said that. More to the point -- and this is the whole premise of One Cosmos, so pay attention --

Theology resides in the heart of philosophy because an intuition of the whole inheres in the apprehension of a part, because it harbors a legitimate aspiration to ultimacy, and because some form of the God-world relation is inherent in however it understands the subject.

You might say that theology/philosophy is an irreducible complementarity: engage in one and you are engaging in the other, so you might as well be explicit about it. Do you see this? If not, you are on trial.

Philosophy can never exhaust, much less contain, Being. You are again free to imagine otherwise, but a crack by Jesus comes to mind: he who loses his life shall find it, and vice versa. It is your self (or soul) vs. your ego, and only one can prevail. And to assimilate a truth is to die a little. In a good way.

"In the dynamic interplay between essence and existence, there is a certain bottomless depth, a certain infinity within the being of the creature itself..." (Hanby). This immanent infinitude answers, so to speak, the transcendent infinitude of God. We are an image, albeit an inverse one. In any event, you could symbolize this ultimate dialectic as O <--> ʘ; ʘ is not O, but nor is it not not O.

It's like the old Vedantic formulation: Atman and Brahman are not so much one as not-two. In our terms, the Son is not the Father, and yet they are one-in-love.

Left and right cerebral hemispheres. In a certain sense, you could say that profane philosophy is in the left, mystical theology in the right. But here again, our brains are one. We must always see the world stereoscopically, such that its infinite depth jumps out at us. Boo! We could no more demystify the world than we could remove the wetness from water.

The title of today's post was inspired by the immortal Sonny Boy Williamson:

Monday, January 15, 2018

True Ape and False God

The following will be a free-associational post on No God, No Science. Perhaps an order will emerge from my spontaneous bobbling. But there is nothing wrong with deferred meaning, in that we want to avoid the cognitive sin of eagerly grasping at a superficial answer in order to make the question go away.

Hanby say something in passing that is for us a Bottom Line Take, or Irreducible Cosmic Principle, that "because I always already belong to the world -- because the world and I are distinct poles of a single actuality -- there is no 'subjective experience' of myself that does not already include the prior objective order of the world..."

In other words, intelligence and intelligibility are not two unrelated things, but rather, spring from a single nonlocal source.

Note that I ended that quote with an ellipsis. This is because Hanby adds something -- a therefore -- with which we do not agree, that "there is thus no real possibility of separating subjectivity from this order." That very much depends upon where one is situated vertically.

Whereas scientific knowledge is always conditioned by the subject/object complementarity, there are metaphysical truths that are wholly objective, and which transcend science. These truths are of course known by the subject, but this higher subject -- the intellect -- is capable of objectivity, disinterest, and dispassion.

The other day we spoke of how modern man has a tendency to deny certain primordial complementarities, such that the denied partner always returns in some hidden form.

Thus, for example, scientism purloins the objectivity of the divine subject, as if science can account for its own possibility. But as Schuon says, "The rational faculty detached from its supernatural context" necessarily gives rise "to a way of thought and a form of life both of which are opposed to man." Or just say Prometheus. Or Icarus. Or Genesis 3. Or Earwicker.

If you need it spelled out, "Intelligence separated from its supra-individual source is accompanied ipso facto by that lack of sense of proportions which one calls pride; conversely, pride prevents intelligence, when it has become rationalism, from rising to its source; it can only deny Spirit and replace it with matter..." (ibid.).

Note that pride covertly contaminates objectivity with a passionate subjectivity. It reminds me of the absolute hysteria in the media over the weekend. A big reason why people despise the media is that it pretends to a detached objectivity while being the most histrionically partisan gaggle of teenage girls one could imagine. And the lack of self-awareness only aggravates the pride behind it all. Is there anyone more pompous or self-important than a News Anchor?

At any rate, as it pertains to scientism, "Rather than bow to the evidence of the Spirit, proud reason will deny its own nature which nonetheless enables it to think" (ibid.). And you know what that is? It's cutting off your nous to support your farce: "[T]orrents of intelligence are wasted for the sake of conjuring away the essential and brilliantly proving the absurd..." (ibid.). Nothing can be that shallow and stupid, let alone everything.

Back to NoGodNoScience: "the world must be so constituted in the first place that the soul and its activities of life are genuine possibilities within it" (Sachs, in Hanby).

Or in other words -- for those of you living in Rio Linda -- if something exists, that's a big hint that it is possible for this thing to exist. A cosmos is not just "what it is," but what it is possible for it to be; in other words, actuality does not exhaust being. Rather, there is also potentiality (or potency).

To take an obvious example, the cosmos appeared to be a lifeless blandscape for what, 10 billion years? Wrong. Then it seemed to be devoid of persons for another 4 billion. Wrong again. What other potentialities are tucked away and awaiting actualization? Only a rash man would claim that the novelty is over. More to the point, human creativity participates in the Divine Novelty, and that will never end, although Marxists tried their best.

Note that they too pretended to an absurd promethean objectivity. Suffice it to say that it simultaneously killed God while divinizing man. And of all the false gods, man is the most destructive by far.

It all comes down to "a proper understanding of creation understood (in its passive sense) precisely as a relation" (Hanby), an idea we will explicate as we go along. But relation is indeed a, if not the, key to the whole existentialada. For example, to say creature is to say Creator; to say man is to say God. If there is no God, then man is indeed just a prolongation of apehood, so there is no reason why we should respect him or his opinions.

Hanby mentions another one of our Bottom Line Takes, that "all cognitive beings also know God implicitly in any act of knowledge" (Aquinas, in Hanby). Thomas is correct. Maybe you don't see it. But bear in mind that Thomas is not on trial. You are.

Here is another point: "the theological standpoint revealed in Christianity purifies and deepens philosophy and does not negate it..." It most definitely negates certain philosophies, but we can negate most of these with pure metaphysics -- for example, the postmodern claim to absolute relativism.

It reminds me of what Slattery says about St. Augustine, who internalized "the wisdom that calls on man to travel to the utter frontiers of reason in the quest for life's ultimate meaning."

There is no intrinsic limit to what the mind can know; or, any limit we put there is manmade, itself a product of the mind. Put conversely, the mind transcends any limit it tries to place on itself, and it is in this transcendent space that we meet our creator.

Which is another reason why "the notion of a 'pure' science free from metaphysical and theological contamination is a fiction and therefore already the expression of a theology" (Hanby). Just a bad theology, or a theology unworthy of both man and God.

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