I have nothing concrete or practical to say about the recent school shooting. It does, however, remind me of something said in yesterday's post -- that alone among creatures, man may sink beneath himself and fall into a negative space of evil, absurdity, and nihilism: a creature no longer of God, but of what then?
This goes to the sufficient reasons for the human station, which are freedom, love, virtue, and truth: we are given freedom in order to conform ourselves to what is good, true, and beautiful.
If this is not the case, then to hell with it: the nihilist living in his negative space is no worse than the saint or scientist pursuing virtue and truth. We all just live our own peculiar way of being in error. In this context, to be an individual is to be uniquely as opposed to collectively wrong, since truth is inaccessible in any case.
At the same time, man can never attain his purpose alone. We are social animals before we are individuals, and the latter -- individuation -- is strictly impossible in the absence of the former.
This goes to the intersubjective and trinitarian nature of the human person, such that group and individual are always complementary and not opposed -- except in pathological situations, such as leftism, wherein the collective oppresses the individual, or libertarianism, in which the individual is an isolated monad abstracted from the group. Note that these two deviations are founded upon a systematic ignorance and denial of the human station.
Which, by the way, is why the natural family is the unit of human existence. It is the glue that binds people together, and consequently allows us to bond with people and groups outside the family. Strong and heathy families create strong and healthy individuals, at least most of the time. There's always a seemingly random, or at least unforeseeable, element in these matters.
But also, to paraphrase Dávila , sin "shuffles the cards." At any rate, if there were a pure cause-and-effect relationship between parental input and child output, we would be machines, not free beings.
President Trump is surely correct to call this a "mental health issue," but what can this mean in a culture that proudly transgresses all human norms and calls it freedom and progress? As said in yesterday's post, there is no progress beyond the human station: one can fail to actualize proper humanness, but no one can transcend it.
Which sounds arrogant -- as if humanness is a kind of perfection. Well, it is! But again, it is image, and it is up to us -- in freedom -- to move toward likeness. No conceivable anthropology can surpass this formulation. This is what is meant by the wisecrack that the only real failure and tragedy in life is "not to become a saint."
Why? Because this is the ultimate telos of our God-given freedom. Anything less "is to remain unactualized." Yes, almost all of us fail. But failure is only comprehensible in the light of possible success.
In this context, failure is a form of success, so long as it is aimed in the proper direction. In other words, man can improve in the trying, which is true of everything from science to sanctity. But in the absence of this telos, there is neither failure nor success, again, just the aimless drifting of cosmic flukes.
By the way, I would modify Bloy's crack somewhat, in order to allow for different types and destinies. Being that man is knowledge, sentiment, and will -- or truth, love, and virtue -- there is room enough for the sage as well as saint (not to mention artist or warrior or even merchant). Thus, if you are given the gift of intelligence and fail to actualize wisdom, then that is indeed a tragedy. Worse, it is tenure.
Precisely because man may conceive of the transcendent Absolute -- beyond which there can be no whicher -- he must be, as it were, immanent absoluteness; or again, a residue of absoluteness projected into time, space, and relativity.
Man cannot be intelligent "without an Intelligence 'in itself'" -- an Intelligence "which is both transcendent and immanent." This itself is a "quasi-fulgurating proof of the Omniscient, a proof almost too blindingly evident to be able to be formulated in words." Indeed, language is a shadow -- or better, image -- of the Logos, as is moon- to sunlight.
About the unsurpassable nature of the human station: "To say that man... is 'made in the Image of God'" is to say that human beings manifest "something absolute and for that very reason something unlimited and perfect" (Schuon).
Now, this kind of grandiose talk is liable to give a fellow a big head and lead to all sorts of mischief. But only if it is in the wrong metaphysical context.
For in a trinitarian context, our greatness is in our humility and self-giving: the meek, the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, are among those who gain entry to the vertical kingdom. These latter are receptive to God and thereby moving toward him, which is again the reason for the human station.
The animal, which can manifest perfections but not the Absolute, is like a closed door, as it were enclosed in its own perfection; whereas man is like an open door allowing him to escape his limits, which are those of the world rather than his own. --Schuon