Thursday, April 05, 2018

Our Civil War is a War On Order

If there is an order of things, it must correspond to the changelessness in things: it is the Unchanging in which all this Change is grounded. If the change has no underlying order, then it's just random chaos with no point or purpose.

There is always order, and there is always change. Analogously, character is who you are when no one is looking. Likewise, order is what exists even if no one sees it: it can only be discovered, not created or imposed. It is what exists despite anyone's opinion about it.

For example, this is obviously the purpose of philosophy: to find the real order in things -- not just of material reality, but in ethics, aesthetics, and thinking itself. Science deals with quantitative order, but that isn't the only order in which we find ourselves.

In The Rational Bible, Dennis Prager reminds us that the Ten Commandments are not intended to apply to just a particular slice of humanity, but to everyone: they disclose a universal moral order.

Thus, either the Torah "has something to say to everyone or it has nothing to say to [even] the Jews." In other words, it either reveals a universal order or it reveals nothing. There can be no in between. You might even say that there is truth and there is autobiography, and that most philosophy is little more than a glorified memoir or diary. Again: universal or nothing.

What we call wisdom is a pool of knowledge about the Changeless. Wisdom exists along a spectrum and eventually shades off into the human margin and beyond (or below). In other words, some wisdom can be truly universal, while much of it may indeed be culture-bound. Philosophy ought to be a quest for the former.

My eyes just lit upon the following passage: "As I show in my discussion of secular education as a potential 'false god,' the best educated in the West have often both lacked wisdom and been among the greatest supporters of evil ideologies and regimes."

Now, what were (and are) these ideologies but the systematic effort to impose a false order upon human beings? The result? Communist regimes alone "murdered about 100 million people and enslaved and destroyed the lives of more than a billion."

This quest for order is a serious business, perhaps the most serious. Get the order wrong, and the result is catastrophe: "The two missions -- promoting goodness and attaining wisdom -- are linked, because it is almost impossible to do good without wisdom."

The entire history of the left can be summarized in a single wise sentence: "All the good intentions in the world are likely to be worthless without wisdom." Actually, worthless if we're lucky. If only leftist schemes were neutral and not deadly!

In the United States we are absolutely in a civil war. It is as real as the one in the 1860s, with the stakes every bit as world-historically consequential. And if we dig down to the ground, what we really see are two different and irreconcilable orders, both then and now.

Speaking of the search for order, in November 2016 I remember Rachel Maddow and other progressives reading up on 1930s Germany in order to comprehend what was going on in the United States. Yes, that is crazy -- among other reasons because conservatism and fascism are at antipodes -- but it goes to the intensity with which human beings will grasp at order, even if there is no truth to it at all.

Me? I find much more useful parallels with the period leading up to the Civil War. I recently read a couple of books that document what it was like for the average person to live through the era, In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1864 and The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America.

What we have here (and there) are two very different ideas of order: political order, constitutional order, human order. Quite simply, we could not go on being one nation with two orders. A nation, in order to be one, must have one order. We cannot abide states with radically different orders, whether we're talking about slavery or illegal immigrants. In both cases it really comes down to the illegitimate usurpation of power rooted in a false order.

In the margins of the books I often highlighted passages with an N/C, for No Change. For example, I was thinking of the parallels between the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and how contemporary leftists treat blacks who stray from the liberal plantation. They are not permitted to do that, on pain of surrendering their human status.

Nor are they subtle about it. Just the other day on CNN, some dim pundit of color said it was perfectly acceptable to tar black conservatives with racial epithets. Conversely, we are not even permitted to criticize a black progressive such as Obama or Maxine Waters without being called racist. Or, see how the left reacted when someone in Trump's cabinet said he cared more about merit than "diversity." Democrats are no less obsessed with race today than they were during slavery and Jim Crow.

Different orders. In our order, all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. In their order, people are... well, first of all, they are not created. Rather, they evolve, I guess, with unequal races, genders, and classes, and it is up to the state to equalize these. Is it any wonder that This is War?

Prager also reminds us of how America's founders were deeply rooted in the Biblical order, or the order disclosed by our Judeo-Christian tradition. You might say it is the vertical macrocosm in which our political microcosm is rooted. In the past, we've noted how Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin proposed a design for the Great Seal of the U.S. depicting Moses leading the Israelites from slavery to freedom, with the motto Resistance to Tyrants is obedience to God.

Which it is, but why? Because the tyrant imposes a false order, while God reveals the true one. Which is why the loony "resistance" to Trump is hardly obedience to God. If anything, it is defiance of God, which is one of the definitions of fascism: the violent rejection of transcendence.

No, I am not conflating God and Trump. Please. Again, the subject is order, and which one we will live under, the constitutional one or the disordered one imposed by progressives.

Here is a critical point mentioned by Prager: "these two events -- the Exodus and the giving of the Ten Commandments -- are the two seminal events (other than Creation itself)," such that "liberty and morality are the twin pillars of the Torah."

Schematically we see Creation --> Commandments --> Liberty. Creation-as-such is the first order; it is the macrocosmos in which man is situated. Of all the creatures -- both living and nonliving -- man is the only one created with free will. But what is free will if it isn't grounded in the permanent order reflected in the Ten Commandments (and elsewhere)?

It is nothing, precisely. Therefore, freedom and truth/order are intimately related. As are the oppression and nothingness of the left. Freedom requires truth. Slavery needs only power.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A Translucent Cosmos

Where is the order or the cosmos?

First of all, the cosmos is not the sum of all things -- like a giant warehouse -- but rather, the unity of all things -- an organismic whole. However, this whole is not an empirical fact or observation, but more of a hypothesis. In reality it is an intuition. But just because its existence cannot be proved by science, we can nevertheless be sure it exists, for it cannot not exist and yet be a home for thinkers: no thought is possible in a non-cosmos.

Insofar as the scientist uses his scientific method, he has no right to talk of the Universe, of the strict totality of consistently interacting things. It may be that his model de facto covers that totality, but science can never be sure about that. Much less can science answer the question, "Is there indeed a universe?" (Jaki).

In short, it is not possible "for scientists or for their instruments to go outside the universe in order to observe it and provide thereby an experimental verification of it" (Jaki).

Science can only exist because numerical properties can be assigned to matter -- quantities to qualities. Or on other words, science is rooted in the extraction of a quantitative order in things. But then -- hello! -- we run into Prof. Gödel, who reminds us that "no non-trivial set of arithmetic propositions can have its proof of consistency within itself. This means that a necessarily true scientific account of the universe is a pipe dream" (ibid).

Hmm. This means that the ultimate order of things is a bit more ambiguous or subtle than simply assigning it a number or formula. Supposing physical cosmologists discover a "theory of everything," it is nevertheless a theory about the whole that is first intuited. In other words, the wholeness exists first, the theory second. The theory doesn't account for the wholeness but assumes it.

For Schuon, there exist three cosmos for man, "first the soul, then the world which is its medium of manifestation and finally the Universe of which this world represents but a minute fragment." This implies that there is an interior order (the soul), an exterior order (the world) and a transcendent order (the Universe of which the world is but a fragment).

Remember, whatever else we may say of existence, it must first be observed by a subject in order to say it. Perhaps you think that's a trivial observation, but it means that nothing can be radically independent of anything else; or rather, that a prior wholeness subtends anything we can know and say about the parts. If you really understand that, it's a can I buy some pot from you? moment.

Meister Eckhart understood it: Being is God's circle, and in this circle all creatures exist. So, Where there is isness, there God is. Creation is the giving of isness from God

To say knowledge is to say knower and knowability; to know anything = to be known by Someone. Therefore, truth implies persons, and in a way, the two are coequal, or of the same transcendent substance: Subject and Object are complementary, and this complementarity is the truth of things -- or, the very ground and possibility of Truth in Things.

This means that knowing is always a relation, such that relation is understood as the truth of things: it is the understanding of understanding. Thus, according to Pieper, "Truth is nothing else but the identity between the mind and reality, a relation originating and accomplished in the act of knowing..."

There is a truth in all things because all things are in the Truth. It is why facts can be factual, for only a tenured factsimian believes a fact could speak for -- or even perceive -- itself.

You could also say there is a Light in things. So, how did it get there? "All things are intelligible, translucent, clear and open because they are created by God's thought, and for this reason are essentially spirit related" (Pieper). To quote St. Thomas, "A thing has exactly as much light as it has reality."

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. Translucent. What a fine and useful word when applied to the vertical! As Pieper says, "the reality of a thing is itself its light," and things have more or less of this light at both ends. In other words, both subjects and objects are trans-lucent, or mediums of Light.

Cleaning windows. It's what this blog is about. Or better, windows and mirrors: a clean window allows us to see outside, while a clean mirror allows us to see inside -- and up. And thereby become more real.

"The soul is all that it knows," said Aristotle; it is necessary to add that the soul is able to to know all that it is; and that in its essence it is none other than That which is, and That which alone is. --Schuon

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The Nonlocal Order of the World

Order. This might be the key distinction between left and right, for we believe in a transcendent order to which we owe our allegiance, while the left doesn't.

However, everyone actually believes in some form of order, for life would be impossible in its absence. Thus, the left replaces the transcendent vertical order with an immanent horizontal one, AKA the state. As they say, the state is the one thing to which we all belong. What they really mean is that we all belong to the state.

In the words of the Aphorist, Conservatism should not be a political party but the normal attitude of every decent man. Why? Because every decent man is ordered to the truths and virtues that are anterior to him. Supposing you prefer to live by your own truths and morals -- which is to say, desires -- this is precisely what makes one indecent.

And yet, this was the credo of my blighted generation, the Boomers. I didn't just believe it, but believed it with all the ignorant arrogance of a braying mob of gun-grabbing adolescents. What do they know of the transcendent order? Someone should ask them.

To praise youth is to forget our former idiocy (Dávila).

One reason the left rebels against hierarchy is that hierarchy is a kind of judge. We are judged in the light of certain standards, but for the left, standards are what they call "obstacles" -- for example, the Constitution.

Here in California the Constitution is a parchment barrier to stocking the country with millions more illegal Democrats -- which is to say, enough people to further defy and overturn the Constitution, only this time for good. Rid the country of the troublesome legal wall constructed by the founders, and any southern wall will crumble on its own.

It's the same with guns, marriage, religion, freedom of speech: each is an obstacle to the left.

Freedom is not free unless it is an ordered freedom. "Disordered freedom" is a contradiction in terms, but this is precisely what the left offers. Not only that, but disordered freedom evokes the state to control it. Indeed, this is one of the recurring themes of The Boy Crisis, which has led directly to a man crisis -- or to a Pajama Boy crisis, if you prefer: Vanderleun's New Castrati.

What is the essence of this crisis? And why does a female-centric culture -- such as in urban Democrat hells -- inevitably redound to violence and chaos?

I was about to say that civilization passes through the male line, but it's more that barbarism is combatted through the male line. In other words, the only cure for the toxic masculinity of the Pajama Boys and HoggBrats of the world is a virtuous masculinity (recall that the vir in virtue means man). Without spiritually mature and actualized men, we are merely bystanders to the repetitive cycle of merely biological men: to the bullies and bullied.

Here's an essay that goes to what we're talking about, The Wages of Inversion:

We live in an age in which things are no longer what they are supposed to be. Words have come to denote the opposite of what they signify. Cultural institutions on which we rely to serve our personal and national interests have morphed into caricatures of their original intentions, working against their foundational purposes.

Linguistic and institutional inversion is the time-dishonored strategy of totalitarian systems and is generally associated with the theory and practice of the Left, which has infiltrated the culture and polity of the free world, particularly in the areas of language use, the media, education, the arts and gender relations. The democratic West is now at the mercy of its own reverse polarity.

The left always deploys linguistic tactics in service to an ideological end. In other words, it first attacks language, and often this is enough.

For example, instead of arguing for homosexual unions on the merits, all the left had to do was redefine marriage. Then its legal recognition was readily deduced from bogus first principles. Likewise Roe v. Wade, which inserted abortion into the Constitution, or Dred Scott, which inserted race.

But "A society in which language has been so denatured as to operate on the principle of inversion, beyond even the institutional euphemisms of political correctness, has no future" (Solway). Literally. For language -- and the truth it carries -- is to civilization what blood is to the body. Tainted language is like tainted blood: eventually it spreads to the whole organism.

How does it spread? Three main ways: education, journalism, and entertainment. The media doesn't just provide "fake news," but literally an alternate universe. But this is only possible because the psychic targets have been softened by the continuous bombardment of education and entertainment. Skulls don't just fill themselves with mush. Rather, someone has to do the filling.

Solway quotes Madison, who wrote that

The American people owe it to themselves, and to the cause of free Government, to prove by their establishments for the advancement and diffusion of Knowledge, that their political Institutions… are as favorable to the intellectual and moral improvement of Man as they are conformable to his individual & social Rights.

To the extent that progress exists, it is a measure of the intellectual and moral improvement of man. And this intellectual and moral improvement is a consequence of adequation to a nonlocal order that never confers a right without a corresponding obligation or duty. A right to free speech? By all means, but only if you are obligated to truth! A right to self-defense? Of course, so long as you are defending good and not evil.

It is customary, writes Davila, to proclaim rights in order to be able to violate duties. But there can be no intrinsic right to violate inherent duties. If you believe that, that's... that's when you know The Future has arrived, and the blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and overturned the order of the soul (Leonard Cohen).

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