Therefore, they may seem to lead nowhere, at least on the surface. But today's topic, for example, is a big subject to which I couldn't possibly do justice in the allotted time -- which is less than an hour -- but here it is anyway, half-baked and undigested. It has a point -- I know, because it is pulling me -- even if I haven't yet arrived at it.
To say that our current civil war results from a psychic rupture some three or four centuries ago seems so abstract, not to mention pointless. Besides, who said there's such a thing as a human norm? Unlike weather -- which leftists believe has an unchanging preindustrial standard, a "right way" to be -- they believe no such thing vis-a-vis human beings.
One reason why they get away with so much is that their only standard is the absence of standards, AKA defining deviancy down. Then they pretend to be surprised at the emergence of deviant behavior -- say, of a Harvey Weinstein operating in a sexually antinomian Hollywood (where else would such a person choose to operate? A place with no standards is a perfect fit for the man without any). And yet, people with no proper morality are shocked! at his lack of morality.
For in the words of the Aphorist, Human nature always takes the progressive by surprise.
Man is no exception to the rule that in order to exist, something must have a form. We are not just a psychic version of prime matter -- of an infinitely malleable and unformed potentiality.
Nevertheless and everthelouse, Liberals can be divided into those who believe that wickedness is curable and those who deny that it exists.
And usually the dichotomy somehow exists in the same head -- as in, for example, "it is wrong to hold blacks responsible for their disproportionate involvement in crime" and "Trump's tweets are worse than Hitler!" Lack of principles applied to certain groups, hysterical enforcement of them in others. Or maybe you've never seen MSNBC.
At any rate, if we're going to say mankind took a wrong turn a few centuries ago, we have to posit a correct turn rooted in What Man Is. So, what is he?
The question goes back to our first philosopher, or to philosophy as such, which is to say: "know thyself." In philosophy, this question lost all interest and attention somewhere in the 19th century, with the emergence of antihuman thinkers such as Hegel and Marx, followed by such misosophic nul-de-slacks as analytic philosophy.
But then it returned in the 20th century with such developments as phenomenology and existentialism, only detached from everything that had come before. Now we had, for example, an existentialism rooted in an ontological materialism, when this sterile connection is by no means necessary. (Conversely, a young Saint Pope JP allied phenomenology to Christianity to come up with a fruitful Christian personalism.)
The point is that a Christian metaphysic can by definition take on board anything thrown at it, from Darwin to quantum physics (so long as it isn't an intrinsic absurdity such as Marxism or behaviorism). It can baptize anything, even, say, "materialism." For as Aquinas realized, you can have a material cosmos if you like, so long as you don't imagine it can be metaphysically self-sufficient.
Put conversely, there is no way for the finite mind to determine if the material world has a temporal beginning or was always here. But in either case, it must have a vertical source, or your metaphysic falls into incoherence and absurdity. Remember, Aquinas's "first cause" is not in time but outside it -- which is the whole point. To ask what was "before" the first cause is to not know what the first cause is.
Back to our human norm. At the moment, several recent books are in the process of converging and melding in my head. It is an unlikely confluence, consisting of several books that were read back-to-back-to back with no plan, and yet, are disclosing a plan.
Not to veer off course right away, but it reminds me of the Bible. A couple days ago my son mentioned that an evangelical friend of his thinks the Bible was essentially dictated by God, like the Koran or Dianetics. I reminded him that no one wrote the Bible, nor did any of its authors know about the others who would be included in this compendium we call the Bible. Rather, it was chosen and assembled long after the fact. The hidden coherence was only discovered after its contributors had completed their parts.
Which is not to say there is no such thing as a unitary Bible. Indeed, that is what makes it so endlessly mysterious -- that its authors were explicating a hidden coherence of which they knew nothing.
Ramping it down a few notches, it is equally certain that Judge Bork had no idea he was slouching into the same cosmic attractor as Matthew Crawford twenty years later (and vice versa), but here they are, touching hands in my head (or heads in my hands).
To this I could add the book When Harry Became Sally, because all three books, in different ways, speak to an enduring extracranial world that is thankfully independent of our desires -- in the latter case, not just the desire of Harry to pretend he is Sally. Who really cares, since it's a free country?
The problem is that Harry wants to enlist the state to coerce the restavus to say that Harry is Sally. Then we've not only rejected the human norm, but are forced at gunpoint to believe things that cannot be. Which is the endpoint of the wrong turn of a few centuries back, into a total subjectivism anchored in nothing outside the skull (and yet, compelled by the state).
But it's not the end. Things can and will inevitably get worse if we don't rediscover the correct path found in the extracranial world. There is a perennial vertical invasion from below, but we have to recognize it in order to repel it.