I'm thinking in particular of the relationships between freedom, ignorance, economics, and universal metaphysics. I suppose the whole thing was sparked by reading Schuon and Hayek at the same time, two thinkers one would normally think of as being at antipodes, at least in subject matter.
All the better for our freewheeling approach! For the more we can bring together seeming contraries -- such as mind and matter, religion and science, economics and metaphysics -- well, the closer we are to illuminating the One Cosmos beneath and above.
This line by Hayek arrested my attention yesterday, and is as good a place as any to start: "Freedom can be preserved only by following principles and it is destroyed by following expediency." I know what you're thinking: but the left has no principles! That is correct, but we'll get to the gratuitous insultainment a little later.
Why does freedom depend upon adherence to principles? That seems contradictory, because strict adherence to a principle is a kind of foregoing of freedom, isn't it? Well, we have to make choices -- life consists of a series of choices -- and if there are no principles beneath the choosing, then our so-called freedom is really just randomness.
Moreover, "when we decide each issue solely on what appear to be its individual merits, we always over-estimate the advantage of central direction." Take free speech. For conservatives, this is a principle, not an expedient. It is not "for" anything. Like human life, it is an inherent good.
But the left is at war with this principle, and instead wants to apply it on a case-by-case basis, which of course defeats the whole purpose. No one will accuse the left of self-awareness, but the effort to appeal to free speech in order to defeat free speech is up there with their greatest hits -- e.g., using the legal system to destroy the rule of law, or claiming "human rights" (such as abortion) to deny them.
Again, if the future were certain, then freedom would be entirely superfluous. "Freedom" and "unknowability" are kissing cousins, as are tyranny and omniscience. Every modern tyranny -- from Venezuela to Obamacare -- pretends to know how to bring about a desired future by eliminating freedom, i.e., all the bad choices individuals will make.
Think about what they're actually saying: we know how to bring about the desired future, so we are entitled to eliminate your freedom in bringing it about. But what if the desired future can only be brought about under conditions of freedom? Or, what if the future is always unknowable, and freedom is simply the acknowledgement of this reality?
This is why the accomplishments of a regime of freedom always surpass even the dreams -- let alone reality -- of the anti-freedom left. Indeed, freedom brings about conditions we never even dreamed of, such as this internet we are presently enjoying. Similarly, we can't even imagine the medical breakthroughs that will occur in the future -- unless we adopt socialized medicine and destroy the very conditions that will bring them about.
Ah, I'm just ramblin' like a libertarian, which ain't nothin' but a right-wing hippie.
I'm driving at something deeper, but haven't yet hit praydirt. One critical point is that we will never know what might have occurred had we not tampered with freedom in order to impose some desired outcome. For example, Social Security was un- (or at least anti-)constitutionally imposed upon us in 1935. If we'd done the same with communication, we'd probably still have a 1930s-style telephone system.
"That freedom can be preserved only if it is treated as a supreme principle which must not be sacrificed for particular advantages was fully understood by the leading liberal thinkers of the nineteenth century" (Hayek).
But now, thanks to the aggravated logocide of the left, the very people who are devoted to the sacrifice of freedom are called "liberals." For "if one starts unsystematically to interfere with the spontaneous order there is no practicable halting point." Indeed, there can be no limit, because you've already destroyed the principle that would limit it. Good work!
It's so easy to do, because it's always possible to appeal to superficial conditions in order to deny a principle. Look at the Kavanaugh hearing: we must deny due process because Ford is a woman, and women never lie! Which is a lie, and not even a good one.
Such diabolical appeals aren't usually that grotesque. Indeed, I am told that Satan himself was embarrassed by that crude display by his minions last month. Yes, he is as opposed to constitutional principles as the most fervent leftist, but he prefers to darken the minds of sophisticated academics over arousing the passions of the mob. That's a last resort. Think Roe v. Wade: a cold, clean, and calculated decision by the best and brightest, not some sweaty mob of infanticidal lunatics. Please.
Ah, here's an appropriate point of transition from terrestrial to celestial principles of freedom: "What I meant to argue in The Road to Serfdom" may be expressed "in more homely language" in cautioning us that "If you do not mend your principles you will go to the devil." Nevertheless, "the 'necessities' of policy are generally the consequences of earlier measures." One expedient denial of freedom sets up conditions for the next. And next. And next. Ad infinitum -- the bad kind, or an inverted image of the good kind of infinitude, as we shall see presently.
But freedom. What is it really, and where does it come from? How is it even possible? Is it just an accidental byproduct, some residue of complexity, or is it built into the cosmic cake?
One of my favorite lines by Paul is Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. This implies that freedom must be some kind of prolongation of the Holy Spirt, or perhaps a triproduct of the Trinity itsoph.
Now, Hayek would never make such an argument. He was a secular son of the enlightenment, not some kind of religious wacko. Well, in what then does he ground his most decisive and consequential principle? In expedience? If so, then that's ultimately no better then the left's unprincipled appeal to expedience.
I suppose we might ask: is there an Absolute Freedom, as implied by Paul? Or is it always accidental and relative? And if so, relative to what? More relativity? In which case it just reduces to nothingness, as taught by that bedwetting, Mao-loving existentialist, Sartre.
No, freedom is very much like truth itself: either it is a fundamental attribute of absoluteness, or this cosmos is just an airless and lightless jungle of inescapable absurdity.
But as Schuon suggests, one might as well declare it "to be absolutely true that there is nothing but the relatively true," or "say that there is no language or write that there is no writing." Such absurdities result from "the implicit claim to be unique in escaping, as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility."
Bottom line: if man weren't free, he could never know it. He would be plunged into matter and enclosed in his own neurology. And if he is free, then nothing short of freedom can account for this astonishing fact. An animal doesn't doubt because an animal isn't free. But you doubt because you are free to do so, and freedom and doubt are functions of truth and reality.
Error and falsehood are privative phenomena, always parasitic on truth and certainty. Appearance is a function of reality, not vice versa. If reality were a function of appearance, then there would be no reality, only "reality." Then you are well and truly in the leftist hell of My Truth, AKA "truth" AKA ineradicable illusion.
Two -- and only two -- possibilities. As Anton says, you must choose:
Chigurh: Call it.Call it! And don't pretend you have no choice.
Gas station proprietor: Call it?
GSP: For what?
Chigurh: Just call it.
GSP: Well, we need to know what we're calling it for here.
Chigurh: You need to call it. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair.
GSP: I didn't put nothin' up.
Chigurh: Yes you did. You've been putting it up your whole life and you just didn't know it.
But if you choose freedom, exactly what have you chosen?
It is the consciousness of an unlimited diversity of possibilities, and this consciousness is an aspect of Being itself.... freedom as such is an immutable essence, in which creatures may either participate or not....
Defined in positive terms freedom is the possibility of manifesting oneself fully or being perfectly oneself, and this possibility -- or this experience -- runs through the universe as a real, hence concrete, beatitude.... the animate universe is a being that breathes and that lives both in itself and in its innumerable individualized constituents; and deep within all this there subsists the ineffable Freedom of the Infinite.Oh. That would explain it. Truth is to Absoluteness as Freedom is to Infinitude. And the left has no use for either.