Monday, October 21, 2019

Transrational and Infrarational Religion

A few posts ago, we mentioned that political correctness is a number of things, including shaming mechanism, conformity enforcer, social controller, internalized tyrant, matrix guardian, war on noticing, and an assault on common sense. But what is it really? Are each of these just symptoms of something deeper, or is perhaps one of them the organizing principle of the others?

Whatever, the case, PC has something to do with human nature, otherwise it wouldn't exist, much less be effective. Clearly it revolves around the Lie; not just lying, because everyday deviations from truth lack the enforcement mechanism, nor do they entail a collective delusion. So it seems that the structure of PC is something like: pretend to believe the unbelievable, or else!

Now, it is interesting that power should even care about truth, but it does. Again, because of human nature, people don't like to think they're just bullies. Our minds are created such that they love truth, even when they hate it. Therefore, even when they grasp for raw power, human beings like to legitimize it with a figleaf of truth. As usual, Sr. Dávila says it best:

--Reason, truth, and justice tend not to be man’s goals, but the names he gives to his goals.

For example, oh, "democratic socialism," in which the first word pretends to modify and deny the violence and coercion of the second. Our resistance to their violence is a crime, whereas the left's violence is just resistance. Which is why,

--When one does not concede to the leftist all that he demands, he proclaims himself the victim of an institutional violence that is licit to repel with physical violence.

Back to the deep structure of it all. The 17th and 18th centuries represented the high water mark of the historical descent known as the "Enlightenment." Now clearly, the Enlightenment wasn't all bad -- or better, there was a bad (French) one and good (Scots-Anglo) one -- but its undoubted successes eventually led to an extreme rationalism that enclosed man in his own categories. There's no need to rehearse the whole drama here, or this post will never end. Suffice it to say that rationalism became a new religion, and a very poor one at that (recall Chesterton's gag about insanity being the loss of everything but one's reason).

So, what happened next? A swerve in the opposite direction into romanticism, spiritualism, and a more general dive into irrationalism. Now, note the irony: in the case of St. Thomas, we already have an integral fusion of reason and transrationality, without the downside plunge into irrationality. But the Enlightenment split off reason from faith, so the "counter-Enlightenment" had nowhere to go but to split off into irrationality.

Note the deeper structure: the first split (of the Enlightenment) is a vertical one, severing the celestial from the terrestrial. But the second split, in reaction to pure reason, can only sink downward, because the upper vertical has already been denied.

The result -- and we are living through it today, in case you haven't noticed -- is the emergence of a host of infrarational religions, including all the political religions that have killed so many millions over the past century or more. Again: lies kill, but not as many as the Lie. The Lie -- for example, the Lie that the world will end in 11 years due to climate change -- will kill tens if not hundreds of millions on the pretext that it is saving them.

From the macro to the micro: the wife just shared a tweet from Julian Castro: Every day, people are forced to choose between going to school or work, or staying home because they can’t afford the menstrual products they need. Pads, tampons and cups should be available tax-free, across the nation. This is in honor of something called National Period Day. "People" is the operative word, because it is transphobic to suggest that only women get periods.

Infrarational religion. Now, how can you tell when you're a member of one? Well, I have a religion, and you are free to join it. In fact, religion, of all things, cannot be compelled without doing violence to its very nature, which revolves around a freely chosen conformity to the ultimate nature of things. Without the freedom, the conformity counts for nothing, because it is either outwardly compelled or inwardly mechanical.

Moreover, not only does false religion do away with freedom, it thereby denies love. And God, in case you haven't heard, is love and freedom, plus truth. Which is why -- because we are in the image and likeness -- we are the same.

But only if we choose to be. The image is the potential, the likeness the actuality, such that the latter allows us "to be on the surface what we are in depth," or to be in actuality what we are in potential. And that indeed is the purpose and measure of life, i.e., our proximity to God, AKA theosis.

We'll close with a passage by Curry: for the Founders,

the possibility that common sense could be abandoned to the extent it is today would most likely have been beyond their imagining. [Men getting periods?] And no wonder, for a great deal of effort has gone into assailing it. Proponents of irrationalist doctrines [infrarational religions] that came in wave after wave beginning in the nineteenth century -- romanticism, Hegelianism, Marxism, progressivism, existentialism, postmodernism, and the like -- have been pounding away at common sense for a long time.

Yes and no, for I would suggest that the effort is timeless, in that it is just the endless repetition of Genesis 3. Or, in the words of Schuon, "Fallen man, that is to say average man, is as it were poisoned by the passional element, whether grossly or subtly," thereby leading to "an obscuring of the Intellect." Genesis 3 didn't just happen "once upon a time," but happens every time.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Plans and Miracles

Just an old post because I woke up too late for a new one. However, it's pretty much timeless, so there's that. It's timeless because we'll always have the same problems, and even worse, politicians who claim to be able to solve them,

For Voegelin, man's existence is a search for order. Throughout most of history, and in most civilizations, this order was (and is) imposed from on high.

While these orders may have initially emerged spontaneously, they eventually become crystalized around things other than the engendering truth(s) they are supposed to reflect. Voegelin's entire corpus is the residue of his search for order -- as is the Knowa's Arkive and Seer's Catalogue of soiled bobservations. Here at One Cosmos we're always looking for the deeper order of things, and then the Orderer of that order.

At issue in the current presidential campaign [this was in 2012, but it applies equally today] is two fundamentally different orders, one that relies on liberty, talent, initiative, self-mastery, and the spontaneous order of the free market; the other of which champions an order imposed upon us by the state, which consists of elites who have a special insight into the order of things, and who do not trust the individual to arrive at this order on his own.

This dialectic has been present throughout history, the reason being that it is present in each human subject. For just as society is man writ large, man is a micro-society. There are various ways to describe this tension in man, but it essentially comes down to individualism <---> socialism, which I would suggest is ultimately rooted in male <---> female (or, more abstractly, contained <---> container).

For example, when people speak of a "nanny state," they are intuiting and expressing a genuine truth about the deep order of things.

Due to a semantic confusion introduced over the past several decades, there has been a reversal of what the words "liberal" and "conservative" signify. As a result, it is conservatives who are champions of change and progress (especially via the free market), liberals who wish to resist change by imposing a static, top-down order on the rest of us.

Let me provide a historical example. As mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm reading this history of Prussia, and last night was learning about the revolutionary movements of the mid-19th century.

Among other things, what these liberals -- radicals -- were demanding was a fixed constitution, freedom of expression, and a political order rooted in common language and values, rather than one imposed by a distant state.

Furthermore, "liberals argued that industrialization and mechanization were the cure for, not the cause of, the social crisis, and called for the removal of government regulations that hindered investment and obstructed economic growth."

"Conservatives," on the other hand, were what we now call leftists: they -- ironically, along with the Marxists (or left Hegelians) -- argued "that the responsibility for arresting the polarization of society must lie with the state as the custodian of the general interest."

Some of the latter were proponents of authoritarian enlightenment, and "favoured the use of illiberal means to achieve progressive ends." Today [in 2019] it's the same story: none of the Democrat candidates for president are liberals, but rather, illiberal authoritarians. Human nature never changes or it wouldn't exist, for a changing nature is no nature at all.

From the peculiar psyche of Hegel came the argument that the state "was an organism possessing will, rationality and purpose. Its destiny -- like that of any living thing -- was to change, grow and progressively develop. The state was 'the power of reason actualising itself as will'; it was a transcendent domain in which the alienated, competitive 'particular interests' of civil society merged into coherence and identity."

Hegel was the first assoul to suggest that "the state had a quasi-divine purpose; it was 'God's march through the world'... by which the multitude of subjects who constituted civil society was redeemed into universality." The state is "the highest expression of the ethical substance of a people, the unfolding of a transcendent and rational order..."

Now, just subtract "God," and you have the modern left. Nevertheless, the left always imbues the the state with divine-like properties. Literally, if you've read your Hayek. For example, they say Elizabeth Warren has "a plan for everything," as if this is a good thing! In truth, each of her plans is founded upon a presumption that she possesses knowledge that no human being can ever possess.

The left calls them "plans." We call them ordered stupidity. And they always lead to deeper disorder.

Aphorisms:

--To be a conservative is to understand that man is a problem without a human solution.

--Politics is not the art of imposing the best solutions, but of blocking the worst.

--In history it is sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans (Dávila).

In this sense, the election of 2016 was a miracle. Let's hope for an even bigger one in 2020.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Narcissism + Idolatry = Infinite Stupidity

I guess we've been going around a hermeneutical circle between common sense in the abstract (Curry), the concrete consequences of the left's abandonment of common sense and plunge into insanity (Murray), and the metaphysical roots of common sense situated far above in the "principial realm," so to speak (Clarke).

Which reminds me of a little visual aid in one of Schuon's books. Or maybe I'm just imagining it. Let's start with the division between Creator and creation, or God and existence:

Creator / God / One / Absolute / O _________________________

Creation / Existence / many / relative / Ø

Now, irrespective of how fervently you may deny it, this is the deepest deep structure of things. There is always an absolute above and a relative below, on pain of the world being completely unintelligible and thought -- intelligence -- being strictly impossible.

However, there are additional subdivisions that we don't generally think about. For example, Christianity situates a paradoxical "division" in the upper realm; of course, it's not really a division -- a distinction, rather -- but one could say the same of the entire scheme, if one is looking at it through the lens of immanence.

In other words, immanence is the principle of continuity whereby God is in all things, and yet, the sum of all things is not equivalent to God. Conversely (or better, complementarily), transcendence goes to the principle of discontinuity whereby there is a radical breach between Creator and creation.

Come to think if it, transcendence is also to apophatic (negative) theology what immanence is to cataphatic (positive) theology. Which means there is a kind of O/Ø dialectic or dynamism within the Godhead, certainly from our perspective. In other words, whatever we can know or say of God is dwarfed by what we can't.

Nevertheless, we can still say a lot. Indeed, what we can say is literally inexhaustible; "relatively infinite" you might say, in the sense that all of the poems, melodies, stories, jokes, and paintings added together don't put even a tiny dent in the divine plenitude.

Nor, for that matter, does the entire world, which obviously cannot exhaust the divine creativity. You might say that the whole of creation is merely a visible symptom of God's unending creativity, or that the manifest is like a little bubble on the surface the unmanifest. We can intuit this whenever we "get beneath the surface" of something, or in other words, begin to transcend the appearances for the reality. Bear in mind that there is literally "no end" to this transcendence except in God.

In other words, what I'm trying to convey here, is that transcendence is rooted somewhere, and it is obviously not in matter. Now, man qua man is a transcendental being; to be a man is to enter transcendence via language, meaning, concepts, essences, etc. If we couldn't do this -- and even infants can do it -- we would be reduced to animality.

So, I should think that the first thing you want to do when you ask "what is a man?" is to ask "what (and how!) is transcendence?" It's very simple, really, in that there are only two possibilities: either transcendence is reduced to immanence and is thereby no longer transcendence; or it is anchored "above" in that creative / principial / absolute domain.

Actually, I forgot that there exists a third path, and this is faith of the credo ut intelligam variety, i.e., "I believe that I may understand" (and know). The way I sees it, it is as if religious doctrine is like a.... hmm, what is it like? How about perspectival painting, whereby a three dimensional reality is conveyed on a two-dimensional surface?

Come to think of it, the really gifted painter -- or photographer, for that matter -- conveys more than three dimensions in a painting, and I'm not just talking about motion. Rather, he can depict the invisible interior of the subject. Why, it reminds me of an aphorism or three:

--Without aesthetic transfiguration all of reality is pedestrian.

--Strictly speaking, the work of art does not have a meaning but rather a power.

--The existence of a work of art demonstrates that the world has meaning. Even if it does not say what that meaning is (Dávila).

I don't mean to pick on such a low-hanging brute, but imagine living inside the head of a Labron James, whose intelligence, as it were, doesn't transcend anything outside or beyond a 94' x 50' hunk of wood. But he's hardly alone in this respect. To cite another aphorism,

--Nothing proves more the limits of science [or any other subcelestial discipline] than the scientist’s opinions about any topic that is not strictly related to his profession (Dávila).

Which simply means that so-called experts generally cannot transcend their own expertise, but rather, are confined to a reality tunnel forged with one part narcissism and one part idolatry.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

To Woo Woo, and Beyond!

Political correctness is many things: shaming mechanism, conformity enforcer, social controller, internalized tyrant, matrix guardian, a war on noticing. It is also

quite simply a war on common sense. It is a war by elites on the common people and on the shared understanding of basic realities of life that has made it possible for us to rule ourselves under the Constitution (Curry).

Why does it even exist? And why do we allow it to exist?

In my view it can only exist because it rides piggyback on our deeper structure, which is to say, our existence as a social animal. First of all, this rubric doesn't quite capture the essence, since bees, ants, and wolves are all social animals, and yet there is an obvious x-factor that distinguishes us from all other animals (and ultimately I would say that these lower creatures are prolongations of us, not vice versa, just as we are vertical prolongations of the Creator).

In reality we are irreducibly intersubjective animals, which is our main distinguishing feature; it is a necessary condition of personhood, i.e., a condition without which humanness would be impossible, irrespective of the size of our brains or degree of intelligence. In turn, this is rooted in a trinitarian metaphysic whereby each person is a member of the others. You could say that the Persons are analogous to particles, while their substance is the wave, with neither being antecedent.

These ideas are lucidly and concisely expressed in Norris Clarke's little gem of a book, Person and Being, so I'm not just making this up. Or at least someone else agrees with me.

Clarke notes that while Christian thinkers of the past "developed a relational notion of the person for use in theology," they failed to exploit it "adequately, if at all, in their philosophical analyses of the person." He cites Ratzinger, who "calls for a new, explicitly relational conception of the very nature of the person as such, wherein relationality [becomes] an equally primordial aspect of the person as substantiality."

That's the key: ultimate reality is substance-and-relation. Beyond here lies nothing. Here again, note how, to this day, physicists will say that quantum reality is paradoxically particle and wave, and that if you claim to understand how this could be, it proves that you haven't understood it.

Well, it is only paradoxical if one persists in looking at it through the Newtonian lens of logical atomism. If instead one peers at it through the macroscope of metacosmic personhood -- of substance-and-relation -- it not only makes sense, but is necessary to be this way in order for us to participate in it via the experience of knowing it. Obviously, we can only know anything about anything because the universe speaks and human beings are uniquely able to hear it. That is so queer, and yet, hardly anyone notices.

In the relational metaphysic implicit in trinitarian theology "lies concealed a revolution in man's view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality" (Ratzinger, in Clarke).

That little paragraph is worth putting in the comment box, unless we find a better one as we proceed. Clarke goes on to say that God's own act -- and God is pure act -- is "intrinsically ordered toward self-communication." We might say that the microperson (us) reflects the macroPerson (God), such that in both there is an "indissoluble complementarity of substantiality, the in-itself dimension of being, and relationality, the towards-others aspect."

That really says it all. Although one can always say more, since we're dealing here with the Infinite. For example, "the intrinsic self-diffusiveness of the Good turns into personal love, self-communicative love." Reality is generous, generative, and genesis, all at the same time(less).

This post has gotten totally out of hand, as we've veered from what we hoped would be the practical and concrete (common sense) to the farthest edge of the pneumosphere, where most earthlings can hardly breathe. Oh well. Might as well go with it, and come back to our original point in a subsequent post.

For what the doctrine of the Trinity means is that the very inner nature of the Supreme Being itself -- even before its overflow into creation -- is an ecstatic process (beyond time and change) of self-communicating love....

Thus the very inner life of God himself, the supreme fullness of what it means to be, is by its very nature, self-communicative Love, which then subsequently flows over freely in the finite self-communication that is creation. No wonder then, that self-communication is written into the very heart of all beings, as finite but positive images of their Source (Clarke).

No wonder! Or better, no stopping it. Will wonder never cease? I hope not. It means you're doing -- or being -- it wrong.

Now, the only caveat I would add has to do with Clarke's little qualifier "beyond time and change," because I suspect that analogues of these exist in God, only as perfections, not in any way privations.

Indeed, to say that "it is necessary for God to Create" does not impose any kind of privation on God, but rather, is the perfection of a necessity of the divine nature: God is who He is, for which reason he never stops (nor starts) doing what He does. Creation has no beginning nor any end, and heaven is our loving participation in this. In my opinion.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Am I Crazy or Just Ignorant?

Continuing our wild and wooly dialogue with Reclaiming Common Sense,

When Thomas Paine appealed to "common sense" to make the case for American independence, it probably never crossed his mind that there would ever be a need to make the case for common sense itself, at least not in America.

This is no different from the other senses, in that no eye witness has to first make the case for the existence of vision, just as no one who enjoys music has to first argue for the existence of ears. This doesn't mean there cannot be optical illusions or deafness, but these are disorders and privations. An optical illusion is parasitic on an optical reality.

But now we inhabit, as the cliche goes, a post-truth world, which immediately entails a post-knowledge world, or in other words, an ineradicably stupid world -- a world populated by incurably stupid people.

But then, Genesis 3 has been making this point for 3,000 years -- that the soul of man is wounded.

Yes, ignorance and grandiosity have always existed (Mr. Dunning meet Mr. Kruger), except they were presumed to be curable, or at least treatable. But now, thanks to the left, the treatment has literally become the disease it purports to cure. In short, both primary and higher education (in the humanities and increasingly in real subjects), the purpose -- or at least outcome -- is the eradication of common sense. Once that is accomplished, you can make a man believe anything.

All of this is not only predictable, but it has been understood for over a century. There have always been crazy and/or diabolical people, but again, the modern and postmodern left represent the institutionalization and veneration of these now privileged pathologies. Let's roll out some aphorisms as I gather my thoughts:

--The fool, to be perfect, needs to be somewhat educated.

--Instruction does not cure foolishness; it equips it.

--Until we come across instructed fools, instruction seems important.

--The State imposes obligatory and free instruction, for making a stupid man still stupider at the public expense.

--Man is an animal that can be educated, provided that he does not fall into the hands of progressive pedagogues.

--The learned fool has a wider field to practice his folly.

--Great stupidities do not come from the people. They have seduced intelligent men first

Douglas Murray's latest, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, elucidates some of the great stupidities that have swept through our progressive intelligentsia like a plague:

We are going through a great crowd derangement. In public and in private, both online and off, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant.... Yet while we see the symptoms everywhere, we do not see the causes.

Now, magnanimous soul that I am, I am even willing to stipulate that the derangement may reside in me. If this is the case -- if I am irrational, feverish, herd-like, and unpleasant -- I want to know about it, and I want to know why. As with any pathology, I want a diagnosis, I want to know the etiology, and I want a treatment plan. So let's keep an open mind about my own contact with reality, as I may simply be projecting my issues into this innocuous (or even helpful) entity I call "the left."

In short, if I am convinced they are crazy, but they are not at all crazy, then there's a good chance that I am actually crazy. That's how it works. In other works, the "crazy" is real; it's just a matter of locating where it is -- in whom it resides.

Murray -- who is conservative but irreligious -- adverts to one cause of our derangement, that

we have been living through a period... in which all our grand narratives have collapsed. One by one the narratives we had were refuted, became unpopular to defend or impossible to sustain. The explanations for our existence, that used to be provided by religion went first, falling away from the nineteenth century onwards.

Well, first of all, what do you mean "we," paleface? It is certainly true that in Europe religion has been successfully eradicated, but not in America. However, even here, it is accurate to say that a central tenet of postmodernity is that there are, and can be, no Grand Narratives -- no coherent explanation of existence -- and that all such attempts are just convenient myths for the cynical exertion of social control. They all reduce to power.

Now, I don't believe that at all. In fact, I think it's crazy, so here is an example of what was said above. I even wrote a book that attempts to outline the grandest of grand narratives. If these postmodern progressives are correct, then the real purpose of my narrative is to seize power. Maybe. I'll have to think about it, but I can say that so far it's not working. I already have my hands full just controlling myself, nor do I want the responsibility of controlling anyone else.

At any rate, "In the latter part of the twentieth century we entered the postmodern era. An era which defined itself, and was defined, by its suspicion towards all grand narratives."

Never mind the irony that that's a pretty grand narrative for a tenured primate to toss out of his Darwinian cage, but we'll let it pass. But not before pointing out that meta-nature abhors a vacuum, such that the anti-narrative itself becomes a narrative "through which new ideas begin to creep, with the intention of providing explanations and meanings of their own" (Murray).

Another principle I believe is that human beings are essentially religious and cannot not be religious. To the extent that they deny it, the religious instinct will simply attach itself to a non-religious object and elevate it to an absolute. In my grand narrative we call it "idolatry," and we see it everywhere.

Murray makes the same point from a different angle, writing that "People in wealthy Western democracies today could not simply remain the first people in recorded history to have absolutely no explanation for what we are doing here, and no story to give life purpose."

Right? Here again, one of us is crazy. I acknowledge my religiosity, and see the same deep structure in others, even if they deny it. In turn, they deny their own religiosity and conceive mine as a destructive delusion or cynical power grab. That's a pretty stark difference that cannot be reconciled by any dialectic. One of us is out of touch with reality.

Sorry to stop so abruptly, but I have to get some work done. We'll pick up the thread soon...

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

What's the Big Idea?

Almost no time this morning, or at least I ran out of it quickly. There's really only one idea in this post, but I suppose it's a big one, maybe the biggest.

"The core idea of common-sense realism," writes Curry, "is that there are self-evident truths -- truths which do not need to be proved." These truths "are the foundation of human understanding; they are the necessary basis for knowing anything at all" (emphasis mine).

Because these truths are so foundational, various parallel universes -- universes of pure ideology -- come into being with their denial. I mean this literally, because the universe includes its own fulfillment in the human subject, a la Whitehead. In other words, the human person is not incidental to the whole cosmic Hebang, but absolutely central.

Indeed, person is the ultimate category, both the source and summit of reality. Being and truth are essentially two sides of the same coin, which is precisely why knowledge of truth is possible. And if it is possible it is necessary -- for the same reason that if it is possible to avoid evil, it is necessary to do so. (In other words, our truth-knowing capacity entails an intrinsic moral demand, i.e., to know it and to not lie about it.)

Eh, probably didn't explain that too well. Let's just move on. Or better, maybe you've noticed those puzzling quotes by Voegelin and Schuon in the comment box. Both go to the point I'm trying to make:

The quest, thus, has no external 'object,' but is reality itself becoming luminous for its movement from the ineffable, through the Cosmos, to the ineffable (Voegelin); and Fundamentally there are only three miracles: existence, life, intelligence; with intelligence, the curve springing from God closes on itself like a ring that in reality has never been parted from the Infinite (Schuon).

Like a joke, you'll either get those or you won't. Each describes the ultimate movement of existence, and our participation in that movement. And since it happens, there must be a principle that explains how it is possible for it to happen. That principle is the Meta-cosmic Person.

In fact, when it fails to happen -- when there is a break in the circle from ineffable being to personal truth -- that's when one of those parallel universes branches into being. No, literally. By definition there is only one uni-verse, so all others are counterfeits.

Now, the universe is the totality and unicity of all objects (exteriorities), events (processes), and experiences (interiorities). Thus, to say, for example, that there are objects but no subjects (or that subjects are epiphenomenal) is to sever the cosmos at the root and veer into a parallel universe that can't even account for the absurd subject who posits and inhabits it.

Am I just digging a deeper hole? If so, I'll bet Dávila can help dig us out of it. Read them slowly so as to partake of their verticality, such that they launch you upward:

--The truth is objective but not impersonal.

--The life of the intelligence is a dialogue between the personalism of spirit and the impersonalism of reason.

--Truth is a person.

--The permanent possibility of initiating causal series is what we call a person.

--The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality.

--The world is explicable from man; but man is not explicable from the world. Man is a given reality; the world is a hypothesis we invent.

--The free act is only conceivable in a created universe. In the universe that results from a free act. God exists for me in the same act in which I exist.

--The universe is a useless dictionary for someone who does not provide its proper syntax.

In each of these, we see the centrality of personhood, and how personhood is bound up with the reality behind appearances. It's just common sense!

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Sunday Sermon on Common Sense

Just some more free associations on the subject of common sense, beginning with an aphorism:

The liberal mentality is an angelic visitor impervious to earthly experiences.

As mentioned in the previous post, even God's Own Rules are subject to prudential judgment, AKA common sense. But the left can be defined as a devotion to ideology. It almost doesn't matter which ideology, as long as the ideology provides certitude, moral and intellectual superiority, and, most important, someone to hate.

For ultimately, The leftist does not have opinions, only dogmas, and the dogma always involves an enemy. Always: class enemies, male chauvinists, holders of White Privilege, the patriarchy, the police, MAGA hats, whatever.

Take, for example, global warming. The average liberal isn't drawn to the theory because of the science -- after all, a model that fails to predict is simply false -- but because of how good it feels to hurl condemnation at the evil beings who are not persuaded by the theory.

Note that they often begin with the flat-out, easily disprovable lie that "97% of scientists believe in catastrophic manmade global warming." If the first words out of your mouth in support of a theory are a grandiose lie, it doesn't inspire confidence in the theory.

But the theory is one of those "angelic visitors impervious to earthly experiences." And earthly temperatures. Not one of their models predicted that global temperature would be flat for the last fourteen years.

Or, consider the first words out of Joe Biden's mouth upon launching his presidential campaign: an easily disprovable lie about President Trump's supposed endorsement of white supremacism.

Note that these enormous lies aren't so much angelic as demonic visitors, unless we stipulate the existence of naughty angels. Awhile back we did a few posts on the nature of the devil, and one thing we know about him is that he "was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Now, unlike Petey, you needn't yet believe in a literal, extra-human devil in order to appreciate the deep archetypal truth of this biblical science. The Lie does not and cannot exist "before the beginning," because the Creator -- who is always before, beyond, and after the beginning -- is the essence of unalloyed truth.

However, it seems that the lie either co-arises with creation, or at least slithers its way into the cosmic drama with the appearance of man. Before man, there's no one to lie to except other fallen angels. It makes no sense to lie to an amoeba, a tree, or a dinosaur, only to a rational creature.

Here again, this is because the lie can only be parasitic on the truth, as irrationality can only be parasitic on reason. It isn't rational for my dog to bark at the UPS driver, but it's not irrational.

Which leads to another key point for humans, that reason itself becomes irrational the moment it imagines itself to be sufficient to explain the world. And every leftist ideology -- beginning with Marx -- does just this.

Yes, there's an aphorism for that, and if you fail to get it, the joke is most certainly on you:

“Irrationalist” is shouted at the reason that does not keep quiet about the vices of rationalism.

Yes, those angelic visitors impervious to earthly experience are beings of pure reason who shout at the rest of us for pointing out the vices of their pure reason. Or really, just say Gödel, for Gödel permanently liberates man from any prison of pure reason.

But the angelic visitors don't see it that way, and indeed, this touches directly on our primordial calamity, AKA the Fall. For what is the Fall but man's futile attempt to create and confine man to a counter-world superior to the created world which always transcends our manmade categories?

And Thank God -- literally! -- we are free from man's attempts to imprison man, for Happily, the world is inexplicable. (What kind of world would it be if it could be explained by man?)

No, that's not a rhetorical question, for first of all it would be a boring world, an endless Go-roundhog Day from which we could never escape. For in the end, What is not religious is not interesting. No, literally, for the domain of religion is precisely the much larger world that transcends reason because it is the source of reason. Thus,

Religious thought does not go forward like scientific thought does, but rather goes deeper.

Deeper, higher, more luminous. Conversely, The scientist lives persuaded that the latest theory will be the last. Science easily degrades into fools’ mythology.

Yes, the cosmos is a big place, I suppose, but I've never personally been impressed by its vastness, which is inconceivable anyway. For The distances of the physical universe are those of a prison, compared to the infinite distances between, say, truth and falsehood, or man and God, or man and animal.

In other words, if we couldn't routinely transcend into the metacosmos of love, truth, beauty, mystical unity, etc., this world would be an unbearably tedious place. Indeed, I think the average leftist activist is drawn to mundane politics out of sheer boredom.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Responsibilities are Antecedent to Rights: It's Just Common Sense

A very preliminary approach to common sense. I had to end the post just when I was warming up, but we'll pick up the thread in coming days....

Come to think of it, even if we could demonstrate to a progressive that his ideas are bereft of common sense, it wouldn't dissuade him from holding them. I say this because we see how easily the left dismisses even mathematics as racist, i.e., as a tool of the patriarchy to oppress peoples of color (and remember, crazy travels at the speed of the left, such that today's absurdity is tomorrow's orthodoxy).

Now, mathematics must literally be the least racist thing in all of existence, being that it deals only with abstract quantities, not concrete qualities. And even then, the left is selective in its rejection of numbers. For example, they literally believe that if there is a statistical disparity between the population of a victim group and its representation in this or that field, it is a priori proof of racism.

But you will have noticed that they never apply the standard consistently. If they are vastly over-represented in a desirable field -- as, for example, blacks in the NBA -- then that's fine. Obviously it is nonsensical to make an appeal to math based upon personal interest, but this hardly stops them. In his Discrimination and Disparities, Thomas Sowell completely dismantles the idea that abstract statistical disparities are a consequence of real racism, but I doubt that any mainstream outfit would even review the book -- any more than, say, a Jewish publication is going to review the catechism of the Catholic Church.

Which goes to the essential point: the progressive left is a religion, not a belief system grounded in fact, logic, human nature, or common sense. And even then, to say it is a religion can't be correct, as genuine religion is rooted in a transcendent reality that is ruled out by the leftist metaphysics.

But this makes the left not less, but more dangerous, because it is animated by religious passion, energy, and impulse, but without religious tradition, proscription, and constraint. This is precisely what makes them so cluelessly sanctimonious and self-confident in their beliefs: like little Greta Thunberg says, those of us who aren't on board with her hysterical fears of climate armageddon are evil. She and her ilk are very much like premodern religious folk who grew up without knowing about the existence of other religions.

In the foreword to Reclaiming Common Sense, Brian Kennedy points out that "For over a century now, there has been a sustained attack on common sense," which is to say, "the foundation of the American founding." In fact, I think the attack has always been present, because it is rooted in human nature, more on which as we proceed. But it was certainly mainstreamed and institutionalized a little over a century ago, with the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912. He was the first president to openly disparage our founding principles.

After Wilson the disparagement went underground, as Democrat politicians learned to conceal their contempt for the American founding and for the average American. Only in the last decade or so is it once again openly celebrated, such that you can't be a Democrat candidate for the presidency unless you enthusiastically embrace the identity politics that is utterly antithetical to our founding principles, i.e., to common sense. As recently as 2012, an Obama had to pretend to believe in traditional marriage, or in the importance of fathers. No more. That's ancient history, before the Great Awokening.

Is it common sense to say that human beings are intrinsically capable of self-government? Cleary not. Consider just Venezuela, which voted for its own demise. No, the possibility -- and desirability! -- of self-government must be rooted in a deeper principle than mere "democracy." Affirming a belief in democracy is totally nonsensical unless you pay attention to the principles that permit it to function, AKA common sense. No founder ever imagined that self-government was possible in a population of individuals who couldn't govern themselves.

Really, this is just an extension of the principle that duties and responsibilities are prior to rights. Note that we do not merely say they are reciprocal, because if this were the case, conferring the right would create the responsibility.

And this is precisely the problem in the rights-obsessed left. The rights embraced by the founders are rooted in nature and nature's God, i.e., in human nature and its author. These rights are not, and cannot be, created by the state, but are prior to it. And each one is attached to an antecedent responsibility, if only because one would have to be a fool to give unalienable rights to a fundamentally irresponsible being! That would be a recipe for tyranny and chaos, not ordered liberty.

Conversely, consider, say, the "right to abortion." Supposing it is a right, what is the corresponding -- and antecedent -- responsibility? Crickets. Likewise, suppose you have a property right in other human beings. What's the antecedent duty? In other word, if you are free and your slave isn't, what is the principle that renders this arrangement just?

Does common sense have a specific content, or is it more of an attitude or approach to life? Yes and no. It embodies certain principles that cannot not be, but also involves prudence, or a practical wisdom that cannot be reduced to an abstract rule. For example, being honest is fine in principle, but not when the Nazi asks if any Jews are hiding in your house. Clearly there must be an antecedent hierarchy of values, such that protecting human life is the higher principle.

At this very moment, we are living through a prudential values dilemma: what is more important, the principle that we should never enlist the aid of a foreign country to investigate the corruption of a presidential candidate, or the principle that no one is above the law? To believe the former is to say that a man can be exonerated of any crime so long as he runs for president after he commits it. Does that make any sense?

Yes, it does. To the left. Which again highlights what was said above in the second paragraph. If a person arrives at a belief without using common sense, you can't use common sense to talk him out of it.

The End for now. I gotta get some work done...

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Passion of the Antichrist

A few years ago we discussed Robert Curry's Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea. Now comes the sequel, Reclaiming Common Sense. The key is in the subtitle: Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World.

Post-truth world. Is that where we are? If so, how did we get here? And how do we get out?

The first question is obviously a very complicated one, indeed, as complicated as you wish it to be. Many fine books have been written on the subject, too many to catalogue here. They all look at the matter from a slightly different angle, and yet, I think it can ultimately be boiled down to the unsurpassable wisdom embedded in Genesis 3: you shall be as gods. This constitutes a permanent temptation, and I would say that postmodernity -- the post-truth world -- represents nothing less than the institutionalization of the Fall.

This deference to Genesis will strike modern ears as too mythic sounding, and yet, it is quite literally true. We embrace the truth, no matter how pleasant, whereas postmodernity prefers the imbecilic fairy tale. For

An irreligious society cannot endure the truth of the human condition. It prefers a lie, no matter how imbecilic it may be (Dávila).

And regarding the permanence of the Fall, For man to fall repeatedly into the same trap, just paint it a different color each time. Deconstruction, scientism, feminism, critical theory, et al, are just shiny new colors in the rainbow of lies.

The left likes to call us "reactionary," but as usual, this is a literal inversion. For truth is never a reaction; rather it just is, irrespective of whether or not someone believes it. Conversely, falsehood -- the lie -- is always parasitic upon truth; it is a reaction to truth, sometimes unconscious, other times conscious, willful, cynical, and manipulative.

As we've discussed many times, it is sometimes difficult to determine when this or that leftist's lies are unwitting or sincere. In my view, for the people at the top -- e.g., Pelosi, Obama, the Clintons -- it is purely cynical and instrumental, promulgated only to manipulate the masses in order to attain power. Note how quickly they went from defending traditional marriage to undermining it in the blink of an eye.

Conversely, for the masses, the beliefs are sincerely held. Now, the crisis we are currently witnessing in the Democrat party is that its cynical leaders are losing control to the morons who actually believe the BS the leaders have been peddling for the last generation or more. The morons have grown up in a world steeped in progressive lies, going all the way back to kindergarten and preschool. In short, the left has been too successful in indoctrinating this herd, and now it is taking over the party.

This is the deeper dynamic of the Pelosi vs. AOC struggle: Pelosi will say anything to increase the left's power, whereas AOC actually believes, for example, that the world will end in 11.5 years if we don't take away your straws, cars, and cheeseburgers.

Which goes to one of the deep ironies of our post-truth world: no one is more passionate about truth than the person who has rejected Truth. This sounds like an exaggeration, but once again it is literally true, and even necessarily true, like the banal observation that "no one is more religious than the person who has rejected God." Why is this? Because the atheist (the activist kind) claims a kind of knowledge that only a god could possess. For which reason we say: if atheism is true, only God knows it.

Back to the passion of the relativists. Why are they so passionate about their lies? Well, first all, to the relativist, they aren't lies. Again, I believe AOC is sincere, which makes her not less, but more, dangerous than the cynic. It reminds me of Inglourious Basterds: you can't negotiate with a true-believing Nazi. But you can do business with a cynical one such as the Jew Hunter.

Indeed, this is why the Republican congress could do so much business with Clinton after 1994. This couldn't have happened if he weren't such an insincere cynic. Obama was a transitional figure -- half cynic and half true believer, with both sides dominated by his narcissism. His combination of grandiosity and intellectual laziness was such that he didn't believe things because they were true; rather, they were true because he believed them.

Now, one feature of truth is its dispassion. Or at least the dispassion must be prior to the passion. For example, I can be passionate about math, but math itself is conducted in a dispassionate way; 2 + 2 = 4 does not become more true if I get really emotional about it. Nor is gravity stronger, or can there be more than two biological sexes, depending upon how I feel about it.

I am reminded of something Schuon says to the effect that with the assimilation of a truth, the ego dies a little. In other words, the truth doesn't care about your feelings. Which is why the left's most preposterous lies are always accompanied by such great emotion -- the bigger the lie, the more the emotional incontinence. Imagine people being "triggered" by the truth!

Well, actually, this is a well-documented psychological phenomenon. While it is associated with Freud, he can't have been the first to notice that an unwanted truth pushes the buttons of the person who doesn't want to hear it. He called it "resistance," but I prefer Bion's way of discussing it. I don't know if Catastrophe Theory was a thing back when he was writing, but he talks about the catastrophic impact of truth upon the mental system -- especially an unwanted truth upon an immature system, which to say, one that cannot tolerate the pain of realizing the truth.

Truth can be a joy or a pain. But the pain comes from resisting it.

I gotta get some work done, so, to be continued, and we'll end for now with a few pointy aphorisms. They will either sting or tickle, depending:

Men are divided into two camps: those who believe in original sin and those who are idiots.

The intelligent man quickly reaches conservative conclusions.

To scandalize the leftist, just speak the truth.

After conversing with some “thoroughly modern” people, we see that humanity escaped the “centuries of faith” only to get stuck in those of credulity.

The conservatism of each era is the counterweight to the stupidity of the day.

Let us say frankly to our opponent that we do not share his ideas because we understand them and that he does not share ours because he does not understand them (Dávila).

Thursday, September 26, 2019

If Truth is a Myth, All Myths are True

Just an old post, revised, extended, and fortified with new insights and old aphorisms. The reason being that I'm getting over a mild cold which is nevertheless strong enough to disable the Gagdad melon, at least for concocting an all new post.

***

Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of "subjectivity vs. objectivity" as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth -- "the Truth" -- is a construct of the Euro-West... This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny (A Bunch of Illiterate Leftist (but I repeat myself) Students).

I realize that people believe these things, but still. Do they really believe them? Are these things even possible, let alone the case?

Let's start with the existence of truth. If there is no truth, can there be such a thing as honesty? Obviously not. One can be earnest, sincere, passionate, etc., but honesty has to do with commitment to, and conformity with, truth. So the dim bulbs who penned this screed are not, by their own lights, honest. They are just... screeching or howling, like any other animal that registers distress.

Which explains a lot about the left, doesn't it?

Of course, they love nothing more than running roughshod over those old mythbound taboos. Never mind that Between animal and man there is no other barrier than a palisade of taboos (Dávila). Might as well try to take away an animal's instincts because they're just reactionary holdovers from the past.

Interesting too that the authors assert that belief in the existence of truth and objectivity is a "myth." In the shallow and profane sense, a myth is "untrue." But what can a myth be in the absence of truth? If truth is a myth, then all myths are true.

It never fails: Whoever does not believe in myths believes in fables (Dávila). Such as: truth is a construct of white supremacist oppression, and it's true that the world will end in twelve years if you don't give us absolute power over your lives!

On a deeper level, of course, myths convey transrational truths that are timeless and universal, applying to all people at all times. They are a kind of implicit corollary of human nature. However, the left has that covered as well, as it rejects the concept of human nature. For a leftist, the following aphorism is a compliment:

The modern man is the man who forgets what man knows about man (Dávila).

Have these profoundly antihuman students never had a course in basic logic? The question answers itself, but there is a Logic without which no coherent statements of any kind can be made. This logic -- AKA Logos -- is not explicit, but rather, implicit in all speech. It is why we have speech at all, and one of the most generous (and generative) ways we are in the image of the Creator.

In short, only God and man possess speech. Animals and liberal college students can "communicate," but only in a predictable and repetitious way, on a very narrow frequency. (You might say that instead of possessing speech they are possessed by it, hence the repetitive and circular memeworld they inhabit, more like cries in the wild than truly human speech.)

What is especially perverse about the claims of these liberal fascists is that they render man utterly worthless. Which fascists tend to do. The rest follows logically (from the insane initial premise).

To put it conversely, "The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute" (Schuon). Now, this is the same Absolute that is implicit in all speech, even if denied. Which is why the speech of the liberal fascists is so utterly incoherent: it explicitly denies the Absolute while making all sorts of claims that are meaningless in its absence.

The bottom line is that you can't just jettison the Absolute and pretend nothing has happened. Truly, it is like the Titanic hitting the iceberg while everyone ignores the water flooding into the hull. A ship cannot float, let alone get anywhere, under such circumstances. Just so, without the boundary between true and false, language capsizes and plunges into darkness.

Which raises another important point: that language is literally a conveyer of Light. Any lover of language appreciates this, as it is one of the more experience-near emanations of spirit. Great poems are not just gay sentences.

And speaking of "myth," In the beginning was the Word; without this Word nothing was made; and in this Word is Light and Life.

Those are metaphysical claims expressed in a mythopoetic manner. Not only are they true, they are precisely true, even the basis of Truth. They explain how and why the world is intelligible to intelligence, why we can share this intelligibility with each other, and ultimately how man and world are mutually illuminating, since they are derived from the same Absolute Light. (Recall that metaphysics isn't an inexact science, but rather, the science of the inexact, i.e., of subjects and qualities which are no less real than objects and quantities.)

In this majestic Light, how petty and impoverished are these proudly lightless students! Imagine rejecting the one thing that elevates you above the beasts! And then they get mad if you call them beasts.

It is especially ironic that these self-designated Students of Color would embrace an ideology that considers it "fascist" to make an absolute truth claim such as, oh, All men are created equal. Not to mention the fact that if there is no truth, then there can by definition be no freedom (unless the latter is conflated with being lost in permanent darkness and confusion).

Here are some more absolute truth claims. If they make me a fascist, then what can one say but God bless fascism?:

"The intelligence of the animal is partial, that of man is total; and this totality is explained only by a transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned" (Schuon).

If the intelligence of animals is explicitly partial and of man implicitly total, then the stupidity of these students is complete and irremediable. They literally situate themselves beneath the beasts, since animals at least don't believe idiotic lies about themselves.

"Objectivity, whereby human is distinguished from animal intelligence, would lack sufficient reason without the capacity to conceive the absolute or infinite, or without the sense of perfection" (ibid.).

Animals can at least rely upon unwavering instinct instead of being plunged into the darkness of an absolute subjectivity that answers to no object.

"Truth is the reason for man's existence; it constitutes our grandeur and reveals to us our littleness" (ibid.).

Note the corollary: that deconstruction pretends to reveal our littleness while exalting man's pride -- for it is a proud man who claims to have "rights" in the absence of an antecedent truth and corresponding responsibility.

"Totality of intelligence implies freedom of will. This freedom would be meaningless without an end prefigured in the Absolute; without knowledge of God and of our final ends, it would be neither possible nor useful" (ibid.).

In such a world, freedom becomes a nuisance -- like these cognitively shipwrecked students who agitate for things that cannot be, and insist that other people are somehow obligated to respect their stupid claims.

"[W]ith intelligence, the curve springing from God closes on itself like a ring that in reality has never been parted from the Infinite" (ibid.). That eternal circle bisects every now, as every now bisects the circle.

Recall Lincoln's gag, when someone asked him how long a man's legs should be: long enough to reach the ground. Similarly, how intelligent should a man be? Intelligent enough to reach the ground of truth, i.e., to intuit the principles without which truth is impossible and man sinks beneath himself.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

It's a Whine-Win Situation: The Weak Shall Inhabit the State

For those who have lost the plot, I've been editing and revising any old posts that touch on the theme of common sense, in preparation for a forthcoming dialogue with Curry's follow-up, Reclaiming Common Sense.

It's such an important subject, and yet, you can be quite sure that people with the least amount of common sense are secure in their belief that they have the most -- hence their right to restrict your freedom and run your life. Yes, Greta Thunberg and all the other psychotic children running for president know you don't really need that straw, cheeseburger, automobile, health insurance, etc. They have common sense. You don't.

So, how and why and when did common sense realism -- our nation's founding philosophy, or operating system -- become so devalued and marginalized?

Off the top of my head, I'm thinking that part of the answer must have to do with virtue signaling and status anxiety.

Analogously, think of the art world. I read somewhere that the French impressionists are looked down upon by many critics. Why? Because everyone likes them. That being the case, they hold no snob appeal. What's the point of knowing or appreciating something accessible to anyone?

Recall that the intellect can be twisted by pathological narcissism, no less than physical appearance, acting, or athletic prowess. But when this happens it essentially disables the intellect, since it is no longer conformed to reality, rather, to the elevation of one's self-image. Its end is no longer truth but status.

In The Rape of the Masters, Kimball writes of how "the study of art is increasingly being co-opted by various extraneous, non-artistic, non-aesthetic campaigns." Which is to put it mildly.

And just as art has become politicized, politics has surely become aestheticized. Clearly, a great deal of the elite loathing of President Trump is on aesthetic grounds. They were more upset that he puts ketchup on steak than they were at Obama eating dogs, because at least the latter is exotic.

Kimball notes that the undermining of art involves a kind of two-pronged attack: first is "a process of spurious aggrandizement" through which "you hail the mediocre as a work of genius, for example, or pretend that what is merely repellent actually enables our understanding of art or life."

Dávila: --The artist who seeks personal celebrity, not content with the celebrity of his work, becomes a clown or a politician.

A relative of mine was a serious art collector, with many very expensive works adorning his walls. Admittedly I am a simple man, but I find them visually off-putting -- AKA ugly -- or just neutral, with nothing attractive (or radiant) about them.

Plus, they are a stylistic jumble. There is no connecting theme, such that the overall effect is of a kind of disjointed psychotic dream. Not the kinds of specters I want hanging around my house.

True, they are... original. But Since obviously the authentic work of art is original, the unlearned imagines that an original work is necessarily a work of art (Dávila).

Exaggeration? One could cite countless examples. Kimball notes that when a couple of well known artists "exhibited The Naked Shit Pictures -- huge photo-montages of themselves naked with bits of excrement floating about," one critic celebrated their "self-sacrifice for a higher cause, which is purposely moral and indeed Christian."

And if you do not see that -- which you do not and could not -- then it elevates the critic at your expense. It all takes place in the mind of the critic or connoisseur, again, for reasons of status anxiety.

The second strategy (after spurious self-aggrandizement) "proceeds in the opposite direction. It operates not by inflating the trivial, the mediocre, the perverse, but by attacking, diluting, or otherwise subverting greatness."

We don't have time for a full excursion into the art world, AKA Adventures in Vertical Perception. The point is, something similar has infected the political world, such that our leftist elites simultaneously aggrandize themselves and denigrate the restavus via allegiance to their strange ideas and stranger gods.

Indeed, this is precisely why they didn't see Trump coming, nor why they cannot (thankfully) refrain from saying and doing things that will ensure the coming of More Trump.

As mentioned a couple of posts back, Woodrow Wilson was our first progressive political elite to openly denigrate the Constitution. If even literal-minded idiots such as yourselves can understand it, then it must be pretty vacuous, right? Don't we need a more sophisticated document that only the experts can appreciate and decipher?

Even the cognitively labile Jefferson had sufficient wisdom to recognize that the principles embedded in the Declaration of Independence were (and are) forever): its purpose was "not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of," but rather, "to place before mankind the common sense of the subject... it was intended to be an expression of the American mind."

But today, leftists will read Jefferson's comment and notice only that he said MAN-kind!, thereby simultaneously triggering them (because they are so weak-spirited) and elevating them above men who are infinitely superior.

So it's a whine-win situation (in that order), as is true in general of the celebration of liberal victimhood. It's an inversion of "the meek shall inherit the earth," i.e., the weak shall inhabit the state, thus a monstrous confluence of ineffectuality and omnipotence. But just because God humbled himself in becoming man, it hardly means that all victims are gods. But that's what we have these days instead of common sense: identity politics is just a grotesque inversion and perversion of Christianity.

[N]othing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in [later] life -- save only this -- that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education. --Prof. John Alexander Smith (in Kimball)

[To which I would add one more critical faculty, that is, the ability to situate vertically the person or movement with whom you're dealing. Broadly speaking, there are children of the Light, of the Earth, and of the Darkness, and it's not all that hard to discern which is witch.]

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Educational Establishment and the Incarnation of Stupid

Before reading Common Sense Nation, I had never heard of the philosopher Thomas Reid, the intrepid discoverer of Common Sense. Prior to him, no one had any or knew what it was. It was as if the whole world were populated by MSNBC hosts.

All gaggery aside, Reid founded a school of thought known as common sense realism. Right away you can see why this wouldn't appeal to the tenured, as their whole mystique is based upon the essentially gnostic idea that they possess some special knowledge inaccessible to the restavus. Therefore, common sense realism blows their cover and reveals them as the phonies and frauds they are, without so much as a fig leaf of credibility to cover what amounts to a naked will to power.

Nevertheless, academia has been dining out on this anti-intellectual hoax for half a century, although there are signs their bubble is in the process of bursting.

As ususal, aphorisms come to mind:

--Instruction does not cure foolishness; it equips it.

--The learned fool has a wider field to practice his folly.

--The State imposes obligatory and free instruction, for making a stupid man still stupider at the public expense.

--Modern education delivers intact minds to propaganda (Dávila).

Note that, for reasons of self-preservation, the last thing the state is going to do is promulgate a philosophy that undercuts the very need for statism. In short, education must deny, obscure, and debilitate the functioning of common sense.

Indeed, this is why public schools don't teach children logic, economics, or ethics, for if they did, they might produce self-governing individuals animated by common sense instead of intellectually enfeebled and dependent drones. Someone like AOC is a pure product of our public and higher educational system. She's not an accident. She's the epitome and quintessence, the very embodiment of the negation of common sense.

According to Prof. Wiki, Reid enumerated

a set of principles of common sense which constitute the foundations of rational thought. Anyone who undertakes a philosophical argument, for example, must implicitly presuppose certain beliefs, such as "I am talking to a real person," and "There is an external world whose laws do not change," among many other positive, substantive claims.

The point is, the very possibility of rational discourse presupposes various implicit principles that cannot not be, on pain of rendering rational discourse strictly impossible. Likewise,

For Reid, the belief in the truth of these principles is not rational; rather, reason itself demands these principles as prerequisites, as does the innate "constitution" of the human mind. It is for this reason (and possibly a mocking attitude toward Hume and Berkeley) that Reid sees belief in the principles of common sense as a litmus test for sanity.

Which is why, for example, the American Psychological Association is no longer a promoter of sanity, but rather, has become an enthusiastic proponent and enabler of personal and collective insanity, e.g., transgenderism, intersectionality, and identity politics.

Reid observed that "before men can reason together, they must agree in first principles; and it is impossible to reason with a man who has no principles in common with you." Sure, you can do other things with such people. That's what relatives are for. It's just that they are "not fit to be reasoned with."

Engaging in dialogue with those who do not share our assumptions is nothing more than a stupid way to kill time (Dávila).

Anyway, it turns out that this proponent of common freaking sense and rudimentary sanity was a huge influence on the founders. For Reid, what he calls common sense is the very power in us that renders understanding possible.

Think about that one: when you understand something, it is because understanding is possible in principle. Therefore it is appropriate to ask: by virtue of what principle(s) is understanding possible?

I haven't actually thought this through in a completely systematic way, because I am not a systematic guy. More of an intuitive guy. But as I've said all along, one headrock principle surely must be that the world is intelligible to intelligence. If not, then we're all done here except for those tenured pretexts for a naked Power Grab alluded to above.

For Reid, "self-evident truths are true and discoverable by us because of the constitution of our human nature." In the absence of the latter, "we would lack access to the foundational truths we require to be able to reason..." Thus, human nature is conformed to certain self-evident and ineradicable truths that allow it (human nature) to realize its potential.

The following passage caught my eye, because it too is a point I have often belabored: self-evident truths -- our innate cosmic principles -- are not arrived at by logic per se, but are the very basis of logic.

In other words, a thing cannot be true merely because it is logical, but rather, logical because true; obviously Truth is higher than logic -- one reason why Truth manifests in any number of extra- or translogical ways.

Again, the truths we are discussing are not "conclusions" but perceptions; we don't shine the light of intelligence upon them, because they are that light (i.e., intelligence is ultimately composed of the light it is able to discern). Analogously, although the moon gives off light, you wouldn't use the light of the moon to try to illuminate the sun. For those of you living in Rio Linda, reason is the moon, truth the sun.

The Founders wrote our Constitution in such a way that any person using his God-given common sense could understand it. Which is why you have to be a constitutional scholar in order to twist it to the nonsensical ends of the left.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Prolegomenon to Reclaiming Common Sense, If I'm Using that Word Correctly

Another mature post, aged for several years in an old rain barrel in my side yard, now extensively revised and maybe even edited:

Schuon characterizes philosophy as the science of fundamental principles -- a science that operates via an intuition which "perceives" as opposed to a reason that can only "conclude." And of course, reason can only conclude based upon premises that must be furnished from another source.

In short, there is no way around an extra-rational judgment; the attempt to ground truth in reason alone quickly ends in tautology. It's one reason why mathematics cannot map reality, a la Gödel.

Having said that, as some extra-rational judgments surpass reason, others fall short of it; the first is common sense, the second common nonsense. And both common sense and common nonsense are embedded in culture. It's why, for example, people leave college more stupid than when they entered. Unless they avoided the humanities.

As Schuon puts it, "There is no faith without any knowledge, nor knowledge without any faith." That's what you call an ineluctable fact. Any failure on your part to assent to its truth renders you at least somewhat blind, for "Faith is the intuition of the transcendent; unbelief stems from the layer of ice that covers the heart and excludes this intuition."

Now, there are two related kinds of extra-rational judgment; let us call one "intuition," the other "faith." Each of these is a mode of perception of invisible realities.

To put it conversely, in the absence of faith and intuition, we wouldn't be able to see anything other than what we see physically, and would thereby be reduced to animality; or, we would see surfaces -- appearances -- only, with no access to underlying realities, whether scientific, aesthetic, or religious.

Faith is the implicit perception of an impending (vertical) discovery: not only will it be "rewarded" with the knowledge of which it is a foreshadow, it is already a kind of knowledge, in the same sense that a flower turning toward the light is already a kind of prelinguistic "knowledge of the sun." In the words of the Aphorist, Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities.

Or, to quote Schuon, "The mystery of faith is in fact the possibility of an anticipatory perception in the absence of its content; that is, faith makes present its content by accepting it already, before the perception properly so-called." Faith is never static, but always on-the-way.

It seems to me that faith may be thought of as a kind of formalized intuition, whereas intuition is an informal faith.

In a way, these two have the same relationship as revelation and intellect: somewhere Schuon equates revelation to exteriorized (divine) intellect, and intellect to an interiorized revelation. Indeed, the very existence of the intellect may be the most accessible miracle available to man. It is the last thing you'd expect to emerge from lifeless matter.

The point is, a small minority of human beings are "intellectual" in the proper sense of the term, but there are countless cognitive narcissists who practice a debased intellectualism, AKA the tenured. Their childish grandiosity causes them to conflate their impoverished reality tunnels with reality.

These tunnels are held together more by consensus than fact, e.g., Climate Change. As such, they are brittle at their core, for which reason "a single naïve question is sometimes enough to make an entire system come tumbling down" (NGD).

But the Good News is that God is fair, such that the non-intellectual nevertheless has access to the highest wisdom available to the (genuine) intellectual, via faith. In other words, God would not deprive a man of saving knowledge for wholly contingent reasons, such as a few IQ points. Besides, as often as not, "A high I.Q. is indicative of distinguished mediocrity." Intelligence can be its own worst enemy, and Satan has been known to exploit this weakness in man. To put it mildly.

To be clear, the intellect is by no means superior to faith, for, to paraphrase Schuon, the latter involves intuition of the same "intellectual object" that is the reality behind appearances. Both are ways to penetrate more deeply, ultimately from surface to ur-Face. For If God were not a person, He would have died some time ago (NGD).

Faith is "to say 'yes' to the truth of God and of immortality – this truth which we carry in the depths of our heart," and "to see concretely what apparently is abstract." It is "a priori a natural disposition of the soul to admit the supernatural; it is therefore essentially an intuition of the supernatural, brought about by Grace."

Not to grind gears too abruptly, but all of the above is just by way of a pre-ramble to discussion of another book I read over the weekend, Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea. One might be tempted to think the ideas presented above are excessively abstract or impractical, but it turns out they are the very essence of common sense.

Recall Madison's gag about how government -- or, let's say "political science" -- is "the greatest of all reflections on human nature." The reason this is so is that if we don't get human nature right, then our political system will be either stillborn or monstrous; and if we don't get our political system right, then it will produce stillborn or monstrous humans.

It reminds me of that line about how the problem with capitalism is capitalists, whereas the problem with socialism is socialism. Analogously, the problem with Christianity is Christians, whereas the problem with Islam certainly appears to be Islam, given how every majority Muslim country is such a trainwreck when it isn't actively blowing up the train.

Back to my main point, which is that America was founded upon an ontological common sense that cannot be surpassed, only denied, eroded, or attacked. Which is what the left does, all day long, especially since Woodrow Wilson, who said as much quite explicitly (for progressives were more honest about their agenda in those days, although Beto is coming close).

Wilson was nothing short of an American Monster. As far as he was concerned, "the Founders' propositions were only relevant to the time of the Founders," and "because history had moved on those propositions had been rendered obsolete."

Said our first intellectual present -- the first with a Ph.D. (Recall what was said above about the childishly omniscient but brittle reality tunnels of the tenured.)

In other words, for this distinguished mediocretin, what the Founders regarded as "self-evident truths" amounted to nothing more than historically conditioned illusions and/or expedients.

Let Wilson progsplain it to you rubes: although "a great deal of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual," we now know that this was just a lot of "vague sentiment and pleasing speculation." Thanks to the pretentious bloviating of Hegel, we know better: the state is the March of God on Earth.

"For Wilson, history had moved on and, as a result, the thinking of the Founders had become, as he says in the quote above, 'nonsense.'"

What kind of person presumes to reduce the undeniable truths that permit human flourishing to mere nonsense? A demonically inspired monster, that's who.

The "self-evident truths" propounded by the Founders were the precise opposite of historically conditioned beliefs subject to future revision by our progressive betters. What they meant by the term "self-evident" was that the power to understand these truths was available to all human beings, by virtue of being human. They are "no sooner understood than they are believed," the reason being that "they 'carry the light of truth itself'" (Arthur Herman, in Curry).

To be continued...

Monday, September 16, 2019

Everyone has a Religion, and Some are Even True

So, is common sense rooted in principles, or do principles flow from common sense? And is common sense universal, or does it change from epoch to epoch, culture to culture, cable network to cable network?

First, we had better define the term. Before looking it up, I would say that it must have to do with knowledge accessible to every normal man by virtue of being one. It is what my pal Bion would call "pre-conceptual," meaning that it is not quite knowledge, but ready to become so: pre-knowledge, so to speak:

Bion introduced the idea of a pre-conception, a psychological entity waiting for for a realization that will "mate" with it. The "unexperienced" pre-conception mated with a realization produces a conception, and from this thoughts and thinking can develop.

Note the role of experience (or lack thereof): if the innate pre-conception doesn't meet with an experience in the outside world, it is still there, only unrealized. This then contributes to psychic pain, except the person will have no idea from where the pain is coming. Unexperienced pre-conceptions that fail to become concepts nevertheless result in experienced distress.

Example? Like "original sin," evidence is everywhere. Psychic pain is quite fungible, such that it is readily exchanged, converted, transformed, and falsely attributed to other psychic levels, persons, or environmental factors.

One of the specialties of the left is the transformation of existential pain into political grievance. Some pain is indeed unavoidable by virtue of being human. But if you cannot tolerate this realization, the left is always ready to help you to attribute it to something else, and more to the point, promise an end to the pain. But this is no more effective than curing physical disease by electing your preferred candidate.

Since the election of President Trump, we have seen how millions of people persist in attributing their mental illness to him. Is there anything comparable on the right? I've never claimed to be normal, but I don't remember blaming Obama for it.

Back to pre-conceptions for a moment. A large part of mental illness revolves around a kind of psychic miscegenation, or a union of pre-conception with toxic experience, resulting in an inverted or perverted conception. Thus, for example, a child who is abused by his parents may grow up to be an abusive parent.

It seems that for every absolute there is a false absolute -- which is still an absolute, only in denial of itself. I would say that our awareness of the Absolute per se is a consequence of our pre-conceptual knowledge of God: a proper mating of this divine pre-conception with spiritual experience results in a normally religious person. A mismating -- or no mating at all -- results in its many alternatives, from polytheism to materialism and everything in between. Or, just say idolatry: an idol is a false absolute. Put another way, everyone has an absolute, and some are even true.

In the excellent Book of Absolutes, Gairdner devotes various chapters to the universals of human life and culture, the constants of nature, the universals of human sex and biology, the universals of language, and the universals of law. I am tempted to just say Read the Book, because that's an awful lot to cover in the spacetime of a post, especially because it's been a decade or so since I read it.

Since then, Gairdner has published another called The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree. This second book is no doubt a logical extension of the first, for what is leftism but the political implications of relativism and (pretended) rejection of absolutes, i.e., a deeply principled political stupidity at war with the nature of things?

Another book we haven't discussed but which I can heartily endorse is Frithjof Schuon and the Perennial Philosophy, which is an introductory guide to his thinking -- which, for me, comes close to a description of what thinking ought to be at its highest and deepest levels. Yes, there is a proper way to think, and philosophy should be all about providing prescriptions for it. What's the alternative? Providing bad ways to think? Or ways to avoid thinking? Isn't that what college is for?

Chapter five condenses his system to the very essence of what we might call Metacosmic Common Sense -- although he would hasten to add that this is no more "his system" than the sun can be private property. Rather, it shines equally upon the good and evil, the intelligent and stupid, the gifted and the tenured. People of below average intelligence can have perfectly adequate common sense, while so-called intellectuals can be entirely lacking in it. In the words of the Aphorist,

--Until we come across instructed fools, instruction seems important.

--Great stupidities do not come from the people. They have seduced intelligent men first.

--The learned fool has a wider field to practice his folly.

I could be wrong, but I like to think that truth is anterior to revelation. i.e., that Truth is like the ultimate pre-conception that is filled by the experience of revelation. This would explain why a simple person of faith can be so much wiser than a brilliant scientist when it pertains to essential human truths beyond the scope of science -- and why we would prefer to be governed by the first 500 people in the Boston phonebook than the Harvard faculty.

Here is an example of a first principle that seems to me unassailable, that "God is ineffable," such that "nothing can describe Him or enclose Him in words." What mischief results from believing otherwise!

For it is not as if we are faced with a binary choice between a conceptual absolute posited by the mind and a paltry relativism that implicitly elevates man to God. Rather, we simultaneously posit the existence of the Absolute and our inability to contain it/him; or, if you can contain it, it isn't God.

Before starting this post, the thought popped into my head: any valid knowledge of God is obviously already God and must come from God. However, the converse is not true: God cannot be reduced to knowledge of him, no matter how valid.

A map is not the territory, but nor is it other than the territory, in the sense that it provides points of reference on a human scale. Just so, metaphysics and revelation provide us with humanly realizable points of reference that permit us to orient ourselves to eternity via time, or heaven via earth, or the celestial via the terrestrial, etc.

Indeed you could say that earth is heaven, but that of course heaven is not earth. We couldn't even know of paradise if we didn't sometimes catch glimpses of it herebelow. Or so we have heard from the wise.

For Schuon, "metaphysical doctrine is nothing other than the science of Reality and illusion." The postmodern secular leftist type will usually say that we can only know appearances and not reality, but we respond that we can know appearances precisely because they are appearances of a reality anterior to them; optical illusions only exist because of optical realities.

Now, the same doctrine "might be articulated in a number of ways, from a variety of viewpoints," for the same reason a truth can be expressed in different languages. You could say that a valid religion is a richly symbolic "metaphysical vocabulary" -- or that, conversely, a religion that fails to embody and communicate these truths is no religion at all.

I suppose where I differ from Schuon is that his preferred vocabulary is ultimately Advaita Vedanta, whereas I believe this fails to adequately convey certain principles that are better expressed in the language of Christianity, e.g., the Trinity.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Self-Evident Truth Society

Reader James asks (or asked five years ago): "How does Cosmic Orthodoxy relate to common sense? Or to self-evident truths? If you were to start 'The Self-Evident Truth Society: Dedicated to Halting the Abandonment of Common Sense,' what would be your top ten cosmic orthodox principles, or self-evident truths?"

Aphorisms:

--Thinking is often reduced to inventing reasons to doubt what is evident.

--Four or five invulnerable philosophical propositions allow us to make fun of the rest.

--Man goes out hunting less for truths than for loopholes.

--The lesser truths tend to eclipse the highest truths.

And one of my all time favorites -- indeed, a guiding principle of the book I'm supposedly working on:

--In each moment, each person is capable of possessing the truths that matter (Dávila).

Also, I might remind the reader of a book we've discussed in the past, Robert Spitzer's Ten Universal Principles.

Now, Sr. Dávila exaggerates just a bit, which he is wont to do in the pursuit of inducing a guffah HA! experience in the reader. The larger orthoparadoxical point is that we often need to know a little in order to understand a lot; and conversely, that a great deal of knowledge can interfere with deeper understanding. Often this is because, as Dávila says

--In order for a multitude of diverse terms to coexist, it is necessary to place them on different levels. A hierarchical ordering is the only one that neither expels nor suppresses them.

Which is what he means when he says "Any straight line leads straight to a hell."

So, the first principle is God -- or O -- but this principle obviously isn't on the same level as the others, but rather, is the reason why there are any principles at all: no Principle, no principles; no Creator, no creation; no Absolute, no relative; no Person, no persons. Etc.

In short, hierarchy. Note that the hierarchy is not a duality, or else we are in Gnostic/Manichean land. And what's wrong with that? Well, it reduces to two ultimate principles, which is impossible because self-contradictory. But nor do we posit an absolute monism that excludes relativity. Rather, for reasons we may or may not get into with this post, we posit a trinitarian godhead, such that the many is always in the One, and vice versa.

On to the old post:

In The Common Mind we read of "the attempt to integrate the intellect with the whole personality, and in so doing oppose intellectualism." This would be an example of a Cosmic Principle, but difficult to express in the form of a Top Ten list, for it implies, and is implied by, so many other truths.

Such as?

Such as the principle that man is in the image and likeness of the Creator; that man -- uniquely among creatures -- spans the vertical spectrum from the lowest to the highest planes, for better and/or worse; that knowledge is em-bodied and in-carnated; or even prior to this, that man is adequate to reality, not vis-a-vis his fragmented and desiccated ego-mind, but with his unified soul-intellect.

Conversely, mere intellectualism is the way of the tenured, of the infertile egghead who imagines (in the lower sense) that truth can be contained within an ideology, e.g., scientism, feminism, progressivism, etc. ("The learned fool has a wider field to practice his folly." --NGD).

Only with higher intellect do we preserve the essential "otherness" of primordial truth, which is always relational and therefore personal. Anything (hierarchically) short of this is idolatry pure and simple. And idolatry places a wall between person and God. Pure and simple².

Recall Mayor Giuliani's theory of aesthetics: if I can do it, it isn't art. Similarly, if we can grasp it with our shriveled tenureMind, it cannot possibly be true. Moreover -- and this is a somewhat advanced aphorism, as it assumes a degree of activated CoonVision -- It is enough to know nothing more than that certain beings have adopted an idea to know that it is false.

Such as? Oh, such as the ten supremely creepy beings on the debate stage last night. My discarnate friend Petey spontaneously knows that "what" they say -- as disturbing as it is -- isn't as disturbing as "who" they are.

Now, Darwin, who was far more intellectually honest than his latter day wackolytes, was rightly puzzled by the question of why -- i.e., by virtue of what principle -- we should ever trust the blithering cognitions of a modified ape. For if an ape is capable of knowing truth, this is no mere ape but an entirely novel cosmic category irreducible to random genetic error. Look, if you've discovered the truth of man, you are more than a man, let alone ape. How to explain the explanation (or better, explainer)?

Which is again why even a literalist reading of Genesis is more true than a strict Darwinian approach, because the former is true where it counts, i.e., on the human plane. Indeed, it preserves our humanness where Darwinism necessarily unexplains and eliminates it, such that if metaphysical Darwinism is true, it is false.

Reason only permits us to proceed from the known to the unknown. Thus rationalism begins with what it needs to explain, that is, the prior human ability to know. Therefore, it seems to me that two of our Top Ten principles must surely be that reality is intelligible and that man may know it. But these are really two sides of the same principle, which is Creation, or Rational Creator (or Person).

Therefore, in my view, to even talk about "truth" is to implicitly acknowledge the Creator. The problem with the left -- and with its retarded sister, scientism -- is that it neither acknowledges its own first principles nor follows them all the way to their inevitable conclusions, which is why they are so free to engage in such sloppy thinking. Dávila:

The theses of the left are rationalizations that are carefully suspended before reaching the argument that dissolves them.

In The Common Mind, (lower case r) reason is opposed to common sense, the latter of which "perceives truth, or commands belief, not by progressive argumentation, but by an instantaneous, instinctive, and irresistible impulse; derived neither from education nor from habit, but from nature..."

In other words, transnatural intellection is to the human being what natural instinct is to the animal. Among other things, it is a homing instinct that orients us to the truth -- or source of truth -- that precedes us and of which we are ultimately constituted.

Moore continues: "That which is self-evident can neither be proved nor disproved by reason or logic" -- for example, our self-evidently free will. To deny free will is only to affirm it, since a truth not freely arrived at is no truth at all.

There may be an even more general principle behind the ideas discussed in this post. Perhaps it is this: that reality both Is and is anterior to our knowing it. But in knowing this we know that knowledge is always bound up with this prior reality in which we participate through assimilation.

Correct thinking requires a kind of negation. To paraphrase Russell Kirk, conservatism is the negation of ideology. Leftism is a parody of this, in that it is the negation of principle (or the blind acceptance of unarticulated principles). There is a big difference between a political animal and an animal with politics. Only the former can know and understand this self-evident principle.