Wednesday, April 24, 2019

No Principles, No Problem

The problem with the left is not so much bad philosophy as no philosophy at all.

Progressives are truly "post-philosophical," which is what allows them to routinely hold views that are internally and externally inconsistent, and more generally, to appeal to "expedient principles" -- an oxymoron -- as the need arises to defend what can only amount to raw power and self-interest. (In other words, truthlessness actually has a purpose, and this purpose is to serve the acquisition and maintenance of power.)

No, this isn't just polemical, because this is precisely what the more sophisticated among them aver: to disagree with their relativism is to render oneself an authoritarian or fascist. We are indeed living in a "post-metaphysical" age, which is indistinguishable from a post-philosophical age, which in turn redounds to a post-serious thinking age, or even a "post-adult" one.

Things become stupid and childish when principles are absent. For, Intelligence is the capacity for discerning principles. Indeed, Four or five invulnerable philosophical propositions allow us to make fun of the rest.

Which is why, by the way, Engaging in dialogue with those who do not share our assumptions is nothing more than a stupid way to kill time (NGD). You will have noticed that the only way the left can get around this truism is to ban our assumptions wherever they have the power to do so, e.g., on college campuses.

When the tenured break out the "post-metaphysical" canard, what they really mean is post-Western civilization in general and post-Judeo-Christian in particular. The only way to jettison those two obstacles to power is to discredit them entirely. Not to seriously engage them, because to engage them would be to leave oneself beclowned (just as engaging rather than ignoring the Constitution would put an end to the left's schemes).

Therefore, our bedrock principles must be dismissed with a kind of a priori contempt, as if man learned nothing about the nature of man during his first 200,000 years on the planet. Now, the mere presence of a species for 200,000 years argues for an essence or nature that defines the species. But this isn't a problem if one's post-philosphical and post-intellectual outlook tosses aside the whole notion of essence: if human nature is a an obstacle, just deny it up front.

Here metaphysical Darwinism comes in handy, for if man is but the effect of wholly random causes, then he has no essence. This being the case, we are free to turn man into anything we wish. For example, if we raise a boy as a girl, he will become one. For the left, the only thing in man that is absolutely fixed is homosexuality. That and the right to a dead baby. Unless the baby is homosexual. Then it's murder. And murder is a sin. Except there's no such thing as sin.

Principles!

The only way to overcome what man has learned about himself over the eons -- much of it rather unflattering -- is to adopt an attitude of abject cynicism. Now, as we see in our troll [William], this attitude is one of extreme corrosiveness, in the sense that it naively prides itself on being able to dissolve any argument before reaching its conclusion. This is why I refer to it as "negative omniscience."

Unlike positive omniscience, or "knowing everything," this is the negative capability of knowing nothing, but in a way that renders oneself superior. One routinely encounters it in clinical practice, among paranoiacs (in a more crude form) and narcissists (in more subtle forms).

As Clarke discusses, "The very notion of constructing a unified systematic philosophical inquiry into being as a whole... has been abandoned by contemporary philosophers." An exception to the rule is Whiteheadian process philosophy, which is how I initially got into the racket. In fact, I don't think he can be surpassed if one is attempting to construct a metaphysic on merely scientific grounds, i.e., to draw out the metaphysical implications of modern science.

But man is obviously not restricted to the scientific mode of knowing (to believe otherwise is to have internalized an implicit principle before the investigation has even begun). Rather, as Schuon writes, "One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence." For "Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing."

I don't regard this statement as remotely poetical, or romantic, or "in a manner of speaking." Rather, everything must have its sufficient reason, and the only sufficient reason for man's restless search for Absoluteness is the Absolute. This is the real reason why science never rests content with any hypothesis (with the exception of manmade global warming, which, like homosexuality and the right to abortion, is another absolute).

But if man were only provoked to seek out the Absolute from the relative end of the cosmos, this would be a cosmic itch he could never scratch, for it is not possible for a finite being to reach or even know of the Infinite; to say finite is to implicitly know infinitude.

Therefore, just as man is on a perpetual search for God, history reveals God's perpetual search for man. If one prefers, one may express it in abstract terms and say that man, everywhere we find him, is characterized by (↑). But likewise, culture, everywhere we find it, is imbued with traces of (↓).

In the end -- as we shall see -- man's search for God is God's search for man, for there is no other way of looking at it, assuming God is God (in other words, transcendence necessarily spills over into immanence, as immanence points back and returns to transcendence).

To put it another way, every culture is characterized by a search for the ground, source, origin, or center -- the unchanging, or Ultimate Principle. Norris calls this the "search from below." He references Cardinal Newman, who remarked that "all the nations" seek God, and that "by feeling their way toward him, succeed in finding him." However, it is necessary to discern the principial truth within "the corrupt legends" with which it is inevitably mixed.

The story of the people of Israel isn't just another story of (↑), but more importantly, a -- the -- story of (↓): "it is not we who seek God, it is rather God who seeks us out." And for Christians, (↑) and (↓) meet -- or Cross paths -- in the person of Christ, who is both ground and destiny: "Here the human search from below, in its many different modalities and incarnations... effectively meets the divine descending search..."

Thus, "the Eternal enters time, the Whole lies hidden in the part, God takes on a human face." More to the point, "dialogue" becomes the possibility of "union" when the Absolute crosses "the ontological abyss separating the infinite and infinite." Again, to say that man cannot accomplish this union in the absence of (↓) is a truism.

Which is where I would say the Holy Spirit comes in, for he may be fruitfully thought of as an ongoing form of (↓), so that our sincere search is never in vain. The Holy Spirit "is the finisher and polisher of divine revelation with regard to us." Norris references an illuminating passage by the Orthodox bishop Ignatios of Latakia:

Without the Holy Spirit, God is far away, / Christ stays in the past, / the Gospel is a dead letter, / the Church is simply an organization, / authority a matter of dominion, / mission a matter of propaganda, / the liturgy no more than an evocation, / Christian living a slave morality.

4 comments:

julie said...

Progressives are truly "post-philosophical," which is what allows them to routinely hold views that are internally and externally inconsistent, and more generally, to appeal to "expedient principles" -- an oxymoron -- as the need arises to defend what can only amount to raw power and self-interest.

Thus, when a mosque is attacked by a leftist eco-fascist, all white Christians must examine their consciences and feel shame. But when churches full of Christians are bombed on Easter, we must reach out to Muslims so they don't feel bad.

Anonymous said...

Principles are a difficult thing to do well. Sooner or later, your drive to sin will override them all. Easier to have God forgive and be done with it.

But still, if Christians are seen (smeared, propagandized, or even honestly assessed...) as having bad principles their numbers will thin out. I blame the sports writers who always have to post batting averages.

julie said...

Interesting, and very sad.

It has long been known that the state of male friendship is hampered to a great degree by the concern that normal male affection for their friends might be construed as gay. Which is sad and horrible. For women, that has never really been an issue as it is still perfectly normal for female friends to show love and affection without it implying a sexual component. Or rather it, it wasn't until now. Normal girls will either get with the program and declare themselves gay for their best friends, or else shy away from friendships altogether. Either way, normals lose again.

Van Harvey said...

"Progressives are truly "post-philosophical," which is what allows them to routinely hold views that are internally and externally inconsistent, and more generally, to appeal to "expedient principles" -- an oxymoron -- as the need arises to defend what can only amount to raw power and self-interest. (In other words, truthlessness actually has a purpose, and this purpose is to serve the acquisition and maintenance of power.)

No, this isn't just polemical, because this is precisely what the more sophisticated among them aver: to disagree with their relativism is to render oneself an authoritarian or fascist. We are indeed living in a "post-metaphysical" age, which is indistinguishable from a post-philosophical age, which in turn redounds to a post-serious thinking age, or even a "post-adult" one."

Ba...ba... BOOM!!!. Especially on the "a "post-metaphysical" age, which is indistinguishable from a post-philosophical", as people love to babble on about technicalities of epistemology, as if they are still philosophizing, but if you've dismissed the idea of being able to know what IS, babbling on about the many ways you might possibly 'know it', passes beyond foolishness, and wanders into misosophy.