Tuesday, May 07, 2019

To Know We're In the Cosmos is to Know We're Not Of the Cosmos

To review: there is more difference between man and ape than between ape and existence, being that when cosmic evolution crosses the threshold of Man, it enters a vast and inexhaustible Within that might as well represent a second cosmos. And yet, there can be only One.


No ape ever says hmmm. Which is the first word.

This second cosmos is somehow "within" the existing one, and yet, transcends it. Thus, in his own way, man has a similar relationship to the cosmos as does God, i.e., both immanent and transcendent (or in but not of; if we were only in, then we couldn't possibly know of it). To know there are appearances is to intuit the reality. Here again, no ape ever said "it may look like x, but x is just an appearance of y."

As Schuon writes, "One of the keys to understanding our true nature and ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world are never proportionate to the actual range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing."

Absolute or Nothing. There is literally no in-between; or rather there can only be an in-between if it is a hierarchical descent from the Absolute. If there is no Absolute, then nothing is higher than anything else.

Now, this vast and protean cosmic interior is bound up with the universal Quest alluded to in the previous post. Obviously no material object embarks upon a quest to discover its origins and destiny, nor does a dog give a hoot about where it came from so long as it is fed, watered, and amused.

And yet, if one is a strict materialist, man's quest would have to be considered utterly quixotic and as doomed from the start as that of any other dog. A dog enjoys a walk for its own sake. He doesn't expect to come back from it a better dog. But man's life is a walk toward a nonlocal object. It has a teleological character.

Yes, there are some who conclude that human existence is absurd, and leave it at that (even fewer can actually consistently live in such a desiccated fantasy world without constantly barking at the ghosts they deny). But man is not built this way, and it goes against human nature to imagine and project an absurd cosmos. Rather, meaning is everywhere and at every level of existence. For

Things are not mute. They merely select their listeners (NGD).

This being the case, it shouldn't be a surprise that existence is ultimately meaningful. Indeed, to say that meaning is everywhere except in the whole is analogous to saying that the cells in your body are alive but not the body itself.

Purcell's From Big Bang to Big Mystery is his own story, his own attempt to situate himself within our 13.85 billion year cosmodrama. As it so happens, this is impossible to do without recourse to thousands of other cosmodramas.

In fact, this is one of the most baleful effects of living in any kind of totalitarian regime: that only one drama is permitted, e.g., the drama of Darwinism, or of Marxism, White Privilege, or Toxic Masculinity. Yes, you are "free" to discover your life's meaning, so long as it is approved by the progressive indoctrinational complex.

"Mass education" is a key to facilitating the kind of concentrated power lusted after by the left, for if everyone thinks the same way -- lives in the same narrative bubble -- this makes their job a lot easier. "Thought," such as it is, runs in only one direction, converging upon the almighty state. There is a reason why so many of the wealthiest zip codes in the land encircle and ultimately strangle D.C.

Conversely, a (genuinely) liberal education is anathema to the state-media narrative of the progressive left, because people might discover a meaning that clashes with state interests. Thus, for the state to "allow" school vouchers is as likely as the IRS operating on the honor system. Without coercion -- whether intellectual or economic -- there is no left. One cannot claim to be "against bullying" while voting Democrat.

One of the keys to life is discovering the useful narratives. One might even say that this is the ultimate purpose of an education. How can it be that one can complete thirteen or seventeen or nineteen or twenty-four years of education without having encountered a multitude of these? That was me: after twenty-four years of schooling and one Ph.D., I wasn't just starting out, but had to dig myself out of all those false narratives.

Purcell writes that as he embarked upon his quest to explore the inner dimension of the cosmos (i.e., humanness), he discovered "a thousand and one mirror quests" in "the multiplicity and variety of quests of other individuals and cultures" down through the ages.

What this means is that, as we set out on our quest, our primary data is not the world per se. In other words, none of us starts from scratch with unmediated knowledge of things. At the very least we are given a language, a culture, a tradition, a particular family, etc. But for the person who wants to go beyond the given, our data includes the "quests" of a multitude of others, separated in time and space by hundreds of years and thousands of miles. Man is a temporal mountain range featuring many glorious peaks (there are of course countless valleys, or at least I can't keep up with all the Democrat candidates for president).

There is indeed a community saints, and not just the moral kind. For there is intellectual sanctity. Moreover, at the highest peaks there is a convergence of moral and intellectual purity. There one would be frankly mortified to believe certain ideas. To put it another way, the ideas that circulate in the typical university would cause acute embarrassment in the presence of God. You have been warned.

This is a key point raised by Chesterton in his Orthodoxy. That is, mankind is one, not just in space but in time. By no means are we permitted to consider the dead as mere links to us -- as if their only purpose was to serve as stepping stones to something better. But if one is an evolutionist, that is the inescapable conclusion: nothing simply "is," but is always on the way to something better.

But just as it is immoral to treat a living person as a means and not an end, treating past generations as means robs them of their dignity as persons: "If we don't respect those who have gone before us, who will respect us when we are gone?" In short, you can't dehumanize your ancestors without dehumanizing their descendants: no them, no us. History is either one story or no story at all, just a chaotic and self-obsessed Grievance Studies Department.

For Purcell, "meditative re-enactment of the expressions of the quests of others, animates our existence with a heightened sense of the worth of human existence -- our own and others -- and grounds a sense of human family that is universal across space and time."

To be continued...


julie said...

Moreover, at the highest peaks there is a convergence of moral and intellectual purity. There one would be frankly mortified to believe certain ideas.

Hatefacts and thoughtcrime. The universities, seats of the highest liberal ideals of tolerance and diversity, will absolutely not tolerate the expression of any mere facts or study that diverge from their established premises, whatever those might be on any given day.

Gagdad Bob said...

It's the same idea, only inverted: to speak certain truths in the university is to risk shame and humiliation. One must literally be purified of heterodox thought in order to step onto a college campus. Anything less isn't tolerated.

Daniel T said...

One wonders what the relationship is between senicide and infanticide. To the modern mind--going in for efficiency--the senior and the baby are both unfortunate inconveniences. I imagine it's dignity for both or for neither.

julie said...

On the surface, the argument is dignity. For the senile and sickly, so they don't have to suffer and be a burden on their families if they have any, and for for the mother, so that she doesn't have to be "punished" with an unwanted child. Oh, and so the child doesn't have to endure a life of suffering. As Rep. Rogers said last week, "You kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, you send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now or you kill them later."

In this sense, dignity is the rationalization by which Moloch is best served.

Paganism and human sacrifice are the default settings of humankind, even when we hide these things from ourselves under a veneer of dignity and utility. Whited sepulchers come to mind. Christ was being quite literal when he said his kingdom is not of this world; something else still reigns here, and we see its fingerprints daily.

Anonymous said...

Is this a blast from the past or a brand-new post? It is certainly a high-quality post; if new then you are on your game now.

Your post posits a second cosmos within each person, waiting for exploration. This makes us in the cosmos but not of it; and speaks of the Quest to explore this inner cosmos. There is something there to unite with which is tied with ultimate meaning.

On the street level, the round of daily existence hampers the Quest, it would seem. Therefore the best way to get inside despite distractions would be good to learn. Any ideas?

I would add, if I may, a slice of opinion here.

Meng Po, the Lady of Forgetfulness, serves her five-flavored tea (made with pond water) prior to our arrival here; one sip causes total amnesia of what went before. None may refuse the cup.

The purpose being to clean the chalkboard for a new lesson;To carry forward the past with all of its attractions, rancours, ties, relationships, preferences, and memories would be an impediment to gaining a new formulation, for making an enduring advance.

Over many lives the soul accretes experiences, needed in order to advance.

Or so say some. But would it make any difference in relation to your post? This is I don't know.