Being that intelligence is the capacity to discern principles, then failure to discern them would be a consequence of "minus intelligence," AKA stupidity. But that's not quite right, because -- or so we have heard from the wise -- any man has the capacity to understand the Principles That Matter, by virtue of being a man.
We might say that what distinguishes man from the animals is knowledge of the principles that distinguish man from the animals. That might sound like a tautology, but only if we situate these principles on the plane of man, instead of being anchored in the heavens, or in the nature of things.
It reminds me of E.F. Schumacher's Guide for the Perplexed, which I must have read over 30 years ago. Can't find it at the moment, but I'm looking at the sample on Amazon, which has a chapter on the Four Kingdoms, and now I'm wondering if this book had an unconscious influence on my own. That's my alibi, anyway.
Here again, all humans, by virtue of being human, can recognize the four kingdoms: Matter, Life, Consciousness, and Self-awareness. "Life," for example, not only has a mysterious power lacking in matter, but
there is nothing in the laws, concepts, and formulae of physics and chemistry to explain or even describe such powers. X [i.e., life] is something quite new and additional, and the more deeply we contemplate it, the clearer it becomes that we are faced here with what might be called an ontological discontinuity or, more simply, a jump in the Level of Being.
As it so happens, just yesterday I began reading a newish book -- this one by a biologist -- called Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something "Alive" and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It, which makes the same point, more on which below.
Back to Schumacher: if we symbolize matter (m), then life is (m) + some mysterious and inexplicable power we shall call (x). Similarly, animals would be (m) + (x) + (y), while humans are (m) + (x) + (y) + (z). This last variable is defined as the ability to both think and to be aware of thinking; or, one might say, it is thinking about thinking, or self-awareness:
Consciousness and intelligence, as it were, recoil upon themselves.... There is something able to say "I" and to direct consciousness in accordance with its own purposes, a master or controller, a power at a higher level than consciousness itself. This power z, consciousness recoiling upon itself, opens up unlimited possibilities of purposeful learning, investigating, exploring, and of formulating and accumulating knowledge.
We can invent a word to point at (z), but we must remember that it is only a word, not the thing itself. What do they say about philosophy? That it is a way to avoid being bewitched by language? Well, here is a perfect example. We have words for everyday, irreducible mysteries such as being, life, and mind, without having any idea what these actually are.
This is indeed one of Turner's points, that one reason we lack any "Darwinian explanation for the origin of life" is that we lack "a good Darwinian explanation for what life is in the first place" (emphasis mine). For that matter, "Darwinism is also having a rather hard time explaining what an organism is," and before that, what a gene is, or how it could ever be.
I'm only up to page 12, but all of these mysteries presuppose a very specific kind of cosmos in which such mysteries can exist. What kind of cosmos would that be? Well, first of all, a cosmos, which is to say, a total order, or ordered totality.
Back to my possible unconscious plagiarism of Schumacher. He ultimately solves the problem not by positing Life as (m) plus (x), but rather, by turning the cosmos right-side up and starting at the top. We begin with the highest principle, which immediately remedies the fallacy of trying to derive the greater (x, y, and z) from the lesser (m).
So now you know why I start (and end) with O. I do so because there is logically no other place with which to start. Any other position from which you start will redound to absurdity and self-refutation. Just try. I dare you. If you fail to see the contradiction, then you have failed to discern one of the principles alluded to in the first paragraph above. Ironically, you have used your own intelligence to render yourself stupid. And not just temporarily.
No, literally. This is not intended as an insult. For example, Turner references a prominent atheist who unequivocally declares the following (which I will render in poetic form, just for the hell of it):
There are no gods
no purpose, no goal-directed forces of any kind....
There is no ultimate foundation for ethics,
no ultimate meaning to life
and no free will for humans, either.
Actually, someone could know that. For as we've said many times, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it. Conversely, if he does exist, then only man can not know it.
Back to Schumacher:
In a hierarchical structure, the higher does not merely possess powers that are additional to and exceed those possessed by the lower; it has the power to organize the lower and use it for its own purposes.... Are there powers that are higher than self-awareness?
Again, this cannot not be the case. Nothing that essentially defines man can be derived from the bottom, but can only be explained as a prolongation from the top, e.g., freedom, interiority, truth, beauty, unity, goodness, love, etc.
Just about out of time, but I'll leave off with a couple observations by Schuon which I bumped into yesterday:
those who seek to enclose the Universe within their shortsighted logic fail to see, at least in principle, that the sum of possible phenomenal knowledge is inexhaustible and, consequently, that the present "scientific" knowledge represents a total nothingness beside our ignorance....
In this desire to to accumulate knowledge of relative things, the metaphysical dimension -- which alone takes us out of the [vicious circle] of the phenomenal and the absurd -- is expressly put aside; it is as if a man were to be endowed with all possible faculties of perception minus intelligence; or again, it is as if one believed that an animal endowed with sight were more capable than a blind man of understanding the mysteries of the world.
Quite simply, it is as if cosmos minus (x), (y), and (z) explains the cosmos. Then who is speaking? And to whom? For (m) + (m) is just more (m).