Friday, November 08, 2019

There is Always a Meta-

This observation by Dunning is right in the One Cosmos wheelhouse: "Some of our deepest intuitions about the world go all the way back to our cradles."

However -- or therefore? -- "not all of our earliest intuitions are so sound." No one is as omniscient as an infant (CNN hosts notwithstanding), and indeed, the pathological omniscience of adults is rooted in a prior age-appropriate infantile omniscience. No animal but man can simultaneously be such a know-it-all and know-nothing. I know you know such a person. Indeed, I even know you'll be conversing with such a person on Thanksgiving.

The concept of infantile omniscience isn't difficult to understand, as it is simply a function of coming into the world with no boundaries or conceptual limitations; it may be symbolized as a dimensionless point. To the extent that this undifferentiated space persists into adulthood, then it is considered to be a pathological defense mechanism, a regression to the comforting delusion of knowledge, in which case the personality develops

with omniscience and omnipotence as a substitute for the learning process and there will not be a function of the psychic activity that can discriminate between the true and false; there will also be an absence of thought capable of genuine symbolization (Introduction to the Work of Bion).

Could it be that Dunning-Kruger is rooted in such a developmental failure and regression? In any event, the thinking of very young children "is marked by a strong tendency to falsely ascribe intentions, function, and purposes.... this propensity for purpose-driven reasoning" is something that "never really leaves us" (Dunning).

Now, knowledge is knowledge of causes. As such, DK involves knowledge of false causes, or a false knowledge of causes. This is why the emergence of the scientific method was such an important development, because it provided a critical method with which to test our knowledge.

However, the scientific method is itself vulnerable to DK if and when it oversteps its boundaries. Put it this way: there is always a meta-, no matter how we might try to escape it. Once we have scientific knowledge, we have meta-science; likewise, historical thought coarises with meta-history, because to be aware of time is to be partially outside or beyond it. Dávila nails it in ten words:

Without philosophy, the sciences do not know what they know.

Indeed, without philosophy, no discipline knows what it knows. I remember back in grad school, getting into an argument with a behaviorist. Suffice it to say that he was innocent of any metapsychology to ground his otherwise circular epistemology. It never occurred to him that if behaviorism is true it must be false.

By the way, is there meta-religion? I suspect there is and must be, but that few people are interested in it. Or maybe it requires certain abilities and inclinations that few people possess, or I'd have more readers. But religious phenomena must be instances of religious principles, no? They aren't just ad hoc. In other words, if something is, then it must be possible for it to be. Even God can't accomplish the impossible!

A miracle, for example, still conforms to law, except the law must be vertical, implicit, and nonlocal. Indeed, this is why, for example, every miracle associated with Jesus isn't just for it's own sake, but to transmit a vertical teaching. Such miracles aren't just "magic," but lessons.

Now that we've ventured down this rabbit hole, it reminds me of how early Christians deduced -- if that's the right word -- the existence of the Trinity. It is nowhere mentioned explicitly in scripture, but is discovered as the principle that explains the otherwise irreconcilable data of revelation (not to reduce it to a mere principle of human reasoning).

No, this is meta-reason. As explained by Ratzinger, there is the lower "reason in relation to empirical reality and man-made things," and a higher "reason which penetrates the deepest levels being."

But nowadays, "only [the former] reason in the more restricted sense remains," which is precisely why there is so much religious Dunning-Krugery. The whole neo-atheist craze is founded upon a denial of meta-reason, and therefore a presumptuous attempt to deploy reason to explain what necessarily transcends it. Imagining that reason can contain what both transcends and grounds it is the height of irrationality. Might was well try to play basketball with a circle instead of a sphere.

So, just as, without philosophy, the sciences do not know what they know, without Reason (meta-reason) reason doesn't know what it knows (let alone what it cannot know). But really, it all goes back to Gödel, because man always escapes and transcends his own foolish efforts to enclose himself in some manmade cognitive cage.


julie said...

Indeed, I even know you'll be conversing with such a person on Thanksgiving.

Ha - yes, some experiences are universal. Ironically, the other person is almost certain to think the Dunning-Krugery is coming from you (or me, or anyone but the know-nothing know-it-all).

Anonymous said...

Good evening Dr. Godwin and all celebrated readers and partners of the internet, bless you thrice.

Dr. Godwin wrote:

"By the way, is there meta-religion? I suspect there is and must be, but that few people are interested in it. Or maybe it requires certain abilities and inclinations that few people possess, or I'd have more readers."

But of course, your book and blog are devoted to describing meta-religious concepts, are they not?

Meta-religious thought is not for everyone, as you pointed out. An ability to focus and concentrate and the inclination to do so are among the entry level requirements. It also requires a burning curiosity on the matter, and it requires a high level of sincerity.

There is nothing more rewarding than meta-religion; it is the rightful King of all human lines of thought. Progress made in this area is priceless. It is worth every minute of time poured into it.

At a certain point, the meta-religious thinker may commit every waking moment to the endeavor, and ah, the bliss this can produce is like nothing else, beyond everything else.

But, all else must fall away and one must let it fall away gladly, with a smile. So you can see why it is not for everyone.

The Yoga (Union) never fails, this is my contention.

Well have a pleasant evening all, enjoy your dinner meal and perhaps a bit of telly after.

-Lonely Mountain

Anonymous said...

Sunday Morning has rolled around, and it is time to wake, stretch, and take stock of the day.

This is a good day to study meta-religion. Place all religions before you as if they are cards on a table, and consider them in the altogether. What do they have in common? Where do they differ?

A warning should be made: once committed to meta-religion, you will be "locked out" of conventional religious practice. There is no going back.

The practitioner of a conventional religion has one great strength, and that is the body of doctrine to believe in. The committed believer can then go all in, and all problems then have answers. With the caveat, blinders must be put on so that contradictory data cannot shake the faith.

The meta-religionist must take in all data with no blinders on. This is very liberating but it "spoils" the prospect of perfection in one single religion.

Therefore the meta-religionist must trudge alone up the meta-physical mountain to the top. At the peak he will then unite with all seekers, because the goal is the the same for all.

Ta Ta, Vertical Shaft

Gagdad Bob said...

There is always a meta-:

"The search for heaven involves accepting that if it ever comes it will arrive unannounced, like an alien signal...

"Kurt Godel warned us, there would be questions we could not answer without appealing to a larger system in a universe with one puzzle nested inside another."

Typical Progressive said...

Exactly. We just need a meta-state!

Doug Saxum said...

At the peak he will then unite with all seekers, because the goal is the the same for all.

There is no uniting with Islamists because of their practice of lying to further subdue or slay every person that doesn't convert to the garbage that Mohamad brought into being.

Truth is God and G_D is truth.
There is no separation of G_D and truth.

julie said...

Doug, re. Muslims I read an interesting observation somewhere this week, that part of the reason they hate the West so much is that their definition of paradise is essentially an earthly place where they have plenty of every sort of luxury. It's hard for that to be as much of a draw when there are people - ordinary people, not just Sultans and people of authority - living pretty much that way right here and now. When you're starving, paradise is where the food is. When you're already full, a paradise of free food isn't quite as compelling.

Bob, reading that reminds me a little of the story of the woman at the well. When Christ tells her He can give her "living water," in all likelihood she pictured something like fresh water running at her house, available any time she needs it. We have that today, and so it is apparent that wasn't the sort of living water He meant. When missionaries in the Amazon translate the verse about how "in my Father's house there are many mansions," they imagined a mansion as something like the little buildings with walls and dirt floor that the missionaries lived in, and were amazed. Yet we know that simply having a bigger building and more stuff isn't at all the key to happiness, much less hope, peace, or goodness in this world. Nor is taking away those things and intentionally increasing human misery. Simply put, if your faith is in material things, it is misplaced, and therefore ultimately hopeless.

Doug Saxum said...

Julie, we cannot forget about the seventy two virgins that the martyrs receive for waging jihad.
I wonder if that is a reward for women martyrs as well?
I doubt it.

julie said...

Easy: Porn, hookers, strip clubs. If memory serves, that's how the 9/11 hijackers spent their last days before the attacks. Or consider Europe, where it seems they are allowed to take their spoil of any European woman or child with little to no repercussion.

As for Muslim women, did Mo really care what happens to them in paradise? Their lot appears to be chattel, here and there.

River Cocytus said...

Muslims, for being so 'primitive' seem to have inherited some of the cultured errors of the Hellenists (unsurprising, considering their whole work is cribbed, save some weird dreams) -- that women are basically incomplete humans. Therefore the question 'what happens to women in heaven' is about the same question as 'what happens to dogs in heaven' - obviously, they have a nice time being women, considerations for uniqueness of being are probably propositional and not terribly important.

Since we're talking about criticisms of modern science, the criticisms started quite early. If you can find the whole text, this one is good

It is an 'Examination of the Philosophy of Bacon' and touches on the fact that the Enlightenment was not so much any sort of new knowledge but a very savvy way of pretending that we didn't know anything before the Enlightenment. JDM quotes Bodley himself in a letter to Bacon:

"Permit me to tell you frankly: I cannot understand your complaints. Never has more ardour been seen in the sciences than in our days. You reproach men for neglecting experiments, and over the globe there is nothing but experiments."

Thus, the scientific method seems to have long predated the Scientific Method.

River Cocytus said...

Beware meta-religion, for esoterism does not save. This is always the problem with Christian 'orthodoxy' (small-o) -- people get caught up cataloging the things that are true Christianity, but are not able to practice it. Yet, it is not knowing a list of things which is asked of us, but of whether we knew a certain person who is 'revealed to us in the breaking of the bread.'

If your study of meta-religion doesn't do to you what it did to Schoun, that is, force you to choose a concrete path in exclusion to all others and even perhaps in exclusion to some meta-religious claims - well, what is it good for? Meta-religion likes to say there are many paths leading up the mountain, but they all go up the same mountain to the same peak -- that is well and good if so, and if any of them credibly do go up the mountain, shouldn't one simply ... go up the mountain?

There is a certain character in The Great Divorce who comes readily to mind!

Anonymous said...

Salutations All and Sundry, you Electronic Knights of the Realm!

Veterans Day! Is there anything more superb, more splendid than honor, courage, duty? My intense love to all soldiers and officers, you have served us well.

Regarding the comments:
Muslims have their doctrine to follow and this has some odious elements. However, towards the top of the meta-physical peak doctrine tends to be blown off or shed. All arrive at the summit naked as it were. Doctrines are only useful for the climb up, and are not needed at the top.

River C wrote "..Meta-religion likes to say there are many paths leading up the mountain, but they all go up the same mountain to the same peak -- that is well and good if so, and if any of them credibly do go up the mountain, shouldn't one simply ... go up the mountain?"

Yes, River. One should go up the mountain.

-Steaming Fissure


River Cocytus said...


given that the Perennial tradition does not admit all doctrines, it therefore follows that doctrine does matter. If indeed any action matters as opposed to some other action, there is a reason for it; and if there is a reason then we see that there is a distinction; and if a distinction, how should it be known unless it is taught? And how should it be taught and not be a doctrine?

So it may indeed be that whether one gives the kiss of peace with one or three kisses may in fact, rather than being something that falls away as one 'ascends', the only thing that remains.

After all, man did not fall from lack of love, but from lack of obedience. Love can be seen in this light as simply the strongest form of loyalty -- "if ye love me, keep my commandments."

Anonymous said...

Islam doesn't seem as well thought out. Christians may shun their apostates, but they usually leave the door open for reconciliation. Sharia just wants you to kill them, excepting for various conditions which could keep lawyers busy. Islam can be seen as an attempt at 'improving' or 'correcting' Christianity, as Mormonism is. But their prophets sure do seem like they were trying to rationalize their religion for their own personal selfish purposes. Were those "prophets" DK or something else?

Christina M said...

I'm grateful for the Trinity and for those who deduced it.