Saturday, April 06, 2019

Restating Some Truths that Go Without Saying

Here is an "old" post from about seven years ago, but it is exactly the sort of post I'm looking for, since it hasn't aged, but rather, is eternally young because eternally true, i.e., close to the Source of thought itself.

Or, you could say it is eternally old -- Ancient of Days, so to speak -- which I do not mean in a self-aggrandizing manner, God forbid, but in a strictly soph-aggrandizing manner, God permit.

O Wisdom which reaches with strength from one end of the world to the other and makes extremes one! --Jacques Maritain

It seems to me that everything hinges upon whether or not man may know. If we cannot know, then our whole pretentious house of cards collapses, and we are reduced to competing forms of nihilism, or survival of the faddiest and frivolest. But if we can know, then...


To approach this question is truly to begin at the beginning, because no other questions can be answered until we establish the fact that questions are answerable -- i.e., that man may possess true knowledge of himself and of the world (which must -- somehow! -- be real reflections of one another).

Indeed, some thinkers believe we must go even further back, and first establish the existence of the world. For example, this is what Kant does, and concludes that it doesn't exist. That being the case, we cannot know anything about it. The end.

That's an exaggeration, but only an uncharitable one. The point is that Kant placed a dark line between What Is (noumena) and What We May Know About It (phenomena), which ultimately results in an unbridgeable chasm between the two -- between being (ontology) and knowing (epistemology).

Yes, we can still "know" under Kant's restrictions, but this knowledge is ultimately of our own neuropsychology, not of the Real. We don't perceive the world as it is, rather, only (through) our categories. We are in the position of a submarine captain who navigates by instrument but never sees or touches water.

Since truth is the conformity of mind to reality, the very notion of truth is poisoned at the root. Thought and Thing go through an ugly divorce, and Thing gets to keep all the real properties to herself, since you Kant take 'em with you. Man becomes closed upon himself, and tenure takes care of the rest.

The whole travesty can be boiled down even further, which is why I developed my irritating system of unsaturated pneumaticons. For truly, it all comes down to O or Ø, does it not? (To be perfectly accurate, note that while Ø -- the relative -- is a necessary consequence of O, the absurdity of "pure Ø" denies the very possibility of absoluteness. Which is what is meant by the phrase: tenure is forever.)

For Kant, while O supposedly exists (hello, noumena!), there is absolutely nothing we can know or say about it.

But isn't knowing nothing about something the same as not knowing if it exists? In other words, you can't have knowledge of an unknowable world. But still, our postmodernists insist with a straight farce on calling their omniscient ignorance knowledge.

Now, even if we ultimately conclude with our benighted friends that we may only have knowledge of phenomena, we shouldn't start there, because we cannot start there. In other words all men -- as men -- start with the pre-philosophical and pre-scientific conviction that of course there's a real world, doofus. WTF are you talking about?

Indeed, it takes many years of schooling to eradicate this conviction and replace it with its converse. Of course, no one actually believes it, but that's the subject of a different post. Let's just stick with what people think they believe.

"Every metaphysics that is not measured by the mystery of what is, but by the state of positive science at such and such an instant, is false from the beginning" (ibid.). Man is uniquely instructed by O, which is why the rigorous discipline of Truth is a transfiguring and purifying process. For man, as he inevitably finds himself in the herebelow, is a mixture of substance and accident, or truth and error.

Let us suppose that man may know. But what does this mean, to know? What is going on when we know something? The answer isn't obvious -- at least not anymore -- but for Maritain it is an irreducibly spiritual event through and through. For

"There is a vigorous correspondance between knowledge and immateriality. A being is known to being to the extent that it is immaterial."

This formulation, so obvious to common sense, is nevertheless filled with paradoxes that need to be resolved. For example, "to know is to be in a certain way something other than what one is: it is to become a thing other than the self..." Thus, knowledge isn't the thing, but nor is it the self. So what is it?

Being is, indeed, the proper object of the intellect.... [T]he intellect, if I may say so, "loops the loop," in coming back, to grasp metaphysically and transcendentally, to that very same thing which was first given to it in its first understanding of the sensible. --Maritain

I assume this is to be continued. But I suspect it ultimately goes to the trinitarian character of reality, or to the Subject, the Object, and the Truth that flows within and between them.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Catch of the Day: The Moon in the Man

My deep dive into the archive may or may not result in a book. But perhaps I can make mysoph useful by reposting essays that meet the Current Standard. I try to review about two weeks of posts per day, and the following from 2011 is the best of today's batch:

Whereas the Moon has to do with reflected, i.e., lunar, knowledge, the Sun has to do with direct perception of truth or reality (which are two sides of the same goround). Obviously, we can see much better when the sun is out and shining.

Or can we? If the sun is too bright, we cannot see at all, as in snowblindness. At the very least, it overpowers more subtle sources of light -- other heavenly bodies that are present but hidden.

After all, it is not as if the cosmos is simply divided into God/not-God, or Creator/creature. Yes, you can certainly look at it that way, and it is not absolutely false to do so. But in so doing, you will miss all the gradations and details of the cosmic hierarchy.

In a way, this is the inverse error of positivism or scientism, whereby the person accepts only empirically verifiable statements or acknowledges only material reality. Do this, and you cut yourself off from the wealth of truth that may be found in literature, art, music, poetry, and religion.

You might say that "religionism" focuses on the absolute sun to the exclusion of the relative moon, while scientism focuses on the relative moon to the exclusion of the absolute sun. The latter can have no real truth, since lunar light obviously presupposes the sun. Science cannot furnish its own light, any more than can the moon.

One can even extend this into politics, in that moonbats need conservatives, whereas conservatives have no need of moonbats. It is not a reversible relation, since moonbats need the wealth of productive citizens in order to "redistribute" it, whereas productive citizens do not need unproductive parasites in order to create wealth. The left eventually runs out of other people's money, but we will never run out of people who want other people's money.

Likewise, the left is every bit as dependent upon truth as we are, otherwise they wouldn't know what to suppress or ban.

Regarding those lesser cosmic lights between sun and earth, you may recall that in the bʘʘk I made reference to "the helpful nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist you." How does that work? Our Discarnate Acquaintance explains how in the following passage:

You venerate (i.e., love and respect) a non-incarnated being -- a departed person, a saint, a hierarchical being -- in a disinterested manner. Your veneration -- which includes love, respect, gratitude, the desire to conform, etc. -- cannot fail to create an invisible link of sympathy with its object. It may be in a subtle and dramatic way, or rather in a slow, gradual and almost imperceptible way -- this does not matter -- the day will come when you will experience the presence.

This is nothing like a "phantom," "ghost," or some other apparition, but rather, is "a breath of radiant serenity, of which you know with certain knowledge that the source from which it emanates is not at all in you. It influences and fills you but does not take its origin in you; it comes from outside you. Just as in drawing near to a fireplace, that the warmth you feel does not arise from you, but rather from the fireplace, so also do you feel that the breath of serenity in question is due to an objective presence."

Once this nonlocal rapport is established, "it is up to you to remain silently concentrated so that the relationship established is subsequently developed, i.e., that it gains in intensity and clarity -- that it becomes a meeting in full consciousness."

Recall what was said yesterday about the person internalizing a relationship between two poles. For just as a relationship can be mediated by love, two can be bound by hatred. Just as, say, a sexually repressed man may chose to be around women who reject him (so as to externalize the conflict), a dysfunctional people, such as the Palestinians, have formed a truly unbreakable bond with Israel. Hatred makes one believe insane things [think, for example, of all the insanities Democrats believe about Trump; we might well envy them their childlike faith, just not its object.]

For the neurotic person, such an unhealthy bond can be every bit as robust and enduring as a healthy one; in fact, in a sense even stronger, since healthy love eventually transcends its immediate object and points to its divine source, whereas the unhealthy kind is solely focused on its local object, which leads to all sorts of other secondary and tertiary pathologies.

For If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors.

And The human has the insignificance of a swarm of insects when it is merely human. --NGD

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