Friday, August 30, 2019

Who's on First? And How?

Yesterday on the way to work I had two possibly related thoughtlets that may possibly relate to the post we are about to read, or at least I'll try to relate them. The first was in the form of a question, Man minus God = what? In cosmo-metasymbolic terms, we could represent the equation as ʘ - O = •. Now, what is • without O?

Think about it. You won't have to think too long before coming to the realization that it can only be nothing. Or anything, depending upon how you look at it.

Which very much relates to our second thoughtlet, the innocent sounding affirmation that You have to start somewhere. For where one starts will determine, among other things, where one ends. For example, in the words of the Aphorist,

The philosopher who adopts scientific notions has predetermined his conclusions.

This is quite literally true. Limited to the scientific method, one can't even say that knowledge should be limited to what the scientific method can prove. In other words, to affirm that science = truth is to have left the scientific method far behind and below. One is up in the world of metaphysics, but anchored to what? Science minus metaphysics = what? Nothing. For

Without philosophy, the sciences do not know what they know (NGD).

Would it also be accurate to say that the philosopher who adopts transnatural metaphysical notions has predetermined his conclusions? No, not at all. It's called being curious, and not prematurely filling the space of curiosity with some arbitrary answer just to make one's epistemic anxiety go away. Not only is it okay to not know the answer, it's mandatory!

Speaking of cluelessness, I read this morning that AOC wakes up at 3:30 AM due to anxiety over climate change. Now, since the dawn of history women have been waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety. What distinguishes anxiety from fear is that the latter is a physiological response to a real external threat, whereas anxiety is a physiological response that attaches itself to some external cause in order to explain itself to itself.

Think of the millions of leftists who are afraid that our president is a "white supremacist." Being that he is obviously nothing of the sort, this represents the projection of a spurious cause to explain the effect. But the effect -- the anxiety -- comes first. Which means that "white supremecism" is actually the effect of the anxiety, not vice versa. If you eliminated white supremacism, then the anxiety would simply attach itself to some other phantom, say, Russian collusion, or mental incompetence, or whatever the next one will be.

Likewise, "climate change" is the effect, not the cause, of AOC's anxiety. She mentions being anxious for her potential family, which is closer to the real cause, since all young women are concerned about their present or future children, whether consciously or unconsciously. Motherhood is a real archetype, and you can't get around it by projecting it into the weather, any more than a beta male can get around the father archetype by, say, embracing a purely maternal socialism. In that case, the archetype will just return in monstrous form (as in the case of fatherless children, whose father often reappears in the form of prison).

Where do we begin? In the past, we've batted around Stanley Jaki's idea that most philosophers begin on second or third base without ever explaining how they arrived at first. Indeed, some imagine they have gotten all the way home!

This is no joke. Then again, it is. Think of the modern atheist crowd, i.e., Hitchens-Harris-Dawkins & Dennett. "God doesn't exist." That's what you call an epistemological round-tripper, or home run.

Okay, fine. But if you know anything about baseball, you will have noticed that even if the ball sails out of the park, the hitter must nevertheless touch all the bases, including home plate. If he fails to do so, then the run doesn't count, no matter how far the ball went.

Analogously, to say "God doesn't exist" is to have hit the ball clear out of the cosmic stadium. But this doesn't change the rules: you still have to get to first base. Which is to say, a Darwinian monkey has to know things that no Darwinian monkey could ever know. Or, in order for atheism to be true, a miraculous transformation must occur between the monkey in batter's box and the man on first base.

Now that I think about it, the rules of baseball explain everything. There is a pitcher; there is a batter; and there is a ball. The pitcher is being, or reality; the ball is objects, or intelligible things; and the batter is intelligence, or the human person. You could even say that different bats -- or different ways of hitting the ball -- correspond to different disciplines, e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, etc.

Extending the analogy, physicists in particular imagine they are the cleanup hitter, the one who drives in all the runs. But this can't be true. In reality, they are the leadoff man who simply tries to get on base by any means necessary. Physics is not and cannot be a home run; more like a modest blooper or bunt single. Assuming physics gets on base, you still need metaphysics to drive him home. Here is how Jaki describes it:

Unfortunately, much of philosophy, especially in modern times, has come to resemble more and more a spurious baseball game: there the opposing teams (schools of philosophy) assume without further ado, that one can get to first base without first hitting a real ball...

Indeed, postmodernism in general and deconstruction in particular begin with the assumption that there is no real ball to begin with. Really, it's baseball reduced to Calvinball, such that anybody can get on base any time for any reason. As such, it's no longer a game, just a scramble for power. As in socialism, it's not a game, but there are surely winners and losers.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 25, 2019

What's the Point?

What is the point of existing, or worse yet, knowing one exists?

First, we can all agree that existence either has or doesn't have a Point. However, this doesn't necessarily imply that we could ever know -- or not know -- it. Absent an outside perspective, both theism and atheism would be equally pointless.

In other words, existence might have a Point we can never know. Conversely, we could mistakenly believe it hasn't a Point when it actually has one. Or at least has a plausible alibi.

Most people have the intuition that existence has a Point, but can this intuition be trusted, much less verified?

Mere reason is powerless to determine whether or not there is a Point, first, because reason can only draw conclusions from premises provided from elsewhere (often from intuition), and second, because it cannot adopt a stance from outside the total cosmic system, and render judgment on the totality of which it is only a part. The moment you posit a "theory of everything," you've transcended the theory.

In short, if Gödel didn't exist, we'd have to invent him.

More generally, people will deploy reason to prove the truth of this or that intuition, the latter of which can emanate from spheres above or below the realm of reason per se.

The latter is called "rationalization" (i.e., reasoning from below), and is only a caricature of the real thing. The former is called various things, including intellection, infused contemplation, mystical contact, and floating upon the currents of the slackstream.

This just highlights the fact that we have various sources of information -- interior and exterior, subjective and objective, vertical and horizontal, empirical and suprasensible -- that we draw upon and toss into the cognitive hopper in order to come up with the Answer and thereby see the Point.

Here at One Cosmos we never restrict ourselves to just one or two or three sources, but give an honest hearing to all of them.

Revelation is one such source we may draw upon. In fact, it is the only source -- and only possible source -- that is presupposed to emanate from outside the total cosmic system, and therefore the only information that can truly bear upon our opening question about the Point of existence.

You could put it conversely, and affirm that if we can know the Point, then it can only be via revelation in some form or fashion. I would widen this out and say that, to the extent that we can know anything, it is because God knows. If God doesn't know, then neither do we. And if there is no God, then there is no real knowledge and therefore no point.

Or again, to put it conversely, knowledge is always of reality. If we can distinguish appearances from reality -- and we can -- it is only because we transcend appearances. I am reminded of an Aphorism:

The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality (NGD).

Or, the universe has a point if it is appearance, but has no point if it is the reality. Which is why the very first sentence of Genesis makes the point that the universe is not the ultimate reality, but rather, has a source that utterly transcends it.

Now, the Point, if it be the real thing, won't just appear at the "end" of the cosmic process. By way of analogy, the point of a novel doesn't just abruptly appear on the last page, disconnected from everything that has preceded it.

Rather, in hindsight it will be seen that the end was there all along, shaping the narrative and infusing it with drive, coherence, meaning, and purpose. Again, there are hints along the way, but only at the end do we acquire the area rug that pulls the whole room together.

Think, for example, of the first generation of Christians who were shocked to discover the abundance of meaning in the Previous Testament which had eluded them before. In this way, the novel events of those three days in particular had the effect of utterly transforming the past, so to speak. Who says you can't change the past? It's what the future does. And the future always begins now.

Now, since the present is always changing, this changes the meaning of the events leading up to it. One can only understand the meaning of something by allowing its effects to play out.

Ratzinger notes that for Christianity, the convergence of person and cosmos -- of anthropology and cosmology -- is the end of "the world." The revelation of the unity of the two reveals that this unity has been the goal all along, precisely:

Cosmos and man, which already belong to each other even though they so often stand opposed to one another, become one through their "complexification" in the larger entity of the love that... goes beyond and encompasses bios....

Thus it becomes evident here once again how very much end-eschatology and the breakthrough represented by Jesus' Resurrection are in reality one and the same thing; it becomes clear once again that the New Testament rightly depicts the Resurrection as the eschatological happening.

In other words: the Resurrection is the unsurpassable end and meaning of existence. It certainly meets the criteria mentioned above, in that it isn't something we could ever know, much less accomplish, on our own, and is indeed an ingression from outside the total cosmic system, one that has the effect of transforming existence and revealing the point of what went before.

Or put it this way: there really is no point if we can't know -- and more to the point -- participate in and even become it.

Christ was in history like a point on a line. But his redemptive act is to history as the center is to the circumference (NGD).

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