Saturday, October 19, 2019

Plans and Miracles

Just an old post because I woke up too late for a new one. However, it's pretty much timeless, so there's that. It's timeless because we'll always have the same problems, and even worse, politicians who claim to be able to solve them,

For Voegelin, man's existence is a search for order. Throughout most of history, and in most civilizations, this order was (and is) imposed from on high.

While these orders may have initially emerged spontaneously, they eventually become crystalized around things other than the engendering truth(s) they are supposed to reflect. Voegelin's entire corpus is the residue of his search for order -- as is the Knowa's Arkive and Seer's Catalogue of soiled bobservations. Here at One Cosmos we're always looking for the deeper order of things, and then the Orderer of that order.

At issue in the current presidential campaign [this was in 2012, but it applies equally today] is two fundamentally different orders, one that relies on liberty, talent, initiative, self-mastery, and the spontaneous order of the free market; the other of which champions an order imposed upon us by the state, which consists of elites who have a special insight into the order of things, and who do not trust the individual to arrive at this order on his own.

This dialectic has been present throughout history, the reason being that it is present in each human subject. For just as society is man writ large, man is a micro-society. There are various ways to describe this tension in man, but it essentially comes down to individualism <---> socialism, which I would suggest is ultimately rooted in male <---> female (or, more abstractly, contained <---> container).

For example, when people speak of a "nanny state," they are intuiting and expressing a genuine truth about the deep order of things.

Due to a semantic confusion introduced over the past several decades, there has been a reversal of what the words "liberal" and "conservative" signify. As a result, it is conservatives who are champions of change and progress (especially via the free market), liberals who wish to resist change by imposing a static, top-down order on the rest of us.

Let me provide a historical example. As mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm reading this history of Prussia, and last night was learning about the revolutionary movements of the mid-19th century.

Among other things, what these liberals -- radicals -- were demanding was a fixed constitution, freedom of expression, and a political order rooted in common language and values, rather than one imposed by a distant state.

Furthermore, "liberals argued that industrialization and mechanization were the cure for, not the cause of, the social crisis, and called for the removal of government regulations that hindered investment and obstructed economic growth."

"Conservatives," on the other hand, were what we now call leftists: they -- ironically, along with the Marxists (or left Hegelians) -- argued "that the responsibility for arresting the polarization of society must lie with the state as the custodian of the general interest."

Some of the latter were proponents of authoritarian enlightenment, and "favoured the use of illiberal means to achieve progressive ends." Today [in 2019] it's the same story: none of the Democrat candidates for president are liberals, but rather, illiberal authoritarians. Human nature never changes or it wouldn't exist, for a changing nature is no nature at all.

From the peculiar psyche of Hegel came the argument that the state "was an organism possessing will, rationality and purpose. Its destiny -- like that of any living thing -- was to change, grow and progressively develop. The state was 'the power of reason actualising itself as will'; it was a transcendent domain in which the alienated, competitive 'particular interests' of civil society merged into coherence and identity."

Hegel was the first assoul to suggest that "the state had a quasi-divine purpose; it was 'God's march through the world'... by which the multitude of subjects who constituted civil society was redeemed into universality." The state is "the highest expression of the ethical substance of a people, the unfolding of a transcendent and rational order..."

Now, just subtract "God," and you have the modern left. Nevertheless, the left always imbues the the state with divine-like properties. Literally, if you've read your Hayek. For example, they say Elizabeth Warren has "a plan for everything," as if this is a good thing! In truth, each of her plans is founded upon a presumption that she possesses knowledge that no human being can ever possess.

The left calls them "plans." We call them ordered stupidity. And they always lead to deeper disorder.


--To be a conservative is to understand that man is a problem without a human solution.

--Politics is not the art of imposing the best solutions, but of blocking the worst.

--In history it is sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans (Dávila).

In this sense, the election of 2016 was a miracle. Let's hope for an even bigger one in 2020.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Narcissism + Idolatry = Infinite Stupidity

I guess we've been going around a hermeneutical circle between common sense in the abstract (Curry), the concrete consequences of the left's abandonment of common sense and plunge into insanity (Murray), and the metaphysical roots of common sense situated far above in the "principial realm," so to speak (Clarke).

Which reminds me of a little visual aid in one of Schuon's books. Or maybe I'm just imagining it. Let's start with the division between Creator and creation, or God and existence:

Creator / God / One / Absolute / O _________________________

Creation / Existence / many / relative / Ø

Now, irrespective of how fervently you may deny it, this is the deepest deep structure of things. There is always an absolute above and a relative below, on pain of the world being completely unintelligible and thought -- intelligence -- being strictly impossible.

However, there are additional subdivisions that we don't generally think about. For example, Christianity situates a paradoxical "division" in the upper realm; of course, it's not really a division -- a distinction, rather -- but one could say the same of the entire scheme, if one is looking at it through the lens of immanence.

In other words, immanence is the principle of continuity whereby God is in all things, and yet, the sum of all things is not equivalent to God. Conversely (or better, complementarily), transcendence goes to the principle of discontinuity whereby there is a radical breach between Creator and creation.

Come to think if it, transcendence is also to apophatic (negative) theology what immanence is to cataphatic (positive) theology. Which means there is a kind of O/Ø dialectic or dynamism within the Godhead, certainly from our perspective. In other words, whatever we can know or say of God is dwarfed by what we can't.

Nevertheless, we can still say a lot. Indeed, what we can say is literally inexhaustible; "relatively infinite" you might say, in the sense that all of the poems, melodies, stories, jokes, and paintings added together don't put even a tiny dent in the divine plenitude.

Nor, for that matter, does the entire world, which obviously cannot exhaust the divine creativity. You might say that the whole of creation is merely a visible symptom of God's unending creativity, or that the manifest is like a little bubble on the surface the unmanifest. We can intuit this whenever we "get beneath the surface" of something, or in other words, begin to transcend the appearances for the reality. Bear in mind that there is literally "no end" to this transcendence except in God.

In other words, what I'm trying to convey here, is that transcendence is rooted somewhere, and it is obviously not in matter. Now, man qua man is a transcendental being; to be a man is to enter transcendence via language, meaning, concepts, essences, etc. If we couldn't do this -- and even infants can do it -- we would be reduced to animality.

So, I should think that the first thing you want to do when you ask "what is a man?" is to ask "what (and how!) is transcendence?" It's very simple, really, in that there are only two possibilities: either transcendence is reduced to immanence and is thereby no longer transcendence; or it is anchored "above" in that creative / principial / absolute domain.

Actually, I forgot that there exists a third path, and this is faith of the credo ut intelligam variety, i.e., "I believe that I may understand" (and know). The way I sees it, it is as if religious doctrine is like a.... hmm, what is it like? How about perspectival painting, whereby a three dimensional reality is conveyed on a two-dimensional surface?

Come to think of it, the really gifted painter -- or photographer, for that matter -- conveys more than three dimensions in a painting, and I'm not just talking about motion. Rather, he can depict the invisible interior of the subject. Why, it reminds me of an aphorism or three:

--Without aesthetic transfiguration all of reality is pedestrian.

--Strictly speaking, the work of art does not have a meaning but rather a power.

--The existence of a work of art demonstrates that the world has meaning. Even if it does not say what that meaning is (Dávila).

I don't mean to pick on such a low-hanging brute, but imagine living inside the head of a Labron James, whose intelligence, as it were, doesn't transcend anything outside or beyond a 94' x 50' hunk of wood. But he's hardly alone in this respect. To cite another aphorism,

--Nothing proves more the limits of science [or any other subcelestial discipline] than the scientist’s opinions about any topic that is not strictly related to his profession (Dávila).

Which simply means that so-called experts generally cannot transcend their own expertise, but rather, are confined to a reality tunnel forged with one part narcissism and one part idolatry.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

To Woo Woo, and Beyond!

Political correctness is many things: shaming mechanism, conformity enforcer, social controller, internalized tyrant, matrix guardian, a war on noticing. It is also

quite simply a war on common sense. It is a war by elites on the common people and on the shared understanding of basic realities of life that has made it possible for us to rule ourselves under the Constitution (Curry).

Why does it even exist? And why do we allow it to exist?

In my view it can only exist because it rides piggyback on our deeper structure, which is to say, our existence as a social animal. First of all, this rubric doesn't quite capture the essence, since bees, ants, and wolves are all social animals, and yet there is an obvious x-factor that distinguishes us from all other animals (and ultimately I would say that these lower creatures are prolongations of us, not vice versa, just as we are vertical prolongations of the Creator).

In reality we are irreducibly intersubjective animals, which is our main distinguishing feature; it is a necessary condition of personhood, i.e., a condition without which humanness would be impossible, irrespective of the size of our brains or degree of intelligence. In turn, this is rooted in a trinitarian metaphysic whereby each person is a member of the others. You could say that the Persons are analogous to particles, while their substance is the wave, with neither being antecedent.

These ideas are lucidly and concisely expressed in Norris Clarke's little gem of a book, Person and Being, so I'm not just making this up. Or at least someone else agrees with me.

Clarke notes that while Christian thinkers of the past "developed a relational notion of the person for use in theology," they failed to exploit it "adequately, if at all, in their philosophical analyses of the person." He cites Ratzinger, who "calls for a new, explicitly relational conception of the very nature of the person as such, wherein relationality [becomes] an equally primordial aspect of the person as substantiality."

That's the key: ultimate reality is substance-and-relation. Beyond here lies nothing. Here again, note how, to this day, physicists will say that quantum reality is paradoxically particle and wave, and that if you claim to understand how this could be, it proves that you haven't understood it.

Well, it is only paradoxical if one persists in looking at it through the Newtonian lens of logical atomism. If instead one peers at it through the macroscope of metacosmic personhood -- of substance-and-relation -- it not only makes sense, but is necessary to be this way in order for us to participate in it via the experience of knowing it. Obviously, we can only know anything about anything because the universe speaks and human beings are uniquely able to hear it. That is so queer, and yet, hardly anyone notices.

In the relational metaphysic implicit in trinitarian theology "lies concealed a revolution in man's view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality" (Ratzinger, in Clarke).

That little paragraph is worth putting in the comment box, unless we find a better one as we proceed. Clarke goes on to say that God's own act -- and God is pure act -- is "intrinsically ordered toward self-communication." We might say that the microperson (us) reflects the macroPerson (God), such that in both there is an "indissoluble complementarity of substantiality, the in-itself dimension of being, and relationality, the towards-others aspect."

That really says it all. Although one can always say more, since we're dealing here with the Infinite. For example, "the intrinsic self-diffusiveness of the Good turns into personal love, self-communicative love." Reality is generous, generative, and genesis, all at the same time(less).

This post has gotten totally out of hand, as we've veered from what we hoped would be the practical and concrete (common sense) to the farthest edge of the pneumosphere, where most earthlings can hardly breathe. Oh well. Might as well go with it, and come back to our original point in a subsequent post.

For what the doctrine of the Trinity means is that the very inner nature of the Supreme Being itself -- even before its overflow into creation -- is an ecstatic process (beyond time and change) of self-communicating love....

Thus the very inner life of God himself, the supreme fullness of what it means to be, is by its very nature, self-communicative Love, which then subsequently flows over freely in the finite self-communication that is creation. No wonder then, that self-communication is written into the very heart of all beings, as finite but positive images of their Source (Clarke).

No wonder! Or better, no stopping it. Will wonder never cease? I hope not. It means you're doing -- or being -- it wrong.

Now, the only caveat I would add has to do with Clarke's little qualifier "beyond time and change," because I suspect that analogues of these exist in God, only as perfections, not in any way privations.

Indeed, to say that "it is necessary for God to Create" does not impose any kind of privation on God, but rather, is the perfection of a necessity of the divine nature: God is who He is, for which reason he never stops (nor starts) doing what He does. Creation has no beginning nor any end, and heaven is our loving participation in this. In my opinion.