Saturday, October 31, 2020

Metapolitics, Schrödinger's Cosmos, & 15 Years of Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

"Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene" is the title Thomas Sowell used for columns consisting of unconnected observations about this and that. Same.  Except in our case we are explicitly coming at it from a vertical perspective.  Therefore, the observations aren't from within the scene but from above it.  If we may say so oursoph. 

It's the difference between being involved in a trainwreck vs. sitting atop a hill and seeing that two trains below are about to collide.  You might think that a passenger on one of the trains has more personal information about the wreck.  He does, in a way, right up to the moment he perishes in the crash. 

As we've suggested before, an eyewitness to the Crucifixion would have more personal information about it than do we.  Then again, not.  At all, really.  Except one of the criminals adjacent to Christ. He gets it.

Just so, politics looks very different from within than it does from above.  Metapolitics.  I've never used that word before, nor do I recall hearing it used.  Is it a thing?  Surely it must be, since it has been one of the main preoccupations of the blog lo these fifteen years.

Fifteen years! My son is fifteen. I started blogging when he was six months old.  That is a crazy thing to think about.  So I won't.  

By the way, consider this an open thread with a long addendum.  Feel free to ignore the addendum.  I'm just typing what comes into my head, which is disrespectful to the reader.  

It's just that we're in a kind of Schrödinger's Cosmos moment, aren't we?  One way or another, the future is bearing in on us like... like two freight trains on the same track.  One of them will crush the other.  I just can't make out which one at the moment.   My ears tell me one thing, my eyes another.  

Back to metapolitcs.  An amazon search produces 39 results.  Let's have a looksee if no one else is in our tree.

This first book sounds promising:  it is "a searing" -- searing, I tell you! -- "critique of liberalism" that "discusses the limits of political philosophy."  Uh oh. Postmodern gibberish ahead:

Metapolitics argues that one of the main tasks of contemporary thought is to abolish the idea that politics is merely an object for philosophical reflection. Badiou indicts this approach, which reduces politics to a matter of opinion, thus eliminating any of its truly radical and emancipatory possibilities.

Against this intellectual tradition, Badiou proposes instead the consideration of politics in terms of the production of truth and the affirmation of equality. He demands that the question of a possible “political truth” be separated from any notion of consensus or public opinion, and that political action be rethought in terms of the complex process that binds discussion to decision.

Starting from this analysis, Badiou critically examines the thought of anthropologist and political theorist Sylvain Lazarus, Jacques Rancière’s writings on workers’ history and democratic dissensus, the role of the subject in Althusser, as well as the concept of democracy and the link between truth and justice.

Indict. Emancipatory. Production of truth. Dissensus.  These are postmodern dogwhistles one can assemble in any order and get published in a major academic journal.  Another reviewer finds

very intriguing the idea that politics needs to work at the level of thinkability and not at the level of material practice. To align politics with thought, he turns to a language of naming, a language that refers not to what things are, but what things could possibly be. Names must be localized within multiplicities. In abstract terms, this makes sense.

Well, if that's case, then stop making sense.  This next reviewer makes just as much:

Badiou's work is often both refreshing in its Platonic instance of the reality of abstractions and the importance of ontology of events and truth-procedures, and infuriating in that he often makes bold claims without explicit argumentation using a methodology of suture to lay philosophy out as meta-truth procedure. 

We all have our pet peeves. One of mine is people who use a methodology of suture to lay philosophy out as a meta-truth procedure. 

Suffice it to say, none of this is in our attractor. Let's move on. The next book is one called Metapolitics: The Roots of the Nazi Mind. It has only one review, but the reviewer is pretty worked up about it. He claims the author is "a polemicist with an extremely conservative cultural, religious and political agenda, smearing with a proto-Nazi tag those aesthetic and cultural movements that he happens to dislike."

Sounds like one of those typical left wingers who doesn't understand that fascism is obviously of the left. 

If I were a clinical psychologist, I might suggest to this fellow that polemicism, religiosity, and smearing are indeed going on.  They are "present," so to speak, in the space between you and the book. But we need to be patient about their source and vector.  So let's just explore them together, and not just assume they're emanating from outside your own mind.  (In short, you can't just come out and tell a leftist he's projecting; rather, you have to lead him slowly to this ego- and ideology-shattering insight.)

Now I'm reminded of an old gag. Can't recall who made it -- sounds like Whitehead, or maybe Chesterton -- but it goes something like this:  every historian has a bee in his bonnet. When you read his work, listen for the buzzing.  The buzzing is his vision, his conception of the whole.  His metahistory, you might say.  

Why else would he get so worked up about it? We're essentially talking about a religious category, or rather, a naive secular category unreflectively imbued with religious energy.  

Here's one called There is No Life without Metapolitics.  Couldn't agree more.  Life is far too interesting to merely live it.  Rather, it must be "meta-lived," as it were.  To paraphrase one of our founding Raccoons, Socrates, the anti-meta-life is scarcely worth living.

Anyway, this one is described as a "lined notebook for writing & note taking," and a "funny journal for metapolitics lovers." In other words, it is a potential space for incoming vertical murmurandoms.   Like this blog.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Truth is Priceless. For Everything Else There's Blustercard

Yesterday at Instapundit I was uncharacteristically drawn into a moronic debate, this one about music. I almost never get into online arguments, because they are utterly pointless.  At least a decade ago I realized I had never once lost such an argument; but that never once had my opponent realized he had been vanquished. So why waste one's time and energy?   

Instead, I try to hone my neurons and keep the synapses in shape by coming up with a pointed gag or zinger or quasi-infallible aphorism a la Dávila.  These are not for the edification of their recipient. Rather, just a regimen to keep my mind, you know, uh, limber.  

This mirrors a much larger cultural phenomenon having to do with... with everything, right?  I don't want to take this post in that direction.  Too big a subject.  Suffice it to say that

Engaging in dialogue with those who do not share our assumptions is nothing more than a stupid way to kill time (Dávila).

This being the case, the only truly fruitful argument would be one regarding first principles.  I literally cannot conceive of any argument that could alter mine. I'll still hear them out, of course, but these are nearly always just ancient sophistries dressed in modern garb.  I suppose I'm pleased that there are conservatives who enjoy doing intellectual combat with our modern and postmodern sophists. I'm just not one of them. For  

Agreement is eventually possible between intelligent men because intelligence is a conviction they share.

BUT

Intelligence is a train from which few do not deboard, one after the other, in successive stations.

That is such an important wisecrack.  Take two people, each with an IQ of 145 or so, which is to say, three standard deviations above the mean.  Math is hard, but if I remember correctly, only around one in a thousand people fall into this range.  But ask these two about the nature of reality, and you are liable to be given answers that utterly contradict one another.

Conclusion: no amount of intelligence discloses the nature of reality.  But because I know this and they don't, I'm smarter than people who are smarter than I am!  Woo hoo!

What's really going on here?  What is really going on is that intelligence isn't just anything, at least in my cosmos.  Here we believe that intelligence is not intelligent unless it is an adequation.    If it is not an adequation, then it really is just about power, or status, or chicks.  Getting them, that is.  The rest is just for show -- to deceive the public and to fool each other.  

By the way, one reason President Trump drives journalists crazy is that he is a bull in their china shop of unearned status.  He is revealing these mediocrities to be what they are merely by his existence:  mediacretins.

Here is our first principle, more or less: that the object of intelligence is being; and that the subject of being is intelligence.  Conformity of the two is what we call "truth." And truth is certain, or it is not worthy of the name.  (Of course, there are relative truths, but they are nonetheless true because they are relative to Truth as such.)

Now, in the words of the Aphorist, 

Nearly every idea is an overdrawn check that circulates until it is presented for payment.

What does he mean by this?  Let's say I'm a naive metaphysical Darwinian.  I have written a check to the First Bank of Natural Selection that claims "humanness" is entirely reducible to selfish genes.   The check bounces.  It comes back to me with a note, "insufficient funds."

What happened?  I'm sure I had sufficient funds to cover the check: my portfolio is quite diversified and includes status, tenure, conventional wisdom, conformity to my peers, the climate of opinion, even some junk metaphysics in a hedge fund.

You forgot one thing: the nature of what is, and how we may know it.  How is this possible if Darwinism is true?   Not only have you been living on credit, you are actually as bankrupt as California would be if it were honest about its literally unpayable debts. 

But here is what I don't understand: this post was supposed to be about music. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Eternal Clash of the Imbeciles

First, my unsolicited and entirely predictable take on last night's presidential debate -- and on every presidential debate, past and future.  In the words of Señor Dávila: 

The approval of imbeciles is the final factor in victories.

Of course I hope these imbeciles decide to pull the lever for Trump -- assuming they know how -- but they're imbeciles nonetheless.  Imagine how stupid one must be to not know whether or not one is a leftist!   And yet, the question of whether or not the United States will continue to exist as the United States is in the hands of these oblivious low- and no-fos.  

The principles that define left and right are deep, wide, pervasive, and irreconcilable.  Last night's moderator was, like Chris Wallace, another leftwing imbecile, but her final question was particularly imbecilic -- something along the lines of "if you win the election, what will you say to reassure those who didn't vote for you?"

There is nothing Biden could say to reassure me. Unless maybe he renounces Satan, which I don't see happening.   

Speaking of whom, let's get back to his revolutionary activity. 

No, wait.  One more thing.  What would Gagdad say to reassure those who despair at the prospect of a President Harris?  Once again, I will channel the good Señor.  I would draw from my own Book of Pointed Gags & Wisecracks, but they're too scattered and disorganized for quick reference:
Christianity does not solve “problems”; it merely obliges us to live them at a higher level.

The conservative is a simple pathologist. He defines sickness and health. But God is the only therapist.

I do not belong to a world that perishes. I extend and transmit a truth that does not die.

Defeats are never definitive when they are accepted with good humor.

With good humor and pessimism it is possible to be neither wrong nor bored.

Resignation must not be an exercise in stoicism but a surrender into divine hands.
There's another principle I like to keep in mind: that that which cannot continue will not continue.  After all, I live in California, which is a daily experiment in trying to prove that the impossible is possible, e.g., mandatory electric cars when there's not enough electricity to keep the lights on, or open borders when there's not enough water for existing citizens, or more funds for public employee unions when we've already accumulated $1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion) in unfunded pensions.  

Which of course is why Nancy Pelosi is trying to lard the COVID relief bill with bailouts for Democrat run disasters such as California and New York.   

Back to the book we were discussing in the previous post, Revolution and Counter-Revolution.  I'm going to cut to the chase and give my bottom-line take before I proceed to defend it:  when we talk about the demonic or diabolical, we are fundamentally describing the "spirit of revolution," bearing in mind that we must define what we mean by "revolution."

For example, in this context it is entirely inappropriate to call our founders "revolutionaries."  In fact, they were very much the opposite, in that they wanted nothing to do with overturning the order of the world, but rather, restoring the ancient rights to which we were and are entitled.  Our founders were terrified of revolution, which is precisely why they created a constitution to "contain" and neutralize such destructive impulses and energies.   

Conversely, everything about the left -- especially since the Wilson administration -- is about weakening our Constitution in order to strengthen the Revolution.  Now they want to pack the Supreme Court in order to transform it into a revolutionary body, but this is what the left does:  it ruins everything, from art to religion to education to whatever it touches.  

Of course, they wouldn't agree that they're ruining anything, rather, perfecting it.  Marriage is better now that it isn't restricted to one male and one female.  For that matter, women are better now that they are free to deny their femininity and pretend to be men.  Likewise a pajama-soyboy castratti is a perfect man.  

Which reminds me of an article by the always excellent David Solway.  I still haven't figured out how to embed links with the new blogger format, but here it is:

(https://pjmedia.com/columns/david-solway-2/2020/10/17/the-despair-of-feminism-n1066231)

I was going to discuss the piece anyway in the context of the Revolution, because the denial of male and female nature goes to its very essence; you might say to its denial of essence, for denial of essence is the essence of the Revolution.  And no, I'm not just trying to be clever; this is the thesis of Weaver's classic Ideas Have Consequences, the most consequential idea of all being....

Put it this way: you really have only two choices, or a choice of two principles.  Depending upon how you choose, hundreds of implications and entailments follow, right down to whether you are a conservative or revolutionary (of course, the leftist is never intellectually consistent, so in his case it doesn't matter that he believes mutually exclusive ideas).  

The choice is:  common sense realism or nominalism; Aquinas or Kant; God or nihilism; intellectual or anti-intellectual; order or dis-order; freedom or egalitarianism; light or darkness; individualism or conformity; gratitude or envy; racial colorblindness or racist identity politics;  justice or "social justice";  Etc.  

Exaggeration?  Polemical?  Simplistic?  Tendentious?  I really don't think so.  Let's cite some passages from the book in question.  Here's a description of how the Revolution kills institutions and souls:  it attacks Christian civilization like a certain tree in the Brazilian forest, the "strangler fig," which wraps "itself around the trunk of another tree, completely covers it and kills it."

Analogously, "the Revolution approached Christian civilization in order to wrap itself around it and kill it." Consider how homosexuality infiltrated the priesthood with predictable consequences. It very much reminds me of Iowahawk's Timeless Tweet about the four stages of leftist destruction:

1. Identify a respected institution.
2. Kill it.
3. Gut it.
4. Wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

The Supreme Court.  Marriage. Academia. Journalism. The "art world." And increasingly, science. 

Oh yes, and gender.  Back to Solway's piece and then we're out of time.  Why are feminists such miserable people?  This is like asking why the palm tree you're trying to grow in northern Canada isn't flourishing.  You're denying its essence, which is to say, its reason for being (i.e., its formal principle).  

By the way, I haven't even finished the article.  I just know ahead of time that it will provide us with some insultaining examples of what we're talking about:

The weakening of men and the empowerment of women, as “women claw their way to ever increasing power and fix men (especially young, white men), in their crosshairs,” destroy the sexual, romantic and institutional bond between the sexes. Similarly, the common preachment that men should jettison their manhood and become more like women is to distort the gender relationship and introduce a schism into the culture that can lead only to turmoil and unhappiness for both men and women....

Modern feminism, however, is determined... “to depict everything pertaining specifically to women as ‘oppression’,” leading to a pervasive resentment that vitiates their “essential nature”....  

Feminism is a conspiracy against productive relationships, romantic love and the traditional family—a conspiracy disguised as a historical necessity, much like the anti-family [Revolutionary] communist doctrine with which it has close conceptual ties....

What we are witnessing, in Robert Curry’s terms from Reclaiming Common Sense: Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World, is a war on the crucial role common sense plays in our lives, for example, “the denial of plain fact that humans are either male or female,” with all that the genetic binary has implied since the beginning of recorded time. This “plain fact” has been routinely and programmatically denied by feminists and gender mavens, for whom sexual differentiation is “fluid” and a matter of choice or feeling. The real “deniers,” however, are the feminists and their male enablers.... As a result, the culture is in disarray and its future, as Kierkegaard saw, is despair.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Rules for Counter-Revolutionaries

Let us bow our heads and begin with a benediction... Better yet, let's lift our heads and begin with a malediction:

Transforming the world: the occupation of a convict resigned to his punishment (NGD).

Am I a reactionary?  I suppose not, if only because going back in time is impractical and impossible anyway.  No one believes more in progress than the Christian.  Indeed, we invented it.  It all depends on what one means by "progress."  Here is one man's definition, which we long ago adopted as our own on the basis of common sense:

The only possible progress is the internal progress of each individual.

And

Social salvation is near when each one admits that he can only save himself.  Society is saved when its presumed saviors despair (ibid.).

As a clinical psychologist I saw how difficult it was to facilitate "fundamental change" in so much as a single person. Beginning with myself, of course.  So much easier to change the world!  Just ask Obama.  

Yes, there are aphorisms for him -- aphorisms he will never understand, which means he is condemned to a certain kind of systematic stupidity -- or structural idiocy --  that debilitates whatever native intelligence he might possess:

Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems (ibid.).

Imagine telling the average BLM member to rechannel his destructive revolutionary energy into something constructive, for example, working hard and studying in school.  The problem here is that doing so would reveal his lack of intelligence and talent.  Failure evokes the Revolution.  

Thus the perennial temptation and seduction of the Revolution -- a Revolution that will indeed turn the existing order upside down, such that the scum rises to the top.  

Which it already does, pretty much. It's why Al Sharpton is a Black Leader instead of Thomas Sowell (who would never accept the job anyway, since he doesn't believe blacks have some special need for leaders).  It's why Joy Reid has a network TV show instead of Candace Owens.  For that matter, it is also why pre-Trump Republicans were and are such cowardly mediocrities at best.

To fight the eternal Revolution we need counter-Revolutionaries.  Obviously. 

But in order to do this, we must first recognize the Revolution.  What is it? And why? And what do we do about it?

In one sense, we could say there has been only one big Revolution.  It takes place outside terrestrial time, and its outlines are transmitted to us via Genesis 3.  In response there has been one big counter-Revolution, which we might call John 1:  problem and solution.

By the way: which comes first, the problem or the solution?  One might be tempted to say the former, but if we stand outside and above time -- instead of being lost in the flux of historical contingency --  there is a proportionality and fittingness between these two that is not coincidental: a BIG solution for a BIG problem.   Man is sick, sick, sick.  Nothing short of a radical cure will suffice.  More on this as we proceed.

As I was saying above, I suppose I'm not a reactionary.  Nevertheless, the bad folks at Amazon directed this book to my attention, on the grounds that "people like me" had purchased it:  Revolution and Counter-Revolution  (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1877905178/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=onecos-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=0063d3cf3d4727a621761b6afb5fb095&creativeASIN=1877905178). 

Apparently the author is "controversial." I don't know anything about that. I only know that this is one of the best books I've ever read on the deep metacosmic structure of revolutionary leftism, AKA the Revolution.  I don't agree with everything the author says, but I do agree with just about everything he says about the Revolution.  Time enough for only few excerpts, but we'll get more deeply into it in the next post.

By Revolution we mean a movement that aims to destroy a legitimate power or order and replace it with an illegitimate power or state of things.  

It is a vision of the universe and a way of being of man that the Revolution seeks to abolish with the intention of replacing them with radically contrary counterparts.

Two notions conceived as metaphysical values express well the spirit of the Revolution:  absolute equality, complete liberty [which is of course an impossibility, thus guaranteed to generate only chaos and dis-order].

Among the intermediate groups to be abolished, the family ranks first. Until it manages to wipe it out, the Revolution tries to lower it, mutilate it, and vilify it in every way.... Even the psychological and attitudinal differences between the sexes tend to diminish as much as possible.

[L]iberalism is not interested in freedom for what is good. It is solely interested in freedom for evil. When in power, it easily, and even joyfully, restricts the freedom of the good as much as possible. But in many ways, it protects, favors, and promotes freedom for evil.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Is Leftism a Lie or Something Worse?

I want to pull a couple more passages from the article cited yesterday, each going to our exploration of the deepest deep structure of the left.  First, for the activist of the left, “to be antiracist is to see all cultures in their differences as on the same level, as equals”:

“When we see cultural difference we are seeing cultural difference—nothing more, nothing less.” It’s hard to imagine that anyone could believe that cultures that condone honor killings of unchaste young women are “nothing more, nothing less” than culturally different from our own. But whether he believes it or not, it’s obvious that embracing such relativism is a highly effective tool for ascension and seizing power (Weiss).

Even on its face the claim is absurd, for in this formulation, isn't the culture that makes no distinctions between cultures the morally superior one? If not, then what are we arguing about?  

My culture, for example, understands that "homosexual marriage" is -- no offense -- impossible in fact and in principle.   But my culture is regarded by the totolerantarian leftist as hateful, whereas, say, Islamic culture is considered beautiful despite sanctioning and encouraging violence toward homosexuals.  In my culture, that would be evil.  Yet, I'm the immoral one.  

Normally -- speaking now as a psychologist -- when a person is able to maintain such starkly contradictory ideas it points to pathology.  This is because the mind as such is designed to seek unity.  A normal person is distressed by contradiction and  attempts to resolve it, either by ruling out one of the theses or integrating them at a higher level.   This being the case, how is it even possible for someone to make the claim that "all cultures are equal except for mine, which is superior to the rest, and yours, which is inferior to the rest"?

This claim is either self-refuting or merely the pretext for a raw power play.  No, it's actually both.  In fact, one of the reasons the left is so furious at President Trump is that he refuses to play by the rules of this corrupt power game.  It's why the very idea of MAGA is a moral obscenity.  For the left, America can indeed be great, but only by acknowledging that it's rotten.  What the left is really saying is:  "All cultures are equal and America is the worst of the bunch."

Exaggerate much, bOb?

This is no longer a fringe view. As the philosopher Peter Boghossian has noted: “This ideology is the dominant moral orthodoxy in our universities, and has seeped out and spread to every facet of American life— publishing houses, tech, arts, theater, newspapers, media,” and, increasingly, corporations. It has not grabbed power by dictates from above, but by seizing the means of sense-making from below.

Over the past few decades and with increasing velocity over the last several years, a determined young cohort has captured nearly all of the institutions that produce American cultural and intellectual life. Rather than the institutions shaping them, they have reshaped the institutions. You don’t need the majority inside an institution to espouse these views. You only need them to remain silent, cowed by a fearless and zealous minority who can smear them as racists if they dare disagree. 

Sense-making from below.  Now that is a bingo. For it is literally the imposition of meaning instead of its discovery, and as we will explain, this is the very structure of paranoia and of mental illness more generally.  I read something about this just the other day, but where is it?  I've been cramming so much into my noggin lately that I've exceeded its already limited carrying capacity.  

This also happens to be a VERY LARGE subject, being that it goes to the whole metaphysical question of whether reality is discovered or projected -- in other words, whether common sense realism is the case, or if Kant got it right after all.  If you presume to practice philosophy -- and we all must, on pain of cashing in our humanness -- this is among the very first questions that must be settled: are my concepts about reality true?  Or just forms of my own apperception?  What comes first, the thing perceived or my perception of it?  

One can ignore this question, which is precisely how one is reduced to being the village atheist, e.g., "our minds are totally contingent and that's the absolute truth."  

More generally, materialism is the abstract doctrine that holds abstractions to be unreal.  But like the multiculturalist referenced above, the materialist is too naive or incurious to follow his train of logic until it blows up the tracks.  If you believe that perception is prior to the thing perceived -- pro-tip here -- you have permanently sundered the link between perception and reality.  

Not only can you never get back to reality, but by all rights the word should be abolished from your vocabulary.  To say "perception is reality" is to say "perception is perception," all the way down. It is the negation of reality.  These are nihilists, Donny.  Everything is true because nothing is true.  It's how a mentally ill man who wants to hack off his penis is normal, whereas Amy Coney Barrett is depraved. Come to think of it, it is how Jeffrey "Keep Your" Toobin has the moral standing to denounce ACB.  

The party of science.  Okay, here's a clarifying question: does science deal with the real world, or not?  Are its conclusions purely subjective, or do they describe reality?  Are our minds the measure of reality, or vice versa? 

Not only do we believe science is both objective and true, we don't leave it at that.  Rather, we go to the deeper question of how science is even possible in principle.  So, yes, science describes reality (on its own plane with its own methods, of course).  But by virtue of what principle?  Yes, the principle of creation, through which being bifurcates into intelligence and intelligibility.

But we're getting rather far afield.  Back to the damn quote I'm looking for.  Ah. Here it is: from Sheen's Philosophy of Science (see sidebar).  He notes that the intelligence -- to the extent that it is intelligence and not something else! -- "never communicates to the phenomena an intelligibility which they do not possess themselves."

Example.  Actually, it isn't a perfect example, because the people propagating it presumably know it is a baseless lie, because they can't be that crazy.  Can they?  

I'm speaking of our media and big tech overlords who are trying to pretend this whole business about the Biden Crime Family is just Russian propaganda.  To the extent that someone actually believes this, it is a case of  "communicating to the phenomena an intelligibility which they do not possess themselves."  In short, it is a paranoid delusion. 

Didn't get as far as I'd hoped, but we're out of time.      

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Ultimate Principle of the Ultimately Unprincipled

It's difficult -- impossible, actually -- to see a cloud when one is inside it. Rather, one can only recognize its contours from a distance.   From the inside it's just a fog.  A blob. 

Same with a diabolic infestation.  One can only recognize it from outside or above.  Or better, only with recourse to a vertical axis or center can the diabolical be seen at all. It's why cannibals don't know cannibalism is evil, or why leftists can't see that Antifa is more than an idea, or that Hunter Biden's laptop is real.  

You'd think evil would be easy to recognize, but moral clarity is the exception, not the rule. In the 1930s people dismissed Churchill as deranged for his moral clarity vis-a-vis National Socialism.  And from the revolution of 1917 all the way up to its demise in 1991, leftists defended the USSR against the naive and simplistic moralism of Ronald Reagan and other anticommunists.   

Buried somewhere at the bottom of my library is a 1996 book by the eminent hisorian Eric Hobsbawm called The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991, in which he persists in defending Marxism.  Even from a distance, he couldn't see the outlines of the demonic swarm; or, he could, only he located it in the U.S. and not the USSR.  Extremes -- you know, like Americanism.

Hobsbawm was obviously an intelligent man, so mere intelligence is entirely insufficient to explain why someone would defend such patent evil. Writers for the New York Times are -- or used to be, anyway -- of at least average intelligence, but the paper declared Hobsbawm's magnum dopus to be a "powerful, bracing and magisterial work."   

Lately I've been bombarded with vertical murmurandoms regarding the essential nature of the left.  Over the years -- exactly 15, come to think of it -- we've obviously discussed the nature of leftism from various angles, but I'd like to get to the bottom of it once and for all:  what is it? And why?    

Of course, we want to be scrupulously fair and balanced.  We don't want to eviscerate a straw man, nor do we wish to pretend that anything with which we happen to disagree is a priori evil.  Let's give the devil his due.  Above all let's not imitate the left and merely project our own unacknowledged impulses, plans, and desires into our opponents.

This will no doubt be a long and rambling series of posts. Nevertheless, by the end of our exploring we hope to rearrive at the beginning and know it for the first time, such that our solution can be reduced to an aphorism or printed on the front of a t-shirt. 

Now, when I say I've been bombarded with vertical hints and clues, I'm talking about the old Baader-Meinhof effect, whereby you see something once and then see it everywhere.  So, everywhere I'm seeing things that go to the deep structure of the left.  

I'll start with this essay by Bari Weiss which I read yesterday, called Stop Being Shocked.   She's that leftist lady who quit the Times because it was too far left, so naturally she's shocked at the nature of the left.  While she makes some excellent points, she can't see the meta-forest evil for these trees. Nevertheless, if she continues on her present course, she may well find her way out of the forest.  

She notes that

No one has yet decided on the name for the force that has come to unseat liberalism. Some say it’s “Social Justice.” The author Rod Dreher has called it “therapeutic totalitarianism.” The writer Wesley Yang refers to it as “the successor ideology”—as in, the successor to liberalism.

There is no name for this illiberal force. What could it be?   What does it involve?

At some point, it will have a formal name, one that properly describes its mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality. Until then, it is up to each of us to see it plainly. We need to look past the hashtags and slogans and the jargon to assess it honestly—and then to explain it to others.

We can't yet name the forest, but some of the trees that grow and flourish in it include postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality.  Not to mention anti-female feminism, anti-science climate hysteria, and anti-biology gender confusion. 

Now, is there something that unifies these cosmic heresies, some underlying principle that renders them sensible -- even inevitable -- instead of absurd?  On their face, these ideas are intellectually suicidal. By what magic do they hijack the mind and ape the living?

The new creed’s premise goes something like this: We are in a war in which the forces of justice and progress are arrayed against the forces of backwardness and oppression. And in a war, the normal rules of the game—due process; political compromise; the presumption of innocence; free speech; even reason itself—must be suspended. Indeed, those rules themselves were corrupt to begin with—designed, as they were, by dead white males in order to uphold their own power.

Now we're getting a little closer to the target, for it looks like we're dealing with a kind of inversion; there is a method to their madness, which is to say, a principle of the unprincipled.  

As one leftist puts it (quoted by Weiss), they are using "the master's tools" (i.e., principles) to "dismantle the master's house" (i.e., the political body that is both a cause and consequence of these principles).  So it's intellectual suicide, but more like an Islamic suicide bomber who uses his own suicide as a means to homicide (and even genocide).  The leftist might well be saying:  "yes, I've lost my mind, but I'm taking yours with me."  

And before you are tempted to think that's an exaggeration, Weiss quotes a legal scholar who writes that 

Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.

Again, homicide by means of suicide:

Critical race theory says there is no such thing as neutrality, not even in the law, which is why the very notion of colorblindness—the Kingian dream of judging people not based on the color of their skin but by the content of their character—must itself be deemed racist. Racism is no longer about individual discrimination. It is about systems that allow for disparate outcomes among racial groups. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, then the course must have been flawed and should be dismantled. 

Here again, this is a transparent inversion of our founding principles. Now, if our principles are arbitrary or false or pernicious, then it scarcely matters what principles we use. More to the point, principles by definition come at the beginning.   A principal that comes at the end is no longer a principle at all.  This is like saying that one's team lost the baseball game because the rules of baseball are wrong.  We can only be certain that the rules are correct if every game ends in a tie.  

And now you know why the left invented affirmative action and other participation trophies.   It takes the markers of success -- which are only revealed at the end -- and frontloads them at the beginning.

For example, just yesterday I read of how the San Diego Unified School District is going to see to it that all races are graded equally.  If too many blacks fail, then their grades will be inflated so as to render them better at math and reading.  "Intelligence" is a matter of tweaking its effects -- like turning back the odometer to make your car newer.  

Thus the efforts to do away with the SAT, or the admissions test for elite public schools.... Or  the argument made recently by The New York Times’ classical music critic to do away with blind auditions for orchestras.

In fact, any feature of human existence that creates disparity of outcomes must be eradicated: The nuclear family, politeness, even rationality itself can be defined as inherently racist or evidence of white supremacy, as a Smithsonian institution suggested this summer. The KIPP charter schools recently eliminated the phrase “work hard” from its famous motto “Work Hard. Be Nice.” because the idea of working hard "supports the illusion of meritocracy."

Our detective story is about done for today, but we've picked up some valuable clues that seem to point to a cosmic inversion of some kind. However, it won't matter that the left is upside down unless there is a right-side up: objectively, intelligibly, and metaphysically.  To be continued....

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Black Book of Bob's Aphorisms, Epigrams, Gags, Zingers, Precepts, Gnomes & Oracles

Yes, it exists. It's sitting right here in my lap.  I guess I began compiling these nuggets of joy around the time the world ended last March.  In one sense the effort was inspired by Dávila, but I began recording these thoughtlets long before ever running into him.  Most of them are located in books, except I must have 10,000 or more books in my library, meaning they are quite dispersed.  

For example, let me grab a random book that I read, say, 30 or 40 years ago and haven't looked at since.  If it was a decent or at least thought-provoking book, it is liable to contain notes to myself.  These notes aren't usually something from the book per se, but something that was triggered by the book in my own noggin.  A spark from the fire, so to speak.  Plagiarism once removed.  

Bear in mind that 35 years ago I was still an idiot, more or less, so many if not most of the early aphorisms are likely to be false, stupid, obvious, or rendered null & void by subsequent discoveries.   But I am particularly interested in any bobservation that points to or hints at my present outlook -- as if I were able to see directly into my future self, even if I still had to go through a great deal in order to arrive here, i.e., to eliminate all the noise, static, and accidental accretions.  

Looking back on it, there are only a handful of thinkers who have been with me the whole way. Most of the early ones have gotten off the bus, while others were picked up en route.  Michael Polanyi was right there with me when I set foot on the bus.  His last book, Meaning, was published in 1975. I must have read it in the early 1980s, and it is full of urgent memos to myself, some more obscure than others.  

Here's one that says Marxism is the rationalization of human appetites. While that is true, I didn't truly understand what I was talking about, since I was still a liberal back then and wouldn't grasp the implications for another fifteen years or so.  I didn't have a completely consistent and integrated worldview, both horizontally and vertically.

Come to think of it, I'm still working on that, at least around the edges.  I'm always discovering important ideas and principles that I should have understood at 18.  But no one taught them to me, least of all in college, of all places.

For example, yesterday I was reading Fulton Sheen's Philosophy of Science.   In chapter 8 he has a brilliantly clear and concise explanation of the principle of causality.  It's nothing I didn't know already, but I only knew it implicitly.  Sheen draws the explicit from the implicit, such that now I understand why the principle of causality is and must be metaphysical as opposed to empirical or rational (in the Kantian sense).  

Anyway, back to Polanyi.  And I hope this exercise isn't too self-indulgent.  I'm genuinely curious to see if there are any vertical threads that can be traced all the way back to the beginning, i.e., when my mind unexpectedly came on line.  For whatever reason, the light switched on in my early 20s, and I have this notion that light is light, i.e., that the substance of intelligence is truth itself.  Therefore, when the light appeared, so too did the truth.  

But it's somewhat like digging for gold, I suppose.  As in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, you happen upon something glittering in the dirt.   Then the real work begins, of digging down and extracting the gold from the worthless material it's mixed with.  Same.  

Not to mention all the fool's gold!  A basic education ought to at least provide the student with a means for discerning between the two.  I didn't acquire that in a principled way until I was in my 40s.   Certainly I had intuitions and visions, but these must be anchored in perennial truths that cannot not be.  

The act of understanding is more important than what is understood. 

Bing! This is indeed a critical meta-truth, since the very existence of understanding is full of metaphysical implications that I'm still discovering, or at least confirming and fine-tuning.  For example, yesterday I read that

Truth as an attribute of being implies a thinker. Whatever is can be thought of, and is in this sense co-extensive and identical with being. All reality is therefore intelligible; it has meaning. Mind and reality are not unrelated. There is an intercommunication between them.... 

When the mind knows, it recognizes conformity of the thought and the thing. This is just another way of saying it knows the thing as it truly is (Sheen). 

Ultimately we might say that to understand anything in fact is to potentially understand everything in principle.  Which is why it is correct to say that "The act of understanding is more important than what is understood" even if I "saw" this truth before I explicitly understood why it must be true.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Putting the Dem in Demon

I made the mistake of watching the Supreme Court confirmation hearing yesterday, which left me feeling a little... oppressed. What kind of oppression?  The demonic kind, of course. I think I may have gotten a little infected, but my immune system is fighting it -- them -- off.

You will have noticed that no one has yet asked the nominee if she believes in demons.  First of all, she's Catholic, so we know the answer.  More to the point, she staring them in the face, batting away their stupid, loaded, hypocritical, duplicitous, and vicious pseudo-questions, e.g., "have you sexually assaulted anyone lately?," or "do you condemn white supremacy?"  

No one has ever accused me of having "judicial temperament."  Admittedly, I struggle with patience toward imbeciles and psychopaths.  If Hirono had asked me if I'd ever sexually assaulted anyone, I would have said, "sure," just to see the expression on her face.

If Booker had asked me if I condemn White Supremacism, I would have responded, "of course not.  Have you ever seen how fast a Haitian can pick cotton?"

A few weeks ago I read an 800 page monster of a book called Introduction to the Science of Mental Health, which has a whole section devoted to Demonic Influences.   

Wait -- science?  Sure, why not, for what is a science?  It is "an organized body of knowledge of things through their causes."  Therefore, "if a person engages in the practice of a science refusing to consider possible causes, he is by that very fact unscientific."  

What causes leftists to be the way they are?  For me it is self-evident that there are supernatural causes -- just as it is impossible to explain the sanctified brilliance of, say, Thomas Aquinas, without recourse to supernatural graces. 

By the way, when I say "self-evident," I mean something analogous to seeing as opposed to discursive reasoning;  however, this seeing is in no way contrary to reason (more on this later).

The demon -- speaking through the oracle of scientism -- will respond that bOb is the unscientific one, since science by definition denies the existence of demonic influences.    But this makes no more sense than claiming that beauty, justice, and morality don't exist just because science can't measure them.  

So, put away your slide rule, brainiac.  It can't help you here.  Keep an open mind.  At the very least, you should acknowledge the phenomena even if you reject our hexplanation.  Just don't pretend your explanation is adequate.   If you think psychology provides an adequate explanation of Hitler, you understand neither Hitler nor psychology.  

And if you think Trump is Hitler, you might want to check under your hoodie for demonic influences.  That's beyond crazy, but not in a way the psychologist in me can rationally explain. 

Modern psychology asserts conclusions about demonic influences which are not supported by the evidence. In this sense, the "belief" about the lack of demonic influence as well as many other aspects of their various psychological systems is nothing short of superstition, insofar as it is a form of irrational (contrary to first principles) belief based on ignorance (Ripperger). 

What?  You're a skeptic?  Good. You're just not skeptical enough.  Nor ironical enough.  You need to take your naturalism with a grain of salt.   

By the way, I'm not claiming any special expertise here.  I'm not a demonologist, let alone an exorcist, although I did get Cousin Dupree to stop using so many durn cuss words.  I just have an open mind and some common sense, that's all. 

Moreover, I suppose I have a bit of first hand experience, being that I was once open to the demonic, or at least had no principled opposition to it.  My entire generation -- the boomers -- rejected the cultural immune system that had been bequeathed to us by prior generations that had engaged in warfare with the Invisible Enemy.

First, some metaphysical housekeeping: if demonic influences exist, by virtue of what principle are they possible?  What is their sufficient reason?  Well, first of all they are immaterial.  If you acknowledge the existence of "good" immaterial forms, energies,  influences, and vibes, then you should have no principled reason to deny the existence of bad and uncool vibes.  Vibes are vibes.  No one says they must all be pleasant. 

How do we discern these vibes?  Ripperger says they act directly upon the body and bodily organs, whereas they cannot touch the intellect except indirectly.  Our head is indeed a safe space, unless we choose otherwise.  Other times we don't so much choose to let them in as choose not to acknowledge their existence or influence, as in the example given above about clueless boomers.  

When we say that demons can only act directly on the body, this covers a broader range than you might believe, since there are aspects of our minds that are material, others that are partly or completely immaterial. The soul, for example, is immaterial, as is the light of reason.  

Conversely, imagination, memory, senses, and appetites are all more or less material.  But you can imagine how, for example, the appetite might come under demonic influence, which then might lead to rationalization of the impulse, compulsion, or addiction. In this way the intellect is indirectly highjacked.

Which actually goes to the confirmation hearing.  For example, let's say the demon likes nothing more than killing babies.  Or, he believes the black man has no rights the white man is bound to respect.  Therefore, it is permissible to kill babies or enslave blacks.  Now, the intellect knows, and cannot not know, that these are wrong.   But where there's demonic willfulness there's a rationalized way, as exemplified by the Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade decisions.  

We're out of time.  To be continued.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Supreme Being and the Supreme Becoming

It's easy enough to deduce from our world of ceaseless becoming that there must be a Being behind all the change;  similarly, that before all the secondary effects there must be a First Cause.  Therefore, God is the Cause of causes and the Being of beings.  

Is it that simple?  Yes and no.  Yes because God is undoubtedly the First Cause.  But it seems to me that -- bearing in mind what was said in the previous post about the Trinity -- he must also be the "first effect," so to speak.   In other words, if the Father is the First Cause, then the Son must be the First Effect.

However, both the Cause and the Effect are beyond or before time (at least our kind of time).  Therefore, we can't think of these as analogous to atoms or billiard balls. Then again, even in our world we can't really make a radical separation between causes and effects.  Where is the line between the singer and the song, or dancer and dance?  Yes, we can always point to one or the other, but only in an abstract way.  

This is why early Christian thinkers took so much trouble to emphasize that Father and Son are distinct but not separate: two persons, one substance.  Therefore, this relation is and isn't analogous to the relationship between, say, me and my son.  My son came after me, but in time.  In the Trinity the Son comes after the Father, but in eternity.   

How are we to think of this?  Doesn't this negate the meaning of "after"?  Well, first of all, we have to think of it in the vertical sense.  

For example, imagine a chandelier held by a chain.  Each link is held by the one directly above, but this isn't a temporal sequence; rather, it is happening now, much like how the letters you're reading at the moment are conditioned by words, words by sentences, sentences by paragraphs, etc., all in service to the meaning you simultaneously extract from them.  Imagine looking up each word in the dictionary and trying to add them up to the meaning.  You'd never get there.  

You can look up "father" and "son" in the dictionary, but that won't get you far. In fact, it will only enclose your mind in a circle, since each refers to the other.  But what if we start with the meaning of the terms?  What could that be?  

Let me guess... Love?   Holy Spirit?  Here again, we can't think in linear or temporal terms, for each of these three occurs simultaneously.  You could say that the relation of Father and Son is the "cause" of the Holy Spirit;  or, you could say that the Holy Spirit is the cause of the relation.  Just don't think of it as a temporal cause.

With this in mind, I think we have the foundation for a kind of "effect" in God, so long as we don't confuse it with the kinds of effects that occur down here.  Let me just cut to the chase:  yes, God is the First Cause.  But he is also the First Effect.  

Likewise, he is the Supreme Being.  But he's also the Supreme Becoming. 

He is the Unmoved Mover.  But he is also the Eternally Moved (moved by love, or love is drained of meaning; he also loves truth and beauty, without, of course, being separable from them).  

He is one without a second.  But he is also two without separation.  And three with even less.

He is creator.  He is also creativity and creating.  

He is timeless.  And the best time ever (which passes so quickly it might as well be timeless).

Finally, he is Absolute.  But can relate to everyone and everything.  It's why, for example, he wants us to pray.  He wants us to relate to him. You might say it's his weakness, which is his strength.

Let me emphasize here that this is just my opinion, man.  I like to think of God this way, partly because I can't think of him in any other way.  So, I agree with Hartshorne, who writes that

God is neither being as contrasted to becoming nor becoming as contrasted to being; but categorically supreme becoming in which there is a factor of categorically supreme being, as contrasted to inferior becoming, in which there is inferior being.  Both poles have two levels, analogically but not simply comparable.  

If we believe in God we should not say, "I believe in God," but rather, "God believes in me." --Dávila 

Friday, October 09, 2020

Change My Mind: Relation Is, and Is Is Relation

Continuing with the theme of the previous post, I have a question, and I won't accept a self-refuting answer, least of all from God, who should be above such sophistry:  if God knows what I am about to write, do I have a choice in writing it?  It feels to me like I do, but if the author of Reality is correct, then that can't be the case.  

Much as I like to think that God is the author of my omniscient posts, I have my doubts.  Of course, I want to be in alignment with the great What Is, and indeed, this goes to the ineradicable tension between finite and infinite.  I believe my philosophical approach respects this tension, while the traditional view -- perhaps unwittingly -- abolishes it by its overemphasis on the pole of infinitude and immutability.  But it takes two Tongans to tango.

I have other questions: Jesus, of course, is two natures in one person. How is the sacrifice offered by the human person worthy of merit if it is bound to occur anyway?  Another question:  does the principle of Trinity have any bearing on our conception of monotheism?   Which comes first, so to speak? Do we situate Trinity within a strict monotheism, or must we fundamentally reconceptualize the very meaning of monotheism?

For example, the author of Reality (the book, not the universe) claims that God "knows all future conditionals with absolute certainty by knowing himself."  And "from all eternity" God decrees "the actions of free creatures."  

I find this neither intelligible nor comforting, and more than a little narcissistic.  On the next page the author assures us that "Foreknown does not mean necessitated."  Oh. Okay.  We "are still making the choice. God just knows what [we] will choose."

Just?  No worries. It's just your real freedom.  

Is there a better way -- a way to reconcile God's wisdom with our stupidity?  And with it, a more sensible way to get God off the hook for human evil?  I just don't buy the traditional explanations.  

Hartshorne suggests that "there is a monopolar and a dipolar way of conceiving" of the problem before us.  I would go further and suggest there is a tripolar solution, but we'll leave that for later.  In fact, I have some other helpful suggestions of my own, but let's first lay a metacosmic foundation. 

As we know from our Thomism, God is the being whose essence is to exist: he doesn't merely have existence, rather, he is existence.  He is the only being who exists necessarily.  Moreover, his existence is necessary to the existence of human persons and all this entails.  

This is somewhat tangential to the point I'm trying to make, but if the human intellect isn't anchored in necessity, then knowledge of truth is impossible; you might say that in the absence of the Necessary Being, we are necessarily condemned to a closed world of appearances and our opinions about them.   Fake News would be the law of the universe and not just of the university.  

In short, the human person must have a sufficient principle, and this principle is God.  No principle short of this is adequate -- certainly nothing as meager as materialism, scientism, or evolutionism.  We'll come back around to this subject later.

There is and can be only one being whose essence it is to exist.  God is not a species of a larger genus; he is not a class. By definition there is only one, so we are fully on board with monotheism.  

But what sort of one? And what sort of existence?   For example, we know of two divergent and even opposite forms of oneness: there is the oneness of a brick and there is the oneness of an organism.  Is one of these "higher" or do we just flip a coin?  More to the point, is God a frozen and unfeeling block of eternity?  

If God is a FUBE, then, ironically, we humans have something he doesn't have.  But if we are in the image of God, shouldn't things that are truly essential to us be a distant reflection of something in God?  The question is, what is essential and what is accidental?  If, for example, I am a liar and a thief, it doesn't mean God must be.  

Hartshorne acknowledges that God is perfect.  Yes, but what is perfection?  Perfection means that God "has no possible rival (no equal or superior) among individuals. He could not be equalled or excelled by another. But could he be excelled by himself in another state?"

Maybe, but "how can one go beyond what is already the uttermost possible?"  We don't want to suggest that God somehow "improves." That would make no sense.  

Hmm. Let's consult the Trinity for some guidance.  First of all, there is the Father and the Son. Does it make sense to think of this as another FUBE situation, in which the Father "determines" everything in and about the Son?  If the Son is just a necessary extension of the Father, then what's the point?  

Yes, there is a "oneness" between them, but in my view it must be analogous (not identical!) to the distinction alluded to above between the rock and the organism.  Of course, a big difference is that the organism comes about in time, whereas the relation of Father and Son has nothing prior to it: the relation Is.  Or better, Is is Relation.

Now, if Relation Is, then this changes approximately everything, but we'll have to wait until the next post to find out exactly how. We'll conclude with a conundrum:

"When we are told that it is the world that has relation to God, rather than God to the world, we are in effect informed that, while X is known by God, God does not know X, which seems senseless" (ibid.).

And an aphorism:

If God were not a person, He would have died some time ago.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Will the Real Reality Please Stand Out

 (Blogspot has forced a new writing format on us. I'll have to figure out how to fix the links later.)

I had no issues with <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1677949775/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=onecos-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=78473c036a67c8b61ab6a4b20636ca57&creativeASIN=1677949775>Reality</a> until the second half, which makes the traditional arguments for God's absolute immutability.  I appreciate the sentiment, but immutable means immutable, and -- well, maybe you're different from me, but I find it impossible to relate to something immutable, in particular, because something immutable literally cannot relate to me.

It seems to me that the traditional arguments for divine immutability should be understand in a negative rather than positive sense, in that they're more about preventing misunderstanding than conveying an unambiguous understanding.  

In short, everything in the world is subject to deterioration, entropy, decay, etc.  Obviously God is not like that.  But why go to the opposite extreme and say that he's incapable of change?  What if -- and we're just spitballin' it here -- the existence of bad change doesn't imply that all change is bad?  What if there's a type of change that doesn't at all imply privation or incompletion, but rather, is a perfection?   

Love, for example.  Or maybe the best surprise ever. Forever and ever.  

Another issue I have with the scholastic arguments about the nature of God is that they could equally apply to Allah -- not just vis a vis immutability, but omniscience and omnipotence, i.e., total knowledge and absolute will.  Of course, I'm familiar with arguments that try to reconcile human freedom and divine foreknowledge, but these always strike me as special pleading.  

You'll hear it argued, for example, that God's omniscience is analogous to how a parent can know what the child is about to do, even though the child is free not to do it.  But that's a massive category error.  It's not even a good analogy, because a reliable hunch isn't the same as absolute certitude.  Nor does the parent create the child with absolute and unbending foreknowledge of everything he will ever say, do, or think. 

Another issue I have revolves around the question of Trinity.  If God goes to all the trouble of telling us about his interior life, it seems to me that we should take it into consideration before making dogmatic and a priori argument from our end.   

From down here we can easily, with our natural reason, conclude that God is immutable.  Nor, prior to God revealing it, did anyone ever argue that what we call "God" is actually three persons in an eternal <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perichoresis">perichoresis</a>.  

The question is, does the Trinity change any of the traditional arguments, or is it irrelevant?  To me, it goes to the very essence of why the Christian God doesn't at all resemble Allah, nor the impersonal Brahman of Vedanta, which is likewise totally detached from human concerns..

I have a lot of disagreements with <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1573928151?ie=UTF8&tag=onecos-20&camp=1789&linkCode=xm2&creativeASIN=1573928151">Charles Hartshorne</a>, but his solution to this problem bangs my gong.  It's not just that it makes intellectual and emotional sense, but it makes a whole array of absurdities and  pseudo-problems disappear. 

Of course, this doesn't mean he's correct.  But it sure makes God more approachable and relatable, and in my opinion, does nothing to diminish the divine glory and all-around awesomeness.  Frankly, I consider immutability to be a character flaw.  It's why a lot of people end up needing psychotherapy later in life: unresponsive <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow#Monkey_studies">wire monkey</a> parents.

Yes, we've discussed this in the past, but not for about seven years, so let's review the argument. In Hartshorne's view, a fundamental error occurs when we take two contradictory terms -- say, change and immutability -- and apply only one of them to God: 

one decides in each case which member of the pair is good or admirable and then attributes it (in some supremely excellent or transcendent form) to deity, while wholly denying the contrasting term.

Let's take the polarity "being-becoming."  In the traditional view, being is privileged.  But what if this isn't a polarity or dualism but an eternal complementarity?  Isn't this what the Trinity is trying to tell us?  "Father <---> Son <---> Holy Spirit."  Isn't that a hint? Aren't they, you know, related? And aren't we invited to participate in that relationship, i.e.,  to relate to the eternal relating via the outpouring of grace?  

The clock is starting to run out, but we'll have much more to say about this in the next post. We'll end with a passage from Hartshorne:

There is good or superior unity and bad or inferior unity....

God is a being whose versatility of becoming is unlimited, whose potentialities of content embrace all possibilities, whose sensitive responsiveness surpasses that of all other individuals, actual or possible.

That may not be orthodox, but at least I can relate to it. 

Monday, October 05, 2020

Weaving the Cosmic Tapestry

Over the weekend I read an enjoyable book called Reality. Which is interesting when you think about it: why on earth do we need to read a book about reality? Isn't it kind of... automatic? What's the alternative? That's right: unreality, AKA fiction and fantasy.

Some people claim there's no such thing as reality; or, that if there is, we could never know it. They think this is a sophisticated attitude, which it is, in the original sense of the word, i.e., sophistry. It's reminiscent of the differences between ideas and ideology, intellect and intellectual, human and humanism, science and scientism, etc.

Sophisticate (the verb) means "to alter deceptively," to falsify, to make artificial and deprive of simplicity, or to debase, spoil, and corrupt. Thus, it is a cause and consequence of what we know of as tenure. If your child attends college and somehow avoids becoming a sophisticate, then the educational system has failed on its own terms. Your child has escaped the progressive Matrix. He is a fugitive slave.

Speaking of which, although our son is homeschooled, some of his classes are taught by other parents. For some reason he's supposed to read the turgid and sentimental Uncle Tom's Cabin, which isn't going to happen. He already deplores racism of any kind, and can't even comprehend how someone could embrace it.

So, I advised him to do what I'd do if I were in his shoes: read the Cliff Notes. We previewed them on amazon, but you still can't get away from the sophistry!

There are probably very few white Americans, if the truth were known, who do not harbor some prejudiced (or, to put it less kindly, racist) ideas about black people, and especially about African Americans....

We all tend to be so conscious today of this prejudiced condition (if not always of the nature of the prejudices) that most white writers would think it foolhardy to attempt a novel whose central characters are African Americans...

Understood. Does this mean black Americans who write and opine about white Americans are fools? Jes' axin'.

The Cliff Notes highlight another problem with Stowe: her Christianity. Of course, "she lived in a less enlightened time," when our unsophisticated citizenry "assumed that the United States was a 'Christian country.'"

Granted, it was founded by Christians upon Christian principles, traditions, and assumptions, but it was really... the notes don't specify. At any rate, Stowe "doesn't apologize for her Protestant chauvinism." The nerve of this woman, to pretend that God abhors slavery! Such a bully.

Here's a non-sequitur: "In our secular time, we tend to avoid the discussion of religion in ordinary 'non-religious' circumstances." But "the separation of Church and State meant something quite different to Stowe." Wait, what? The Constitution forbids a principled Christian opposition to slavery?

End of tangent. What was original point? Right: reality and its alternatives. Note that the latter is necessarily plural, since reality is by definition one. The principle of oneness is why we can both have a reality and know it (more on this point as we proceed). It reminds me of a tweet I read this morning:

I’m a conservative in chess for the same reason I am in politics: because however many good moves there are, there are infinitely more bad moves.

I'm a conservative traditionalist because however many realities there are, there are infinitely more unrealities.

In this context it is permissible to posit more than one reality, so long as we acknowledge verticality, i.e., hierarchy, continuity, and integration, for there are physical, biological, and spiritual (and more) realities. It's just that it's impossible in principle to conceive of these from the "bottom up." If man is intelligent -- which he is -- intelligence can only descend from the top down. If intelligence ascends from below, it's no longer intelligent.

Which is a central point of this other book I'm reading, God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy by Fulton J. Sheen. Don't let his popularity fool you. This guy was a major brainiac before he became a TV star in the 1950s.

I've already lost the handle on this post. Might as well go with the flow. "The intelligence is the key to the communion of the human and the angelic and the divine. From God, who is the source of intellectual light, knowledge descends progressively" through the vertical hierarchy.

But "modern philosophy" -- as articulated by the sophisticates described above -- "in rejecting the intelligence, has rejected the cornerstone of the whole edifice of continuity and progress in the universe."

Progress. That's another key idea we've discussed in the past, in that the metaphysical underpinning of "progressivism" renders progress impossible in principle. For if truth, morality, and culture are relative, there is no standard but power, i.e., opinion and the will to enforce it. Don't believe me. Just look at what's happening in our Democrat run cities and universities: obey! Or else.

Evolution? Not only are we all for it, but our metaphysic is the only one that renders it both possible and necessary. In other words, God is the sufficient reason of evolution (natural selection is only a means, not the principle). We Coonfolk

did not have to wait for modern biology to reveal continuity and progress in the universe. For it [scholasticism], biological discoveries were confirmations, not revelations. They merely proved in a lower order what reason has already verified in the higher orders.

In short, the universe isn't a static block but a living hierarchy full of intelligence and intelligibility everywhere we turn.

We're out of time, so I'm going to have to pull all of these lucent threads together in the subsequent post. Don't worry: I got this. Everything's under control. Just not mine