Thursday, July 16, 2020

Human Being and Being Anti-Human

We've spoken before of how the cosmos isn't any kind of empirical fact or observation, nor can it ever be. Obviously, no one has ever seen the cosmos in its totality. Rather, it is an abstraction from equations of physics that are presumed to be universal.

Thus, the cosmos -- the total and unified order of reality -- is a concept, an abstraction, an assumption. And thanks to sober thinkers such as A.N. Whitehead, we know that this concept is rooted in Judeo-Christianity, against which all those 18th and 19th century philosophers drunk on the radical Enlightenment were rebelling.

Come to think of it, those radical thinkers (we're not speaking of the moderate Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment to which we are heir) were very much like our reactionary progressives and anti-Trumpers: if it's Jewish or Christian, the opposite must be true.

For example, if we believe race to be unimportant, then race must be all important; if we believe men and women are very different, then they must be identical; if we believe in the nuclear family, it must be a quintessential form of oppression; if we believe children are entitled to a mother and father, then fathers must be superfluous; if we think liberty is impossible in the absence of law and order, they think it would be great to abolish the police. If school vouchers are the most important civil rights issue of the day, then children should be forced to attend mandatory state indoctrination centers. The list is endless.

Exaggerate much, BoB? Well, here's a handy chart yoinked from PowerLine. It's not racist at all:

White people believe in all the bad things such as individualism, self-reliance, the nuclear family, and fatherhood. Worse yet, in order to understand the world, white folks look to objectivity, cause-and-effect relationships, and quantitative analysis. In fact, I'll admit to abusing my son, because I taught him to delay gratification, plan ahead, and not waste time.

Check out some of the laughable stereotypes: we prefer our food bland, our culture European, our thinkers white, and our women Barbies. Am I triggered? Absolutely, in the sense that I'm laughing at these imbeciles.

Yesterday one of them called me racist again. I'm old enough to remember when this was just an admission that the accuser had lost the argument. Now it is the argument. Are my feelings hurt? Yes, I can't believe I have only one reader calling me racist. After 15 years of blogging, I should have hundreds by now.

Anyway, back to our subject: our cosmos. Which no one has ever seen. As it so happens, the above insultainment actually goes to our subject, because another thing no one has ever seen is mankind:

Mankind is not a given thing. Mankind stretches back into the past toward unknown beginnings. It moves into the future toward unknown times. What we call mankind is simply an idea, which arises on the occasion of certain experiences of revelation or illumination, and which is extended to all other people who do not have such insights (Voegelin).

This is a critical idea for a number of reasons. First, as we mentioned a couple of posts back, you can't blame people of the past for not understanding that all human beings are created equal. After all, Africans themselves were unacquainted with this principle, because they're the ones who kidnapped fellow Africans in order to sell them to Arab or European slave traders.

Today we understand -- advocates of identity politics notwithstanding -- that cultures vary but mankind is one. Human nature is real, and confers certain inalienable rights. The left is adamantly opposed to the principles of human nature and natural rights, not just because they can only come from the Creator, but also because they limit state power and undercut their project of inventing positive rights.

It has now become controversial -- even racist -- to suggest that some cultures are better than others. This critique itself is racist to the core, because we're obviously referring to culture, not race.

Conversely, the left, in insisting that all black people ought to think alike, conflates race and culture: Al Sharpton or Cornell West or Ilhan Omar think like Black people ought to think; Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas or Candace Owens aren't just wrong, they're not even properly Black.

I know. And they call us racist! Their absence of self-awareness, let alone irony, is literally disorienting. They'd no doubt call the following racist as well, despite the fact that it is the opposite, because it is again affirming the principle that Blacks are not defined or constrained by culture, just like anyone else:

We include within mankind, for example, all Africans, yet in all Africa there never was an insight that would have enabled an African tribe to conceive the idea of man or mankind. There simply was no such thing. These are Western, or at least largely Western, ideas -- classical and Christian ideas (ibid.).

The operative word isn't "African" but tribal: tribalism isn't just a form of social organization but a mode of thinking. Yes, identity politics has always been with us. Identity politics is post- rather then pre-Christian, but both subordinate universal man to particular tribe, rather than vice versa.

More abstractly, this again means that mankind is not, and can never be, an empirical object. It would be more accurate to say that man is a kind of "location" where something quite marvelous is occurring and never stops occurring. In this luminous space occurs history, creativity, civilization, philosophy, theology, everything. Indeed, what is happening is Being itself:

everything that happens and which we call history, including our idea of mankind, is happening in Being itself, which is behind all specific things and all specific happenings (ibid.).

We'll end with one of my favorite aphorisms, because it is one of the Keys to the Cosmos:

The world is explicable from man; but man is not explicable from the world. Man is a given reality; the world is a hypothesis we invent.

One of its logical entailments is that

History is the series of universes present to the consciousness of successive subjects. -Dávila


Gagdad Bob said...

Sleep is racist.

This is the logical corollary of the delusion that being woke is anti-racist.

Gagdad Bob said...

I don't have the heart. I'm letting my son sleep in one more time this morning, before breaking the bad news to him.

Anonymous said...

Being woke needs to be better defined. Ideally it'd be simpler than just being not asleep. But there's always gonna be some yahoo trying to define it for their own selfish purposes.

One can argue that conservatism is the most realistic of what has been born from progressivism.

With the onslaught of population and technology, progressives experiment with all the new ideas on behalf of the tribe, the results from which conservative Iron Laws are eventually derived. Dedicated conservatives then preserve and defend those Iron Laws.

But are we even living in such a world today?

River Cocytus said...

Anonymous, it's really the opposite; conservatives tend to be defined by conserving what ought to be changed, and liberals by changing what ought to be conserved. At least since the 19th century people 'to the right' (if that has any meaning) of conservatives have noted their inability to conserve anything but the latest changes wrought by liberals.

One would have to go back pretty far, it seems, to find the things worth conserving. I think when they asked Enoch Powell what English law he would consider in agreement with he had to go back to the Magna Charta, and 'only parts of it.'

To get a 'genuine' conservatism in the sense 'conserving what ought to be conserved' it behooves one to radically question everything to determine if it is really traditional, or just something that popped up a couple of years ago that people like and feel they can't live without.

Obviously the first place to look is to find the root of this 'conservatism' which looks back only an arm's reach; but that has a more obvious source: most conservatives are former liberals and as such tend to look as far back as they themselves can, often based on how they were raised.

People such as myself are sometimes called 'reactionaries' because we go beyond conservatism and seek to revert what many conservatives wish to conserve. A good example of this phenomenon is to look at the debate around abortion. Certainly conservatives wish to conserve the traditional approach to children, which in the West has been that infanticide is a crime. Yet, Roe v. Wade and the other decisions didn't come out of nowhere; a reactionary position would be to take it at least a step further and say, "not only should abortion go back to being a crime, but we should also eliminate no-fault divorce, which contributes strongly to transience of relationships and the standpoint from which abortion-on-demand (usually of the father) is not unreasonable.

It may be then asked, but you want to go back that one step because it contributed to the next one, where does it stop?

And I would say, yes -- ! Perhaps it *does* stop at the Magna Charta. I'd predict however that it stops much before you get there.

Petey said...

How about we begin with conserving rather than abolishing man.

Anonymous said...

I thought the "sleepy" stereotype was aimed at Mexicans. Wouldn't this be stereotype appropriation? La Raza needs to march for Brown Power Naps.

julie said...

Looking at the chart of white cultural characteristics, to be honest I feel a little inadequate.

Also, how can any sane person consider steak and potatoes to be bland food? They must not be cooking it right.

River Cocytus said...

That involves going back pretty far, I'd wager. They've been trying to abolish man at least since Locke -- but reliable Catholics I know (I'm not Catholic myself, so I have to take their word for it) take the problem back as far as William of Ockham.

But it begins to form into more of a political problem than a philosophical one, doesn't it? The problem of allowing people who want to abolish man to make decisions on your behalf is a political and not a philosophical problem. Then of course, you'd need to find someone who doesn't want to abolish man...

And as Lewis says, those who persecute us 'for our own good' do so with the acceptance of their own conscience. They're not going to leave us alone.

Gagdad Bob said...

As Chesterton said, "There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped."

He didn't foresee a whole ideology that stops thought.

Anonymous said...

Some regular folks try to simplify the complex. Others would rather complexify the simple.

I think of that Planet Earth scene with the starving polar bear on the beach amongst hundreds of fat healthy walruses. Any few of the walruses, each twice the bears size, could overwhelm the bear which is trying to kill one of them. Instead, hundreds of walruses do their panicky bouncy-bounce towards the sea. I think the bear did eventually get gored by one of the walruses, but it was by mistake.

I think the human race is a lot like that. We're mostly prey and a few predators. We’re too dumb too know how to enhance freedoms for the good, while limiting freedom for the bad.
Every time the discussion gets hopelessly complexified. And then somebody needs to be blamed. I blame the media because the camera crew allowed that polar bear onto that beach.

Anonymous said...

Everybody explains all of reality through their own particular reality. I think it's because your own particular reality is what you think about, mostly.

If the system works for you, then why change it or allow it to be changed? If the system doesn’t work for you, then you want to change it. That’s supposed to be the beauty of the system. If the system is broken, then most people want to fix it so they can get back to their own personal business, whatever that may be. If the system is not broken, or is as good as it gets, then it probably won’t be getting changed.

Theoretically that is. But did the Founders ever consider that regular citizens could be so easily influenced by well-crafty agiprop from media, corporate or religious sources? Did the Founders ever imagine that regular citizens could become so panicky-crazy because something’s wrong, but don’t have a clue about exactly what’s wrong?

There’s a subsistence homesteader Youtube channel I used to enjoy, where the owner has now given up on all the do-it-yourself mirth to be ranting all about minorities taking over American cities. He blames the leftist public school system.

There’s a progressive blog that blames Clinton-Obama elites for colluding with corporations to send all the good jobs overseas which would have otherwise kept the minorities busy.

There are Christian blogs quoting Revelations. There authors of books about why nations fail, all saying very different things. And of course there are tons of people claiming every possible thing is responsible for what's going wrong.

Regular citizens know something’s wrong, but aren't able to able to agree as to what it is or what the root causes are. I may have to conclude that humans are actually dumber than walruses.

Donny said...

I am the walrus.

Walter said...

Shut the fuck up, Donny!

J. Lebowski said...

I didn't blame anyone for the loss of my legs. Some Chinaman took them from me in Korea.

Nux said...

I know economics.

I live. I die. I live again!

Nux said...

And no black warboys either!

Anonymous said...

Societies collapse when elites are isolated from the consequences of their decisions as experienced by the rest of the population.

-Jared Diamond

Anonymous said...

Said the progressive elitist.

Cousin Dupree said...

Progressive elites are trying to prevail with germs, but we have the guns.

Donny said...

You forgot steal. Progressives do that too.

The Dude said...

It's like what Lenin said... you look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, uh...

Anonymous said...

I may have to conclude that progressives are actually dumber than walruses.

The Dude said...

Dupree, they're calling the cops, put the piece away!

Cousin Dupree said...

Oh, that kind of steel.

Cousin Dupree said...

It's confusing. You need steel to make a gun. Unless you live in a Democrat run city, in which case you just steal a gun.

Anonymous said...

Diamond is actually a halfsie. He takes a lot of heat from lefties, so not entirely immune from the consequences of his decisions.

Me, I like the Donald's style. So he holds an unmasked rally, and it winds up being Cain in the hospital.

Nux said...

I’d let a negro carry my virus for me.