Friday, July 03, 2020

Your Choice: Unique Persons or Leftist Ants

If the left doesn't believe in universally valid truths -- including of course the very concept of a universally binding morality -- then why are they canceling everyone and everything based on them?

Imagine if the founders had behaved like this. A quantitative analysis of their writings counts exactly 3,154 citations, with over a third of them to the Bible, followed by Montesquieu, Blackstone, Locke, Hume, and Plutarch (Novak). Now, these sources are all Deeply Problematic. The writings of Plutarch, for example, mention nothing about transgender bathrooms.

Which comes first, the rights or the person who possesses them? Obviously the person comes first, because only persons can have rights. Which highlights the absurdity of various Supreme Court decisions, from Dred Scott v. Sandford, to Roe v. Wade, to the recent Gorsuch v. Biology. In each case, rights are invented and conferred while undercutting the basis for their inherence in persons.

For example, if a woman has a right to infanticide, this right can't inhere in persons, because it grants the right to destroy persons, precisely. Likewise, if a person has the right to own a person, then a person has no right to property in himself, which is the basis of personhood. Etc.

Now, if everyone is the same, then killing someone isn't morally problematic. This is why, for example, no one thinks twice about stepping on an ant or eating a chicken, because there are billions just like the deceased, and nature will never stop cranking out more identical copies.

But I know for a fact that there is no one like me. Gagdaditude, whatever it is, inheres in me -- I, rather -- alone. I have a monopoly on it, nor do I predict we will ever see my likes again. Or anyone else's likes.

The discovery of personhood is one of the blessings of Western civilization, AKA Christendom. It is why it would be a racist slur for one of us to claim, for example, that "Chinese all look alike," whereas in China they have no compunction whatsoever about murdering and oppressing Chinese by the millions.

Those damn communists are all alike, in that they insist, at the point of a gun, that persons are all alike. For them, people are just gears -- or sand -- in the Machine. It doesn't matter how many they kill, because they'll just make more, the only limit being the one child law.

It can scarcely be sufficiently emphasized that the metaphysics of the left not only denies personhood but renders it impossible in principle. You could say that this is the ground source of the left's pneumopathology.

And no, we are not exaggerating: either unique persons or interchangeable collective ants. And show your work: don't pretend personhood is real while holding an ideology that denies its very possibility, e.g., Marxism, scientism, Darwinism, etc.

Crosby highlights the fact that to be an individual means to be incommunicable. Yes, we can communicate with one another, but our actual selfhood is known only to ourselves. No one will ever know what it's actually like to be you or I. If our personhood were fully communicable, then it would be just a general concept rather than a unique particularity. Truly, Homo sapiens is a kind of paradox or contradiction in terms, since it is a species of individual instances.

This leads straight up and into another key question, which is to say, by virtue of what principle is the principle of unique human personhood possible? Correct: the utter uniqueness, unrepeatability, and incommunicability of the Divine Person. To understand that we are in the image of the Creator is to see that human persons (because they are persons) share these divine qualities.

Does this imply that God does not or cannot communicate? Of course not. We are ceaseless recipients of vertical murmurandoms. We have only to amble to the shore -- the shore between immanence and transcendence -- and find another message in a bottle tossed from the other side. Yes, revelation as such is just that -- a message in a bottle -- but so too is the intellect itself.

Of course, this is not to imply that your body is a bottle and your soul the message inside. Rather, your body is an important aspect of the message, or the Incarnation is utterly superfluous. Rather, a book or pamphlet would be sufficient to convey the message.


That was going to be the original title of this post, before it was immediately hijacked by other considerations. The title has to do with a certain well-known (to me) phenomenon whereby things literally jump from the page and yell out THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CAN USE! For what? Often I don't even know, but the knowing of it is a vital aspect of knowing what it might be referring to.

It reminds me of the title of one of Dávila's books of aphorisms: Footnotes to an Implicit Text. I am constantly being bobarded with footnotes. Where is the text? Well, I'm in the process of discovering it by paying attention to the constant clues as to what it's about.

For example, yesterday I was rereading a plump Volume of Voegelin, and various passages screamed out YOU CAN USE THIS! When this happens, I highlight the passage, but I have various ways of highlighting, depending upon how loudly the passage is screaming at me.

Here are just a couple of particularly loud examples:

[P]alpably one and the same reality is illuminated in philosophy and in Scripture, the one more heavily accenting questing reason, the other responsive faith.

The old (↑↓) dynamic, which applies to deep knowing of any kind.

"Reason [or the intellect, AKA nous] is itself a revelation," as the Logos "is no less the rational Ground for apostles than for philosophers." It is only for us to see -- or to experience, rather -- the connection. The connection is lived more than known; to the extent that it is only known, then it isn't truly known at all (going to the distinction between mere [k] and [n]).

Or the following passage, so relevant amidst the contemporary soul sickness of BLM and other diseased forms of identity politics: "Against the stifling secularism," the "collectivist tendencies," the "brutal authoritarians" of our age, abides the Person:

Such a man, whenever and wherever we find him, diagnoses the existential maladies that deform reality, and resists as best he can the disorders by invoking higher truth, perhaps only vaguely known.

I only mention this because sometimes there's a man -- I won't say hero, because what's a hero? -- but sometimes there's a person, and that's enough to trigger the left and make them want to cancel him.

A couple of random thoughts, or lucends:

If ignorance of history is collective amnesia, then the left has given itself an auto-lobotomy.

But they'll never know it, for an irony curtain has descended on the left.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

The Alliance of People of Color & Karens of Pallor

Every morning I receive an email briefing from the NY Times. It informs me of their ludicrously tendentious distortion of the news of the day -- AKA the Narrative -- which the Times both defines and enforces for the sake of rest of the mimetic journalistic hacks of the left.

Today's briefing speaks perfectly to yesterday's point about the nature of personhood: henceforth the Times will capitalize "Black" on the unapologetically racist presumption that such persons share an identity. Conversely, "white" shall not be capitalized, since whites don't necessarily have anything in common.

In short, Blacks are subsumed into a racial category, thus effacing their individual identity: race first, person second, if at all. Stereotype for thee, uniqueness for me. Assuming that Karens of Pallor came up with this policy, which probably isn't the case.

Rather, the black Timesmen no doubt insist on being reduced to a racial category because of the obvious privileges attached to the designation. One assumes that most of them could not be hired on the basis of journalistic or intellectual merit (Charles Blow?). But then none of the white journalists are, either (Thomas Friedman?). On what basis are the latter hired, anyway? It's not race and it's not merit. Nor can it be privilege, or half of them would be white conservatives.

Speaking of which, it's also odd that they choose not to capitalize "white" in light to the incessant reference to "white privilege." If whites share no common history or identity, how can they share the attribute of privilege?

These are all reasonable questions, and we all know it is wholly unreasonable to expect reasonable answers from the left. You get the point. In the ideological vehicle, the car always drives the man, so it's pointless to ask the man where he's going. Let's move on.

Interestingly, there's a kind of ontological Dunning-Krugery going on here, in that people who are still subsumed in a tribal identity cannot know about individual identity, any more than people inhabiting Flatland can know anything about the sphere. Children don't understand adulthood until they become adults. Barbarians don't know anything about civilization except how to destroy it. Likewise Antifa and BLM mobs.

Yesterday I was rereading a collection of essays by Voegelin. In the introduction, Sandoz makes the point that

The man who plays his role in existence in cooperation with God is the true man, and all humans are called by natural inclination [↑] as well as the pull of divine Being [↓] to be true men. In short, true human existence is self-consciously lived in collaborative partnership by every man in his own unique measure with God.

Anything that interferes with this process -- including ideology -- renders us less than the true men we are intended to be. To reduce oneself to a racial category or tribal identity is the quintessence of ontological derailment into a nebulous world of non-being.

And here is the subtle point: this derailment into an ontological netherworld will necessarily result in feelings of estrangement and alienation.

This alienation can be symbolized in terms of race, but the left, via identity politics, provides a whole menu of identities from which to choose: gender, sexual preference, religion (so long as it's an anti-American one), et al. It doesn't matter which group identity one chooses, so long as one subsumes one's actual identity into it, and then uses it to symbolize the very alienation produced by being a self-styled victim.

Of course they are victims. And deciding to identify as a victim gives them the added pleasure of participating in their own subjection. The imaginary victimizer is but the projected image they conceal in themselves. The bully is real, they just pretend they aren't it. This is a key dynamic, and you see it all day long in academia, journalism, and unsupervised playgrounds.

The superimposition of ideology over reality results in the destruction of whole realms of knowledge -- whole academic departments. At the same time, it paradoxically results in new departments of "false knowledge" such as feminism, queer studies, critical race theory, and all the rest, all dedicated to the systematic pursuit and construction of systems of non-knowledge, AKA credentialed stupidity.

Ultimately this pneumo-cognitive rebellion and regression "obscures the reality of man" and "destroys the sciences of man." There is a loss of "insights into the nature of reality," or maybe you haven't recently attended college.

But if you have, then you know the elaborate indoctrination "is not education to openness of the spirit; it is rather, a work of closure against the spirit." It "seals off its victims"

against the life of spirit; it successfully maintains its estrangement in a position of social dominance; and hinders the public of the spirit from establishing itself in the society at large.

Yes, "the public of the spirit" is the silent majority, and the only thing standing between us and the regressive social and political dominance of illiterate and destructive crybullies is President Trump.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Who & Whom of Persons & Racial Categories

The subject of race is so vapid and unedifying, no wonder the left never shuts up about it, for it ensures that they always have something vacuous to scream about, i.e., a non-problem with no political solution (or better, pretend solutions that aggravate the pseudo-problem, which calls for ever more pretend solutions, especially in an election year).

Yes, there is a solution, but the race hustlers of the left would never consider it, because it would put them out of business overnight.

To paraphrase someone, you can't expect the tenured to understand something when their whole livelihood depends on not understanding it -- in this case, a rudimentary grasp of the Golden Rule: I don't want to be reduced to a racial stereotype, therefore I don't depersonalize others in that manner.

Persons are persons, not races. They are, however, male or female. Note that, as usual, the left has it precisely backward and upside-down: they want us to pretend race is of critical importance while denying the cosmic significance of sexual differences. Indeed, the Supreme Court reads this twisted ideology into the Constitution.

Let's stipulate the formerly liberal (and always conservative) principle that a person is an individual and not a racial category. But what is a person?

Conveniently, I just finished a book on this very subject, The Selfhood of the Human Person. It started off very strong, but got a little tedious about midway through. It could have been half the length if the author had fully digested the subject instead of thinking out loud the whole time.

But I suppose that's the way it is with phenomenology. It can get more than a little.... flabby, since it is the opposite of abstract, reductive, aphoristic, etc. It gives you the whole existentialada, literally.

We prefer to look at things through the opposite end of the telescope, which is to say, principial, metaphysical, integral, and synthetic, while never ignoring the universal experience of any- and everyman in every time and place, AKA human nature. I suggest we flip through the book with this in mind, and try to subsume the raw phenomenology into our half-baked noumenology. Whatever that means.

Crosby follows the personalist tradition of John Paul II, which vindicates "that which makes man irreducible to the world." Obviously this flies in the face of all modern forms of scientistic reductionism, but also the postmodern pathologies that so cluelessly deny human nature and essence. You could say that modernism and postmodernism are just two sides of the same worthless metaphysical coin.

Which is not to say there is nothing worthwhile in science, only that it renders itself stupid when it elevates itself to a metaphysic. There is, however, nothing worthwhile in postmodernism, as it is in its essence a doctrine of idiocy when it isn't Satan's own worldview (yes, literally).

This post may be a little random. Or rather, continue to be random. Besides, I'm feeling a little fuzzy this morning, which makes it more challenging to slice through this like the proverbial hammer.

Some things are better seen and recognized when we are deprived of them. Who notices oxygen until we can't breath? Who could begin to understand time if we weren't constantly threatened by finitude?

Similarly, perhaps personhood comes better into focus when we are deprived of it. Why is life in Saudi Arabia or China or Iran or leftist campuses so awful? Because real personhood is not permitted. More ominously, why is our country lurching in this very direction, away from individual freedom and personhood toward leftist conformity, collectivism, and groupthink?

America is founded on the principle that a person is a Who and not a What -- an I and never an It. Lenin and Stalin were correct in reducing politics to the question of Who and Whom. The question is, who qets to be Who, and who is to be treated as a mere Whom, i.e., an object or means to an end? (Hint: all leftists think they will be a Who, and are always surprised when the mob comes for them.)

Note, for example, that rioters and looters are treated with great respect by the left as dignified Whos, while people who wish to protect themselves from rioters and looters -- e.g., the McCloskeys -- are Whoms to be destroyed by the media-state complex.

Am I reducing the mob to a Whom by calling them rioters and looters? Not at all, since I hold them fully responsible as persons for the rioting, looting, thuggery. Damn right they're persons! Now, treat them like it, good and hard. You'll find they won't like it.

Rather, they'll want to hide behind a Whom and say something to the effect that "race made me do it" (or variants such as "structural racism," "white privilege," etc.). I can't help it! I have no agency or free will! I'm depraved on account'a I'm deprived!

Good question: "what do we understand about persons when we understand the moral immaturity of those periods in history in which slavery was taken for granted? What do we understand about persons when we see slavery as radically depersonalizing?"

So easy to tear down statues of our founders, but why is slavery wrong? What are we recognizing when we recognize it as such?

No, we are not recognizing "the equality of races." Suppose science continues to mount evidence for the inequality of races -- for example, that Asian Americans and Ashkenazi Jews on average have higher IQs than Euro- or African-Amercans. Would this justify slavery?

No, because we are persons before we are statistical categories of general intelligence. Slavery is wrong because it is in the nature of a person to have property in himself. A person is his own end, and must never be treated as an object who only exists for the sake of another. Yes, China wants to enslave us, but it would be wrong no matter how many math and engineering majors they produce.

Nor is a person a mere part of a whole, whether it is a race, state, or tribe. Not to belabor the point, but this is why the disgusting ideology of identity politics is at antipodes to the American ideal:

there is no totality that can encompass a person in such a way as to relativize the totality that he or she is. Persons stand in themselves in such a way as to be absolute, that is, unsurpassable, unrelativizable totalities.

In short, a person can never be contained by anything lower than personhood. I'll buy that. But by virtue of what principle? Or relative to whom?

Correct: the divine person, more on whom tomorrow.