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