Thursday, March 04, 2021

Truth, Existence, and Certitude

Is there a pure metaphysics, accessible to man, that is prior to sense and reason? I've been struggling to reconcile esoterism and Thomism, and this seems to be the nub of the gist of the crux of the matter. Or at least one of them.  

The dimensions I've been exploring lately are so vast that it's difficult -- okay, impossible -- to wrap one's mind around them. No wonder people take this stuff on faith! And not just religious faith, either. For example, I have no earthly idea how a CD player works, but it doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of music. 

And who knows, maybe the kind of technical intelligence that can dream up such a device displaces the kind of intelligence that appreciates other dimensions, from music to literature to comedy. Certainly our digital overlords don't have a sense of humor, or even common sense. And they want to restrict us to their little cognitive prison, just like any other religious fanatic.

Anyway, the intellect of a Fr. Garrigou is so imposing that one is inclined to simply nod in agreement and say "you know best." I suppose this is why some folks called him "the sacred monster or Thomism." Imposing. That's the word. When I question something he says, I feel slightly impudent.

Since God, His Existence and His Nature runs to 1,000 pages, it is literally difficult to wrap one's mind around it, figuratively speaking. It's like trying to capture water with a bucket in a rainstorm. But at risk of impudence, I think I've identified a flaw, or at least a fundamental area of disagreement, and it goes to this question of what the intellect is

We can further boil the question down to this: is the intellect radically separate from the divine principle? Or is it a prolongation of it? 

I notice that Fr. Garrigou, when he has occasion to mention him at all -- usually in a snarky footnote --  doesn't think much of Eckhart. But this is a central motif of the Meister, i.e., that there is something both uncreated and uncreatable in the soul -- or that we participate in the uncreated. 

Apparently this is a Big Heresy, and I can understand why. Taken out of context and without the appropriate paradox, irony, and playfulness, one can get the wrong idea and start thinking one is God. 

Nevertheless. Let's proceed logically. Let's say truth exists. Being true, it is both necessary and eternal. Assuming man can know this truth, this means that man must somehow participate in necessary and eternal being. Woo hoo!

But Garrigou begins the search for God at the other end, with the senses, which know only the particular and unique. Yes, we can prove the existence of God with certainty, but beginning with created things and ascending on up to their Creator. Thus, God is known a posteriori, not a priori -- or from the effects to the cause instead of the cause to its effects, reverberations, and prolongations herebelow.

At times it almost seems to me that Garrigou is protecting the dignity and majesty of God from our grubby intellects. Here again, I can certainly understand the reason for this. It's the same reason why real Jews don't even utter the word G-d, because it's presumptuous to name the Nameless. 

Moreover, giving something a name can fool us into thinking we understand it. After all, even liberals use the word "reality." 

Rather than arguing with Garrigou, I think I'll cut straight to what bOb thinks, which is more in align with Schuon and Eckhart, albeit with certain modifications. Nor should you care what bOb thinks, since he is just an impudent crank who is in way over his head.

Now, instead of starting with the senses, Schuon goes straight for the jugular of Absolute: boom! Maybe I'm missing something here, but this seems... absolutely self-evident to me. We're all familiar with Descartes' famous crack to the effect that He thought about stuff, therefore he existed

This is metaphysically backassward, precisely. Like Descartes, we too "begin" in thought, but not really, since thought -- to say nothing of true thoughts -- must have a sufficient reason. It's not just floating around in our heads with no explanation.

To jump ahead a bit, the correct formulation is: I think, therefore being is. Or better, I am because (not therefore) Being is:     

The certitude that we exist would be impossible without absolute, hence necessary, Being, which inspires both our existence and our certitude; Being and Consciousness: these are the two roots of our reality (Schuon). 

From this little seedling sprout all sorts of implications, entailments, and good tidings. 

Back to the question of beginning at the top rather than with the senses:

No doubt it is worth recalling here that in metaphysics there is no empiricism: principial knowledge cannot stem from any experience, even though experiences -- scientific or other -- can be the occasional causes of the intellect's intuitions.

So it's fine to start with the empirical world, if that floats your boat. But you're forgetting a little something that must be there before the beginning, AKA intelligence:

The sources of our transcendent intuitions are innate data, consubstantial with pure intelligence... 

Again, this goes to the "uncreated" alluded to above. Conversely, if we begin at the other end, with empiricism or with reason, we will discover no immanent principle allowing us to transcend these. Rationalism, for example,

consists in seeking the elements of certitude in phenomena rather than in our very being. 

Or, let's say you want to skip all this philosophical nonsense and go straight to revelation. Let's say it speaks to you, and so deeply that you are just certain it is true. Question: by virtue of what principle is this certitude and this truth in us?

To be continued....

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Rights for the Victims of Stupidity

I don't like to play the IQ card, but sometimes you have to -- for example, with recalcitrant children or uncomprehending liberals. But I repeat myself.

Although our culture pretends to value intelligence, this is not only a transparent falsehood but an inversion of the reality. Elite liberal institutions such as academia or the MSM are aimed at stupid and/or deranged adolescents, not normal adults. 

Have you noticed how many cable channels are beamed into your home, and the number of them that are addressed to your level of intelligence? It always approaches zero. Show me the intelligence to whom Joy Reid speaks, and I will show you an intelligence that, for whatever reason, failed to actualize.

We don't appreciate the gulf that exists between the intelligent and stupid. Perhaps even more destructive is the abyss between the intelligent-and-educated and the intelligent-but-indoctrinated. 

The latter are the really dangerous ones, in part because they have just enough intelligence and more than enough obedience to quickly and unreflectively assimilate the indoctrination and then pass it along to the stupid. This is the role of the educational establishment in general and teachers unions in particular. And let's not forget the media.

How can one respect the intelligence of someone who can't even see that Joe Biden is an addle-brained zombie? Is this inability just stupidity? Mass indoctrination? Collective delusion? Negative hallucination? 

We are drowning in Dunning-Krugery. But this post is not supposed to be about politics and intelligence; rather, about God and intelligence. 

I realize you folks are, like me, just humble dwellers on the threshold of the transdimensional doorway, looking for a few handouts from Petey, but let's face it: if you enjoy reading this blog, and understand what I'm talking about, then you are pretty far to the right side of the Bell Curve, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. 

Not only are you intelligent, but intelligent enough to feel rather eccentric, although not necessarily lonely so long as the proper stimulation is provided. 

But you are bored stiff with the sorts of things that engage the interest of people situated to your left, and again, you have to face this fact. In your day-to-day life you don't run into the type of person who would ever read, much less understand, this blog. Rather, you mainly find them here, or in books, or in the vertical world, or in a few other thought spots of the internet.

Like I said, I don't like to play the IQ card, and certainly not the victim card, but c'mon, man! Intelligence has its rights! I'm old enough to remember when it was both respected and respectable, but nowadays you will be canceled for even saying something intelligent, and especially if it is both intelligent and funny. For the left, the latter has been totally off limits since the risible Obama came to town. 

I understand the left, and not just because I used to be one of them. Rather, I used to be that stupid as well. For autobiographical reasons I won't get into, my brain remained on the factory setting of ambient liberalism until I was into my 40s, so my intelligence was fine, just not conformed to reality: good enough engine, no steering wheel.

More generally, all the surveys show -- as if it's needed -- that conservatives understand liberalism, while the converse is not true. Which is why they used to just engage in slander, demonization, and projection, whereas now they're just censoring us altogether. They've never been able to answer our arguments, and now they're just being honest about it: no opinion for you!

It's the same with mental illness, by the way. I understand the mentally ill, and not just because I'm a clinical psychologist. More generally, the person who is emotionally well can understand the unwell -- at least in potential -- better than the unwell can understand the well. We can appreciate that he is delusional or hallucinating, while he can't appreciate that we're not.

Having said that, just as there is a "mystery of evil," there can also be a mystery of stupidity and mental illness, because it partakes of the absurd, and absurdity corresponds to the unintelligible, precisely. No one will ever get to the bottom of Keith Olbermann.

Mass culture is aimed squarely at the 100 IQ cohort, and you probably don't hang out with too many of them, although you no doubt encounter them all day long. 

You probably haven't done this in ages, but I dare you to turn on the local news for a few minutes. Stupidity can't really radiate. Nevertheless, you can feel it burning your skin. 

Alternatively, try watching a press briefing by Jen Psaki. They are fascinatingly stupid and almost mesmerizingly demented -- and yet, not nearly as demented as would be Joe Biden in a press conference spontaneously responding to hostile questions. I would pay for that. 

Not only is the left composed of boring lunatics saying tedious things, but they want to ban the intelligent people with interesting ideas. That's where I draw the line.

Stop it! 

That was addressed to me. 

Again, this post is supposed to be about God and intelligence. Now, consider the gulf between, say, Joel Osteen and Fr. Garrigou. I don't even know anything about the former, except that he's some kind of snake oil handler with a mega-church. 

If that were what Christianity is, then obviously no intelligent person would be or could be a Christian. Apparently this type of religiosity corresponds to a certain type of need in a certain type of person, but we are not that person and we don't have those kinds of needs. At all.  

Back to the essay on Esoterism as Principle and as Way. It is difficult for me to imagine someone situated to our left on on the Bell Curve understanding these Principles or engaging in this Way, for the same reason I can't imagine such a person performing surgery on my brain. 

Just because I won't let you open my skull, that doesn't make you a bad person. Likewise, just because I am not moved by your silly argument, nor does that necessarily make you a bad person. You only become bad when you make it against the law to reject your argument, or censor mine.

We're running out of time, so I'm going to jump ahead to a couple of passages that get right to the point:

"Metaphysical or esoteric doctrine is addressed to another subjectivity than is the general religious message," the latter taking what we might call the false-but-true form of a Joel Osteen or some other midlevel but high income spiritual adventurer. These latter speak "to the will and to passional man," whereas "esoterism speaks to the intelligence and to the contemplative man."  

And "only esoteric theses can satisfy the imperious needs for logical understanding that the philosophic and scientific positions of the modern world cause." We'll explain why in the next post.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Total Truth and Integral Intelligence

There's a clarifying essay by Schuon called Esoterism as Principle and as Way in his book of the same title. I've read it many times, but it always turns out different. Or rather, I come at it with a different Bob.

First of all, it speaks to me on a deep level. It is as if, on the one hand, I understand it, but on the other -- and more deeply -- it understands me. Which makes me "happy," in the manner described in yesterday's post: 

if one says all of this to me, then I pay attention, I understand something, I feel happy. I feel attracted to God, I attach myself to the Divine.

You'd think this would be sufficient, but nevertheless, it makes me suspicious. Yes, of the author, but mainly of myself. Just because I understand something, that doesn't make it true. But is it possible to understand something that is false? If so, what does it mean to "understand"?  (To be clear, I'm thinking of Blake's gag to the effect that Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not believed.)

Perhaps we need a different word. For example, I understand progressivism, and it doesn't get more false than that. What is actually going on when we understand something?  

By way of analogy, I can hear some pop music crap and know in an instant that it is indeed irredeemable crap, even though millions of people call it art. Conversely, I enjoy forms of music that the average listener would regard as chaotic noise. Which of us is perceiving things aright? Do we shrug our shoulders and concede that "there's no accounting for taste"? Or is beauty an adequation, as I believe?

That's the word we're looking for: adequation. All knowledge, to the extent that it is true, is an adequation. If not, then there is no such thing as knowledge, since it has no measure outside itself. As they like to say on the left, perception is reality, and we're off to the racists.

Enough preliminary noodling around. Let's get on with it, beginning, as we always must, with definitions:

It is necessary, first of all, to be clear about the meaning of the word "eosterism."  

As with everything else in life, error exists because it is parasitic on truth. Counterfeit money presumes the existence of the real thing. As such, our discussion

presupposes that one is dealing with authentic esoterism and not its counterfeits or deviations, which can compromise the word and not the thing itself, and which merely serve to flatter a propensity for extravagance.

Boy and how. In those old westerns, a cowboy would bite a coin to make sure it was made of real gold. Along these lines, I invite our trolls to bite me.

Jumping ahead a bit, it just dawned on me why this material seems different this time around. It's because I've spent this past Year of Our Lockdown fully immersed in scholastic thought, such that I can now see the parallels with Schuon's thought, but also the ruptures, so to speak. 

As such, I am confronted with the question: where is the disconnect? Must we stop at the limits set by Aristotle, or Thomas, or Garrigou-Lagrange? Or is it safe to continue tripping our way on up where the buses don't usually run?  Is this crazyland? Or a deeper form of sanity?

Now you see why I don't trust myself. Yes, I'm driving this bus, and yes, I see the road clearly, and I see that ditch on one side and the cliff on the other. But crazy people see all sorts of things clearly, from microaggressions to white privilege to global warming. I don't exclude myself from mankind's universal tendency to see things that aren't there, or to look for the keys under the streetlight.

About those connections mentioned above:

Certainly all esoterism appears to be tinged with heresy from the point of view of the corresponding exoterism, but this obviously does not disqualify it if it is intrinsically orthodox, hence conforming with truth as such...

How do we know a theory is a good one? I can think of three main ways: first, it will connect to and organize our observations and experiences of reality; second, it will connect to other theories (or sometimes transcend them); and third, it will connect to as yet undiscovered observations.  

For me, esoterism does all these: it provides a framework to illuminate spiritual data and experience; it illuminates other frameworks; and it is expansive enough to account for new data as it comes along. 

If we're on the right track, then nothing should contradict our interpretive framework. This is what the mind wants and demands. The question is, are we entitled to such an explanation? In any event, 

only esoteric theses can satisfy the imperious needs for logical understanding that the philosophic and scientific positions of the modern world cause.

And "Just as rationalism can remove faith, so esoterism can restore it." 

We want answers.  Not absurd ones, crazy ones, partial ones, self-serving ones, or fashionable but ridiculously self-refuting ones such as materialism, scientism, metaphysical Darwinism, et al. And let's not give a pass to all man's goofy religious beliefs either. They may not be as silly and destructive as materialism, but they're still wrong (or partial). 

Do the answers exist or not? If not, then let's embrace nihilism and let the war begin: ignorant armies clashing by night, to the end of time. 

Again it comes down to something mentioned in the previous post -- that the conventional choices on offer "underestimate God just as they underestimate men." 

These two poles are complementary, because if one is detached from the other, we end in a monstrous and depraved humanism at one end, or a kind of mental slavery at the other. And extremists meet, as we see in our grotesque secular religion of soul-dead wokeism.

We never quite defined esoterism, which I think is a loaded term. I prefer truth, or let's say total truth in conformity to integral intelligence: this intelligence is proportioned to something vastly transcending, and it is the function of esoterism to illuminate these connecting links, symbolic points of reference, and universal principles.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fun with God and Man

Lately I've been pondering the question of esoterism, about which I've developed a certain ambivalence since I began blogging 2005. Back then I was just a kid with a crazy dream. Now we're living in a crazy dream with the kids in charge. 

Since 2005, I've become more conventional in my thinking, partly because I've discovered how unconventional Christianity is. Truly, it already is an esoterism, especially compared to the other monotheisms, or to Vedanta or Buddhism, which are more like metaphysical-therapeutic doctrines with a religion attached.

Schuon calls Christianity a "relative esoterism" expressed via its symbols, dogmas, and rituals. You might say that these are one degree removed from a pure esoterism, but for this reason can run up against certain contradictions. 

But the average person needn't worry about these loose ends, nor would he even care. Rather, not only is faith sufficient to carry him over the divine-human abyss, but faith itself is a kind of gnosis par excellence (as in the old gag about believing in order to know).

(Backing up a bit, Schuon equates esoterism with nothing more than [lower case] gnosis, which is to say, knowledge of higher realities.)   

Anyway, while trying to figure out just what it is that bugs me about Thomas in general and Garrigou-Lagrange in particular (this despite the immense, indeed, priceless light they furnish), I came across a letter from Schuon that precisely describes my sentiments. I won't quote the whole thing, but he first briefly summarizes his metaphysic before observing that 

if one says all of this to me, then I pay attention, I understand something, I feel happy. I feel attracted to God, I attach myself to the Divine.

That's me: I get it, it makes me happy, and I feel drawn into the vortex of O. 

Now, happiness is not the measure of truth. Then again, they say that happiness is a consequence of a desire meeting its end, and that's what it feels like to me: intellection resting in peace, which is to say, extinguished in union with its proper object. 

Conversely -- and this goes to my trouble with more conventional approaches -- 

When on the contrary I am told: a God, who owes me nothing because He is almighty, gives me this or that command, and that my intelligence is only there to carry out this command as well as possible, and other things of this kind -- when I am told this, I do not understand anything, I feel unhappy, I do not feel attracted to religion, I no longer know what I am, nor why I am a human being. But this is what theologians too often reduce religion to, as if they could please God thereby! They underestimate God just as they underestimate men.

Bing! This uncharacteristically personal disclosure rang my nonlocal gong. It reminds me of when we were scouting guitars for my son. We saw a video that recommended purchasing a beautiful instrument, because the beauty would provoke the desire to hold and play it. Somewhat like choosing a wife. 

Come to think of it, way back when I was around ten years old, my mother forced me to take piano lessons. Even she could see that I was musically inclined, so it seemed like the proper bourgeois thing to do. I don't recall how may lessons there were -- maybe half a dozen at most -- but I hated it. 

Now, if she had handed me a starburst Rickenbacker electric like George Harrison played, then I'm sure things would have turned out different. I'd have been a rock star, and long dead by now. Thanks mom!

Back to what Schuon said above: the irony is that the conventional (non-esoteric) approach underestimates man and God. I think we can stipulate that if you're on the esoteric path and you're not humble, then you're not only wrong, but probably dangerous -- certainly to yourself, but to others as well if you presume to instruct them.

Humility as at once a cause and consequence, or pre- and post-requisite.  

In that same letter, Schuon asks himself why he's dwelling on this subject: possibly because of 

the constantly recurring confrontation with the moralistic one-sidedness of exoterism and its exaggerations, which one encounters at every turn, but which, God be praised, one can also forget.

Same.

Now, if exoterism can be annoying and sometimes tedious, esoterism has its own dangers and pitfalls, as alluded to above. 

In fact, this may be part of the reason why Schuon always emphasized the necessity to situate esoterism within exoterism, and to give oneself to a legitimate tradition; for the former is a deepening of the latter (or conversely, one could say that exoterism is a divinely authorized and instituted prolongation of esoteric principles onto a more approachable plane). 

For exoterism is nonetheless -- to put it mildly -- not only wholly legitimate on its own plane, but a God-given means for man to know the essentials, even (and especially) if he isn't cut out for gymgnostics and verticalisthenics.   

Which is not grandiose, just objective, no different from seeing that this person is cut out for music or math or baseball, but for that person it's sufficient to enjoy music, balance his checkbook, and participate in a softball beer league. 

There are degrees of everything, nor is the esoterist better or even necessarily more intelligent, God forbid. I mean, it would never occur to me that I am more brilliant than St. Thomas! I wish. 

Perhaps you've noticed that in the best theological authorities there are "incidental openings to gnosis,"  but at times frustrated by the need to contain or rein them in by doctrine. 

Thus, "elements can be found in their teaching which in fact transcend it." Isn't this precisely what happened to Thomas at the end of his life, big time? Or Big Timeless, rather.  His exoteric efforts were crowned by an experience that utterly transcended, but by no means negated, them, since they provided the launch pad.

That's about it for today. We're not close to finished with this subject.  

Friday, February 26, 2021

Squaring the Absurcular

There is no doubt that religious doctrines confront the modern mind with certain difficulties. Is the difficulty in the doctrine or the mind? 

In the spirit of compromise, let's meet in the muddle and stipulate that it's both: on the one hand, messages addressed to, and formulated by, a premodern mentality may not speak as clearly to modern ears. 

At the same time, a horizontal mentality enclosed in this or that ideological deformity exiles itself from the dimension from which revelation proceeds. 

More imaginative types are able to appreciate the transparency of revelation; instead of staring dumbly at the concrete symbols, they are able to intuit the reality to which the symbols point (and from which they descend).  They are able to grow with the flow of a simultaneously descending and ascending grace, and see the totality of revelation as a transdimensional map with points of reference corresponding to this or that vertical tourist spot.

Again, there is only one Ultimate Reality but countless views of it. This goes to the old problem of the one and the many, which is one of the first questions that confronts the philosophical mind. 

Some ancient thinkers argued that reality is ceaseless change, while others argued that change is an illusion. In other words, it comes down to whether the universe is the moving image of eternity, or just eternally moving images -- one or many, respectively.

Such ultimate antinomies usually turn out to be complementarities that are united on a higher level. In this case, Aristotle solved the problem of the one and many with the principles of potency and act. Being, which is one, actualizes latent potentialities in time. Thus, for example, the acorn is both different and not-different from the oak tree; there is both continuity and discontinuity.

Or, just consider yourself and your own potential. On the one hand, you are who you are. At the same time, you can only actualize so much of your latent potential in this life. 

What is the ontological nature of this potential? It's rather ambiguous, isn't it? It's not yet something, since you haven't actualized it. And yet, it's not nothing either, since it's there waiting to be actualized. It's on the border between nothing and something: not nothing but not yet something. 

Now apply this same principle to all of reality.  For me, this touches on the touchy questions of freedom, predetermination, and God's omniscience. A perfect intelligence can be omniscient about the past, since it happened, and about the present, since it is happening.  

But the future is another thing entirely, since it hasn't yet happened, nor is it determined. Rather, billions (megatrillions if we count their mutual interactions) of free decisions will go into constituting it, in each and every moment. 

That's a big epistemological problem. Except, of course, for socialist central planners, who combine the omniscience of a god with the ineradicable stupidity of the godless.

About the one God and many views. While it is true that Protestantism has aggravated this problem, since every man becomes his own theologian, it seems to me that it's essentially unavoidable, given the human condition. 

Orthodoxy (lower case o) tries to limit the diversity by proclaiming certain interpretations necessary and others off limits, but each person nevertheless understands things in his own way. How could it be otherwise, unless man were like an ant or a bee, with no individuality?

Now, is it possible for man to overcome his own subjectivity and see the principles as they are, in all their naked objectivity, without so much as a fig leaf of myth? Yes and no. Yes, because we are the image and (potential) likeness of God; no, because the reflected image, no matter how alike, is not the thing reflected. 

Schuon presumes to elucidate the eternal Principles by virtue of which the doctrines of this or the religion are true. This raises an important question. 

That is, on the assumption that Christian doctrine is true, is it true in itself, or true because it exemplifies higher principles? If it is the former, then it will confront us with things that we can only take on faith, because they can't be resolved into, or harmonized into, higher principles.  

Along these lines, it seems to me that even the best exoteric theologians kick the epistemolgical can more or less up the road, until they stop at a wall called Mystery, or Because God Said So, or Tradition, or Faith. Is this truly the end? Or is there intelligibility beyond these limits?

I haven't formulated it all that well, but that's the question. Again, what are the legitimate rights of intelligence -- bearing in mind that it can have no rights without prior obligations, one of which is humility, not to mention sanctity.  

We're running out of time, but Schuon describes the problem this way: the form is not the substance; form implies a diversity of manifestations -- for example, there are many men but mankind is one. If there is no human nature (the form) then there are no humans either, since each is his own form (which is nominalism, i.e., the denial of essential forms).

Now, revelation is a form, and it must be distinct from the substance, or we descend into idolatry. Likewise, Jesus the man was on the one hand unique, on the other, a manifestation of the Logos, which is to say, the Form of all forms.

All this thinking is making me dizzy. To be continued...

Thursday, February 25, 2021

What's the Speed of God?

I read an essay this morning called Apologetics in the Age of Cancellation that adds another dimension to the esoteric angle we were discussing in the previous post, i.e., trust. (The link is at the bottom because I still haven't figured out how to embed them & I don't want to clutter the text.)

After all is said and done, who ya' gonna trust? Your parents? Your teachers? Your friends? Your church? A book? The government? Science? 

Among others, I trust Sr. Dávila, who observes that
There are arguments of increasing validity, but, in short, no argument in any field spares us the final leap.

Irrespective of one's philosophy, there will be an element of faith, which is to say, trust -- even if it means merely trusting one's own mind and senses.

The essay mentioned above suggests that, "Due to increasing skepticism and secularism," 

contemporary apologetics should prioritize the personal testimony, or witness, of the apologist over the content of his arguments. This testimony... is best supported by the personalist philosophy expounded by Pope St. John Paul II. By focusing “on the aspirations of the human heart for communion with the divine,” apologists can more effectively persuade “readers who suffer from the anonymity of contemporary collectivism or the isolation of contemporary individualism.”

I suppose we could say that we have to trust the messenger before we believe his message:

Apologetics succeeds, in this view, when trust develops between the apologist and his interlocutor, who accepts the testimony only when he comes to trust the apologist as a person. As such, converts will often name the apologist instrumental in their conversions before naming specific arguments. By contrast, “to reject the message is to withhold confidence in the witness.”

We live in a paradoxical age which combines a maximum of skepticism and credulity. For example, the typical member of the lunatic left is far too skeptical to believe in invisible sky gods and so forth. 

And yet, he easily believes in lies so outrageous that they verge on the hallucinatory, such as the Russia hoax, the plague of White Supremacism, the ludicrous Insurrection, or thousands of innocent black men being gunned down by police.

Well, who ya' gonna believe, your lying eyes or a dimwitted barmaid from the Bronx? Crime statistics or a nursing home escapee mumbling about his hairy legs?  

Regarding this strange admixture of a simultaneously maxed-out skepticism + credulity, Dávila alludes to the possibility of another way, in that

There is some collusion between skepticism and faith: both undermine human presumptuousness.

Note that this collusion undermines both human presumptuousness and human presumptuousness. Failing it, we are all-too-human and therefore all-too presumptuous, in the tediously predictable manner of Genesis 3 All Over Again. 

In the absence of conscious awareness of his own inclinations, man will confuse his downward flight with "progress," merely because he's moving. Wheeeeeee! 

This ends in pseudo-religious secular cult that shares most everything with religion except for a little thing called Truth, e.g., faith, salvation, purification, sanctity, ritual, and an imaginary choir of devils singing Heil MAGA! around the exalted throne of the eternal Orange Man. 

Anyway, trust. Ultimately, in one way or another, you're still going to have to trust yourself. For example, even if you decide to put all your faith in science, it's still you who must do so, and why trust yourself, of all people? 

For our purposes, the question is, just how much can we trust our own minds? You could say that this is the first question of epistemology and of critical thinking more generally. Indeed, it is the basis for a properly functioning skepticism that ultimately goes to what is real, and, even prior to this, on what basis man can even know the real.

This no doubt sounds rather basic and stupid. I was trying to explain it to my son a couple of days ago, in the context of a wide-ranging discussion of philosophy, theology, and science. 

Specifically, I was trying to explain to him that modern critical philosophy begins with the idea that man has no access to reality, only to his own mental concepts. This naturally leads to additional novelties -- progress! -- such as the absence of free will, the impossibility of truth, the destruction of language, the relativization of morality, the denial of meta-narratives, and the death of the intellect and common sense.

In short, the modern left. It's so stupid, it's almost embarrassing to call oneself human. Nevertheless, it's something we have to face. 

In the course of my diatribe to my son, I was reminded of God's death 139 years ago, when Nietzsche gave us the word (or anti-word). I thought of the analogy to a dead star. Supposing a star dies, we might not get word of it for many lightyears later. Indeed, even our sun is old news -- nine minutes old by the time it reaches us.

Which leads to the question: what's the speed of God? Supposing he died in 1882 or thereabouts, how long does it take for the darkness to reach us?  

The darkness is here, to be sure. It seems to me that it must be a gradual thing. A star doesn't turn off like a light switch, but goes through a process. Come to think of it, this process can even become an inversion of itself: instead of radiating light, it can suck it and everything else into a black hole.

Is this where we are -- on the cusp of a black hole? It feels that way to me, at least collectively. Having said that, I have no faith whatsoever in this so-called death of God, nor in the resultant black hole. It's happening, but I'm not taking part in it, just watching the spectacle from a disrespectful distance. In the world but not of it, and all that.

Sorry about the derailment. We'll get back to the necessity of esoterism in the next post. It really does tie the cosmos together in a way nothing else can. 

https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2021/02/25/apologetics-in-the-age-of-cancellation/?utm_source=The+Catholic+Thing+Daily&utm_campaign=bf1c53fd02-

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Path Unravelled

We know that things happen. The question is, why they happen. As we've said before, this ability to ask Why -- or WTF?! -- so characterizes man, that we might well call him homo curious if that term didn't have certain distasteful connotations. 

Now, this blog never stops asking questions, i.e., interrogating reality at every level and in diverse modes. Still, it's One Cosmos; every thing requires a cause, and this ultimate cause is what folks call God, i.e., the intelligent cause of intelligible being. If, in your philosophical wandering, you haven't yet bumped into the Uncaused Cause, just keep wondering and blundering. You'll get there: (?) and you shall (!).

The Uncaused Cause is Necessary Being; being necessary, it is eternal. Put conversely, anything contingent is strictly unnecessary and timebound; being bound by time, it has a beginning and an end. 

Still, we want details. When things happen down here -- especially bad things -- it doesn't appease the intellect to dismiss them with an empty cliche such as "it's God's will." If this is the case, then God has an awful lot of explaining to do. 

More basically, why posit a God who is less moral than we are, and who is responsible for things we would never dream of doing? Some things shock the conscience, and what is the conscience but our divine radar for distinguishing good from evil? If something offends our sense of decency, then God must be beside himself. Constantly.

Have you ever noticed that even the best theologians can start to get slippery at certain inflection points, just when you want the details? As mentioned above, anyone with a triple digit IQ can work his way up to the Uncaused Cause. We get it. How then do things get so fouled up between there and here? 

Sometimes, when you get close to one of these soft spots, the theologian will get all Wizard of Oz on you: pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! They start blowing smoke or squirting ink like an octopus, enveloping you in a cloud of mystagogy. Others get impatient or irritable, but the worst ones start issuing threats -- as if our God-given curiosity is somehow blasphemous or sacrilegious.  (That's a good thing about Judaism: it positively encourages arguing and even wrestling with God.)

I guess the question is, just what are the rights of our intelligence? It is not uncommon to hear that God owes us absolutely nothing, and that, on the contrary, we owe everything to God. Okay, I get it. God is the cause, we are the effect, and the effect owes its existence to the cause.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that if you're gonna go to all the trouble of creating a being with intelligence and freedom, then certain obligations and rights go along with these. With regard to the intellect, we are obliged to seek truth because we have the right to seek it. If we don't have the right, then we have no obligation. 

Bottom line: if God gives us an intellect, then he is obliged -- in a manner of speaking, and with all deus respect -- to furnish the means to satisfy it, on pain of his own arbitrary incoherence. 

No, we're not tempting God. Rather, honoring him, for it dishonors God to characterize him as illogical, unreasonable, and inconsistent. Besides, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 

So, we're just askin'. 

What is this all about, Bob? You sound vexed.

Well, I did become a little miffed this weekend, in the course of plowing through volume II of God, His Existence and His Nature. I won't bore you with details, but let's just say that with any purely exoteric approach to religion, you're going to be left with certain loose ends and sometimes downright absurdities that you are forced to accept because of Mystery, or veiled threat, or just shut-up. I don't like that. That's the sort of response one expects from climate science drama queens, not the Queen of Sciences. 

I don't like to characterize myself as an "esoterist," because it sounds pretentious, and people get the wrong idea. Nevertheless, there is an inevitable layer of esoterism between God and revelation, and if you ignore it, then you will be forced to accept a degree of contradiction and absurdity. The Infinite necessarily veils itself in finitude, but a nearsighted focus on the veil will obscure what it's veiling in the distance. I suppose we could say that it will appear "solid" to the many but transparent to the few, i.e. those blessed with 20/∞ vision. 

Fr. Reginald -- or Thomas more generally -- occupies a space of what I would call "mid-level esoterism"; or, it's as if it sometimes penetrates all the way through to the core, but then draws back from its own implications, because those implications will contradict scripture exoterically understood, or violate some a priori deduction of what God must be like. 

For example, they say God must be utterly immobile and immutable, and can derive absolutely nothing from our existence, since he lacks nothing and therefore can receive nothing.

Okay, I get that too, but still: some father. And speaking of which, as alluded to in the previous post, doesn't the idea of a trinitarian godhead evoke something analogous to, I don't know, giving and receiving, loving and being loved, knowing and being known?  

This is way too large a subject to fit into a post. But to help reorient myself, I reread some Schuon, who says this:

partial or indirect truth can save, and in this respect can suffice for us; on the other hand, if God has judged it good to give us an understanding which transcends the necessary minimum, we can do nothing about this and we would be highly ungracious to complain about it. Man certainly is free to close his eyes to particular data -- and he may do so from ignorance or as a matter of convenience -- but at least nothing forces him to do so.

Not everyone wants or even needs the whole existentialada. Strokes & folks. Exoterism is apparently fine for most, but there are always certain aspects that make me wince -- and I think cause the typical midwit to turn away from religion, because it sounds stupid to these indoctrinated and credentialed yahoos.

"Exoterism is a precarious thing by reason of its limits or its exclusions," such that we are eventually faced with a choice: "escape from these limitations by the upward path, in esoterism, or by the downward path, in a worldly and suicidal liberalism."

Isn't this precisely what has happened? It seems to me that the present culture war has its roots in an inherently unstable religious exoterism at one end, and an intellectually and civilizationally suicidal liberalism at the other. Only one path can save us: the in- and upward one.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Triple-Secret Detention in the Principle's Office

Must something first be in order to become? Or rather, become in order to be?

We always go back to the Trinity -- which, if it doesn't provide us with a whole new angle on metaphysics, what's the point? In other words, why go to all the trouble of showing us that the ultimate principle is an intersubjective threeness if it doesn't revolutionize our understanding of things? 

Natural reason can only take us so far in these matters: again, assuming average IQ and rudimentary intellectual honesty, we are inevitably led to the Ultimate Principle of intelligence and intelligibility. Hello, noumena!

But if we want to know something about what goes on inside the principle's office -- about his interior life -- then what? 

Among other things, God is free. Indeed, he is freedom itself -- the sufficient reason thereof -- so it's not as if we can bribe or compel him to open up and share. The freedom of God is not analogous to academic freedom, the latter being a compulsory belief in tenured fairy tales and a race-obsessed race to the bottom of the gene pool.   

So, we need to be called into the principle's office and meet with him. Yes, he'll probably assign you a period of detention, but this isn't punishment, rather, it's for your own good. You need to start thinking before you act, mister! 

Back to our pseudo-conundrum: if the ultimate principle is a trinity of persons, then its being is grounded in the perpetual becoming of each, so to speak. To be clear, the persons do not become something "more" or "better," because they are already perfect, and this perfection is indeed revealed in the perpetual giving and receiving between persons, precisely. 

I suppose we could look at it this way: what is better than perfection? Giving perfection away! If this is the case, then "perfect being" is its perfect becoming in eternal giving and receiving, AKA love.

I think this must be the point, because it tells us something we can't know with mere natural reason, but, at the same time, not only isn't repugnant to reason, but clearly illuminates and perfects it.  

Think about that one: on the purely natural plane, we can know with certainty that reason has its limits, and that to believe otherwise is very much other than wise. We can know that reason, no matter how much we widen its circle, will ultimately be tautologous, only able to "prove" what is furnished by reason. 

This is obvious to everyone except Gödel, which is why he went to all that trouble of proving beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with airtight logic and geometric irony, that reason itself hides the key to its own lockbox. Ah, but there is a triplicate copy, and that's where I had them!

Which really just means that man is not a computer program, and that he is programed to exit his programming. This is what man is, and forms the basis of our perpetual transcendental becoming, which continues until. Period. Unlike progressives, we are condemned to progress. Up to a point, that point being another name for God.

We are intelligent, and freedom is a consequence of intelligence. If you wonder why the left never stops its assault on freedom, now you know. The stupid, the indoctrinated, the mentally ill, may look free, but they are obviously the opposite. Is Joe Biden free? No, he is locked in the basement, and with good reason. 

And why can the godless progressive never truly be free, even if he isn't demented? Well, just as there is no becoming without being, there is no progress without a subject of progress, which is to say, an actual existing thing with a real essence. 

Examples abound. Marriage, for example is an actual thing, which is why it cannot encompass whatever it is that goes on between two men. Likewise, biology is an actual thing, which is why it is delusional to say that Bruce Jenner is the greatest female athlete of all-time. The first amendment is a thing, which is why the left is un- and anti-American.

Now, this is going to sound either obvious or abstruse, but there are only things because there is God. For what is a thing, anyway? It is something that 1) is, and 2) is what it is. Things are, which is miracle enough. To rub it in, they are always something, and something intelligible to boot. To us, of all persons!

Speaking of triplicate keys, it's almost as if we participate in an ever-expanding circular dance between truth, being, and intelligence. 

So, you can learn a lot by doing time in the principle's office. Everything you need to know, anyway.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Rhetorical Questions & Ultimate Answers

Do the friends of God not quickly recognize one another, even in cyberspace? 

Do the acquaintances of Toots Mondello not exchange furtive glances in the transdimensional tavern, AKA the Tippling Point? 

If, on the vertical path, we are not attracted up and in, are we not drifting down and out? 

And do things not accelerate as they draw near to their end, hence the increasingly florid weirdness of the left?

Is God another name for the principle of non-contradiction?  

Are liberal soy boys and beta males not eunuchs for the Kingdom of Hell?

Is intersectionality the most comprehensive framework for illuminating the mutual influence of intellectual depravity and moral retardation? 

Is leftism a pincer movement between ignorance and mental illness? 

Is the hostility of the progressive mind to biological reality not proof that a vacuum abhors nature?

Is the notion of patriarchy a question of daddy issues on a world-historical scale? Or just another name for parricide? 

Where in the Constitution does it say that people who didn't attend college shouldn't pay for the bad decisions of those who did?

Does the evolution from Obama to Biden not prove that for the left, a stupid president is good but a demented one better?  

These and other questions probably won't be answered as we attempt to build this morning's post. 

Moving on now to God, His Existence and His Nature, Fr. Reginald agrees with the Raccoon that, when it comes right down to it, it's not much of a choice between true God and radical absurdity, for the true man of the left will always choose the latter.

Why radical absurdity? What's the catch? 

We'll get to that as we proceed. We have two volumes and 1,000 pages to blow through, so there will be plenty of time for higher insultainment and principled abuse.

Now, one can be excused for having wrong ideas about God, but to overlook him completely is just plain careless. In atheism, philosloppiness and confidence are directly related:

This means that speculative atheism is an impossibility for any man who has the use of reason and is in good faith. 

That's "faith" in the colloquial sense of a "sincerity which is contrary to deceit," AKA rudimentary intellectual honesty. It also presupposes "use of all the means at [one's] disposal in order to arrive at the truth."

ALL of 'em, which includes vertical, horizontal, subjective (interior), objective (exterior), infrapersonal, personal, interpersonal, transpersonal, artistic, moral, and other means to the End we seek (and which seeks, i.e., attracts, us). 

Now, this is interesting, and not just because I'd been thinking about it before reading the following passage, but is there such a thing as "intellectual" or "philosophical" sin? 

If so, it can't be the same as an honest mistake. Rather, it's a dishonest mistake, therefore not really a mistake at all but a plan. And a devious one at that. 

A sin against right reason is necessarily an offense against the source of reason; to put it another way, as the Prime Directive on the plane of action is to do good and avoid evil, the P.D. of the intellect is to know truth and avoid error. Now go away and be stupid no more!

Having said that, just as not all people are fit for self-government -- see, for example, California -- so too are most people not fit for intellection -- see, for example, California.  Does this mean such people are out of luck, or must move to Texas? Not at all. Montana is also nice, and not as cold.

The bottom line for today is that "The agnostic denial of the possibility of demonstrating the existence of God is, therefore, a heresy."

Not an extrinsic heresy within the bounds of this or that worldview, but an intrinsic heresy for man qua man.  It's universal. No exceptions. Well, except maybe for certain forms of mental illness, organic brain damage, or demon possession.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Existence on Loan From God

The biggest little words in all of creation must be I and Be, and I suppose in that order. We've written a great deal about the former, not as much about the latter, except insofar as I AM -- which simply means that ultimate reality is, and is personal.  

"Be" is an innocent enough sounding word, and yet, it is of the greatest consequence. For example, every debate, every dispute, every argument at every level, from the silly to the profound, comes down to what is. I say 2+2 is 4. You say math is a white supremacist conspiracy. Which is it? 

Granted, the business of isness can get murkier as we ascend the vertical hierarchy into morality, philosophy, and politics. Or so we have heard from the worldly wise, which is to say, terrestrial tools.

In truth, the higher we ascend, the more we converge upon the apex of absolute and necessary, hence eternal, truths.  No truths can more secure than these, because the very possibility of truth is grounded in them.  

Science, for example, is at the base of an epistemological and ontological pyramid that flows from the top down and back up; in other words, it can trace the real because it is actually retracing it. It doesn't invent, but dis-covers. 

That little prelude was inspired by the title of a chapter in The Sense of Mystery called The Verb "To Be -- Its Sense and Its Scope

Every noun comes down to Is it?, It is, or It isn't. This truism is grounded in the principle of non-contradiction, in that a thing either is or isn't. But so too can every verb be so reduced. To say "Peter runs" is to say "Peter is running," such that running is the caseIt exists.

From here Fr. Reginald highlights the gulf between "to have" and "to be." We, for example, can have truth. But can we be truth, full stop? Can anyone?  

Yes, if I AM is the case, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.  

At the top of the cosmic hierarchy is necessary being: 

Only God is His Existence; He alone is Being Itself and was able to say, "I am that I am," or, "He who is." In contrast, every other being has existence.  

You and I surely exist. But we aren't existence itself. We aren't necessary. We are contingent, wholly dependent upon that which exists necessarily. So, "There is an abyss that separates being and having." 

Now, as alluded to in paragraph two, every dispute comes down to what is and isn't (and what could be, based upon real potential).  

"To be" is "at the basis of all judgments," and is indeed "the soul of judgment." Someone with poor judgment, for example, makes decisions rooted in things that are not the case, that have no being (or potential being, like socialism or "social justice"). 

Conversely, prudence -- rightly ordered practical judgment -- is founded upon conformity with reality: 

true judgment itself corresponds to reality -- that is, to the existence of things.... Judgment is true if it affirms that which is and if it denies that which is not.

For this reason, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness....'

It's a little hard to continue, because I just found out that Rush has died. Now, Rush was a great man -- which is to say, he had greatness. He was not greatness itself, of course. Rather, as he was quick to point out, his talent was on loan from God. The loan has been repayed in full, but let's be thankful for all the hearts and minds he transformed with that modest loan of human capital from the First Bank of Realville.

And let's even be thankful for the unhinged hatred his passing will provoke on the left, because of the clarity it provides. Still, woe to the left, who call greatness evil and evil great. 

In this spirit, please ignore any trollish comments today, except insofar as to learn from them the true nature of the left and to recall There but for the grace of God go I....

Monday, February 15, 2021

No Order, No Peace

Again, we're just flippin' through Fr. Reginald's The Order of Things -- and who doesn't want to know how and why things are ordered the way they are? Indeed, you could say that this is the whole business of life -- the business of isness. 

What do I mean by this bold claim? Well, science -- obviously -- is all about the discovery of order at every level of investigation, from physics to chemistry to biology on up. Politics is essentially the science of our collective order, while economics goes to the order of goods and services. As a clinical psychologist, my racket revolves around emotional and cognitive order and dis-disorder. 

The horizontal order of the lower sciences is bisected by a vertical order that extends from and to God -- or, if you prefer a less saturated pneumaticon, O. 

This vertical order is as self-evident as is the horizontal; and when I say "self-evident," I mean that our intellect assents to the proposition the moment it is adequately articulated and understood, unless successfully undermined by crosscurrent factors such as willfulness, intellectual dishonesty, pride, craziness, tenure, or simple stupidity.

For example, we begin -- must begin -- with the senses. We see, touch, hear, smell, or taste the world. But the most perfect sense imaginable doesn't reach the order of intelligibility. My dog's sense of smell is orders of magnitude superior to mine, but she cannot reflect upon the object of the senses and know that she is in contact with an intelligible world.

Which, among other reasons, is why natural selection can never be a sufficient reason for the human intellect. Suffice it to say that an eternity of material shuffling can never attain immateriality. 

Analogously, you could touch or smell every book ever written, but it would not disclose the immaterial meaning of a single word. Nor would every journalist stacked one atop the other add up to a single wise man.

To put it another way, the object of the senses is a subset of the object of the intellect, which is intelligible being. We know this -- and cannot help knowing it -- but an animal does not know it and can never know it. 

To summarize: objects of the senses are objects of the senses, but the object of the intellect is intelligible being, AKA everyTHING and EVERYthing -- the One and the Many, the latter resolving into the former, on pain of an eternally absurd mayaplicity.

I want to flip forward to a chapter that asks the question: The Finality and Realism of the Will: Does the Desire for Happiness Prove God's Existence?

Let's check it out: I want to be happy. Therefore God exists. 

Yup. 

But let's break it down and try to be more specific. Happiness, for example. What is it? It must be an end, but of what? It depends. 

For example, we can all agree that the proper end of the intellect is truth. Attaining it -- accompanied by that subtle clicking noise you hear with your third ear -- should make your thinking part happy. Indeed, it is downright addictive.

Likewise, the proper object of the will is the good. Everyone this side of academia knows that our Prime Directive is to do good and avoid evil. 

So both intellect and will are teleologically ordered. If they weren't, they wouldn't just be dis-ordered but utterly meaningless and absurd. Nihilism, Dude. Truth would be anything you wish it to be, and morality would be reduced to desire. Yes, you would be sealed in leftism, with no way out.

It reminds me of how, when someone dies, it is customary to say "rest in peace." Analogously, the intellect is at peace when it can rest in truth. But you will have noticed how restless is the intellect. This restlessness results in a kind of endless mischief, unless it rests in O. Then the restlessness will be ordered to its final end, and we can enjoy some peace & quiet upstairs.

We all see how this works with desire. We all want stuff, but we also see that no amount of finite stuff can fill that hole: 

It is impossible for man to find true happiness, which he naturally desires, in any limited good, for his intellect, immediately noting THE LIMITATION of this good, then conceives a superior good, and the will naturally desires it (ibid.).  

Yes, this has even happened to me. Come to think of it -- and an earlier version of myself -- too much satiety can even provoke a kind of "distress and disgust" --  which I'll bet underlies a lot of the irrational hatred of capitalism -- as if freedom is the problem rather than dis-ordered desire!

It is as if the intellect says:

"Now that you have attained this sensible delight, which just a moment ago was attractive to you, you can now see that it is poverty itself and incapable of satisfying the profound void found in your heart, something incapable of responding to your desire for happiness" (ibid.).

Poverty itself. I like that. Analogously, go back to what was said about the proper object of the intellect. You can try to pacify it with some ideology such as scientism, socialism, or feminism, but each is Intellectual Poverty Itself. You'll still be hungry, but you'll blame Trump, or the patriarchy, or white Christians, or something.

Fr. Reginald poses the question: 

Can it be the case that a NATURAL desire would be vain, chimerical, senseless, and without any real scope?

Be careful how you respond -- or at least be prepared to live with the consequences -- because if your answer is Yes, then what you want is absurd, nothing is true, and surely neither will make you happy. 

In reality, one proof of God is the desire for something less. We could also say that it's a good practice to live for the present moment and for eternity, not for that old deceiver, Time. 

To be perfectly clear, what I mean is to live for the limited moment bisected by limitless eternity, and time will take care of itself. Hidden springs and subtle pleasures abound here, and the thirst is quenched long before the water ever runs dry.

Peace is "the tranquility of order," so there is peace when we are ordered to our proper end.

No Order, No Peace. The End.  

Saturday, February 13, 2021

I'd Rather be a Mere Moth than a Dim Bulb

I'm going to highlight a few passages from Garrigou's The Sense of Mystery until one of them flips my light switch and veers off into a post. 

the theologian obeys the truth because the theologian loves the truth. Admittedly, the divine truth eludes easy explanation, but the fruits of its contemplation excel those of all other possible objects (Cuddy, from the Foreword).

This checks out. If you don't love truth, then it is something less, because truth and love are absolutely convergent. It is also fruitful, and endlessly so, because it is alive: so, to be perfectly accurate, Life, Love, and Truth are convergent, and their medium is light. Come to think of it, so too is their substance light, a light that proceeds in two directions.

What? Sorry -- I've jumped ahead into the book I'm currently reading, The Order of Things

In the introduction to the latter, Minerd (the translighter) points out that "the reader will notice the presence of a higher light" in Garrigou's words, a light one doesn't perceive or receive -- to put it mildly -- "in a philosopher who strives to write in a manner congenial to those not sharing that same supernatural light." This "makes certain demands of the reader regarding the light under which the text should be read."

The bottom line is that life is short, so any philosophy that doesn't convey this light isn't worth your time. 

For in reality, these intellectual aberrations aren't even philosophy. Rather, they're not only less than philosophy (AKA love of Wisdom), but separated by an abyss from the proper object of philosophy -- which is to say, intelligible being and the Being Who Is its cause, principle, and end.

Such pseudo-philosophies are literally intellectual disorders, since they are not ordered to their proper object -- similar to how, say, behaviorism can't be a psychology because it is ordered to behavior, not the psyche (or how feminism is not ordered to females, or leftism to reality).

A bit more from the latter book: Garrigou's works "are animated from the depths of his soul by a light that is loftier than that of 'pure reason alone.'" This too checks out. Me? Grandiose? Please. I am but a moth, but at least I know light when I'm circling it. 

Unlike his dim bulb father, my son won't have to waste a moment of his life on such foolish byways and frivolous diversions as materialism, existentialism, scientism, and all the rest. He hasn't only been given a head start on the vertical adventure, but a heart start to go with it. Lucky brat.

Trolls -- operating as they do in the dark -- will no doubt conflate this with some sort of top-down indoctrination, when it is precisely the opposite; or better, it is actually both-and, which is to say, an ascent from the world to principles, followed by an illumination of the world by those necessary and eternal principles.  

Failing this, "we are thereby reduced to a merely-horizontal view of things, making the loftiest truths descend to the same level as the most lamentable errors." To reduce our hierarchically ordered cosmos to matter or math or privilege or "power" is to reduce intelligence to invincible stupidity. 

Conversely, when we are receptive to the higher light and see things in their proper perspective, "we will have a vertical view of things according to the true scale of values -- from the Supreme Truth and Sovereign Good all the way down to the most distant ramblings of error and evil." 

Seen in this Light, error and evil are proof of the True and Good. 

"Consecration to the truth," says Garrigou, "is real, perennial, liberating, and salvific." If it weren't real, it couldn't set us free, now could it? Nor could it save. 

To say "perennial" is to say timeless and universal, so it is also quite obviously one. If it weren't, we could never know it, for our intelligence would thereby be plunged into an obscure multiplicity with no way up and out. We would be condemned to the Tyranny of Diversity, as in California.

A cosmos divided against it self cannot stand. Nor could we stand it, since dualism is repugnant to the intellect. Behind, beneath, and above the bifurcation of intelligence and intelligibility is the Eternal Intellection of the Plenitude of Being.

I'll just end with this thought by St. Thomas -- and let us moths be thankful he thought this way:

As it is better to illuminate than to shine only, so it is better to hand on to others what has been contemplated rather than to contemplate only.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Death, Revolution, and Giggles

The political platforms of the left are gradually transformed into scaffolds --Dávila

A few more points about the logic of sacrifice before moving on. First, note the role of projection: for five years the left has been viciously attacking President Trump, and yet, feel themselves to be his victims, for which reason they feel justified in his political murder (the symbolic regicide of impeachment). 

Indeed, Dems such as AOC quite literally feel their lives were threatened by the president and his agents, e.g., Senators Cruz and Hawley. 

Which brings to mind a golden oldie by Schuon that perfectly encrapsulates the mindset of the left's perversive victim culture:

In reality, man has the right to be legitimately traumatized only by monstrosities; [BUT] he who is traumatized by less is himself a monster.

Monsters. Germans, for example, were traumatized by the Jews. They certainly said as much. Nazis fervently maintained that murdering the Jews was an act of pure self-defense. The purpose of this comparison is not to evoke Godwin's law, but rather, to highlight the power and persistence of political psycho-projection. Extreme cases illuminate the less extreme. 

If we've learned nothing else over the past five years, it is the extent to which the contemporary American left "speaks" the language of projection. If they didn't, we would have no way of knowing what they're up to until it's too late. (Hint: eliminating Trump = eliminating us. And U.S.) 

In order to decode who they are and what they believe, one must examine what the left imputes to others, e.g., racism, violence, anti-science, etc.  This has always been the case, but there is something in the psychospirtual water that is accelerating the process, such that the time between projection and enactment is shortening, perhaps because our cultural defense mechanisms have been breached and overwhelmed. Spiritual AIDS.

Acceleration. Toward what? Spiritual death, which is to say death, for death occurs when the form withdraws from the body. 

Yes, you might say that the form of our culture is simply undergoing "change" (AKA "progress"), but a change in substance is the opposite of a change of substance. That is to say, if the change is grounded in our founding principles -- for example, oh, freedom of speech -- then that is consistent with the Life of our nation. 

Conversely, to the extent that change is grounded in substantially different principles, then this is a change of substance into a new organism. It is revolution, not renewal. 

Speaking of which, is there a commandment the left doesn't invert and negate, from idolatry to relativism to envy to the institutionalization of theft?

That was a rhetorical question. For

--What is called the modern mentality is the process of exonerating the deadly sins (NGD).

Accelerate. Where have I heard that? Ah yes -- Fr. Reginald deployed this word just last night, although in a book that was published 75 years ago. In it he traces our cultural descent from paganism through deism, naturalism, liberalism, materialism, atheism, radicalism, socialism, communism, revolution, et al. Change!

However, if 

the most lamentable effects of these pernicious errors do not yet clearly appear in the first generation, they are manifested in the third, fourth, and fifth generations according to the law of acceleration in descent. It is as in the acceleration of falling bodies: if in the first second the velocity of descent were to be twenty, in the fifth second it would be a hundred (emphasis mine).

Now presciently, this was published one year before the appearance of the most Grating Generation, the dreaded Boomers. We are now into, what, the fourth generation since them? (Millennials --> X --> Y --> Z --> whatever.)  If these latter generations are bad, I still blame the parents and grandparents.  

(Speaking of which, new book: Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster -- https://www.amazon.com/dp/0593086759/?coliid=I3EZSR6RZEQ0ED&colid=1M0Z9KRTC1IB&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it)

I don't mean to sound so pissimystic this morning, because I'm not. Rather, I always assume the worst and hope for the best. To quote our friend Nicolás,

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

To be clear, I am not suggesting that our civilization is dead. Rather, that it is visibly dying before our eyes; and that one must be either insensate or one of its attackers or to not see this. After all, the latter no longer even bother to lie about what they're doing, so just believe them. 

Consider what they're doing to our children, which is soul murder masquerading as education:

--By 2022, as your first-grader is learning that two plus two is four, the Minnesota Department of Education intends to mandate that she also learn to recognize “stereotypes,” “biased speech,” and “injustice at the institutional or systemic level.” 

--Your middle schooler will be drilled in how his identity is a function of his skin color.

--Your high schooler will be required to explain how Europeans invented “whiteness” and that America’s 19th-century westward expansion was the shameful product of “whiteness, Christianity and capitalism.” 

--World history from classical Greece and Rome to World Wars I and II... has been virtually eliminated. In its place, for example, young people... will learn about “feng shui”...

--5-year-olds will “identify surface and deep characteristics of different ways of being (identity).” Fourth-graders are coached on how one’s “identity” and “biases influence decisions about how to use a space.” Seventh-graders are exhorted to “define race and ethnicity from different perspectives and make connections to one’s own ways of being (identities).”

--By high school, students must “explain... the social construction of race” and “assess how social policies and economic forces offer privilege or systematic oppressions for racial/ethnic groups.” (https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2021/02/the-left-wing-plot-to-misinform-our-children.php)

Again: a change of substance. One can advocate this change, but just don't deny that it redounds to the death of one culture and the birth of a new one, good and hard.  

Sometimes I write a whole post without intending to do so. Like today, for what I really wanted to do is wrap up our discussion of Transcendence and History. Let's try to do so in the timelessness remaining. I guess this passage will do:

So -- whether the phenomena under consideration are the cults of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, or more benign discharges such as an obsession with UFOs or the deification of movie or pop music stars -- a naively immanentist or materialist landscape is invariably a field of spiritual disorientation and false adoration, where the human longing for the divine ground is misdirected and misapplied.

And a fistful of aphorisms to wrap things up:

--The conservatism of each era is the counterweight to the stupidity of the day.

--Conservatism should not be a political party but the normal attitude of every decent man.

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

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

--To scandalize the leftist, just speak the truth.

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

Ha! 

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Human Sacrifice & Other Forms of Impeachment

History never repeats but it does often rhyme. This is largely because human nature doesn't change, while the circumstances do; therefore, man qua man can't help saying and doing the same old things, only garbed in new clothing. As Eve was the first progressive, college educated white women (of both genders) may be the last.

Let's take "impeachment," for example. What is it, really? And with what does it rhyme? It seems that it's been with us since before the beginning, only in different guises, from regicide to patricide to deicide. In a superficial sense, today's trial is but a farce. Even so, different motives abound, making it a farce multiplier. 

Even among a tribe not known for self-awareness, there are surely some Dems who pretend to support the farce for wholly cynical, tactical, or strategic reasons, e.g., to throw red meat (or fresh organic vegetables, rather) to the base, or to distract from the Biden administration's deeply unpopular policies, or to provide a Totem of Hate to temporarily unify their disparate mob of losers, misfits, and crazies 

By the way, you may have noticed from the sidebar that we're on a Garrigou binge, and likely will be for the remainder of the year. However, before gorging ourselves on that feast, I'd like to finish our dialogue with Transcendence and History before it sinks beneath the subjective horizon. 

Speaking of the unbloody sacrifice of impeachment, I wonder if today's ritual killing somehow rhymes with communion? Is this but another satanic mass and President Trump the unwitting host in a parallel looniverse?

First, some resonant passages from T & H to set the stage:

the popular concept of the historical past as having receded irretrievably into a distance of time is a misconception based on a failure to appreciate human participation in timeless realities, and to appreciate that all who grasp and enact those realities are brought together in immediate and true contemporaneity (Hughes).

For example, to participate in the Mass is to stand cheek-to-jowl with all co-participants past and future, above (with the saints in heaven) and below.  Indeed, it is to em-body the one participant in the one eternal sacrifice that transcends time.  It explicitly does not repeat the sacrifice, rather, eternally rhymes with it in an unbloody manner.  

(Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin: some bow-tied clown of a chaplain has taken a mask from the ancient gallery and pleaded with his strange god to take control of this impeachment trial. Don't worry, the gods of the left have been summoned and are indeed in control of the proceedings. Carry on.)

Elsewhere in the book Hughes quotes Voegelin to the effect that our modern progressive revolt would be unintelligible if it weren't understood as a deformation of the very Christianity against which it is in revolt. 

Let's pull a golden oldie from the shelf, In the Shadow of Moloch, by Martin Bergmann. In a chapter called The Psychology of Sacrifice, he notes that

The rite of sacrifice must meet a deep and universal human need, otherwise we would be at a loss to explain its presence in all known cultures.

I wonder what this need could be? I'm a psychologist. Perhaps it's that familiar

feeling of dread that many men and women, burdened with a sense of guilt, experience when they are particularly successful or when good fortune beyond their expectations befalls them.

Let's say, for example, a group successfully rigs and steals an election. Naturally, this will provoke guilt. The guilt is repressed, but then what? I know! Let's project it into someone else and sacrifice the victim. All in favor say Aye

The ayes have it. In other words, human sacrifice is always unanimity minus one

This is truly one of the universal motifs of human history. Every primitive culture practiced human sacrifice, and the left is nothing if not primitive.  

One of the explicit purposes of the impeachment is to drive a stake through the heart of the Orange Man so that he can never again haunt the fragile psyches of the left. This too rhymes with the past:

Many students of the subject believe that sacrifices originated in fear of the dead. The Greeks burned their dead so as to banish them to Hades, while certain primitive people dismembered corpses to prevent their returning to life.

Or returning to the White House. In any event, so long as President Trump has secret service protection, dismemberment is probably off the menu. So, impeachment it is.

"Primitive cultures" fear that "One who does not sacrifice will be persecuted, punished." In Mesoamerica, for example, "The continuation of the world, the rising of the sun, depended on sacrifices.... not even the continuation of time could be taken for granted." The gods want blood, and they want it now.

It would be logical at this point to segue to Gil Bailie's Violence Unveiled, but unpacking it would take all day. Just read the book, which will be like reading today's news, only forever. The bottom line, as Bergmann says, is that the Crucifixion "was the central sacrifice in the history of the world and made all subsequent sacrifices superfluous."

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Inferior Clarity and Superior Obscurity

We're still on the subject of those two obscurities that are situated above and below the intellect, i.e., in matter below and spirit above. Along these lines, Garrigou-Lagrange (heretofore G-L) writes that

It is necessary to distinguish the inferior sort of obscurity, which arises from incoherence and absurdity, from the superior sort of obscurity, which comes from a light that is too powerful for the weak eyes of our mind.

Now, ironically -- or something -- this superior obscurity is the penumbra of certitude, so to speak. Put it this way: if you stare long enough at the sun, you are certain to go blind, thereby proving once and for all that the sun exists.  

far from excluding certitude, this superior sort of obscurity is united to it; it does not truly begin unless it begins with certitude, and the two increase together. 

In other words, it seems that certitude and obscurity covary, which again sounds a little strange until you realize that God is a bottomless abyss of superessential light. Analogously, the sphere necessarily contains an infinite number of circles, and then some.

Respect the mystery! This goes for everyone, Christian, non-Christian, and anti-Christian alike, for it is a human imperative. For if we fail to respect it -- and to the extent that we don't -- we will thereby render ourselves stupid in certain predictable ways. 

For example, if we deny the superior obscurity by superimposing upon it the inferior clarity of scientism, we solve the mystery of humanness at the price of denying its existence. We are HINOs -- Human In Name Only, for we are really just a babbling mammal with too much self-esteem and too little self-awareness. We are all reduced to AOC, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Barack Obama.

Now, reality is what it is. What changes is our view of it. Like a work of art, things can be understood superficially or deeply; intelligence as such is able to penetrate beneath the surface of things and apprehend their deeper meaning: in so doing it unites particulars into a more integral vision of unity.

The object of the intellect -- AKA reality -- is inexhaustible: one can always deepen one's understanding "without ever touching the depth" -- or "summit," rather.  

Put it this way: the existence of God may be proved with certainty -- which at once proves with inferior clarity the infinitely superior obscurity.  Knowing one doesn't know is far superior to the tenured ape who doesn't know what he doesn't know and believes that what he knows is without mystery. Religious Dunning-Krugery pervades academia. 

A child and adult see the same world. Then again, they don't at all. Likewise, conservative liberals and illiberal leftists see the same world. Then again, not even close. Now, what accounts for this unbridgeable distance between conservative and child? Are leftists just passively detached from higher realities, or are they actively hallucinating? I know: the power of and.

This is straight out of the Raccoon playbook:

while materialism has a horizontal view of things (making more elevated realities descend to the level of matter), true wisdom has a vertical view of things and distinguishes ever more clearly the two obscurities of which we have spoken -- the one from below that originates in matter (as well as error and evil) and the one from on high, which is that of the very inward and intimate life of God.

Except to "error and evil" we would add stupid and crazy.   

We'll leave off with a riff on St. Thomas's acute sense of mystery, and how his peerless clarity was crowned with, and illuminated by, an even more superior vision of obscurity:

How does it happen that this human intellect (above all in those who have the philosophical spirit or also among the ordinary who have lofty souls) after sixty or seventy years is ripe (even from the natural point of view) for an intellectual life superior to that supplied by libraries and all the means of information, as long as the soul is united to the body?

Thursday, February 04, 2021

To the Stars, and Beyond

This post was started yesterday but ends at the stars below. Today's post proceeds beyond the stars:

I was pondering a certain philosophical question, when I read a tweet by the Happy Acres guy that crystalized the shape of the problem (https://twitter.com/HappyHectares/status/1356974916147372033):

recently, and in its defense, I've heard leftism likened to Credo quia absurdum.

Or, in plain English, I believe because it is absurd. Now, no one should believe something merely because it is absurd, and I assume Tertullian was being a bit ironic. If I were to plagiaphrase the gag, it would be to make the point that superior truths often appear absurd to inferior minds. The proof is in the trolls.

Let me track down what Mr. T. was trying to convey. Perhaps we can even learn something. I have a book called The Faith of the Early Fathers for just this purpose. It contains all the writings of the ancient Christians. First, someone has has his hand up. Yes, Professor Wiki? 

Credo quia absurdum is a Latin phrase that means "I believe because it is absurd," originally misattributed to Tertullian.... It is believed to be a paraphrasing of Tertullian's "prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est" which means It is certain because it is absurd....  

Early modern Protestant and Enlightenment rhetoric against Catholicism and religion more broadly resulted in this phrase being changed to I believe because it is absurd, displaced from its original anti-Marcionite to a personally religious context.

Marcionite? I can never keep track of all the heresies. This one taught that 

Christ was not a Jewish Messiah, but a spiritual entity that was sent by the Monad to reveal the truth about existence, thus allowing humanity to escape the earthly trap of the demiurge. Marcion called God, the Stranger God, or the Alien God, in some translations, as this deity had not had any previous interactions with the world, and was wholly unknown. 

But Tertullian was by no means advocating absurdity for its own sake, which would be profoundly un- and anti-Catholic. Rather,  

The consensus of Tertullian scholars is that the reading "I believe because it is absurd" sharply diverges from Tertullian's own thoughts, given his priority on reasoned argument and rationality in his writings.... The meaning of the phrase may relate to 1 Corinthians 1:17–31, where something foolish to a human may be an attribute of God's wisdom....

On to the text. In it he speaks of being "shameless in a good sense, and foolish in a happy way":

The Son of God is crucified: and I am not ashamed that it ought be cause for shame. The Son of God is dead: and it is believable, because it is folly. And having been buried, He rose again: it is certain, because it is impossible. But how will all these things be true of Him, if He Himself was not true...?

So I guess Tertullian is in effect saying to Marcion, "Hey, if your Gnostic BS makes sense to you, I'll take folly. You big fat fool."

****** 

With that bit of pedantry out of the way, let's move on to the main attraction, which is an essay called The Philosophical Spirit and the Sense of Mystery, in which Fr. Garriguou-Lagrange provides a helpful map to the stars and beyond.

Which reminds me. Why do people such as Musk and Bezos want to fly up into the heavens, when you can't get there that way? You inevitably end up in the same place, only further away. I suppose it's a lack of imagination, or perhaps a displacement of it onto the material plane. 

It's very much as if they reduce the proper object of metaphysics and theology to the mere object of science. And no one feels hemmed in by life so long as they are in communion with this object, an object that is not only beyond the stars but prior to them. 

Suffice it to say, flying into space, no matter how far, is not a cure for spiritual autism.

What is it, asks G-L, that "differentiates the philosophical spirit not only from common knowledge but also from knowledge obtained by the cultivation of sciences that are inferior to philosophy"?  The former

differs from them above all and essentially by its formal object and by the point of view under which it considers its object. 

This or that science establishes only "the laws of phenomena" -- for example, the object of physics is the material world, while the object of mathematics is the quantitative world. But to reduce reality to what mathematics or physics can say about it is an error that is fatal to the intellect, since it eclipses its proper object. The intellect sophicates, ultimately because

the sciences that are inferior ro philosophy, such as the positive and mathematical sciences, in certain senses resemble sense knowledge insasmuch as they have objects that are less universal than philosophy's object...

For example, empirical knowledge can know only of this or that man. But the intellect transcends the particular and ascends to knowledge of mankind, to the universal. Without this mysterious operation, "no other knowledge would be possible." Indeed, even to deny it is to affirm it.

As I think I mentioned in a comment, St. Thomas is similar to Adam Smith, in the sense that he is not promulgating a theory, much less an ideology. Rather, both men simply describe what we are spontaneously doing -- Smith when we are free to truck and barter, Thomas when we are free to think. 

Come to think of it, while Smith's masterwork describes how nations become wealthy, Thomas's describes how intellects attain riches beyond measure. In both cases, the accumulation of wealth requires certain rules and policies. Just so, other policies will assure intellectual and spiritual impoverishment. Yes, there are third-world minds condemned to intellectual shitholes, but enough about academia.

Nevertheless, this is the purpose of the leftist education-indoctrination complex -- not to reach beyond the stars but to clip the wings of the intellect and distract it with sub-mundane pseudo-problems. It is a trap, literally. But the trap is self-imposed, as the inscape hatch is always present in the truly philosophical spirit, which

seeks to connect, in an explicit and distinct manner, all things to the most universal, simple, first principles. That is, the philosophical spirit wishes to connect all things to the most general laws of being and of the real.

And here is an IMPORTANT point if you wish to travel beyond the stars: the intellect

is quickly led to see the mysteries of the natural order where the common outlook sees no mystery; indeed, it sees them where even the inferior sciences do not suspect there to be such mysteries. 

As mentioned a few posts back, the most prominent mysteries appear to be present in the vertical interstices of reality -- for example, where matter somehow becomes animate, or where biology "becomes" self-aware. Suffice it to say that neither mystery is eliminated with recourse to reductionism; this merely deluminates the mystery (and its real source). 

For between matter and even the most teeny tiny sensation of matter is an abyss -- an abyss that is Against the Law -- the law of a scientism that pretends that the lower can be the sufficient reason of the higher. Such dull and unimaginative sorts

never see any mystery, any profundity, in the same place where the philosopher is astonished with the wonderment that is, as Aristotle has said, the very beginning of science. 

We'll leave off here for today, but I will circle back to the question of why the left not only believes such nonsense, but must believe it.