Saturday, April 17, 2021

Leftists May Have No Consistent Standards, But at Least they're not Hypocrites

For obvious psychopolitical reasons, the following passage from Incompleteness caught my attention:

no validation of our rationality -- of our very sanity -- can be accomplished using our rationality itself.

Thus, there exist millions of people who are completely sane from within their ideological system, but only insane from outside it. We call these lunatics progressives.  It's not quite correct to say that they "can't be reasoned with." Rather, they can only be reasoned with -- in the manner described by Chesterton in chapter 2 of Orthodoxy, The Maniac:

The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

Similarly, Goldstein writes that "Paranoia isn't the abandonment of rationality. Rather, it is rationality run amuck, the inventive search for explanations turned relentless." Such a person is "irrationally rational," characterized by "logic run wild." 

More cosmic Orthodoxy via Chesterton:

Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite.... The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

Flipping through this maniacal chapter, there are some additional statements that prefigure Gödel:

the strongest and most unmistakeable mark of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction. The lunatic's theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way....

His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world (emphasis mine).

One more important observation:

As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.

The normal man "has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet he sees all the better for that."

Note that this stereoscopy isn't so much horizontal as vertical: it requires the recognition of a hierarchy of levels, both on the terrestrial and celestial planes. To reduce the hierarchy to a single level is to guarantee inconsistency and ultimately absurdity. To appreciate hierarchy is to situate things in their proper place. 

Contrast this with the ideologue, the man of system, the progressive lunatic. As Goldstein says, "Anything at all can be deduced within an inconsistent system, since from a contradiction any proposition can be derived." 

Thus, it is common for conservatives to point out the daily hypocrisies of the left, but this gets us nowhere, since it is utterly beside the point. You can't be a hypocrite if you have no consistent principles. Rather, they would only be hypocrites if they were to deny their hypocritical expediency in service to power. 


Gagdad Bob said...

Progressive ideology is a complete system.

julie said...

Such a person is "irrationally rational," characterized by "logic run wild."

I see this as a particular phase of development in some kids. My younger has been going through something like it for a couple of months; the black and white phase where she struggles with a sort of internal legalism where she can't answer a simple question like, "did you enjoy [activity x]?" A yes or a no are off the table, because she liked some part of it but not another, even if it's clear she really enjoyed it at the time. She's afraid of inadvertently telling a lie, so she avoids giving a clear answer. For anyone who doesn't understand her mindset, it's maddening; she won't give a straight answer about her opinion unless she's absolutely, positively sure she means it.

Challenging in an 8-year-old, but we know she'll work through it (with lots of patient help from family). What to do when we have a nation of people locked into the same rigid internal legalism?

Chent said...

You mean that the fanatic is 100% left hemisphere and 0% right hemisphere.

Hale Adams said...

Hi, Bob,

Long time, no write.

As Goldstein says, "Anything at all can be deduced within an inconsistent system, since from a contradiction any proposition can be derived."

For some reason, I'm reminded of a "proof" from my old algebra textbook illustrating the "monsters" that appear when you divide by zero.

It starts off innocently enough with the proposition that x=y. Fair enough.

A bunch of algebraic operations are then performed on that starting proposition, all of them seemingly legitimate.

In the end, the statement that 2=1 appears, impeccably produced by the finest algebra.


The error stems from an operation somewhere in the middle of things, where both sides are divided by (x-y). On the surface, that's legitimate -- the equality of both sides is preserved if you do the same thing to both sides.

But (x-y) is ZERO. (Disguised, but still zero.)


(For folks who are intimidated by algebra:

x = y
x-y = y-y <----- subtracting y from both sides
x-y = 0 <----- if you subtract the whole "something" from "something", there's nothing left

Here endeth the math lesson. )

I wonder is a similar "crash" happens in the realm of ideas and logic when "from a contradiction any proposition can be derived" when working in "an inconsistent system". The premises are sensible, the operations on them are correct (at least a first glance), but the output is insanity.

My two cents' worth, as usual.

Hale Adams
Pikesville, People's still-mostly-Democratic Republic of Maryland

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone, I've enjoyed the post and comments. I'm a progessive. I tell you, we do not give a f*ck about consistency or truth.

What we are interested in? Money and power. We do or say what it takes to get those in hand.

You capish? Do not dialogue with our kind. Do not respond to this comment.

-Muhn Bhat

Gagdad Bob said...


Bertrand Russell said something to the effect that "the worse one's logic, the more *interesting* the consequences to which it gives rise."

Certainly explains why we're living through such interesting times.

Anonymous said...

From the post:

"Paranoia isn't the abandonment of rationality. Rather, it is rationality run amuck, the inventive search for explanations turned relentless."

This could partially explain recent election fraud hysteria. We were thinking it was more of a relentless and purposeful gas-lighting campaign, but maybe not so much.

Mike Lindell. He has money, why so delusional? He doesn't look cracked.

The following explanations have not panned out either:

Sasquatch: No physical evidence, not even skeletal remains. And yet we have all heard the hooting on camping trips. They must be out there, right? Well, probably not.

UFO's: No physical evidence. No evidence of government concealment. There is some photographic evidence and witnesses seem sincere. It is a maybe. The kind of maybe where we say, who cares?

Q-Anon: No physical evidence of Democratic kidnapping, pedophilic abuse, canabalism, or Devil worship. Eyewitnesses absent or unreliable. This one is dead in the water. Furthermore it reflects badly on the adherents. Why are thinking about that kind of filthy sh*t anyway? What's wrong with you? Get your mind out of the gutter.

Emperor Trump: There is no evidence Trump planned to overthrow the US government, i.e, stage a coup. There was no evidence he planned to foment the Capitol riot. There is no evidence of sedition of any kind on Trump's part. And yet the myth lives on that the "Storm" is coming. What, maybe in your pants?

So I broadly agree. Overthinking leads to conspiracy theories. And they are lots of fun. What will come up next?

-Orion's Belt

Anonymous said...

I love discussing the bizarre. As you know, Rod Serling’s passing was the great tragedy of my childhood.

Sasquatch: As with the neanderthal, the physical evidence suggests that we interbred with them so much that they sorta went away. Yet they live inside each of us, in spirit. Some day in the distant future brown-skinned archeologists may discover the bones of white men and wonder where they went, with much lively debate. Yet we today certainly know what's really happening.

Mike Lindell: See above.

UFO's: While Fermi worshippers proclaim that the sweet spot for life is billions of years in the future due to the statistical over-prevalence of red dwarf systems whose stars wont stabilize for a very long time thereby reducing the odds of generational starships even getting launched, I say they already visit us doing all manner of strange experiements, most of them sexual in nature. Seeing that dog with a human head once was all the proof I needed.

Q-Anon is as real as the adherents need it to be, to give their lives meaning. That’s why I support he or she (not to get all Potato Head PC on you). I once wrote Reagan a long and heartfelt letter detailing out why we needed the USSR as enemies, to please don’t heroically get Gorbachev to tear down that wall, because if we didn’t have them to scorn, we’d just wind up eating each other. A lot of us just need an enemy to give our lives meaning. Just look around here. I mean, would you want to sit around at your church quilting bee discussing how great everybody’s lives are? Wouldn’t you rather be juicy-gossiping about that saucy Ms. Beasley wearing her skirt above the knee? I mean who the heck does she think she is? I’m getting pretty sick and tired already of having to give my husband stern talkings to followed by long stony silences just because I know he’s looking. What's gotten into him lately?

Emperor Trump: He’s just a prankster who gets off on manipulating crowds of stupid people (see above) into doing whatever nonsense he thinks will amuse him. Just as it’s good to be the king, it’s even better to be a mischievous king. I mean, what’s anybody gonna do? Again, this is why I think that Reagan conquering the USSR was a serious mistake.

julie said...

Off topic, I just belatedly noticed there are no Amazon links on the sidebar. I was going to check, out of curiosity, whether any of the sorts of things you usually list are available at Internet Archive.

Interesting site, you can find all sorts of things there to borrow that can't be found (online) anywhere else. And doing a search for a particular author or keyword can yield all kinds of interesting results.

Just in case you ever run out of something to read (as if!). Or watch.

Van Harvey said...

Hale Adams said "I wonder is a similar "crash" happens in the realm of ideas and logic when "from a contradiction any proposition can be derived" when working in "an inconsistent system"."

The older versions of the programming language, Visual Basic, used to have a self- explanatory feature for handling bugs in the programming, called "On_Error_Resume_Next", which allowed the program to continue running, possibly until so many errors accumulated to the point that the program, and maybe even the computer, crashed.

I think we've got that feature.

John Venlet said...

Bob, not to be obtuse, but in the quote from Chesterton you posted which begins, "Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it infinite....," that last word, there, "infinite," should be "finite." I only point this out because I pulled Orthodoxy off my bookshelves for a re-read yesterday afternoon.

Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you! Fixed. I have a new laptop with an over-eager autofill.

Sam L. said...

The word "progressive" always reminds me of "cancer", which is also progressive.