Monday, September 13, 2021

I Am, therefore Truth Is

This post started off with a Point, but eventually devolved into a possibly pointless free-association.  However, I suspect the associations were implicitly ordered to a far off point that may or may not be vaguely illuminated by the end... 

Regarding the basis of esoterism, Schuon writes that 

Where there is a truth of Revelation, hence of formal and theological truth, there must also be a truth of intellection, hence of non-formal and metaphysical truth.

This statement encapsulates much of what motivates this blogger, and strikes him as necessarily, self-evidently, and undeniably true. So, what's the catch?  

As we know, a philosopher is just like anyone else, except with regard to the question Why? To back up a bit, the human station may almost be reduced to this question of questioning. Beings below us do not inquire into the causes of things, nor do those above. But as you know, you never really know, so there's no logical end or limit to the questioning. 

Having said this, it is understandable that most people will simply stop asking Why? after settling on a good-enough metaphysic. The average person can get through life just fine with Newtonian physics. It doesn't take an Einstein to get out of the way of the bus. There is no added value -- practically speaking -- to tweaking our everyday worldview so as to accommodate dark matter, black holes, or multiple universes. 

Indeed, the added complexity might just make survival more difficult, for we evolved in this world, -- the one available to our senses -- not in some abstract world of mathematical concepts.  Likewise, for a farmer, it scarcely matters whether the sun circles the earth or vice versa. The sun will still rise in the morning and he'll still have to plant in the spring.  

What does it matter if the world was created on Saturday, October 22, 4004 BC (as Archbishop Usher calculated) or banged into existence 13.7 billion years ago? For all practical purposes nothing important changes; babies will still need mothers, life will still be short, and the Dodgers will still be 2.5 games behind the Giants.

To be clear, we're not talking about the scientific implications, only the fact that science determines neither metaphysics above nor practical considerations below. When it's time to pay your taxes you can't tell the IRS that modern physics proves time doesn't exist. You can't dissolve your marriage by arguing it was an invalid contract because God doesn't exist.

In any event, the Average Person is content to live his life in a soph-limiting cognitive matrix, which is essentially a simulation of reality. Nor do we necessarily blame them. Asking Why? is a fooltime job fit mostly for misfits, gadflies, noodges, and crank bloggers with too much timelessness on their hands.  

So let's zoom out to the widest possible angle and ask ourselves: What's going on?  In other words, let's do what we always do, and check things out from a tricosmic metaperspective.  

Everyone, without exception needs a metaphysic, that is, an overarching explanation or paradigm to satisfy this intrinsic need. As we've said many times, man is the epistemophelic creature, meaning that he is born wanting to know.  

But it goes beyond this, because this Unlimited Seeking on our end is In Fact ordered to an Unlimited Object on the other. To enter the human station is to live in the dynamic tension between these poles, between the intellect here and its proper object up or over there. 

Nor can we ever arrive at the far side, for the journey is literally endless -- orthoparadoxically because there is an End, an End people call God, or which my people sometimes call O to avoid pretending we can know what we can only properly unKnow.

This endless epistemophila goes to our very essence: man essentially loves truth, because like is attracted to like. We love truth, for which reason its highest pursuit is rightly called philo-sophy.  

This post is beginning to lose focus, so let's return to the opening quote: if there is formal and theological truth -- which there Is -- it is ultimately because it is ordered to non-formal and metaphysical truth.

We can reduce this to a single word: Truth.  It reminds me of the "intelligent design" folks who go to all the trouble of trying to prove to us that the gene or the cell or the eye is so complex that it must have been designed.

The truth is at once more banal than we suppose and more liberating than we can imagine, for we can again reduce it to a single word: Intelligence. It is enough to say that the cosmos is pervaded by an immanent intelligence which thereby transcends it -- a transcendent intelligence that until very recent times was spontaneously understood to be God.  

Only an intelligent creature asks why; and only an intelligible cosmos furnishes answers.


Anonymous said...

This is a great post, very good for sparking contemplation.

The metaphysician is always in the business of reduction. He wants the greatest possible reduction, beyond which there can be no further reduction.

The ancient rishis reduced all down to sat (existence), chit (consciousness) and Ananda (bliss).

We should not forget the bliss angle. If one goes deep inside, one will encounter stupendous levels of Ananda; it is reductive but must be handled with care. Get to close to the flame and moth will burn.

Our blessed rishis worked their angles hard and skillfully. They reasoned that the mind must have all three qualities and therefore, by knowing your own mind, you could know the most reduced things. So they set about to explore within the mind and came up with methods including contemplation, meditation, and concentration. And so was born the Yoga (union) with God.

Jesus Christ came among us and "working the angles" did not seem like work to Him; Jesus was the full reduction in person. His cult, Christianity, is a superb vehicle for adherents contemplating reduction. Christ's love is very, very reductive. It is blissful. Love is satchitananda. Any Catholic Mass will include a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, which is essentially a very compressed Yogic chant and practically all one needs to facilitate a potent Yoga, possibly the most reduced and potent Yoga which can be had.

For the scientist full reduction would be the singularity immediately prior to the big bang. That is as far as the scientist can reduce. The singularity, an object no larger than a grape, held all that is or will ever be latent within it. The scientist does grasp something very well, and that is Unity. They know there is a unity at the beginning, and therefore there must be Unity now and also at the End. The scientist does the Yoga of matter, which is composed of satchitananda although he will not name it as such.

So is this reductive knowledge necessary to navigate the details of the multiplicity? No it is not, however, if you access the reductive knowledge it will make you feel groovy.

-Black Hole

John Venlet said...

"The truth is at once more banal than we suppose and more liberating than we can imagine, for we can again reduce it to a single word: Intelligence."

Your statement, above, brought to mind some words put down put Lynn Harold Hough in his book Free Men which I've long considered on point.

"For when you stop to think of it, the ultimate universe either is or is not like that free intelligence which we find in man. To be sure, its free intelligence may be so vast and radiant that man's power of free thought and choice is only the faintest hint of it. But--we stick to the point--free intelligence is either the clue to something in the nature of the final universe or it is not. And now we begin to see clearly that while the ultimate reality of the universe may be infinitely more than man's free intelligence, it cannot be less."

I think Hough's words fully support your statement. I recommend his book highly.

Anonymous said...

Hello John:

I googled Hough's 1939 book "Free Men" and read a few excerpts. I like it alot. Thanks for putting me on to that.

Another interesting Christian thinker was Norman Vincent Peale. I read one of his books when I was a teenager and I think it kind of helped my morale.

These two authors kind of remind me of Gagdad Bob, our Blog Author. Gagdad Bob really aspires to to write a second book that will help the reader towards truth better than any book that has come before, including his own first book.

Some readers have said, "I don't think the Bible can be improved upon in that regard."

Alas I think Gagdad has come to agree with that assessment. He now seems resigned to write posts which further the cause of Truth in a "supporting actor" rather than starring role.

Gagdad has come a long way; his ego needs are now so effaced he does not seek or need accolades or recognition. He is nearing the apogee of his spiritual rise and a the top he will be meek, in the sense of those that shall inherit the Earth.

Although every now and again, Gagdad gets his bile up and sticks it to the progressives; someone has to pay for his frustration, plus he loathes them. If there is one lesson left on his plate, it is that loathing itself is a spiritually bankrupt and inadvisable state to dwell in. He will have to let it go, but he is not ready to do that yet.

John Venlet said...

Anonymous, I'm pleased you appreciated my recommendation regarding Hough, but I thought we were discussing intelligence and truth as reality, God, rather than Gagdad Bob. Perhaps you lost focus.

Anonymous said...

John Venlet wrote:

"Anonymous, I'm pleased you appreciated my recommendation regarding Hough, but I thought we were discussing intelligence and truth as reality, God, rather than Gagdad Bob. Perhaps you lost focus."

John, I did worse than lose focus. I made unwarranted and offensive statements, and I should not have done that. I retract all I said about the blog author, and apologize to the blog author.

My behavior was inexcusable and I will strive to not let it happen again.

I will continue to comment but I will stay on topic. Thank you for your gentle rebuke sir, it was a gallant act.

Regards, Black Hole.

Van Harvey said...

"Asking Why? is a fooltime job fit mostly for misfits, gadflies, noodges, and crank bloggers with too much timelessness on their hands."

Fact Check: Accurate.