Saturday, March 13, 2021

Is Full Blown Leftism Acquired or Innate?

Let us continue our excursion into the purification of the intellect. 

Again, although the term -- purification -- will sound anachronistic to the postmodern, post-literate, and post-reality ears of the left, it is quite obviously one of their enduring preoccupations, extending back to the French Revolution, when the penalty for impure thoughts was separation of them from the body. 

We see this same obsession with Impure Thoughts in all subsequent revolutions, from communists to Islamists to our contemporary cancelists. 

Here again, this obsession with the thoughts of other people represents but the transformation of an archetypal religious concern that essentially coarises with man. 

This is just another way of saying that the serpent has always been with us. He likes to accuse other persons (starting with God) of crimethink, which is why Jesus makes the point of advising us to remove the plank from or own heads before complaining to the authorities about the other guy's splinter.  

Man has been dealing with this question of impure thoughts since the beginning of his terrestrial career some 50 to 100,000 years ago. And the earliest and most persistent solution to this problem has revolved around human sacrifice. Unless you have a better idea. 

Today this ritual scapegoating is called "cancellation." It's the same mechanism, only sublimated: instead of killing the body, they only kill the career and/or reputation, and banish the victim to the wilderness, exiling him beyond the borders of the cult.

This is all exhaustively outlined in the works of Gil Bailie, Rene Girard, and others, so I don't want to repeat it here. It's also discussed in various anthropological studies of millenarian / apocalyptic movements. 

Now, to a certain extent, you could even say that the modern west is just an accident of one man's pathological obsession with impure thoughts, and a desperate attempt to deal with them. 

This man was Martin Luther, who is Patient Zero of cancel culture. His was the first successful revolution in the west since the revolution of Christianity some 1000+ years before. That first revolution truly overturned the order of the world; so too did Luther's, to such an extent that we are still dealing with the aftershocks.

Luther suffered from a truly morbid scrupulosity, even to the point of what we would now recognize as Panic Disorder: he just couldn't eliminate the Bad Thoughts from his head. I read somewhere that his confessions would last for hours, but that he always came back for more. No amount of forgiveness could expiate his guilt over his own disgusting impurity. 

Eventually he landed on the idea that there was nothing he could do about his impurity and sinfulness, but that Jesus had done it for him. In a new twist on the meaning of Christ's redemption, he likened it to a blanket of white snow over a stinking pile of dung (regarding impure thoughts, he also had an obsession with feces, and scatological references abound in his works.)

But with that little maneuver, the intellect was severed from the body, somewhat analogous to Dr. Guillotin's invention, only leaving the organism alive. But the intellect was ruined, a victim of original sin. And if you want to see how ruined, just listen to one of those famous TV snake handlers like Joel Osteen or whoever it is this week. Look ma, no brains!

Once the intellect was severed from Christianity, the path was cleared for the new & improved ideologies that continue pestering us to this day. For the descendent of Luther there is no defense against them but "faith," which is no defense at all. 

To be perfectly accurate, it can still be a defense for the faithful, but it can have no impact on the faithless materialist who -- ironically -- has a total but misplaced faith in the powers of his own omniscient and omnicompetent intellect. 

Let's talk abut these people, since they occupy all the positions of power in our culture. There is no one in the ruling class who isn't a demented child of Luther, practicing the one true faith of progressivism in one of its many two-faces.

That may sound polemical until you think it through, all the way down to the ground. Then you'll see that it is obvious. 

In The Active Purification of the Intellect, Garrigou describes a certain modality of morbid tenure. Such self-styled intellectuals

are afflicted with almost a mania for collecting. Theirs is an accumulation of knowledge mechanically arranged and unorganized, somewhat as if it were in a dictionary. This type of work, instead of training the mind, smothers it, as too much wood smothers a fire. 
Under this jumble of accumulated knowledge, they can no longer see the light of first principles, which alone could bring order out of all this material and lift up their souls even to God, the Beginning and End of all things.

Here again, Luther and his progeny can offer no defense against such intellectuals, for he regarded our reason as an enemy and even "plague": we must accept things on faith, and pretending otherwise is a grotesque fall into pride and hubris. 

This approach is similar to that of the Islamist, who would agree that anything not in the Book is unnecessary and probably the work of the Devil: "man, made from a bad tree, can do nothing but want and do evil" (Luther).  Good works count for nothing and good thoughts even less, for man is "innately and inevitably evil and corrupt" and reason but his filthy whore.

Let's fast forward 500 years and see how this comports with the cult of antiracism: to the extent that you are white, you are innately and inevitably racist. And if you deny your racism, this only proves how racist you are. This kind of anti-logic is called a Kafka trap, but it could also be called a Luther trap: if you don't agree that your intellect is utterly wrecked by original sin, this only proves how wrecked you are by sin.

Now, this is not to say that the intellect escaped the consequences of the fall. If only! But a casualty is not necessarily a fatality, although it certainly can be, or maybe you didn't attend college. 

Moreover, the wound becomes fatal as a direct consequence of turning away from God and sealing the mind from the flow of grace. To put it conversely, an "ungraced intellect" isn't just wrong but... 

I don't want to exaggerate, but let's just say a liar and a murderer. It results in a literal spiritual blindness, such that, instead of 20/ vision, one is reduced to 20/Ø vision, which is no vision at all. In the words of Fr. G, the refusal of grace "takes all penetration away from us and leaves us in a state of spiritual dullness, which is like the loss of all higher intelligence."

So, Luther is not correct that we born into total and inescapable cosmic stupidity. Rather, full blown leftism is an acquired condition. 

Once again the post has run overlong. To be continued...  

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Pure Land Dudeism

I've been slowly making my way through Garrigou's Three Ages of the Spiritual Life, -- and this is not the sort of book one rushes through -- but decided to jump ahead to chapter XXVI, on The Active Purification of the Intellect, because it touches on so much of what's going on with the left's free fall into mass psychosis. 

Purification of the intellect. On the one hand, this title makes no sense in a post-reality world. Then again, what is going on in our world but an obsession with impure thoughts? -- whether these filthy thoughts are of Speedy Gonzalez, Pepe Le Pew, Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head, or even worse? 

To say man is to say God, such that man as such cannot not be religious. It's just a matter of how bad the religion, and it is difficult to get worse than leftism, at least on a widescale basis. 

I just heard the shout of a hundred million amens! echoing up from the 20th century. Yes, I hear dead people; and if everyone could hear them, no one would be a leftist. 

In another context, Chesterton spoke of a "democracy of the dead," meaning that, if we wish to be scrupulously fair, we should regard being alive at the moment a mere accident. Real social justice extends to our illustrious forebears, without whom we'd be like any other shithole country.

Why, for example, should we not respect the wishes of the founders, or of those who died in the civil war? I challenge the left to locate a single one of them who thought he was defending the country from cartoon characters that might hurt the feelings of college educated white women of both sexes and all races. 

I'm pretty sure the guys who fought World War 2 didn't think the goal was to make the US safe for fascism and totalitarianism. What an insult to their heroism, their intelligence, and their basic sanity. 

Our point is that the most dreadfully impure thoughts ooze from people who would reject on principle the idea that purification of the intellect is mandatory if you wish to think properly, let alone if you presume to force others to think in the SJW Approved Way.

We begin -- as anyone with a vestige of self-awareness must begin -- with the principle of Original Sin. To be perfectly accurate, we shouldn't call it a principle; rather, in our view, Original Sin is a quasi-mythic formulation of a principial reality. Nevertheless, if appreciated and situated in its proper context, it will more than do the job. Just don't be a hubristic jackass, okay? 

In short, "man's intellect is wounded." Having said that, our Protestant friends go too far in the other direction, claiming that the wound is mortal and that to believe otherwise is to fall into the sin of pride. In short, they lower the bar of hubris to the ground.  

In this latter scheme, God provides us with revelation because we have no natural ability to understand what's what. Moreover, we must accept the revelation on faith, again, because our minds are too decimated by sin to reach the truth. To extend the baseball analogy, revelation shows us how to get home despite the fact that, left to our own devices, we can never get to first.

The reality is somewhere in between, i.e., between wounded and dead. Yes, the wound can become mortal, but that's on us. Only we can kill our own intellect, although doing a thorough job of it will set you back 50k a year, or whatever it costs to attend an elite university these days.

Anyway, here is our cosmic situation, nor do I want to minimize the gravity of the wound:

the intellect, instead of inclining spontaneously toward the true, and especially toward supreme Truth, has difficulty attaining it and tends to become absorbed in the consideration of earthly things without rising to their cause.

Is this not true? 

Of course it is true. Moreover, the intellect -- our most precious gift, mind you -- 

is inclined with curiosity toward ephemeral things and, on the other hand, it is negligent and slothful in the search for our true last end and the means leading to it.

As a consequence, the intellect not only "easily falls into error" but "may finally reach the state that is called spiritual blindness," or worse, spiritual wokeness. For truly, just as there is nothing so dead as a "living constitution," there is no one as somnolent as a wide awoke assoul.

So, revelation is given to man as a kind of aide-mémoire -- which is to say, a vertical aide. However, we are not totally lost without it, nor could the divine message even resonate in us if we were. 

Rather, with time and effort (and aptitude) the intellect "can even acquire, without the help of revelation, the knowledge of a certain number of fundamental truths..." 

Nevertheless -- you will have noticed -- "few men are capable of this labor, and they reach this result only after a considerable length of time," not to mention "without succeeding in freeing themselves from all error." 

My son, for example, knows things at 15 that I didn't know until [too embarrassed to say]. Thus, he has a multi-decade head start, but even then, he'll never be omniscient. Unless I get there first and pass along the secret.

There's a helpful footnote at the bottom of the page reminding us that "thanks to divine revelation," the "truths of religion can be known by all, quickly, with a firm certitude, and without any admixture of errors." 

Here again, revelation reveals a vertical shortcut; on the one hand it tells us about the end, but on the other, this is only the beginning (of our vertical adventure). 

This post is getting too long, so, to be continued.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

The Miracle of Certitude

Here is a little question on which Garrigou and Schuon can't both be correct. No doubt it's a question to which most people would respond with another question: so what? But I am not most or even more than a few people. 

Garrigou agrees with all vertical adventurers that the existence of God is certain; or, to put it conversely, it is foolish to maintain that "the existence of God cannot be proved by any apodictic argument"; or to suggest that "by no process of human reasoning can the certainty of [God] be established." 

Now, reason, according to Fr. Garrigou, is "our natural faculty of perceiving the truth." I'm gonna stop the Padre right there, because how can such a mirroraculous faculty be merely "natural"? 

I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but our ability to reason must be a "supernaturally natural" one, so long as we are deploying it rather than vice versa.  In other words, to use reason is to have transcended reason. 

If we are merely confined to reason, then to hell with it. In that case there would there is no escape from tautology -- except maybe downward into a Rousseauean romanticism, or Nietzschean will, or neo-Marxist hell. We could expand our little epistemological circle but never escape it. Compared to reality, it would be...

We couldn't say, because we would have no real contact with it. If we cannot transcend reason, then we are in the position of people born, say, inside a yellow submarine, speculating on the nature of the ocean. All they have access to is the dials and meters inside the sub. No one inside has ever actually touched water or even knows their submarine is yellow, since they've never seen it from the outside.  

It would be analogous to living inside the liberal matrix, in which case the media and academia serve as the instrument panel inside the crockpit. To call this an epistemologically closed world is an injustice to the left. Rather, theirs is a world of unrelenting coprophagia.

We insist that if reason is merely natural, then that is where it stays: in a circle of tautology. For rationalism always reduces to a futile effort to anchor certitude "in phenomena rather than in our very being" (Schuon).  

But we cannot reason about something transcending reason unless there is already something transcendent in reason itself. Which is how the people living a life of ease inside their yellow submarine can truly know the sea is green and the sky is blue.

There is reason and there is intelligence, the former being a tool of the latter. Intelligence as such "is the perception of a reality" and the discernment between the real, the less real, and the unreal (thus, the Real is at once binary and hierarchical, or both continuous and discontinuous, more on which as we proceed). 

This being the case, we see that intelligence and reality aren't just mirrors of one another, but ultimately of the same substance: if intelligence can know truth, it is because intelligence is truth (and vice versa).

Back to Garrigou. He writes that 

The knowledge of God which can be acquired by the natural light of reason, is not merely a true knowledge, i.e., conforming to the reality; but it is also a knowledge of truth for which we are able to give a reason; hence it is not simply a belief resting on the testimony of God, or on that of tradition, or on that of the human race. It is the result of rational evidence.

With all due respect, I'm gonna say: no way. For one thing, this violates Gödel's theorems, in that there can be no rational bridge between reason and what transcends reason. You can't just sneak something into reason that hasn't been authorized by reason. To put it baseballically, you can't steal first base.

Logic teaches us that no matter how perfect the logic, there will always be at least one truth it cannot prove but will have to accept on faith. Confined to logic, there is no escape hatch from Gödel. And yet, the escape hatch surely exists, otherwise we couldn't even know of the theorems.  Reason is tautologous, but the human mind isn't; we out-Gödel Gödel all the time, or we'd be like animals or leftists, living inside the matrix of instinct or ideology, respectively. 

That was yesterday news. Let's continue with today's headline, courtesy of Schuon (from the book Gnosis: Divine Wisdom):

CERTITUDE IS ITSELF A MIRACLE

That is, to the extent that certitude exists. Which it does. But how? Again, limiting ourselves to reason, we can only draw conclusions from premises. These conclusion can be very likely or even very very likely, but never absolutely certain. 

Likewise, our senses are pretty damn certain, but what can they tell us about the extrasensory world? Nothing. For which reason empiricism ends right where it begins.

Back to the miracle of certitude: certitude is miraculous because it is, as it were, a fragment of the absolute, or a terrestrial spark thrown off from the boiler room of celestial central.  

Schuon provides a particularly useless way of looking at this -- and for the Raccoon, there can be no higher compliment, since the most precious truths are for their own sake and not for the sake of anything else:

things -- thanks to their Existence -- and the intellective subject -- thanks to Knowledge -- open concrete ways towards the Absolute.... 
the world, insofar as it exists -- or that it is not non-existent -- is an aspect of its divine Cause, hence "something of God"; the Divinity, while being absolutely transcendent in relation to the world, is nonetheless "present" at the centre of all cosmic reality.

Yes, heresies and snares are on all sides, so we must proceed cautiously. Moreover, we can appreciate why this isn't the sort of thing one just blurts out to the Many. Pearls and swine, dogs and the holy, pride and fall, blah blah.

Let's consider all these key words in their totality: absolute, existence, intellect, cause, knowledge, certitude. But let's consider them tomorrow.