Friday, April 09, 2021

Shedding Metalight on the Subject of Subjectivity

Just to make sure we're on the right track, yesterday I reread a book called Incompleteness, on Gödel and his theorems. We've discussed this book in the past, but one of Goldstein's main objectives is to correct the common view that the theorems forever seal us in a closed world of subjectivity, cut off from reality. 

She compares this misconstrual to the common misunderstanding of Einstein's theory of relativity, which is actually a theory of absoluteness. Yes, motion is relative, but to an absolute: the speed of light. Nevertheless, many vulgarians think it implies that "everything is relative" or something. 

Likewise, a common postmodern interpretation of the Theorems maintains that 

the very notion of the objectively true is a socially constructed myth. Our knowing minds are not embedded in truth. Rather the entire notion of truth is embedded in our minds.... Epistemology is nothing more than the sociology of power (Goldstein). 

And we all know where this leads: to Foucault and other metacosmic perverts. Could Gödel actually be an oddfather of the left? Not bloody likely. Yes he was crazy, but not that crazy.  

Rather, as Goldstein explains,

Gödel's theorems don't demonstrate the limits of the human mind, but rather, the limits of computational models of the human mind (basically, models that reduce all thinking to rule following). 

Along these lines, I also re-skimmed Robert Rosen's Life Itself for additional hints at where this series of posts might be headed. Lots of important stuff in there, but I'll try to limit myself to the most relevant passages:

The celebrated Incompleteness Theorem of Gödel effectively demolished the formalist program. Basically, he showed that, no matter how one tries to formalize a particular part of mathematics, syntactic truth in the formalization does not coincide with (is narrower than) the set of truths about numbers.

In short, semantics cannot in principle be reduced to syntax, or meaning to order. This is big. No, bigger than big: infinite. For "no finite set of numerical qualities"

exhausts the set of of all numerical qualities. There is always a purely semantic residue that cannot be accommodated by that syntactical scheme.

D'oh! 

Or Woo Hoo!, depending on how you look at it, because it means that meaning always persists despite our efforts to contain it via form. Which goes precisely to our larger point -- or intuition -- that esoterism can never be reduced to the exoteric formulations of dogma. 

In one sense this is blandingly obvious, but in another it is anything but, being that for the great majority of people, esoterism is by no means obvious. It may be obvious to you and me, but we're weird. Ofttimes the conventionally religious person makes even less sense to us than does the babbling village atheist. At least the latter isn't an affront to our hindbrain, even if he's a hindrance to our front brain.

Biology may look "soft" to a physicist, but don't confuse complexity with softness. Rather, as Rosen points out, a material system is not necessarily -- in fact, usually not -- a simple system but a complex system, because the latter has more qualities than can be accommodated by mere syntax.

For example, this is why climate science is such a travesty. Economics too, at least the kind that pretends to leap over Hayek's wall and know the unknowable. 

Now, meta-questions about this or that discipline aren't usually contained in the field itself -- for example, physics isn't equipped to answer metaphysical questions, and to the extent that it tries, it merely beclowns itself (e.g., via materialism, positivism, scientism, or any other approach that tries to magically explain the higher via the lower).

Gödel, in the words of Goldstein, was primarily interested in shedding metalight on the metalevel of reality. But I would say it was more of a.... not light per se, but a cleaning of the window, so to speak. The theorems themselves aren't the light, but they do allow us to transcend the relative darkness of mere syntactical formulations, if you're following me, and it is this higher metalight that is of interest to us.

But ironically, Gödel himself was limited and hemmed in by his own Platonism. On the one hand he was "committed to the possibility, pace the positivists, beyond our experiences to describe the world 'out yonder.'" 

But he limited this yonder to "a reality of pure abstraction, of universal and necessary truths," as opposed to plugging into the living God -- or let's just say to the Cosmic Person, who can never be reduced to any form of syntax, not even to his own name! While he is the logocentric source of speech, he also shatters speech, for the Singer transcends the song. 

We're running out of time, and there is much more to come, but let's just stipulate at this point that the Principle that ultimately explains why semantics cannot be reduced to syntax is the Person.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

O, ʘ, and Ö

An idea just popped into my head that may prove true, false, or not even false. Let's find out!

More generally, my discarnate collaborator only throws out titles for posts, leaving the details to me. These gnomic utterances always reflect a primordial truth -- however obscurely -- even if my efforts to explicate it may fall short.

The idea is this: that perhaps Gödel's incompleteness theorems go to the differences between exoteric and esoteric religion. 

As we know, the theorems mandate that a system can be complete or consistent, but not both; completeness is purchased at the cost of consistency, and vice versa. According to Prof. Wiki,

The first incompleteness theorem states that no consistent system of axioms is capable of proving all truths about the arithmetic of natural numbers. For any such consistent formal system, there will always be statements about natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. 

The second incompleteness theorem, an extension of the first, shows that the system cannot demonstrate its own consistency.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it strikes me as self-evident that no one outside of God could be wholly complete and consistent. Indeed, necessary and eternal being is the source of any consistency or completeness herebelow; for example, every "whole" derives from wholeness as such.

For the restavus finite beings, we are more or less one or the other. Physics is rigorously consistent but obviously incomplete, helpless as it is to explain (for example) the consciousness of the physicist or the conformity of mind to being.

Most religions take a stab at completeness, but if one pushes the doctrine too far, it will reveal inevitable inconsistencies.  The Bible, for example, isn't self-authenticating.

Esoterism is as close to completeness and consistency as man can get. Yes, there is incompleteness, but that is down to our not being God. And there is inconsistency, but this is in the nature of things. Somewhere Schuon has an illuminating comment about this, or at least a decent alibi. 

One the one hand,

only sapiential esoterism, total and universal -- not partial and formalistic -- can satisfy every legitimate need for logical explanations.... it alone can answer all the questions raised by religious divergences and limitations.

Nevertheless, there are limits to the expressible, and 

it is no one's fault if within every enunciation of this kind there remain unanswerable questions, at least in respect of a given need for logical explanation and on the plane of dialectic.

For, just as no form can exhaust the formless, "it is all too evident that wisdom cannot start from the intention of expressing the ineffable." 

Wisdom can never be complete, but it is certainly more complete than knowledge, reason, information, or fact. There's an incompleteness built into the nature of things, at least on this side of rug, if only because it's not that side.  

More details to come. Retirement doesn't mean there aren't trivialities to deal with.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Caste and Character

Change my mind:

Psychologically speaking a natural caste is a cosmos; men live in different cosmoses according to the "reality" on which they are centered; it is impossible for the inferior really to understand the superior, for he who really understands "is" what he understands (Schuon).

Elsewhere in the same essay (on The Meaning of Caste), Schuon writes that "the fundamental tendency in a man is connected with his 'feeling' or 'consciousness' of what is 'real.'" 

The idea of caste represents a quasi-mythological preconception of what we now understand about character, which is indeed very much inherited (e.g., neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, not to mention general intelligence, impulse control, time preference, and others).  

You could say that these more "granular" traits and tendencies go into the formation of more general categories and types such as contemplative, warrior, artisan, merchant, peasant, and schlub.

For example, our criminal class -- or underclass, if you prefer -- tends to be low in intelligence but high in time preference and impulsivity. 

Leftists are more emotional than logical, in large part because they are more feminine than masculine. A "male leftist" is a contradiction in terms, no matter the anomaly between zys legs. A happily married (to a man) feminist is another contradiction in terms.  

As to what is more real to this or that caste, for the contemplative (priestly) type it is the transcendent as such, whereas for the knight-warrior it is the transcendent ideal as instantiated in action and struggle: his imperative is to vindicate the ideal in battle. 

For the merchant "it is riches, security, prosperity and well-being that are 'real.'" I have some very successful businessmen in my extended family (billionaires even), but talking to them about anything transcending matter would be like discussing poetry with my dog. Indeed, they even have a kind of condescending and worldly cynicism about the transcendent, as if we are trying to put one over on them.   

We can see how this plays out in our elite merchant hive of technoid insects. The vertical Dunning Krugery in these inferior superiors is strong! These folks not only lack "the mentality of the higher, but cannot even conceive of it exactly," which results in an interpretation of what we are saying in terms of what they are capable of understanding, which isn't much. Certainly we see this in our trolls. Thus,

men whose souls are fragmentary and opaque pretend that they can instruct us in the "psychology" of greatness and of the sacred.

When this type of person becomes an "intellectual," the intellect remains tied to the opaque and the fragmentary, AKA matter. How could it not? As Schuon says, "caste can be lost but not acquired." People are who they are, and not someone else. Pretending otherwise is a great source of vulgarity -- for example, the editorial page of the NY Times, which features anti-intellectual lunatics posing as intellectuals. They are also full of pride, which is always a giveaway. 

There is an interesting inverse analogy between the man with no point (discussed in yesterday's post) and the pointless man, since both wander off the grid, so to speak. The "shudra" is like "a body endowed with human consciousness" and therefore "properly qualified only for manual work of a more or less quantitative kind."  

We are all familiar with this type of person, if only because we can see them on TV flooding our southern border. There is no question that our economy requires such people, but up to a point. You can't produce wealth by everyone being everyone else's gardener and nanny. 

I myself toiled in solidarity with this type for a good portion of my life, for not only did I work in a supermarket until I was 33 years of age, I fit right in. I was one of them -- a body endowed with human consciousness -- until some sort of light unexpectedly switched on when I was around 25 or so. Even so, I still consider my self a thoroughly blue-collar suburban shaman.

This is an accurate description of us: "it is bodily things that are 'real'; it is eating and drinking" or "the satisfaction of immediate physical needs" which "constitute happiness." You can usually trust this kind of person, because they are very uncomplicated -- like a man, only more so. 

At least so long as he is gainfully employed. This type can get into a lot of trouble without a simple job, which is why they have been among the primary victims of the global economy. A person who loses his factory job is not going to become an engineer or doctor or lawyer. More likely a fentanyl enthusiast. They don't deal well with the pointlessness.

Monday, April 05, 2021

The Point of Pointlessness

Lately I've been thinking that the blog needs a point. Personally, I've never had a point, as I seem to have been born without one. 

I was just a kid in the '60s, so I can't be absolutely sure if I was literally born pointless or inhaled too much of the hippy vibe growing up (in California no less), but if you called me an "alt hippy," you wouldn't be wide of the mark.  

I've always been this way: no master plan, no future, not even a tomorrow, just moment to moment, takin' her easy for all you sinners out there. I never planned to be a psychologist -- of all things -- just as I never planned not to be one, but here we are, since I up 'n decided to retire, just like that. I couldn't care less about psychology (except for the perennial kind ordered to human nature).  

*Ironically,* I finished grad school in 1988, the same year Prozac came to market. In terms of therapy, medication is cheap while talk is expensive. More to the point, it never occurred to me that I had the power to cure souls. Perhaps help them "adjust," but to what? Reality?   No way. Maybe to some very narrow slice of conventional reality that interests me not in the least.

Which is perhaps a bit strange: how many people can well and truly look back at the end of their career and say: eh, so what? I never, not for a moment, lived to work. Rather, vice versa: worked to live. 

But at the same time, I never, ever, lived for life. Rather, life is far too interesting to merely live it. Animals do that. So much of what folks call "living" never held the least interest to me. The business of doing was always a distraction from the more vital isness of being. 

Meta-living? Perhaps. Yes and no, because extremes meet: two things have always preoccupied me: 1) the present moment, and 2) eternity. Truly, nothing else is really real or worth the effort. 

Rather, reality -- or the most real -- is always the bifurcation of time by eternity, which is what gives the present moment it's depth, its light, its "heft." There's no place like OM, nowhere else to go, to be, or to see. You're here. Might was well enjoy it.

It took me a little while to consciously embrace this philosophy -- or "natural theology," so to speak -- for the simple reason that no one else seemed to embrace it, certainly not in my bourgeois, middle class neck of the woods. There were no models anywhere, except maybe bums and hobos. True, my Uncle Peter never seemed to have a real job, but not because he didn't want one.  He was just an amiable loser.

Apparently, a fair number of people -- especially men -- have difficulty with retirement, and women struggle with the point of life after the children leave the nest.

For me it has always been the other way around: doing stuff was pointless, not doing them the point. The best things in life are free of a point; they aren't for the sake of something else, but for their own sake. 

But for the average person, there is a sort of "wall" between doing and being. They become anxious with nothing to do, and therefore can't enjoy it. Here again, I'm the opposite: I dread the Full Plate.

I'm reminded of a remark by Eckhart about "living without a why." That's all I remember about it, but the phrase stuck. Come to think of it, when I was younger, I used to "advocate" this philosophy to others, until I realized that it can't really be a universal imperative per se, but only applicable to the personalities who are destined to be this way -- any more than it would make sense to advise a midget to pursue the dream of an NBA career.

Rather, it comes down to natural castes, or karma, or dharma, or something. Schuon discusses this in an essay called The Meaning of Caste. You know them well: there are natural priests, aristocrats, kings, scholars, knight-warriors, merchants, peasants, outcastes, sociopaths, etc. 

Moreover, our entropic and chaotic times are characterized by a deep and systemic confusion of roles, e.g., peasants posing as scholars and rulers, crazy outcastes (e.g., cross-dressing freaks) pretending to be warriors and athletes, merchants posing as police (our technofascist overlords), criminals as presidents, etc. 

Only in such a world can a lazy but smooth talking anti-intellectual such as Obama be seen as a Philosopher King and Evolutionary Lightbringer. And yet, here we are, in his third term.

The idea of natural castes is obviously at antipodes to the naive and outmoded blank-slatism that is the first principle of the anti-science left, i.e., that anyone can be anything with enough social engineering. The alt-right recognizes that people are who they are, except they attribute this solely to genetics, since that's all they have (they tend toward atheism and scientism). 

Genetics obviously plays a large role, but just as there can by definition be no gene for homosexuality, nor can there be a gene for the priesthood, at least in the sense I am using the term (a supernaturally natural, intrinsic priesthood). The alt-right talks about a "gene for belief," but this explains nothing. Is there a gene for a belief in belief? 

The point is, the human station is bound -- or bordered -- at two ends. At one end is biology, about which there can be no doubt. But to reduce the human person to biology is both self-defeating and obviously soph-defeating, because it reduces wisdom to knowledge and ought to is. Ought we believe in genetic determinism? You see the problem. Let's say ta-ta to tautology and hello to our vertical telovator.

Anyway, the human station is bound at the other end by... you name it. Men call this boundary -- or beyond this boundary -- "God," but this can cause as much confusion as it clarifies, especially in these crazy times, in which the Average Moron will immediately ask, Whose God?  

Anyway, reducing transcendence to immanence is always an error. It is a cosmic heresy, whether it is reduced to dialectical materialism or the dialectic of natural selection. Not only is transcendence real, it is the most real, and certainly more real than the material plane. Worlds will continue to come and go, but 2 + 2 will always be 4 in every one of them, except where truth is attacked and reality denied, AKA, on the left, which always -- for this is its deep structure -- replaces truth with power.