Saturday, May 22, 2021

Outer and Inner Limits

This post goes over a lot of well-trod ground. I suppose it might be helpful to newbies, if such readers exist. It lays a foundation, but that's all. The next post will take a flying leap from the foundation to the ground.

 "Metaphysics," writes Laude, "pertains to the super-ontological realm, or to Beyond-Being, the Essence, and can be best characterized, therefore, by paradoxical expressions: it is the science of the limitless and the knowledge of the unknowable."

For some readers this will make perfect nonsense, while for others it will be the other way around. 

One thing we need to get out of the way at the outset: no, we're not just trying to be abstruse or mystagogic, much less clever or cute. We hate cute as much as the next guy.

Consider mundane science: of necessity it operates within limits. The moment it steps outside its own proper limits it becomes either oogily-boogily scientism or woohoo deepakery, thus proving that extremists meet.

Metaphysics is to science as, say, paragraph is to story -- except to say that this story must ultimately be circular, more on which as we proceed. For now let's just nod in silent agreement with the Aphorist, who points out that

Without philosophy, the sciences do not know what they know.
Moreover,

Properly speaking, the social sciences are not inexact sciences, but sciences of the inexact.

Thus, a science of the limitless is equally a science of the inexact, bearing in mind that the latter is not synonymous with incertitude. True, God is a mathematician, but not only a mathematician. As it pertains to metaphysics, Einstein was no Einstein.

I'm suddenly reminded of a book by Stanley Jaki called The Limits of a Limitless Science. Supposing the scientific method reveals (lower case) truth -- which it does -- then

since no tool used by man matches even remotely the effectiveness and range of the tool called science, one may rightly say that there is nothing so important as to ascertain the limits to which science can rightfully be put to use.

I've been thinking about this lately vis-a-vis the undeniable power of genetics to illuminate human intelligence, personality, and behavior. Nevertheless, while reductionism is a permanent temptation, it must always be rejected on pain of placing an arbitrary limit on the limitless. 

How could a limited method yield a limitless result? This is like the proverbial frog at the bottom of a well proclaiming with complete certitude that the sky is a little blue circle. 

Which it is, granted a limited perspective. And all perspectives are limited, save one: the perspective of metaphysics, which provides a meta-language to vault us into the meta-limits.  

One (1) is a quantity, and in fact, the basis of any and all quantities, being that the latter are multiples of one. But one is also -- and even prior to quantity -- a quality. This is because one plus one cannot actually equal two in the absence of a prior unicity in which the two can reveal their oneness.  Placing one rock atop another doesn't actually make them one rock. 

"Science ceases to be competent"  

whenever a proposition is such as to have no quantitative bearing. The alternatives -- to be or not to be, to be free or not to be free, to act for a purpose or no purpose at all, to have inalienable rights or to not have them -- cannot be evaluated in inches or ounces, in volts or in amperes, in frequencies or in wavelengths (Jaki). 

A moment's reflection on this axiomatic truth reveals "that the limits of science are vast as well as very specific." Indeed, language itself -- which is obviously not a mere quantity -- "must point far beyond the limits of science" (ibid.). 

And in any event, "as long as Gödel’s incompleteness theorems are valid, the mathematical structure of [a final] theory cannot contain within itself its own proof of consistency" (ibid.). Which means that the most Ultimate Theory conceivable by man can only be penultimate. For obviously, 

Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything (Dávila). 

Another way of framing our analysis is to affirm that subjectivity and objectivity are complementary, but that the former can never be reduced to the latter. Just what is the subject? An object? A quantity? An illusion? 

C'mon man! The Subject is either a primordial category or it isn't, and if not, then you are facing the wrong way. Stop pretending your limits are the limits. You're like a chicken that can't find its way out when placed in a corner.

Metaphysical Dunning-Kruger. You'd better believe it's real. And 

Those who reject all metaphysics secretly harbor the coarsest.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

To Reality, and Beyond!

I mentioned in a comment that I've been leisurely alternating between two books, one called Reality, the other called Keys to the Beyond. It's a little like going back and forth between alternate universes -- I was about to say "parallel" universes, but that can't be right, since there can only be one.  

Nor is it like choosing a neighborhood to live in -- for example, this one is more expensive but has better schools, while that one is more... vibrant but has more crime.

If one of these cosmic neighborhoods is Reality, the other is Beyond Reality, so they're not really parallel, but rather, perpendicular. Assuming there's something beyond reality.

But wait: how can there be something more real than reality? We'll get to that, but let's start with this: 

the deepest joy arises from the activity of man's highest power, namely, his mind, when that power is occupied in contemplating its highest object, which is God, the Supreme Truth, the Supreme Intelligible.

Are we not men? Check. Is not the mind our highest power? Check. Is not God the highest intelligible object? Check. Thomas:

man must immortalize himself, by striving with all his might to live according to what is most excellent in himself. This principle is higher than all the rest. It is the spirit which makes man essentially man.

Immortalizing ourselves by living in accord with what is most excellent in ourselves, whatever the cost... Isn't that what makes a man? Ummm, sure. That and a pair of testicles. 

You're joking. But perhaps man is only man when surpassing himself, which would imply that reality too is a descent from something more real. This probably wasn't clear, but soon it will be, perhaps even to me.

The point is that reality is always pregnant with possibilities, and the possibilities are infinite. This being the case, to say reality is to advert to a deeper or higher source, i.e., something paradoxically beyond what we call reality. 

Let's remind ourselves that the metacosmos is circular, or a kind of nonlocal spiraling movement that ceaselessly goes out of, and returns to, its source. At the summit of metaphysics is the convergence of essence and existence, AKA God:

This supreme truth is the terminus, the goal, of the ascending road [↑] which rises from the sense world to God, and the point of departure on the descending road [], which deduces the attributes of God and determines the relation between God and world.

In reality, it is , since God is the ultimate cause of both movements. The first movement is from effects to cause, while the second is from cause to effects or entailments. Or, we could say many-to-One and One-to-many, or just unity and diversity, bearing in mind that the former is inconceivable in a universe of pure multiplicity. While the two are complementary, Unity is necessarily prior.

Here's where things get a little ambiguous in this cosmic neighborhood. Fr. Reginald points out that

The first cause, being uncaused, must have in itself the reason for its existence. But the reason why it cannot cause itself is that it must be before it can cause. Hence, not having received existence, it must be existence (emphases mine). 

True enough. But what if it receives Being from Beyond-Being? "In God alone are essence and existence identified." In other words, God is the the being whose essence is to exist. But who's to say this is the end of the line? 

In the next post we'll tour the other cosmic neighborhood.  

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Everything New is Old Again

Yesterday an idea occurred to me that may provide an explanatory key to the surreal -- or subreal, rather -- times we're living in. I was about to say "living through," but this presupposes we'll actually get through them, and who knows? We may have reached the final naked, insurmountable contradiction of...

Marxists like to highlight the contradictions inherent to capitalism, but if I am correct, the trouble with Marxism is that it's not nearly radical enough. For what if I told you that... 

Before getting to my thoughts on the subject, this is from the CPUSA's *very own* website:

When we really dig down to the bottom of things, the contradictions of capitalism are holding us back. We live in the richest, most productive, most interconnected society that has ever existed on Earth, *and yet* some of us are overworked, others are underemployed, and millions live in poverty.

This glaring social contradiction, the class divide, comes about because capitalism is *designed* to allow a few individuals profit from the work of the vast majority. The *purpose* of capitalism is to make profits for the few individuals *lucky* enough to own a big piece of the pie. It’s very efficient at making rich people richer.

Let's analyze this passage, but first a word from our sponsor: yes,

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No piece the pie for you! 

Marxists and their progressive children continue to be convinced that they've "dug down to the bottom of things." Problem is, if you're a materialist you don't have to dig very far before you reach the bottom. And yet, leftists keeps digging long after they've hit bottom. 

Why? You'd think the left would put away their shovels once they've established that Bruce is Caitlyn, George Floyd is a hero, paleface Liz is an Indian, Michelle Obama is oppressed by something other than her low IQ, race riots are peaceful, a man's spouse is his husband, and Joe Biden is competent. 

Come to think of it, for a materialist the bottom is the top, and vice versa: one makes extremes meet by simply eliminating one of them. I get it: a simpleminded explanation appeals to the simpleminded. But why eradicate the fun side, AKA the soul? 

Regarding the Inchoate Idea that Occurred to Me Yesterday, let's reframe what our comrade says above about getting to the bottom of the trouble:

When we really dig down to the bottom of things, the contradictions of HUMAN NATURE are holding us back. We live in the FREEST society that has ever existed on Earth, *and yet* it results in INEQUALITY.

Now, anyone but the village progressive will quickly realize that what the left calls a "contradiction" is actually a logical entailment: that the more people are free to reveal their preferences, their abilities, their intelligence, etc., the more inequality will result. This is an insight worthy of Captain Obvious.

But let's "really dig down to the bottom." First of all, as it pertains to human beings, what is the bottom? Once we've ruled out all the red herrings such as "class," "privilege," "patriarchy," "profit motive," et al, we're left with human nature. D'oh!

Now, first of all, materialists deny that such a thing exists, which is in turn the principle upon which the left is founded; in short, leftist polices can only succeed if there is no such thing as human nature (or, they can succeed, but only on a species with a different nature).

We're seeing this principle play out in real time with the Great Mystery of how unemployment can be up *despite* the fact that people are being paid not to work. How can this be? Some might suggest that perhaps it has to do with human nature -- that people understand incentives and know what's in their best interests. But the left knows better. 

Here again, preference can only be revealed in the context of freedom. If people are free to get paid for not working, guess what will happen?

The same thing occurs when men and women are free to choose their vocational paths: men are far more likely to choose careers involving abstractions or objects, while women are more apt to pursue careers involving interpersonal relations. Freedom reveals human nature. Equality would require forcing women into fields for which they have no intrinsic interest, i.e, are against their nature.

We're still in Captain Obvious territory and still haven't gotten to the main point, which is this: yes, these are crazy times we're living in. But what if the regime of Wokeness isn't some sort of mysterious aberration? What if it's just raw human nature, what man is if he is allowed to be, i.e., if there are no constraints on its expression?

Come to think of it, many Aphorisms go precisely to this subject. I might add that, when we really dig down to the bottom of things, we see that there is 1) human nature, and 2) a cure for human nature, about which we'll have more to say later. Suffice it to say, human nature is a genuine diagnosis, so don't get confused by this or that symptom, for example, envy, or hatred of reality, or sexual conflict.

And certainly don't be surprised at mob behavior, scapegoating, projection, and appeasement of imaginary gods via human sacrifice. It's what humans do and have always done.  Nor do humans have the power to cure human nature. That would require an intervention from on high, from something transcending humanness.

We'll conclude with a dozen aphorisms, each of which touches on a different aspect of the deep down problem of human nature:

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


--Human nature always takes the progressive by surprise.


--Liberals can be divided into those who believe that wickedness is curable and those who deny that it exists.


--Man is not educated through knowledge of things but through knowledge of man.


--Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems.


--Those who remove man’s chains free only an animal. 


--Authentic humanism is built upon the discernment of human insufficiency.


--Today the individual rebels against inalterable human nature in order to refrain from amending his own correctable nature.


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


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


--Freedom is the right to be different; equality is a ban on being different.


--An irreligious society cannot endure the truth of the human condition. It prefers a lie, no matter how imbecilic it may be. --Dávila x 12

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Escaping into Reality

Do you sometimes want to just leave politics behind and escape into reality? 

I know I do, but let me first get some aphorisms off my chest: 

God gave man the miraculous power to name things. True, but Satan gives progressives the magical power to rename them. 

"Hate speech," "spreading disinformation," and "community standards" are to language as the Fugitive Slave Act was to freedom.

The materialist can never make ends meet. 

You can't fix your own life by meddling in other people's lives. Progressive: hold my cruelty-free nonalcoholic soybrew!

In four months, Biden has proved himself unfit to conduct peace.

The credo of the left: in weakness, victimhood; in strength, revenge. 

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the authority of the progressive State, the right of George Soros to fund BLM and AntiFa shall not be infringed.

Man is a political animal. The progressive tribalist is an animal with politics.

Intersectionality is an analytical framework for understanding the oppressive dialectic between indoctrination and stupidity.

Africans live in a world of pure black privilege. Unless they can escape to a place with white privilege.

A decadent paradigm becomes more complex in order to account for its lack of explanatory power. Anti-racism is the search for epicycles within epicycles to account for black failure. 

Social and economic problems are answers to the left's solutions.

The left says Israel's response to the Palestinians is disproportionate. True, but do they really want Israel to commit genocide? 

Reality. See sidebar for details. I'm reading it at a leisurely pace because I am a Man of Leisure, and Leisure isn't just anything, let alone nothing, but perhaps -- now that I think about it -- the key to Reality, but only literally. 

Business is to Isness as is Toil to Leisure, the latter being the telos of the former (which is one way to make ends meet, alluding to the cryptic aphorism above). Not for nothing is Leisure the very Basis of Culture.

I'm referring of course to Josef Pieper's koon klassic, Leisure, which I haven't flipped through in years, but I'll bet has something to say about this post. From the Amazon page (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1586172565?ie=UTF8&tag=onecos-20&camp=1789&linkCode=xm2&creativeASIN=1586172565):

Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper.... points out that religion can be born only in leisure -- a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. 
Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture -- and ourselves (emphases mine).

That little passage has a bit of everything: mind, soul, culture, perception, God, world, reality, contemplation, silence, insight, and non-doing, and/or their destruction. In short: Slack and the unending conspiracy against it.   

"But I'm a novice at this reality isness. Where do I begin?"

Are you a troll? Because I don't troll on Shabbos. 

I don't know. What would Jesus do?

Wrong question. Rather, who would Jesus be.

Now interestingly, Pieper begins with a slightly tweaked quote from the Bible: Have leisure and know that I am God

And who is God but I AM? Which is precisely who Jesus would be, irrespective of whether he is doing or non-doing. 

In fact, I would say that the goal (for us) is to bring non-doing into doing, so that we're always doing a bit of nothing even in the midst of doing it. Like Yin and Yang, the Siamese twins of ontology: they can't be separated without killing them.

And speaking of ontology, this is the subtitle of the very next section of Reality. Metaphysics is the science of reality; it is

conceived as wisdom, science pre-eminent. Now science is the knowledge of things by their causes. Metaphysics, therefore, is the knowledge of all things by their supreme causes.

All sentient humans can agree that being is. Everything that isn't God has a cause, and being is no exception. Being is intelligible reality; it is the cause of our knowing it. Fr. Reginald speaks of the contemplative life, AKA the life of leisure:

the deepest joy arises from the activity of man's highest power, namely, his mind, when that power is occupied in contemplating its highest object, which is God, the Supreme Truth, the Supreme Intelligible.

If knowing truth is nice, being it is even better. Now, Jesus makes the startling metaphysical claim that I am the truth, the way, and the life. In other words, "I am the living truth and the way to it."

You know how with the left everything comes down to Who and Whom? With us it all comes down to I AM and We Are.