Saturday, May 29, 2021

On Circularity and Absurcularity

I think it's accurate to say that while Thomas begins with the material senses and ascends to the immaterial Principle, Schuon begins at the other end, with the Principle -- or Absolute -- and skis down the mountain to the manifestation below. 

However, once Thomas rises to the Principle, he too schusses down the mountainside, taking everything below into consideration, as illuminated by the Principle(s).

Here's how Fr. Reg describes Thomas's vertical circularity: he 

marches steadily onward to that superior simplicity..., a simplicity pregnant with virtual multiplicity.... the saint's progress is a slow, hard climb to the summit of the mountain, whence alone you can  survey all these problems in a unified solution....

He exemplifies his own teaching on "circular" contemplation, which returns always to one central, pre-eminent thought, better to seize all the force of its irradiation. His principles, few in number but immense in reach, illumine from on high a great number of questions.

Again, the Great Cosmic Circle of coontomplation begins from below, ascends upward, and then returns down, only equipped with the principles that illuminate this downward path.  

Herebelow, things can either exist or not exist, irrespective of their essence. Only at the summit of metaphysics do essence and existence converge, such that in God alone are they one: God's essence is to exist, and existence is his essence. This is the final truth arrived at by reason:

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.

Snowboarding back down,

Many positions which we have already met on the ascending road now reappear, seen as we follow the road descending from on high. 

So, be nice to those discarnate nonlocal intelligences on the way up, because you'll meet the same ones on the way down.  

For Schuon, all of this is true enough, except he would say it is possible to start at the summit -- or, to be more precise, the "meta-summit." 

He would essentially say that there is Reality and that there are appearances, the latter being a consequence and prolongation of the former. Thus, appearances are at once distinct from the Principle, and yet "not not" the sophsame principle in the mode of appearances.

This realization is possible not just because of the ascent described by Thomas, but because we too are "not not" the Principle. Obviously we are not God, but the fact that we are in his image and likeness means we're not exactly not God either. Frankly, anything purely not-God would be nonexistent.  

This brings to mind our two subjective centers -- the local material ego and the nonlocal self. Importantly, these are not a duality but a complementarity that  -- in my opinion -- can be traced all the way up and in to God. For example, "Father" and "Son" are two subjectivities or "personal centers" within a radical unity.

. . . But we're out of time, so we'll pick up this towline of thought in the next. .

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Random Thoughts on the Passing (Please!) Scene

St. Thomas thought about everything, including politics. When a degenerate people hand power over to demagogues, then "the elective power should, if it be possible, be taken from the multitude and restored to those who are good."

This seems too sensible to be remotely possible. Still, why should a bad and degenerate people have the right to make Biden the most powerful vegetable on earth?

St. Augustine was also on the case over 1500 years ago: "If a people gradually becomes depraved, if it sells its votes, if it hands over the government to wicked and criminal men, then that power of conferring honors is rightly taken from such a people and restored to those who are good."

Now, in our world we have one party that shamelessly purchases votes with cash and other valuable prizes stolen from the productive half of the population; this would of course be the Democrats. 

At the other extreme, we have a party that pretends not to do the same thing, i.e., Republicans. This is why the self-dealing degenerates of both parties so hated (and hate) Trump, and by extension, us. They are united in their contempt for the Good. 

The Founders of course knew that democracy eventually degenerates into mob rule, and thus tried to design a government around this melancholy fact. Everything the left does is designed to transform this M.F. into a principle -- a principle designed to counter and undo the work of the Founders.

But it's not really a principle -- unless an utter lack of principle can be elevated to one. This is why it is so futile to point out the daily hypocrisies of the left -- e.g., yesterday only the tinfoil hat crowd believed COVID was invented by the Chinese, today everyone knows it was. That's not hypocrisy, just the usual absence of principle. 

Note that the lack of principle is the left's version of "freedom." Any controlling principle would place constraints on the exercise of power, and in the struggle between principle and power, it's no contest. Expediency wins every time. 

This is also why the self-styled progressive does indeed progress: in the direction of absurdity. We are beyond the age of mere stupidity and well into the Age of Absurdity. 

This is what makes it all so unsettling. We'd like to think that what cannot continue won't continue, but this is probably what Augustine thought on the occasion of that previous barbarian invasion. They're just a disorganized bunch of illiterate malcontents. Besides, Twitter hasn't even been invented. What harm can they do to Civilization?

The current barbarian invasion has already breached the walls of nearly every institution of western civilization, e.g., the family, education at every level, journalism, science, art, entertainment. Even supposing we yanked on the brake right now, sheer momentum would carry the graveyard train forward another 50 years.

Which, in the Chinese perspective on history, is known as "six months."

You know how the left says "the personal is political?" Well, yes. If you can only manage to destroy the person, then there will be no limit to your political power. Regarding politics, Aristotle

starts from the study of the family, the first human community. The father, who rules the family, must deal, in one fashion with his wife, in another with his children, in still another with his slaves ["slave" is not the preferred nomenclature: helot-American laborer of color, please].

Hence, the family has been under constant assault by the left since forever, with predicable results: less stable families, more power for the left. It's why they want women to deny their natural inclinations and toil outside the home, why they want to subsidize bureaucratcare for children, why they disparage masculinity, why they redefine marriage, etc. You can't say the effort hasn't paid off. 

This is producing hordes of people who are simply unfit for the rigors of freedom -- even of free speech! Paraphrasing Thomas, Fr. Reginald writes that

the man who cannot provide for himself should work for, and be directed by, one wiser than himself.

Clearly not everyone is cut out for freedom. Indeed, there are whole continents and cultures that can't manage it. Problem is, the left once again elevates this to a kind of principle -- as if none of us can get by without the aggressive intervention of Big Sister because some can't. 

This reminds me of an observation by Schuon to the effect that we must recognize that there are indeed a great many adults that can't get by without adult supervision. It's a caste thing. 

There exist people --  e.g., the criminal, the revolutionary, the tenured -- for whom mere obedience to human norms would constitute their great virtue. All are badly in need of a proper Father. All evoke the reurn of the primordial Father, except in the form of the tyrant. Or perhaps a harmless looking vegetable as the face of tyranny. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Codgertations

In the past, posts have generally appeared between around 8:00 and 10:00 AM. Since there's no longer any morning rush, expect them to appear closer to midday. 

This isn't a post, just some loose ends before moving on to another subject.

In everything there is a shadow of nothing, but also an echo of eternity. A tension known only to man, and which defines man. 

The distance between man and God isn't as great as the distance between God and man. Thank God!

The present moment is the only place where one may fall upward or struggle downward. No one is obligated to cooperate with grace, but why use wings for digging?

What is implied by the Son and not Father incarnating? Probably the same as the Son being engendered: the Incarnation must be a fractal of the Trinity. Like everything else.

If ultimate reality is an irreducible Substance-in-Relation, then Father-Son is the one substance in eternal relation. Thus, in the giving of his Substance Christ gives the Relation.

If God is the Supreme Cause, then isn't he also the Supreme Effect? Perhaps the Farther is the First Cause, the Son the First Effect. Only from eternity.  

Unity and multiplicity, the anabolism of catabolism of being, constituting the metabolism of spirit.

Supreme Being implies Supreme Becoming. Absolute and Infinite, Creator and Creativity, One and Many.

Who came first, the Person or the Persons? Neither. Person presupposes the principle of Relation. Except the Relation is also a person. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole of Experience

We're just flipping through Keys to the Beyond, looking for one that might unlock the doors. Of perception. And of realization, i.e., intellect and heart, respectively. Knowledge is one thing, its realization another -- at least for this kind of knowledge, which is always experiential. 

Which is interesting, for what is "experience" anyway? In a moment I'll look it up, but obviously any conceivable definition presumes someone there to experience it -- in both the writer and reader. Like "being," it's too general to be defined with precision, as it encompasses everything. 

We've been down this rabbit hole before, but who is "I" but the experience of pure subjectivity? And what is "AM" but its specification? Thus, I AM WHO I AM is more than a mythful. I AM applies to us, but goes double for God.

Ex•pe•ri•ence: direct observation of or participation in events: an encountering, undergoing, or living through things in general as they take place in the course of time.

Observation, participation, encountering, undergoing, living, time. Now, to define, according to the same dictionary, is to determine, limit, conclude, bring to an end, etc. The problem is, experience is literally boundless and unlimited, so it can't actually be defined. It is what it is, but more importantly, it is who I am, and more.

So let's not pretend we know what experience is, much less the experience of experience. That latter is purely immaterial, but this doesn't convey much, since 1) we don't know what matter is, and 2) "immaterial" is just the negation of the matter of which we already stipulated we are ignorant. Does this mean that the immaterial world is just ignorance²?

That can't be right, since the immaterial world is precisely where everything happens -- knowledge, experience, being, etc. 

I'm always trying to think of the title of the unwritten book. If I could only come up with the perfect title, the book would write itself. One rejected title was The Metaphysics of Jesus. The idea was to go through his words line by line in order to explicate the deepest structure of reality. 

First of all, if Jesus is the Truth, then not only should everything he say be true in the colloquial sense, but also relate the truth about the nature of things, about ultimate reality. 

Example. His first recorded words in the Gospel of Mark are The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. There are many ways to interpret these words -- for example, what they mean in the context of Judaism, but what is the deeper principle by virtue of which they are true? Or, what is the ultimate principle they explicate? 

"Time is fulfilled," for example, clearly implies that temporality must be something more than mere quantitative duration or meaningless change. Rather, to say that time can be "fulfilled" means at the very least that time had theretofore been unfulfilled, but what can this mean?  

To the dictionary! Fulfill: to make full; to supply the missing parts of: make whole; integrate: to carry out: accomplish, execute; to finish out, bring to an end; etc. 

Once again our definition doesn't de-limit or reduce, but rather, is incredibly expansive. But if Jesus is correct, it certainly means that "prior" to his presence, time is an impoverished thing: it is wounded and scattered instead of complete or integrated, nor has it accomplished its purpose and achieved its end.

That's a lot to ponder. 

Anyway, back to the Keys. Laude quotes Schuon in a footnote, who says

The desire to enclose universal Reality in an exclusive and exhaustive "explanation" brings with it a permanent disequilibrium due to the interferences of Maya; moreover, it is just this disequilibrium and this anxiety that are the life of modern philosophy.

Well, first of all, this desire to enclose reality within our own categories has been declared against the Law by Deputy Gödel. But whence the disequilibrium? This occurs because any manmode explanation not only excludes a great deal, but necessarily excludes a great deal more than it can ever include. And what we exclude always comes back to bite us in the aseity.

For example, how much bigger is infinitude than finitude? Now you know why the tenured not only explain such an infinitesimally small portion of reality, but unexplain so much more in the process. 

Laude talks about the need for a coherent metalanguage with which to map supra-reality. In the case of Jesus mentioned above, we see that he generally uses ordinary language to advert to the extra-ordinary. What would the same point look like in strict meta-language?

Let's face it, infinitude is a big place. How do we tame it, or cut it down to size? Think about linear thought and language. It can never do the job. Okay, how about circular? Now we're getting somewhere, but it all depends on the size of your circle. Laude alludes to the "spherical" quality of Schuon's writing. This is the way to go.

To be continued...