Friday, July 01, 2022

Who Models the Modeler?

This sounds reasonable: in addition to the two ontological ternaries discussed in the last couple of posts (∆ and ), Schuon describes a third type, this one founded

not on the union of two complementary poles with a view to a third element, either higher or lower, or inward or outward, but on the qualitative aspects of space measured from the starting point of a consciousness which is situated within it.

In other words, a line from the top to the bottom of the cosmos, with stations along the way. Which reminds me:

Intelligence is a train from which few do not deboard, one after the other, in successive stations (Dávila).

But first, realize that human beings arrived at these symbolic maps of the cosmos long before the existence of science. However, they retain their validity for at least a couple of reasons I can think of off the top of my obtuse triangle.

First, thanks to Gödel, we know going in that no merely scientific theory will ever provide a complete and consistent model of the universe, and that ultimately

it is intrinsically impossible to know from the universe that the universe can only be what it is. Normal experience is sufficient to to show most of us that our human limitations will never allow us to learn everything about ourselves and the universe (Ross).

But humans easily escape the clutches of Gödel, since we know that no a priori model or deductive system or mathematical recipe can ever contain us. 

Thus, we know in principle there will never be a scientific "theory of everything," although, at the same time, we can know there is and must be a transcendent source of everything. But since we are free, we are of course free to not know this, and to keep pretending science can account for itself.

Now, the second reason I can think of (for the validity of the visual analogues we've been discussing) is that we are equipped with a left brain and a right brain, and the productions of the latter can never be reduced to, or contained by, the former. (There are numerous reasons for this, but let's just say that semantics cannot be reduced to syntax; and that "a picture contains ∞ words.")

Having these distinct modes of consciousness is precisely one of  the features that makes us human, and the two are complementary, not antagonistic or contradictory. They allow -- I would say demand -- a higher synthesis, although, at the same time, we have to be careful to avoid lapsing into a right-brained synthesis without realizing it.

What I mean is that there is no way we can avoid imagining How Things Are. Scientism, for example, naively imagines How Things Are, but promptly forgets it is only imagining, and that the model is -- obviously -- not the reality. 

The same can be said of any ideological Ism, each one more naive than the last, from materialism to Darwinism to progressivism, whatever. For which reason the Aphorist says, for example, that

Within solely Marxist categories not even Marxism is explicable.

We could equally say that within solely materialist categories not even materialism is explicable, that relativism isn't even wrong, and that Darwinism can't account for Darwin or any other immaterial living soul.  

Let me pause for an important announcement or clarification: the world does not appear to us the way it appears because we have left and right brains; rather, vice versa: we have this left-and-right brain complementarity because Ultimate Reality is the way it is. 

Therefore, our most adequate model of the world will be a combination of math and poetry, or geometry and music; and in the last unalysis, Truth is symphonic. Let those with ears hear -- in vertical stereo! Or better, 3.0 surround.

What's that supposed to mean? Besides low blood sugar? 

Let's go back to what Schuon was saying in paragraph two about the third type of ternary: it suggests an "ascending dimension or lightness, descending dimension or heaviness, [and a] horizontal dimension open to both influences" (emphasis mine).

First question: is this real, or just a model? Obviously both, because it is a kind of model that describes (among others) how those vertical murmurandoms reach us from beyond the model. It very much reminds me of how the Aphorist characterizes revelation:

The Bible is not the voice of God but that of the man who encounters Him.


God is not an inane compensation for lost reality, but the horizon surrounding the summits of conquered reality.

The ternary described by Schuon is very experience-near, in that we can't help being subjectively aware of a cosmos with ascending and descending energies; as human beings we are uniquely free to surf either current, i.e., waves of truth, love, beauty, virtue, and unity; or of consoling lies, pleasurable hatreds, ugliness masquerading as art, virtue signaling pretending to be virtue, and tribal division in thrall to various transdimensional powers, principalities, and dominions. 

That's enough for today.  


julie said...

The Bible is not the voice of God but that of the man who encounters Him.

Ha - I know of a lot of Christians for whom those would be fighting words. At least if they're going to be literalists, they fall on the side of faith and not atheism.

Petey said...

Sola scriptura violates not only Gödel but even rudimentary logic, since it is found nowhere in scripture.

julie said...

Indeed. Plus they leave out some of the best books, simply because they aren't historical even if mythopoetically true. Sad to know there are Christians who read the Bible every year, but still miss Tobit or Sirach.

Gagdad Bob said...

Interestingly, Luther rested the argument on his own authority, and to my knowledge never tried to defend it with evidence or reason. In effect he made himself Pope.

julie said...

True. It's funny because most Protestants don't consider themselves part of a hierarchy, but of course they are. It's human nature.

Tangential, reading an interview with America's Archbishop and among other things, he had this to say:

Respect for authority is connatural to civilized man, but it is necessary to distinguish between obedience and servility. You see, every virtue consists of the just mean between two opposite vices, without being a compromise, but also as the peak between two valleys, so to speak. Disobedience sins by falling short, not wanting to submit to a good order of a legitimate authority; servility on the other hand sins by excess, submitting to unfair orders or orders given by an illegitimate authority. The good citizen should know how to disobey civil authority, and the good Catholic how to do the same with ecclesiastical authority, disobeying whenever the authority demands obedience to an iniquitous order.

Nicolás said...

Intelligence does not aspire to be free, but to submit.

Nicolás said...

The free act is rebellion or obedience. Man establishes there his godlike pride or his creaturely humility.

Nicolás said...

Authentic freedom consists in the power to adopt an authentic master.

julie said...

Conversely, the modern refusal to submit to true Authority while cravenly obeying every mandate handed down by the screeching harpies and of wokedom is obviously just a repeat of the Fall. Except Eve at least had the wisdom to recognize that she should be ashamed.

Cousin Dupree said...

The left kneels before the authority of the Current Thing.

Gagdad Bob said...

Another Environmentalist wakes up from his ideological fantasy. The hard part must be not only realizing you've wasted your life, but that you've been harming people, especially the most vulnerable. While enriching Democrat clients.

julie said...

You beat me to it, I almost linked the original article earlier. I wonder when he'll come to the realization that "climate change" as an existential crisis is also an ideological fantasy, or if that will be just too difficult to face?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bob. I can sense that Gödel is really important to your intellectual arsenal but I’m still struggling to get my head around his fundamental thesis. Can you please dumb it down for me some more (with one or two very simple examples) or suggest parallels from Schuon’s writings (which I understand much better)? Much obliged.

Gagdad Bob said...

For me, the main takeaway is that any formal system contains at least one axiom which the system cannot justify, so, no system can be proved from its own resources; and secondarily, that we can know truths that we cannot formally prove.

Here's something from a site called Simple English Wikipedia"

Gödel's incompleteness theorems is the name given to two theorems proved by Kurt Gödel in 1931.

Mathematicians once thought that everything that is true has a mathematical proof. A system that has this property is called complete; one that does not is called incomplete.

Also, mathematical ideas should not have contradictions. This means that they should not be true and false at the same time. A system that does not include contradictions is called consistent. These systems are based on sets of axioms. Axioms are statements that are accepted as true, and need no proof.

Gödel said that every non-trivial formal system is either incomplete or inconsistent:

There will always be questions that cannot be answered, using a certain set of axioms;

You cannot prove that a system of axioms is consistent, unless you use a different set of axioms.

Those theorems are important to mathematicians because they prove that it is impossible to create a set of axioms that explains everything in maths.

Gagdad Bob said...

A few relevant quotes by Schuon:

The validity of a logical demonstration depends then on the prior knowledge which this demonstration aims at communicating, and it is clearly false to take as the point of departure, not a direct cognition, but logic pure and simple; when man has no “visionary” -- as opposed to discursive -- knowledge of Being, and when he thinks only with his brain instead of “seeing” with the “heart,” all his logic will be useless to him, since he starts from an initial blindness... The fact that the philosophic mode of thought is centered on logic and not directly on intuition implies that intuition is left at the mercy of logic’s needs.


It is not possible to emphasize too strongly that philosophy, in its humanistic and
rationalizing and therefore current sense, consists primarily of logic; this definition of Guénon’s correctly situates philosophical thought in making clear its distinction from “intellectual intuition,” which is direct perception of truth. But another distinction must also be established on the rational plane itself: logic can either operate in accordance with an intellection or on the contrary put itself at the disposal of an error, so that philosophy can become the vehicle of just about anything.


Logic is nothing other than the science of mental coordination, of rational conclusion; hence it cannot attain to the universal and the transcendent by its own resources; a supralogical -- but not “illogical” -- dialectic based on symbolism and on analogy, and therefore descriptive rather than ratiocinative, may be harder for some people to assimilate, but it conforms more closely to transcendent realities.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the Schuon quotes Bob - greatly appreciated!

Gagdad Bob said...

Schuon and Gödel are saying something similar about logic and the existence of God. In the book Incompleteness, by Rebecca Goldstein, she says "There remains something -- always -- that eludes capture in a formal system. It was in this metalight that Gödel viewed his incompleteness theorems.... [that] there is expressible knowledge which cannot be formalized." In a letter, Gödel wrote that "sooner or later my proof will be made useful for religion, since that is doubtless also justified in a certain sense." It is justified on the assumption that we are not machines. If we are machines, then we are, of course, forever confined to our programming.

Gagdad Bob said...

I should do a Cosmic Update on the implications of the theorems...

Petey said...

If God doesn't exist, only He knows it; and if He does exist, only man can not know it.