Friday, November 25, 2022

Cosmos and Freedom

A little more distracted than usual this morning. Wife is home, and making all sorts of novel sounds, what with the clattering of the walker. Everything okay? Yes. You sure? Yes. Need anything? No. You sure? Yes. What was that noise? Just breathing. 

The cosmos is a creature and so are we. However, they say we are in the image and likeness of the one who creates both, so that gives us a leg up on the cosmos: among other things, we can know it, but not vice versa. 

That we can know the cosmos is at once self-evident and yet not remotely self-sufficient. In other words, such a miraculous ability hardly explains itself, and yet, here it is and here we are.  

I spend a fair amount of far too much time on the internet, and it is somewhat disconcerting that so few people share my concerns, because it suggests that one of us -- me or the world -- is concerned with nothing and unconcerned about everything else. One of us is grabbing reality at the wrong end. The other way around, stupid!

This has been a long and tedious debate -- i.e., which is the business end of reality? Matter or mind? Being or becoming? Reason or revelation? Object or subject? Science or faith? Plato or Aristotle? Boxers or briefs?

Apropos of nothing — or possibly everything — I saw a headline this morning that celebrity atheist Sam Harris has deleted his twitter account in protest of free speech. Not in support of free speech, mind you, but against free speech. 

Now, what is an atheist but someone who knows nothing about freedom and even less about how it gets here and why we have it?

The why is easy: in order to discover truth and conform ourselves to reality. The how is a little tricksier, but it has to do with the Image and Likeness referenced above.

So, while we’re giving thanks, let’s give some for freedom, especially the vertical kind, since there really is no other. Because a merely horizontal freedom wouldn’t actually be freedom, rather, something like “indeterminacy” or unpredictability at best. Who gives thanks for randomness?

Well, I would, but only in the context of something higher. If randomness means “ontological wiggle room,” or “metacosmic loophole,” or divine Slack, then I’m glad it’s here. 

For example… well, first of all, I would never kick my dog, but if I did, I don’t know what she’d do. But that doesn’t mean she’s free to react in any way she wants. 

However, if someone kicks me, I can think about how to react. On the other hand, if I’m kicked off twitter, then there’s nothing I can do about it, at least before Musk. There was no higher authority than the Committee to Enforce the Latest Thing.

I don’t know if I even like the term “free speech,” for the same reason I don’t like the term “hate speech.” How about just freedom, which encompasses thought, speech, religion, self-defense, private property, and assembly — in other words, inside and out, vertical and horizontal. For the left, it always comes down to “freedom doesn’t really exist, and besides, only certain people get to exercise it.”

Bah. Moving on. All scripture is important, but some things are more important than others. In other words, there are degrees. Of verticality. What are the most important points? Good question, but right now we’re focusing on cosmos and freedom. The cosmos as such doesn’t have it but we do. 

Now, the cosmos has been here for 13.8 billion years, and we’ve been here for far less than 1% of that time. Even our sun has only been here for about 4.5 billion years, and our existence proves there can indeed be something new under the sun -- and not just freedom but life itself, which has been here for 3.7 billion years, give or take.

Like anyone could even know such things. But we do know them. 

Here is a passage from Schuon to which I often return, because it describes the essence of our situation so concisely:
One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and of our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence.
True. At least the latter: as indicated at the outset, we have one up on the cosmos, in that we understand it but not vice versa. Or at least we are free to understand it, even if some people reject both truth and the freedom to explore it.

But is this really a key to anything? Or just another lock?
Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing (ibid).
Now, that is at once a Bold Statement, but surely true, for the same reason the Aphorist tells us Either God or chance. All other terms are disguises for one or the other.  

As I suggested in the book, this is a true Binary, in that one of them cannot be a little or even a lot more likely. Rather, it is simply one or the other. 

Some people make their choice at the outset, based on common sense, tradition, culture, conformity, or even full-blown tenure, whatever. 

Others start at the empirical end and reason their way up to the Absolute, but it’s the same Absolute, AKA, necessary being, or that which cannot not be. Absent this, then there can be no basis whatsoever for truth, freedom, or any other transcendent reality. We are all Sam Harris. Or, there is “truly” nothing and Sam Harris is its prophet.

We judge that claim impossible, or rather, infinitely stupid.


ted said...

Sam, don't let the twat door hit you in the arse. Harris is as bland of an intellect and they come. Never heard someone say so little in so much.

Gagdad Bob said...

He's the Emperor of Flatland, but freedom is as easy as stepping into the third dimension.

Gagdad Bob said...

Come to think of it, it makes sense that the Emperor of Flatland would want to ban speaking of the third dimension, i.e., depth. The emperor's power is based on folks not knowing about 3D.

Gagdad Bob said...

Or, as Tucker says, when has censorship not been a tool to benefit the powerful?

julie said...

Interesting too that the people making noisy exits from twitter were perfectly fine with "rules for thee but not for me," but the moment the same standards start applying across the board suddenly it's the worst thing ever. One area that should be flat - that is, a fair application of the rules - and they can't abide.

Gagdad Bob said...

If humans actually valued freedom, it would be the rule instead of the great exception.

Gagdad Bob said...

They appreciate the Monkees in Japan:

Knowing this live live on the video site, the sound of the acogi of the door into summer did not move away from the ear and looked for the CD. I like the album of two songs of the four monkeys in the late period (or three if you put the head), aunties municipal court and as we go along.

However, after more than 50 years, I did not think I would be able to listen to live music. I was surprised because the voice of Mike and Mickey was younger than anything else. I didn't know that Peter died last year for about six months.

Monkeys have finally become two people, and Mickey is also wrinkled when looking at up. The first national band-style slow tapioca tundra is also nice. I feel a little happy if I was happy to be alive.

julie said...

This isn't so much word salad as word dessert.

So after six months, Peter got better?

Gagdad Bob said...

Just resting. Or stunned. Or pining for the fjords.

julie said...

This is an Ex-Monkee!

julie said...

Wow. I mean, I enjoy the Monkees, but that is nutty.

John Venlet said...

The Monkees were a fun teevee show, but Michael Nesmith was the most interesting of the group, and the most talented musician. His mom invented White Out, and after the Monkees Nesmith went on to record over 20 albums of his own. I own only one, "Loose Salute." Nesmith also founded the Gihon Foundation, and was also involved in a number of other ventures. He produced the movie "Repo Man," which is one odd cult type movie, but in an entertaining way. Oh, and Sam Harris is an idiot.

Gagdad Bob said...

Nesmith was a very good songwriter, and one of the founding fathers of country rock. I really like this cover of Different Drum. His own version is really good too, with just him and a pedal steel.

John Venlet said...

Thanks for those links, Gagdad. Both Hoff and Nesmith did the song justice. I did not know, til I listened, that Nesmith actually wrote the song "Different Drum," and that it was also performed by the Stone Ponies with Ronstadt fronting the vocals. I've always been kind of partial to Nesmith's rendition of "Silver Moon."

Gagdad Bob said...

It's come to this: daylight saving time is racist.

Gagdad Bob said...

But daylight is racist, since it can cause skin cancer in the melanin deprived.

John Venlet said...

Well, of course sunlight is racist, its main color spectrum is white.