Friday, June 10, 2022

Disordered Truths and True Disorder

I'm not sure yesterday's post was as clear as I would have liked, as my blood sugar starts running low when I'm trying to wrap things up, which means that the cognitive fog rolls in just as I'm trying to tie the cosmic room together. So, consider this a clean-up post. 

Let's begin with Jaki, who correctly observes that 

Whenever a philosopher offers the kind of message which is philosophy, it must contain, at the very minimum, a justification of the means used to convey the message to beings no less real than the author himself. 

Which is impossible in a Kantian universe. In other words, as every baseball fan knows, the batter cannot steal first base. Rather, he must earn his way there by getting a base hit or base on balls, or being hit by the pitch. 

Come to think of it, the batter may also reach base via an error, and this is precisely how most philosophers manage to get there -- except it is a result of their own unacknowledged miscue. 

Probably the most obvious example of such a self-justifying error would be any form of materialism, a metaphysic that can account for neither philosophers nor philosophy, not to mention minds, truth, certitude, etc. Certainly Darwinism can't account for the truth of Darwinism (which we most certainly acknowledge as far as it goes), but as the Aphorist says,

It is not the false idea that is the dangerous one, but the partially correct one (Dávila).

Now, every thinking person, by virtue of being one (a person and therefore a thinker), should be able to agree with the following aphorism:

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

From this follows the axiomatic truth that science is incapable of accounting for reality in full. To believe otherwise is not only to steal first, but to pretend one has made it all the way home. Thus, we can know from the outset that

To believe that science is enough is the most naïve of superstitions.

Or, maybe you're just intellectually lazy, or a tasteless rube:

The rhetoric that is in the worst taste is that which renounces transcendence without renouncing its vocabulary.

Or just a barbarian:

Those who reject all metaphysics secretly harbor the coarsest.

Bad news / good news: one way or another, history -- like you and me and everything else -- will have a temporal end. This is another truth we can know with 100% certitude, that history will surely end, and when it does,

The definitive scientific sum will never be anything more than the prejudice existing at the moment when humanity becomes extinct.

This "scientific sum," whatever it turns out to be, is but a quantitative notion that will have no impact, one way or another, on those necessary and eternal truths that are accessible to us now and always, and to which we have a right, by virtue of being human persons. For

Truth is in history, but history is not truth.

Moreover,

Time soon erodes what is said about the soul but it never even scratches what the soul says.

For example, even the most tenured hack must know that 
Scraping the painting, we do not find the meaning of the picture, only a blank and mute canvas. Equally, it is not in scratching about in nature that we will find its sense.

Much of what goes by the name of science isn't even science, because it is not falsifiable. Moreover, to the extent that it is truly scientific, this is always an epistemologically modest claim, for

Being only falsifiable, a scientific thesis is never certain but is merely current.

"Current truth" is nice -- we won't turn it down -- but in order to live a truly human life, or a life worthy of the human station, we need a lot more than these temporal and temporary truths. Indeed, these higher truths are what make us human. 

Now, critiquing and negating others is all well and good, but is there a positive metaphysic that allows us to honestly get to first base without anti-intellectual trickery, performative contradictions, magical sophistry, etc? 

Well, we've been touching on it for the past... actually, for the past 17 years. Have we actually made any progress? NO! Or maybe YES, depending on how we look at it. For

Religious thought does not go forward like scientific thought does, but rather goes deeper.

Morevover,
A thought should not expand symmetrically like a formula, but in a disordered way like a bush.

I suppose these disordered posts will continue until morale improves in the cosmos! 

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Little Errors and Big Consequences

I was first tipped off to the idea that I might have Thomistic-personalistic tendencies way before I ever consciously entertained the possibility. It was a couple of decades ago, upon reading a book called Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth, by the Catholic philosopher of science Stanley Jaki. 

Not only did the whole thing make sense to me, but it did so because it articulated ideas and principles I already believed (sometimes implicitly) and couldn't help believing. It revealed to me what I already thought way down deep.

I want to focus on a single idea: that the universe is personal, and that person is its ultimate, unifying category and principle. 

In other words, if you want to understand what's going on down here, just turn the cosmos right-side up, with personhood at the top. Otherwise, nothing will ever have any objective and enduring meaning. 

Sure, you can still make sense of things, but not really, because it will just be something of your own invention that you've projected onto the world, AKA a reality (or unreality) tunnel. It will be just a manmade ideology instead of a properly Godmode personology. 

I haven't picked up the book in a long time, but I see that the argument is summarized on back:

Every philosophy is a message. For conveying that message there has to be a tangible means, such as a book. Therefore, for the sake of a minimum of consistency, the philosopher's message or system should account in full for the reality of the means.

In yesterday's post we alluded to the miracles of free will and intentional movement. This argument goes beyond that, and involves the everyday miracle of conceiving a thought in our heads; formulating it in language; shooting air vibrations out of our mouths; the listener receiving those vibrations and reconverting them to speech; and finally transforming the words back into the original idea: in a word, communication.

The question is -- and it's the first question the philosopher must answer in order to engage in philosophy -- in what kind of cosmos is this possible? For it implies all sorts of conditions that must be present in order to engage in this thing called philosophy. 

Put it this way: philosophy is either possible or it is impossible. If it's the former, then you've got a lot of philosophizing to do in order to explain how it is possible. 

A priori -- i.e., in most hypothetical universes -- one would think it would be impossible. In other words, as we know, there is an ever-growing list of cosmic contingencies that must be present even for life to exist, let alone consciousness and self-consciousness. Change the parameters of just one of these contingencies, and persons are rendered impossible. No communication for you!, says the endless-loop Nazi.

But I'm not making any kind of "intelligent design" argument. More just intelligence full stop, and how this intelligence is transmitted from intellect to intellect. "Any neglect of this," writes Professor Bachphlap, will result "in philosophical sleights of hand that endlessly breed one another." 

Why bring up this subject? Because yesterday I read an article by Norris Clarke called Interpersonal Dialogue: Key to Realism. In it he proves that Kant got it all wrong in light of what amounts to the performative contradiction of doing something which would seem impossible if his philosophy is correct, which is to say, the communication of truth from one person to another. 

As we know, Kant claimed we could never actually know the great outdoors -- i.e., the extracranial world -- rather, only our own projected forms: the external world of the nonself provides only "the matter of our cognition," while we supply the form(s); forms aren't in things, rather, in us

This is a complete reversal of the moderate realism of Thomism, which says that of course we can abstract essences from data provided by the senses. It's what the intellect does, and it's what you're doing right now, as you decode these little black symbols before your eyes. Your eyes aren't reading anything, rather, your intellect is (trolls excepted). 

But for Kant there is an unbridgeable divide between "reality" -- whatever that is -- and persons -- whatever they are. We are forever confined to a world of appearances, while the Thing Itself -- the noumena -- must always elude us.  

This has a superficial plausibility, and I myself once accepted it as the way things are and must be. In fact, it's possible I accepted it until Jaki blew it out of the water and made me realize all the assumptions buried in this belief. Come to think of it, Jaki made me realize I never really believed it, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered publishing what would have amounted to incommunicable ideas about nothing.  

Which reminds me of an aphorism: "Vulgar nominalism does not explain even the most trivial event" -- nominalism being any philosophy that denies the objective existence of essences.

We're starting to run short on time, so let me just extract some Kant-Krushing passages from Clarke's paper. Here is the overall argument in three easy steps:

(1) we live in a human community of other real persons like ourselves; (2) we communicate meaningfully with them through language; and (3) we know with sufficient assurance that both the above assertions command our reasonable assent.  

Because, you know, since our lives consist of nonstop communication with other people who exist in their own right -- unless you are more or less insane. Therefore, 

The very fact that Kant himself wrote and had published his Critique of Pure Reason is evidence enough that he too accepted these data, at least implicitly, as suppositions which are taken for granted and existentially lived. 

From descriptions I've read of Kant's personality style, he strikes me as more than a little autistic, which would explain a lot. But just because he was a little schizoid, it doesn't mean we too must forever be sealed in autism, much less the whole cosmos!

Kant always cut a curious figure in his lifetime for his modest, rigorously scheduled habits, which have been referred to as clocklike (Wiki).

Amazing how one weirdo can change the course of intellectual history. It wasn't the first time (that would be the events of Genesis 3), and it certainly wasn't the last time, or Maybe You Didn't Attend College. At any rate,

the implications of the interpersonal-dialogue situation open an irreparable breach in the fundamental Kantian principle that our minds cannot receive objective form from real things outside us but can only impose their own forms on the raw data furnished by the real but not-further-knowable-in-itself outside world (Clarke). 

In short, if you understand Kantianism, then it's not true. 

To paraphrase Thomas, a small mistake at the beginning results in BIG ones at the end, and suffice it to say that the postmodern world is in part a consequence of mistakes flowing from rationalism, e.g., subjectivism, relativism, "critical theory," and progressive anti-intellectualism more generally. It's how we got to this barren and antihuman place.

The good news is that we can turn this error around, if not on a wholesale basis, at least via one assoul at a time, because 

In each moment, each person is capable of possessing the truths that matter (Dávila).

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Making Nonsense of It All

Here's what I've been thinking about the last couple of days, if not decades: how has it come to pass that the most consequential thing in all of existence is also the most impossible thing? 

What I mean is that each of us has firsthand experience of the human person, and yet, our official philosophy -- or theology rather -- whether we call it naturalism, secular humanism, or scientistic materialism, renders this evidence irrelevant and incomprehensible. It is never explained, only explained away, such that the most real reality is regarded as unreal, a position that is incoherent and can never be held with logical consistency (since the person holding it doesn't really exist).

Now, it's nice to have intellectual back-up, but in my opinion we don't need Gödel to tell us that any manmade system of thought can be complete or consistent, but not both. Rather, the only complete and consistent system can come from God. Except it's not a system, it's a person. God is the source and ground of any completeness or consistency we encounter down here, because he is Absolute and Infinite. 

Even God himself is rendered incomplete and/or inconsistent upon contact with time. This may be ill-sounding, but if this weren't the case, revelation would be a syllogism or mathematical equation rather than a messy historical adventure. It wouldn't be an incarnation but an idea. And as the Aphorist says,

The history of Christianity would be suspiciously human if it were not the adventure of an incarnate God. Christianity assumes the misery of history, as Christ assumes that of man.

There's a good reason why Christ did not leave a book, rather, transformed persons, because personhood is the first and last principle of Christianity, and the person can again not be reduced to any formula.

Nor, for that matter does history have a direction per se, rather, a center. But once grafted to this center, it reveals a (vertical) direction, a telos. Absurd? Yes: in the sense that

Man calls “absurd” what escapes his secret pretensions to omnipotence.

Moreover,

If we could demonstrate the existence of God, everything would eventually be subjected to the sovereignty of man.

Let's dig a little deeper into this conundrum of personhood. Intrinsic to it is not just the desire to know what's going on, but to know it completely. Even animals look for patterns and predictability. But man has a kind of infinite epistemophilia, an inborn desire to know everything about everything, such that nothing less will satisfy. Our innate drive to know has an unrestricted scope and illimitable horizon, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it....

Wait: there is actually something we can do about it. Among other things, we can numb or even kill our curiosity. We all know people who have stopped asking Why?, and who instead swaddle themselves in the latest ideological twaddle. It is indeed difficult to attend college without this happening, since this is the whole point of attending college. 

Put another way, if you somehow survive college un-indoctrinated, you are a threat to the whole system, AKA the progressive Matrix. It will never leave you alone until you submit -- until you admit 2+2=5 and love Big Sister unconditionally.

But we don't want to just live as rebels and fugitives from the Borg. That's fun for awhile, but we're getting too old for that. Rather, we really do want to understand what's going on. 

In that spirit, here are some important clues and tips we've picked up from our pal Nicolás. Are they arguments from authority? No, they're soph-evident appeals to the common sense of the intellect. Here are two of the most important:

The truth is objective but not impersonal,

and

The life of the intelligence is a dialogue between the personalism of spirit and the impersonalism of reason.

The Truth is metaphysical and yet personal, therefore it must be... metapersonal.  

The following two are almost equally important:

    The world is filled with contradictions when we forget that things have ranks.

    Therefore,

    In order for a multitude of diverse terms to coexist, it is necessary to place them on different levels. A hierarchical ordering is the only one that neither expels nor suppresses them.

    Diverse terms like, say, person and matter. The only way to avoid the suppression and expulsion of man from the cosmos is with recourse to a vertical ordering. Thus, "let us be neither relativists nor absolutists, but hierarchists" (Dávila).

    Magic? No, the opposite:

    The doctrines that explain the higher by means of the lower are appendices of a magician’s rule book.

    Or, if you want to play that game,

    The relationship between volition and movement is magical.

     I conceive the idea to make a fist and the hand closes. How are these realities -- interiority, I, idea, intention, free will, movement -- possible? 

    Wrong, Mr. Science: 

    The philosopher who adopts scientific notions has predetermined his conclusions.

    The bottom line is that

    Determinism is ideology; freedom is experience.

    Okay, but what is experience and how is it possible? 

    We'll leave off with three aphorisms to ponder:

    The free act is only conceivable in a created universe. In the universe that results from a free act.

    The permanent possibility of initiating causal series is what we call a person.

      That which is not a person is not finally anything.

      Monday, June 06, 2022

      The Center and Frontier of the Cosmos

      This post got totally out of hand, like a guitar solo that lost all contact with the song. My apologies in advance. 

      Continuing with our unplanned attack on the gaslight (or mindf*ck) media, just as there must be a first cause, there must be a first knower. 

      Each of us more or or less inhabits a world of belief, but at the beginning of the chain(s) there must be someone who genuinely knows (which is sometimes ourselves, to the extent that we have truly firsthand knowledge, experience, or expertise), and in whom we can reasonably place our trust, whether we're talking about medicine, economics, physics, history, religion, or what we call "news." 

      Of knowledge in general, Pieper writes that

      Before we, as believers, accept the testimony of another, we must be sure that he has authentic knowledge of those things we accept on faith. If he himself is, in his turn, only a believer, then we are misplacing our reliance. 

      It becomes clear, therefore, that this reliance itself, which is the decisive factor in the act of belief, must be founded upon some knowledge on the part of the believer if it is to be valid.

      Now, news is nothing but "the testimony of another." Is trust in this testimony warranted? 

      Last I checked, about two thirds of Democrats, a third of independents, and ten percent of Republicans still have some faith in the gaslighters. Thus, either we are paranoid cynics or Democrats are credulous children. But if you don't know Democrats are credulous children who are relentlessly manipulated by spiritually depraved pseudo-adults, what do you know? 

      In the final analysis, credibility cannot inhere in the message but the messenger: it is

      a quality of persons, and can only be known in the same manner as we apprehend the other personal qualities of a person (ibid). 

      This is relatively unproblematic in a realm such as pure math, or physics, or engineering, where there is broad agreement on facts and principles. However, the higher we move up the epistemological food chain -- into the "social sciences" -- the more disagreement there is. 

      For example, relative to biology, history is infinitely complex. As history is "news of the past," news is the history of the present. And of course, the conduct of history is impossible in the absence of an interpretive framework that informs us what to look for. So, what is the framework of history, it's controlling narrative, as it were?

      Jumping straight to the omega, the Christian answer is the person and all this implies. After all, only persons exist in history and conduct history, so we shouldn't be surprised to learn that personhood is literally at the center of the enterprise. 

      What's the alternative? Mere subjectivism, AKA the tyranny of relativism? Or some version of Marxian historicism? If so, then historians and the people they study are subsumed into impersonal law. No, the Aphorist is once again correct:

      Either God or chance: all other terms are disguises for one or the other.

      Presumptuous? No doubt, but let's try not to be imbeciles:

      To speak of God is presumptuous; not to speak of God is imbecilic.

      Because we are dealing here with persons and not just molecules or abstract equations, this is where the abuse of language -- AKA logophobia -- enters the scene, and if you don't understand how language can be systematically abused, there's a good chance you're abusing it. Put another way, language has rights because it has duties. Satan knows this as well as anyone, and so should you.

      What is the duty of language? Obviously, adherence to truth, which is why no mere animal can be trusted with speech. But even prior to this, we adhere to truth because it is loved. A person who doesn't love truth is fundamentally dis-ordered. 

      {insert gratuitous joke about media/academia here}

      No, one way or another you have to deal with persons, and you can't eliminate us with a bunch of tenured handwaving, or progressive identity politics, or reductive sociobiology, or absurcular humanism. The individual person is here, it is exceedingly queer, and it isn't going away. 

      Now queerly, only the existence of an absolute being can explain the existence of contingent beings such as ourselves, just as only a view from outside or beyond the cosmos can explain the existence of the cosmos. What is this view? Well, first of all, it is a view, and only a person can have a view.

      But again, from the Christian Perspective on perspectives as such, the person is the ultimate perspective, and no, we are not engaging in language abuse. 

      Rather, we're being literal. Think about it: God becomes man that man might become God. This is the ultimate Metacosmic Formula, the final interpretive framework for everything; it is God's own heuristic. 

      Well, okay, but why should we believe this?   

      Logic leads inexorably to the conclusion that the universe is contingent, as are we. But this conclusion is necessary. How do we, as contingent beings, know the necessary, which is to say, eternal? We know the necessary insofar as we are images of the Absolute Person, who is Necessity itself. It is open to us, as we are to It, in a flow of...

      Put it this way: ultimate reality is the act of pure isness: it is Isness Ising, so to speak. This is at the Center of things, but it is not impersonal; rather, the Is Ising is really an I AMing. The human person is also an I who is aming, except we exist in time. 

      But we have a choice: we can exist at the material periphery of things, in a kind of sterile flatland devoid of verticality, or we can live in a space that is simultaneously center and frontier. Here again, this places history in an ultimate framework, as the individual person is freedom lived, and freedom is individual personhood realized in time. The rest is journalism.

      Sunday, June 05, 2022

      The News about the News

      If, as Citizen Hearst is supposed to have said, "news" is defined as "something somebody doesn’t want printed" -- the rest being advertising -- then this must be all the more true of the eu-angelionAKA Good News. 

      So, who doesn't want the good news propagated? For there are always forces in the world who want to spike the story. For example, a quick google search reveals that 28 of the first 31 popes were martyred. This looks to me like a pattern.  

      And another quick search claims a current annual toll of over 100,000 Christian martyrs, or one dead Christian every five minutes. I wonder if this dys-angelion -- bad news -- is ignored by the same worldly powers interested in quashing the Good News?

      Usually, if it bleeds it leads, but only if the right people are bleeding. Instead, our media turns this reality on its head and claims the real problem is white male Christians, even though these same white male Christians are responsible for the most affluent, diverse, and tolerant country -- and civilization -- in existence. It's enough to make one suspect the work of diabolical epistemophobic forces or something. 

      Back when I was a liberal, I was a fervent supporter of freedom of speech. I haven't changed, but now only white supremacist spreaders of disinformation are malevolent enough to cherish and champion the First Amendment.

      Now, what is journalism, anyway? According to our tightlipped friend Nicolás,

      News stories are the substitute for truths.

      I give zero pinocchios to that claim. In another aphorism, our ironic friend says that    

      Events begin to interest me when the press forgets them.

      But not just the press -- or Big Media -- how about Big Education as well? In other words, journalism is just the tip of the informational assberg.  

      For starters, all of these journalists are credentialed products of Big Education. Therefore, not only do we have a class in charge of the Narrative that knows nothing, it also doesn't know it knows nothing, and is thus wholly un-self-aware: ignorance of ignorance, or ignorance2.

      Which accounts for that distinct combination of hypertrophic arrogance + absence of self-awareness of Big Journalists, the former always dialed up to 11, the latter always frozen at zero. 

      There's a name for this: end-stage Dunning-Kruger, which is apparently incurable, since it is the very disease that resists its own treatment, or the Lie that is hardened against the penetration of Truth. Really, it is psycho-spiritual AIDS.

      The good news is that more and more people are aware of this, which is why trust in Big Media is at an all time low. You'd think that Big Media might want to cover this breaking news and perhaps make a little adjustment, but recall its definitional absence of self-awareness and epic arrogance. 

      Instead, it's our fault for not trusting them to spoon-feed us the Narrative, and for spreading all the misinformation, whether it's about Brandon's senility, or Hunter's laptop, or the racial skew of crime statistics, or the actual causes of Putin's Price Hike. 

      What is this Narrative, and how did it get here? What accounts for its truly insane content and dogged persistence? Because it very much reminds me of the psychological projections of a religious cult that serve as a simpleminded interpretive key for all of reality, while simultaneously shielding the projectors who co-create it from anything that might challenge it. 

      Once you start to examine it, it's quite fascinating, because it looks to me like garden variety mental illness, only on a collective scale. But this begs the question of what mental illness is. For example, we are said to be experiencing a mental health crisis. Okay, I'll bite: what's mental health? 

      You'll soon find out that it's very much like the innocent question behind Matt Walsh's must-see documentary, What is a Woman?; nor are the two questions unrelated, for all of the interviewees who cannot answer the question aren't just ignorant -- obviously, since you can't really not know what an adult female is -- but in my view quite clearly mentally ill, if not diabolically influenced. 

      You heard me: if you can't say what a woman is, there are obviously some powerful forces at work in your psyche preventing the perception of such a rudimentary truth. If I understand biology correctly, every mammal had a mother, or they wouldn't be here.

      I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the same powers and principalities that prevent a man from knowing what a woman is, also prevent him from understanding what the Constitution says, what the transgender suicide statistics say, what criminal statistics say, what the ineffectiveness of masks and lockdowns says, etc. 

      I'd like to delve more deeply into the ontology of these forces, and what it suggests about our Cosmos, but I'm out of time.