Saturday, September 03, 2022

On the Utter Uselessness of Bob and the Endless WTF?!

The subject is Light, in particular, the intellectual and spiritual kind without which we are not human. This is one of those things that is impossible to not know but the work of a moment to deny. 

To repeat what was said yesterday, if science is a laser beam precisely focused on this or that particular existent, and philosophy a floodlight illuminating the whole field of existence, then theology is an inquiry into the source of this Light. 

It says so right here in this book I'm reading called The Shape of Catholic Theology, by Aidan Nichols, where he distinguishes between a sterile and merely "objective" theology and a properly subjective theology illuminated by this primordial light source:

subjective faith opens the mind to God's own truth, enabling objective faith to become the medium of direct contact with God himself. The light which [this] brings to the mind derives from God's radiant being and enables us to share here and now in the knowledge which the saints enjoy in heaven and which, more fundamentally, God has of himself.

Correct. But I'm only up to page 20, so we'll have to return to this book later. Meanwhile, note that subjective theology by no means negates or nullifies objective theology, since the latter is the very form that renders the substance accessible to us; it is the immanence in which transcendence is clothed.

We can tell this is true because objective theology, even though its form is finite, is nevertheless infinite. In other words, you will have noticed that no one can engage in theology and say "we're done here," as if it is analogous to solving a mathematical problem. One can never assert this of revelation, for

To be a theological student in the full sense of those words cannot be a temporary state or a preamble to something else.... Rather, it is a solemn engagement to developing over a lifetime the gift of Christian wonder or curiosity (ibid.).

By implication, if philosophy is totally useless, then theology isn't even useless. 

Wait, what? Bob, show your work! No problem. In his so-called Defense of Philosophy, Pieper pulls a fast one by arguing that it is actually completely indefensible on any practical basis:

not only does it not serve any purpose, it even hampers the daily care for life's necessities. It is therefore nonsensical, and above all: counterproductive.

Indeed, I can offer firsthand testimony of this, since this blog serves no practical purpose whatsoever, and most certainly interferes with the pursuit of life's necessities. For example, back when I was gainfully employed I could only blog a few days a week, but now that I'm retired, we're back up to six or seven days a week in this pointless exercise, i.e., verticalisthenics and gymgnostics.

Does this mean I have attained perfect nonsense?

I'm flattered, but please. For if philosophy and objective theology are finite (which is to say, less than perfect) nonsense, then subjective theology is the impossible dream -- at least while we're above the sod -- of attaining perfect nonsense. 

This nonsense will make more sense as we proceed, I promise. We'll start with an aphorism:

The greater the importance of an intellectual activity, the more ridiculous is the claim of certifying the competence of those who exercise it. A diploma of dentistry is respectable, but one of philosophy is grotesque.

"To philosophize and to 'study philosophy,'" writes Pieper, "are two different things," to such an extent that "one can possibly even hinder the other." 

Now, to begin philosophizing requires a shock or a trigger "that reaches beyond the sphere of mere material needs," and which we symbolize (?!). Ontologically speaking, this latter is analogous to that feeling you get when you're leaning back in a chair and it's about to tip over, only on a permanent basis. Truly, it is the endless WTF?! 

It reminds me of the time I asked an anxious patient what he did upon arising in the morning: I sit on the edge of the bed and try to unwind, was his response. Likewise, we sit on the edge of the cosmos and try to unravel its mystery. But to pretend it has any practical purpose is to defeat the purpose, precisely.

Why be happy?

What is truth good for?

Why love beauty?

Why have a meaningful life?

Why be wise?

Why root for the Dodgers?

Asked no cosmically sane person, ever.  For none of these are "in order to," rather, they are for their own sake; they are the ends to which everything else is but a means. The most important things aren't good "for," rather, they are just good, period. Beginning and ending with God.

But why light a candle when you can light into and curse the dark MAGA extremists?

To be continued....

Friday, September 02, 2022

Laser Beams and Floodlights

Laser beams and floodlights; or science and philosophy, respectively. 

But what is the source of the light? That's a question for theology -- or better, the mystic (i.e., experiential theologian), since it's not an abstraction, rather, an experience or vision. Pieper:

on the one hand, we are confronted with an unfathomable reality, yet the unfathomable reality of a world perfectly "lucid" in and by itself; on the other hand, there is universal knowability, yet the knowability of a world illuminated by an "inaccessible light."

This goes to one of the most consequential orthoparadoxes -- or intrinsic complementarities -- of being, which is to say, a cosmos that is in equal parts knowable and yet unfathomable; and these two "infinities" are a consequence of the same infinite, eternal, and nonlocal Light. 

Correct: mother nature is a two-faced... blanket. Or better, a rug -- a valued rug indeed, since it is the source of all values: quantity on one side, qualities on the other. 

Again, both sides are necessarily infinite, but infinitude by definition is one, so the single rug must truly tie the cosmos together. Therefore, do not think for a moment that some nihilist could come along and pee on one side without it soaking through to the other side.  

Pieper makes reference to the "daytime view" but also a "nighttime view," the former revealing "all things as accessible to an ever deeper cognition," the latter disclosing -- nondisclosing? --  the impossibility of ever attaining complete comprehension:

And yet, the notion that both spring from the same root, that both are -- in a certain sense -- even identical; that, more specifically, all things in themselves are entirely knowable because they originate in the infinite lucidity of the divine Logos, and that they are, nevertheless, inexhaustible for us because they originate, once again, in the infinite lucidity of the divine Logos -- this, of course, lies beyond all empirical demonstration.

This is not to say beyond metaphysical demonstration -- for example, Lao-tzu claims that Seeing into darkness is clarity, and counsels us to return to the source of light. / This is called practicing eternity

But it cannot be overemphasized that the Chinaman is not the issue. Rather, the preferred nomenclature is Logos, about which we can be abundantly clear and yet not necessarily precise. For there are rules, but only because there is a Ruler, and we are not Him.

For example, scientific statements can be made with ever-increasing precision, to such an extent that they reveal more and more about less and less. 

Conversely, philosophical statements clearly refer to everything, but in an imprecise way -- for example, if something is true, then it can't be false. Thanks for the tip, Cap'n Tautologous. You're out of your depth!

Disagree. Do you really think I'd roll out naked, metaphysically speaking? Again, an orthoparadox is not a tautology; or rather, it may appear so if viewed horizontally. It only reveals itself as meaningful from the vertical perspective. 

For example, the Thomistic tradition declares that "All that exists (or is real) is true." You may respond that this is trivial. 

Fair enough. Let's affirm the opposite: that there is no truth in things. Where does this leave us? Correct: in a nul-de-slack of nihilism and tenure -- or sitting on a one-sided rug, as if such a thing were possible or even conceivable. For no one can abide in the bright side of utter darkness.

Now, according to Thomas, 

The very reality of a thing is also its inner light.

A light we will continue to disclose in the next post. 

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Make Reality Great Again

So, reality is the original resistance: it is what objects to our subjectivity:

I might be able to ignore it, change it, misinterpret it for a while, maybe because of a certain simplifying "theory" or a preconceived ideology.... In the long run, however, such an object will assert itself, unless I simply turn away from it; it will make its presence felt, it will disturb me.... it will be in the way (Pieper).

Having said that, it is obviously much more difficult to ignore "objective objects" than "objective subjectivity." In other words, if you imagine that cars or bullets or hurricanes aren't real, then Darwin will take care of you pretty quickly. But especially in the modern world, you can spend your whole life in denial of human nature (which is what we mean by "objective subjectivity," more on which as we proceed).

Note that one way to get rid of those annoying objective objects is to posit a wholly subjective subjectivity, whereby "perception is reality."  

But if perception is reality, then of course there is no such thing as reality, precisely. You may be tempted to regard this as a "bug" when it is very much a feature for those who wish to believe it; it is why the left is so pervaded by losers, misfits, cranks, perverts, vegans, feminists, ideologues, psychopaths, and spiteful mutants in general. The left will always be with us, because it is a collective defense against vertical reality (objective subjectivity). 

It reminds me of how viruses evolve to be less deadly. It's the same with vertical parasites. Nazism, for example, lasted only twelve years. It was an acute version of what can only survive if it is a more chronic illness; nor can a civilization persist if the disease afflicts the majority. We are in the process of finding out why, and tonight Brandon will make his case against the millions of dangerous fanatics who reject the mass delusions of the left. In the inverted world of his handlers, those of us who are in touch with reality are the extremists, and they're not wrong.

Pieper notes that a comprehensive philosophy must deal with "everything that is given, within as well as without" -- in other words, the world of both objects and of the subject who apprehends them. We have various sciences to investigate the former, but the latter -- the subject -- obviously requires a different approach, since it is the one doing the science. 

It reminds me of the Israeli saying that We don't believe in miracles. Rather, we only depend on them. Likewise, science may not believe in the soul, but surely requires it. Call it what you want, but it is that immaterial power through which the mind abstracts essences. If it doesn't exist, then I'm not conveying meaning and you're not comprehending it. 

Nevertheless, this is the founding principle of the left. This is not to suggest that leftists are capable of drawing out the implications of their own beliefs, for if they were, they wouldn't be leftists. Rather, this is a pre-political orientation to reality that then determines politics as one of its entailments.

This may sound polemical, but it is actually a banal truth, nor do leftists ever stop telling us about it. To cite an obvious example, any idiot can claim that a man is a woman. However, doing so requires an underlying philosophy to justify the claim. 

This philosophy is only the latest version of a very old form of sophistry called nominalism, which denies essences. Once you deny essences, then anything can be anything, which is incredibly convenient for people who do not or cannot acknowledge reality.

You can see this in Matt Walsh's What is a Woman?, when he poses the question to that pompous and prickly professor who refuses to answer and accuses Walsh of the sin of "essentialism." Essentialism is the pre-postmodern superstition that posits an intelligible world of abstract categories such as trees, minerals, and women. Conversely, nominalism is the anti-philosophy that says each thing we encounter is radically individual, that there is no objective order in the world. It's not actually even thinkable, but people think it anyway.

At the extreme opposite end of nominalism is an assertion such as, oh, "we hold these truths to be self-evident" yada yada, because this assumes a rational (because created) universe with intelligible truths about the subjects inhabiting it. 

In other words, human nature is real, and is accompanied by certain intrinsic rights. It may sound liberating -- and it is -- but like any essence or form, it's actually a limit; therefore, if you don't believe it, then you are free to believe anything. The rest is history -- the history of the left, which is in turn parasitic on the timeless rejection of the subjective real.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Before this Post Was, I AM

Yesterday's post alluded to principles and anti-principles without ever getting to the point, but this is because I only find out what a post is about after it's finished, at which point a title pops into my head and says "we're done here." Count no man happy until he is dead, and count no post finished until it is named, even if the name makes no sense and requires a new post.

Now, it would be unscientific to contemplate the very things that would be unphilosophical not to contemplate. Why? Because the two approaches operate by very different principles. To elevate any science to the ultimate principle immediately renders it an anti-principle. Why?

Because the object of philosophy is being as being -- everything -- while the object of science is this or that delimited aspect of being -- various something(s), e.g., matter, life, earth, celestial objects, etc. Philosophy is all of these and more, because it isn't the sum of them but the totality or whole of them. 

The intellect is conformed to the Transcendent Everything, which is always on the surface but never of the surface. 

In an insultaining asnide, Schuon notes that "most philosophies start from a sort of axiomatic blindness," which is to say, an anti-principle, which in turn explains why "modern man collects keys without ever knowing how to open a door." 

For any form of mere rationalism encloses itself in its own premises and thereby "seeks the culminating point of the cognitive process on its own level." 

This is like searching "for a word that is entirely what it designates," or a title that is equivalent to its post. Modernity is  -- was --  a forgetting or systematic undiscovery of principles, whereas postmodernity is their inversion.

Back to Pieper: "To philosophize means nothing else but to reflect on the whole of all reality." 

Like anyone could even know that!

We never said know: rather, we said reflect -- like a mirror, not a container. When I gaze into a mirror I see my reflection, but the mirror does not and cannot contain me (said I AM; indeed, the same I AM can see Abraham's reflection, because before Abraham was, I AM).

(It is possible that that last paragraph made a point beyond my ability to make it.)

Now, supposing truth exists, then it is necessary for us to know it. But ever since Genesis 3,

Man is an obligation that man often violates (Dávila).

Here we see that IS actually does entail its own OUGHT, at least vis-a-vis philosophy. In other words, we know that we cannot derive the "ought" of morality from the "is" of nature. And yet, due to the very principle of our capacity to know being, we are thereby obligated to know it truthfully. 

Man qua man is obligated to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but only because he is conformed to the truth, the whole, truth, and nothing but the truth. So, help me, God! 

No prayer is ever in vain, especially that one. For what is a question but a prayer for its answer? 

Put conversely, strike at God, kill the man -- or his mind, anyway. Which is precisely why we are living through this zombie apocalypse, which is nothing other than dead men thinking. Other bloggers have sought merely to understand the left, when the point is to destroy the left. Or rather, to point out how and why they have already self-destructed.

This post is rapidly becoming an exercise in why a post can't be named until it is written. But let's refocus and try one more time to begin it. 

I remember after the 2016 election, when the anti-democratic left called itself the resistance. This is actually a fine name, because the left always and everywhere resists reality -- what is -- precisely. 

Conversely, we may define reality as that which resists us, precisely: it is that which resists us even when we stop believing in it. You might think that the greatest resistance is in the material world, and you would have a point: gravity, time, and entropy are all formidable aspects of The Cosmic Resistance. 

However, in our opinion the most consequential forms of the resistance are in the vertical, for these are the principles from which everything else flows -- for example, the principles of identity (or non-contradiction), or of sufficient reason, or of causation. 

I want to say that God poses the ultimate resistance for man, and there are many aphorisms that prove my point once and for all. But before getting to them, I would say that the crucifixion is the unsurpassable example, in that it is the permanent reminder that God is in the way and has to go -- at which point we can get down to the important business of creating heaven on earth without all the resistance from this vertical nuisance.

God is the impediment of modern man.

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

If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors.

Hell is the place where man finds all his projects realized.

Like a Democrat run city. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Principles and Anti-Principles

Every leftist since Marx and before Marx his lived by the principle that is literally engraved on his headstone, that "philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world," whereas "the point, however, is to change it." 

Disagree on both scores, especially the latter, because trying to change something before you have understood it is a recipe for chaos and destruction. 

As Chesterton said about fences, 

The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

This goes double for walls, especially between countries.  

Imagine going to a doctor, who, instead of fulfilling the Hippocratic oath, swears by the Marxist alternative: your previous physicians have only tried to understand your body, when the point is to change it! (Dr. Fauci call your office.)

I'm old enough to remember when the point for Democrats was mainly to change the economy without ever bothering to understand it. Now the point is to change sexes, change the the weather, and change the demographics of the country.  

Surely Marx's credo expresses a certain despair at man ever being able to properly interpret the world. Since every philosopher disagrees with every other philosopher, why waste time arguing about who's right and what's real? Rather, let's just get on with the heist social justice!

So many aphorisms:

The left claims that the guilty party in a conflict is not the one who covets another’s goods but the one who defends his own. 
The revolutionary is ultimately an individual who does not dare to rob by himself. 
“Social justice” is the term for claiming anything to which we do not have a right. 
Transforming the world: the occupation of a prisoner resigned to his sentence.

I myself used to be cynical. But now I'm really cynical, which is to say, cynical of cynicism, because cynicism is too facile. 

Back when I was a Democrat, naturally I wanted to change the world. Of course, I didn't understand the first thing about the world, nor the first thing about myself. So I easily fulfilled the requirements to be a man of the left. 

But ignorance of these two is a not only a prerequisite for imagining it is possible to fundamentally change the world, but by far the best way to avoid changing oneself. 

Thus, it is no mystery whatsoever why this attitude not only persists but is ineradicable, at least without divine intervention by the one physician who actually does know the first thing about human nature:

Social problems are the delightful refuge of those fleeing from their own problems.

Every last one of these vertical misfits and spiteful mutants exchanges personal and/or existential problems for political, economic, or sociological problems. They all need help, but they seek a cure from the physician who promises to change them before understanding them. 

The left is made up of individuals who are dissatisfied with what they have and are satisfied with who they are.

Which is the most ancient and venerable recipe for envy. 

I'm thinking of how Joe Biden pretends to be able to heal the soul of the nation. Okay. Start with healing the diseased soul of your depraved son. We'll wait. 

Having said all this, changing the world is a fine idea, so long as it is grounded in an accurate perception of the world, but most especially of human nature. 

Note that the denial of this very principle is the first principle of Marxism: that human beings do not have a nature or essence; rather, consciousness is a function of class -- or, in the contemporary nomenclature, of race, gender, sexual perversion, etc. But race Marxism is the same old Marxism painted a different color:

For man to fall repeatedly into the same trap, just paint it a different color each time.

And if you can't decide, just make it a rainbow.

As usual, I'm getting sidetracked from the main point. It reminds me of how Dávila refers to the aphorisms as "annotations to an implicit text." 

In this case the implicit text is a book by Josef Pieper I'm rereading called In Defense of Philosophy. Without coming right out and saying so, it's also a defense against the sick and depraved philosophistries and misosophies of the left.

These two terms are literal, being that the left always expresses a love of sophistry and hatred of wisdom. Marx is only their most famous sophist, but sophistry itself goes back to the pre-Socratics and before, all the way to Genesis 3.

Let's begin with an obvious principle that there is and can be no philosophy per se that is so complete that it eliminates all questions. But one can proceed in two very different directions from this principle: toward cynical sophistry or toward God, or more precisely, up to the principle of creation. And this principle is the act of being.

To be continued...

Monday, August 29, 2022

Missing Link Discovered and Promptly Forgotten

Of the frequently clueless Stanley Baldwin, Churchill remarked that 

Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.

Seems to me that this pattern has been going on since Genesis 3. For on the one hand,

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

However, man prefers the shiny new lie to the unvarnished truth. Indeed, if this weren't the case, psychologists would have nothing to do. 

Back in my day, psychotherapy involved patiently digging beneath the comforting lies to get at the truth, whereas nowadays it involves burying it under a steaming pile of wokeness. Nevertheless, both approaches go to this elementary distinction between lies that distract, distort, and disguise, and the Truths that Matter. 

Speaking of woke lies, I wonder what's the latest with my old tribe, the American Psychological Association? Seems that it's the Hidden Epidemic of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome:

as many as 1 in 20 children may be affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, which can cause growth problems and wide-ranging neurocognitive disabilities in addition to problems with learning and behavior.

Well, good. Does this mean the APA somehow stumbled on to the truth that the fetus is human being with a right not to be harmed? Nah: APA Decries SCOTUS Decision on Abortion:

We are alarmed that the justices would nullify Roe despite decades of scientific research demonstrating that people who are denied abortions are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety, lower life satisfaction and lower self-esteem compared with those who are able to obtain abortions.

The science is settled: babies have a right not to be harmed in the womb. Except for killing them.

I have evidence that being aborted causes the baby to have lower life satisfaction than babies who are born, but it's just anecdotal.  

I read another fine example this morning from the NY Times, this one on the subject of stuttering, conveyed with its usual studied obliviousness. As you know, extremist insurrectionist MAGA fascists think Brandon is just senile, when it's actually a stutter. A cynical and hard-bitten Timesman tried to interview Brandon about it, but 

Whenever I asked Biden about what appeared to be his present-day stuttering, the notably verbose candidate became clipped, or said he didn’t remember, or spun off to somewhere new.

Hmm. Almost like he's demented or something, and the stuttering is just a subterfuge invented by his handlers. Nevertheless, the reporter hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened. 

Now, Cosmic Orthodoxy maintains that the human intellect is capable of truth -- especially the Truths that Matter -- and therefore Truth as such. Thomas noticed this truth, nor did he just pick himself up and hurry on as if nothing had happened. Rather, he drew out the implications of a truth-bearing being:

Every changeable is reduced to a first unmoved being; hence each particular knowledge is derived from some completely certain knowledge, which is not subject to error.

Moreover,

Every rational being knows God implicitly in every act of knowledge.... nothing is knowable except through its likeness to first truth. 

But capable does not mean actual; rather, it is analogous to potential. I am capable of washing my car, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen. 

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, and if intellect were will, then I'd ride in a clean car. But these two are not necessarily aligned, which again returns us to the goround zero of Genesis 3: pay no attention to the divine intellect behind the screen of appearances!

File under Change My Mind: man is Homo pontifex, i.e.,

the bridge between form and essence, or between “flesh” and “spirit (Schuon). 

Schuon notes that "the whole mystery of the human pontifex" lies in the complementarity between our deiformity and our humility, and I would say that this is quintessentially expressed in the kenosis -- self-emptying -- of Christ.

But Genesis 3 implies that man prefers a grandiose lie to the humble truth: 

Once man makes of himself a measure, while refusing to be measured in turn, or once he makes definitions while refusing to be defined by what transcends him and gives him all his meaning, all human reference points disappear; cut off from the Divine, the human collapses (Schuon).

Note that a mere animal 

cannot leave his state, whereas man can; strictly speaking, only he who is fully man can leave the closed system of the individuality, through participation in the one and universal Selfhood. 

But why merely participate in God when you can be him? Modern man -- whose very modernity, I suppose, is a measure of the distance from primordial truth -- 

is spiritually soft and ineffective and intellectually ready to commit every possible betrayal, which will seem to him as summits of intelligence, whereas in reality these betrayals are far more absurd than the excesses of simplicity and emotivity of ancient man.

.... the best proof of this is that the only “dynamism” of which he is still capable is that which tends downwards, and which is no more than a passivity taking advantage of cosmic gravity; it is the agitation of a man who lets himself be carried away by a torrent and who imagines that he is creating this torrent himself by his agitation.

Downward. Have we hit bottom yet? Or will the majority of our citizens continue to confuse flying with falling (and dementia with stuttering), which can feel the same until the moment they don't?

In any event, the majority of our most gifted and expert pilots assure us that we're in the best of hands.

It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. The paradoxical phenomenon of even a “brilliant” intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively “horizontal,” hence lacking all awareness of “vertical” relationships (ibid.).