Friday, September 30, 2022

Chemotherapy for History

It's Friday, when we play fast and loose with the associations. But they are free.

Before wandering off track, yesterday's post was touching on the question of why we can't all agree to agree on certain basic philosophical propositions, principles, or axioms "expressive of rational necessity." Why are people so argumentative and contrarian? Why can't they just bow before truth? Or even just bow? 

But not only do people refuse to yield to common sense, in so doing they are conferred a certain status out of defying it. For example, no one pays a fortune just to learn common sense in college. Rather, to unlearn it. Which is why the class of College Educated White Women now poses the greatest threat to the nation. 

For this reason, not a few people believe the 19th amendment should be repealed, but this would be an overreaction. Rather, I would tie it to education, such that the right to vote would only be denied to women of both sexes possessing a degree in the subhumanities, or anything ending in the word "studies." This alone would probably be sufficient to neutralize the baleful effect of widespread indoctrination of the softheaded.

Simon observes that

the social environment may be so saturated with error that common sense is at a disadvantage in holding its own in the face of overwhelming opposition. Experience... fights an unequal battle when it comes into contact with ideology. The proponents of ideology, when challenged by experience, have no reluctance in characterizing experience as nothing but an illusion.

For example, the experience of witnessing a senile president ask a dead woman to reveal herself at a political gathering. This is not because her non-existence slipped Brandon's decroded mind, rather, because it was TOP OF MIND. This was sufficient to tamp down the temporarily piqued curiosity of the media gaslight gang. End of issue. Stop pouncing, fascist!

Now, honesty compels me to acknowledge that among intellectual sinners, I am the chief, for back when I was an adultolescent Man of the Left, I was even more bobnoxiously certain of my correctitude than I am today. I won't say I was as belligerent as, say, Keith Olbermann or Lawrence O'Donnell. Rather, only my friends would say that.

But in my defense, although I didn't have an advanced degree in the humanities, I did have one in a "soft science," and therefore a mind that was even softer on the inside but hard on the outside: a carapace of rigid and self-righteous certitude protecting an inner core of unexamined and indefensible mush. So I know of what I speak, since I myself am a cancer survivor. Cancer of the intellect.

If there is a cancer of the intellect, what is the chemotherapy? Good question. I can think of a number of aspects, but do these reduce to a single trait or principle? Probably just vertical openness, which comes down to humility + Truth, this being the very opposite of the diabolical prideology of the left. A reminder that 

The intelligence that walks proudly is inviting to the one who soaps the floor. 

I now understand that there are problems and there are mysteries, the latter being questions

of such a character that an answer unqualifiedly true and sound and appropriate not only admits of but demands further inquiries into inexhaustible intelligibility.

So, it's not as if the mystery is unintelligible. Rather, the opposite: there's too much intelligibility for our little minds! But there's a paradox here, in that the same people who tend to downplay the miracle of the human subject are the ones who try to fob it off with a simplistic ideology that can never account for the complementary infinitude of human intelligence and cosmic intelligibility.

On the other (our) side is an orthoparadox that simultaneously exalts man over everything else in creation while emphasizing his utter contingency and nothingness. We can express this polarity in quasi-mythopoetic terms as "image of God" at one end, and "fallen" at the other; or a foundation of theomorphism disfigured by original sin, which (in salvation history) takes the form of good news --> bad news --> even better news.

Conversely, ideology takes the form of bad news --> great news, or in other words, "there is no God, and I am Him." You can appreciate how that would lead to... problems. One of which goes by the name of history:

Modern history is a dialogue between two men: one who believes in God and one who believes he is a god.

This is because 

Men are divided into two camps: those who believe in original sin and those who are idiots.

I want to say there are nominal definitions and explanatory definitions. The former simply involve the proper use of language, whereas the latter provides additional insights into the nature of the thing defined. 

For example, a nominal definition of original sin is the loss of sanctifying grace as a consequence of defying God. Now, what does this mean? For one can use the term in a proper semantic sense, but in a way that doesn't really deepen our philosophical understanding. 

Here's another way of expressing it: original pride results in separation from the Principle. Now, how to repair and restore wayward human nature to this Principial Father, or Father Principle? Anyone? Nicolas?

If history made sense, the Crucifixion would be superfluous.

 No, this post didn't end, we just ran out of time.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Insight into Insight

Not much time this morning, but perhaps enough to review some of the insights provoked upon reading An Yves Simon Reader: The Philosopher's Calling, lest I forget them.

Here's a conundrum about the possibility of a universal philosophy, one I often ponder: 

No doubt, any proposition which expresses a rational necessity is, in terms of logical nature, capable of winning universal assent. There is no reason why it should not determine consensus.

BUT 

there are many accidental reasons why certain propositions, though expressive of rational necessity, do not have the slightest chance of being assented to.  

Why should this be? Why can't we agree to agree on simple, rational, necessary, and universal propositions? 

Nor is the trend going in a positive direction, for now we can't even agree that men who pretend to be women are nevertheless men, that free speech is necessary to a functional republic, that mutilating children is evil, that we are entitled to equal protection under the law, etc. 

Philosophically, it is as if we're back to square one. Not even square one. Say what you want about the pre-Socratics, at least they had an ethos. But now our struggle is with eight-year olds, Dude. Amateurs. Nihilists.

This is going to be a brief sidetrack, but I'm trying once again to tackle Bernard Lonergan's monumental Insight, this time with an introductory guide by another author. Apparently Lonergan was up to something important, but twice I have given up before finding out what it is. The book attempts to look into every field of cognitive endeavor and demonstrate that the unifying thread is... insight

I believe what he wants to say is that if you can understand understanding, then you understand everything. Not sure I agree with that, but I've only just begun, and as the Aphorist says, 

Comprehending a philosopher is being momentarily swayed by him.

There's a willing suspension of disbelief, just as when one enters a novel or film. After it's done, then you can evaluate it in a disinterested way. 

Come to think of it, with regard to art, you evaluate both the aesthetics and the meaning. A film can be beautiful but meaningless, or meaningful but hamhanded in terms of the meaning, and both are considered failures.

I think the same should apply to philosophy, albeit with the accent more on the meaning than the form. Still, I can't help noticing that Lonergan is not a felicitous writer. In contrast, one of the reasons why people still read Plato is for the beauty of expression. 

In my cosmos, truth and beauty converge. Not that I can claim to be an artist with the keyboard, which, come to think of it, is probably why I substitute humor for beauty. The former comes naturally, while the latter is a stretch for the likes of me.

Still, there can be a kind of beauty in humor. I know it when I see it, which goes to the point I was about to make regarding insight. I don't know if Lonergan deals with humor, but the moment you get the joke is a quintessential moment of sudden insight. It is insight accompanied by a physical reaction called laughter. When it is a metaphysical insight expressed in a humorous fashion, we call the result a guffaw-HA! experience.  

Humor, like music, is so universal that it must mean something beyond just a diversion. We've posted before about our suspicion that music as such conveys something important about the structure of reality, and now we're wondering if humor might do the same. Insight into humor must convey an insight into insight. 

Now, the main point I was thinking about was on what Lonergan calls "inverse insight." This is essentially an insight that there is no insight to be had -- for example, when reading the New York Times. Not only is there no insight, there's not even inverse insight, rather, anti-insight, such that they are actively trying to force you to have a bogus insight and call it "sophistication" or "progress" or "compassion." The left is full of such truly ridiculous intellectual, moral, and aesthetic insights.

But they're not even really in the form of insight at all, because an insight can only be had on a personal basis. No one can have the insight for you, any more than they can get the joke on your behalf.

I suppose someone somewhere must have had the "insight" that biological reality has no bearing on sexual identity, but everyone else is just imitating a fad. For one thing, that "insight" is inaccessible to anyone who is in touch with reality. One could say the same about progressive insights into the 1619 Project, or black criminality, or the existential threat of climate change, which are again anti-insights.

I sometimes leave comments here and there on the internet, but only in the form of gags. In so doing, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon, that there is some cognitive power that tells me whether or not there is a potential joke. My point is that the recognition that there is No Joke Ahead is what Lonergan means by inverse insight: no potential joke = no insight to be had.

But this is precisely the form of scientific insight. As the mathematician David Hilbert said, 

A branch of science is full of life only as long as it offers an abundance of problems. 

How can we know if a theory has fruitful problems? Insight. Conversely, when someone tells you THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED, that is neither funny nor insightful.

Out of time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Release the Undines!

Continuing with yesterday's theme of the possible, impossible, and necessary, a being of reason 

is an object, which neither does nor can exist except in the mind in the capacity of object. You have in this definition all you need in order never to do what has been done by so many people: to confuse a being of reason with a psychological reality.

Really? I would qualify this to say "all you need" logically. The will, of course, doesn't care about this constraint on existence; the first and last question of the left is always, What does impossibility have to do with it? 

Or, to paraphrase Bobby Kennedy, Some people see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that can never be, and say, why not? As long as it's not in my backyard, and besides, it's not my money.

Progressivism either runs roughshod over logic or confines itself to logic (AKA rationalization), depending on the needs of the moment. 

Many examples come to mind -- say, if a woman aborts a viable fetus, it's a victory for Choice, whereas if she is murdered along with the baby, it's a double homicide. Logic, of course, demands a single definition, but if the left obeyed this principle, it would be suicidal to their cause. And suicide is wrong!

I'm thinking too of how Brandon pretends to reduce inflation by printing more money. Or fight street crime by not prosecuting it. Or conjure an insurrection by prosecuting one. Or eliminate racism by engaging in it, or  address "climate change" by making it more difficult to survive the climate. The list goes on.

Logic is surrounded by neighbors that have absolutely no scruples.... These neighbors of logic are always ready to swallow it up (Simon).

Like a bad neighbor, state harm is there. 

Has your logic ever been devoured by a being of reason? Of course it has. None of us is exempt from Genesis 3. I remember back in the '80s, being passionately "anti-nuclear." What was that all about, really? 

Whatever the case may be, it "succeeded" here in California, which once again demonstrates how unreality has very real effects. 

Say what you want about the Impossible, its impact on reality is undeniable, especially when taken up by a collective. Delusions in individuals are relatively harmless, but a state motivated by one is a Monster. I don't believe in Orcs. I only try to avoid them. They won't let you ignore them.

Back to those beings of reason per se. Again, they represent an ambiguous category, since they are obviously real -- they exist -- only not in the external world; they aren't contradictory as such, although it would be contradictory to suppose them capable of existence in the world.

Ignoramuses may take it to designate psychological realities, but a psychological reality is a real being of a particular kind that is just as real as anything else.

I suppose one of the problems is that you can't really destroy a being of reason. For example, you can't burn down pi, or an inch, or a syllogism; but nor can you burn down Marxism, feminism, or queer theory. You can't even touch them, since they aren't things, only objects of thought.

Yesterday we brought Hayek into the discussion, and the following passage might have been written by him:

Between physical and social causality the difference is such that the concept of social engineer simply does not admit of being transferred from the physical to the social order. The undine, the zombie, and the social engineer are so many beings of reason with no foundation in the real world (Simon).

Note that the same sort of person who puts his faith in top-down social control is likely to dismiss the reality of free will, which is grounded in our transcendent capacity to choose between good and evil, truth and falsehood -- or what Eliot described as people who dream of systems so perfect that no one needs to be good.

Just waiting for global warmists to tell us Gaia is very angry with Governor DeathSantis, and has released the undines. 

  

  

 

  

Monday, September 26, 2022

Social Justice and Antisocial Injustice

  • Modern stupidities are more irritating than ancient stupidities because their proselytes try to justify them in the name of reason. --Dávila

Woke up wondering about the relationship between things that can't be and things that can and must be, i.e., the impossible, possible, and necessary, respectively.

In particular, I wonder if impossibilities can nevertheless yield positive metaphysical knowledge. Bear in mind that we don't yet know the answer, but I suspect there's something to my suspicion.

Among the most consequential impossibilities are called beings of reason. A being of reason is a rational concept that nevertheless cannot properly exist; it is essence deprived of existence, for example, a unicorn. We can describe what the word means, even though it has no referent in the real world. In fact, even "triangle" or "circle" are beings of reason, since we never find a perfect example in the real world.  

Circle and triangle are formal beings of reason, but there are also purely logical or mathematical examples, such as, say, the square root of negative one. 

So, some things that really exist can exist only in the head, hallucinations being another example. But if there are hallucinations and beings of reason, this is only because there is Being, full stop. If this weren't the case, then we could never distinguish between existence and fantasy, reality and tenure.

The Yves Simon Reader has a helpful chapter on The Distinction of Thing and Object. In the parlance of our times, these two are used synonymously, but in reality, things come first, objects second. In other words, things have to first exist before we conceptualize them as objects of thought. For example, a woman must exist before a man can pretend to be one. 

Now, some objects relate to things, others only to other objects. I don't yet want to descend into the insultainment portion of our program, but consider "the patriarchy," "white privilege," or "equity." Each of these is a being of reason -- an object of thought -- which refers only to other objects within a certain ideological framework, but not to actual things, AKA reality (the same goes for "trans" man or woman).

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that ideology as such is a complex being of reason with more or less tenuous relations to the Thingdom of Reality. Many more such examples come to mind, and you could say that this is one Hayek's biggest big ideas -- that the term "social justice" isn't even wrong, just nonsense:

Look, I've got certain information, certain things have come to light, and uh, has it ever occurred to you, man, that given the nature of all this new shit, that, uh, instead of running around blaming me, that this whole thing might just be, not, you know, not just such a simple, but uh -- you know?

Wait. Wrong nonsense. That sounds like Biden's babbling spokestoken, who is Diversity Hire Incarnate. 

All three volumes of Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty are on the permanent syllabus, so it's difficult to narrow it down. Volume 2 is called The Mirage of Social Justice, and it is indeed a mirage because it is an ideological being of reason with no connection to the real world. It is an idea, and may even be a beautiful idea, but it

is simply a quasi-religious superstition of the kind which we should respectively leave in peace so long as it merely makes those happy who hold it, but which we must fight when it becomes the pretext of coercing other men.  

But progressives always exempt themselves from the separation of church and state. 

Bottom line: social justice "does not belong to the category of error but to that of nonsense, like the term 'moral stone.'" 

Moreover, it is used as a pretext to impose an order from on high, so it is neither social nor just. "Antisocial injustice" is more like it. And if you don't have time to read Hayek, just reach for this aphorism when they try to bash you over the head with their idea of Justice, and you won't go wrong:

“Social justice” is the term for claiming anything to which we do not have a right (Dávila).

In case you were wondering how Biden, the Obamas, the Clintons, et al, became wealthy. It certainly wasn't by creating anything of value, least of all justice!