Saturday, October 15, 2022

The Gift of Enjoying the Gifted

Four posts ago we used the analogy of key and lock to illuminate the relationship between knowing and being, respectively. Not only does our key (intellect) fit into and open the lock (being), the very existence of this cosmic mankey is an important fact in its own right. 

Come to think of it, it must be the most important fact in all of existence, since there can be no knowledge of facts in its absence: in short, the world would be a locked door with no key. Which doesn’t make sense, because who creates a lock with no key, a safe with no combination, a joke with no punchline? 

All other animals are bereft of keys, but somehow we got hold of the very skeleton key that opens all locks. What gives? Darwin explained a lot, but what explains Darwin? And what or who made him so curious about nature?

We’ll get back to that question, but I woke up in the middle of the night with a related thought -- that the lock-and-key analogy also applies to the discovery and articulation of our soul, only in reverse. 

This goes back to something we discussed two posts ago, that a task of the soul is to discover its own nature -- its telos -- via objects, relationships, and spontaneous attractions in the environment. Here is what last Thursday’s Bob wrote about this:
Although we come into the world with a soul, we don’t come in with explicit knowledge of its content. Rather, it is a form -- the form of the body -- that has an implicit knowledge of what will come to be recognized as its content. In other words, our spontaneous attraction to this or that endeavor, or person, or discipline, will reveal ourself to ourselves (emphasis mine).
Therefore, it is very much as if our soul is the lock for which the world will furnish keys to open it. 

Think of, say, Mozart, who was obviously born with a musical soul. Lucky for him (and us), a means of discovery and expression was a right there waiting for him. His seven year old sister was taking lessons on it as three year old Wolfie looked on, writing that: 
He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was ever striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded goodIn the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavierHe could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in timeAt the age of five, he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down (in wiki).
True, he was a genius, but thats beside the point, which is that the piano was a lock Mozart seemingly picked with ease, even while his own soul was a lock the keyboard opened for him. 

Perhaps a more subtle point is that he also opened that lock for the restavus, in that we are all able to enjoy the sounds of Mozart unlocking the piano and the piano unlocking Mozart to himself.

Which reminds me of something my son asked the other day: is everyone born with a gift? He has a number of peculiarly specific gifts, which is not bragging, because I had nothing to do with them except to facilitate -- or at least not block — their discovery and expression.  

The question caused me to hesitate, because one doesn’t want to sound like some new-age happy-talk woke oil salesman: of course! Anyone can be Mozart or Einstein or Joe Biden! Your world is as big as your smallest dream! Theodore Herzel. State of Israel. If you will it, Dude, it is no dream!

Then I thought of a way of answering the question without implying the existence of billions of otherwise giftless people. 

Take me, for example. I suspect I may have been musically inclined, and my mom even tried to force me to take piano lessons when I was 9 or 10, but I resisted the attempt for understandable reasons of homophobia. My friends would be out in the street playing baseball while I was reluctantly walking to my piano lesson. Like any normal boy I preferred baseball. And rock music, not some limp-wristed alternative. 

If only it had been guitar lessons things might have turned out different, but we’ll never know. In any event, I nevertheless had a passion for music, and that too is a gift, only on the “receptive” as opposed to expressive side. 

Thus, I was able to provide a plausible answer to my son’s question: maybe we can’t all be geniuses -- which at first blush seems unfair in the trophies- and diplomas-for-everyone Age of Orquity -- but that hardly means we can’t enjoy geniuses.

Indeed, more often than not we can enjoy the genius more than the genius enjoys being one. Biographies of the Great Ones usually reveal a disconnect between the greatness of the gift and the rest of their lives. 

So, maybe I’ll never be Miles Davis or Art Pepper or Brian Wilson or Van Morrison or John Fahey or Bill Evans or Karen Carpenter (and dozens of others) but I sure enjoy their music, and I sure wouldn’t want to be them and have their problems. 

The world is full of the gifts the gifted ones left for our enjoyment, and the ability to enjoy them is gift enough. Besides,
Educating the soul consists in teaching it to transform its envy into admiration.

Which raises another question about the obvious inequality of civilizations and cultures, but that’s about it for today. Suffice it to say that I can enjoy jazz without begrudging the dominance of blacks, and baseball without accusing Dominicans of culturally appropriating so much hitting talent.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Nonsense & Sensibility

Warning: it is possible that the following post contains a lot of tedious inside baseball that is of no interest to anyone except to me. Nevertheless, it touches on things I need to know in order to not mislead you, which I have taken a solemn oath never to do. Besides, its Friday, which means, Let’s get ready to ramble! 

Just to reset where we are in the Cosmos: we’ve been looking into Bernard Lonergan’s Insight, said to be the magnum opus of this philosophical and theological brainiac. I’ve taken a few cracks at it over the years -- beginning in 2009 -- but always gave up for perfectly understandable reasons we'll eventually get into.

Okay, I'm lazy. 

However, with the assistance of a primer by a more accessible author, I’ve been able to penetrate it and gain some insight into Insight. Which, after all, is literally the central thesis: that there is something invariant and universal in the nature of insight, whatever its object, from matter to math to myth to metaphysics and more.

On the face of it, this is an appealing notion -- to Bob, anyway, for soul-revealing reasons alluded to in yesterday’s post -- for it would mean that insight into insight is insight into everything, and Bob has an innate wish to be omniscient -- to find the transcendental area rug that pulls the entire cosmos together. We’ve looked everywhere for it and concluded that it falls upon us to weave post by post with threads of horizontality and verticality, or the personalism of spirit and impersonalism of reason. 

Ever since Aristotle, we’ve divided the world into various disciplines and subdisciplines, such that the method is determined by its object -- the object of knowledge. 

Lonergan’s approach turns this on its head and focuses on the subject of knowledge, looking for its universal structure. For this reason, it falls into the category of “transcendental Thomism,” a movement that can be traced a century back to a fellow named Désiré Mercier:
Mercier, opposing on one hand the universal methodical doubt of Descartes and on the other the naive realism of the tradition, sought a new criterion of truth to ground the objectivity and the certitude of knowledge, one moreover intrinsic to the activity of the intellect itself.
The decisive factor in this -- common to all the transcendental Thomists -- is the finality of consciousness. Analysis of the performance of the human spirit discloses at its very core an innate drive to being as absolute and really existing; this is the very nature of man as "spirit in the world" or finite transcendence. 
At the heart of this kind of thinking lies the "transcendental method": first, attention is directed not to objects to be known but to the intentional acts of subjects in their very knowing; secondly, what is sought thereby is [an analysis of] the a priori conditions for the very possibility of knowing finite objects in any objective way. 
Its starting point is the "question": man is ceaselessly driven to question everything except the very fact of his questioning. But this heuristic character of consciousness is inexplicable unless one admits some sort of a priori "awareness" of what it is that the question seeks. One cannot ask "what is it" without betraying some sort of nonobjective prehension of the range of being; being (not "for us" but "in itself") is the horizon of the question.
As you can see, this whole discussion rapidly descends into intolerable jargon. Naturally, some folks (or maybe a lot, I really don’t know) don’t like this approach, because there is nothing that is liked by everyone. At any rate, if you want to bore yourself with the ins & outs of the dueling pinheads, go at it: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/thomism-transcendental

I was about to say that “I only know what I know,” but it’s really a matter of knowing what I like, which is to say, of temperament or sensibility. I don’t ultimately care about the (merely) rational proofs one way or the other, because there are some things that I can neither be talked into or out of. 

Call them prejudices if you like, because that is precisely what they are: pre-judgments about critically important areas of thought and reality. For example, no one could talk me into materialism, no matter how compelling the argument. It’s just not for me. 

Nor am I alone, because our pal Nicolás is always nearby; he reminds me of me, not with regard to just the content, but prior to this, the sensibility. Now that you know the term “transcendental Thomism,” note how each of these aphorisms implies it, even though I doubt he would ever have identified himself with any particular academic hatchery of eggheads (the emboldenment of relevant words is mine).
Of what is important there are no proofs, only testimonies.

I am merely the place from which I perceive -- not the object of my interest but what it is that interests me.

God is not the object of my reason, nor of my sensibility, but of my being.

The thirst for the great, the noble and the beautiful is an appetite for God that is ignored.

Things do not have feeling, but there is feeling in many things.

The scientific proposition presents an abrupt alternative: understanding it or not understanding it. The philosophical proposition, however, is susceptible to growing insight. Finally, the religious proposition is a vertical ascent that allows one to see the same landscape from different altitudes.

The meanings are the reality; their material vehicles are the appearance.

The truth is objective but not impersonal.

The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

In the Beginning is the Weird

Yesterday we spoke of the tension that exists between questions and insights. Now, tension and stress are synonymous, and they exist in positive and negative forms. Too much stress is harmful, but having no stress is a symptom of death.

And not just biological death. For it seems that, to the extent that you are successful in leading a stress-free psychic life, it will also be insight-free. Leaving aside Brandon’s dementia, his mind is as clogged and cluttered with ideological platitudes, malignant banalities, crude projections, and instinctive cliches as Obama's or Kamala's.

There is a way of communicating that is soul-deadening to the communicant. Or maybe you never went to college. But this death-dealing style constitutes a backdoor proof of the soul, since sometimes it has to be sophicated by some tenured assfixiator in order to be discovered and known. Just as the man who best understands fire has been burnt, the man who understands the soul is acquainted with soul murder.

Although we come into the world with a soul, we don’t come in with explicit knowledge of its content. Rather, it is a form — the form of the body — that has an implicit knowledge of what will come to be recognized as its content. In other words, our spontaneous attraction to this or that endeavor, or person, or discipline, will reveal ourself to ourselves.

It reminds me of Tolkien, who was a most peculiar man. Since watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy a couple weeks ago, I’ve read several biographies, and he developed a consuming fascination with language by the time he was an adolescent. Not only did he master Greek and Latin, but Old English, Welsh, Finnish, Germanic, and more, and then began inventing his own “ancient” languages (as a teen, mind you). 

Of note, he didn’t invent the languages for the sake of his mythology, rather, vice versa: he needed to invent a mythological world in order to have a place where the language were spoken. In the beginning was the word.

My point is, how does one account for such a unique and specific attraction? By virtue of what principle is it spontaneously present in the psyche? Certainly no one coerced or even encouraged such a fascination. Some parents insist that their child study law or medicine, but who advises his son to become a philologist?

Speaking of words, it reminds me of that handy one we discovered awhile back: autotelic. The Oxford dictionary informs us that it has only been around since 1901 -- coincidentally, the same dictionary that provided Tolkien with his first job, where he was in charge of W.

I’m guessing that for most of us, tracing the etymology of walnut, wampum, and walrus might be less than thrilling, but for Tolkien it was paradise; he later enthused that he "learned more in those two years than in any other equal period of my life.

That there is autotelic, in that it denotes a person whose end or goal is self-contained. Instead of being externally driven toward the usual things -- wealth, pleasure, power, and celebrity -- the autotelic person is fixated on an internal goal. According to Csikszentmihalyi (in Wiki),
An autotelic person needs few material possessions and little entertainment, comfort, power, or fame because so much of what he or she does is already rewarding. Because such persons experience flow in work, in family life, when interacting with people, when eating, even when alone with nothing to do, they depend less on external rewards that keep others motivated to go on with a life of routines. They are more autonomous and independent because they cannot be as easily manipulated with threats or rewards from the outside. At the same time, they are more involved with everything around them because they are fully immersed in the current of life.
In hindsight I can see that I was always autotelic, but if one doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence, the autoteleology can just leave one feeling like a weirdo. It took many years to even identify my autotelic preoccupations, because who encourages a child to spend his life fucking around in the clouds?https://www.youtube.com/shorts/EYEDD2l0YUw

Post got away from me, but there’s nothing I can do about it, because my autoteleology pulled me into this unplanned attractor. Regarding my own son, I’ve always told him that his spontaneous attractions let him know that he has a soul, and what it contains. He is who he is, and I do my best to help him identify and actualize it.

Petey once said that "if you're not a weirdo, you're wrong." I think I understand what he meant.
 
To be continued.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a Knower?!

I don’t know the answer to that. However, supposing you sincerely ask the question of yourself, then you probably are a knower. 

Put conversely, non-knowers don’t reflect upon what they know, i.e., whether it is actually The Case; rather, it’s a one-and-done thingy, with no looping back to examine and verify the putative knowledge. 

For example, my dog never fails to go nuts at the very sound of the mailman, never checking to determine if he really intends to break into the house, steal our treats, and kill us all. If she could do that, she’d be rather embarrassed. But like Keith Olbermann, she is incapable of shame or self-awareness. 

That’s not quite correct, for the dog is truly incapable, whereas human beings -- in particular, those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder -- may suffer from a kind of neuro-dysregulation such that the self cannot tolerate shame, so it is bypassed. But the absence of shame only facilitates more things to be ashamed of, which is why the shameless tantrums worsen over time.   

Back to the subject at hand: how much of our own knowledge is of the go-nuts-at-the-mailman or Olbermannesque Trump-derangement variety? I suppose it depends upon how immature or progressive you are. I’m old enough to remember when the left had its tiresome talking points instead of the excited barking points.  

Correlation doesn't imply causation. Despite the many surveys that reveal leftism to be associated with depression, anxiety, sexual confusion, substance abuse, et al, the question is always whether progressivism is a cause or consequence of mental illness. 

However, I suspect existential issues enter into the equation as well, being that we’ve known for a long time that the unexamined life isn’t worth living.

Problem is, the examined life may not feel worth living if examined too closely. Let’s say you’re Hunter Biden. Can you even imagine having to examine that? I’d rather examine the underside of an outhouse.

Still, it is our duty always and everywhere to examine the facts, for it is truly right and just. We all carry our own personal outhouse from which no one is exempt. Which is why
We can never count on a man who does not look upon himself with the gaze of an entomologist.
And why
Nobody will ever induce me to absolve human nature, because I know myself.
But would you like to corrupt an individual? Here in California, our failing schools do so by teaching Self-Esteem, Gay Pride, Black Lives Matter, Girl Power, etc. Never mind that there is no actual examination of the self, of homosexuality, of female nature, or of why any life should matter. Just know that 
In order to corrupt the individual it is enough to teach him to call his personal desires rights and the rights of others abuses.
So, the desire of some pervert to invade the girl’s locker room trumps a girl’s right to not be molested by some pervert pretending to be a girl. 
Nothing makes more evident the reality of sin than the stench of the souls that deny its existence.
But you knew that. You’re a knower. But wait. That sounds a bit self-aggrandizing. Yes and no, for
An extreme ambition protects us from conceit.
In other words, image of God at one end, fallen at the other, and our present existence always somewhere in between. Hence the old gag that "the only real failure, the only great tragedy in lifeis not to become a saint.

As it so happens, this question of knowers and knowledge is at the heart of Insight -- both the book and the thing. I mean, if we can’t truly know anything with objectivity and certitude, then we’re done here, are we not? 

This is what it means to be “critical” -- another one of those words the left has stolen and redefined to mean its opposite, as in “critical race theory.” Which is to say, Uncritical Racist Ideology.

But this question of the Knower deserves more than mere insultainment, regardless of how fine, so let’s get into some preluminaries. 

Every would-be knower -- yes, even Keith Olbermann -- “has an individual and privileged access to his own knowing activities.” If not, then what we are about to discuss would have as much traction as a great sounding audio system to a deaf man. The presence! The soundstage! The warmth! The dimensionality!

What?! Speak louder! 

Okay, to repeat, "HUMAN KNOWING HAS THE UNIQUE ABILITY TO 'RETURN UPON’ ITSELF.” 

In so doing, the knower can “experience the tension that is questioning.” 

The tension that is questioning. I like that. No wonder I’m so tense. Life is (?), and (?) is always reaching out to its own fulfillment, like the hunger we spoke of yesterday. Put abstractly, we could say the tension is something like (?)  <—>  O.

The tension is represented by the middle term (<—>). It
can be a very unsettling, restless desire that will drive a person for hours and hours to find out what is the case…. But then comes the sweet satisfaction of having an insight! The more frustrating and prolonged  the searching, the more joyous the "eureka!"
In the past we have symbolized this moment as (?!), because it is as if the determined questioning triggers a sudden answer that discloses a new field of questions, which we call the eternal circle of WTF?!

To be continued….

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Proof of God Discovered in My Head

Even subjectivists, I suppose, must believe they are objective, for if subjectivism is the case, then there is at least one objective truth. Likewise relativists, for whom there must be at least one absolute. 

Furthermore, there is no empirical proof that empiricism is the case, any more than one can have a sensory experience of sensory experience. On the other hand, one

can have an insight into insight, a concept of the concept, a reflective question about whether reflective questions exist, a weighing of the evidence for the weighing of evidence in human knowing, and a judgment about judgment (Tekippe).
The point being? That, as mentioned two posts ago, knowing involves the mind turning back upon itself, like an immaterial version of the loop that occurs on the material plane with the emergence of life. Every biological process from top to bottom involves some kind of open loop, or dynamic process-structure. You’ll know when the looping stops, because that is when you’ll be dead, precisely.

There is a relationship here to space, in that life as such takes the form of an inside now distinct from the outside; and to time, in that the circular loop not only takes time, but entails the anticipation of future states. For example, hunger presupposes the nutrition that will satiate it, such that the moment reaches forward to its fulfillment. In so many words, that's the time of your life.

It seems to me that something similar happens vis-a-vis the epistemological dimension of human development. Thus, just as we have a desire to eat that reaches forward to its future fulfillment, we have a desire to know that reaches… where, exactly? 

The answer occurred to me back in the late 1980s and was subsequently fine-tuned in the early 2000s, shortly before publishing the book of the same name. There are various ways of approaching this question, and it seems to me that Lonergan’s is just one more. 

I recently read another book called The Intelligible Universe by Hugo Meynell, and it too says something similar. Like Lonergan, he takes a long tome to say it. I read the whole thing only to get to the bottom line, which can be expressed in six sentences:
If the world were not intelligible, it would not be that which we can in principle know.
But the world is that which we can in principle come to know.
Therefore the world is intelligible.
Conversely, if you argue that the world is not intelligible, you’ve acknowledged at least one intelligible truth about it. Next,
If there were not something analogous to human intelligence in the constitution of the world, the world would not be intelligible.
But the world is intelligible.
Therefore, there is something analogous to human intelligence in the constitution of the world.  

 Hello, noumenon! 

You can be stubborn and say That’s not God! 

Fine. It’s just a godlike transcendent intelligence that pervades being, so call it what you want. You can deny its existence, but your denial affirms it. The image comes to mind of a baby in the womb deciding to cut the umbilical cord in order to prove there’s no such thing as a mother.

Come to think of it, who hasn’t heard the sophism that a woman can do what she wants with her body? But if we’re going to be technical, the baby is not literally inside the mother. That’s just a figure of speech. 

Rather, the baby is outside the mother, because the human being is not a solid mass but a tubular form, with surfaces inside and out. 

Analogously, food isn’t literally “inside” us until it is broken down in the digestive system and assimilated into our substance. (By the way, we’re not trying to make a political point but an ontological one.)

In chapter 10 of Insight, Lonergan gets down to the question of whether you and I are entitled to call ourselves Knowers. But instead of beginning what what we claim to know, he starts at the other end, with the structure of the knower and process of knowing. 

Apparently this is a big deal, especially for a Thomist, since every commonsense realist knows you’re supposed to start at the other end, with the evidence of the senses. 

But since I’m on the spectrum -- the mystic spectrum -- I’ve never had an issue with starting at the other end, with the miracle of the human subject. Rather, Schuon speaks for me:
One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing.
Fact. As if there is some answer that could stop us from asking questions! Not for me. Not only do I never stop asking them, but I am even a question to myself.  

Correction: I actually do stop asking questions when I am simply abiding in primordial slack, which I often do informally even when I don't formally do so from 4:30 to 5:00 PM every afternoon.  

This post is starting to get away from me, so let’s get back to the structure of the knower. Let’s say you’re a locksmith. Ultimately you want to unlock the door. But to do that you’ll need to deal with the key. The key
will necessarily say something about the inner structure of the lock. Applying the analogy, knowing is the key, and the known is the lock (Tekippe). 
Let’s just say that being is the lock and knowledge the key:
Being is the object of the pure desire to know. But the desire to know is prior to any particular act of knowledge, so the known of the definition is completely open (ibid.).
We might ask, what is the key to keys? That they open things. And what is the key to being?  Yes, Thomas? 
Our intellect in understanding is extended to infinity.
And
This ordering of the intellect to infinity would be vain and senseless if there were no infinite object of knowledge.
Yes, Nicolás ?
Thirst runs out before the water does.

So, stay thirsty, my friends. At least until tomorrow.  

Monday, October 10, 2022

Invasive Species Day

It’s Indigenous Peoples' Day, the day we forget there are no indigenous peoples outside Africa. The rest of us are an invasive species, irrespective of our status in the Progressive Token Pole. On that score the anthropological science is settled, chief.

To scandalize the leftist, just speak the truth.

Done.

Here's another truthbomb: reality is what is. (!) 

But isness as such includes the nebulous world of potency, which in turn relates to what we were saying yesterday about the telos of human development (a telos which either obviously exists or is obviously impossible).

Put it this way: a human being cannot grow up to be a lion or planet or computer. Such developments are not in the teleological cards, because they are neither in the human form nor its proper end. Thus, they are examples of what cannot be, full stop. In short, impossible, and necessarily so.

On the other hand, the human form harbors an almost infinite potential, and this potential is not nothing. It is the great shadow world of the Might Be. Between the Might Be and the Is is where all the action is: for example, moral action, epistemological action, artistic action -- or the Good, True, and Beautiful, respectively. And more. But also less, since truth implies error as beauty implies Joy Behar.

All other animals -- not to mention inanimate things -- are enclosed in their form, and if we’re going to be serious about trying to understand our cosmic situation, we need to explain how we -- Homo sapiens -- managed to slip the furry bonds of biological form into this quasi-infinite vertical space. 

How is it that you and I are sitting here enjoying our basic freedoms while finishing our coffee, with no prior restraint? Don’t run away from this conundrum. It affects us all.

Two things to bear in mind: first, while we transcend our biological form, obviously we do not do so completely: you could say that the soul is incarnated or that the body is excarnated, but it's both and neither, since it’s a unique pickle to be in. 

Second, while the human form is quasi-infinite, it is not literally infinite, but rather, bound by certain limits. There are rules, not just general ones but particular ones, since the most important aspect of the human form is its unique expression in each one of us. 

In the abstract, the human being can be a lot of things, but each of us is an individual, meaning certain potentials and certain limits. A species of unique instances is a logical contradiction, but here we are. The inability of material science to account for the immaterial human form is settled. 

It reminds me of the cliche that in United States you can grow up to be anything you want to be. The truth is actually better than that, because -- at least back in my day, prior to the tyranny of progressive conformity (or rebellion, which redounds to the same anti-telos) -- you can grow up to be who you are

I, for example, could have been any number of things that might have interfered with being who I actually am. Paradoxically, infinite choice can derail finite freedom, preventing us from reaching our proper telos.

The crack above about the tyranny of progressive conformity reminds me of a few hearty laughorisms:
Freedom is the right to be different; equality is a ban on being different.
Nevertheless,
Freedom is not an end, but a means. Whoever sees it as an end in itself does not know what to do with it when he gets it.
Which is why
Freedom is not indispensable because man knows what he wants and who he is, but in order for him to know who he is and what he wants.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

No Telos, No Problem... For Awhile

Continuing with yesterday’s post on the nature of objectivity, it does not and cannot exist outside the subject, but that doesn’t render it merely subjective. You might be tempted to imagine that, prior to the emergence of life some 4 billion years ago, there was nothing but objects in the universe.

Which is clearly impossible, since there were no subjects to perceive and experience them. 

Rather, the emergence of life ultimately represented a kind of “inward turn” from pure exteriority to the beginnings of interiority as such (leaving aside the question of the divine Subject who cannot not be). 

In an organism, matter turns back upon itself, creating a loop that conserves itself by importing energy and information from the environment while dissipating energy into it. There is now a tension between inside and outside. You will have noticed that to live is to live in and with this tension. 

My point is that this is a fractal cosmos, so the same process recurs at every level of the biosphere, becoming more complex and interrelated along the way. 

Something similar occurs on the human plane, only vertically and immaterially, since self-consciousness is a looping-back of consciousness upon itself, precisely; and it is this immaterial looping-back of the subject upon itself that creates the possibility of objectivity. 

We -- that is to say, human beings -- aren’t always very good at this, to put it mildly. Viewed in a larger cosmic context, it happened just yesterday, so it is very much a work in progress. In fact, not only is it a w. i. p., but it must be recapitulated in every little human being who comes into the world, and there are forces conspiring from the get-go to pull the child back into the vortex of subjectivity. 

Yesterday we alluded to the field of developmental psychology, but lucky for you, showed great self-restraint in suppressing the impulse to show off our vast erudition. However, we will say this: human development either has a telos, or it hasn’t. Just be consistent: if it has no telos, then there is no point to existence, nor is anyone normal or abnormal, mature or immature, achievers or eight year olds, dude.

I will now show even greater self-restraint in eschewing the temptation to explain how convenient it is for the left to embrace a metaphysic that reframes abnormality as normal. 

Back to the question of whether there is a telos to human development. In Insight, Lonergan describes a three-part sequence to cognition. 

It’s not easy to compress 800 pages into single post, but, paradoxically, there are things a lazy man can do that an obsessive pedant cannot do, and one of them is get to the point. Lonergan is a good man, and thorough. An Achiever, even. But if there’s one thing I learned in ‘Nam, it's that if the explanation gets too complex, something always goes wrong. People will doze off the moment you break out a sentence such as
From the viewpoint of the logical ideal, every term has one and only one precise meaning, every relation of every term to every other term is set down in an unequivocal proposition, the totality of propositions is neatly divided into primitive and derived, the derived may all be obtained by the rules of inference from a minimum number of primitive propositions, no proposition contradicts any other, and finally the employment of the principle of the excluded middle does not introduce undefined or false suppositions, as does the question, Have you or have you not stopped beating your wife? (Lonergan).
My dear reader, you will never know the suffering I have endured to bring these crisp and concise posts to you, each one fortified by a guffaw-HA! experience or two. 

So, let’s summarize the three stages of knowing something to be objectively true: first there is the registration of sense data, which we share with the other animals. It discloses a world of “biological extroversion” about which only man not only has a question or two, but never stops questioning. 

In other words, this reflection is literally a re-flection, a looping-back upon the data of the senses, which is where the insight occurs; here again, this is a literal in-sight, or “seeing within.” 

And what do we see? To simplify, we see a concept, e.g., treeness in the tree or dogginess in the dog. 

After the concept comes the judgment, which always comes down to: really? Does it or does it not really exist? So there is data, there are reflections (questions), and there are judgments: Is it? Followed by It is or It is not

How simple is that?

Now, back to the telos of human development. I don’t know about you, but I want my child to have good judgment. That would be the point. And if you don’t believe me, try raising a child with poor judgment and see how that works out. That’s when you’ll find out the hard way what the point was.

My son is, of course -- like all of us -- a work in progress. He’s only 17. But when I compare his judgment to the judgment I possessed at age 17, it is... sobering, which, come to think of it, is the one thing I wanted to avoid at age 17, both literally and figuratively. 

For it seems that my friends and I had a single purpose -- or anti-telos -- and that purpose was to extend adolescence and avoid adult responsibility for as long as possible and by any means necessary, which is to say, no matter how much beer was required.

I want to say that the telos of human development eventually becomes conspicuous in light of its absence, and that what begins as fun ends up looking pathetic. 

I was lucky, in that I recovered my telos relatively quickly. But in the meantime, our culture may well not survive its rejection of the human telos, because with it goes maturity, judgment, prudence, responsibility, objectivity -- in a word, reality. 

Aphorisms (which incidentally touch on why the left will always have a lock on the Youth Vote, and why they would reduce voting age to 12 if they could):
To praise youth is to forget our former idiocy.
Young people believe that youth is a destination, when it is merely a provincial bus stop.
Whoever fights against the process of aging merely ages without ever maturing.