Saturday, October 29, 2022

A Referendum on Normality

Content and method: the former is everything and everywhere, and these diverse objects require different methods of study. 

However, sometimes things get turned around and the content becomes a function of the method. The thought just now occurs to me that this is a good working definition of ideology, or of the cosmic tautology of ism-ism. Could this be true?

Think of science: each particular discipline adapts itself to the object under study, biology to living organisms, physics to the properties of matter, cosmology to the universe, etc. 

In fact, I just looked it up on Wiki, and there are many more branches of science than I had imagined -- for example, alethiology (the study of truth), agnoiology (the study of ignorance), algology (the study of pain), autology (the study of oneself), and archelogy (the study of first principles) -- and that’s just some of the A’s.

[Scanning the list, a few others pop out: ktenology (the study of putting people to death), zythology (the study of beer), pseudology (the study of lying), and coprology (the study of feces and progressive pseudology).]

I wonder if there is something like a study of study, i.e., studiology? If not, there ought to be. I see there’s gnosiology, the study of knowledge, but who studies the knower? Epistemology looks into the grounds of knowledge, but what about the ground of knowers? 

Back to the point about ideology and ismism: broadly speaking, science is the study of the natural world. But the moment it claims the natural world is the world, it transforms to an ism: scientism. 

Besides, what do we even mean when we say “natural world”? Natural implies supernatural, and if we didn’t transcend nature, we couldn’t know a thing about it, for — obviously — the mind that knows is not a material object. 

Is there a study of the self-evident? Yes, it’s called conservatism, or anti-coprology:
Conservatism should not be a political party but the normal attitude of every decent man.
The intelligent man quickly reaches conservative conclusions.
The conservatism of each era is the counterweight to the stupidity of the day.
The forthcoming election is a referendum: on normality. Or abnormality. 

Indeed, it is even a referendum on whether there is such a thing as abnormality. You could boil it down to one question: no offense, but is this pathetic fellow normal or abnormal?:

If he is normal, then we are not. Simple as. We don’t hate him, nor do we wish him harm. Rather, we pity him and wish him the best. 

But we do detest the movement that would pretend he is normal and then try to foist this abnormality on children. Seriously, that’s a crime.

Normology. It’s not on the list. There is, of course, pathology, but how can there be disease if there’s not health? 

This post took off in an entirely unforeseen direction. I'll get back on track as we proceed with this question of objects and methods, but I do actually have to make a beer run -- or rather, I must make preparations for my close study of zythology, which I plan to combine with baseballogy tonight at 5:03. It's called a multi-undisciplinary approach to leisure studies.

We'll leave off with an aphorism:
The conservative is a simple pathologist. He defines sickness and health. But God is the only therapist.

Friday, October 28, 2022

On the Value of Intelligence and Satan's Big Idea

Let’s get back to Chesterton’s claim that both reason and religion are “methods of proof which cannot themselves be proved.” 

Let us stipulate up front that Chesterton was no one’s idea of a proper philosopher, but rather, the opposite: a man with common sense. And what is common sense?

the father’s house to which philosophy returns, every so often, feeble and emaciated.
Now, because we are always stalking the miracle of unity — i.e., simultaneously looking toward and through the One in One Cosmos — we are drawn to the Idea that there are ideas about which we should all be able to agree, so long as we value intelligence. This has to do with the very nature of intelligence as such, and let Sr. Dávila explain what I mean; first, that
Agreement is eventually possible between intelligent men because intelligence is a conviction they share.
Well, do we? Or do we not? This is the first question to sort out. But let me get to the second aphorism, which adverts to the promise that 
In each moment, each person is capable of possessing the truths that matter.
Is this true, or even possibly true? Yes, and I want to say it is because we are persons (change my mind), and that our mysterious ability to *possess* truth is precisely one of the essential attributes of persons as such. 

Put conversely, who else but a person has this potential? And who else but a person could be so stupid as to disagree with Bob, let alone Petey?

Having said that, despite Petey’s quasi-omniscience, “possess” makes me wince just a little, because it is a good rule of thumb that when someone claims to be in possession of Truth, it’s time to reach for one’s revolver. Others insist that there is no such thing as "truth," in which case it is time to reach for one’s machine gun. 

As we know, it’s all about the philo in philosophy: a love of wisdom, never its ownership. We have both a right and an obligation to wisdom, but this presupposes a source and ground that is not us

The first and most consequential error of which we know is man’s presumption that he is this source, and the rest is history, 32 feet per second per second, which is to say, the speed of our vertical plunge. It's like the expansion of the cosmos, which is always happening.

Vis-a-vis Chesterton’s comment above, reason is a method, while religion is usually thought of as a content. But a method is not a recipe, and content is not arbitrary. Moreover, we are able to reason about religion, while reason elevated to rationalism becomes a pseudo-religion. It is religion stripped of intelligence, precisely. 

It is also possible to have the intelligence of religion without the reason, but this betrayal ends in fundamentalist nonsense. I suppose it’s less deadly than atheistic nonsense, but I wouldn’t want to live in either form of stupidity. 

Ideas that matter. Do they exist? What are they? You will have noticed that left and right can be defined by the ideas that matter to them. 

For example, what the left calls “diversity” not only doesn’t matter to me, but I regard it as literally diabolical (as in the devil as scatterer-in-chief). 

The same can be said of other Important Ideas such as relativism, multiculturalism, equity, materialism, feminism, queer theory, transgenderism, socialism, ablism, atheism, fascism, racism, “antiracism" (but I repeat myself) and many more.

Is there a common thread that unites these diabolical ideas, besides their author? Or, put another way, what is Satan’s Big Idea?

Before getting to that, another aphorism: 
In certain eras the intelligence has to devote itself merely to restoring definition.
Here I have to disagree with my Colombian friend, because this must occur in every era.

How did it get to be 11:30? I have to go, but one last point: above I said that religion is a "content." But what if the ultimate content is Personhood and all it implies? Let's save something for tomorrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

From Breezy Aphorisms Windy Posts Blow

Thursdays are the one morning I have a hard break in my verticality and must yield to horizontal duties, so it’s better not to start what I can't finish. 

Fortunately, I still have Orthodoxy sitting open on my desk, and Chesterton is so aphoristic that one can pick him up and put him away at any point. Each aphorism can stand alone or provoke a whole essay.

For example, both reason and religion are “methods of proof which cannot themselves be proved.” Boom. I could stop right there, but let's flesh it out a bit.

These two are not the only alternatives, and indeed, there is a third factor at play that is implicitly present in both, and which lifts man out of absurcularity, AKA, the intellect. 

Call it what you want, but there is an X-factor at play in the soul that is discontinuous with any linear account, and infinitely — literally — transcends what is situated below it, whether logic, the senses, the passions, or the material ego. 

Schuon writes that reason
is not, like pure intellect, formless and fluid light; true, it derives its implacability, or its validity in general, from the intellect, but it touches on essences only through drawing conclusions, not by direct vision; it is indispensable for verbal formulation but it does not involve immediate knowledge.
That was a mouthful. It implies that where logic is formal, intellect is formless; where logic is static, intellect is fluid; the former illuminates while the latter partakes of the light itself; one touches, the other sees; one is verbal, the other experiential. 

This is not in any way to devalue reason, only to say that to reduce the intellect to logic makes man a machine. And the whole point of Gödels proofs is that they prove man is not a machine, and that we have access to a realm of truth that can never be proved with mere logic.

Be reasonable. Better yet, be intelligent, because not only can reason mislead, it is often designed to do so. Think, for example, of those climate change models that are perfectly reasonable. So long as you accept the insane variables. Schuon:  
Reason is not Intelligence in itself, it is only its instrument, and this on the express condition that it be inspired by intellectual Intuition, or simply correct ideas or exact facts; nothing is worse than the mind cut off from its root….
Nothing? You heard the man. Name one thing more destructive than the Bad Idea rigorously pursued to its end. At this very moment we are living such pure destructiveness. The ideas of the left are bad enough, but imagine they couldn’t be arrested eleven days hence, and were permitted to arrive at their telos! A plague with no antibiotics.

Speaking of bios, Whitehead once remarked that biology is the study of the small organisms while cosmology is the study of the big ones. I wouldn’t say the cosmos is literally an organism, but it certainly displays organismic features, but this isn’t because it is alive but because God is. Thus, we might say that theology is the study of the biggest organism, or rather, the ground, source, and possibility of organismic wholeness and interiority. 

In case that wasn’t clear, allow Schuon shed some additional obscurity on the subject:
Existence is a reality in some respects comparable to a living organism; it cannot with impunity be reduced, in man’s consciousness and in his modes of action, to proportions that do violence to its nature; pulsations of the “extra-rational” pass through it from every quarter.
Pulsations? Is that what these are? Yes, because being as such is nourished, so to speak, by veins and arteries that ascend and descent the cosmos. Indeed, you couldn’t understand a word I’m saying if this weren't the case, as proved by our trolls.

Not to get sidetracked into a somewhat different subject, but what is prayer but God taking a ride on an artery and us taking a return trip in a vein? This is the Great Circle of Being, but in no way does it enclose us, because it’s an open spiral. If it’s not, then I’ve spent the last 17 years of blogging getting better at nothing. 
Now religion and all forms of supra-rational wisdom belong to this extra-rational order, the presence of which we observe around us, unless we are blinded by a mathematician’s prejudice; to attempt to treat existence as a purely arithmetical and physical reality is to falsify it in relation to ourselves and within ourselves, and in the end it is to blow it to pieces (ibid.).
In reality, there are intelligent and unintelligent ways of being intelligent. Some people say that our elite managerial class is entirely composed of the intelligent unintelligent, but that’s an obvious exaggeration, since it leaves out the unintelligent unintelligence of the Woke.

If this post proves nothing else, it shows how one aphorism can so quickly get out of hand. No time even to spielcheck.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

You Must Follow the Freedom

In any proposition about man its  paradoxical fusion of freedom and determinism must emerge. --Dávila 

Yesterday we spoke of the Two Machines, the idea that the temperament or personality style with which we are born brings about the environment that feeds back into the personality and reinforces it. 

Of course, it’s more complicated than that, because other factors come into play besides genes and environment. One of them is our good old frenemy chance, which in my opinion gets a bad rap from both sides, whether horizontaloid or verticalish. The former often deny it in the name of a scientistic determinism, the latter in the name of a monadic predestination. 

Well, I say two cheers for chance, insofar as it must be a side effect of freedom (and especially a confluence of free beings above and below). To say freedom is to say undetermined, which is to say potential. This potential occupies a kind of middle-earth realm between Being and nothing. Freedom is not yet Being, but nor is it nothing.

Unless you are an existentialist, in which case it is Nothingness, precisely — the selfsame titular nothingness in Sartre’s Being and ___________. For Sartre there is no human nature because there is no God, and therefore no telos, meaning, or purpose. As such, the self-evident existence of freedom is just the brute fact of our being condemned to choose between meaningless alternatives.

Now, according to Paul, the Lord is Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty

The meaning of this is at once obvious but full of metaphysical implications, because it means that what we experience as freedom goes all the way up, so it is truly a kind of vertical thread uniting us to God. But what kind of thread is this, since Sartre is half-correct, in the sense that freedom can feel like a kind of absence rather than a presence.

Jumping ahead a bit, it can only be a presence if it reaches towards its telos (which is experientially the same as the telos reaching back and down to us). 

We've all heard John's crack that you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free

Now, I don’t know Greek, because if English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. But that’s an interesting construction: not “may” or “can” but shall, implying necessity, even though we’re talking about a freedom which would seem to imply an absence of necessity. What’s going on here?   

If the now doesn’t stretch forward to its own fulfillment, then Sartre is correct that it's just an absurdity foisted upon us by an existence that isn’t even indifferent, rather, just is. Somehow, existence gives us a menu of meaningless choices for reasons we’ll never know because there are no reasons. It’s absurdity all the way down, up, inside, and out.

Could be. 

Or couldn’t be.

Note that it’s either one or the other. There’s no “might be.” Rather, we’re dealing with necessity, with the Must Be. For if there’s even just the itsiest bitsy of meaning, then there it is. You can’t have the concept that there are no concepts, an insight that insight doesn’t exist, or a discovery of meaning in a meaningless cosmos. Your wheel, Nicolas!
If determinism is real, if only that can happen which must happen, then error does not exist. Error supposes that something happened that should not have.
Am I wrong? AM I WRONG?!

If so, then truth necessarily exists and we must be free to know it:
To admit the existence of errors is to confess the reality of free will.
And ultimately, 
Either God or chance: all other terms are disguises for one or the other.
Now, one of my favorite aphorisms is the following:
The permanent possibility of initiating a causal series is what we call a person.
But the sands have run out on this post, and you know the rest. There are things to put off and people to avoid, so I must be going.

Wait. One last quote, this one by Schuon:
The purpose of freedom is to enable us to choose what we are in the depths of our heart. We are intrinsically free to the extent that we have a center which frees us: a center which, far from confining us, dilates us by offering us an inward space without limits and without shadows; and this Center is in the last analysis the only one there is.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Wheels Within Wheels of Karma

In an interesting article that asks the whosical question Are You the Same Person You Use Used to Be? -- I know I’m not -- the author analogizes personality and environment to a machine that creates another machine: our inborn temperament is like

“a machine that designs another machine, which goes on to influence development.” This second machine is a person’s social environment (
For example, 
Someone who moves against the world will push others away, and he’ll tend to interpret the actions of even well-meaning others as pushing back; this negative social feedback will deepen his oppositional stance. Meanwhile, he’ll engage in what psychologists call “niche picking” -- the favoring of social situations that reinforce one’s disposition.
Thus, over a lifetime, the machine of temperament can make choices that fashion an environmental machine that mirrors and reinforces it. 

Which can be a good or bad thing, depending upon any number of variables. For example, an extremely introverted and socially anxious person might fashion an environment in which she is totally isolated from others. On the one hand, her anxiety won’t be triggered, but her world will be so constrained as to forestall interpersonal growth.  

Well, that’s her problem, and I’m retired anyway. I’m more interested in how this works on the macro scale, with “human nature” at one end, “culture” at the other. 

If there is such a thing as human nature, then obviously we want a culture that doesn’t necessarily mirror it per se — since our nature is by no means “all good” — but which helps to actualize what is good (and truthful and beautiful) and suppress or sublimate what’s bad.

Straight away you’ll notice a problem, since a -- or I suppose the -- fundamental principle of the left is that there is no such thing as human nature, which is precisely what authorizes our utopian statist masters to force their utopian statism upon us. If we have a nature -- oh, for example, if we are conceived male or female -- then you can’t bloody well pretend the one can be the other.

In fact, the whole antihuman equity agenda is predicated on the fallacy that outcomes *should* be equal because people are identical, and it is only an unjust environment that creates inequality, e.g., White Privilege, the Patriarchy, Heteronormativity, etc.

The first question is how that “should” got in, since the denial of human nature should be the end of shoulds. In other words, material nature knows no Ought, only a blind and ruthless Is. Any Ought is a covert appeal to human nature — of how things oughtta be.

I’m not sure how far back this philosophical debate goes, but I’ll bet it appears in some form or fashion from the git-go. American-style classical liberalism was influenced by Locke’s theory that the mind is a “blank slate” at birth, which would be nice if true, but then again, not nice at all, because it would mean that any personal identity would be a function of the environmental machine; you could be anything you want, except for you.

Now, I myself once dabbled in the Bobula rasa. Indeed, my whole training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy was predicated on it. According to Prof. Wiki,
Tabula rasa also features in Freud's psychoanalysis. Freud's theories imply that humans lack free will, but also that genetic influences on human personality are minimal. In Freudian psychoanalysis, one is largely determined by one's upbringing.
Does this mean my graduate training was a complete waste of time? Yes. And no, in that you have to start somewhere. If I had ended there, then yes, it would have been a total waste.

But now we know a great deal more about the genetic aspects of personality development -- which is not to say the environment isn’t a factor, only that it is much less of a factor than we had supposed.

(By the way, Prof. Wiki’s article confirms that this debate goes back to the beginning, in that "the concept of tabula rasa can be traced back to the writings of Aristotle.” )

I guess I just missed the genetic boat, in that I graduated in 1988, and the Big Five personality traits didn’t become a Thing until the ‘90s. 

In any event, it turns out science has identified five traits in particular -- openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism -- with heritability of 57%, 49%, 42%, 54%, and 48%, respectively. 

This still leaves a lot of room for environmental influence, but this influence will nevertheless cut across the grainium, especially in this or that particular person, in whom the heritability may be much higher.

But this leaves out the most consequential factor of all, which is to say, intelligence, which is certainly no less than 50% heritable, some researchers say as high as 85%. This itself provides the most devastating critique of leftism there could be, for which reason it is forbidden to notice.

For example, let’s say your progressive philosophy of tabula rasa dictates that everyone is good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, likable enough to succeed at anything, starting with college.

This idea is not even stupid, it’s delusional. Nevertheless… 

I won’t even bother to outline the many catastrophes that result from this delusion, but just one of them is our having to financially bail out people who were too stupid to be in college, but too stupid to know they were too stupid to be there. Certainly I've known my fair share of idiots with PhDs, so education is not only no cure for stupidity, but an aggravant. Two words: Jill. Biden

At the other end, academia works feverishly to assure that it is so stupid that even the most stupid can succeed there. They're almost there, but not quite, because there are actually people dumber than Jill Biden. 

I get it. I’m taxing your patience again. To be continued...

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Logoscide of the West

In the previous post we touched on the slow-motion intellectual, spiritual, and civilizational suicide that has been occurring over the past sixty years or so. 

Of course, that’s a somewhat arbitrary date, since the roots of the revolution and brutes of the devolution go back to time immemorial, but that’s when the assisted suicide movement openly declared its desire and intention to euthanize Christendom, AKA the West.

Afterwards the struggle went back and forth until we elected our first openly suicidal president in 2008. Since then, the movement has accelerated, but wait a minute! November 8 will determine whether eros or thanatos has the upper hand, and hot dog, it looks like love’s a-winnin’!

Nevertheless, even if eros prevails, don’t confuse it with a victory or even a ceasefire. 
For these two are always a-warrin’ and a-tuggin', one agin t’other. Old thanatos may be down for the count, but don’t count him out just yet.

Anyway, as we said, since the intellect is free, it is free to destroy itself.

But is this actually freedom? It can only be regarded as such in a cosmos that has been turned upside down and inside out, and drained of all transcendent meaning. In a properly bright-side up, hierarchical cosmos, life and truth are situated above freedom: if there is no truth, nor are we free. 

After all, you can’t exercise your freedom if you aren’t alive, nor is freedom good for anything if it isn't teleologically ordered to truth. If not ordered to truth, then we’re not even unfree nor even lost, rather, just the anti-Word incarnate. 

Ah, little lads and lasses, I see you’re still starin’ at my fingers. Well, it’s not just love & hate that are always a-wrasslin' and fussin', but Word and anti-Word, and not until, I don’t know, Nietzsche, did the Voice of the Abyss become a movement and not just a diagnosis.

Since then, how many diagnoses have become movements? Paranoia, narcissism, autogynephilia, misandry, hysteria, homosexuality, sociopathy, penis envy… In my lifetime, the DSM has become the Democrat platform.

Anyway, it is only thanks to the Word that man made such remarkable progress beginning only 50,000 years or so ago. In a book that asks the question, What Is Lonergan Up To in Insight, the author writes of how
Insight is usually a relatively permanent acquisition. Once one has understood, that insight may usually be counted on as a background for future learning (Tekippe).
In this regard, insight is quite different from mere memory, in that it suddenly sees the pattern or connection between the parts, at which point the parts can be forgotten, or at least fade into the background. 

For example, last night I was watching The Godfather with the boy, and he had the insight that the story of Michael is the same as the story of Walter White: both men start out innocent before breaking bad and turning into monsters. 

Regarding insight, 
What is true for the individual is also true for the society and the race. Thus the achievements and breakthroughs of one generation become the background insights of the next, allowing a constant forward progress. If this were not so, each generation would have to start from the same place, so the human race would never escape from the Stone Age (ibid.).
Aaaaaand, here we are. 

It’s not so much that we’re in the Stone Age. Rather, when the tower of the West comes down, its pieces are dispersed in space. Note, for example, how Obama and now Biden want to ease the way for Iran to obtain nukes, meaning that the highest technology mingles with the lowest barbarism, so it is simultaneously 2022 and 700, and the distance of 13 centuries is eradicated.

In short, we are giving away the insights of Western civilization to civilizations that did not and could not have have come up with them. It's the same when we hand over America to woke proglodytes. 

Above we alluded to the intrinsic relationship between freedom and truth. In the West, science flourished only as a consequence of independent minds free to pursue it in a disinterested way. To put it mildly, this is not how Iran acquired its scientific knowledge.  

Now, once seen, one cannot “unsee” the rug that pulls the cosmos together. However it is possible for someone to steal or destroy the rug, in which case we are plunged back into a room or perhaps even toilet full of random stuff with no connection to unify it.

Who stole the rug? I think you possess sufficient insight to figure that out on your own.