Friday, November 11, 2022

Shopping for the Perfect Area Rug

I just finished another book by Bernard Lonergan, this one called Method and Theology. It has a lot of bright ideas, but I can’t say I recommend it to a general audience, rather, perhaps only to trained theologians. Or to folks who pretend to be and who have all the time in the world to think about obscure matters that nobody cares about.

The thesis of the book is catnip for the the latter, since you could say it is the mirror image of the eternal quest of the Transdimensional Raccoon: as we are always in search of the theoretical area rug that pulls the entire cosmos together (vertical and horizontal, objective and subjective, celestial and terrestrial), Lonergan proposes that there is just one method for doing so, regardless of the discipline, from physics on up to theology on down. 

In other words: One Cosmos, One Rug, One Method. Or, the Meta-Mega-Mother of all Methods. Such a promise is literally irresistible to untrained theologians who have all the time in the world to think about obscure matters that nobody cares about. I care, and that’s enough for me.

Now that I think about it, my interest in such a Method goes back to the moment my mind switched on in my mid-20s. 

I don’t want to get bogged down in autobobographical reflections, but way back in grad school I was introduced to a thinker called W.R. Bion who essentially attempted to accomplish just this by creating a purely abstract metapsychology. Not only was I influenced by some of his ideas, others I stole outright -- for example, O. That was his symbol for Ultimate Reality, and I found no need to reinvent the circle. 

Now, first of all, no finite person could ever possess O. At the same time, no one can avoid attempting to do so, since our ceaseless questioning presupposes an unrestricted desire to know, and this is conformed to a perfect and unconditional truth. 

Let me bring this discussion down a notch from Lonergan to one of his students, Robert Spitzer, who devotes a section to the subject in his The Soul’s Upward Yearning: Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason. In it he writes of
the presence of something perfect, unconditional, and unrestricted within our consciousness that beckons us ahead of any imperfect and finite idea or ideal [and] that causes us to seek… beyond anything previously learned or discovered. 
It is a “transcendental horizon” 
that can neither be described nor explained through any set of restricted, conditioned, or imperfect categories or realities.
It is precisely the implicit presence of this unrestricted reality that allows us to consider this or that rug and say, No, that’s not the oneDo you have one in 26 dimensions? Spitzer asks
how do we know the partial intelligibility of our answers every time we have arrived at them? We must have a tacit awareness of what complete intelligibility is like. If we did not have this tacit awareness, we would not immediately recognize the partial intelligibility of every answer that is not completely intelligible.
There’s a lot more, but you get the idea, which is that no idea is in total conformity with O, even though every true idea is in partial conformity to it. 

Nor do I want to serve dessert just yet -- i.e., sweet insultainment -- but do notice that our most Important Thinkers systematically repress awareness of this unrestricted horizon and superimpose a grid of ideology over it. This is how O is reduced to Ø.

For Lonergan, 
the “supreme heuristic notion” is “the complete intelligibility of the whole of reality,” because it underlies all other heuristic notions, and therefore, all relational ideas (ibid).
Regarding the latter, "Without relational ideas, we would not be able to know or communicate anything about anything…” There would be no about, and therefore no intersubjective link between subjects or between subject and object. "Total stupidity" -- much like a newsroom, college classroom, or transgender bathroom. 

Lonergan even deploys the above to prove the existence of God. It’s one of my favorites, and I arrived at my own vulgar version of it before knowing anything about Lonergan's, which goes as follows:
If the totality of reality is completely intelligible, then God exists.
But the totality of reality is completely intelligible.
Therefore God exists. 
There’s a lot more to it -- i.e., leading up to that syllogism — but let’s move on. Tomorrow. We'll end with this confirmation:

And this unexpected find:


Thursday, November 10, 2022

Unfundamentalist Fundamentalism

Let’s get back to our subject, which is to say, the fundamental categories of thought and, if we’re lucky, of reality as well. Ever since Kant the fundamental idea has been that our ideas don’t reveal anything about the world, or at least we have no way of knowing whether they do. In short, the Noumenon is closed for isnessOurs, anyway. 

On the one hand, Kant’s idealism is so wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. On the other hand, it's apparently difficult to prove wrong, I suppose for the same reason we can’t prove the existence of free will, or even that solipsism is false. If this is a simulation, how would we know? 

Another factor is that people don’t want to believe X if X inevitably leads to a completely unacceptable Y. We see this everywhere, and it essentially defines the left. Almost everything normal people are forbidden to notice or talk about is because (x) will lead to a (y) that destroys the premises of the left. 

This is why free speech has suddenly become problematic after having been settled for over two centuries. That our right to it is self-evident is somehow no longer evident. Human nature didn’t change, so what did? 

I suppose that’s easy, in the sense that human beings have always opposed free speech. The U.S. was a brief exception to this enduring rule of human nature, and now we’re back to the rule -- which, not surprisingly, has co-arisen with the denial of human nature. 

In a certain sense, postmodernity may be defined as a systematic amnesia of what man knows about Man. To be sure, it is still known, but only by a persecuted remnant of authoritarian fascist insurrectionist transphobic election deniers.  

Free speech doesn’t only pose a threat to those in power, but it does so because of the X—>Y schematic referenced above. 

But it isn’t just freedom of speech that is under attack, but -- of course -- freedom itself: freedom of thought, freedom of association, and freedom to hate (AKA “hate speech”) those who would deny our freedom. This amounts to a class of hateful authoritarians presuming to tell us we aren't permitted to despise them out loud.

Fundamentals. Unfortunately, this word connotes fundamentalism, as authority connotes authoritarian. It reminds me of how Schuon once referred to himself as an “absolutist,” perhaps not knowing what this connotes, when all he meant is that his metaphysic begins with the Absolute from which various entailments follow. For example, 
If we were to be asked what the Absolute is, we would reply first of all that it is necessary and not merely possible Reality; absolute Reality, hence infinite and perfect, precisely; and we would add -- in conformity with the level of the question asked – that the Absolute is that which, in the world, is reflected as the existence of things. Without the Absolute, there is no existence; the aspect of absoluteness of a thing is what distinguishes it from inexistence, if one may so put it. Compared to empty space, each grain of sand is a miracle. 
It is literally impossible to express it more clearly than that, but nevertheless, I suspect that our tenured class would have no idea what he’s saying, proving once again that the Secret protects itself. It no more wishes to be sullied by their grubby hands than a 13 year old girl wants to shower (again) with President Biden.  

The passage reminds us of our recent examination of Necessity and Possibility, which won’t necessarily amount to much without the third term alluded to by Schuon, which is to say, Perfection. 

In the absence of this ladder, there is no vertical scale and therefore no progress, development, telos, etc. Rather, our existence (supposing it could even exist) would be more like a fluctuating hallucinatory dreamscape with no axis or center — pure change regarded from within an endless flux of  subjectivity, the very recipe for unremitting psychosis: nihilism as ontological fact, not merely as faculty lounge pretension.

Reminds me of the “anarchism” of ANTIFA, which is only conceivable in the nurturing context of grown-up arch-ism. Which in turn reminds me of Voegelin’s gag about the order of History being the history of Order. It is this very Order we speak of when speaking of the Fundamentals.

This Fundamental Order is at once permanent and… I don’t want to say “changing,” but rather, it is not only “alive,” but the living organism is its analogue, precisely. To put it rightside up, this Order is the principle of both Life and Person — in case you were wondering how these two miracles could be present in an inanimate physics experiment. 

This Order is also “relational,” which probably implies more than you suspect, because if relationship is irreducible to anything less, it not only changes everything, but is the principle of the very intersubjectivity that permits humanness, especially our creativity. Intersubjective relationality is the framework of creativity, and even of scientific progress, since it facilitates an endlessly inspiraling advance between intelligence and intelligibility.

Words fail at the horizon of the wordless Word, and I gotta run anyway, but let Schuon take a crack at it:
The Absolute, or the Essence, intrinsically comprises Infinitude; it is as the Infinite that it radiates. Divine Radiation projects the Essence into the “void,” but without there being any “going out” whatsoever, for the Principle is immutable and indivisible, nothing can be taken away from it; by this projection on the surface of a nothingness that in itself is inexistent, the Essence is reflected in the mode of “forms” or “accidents.” 

But the “life” of the Infinite is not only centrifugal, it is also centripetal; it is alternately or simultaneously -- depending on the relationships envisaged -- Radiation and Reintegration; the latter is the apocatastatic* “return” of forms and accidents into the Essence, without nevertheless there being anything added to the latter, for it is absolute Plenitude. Moreover, and even above all, Infinitude – like Perfection – is an intrinsic characteristic of the Absolute: it is as it were its inward life, or its love which by overflowing, so to speak prolongs itself and creates the world.
*Word of the day, apocatastasis: (Greek): restitution, restoration among certain Christian theologians.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

All the Eternity that Fits

What’s the lesson? If nothing else, an excuse to playgiarize with some Aphorisms, for example,

Defeats are never definitive when they are accepted with good humor.
Was Bob too taken in by the hysteria? Yes and no. Mainly I was looking forward to the humiliation of Brandon, but if the last three years have proved nothing else, it is that a Biden is incapable of humiliation or shame, let alone self-awareness, so that was a vain hope anyway. Nevertheless, 
He who wishes to avoid grotesque collapses should look for nothing in space or in time that will fulfill him.
Understood. 

Back to our humorous defeat. What’s funnier than a person who not only endorses Joe Biden, but who thinks he’s in charge of anything? Correct: Senator Fetterman

Here’s an evergrin: 
When things appear to us to be just what they seem, they soon seem to be even less.
The news is all appearances, if that (since it is just as often disappearance of the newsworthy and mis-appearance of the rest). 

The News is like invisible ink, vanishing to nothing moments after its dissemination. Which is why no one reads yesterday’s news, which truly isn’t even old, just nothing. Imagine devoting one's life to nothing? Nevertheless, journalists will always be with us. 

What is the opposite of “news," besides truth? No, not fake news, since that is the news. 

If I’m not mistaken, one of the original purposes of this blog was to consider day-to-day events in light of the Eternally True as opposed to the endlessly expedient; to the extent that it touched on politics, it would be for the purposes of illuminating permanent and universal principles.

Now, those things that make the transition from potential to actuality -- that undergo the formality of existence -- don’t come from nowhere, but rather, out of a nonlocal ocean -- or swamp, depending -- of human nature.

Therefore, every day is simultaneously new and a replay of an eternally recurrent archetypal reality. It’s not either/or: this now truly is new, and yet, older than time itself. At least if you pay attention.
Political blunders are repeated, because they are the expressions of human nature. Successes are not repeated, because they are the gift of history.
This was the whole point of Ulysses, which takes place over a 24 hour day while at the same time resonating with the archetypal adventures that occur in Homer’s Odyssey. Every human life is simultaneously a small budget film and a large scale epic.  

That’s a rabbit hole I’d rather not explore right now. Instead, consider this:
The bourgeoisie is made up of individuals who are dissatisfied with what they have and dissatisfied with who they are.
Turns out it is now also composed of people who are satisfied with what they have and even more satisfied with who they are, a phenomenon ably described by Ace of Spades (https://ace.mu.nu/archives/401793.php): 
the Democrat Party, being now the party of smug, comfortable affluent white professionals and civil servants... is now less of a political party than a Lifestyle Brand. By which I mean: they are affluent enough to not care as much about minor little things like gas costing six dollars a gallon…. Or even that their 401Ks have lost one third to 40% of their value.
…. the Democrat Party has little to pitch its smug, affluent white Karen core of extraordinarily mediocre careerists who think they’re genius world-beaters except constant validation and slurs against the proles -- narcissistic mediocrities of the sort that make up the Democrat Party need to be constantly assured that there are huge swathes of people who are inferior to them.

The Democrat Party exists nearly exclusively to invent Nazi-like dehumanization campaigns against half the country so that the intellectually insecure sub-mediocrities of the civil-service and mid-management mid-wits can feel they're Superior to someone.

These folks may not be much, but at least they are better than us!

Used to be that Socialism is the philosophy of the guilt of others. Now it’s the philosophy of the superiority of Karens and inferiority of anyone vaguely normal.

For example, in addition to the universal lure of child sacrifice, the other main psychological attraction of transgender delusiology is the opportunity to feel morally superior to those of us who recognize it for what it is. Leftism has devolved to an exclusive club that exists only to signal inclusion in the club. 

However, 
In every age, happily, there are an indefinite number of fools capable of the obvious.
Is this our lot? To be happy but vanquished fools? 

Big Yes to that, for
The truth is the happiness of the intelligence.
Moreover, 
It is the truth of an idea in which we must rejoice, not in its victory. Because no victory lasts.
Nor does the truth share the defeat of its defenders.

The only privilege equal to truth itself is the privilege of knowing, living, and serving it. Of course, the left never stops trying to marginalize, censor, and eliminate it, which is disgusting. But even then, 
God is the transcendental condition of our disgust.
Are you feeling a bit gypped, whipped, and clipped this morning? Well,
God sometimes prunes our branches like an impatient gardener.
Are our political masters absurdity incarnate? Yes, and
The opposite of the absurd is not the reasonable but the happy.
So, are we hopeless? Nah, it’s just that 
In history it is sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans.
So, our hope is that the left will continue to trust its plan. For, one way or the other, what cannot go on will not go on, and 
Only spectacular collapses loosen up the brain of the progressive.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

The Limits of Limitlessness

So, it looks like we can’t talk about the Origin of anything without bringing in Creativity and Creation. Although I will endeavor this morning to create an original post, it won’t originate from nowhere or be made of nothing, rather, with pre-existing materials, e.g., words, ideas, and dreams, even if it leads nowhere. As usual.

As God said to the atheist who claimed he could create a universe without supernatural aid, Get your own dirt. Not to mention information, order, language, meaning, intelligence, math, etc. You and I can be creative, but we couldn't create creativity or speak language into existence. But on a positive note, we can't meaningfully deny meaning, truly claim that truth cannot be known, or maintain absolutely that everything is relative. 

There’s a limit to what we can create, and all night long I dreamt about what this means — i.e., the existence of limits. I wish I could remember those dreams. Best I can do is try to redream them from scratch. 

Lately we’ve been digging down to the foundations of the cosmos and inspecting its most primordial and irreducible principles and concepts such as Necessity, Possibility, Freedom, Absolute, Relative, Infinite, Origins, Creativity, etc. Each of these, it turns out, represents a kind of Limit to how far our Intelligence can penetrate.

Looking down that list, what is Necessity but a Limit on Possibility? And what is Possibility but a Limit on Necessity? Likewise, what is the Absolute but a limit on Infinitude, and vice versa? But what is "Limit-ness" as such? Does God have any limits?

Which brings to mind that other old gag about whether God can create a stone so heavy he can’t lift it. That he can’t is at once trivial but nevertheless a kind of limit, in that it means God cannot be absurd. So, that's a start.

Therefore, following our pretentious scheme of Capitalization, the Absurd cannot be one of our foundational concepts, even though absurdity will always be with us. Yes, today’s election may deal it a setback, but progressivism is relentlessly regressive.

Limits on God. Here is one of those areas where Luther departed -- to put it mildly, since he was never mild -- from orthodoxy, in that he unilaterally decided that God had no limits of any kind, even to the point of absurdity. 

Which implies a link between limitlessness and absurdity, and I want to say that Genesis 3 even speaks to this, what with human beings usurping a right to their own unlimited intelligence, but let’s not rush to judgment.

First of all, let’s not be silly: of course God is limitless.

Yes, but within limits! 

For example, could murder be good, or lies be true, or 2+2=5 just because God declares it so? Like Islam, this is what Luther maintains: that it is a grave insult to place any limits on God, including even (or perhaps especially) intelligibility. Rather, it is for us to merely obey, no matter how absurd the command. 

I don't parent that way. Why would God?

With a limitless God comes a totally limited humanity, in that we have no free will and no real intelligence, or at least it can never be trusted due to our total depravity: “everything in you is completely blameworthy, damnable sins” (Luther). B-b-but — EVERYTHING! 
Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom... Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism... She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.
Admittedly, this guy this is not my kind of guy.
But since the devil’s bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she’s wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil’s greatest whore.
So, no, I’m not a fan, and never have been, nor does it have anything whatsoever to do with Christianity, but because I reject nominalism as the Devil’s own metaphysic, so right back at you, Marty. It literally makes no sense to me, because if it is the case, then there is no sense to be made:
The debate over nominalism and its rival, realism [as represented by Thomas], was an argument about epistemology -- how we know things and how the words we use to express knowledge are related to what we know.
Are we or are we not knowers, and what does it mean to truly know? Well, "Nominalism was the deconstruction of its day. In its various forms, it cast doubt on the old certainties of language.” Which is fine as far as it goes, because nothing is easier than to be seduced by our own stupid or evil ideas [insert generic gag about the left].

But it’s a bridge too far to nowhere to thereby condemn all ideas as idolatry and to insist that God is wholly unintelligible to the very intelligence he -- for wholly opaque reasons -- gave us. For Luther, God   
is free to do anything he wants. Human standards of morality or human ideas of what God should or should not do cannot then flow out of God’s essence…. God created human morality as we know it, and if he had wanted to do so, he might have created a different morality altogether.
Thus, no natural law, let alone natural rights, for there is only God’s unlimited will, but no intelligibility or universal ideas accessible to the intellect.

Of course, it can sound vulgar to bluntly say “God has limits,” and leave it at that. Rather, I would say he has limits, and that these limits are limitless -- for example, he is limited by love, but his love is unlimited. Likewise truth or beauty. God is limited by truth, in that there is no falsehood in him, but there are no limits to his truth. 

Christ is like us in all things but sin. Does this mean he is limited? Definitely. Only in an unlimited way. Orthoparadox. It makes perfect nonsense to me, but it's not absurd and neither is God.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Every Day is Reflection Day

Let's continue our investigation into a seeming relationship between the Origin (of both any- and Everything) and Creativity, which is to say, radical novelty.

The origin of anything (e.g., the universe, life, consciousness) is a kind of black box, since it is over the subjective horizon, i.e., totally outside our ways of knowing what exists. There can be no model of what lies outside the model. You say model, I say Gödel, but the point is the same.  

As we said, physical cosmology can trace our universe all the way back to Planck time and no further. Among other reasons, that’s when time supposedly begins -- at precisely Planck o’clock, and don’t be late! Before that there's no before, only after. We’re living in the debris of the forever after.

At least that's what they want us to believe, for some reason. But a simple exurban lad such as myself wants to know how there can be an after with no before? Isn’t that like an outside with no inside, or up with no down? 

Not necessarily, since those terms co-arise and define one another. Perhaps this is more like light and dark, where the latter is just a privation, not anything that positively exists. If that’s the case, then things were more real at Planck time.  

But that makes no sense, because in this bang, things get progressively more real with the passage of time. We’ll get back to this subject, but it has to do with the undeniable fact that the miracle of the human subject surpasses the cosmos and everything in it. Mine does, anyway.

It occurs to me that origin and original (AKA novelty and creation) might just be etymologically related. Let’s look into this wild hunch.

Origin: rise, beginning, or derivation from a source; primary source or cause, e.g., fountain, spring; any arbitrary zero from which a magnitude is reckoned.

This is followed by a lengthy spiel, perhaps because this is such a primordial concept that it’s difficult to reduce it to something less, or wrap our words around it: 
Source, inception, root, provenance, prime mover: origin applies to a person, situation, or condition that marks the beginning of a course or development, to the point at which something rises or starts…
It goes on and on, for example, “a point of ultimate beginning whence something rises, flows, or emanates.” But I think I get the point: it’s a point, which is to say, a dimensionless place where all radii meet and from whence they extend.

Next, original: the source or cause from which something arises.

That indeed sounds familiar, but there’s much more: author, originator; a work composed firsthand; a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity; an innovator. 

But we were thinking more of the adjective, especially this: creative, fertile, germinal, inventive. Also, not secondary, derivative, or imitative; fresh, new.

I guess that settles it: the dimensionless Origin is creative, fertile, inventive, fresh, and new. Now and always. And it is precisely this author, originator, innovator, and inventive person of whom we are said to be image and likeness. 

In short, we are reflections, and I don’t mean to be pedantic, but here’s the first definition: the partial or complete return of a wave motion from a surface that it encounters. Connotations include turning back, return, relation, connection, and recollection.

Where does all this leave us? 

Back to the insight that Origin and Creation are either synonymous or irreducible to anything less; that there must be a Person involved; that this latter is the Principle of our personhood; and that each fresh and new human adventure is a journey of (vertical) recollection, turning back (metanoia), connection, relation, and return.

One hopes, at any rate.

Lots more, but this is a good place to end, or at least to start fresh tomorrow.