Friday, March 17, 2023

Relative Intelligence and Absolute Stupidity

Back-up blog here:

I haven't yet fully thought through the idea that if something can be demonstrated to be absolutely necessary and true on the metaphysical plane, then we must adjust our understanding of revelation accordingly. Again, since this is true of scientific truth, why not metaphysical truth? 

Because there are as many metaphysics as there are metaphysicians.

Yes and no. That's like saying there are as many writers as there are people who write. The former is a tiny fraction of the latter. In the case of metaphysics the fraction is even smaller. 

Which then leads to the problem of authority, which then circles back to the question of revelation, because God is of necessity the ultimate authority.

Whose God?

Yes, which circles back around to faith, i.e., belief in this or that version of God. 

Is there any way out of the circle?

Which one? There are two.

Yes, I forgot. We are always situated in two, one of them closed, the other open. This sounds paradoxical but it's not. 

Consider language, for example, or better, the alphabet. It is closed in order to be open. Or the rule of law: we need to have it in order to have liberty. 

"The truth shall set you free."

Yes, and sometimes the truth hurts. 

And freedom can be painful and frightening, hence feminized progressive statists.  

Let's circle back and find out exactly what the Catechism says about this question of truth. What is open and what is closed? The biblical canon, for example is closed. But language itself is always open. 

159 Faith and science: "Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth."

That seems clear enough.

I'm thinking that if theology is the queen of the sciences, and revelation the king, then perhaps metaphysics is the child, since it's always a product of both. Sophia. But if we're not careful, we end up with something as stupid as this: or this:

Cosmolatry is no better than bibliolatry. In fact, it's considerably worse, since it reduces to vulgar pantheism. As if the cosmos is the Absolute!

And as if human intelligence is reducible to What Science Can Know!

No matter how big your scientistic cosmos, it is a tiny circle compared to the Absolute.

One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and of 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 (Schuon).

Nor can we help it if our intelligence so surpasses the range of these intelligent primates. For

Intelligence gives rise not only to discernment, but also -- ipso facto -- to the awareness of our superiority in relation to those who do not know how to discern; contrary to what many moralists think, this awareness is not in itself a fault, for we cannot help being aware of something that exists and is perceptible to us thanks to our intelligence, precisely (ibid.).

And what do we see that they do not see, precisely? That human intelligence is "the certitude of the Absolute," which in turn "implies the relative." And clearly, the latter must always be situated in the former. To invert this necessary relationship is --

Absolute stupidity?

Yes, that's a good way of putting it, except that it cannot be taken literally, since stupidity is necessarily relative to Intelligence. Which we say in all humility, since 

the same intelligence that makes us aware of a superiority, also makes us aware of the relativity of this superiority and, more than this, it makes us aware of all our limitations. This means that an essential function of intelligence is self-knowledge: hence the knowledge -- positive or negative according to the aspects in view -- of our own nature. 

Intelligence and humility covary. Truly, to call oneself a "human being" is simultaneously a boast and a confession. It is the ultimate humble brag, for we live in that ambiguous space between Image and Fall, or between the truly human, the all-too-human, and the infrahuman. 

And without the x-factor of grace we can never restore the first and will invariably end in the last:

It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. 

The paradoxical phenomenon of even a “brilliant” intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively “horizontal,” hence lacking all awareness of “vertical” relationships; however, the definition “intelligence” still applies, because there is still a discernment between something essential and something secondary, or between a cause and an effect. 

A decisive factor in the phenomenon of “intelligent error” is plainly the intervention of an extra-intellectual element, such as sentimentality or passion; the exclusivism of “horizontality” creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill (ibid.).

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