Saturday, April 15, 2023

The Irreducible Metacosmic Complementarity of Woo Hoo! <---> D'oh!

Commenter Randy made a point that is worth belaboring, that the whole of modern philosophy made a wrong turn in "placing epistemology before metaphysics." 

Certainly there is nothing wrong with a disinterested investigation of what knowledge is and how we can know it. But a little perspective, please. And let's not arbitrarily limit or close our minds before we even know what the mind is.

Unfortunately, that ship sailed on horseback out of the barn long ago, such that the situation is analogous to a Supreme Court decision that everyone is forced to obey even if it is unconstitutional -- most recently, granting congress the power to force citizens to purchase health insurance from a private company by pretending it's a tax.

Analogously, in presuming to limit what the mind may know, Kant engages in the Worst. Humblebrag. Ever. 

Who gave him the authority? It can't be reason, since no logical operation furnishes the premises of the operation, or, in a word, Gödel

But I don't think we needed to wait until 1929 to understand the soph-evident truth that any system devised by man contains axioms, assumptions, or principles that cannot be generated from within the system. We transcend both the physical world and any manmode ideology, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. We just have to learn to live with the good news.

Again, this doesn't mean our minds are literally unlimited, but it does raise the interesting paradox that whoever presumes to limit the mind has thereby transcended the limit, since he is presuming what lies on the other side.

Like anyone could even know that!

Thaaaat's right, Petey. 

Now, as alluded to yesterday, if one is going to engage in philosophy, one must begin somewhere. Come to think of it, I touched on this problem waaay back in the beginning of the Book, just after the explosive prose starts to cool down and become a bit intelligible. It's a little embarrassing to quote my former Bob, but it's a good introduction to where this post seems to be headed:

What the... How in God's... But why... Who would have thought... I mean, really... Where in the world do we begin? 
Little inside joke there that one reader actually got: the stammering was intended to be a tip o' the hat to HCE in Finnegans Wake. He is meant to symbolize every man and all mankind, and for some reason is afflicted by a stutter. The stutter seems to be related to an obscure crime that took place in some park at the beginning of time, and for which he is shadowed by a sense of guilt; Earwicker
is torn between shame and aggressive self-satisfaction, conscious of himself both as a bug [earwig] and as a man.... Worm before God and giant among men, he is a living, aching arena of cosmic dissonance, torturted by all the cuts and thrusts of guilt and conscience (Campbell & Robinson). 

Now, these brainiacs such as Descartes, Kant, and Hume like to pretend they're the first thinkers ever to be critical of thinking, but let's be real: it doesn't get more critical than original sin.  

B-back to B-Bob. He asks 
Do we have any right to assume that the universe is intelligible? If not, you can stop reading right now and do something else, something that actually has a purpose.
That last word has a footnote attached. It cautions us to 
Bear in mind, however, that if the universe has no purpose, then neither will anything you do instead of reading the book. Therefore, you might as well read the book.
Back to the text: "But if the universe is intelligible, how and why is this the case?"

Blah blah yada yada, 

Of course we should start our enquiry with the "facts," but what exactly is a fact? Which end is up? In other words, do we start with the objects of thought or the subject that apprehends them?
And hey, 
just what is the relationship between apparently "external" objects and the consciousness that is able to cognize them? Indeed, any fact we consider presupposes a subject who has selected the fact in question out of an infinite sea of possibilities, so any conceivable fact is bound up with the knowing subject.

I could go on, but that's a good enough set-up for the punchline Schuon is about to deliver in an essay I rereread yesterday, called Consequences Flowing from the Mystery of Subjectivity

I only bring it up because I agree with every last syllable of it, or in other words, he's not telling me something I don't know, rather, reminding me of something I've always known and can't help knowing.

The technical term is anamnesis. 

Whatever, and my term is common nonsense, because it is simultaneously transcendent and invisible while being the most experience-near bobservational experience I can imagine:

The first ascertainment which should impose itself upon man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of that miracle that is intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- and consequently the incommensurability between these and material objects, be it a question of a grain of sand or of the sun, or of any creature whatever as an object of the senses.

Boom: we've arrived at our First Principle, or even F-F-First... whatever, since it's not yet bifurcated into any distinct subject and object, rather, just IS. 

We might say Being Is, but that's already the first consequence. But in any event, this neither seals us in solipsism nor artificially encloses us in some Kantian membrain, but is simply the most objective description conceivable.

As we always say, much of revelation is but metaphysical poetry, or Cosmic Truth rendered via mythopoiesis, and it doesn't get more true than what truly amounts to the ULTIMATE humblebrag (or Good News / Bad News, Woo Hoo! / D'oh!), which is that 1) we are in the image and likeness of the Creator, BUT 2) are f-f-fallen or something, just like HCE. 

I'd like to continue with Schuon's essay, but I suspect that's enough stammering for one morning. And if it's all too complicated for you, here's a visual aid:

Friday, April 14, 2023

This is Nihilism, There are Rules!

Yesterday's post made the ridiculous connection between the suicide of Bud Light and the deicide of Nietzsche, but more problematically, promised to continue the discussion tomorrow. 

Well, tomorrow has arrived, so we face a crossroads: discretely change the subject, or double down?

I see that you too like to live dangerously.

Thaaaat's right, Petey, we get a thrill out of blogging without a net, a plan, a goal, or an audience. Having any one of these would render me self-conscious, and the latter in particular would freeze my fingers in their tracks, depriving them of all limberness.

So yeah, let's talk about that cabbage-eating son of a bitch.

Eberhard Anheuser? Or Adolphus Busch?

No, we're done with Budweiser. I was thinking of Nietzsche. How did he become so popular? What's the appeal?

Now, in order to answer that question, I have only to take a deep dive into my own past, for I myself once dabbled with nihilism.

This was back when I began dabbling with philosophy, and was so new to dabbling that I had no way of knowing that, whatever Nietzsche is, he is the antonym of "philosopher." This is not an insult to Nietzsche, rather, Nietzsche is an insult to philosophy. Not for nothing did he refer to himself as Das Hammer.  

Back in the day, the scope of my philosophical endeavors was roughly 6' by 6', which was the size of the philosophy department of B. Dalton Books. There you could find everything from Aristotle to Zarathustra, but I began my quest chronologically, not alphabetically, so naturally I began with the latter. 

That's quite enough gnostalgia, and besides, you've told some version of this story a million times. 

True, but maybe I have a different point this time. For example, supposing one wishes to dive into philosophy, exactly where does one begin? Every other discipline has an object of study: for biology, living organisms, for history, the past, for psychology, the mind, etc. What is the object of philosophy?

Today I would say Being. Back then I have no idea what I would have said. 

What is a philosopher? Defined literally, it is someone who disagrees with other philosophers. Again, being that I assumed philosophy progressed like (or perhaps with) science, a Nietzsche was superior, since he hammered everyone who came before, whereas Aristotle didn't know about Nietzsche, nor about modern science. 

The problem with nihilism is that it's a jealous god, and once you accept its premises, there are no longer any premises, and it doesn't matter anyway. Still, you can learn a lot from a strict nihilist, for what is a bad man but a good man's teacher?

Hunter Biden?

Now, every philosophy must have an object and a method. But guess what? Ironically, every philosopher deploys the identical method, which implies that they are actually dealing with the same object, even if they deny it. What do I mean by this?

Well, what is the one thing that Plato, Aquinas, and Nietzsche have in common? 

Not exactly lightweights?

Guess again.

They could all be found at B. Dalton Booksellers?

Yes, but more fundamentally, they all wrote. Now, why did they write? Why does anyone write? To communicate with others (or to deceive, but communicating a lie is still communication).

But why communicate? And more to the point, what is communication, and how is it even possible? In what sort of cosmos (for it must be a cosmos and not a chaosmos) is communication possible? It is between subjects, but what is a subject, and by virtue of what principle is the conscious subject possible?

Any philosophy short of Bob's philosophy simply assumes these things and gets on with the philosophizin'. Only Bob's philosophy begins with the eternal question: How in the wide world of sports is Bob even possible? 

And once you've sorted that one out, how is Bob communicating his thoughts to you at this moment, or even having thoughts? What's a thought? And since Bob would never lie to his readers, what is a true thought?

Now, every philosopher short of a consistent nihilist like Nietzsche spends his life unproblematically formulating and transmitting his thoughts to others. But that is not only a problem, it's pretty close to the first problem, for how are these things possible?

Nietzsche could never provide a coherent answer, for it would equate to the affirmation that This sentence has no meaning, so nihilism annihilates itself with its first utterance, assuming the utterance is true and is addressed to someone who understands it.

I get it.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

God is Dead, Bud is Deader

In an article on the Drag Queen of Beers, the author properly and dispassionately characterizes the whole QWERTY+ movement as "an ideology built around a mental illness." One look at their cringey spokesfreak, Dylan Mulvaney, confirms the diagnosis. Nevertheless.

What does it all mean? Not vis-a-vis the stupid daily news cycle, but in the context of total reality, and for all time? That's why I'm here: to answer such questions, or at least circumnavelgaze them and bleat around the Busch. Let others describe the surface phenomena. We want to drill down to the noumenal center of this madness.

Now, to even call it madness presupposes normality, and with this we're off to the erasure of reality. For to say normality is to say form, or standard, prototype, norm, and ideal; it is a kind of "absolutism," since it posits an absolute telos to which the human being at once strives for and by which it may be measured. Failure exists, and it is failure to actualize the latent form.

Which we all fail to do as a condition of existence. You could call it sin, or you could call it "not being God." Prior to postmodern madness, pretty much everyone could agree that "there's an Absolute, and I'm not it." 

And it is madness -- literally -- because to remove the standard isn't just a passive negation, but rather, an active affirmation of.... anything and everything: no standard means no standard.

Except that everywhere and everywhen, man is man, so there is always a standard. Thus, for example, for the mentally ill, the mentally ill Dylan Mulvaney is an in-your-face standard of mental wellbeing. Not only is the image meant to flatter the abnormal (and perhaps more importantly, to signal virtue and status to the image makers), it's intended to insult the normal.

Message received. 

Standards are also enforced, and people are penalized or punished for failing to adhere to them.

Message received.

But again, let's widen this out and connect it with modern philosophy as such -- to Socrates' Children. We can't cover all the children, since there are 28 of them, and a handful are even normal, such as Norris Clarke and G.K. Chesterton. 

A few are just pernicious fools -- Comte and Dewey come to mind -- but five in particular stand out as truly malevolent. Indeed to call them merely mentally ill is to give them a kind of pass on their malevolence, as if they couldn't help being such assouls.

Nietzsche is patient zero of postmodernity, but he is at least entertaining, plus he took seriously the implications of the death of God. Killing the Absolute is not only a Big Deal, it's the biggest possible deal. 

Our small-minded contemporary atheists such as Dawkins and Harris imagine they're courageous truth-tellers, forgetting that they spout their nonsense from within a Christian civilization that still -- albeit barely -- values courage and truth. They're living on the fumes of Christian metaphysics but don't know it.  

But if you do manage to kill God, where does this leave you? Again, credit to Nietzsche for not drawing back from the abyss, and for having the courage of his lack of convictions. For as Kreeft implies, it's a bit like imagining what the solar system is like after the sun goes dark. What solar system? What light? What imagination?

A big part of the problem is the historical detachment of theology from philosophy, and philosophy from science. 

In reality, we live in a hierarchical cosmos that descends from Principle above to manifestation below, but the Protestant revolution shattered this unity, clearing the field for the reduction of intelligence to horizontal scientism. For the doctrine of total depravity equally means total stupidity, which is why this view of the world is much closer to retail Islam than it is to wholesoul Aquinas. 

Granted, most evangelicals deny the principles on which it is founded, and who could blame them? Free will exists, the world is intelligible to our reason, and we can grow toward -- or flee from -- the spiritual archetype alluded to above, AKA metacosmic normality.

It seems to me that Neitzsche is just the shadow of a Calvin, for both are equally absurd. In eliminating God, Neitzsche jettisons the logos, which is 

no less than "the nature of things" or "the order of being." Really, for Nietzsche, there is no being. There is only becoming. And there is no truth. There is only lying. Language and reason are inherently self-deceptive. Words are hypocritical masks painted on the face of the Will to Power.

Again, credit to Fred for following his convictions all the way to the insane asylum. Of course, today he'd be offered an endorsement deal for Budweiser, but here again, he would have had utter contempt for such an effort to co-opt and market the terrible truth that God is dead and that we have killed him.  

Short morning, so to be continued...

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Think About What You'd Think About!

Think about what you'd think about if thinking were limited to the thinkers covered in this survey of modern thinkers, volume IV of Socrates' Children.

Socrates not only denies paternity, he demands a DNA test!

Petey, I reckon you know a lot about cyberspace. You ever come across anything like time travel? 'Cause sometimes I think I should have majored in philosophy. Back in '82, when I had all my brain cells, I'd have been a champion philosopher. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.

Granted, you have all the skills to be a modern philosopher: self-absorption, self-importance, solipsism, sanctimony, snobbery, superciliousness, and that's just some of the s-

Very funny. I suppose one of the most important points is that 1) all the thinking in the world only gets one so far in the absence of a certain "x-factor,"and that 2) in the end, this factor is more or less everything. 

Speaking of qualifications, in addition to intrinsic mental capacity or raw candle power, there is the good will (i.e., rigorous intellectual honesty) that is a necessary condition, while the sufficient condition is a vertilizing grace which is by definition extrinsic to oneself, and which requires its own qualifications, e.g., humility, surrender, and cooperation. 

You will have noticed that in our Age of Stupidity, "the intellect is atrophied to the point of being reduced to a mere virtuality" (Schuon). This is in contrast to pure intelligence of the intellect, which "immensely surpasses thought." 

But as far as I know, there is no acknowledgement of this elementary principle in the Land of Tenure, and one can well understand why, if you've heard the old story about the Professor's New Clothes. To put it another way, only when the tide of unreality goes out do you discover who's been philosophizing naked.

For example, biology is real, but is presently being obscured by a high tide of subrational gender ideology. This explains how Lia Thomas can swim in it. 

They say this whole postmodern fiasco starts with Descartes' little remark that I think, therefore I am

First of all, this gives waaaaay too much credit to philosophy, but there is truth in it, in the sense that this is one of the possibilities of human nature. If you add Descartes' methodical doubt of the self-evident to Kant's reduction of the world to our own subjective categories, that's more than enough to inspire centuries of mischief.

Here's how Schuon summarizes our situation:

all anti-intellectual philosophy falls into this trap: it claims, for example, that there is only the subjective and the relative, without taking account of the fact that this is an assertion which, as such, is valid only on condition that it is itself neither subjective nor relative, for otherwise there would no longer be any difference between correct perception and illusion, or between truth and error. 

.... if everything is relative -- in a sense which excludes all reflection of absoluteness in the world -- then the definition of relativity is equally relative, absolutely relative, and our definition has no meaning. Relativists of all kinds -- the "existentialist" and "vitalist" defenders of the infra-rational -- have then no excuse for their bad habits of thought. Those who would dig a grave for the intelligence do not escape this fatal contradiction.

By the way, I've looked into it, and the time machine is a piece of crap, it doesn't work.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

What's the Big Idea?

File under bad news / good news:

Nothing is more dangerous for faith than to frequent the company of believers. The unbeliever restores our faith.
Okay, with this in mind, as mentioned in the previous post, I've been reading volume IV of Kreeft's 1,000+ page survey of philosophy, this one covering contemporary philosophers, mostly from the 20th century. 

It's the most depressing slog I've slogged through in I don't know how long. No wonder progressives are so unhappy. Who wouldn't be? It's like touring a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat.
Hell is any place from which God is absent.
Yes, of course. And
Each one sees in the world only what he deserves to see.
Imagine smelling what the left sees! There's not a big enough state to undo that.
The simplistic ideas in which the unbeliever ends up believing are his punishment.
True, but must they punish us as well?

If the leftist is not persecuting, he feels persecuted.

Most of the guys covered in the book (they're all men) were miserable specimens of humanity, and about this, Nietzsche did get at least one Big Thing right -- that most philosophy is but an unwitting form of autobiography: "In the end one experiences only oneself." And 

I have come to realize what every great philosophy up to now has been: the personal confession of its originator, a type of involuntary and unaware memoirs. 

True enough, but speak for yoursoph, Fred. 

Moreover, there are great and small souls, not to mention vertically open and closed ones. If objectivity does not exist, then we're done here; likewise Truth. Why would you write one more word if there is neither truth nor objectivity? Just get on with the sacking and burning, the taxing and spending, i.e., the Will to Power.

Could it be that even Nietzsche didn't believe his own bullshit? Problem is the Nazis most certainly did. On the one hand you can't blame the thinker for what other people do with his thoughts, and besides, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint!

Our narrator mentions the truism that "Most philosophers have one Big Idea that is central to all their ample and diverse writing." 

This got me to wondering about my own a. and d. writings, and whether someone will someday come along and say, "Oh yes, Gagdad. Of course, everything he wrote was reducible to x. He just couldn't stop himself from writing about x in so many ways. Tedious, really."

Okay Mr. Future, but what is x

No, seriously. Because if I could figure that out, I could address it directly instead of being so elliptical.

Maybe there is no other way -- you know, orbiting the Mystery. 

Best I can do?

At least until the day you go full Thomas and the straw goes up in flames.

Call it the Joy of X, I guess.
The honest philosophy does not pretend to explain but to circumscribe the mystery.
I never explain, I only circum-scribe, i.e, speak in circles, is that it? Or is the scribe the circle?

False dichotomy.

A little more circumspect, please. Don't presume to circumscribe my circumlocutions!

Someone has to do it.

Let's get back to circumnavigating these atheistic scribes. 

It is easy to convert to a doctrine when we hear a defender of the opposite.

That's for sure.

Now, speaking of Big Ideas, what is the Big Idea of this book? That's kind of a trick question, since it covers 28 thinkers, each presumably with his own Big Idea. 

A last section covers five neo-Thomists, but excluding them, the majority are atheists. I don' know if the greatest ones are atheists, but certainly the loudest ones are.

And atheism is the biggest and loudest idea of the 20th and 21st centuries.

And now it all comes into focus: Implications of Godlessness. And it is at once depressing -- not to mention perverse, destructive, shallow, narrow-minded -- because

The death of God is a report given by the devil, who knows very well that the report is false.

And vis-a-vis Nietzsche and Sartre in particular,

Militant irreligion gradually transforms the one possessed into a simple imbecile convulsed by hatred.

But karma has a way of coming back and biting you in the ass:

Unbelief is not a sin but a punishment.