Saturday, September 30, 2023

Pathocracy and Oughtocracy

Is it normal to spend all day pondering the meaning of normality? Probably not, so I'm not the best person to ask. Truly truly, I've never felt "normal," and I suspect that this is what prompted my interest in psychology to begin with. 

First, there's the problem of normal vs. average; again, the average cannibal is presumably not normal, but compared to what? What and where is the human telos? We are what we are, but what are we supposed to be? I had to get a Ph.D. only to find out that no one can give me a straight answer.

It seems to me that a fruitful avenue is to examine this gap between Is and Ought, for it is also the gap between immanence and transcendence. If the Ought is not here, where is it? Let's say I want to become a "better person." The sentiment is here and now, but where is it coming from? What is its cause?

Off the top of my head I don't know, but I know who might know: Josef Pieper in his Four Cardinal Virtues

After all, what is a virtue? It's a built-in tendency toward a telos such as courage, moderation, justice, etc. A virtue is something we ought to cultivate and achieve, and failure to do so renders us, if not frankly "abnormal," at least dis-ordered. And recall that this all started with a meditation on the nature of personality dis-orders, both individual and collective (to the extent that the latter exists).

Pieper begins by pointing out that the quest for the proper human order has been going on for a long time:

contemporaries of Socrates already took for granted these traditional categories [of virtue] sprung from the earliest speculative thinking.

So, ever since man donned the thinking cap and began wondering WTF?! it's all about:

They took for granted not only the idea of virtue, which signifies human rightness, but also the attempt to define it in that fourfold spectrum [prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance].

Has there ever been a society that celebrated weak and cowardly men? I mean before ours? Or that invented "social justice" as a way to avoid the obligation to behave justly? Or that promulgated the morality of moral relativism? 

The 'doctrine of virtue' was one of the great discoveries in the history of man's self-understanding.

Discovery. Not "invention," "opinion," or "imposition." Rather, something universal -- implying a universal obligation (or ought): a proper order. 

This is different from a list of extrinsic obligations such as the Ten Commandments. In fact, let's leave God out of the discussion for now, and focus on nature -- specifically, the intrinsic nature of man. Even the village atheist has a conscience, that is, a sense of what he ought to do and believe: we all ought to be atheists.

But the doctrine of virtue speaks to persons qua persons:

both of the kind of being which is his when he enters the world, as a consequence of his createdness, and the kind of being he ought to strive toward and attain to...

Again, immanence and transcendence, horizontal and vertical, Is and Ought. The four classic virtues "can enable man to attain the furthest potentialities of his nature."

What about the fall?

We'll get to that later, but suffice it to say that the virtues may attain a supernatural perfection via the infusion of grace. Which is what sanctity, sanctification, and theosis are all about. This is the realm of "better than normal."

Oughtocracy. I just googled it, and the first thing that comes up is the autocrat Trump, so apparently I am the first to use this word. 

When I think of what it might mean, it is the opposite of what we've recently seen, say, in the streets of Philadelphia. In an oughtocracy everyone would do what he ought without being asked, whereas in the pathocracy of Philadelphia (or any other progressive city) we see mobs of people doing what they ought never do.

I suppose we've never had a perfect oughtocracy since Eden. But even Eden didn't become Philadelphia -- the city of brotherly love -- overnight. 

My favorite chapter of this book is the one on prudence, which is the virtue of virtues; without it, would-be virtues can become vicious. For example, courage without judgment would characterize a Nazi willing to die for the cause, or an Islamic terrorist.

In other words, none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good in so far as he is prudent. 

It almost looks like courage, justice, and temperance are the "content" of prudence (AKA judgment). But what is prudence itself, and how is it -- again, objectively -- possible?

Well, it goes back to classic realist philosophy that begins with Being: Being precedes the truth to which the latter is ordered, and truth precedes the good (i.e., the "doing good" of prudence). 

Long story short, we must first know the truth of things before we can act prudently. At the other extreme (i.e., of postmodern relativism), there is no reality, nor can we know it, which conveniently eliminates the Prime Directive of prudence. But "Classical Christian ethics"

maintains that man can be prudent and good only simultaneously...., that there is no sort of justice and fortitude which runs counter to the virtue of prudence; and that the unjust man has been imprudent before and is imprudent at the moment he is unjust.

Above I made a passing wisecrack about the injustice of social justice, but prior to this must be a deep disconnect between mind and reality (or Being), if only because of systematic stupidity or aggravated tenure. We shall return to this subject in due course. Suffice it to say that it is a doctrine in which no one ought to believe.

Speaking of which, our contemporaries -- this brood of vipers -- "will often call lies and cowardice prudent, truthfulness and courageous sacrifice imprudent." "Pragmatism" or "utilitarianism" displace prudence, which reduces to an expedient moral nihilism.

We'll end with this, which is also a good -- no, the best -- beginning:

Truth, then, is the prerequisite of justice. Whoever rejects truth, whether natural or supernatural, is really "wicked" and beyond conversion (Pieper).

"All laws and rules of conduct may ultimately be reduced to a single one: to truth" (Aquinas).

Friday, September 29, 2023

Pathocracy and Normocracy

We're still pondering Christopher Rufo's The Cluster B Society. First, some context is needed for the designation "Cluster B," which refers to a group of personality disorders revolving around emotional or erratic traits, i.e., the narcissistic, borderline, histrionic, and antisocial personalities.  

Which leads to the definition of personality disorder: last I checked,  any personality disorder involves enduring and inflexible patterns of behavior or emotion leading to significant subjective distress or objective impairment. This impairment can be in relationships, in work, or in adaptation more generally. 

Untreated, a personality disorder is essentially a lifelong condition, in contrast to presumably time-limited ones such as major depression, and also to even more serious lifelong conditions such as schizophrenia. On the spectrum of severity, personality disorders are somewhere between everyday neurosis and severely compromised reality testing, e.g., delusions and hallucinations. 

It's easy enough to apply psychological categories to a collective, but is this a valid exercise? Take an extreme case such as Nazi Germany. Is it helpful to say that Germany was a Cluster A and B society, with paranoid and antisocial traits? What was the cause of this, and what is the cure?

A somewhat random google search suggests that only 1.5% of the population suffers from a Cluster B personality disorder. If that's the case, how can half of the U.S. be in the grip of a collective personality disorder? 

Well, something is wrong with these people, and we aim to find out what it is. We could say that they're pathological, but by what standard? What is normality? Is there a universal standard for how a human being ought to be? If there are personality disorders, what is a properly ordered personality? 

What if these folks just want to fit in, or are imitating high status people, or were effectively indoctrinated in college? What might look like a personality disorder could be just weakness, stupidity, conformity, status seeking, and other character defects. Just bad breeding, as they used to say.

Rufo correctly notes that

scenes of American public life increasingly resemble a Cluster B psychodrama: victimhood replaces accomplishment as the standard of merit; accusation replaces disagreement as the means of settling disputes; false compassion becomes the primary method of manipulating citizens into compliance; and the whole scheme is enforced with the threat of violence: obey, or suffer the consequences.
But again, if everybody is just imitating everyone else, where do we locate the pathology? By virtue of what standard? In other words, if there is an unhealthy and wrong way to be, this implies a healthy and correct way.  

I apologize for the rambling, but I'm pondering this in real time.

As a result of my psychoanalytic training, I used to think that personality disorders were environmental as opposed to organic or genetic. But now I'm inclined to the view that they are more genetic, although there is always an interaction between genes and environment. 

Take, for example, a woman with borderline personality disorder. Usually we will discover a chaotic childhood with unstable caretakers, but what if this is because one or both of the parents has a personality disorder that is rooted in genetics? In general, mental illness runs in families, but genetic research suggests that the resultant chaos is at least equally cause and (genetic) effect.

Let me just jump to my bottom line take: psychologists began noticing an increase in personality disorders in the 1970s, but the genome hasn't changed since then. What has changed? 

One of the biggest changes has been a loosening of cultural standards, one consequence of which is that mental illness that had been previously repressed is allowed to openly express itself. It very much reminds me of the Ferguson Effect that has led to the spike in crime. 

True, there is more criminality, but this is because of the new absence of constraints and consequences. Criminal tendencies that had previously been "repressed" by law enforcement are now openly expressed. (And criminality itself is heavily genetically loaded.)

You get more of what you tolerate, and our culture has become so tolerant that we're surrounded by the intolerable. If you have no standards, people will meet them.  

It's the same with the alarming spike in sexual pathology and confusion. Ideas and behaviors that had previously been repressed and channeled into healthier avenues are openly expressed.    
By definition, everyone starts off immature. It only becomes pathological if the maturational process is arrested. But "maturational process" implies a telos, so one way of normalizing immaturity is to eliminate or ignore the telos of development. In a society of cannibals it is normal to be a cannibal. Indeed, objection to cannibalism might land you on the menu.

So, what is normal? How would we go about defining it in a way that isn't culturally relative? What things ought to be repressed and not tolerated? Rufo writes that 
American college students find themselves in the midst of an unprecedented mental-health crisis. According to the University of Michigan’s Healthy Minds study, more than 60 percent of college students meet the criteria for at least one mental-health problem -- a nearly 50 percent increase since 2013. 
But again, by what standard of normality? And what if much of this is due the psychological Ferguson Effect mentioned above?

That's a Big Question, and this post has already gone on too long, but a couple of days ago I read a post called Truth and Politics that provides some preliminary clues:

In our era, truth is under systematic assault from moralistic fanatics who are at the same time thoroughgoing relativists and dyed-in-the wool subjectivists. The Catholic journalist Karlo Broussard put it well in his recently published booklet, The New Relativism: “The agents of relativism are still out there, seeking to fit the world to their own desires and likes rather than discover and understand the world in order to better conform to it.

It seems there is something intrinsically pathological about relativism, especially when it becomes a new absolute: 

The fervid intensity of the woke absolutists, their endless anger and excoriation, should not be mistaken for a commitment to truth and truth-seeking. Their indignation, their aim to “cancel” -- to morally obliterate -- those they cannot abide is a consequence of the fact that they have left the world of objective truth and measured moral judgment behind.

Speaking of systems and what they tolerate or suppress, this new system permits the unleashing of primitive sadistic impulses on acceptable targets: 

these vehement enemies of Truth with a capital T do not hesitate to accuse their opponents of departing from the only acceptable narratives regarding ubiquitous white racism, the self-evidence of gender theory, the grave threat to democracy posed by conservative populists and moral traditionalists, and the unquestionable need to genuflect before the authority of “Science” as redefined by politically correct elites.

In this upside-down system, the normal are punished: there are widespread "efforts to silence those who still affirm that 'freedom is ordered to the truth and is fulfilled in man’s quest for truth and in man’s living in the truth'”:

Ideological fanaticism is the inevitable consequence of a nihilistic denial of an order of things, of a natural moral order available to human beings through reason and experience.

The new Absolute Relativists

have slowly transformed our institutions into what psychologist Andrzej Łobaczewski calls a “pathocracy,” or rule by psychological dysfunction....

In a Cluster B society, psychological disorders are job qualifications rather than problems to be solved; ideology replaces competence as a marker of distinction....

 We'll end here, even though we're just getting started.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Progressivism is the Disease it Pretends to Cure

Yesterday's post asked the eternal question, how do you heal a progressive? For one thing, if they don't recognize that they have a problem -- and that the real problem doesn't have a political solution -- they're not going to seek treatment. 

Generally speaking, the worse the mental illness, the more the denial. Imagine getting a Keith Olbermann to acknowledge that he might have a little problem. Achieving such a stable breakthrough with a personality disorder might take months of therapy.

I say "stable breakthrough" because people with personality disorders are, like anyone else, capable of insight. But because of a certain developmental arrest, they are subject to primitive defense mechanisms such as denial, splitting, and projection, so as to nullify the insight. In order to become stable, the insight must essentially develop from a temporary state to an enduring trait

This is the maturational process, and it proceeds at its own pace. Children don't become adults overnight. It only took me four or five decades, and I'm still working on it. Looking back on it, I guess I missed a few developmental milestones along the way due to PTSD -- Partying Til the Shadows of Dawn.   

Youth is an infirmity that old age does not always cure.

I heard that.

Yesterday we began a discussion of Christopher Rufo's Cluster B Society, and he's definitely onto something. Recall what Voegelin says about the impossibility of debating ideologues, and how the effort to do so becomes "medical in character" because it must "diagnose the syndromes of untrue existence" so as to initiate "a healing process."

Certainly I know what he means, but I don't think a medical model is the best way to frame the problem. For example, in medicine it is important that the physician recognize the problem, but in psychology it is important that the patient do so as well. In both cases there is "pain," but especially in personality disorders, the pain is denied, split off, projected, externalized, and acted out in relationships.

Analogously, if you go to your doctor with a broken leg, he doesn't have to first help you come around to the view that your pain is a consequence of the broken leg. Nor would doing so have anything to do with the "cure" for a broken leg, whereas in psychotherapy accurate recognition of the source of the psychic pain is very much part of the "cure."

But cure is a bad way to frame it, because there isn't one. "Cure" shouldn't even be in the vocabulary of a psychologist, for it is written:   

Anything that fully solves problems has no relation to them.

The authentic problem does not demand that we solve it but rather that we try to live it.

We only know how to solve the problems that do not matter.   


The cause of the modern sickness is the conviction that man can cure himself.

This is another reason not to conflate medicine and psychology, because imagine having to first convince the patient that he can't cure his own illness, before proceeding with the cure. 

In reality, everywhere and anytime,

The soul is the task of man.


Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems.

Which implies that progressives will always be with us, because there is always a fresh generation with skulls full of mush who externalize their problems and imagine there's a cure for human nature. Good times, good times... til the shadows of dawn. 

Seriously, it's a relief to imagine that someone or something else is responsible for your pain. Moreover, tolerating emotional pain is a central part of maturity.

Here's an important one that goes to the heart of personality disorders:  

Today the individual rebels against inalterable human nature in order to refrain from amending his own correctable nature.

In a Substack article, Rufo shares some perceptive reader comments on The Cluster B Society:

I think perhaps the greatest degenerative element of our Western social psychology over the last 60 years has been the displacement of a mentality of “we are all sinners” by a narcissistic mentality of maximal “self-esteem.” 
Once you are encouraged to view yourself as axiomatically personally blameless, the next step is to look for someone or something else to blame for each and every one of your discontents. Re-cast your wonderful self as “victim” and then ask: Who needs to be cancelled?

There it is: like institutionalized character pathology, or a personality disorder writ large. On the one hand,

The modern man is the man who forgets what man knows about man.

Among which is that    

Self-satisfaction is pathetic proof of lowliness. 

Another reader points out how

Many organizations purporting to be about justice and positive goals are in reality led by highly disordered individuals and stirred by a mentality infected with disordered patterns of reasoning and emotion. These people gravitate toward positions of power and influence . . . they push unhinged agendas behind the scenes, without accountability. 
The wider public needs to get wiser and understand this dynamic. Just because someone claims to be fighting for justice, human rights, or charitable causes doesn’t mean that this is what’s actually happening.

That is so true that I have nothing else to say, but I'll say it in the next installment.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

How Do You Heal a Progressive?

Human actions are rational, or at least I'm old enough to remember when they were. Old Aristotle called man the rational animal, but he also called him a political animal, and boy, wouldn't that be nice: a rational political animal!

Ha (the hollow and bitter kind).

Now, how is it that man is rational? For the moment we confine ourselves to some rational system or model, we thereby become irrational. I suppose this is another way of asking how it is that man always transcends himself.

In the essay we were discussing yesterday, Voegelin says that human existence 

is not opaque to itself, but illuminated by the intellect (Aquinas) or nous (Aristotle).... In the exegesis of existence, intellect discovers itself in the structure of existence; ontologically speaking, human existence has noetic structure. The intellect discovers itself, furthermore, as a force transcending its own existence; by virtue of the intellect, existence not only is not opaque, but actually reaches out beyond itself in various directions in search of knowledge. 

This is at once obvious and deeply mysterious -- that we possess such a (as Schuon puts it) "supernaturally natural" faculty of transcendence. In fact, if we do not transcend mere rationality, we cannot be rational. As Voegelin explains, while "human action is rational,"

that rationality hinges on the condition of an ultimate end. The indefinite regress from means to ends, which in their turn are means to further ends, must be cut short at some point by an ultimate end, by a summum bonum.

This limit or end  

is the condition of rationality in action.... there would be no substantive rationality in any action, if the whole network of a man’s action could not be oriented toward a highest good from which such rationality radiates down to the single actions.

For Aristotle,  

Not only would the nature of the Good be destroyed without a limiting good that is no means to a further end, but there would be no reason (nous) in the world at large.... 

So, here we see an implicit relationship between the denial of transcendence and destruction -- ultimately the destruction of man and of reason: of man the rational animal. And by extension the political animal, since his politics will be deeply irrational and destructive as well.

As to the ultimate end or reason of things, clearly it 

is not to be found by ranging indefinitely over the field of existent things. But if it is not to be found in the field of existent things, where is it to be found? To this question, Intellect, by virtue of its reasoning power, will answer that it is to be found in something beyond the field of existent things...

This tension-toward-transcendence goes to the very structure of being, and we just have to accept the truth of this, regardless of how pleasant. Voegelin describes it on the one hand as "awareness of the fundamental structure of existence together with the willingness to accept it." But 

Correspondingly, we shall define untruth of existence as a revolt against the condicio humana and the attempt to overlay its reality by the construction of a Second Reality.

Now, leaping ahead to the implications, I think we can broadly define mental illness as a lack of conformity between psyche and world or reality. But not so fast, because if a whole world has become sick, then conformity to it will be sick as well. A "well adjusted Nazi" is a poorly adjusted human being.

Let's look at a couple of graphs I yoinked from PowerLine. The first one shows a dramatic decline in religiosity -- combined with a significant increase in woowoo -- among Democrats:

It's rather difficult to believe that as recently as 1999, Democrats were nearly as religious as Republicans, but it's not hard to believe that 37% remain religious, considering what religion has been reduced to on the left, which is to say, another form of spiritual if not mental illness. 

Given the alarming rates of mental illness on the left, their religiosity takes the form of either acting out or a cry for help. The woowoo is mainly just estrogen-fueled magic, AKA toxic femininity.

Speaking of irrationality and spiritual illness, the following chart is even more alarming:

It doesn't break the findings down by party, but if 61% of the population wants the government to regulate speech, we're done. Unless we somehow make a remarkable comeback, but mental illness tends to be intergenerational, so this is not something that can occur overnight, but would take decades to repair.

Which leads directly to the next subject, an essay by Christopher Rufo called the Cluster B Society. Maybe you should read the whole thing and we can discuss it tomorrow. 

Back for a moment to Voegelin's essay on the difficulties of debate in our time. Putting him and Rufo together, it seems to me that the question is going to come down to: how is it possible to argue with a mentally ill person? As a former clinical psychologist, I can assure you that argument will get you nowhere. But you already knew this, because you no doubt have liberal friends and relatives. 

"Rational argument," writes Voegelin, "presupposes the community of true existence." Otherwise, "debate" becomes 

medical in character in that it has to diagnose the syndromes of untrue existence and by their noetic structure to initiate, if possible, a healing process.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Truth, Existence, and a Kick in the Balls

While sipping the morning cup and bumping around the internet, I suppose I'm always looking for something. I don't know what it is unless and until I find it, and this morning I found something  that goes to the Matrix -- what it is and how it is formed. 

It's a bit conspiratorial for my tastes -- I don't think there is a cabal at the top that's been pulling the strings for the last 75 years or so -- but certainly his description of the phenomena is accurate, irrespective of its cause. I think the cause ultimately lies in human nature, for if it didn't, man couldn't so easily fall into the trap. 

For man to fall repeatedly into the same trap, just paint it a different color each time. 


Humanity only changes the rhetoric of its stupidities.

Let me first provide a few excerpts that caught my attention: "ideological subversion" involves changing 

the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite of the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country.

The first stage of ideological subversion, or "active measures," involves what he calls "demoralization," after which 

exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures.... he will refuse to believe it, until... a military boot crashes his balls. 

Again, irrespective of the cause, we have obviously reached a stage in which half the country is unable to assess true information -- for whom facts mean nothing, and who refuse to believe what is in front of their faces. They are living in the ball-crushing Matrix. 

Now, how did we get here? Widespread higher education has a lot do do with it, as does mass media, but those are just means. How does the seed of subversion get planted, and what is it exactly?

Voegelin tries to get to the bottom of it in an essay called On Debate and Existence. In it he describes the difficulty of engaging in debate with matrix-dwelling ideologues: in so doing, we discover that

no agreement, or even an honest disagreement, could be reached, because the exchange of argument was disturbed by a profound difference of attitude with regard to all fundamental questions of human existence -- with regard to the nature of man, to his place in the world, to his place in society and history, to his relation to God. 
Rational argument could not prevail because the partner to the discussion did not accept as binding for himself the matrix of reality in which all specific questions concerning our existence as human beings are ultimately rooted; he has overlaid the reality of existence with another mode of existence... called the Second Reality. 
The argument could not achieve results..., as it became increasingly clear that not argument was pitched against argument, but that behind the appearance of a rational debate there lurked the difference of two modes of existence, of existence in truth and existence in untruth. The universe of rational discourse collapses, we may say, when the common ground of existence in reality has disappeared.

So, we're ultimately dealing with a different mode of existence. While this sounds extreme, anyone can see that the situation itself is extreme. One has only to tune into a press briefing by Karine Jean Pierre to see this elaborate Second Reality. The deeper question is why so-called journalists not only accept the Second Reality but help to construct and maintain it. Certainly no one questions it. There is sometimes a bit of carping at the margins, but not enough to damage the Matrix itself. 

This breakdown of reality demands an explanation:

The phenomenon of the breakdown as such is well known. Moreover, the various Second Realities, the so-called ideologies, have been the object of extensive studies. But the nature of the breakdown itself..., and above all the methods of coping with the fantastic situation, are by far not yet sufficiently explored. 

It doesn't feel as if it was that long ago that "the universe of rational discourse was still intact because the first reality of existence was yet unquestioned." But Voegelin suggests that the process has been unfolding for a long time, or at least has its roots in a process that began some 500 years ago. 

Me? I suspect that the pathology is always present in some form or fashion, and that dates don't matter. The construction of second realities is more of a timeless temptation going back to Genesis 3. Reality and truth can be painful, so unreality is always an option:

the quest for truth is the perpetual task of disengaging it from error, of refining its expression in contest with the inexhaustible ingenuity of error. 

The inexhaustible ingenuity of error. It almost sounds diabolical, no? As if these diverse ideological second realities have the same implicit Author.  

For Voegelin, thinkers such as Aquinas and Aristotle might as well be contemporaries. He always speaks of them as if they are very much at the cutting edge of philosophy. Modern thought "does not modify the problem but only its symbolic expression," such that "the scholastic and classic problem is indeed identical with our own." 

Today's thinkers are simultaneously more "critical" and naive; classic philosophy can appear naive, but this is only because "first reality" and the "truth of existence" were 

not yet questioned; hence there was no need to distinguish it from an untrue existence; and consequently no concepts were developed for a problem that had not yet become topical. The truth of existence was taken so much for, granted that, without further preparation, the analysis could proceed to develop the problems of metaphysics as they presented themselves to men who lived in the truth of existence.

But now we've reached a situation in which thinkers living their existence-in-untruth are meditating on the truth of existence, and presuming to tell us what's what. Few would acknowledge the self-evident principle that "first philosophy is the science of truth," that is, "of that truth which is the origin of all truth." This goes to 

the first principle whereby all things are. The truth belonging to such a principle is, clearly, the source of all truth; for things have the same disposition in truth as in being.

Until Kant and his progeny come along and ruin everybody's lives and eat all our steak. 

Nevertheless, "a universe which contains intelligent beings cannot originate with a prima causa that is less than intelligent." Seems to me that unintelligence is parasitic on intelligence. If it's the other way around, then we have no intellectual defense against the Matrix. 

To be continued...  

Sunday, September 24, 2023

What Else Makes a Man?

Yesterday we touched on "intelligence, sentiment, will," i.e., "truth, virtue, freedom." There's also objectivity, but I suppose this is an intrinsic component of human intelligence. Some people believe objectivity is just a human conceit, but 

Unless one accepts that man is fundamentally objective, one quickly finds oneself in refutation of oneself (Bina & Ziarani).

Clowns gonna beclown themselves: 

One has to start with the self-evidence of objective truth. Any attempt to deny the self-evidence of truth -- or being, or reality, or absoluteness -- will be self-defeating. 

Think about all those progressives who insist on the principle that all truth claims are masks of power:

Any system of thought that proposes an absolute principle while denying the notion of truth -- hence the notion of objectivity -- is condemned to self-refutation.

Aside from tenure, why do people do this? Not sure, but let me think back to when I was an idiot and see what I can come up with...

Okay, it's definitely a status thing in the context of a system that rewards intelligence. In this system -- moreso today than ever before -- their are hordes of sub-mediocrities who are completely unself-aware and simply imitate other high-status primates. It's a shortcut to superiority over others while creating a superficial explanation for everything -- like, say, the 1619 Project. It provides a cheap omniscience while conferring prestige on its proponents, so what's not to like?

Rob Henderson recently dismantled a work of "anthropology" along these lines called The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Omniscience? Check. Status? Check. Just look at the universal acclaim on amazon -- NY Times, New Yorker, Atlantic, Washington Post, LA Times, WSJ, NBC, et al. To garner the praise of all those prestigious legacy sources implies that the book must be truly horrible.

Hmm, I always check the negative reviews first:

People were, are and can become again sweet caring bush hippies grooving sustainably with nature. War, conflict, genocide, cannibalism, slavery and the rest of human nastiness are departures from the fact that people were all basking in freedom, equality, anarchy, mutual aid, caring and all other good things until Eden was destroyed by evil men who didn't or don't take Rousseau's opinions seriously. This exercise in historical make believe would be a funny self parody if people didn't take this exercise in wishful thinking seriously.

They make a point of rejecting Eurocentrism yet the entire book is based on narratives from Anglo-European writers or their interpretations of romanticized Indigenous values.... Sort of an "Ancient Indigenous Wisdom" fallacy. 

We have two fan-boys of slavery-driven economics hoping a lack of total pre-historic knowledge might somehow be hiding some success of a slave-driven economy.

they have fallen into the same bad habits of prejudice, bias, and unsubstantiated generalization as all of the white, male, Eurocentric scholars who they criticize on almost every page. 

In short, 

leftist propaganda disguised as history based on undocumented conjecture.

Well, that was fun. But did we learn anything? I think so. Again, consider the universal praise by Trusted Sources -- all the Smart People -- in comparison to the value of the book, which is quite literally less than nil. What's going on here, aside from a massive jerk circle of mimetic and status seeking elite opinion?  

Oh well. Let's move on. Truth will always be an unpopular, rearguard action. And

We conservatives provide idiots the pleasure of feeling like they are daring avant-garde thinkers.

Going back to what makes a man, what about imagination and creativity? I guess those would be a combination of intelligence and possibility, the latter being a reflection of Infinitude, another name for which is All-Possibility.

That's a coincidence: in the very next paragraph Schuon goes into the question of objectivity, which in one sense is superior to subjectivity, but it depends, for "reason is objective only on condition of basing itself on exact data and of proceeding correctly." 

Look at how climate alarmists, for example, reason perfectly correctly about their catastrophically flawed data. Or the idiotic book mentioned above -- as Henderson says, the authors 

repeatedly ask the reader to “rethink,” “reimagine,” and “reconsider” everything we think we know about the development of human societies, suggesting that humans have become “stuck” to such an extent that we can no longer imagine the possibility of “reinventing” ourselves.

"Reimagining" ourselves implies that we were only imagining ourselves before. How about a little objectivity?

Sentiment "lacks objectivity only when it is excessive or misplaced," and "not when justified by its object and is, in fact, a kind of adequation." In other words, loving lovable things is a kind of objectivity, whereas loving evil, or hating the good, or believing falsehood, are inherently pathological. 

Now, the author of The Dawn of Everything (Graeber) was a far left anti-capitalist activist, so he essentially wrote a 700 page tribute to his own misplaced sentiment. The existence of this stubborn and dogged tendency to misplaced sentiment tells us much more about human nature than anything in the book. Someone needs to reimagine reimagining!

For Schuon, human intelligence involves the realization of an "equilibrium between the intelligence of the brain and that of the heart," so it is not as if we should toss sentiment aside, for, among other reasons, it is connected to spiritual intuition (as opposed to mere reason), so there is the possibility of a dysfunctional rational objectivity and a functional sentimental subjectivity.

To be continued...  

Theme Song

Theme Song