Saturday, December 09, 2023

Preluminary Considerations

The history of philosophy is the language that lets you talk about what is interesting. 

And if we're lucky, to avoid having to talk and think about what isn't.

In our march through this history, we'll skip over the pre-Socratics but return to them when Aristotle comes up, because he stands in relation to them somewhat in the way Einstein does to Newton, forging a new paradigm that was able to transcend the anomalies, contradictions, absurdities, and impasses of the old. 

For the most part philosophy is a more or less interesting way to be wrong, but occasionally it makes real progress. Aristotle did it, as did Aquinas. But since then? Not many. I can count them on one hand. 

At any rate, since man qua can't help indulging in philosophy, we might as well be correct. What's the alternative? To spend your whole life being wrong?

Why, yes. That is the alternative. 

Say, is there a way to be correct without God himself giving us the secret? 

To ask it is to answer it, but let's allow the question to breathe before we address it head-on.

Any other preluminary considerations before we get back on the road to nowhere? Sure, why not. Not only is this blogging, it's blogging for myself, so there are no rules. The only limit is Bob's own grandiosity and self-indulgence. So, limitless.

It is not so much that men change their ideas, as the voices change their disguises.

If you boil them all down, there are only so many ways to be wrong -- or at least interesting and amusing ways to be wrong. Most of our modern ways to be wrong are so astoundingly stupid that they scarcely merit rebuttal. 

And I needn't add that they are not only unfunny, but that they attack humor at the source. Show me a single example of genuine wit among their ranks, and I'll show you a man (for it won't be a woman) who has taken the first step toward the Red Pill.

And yet, these are precisely the philosophies that are in the driver's seat. 

Thus, I'm gratified that folks such as Christopher Rufo are on the case, because I'd hate to have to deal with staggeringly imbecilic postmodern aberrations like CRT, Whiteness Studies, Postcolonialism, Queer Theory, and other weapons of mass indoctrination, since these are all just new ways to be Marx, and he can be refuted in under a paragraph, although I'll be generous and devote a whole post to him when it's his turn in the cosmic barrel.

Within solely Marxist categories, not even Marxism is explicable.

Yes, literally. Really, it's just another boring Christian heresy. 

Marxism turns the intelligence that it touches to stone.

Yes, literally, since these rockheaded cargo cultists use transcendence to deny transcendence. 

I want to return to the claim above that none of these postmodern idiots are witty. None are funny except unintentionally. Rather, these neo-puritans are dreary, tedious, and punitive, but never funny.

This is in contrast to, say, Nietzsche, who is one of the greatest comedians of all time. Likewise, Schopenhauer got in some great zingers. Why has the quality of our current crop of nihilists deteriorated so?

It's an important question. 

Not only is comedy important, a human without humor isn't one, not really. Why can't they laugh at their own patent absurdity? 

Thus, this will no doubt be one of our ongoing themes.

As alluded to yesterday, most of the thinkers we'll be discussing have one or two Big Ideas. As such, they can be dismantled with a single sentence or two. 

Conversely, let's take Bob. What's his Big Idea? Surely he must have one. He's managed to crank out over 4,000 posts in the past 18 years, so let's have it. Give us the summary.

If I could answer that question, I would have already written the Sequel. 

And yet, it must be buried there somewhere beneath all the verbiage. 

I suppose this will be another theme of our journey: what is Bob going on about? What's his Thing? 

In other words, this will be a way to examine and justify our own beliefs, and hopefully have a good laugh in the process.

But whatever it is, it had better be funny -- maybe even the funniest gag ever.

Friday, December 08, 2023

A Brief History of Thought: Philosophical Starters and Non-Starters

It would be nice if higher education could redound to a greater number of intelligent persons, rather than merely revealing the existing ones. 

This led me to wondering: how many genuine philosophers can there be at any time? To be sure, every human being philosophizes and cannot help doing so. But the number of truly great philosophers is no doubt less than the number of great artists, scientists, or mathematicians.

And frankly, even many of the great ones aren't so great if you translate their ideas into plain English.

Here's the first thing that pops up when I searched "great philosophers ranked." Note that there are only 25 names on the list, but it nevertheless includes such embarrassments as Marx, Sartre, Foucault, and Derrida, and a number of others are scarcely less stupid.

At this point the phrase popped into my head: Philosophical Starters and Non-Starters. Because there can self-evidently be only one true philosophy, then the competing philosophies will have to be dismissed either as pieces of this true philosophy, or as non-starters. 

A philosophy can be a non-starter for any number of reasons, but they all end in absurdity or self-refutation, or are built on premises that cannot be justified by the system.

Then I thought of an old book I have called The Story of Thought: The Essential Guide to the History of Western Philosophy, by Bryan Magee. It's only an introduction aimed at a lay audience, but it does include all the important philosophers in chronological order, presenting their key ideas in such a way that we can easily identify the non-starters. 

Obviously there's much more to their philosophies than what is addressed in the book, but nevertheless, if there is even a small error at the foundation of your philosophy, then it scarcely matters how complex and elaborate the structure built atop the initial error.

Bob, isn't this undertaking a little arrogant on your part? Are we supposed to believe you're even qualified to judge these vastly superior minds, let alone be in possession of the One True Philosophy?

Can't know until we try, and besides, it's just for kicks & giggles. For all we know, I'll get bored with the pre-Socratics and abandon the endeavor before it gets off the ground. 

Before touching on those pre-Socratics there's a short introduction going to the nature of philosophy: "every now and again we find ourselves drawing back and wondering what it's all about." Which reminds me of how Whitehead defines the task, something to the effect that philosophy revolves around the simple question: WTF is it all about?

This involves "asking fundamental questions that normally we do not stop to ask." But not only is the unexamined life not worth living, life itself is far too interesting to merely live it.

This is a potentially important point -- that there are as many philosophies as there are human endeavors, for example, philosophy of science, or of religion, of politics, of ethics, of law, of aesthetics, of religion, of knowledge, et al. Who's to say there's a single philosophy or even a single approach that unites them all?

That would be me. Until you hear otherwise.

But seriously, after a long life of thinkin' & wonderin' WTF it's all about, it seems to me that thinking as such is guided by a telos that draws us toward higher and deeper syntheses. Nor is Bob the first to think this. He thought he was first, but then he discovered folks such as Bernard Lonergan, who said much the same thing except in a much less folksy way. 

For example, his magnum opus, Insight, argues that humans come into the world with an unrestricted desire to know, which is to say, nothing less than desire to know everything about everything that is knowable.

Speaking only for myself, I have this desire, nor can it be satisfied by anything short of a Total Explanation. Frankly, we are entitled to such an explanation (lookin' at you, God) and we are the first to know when some clever philosopher is trying to fob us off with a partial explanation. In fact, as we shall soon discover, many of the great philosophers we will be discussing attempt to do just this.

To which we say: no fobbing

As alluded to above, I've been at this for a long time, and I suppose I first bumped into this principle back in grad school, via the thought of W.R. Bion. I won't bore you with details, but he's the one who used the symbol O to stand for the ultimate unknowable reality or absolute truth with which we are in permanent dialectical tension. Except it's not so much unknowable as endlessly intelligible

Later I encountered another thinker, Errol Harris, who said much the same thing, but you get the idea. Let's get back to The Story of Thought. I think I'll just skip over the pre-Socratics and go straight to Socrates, because not only is he not a non-starter, he is in many ways the starter and ender. 

Why is that? Because he begins and ends with Questioning, and, supposing you're a philosopher, you can't do better than that:

Socrates did not think he knew the answers to these questions. But he saw that no one else knew them either. When the oracle at Delphi declared him to be the wisest of men, he thought that this could mean only that he alone knew that he did not know anything.

Well, join the club, and welcome to my world. In a way, not only did he discover irony, but he was its very incarnation. Which reminds me of something Schuon says -- that there is more Light in a good question than most of those answers with which they try to fob us off.

Well, we haven't gotten far in our project, but we've gotten far enough to know that our way will be lit by irony and by unknowing. And of course, no fobbing.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

The Long March of Astounding Stupidity Through the Institutions

Postcolonialism is suddenly in the news, as it is one of the most prominent contemporary pretexts for neo-medieval Jew hatred. This poisonous ideology focuses "on the impact of human control and exploitation of colonized people and their lands," and pretends to show how
Western cultural knowledge was applied to subjugate a non-European people into a colony of the European mother country, which, after initial invasion, was effected by means of the cultural identities of "colonizer" and "colonized."
So, these victims of oppression didn't only lose their lands, they lost their minds to the colonizers.

Except postcolonialism itself is an alien ideology that first colonized the minds of the (white) privileged before spreading to the so-called "oppressed." In other words, it is an ideology by and for overeducated White Folks, and its reason for being certainly isn't to help Oppressed Subaltern Peoples. 
Postcolonial theory thus establishes intellectual spaces for subaltern peoples to speak for themselves, in their own voices, 
No it doesn't. Rather, it establishes pseudo-intellectual spaces for sub-mediocre minds to participate in their own subjugation, once they've been colonized by this parasitic ideology. We used to call it "brainwashing." Now it's called "higher education." 

Everyone already knows this, Bob. Do you have a novel take on this dreary subject, or just more red meat for the base?

You're right about the dreary part. I started to skim the Wiki article, but even that is too much to bear. How does a *bright* young student deal with this invasive colonization of his mind? What has to happen to the mind before it passively endures the brainwashing? It reminds me of those spiders whose venom first paralyzes their prey before they suck out and devour the substance.

Is there some kind of analogous cognitive venom that shuts off the mind's natural defenses against bullshit? Where's the skepticism, the rebelliousness, the BS detector? How does one go from this healthy specimen:

To this cognitive oompa loompa:

Among other things, postcolonialism is also post-commonsense, post-reality, and post-civilization. 

Nevertheless, here we are.

Let's get back to the possibly fruitful analogy of a neurocognitive venom that first puts the mind to sleep before killing it altogether. Who are the spiders? They are the "critical faculty," who need fresh minds the way a vampire needs fresh blood.

These arachnoid People of Tenure put the bite on undergraduates and "colonize the student mind." And "this colonization and co-optation of university departments has proceeded uninterrupted for years," mainly by softheads "on the soft side of campus, in the liberal arts and humanities" (Ridgley).

This might furnish a clue, for a softhead is "a silly or stupid person" who is "lacking intelligence or sense," i..e., a "fool, featherbrain, goose, rattlebrain, silly, cuckoo, scatterbrain, flibbertigibbet."

True, these are all ad hominem, but what if the hominem in question is indeed the problem?

What if the problem isn't mere stupidity but truly astounding stupidity? That's how Landes characterizes it in his astoundingly timely Can “The Whole World” Be Wrong?: Lethal Journalism, Antisemitism, and Global Jihad

At the end of each chapter Landes furnishes a list of Astoundingly Stupid Statements uttered therein by various media, academic, and political figures. We won't bother repeating them here. For our purposes, it's enough to know that our Cognitive Elites are Astoundingly Stupid.

But again, how did this come about?

Well, let's think this through. At the time of our country's founding, 90% of the population worked in agriculture, which means that 100% of that 90% possessed highly useful and adaptive knowledge -- adapted to what we call reality, the reality of the seasons, the soil, seeds, tools, etc. (And roughly 100% of women were occupied with the equally important reality of raising children and keeping the home.) 

By 1900, that percentage was down to about 40%, still more than enough to protect us from the deluge of over-educated soft minds. But now? Oof

Clearly we have a situation in which people who are perfectly suited for honest labor are creating mischief everywhere, from college campuses to newsrooms to the White House. Astoundingly Stupid people have completed their Long March Through the Institutions.

Just getting started, but we're out of time...

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Vertical Closure and Craniorectal Occlusion

How do progressive pundits, journalists, and People of Tenure avoid contact with reality? By maintaining and enforcing a closed ideological system that is projected onto the world instead of being receptive to it. 

For example, Ridgley points to their intellectually worthless "cargo cult journals" 
which are publications that mimic authentic academic journals. The articles are cited back and forth, and... have become little more than ritual gift exchange.
In other words, the left hand washes the other left hand, and "whatever happens confirms the theory" -- no different from "the magic of primitive societies" which provides "ex post facto rationalizations" to explain the world. 

But we already know all this. We know that the devil's strategy is to close the mind in on itself in tighter and tighter circles until it disappears up its backside, a la the Oozlum bird. Is there anything new to report on this front? 

Well, recall that man qua man is an open system, both horizontally and vertically. By definition the left is vertically closed, but they are also horizontally closed -- which is to say, enclosed in their ideology.

For Voegelin, closed existence is 
the mode of existence in which there are internal impediments to a free flow of truth into consciousness and to the pull of the transcendental.

Interesting that he speaks of the pull of the transcendental, for it is the complement of a... not so much a push from our side, but rather, something more akin to an erotic attraction, or what we call man's innate epistemophila. 

The word "push" connotes something more akin to what progressives do, which is to say, push their ideology into places where it doesn't belong -- e.g., into our faces and down our throats. This latter maneuver is in fact a deformation of consciousness, defined as 

the destruction of the order of the soul, which should be "formed" by the love of the transcendental perfection inherent in the fundamental tension of existence [the tension between the immanent and transcendent poles of consciousness].

What we characterized above as disappearing up one's own backside, Voegelin more politely (but less colorfully) calls doxic thinking, which "tends to focus on a doxa [i.e., opinion] and to confuse the model with the reality it represents."

So in this regard -- pardon our French -- opinions really are like assholes, except not everyone dwells therein. 

We're all familiar with the deeper meaning of Exodus, because this is where we live, precisely. Life takes the form of a journey toward, and in dialectical tension with, the transcendental telos, AKA Celestial Central. Like Moses, we never reach our deustinatuon in this life, but if we're lucky, nor are we enclosed in craniorectal darkness and tenure.

Here again, this is much like a solar eclipse whereby the moon covers the sun, except it's the moonbat occluding the Light: it is "the perverse closure of consciousness against reality" or "the attempt to evade it."

Now, as the Aphorist reminds us,

Along these lines, he makes another important point, that 

An adequate theology would be unintelligible to us.

Why is that? Obviously, because the finite can never be adequate to the infinite, or the relative to the Absolute. It can, however, be an adequation to the Absolute and Infinite, and -- long story short -- this is certainly where the Incarnation comes in to play. But Christ is not a "theology," i.e., an abstract mental system, rather, a person and a relationship.   

Christ is also the fulfillment of the Exodus referenced above. Certainly we could never complete the journey from our side, and believing otherwise is just Genesis 3 All Over Again, which is, among other things, a fall into craniorectality.

Note that upon this latter event, God asks Adam, Where are you? If Adam were honest, he'd respond, I'm right in here with the Oozlum bird

This post has plunged into unforeseen areas. Back to Ridgley. He calls it a "stunting of the intellect" whereby 

There is an ominous narrowing of horizons, until only a slit of absolute believing represents the totality of their intellectual pursuit.... Anything recognizable as inquiry, challenge, or analysis comes to an immediate halt.

Which is another way of answering God's eternal query, Where are you? For "In a cargo cult, believers construct an alternate world and wanted it treated as real." It's real, alright -- as real as a man with his head up his ass. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

The Karen-Mohammed Industrial Complex

How does a lunatic belief system "take"? As crazy and depraved as the left is, the craziness and depravity must exploit something real and enduring in the psyche, otherwise it could never take root.

Everyone knows this is how capitalism works. No one had to invent this "ism." Rather, it's just what people do when they're left alone, i.e., barter and trade, exchange and acquire, buy and sell. Yes, it may exploit acquisitiveness and greed, but that's just human nature. 

People do other things when they're left alone, for example, envy, hate, steal, lie, and scapegoat. They're also subject to pride, and like to lord it over others, or bring them down a peg. 

But enough about the left.

Actually, I think we've just discovered those enduring psychic realities that are exploited by the left's lunatic ideology. Of course, they call these shameful traits and impulses by other names, e.g., diversity, equity, fairness, inclusion, social justice, etc. For it is written:

The left is a lexicographical tactic more than an ideological strategy.


"Social justice" is the term for claiming anything to which we do not have a right.

Bottom line:

Socialism is the philosophy of the guilt of others.

Nowadays they call this guilt White Privilege, but it's just the same old envy with a Ph.D. in Postcolonial Studies.

Now, just as Islam colonized formerly Christian and Persian geographical areas, "postcolonialism" has colonized formerly American minds. 

You could say that this is the subject of the book I'm currently reading, Christopher Rufo's America's Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything. It's excellent as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough, which is to say, all the way to the ground of human nature. Or, perhaps it will. I'm only up to p. 73.

Let's haul out some more aphorisms to set the stage, each going to the lower vertical, i.e., those unflattering traits to which the soul is heir: 

The greatest political puerility is to attribute to certain social structures the vices inherent in the human condition.

What is called the modern mentality is the process of exonerating the deadly sins. 

The left claims that the guilty party in a conflict is not the one who covets another's goods but who defends his own.

The left calls a critique of capitalism what is merely a lawsuit for possession.

Even if everyone were equal -- an impossibility even supposing an omnipotent state -- we'd have to invent inequality out of sheer tedium. 

As we've said before, progressivism is the institutionalization of man's fall, which they simultaneously deny and normalize. "Having promulgated the dogma of original innocence," they conclude that "the man guilty of the crime is not the envious murderer but the victim who aroused his envy."

They also promulgate a kind an "anti-psychology." I know this, because I luckily obtained my Ph.D. back when psychology was still a thing. Now there's no place in psychology for an old-fashioned guy like me. Indeed,

Civilization appears to have been invented by an extinct species.

The following sounds RACISS:

Modern civilization: the invention of a white engineer for a black king.

But Rufo explains how it came about:

Herbert Marcuse was the preeminent philosopher of the so-called New Left, which sought to mobilize the white intelligentsia and the black ghetto into a new proletariat....

The Karen-Ibram Industrial Complex. 

"The new movement was not the 'classical revolutionary force' of the proletariat. It was, instead, the coalition of opposites" which is to say, "the intellectuals and the slum-dwellers, the privileged and the dispossessed," a "new axis for revolution: racial conflict."

And here we are. They enacted it in 2020. Are they gearing up for an encore in 2024? I don't know. I haven't read the article, but I'm going to guess Yes.

The resurgence of public protests in support of Hamas has revealed a disturbing truth: the left-wing rioting following George Floyd’s death in 2020 was not an anomaly, but a tactic that activists can repurpose for any cause. Whether by coincidence or design, these recent outbursts could be a dress rehearsal for possible violence during next year’s election campaign.

The Karen-Mohammed Industrial Complex? 

Conservative leaders must prepare for that prospect. To prevent 2020 from repeating itself in 2024, conservatives need to consider what might spark a riot, how it can be prevented, and how to understand and manage the politics of rioting.

In the book, Rufo asks the question, "Does the public want an equality society or a revenge society?" To which the Aphorist replies,

The democrat in search of equality passes a straightedge over humanity in order to cut off what exceeds it: the head. Decapitation is the central rite of the democratic Mass.

Literally, if we're correct about the Karen-Mohammed Industrial Complex.

Oh my. Getting late. To be continued.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Of Brutalitarians and Bunkum Busters

We've suggested that the Incarnation is God's own reality tunnel -- a vertical tunnel from divine to human nature, and back -- but really, it's more like his bunker buster, able to penetrate the complex network of ideological tunnels in which man dwells. 

Better yet, it's a bunkum buster that helpfully incinerates the ideological bunkum that imprisons man in darkness. Or at least puts it in perspective. In this regard, perhaps it's more like a neutron bomb, allowing lesser truths to stand, so long as they don't overshadow the source and ground of Truth itself.

Imagine a weapon that could, say, destroy the (formerly) liberal arts departments but leave the STEM departments standing.  

I know, we already have such a weapon: it's called sanity. However, supplies of the latter are running dangerously low.

These preliminary sentiments were provoked by the book Brutal Minds: The Dark World of Left-Wing Brainwashing in Our Universities. First of all, it's filled with fine insultainment, for example, "the American university"
is undergoing an infiltration by an army of mediocrities whose goal is to destroy it as an institution of knowledge creation and replace it with an authoritarian organ of ideology and propaganda.

So, if there's a war, they started it. For theirs is an authoritarian army using our young adults as human shields. If not a well-placed bunker buster, what do these barbarians deserve? Like Hamas, these are "brutal people"

who eagerly "live within the lie" and who even more eagerly coerce others to yield to that lie, particularly the most intellectually vulnerable persons on college campuses -- our undergraduates.

Living "within the lie" is precisely what we mean by the reality tunnel metaphor (which are again unreality tunnels). Such persons are in desperate need of precisely what they repel, which is to say, reality

Analogously, what are the Gazans most in need of? What is the one simple trick that would solve all the problems falsely imputed to Israel?

Correct: reality. Drop your weapons, let go of the genocidal fantasies, acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, and see what boons and blessings follow.

But like our own tenured barbarians, "They are frozen into a totalist belief system" constructed and maintained by "a ruling clerisy of the worst and the dullest": 

Wherever brutal minds get the upper hand, they destroy, they dumb down, they homogenize.... They eliminate opposition, they remove it, and they censor, block, and obliterate the record of knowledge -- anything that gives the lie to the stunted intellectual parochialism that animates them.

No wonder our own proglodytes support Hamas. Professional courtesy. 

they are bent on the destruction of what they only dimly understand and certainly that which they played no role in creating.

This "throng of half-educated ideologues" is 

motivated by social fantasy and pseudoscience and aiming to transform the university in accord with their primitive ideology. 

Granted, we can't drop a literal bunker buster on them, but is there a bunkum buster that could at least inconvenience these hate-filled brutalitarians and racists? Or is it too late? 

Getting back to the Incarnation as God's own bunkum buster, you can take this quite literally, as it was indeed a bomb dropped into time, and which utterly transformed western civilization. We even divide history into BC and AD, but of what good is it to us if this love bomb isn't available at all times? 

Yes, in entering history 2000 years ago God broke the fourth wall of the cosmos, but Christian doctrine insists that he has never stopped breaking it: it is both once and forever

The deeper point is again that God's bunkum buster has permanently shattered that wall -- or veil -- that divides us from him. And, like it or not, this is the smoking crater at the origins of western civilization. 

Which, in so many words, is the point of another book I read over the weekend, No Liberty for License: The Forgotten Logic of the First Amendment. It's not a religious book per se, but it's all about our first amendment, which is of course all about religion. Hmm. Perhaps the bunkum buster we need is right there in the first amendment. 

As an asnide and affront and an end, is it any coincidence that the same people who hate free speech are so hostile to God and religion -- in particular, the religion of the founders? I think not.

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