Friday, December 22, 2023

If Christ is the Answer, What is the Question?

Christ is the truth. What is said about him are mere approximations to the truth.
Okay, but... what kind of truth? And excuse me, but what was the Question?

While we're on the subject of Augustine in particular, we are more generally on the subject of Christian philosophy. 

Now, some people think that, properly speaking, these two cannot coexist in the same head, since philosophy considers the whole scope of reality in an impersonal manner, with no preconceptions, while Christianity obviously limits itself up front by certain principles and axioms, for example, the doctrine of creation (including the special creation of the human soul), of monogenesis (all men are brothers, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it), of free will, etc. 

In fact, a whole lotta things must first be true before Christianity can even be possible. To cite one obvious example, deconstruction cannot be the case, because if it were, no stable communication would be possible between God and man. Scripture in particular would mean anything and nothing.

Which reminds us of an important aphorism:
Today we require a methodical introduction to that vision of the world outside of which religious vocabulary is meaningless. We do not talk of God with those who do not judge talk about the gods as plausible.

A vision of reality outside of which religious language is meaningless. There are many such worlds, the world presumed by deconstruction being just one of them. But we will insist that there is only one reality. And one human nature. And a surprising link between them.

As for the Christian world, there is great disagreement about the role of philosophy. At one extreme are those who claim that revelation completely overrides and obviates our vain philosophizing, while at my extreme is a person who will go so far as to insist that non-Christian philosophy is an impossibility and an absurdity; or, to put it a bit less bobnoxiously, that philosophy from our end is crowned and perfected by revelation at Godsend. 

I'm not even the first to suggest this. In an essay called Is There Such a Thing as a Non-Christian Philosophy?, Pieper answers "no, there is no non-Christian philosophy!," at least insofar as "we understand by philosophy what the great originators and fathers of Western philosophy... understood it to be." Which is to say,

It is wisdom as God possesses it: God alone can be called wise in the full sense; He alone has "the answer," the interpretation of reality from one angle (namely from Himself); no one but God knows what the philosophical question deals with: the whence and the whither, the origin and the goal, the design principle and the structure, the meaning and the organization of reality as a whole.

I just read a somewhat tedious book called Engaging the Doctrine of Creation: Cosmos, Creatures, and the Wise and Good Creator, but let no one say I don't eat my vegetables. It has a chapter on the relationship between scripture and philosophy that reminded me of the second aphorism cited above. Levering quotes N.T. Wright to the effect that "Western orthodoxy"

has had for too long an overly lofty and detached view of God. It has always tended to approach the Christological question by assuming this view of God and then fitting Jesus into it.

This goes to a genuine problem -- again, of revelation at one end and philosophy at the other, and is there a way to harmonize them? Which comes first? It's easy enough to say "God," but what if, for example, God communicates in a language or modality that we cannot understand? 

Thus, it seems that revelation is limited up front by man's (philosophical) capacity to understand it. God must condescend to our manner and mode of understanding him.

Am I wrong?

Let's take an obvious example, the word "God." Supposing we have no earthly conception of God, what can it mean that he communicates to us, and how could we recognize it? 

But supposing we do have a conception, then how do we relate the two? For example, Jews have a particular conception of the job requirements of the Messiah, and reject Jesus on that basis. Moreover, just as we can point to OT passages that confirm our view, Jews will point to others that contradict it.

For Wright, it "is not that we know what the word god means and manage somehow to fit Jesus into that." Rather, the converse: that we must "somehow allow our meaning for the word god" to be reoriented around Jesus.

Now, Jesus is scandalously particular, whereas philosophy deals in universal principles, abstract concepts, timeless generalities, and transcendent truths. Which is another way of saying Logos. But the central claim of Christianity is that the universal Logos is particularized in a single man at a certain point in history. Which is again a scandal to the (purely) philosophical mind.

In the book, there are a number of discussions as to whether the purpose of scripture is to convey stable propositional truths, or to, for example, reveal God's love for us, or to provide a means to relate to him, or, more generally, to override our presumption that reality can be reduced to formulaic truths. 

Obviously the latter goes to how Protestants (at least the original ones) view scripture. It is not for us -- i.e., our depraved minds -- to understand it, rather, just accept it. 

But one can obviously go to the other extreme -- say, Jefferson's deism that excises the parts that don't fit into a preconceived philosophical template.

I like to think there's an easy solution to this problem of universals and particularity, of abstract and concrete, of propositional truth and the truth of relationship. Indeed, I can probably express it in two words, Incarnation and Trinity, the historical truth of the former revealing the propositional truth of the latter.

Levering cites one scholar who 

distinguishes strongly between biblical "particularists" and what might be termed philosophical universalists. The latter do not pay sufficient attention to God's actions in history as narrated by scripture; instead, they presuppose certain philosophical attributes of God and then impose those attributes upon the God of the biblical narrative. 

Well, don't do that. But don't just throw out the philosophical baby with the scriptural bathwater. Or is it the scriptural baby with the philosophical bongwater? My point is that we need both, in a kind of ascending dialectic.

I guess it all goes back to Gödel: from our end, any philosophical system will contain assumptions or axioms that cannot be justified by the philosophy. Understood. But this doesn't mean we should just chuck philosophy, rather, try to harmonize it with God's Own Principle, AKA the Logos

Philosophy ultimately fails because one has to speak of the whole in terms of its parts.

It reminds me of the old gag that God becomes man that man might become God. Well, the Logos becomes particularized that the particular might become universal, which is none other than the process of theosis or sanctification.

About this cognitive dialectic or spiritual metabolism we have in mind, the Aphorist says

The life of the intelligence is a dialogue between the personalism of spirit and the impersonalism of reason.

Supposing ultimate truth is not only a person, but irreducible person-in-relationship... well, let's just say that, thanks to the Incarnation of the Logos, 

The truth is objective but not impersonal.

Which circles back around to the aphorism at the top, and threepeat as necessary.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Who Do I Say That I Am?

For a thousand years between the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and the dawn of the Renaissance in the 15th century the torch of civilization in western Europe was carried mainly by the Christian church.... 

The supreme synthesis was achieved toward to the end of the period, in the writings of Thomas Aquinas, who produced a vast, capacious world-view harmonizing what were then the major thought-systems (Magee).

Vast, capacious, and harmonious. My kind of cosmos.

At the beginning of that millennium of dominance is Augustine, who "was arguably the outstanding figure in philosophy between Aristotle and Aquinas, a period of some 1,600 years" -- again, a long time to be The Man. 

In order to have been The Man for that long, there must have been something appealing about him -- not just the content, but the style. He must have been a congenial companion. No one can be popular for that long without being fun to be around. 

Here I must admit that I've only read the Confessions and dabbled in some other works. I'm hardly an expert, and you're probably not either, so let's learn something.

Looks like I'm right about his congeniality: Augustine is "one of the most attractive personalities in the history of philosophy." Then again, why does philosophy attract so many unattractive and unpleasant personalities? Probably because a lot of people who do a lot of thinking have nothing better to do. Social rejects, rejected for good reason.

Augustine was obviously not a social reject. To the contrary, he burned that candle right down to the nub. 

He rejected his mother's Christianity as an adolescent, but subsequently embarked upon "a philosophical quest that was to take him through several different intellectual positions," before -- to plagiaphrase the poet -- returning to the place where he started and knowing it for the first time. More generally, 

What we call the beginning is often the end / And to make an end is to make a beginning. / The end is where we start from (Eliot).

Granted, but why is that. And how?  

Every post is a new beginning, starting from nowhere and ending in your head, if I'm lucky. If not, it's just from my head to a different place in my head. Or perhaps a larger head -- mind expansion, as the hippies used to say.

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning (ibid.).

Exactly. That right there is what in the past we've called precision poetry. 'Scuse me while I look that one up. November 17, 2017. Nothing much there we can use today, except to repeat that

Precision poetry is not only possible, it is necessary. This is because truth and beauty converge and are ultimately two sides of the same reality.

At the moment I'm flipping through the complete works of Eliot, and he manages to get all the serious poems done in under 145 pages. That is admirable concision -- what the Aphorist calls finishing before making the reader sick. 

I wish I could do that -- indeed, it's my One Big Wish -- to boil down the previous 4,000 posts into, say 300 pages. And instead of inducing nausea, to end in a massive guffah-HA! experience.

But that's my problem. Back to Augustine. Eventually he became "a fully-fledged philosophical Sceptic," but later became skeptical of his skepticism, so join the club. He then wrote the Confessions, which is "the first autobiography in the modern sense." 

In the past we've touched on why such a venture would have been impossible prior to this, because what we call the modern self is a Christian development, precisely. We devoted a number of posts to a review of an important book called Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. Looks like I'll have to reread them. 

Siedentop writes that the

intense account of Augustine's relations with himself and with God [in the Confessions] has led some to attribute the birth of the individual to Augustine.

Along these lines, he quotes the historian Peter Brown, who characterizes the Confessions as "a manifesto of the inner world":

Men go to gape at the mountain peaks, at the boundless tides of the sea, the broad sweep of the rivers, the encircling ocean and the motions of the stars; and yet they leave themselves unnoticed; they do not marvel at themselves (Augustine). 

He's not wrong. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this, the latter involving a vertical closure sealed in ontological narcissism and aggravated tenure. Schuon describes the right way:

The first thing that should strike a man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of the miracle of intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- whence the incommensurability between it and material objects, whether a grain of sand or the sun, or any creature whatever as an object of the senses.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Imagine There's No Imaginaton

It's pretty hard to do.

The imagination is the only place in the world where one can dwell.

Certainly it is where I like to dwell, and thanks to retirement, it is where I spend most of my timelessness. This blog is a kind of journal of that timelessness, because someone has to do it. I'm not an artist, but then again, I like to think I provide a service. Like any other artist. 

Appearance is not the veil, but the vehicle, of reality.

Now, vehicles are for movement, in this case, the vertical kind. Unless I'm missing something.

In the beginning is the Word: it seems that the world is made of language -- or that language is the bridge between immanence and transcendence. Conversely, the senses cannot make that leap, and can only register horizontal, surface-to-surface sensations on the immanent plane.

On the one hand, even before the appearance of Homo sapiens, transcendence is always here. But it must await humanity in order for it to be entered, articulated, and mapped herebelow. 

Imagination takes place in the great In Between, or what Voegelin needlessly calls the metaxy -- needless because it's just a Greek word for the same thing. In any event, we can imaginatively open ourselves to the Beyond, or be enclosed in immanence, in which case we drive our vehicle into an ontological ditch of non-being:

CLOSED EXISTENCE or CLOSURE: Voegelin's term for the mode of existence in which there are internal impediments [AKA roadblocks] to a free flow of truth into consciousness and to the pull of the transcendental (Webb).

The pull of the transcendental. No need to push. In that case, beam me up!   

Given this ubiquitous vertical pull, it seems that we aren't like a ship in the doldrums, as it were, waiting for the wind to propel us. 

Come to think of it, in the new universe discovered by Einstein, what we call gravity is a curvature in spacetime. Used to be that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. But nowadays it's also the longest distance, since if you proceed in the opposite direction you'll eventually wind up at the same point.  

So there's a kind of gravitational attraction -- the Pull -- but there's actually a mutual attraction. It seems that the big O depicted below is attracted to us as much as we are to it, tracing the arc of a great circle route or something: 

[T]he presence of a massive body curves space-time, as if a bowling ball were placed on the rubber sheet to create a cuplike depression. In the analogy, a marble placed near the depression rolls down the slope toward the bowling ball as if pulled by a force. In addition, if the marble is given a sideways push, it will describe an orbit around the bowling ball, as if a steady pull toward the ball is swinging the marble into a closed path.

And here we are.

About bridges, the Aphorist says that

The bridge between nature and man is not science, but myth.

And that 

The world is only interesting when it is mirrored in man's imagination.

Which is what we call Art, I suppose.

Imagination is the capacity to perceive through the senses the attributes of the object that the senses do not perceive.

Music, for example, is an "object" that is perceived through the senses. But the senses do not reveal its transcendent nature; hearing is not listening, just as touching is not grasping or seeing perceiving.

Man is spirit incarnate.... But the object of his existence is to be in the middle: it is to transcend matter while being situated there, and to realize the light, the Sky, starting from this intermediary level. 

It is true that the other creatures also participate in life, but man synthesizes them: he carries all life within himself and thus becomes the spokesman for all life, the vertical axis where life opens onto the spirit and where it becomes spirit (Schuon).

So, here we are, situated in matter while transcending it, and there's not a thing we can do about it. Indeed, not to boast, but

The very word “man” implies “God,” the very word “relative” implies “Absolute” (ibid.).

The Aphorist reminds us that  

Values are not citizens of this world, but pilgrims from other heavens.

Or hells. To which people are also attracted, or rather, which exert their own annoying pull.

Perhaps transcendence could be doubted, if error, ugliness and evil were not its incontrovertible shadow.


The vulgar epistemology of the natural sciences is a burlesque idealism in which the brain plays the role of "I."

It's vulgar because it is like imagination imagining there is no imagination, when in fact -- and principle -- it's the only place to really be, or to be real, precisely. 

How is it that there is such a thing as the self, the I that knows and loves and finds fulfillment in communion with other I's (Varghese)?

For in reality, immanence and transcendence are but bipolar "directions" or pointers, and we can never (in this life) arrive at the place where they point. Although C.S. Lewis was not wrong in wishing to find the place where all the beauty comes from, i.e., "my country, the place where I ought to have been born." 

Suppose we go there, it is a going to or going back

Gosh. It's all very trinitarian when you think about it, isn't it? And faith isn't a leap in the dark, but rather, a leap into its Light:

[T]he doctrine of the Trinity is the breathtaking truth that makes sense of all other truths, the luminous mystery that illuminates all other mysteries, the dazzling sun that allows us to see all things except itself (and this is not because of darkness but its excess of light) (Varghese).

All other mysteries?

Yes, because "Every time we think..., we manifest, however imperfectly, the beginningless-endless act of knowing," of "generating and spirating that is the Trinity." 


Only a consciousness and an intelligence free of any limitation whatsoever could serve as an explanation for the existence of any consciousness and intelligence in this world (ibid.).

Imagine that!

The meanings are the reality; their material vehicles are the appearance.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Who Do You Say that I Am? And Why?

As per the usual custom, after hitting the publish button yesterday I picked up a book at random and it proceeded to comment on the post. 

In this case the book is called The Christ Connection: How the World Religions Prepared the Way for the Phenomenon of Jesus. Recall that the post touched on philosophical Cynicism and Scepticism, and this book is full of both. 

Indeed, the very first paragraph of the preface characterizes the book as "a journey through the religious history of humanity," with our fellow travelers falling into "one of three categories: religious believers, skeptics, and seekers of ultimate truth." I'm all three, but perhaps I'll be less of the second by the end.

For both skeptics and seekers, the only thing that counts is evidence. So what would constitute evidence in the present quest?

Good question. We are entitled to evidence, especially for extraordinary claims, although the threshold of proof differs for this or that person. A crusty old cynic demands more than a credulous yahoo, so I need a lot. 

Again, not much of interest happens philosophically between Aristotle and Augustine, so the book turns out to be timely, going to the "philosophy of Jesus":

Augustine was arguably the outstanding figure in philosophy between Aristotle and Aquinas, a period of some 1,600 years (Magee).

That's a rather long time to be top dawg. I certainly respect him, but he's never been my alpha intellect. Just not my style, exactly. I'm too... something. Whatever I am too much of, I know it when someone speaks to it. 

Anyway, back to the evidence -- the evidence for Jesus. Is there any? Of course there is. In fact, there's as much if not more evidence for Jesus as there is for most any other person of antiquity. But that's not really the question. 

Rather, the real question is more like Who do you say that I am? In other words, he obviously walked the earth, but who was he? Here again, it's easy enough to read the gospels to examine his philosophy, but who do you say he is? And who do you say he is?  

I think about it this way: there is plenty of primary evidence for his existence, but there is also a kind of secondary (and tertiary) evidence, and the latter kind turns out to be more consequential. Indeed, Jesus says as much, i.e., Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Now,  just because we are among those who have not seen, this does not mean there is no evidence for our belief. Rather, it's just a different kind of evidence -- the secondary or tertiary kind.

Bob, you're being annoyingly cryptic. What are you talking about? Well, the Aphorist says exactly what I mean regarding secondary evidence:

When he died, Christ did not leave behind documents, but disciples.

In other words, he left behind transformed people, and it is this transformation I am calling "secondary evidence." And although it is secondary in time, it is actually more important than the primary evidence of his (mere) historical existence. 

Put conversely, his existence in the flesh would have scarcely mattered absent its transformational impact upon those who saw, knew, and touched him. They became utterly different people, and of course this requires an explanation.

For example, if we want to be skeptical about this secondary evidence, we could say that the transformation of his disciples was really a conspiracy that they came up with in order to dupe people, gain followers, and found a new religion -- yes, a brilliant plan to be persecuted and martyred. How fiendishly clever!

Later in the book there is a chapter on all of the alternative explanations for the transformation of the disciples, for example, the "Passover Plot," whereby Jesus planned his own fake death in order to back up the claim that he had risen from the dead. Don't laugh, because it was a popular book, and indeed, my own secular Jewish father-in-law was a believer. 

The whole "quest for the historical Jesus" begins in the 18th century. For example, we're all familiar with the so-called Jefferson Bible, which consists of the teachings of Jesus with the supernatural and miraculous elements excised from the text. 

Some of these researchers go so far as to even deny the primary evidence for Jesus' existence, but no serious historian believes this anymore. "In fact, Marx and Engels made the nonexistence of Jesus a dogma of Marxism," speaking of profoundly unserious historians.

Then there was a guy named Ernest Renan, who "argued that Jesus was a moral teacher whose mission failed and whose teachings have been misrepresented by a repressive church." Another popular and even appealing idea was that between his appearance in the temple as an adolescent and his public ministry at around age thirty, he traveled to India and learned all about Buddhism and Hinduism. 

Unfortunately there is no evidence for this. Which is more than enough evidence for Deepak, who has actually published two books on the subject.

Anyway, back to the evidence. If the secondary evidence is the transformation of the apostles, what we are calling the tertiary evidence is the ongoing transformation of present day followers, but also of the Church itself. Indeed, the mere fact that such a poorly run institution has survived for 2,000 years is an argument for miracles. After all, if it can survive Señor Bergoglio, it can survive anything.  

Before ending this preliminary examination of the evidence, let's consider a few more aphorisms:

Christ was in history like a point on a line. But his redemptive act is to history as the center is to the circumference.

The ongoing relationship between Center and circumference is the tertiary evidence, precisely.

By the way, some researchers suggest that Christianity (like any other manmade religion) is just an exercise in wish fulfillment. For my part, if I were going to invent a religion to suit my desires, it would not resemble Christianity. But 

Christian doctrines have the implausibility of objects we do not construct, but that we stumble across. 

Unlike, say, the Koran,

The Bible is not the voice of God, but of the man who encounters him.

Again, it is a source of tertiary evidence, supposing it encounters, touches, and transforms us in the now.

To be continued... 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Premodern and Postmodern Nihilism

Yesterday we spoke to the post-maturity of progressive demopaths who pretend to defend human rights while destroying them. Today we will speak to the post-reality of the postmoderns. Starting at the beginning, Landes asks precisely "What was the 'modern' that postmodernism claimed to go beyond?"

Good question: what was so wrong with modernity that couldn't be fixed with more of it? Seems like we were on a pretty good trend from ancient to premodern to modern. Why blow up the whole train and the tracks that got us here? Let them answer the question of what is post- in postmodern:

According to them, it was the Western "grand narrative" of the conquest of nature through objective science, rational (phallo-logo-centric) discourse, and its world-transforming technology.

Excuse me, but technology and penises? Really? And how can postmodernism be a narrative that isn't one? Easy: just throw out your phallocentric logic, and anything is possible. 

Wait -- cut off your ontological johnson? 

Some things are too stupid to critique, so I'm tempted to move on -- back to our survey of philosophical starters and nonstarters. To be sure, postmodernism is one of the latter, but I had wanted to proceed in order. There are rules. 

In the book we're using as a template, there are chapters on the Cynics and Sceptics, but postmodernists are the opposite: naive, credulous, and parochial. They're also dickless, but it's nothing to boast about.

Actually, the Cynics weren't cynical in our sense of the word, but were surprisingly dudish: "They were what we would now call dropouts" who embraced "a basic, simple life." However, they eventually went too far and became more than a little nihilistic, advocating "no government, no private property, no marriage, and no established religion."

But Diogenes went even further than John Lennon's most florid imaginings. He

aggressively flouted all the conventions, and deliberately shocked people, whether by not washing or by dressing, if at all, in filthy rags, or living in a burial urn, or eating disgusting food, or committing flagrant acts of public indecency. 

A pederast? It doesn't say. But given his retrograde attitude, he would likely have had no compunction to steal a valued item, nor does it say whether he purchased the burial urn, but it's not like you can rent one. Even the most modestly priced receptacle is a hundred and eighty dollars, but they range up to three thousand. And there's no Ralph's anywhere.

Well, say what you want about the Cynics, at least it's an ethos. Unlike the Sceptics. These dipshits beliefed in nussing! NUSSING! 

Recall that Socrates knew that he didn't know anything, but at least he believed "that knowledge was possible, and, what is more, he was bent on acquiring some." But the Sceptics maintained "an active refusal to believe anything." 

In a way, they confronted the same problem as the postmodernists, in that there were so many conflicting narratives on offer, why not jettison the whole belief in narratives? 

Seeing "the diversity of opinions that are to be found among human beings," they essentially said fuck it:  

For almost everything believed by the people in one place there seem to be people somewhere else who believe the opposite.... The best thing was to stop worrying and just go with the flow, that is to say swim along with whatever customs and practices prevail in the circumstances we happen to find ourselves in.

Truly truly, confined to such a worldview, strikes are gutters and gutters are strikes, and who can say there's any objective difference, even in a league game?

Nevertheless, no one is wrong about everything. Gödel smiles: 

[Pyrrho] pointed out that every argument or proof proceeded from premises which it did not establish. If you tried to demonstrate the truth of those premises by other arguments or proofs then they had to be based on undemonstrated premises. And so on it went, ad infinitum. No ultimate ground of certainty could ever be reached. 

Is he wrong? Yes he is, because Gödel's point is not that we cannot know truth, rather, that we can know truths that we cannot be proved with mere logic. Big difference.  

True enough, reason per se is tautological:

What a valid argument proves is that its conclusions follow from its premises, but that is not at all the same as proving that those conclusions are true. 

This constitutes a vicious epistemological circle, such that "every 'proof' rests on unproven premises," from "logic, mathematics, and science" to "everyday life." 

Having said that, some arguments are better than others. And the best argument of all is that we can indeed know a great deal about everything -- which is to say, Being -- but that we can never know everything about anything, not so much as a single gnat.

And for the same reason. In other words, the same principle accounts for our capacity to know being but never know it fully, for then we would be this principle, which is to say, God.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

That's Not Empathy, That's Post-Maturity

Democracy is a miracle, considering human psychological disabilities (Eli Sagan, in Landes).

I'll go one step further: considering human psychological abilities. In fact, Landes implicitly says as much:

[I]n the twenty-first century, some of the most determined, even dogmatic cognitive egocentrics come from the most progressive, empathic circles of warm thinkers and activists. For there are two major variants to cognitive egocentrism: the unempathic projection of ill-will and the overly empathic projection of good will. 

In reality, neither variant is truly empathic, because neither recognizes the actual thoughts and feelings of the other person or group. At best, the second variant is presumptuous or condescending.

It is also self-evidently immature, since genuine empathy involves the ability to place oneself in the other fellow's sandals or under his soiled keffiyeh. Pretending a jihadi psychopath is just like the rest of us makes one clueless at best, not empathic. 

Likewise pretending Islam is a Religion of Peace, or that jihad doesn't exist, or that the Koran doesn't mean what it says about Jews and Christians, pigs and dogs. Empathy is not masochism. 

I'm also reminded of something Ogden says:

In the paranoid-schizoid position, everything is what it is (i.e., events speak for themselves), whereas in the [more mature] depressive [AKA historical] position, nothing is simply what it appears to be (events do not have intrinsic meaning).

At the extremes this implies on the one hand immaturity, but also something like "post-maturity," or overshooting the mark -- for example deconstruction, whereby everything means anything (e.g., the "living Constitution"). 

In fact, Landes refers to the latter as eisogesis which involves "aggressively reading outside meaning into a given text," or "imposing meaning" onto it (in contrast to standard exegesis).

Recall the odious Rashida Tlaib, who claims that From the river to the sea is just "aspirational." Never mind that it is the aspiration to genocide, precisely. 

Elsewhere Landes defines cognitive egocentrism as "projecting one's mentality into others," and properly speaking, projection is an immature defense mechanism, not an indication of maturity. 

In fact, Landes uses the term "demopath" to describe "enemies of human rights invoking them in order to destroy them." Thus, there's a whole lotta demopathology going on, especially among the young and immature.

Again, that's not empathy. It's not even Stockholm Syndrome. Nor is it even standard issue Jew hatred, rather, the same pomo or poco (postcolonial) stew of factors that motivates older progressives, which is to say, some combination of ignorance, stupidity, indoctrination, status anxiety, conformity, mental illness, and diabolical influence. 

That's what progressives are made of, and there are no other ingredients. For example, their smugness -- their facial punchability -- is really a reflection of status anxiety, while their bizarre characterization of conservatives is just projection (which is in turn a reflection of psychological immaturity). Likewise the ubiquitous intellectual dishonesty.  

The Golden Rule is a fine thing, but it only works with one's psychological cohort -- in other words, with people at roughly the same level of emotional maturity. To take an extreme example, it wouldn't have worked for the Jews vis-a-vis Hitler -- Gandhi's idiotic advice notwithstanding (speaking of insane demopathy). 

Regarding absence of empathy, 

People raised in cultures that are predominantly organized around cooperative rationality cannot imagine any other rationality: So when people use violence it must be that they are driven to it by desperation or searing injustice, and they will stop when given justice. No one, we think, could possibly prefer war (Landes).

Think again. Or rather, for the first time.

What is a little odd about progressives is how they assume the best of our enemies, but imagine -- to the point of delusional ideation --  the worst of conservatives, e.g., racism, sexism, fascism, et al. 

The former fails to see what is obviously there, while the latter sees things that aren't -- or, as was said above, the overly empathic projection of good will and the unempathic projection of ill-will, respectively.

Oh well. Life's Rich Pageant.

Theme Song

Theme Song