Saturday, March 30, 2024

God Aims Straight with Mostly Crooked Arrows

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that the theologian W. Norris Clarke often takes positions that reflect what I think, but thought I was the only one.  

I'm just flipping through the remainder of The Philosophical Approach to God, and here is an example that goes to the problem of omnipotence which most Christians don't seem to find problematic, but really bugs me. Doesn't mean I'm right, only that I am bugged. 

Clarke suggests that God really and truly gives us "a share in his own power" -- the mysterious power of free will -- such that we "determine the use to which this power is put, even to use it against the express conditional will of God (= sin)."

This "free self-limitation of God's exercise of His own unlimited power" solves at least two of my big problems, 1) the otherwise inexplicable but self-evident existence of free will, and 2) of God's responsibility for literally everything, including evil. 

There are Christians who will say that anything that happens is a result of God's Plan, but -- no offense -- some plan. Why blame him for our own stupid dreams and schemes?  

The point is that God can still have a plan, but that he has given man the power to mess up the plan. The following extended passage is another example of my thoughts in Clarke's words: "All that an orthodox Christian"

must hold today with respect to predestination is that God determines the general set of goals He wishes to achieve, the goals at which He aims the universe, and knows that in general He will be able to achieve by his suasive power, but does not determine ahead of time in detail whether or how each particular creature will achieve its share or not in this overall goal.

I can live with that. Problem solved. I am no longer bugged. The Cosmos is not a pre-written classical composition, rather, jazz, baby:

Divine providence unfolds by constant instantaneous "improvisation" of the divine mind and will -- from His always contemporaneous eternal now -- precisely to fit the actual ongoing activities, especially the free ones, of the creaturely players in the world drama.

Couldn't have said it better. As suggested a few post back, the immanent Trinity is much like a jazz trio, and why not? If the Father knows exactly what the Son will play, what's the point? 

God does not "foresee," from His point of view, anything: He only sees what is going on, and acts accordingly. In a word, predestination does not and should not imply total predetermination. It leaves a large dose of indetermination, to be made determinate -- not ahead of time, independently, but only contemporaneous with the actual ongoing development of the world.

Otherwise it's not jazz, it's a cosmic muzak that could be produced by a machine. But God is no more a machine than is man, and for the same reason. 

Back to Gödel for a moment, he proved that, whatever our minds are, they cannot be machines, i.e., formal system reducible to mathematical knowledge. We cannot be "thinking machines":

the mind, being in fact "alive," can always go one better than any formal, ossified, dead system can. Thanks to Gödel's theorem, the mind always has the last word (in Goldstein).

A trinitarian metaphysic has certain extremely important entailments, otherwise -- truly truly -- why bother? If it's just a radical monism in disguise, then Christianity has added nothing fundamentally new to our understanding of how God rolls.

Another thing that bugs me -- as you know -- is how this squares with the radical immutability of God. The next chapter addresses this problem, which again, doesn't seem problematic to most Christians. 

In this chapter Clarke critiques Whitehead's process philosophy, which I agree goes too far in the other direction, equating God with pure change, so to speak: as the old gag goes, ask a process philosopher if God exists, and the answer is Yes, but not yet

That can't be right, so how to reconcile change and changelessness?

[O]ur metaphysics of God must certainly allow us to say that in some real and genuine way God is affected positively by what we do.

After all, if we can receive love and knowledge and God can't, this would seem to imply that we have a perfection that God lacks. Clarke suggests that

God's "receiving" from us, being delighted at our response to His love, is really His original delight in sharing with us in His eternal Now His own original power of loving and infinite goodness which has come back to him in return.

Is it going Too Far to say that "God is not only the universe's great Giver, but also thereby its great Appreciator, its great Receiver?" 

This was essentially Hartshorne's position -- that God is both ultimate cause and ultimate effect. Curiously, he doesn't ground this in the Trinity, but the first thing that occurs to me is that the Son is a kind of eternal and "ultimate effect" (and relation) of the Father. 

Is this wrong? Is this sort of thing frowned upon? Because I have another book by Clarke called The One and the Many, and it says that God

might be said -- in an at first perhaps shocking, but to me illuminating metaphor -- to be the Great Jazz Player, improvising creatively as history unfolds.... 

The complete script of our lives is not written anywhere ahead of time, before it happens, but only as it actually happens, by God and ourselves working it out together in our actual ongoing now's.

Problem solved. In another essay, he writes the following, which is pretty much my favorite meta-idea:

God as the ultimate One now appears as both the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, at once the Source and the Goal of the restless dynamism of all of nature, of all finite beings.  

The structure of this "total journey" is "in the form of a circle," the Great Circle of Being, whereby

In the emergence of creatures from their first source is revealed a kind of circular movement, in which all things return, as to their end, back to the very place from which they had their origin in the first place (Thomas, in Clarke).  

Having said that, the completion of the Great circle still "needs a mediator that can take it up into itself and somehow carry it back Home with itself," AKA the accomplice -- or straight arrow, as it were -- alluded to in yesterday's post. Indeed, one who will even go to hell and back in order to complete the circle.

Friday, March 29, 2024

The Escape from Mathematics into the Divine Economy

To repeat: either Ø or O. If the latter, then
somewhere hidden within this unlimited horizon of being there exists an actually infinite Plenitude of Being [O], in which all other beings participate yet of which they are but imperfect images (Clarke).

Or in the words of of the mystic Angelus Silesius, "The abyss in me calls out to the abyss in God." This means that the ironist Nietzsche is ironically² correct: "If you gaze for long into an abyssthe abyss gazes also into you."


Celestial Central on the line: "The existence of this Infinite Center of being"

now gives full intelligibility to the horizon of being itself, as its unifying center and source, and also confers magnificent intelligibility on the natural dynamism of my mind and the whole intellectual life arising out of it (Clarke).

Woo hoo! Who says there's no such thing as a free launch? 

This at once launches us in a new direction, no longer along merely horizontal lines at the same level of things, but a vertical ascent toward qualitatively ever-higher and richer realities.  

Very Gödelian, in that we "comprehend and leap beyond any finite or series of finites" (Clarke). Ans as Gödel said, "It was something to be expected that sooner or later my proof will be made useful for religion." Indeed, it turns out that

our minds, in knowing mathematics, are escaping the limitations of man-made systems, grasping the independent truths of abstract reality....

[O]ne can't do any mathematics at all, not even basic arithmetic, without referring implicitly to the infinite.... There remains something -- always -- that eludes capture in a formal system.... (Goldstein).

Well, good. We won't press the point, because either you get it or you don't. The alternative is an "existential absurdity"

ordered ineluctably toward a simply non-existent goal, magnetized, so to speak, by the abyss of nothingness, of what is not and can never be (Clarke).

But "an existing human dynamism without goal would be unintelligible" -- like having eyes in the absence of light or ears with nothing to hear. Let those with ears hear, and let those with an intellect be conformed to O,

which confers upon it [the intellect] total and magnificent meaningfulness and opens out before it a destiny filled with inexhaustible light (ibid.).

We use the symbol (¶) to stand for "human thought as oriented toward Infinite Being," or the "condition of possibility of all our thinking" (ibid.).

Nevertheless, "Man is the being who can affirm or deny his own rationality," and it says so in Genesis 3. Ultimately,   

Man is an embodied affirmation of the Infinite.

Or the denial thereof. Our choice. The bottom line is that 

Every knower knows God implicitly in anything it knows (Thomas).  

Supposing you know what knowledge is, i..e,. metaknow in the manner of Gödel: 

our minds, whatever they are, cannot be digital computers.... even in our most technical, rule-bound thinking -- that is, mathematics -- we are engaging in truth-discovering processes that can't be reduced to the mechanical procedures programmed into computers....

[O]ur minds, in knowing mathematics, are escaping the limitations of man-made systems, grasping the independent truths of abstract reality (Goldstein). 

Knowing extreme reality requires extreme seeking. Or at least seeking off the groomed trails in the Valley of Tenure. More like cross country seeking: 

A journey is indeed needed to find a God who appears to be absent at first in the order of explicit conceptual knowledge. But it is a journey within, into the depths of my own self, to discover the treasure always present but hidden at first from the clouded vision of my sense-bound eyes (Clarke). 

Again, there is O, and there is its inverse image, so to speak, in man -- like "an image of the divine infinity in silhouette," or

an infinite capacity for God, or, more accurately, a capacity for the Infinite, which can be satisfied by nothing less.

As if 

God had broken the coin of His infinity in two, holding on to the positive side Himself and giving us the negative side, then launching us into the world of finites with the mission to search until we have matched our half-coin with His.

Mission accompliced.

That's a good point, Petey: is it possible to accomplish this divine mission without the accomplice of the Son? 

Maybe it's the Norco talking, but, extending the analogy, the Incarnation is God emptying his bank account and giving us the whole treasure through whom we can cash in our chimps to the First Bank of Eternity. Otherwise, the numbers can never add up.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Is There a Father in the House?

Bob, you can't talk that way and expect to have any readers.

What -- Father reality, Mother intellect, and all that? I can back that up, you know.

No doubt, but must you?

To repeat what was said at the end of yesterday's post, the mind and reality are female and male respectively, in a union that gives birth to the concept or "word." Continuing with the same book, The Universe as Journey, Clarke writes that

It is because of my belief in this "nuptial relationship" between the mind and reality that I feel such antipathy toward the epistemology of Immanuel Kant.

Not only was Kant a confirmed old bachelor, but he very much wants the restavus to live as infertile eggheads:

Rather than allowing reality to reveal itself to the human mind by actively informing it, the Kantian mind is more like an aggressive all-male activist, actively imposing its own prefabricated a priori forms on the disordered raw material of the sense manifold coming in.

A Kantsplainer, that's what he is, forcing reality to conform to his own preconceptions about it. Ideology as such -- e.g., feminism -- is always a very bad man

[I]t seems to me that the feminine model of the mind as mother enshrines a much deeper and more accurate insight into the fundamental relationship between the mind and reality than the Kantian masculine model.

Agreed, but I'll bet we could deduce this on purely metaphysical grounds, since Male and Female are (or symbolize) a primordial metacosmic complementarity that will inevitably pop & mom up in some form or fashion, nor can we have one without the other. We can't have two fathers, nor one allone, the Son being the "passive other" in relation to the Father. 

There are also levels and angles, such that, looked at another way, the world can be feminine, i.e., Maya or Prakriti, the Purusha being the detached observer of the eternal Dance of Appearances.

If we're in the mood to deepak the chopra, we could also say that wave is feminine and particle masculine, and here again the one is always implicit in, and irreducible to, the other. Even Jesus had a mother, and this mother is now the Church, but that's a different rabbit hole.  

Let's move on to another book by Norris Clarke, The Philosophical Approach to God. Clarke is one of the top five Theologians Who Speak to Me, such that reading him is like hearing myself think. 


As we reflect on the activities of our intellectual knowing power, we come to recognize it as an inexhaustible dynamism of inquiry, ever searching to lay hold more deeply and widely on the universe of reality.

This drive is infinite, bearing in mind that infinitude as such is the feminine pole of the Absolute-Infinite complementarity alluded to above. In other words, Absolute and Infinite are the first and last words of the Male-Female complementarity.

It is impossible to restrict [the Intellect's] horizon of inquiry to any limited area of reality, to any goal short of all that there is to know about all that there is.

Any finite resting place always reveals more beyond: "This process continues indefinitely in ever-expanding and ever deepening circles," and I say that the ontological goround of this epistemological circle is located in the Trinity, precisely, in which the Son eternally knows the Father, and is the Father's eternal knowledge-Word.

From our end of the metacosmic dance, "the mind must have a dynamic a priori orientation, an aptitude or affinity, for all that is, for the totality of being." Indeed, nothing could be as experience-near as the experience of this infinite horizon of Being. The question is the nature of this Being at the other end of our experience. 

Is it only we who pursue It? Or does It pursue us, so to speak? This goes to what I call the Divine Attractor, which always and everywhere exerts a kind of vertical-gravitational -- or teleological -- pull on us: It "naturally attracts or draws it to [I]tself," such that we always have

a dim, obscure, implicit, but nonetheless real awareness of this goal as drawing it [the intellect].... the mind has, from its first conscious movement from emptiness toward fulfillment, a kind of implicit, pre-conceptual, anticipatory grasp or foretaste of being as the encompassing horizon and goal of all its inquiries.

So, Kant is correct about our pre-conceptual awareness of reality. It's just that he needs a bigger pre-concept, this being nothing less than O. Here is another example of Bob's thoughts in Clarke's words:

The entire mental life of man consists in gradually filling in this at first conceptually empty and indeterminate but limitless horizon of being with increasingly determinate conceptual comprehension, as we step by step come to know one part of this totality after another.

My life in a notshall: every shall of truth revealing the next not over the infinite horizon of being. Any attempt to limit or enclose the latter is, well, a very anti-Gödelian thing to do. We really have only two choices: either 

the mind is doomed to endless rebounding from one finite to another, with no final satisfactory or unqualified fulfillment ever attainable, or even possible. Our restless, unquenchable search has no actually existing final goal.

A "living absurdity," like two empty mirrors reflecting one one another and enclosing us in a vain tautolontology -- or like two hysterical sisters with no man in the house. 


somewhere hidden within this unlimited horizon of being there exists an actually infinite Plenitude of Being [O], in which all other beings participate yet of which they are but imperfect images.

This Being -- O -- is

the adequate, totally fulfilling goal of the dynamism of our minds, matching superabundantly the inexhaustible abyss of our own capacity and desire to know: one abyss, a negative ["female"] one, calling out to another, a positive ["male"] one.

Now we still have two mirrors, only like the eternal reflection of the Father in the Son. A few posts back we suggested that the very notion of adequation or conformity to the Real is anchored in the principle of the Trinity, which, you might say, is the eternal conformity of Son to Father. And we in turn are images of of the Father's image.  

Maybe a good place to pause and reflect.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Mother Intellect and Father Reality

Since the Cosmos has a beginning and an end, does this make it a journey? Certainly it's a story that can only be revealed in time. 

Act one: Existence!, an exquisitely fine-tuned big bang chock full of implicit information. Act two: Life!, the emergence of self-organizing and interiorly related dissipative structures. Act three, Man, or rational, self-aware, and intersubjective beings, AKA persons. Act four: ??????

It depends on your metaphysic. Jews came up with the Messiah principle, the appearance of the one who, in its most expansive sense, would explain what just happened over the previous 13.8 billion years. Other concepts that go to act four are redemption, salvation, metanoia, enlightenment, liberation, apocalypse, and, of course, Christ, or Christ consciousness.

Until the appearance of act four, man qua man lives in the tension between immanence and transcendence. For the Christian, act four has already happened. In other words, the eschatological fulfillment has occurred with the appearance of the Messiah. Nevertheless, time goes on.

That is to say, the play continues even though the end has been given to us. At this point perhaps I should consult Balthasar's five volume Theodrama for details, but I'd like to keep it simple. This is blogging. 

 Religious history ascends to a point from which it descends.

Except in so doing, the cosmos is transformed into something it wasn't before. It undergoes a substantial change, a change we cannot see or even anticipate until it occurs (just as the radical novelties of Life and Person could not be anticipated by what came before). 

These two (Life and Person) are inexplicable until the telos -- act four -- reveals what they were all about. Otherwise we are in the dark. We can know all about living things and human beings, but nothing at all about the mystery of Life Itself or the Miracle of Intersubjectivity.

Only because the cosmos is not a deterministic or closed system was it possible for the emergence of open systems, i.e., Life. Life always exists on the boundary between order and chaos, and man too exists on the boundary between immanence and transcendence or of time and eternity. 

Or, as Life is a horizontally open system, man is both horizontally and vertically open. Unless we ourselves default to closure, which is Voegelin's term

for 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. 

For me, "religious practice" in the broadest sense is simply the formal engagement with, and maintenance of, this openness to the transcendent pole of existence. An equivalent word for the denial of this existential reality is eclipse, i.e., 

the voluntary, perverse closure of consciousness against reality; a state that may become habitual and unconscious but never entirely free from the pressure of reality and the anxiety produced by the attempt to evade it.

Just as there are psychological defense mechanisms, this amounts to a vertical or pneumatic defense mechanism to deny transcendence. Looked at this way, materialism is not so much an ideology as a diagnosis, or what Voegelin calls a deformation, 

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. 

Such a deformation leads to deculturation, and here we are. This is the Gnostic rebellion (against reality), which involves the claim to

absolute cognitive mastery of reality.... As a religious or quasi-religious movement, gnosticism may take transcendentalizing or immanentizing forms (as in the case of Marxism).

Default to the transcendental pole takes the form of idealism, which the Aphorist calls an embarrassed theology.  

One way or the other, such individuals are living in a second reality, "a fictitious world imagined as true by a person using it to mask and thereby 'eclipse' genuine reality." 

Back to the open system of intersubjective personhood, it again dances along the boundary or horizon "between the known world and that which remains beyond it and consequently mysterious," or what we call O.

In a book called The Universe As Journey, Clarke characterizes it as "the journey of all being from the One and back to the One," similar to Dávila's description above. 

What drives this journey? For example, lower animals journey from life to death without ever thinking about it. What makes our journey any different?

I want to say the engagement with O, or in Clarke's words,

the deep natural drive of the human mind to lay hold of intellectually and understand as far as possible the entire order of being, all there is to know about all there is.

In the past I have compared our lives to a camera, which takes in a small amount of light with which to "develop" the photograph. Likewise, what is life but a darkroom in which we take the small amount of light given to us in order to develop our pneumagraph of the whole?

We can discover this unrestricted drive within ourselves if we reflect carefully on the life of our minds. 

Like any other drive, this one has an object, which is "the totality of all being. The natural correlative of the human mind is being itself in all its fullness." In other words,

Matching this natural drive of the mind toward being... is the complementary aptitude or openness of all being to be known, otherwise known as the intrinsic intelligibility of being, all being.

Turns out that neither the intellect nor being are closed, rather, open to one another in a kind of eternal con-versation or flowing together. Am I wrong?

Mind is for being, and reciprocally being is for mind.


Here again, this little word signifies relation. Indeed, Maritain goes so far as to call it a nuptial relation, "a natural marriage made in heaven, so to speak, where each partner completes the other," and isn't that sweet?

the human mind is analogously like the female, the mother; reality is like the father.... The mind, fecundated, informed, by reality, then actively responds, pours its own spiritual life into what it receives, gestates, then gives birth to the mental "word" or concept, which in turn flows over into the verbal word expressed to others. 

A lot in there to unpack, as they say. He and She, i.e., Reality and Intellect, and baby makes Three.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


We're still between books, so it's up to Dávila to inspire us again.

The only claim that I have is not having written a linear book, but a concentric book.

Okay then, how about a nonlinear but concentric post about posting? A metapost?

If laws of history existed, their discovery would abrogate them.

Lookin' at you, Karl.

The tacit presuppositions of any science are more important than its teachings. 

Our friend Socrates says the unexamined life is not worth living. Our friend Nicolás does him one better, observing that

Observing life is too interesting for one to waste time in living it.

That's a meta-aphorism that reminds me of Gödel's meta-logic. 

Come to think of it, I am interested in meta-anything, from -physics to -economics to -politics to -history and -religion. 

Even back in grad school I was drawn to metapsychology, or to the principles that must underlie the very possibility of psychology.

Metaquestions about any field, say about science or mathematics or the law, are not normally questions that are contained in the field itself; they are not, respectively, scientific or mathematical or legal (Rebecca Goldstein)

But Gödel's theorems "are spectacular exceptions to this general rule," for

They are at once mathematical and metamathematical. They have all the rigor of something that is a priori proved, and yet they establish a metaconclusion. It is as if someone has painted a picture that manages to answer the basic questions of aesthetics....

It is extraordinary that a mathematical result should have anything at all to say about the nature of mathematical truth in general (ibid.).

Nevertheless, here we are, in the metaworld illuminated by Gödel's metalight which shines on us all. 

If the universe is a system, there cannot be evidence to the contrary. 

Unless of course we know it is a system, in which case our knowledge transcends the system. 

Every system is a centaur: half man, half beast.

Famously, Christianity is not a system, much less an ideology, but a Person. Which should prevent it from devolving into a system. Nevertheless, there is the ubiquitous human temptation to enclose it in one. You know the type.

Visitors to a palace who admire only the latrines.


The most noble things are debased when certain beings admire them
Which is why

Every Christian has been directly responsible for the hardening of some unbeliever's heart. 
It reminds me of the sudden emergence of the hectoring Christ is King crowd, for it is possible to say something true without saying it because it is true, rather, for stupid, spiteful, or uncharitable reasons. And if I have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. Suffice it to say, Nick Fuentes is not our kind of Christian.

A person is a metaperson. It is what defines personhood, precisely. To deny this is to asphyxiate the soul, which only breathes in the metaspace of transcendence.

What is unintelligible is the region where finally the soul breathes.

Bearing in mind that 

An adequate theology would be unintelligible to us.
 One can't help noticing that 

The most customary form of suicide in our time consists in firing a bullet into the soul.

True, but why do they want to murder the restavus? 

Just as the person is a metaperson, reason is transrational. Nevertheless, 

Today man limits himself to being a rational animal, that is to say, an inventor of practical rules at the service of his animal nature.


When I hear the word “reason” being solemnly pronounced, I always get ready to listen to a sentence without meaning.

You Will Have Noticed that 

The modern tragedy is not the tragedy of reason vanquished, but of reason triumphant.
Everyone, it seems, has a piece of the puzzle, but my hobby is working on the metabook about the metacosmos.

In the specialist the most refined ideas about pieces of the universe cohabit with the most abject clichés about the universe itself.

A book about books? We used to have one that functioned as such. Allan Bloom observed that "In the United States,"

the Bible was the only common culture, one that united the simple and the sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old, and -- as the very model for a vision of the whole of things...

But with its decreasing influence, "the very idea of such a total book is disappearing," and "without the book even the idea of the whole is lost." We've tossed out our metabook about metareality, and are now stuck in the infra-reality of the left. More books than ever, but about nothing.

I, like any foolish Man of Today, once had no interest in the Bible, except to scorn it.

No one scorns the foolishness of yesterday as much as the fool of today does.


When what an intelligent man likes seems uninteresting to us, we pay attention.

I kept bumping into such intelligent men whom it was impossible for me to scorn.

Ideas tyrannize the man who has few.
Those terrible simplifiers with one idea tyrannize the restavus.

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Perennial Ideology

Everything that can be reduced to a system ends up in the hands of fools. --Dávila

As often as not the title comes to me before the post. This one is apparently in reference to the perennial philosophy (and religion), the school of thought to which folks like Schuon, Guenon, and Cooomaraswamy belong. For Schuon,

Strictly speaking, there is but one sole philosophy, the Sophia Perennis; it is also -- envisaged in its integrality -- the only religion.

The latter is "the primordial, universal and underlying religion," which comes down to "discernment between the Real and the illusory, or between the Permanent and the impermanent," the practice of which involves an "attachment to the Permanent or to the Real."

Now, the Permanent and the Real are precisely what postmodernism denies, or in other words, it affirms sophistry, Gnosticism, and post-Christian neo-barbarism. And here we are. 

Schuon would say that an orthodox religion represents a more or less adequate expression of this a priori and universal one. 

I don't disagree -- after all, there is only one Cosmos and one human nature. But what is the the content of this perennial religion? For Schuon, Vedanta is the most adequate expression of it, whereas I am a Trinitarian man, and both can't be true, at least not without some tweaking. Recall Augustine's crack that

that which is known as the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist; from the beginning of the human race until the time when Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion, which already existed began to be called Christianity.

One way or another, religion conveys an implicit metaphysic that is more or less adequate to the full range of reality. For example, we recently published a post on The Metaphysics of Jesus, which claimed that

one should not be a Christian for any other reason than its truth. Or at least Christianity should be truer than any alternative -- meaning that it should simultaneously explain more than any other metaphysic on offer, without unexplaining anything important.

For us, a Trinitarian metaphysic accounts for a lot of things that the non-Trinitarian must yada yada over, in particular, relation, which turns out to be irreducible to anything less. 

Conversely, a radical monist framework is static, immutable, impersonal, and unrelated. As we've suggested before, this is a Greek import that cannot be easily reconciled with a Trinitarian metaphysic.

For Schuon, the first principle is Beyond-Being. But Guess What? It is actually related to Being. He would say that Being is an emanation of Beyond-Being, but we say the Relation between them is the indispensable Thing.

If we're in an adventurous mood, we might even say that Father and Son is a way of speaking of Beyond-Being and Being, respectively -- or generative Source and engendered Word, Origination and Procession, Begetter and Begotten. This originating Source never stops speaking the Word it has always spoken, which speaks to their eternal relation

God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.

From, through, and begotten are all relations, which is why we say that ultimate reality is neither substance nor relation, but substance-in-relation. Am I wrong?

But the title of this post is The Perennial Ideology, so let's deal with that. The first thing that occurs to me is Genesis 3 All Over again, or, in the words of the Aphorist,

The radical error -- the deification of man -- does not have its origin in history. Fallen man is the permanent possibility of committing the error.
Yesterday we mentioned Chesterton's Orthodoxy, which puts some flesh on this bony assertion. Where Dávila is a man of few words, Chesterton is a man of many, although liberally sprinkled with aphoristic nuggets such as

Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true.

As mentioned in the previous post,  

The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

We also alluded to Gödel's Theorems, which prove that a logical system can be consistent or complete, but not both. Similarly, Chesterton writes of how   

The madman's explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense satisfactory.


his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large. In the same way the insane explanation is quite as complete as the sane one, but it is not so large.
 Along these lines,

Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite.... 

the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction. The lunatic's theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way (emphasis mine).

Put another way, 

The moment his mere reason moves, it moves in the old circular rut; he will go round and round his logical circle.... He is in the clean and well-lit prison of one idea.... He is without healthy hesitation and healthy complexity.

This is "the combination of an expansive and exhaustive reason with a contracted common sense," for example, vis a vis materialism:

As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman's argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out. 
He understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world.

Recall what the Aphorist says about one truth and countless errors, each of the latter a philosophical non-starter founded upon principles that reduce to absurdity -- for example, the denial of free will: 

It is absurd to say that you are especially advancing freedom when you only use free thought to destroy free will.

More generally,  

The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end.

This latter being the human -- or all too human -- end instead of the divine one; or Ø instead of O. Do this long enough, and everyone is living in darkness and tenure: 

one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought.

 Another non-starter is evolutionism, or metaphysical Darwinism:

Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism.

This is self-evident: a strictly consistent Darwinism can never even account for the truth of Darwinism, for  

it means that there is no such thing as an ape to change, and no such thing as a man for him to change into. It means that there is no such thing as a thing. At best, there is only one thing, and that is a flux of everything and anything. This is an attack not upon the faith, but upon the mind; you cannot think if there are no things to think about. You cannot think if you are not separate from the subject of thought.

This attack on the intellect comes down to a systematic violation of the three rules of thought: the principles of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle. It reminds me of the gag that the worse your logic, the more *interesting* the consequences to which it gives rise.

And we live in interesting times.  

the most characteristic current philosophies have not only a touch of mania, but a touch of suicidal mania (Chesterton).

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Cosmic Mind Jazz: Riffin' On the Aphorisms

He who adopts a system stops perceiving the truths that are within his reach. --Dávila

As mentioned a couple of posts back, transcendence and immanence are not symmetrical concepts: choose immanence and you are shut out of transcendence. 

But not really, because the intellect is immaterial, so one can only pretend to deny transcendence. Ideology of any kind is always transcendence pretending to be immanent. Which is why 

Everything that can be reduced to a system ends up in the hands of fools.

Note that the foolishness is not only located "in" the ideology, rather, prior to it, in the foolish choice to adopt one.

Now, choice itself is a function of transcendence and immateriality. Thus,

Determinism is ideology; freedom is experience.

As with transcendence and immanence, 

Necessity and freedom are not symmetrical concepts: in fact, if I affirm necessity, I deny any freedom, but if I affirm freedom, I do not deny any necessity.

And we affirm both freedom and necessity. Indeed, freedom in the absence of constraint is as unthinkable as determinism without freedom. If you think thinking is determined, think again, because the trinity of thought, freedom, and transcendence is irreducible to anything less. 

Which is another way of saying that we are condemned to freedom-truth-intellect, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. We just have to reconcile ourselves to this existential fact, regardless of how pleasant it is.

When the Aphorist speaks of fools and their systems, that's just another way of saying Gödel, whose theorems forever consign us to transcendence. Of course, some fools think they prove the opposite, but of course, they are fools and ideologues who actually prove our point:

no validation of our rationality -- of our very sanity -- can be accomplished using our rationality itself. How can a person, operating within a system of beliefs, get outside that system to determine whether it is rational? (Goldstein) 

This is reminiscent of Chesterton's gag about the madman having lost everything except his reason: 

Paranoia isn't the abandonment of rationality. Rather, it is rationality run amuck.... 'A paranoid person is irrationally rational.... Paranoid thinking is characterized not by illogic, but by a misguided logic, by logic run wild'" (ibid.).

Now, the ideologies of the left are nothing if not paranoid, nor will we bother to list them all, since You Know the Drill. And like any conspiracy theory, they are not falsifiable, which is to say, they magically transform any disproof into proof of the ideology. Neat trick! 

For example, if you point out that you are not a racist, this only proves you are one. 

Likewise, disprove the Existential Threat of climate change, and this only proves you are a tool of Big Oil. Prove that Brandon is a criminal, and you've only proven that you are spreading Russian Propaganda. Point out that biology proves the sexual dimorphism of male and female, and you are a Transphobe. Show that Marx doesn't know the first thing about economics, history, or human nature, and this only proves your False Consciousness. Etc.

It really goes back to the allegory of Plato's cave, on which our immanent friends are so many footnuts. They are hypnotized by the dancing shadows produced by the image makers of the state-media-academic complex. To transcend all that bullshit is to have left the cave. 

Recall what happens next in the allegory: the escapee returns to the cave to tell the prisoners the good news, but they're not happy to hear it. Thus, "Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave" (Prof. Wiki).

Which is why they treat us the way they do. No good deed goes uncanceled.

It is easier to convince the fool of what is disputable than of what is indisputable.

And it doesn't get more indisputable than Gödel. 

Along these lines, the Aphorist says

There are a thousand truths and only one error.  

Hmm. What error might that be? Must be the same one Chesterton talks about -- the "thought that stops all thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped." 

Indeed, flipping through these two chapters of Orthodoxy -- The Maniac and The Suicide of Thought -- they might as well be a commentary on the Theorems, even though the book was published several decades before Gödel hatched them. Might be fun to review this in the next post, since there's nothing else in the pipeline.

Nor is there actually anything in the pipeline today. Rather, we're just riffin' on the aphorisms. Sometimes, when between books, I'll look to them for inspiration and hope for the best, today being one of those days.

Here's another good one that touches on the theme introduced by the first aphorism above:

Politics is the science of social structures that are adequate for the coexistence of ignorant beings.

Substitute ideology for politics, and we appreciate how ideology explains the ideologue, just not the restavus: we're not simple or small enough to fit into their absurcular cognitive prison cave. Indeed,

Within solely Marxist categories not even Marxism is explicable. 

Like any other ideological system, it can be consistent or complete, but not both. Which is why

Marxism turns the intelligence it touches into tenured stone.

I added the tenured part, but am I wrong?! Any ideology -- from materialism to identity politics to Darwinism -- adequately explains the man who adopts it, but imagine being such a simpleton!

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