Saturday, April 06, 2024

The Journey Home

Picking up where we left off, if our Cosmos

were totally unconscious there would be no way for it to complete its return to God in the Great Circle of Being as we shall see in a moment when dealing with the universe as Journey (Clarke). 

That moment has arrived. All aboard! 

Not to go woo woo on you right away, but as I said in the Book -- and I meant it -- if the Cosmos is conscious anywhere it is conscious everywhere, due its part-whole, or holo-fractal organization. That's not the Norco talking, because I ran out. I mean it in a very literal way, but let me first defer to another authority:

The order of the parts of the universe to each other exists in virtue of the order of the whole universe to God (Thomas).

Argument from authority is a logical fallacy.

That's true, unless what the authority says can be independently verified. Nobody's perfect, but

The source of every imperfect thing lies necessarily in one perfect being (ibid).


The complete perfection of the universe demands that there should be created natures which return to God (ibid).

Assumes facts not in evidence, i.e., God. 

Okay, let's leave God out of it for now, and put it this way: 

Intellect is the first author and mover of the universe.... Hence the last end of the universe must necessarily be the good of the intellect. This, however, is truth. Hence truth must be the last end of the whole universe (ibid.).  

Still sounds circular to me.

Precisely, bearing in mind that this is the only alternative to a radical absurcularity, or cosmic nul de slack. It's either one or the other:

The creature is vanity in so far as it comes from nothingness, but not in so far as it comes from God (ibid).

And if we came from nothingness we could never know it. Turns out that -- because of the holofractality referenced above -- the intellect is "naturally capable of knowing everything that exists," and 

every intellectual being is in a certain manner all things, in so far as it is able to comprehend all being by the power of its understanding (ibid.). 


This ordering of the intellect to infinity would be vain and senseless if there were no infinite object of knowledge (ibid.).

But there is an infinite object of knowledge: O. Which is why we aren't plunged into the darkness of vanity and senselessness:

The intellectual light dwelling in us is nothing else than a kind of participated image of the uncreated light in which the eternal ideas are contained (ibid.). 

Which is why I find the cosmos s'durned innarestin' -- the way the whole human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself down through the generations.... Aw, look at me, I'm ramblin' again. Let's get back to Clarke. He says that

our -- and any -- universe turns out to be a radically personalized one, in its source, its meaning, and its destiny.

Any universe? 

The person is ultimately the key to why there is anything at all and not rather nothing.

And again, an isolated person is not, and could not be, a person: "the notion of person itself necessarily turns out to be interpersonal. There is no 'I' without a 'Thou,' and hence a 'We.'" 

So the real mystery is intersubjectivity. How did it get here, and by virtue of what principle? One possibility is that Christianity is true, for the existence of God "as a Triune Personal Being, or "a Three in One" 

sheds immense light on the very nature of being and person. For it reveals that the Supreme Being... must be interpersonal, a Personal 'We,' rather than a solitary, utterly simple, and nonrelational One. No wonder, then, that human personality also is intrinsically interpersonal, since it us such a lofty image of the divine perfection.

Unless you have a better idea. Or a more comprehensive vision, one that leaves nothing out, in particular, the interpersonal personality which is the very lens through which we see this and any other vision. In this vision there is first an exodus,

or journey outward of all created being from its Infinite Source, the emanation of the Many from the One.... But no sooner has the outgoing journey begun than it pivots upon itself and starts back on a journey home again to its Source, drawn by the pull of the Good in each being.

Bearing in mind that the Good of the intellect is Truth. To repeat what Thomas says above, 

the last end of the universe must necessarily be the good of the intellect. This, however, is truth. Hence truth must be the last end of the whole universe.

Or as Clarke puts it,

the exodus and the return, the leaving home and the returning thereto, the way out and the way back, are a journey motif woven into the very ontological structure of every being and thus of the universe itself as a whole.

Man is the mediator, the "bridge builder"

standing in the midst of the material universe, arising out of it as a synthesis of matter and spirit, a microcosm imaging the whole in himself, and with the capacity through his intellect and will to understand the whole process, the entire journey and its meaning...

That's pretty much the vision of my divine cosmody, and I'm sticking to it: badda-bing, badda-BANG!

the Big Bang Theory of the origin of the material universe now reveals that the entire cosmos from the first fiery moment of its origin to the present is enveloped in a single great unified journey. Physics and metaphysics here reinforce each other. And the spiritual journey of each one of us becomes a microcosm of the larger journey.

Someone ought to write a book.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Person, Light, and Presence

To reset: we've been talking about an autobiographical essay by Norris Clarke, in which he discusses six themes that "have dominated my metaphysical reflection over the last 50 years" and "are central in my philosophical vision of the universe." We've saved the last for last, which is 

the person, or the universe as radically personalized, from and for persons as the supreme value in the universe.

You know the drill: last in execution is first in intention, all other metacosmic intentions being #2 or lower. Persons are not only open to the purpose of the cosmos, they are that purpose. But only if understood in a certain way, since the wrong way leads to cosmic narcissism, solipsism, nihilism, and even progressivism, which, you might say, is the sum of all metaphysical heresies and misguided intentions. 

By the way, I don't have any idea what Clarke is about to say, having not read the book in many years. But since we think alike, I trust that we'll get a post out of it.

He starts with Thomas' claim that the person is "that which is most perfect in all of nature," but of course this is mostly in the form of potential. Other animals are limited by the potential to fulfill their genetic program, but the span of human potential is vertically unlimited at both ends, from saint to psychopath, or from wisdom to tenure.

While tracking down the source of that quote, I found some other relevant observations by the T-man, for example, 

The further a being is distant from that which is Being itself, namely God, the nearer it is to nothingness. But the nearer a being stands to God, the further away it is from nothingness. 

Which goes to the vertical spectrum in which man qua man is always -- and cannot not be -- situated. This means that if we could travel back in time and track down the first man... 

Well first of all, for reasons we'll probably get into later, it would have to be the first men, since a radically individual person is a cosmic impossibility, a metaphysical nonstarter. Supposing such a being, how would he go about ushering the other men into the vertical world of the very intersubjectivity that defines man? 

It would be exactly like, say, trying to teach language to an ape. No matter how hard you try, the ape will still be enclosed in a slightly larger apehood. I won't belabor the point, but you will have noticed that God says, and I quote, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, which is what I would call a Pretty Big Hint about our nature. 

Moreover, male and female he created them, which implies that otherness and relation are built into the human cake. Just like inside God's own cake. 

In the later version, God literally fashions woman from man, which I take as a mythopoetic way of saying that they share the same substance -- or substance-in-relation, as we will later elaborate. Horizontally speaking, man refers to woman, and vice versa, each being a vertical prolongation of God's own interior relationality.

The classic definition of man is the "rational animal," but prior to this he must be the relational animal, otherwise he could never be reasonable, since reason would be unrelated to the world or to anything else. Reasoning is always about

Here's another good one by Thomas, going to the telos of creation (and why #6 is really #1, as per the above):

The highest step in the whole process of generation of creatures is the human soul, towards which matter tends as its ultimate form.... Man is therefore the end [i.e., telos] of all generation (emphasis mine).

Here again, matter is first in execution, but only a materialist would say that it is the end of things. There are things higher than matter, otherwise to hell with it. Turns out

it is possible for the perfection of the whole universe to have its existence in one single being.... the ultimate perfection to which the soul can attain is that in it is reflected the whole order of the universe and its causes.

It seems that the existence of a single Perfect Man is the whole durn point of the Cosmos, or of what this is all leading up to. Let's hold that thought in abeyance and get back to Clarke. He asks "What is so special about the person that situates it at the apex of the order of being," hmm?

We can't just say the Bible says so, because the Bible is not self-authenticating. Rather, for us, it must be true by virtue of the standards of truth. 

Of course, it reveals certain truths that we could not know in the absence of their revelation to us, but once known, they make a heckuva lot of sense, which in turn tends to authenticate the text, or in other words, how could such primitive people know such timeless truths about human nature without a little vertical assistance?

What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski?

Exactly what powers distinguish us from the beasts and nihilists? I would say two things -- not the two you're thinking of, but rather, Truth and the Freedom to know it. 

Now, I believe in natural selection as much as the next ape, but it can in no way account for its own truth and our freedom to know it. And this truth-freedom reduces to the immaterial intellect, which obviously cannot be explained by any material process. 

Here again, intellect is related to the world, but with a big difference. Lower animals are also related to the world, but only in an exterior sense. They cannot know interiors, that is, essences. My dog can pee on a tree, but knows nothing about the concept of treeness. 

Conversely, man is related to the interiority of things, beginning with the interior of other people, AKA intersubjectivity. It's how we are even having this conversation.

The luminous presence of human interiority. Absent this interiority, there would be no place for the light to shine. In Voegelin's terms, the light shines in the space between the poles of immanence and transcendence, and here we are. 

But what is the source of this mysterious light that bathes the intellect? Rabbi Leonard says There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in," but that makes it sound like an accident, when it's really Voegelin's metaxy, 

the experience of human existence as "between" lower and upper poles: man and the divine, imperfection and perfection, ignorance and knowledge, and so on.

For Clarke,

Personal being is nothing but being itself, freed from the limits of material modes of existence that hold it down in the darkness of un-self-conscious lack of self-presence, being itself allowed now to take on the full dimensions of what it is meant to be... 

The alternative -- your choice -- is what Voegelin calls scotosis, i.e., "Darkening, turning toward darkness. Voluntary ignorance," or the "eclipse of reality."

How to escape this self-inflicted blindness? Periagoge

Turning around, conversion. Plato's term for the cognitive and moral reorientation toward the True and the Good as such (Webb). 

Through such a metaphysical metanoia, we are, in Clarke's words, able 

to realize the full "nature" of being as presence, tending toward the ideal fullness, found only in God, of total luminous presence.... To be without restrictions, therefore, necessarily means to be personal.

That seems like a jump. Could you say a little more? 

[T]he unrestricted dynamism of the mind is a mystery of light, of super-personal being, rather than the darkness of infra-personal being.

Go on.

Not only must the ultimate Source of the universe be personalized being..., the rest of the universe derives from personal being.... for the universe to make full sense it would have to include personal created beings within it -- in a word, it would have to be for persons.

Put conversely, 

What could possibly be the point of a created universe entirely plunged in the darkness of unconsciousness, unable to know or appreciate that it is there at all? 

Hmm? It reminds me of Voegelin's QUESTION, which is his term for 

the tension of existence in its aspect as a questioning unrest seeking not simply particular truth, but still more the transcendental pole of truth as such: "not just any question but the quest concerning the mysterious ground of all being" (Webb). 

Truly truly, this puts the quest into the question, or the deustination into the journey, for if the Cosmos

were totally unconscious there would be no way for it to complete its return to God in the Great Circle of Being as we shall see in a moment when dealing with the universe as Journey. 

That's way over 1,000 words already, so that moment will have to await the next post.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Where the Action Is

Yesterday we discussed the first two of six themes of the Cosmic Symphony, 1) the unrestricted dynamism of the mind toward being, and 2) existence as an act of presence. 

Put these two together and we see a complementarity between the intellect's unrestricted desire to know the world, and the world's equally unrestricted intelligibility, which reduces to a luminous space of experience, and how convenient is that! 

We already have it on authority -- Voegelin's -- that EXPERIENCE as such is a "'luminous perspective' within the process of reality," and that's good enough for me. But we'll shed further light on the Subject of Experience in next post.  

Next up is what Clarke calls participation but I would call the holo-fractal structure of being. 

For example, he describes how "the immanent One in many is also a many from a transcendent One," or in other words, this is a weblike cosmos in which everything participates both in and with everything else, both horizontally and (because) vertically. 

Or, you could say that this is an interiorly related cosmos, but whence this mysterious interiority? I mean, here we are, experiencing the inside of the Cosmos. Here again, we'll save the definitive answer for next post. But don't worry, there's still lots to cover and uncover in this one.  

As to the horizontal worldwide web, we don't have to deepak the chopra to know that "An instant of time, without duration, is an imaginative logical construction," and that "each duration of time mirrors itself in all temporal durations" (Whitehead). Same with space:

In a certain sense, everything is everywhere at all times. For every location involves an aspect of itself in every other location. Thus every spatiotemporal standpoint mirrors the world (ibid.). 

I could cite many similar passages from The Book of the Same Name, for example, "If the whole did not participate and serve as the ground for the existence of the parts, the parts would not exist," and

Simply put, the classical assumption that the collection of parts constitutes the whole has proven invalid. We now know that the properties of parts can only be understood in terms of the dynamics of the whole, and that what we call a "part" is a pattern in the inseparable web of relations.

Back to Clarke, "Thus the whole universe appears as a vast participation system, a One in many which is also a many from One," and why not? "To be is to be together," such that "Togetherness and community are woven into the very stuff of all being, as being."

Again, convenient if we want to think about reality: "For if psyche mirrors nature and nature mirrors psyche," then "either can illuminate the other," and we're back to that mysterious Light to which we alluded at the end of the previous post. 

What is the source of all this luminosity? Why aren't we in the dark, or rather, how does experience become the sensorium of transcendental light? How many beings does it take to create an existential light bulb?

Good question. I'm gonna guess three, but that's getting ahead of ourselves.

Supposing two mirrors facing each other, we still require light in order to see anything in them. We'll hold that question in reserve and move on to the next theme, which Clarke calls Action, which strikes me as similar to our second theme, which was the idea of Existence as the Act of Presence.  

Action refers to 

the activity by which the various centers of existential energy in the universe pour over into self-expression and self-communication with each other. 

Without it -- inconveniently -- "all we would have would be a collection of isolated beings" bound up within themselves, "with no connections or communication with others, and hence no way of knowing them." A total eclipse of O, so No philosophy for you!

Every being would be plunged in total silence and darkness... a total "black hole," so to speak....

It is action alone that enables beings to come out of their isolation, connect with each other, influence each other, and communicate to each other. 


It is action that truly allows there to be a universe, that is, a turning of all towards oneness, togetherness.  

So, that's a relief: to even say Cosmos is to have assumed a great deal. Clarke says a great deal more about it, but you get the point. We'll move on to our next theme of the Cosmic Symphony, which is The Good, which -- surprise surprise -- is also "woven into the very fabric of being itself," just as God said all those years ago. 

It seems that there is an Ought built into the nature of things, which is conformity to the Good: "Being and value are inseparable," in that action is "dynamically drawn or magnetized by the good." 

Why, he's talking about Celestial Central, AKA the Great Attractor! And here again, I thought I was the only one. 

The last -- and for me, most important -- theme is The Person. We are going to save this for a separate post, because it is the principle that unifies all the others, and without which there wouldn't be any others. Truly truly, it is the very ground of being -- why you are and I am and we are.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

The Cosmic Symphony and How to Hear It

In an autobiographical essay called Fifty Years of Metaphysical Reflections, Clarke asks whether there is "something like a metaphysical bent of mind." Were we just born this way? If not, how did we get bent? 

To be sure, "not everyone has the aptitude or the inner attraction to become a self-propelling, self-motivated metaphysician." What are the seemingly inborn characteristics of such an autotelic personality? One is
A passion for unity, for seeing how the universe and all things in it fit together as a whole, a meaningful whole, a longing for integration of thought and life based on the integration of reality itself.

I have that longing. I didn't always have it, or rather, it began as a kind of (mustard?) seed that eventually got out of hand. 

It reminds me of a giant pine tree that began growing on the side of my house some thirty years ago. I didn't plant it, but just left it alone, and now it's too big to remove. Or at least too expensive. 

A second predisposition is a sense -- the sneaking suspicion -- that there exists

some kind of overall hidden harmony of the universe, which could be picked up and possibly spelled out if one listened carefully enough.

Like a musical sense which not everyone possesses, at least to the same degree:

I felt there was something great going on under the surface of things, some kind of hidden music, some harmony of all things that I could not quite hear but somehow knew was there and longed to lay hold of it in my consciousness. 

Same. Nietzsche too heard it, even while denying the composer:

The philosopher seeks to hear the echoes of the World Symphony and reproject it into concepts.

Clarke goes on to list six main themes of what what we shall call the Cosmic Symphony, beginning with The Unrestricted Dynamism of the Mind toward Being, by which he means 

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. This drive knows no limits short of the total understanding of all being, both in depth and in breadth [i.e., vertically and horizontally].

This requires a great deal of continuing education for which there is no fixed syllabus, since it involves both anything and everything. 

Frankly I can't keep up, because it involves assignments in physics, biology, anthropology, psychology, history, economics, politics, theology, and more. 

Since I can never catch up, I'm always looking for shortcuts, some way to reduce the sprawl to something manageable via unitary and unifying, cross-disciplinary concepts, more on these as we proceed.

Obviously nobody could never master a single one of these disciplines, let alone all of them:

as soon as we reach the limits of the thing in question..., the mind naturally rebounds beyond to something more. And so on and on until we reach the totality of all being. The natural correlative of the human mind is being itself in all its fullness. 


No, literally: we come to realize that the intellect as such is the inverse image of this "totality of all being." In the book, I symbolize this relation as [(¶) (⇆) () (O)]. That's what you call the visual representation of a unifying meta-concept.

At our end (¶) is the unrestricted desire to know, which corresponds to "the intrinsic intelligibility of being," or O. 

Thus there is openness at both ends: we are open to O, while O is open to being known. The noumena is not closed, a la Kant, but "open, in principle, to being known"; "Mind is for being, and reciprocally being is for mind." Otherwise to hell with it. We're just wasting our timelessness. 

To deny it [O] explicitly us to cut the nerve of any intellectual inquiry, since every inquiry presupposes, at least implicitly, that there is something there to be understood... 

The second great theme of our Cosmic Symphony is that Being itself is the act of Being, so -- in my words -- it is as if every existent is a fractal expression of this initial act of Being. 

This means that every real being, in virtue of its in-dwelling act of existence, has the power to express itself, relate itself to the rest of the universe, communicate its own existential energy to other beings. 

Not only is this a talking universe, it never shuts up, in that it is endlessly intelligible to intelligence, at every level. 

Looked at this way, knowledge is the bond or union between intellect and thing. The existence of any thing is itself "a kind of light" which "shines forth to other things." Finite beings "are not the source of their own existence," or in other words, "they are not 'the light itself." 

Rather, there is a kind of two-way Light that illuminates both things and the intellect that knows them. 

Two themes down, four more to go.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Critique of Pure Criticism

For a guy who thought it was impossible to know the thing itself, Kant sure went to a lot of trouble trying to make sure people understood his thing itself. 

After the publication of the Critique of Pure Reason he "felt it to be generally misunderstood," so he dumbed it down with a smaller and more accessible volume, the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science. At the same time, he revised the Critique, "still struggling to not to be misunderstood" (Magee). 

That right there is what you call ironic: if everything outside our minds conforms to our a priori ways of knowing it, then how can Kant make an exception for how we receive his work? Wouldn't it too just slide into our own preconceptual categories? He should rightly expect to be misunderstood, as proof of his theory.

I didn't come up with that critique of the Critique. Rather, I was flipping through a book by Norris Clarke called Explorations In Metaphysics, in which he explores this contradiction. 

Kant is very much the doorway into modernity and worse, so we need to go back and close that door and nail it shut if we want to get back on the right track. He is widely regarded as "the outstanding figure to have emerged in the subject since the ancient Greeks" (Magee), so we have no choice but to debunk him, good and hard.

I wonder what Schuon thought about Kant's bunkum? He calls it 

a gratuitous reaction against all that lies beyond the reach of reason; it voices, therefore, a priori an instinctive revolt against truths which are rationally ungraspable and which are considered annoying on account of this very inaccessibility. All the rest is nothing but dialectical scaffolding, ingenious or “brilliant” if one wishes, but contrary to truth.

Moreover, it is an

altogether “irrational” desire to limit intelligence; this results in a dehumanization of the intelligence and opens the door to all the inhuman aberrations of our century. In short, if to be man means the possibility of transcending oneself intellectually, Kantianism is the negation of all that is essentially and integrally human.

Anti-humanism masquerading as humanism; or a humanism that ushers in the infrahuman. And of course, in all of creation, only a human can fail to be what he is. Put another way, God and human are an endlessly fruitful cosmic complementarity. 

In Voegelin's terms, man qua man is always situated in the dynamic space between immanence and transcendence, whereas for Kant, the Transcendent Real is inaccessible to us. This is philosophical progress? Rather, it is the end of philosophy, as it blows up the bridge between intellect and reality.

Kant's "basic thesis" is "that the human mind projects its own forms onto reality rather than receiving them from reality" (Clarke). The essence of his so-called Copernican revolution in thought is that "it is our thinking that gives form to the world rather than the world that gives form to our thought."

You will have noticed that every ideology has a special exemption for the person who promulgates it. For example, consciousness is a function of class, except for Marx. Or, thinking is just a rationalization of the id, except for Freud. Or again, no one can know the thing itself, except for Kant's thing: he

quite obviously and without question takes for granted the existence of other persons like himself and just as real as himself..., and can receive and send, basically intact, intelligible messages from and to each other (Clarke).

Otherwise, why be so irritated at those of us who receive and reject the message? 

In fact, he became quite indignant when other philosophers did not get his message straight but misinterpreted it...

But of course we do understand communications from other people, because man as such is the intersubjective being, an intersubjectivity that arises in the transitional space between mother and infant. Of course, he knew nothing about developmental psychology. Still, perhaps it would have helped if he had had a child. 

But "nowhere in his works does he ever discuss how it is possible to know other human beings as real," and who are "able to receive from each other intelligible messages" -- "in a word, how information can be successfully communicated at all."

This reminds me of what Stanley Jaki said about the philosopher having to reach first base before pretending to get to second or third, much less make it all the way home. Kant nowhere explains how he got to first base, or in other words,

there is not a word in Kant as to how interpersonal dialogue is possible at all; it is simply taken for granted as the implicit framework of all his writing (Clarke).

Some critique! On the one hand he "insists that we cannot know any thing-in-itself as real outside of the field of our own subjective experience," but  

in the experience of an authentic successful interpersonal dialogue, it is impossible for him or anyone else to believe sincerely that the other is not equally as real as his own self and equally interacting with him... 

If "we inform the world, rather than the world informing us," why so irritated? Nevertheless, he "was indignant when others did not, he thought, get his message straight."

Now, we not only believe that interpersonal communication is possible, but that the Cosmos itself is a network of intelligible speech -- "a vast system of interactive communicating centers, with ourselves as privileged self-conscious centers in the midst of it all." Both Being as such and every particular being is "self-communicative." 

Don't look at what Kant says, rather, what he does, especially the very first thing he does, and which presupposes the rest: 

Whenever a philosopher offers the kind of message which is philosophy, it must contain, at the very minimum, a justification of the means used to convey the message to beings no less real than the author himself (Jaki).

Deny this, and the philosopher "will have to bring in through the back door the very objects the use of which his starting point failed to justify."  

This truth cannot be evaded, let alone refuted, because the refutation itself is an act of communication, an implicit falling back on objective means whereby alone other philosophers can be reached (ibid.).

An objective means of communication, like a book or something: "the first duty of a philosopher is to endorse the reality of the book (or the physical reality of a discourse) which is the means making his message available" (ibid.).

So the only flaw, as I see it, in Kant's reasoning, is that if it is true it is false, and besides, no one could know it.

Monday, April 01, 2024

A Heaping Helping of Nothing for Nobody

Different objects require different methods: if your only tool is a material hammer, then you can never hit the immaterial nail. 

As such, it is unscientific to pretend to contemplate what it would be unphilosophical not to contemplate. Contemplation is a method, but its object is not reducible to the object(s) of science, even while subsuming them.

Nevertheless, scientism is the Philosophy of the Hammer:

it ignores, not only the degrees of reality and the fact of our imprisonment in the sensory world, but also... the gushing forth of our world from an invisible and fulgurant Reality, and its reabsorption into the dark light of this same Reality (Schuon).

Fulgurant: amazingly impressive; suggestive of the flashing of lightning. This impressive flash of lightning tracks with what we hammered home a couple of posts ago vis-a-vis the Great Circle of Being:

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).

Schuon adds that "All of the Real lies in the Invisible," meaning that the most crippling kind of blindness sees only visible surfaces and superficial appearances. Rationalism is scarcely better, as its eyes see only backward, to what is inside the head subsequently projected outward: 

by wanting to exhaust all the knowable by thought alone, one ends by no longer knowing how to think at all.

More generally,  

By a curious and inevitable backlash, the abuse of intelligence is always accompanied by some inconsequentiality and some blindness (Schuon).

This is not to say that reason has no place in the scheme of things, only to recognize its limits:

a rationalist can be right on the level of observations and experiences; man is not a closed system, although he can try to be (ibid.).
Why is man not a closed system? Indeed, how did we ever transcend selfless instinct and selfish genes to become vertically open to the Real? To say that this defies Darwin was said even by Darwin:

with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.

He's not wrong:

Supposing Darwinism is true, how could Darwin know it without being a great exception to Darwinism? 

Must be because the Cosmos itself is an open system, which in turn is a reflection or vestige of the ultimate open system, which is to say, the trinitarian Godhead in which the Son is always open to the Father and vice versa. But this is getting ahead of our post.

We've said before that modern progressivism is the institutionalization of man's fall, which encloses him in immanence, precisely.

On the whole, modern philosophy is the codification of an acquired infirmity: the intellectual atrophy of man marked by the “fall” entails a hypertrophy of practical intelligence, whence in the final analysis the explosion of the physical sciences and the appearance of pseudo-sciences such as psychology and sociology (Schuon).

Imagine going to all the time and trouble of acquiring a Ph.D. in one of these pseudo-sciences.


Thankfully, I've been able to recover from that and move on to the discovery my own higher uselessness: the actual philosopher

will not fit naively into the functioning of the workaday routine; he... will not be "fit" for this world; he as well will look at things differently from those who primarily are dominated by the pursuit of practical purposes...

Philosophy by its nature is a free endeavor, and for this reason it serves no one and nothing (Pieper). 

One Cosmos, serving nothing and nobody for 18 years!

Survival of the fitless?

Yes, but man as such is a cosmic misfit, is he not? How is it that we can explain most everything but ourselves, nor can we fit into any manmade scheme without procrustean amputations?

Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything. 

Just how do we explain the explainer in the absence of the openness alluded to above? Science discovers -- or presupposes rather -- a rational world of intelligible law. But

Natural laws are irreducible to explanation, like any mystery.  

So, science illuminates the Mystery even to the nth degree without ever eliminating it. And even then,

Being only falsifiable, a scientific thesis is never certain but is merely current. 

On the other hand,

We believe in many things in which we do not believe we believe.

First and foremost of which must be O, in which we can only pretend not to believe. Is it even possible to engage in science without presupposing it? 

Bear in mind that when we say O, we are referring to, among other things, the world's infinite intelligibility-to-intelligence, or to the "actually infinite Plenitude of Being" in which "all other beings participate yet of which they are but imperfect images." 

This is the "unifying center and source" which "confers magnificent intelligibility on the natural dynamism of my mind and the whole intellectual life arising out of it" (Clarke). 

Turns out we "cannot deny the existence of God without asserting a whole raft of beliefs about the nature of the world" (Lennox). I suppose we'll see if this raft floats in the next post.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Philosophy² or The Philosophy of Philosophy

Happy Easter everybody, but I have other things on my mind, and perhaps in some strange way we can find a connection between them. I was going to take the day off, but I'm getting so accustomed to posting on a daily basis that failing to do so would feel like not brushing my teeth, and what kind of freedom is that? Freedom for bacteria.

Speaking of freedom and truth decay, on the one hand man has the duty to philosophize, the unexamined life being not worth the trouble of living it. On the other, what even gives man -- a randomly evolved animal -- the right to philosophize? 

To affirm that man has rights of any kind is already philosophy, since rights must either be grounded in principle or as arbitrary as the genetic shuffling that supposedly landed us here.   

As we've said before, rights cannot be autonomous and freestanding but must be a consequence of duties; or at the very least, genuine rights and duties must co-arise. We don't give rights to animals with no ability to exercise them responsibly. We don't say the lion has an unalienable right to eat us, even if it is his genetic duty to do so. 

If we say that animals have rights -- and they do -- what we really mean is that humans have a certain obligation to animals. Take man out of the equation and nature has no rights. There is no Ought in nature, only the ruthless Is, bloody in tooth and claw. Man qua man co-arises with the Ought, AKA ethics. No man, no Ought (or Ought Not).

Today, it turns out, is Transgender Day of Visibility, a new holy day. On this solemn occasion we ought -- it is our duty -- to

celebrate the lives and contributions of trans people, while also drawing attention to the poverty, discrimination, and violence the community faces.
I already celebrate discrimination, but I draw the line at violence. 

I see your point, Petey, in that to philosophize is to discriminate, precisely. This being the case, it seems that today is a celebration of the virtue of anti-philosophical indiscrimination, or rather -- since it emanates from the state -- a threat to be indiscriminate, or else. 

To discriminate is to notice differences and behave accordingly -- for example, to avoid eye contact and run in the opposite direction. This is not the type of discrimination in which the state wishes us to engage. Rather, it wants us to indiscriminately celebrate those sad individuals who are unable to discriminate the sex to which they belong. That's a tall order, but orders are orders.

Supposing transgendered folks have rights, what are their corresponding duties? One might be the duty not to indoctrinate innocent children into their own sexual confusion, but that is an example of what we are supposed to celebrate.

For our ancient contemporaries, philosophy implies "moral conformity to wisdom: only he is wise, sophos, who lives wisely" (Schuon). Obviously this involves discrimination between wisdom and its unwise alternatives. Is it wise to indoctrinate children into any ideology? Here the exercise of rudimentary wisdom makes you a deplorable bigot. 

Ironically, the discriminate "lover of wisdom" is revealed to be an indiscriminate hater. How did we get here? 

the most “advanced” of the modernists seek to demolish the very principles of reasoning, but this is simply fantasy..., for man is condemned to reason as soon as he uses language, unless he wishes to demonstrate nothing at all. In any case, one cannot demonstrate the impossibility of demonstrating anything, if words are still to have any meaning (Schuon).

Condemned to reason. No wonder the modernists wish to be liberated from it!

The term “misosopher” or "enemy of wisdom” applies to "those thinkers who undermine the very foundations of truth and intelligence." It begins with "'criticism' and ends with subjectivisms, relativisms, existentialisms..., psychologisms and biologisms of every kind" (ibid.), each an indiscriminate and arbitrary subversion of the very possibility of philosophy.

In the opinion of all profane thinkers, philosophy means to think “freely,” as far as possible without presuppositions, which precisely is impossible..., since true freedom coincides with truth...

To say that freedom coincides with truth means that we are not only at liberty to know reality, but again, obligated to do so. Or at least try. Teleologically man is the truth-seeking animal, so failure to do so is intrinsically wrong, irrespective of the particular content.

They say wisdom begins with the fear of God, but this fear must be the consequence of a prior love. Now, one of God's names is Truth, which is the ground and possibility of philo-sophy, the love of wisdom. 

Therefore, we can say that philosophy begins with the love of truth and a healthy fear of internalizing and propagating error, and of discriminating between the two: this is the philosophy of philosophy. Which is why

To philosophize and to "study philosophy" are two different things; one can possibly even hinder the other (Pieper).

That's for sure: many if not most philosophies undermine the very possibility of philosophy as such, including a "philosophy of transgenderism."

I understand the philosophical quest as an existential experience centered in the core of the human mind, a spontaneous, urgent, inescapable stirring of a person's innermost life (ibid.). 

What is the corresponding object of this search? It is the totality of things both vertical and horizontal, not excluding the nature of the strange being who philosophizes. What kind of being is this? 

Today's other celebration -- Easter -- furnishes a clue, which comes down to the eternal conformity of Son to Father. The Son is even the wisdom of the Father, or so we have heard from the wise. 

Maybe we should call it a National Day of Unsurpassable Irony. 

To be continued...

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