Saturday, June 01, 2024

All Studies are Queer Studies

As we said yesterday, to say man is to say God -- which doesn't necessarily mean God exists, because what if man doesn't? A nominalist or a postmodernist, for example, says there is no human nature, only individual humans (never mind the performative contradiction of using the word "human"). 

Whatever else man is, he is an irreducible union of matter + spirit. Looked at this way, materialism is the denial of spirit by spirit, another performative c.


For the man who lives in the modern world, it is not the soul's immortality in which it is difficult to believe, but its mere existence.

True, but why? Previous generations didn't seem to have this difficulty, but presumably because they were so backward, i.e., not the beneficiaries of all this Progress.

For similar reasons they didn't know that men can't be women, that members of the same sex cannot marry, that the mind has no contact with the extra-mental reality, that there exist no natural laws or natural rights, that no culture can be better than another, that nothing can be objectively wrong, or that human existence can have no telos.

What a relief to be unburdened of these superstitions!

Why deceive ourselves? Science has not answered a single important question.

Exaggerate much, Señor D? 

Well, what are the important questions? Let's see. Off the top of my head, why is there something instead of nothing? Why is being intelligible to intelligence? How does the animate arise from the inanimate and the immaterial from the material? Why are we here? Why all the truth, beauty, and vertical depth (and height)? 

A fool is he who thinks that what he knows is without mystery.

Which implies that the wise man knows about the Mystery, which is less disturbing than than the fatuous attempt to exclude it by stupid explanations. Which is reminiscent of the Tao:

When a foolish man hears of the Tao, he laughs out loud. If he didn't laugh, it wouldn't be the Tao.

I too laugh, just not in a contemptuous or dismissive way. Rather, with a robust guffah-HA!   

At any rate, the Chinaman is not the issue, since much of the Tao Te Ching can be trancelighted into the plain unglish of O:

[O] is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities. 

There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. 

To which I would add, fulltogether-with, and changelessly changing, or something like the orthoparadoxical unknown origin prior to time and space, fount of all being, unborn thus undying, beginning and end of all impossibility, empty plenum and inexhaustible void. 

Approach it and there is no beginning; follow it and there is no end. You can't know it but you can be it...

That dude abides! 

Let's bring this existentialada down a couple of nachos, to brute matter, or rather, to the materialism of scientistic brutes. As Brennan observes, "no sensitive power can reflect upon itself." In other words, our five senses don't know they're sensing; they cannot transcend themselves. 

Rather, their knowledge is limited to that which they sense, which is always something material -- particular surfaces, colored light, air vibrations, etc.

Nor can one sense know what the others are up to. Eyes know nothing about sound, as ears know nothing about light. To understand that the bluebird is chirping is an immaterial synthesis of sensory information, not reducible to mere sense. 

I remember back in high school, a rumor made the rounds that it was possible to learn in one's sleep. Apparently, all that mattered was that the sound waves of the lecture enter one's ears. Being that I was no fan of homework, this was an attractive proposition. Why doesn't it work? Mainly because learning requires a conscious -- not unconscious -- subject.

Like the perception of music, it can only be synthesized by and in a human mind. It isn't merely sensed, although the sense of hearing is obviously a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for apprehending it. So the senses are involved, but converting the sensory vibrations into music is a synthetic process, or a process of interior synthesis.

Along these lines, Brennan writes that

The basic reason why sense is unable to make a complete return upon itself is the material texture of its being. A faculty that is able to reflect upon itself is necessarily devoid of all matter; and so its object is not limited like that of the senses.

That's a bold claim in these tenured times: that the most quintessential human power is devoid of ALL matter? After all, we live in a materialist age in which nothing can be devoid of all matter except, of course, the doctrine of materialism. 

But in order to be a proper materialist, one must believe both that everything is reducible to matter and that nothing outside or beyond matter can have any real existence.

Now, as we already stipulated in the previous post, A universe of matter alone would be simply unintelligible, period, full stop, end of story. The Fat Lady singing a song no one can hear. 

But matter devoid of form is (ironically) the very essence of unintelligibility, as if there could be such a thing as essential inessentiality. 

Thankfully, there can be no such thing, except conceptually, for we never encounter unin-formed matter, rather, matter + interiority. For again, everything in existence somehow wants to communicate. To us. Interior to interior. Queer studies indeed!

Now, to be human is to know damn well that we sense, and to understand that we know, and both of these powers are immaterial. How can this be? By virtue of what principle can an immaterial entity exist in a material cosmos? 

Well, math surely exists, and it is obviously immaterial. No one ever saw pi, or the square root of two, or Planck time. Yes, but math is objective. We're talking about the human subject. What's that about?

Not to run ahead of ourselves, but there is no such thing as an object in the absence of a subject. These two categories aren't just existential complementarities but ontologically irreducible to anything less, all the way down to the goround of being. 

Thanks to important advances in theology, man is able to move beyond the wild spookulations of pre-Christian metaphysicians, even while maintaining our sizable lead over post-Christian cranks and malcontents.

Theology advances no less than does science. This obviously doesn't imply that the object of theology evolves, which would be absurd. Rather, our understanding deepens; to be precise, it can proceed forward, toward the Godhead, or back, in the direction of soul dead materialism or braindead atheism. There's an aphorism for that:

Religious thought does not go forward like scientific thought does, but rather goes deeper.

Philosophy, theology, and science are different activities, and let no Raccoon suggest it isn't helpful to distinguish them. However, we don't leave it at that. Rather, we distinguish in order to unite, in part because the distinctions are in the subject, not the object; and even the practice of science is always in the direction of deeper principles that unite disparate facts.

Put another way, realty is one, while our approaches to it are diverse. If one forgets this, then one will inevitably "evolve backward" and elevate something less than O to O, in order to make the unsettling diversity go away.

Put it this way: ether one acknowledges the mystery of O or one reduces it to an essentially idolatrous Ø. This is nothing less than "intellectual sin," and it is probably worse than the other kinds, because it can injure so many more people. You could say that a single crime of passion may be a tragedy, while the crimes of ideology are a statistic.

Of the modern substitutes for religion, probably the least heinous is vice.

That's about it this morning.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Man and Superman

Yesterday's post touched on Thomistic psychology, which prompted me to review Schuon's thoughts on the subject of man and his place in the cosmos. In the Introduction to The Essential Frithjof Schuon, Nasr writes that
to be human is to seek to be suprahuman. Man can in fact be defined as the being created to transcend himself and to seek the Transcendent as such.


To understand the meaning of human consciousness and the nature of intelligence is to be convinced of the reality of God, for to say man is to say God.

As you all know by now, I still go back and forth between whether there is a universal metaphysic that "contains" any and all revelation, or whether revelation absolutely trumps metaphysics -- almost like a left-brain / right brain thing. Looked at this way, we might say that revelation is the poetry of metaphysics, so to speak, poetry being both composed and understood via the RCH. 

At the very least, I do believe that revelation conveys an implicit metaphysic, but can the metaphysical form, so to speak, be separated from its explicit content? 

It seems to me that Schuon solved this problem by affirming both: that one can pursue abstract metaphysics all day long, but this must be supplemented by the practice of an authentic and orthodox religion -- analogous to how one can study music all day, but in the end, one must pick an instrument in order to play it. Unless you're Beethoven. 

Is there a spiritual analogue to Beethoven -- i.e., someone who storms Heaven via his own power and needs no instrument to play? Well, even Beethoven had to start somewhere, i.e., with a piano. Only later did he become deaf, an accidental infirmity that forced him inward and upward to the harmonious Place where the melodies never stop flowing. 

It reminds me of the old book Beethoven: His Spiritual Development, which I can't find at the moment. But according to amazon reviewers, it is either "presumptuous drivel" or it "captures and understands the depth that results from identifying one's life with the search for the meaning of life and of the universe." Another reviewer quotes Beethoven to the effect that

There is no loftier mission than to approach the Godhead nearer than other people, and to disseminate the divine rays among humanity.

Which is a very Schuonian sentiment, in that he too believes the intellect as such is not only the terminus of a divine ray, but of the same substance, and why not? The intellect is

At once mirror of the supra-sensible and itself a supernatural ray of light....

The Intellect "is divine," first because it is a knower -- or because it is not a non-knower -- and secondly because it reduces all phenomena to their Principle; because it sees the Cause in every effect, and thus surmounts, at a certain level, the vertiginous and devouring multiplicity of the phenomenal world. 

Well, good. Elsewhere he writes that the Intellect is, "in a certain sense,"

"divine" for the mind and "created" or "manifested" for God: it is nonetheless necessary to distinguish between a "created Intellect" and an "uncreated Intellect," the latter being the divine Light and the former the reflection of this Light at the center of Existence; "essentially," they are One, but "existentially," they are distinct, so that we could say... that the Intellect is "neither divine nor non-divine."

So much Orthoparadox, but that's the Way It Is. As to its relation to revelation, he says that "Pure Intellection is a subjective and immanent Revelation just as Revelation properly so called is an objective and transcendent Intellection."

With which I agree: that the miracle of subjectivity is itself already a revelation. However, clearly, metaphysicians are more born than made, hence the need for revelation proper. 

Which is not to say there are people who are not in need of revelation -- we are all fallen -- for it provides a kind of corrective structure to prevent us from going off the invisible rails. It's a complementary dialectic, that's what it is, i.e., between the "objective revelation" given to us from without, and the "subjective revelation" of Intellect as such. 


Revelation is none other than the objective and symbolic manifestation of the Light which man carries in himself, in the depths of his being; it reminds him of what he is, and of what he should be since he has forgotten what he is.

Or again, Revelation is

the objectivation of the transcendent Intellect and to one degree or another awakens the latent knowledge -- or elements of knowledge -- we bear within ourselves. 

Which is why

it has the power to actualize the intelligence which has been obscured -- but not abolished -- by man’s fall. 

In any event, man inhabits a very queer neighborhood. As I put it in an old post, 

On the one hand, man shares the same cosmic zip code as animals, plants, minerals, atoms, and quarks. Yet, man is also "neighbor to the angels. Truly, he is a denizen of two worlds, a horizon and a meeting place. Though angelic by his intelligence, yet he is not a pure spirit; though sensitive and passionate by his brute powers, yet he is not entirely material" (Brennan).

People naturally wonder how a divine nature and a human nature can coexist in the same person. Nevertheless, it is equally puzzling how, say, animal nature and human nature can coexist in the same person, which is to say, in all of us, in varying proportions. 

Before we can claim to know anything about any thing, there must be a principle by virtue of which such knowledge is even possible. What is this principle? For if we're going to know something -- anything -- the knowing subject and the knowable object must share something in common. What sort of something? Well,

a certain degree of immateriality is a primary requisite. A universe of matter alone would be simply unintelligible.

Now, what renders matter knowable? Its form, which is the intelligibility that may be known by intelligence, both of which are obviously immaterial. So, man dwells in a haunted neighborhood, with invisible ghosts of intelligibility running around everywhere. 

Strange to say, but everything wants to communicate. To an intellect that wants to know everything.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 30, 2024

New Whines & Old Battles

Way back during the Covid pandemonica I decided to chuck it in and retire, which of course afforded me a great deal of slack. Ironically, it was only then that I began studying Thomistic psychology, which had never come up during any of my formal education or training as a coonical pslackologist. Which calls to mind aphorisms:

A modern man is a man who forgets what man knows about man.

Modern man lost his soul and is no longer anything but the sum total of his behaviors.

The psychologist dwells in the slums of the soul, just as the sociologist dwells on the outskirts of society.

Between the anarchy of instincts and the tyranny of norms there extends the fleeting and pure territory of human perfection.

Today the individual must gradually reconstruct inside himself the civilized universe that is disappearing around him.

I am also reminded of Schuon's timelessly timely observation that

In reality, man has the right to be legitimately traumatized only by monstrosities; he who is traumatized by less is himself a monster.

In case you were wondering about the peter-pandemic of emotionally retarded progressive monsters. 

Speaking of timely, an urgent memo from the monstrous Robert De Niro and the DNC just arrived in my inbox:

I still can’t believe Donald Trump got elected president.... Thank God Joe Biden defeated him and restored decency, compassion, and honest, intelligent leadership to the presidency. 

Now Trump is trying to claw his way back. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me. I have said before that Donald Trump is a monster. And just imagine how dangerous it will be if he becomes President again.  

Over the years, I’ve played my share of vicious, low-life characters. I’ve spent a lot of time studying bad men. I’ve examined their characteristics, their mannerisms, and the utter banality of their cruelty.... As an actor, I could never play him. There’s not a shred of humanity to hang on to.

Projection is a hell of a drug. It seems there is one bad man he forgot to study.

If the leftist is not persecuting, he feels persecuted.

The frightened liberal is a bloodthirsty animal. 

Anyway, here's an updated post on the subject of Thomistic psychology called Ovary Towers and Spiritual Testes, which I'm guessing is still ROTFLevant:

Is it possible that thinkers who lived 700 or even 2400 years ago had a better understanding of psychology than do our present practitioners? Sure, Aristotle and Thomas were wrong about some things, but never this wrong:

A review of dozens of studies found that men and women are basically alike when it comes to personality, thinking ability and leadership. The differences that do exist may reflect social expectations, not biology. Despite this evidence, the media continue to spread the idea that the sexes are fundamentally different -- with real-life consequences (from the APA website).

A quick consultation with common sense, supplemented by a review of Charles Murray's Human Diversityexplains why this is so much agenda-driven magical thinking, because our sexual complementarity persists all the way down to the furthest reaches of the biosphere. And up to pneumosphere, for that matter. Here is how one Thomistic psychologist describes it:

physical propagation cannot be separated from higher conscious phenomena in the total scheme of life. It colors and intensifies the mental and spiritual achievements of the individual (Brennan).

For example -- better sit down, or don't wander far from your fainting couch -- "Testes and ovaries possess functions of an overwhelming import for the sexes."

These intrinsically patriarchal and sexist organs "impress male and female characteristics on all the tissues of the human body and give to human behavior the peculiar intensities by which the sexes are differentiated." Indeed, "Every cell of the human body bears the stamp of its respective gender."

To imagine otherwise is to succumb to a naively woohoo "angelism," one of two dysfunctional forms of dualism, the other being materialism. Testosterone, for example, "engenders masculine characteristics at their best," such as aggression in the service of a higher good.

However, in and of itself -- i.e., isolated from personality and character -- it is neither here nor there, for it may also contribute to masculine traits at their worst, such as brutality and callousness (as may too little testosterone, as amply demonstrated by the annoying existence of male feminists, AKA toxic unmasculinity).

Brennan also has a good description of toxic femininity -- AKA feminism -- pointing to "feminine characters at their worst" such as "instability, emotionalism, and vacillation." These three traits are among the most important prerequisites for majoring in Women's Studies or even being Vice President.

With these preluminary insults out of the way, I think I'll just flip through the book and discuss some of the passages I found most noteworthy.

Incidentally, not all of this is new to me. However, up to this point I'd picked things up on a piecemeal basis by my exposure to Schuon, Pieper, Robert Spitzer, Peter Kreeft, and others. But this is the first time I've ever read a single comprehensive book on the subject of Thomistic psychology. So now I finally have an area rug to pull all these loose ends together in a more systematic way. 

Let's begin our weaving with this shocker:

Man is a person. When we have said this much about him, we have paid him the highest possible tribute that can be given to a cosmic creature. He is, so to speak, the top rung on the ladder of corporeal substances. He is the most perfect being composed of matter and form. The reason he is most perfect, of course, is that his form is most perfect. His soul is a rational thing. It is gifted with the properties of intellect and will.

Intellect and will are ordered to the true and good, respectively. As we proceed, we shall find out how and why this is so -- in other words, by virtue of what principle and toward what end.


Man isn't just uniquely capable of abstraction, but then abstracting his abstractions into a meta-abstraction. This is why metaphysics isn't just possible but necessary. It is necessary because it is what we inevitably do. Therefore, we might as well do it well. But first we have to recognize we're doing it, which most thinkers refuse to do, especially for the past, oh, 700 years or so.

Why do the beast & blighted of modernity refuse to admit they are metaphysicians? Well, there are a number of reasons, some of which are almost coherent.

As to when it all started, Richard Weaver, in his consequential Ideas Have Consequences, blames the triumph of nominalism over realism, or Occam over Thomas, way back in the 14th century. According to Prof. Wiki, Occam is considered "the father of modern epistemology" by many modern idiots

because of his strongly argued position that only individuals exist, rather than supra-individual universals, essences, or forms, and that universals are the products of abstraction from individuals by the human mind and have no extra-mental existence.

So lacking in self-awareness was this Occam fellow that he didn't even realize that the philosophy of nominalism is itself an abstraction.

Imagine a fish who denies the existence of water becoming the most important thinker among fish. That's what happened to man: despite being founded on an overt denial of reality, this denial became the new foundation of western thought (or anti-thought, if you want to be literal).

Not coincidently, this is precisely when religion and theology went off the rails of reality, for Occam was also "a theological voluntarist who believed that if God had wanted to, he could have become incarnate as a donkey or an ox, or even as both a donkey and a man at the same time."

Thus he is closer to Islamic than Christian metaphysics, because he is one of those folks who would say that God doesn't command certain things because they are right and good, but that they are right and good because God commands them. 

If God commanded abortion, or theft, or genital mutilation, then these would be good instead of immoral. There is no natural law written on our hearts, because abstract universals can't exist, and besides, we're so wrecked by original sin that we can't think straight anyway.

Oddly enough, just two days ago I ran across the same analysis in Barron's The Priority of Christ, except he's much more polite about it. He writes of how Occam's kooky voluntarism renders both God and man "self-contained, capricious, absolute, and finally irrational."

And of course, "Both Martin Luther and John Calvin were formed according to the principles of late-medieval nominalism," leading them to propound a foundational principle that makes God look more like a monster than a savior, in that he arbitrarily creates people only in order to damn them, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. Which, among other difficulties, flies in the face of the principle that everything God creates is good.

Now, modern secularism is a lot of things, but it isn't un-Christian. Rather, it is anti-Christian, and could only have arisen in a thoroughly Christianized culture that denies its own ground, starting with Occam. 

I don't want to spend too much time on this subject, because this post is supposed to be about psychology, not the history of ideas, but Barron writes of how the turn away from realism redounds to

a not very convincing form of Christianity and the opponent to whom it naturally gave rise. Modernity and decadent Christianity are enemies in one sense, but in another sense, they are deeply connected to one another and mirror one another. In most of the disputes between Christianity and modernity, we have advocates of the prerogative of the voluntarist God facing down advocates of the voluntarist self (emphasis mine).

In short, the human world is reduced to will vs. will, and may the most ruthless win. The infinitely wider, deeper, and richer world of human intelligence and divine intelligibility is reduced to will and the power to enforce it.

This is precisely why Thomistic psychology was tossed aside in favor of modern superstition. If you want a perfect example of the insane and irrational advocacy of the voluntarist self, look no further than the website of the American Psychological Association, which tells us that "A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability."

If this is the case, then there's nothing wrong with a contented pedophile, a fulfilled psychopath, a successful terrorist, or a monstrous actor. Who are we to judge? In a post-realist world there can be no objective right or wrong. Man has no reason for being -- no telos -- so it no longer matters if you do bad, so long as you feel good about it.

If everything is a function of will -- or is Just Your Opinion, Man -- then naturally we can not only choose a gender but invent one, and we have no basis on which to object.

For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination. Many other obstacles may lead to distress, including a lack of acceptance within society, direct or indirect experiences with discrimination, or assault. These experiences may lead many transgender people to suffer with anxiety, depression or related disorders at higher rates than nontransgender persons.

There's no such thing as right or wrong, except it's wrong to judge someone's gender delusion. But what if doing so causes me no distress?

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Adequation to the Realm of Meta-Comedy

Jerry Seinfeld has been popping up everywhere in order to promote his new film. From the interviews I've seen, he's become quite philosophical about comedy, even touching on the transcendent realm of metacomedy. This prompted me to read the book Seinfeldia, in which the author says that in school Seinfeld even

saw geometry class as training for comedy; a good joke, he felt, had the same rigorous internal logic as a theorem proof. 

In a recent interview with Bari Weiss, he talks about how comedy penetrates the banal surface of reality:

The thing that you are incredibly fortunate enough to have if you spend your life in comedy... the gift that you were given, is you see through the surface of everything -- everything.

"Life itself"

is so peeled away of the surfaces, and the gauzy, phony planes of existence that most people deal with and on... Everybody else is like eight layers of fake cream and veneers of waterproof woodcoating... that's where most people live. That's why they come to see a comedian. How do they know these things? 

Is the source of comedy a kind of Platonic realm from beyond the cave? Whatever the case, it seems that comedy arises in the tension between appearances and reality, or between immanence and transcendence. 

It also seems that comedy -- like the knowledge of truth and perception of beauty -- is a kind of adequation to transcendental reality. It's funny because it's true. Which in turn must be why, as Wittgenstein remarked,    

A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.

This being the case, why has no one yet written one? I suppose Dávila did in a way, composing a lengthy monologue consisting of 10,000 rapid fire gags and one-liners. Truly truly, he is the Rodney Dangerfield of metaphysicians. 

As you know, I've been rummaging through the arkive in search of an implicit book contained therein. But maybe I'm looking for the wrong thing. Maybe it's all been an endless monologue consisting of a lot of metaphysical yucks, the yucks being for their own sake. 

It reminds me of what Seinfeld said about his endless pursuit of humor: he compared himself to a woodchuck. Why does he chuck wood? Because that's what he does.

Likewise, what does Bob do? He writes posts. Why? Because that's what he does. Like this one from four years ago:

Now, deep -- that's a name no one would self-apply where I come from. But then, there was a lot about psychology that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. But then again, maybe that's why I found the field s'durned innarestin'.

In any event, "deep" isn't necessarily synonymous with profound. One can be deeply confused, or maybe you don't pay attention to the liberal media. For it is written: Confused ideas and murky ponds seem deep (Dávila).

Moreover, Profundity is not in what is said, but in the level from which it is said. At the same time, The depth of an idea depends on the capacity of the listener.

Putting these three together, we see that there is a true and false depth, and that depth not only transmits a content, but is a kind of form, such that that depth must call out to depth, so to speak.

While this may at first sound novel -- or worse, original -- it is actually quite mundane and experience-near. There are credentialed morons who know more about quantum physics than we ever will, and smelly Walmart shoppers who know more about the soul than the physicist will ever even suspect. Which is why there is infinitely more wisdom at a single Trump rally than in the entire Harvard faculty lounge. For

Great stupidities do not come from the people. They have seduced intelligent men first.

Indeed, if you've spent any time in college, you know that A high I.Q. is indicative of distinguished mediocrity, and that The learned fool has a wider field to practice his folly. The institution of tenure is a way to transform idiocy into a permanent instead of temporary condition.

Now, back when I was in grad school, I began to have my suspicions, although who was I to question the basis of an entire discipline? 

Nevertheless, I couldn't help noticing two things: first, that a discipline is defined by its object, and that psychology didn't have one. For example, any introductory course will acquaint you with all the major theorists and theories of psychology. But if psychology is a thing, there shouldn't be wildly divergent opinions about the nature of its object.

Analogously, if you study physics, you don't begin with a survey of all the various disputed and discarded theories about the nature of physical reality. Rather, a mature discipline converges on a unity of both object and method.

So, the first thing I noticed was that psychology was and is pre-paradigmatic. It's not so much that the theories disagreed with one another, but that there was no agreement as to the object of psychology. Is it behavior? The brain? The mind? The unconscious? Attachment? Affect? Neurobiology? Neurochemistry? At least we can agree: it can't be the soul, because there is no such thing.

What about morality? Is this totally subjective, or is there objective good and evil? Does human development have a telos, or do we make it up as we go along? Is there such a thing as human nature, or do we define ourselves by our arbitrary choices? Do we even have choices, i.e., is there such a thing as free will? If so, what is it and how did it get here? By virtue of what principle can freedom even exist?

Etc. The second thing I noticed is that there is no objective way to choose between these 238 theories to guide one's life -- and the life of one's patient client consumer of mental health services. 

So, on what basis do we choose? It occurred to me that we choose based on "what works for me." Being that clinical psychology isn't just a discipline of study but a "healing art," one will pick the one through which one was "healed."

Healed of what? Let's just call it "pain," which covers a lot of territory.

We're almost out of time. But as usual, I see that Dávila was here before me. For as he observes,

The great imbecilic explanations of human behavior adequately explain the one who adopts them.

Guffah HA! This explains a great deal, not just with respect to psychological theories, but vis-a-vis every theory that pretends to be comprehensive. I believe Nietzsche said something to the effect that philosophy is just autobiography in disguise. 

This would explain why feminists are feminists, why Marxists are Marxists, why atheists are atheists, why critical race theorists are critical race theorists, ad nauseam. The theories explain them -- or rather, help to manage their pain -- but they do not explain us

And yet, so many of them want to force us to live under their theories, when all we ask is to be permitted to live in reality. For us, it is painful to even contemplate a life confined to their absurd little ideology. 

But has anyone anywhere ever been healed -- made whole -- by ideology? Or is an ideology one of those phony planes of existence, one of the eight layers of fake cream and veneers of waterproof woodcoating? Whatever the case, it is why ideologues are never funny, except unintentionally. It's why they are in urgent need of treatment -- by a professional comedian. 

I suppose we will know they've been cured when they can appreciate their own absurdity and laugh at themselves just as hard as we are laughing at them.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Strange Attractor at the End of History

I no longer recall if I stole the idea of God as the ultimate strange attractor from Terence McKenna, or if I arrived at it indepunditly. Here is how he describes it:

McKenna, who was influenced by Whitehead, elevated the emergence of novelty to the ultimate category, but I don't see how this is possible, because novelty without constraint is meaningless. He also has an essentially pantheistic vision, again, similar to Whitehead.

Instead of novelty I would say Creator, of which we are, of course, the image and likeness, thus all the endless human creativity and ingenuity for both good and ill. For example, there are creative sadists, e.g., Nazis, Islamists, and neo-Stalinist progressives, and no one calls this a good thing outside elite universities and fake newsrooms.

I would also highlight the fact that the strange attractor (of which we are the I. and L.) is itself a kind of dynamic system, thus all the lesser dynamic and open systems that predate even the emergence of life. Indeed, if the cosmos itself were not an interiorly related dynamic system, then life -- let alone mind -- could never have emerged out of it.

I found a more adequate conception of the Great Attractor in the works of an obscure philosopher named Errol Harris. He too has his flaws, having been excessively influenced by Hegel. Nevertheless, you know what they say: the philosophers are generally correct in what they affirm but incorrect in what they deny. And I affirm everything, i.e., the full spooktrum from matter (and below) to spirit (and above). 

Conveniently, this is also the Catholic position -- that any and all truth, to the extent that it is true, has God as its principle; God is not just Truth as such but the ground and possibility of both intelligence and intelligibility. 

Here is a passage by Errol Harris from his book Reason and Revelation: 

We may be sure that the series of forms does not lead on into infinite progress; it must have a definite completion. The very nature of the scale necessitates this conclusion, because it is a scale, and an ascending one.... It must culminate in what is absolutely whole and self-sufficing, for anything else would contradict and negate all that makes the prior progression recognizable as an ascending scale.... 
In short, the very nature of the scale necessitates its completion by a reality answering to St. Anselm's definition of God -- that than which nothing greater (or more complete, or more perfect) can be conceived.

The Strange Attractor at the end of history, AKA point Omega. Which, in a Christian context, suggests the incarnation of Point Omega in human form, or what in the book I suggested isn't just "the Word made flesh" but the end (of time) made middle, AKA the Kingdom of Heaven now (in every now) at hand.

The modern conception of nature is of a continuous evolutionary process, linking the purely physical with the biological, the biological with the psychological, and the psychological with the social, moral, artistic, and religious experiences of man (Harris).

Concur: it's why all the evolution, whether Darwinian or any other kind. In other words, evolution is anterior to natural selection, and is its very principle.

For the temporal unfolding is in reality no more nor less than the serial self-articulation of the whole, which, as realized, is eternally complete. The eternal whole is therefore, without qualification, prior to the temporal process, and to speak of temporal posteriority in reference to it is to misunderstand its character. It is not what comes last but what includes and sublates all temporal series (ibid.).  

Correct:Alpha and Omega. This atemporal Whole dwells amongus. 

Another good one:

What is intelligibly diverse must be unified and whole, and only what is whole and unified can be intelligibly diverse. At the same time, only what is diversified can be intelligibly one. This is because change requires continuity if it is to be change of anything at all, and the parts of what is continuous must be distinguishable or else it congeals to a dimensionless point (or instant).... 
Although a whole is a single unity, it is at the same time a unified diversity. The reality of time, therefore, establishes concurrently the reality of a whole which is nontemporal.

He just -- in my opinion -- described the Trinity, the "single unity" that is also a "unified diversity." 

Here's another helpful passage from an old post:

"It is therefore in and through the human mind in its moral organization and its social setting that the cosmic process fulfills itself, and the completion of its fulfillment would be the final perfection of conscious personality. The perfection of man thus merges into the perfection of God" (Harris).
He quotes Charles Raven, who remarked that "If history is the completion of the story unfolded in its earlier stages by biology and psychology, [then] theology, whose primary data are the lives and experiences of the saints through whom God most fully reveals himself to us, should be at once the culmination of the whole."

Each saint is, in a way, the End of History. And sanctification is the process of ending it. Hence Paul's comment about the whole durn cosmos groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

[T]here must be some principle of unity, creating and maintaining coherent wholes, already inherent in the process of the world from which life originally emerged (Harris).

In consciousness there is the implicit presence of an
organizing principle of the whole, active in my finite subjectivity -- the whole which embraces both me and my world. Consciousness is both finite (and temporal) and transcendent (ibid.).

A few related Bobservations I've made over the years: 

--The primordial nature of God is the ordering principle of wholeness.

--Only the present has a vertical dimension through which floods being, consciousness, life, eternity, etc.

--Biology embodies life; life presupposes wholeness.

--The moment of eternity is the universal ordering principle which constitutes the processual flow into the serial structure of time.

--History is the time it takes for humans to explicate humanness in its wholeness.

--The reality of time establishes the reality of a whole which is nontemporal.

Strange, but strange enough?

Monday, May 27, 2024

Cosmic Baseball

I like this old post, but it's hard to imagine aiming it at a general audience, rather, only the weird audience you and I have co-created over the years. 


Put it this way: no matter your metaphysic -- even something as crude and incurious as atheism -- you have to start somewhere, and this somewhere is not given by mere reason or math (both of which being ultimately tautological), nor by empiricism (since no sensation can tell us what it is sensing, which requires a rational soul that knows essences).

Therefore, all we ask is a baseballically honest and transparent statement of how you got to first base. If you faithfully execute this demand, you will quickly realize that you've simply assumed your way to first, thus undercutting your metaphysic before you can get to second, let alone score. 

Or, assuming you do reach home, you have cheated, because every baseball fan knows you can't steal first base. Rather, you must earn your way there.

So, when our team -- the Tonga Raccoons -- steps into the box with a bat labeled the epistemic priority of the Logos, we are first of all simply being honest and consistent. Nor is the use of this venerable bat "mythic," or "unsophisticated," or "superstitious." 

Or, at the very least, it is no more or less stitious than the bat with which the materialist swings, whether in the form of scientism, Darwinism, naturalism, whatever. Rather, it all comes down to making solid contact with the ball, and how far it travels when struck.

Indeed, there is always a bat and there is a ball. The bat is our intellect, and the ball is intelligible reality.

However, it is no exaggeration to say that the Modern Aberration begins with the Kantian anti-principle that our bats cannot make contact with the ball. Swing as we might, all we can ever hit are our own a priori categories, thus smashing our own balls. Even if our phenomenal bats could strike the noumenal ball, we could never know it.

In the argot of baseball, if you are unfortunate enough to strike out three times in a single game, this is called a golden sombrero; four times is a platinum sombrero. Now imagine a whole life spent striking out: this is called a tenured sombrero.

Back to our leadoff hitter, Bishop Barron. Here comes the pitch: "to acknowledge the epistemic priority of Jesus Christ is, first, to assume the intelligibility of all that is."

Base hit!

This batting stance assumes that we can actually see and hit a real ball. This is called "common sense," but you needn't have spent much time in academia to realize that common sense is against the rules of their league, which again equates an epistemological strike out with an ontological home run. 

More on the dimensions and properties of our epistemic ballpark:

Since all has been made through, and will be ordered by, a divine rationality, there must be a form in all finite being as a whole and in each particular thing that exists; what comes to be through Logos is, necessarily, logical.... 
[T]here is an unavoidable correspondence between the activity of the mind [bat] and the structure of being [ball]: intelligence will find its fulfillment [reach home] in this universal and inescapable intelligibility [common sense].

Now, in reality, the actual conduct of science is predicated on COMMON SENSE writ large. Why then is it so uncommon, historically and culturally speaking? Well,

it is no accident that the physical sciences -- astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology -- developed and flourished in the Christian West.

Which means that we stride into to the batter's box with "the biblical conviction that finite reality is intelligible, made through the divine Logos," such that our scientific heavy hitters "rather naturally move out to meet the physical world with confident rationality."

Thus, our "investigations will proceed without hesitation to the farthest reaches of the macrocosmic and the microcosmic realms." In other words, we can hit any ball out of any park. If you build it, we will transcend it. For these are the implicit rules of science:

One could argue that the universality of objective intelligibility (assumed by any honest scientist) can be explained only through recourse to a transcendent subjective intelligence that has thought the world into being, so that every act of knowing a worldly object or event is, literally, a re-cognition, a thinking again of what has already been thought by a primordial divine knower.

Thus, "every scientific act is, ipso facto, an affirmation of God's existence." Or in other words, all along, science has been borrowing God's big bat without acknowledging it. Which is why "natural reason is a participation in the pure intelligibility of the Logos and thus is necessarily congruent with the deepest perceptions of theology."

Barron continues:

to know anything at all is, implicitly, to know that God exists, for it is to accept the reign of the Logos or transcendental intelligibility.

This is one of those Yes/No questions: either you are arguing toward this logoistic principle or from it. In other words, you can begin, as we do, with transcendental intelligibility as an axiomatic truth; or you can track contingent truths up the epistemological mountain to the invigorating air of the logosphere, where all truths converge upon the One Truth from which they have descended. You might say that

Christianity does not deny the splendor of the world but encourages us to seek its origin, to ascend to its pure snow.

No one is obligated to live here, just as no one is obligated to dwell among the babbling rabble of tenured apes, the media mob, the credentialed barbarians. But

The most dispiriting solitude is not lacking neighbors, but being deserted by God
Turns out -- SURPRISE! -- that the reality we seek is founded upon

a being-with-the-other, or better, a being-in-the-other, a coinherence.... Therefore relationality, being-for-the-other, must be the form that, at the deepest level, conditions whatever is and the truth that satisfies the hunger of the mind (Barron).

Or, to put to put it aphoristically,

To be a Christian is to not be alone despite the solitude that surrounds us.

As they say, you can be allone in a crowd but twogather in threedom. For

Any shared experience ends in a simulacrum of religion.
Indeed, if you closely examine the meaning of this mysterious word -- experience -- you may find the key to the whole existentialada, because "unshared experience" is a contradiction in terms. To put it conversely, at the deepest level of our being, experience is always experience-with; experience is with and with is experience.

Let's think through the principle of Incarnation. What does it imply? What does it presuppose, and what does it bring about? It isn't just the most radical idea ever, but literally the most radical idea conceivable, because it is the con-ception of infinitude in the womb of finitude. Barron puts it more plainly (in reference to the prologue of John):

The primordial divine conversation partner becomes a creature in order to draw creation into the embrace of the divine life.... Through the incarnation, the coinherence of the Father and the Logos seeks to provoke a coinherence of creation with God and of creatures with one another.

Reality is a coinherence, and coinherence is an unending con-versation; or better, a trialogue at the edge of the subjective horizon where Self and Other meet in a mutually indwelling I AMbrace.

This being the case, a philosophy such as atheistic materialism is still going to be a conversation -- for it cannot not be one and still commune-icate -- but the person engaging in it is simply talking to himself. Truly, it is a glorified cognitive ønanism, which is precisely why they're such infertile eggheads even if master debaters.

Let's wrap up this game:

any philosophy, science, or worldview that does not see relationality, being-for-the-other, as ontologically fundamental must be false.... what the mind correctly seeks as it goes out to meet the intelligibility of the real is always a form of coinherence (Barron).

Put it this way: when intelligence goes out to meet the world, the world meets it more than halfway, and is pleased to engage us in nonstop conversation via its own intelligibility.

Indeed, the world never stops blabbering, not just truths about itself, but how about all the beauty? Sometimes we are tempted to say: okay, we get it. Awesome. Luminous. Numinous. A cosmic wombinus without the doom & gloominus.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Please Treat Me Like Any Other Criminal

Well, in lieu of posting, I've been descending into the arkive and dredging up material in view of writing a book. I picked the arbitrary cutoff point of 2020, under the assumption that I've gradually been getting better at this, whatever this is. 

I've reviewed three months of posts, and I haven't found what I'm looking for, whatever it might be. I know that I don't want to include any politics, truly timeless principles excepted. The following post contains too much politics, so it doesn't meet the standard. Nevertheless, it is worthy of a revisit. 


We all want to know Why? It seems that this question is bound up with humanness, because not only are human beings the only creatures capable of asking this (or any other) question, but we never stop asking it. 

Truly truly, we are Homo curiosus from the moment we're born until the day we die. Then, after our biological activity has ceased, those around us will wonder: where'd ego?

Another way of saying it is that we are born philosophers, even if most people outgrow the condition and settle into a kind of rote and mechanical Because. 

Now, knowledge -- in order to be knowledge -- is knowledge of causes, and we want to know all there is to know about all there is.

A genuine philosopher is someone who doesn't stop asking Why at some provincial truck stop on the road to truth, but recognizes the unrestricted nature of the human subject and its conformity to the infinite object; each pole of this ultimate complementarity partakes of infinitude in terms of depth, height, and breadth; and there is an endlessly fruitful and deepening reciprocity or dialectic between these.

For us, God is revealed in the space between these ultimates -- not as God-in-himself, but as our own Godward journey. In other words, our own quest for God is already evidence that we are being pulled into the divine attractor.

Lewis describes an important distinction between two very different forms of because

Let's say I am a conservative because I want what is best for human beings -- to promote human flourishing. The leftist responds by saying that the "real reason" I am conservative is because I want to harm people -- especially blacks, women, immigrants, homosexuals, cross dressers, etc.

However, they apply no such scrutiny to themselves. There is no "real reason" for their policy preferences. Rather, their reasons are the reasons, full stop; there is no deeper reality or ulterior motive beneath them.

Conservatives are wearily familiar with this imputation of a fake Because, such that our arguments are rarely addressed on the plane from which they arise. 

For example, if we support Trump, it is really because we are racists. If we oppose the redefinition of marriage, it is really because we hate homosexuals. If we believe a man isn't a woman, we are actually "transphobic." If we point out that a scientific model that fails to predict empirical reality is simply wrong, we are really climate change deniers. Etc.

As Lewis writes -- and this was back in 1947 --

the most popular way of discrediting a person's opinions is to explain them causally -- 'You say that because (Cause and Effect) you are a capitalist, or a hypochondriac, or a mere man, or only a woman.' 

 But look at the double standard applied by the left: we often hear them say, for example, that crime is "caused" by poverty, so the criminal isn't really guilty of the crime.  

However, if our beliefs are likewise caused by extrinsic factors of which we are unaware, then why aren't conservatives equally blameless for their beliefs and actions? Why do progressives despise us, if we have no more control over our thoughts than does the poor criminal over his actions? Where is the empathy?

All we're asking is to be treated like any other criminal -- like a Soros DA treats a rapist or murderer. 

Now, thinking is either an adequation (to reality) or it is nothing. The person who says President Trump is a white supremacist isn't just saying "I have feelings that Trump is a white supremacist" 

Rather, he is saying that this is really and truly an adequation to an objective reality. But if Trump is a felon, oughtn't we treat him like any other felon and release him back onto the street in order to commit more crimes? NO JUSTICE NO PEACE!

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