Saturday, June 22, 2024

How to Distinguish Reality from a Pigpen

The previous post highlighted the interior relationship between interiority and relationship, which sounds tautological, but is meant to be I AM-musing, or musing on the nature of personal being.

The point is, these two -- interiority and relationship -- essentially reduce to the same Principle: they can be thought about separately but -- like up and down or inside and out -- but one never finds the one without the other. Even -- or especially -- God is interiorly related to his very own intersubjective Other. 

A cosmos of pure exteriority wouldn't even be a cosmos, rather, a... a nothing, an absolutely inconceivable and unintelligible nonentity. 

And interiority is always related to something by which it recognizes its own interiority. The punishment for the man who searches inwardly for himself is that he finds it.

Why is that? Because that's not yourself, rather, just a kind of imaginary crystallized idol of what is always dynamically on--> the--> way toward transcendence, which is the human condition, precisely. Thou shall not make idols, whether of God or man.  

Just try to imagine an absolute interiority in reference to nothing outside it, i.e., with with no objects to contemplate or subjects with whom to dialogue and relate: no links to anything or anyone, just a center with no radii, or a circumference around no point. 

Perhaps this is why realist epistemology begins with the exterior senses, for if you try to begin at the other end, there's no there there. Man's being is always a becoming, which is to say, our essence can never be reduced to existence. 

Only God's essence is to exist, while our existence is an endless movement toward essence, AKA God. Being oneself is always becoming oneself. Or so we have heard from the wise.

The abstract self is analogous to empty space, which isn't space at all, since what is space in the absence of the objects it contains and surrounds?

Now, the first relation of the inside is to outsideness as such; consider your house, or even your coffee mug over there. Both have an inside, which is nothing but the exclusion of the outside. Ka-Ching! Exactly: according to the Tao Te Ching,

We shape clay into a pot / but it is the emptiness inside / that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house, / but it is the inner space / that makes it livable.

We work with being, / but non-being is what we use.

Wo. Can I buy some pots from you? Full of non-being?

But the Chinaman is not the issue. Rather, new age types in general like to speculate about the nature of consciousness based upon the weird properties of the "quantum world." But they have it precisely upside down and inside out, for the latter queer world is the way it is because consciousness, or spirit, or interiority is the way it is: interiorly related from the top down.

Last we checked, physics can only say anything about anything because there are physicists; to suggest that physicists are reducible to physics is to jump into a hole and try to pull the whole outside itself.

Or, to be literal -- again -- it is like trying to reduce the interior to the exterior, which can't be done, because the two co-arise and are complementary. Even God himself has a kind of eternal inside-outness, AKA Father --> Son, or Creator --> creation. Which is again why everything bears traces of the Trinity.

Having said that, there are degrees of interiority: a plant has some but an animal has more. And a human being has infinitely more than an animal -- literally, because the human station is defined by its access to infinitude and absoluteness.

Animals don't know anything about these two, while a human being can't know anything without implicit knowledge of them. Any knowledge is a kind of crystallization of the Absolute; and yet, we maintain an openness to the infinitude of truth and knowledge. A few of us, anyway.

Pieper discusses animal subjectivity, which is related to a world, but not the world. Rather, it exists in a kind of narrow cross section of the world, an environment. The animal sees what it needs to see and what it is programmed to see, and nothing else. It's why you can place a frog in an aquarium full of dead insects but it will nevertheless starve to death. 

Now, is there something analogous to the frogmind in human beings? Is there something in man that causes him to withdraw and shrink from the world, and inhabit a mere environment?

Let us count the ways: Ideology. Philodoxy. Ismism. Tenure. Fake news. Secondary worlds. Progressivism. Epistemic closure. Gen3 AOA.

In another sense, closure is fine so long as it remains open for isness, for a mind that doesn't close is like a house with no walls or nation with no borders. 

Pieper quotes a noted biologist, who agrees that "The environments of animals are comparable in no way to open nature but rather to a cramped, ill-furnished apartment."

But the noted philosopher Kant -- and all his modern descendants -- would place human beings in exactly the same situation: yes, our environment might be larger than the animal's, but it's a matter of degree and not kind: we're still imprisoned by our senses and categories, so we can know nothing about the real world, whatever that might be.

Like anyone could know that without transcending the very limits he says we can't transcend! C'mon, Manny! You're better than that.

The human spirit involves

the ability to enter into relations with the totality of existing things.... The spirit is, in its nature, constituted in the first instance... by the ability to enter into relations with Being as a totality. 
The spirit does not have an environment, it has a world. It belongs to the very nature of a spiritual being to rise above the environment and so transcend both adaptation and confinement (Pieper).


Man today does not live in space and time. But in geometry and chronometers.

Science cannot do more than draw up the inventory of our prison.

Even in the immensity of space we feel caged. Mystery is the only infinity that does not seem like a prison.

In order to abolish all mystery, it is enough to view the world with the eyes of a pig.

Or, to put it another way, what kind of world is the world of man, and is it the same as the world? Ever since Kant, the grumpy answer has been: No! No world for you! Our world -- the world we perceive -- is just a form of our sensibility, a kind of projection of our neuro- psychobiology. Therefore, it is not the world. Rather, the world -- whatever it is -- is radically inaccessible to man.

But to repeat, our animal friends live in a world, whereas human beings are privileged to (potentially, at least) live in the world.

For example, my dog has eyes, but when she looks at an object --  a toothbrush, for example -- she doesn't see the same thing I do, which is to say, the intelligible essence of the object in question.

Pieper cites the example of a certain bird that preys on grasshoppers but is incapable of seeing the grasshopper if it isn't moving. Only in leaping about does the grasshopper become distinct from the background -- which is why many insects (and higher animals) "play dead" so as not to be seen by the predator.

In their resting form, it isn't so much that the grasshopper is dead as literally invisible. It is as if it drops into a hole and no longer exists in the world of the predator. Even if the bird were starving, it could search and search, and yet, never find the unmoving grasshopper right under its beak.

Now do God. 

We're working up to that.

But sticking with animals for the moment -- including the animalized human -- they cannot transcend their biological boundaries, even with an organ -- the eye -- seemingly equipped for just this task.

Most of the world is simply not perceived or even capable of being perceived by the animal. Which means that the world didn't come into view until human beings happened upon the scene?! Recall that in Genesis, man names the animals, not vice versa. And a name points to an invisible, interior essence.

Given Darwinian principles -- which, by the way, we can only know about because we have transcended them -- how did mankind transcend animality and open the door to an infinitely wider, deeper, and higher world?

Or did we? Are we as trapped in a narrow cross-section of reality as our tenured apes? If so, then neither science nor philosophy are possible. Like the bird looking for the immobile grasshopper, we couldn't locate reality despite the most diligent searching. Indeed, we wouldn't even know of the existence of the reality for which to search.

Now, the intellect is not restricted to a particular environment. Rather, it is universal -- "relatively absolute" -- and therefore able to know the world. I want to say that any -ology is grounded in the Logos, but we're working up to that -- to logology, as it were.

Pieper writes that "it belongs to the very nature of a spiritual being to rise above the environment and so transcend adaptation and confinement"; which in turn explains "the at once liberating and imperiling character with which the nature of spirit is immediately associated."

Thus, natural selection is adequate to explain adaptation to an environment, but it cannot explain our discovery and comprehension of the world, which is to say, our surprising adaptation -- AKA conformity or adequaton -- to the transcendent object, O.

As Aristotle recognized way back in olden times, "the soul is in a way all existing things."

Thus, to be in Spirit is "to exist amid reality as a whole, in the face of the totality of Being." "Spirit" and "world" are reciprocal concepts, the one being unthinkable in the absence of the other. Science itself is a spiritual world, or it is no world at all, only an environment. Usually an academic environment.

Bottom line for this morning: there is no naturalistic way to get from the restricted intelligence of animals to the open and unrestricted intelligence of humans. Nature is already supernatural. And grace perfects nature, but that's another storey in the vertical hierarchy of being, which is conditioned from the top down. 

Friday, June 21, 2024

The Big One

The following is a heavily edited post from four years ago. However, it turns out that it provides an excellent foundation for our forthcoming discussion of Christ the Logos of Creation. I suppose I like the book because it says everything we've been saying for the past 18 years, only in an academic and scholarly way, absent all the Olemical freevangelical pundamentalism. 

The conduct of any discipline, from physics at the bottom to theology at the top, is determined by its proper object. You don't use meditation or introspection to study rocks or chemicals, just as you don't use calipers to measure the soul. Different objects, different approaches.

Agreed. So, what is the object of philosophy? Correct: being, which is to say, everything and beyond, up to and including the cause or Principle of Being, which we will call O because it is as in-finite and unsaturated as the meta-domain it symbolizes; we can point () to the latter, but never contain it, for it is the very Principle of Uncontainability. 

This everything is not the immanent sum of every single thing, rather, the transcendent unity of them all. Thus, philosophy (the verb) is guided by the implicit assumption that we indeed inhabit a cosmos, i.e., a single order ordered by a single principle.

This Big One cannot be a mere (immanent) object, no matter how big, because this would exclude the vastly larger world of subjectivity, personhood, and verticality more generally. If reality is a material object, then there goes philosophy.

Only man can philosophize, so any total philosophy must account for its own possibility. To argue, for example, that thinking is a side effect of "selfish genes" is just weaseling past the academic knaveyard.

Let's put it this way: reduction is fine as a method, but terrible as a metaphysic, i.e., when it is unironically expanded into a fool-blown Ism and all-encompassing vision of the whole. One is free to do this, but only if one puts on 2-D glasses and sinks from 20/∞ to 20/Ø vision.

Suffice it to say that ideological blindness isn't just another form of vision, any more than a feminist is just another type of female; rather, the negation thereof. (Or as Cousin Dupree says, like a woman only worse.)

Put it this way: philosophy is the quintessential act of vertical transcendence; it is always at a right angle to (mere) existence, and opens out to the Absolute and (therefore) Infinite.

This is obvious enough conceptually, i.e., in the abstract, but it is also concretely accessible experientially, barring a self-imposed intellectual autism (and autism is like a man, only worse, so we're even).

As we know, we are surrounded by silly, inadequate, and even diabolical philosophies that can only be caricatures of the real thing:

it is common to all these sham-realizations that they not only fail to transcend the world but that they bring it ever more firmly and irrevocably under one dome; that they serve to confine man ever more within the world of work [i.e., anti-Slack] (Pieper).

Thy thing-dome come, thy will (to power) be done. And here we are.

Such slackless and spurious forms of pseudo-philosophy result in "man's sealing himself off from the extraordinary," AKA the purblind alley of the cosmic nul de slack.

This is among the first things we want to say to leftist anthropoids swaddled in their own ideological diapers: that's not a proper philosophy adequate to the phenom o' man -- it's a prison! Which recalls those worthywords about how the Shades of the prison-house begin to close / Upon the growing Boy.

But not necessarily, and certainly not inevitably. We can always draw the cave blinds open and let the Light stream into our mancave.

Yes, we have to grow up, which is to say, actualize our latent or implicit potential. Like any other animal, man is ordered to a transcendent telos, only ours can never be exhausted in time. 

Or in other words, we are ordered to O, which is another way of saying that we are the implicit image and potential likeness of the very Principle that landed us in this queer situation.  

Believe me, there are ways, Dude. There are always doors and windows, and best of all, a spiral staircase, and why would stairs lead nowhere?

Chesterton says something about modern philosophies to the effect that they are like doors with no home attached. Certainly this is the case of any Kant-inspired rationalism that furnishes a key to everything except the damn door. At the other end, empiricism gives us a house of walls with no doors or windows. 

Pieper is in essential agreement with Led Zeppelin that 1) there are two paths you can go by, and that 2) there's still time to change the road you're on:

whither is the philosophizing person transported when transcending the [horizontal] world of work? Obviously he crosses a boundary: What kind of realm is this that lies beyond the boundary? And how is the realm into which the philosophical act penetrates related to the world that is surpassed and transcended through just this philosophical act?

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blowing where it will? And did you know your stairway lies on the same whispering wind? Denying this is effictively to be a rock and not to roll.

Now, last time I checked, we live in a cosmos of relations. While this sounds like a banality, it is among the most consequential facts of existence, for it is a necessary condition of everything else, certainly including the possibility of philosophy -- or of any other kind of knowing, for that matter, which is always in relation to intelligible being.

Imagine, for example, a pile of rocks. We can see that one rock is externally related to another, that the pile is related to the landscape, etc. But as Pieper says, a stone isn't really "in" a pile, "with" its fellow rocks, or "next to" anything at all. 

Rather, "Relations in the genuine sense are formed from the inside-out; relations are only possible where there is an interior."

So in reality, to say "relation" is to say "interior," and this is the revolutionary part, for we live in a cosmos of interior relations, so what needs to be explained is how a heretofore (before 4 billions years ago, when Life appeared -- ex nihilo again, as it were --from nowhere) exterior cosmos can suddenly become interior to itself, how organisms are possible, or how existence becomes experience. 

Here is what we need: a principle of interior relations. Now, what could this be? It cannot be a mathematical, or material, or any other immanent principle, which would eliminate -- and de-illuminate --precisely what it needs to explain, thus leaving us with no explanation and no one to explain it. End-stage tenure

Whitehead banged this conundrum from a purely scientific angle; for example, in Adventures in Ideas he writes that

the foundation of metaphysics should be sought in the understanding of the subject-object structure of experience, and in the respective roles of the physical and mental functionings.

Or between the poles of immanence and transcendence. Instead of a vicious and insoluble mind-matter dualism, we see a dynamic and fruitful complementarity in the tension between them.

What exactly does Christianity reveal that must be regarded as axiomatic to the meta-thinking man? Undoubtedly the most important is the Trinity, which entails not only person as ultimate category, but the intersubjectivity -- or interior relations -- thereof. 

Another big one is the doctrine of creation, for which reason creation will always bear the imprint of the interior relations of the big Three-in-One.  

God desperately wants to help us think, but only in a certain way, for thinking isn't just anything. Let us, with the Aphorist, count some of the ways:

Thought can avoid the idea of God as long as it limits itself to meditating on minor problems.

God does not ask for the submission of the intelligence, but rather an intelligent submission.

Religion is not a set of solutions to known problems, but a new dimension of the universe. The religious man lives among realities that the secular man ignores.

To believe that science is enough is the most naïve of superstitions.

The modern aberration consists in believing that the only thing that is real is what the vulgar soul perceives.

There is no stupid idea which modern man is not capable of believing, as long as he avoids believing in Christ.

By unmasking a truth, one encounters a Christian face.

There was never any conflict between reason and faith, but between two faiths.

The believer knows how to doubt; the unbeliever does not know how to believe.

When their religious depth disappears, things are reduced to a surface without thickness, where nothing shows through.

Now back to where we were: a cosmos -- any cosmos, AKA ordered totality -- is a field of relations, and this field is always interior or it simply cannot be. This then leads to the principle that

The higher the status of the being with with an interior, that is, the more expansive and comprehensive its power to enter into relations is, the broader and more multidimensioned is the field of relations associated with it; alternatively expressed, the higher the being stands in the hierarchy of reality, the larger its world and the greater its status.

The human person is objectively higher than a rock because his interior is more expansive, comprehensive, multidimensional, and densely related. I know what you're thinking, but Joe Biden is the exception that proves the rule: we're talking about man as such, not such-and-such a rockheaded man.

This whole line of inquiry is dense with further implications, but that's enough for today.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Ignorance Solution to the Knowledge Problem

Regarding the latter term, we are of course referring to Hayek, for he who humbly hesitates is always on the right track -->
As long as we can respond without hesitating we do not know the subject.

We can never have too much knowledge, but there's always too much hubris, stupidity, and ideology that fails to begin what what we do not and cannot know. 

Epistemological humility in the face the irreducible mystery is always in good taste, from matteronup () to Godondown ()

I recall a remark by Richard Feynman to the effect that if you understand quantum physics, then you don't. Same with God. Thus, pride goeth before a progressive fail, whereas

Humility is the only secure refuge against stupidity.

Again, intelligence is a "substance," so to speak, before it is a content, and it must always maintain a passive stance toward the Mystery of Being, the latter of which -- obviously -- can never be contained by man, rather, contains us. 

For how could finite being contain the Infinite Being that always contains it? Thus,

Intelligence does not aspire to be free, but to submit.

Or rebel, AKA Genesis 3 All Over Again, for

Intelligence by itself possesses nothing but rebellious slaves.

Or, possesses the freedom to submit: our choice.

Back to the only appropriate stance toward Mystery of Being, come to find out that, *ironically*, 

That which is incomprehensible increases with the growth of intelligence.

It's only too bad they don't award Ph.D.s for awestruck wonder (?!) or ontological WTF! But to be sure, 
There are types of ignorance that enrich the mind and types of knowledge that impoverish it. 

Who isn't impoverished -- financially, intellectually, spiritually, and in every other way -- by a degree in gender or queer or any other discipline that ends with "studies"? 

Speaking of dumb people such as Candace Owens who are Only asking questions,  

No answer can be more intelligent than the question that gave rise to it. 

As to other dumb people who Just want answers,

Anyone can learn what it is possible to know, but knowing it intelligently is within the reach of the few.

It seems that whatever we can know of this world is always bisected by mystery -- which is by no means synonymous with ignorance, unless we stipulate that there exists a kind of Higher Ignorance. 

I don't mean to keep quoting the Aphorist, but he's always one step above:

Erudition has three grades: the erudition of him who knows what an encyclopedia says, the erudition of him who writes what an encyclopedia says, and the erudition of him who knows what an encyclopedia does not know how to say.

And there can be nothing more mysterious than subjectivity itself, which participates in the very Light that illuminates the world.

This Light cannot be autochthonous -- Word of the Deity -- rather, must have its own sufficient reason, as there is no such thing as an effect without a cause, nor can the effect be more than that which is in the cause.

For this reason we invented the term "vertile egghead" for those of us who are fertilized -- "overshadowed," so to speak -- by some sort of mysterious Light from above. Conversely, the worldly infertile egghead is rendered so by the assimilation of darkness, and we know where that comes from. 

The above sentiments were provoked by a passage in The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas, which reduces some of the great man's thoughts to funsized nutritional aphorisms worthy of Dávila. In the introduction, Pieper says that,

In the opinion of Thomas, not only does mystery put a limit to the penetrability of reality, but ordo itself is interwoven and crossed by mystery.

And again, not just theological mystery, for lesser forms of mystery are actually rooted in this deeper metaphysical principle: call it the Meta-mystery, or O for short. One way or another, we can only pretend to make O go away.

Note, for example, how much economic, political, and scientistic mischief could be avoided if only our ideological eunuchs for the Thingdom of Matter could abide by this principle! No one would be rioting in order to force their ideological dreamworlds on the restavus, that's for sure.

When Hayek's knowledge problem is ignored by the left (and this ignorance defines the left), it forms the basis of their chronic stupidity problem. 

Which would be fine if it only affected them. But unfortunately, their stupidity affects us all, especially when conjoined with state power. Good intentions + the unlimited coercive power of the state is by far the most successful recipe for hell on earth.

This same subject is discussed from various angles in Sowell's foundational Knowledge & Decisions. Here's the first paragraph:

Ideas are everywhere but knowledge is rare. Even a so-called "knowledgeable" person usually has solid knowledge only within some special area, representing a tiny fraction of the whole spectrum of human concerns. Humorist Will Rogers said, "Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."

Those of us who have attended college know better than anyone that "Ideas are everywhere but knowledge is rare." And if you haven't yet figured that out, it is in all likelihood because the indoctrination was a complete success: only the patient died.

I suppose I'll never stop unlearning what I learned in school. More generally, the acquisition of meta-ignorance is a lifelong practice, one to which we shall be returning when we discuss the Principle of Everything, which implies a practice. This practice is known to mystics all down through history, but 'nuff said for the moment. Suffice it to say,

The mystic is the only one who is seriously ambitious. 

Or unseriously, depending on how you look at it.

There's a paradox -- or twist -- at play here, because the evolution of civilization correlates with increased ignorance. 

For example, you don't have to go too far back in history to a time when almost everyone had to know how to farm or hunt. Now almost no one does, and yet, there is more food than ever. For the time being, anyway.

Likewise, my ignorance of computer technology is essentially total, and probably so is yours, and yet, here we are. But we know we are ignorant, which is meta-ignorance.

Problems arise when total ignorance masquerades as total mastery. Sowell asks,

What then is the intellectual advantage of civilization over primitive savagery? It is not necessarily that each civilized man has more knowledge but that he requires far less. A primitive savage must be able to produce a wide variety of goods and services for himself...

Conversely, I don't know how to make a moccasin, locate roots & berries that won't make me sick, or hunt for animals with weapons I don't know how to make. In a pinch I could probably scalp someone -- the right someone -- but that's about it.

You've probably heard the old cliche about how modern man knows more and more about less and less, to the point of knowing everything about nothing, and here we are. 

But the converse is equally true: with the advance of civilization we know less and less about more and more, to the point that we are in danger of knowing nothing about nearly everything, for example, the weather.

Back to Aquinas. Or better, BACK TO AQUINAS!

The boundary between order and mystery passes through this world itself; the effort of human thought, says Thomas, has not been able to track down the essence of a single gnat (Pieper).

Not only is this true, it will always be true: whatever we know will always be surrounded -- or bisected -- by what we don't know. This ignorance is a precondition of knowledge. If everything were already lit up, we could never see the light. Nor does it make sense to strike a match in order to illuminate the sun, as do the tenured. 

The intellectual light dwelling in us is nothing else than a kind of participated image of the uncreated light...

Correct. Moreover, this bulbous Light of intellection contains the principle of freedom within itself: "Wherever there is intellectual knowledge, there is also free will." 

And to come full circle back to where we began this post, knowledge from top to bottom is always bisected by mystery. For ultimately

This is the final human knowledge of God: to know that we do not know God.

Thus, meta-ignorance is the solution to mega-stupidity. I don't get it either, but here is:

In any event, Make America Meta-Ignorant Again! Wait, WTF?!

This is much better:

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The First Guest on Our Imaginary Podcast

I guess I'm not quite yet prepared to tackle the Principle of Everything. A little more immersion is required before I can boil it down to something more digestible. Funsized, as it were. 

While I am profiting immensely from the book (Christ the Logos of Creation), it requires intense and sustained cooncentration (600 pages worth), nor does it help that it is repetitive, full of overly cautious reservations, qualifications, and having-said-thats, and has far too much respectful engagement with other philosophers, metaphysicians, and theologians whom I would dispatch with my customary flippancy.

The goal, of course, is to boil it down to something that could be printed on a tee-shirt, or perhaps a series of aphorisms or jehovial witticisms, recalling Wittgenstein's observation that A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes

What the author is saying is desperately needed to be heard, but not in this form. Rather, straight to the point, pulling no punches.  

Meanwhile, four years ago we were rifling through Voegelin's mail, and noticed a reference to Balthasar's A Theology of History, which prompted us to reread the latter. Akashic records indicate that we first read it in 2004, which, truth be told, is before we could have possibly understood it. We are now much more qualified for such an undertaking.

Looks like we only got up to page 40 or so before throwing in the towel, so "reread" isn't quite accurate. But nor is "reading" the correct word, because we were just as capable of reading then as we are today. What's going on here?  

Whether due to limitations in Herr von B or in us, we often find him obscure and wordy, which, somewhat paradoxically, go together, possibly because it would take a genius to edit a genius. No offense, but 

Wordiness is not an excess of words, but a dearth of ideas.

Only ideas save us from adjectives.

The deluded are prolix.

The idea that does not win over in twenty lines does not win over in two thousand pages.

Nevertheless, -- we will dispense with the royal we -- this time around I understood more than I did the first time. And I wonder if this in turn speaks to Voegelin's theory of history, in that the cosmos I inhabited in 2004 was less luminous than the one I am sitting in today. 

The quest, thus, has no external "object," but is reality itself becoming luminous for its movement from the ineffable, through the Cosmos, to the ineffable.

It reminds me of the phrase "shedding light on the subject." The subject hasn't changed, but somehow I -- the subject engaging with the subject -- am able to shed more light on it (or it on me). 

In any event, it's all about the Light, speaking of irreducible principles we will be getting back to vis-a-vis The Principle of Everything.

Voegelin calls Balthasar's tome a "masterwork of its kind," and claims it "is the most competent philosophy of history from a strict Catholic position that has ever come under my eyes." 

Credit where it is due: I do understand the first sentence:

Since man began to philosophize he has sought to grasp things by distinguishing two elements: the factual, singular, sensible, concrete and contingent; and the necessary and universal (and because universal, abstract), which has the validity of a law rising above the individual case and determining it.

This is a profoundly important point, going to the ultimate (from the human end) categories of essence and existence, transcendence and immanence, heaven and earth, dirt below and inbreathed spirit from above, and other cosmic complementarities we will soon be discussing in more detail. 

In short, man -- the human person -- always inhabits (or points toward) two realms which can be formulated in different ways, but it is strictly impossible to reduce one to the other. Not only does this correspond "to man's way of knowing" but "to the structure of being." 

Which is a good thing, because it means that knowing corresponds to being, or epistemology to ontology. How convenient is that -- that we are in touch with reality!

Having said that, there is a person in whom these two vectors are indeed reduced to one, AKA God, whose essence is to exist and whose existence is essential, which is to say, Necessary Being.

Consider the Kantian alternative: knowing and being are like two circles with no contact. All we can ever know is the phenomenal. The noumenal -- the thing in itself -- is forever unknowable.

In other words, to claim reality is unknowable is to claim a great deal indeed about reality. How does he know it's unknowable? Who is he, God?

Notice that Kant cannot help distinguishing the two elements as described by Balthasar. However, he doesn't so much distinguish as drive a permanent wedge between them. 

For the Raccoon, this is literally the most soph-defeating thing one could possibly do, for it seals one in a state of permanent and ineradicable stupidity, and why? Just to preserve a perverse form of poorly understood Christianity?

Let's open up the lines. Our first caller is Frithjof from Bloomington, Indiana. Hello Frithjof. Am I pronouncing that right?

No. Not close.

Okay. May I call you Fritz?

Not even my friends call me that. You may call me Shaykh. 

Let's move on. I understand that you disagree with Kant?

Yes, Bob -- is that how you pronounce it? Longtime listener, first time caller.

For starters, Kant's whole approach is reducible to a gratuitous reaction against all that lies beyond the reach of reason; it is 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.

Let's get ready to rumble! Sounds like you're accusing Kant of an impeccable logic starting from a basic error?

Thaaat's right, Bob. What is crucial in Kantianism is its 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, to say nothing of the previous one. 
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.

So by committing logocide, as it were, modern and postmodern philosophy redound to genocide?

Indeed, Bob. Negations on this scale are an assault on the very dignity, value, and meaning of the human station. The true philosopher and metaphysician is not just open to reality, but open to the fact of intellection itself. In the grand scheme of things, primordial intellection is as it were the "first word" that never stops speaking. Our friend Eckhart says as much.

Conversely, the modern philosopher wishes to have the "last word," and this last word is ideology in all its grotesque forms, from Marx to Comte -- scientism, positivism, progressivism, the whole ball of wax.

Wax or whacks?

Both: seeking to free himself from the servitude of the mind, the ideologue falls into infra-logic. In closing himself above to the light of the intellect, he opens himself below to the darkness of the subconscious.

Isn't that an insult to Satan? Is he really that stupid -- as stupid as, say, Obama?

Never heard of her. 
No, Satan is not that stupid. But the people who are seduced by him render themselves stupid thereby. 
You've heard the old line by Mencken: the demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. Satan is the world's most accomplished demagogue. 
As it applies to Kant, unintelligence is put forward as a "doctrine" and definitively installed in European "thought," giving birth to countless monsters of ideology. Hence the whacks. Ideology means that some group or class is not only subject to a good whacking, but with impunity for the wacked whackers.

Are you not being a little rough on the sage of Königsberg?

Some people may reproach us with a lack of due consideration, but we would ask what due consideration is shown by philosophers who shamelessly slash down the wisdom of countless centuries. 
For Kant, intellectual intuition -- of which he does not understand the first word -- is a fraudulent manipulation which throws a moral discredit onto all authentic intellectuality. That includes you, Bob. Are you going to just take it, or fight back with equal energy?

No one, least of all your so-called sage, knows the limits of thought. To the extent that he pretends to know them, he has discovered only his own self-imposed limits. By its very nature the intellect is in principle unlimited or it is nothing.

We're coming up against a hard break. Care to summarize?

One can try. Kantian “criticism" decrees that no one can know anything, just because they themselves know nothing, or desire to know nothing.

You are alluding to the tenured? 

Correct: if the intelligence as such is limited, what guarantee do we have that its operations, including those of critical philosophy, are valid? Any so-called philosopher who casts doubt on man’s normal subjectivity thereby casts doubt upon his own doubting. 

So, modern and postmodern philosophers are anything but?

Think about it: if our intelligence is incapable of adequation, then there is likewise nothing to prove that the intelligence expressing this doubt is competent to doubt. 
Analogously, if the optic nerve has to be examined in order to prove vision is real, it will likewise be necessary to examine that which examines the optic nerve, an absurdity which proves in its own indirect way that knowledge of suprasensible things is intuitive and cannot be other than intuitive.

Moreover, since philosophy by definition could never limit itself to the description of phenomena available to common observation, it is perfectly consistent only when exceeding itself -- like man himself, who, should he fail to transcend himself, sinks beneath himself.

Speaking of putting listeners to sleep, I want to say a few words about my friend Mike Lindell at my 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Prequel to a Principle of Everything

Just some preliminary sketches of our Principle of Everything. Literally and figuratively, although most of what follows was above Gemini's praygrade, too abstract to generate many suitable sketches.

Why are there different things instead of an indistinct soup of being?

Difference in God is the origin of the creation from God, and the difference that is within creation. All of this is grounded in Trinitarian difference, in the difference that is eternally present in God as threefold (Davison).

Oh. What about our participation in God?

The creature's participation in God is grounded in God's own participation in himself: it is a likeness of the intra-divine participation. Creation's life and being are a participation in God's eternal participation, a share in his own eternal sharing. 

Oh. What about causation? If God is the first cause, why are there always four?

Well, God is not the material cause, rather, the cause of matter; and Davison sees the Father as correlative to origin and therefore efficient causation (characterized by the preposition "from"); the Son to formal causation ("through" the intelligible Word); and the Holy Spirit to final causation, or perfection ("in").

Hence all the all-powerful movement from the Origin through the all-knowing Wisdom of Logos-form, to the finality of Perfection, AKA the eternal spiral of Alpha to Omega. 

The Principle of Creation itself is nothing other than a reflection or refraction -- a fractal? -- from

a yet more primordial giving and receiving from within God.... the gift and reception that is creation is an image of eternal giving and receiving in God. 

Oh. Could you say a little more? 

The overflow of being, to and as creation, which we call the creature's participation in God, has its archetype in an eternal "overflow" within God's very self.

Oh. Which also accounts for our involvement with Truth, Beauty, and transcendence in general:

[T]he inherently relational nature of both nature and culture -- what we might call "intra-finite participation," or the participation of creatures in one another -- is a further reflection of divine interrelation and procession. 

Or what we call the interiority and intersubjectivity of things and of everything, i.e., the intelligibility-to-intellect of being itself. 

As we have suspected all along, God doesn't have to create this particular creation, but he can't not create, for

in creating, God is doing externally and in an unnecessitated register, what he is internally, and necessarily, in his very being.

Oh. John, for example, "provides ample material" -- a total metaphysic, as it were -- "for saying that human participation in God participates in the Son's participation in the Father." 

Or in other words, "The incarnate human life of Jesus reveals the relationship of the eternal Son to the Father," for "I am in the Father and the Father is in me." Likewise, "I receive both what I am [i.e., essence] and that I am [existence] from God by participation." 

Well, good: we both are and are someone in particular.

A participatory vision of theology stresses that God is the beginning, middle, and end of all things. 

Not just in a one-and-done way, but everywhere and everywhen, AKA continuous (vertical) creation. 

Now, this process implies a spiritual adventure, for "the notion of a goal has spatial, journeying connotations," of a "coming forth and returning," ultimately of "a personal journey back to God." In the words of Thomas,

It belongs to creatures to be moved toward that end which is without beginning, and to come to rest in the perfect end that is without end...

Or in the words of Maximus, to be "immortal by participation," and why not? It's what the mystics are always going on about, and this accounts for the very possibility of mystical union, the first and last word in the journey of Participation.

Again, "creatures are 'but finite representations' of what God is infinitely," thus all the interiorly related plurality and diversity.

As we alluded to yesterday, it "is not so much that God is like a human father, but that human fatherhood -- at its best -- is a participation in divine fatherhood." Put another way, God is "not only the universal Father but the archetypal Father, the Father of whom all fathers are derivatives or types."

"Likeness-in-unlikeness," which goes to the principle of analogy that we will soon be blah-blah-blogging about in more detail. 

Suffice it to say that we are like God but God is not like us. Again, the principle of analogy applies so long as we don't forget that the differences infinitely dwarf the similarities, as we said yesterday about my dog and me. 

An analogy is a kind of metaphor, and the Aphorist reminds us that

Metaphor supposes a universe in which each object mysteriously contains the others. 

I'll definitely buy that, even though it's priceless. 

What about freedom? The Aphorist suggests that

The permanent possibility of initiating a causal series is what we call a person.

Similarly, Davison says that "God not only causes but, in causing, bestows upon creatures the power to be causes themselves." This too, I suspect, is grounded in the Persons of the Trinity.

In any and every event, the events of Genesis -- which are always occurring -- depict "human beings as themselves makers, bearing the image of the creator in their creativity." Hence all the endless creativity, which is a "delegated creativity."  

We've just skimmed the surface. The next book we will playgiarize with -- Christ the Logos of Creation: An Essay in Analogical Metaphysics -- takes the discussion much deeper. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Principle of Everything

I'd like to write a post on that subject, but then again, if we search the arkive long enough, we're bound to find it. 

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I recently finished a book on this subject, called Participation in God: A Study in Christian Doctrine and Metaphysics, and am halfway through another called Christ the Logos of Creation: An Essay in Analogical Metaphysics

Each, in a different way, goes to the Principle of Everything. But again, I'm still digesting. 

We have consistently maintained over these past 18+ years that one of the purposes of religion is to convey to man an implicit metaphysic, or to provide man with knowledge of the Absolute -- not absolute knowledge per se, since this is reserved for the Absolute, or in other words, God's knowledge of himself, this latter being the Word.

This Word is bi-directional, so to speak, as it is God's icon of man and man's icon of God. It is the very Principle of creation, or in other words, the "eternal creation" prior to any particular creation such as ours.

Contrary to the blinkered view of religious and scientistic fundamentalists, the language of religion is and must be conveyed via symbolic points of reference.

By way of analogy, this is similar to the relationship between a two-dimensional painting and a three-dimensional landscape. The painting is a transformation of the landscape made possible by various constants that are preserved and transmitted to the viewer.

Even the words "Father" and "Son" are given to us as handy points of reference in order to get a handle on what is going on up there. 

You might say that God is not so much like a father as fatherhood is like God. This goes to the analogical metaphysics alluded to in the book above, in that, come to find out, everything is more or less like God, even while God is not everything, this latter being pantheism.

Rather, the the principle of analogy means that the similarities are always dwarfed by the dissimilarities. 

For example, you could fruitfully say that in many ways my dog is analogous to me, in that we eat, sleep, play, and obey my wife. Nevertheless, these similarities must be understood in the context of the much greater -- even infinite -- differences (infinite because we are ordered to it).

In the absence of the Absolute no genuine knowledge of any kind is possible, since all knowledge partakes of absoluteness insofar as it is true. We might go so far as to say that any "proven fact" is like a fragment of God: a luminous clue coming into view. Even Gemini gets it. But artificial intelligence is no match for genuine stupidity.

So human beings have an implicit grasp of the Absolute, regardless of whether they choose to deny it. To the extent that we think at all, we are engaging it, either in a from --> to, or to --> from, direction (i.e., inductive or deductive, respectively, leaving aside direct c ʘʘnvision or intuition for the moment).

With this in mind, we see that dysfunctional thinking is obviously a privation -- just as, say, blindness isn't just another type of sight. In order to repair and restore our thinking... well, we'll get into that later. 

But this is certainly one of the implicit purposes of religion: to aid us in thinking properly and fruitfully about ultimate things -- the Permanent Real -- and to adjust our actions accordingly. If actions have no bearing on truth and reality, then you just might be tenured.

Schuon makes the bold claim that

Man is made for what he is able to conceive; the very ideas of absoluteness and transcendence prove both his spiritual nature and the supra-terrestrial character of his destiny.


Our deiformity implies that our spirit is made of absoluteness, our will of freedom, and our soul of generosity...

"Deiformity" is one way of putting it. America, for example, is explicitly founded upon this self-evident principle of anthropic theomorphism, i.e., that man is created by the Creator -- that he is a local image of the nonlocal Principle of Everything alluded to in the title -- which has a number of immediate entailments, in particular, natural law and natural rights.

These latter two -- law and right -- are bound up with truth and will, respectively: the intellect is teleologically ordered to the True and the will to the Good. Thus there is literally a big OUGHT woven into the area rug of being, in that we oughtta' think true thoughts and do the right thing. Is this asking too much? 

What's the alternative, believing nonsense and behaving badly? This is the perennial Way of the Left, a wayward way that is grounded in the rejection of the Absolute, or in Genesis 3 All Over Again.

Why would anyone want to give absolute rights to an intrinsically irresponsible being? Rather, we are given rights because we are first responsible, i.e., capable of knowing the Law and feeling guilty when we transgress it. But we all know by now that the superpower of the left is shamelessness.

If there is a Principle of Everything there is an Anti-principle of Everything. But this is not a dualistic cosmos, so the latter is purely "reactionary," so to speak, always parasitic on the former. After all, no one is more aware of the existence of God than the Devil.

Our fallen nature -- which means we are vulnerable to falling for the ssseductive wiles of the Anti-principle -- shuffles the cards, clouds the intellect, dis-orients the will, and generally disrupts our intimacy with the Absolute. Like back when we walked with God in the cool evening of paradise. Good times. 

We'll no doubt return to this subject later, but again bear in mind that our fallenness is a privation. Thank God we can know of the privation, for if we can't, then... well, ideology is just one of nasty developments that follows the denial of reality and the superimposition of unreal secondary realities.

Another edifying passage from Schuon:

One of the keys to understanding our true nature and our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world are never proportionate to the actual range of our intelligence. 
Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing. The Absolute alone confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish and to be wholly what it is (emphases mine).

Hold on. Let me fact check that fact...

Yup. Zero Cosmic Pinocchios. I have consulted both the cosmos and my own head, and I rate this fact absolutely true: I AM contains the cosmos, not vice versa; we can either know truth or we can't, and our vertical adventure in consciousness never ends. Nor can the cosmos be just a little bit pregnant with meaning.

If I hadn't first read and assimilated Schuon, I don't know that I'd have been able to make sense of Voegelin's claim to the effect that "Christianity is not an alternative to philosophy, it is philosophy itself in its state of perfection."

I can back that up. But I'll do so in the next post, when I begin to tackle those two books referenced above.  

Voegelin made the related claim that "the gospel appeared to offer the answer to the philosopher's search for truth." Clement (in his The Mystical Roots of Christianity) agrees that for early Christian thinkers, "The whole of life, the whole universe was interpreted in the light of Christ's death and resurrection."

It indeed discloses to man the Principle of Everything. Which is pretty good news if you ask me.

"Our higher faculties reflect divine qualities" and arouse "within us an attraction towards what transcends us, a 'desire for eternity'":

Thereby we become greater than the universe into which we were born and which seeks to take possession of us. Thereby we assert our basic freedom. Ultimately, then, being in the image of God signifies personality, freedom.

Of course, for "someone who chooses to hide his eyes by lowering his eyelids, the sun is not responsible for the fact that he cannot see it" (Gregory of Nyssa).

Again, ignorance of the Absolute is a privation. If not, then absolute ignorance is the standard, and the votaries of the Anti-principle are the best and brightest the cosmos has to offer. 

One has only to look at their eternally punchable faces to know this is strictly impossible. Contrast with this face:

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