Friday, March 16, 2018

Transcendence or Hand Grenades

In yesterday's post I did something I try always to avoid, in that I tossed out a lazy and inadequately supported statement. I hate it when others do it, because this endeavor -- the Raccoon project -- calls for precision, even if precision poetry. The last thing I want to do is deepak the chopra. Nor does it matter if what I said is true. It still needs fleshing out.

This is the statement: "the cosmos is in the soul, not the soul in the cosmos," and later "the cosmos is in us, and we are in God." Those are not the sorts of things you can just toss out there, unless maybe you're passing a joint while doing so. If truth is "just anything," pretty soon it is just nothing.

Yes, religion is often guilty of this sort of thing because of the I-AMbiguous nature of the subject. You might be tempted to believe that science is innocent of this abuse, but you would be wrong. If anything, it is the bigger offender, because nothing about science (or scientism) is grounded in anything (or everything grounded in nothing).

And that's just the metaphysics. Concepts such as "big bang," "evolution," "consciousness," and "person" are thrown around as if they are self-evident. Which they are, so long as you buy into the whole paradigm, but the paradigm is absurd if you take it seriously.

Truly, scientism isn't "in the world" but in its paradigm. Therefore, it sees what the paradigm allows it to see. As soon as we realize the paradigm is in us, we have transcended it, as outlined in yesterday's post. And then you have to account for how this inescapable transcendence has gotten into the universe.

But it cannot be a scientific account, because then you're back where you started, safe inside your little paradigm. This is part of what I mean by saying that the cosmos is in us rather than vice versa. However, I'm saying something a little more radical, because I don't merely mean our representation of the cosmos, but the cosmos as such.

As we've mentioned any number of times, "cosmos" or "universe" are already profoundly metaphysical concepts that assume the oneness of creation. Why should creation be one? Because we intuit it as such. Deep down we know there is an Absolute, and that it is a contradiction in terms to affirm two Absolutes. Reality is one, and we all know it, if not explicitly then implicitly.

The only exceptions to this are the mentally ill or brain damaged. For example, people who are subjected to early trauma, abuse, and deprivation often suffer from a kind of primordial rupture on the ground floor of their neuro-psyche. As such, they have difficulty with most any kind of integration, whether of emotions, thoughts, or actions.

I read a short book the other day that touches on this, God and Philosophy, by Etienne Gilson. To paraphrase and expand upon an amazon review, Greek philosophy was eventually able to arrive at That Which Is -- the objective Absolute, so to speak -- while it fell upon the ancient Hebrews to not only discover the subjective Absolute -- He Who Is, or I AM -- but to then put the two together in a daring cosmo-historical act of integration.

But then Uncles Rene (Descartes) and Manny (Kant) came along and ruined everybody's lives and ate all our steak by demolishing this unity with a "'purely rational' philosophy which holds nearly every intellectual today in bondage." This is the paradigm capture alluded to above, although the prisons are diverse, for truth is one while ideology is many -- a fractured fairy tale.

In any event, any metaphysic worthy of man must account for the IT IS as well as the I AM, i.e., objectivity and subjectivity. Sure, you can reduce the latter to the former, but that doesn't actually solve the problem, any more than throwing a hand grenade onto the board solves a chess problem. Frankly, you can eliminate any problem via reverse transcendence, or "transcendence from below," but this is always accompanied by a destruction of humanness.

For example, the male-female relation is a problem. There is a cosmically correct way to deal with the problem, and then there are the left's ways, which naturally end in more problems -- which is precisely why women are less happy today than when feminism got hold of them. It is impossible to be happy while living in defiance of one's archetype instead of in conformity with it.

So many aphorisms. Regarding what was just said in the paragraph above, Christianity does not solve “problems”; it merely obliges us to live them at a higher level. Again, transcendence, not hand grenades.

About the futile attempt to enclose the cosmos in (lower case) reason, civilization is the irrational fusion of opposing terms. Those who aspire to a “rational” civilization plan slaughters. See 20th century for details.

About the metaphysical slide from oneness to diversity, After conversing with some “thoroughly modern” people, we see that humanity escaped the “centuries of faith” only to get stuck in those of credulity.

About the implicit oneness, Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities. It is not a conviction that we possess, but a conviction that possesses us -- from outside the cosmos. Faith is like an air hole at the top (in addition to letting in the light and warmth).

About reducing subject to object, One to many, soul to matter, He who does not believe in God can at least have the decency of not believing in himself. Because The doctrines that explain the higher by means of the lower are appendices of a magician’s rule book.

About being stuck in a paradigm and calling it freedom, The philosopher who adopts scientific notions has predetermined his conclusions.

In philosophy nothing is easier than to be consistent. Rather, the trick is completeness! And no man can pretend to be complete without God.

As to our initial problematic statement about the cosmos being in the soul, Schuon writes that "the Intellect coincides in its innermost nature with the very Being of things." Or in other words, we are ultimately in conformity with reality. If not, then what is the point? This is the truth that sets us free. Every alternative places us in bondage: God or Egypt, transcendence or hand grenades.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

There's Room at the Top of the Cosmos

I caught an article the other day that depicts the entire known universe in a single image:

Boom. Or ¡BANG!, rather. There it is.

Three things: first, that's us in the center. Second, you have to imagine it as a three-dimensional cone, with the central point closest to us. Third, it is not to scale, since it would be impossible to depict the vast distances involved. If it were to scale, our sun, which you see at the center, would be so tiny as to be invisible.

Interestingly, it looks very much like any other mandala, which is a symbolic representation of the cosmos. I wonder if this is because it is a perennial nonlocal form to which humans have vertical access?

Also, the sphere has always been understood as the perfect form, and the cosmos must be a perfect sphere, since it is expanding in all directions from a central point at 68 kilometers per second.

So, what is it expanding into? That's a nonsense question, or at least beyond the limits of the model. Ultimately the mathematical model must be tautologous, forbidden by Gödel to step outside itself. Only humans can do that, not science.

Therefore, there is a strange loop involved in gazing at that model; or better it is like a Klein Bottle, in which yer inside is out and yer outside is in. Again, we are at the center of the model, implying that we are "contained" by it. And yet, we are looking at it from the outside, such that it is we who contain the cosmos, not vice versa.

Is this possible? No, it's necessary: the cosmos is in the soul, not the soul in the cosmos.

Again, consider the logarithmic scale of the image above, such that as one gets closer to the center, things get smaller and smaller. But that is only the "reality," not the Reality. For in real Reality, at the center is the largest imaginable thing in all of existence, which is to say, the human mind -- the same isness that transcends the whole business.

I've mentioned before that I read a novel some 35 years ago called Little, Big. I don't remember anything about it except that it depicts a world of concentric circles. However, unlike standard geometry, the closer one gets to the center, the larger the world, to the point of infinitude.

Here again, this is very much like our world, being that the infinitude is at the center, not the periphery. Think, for example, of childhood. On the one hand, it was a small world -- our house, our family, our neighborhood. Nevertheless, remember the infinitude? It was everywhere and in every thing.

The good news is that there's still room at the top, as man always "opens out" to infinity. As such, it is as if there is a pinhole at the center of the image, with Light streaming in -- the same light that illuminates the image. This pinhole is a window or a door, depending. Jesus said "I am the way," but he might have said ways, e.g., the gate, the vine, the light, the truth.

God has opened a door in the middle of creation, and this open door of the world towards God is man; this opening is God's invitation to look toward Him, to tend towards Him, to persevere with regard to Him, and to return to Him (Schuon).

It is the actual river that runs up Mount Improbable:

the human state is a gate of exit -- and the only gate for the terrestrial world -- not merely out of this world or the formal cosmos, but even out of the immense and numberless objectification that is universal Existence.

Maybe you can't see it, but at the very center of the center -- the beating heart of the cosmos -- would have to be the cross. God is "outside" the circle, but when he condescends to enter, he is cruciform.

Schuon often uses the image of the circle as a point of reference. God is at the center, radiating outward, with each concentric circle representing a world -- for example, worlds of matter, of biology, of mind. In one sense the material world -- or the world of the material ego -- is the most distant from the center, but it is possible for man to plunge right past it, into "negative" spaces of falsehood, evil, and tenure.

In any event, in this view, the spiritual adventure is a journey back to the center:

The subjective principle emanating from the divine Subject crosses the Universe like a ray in order to end in the multitude of egos.... Man marks the limit of the "creative ray" for the terrestrial world that is his; his sufficient reason consists in being this limit, that is, in providing a stop -- after the manner of an echo or a mirror -- to the "ray of exteriorization".... it is at the same time a door open toward the Self and immortality (Schuon).

So, where does this leave us vis-a-vis our picture of the universe? In truth, man cannot be enclosed in any system, whether material, mathematical, ideological, visual, biological, whatever. Rather, the cosmos is in us, and we are in God. And the higher you fly, the deeper you go. So c'mon!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Religious Dunning-Kruger

Yesterday the term occurred to me: "religious Dunning-Kruger." Certainly it applies to Pinker, who simultaneously overestimates what he knows about religion and underestimates what religious people know about his secular humanism. The following is adapted from wiki, but with certain relevant words changed or added:

The Religious Dunning–Kruger effect is a psycho-pneumatic bias wherein excessively rationalistic people suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their spiritual discernment as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metaphysical inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own spiritual ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metaphysics, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual knowledge or experience of the spiritual realm.

Conversely, spiritually gifted individuals may erroneously assume that principles easy for them to understand are also easy for other people to understand, or that other people will have a similar understanding of subjects that they themselves are well-versed in.

At the very least, an intellectually honest atheist will want to seek out the finest in religious thought in order to refute it. Instead, they either dismiss it out of hand with a wave of Dunning Kruger, or trot out the worst examples of religious thought in order to prove their phony superiority. But if all religious thinkers were Deepak Chopra I'd be an atheist, just as if all women were Michelle Obama I'd be gay. It proves nothing.

Much of what goes by the name of "thinking" is nothing more than a crude display of intelligence signaling. Ideology in particular is a cognitive system that allows idiots to have opinions.

Conversely, orthodox religious belief is often a helpful way for non-metaphysicians to have correct opinions about the foundations of existence. That is to say, when the average person starts thinking things through for himself from the ground up, disaster is just over the horizon. My entire generation (the boomers) was guilty of this, and look what ensued.

If you don't believe me, believe the Aphorist:

To educate man is to impede the “free expression of his personality.”


Educating the individual consists in teaching him to distrust the ideas that occur to him.

What, ideas like man is perfectible and government can solve social problems? The self-satisfied individual who believes his own interior propaganda "ends only destroying values higher than than those he is capable of aiming at and engendering evils greater than those he sets out to overcome" (Schuon). For proof, look at any Democrat-run city.

Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.

Bernie Sanders in '20!

When man refuses the discipline the gods give him, demons discipline him.

Hollywood comes to mind.

An irreligious society cannot endure the truth of the human condition. It prefers a lie, no matter how imbecilic it may be.

Bernie Sanders in '20!

The simplistic ideas in which the unbeliever ends up believing are his punishment.

Pinker deserves himself, as Times readers deserve the Times and progressives deserve progressivism.

Nothing remains of Christianity when the Christian tries to seem to the world not to be stupid.

Religious Dunning-Kruger assures this.

Back to Gnosis, which, as I mentioned in the previous post, has some really bad news for Pinker. Except it's not news, of course, but the most venerable things short of God, i.e., the principles that lead from and to him.

At the root of religious Dunning-Kruger must be a rational ego so hypertrophied that it not only obscures the intellect but appropriates some of its its function, which is precisely what allows it to pronounce on realities above its station:

[I]ntellectual genius should not be confused with the mental acuity of logicians: intellectual intuition comprises in its essence a contemplatively that is in no way part of the rational capacity.... it is contemplative power, receptivity toward the uncreated Light, the opening of the Eye of the heart, which distinguishes transcendent intelligence from reason.

For short, it is (o) and (↓).

Moreover, "Reason perceives the general and proceeds by logical operations, whereas Intellect perceives the principial -- the metaphysical -- and proceeds by intuition." Seeing is believing. Which is again where faith comes in, because believing is already a kind of seeing.

Precisely, it is a seeing-beyond-logic, through a window or door situated at the top of the vertical scale. Man is always an open system, both horizontally and vertically -- or at least is supposed to be.

But both history and simple observation of one's contemporaries show that human nature "tends to lock itself into some limitation," which is to say, man stops asking Why? at an arbitrary point, and calls it a metaphysic. Politically this metaphysic ends in a neo-barbaric atheocracy, while intellectually it ends in a prison of relativism, AKA ineradicable stupidity.

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Science of the Inexact is an Exact Science

Continuing with the theme of the previous post, I reread a couple of essays in Schuon's Gnosis that turned out to be particularly apt. It's as if the Cosmic Mind directed me straight to them.

For example, we adverted to the limitations of mere fact and logic, when our adversaries seem to think that these things not only speak for themselves, but can say everything there is to say. But then Gödel comes along and says "no way," because the human mind is bigger than math and logic put together.

Schuon says something similar:

There is doubtless no truth more "exact" than history, but what must be stressed is that there is a truth more "real" than that of facts.... Historical reality is less "real" than the profound truth it expresses, and which myths likewise express; a mythological symbolism is infinitely more "true" than a fact deprived of symbolism.

Here we are really on to something, almost a kind of cosmic meta-law that transcends anything even Gödel might have ventured; for in the end, he was a mere logician, wasn't he?

The reason there is no truth more exact than history is because it happened. Exactly. And yet, what was it? What did -- or does -- it mean? The most exact representation of what happened won't tell you that.

This reminds me of what was wrong with my formal education. For example, I remember studying a different facet of history every grade: US history, California history, European history, world history, etc. There were countless facts and dates to memorize, but I don't recall anyone pulling it all together and explaining What That Was All About.

So, yesterday I randomed into an article called Education as Enchantment: Tolkien’s Essay “On Fairy-Stories.” In it, the author describes perfectly the distinction between mere historical fact and historical reality:

When we teach, our aim isn’t merely [heh] to relay a subject matter -- a curricular “story” -- that otherwise remains “out there” at a level removed from the student himself. On the contrary, our desire is to be so competent and compelling in our teaching-cum-story-telling that our students and children are able, by an act of what Tolkien calls “literary belief,” to enter into the subject matter fully, and “see” and “feel,” even “be” inside of it.

Exactly. Which is ironic, because we're obviously dealing with a higher level of exactitude than mere fact! More:

Yet in casting our pedagogical “spell,” of course, we understand that we are engaged in no mere [heh] game or play-acting; we are not trying to get our students to believe something that is false.

Rather, we are engaged in the perilously important task of trying to seduce -- or “delude,” as Tolkien has it -- our students out of the so-called “real world” that they think they already know by leading them into the even more real “Secondary World” that is being “weaved” by the teacher.

Understood as a form or state of Faërian drama, then, education is to be appreciated as no mere [heh] means to some other, ulterior end, but rather education seeks to bring about much the same effect that all our arts ardently long for (but which only God’s own Faërian drama of the Gospel most fully achieves). In sum, our teaching must strive to imaginatively substitute the existing world with a new and redeemed because enchanted view of the old one.

I don't think I have sufficient time to unpack all that, but perhaps it's unnecessary, for either you get the point or you don't, and certainly Pinker and his ilk don't.

One central point is that the world isn't flat but hierarchical, such that exactitude on one level may be blurry or misleading or meaningless on the next. Nor is it possible to transcend from below, although people -- especially leftists -- never stop trying.

Bob, why did you just throw in that gratuitous insult to the left? Because the left practices a perverse, counterfeit version of Faërian drama by superimposing an ideological superstructure over events, AKA the Narrative. In denying myth, they descend into a kind of systematic and rigid delusion.

In the words of the Aphorist, Nothing is explainable outside of history, but history is not enough to explain anything.

For Real history exceeds what merely happened. Therefore, Facts need the historian in order to become interesting. Unless the imagination refines it, every event is trivial.

No. Exactly trivial. For The event without an intelligent narrator dies in frustrated virtuality. What this ultimately means is that history is consummated in the soul; or rather, it is woven of fact and imagination, horizontal and vertical, but conditioned from above.


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Bad Church of Mere Logic and Fact

I heard Steven Pinker on Dennis Prager's show yesterday, discussing his Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. I was expecting a high level debate on God, Man, and Everything, but was quite disappointed.

Pinker came off as someone who has never thought deeply about reason, science, humanism, progress, morality, or any other coordinate of existence. He had only the lamest responses to Prager's most mild challenges.

Indeed, Prager was polite and respectful with Pinker -- almost to the point of fawning -- I suspect because he is one of the few prominent liberals who is vocal in his opposition to the left. Evidently there is a lot of mindless conservative-bashing in the book, but Prager got him to acknowledge that liberalism shares much more in common with conservatism than with leftism.

I wonder if being a Beloved Professor rots one's brain? The adulation allows one to cut corners and substitute verbal wizardry for solidly anchored thought. I wonder if any amazon reviewers have noticed this? Let's check.

Hmm. Bill Gates says it is his "favorite book of all time." Kiss of death right there. Uh oh. More extravagant praise from the likes of Nicholas Kristof, Richard Dawkins, and David Brooks. Maybe I'm bigoted, but I would never even consider reading a book endorsed by these four, since it would indicate to me that the work is tainted by Deep Fallacy and Ineradicable Error.

Perhaps I should emphasize that I am in 100% agreement with Pinker that Things Are Getting Better, especially in all the measurable ways that things are getting better, such as longer lifespans, increased wealth, and less violence. The (or one) question is why -- not just proximally but ultimately.

For example, he will say because of the Enlightenment. Yes, but why did the Enlightenment only happen in Christian civilization? And I doubt he means the French Enlightenment, but I can't say for certain. His argument essentially reduces to "the stuff I like happened because of stuff I like."

He also seems to think that humanism and Christianity are antipodal, when in reality, genuine humanism is rooted in Christianity, whereas radically secular versions end in Nazism, Communism, or some other ideology that necessarily elevates man to godhood. If God is Necessary Being -- that which cannot not be -- then we can no more eliminate him than we can matter, or energy, or light. Rather, we can only deny and displace him.

Which is precisely what Pinker does. For example, he believes it is possible to ground morality in logic. Yes, I suppose that's possible, so long as you furnish logic with the correct premises! But logic alone obviously cannot provide those premises.

Remarkably, Pinker didn't seem to comprehend this when Prager pointed it out. For example, Pinker argued that it is logical not to murder children. But why should we be logical? What if I want to murder children? Who says logic is better than desire? Not Nietzsche, for one.

I'm sure Pinker's argument suffices in the academic lounge or on MSNBC. But logic has never stopped anyone from acting on a desire to commit evil. In fact, logic can obviously assist one in doing so. It is totally neutral. A Nazi might have asked, "what is the most logical way to liquidate the maximum number of Jews with the minimum expense?" Just because something is logical, it hardly means it is good, let alone true. Rather, a logical argument is only sound or unsound.

Speaking of disappointment, I recently read a book called Simply Gödel, and it wasn't especially helpful to the cause. However, it does at least agree with Bob that logic ultimately "consists of empty tautologies" -- of "rules or conventions for deducing sentences from one another, determining whether sentences are consistent with one another, and so on..."

Imagine a guy as bright as Pinker making a tautological argument. But there it is. It means he is saying "nothing," or conveying no information at all. In other words, if I excitedly tell you that 1 = 1, I haven't actually said anything of interest. More to the point, "lacking intuition, we would have no knowledge of existing things at all, only opinions" (Tieszen). And Gödel doesn't mean merely subjective intuition, but rather, something more analogous to the Intellect in Schuon's sense:

Just the opposite is true: intuition is required for objectivity. Without intuition of the objects or states of affairs that our thoughts are about, we would have only empty thoughts. Truth requires agreement between what is merely thought and facts that are intuited. Intuition fills in what is merely thought.

Merely thought. This should humble mere thinkers, but it rarely does.

Similarly, mere logic can prove all kinds of things, but that doesn't mean these things are true: "Formal provability is a purely 'syntactic' notion, which means it does not involve truth" (ibid.) It may or may not be true, but as we all know, semantics cannot be reduced to syntax. You can say something that is perfectly grammatical and yet be completely full of it.

Gödel once remarked that "Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human mind is more than a machine."

Well, mathematics is not too big for the human mind, so we are more than machines. QED. For "computers are just concrete syntax manipulators" incapable of standing outside or above their syntax. Which also means that "formal or computational exactness does not always yield certainty. To think otherwise is an illusion."

Mere thought, mere fact, mere logic, mere clarity, mere exactitude. None of these are goods (or truths) in and of themselves. Rather, they potentially cut both ways.

Gödel made a comment that applies perfectly to the Pinkers of the world: "ninety percent of contemporary philosophers see their principal task to be that of beating religion out of men's heads, and in that way have the same effect as the bad churches."

Monday, March 05, 2018

A Gloriously Translucent Cosmos

In a sense, necessity and possibility are another way of talking about the perennial question of the One and the many -- an irreducible reality that any metaphysic has to confront. How can the world be both one and diverse? Ah ha! Perhaps it is diverse because it is one, and vice versa: a diversified unity and unified diversity.

The Absolute is necessary-oneness, while the Infinite is diverse-possibility -- both in time and in space. If not for the oneness of time, then each moment would be a radical novelty, unrelated to past or future nows. Time would be atomistic. But like space, it is both continuous and discontinuous, a la quantum physics.

Thus, I am not surprised that physical reality turns out to be wave or particle, depending upon one's perspective. It is actually wavicle, but we aren't equipped to perceive it that way. Presumably only God can see the wavicle. And live.

All of this again implies some sort of "change" in God, but it doesn't mean that God changes. Possibilities simultaneously veil and reveal -- AKA reveil -- God; and what is "Possibility as such" but "the supreme Veil, the one which envelops the mystery of Unicity and at the same time unfolds it, while remaining immutable and deprived of nothing?" (Schuon).

So, in this context, change, or possibility, or diversity, are all veils of the One, so to speak. The thought just popped into my head of the veil dance. Phenomena are a dance of veils. You can remove one after the other, but never get to the unveiled, naked truth. Not for nothing is maya, or shakti, or prakriti, seen as feminine. It is as if Shakti dances before Shiva, the motionless male principle.

Recall the Vedantic trinity of being-consciousness-bliss. As Schuon writes, it is in the latter "that Divine Possibility overflows and gives rise, 'through love,' to the mystery of exteriorization that is the universal Veil, whose weft is made of worlds and whose warp is made of beings."

Bliss is the vision of all-possible Being. It's why God is never bored.

Before you ask if you can buy some pot from me, I was discussing just this subject yesterday with my 12 year old, who has taken up photography. Because of it, he now sees the world in a completely different way, looking at the infinite aesthetic possibilities that are always present each moment, but unseen unless we consciously notice them. Any fully-dimensional spiritual practice must discern beauty, right? And what is beauty but the divine bliss in response to radiant glory?

Yes, there's an Aphorism For That. Take your pick:

When religion and aesthetics are divorced from each other, we do not know which is corrupted sooner.

Aesthetics is the sensible and secular manifestation of grace.

Aesthetics cannot give recipes, because there are no methods for making miracles.

Without aesthetic transfiguration all of reality is pedestrian.

Every work of art speaks to us of God. No matter what it says.

Only those who secretly propagate the admiration of beauty conspire effectively against today’s world.

I do not know whether in another world the devil punishes an irreligious society. But I see that here it is soon punished by aesthetics.

Hollywood be thy name. Except for Gary Oldman.

It is as if man lives between potential and necessity so to speak; or rather, between necessity and necessity. What I mean is that it is up to us to realize and perfect possibility, which is to say, return it to its source. And now that I'm thinking about it, this a way to think about Jesus handing over the whole of creation back to the Father.

Somewhere Schuon describes art in this way. Here it is; a perfectly lucid summary of everything said above:

The essential function of sacred art is to transfer Substance, which is both one and inexhaustible, into the world of accident and to bring the accidental consciousness back to Substance.

One could say also that sacred art transposes Being to the world of existence, of action or of becoming, or that it transposes in a certain way the Infinite to the world of the finite, or Essence to the world of forms; it thereby suggests a continuity proceeding from the one to the other, a way starting from appearance or accident and opening onto Substance or its celestial reverberations

Or this:

The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle, or so that the “I” might return to the Self; or simply, so that the human soul might, through given phenomena, make contact with the heavenly archetypes, and thereby with its own archetype.

Which is why, to paraphrase the Aphorist, mere talent is to art what good intentions are to behavior. Each is a road to hell.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Coordinates of Existence

The following phrase popped into my head this morning: coordinates of existence. It must be the tip of a post, or at least of a Friday Ramble. Let's hope there is something beneath its provocative surface.

Clearly there are coordinates of existence, some of which are given and therefore absolute (at least relatively speaking), others manmade, conventional, and contingent. Often the former are expressed in terms of the latter -- in other words, different cultures have different ways of expressing the same underlying truths. More problematically, purely cultural coordinates are often conflated with ontological ones, which causes no end of mischief.

All normal people know that male and female, for example, constitute one of our given coordinates. This then expresses itself culturally in diverse ways. But note how the left takes a cultural stereotype and elevates it to a given. In other words, a man who imagines he is a woman is just identifying with a particular stereotype, the stereotype being contingent upon actual womanhood.

There are so many things wrong with this that one scarcely knows where to begin, but beneath it all is an absurd inversion of a given coordinate. It is no less absurd than exchanging north for south, or adult for child, or winter for summer. Some things just are. If they aren't, then neither are we. Literally, for we are no longer rooted in truth but in will (or worse, willfulness): I am what I want to be, which renders man an absurd tautology.

The ultimate coordinate is God -- or rather, the God <--> Man axis (and who is Christ but its fillfullment?).

Now, God is I AM. Our being is obviously contingent upon his ("God is, therefore we are"). But the false coordinate described above essentially identifies God as I WILL. Big. Difference. "I will, therefore I am" is bad mojo. Hitlerian, even.

Yes, there's an aphorism for that; maybe more than one. Note how each of these goes to the givenness of certain cOʘrdinates (all aphorisms are by the Aphorist, AKA Dávila). For example:

The two poles are the individual and God; the two antagonists are God and man.

Again, so much mischief when we turn a complementarity into an opposition!

If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors.

This reduces the vertical line to a point. Bad!

Today the individual rebels against inalterable human nature in order to refrain from amending his own correctable nature.

Here again, this reifies our opposition to God; really, it's just Genesis 3 All Over Again.

Modern man denies himself every metaphysical dimension and considers himself a mere object of science. But he screams when they exterminate him as such.

Exactly. Treat an atheist like the pointless agglomeration of matter that he is, and he won't like it. He might even scream that his "rights" are being violated. What rights?

Only God and the central point of my consciousness are not adventitious to me.

That is a quite literal distillation of this post.

The Church’s function is not to adapt Christianity to the world, nor even to adapt the world to Christianity; her function is to maintain a counterworld in the world.

The Church -- or the magisterium -- fleshes out (heh) the vertical axis. Does some of it pass over into the human margin? Yes, no doubt. There is no human without a culture. It's a question of whether the culture is in conformity with the nature of things, or in opposition to or rebellion against it.

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

There is nothing wrong with being-in-the-world (hey, it's good enough for God). Without it, we couldn't bloody well be, could we? Just don't amputate the world from its cause, or elevate the world to its own cause. That's just stupid.

Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities.

Big Time. It is a vision -- or prevision -- of the nonlocal coordinates.

He who does not believe in God can at least have the decency of not believing in himself.

Right? Why on earth would an atheist believe in atheism, of all things, or a leftist believe in leftism? That makes no sense. If God doesn't exist, then only He can know it. So if you're going to be nonsensical, go all the way, like Venezuela, or California.

Getting back to the thread we've been on, two poles of existence are freedom and necessity. According to Schuon,

Now in things, the two poles are always present, but with either the one or the other predominating; in possible things, it is the aspect of freedom which veils the aspect of necessity, whereas in actual things, it is the aspect of necessity which predominates...

It's like the Tao, isn't it?

It may be difficult for human reason to reconcile these two poles, and the temptation to deny them is[sssss] great; the difficulty is not, however, greater than in the case of the boundlessness of space or time, which we are obliged to accept even if it is impossible for us to imagine it.

Exactly. No one knows what time -- let alone eternity -- is, and yet we all know. Indeed, I know I'm out if it, which is to say, my freedom is shading off into necessity. For no one can deny the SlackWork axis.