Thursday, January 17, 2019

Why I Am Not a Libertarian?

Although there are several schools of libertarianism, at their core they all uphold liberty as the ultimate principle. And while liberty is necessary in a democratic capitalistic society, it is not sufficient. As the Aphorist notes, “Liberty is not an end, but a means. Whoever mistakes it for an end does not know what to do once he attains it.”

Ironically, Judeo-Christian values helped shape the ethos of democratic capitalism, but since that ethos forbids any religion to rule, those values are now being undermined by the secular world. Hence, we have lost of our “moral center.”

As David Brooks comments in a recent column, “A deadly combination of right-wing free-market fundamentalism and left-wing moral relativism led to a withering away of moral norms and shared codes of decent conduct. We ripped the market out of its moral and social context and let it operate purely by its own rules. We made the market its own priest and confessor. Society came to be seen as an atomized collection of individual economic units pursuing self-interest. Selfishness was normalized. As Steven Pearlstein puts it in his outstanding book, “Can American Capitalism Survive?” ‘Old-fashioned norms around loyalty, cooperation, honesty, equality, fairness and compassion no longer seem to apply in the economic sphere.’ ”

On a deeper plane of Reality, we always embedded in a story and not an “atomized collection of individual economic units.” As such, we need a framework as to how this story is guided.

Michael Novak got me to see this best in his seminal book. He remarks, “Democratic capitalism is more likely to perish through its loss of its indispensable ideas and morals than through weaknesses in its political system or its economic system. In its moral-cultural system lies its weakest link.”

And so, “the system qua system will be moral if two conditions are met. First, the design must include pluralistic institutions which permit both liberty and virtue to prosper. Second, the system of moral and religious culture must instruct individuals in the ways of liberty and virtue. Such a design rests upon an exact diagnosis of human frailty on the one hand, and of the effects, intended and unintended, of institutional arrangements on the other.”

So like most libertarians, I am not arguing for some state-sponsored coercion to bring back moral norms. This would never work in any case. But unlike the libertarian, I do believe we need a culture that is supportive of a moral telos. And that may require some guidance from the state and the social fabric of institutions that can reinvigorate such an ethos.

(Ideally, the state should primarily supplement, and not substitute, for the areas where the social fabric has gone beyond repair. See here, for a good read on this.)

So while I agree with the libertarian that much needs to start from the bottom-up with the individual! — I also do believe, in our tribal and morally conflicted society, that the state (as top-down low-entropy guardian) and non-governmental institutions/associations/affiliations (as bottom-up moral subcultures) need to play roles that are mutually supportive.

While there are no easy answers, the libertarian option is overly permissive to a culture that needs to yield to moral constraints, cultivate a covenant of social trust, and bend towards an inspired telos.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Genuine Heterodoxy

“Each religion is alone true, that is to say, that at the moment we are thinking of it we must bring as much attention to bear on it as if there were nothing else ... A 'synthesis' of religion implies a lower quality of attention.” — Simone Weil

I do believe Weil's quote is on point more so these days than I may have in the past. Being drawn to certain syncretic approaches to Truth, I once believed you could come up with one system than hangs all Truths together (see Ken Wilber). But now I don't believe this is probably the best approach.  

That's not to say I have gone orthodox in the strict sense of the word. As Fr. Andrew Stephen notes, “Orthodox dogma never claims to expound the whole truth about anything, but only delineates the borders of the mystery.” It is where we delineate the borders that things can get interesting or very slippery. I suppose for some of us, based on personal interests and inclinations and archetype, need to expand the boundaries where our path is no longer strictly orthodox. By working from the edges of the inside, we have moved the edges out a tad.

This is tricky, and probably not a good move for most. I do find these often leads to individuals pursuing almost anything spiritual or philosophical that appears to have authenticity. When this impulse begins to happen, then it is easy for one to fall into a spiritual relativism: there is no one, universal, absolute truth, but rather, there is only what is true “for me” or “for you.”

But I suppose there is room for genuine heterodoxy, where you know that you're the sort of individual who needs to turn over other rocks to find Truth. You are still immersed in a traditional path, but willing to find other religious precepts that may affirm or create dissonance in what your path expounds. Maybe reconciliation is never the point, and as Weil notes each path has its own fragrance of ontological Truth.

This path still should be traditional, since tradition has gone through its share of trials and errors. These paths are in line with the notion of anti-fragility (in Nassim Taleb speak) that no New Thought/Age path can accommodate. And even for those who believe in the emergence of something novel, MotT makes the intriguing point that the “mission of the Buddha-Avatar to come will therefore not be the foundation of a new religion, but rather that of bringing human beings to first hand experience of the source itself of all revelation ever received from above by mankind, as also of all essential truth ever conceived of by mankind. It will not be novelty to which he will aspire, but rather the conscious certainty of eternal truth.”

Understanding one's Raccoon archetype, being committed to Truth, and humbly submitting to the spiritual authority of tradition, allows for a genuine heterodoxy.

Fritjof Schuon, as usual, expresses this best:
“A pneumatic is in a way the “incarnation” of a spiritual archetype, which means that he is born with a state of knowledge which, for other people, would actually be the goal, and not the point of departure; the pneumatic does not “go forward” towards something “other than himself”; he stays where he is in order to become fully what he himself is — namely his archetype — by ridding himself, one after the other, of veils or outer surfaces, shackles imposed by the ambience or perhaps by heredity. He becomes rid of them by means of ritual supports — “sacraments,” one might say — not forgetting meditation and prayer; but his situation is nonetheless quite other than that of ordinary men, even prodigiously gifted ones. From another point of view it must be recognized that a born gnostic is by nature more or less independent, not only as regards the “letter” but also as regards the “law”; and this does not make his relation with the ambience any simpler, either psychologically or socially (…). In any case, the pneumatic is situated, by his nature, on the vertical and timeless axis — where there is no “before” or “after” — so that the archetype which he personifies or “incarnates”, and which is his true “himself’ or “his very self’ can, at any moment, pierce through the contingent, individual envelope; it is therefore really “himself’ who is speaking. The real gnostic does not attribute any “state” to himself, for he is without ambition and without ostentation; he has a tendency rather — through an “instinct for holding back” — to disguise his nature inasmuch as he has, in any case, awareness of “cosmic play” (lila) and it is hard for him to take secular and worldly persons seriously, that is to say, “horizontal” beings who are full of self-confidence and who remain, “humanists” that they are, below the vocation of man.”

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Open Minds and Original Thinkers

There is a misnomer out there about being open-minded and an original thinker. If someone told you were none of these, you would feel a tad insulted. But truthfully, most people don't possess these traits in the way they think they do.

Let's take open-mindedness, or openness to experience. It is considered one of the big five personality traits according the five-factor model. Let's see what Mr. Wiki has to say:
Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has. It is also described as the extent to which a person is imaginative or independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine. High openness can be perceived as unpredictability or lack of focus, and more likely to engage in risky behaviour or drug taking. Also, individuals that have high openness tend to lean, in occupation and hobby, towards the arts, being, typically, creative and appreciative of the significance of intellectual and artistic pursuits. Moreover, individuals with high openness are said to pursue self-actualization specifically by seeking out intense, euphoric experiences. Conversely, those with low openness seek to gain fulfillment through perseverance and are characterized as pragmatic and data-driven—sometimes even perceived to be dogmatic and closed-minded. Some disagreement remains about how to interpret and contextualize the openness factor.
I don't necessarily agree with this entire definition, but I do like the aspect in it of being curious. I think curiosity incorporates a humility of experience and understanding. But that's not how most self-defined “open-minded” people believe themselves to be. First, they are coming from metaphysical assumptions as we all are. Generally, they see tradition as a bad-thing or just plain old and tired ideas that need to be deconstructed. 

As the counter-culture grew, it saw the “closed-minded” as the old guard and obstacles to progress who needed to step aside or die-off. As Bruce Charlton notes, “Closed minded became synonymous with irrational and wrong; then was interpreted as evidence of ignorance at best, but more often of cruel wickedness. To be closed minded (implying sealed-off from evidence, from experience, 'dogmatic') was the characteristic attributed to the bogeymen of fanatical 'fundamentalist' right-wing/ fascistic/ authoritarian - Christians; in essence, those who tyrannically restricted sexual behaviour.”

But what this notion did was to get the “open-minded” ones to trade off some vertical traditional precepts for some horizontal self-determined “freedoms”. So while some may have opened the aperture to new experiences in counter-culture, they closed themselves off to classic antiquity. As this “open-minded” postmodernism crept in further, minds became more closed off to coherent ideas around religion, morality, and logic. 

Today, as David Bentley Hart remarks, “we assemble fragments of traditions we half remember, gather ethical maxims almost at random from the surrounding culture, attempt to find an inner equilibrium between tolerance and conviction, and so on, until we have knit together something like a code, suited to our needs, temperaments, capacities, and imaginations.” By refusing to accept objective standards (more closed-mindedness), we fall into an incoherent “openness” of something that is undemanding and therapeutically comforting. As Gödel believed, we would always trade off coherency for completeness.

On the matter of original thinking, we are also left with short-sightedness on this concept. Original is not necessarily new, because most ideas are not that new; nor are we strictly autonomous when it comes to the source of our ideas.  

Moreover, originality is not necessarily thinking differently from everyone else, but it consists of thinking for oneself. Or as Franklin Merrell-Wolff put it, “by ‘original’ I do not mean an idea that has never been thought before, but one which, for the individual, has been produced with a creative effort from himself.” In other words, you've made that the idea your own through reflection verses being indoctrinated into it.

(I do find it amusing Apple ran one of the biggest campaigns on the mantra “think different” when today most of Silicon Valley has been indoctrinated into a leftist “think alike” view.)

Genuine pursuits of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual curiosity can create real openings and originality. The answer is not to limit ourselves to a dogmatic rigidity, as we are only fully human when these deeper Truths are revealed and made our own. But this does require us to sort ourselves out beyond the shallow and undisciplined “openness” we have fallen under. 

All in all, this explains why open-minded and original thinkers are the most prone to closed-mindedness and unoriginality. They are unaware of their metaphysical assumptions or where and how their ideas have been assimilated. If we are ignorant of our own assumptions and where they come from, we can't delve deeper into our curiosity in a truly open manner. Instead, we are contained by our own arrogance and pride while indignantly believing we are so much better than we are.

“Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked.... It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal, and that you are a paralytic.” — G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Random Signals #3

I want to end the year with some thoughts that are thoughtlessly incoherent. It’s been a good year, but challenges always ensue. I am arriving at an age where time is more of an essence (existentially) while being held by the timelessness of it all. Gratitude has been a key contemplation.
I came across a recent article with Camille Paglia that affirms the same conclusion as Jonah Goldberg did in his stellar book: we need to feel our way back to go forward! 

Paglia says, “From my perspective as an atheist as well as a career college teacher, secular humanism has been a disastrous failure. Too many young people raised in affluent liberal homes are arriving at elite colleges and universities with skittish, unformed personalities and shockingly narrow views of human existence, confined to inflammatory and divisive identity politics. … I contend that every educated person should be conversant with the sacred texts, rituals, and symbol systems of the great world religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, and Islam — and that true global understanding is impossible without such knowledge. Not least, the juxtaposition of historically evolving spiritual codes tutors the young in ethical reasoning and the creation of meaning. Right now, the campus religion remains nihilist, meaning-destroying post-structuralism, whose pilfering god, the one-note Foucault, had near-zero scholarly knowledge of anything before or beyond the European Enlightenment. (His sparse writing on classical antiquity is risible.) Out with the false idols and in with the true!” (emphasis mine)

I would add that comparative religious study would not go far enough. It does nothing in regards to Godlessness and decadence. We need to go deep, along with the breadth. And that means honing in on a path with intellectual rigor and open hearted imagination. As well as augmenting it with spiritual practices that would align one’s disposition with one’s belief. Good Metaphysics + Deep Mysticism = Reason + Faith = Truth + Beauty => Virtue + Love.
As the year ends, I also want to note some favorite cultural artifacts. I really like these songs from Middle Kids, Mitski, Beirut, and Wye Oak. They are delightful to my ears.

I have also been augmenting my interest in indie music with an attempt to cultivate more knowledge around classical music. This podcast from Dacia Clay has been quite helpful.

In regards to film, this year has been less stellar than prior ones. First Reformed sticks with me because I got to see it at the Boston IFFB with director Paul Schrader in-house. It's also a compelling meditation on the roads that faith can make us rise and fall.

Roma is a masterpiece! It is a beautiful experience to see in a theater despite the Netflix release. My favorite film in quite some time.

I finally saw the classic It's a Wonderful Life. Shame on me.
On the matter of gratitude, I have many things that come to heart: some of the thoughtful people on the “intellectual dark web”, the eternal presence of Joe and Bobo, David Thomas, the friends in my life that endure with their passions, the mistakes I make, the God-man that still affects us 2,000+ years later, Gagdad Bob, the online Bishop, my landlord, the lady who laughs and loves, Journey Home, the people who I see on the streets who God loves through me, the comedy of it all and those who nail it, film buffs, Jonesy Jukebox, Fulton Sheen, Ric Drasin, Brother David, meditations with Amy, Jeff, and John, the stars away from the city, the books that continue to inspire me, what remains when I go.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Google Verses Gödel

George Gilder is once again on to something beyond the typical monoculture thinking with super-AI technologists. He knows his Gödel, who claimed “every logical system necessarily depends on propositions that cannot be proved within the system.”

Yes, we can't escape metaphysics no matter how we try to deny ourselves in the process. And that's exactly what the materialist-techie types do. They believe “the human mind consists of electrical and chemical components that are unintelligent in themselves”; however, “By using their own minds and consciousness to deny the significance of consciousness in minds, they refute themselves.”

'But you can’t prove consciousness is immaterial', they may say.

Sure, but Gödel already demonstrated that mathematical statements can be true but unprovable. So why deny yourself some Truth too?

This is always the problem with super-AI proponents: they sell up their machines while selling themselves short; when the measure of AI should be the human mind. (Gilder notes: the human mind is “low-power, distributed globally, low-latency in proximity to its environment, inexorably bounded in time and space, and creative in the image of its creator.”)

Such is also the issue with Google. Gilder says, 
“The Google system of the world focuses on the material environment rather than on human consciousness, on artificial intelligence rather than human intelligence, on machine learning rather than on human learning, on relativistic search rather than on the search for truth, on copying rather than on creating, on launching human hierarchies in a flat universe rather than on empowering human beings in a hierarchical universe. It seeks singularities in machines rather than in human minds. The new system of the world must reverse these positions, exalting the singularities of creation: mind over matter, human consciousness over mechanism, real intelligence over mere algorithmic search, purposeful learning over mindless evolution, and truth over chance. A new system can open a heroic age of human accomplishment.”
In the book, Gilder believes the “new system of the world” will be blockchains. Unlike the Markov chains of disconnected probabilistic states that Google uses, blockchains use hashes to preserve history, enhance trust, and extend truth. We would own our information, instead of it being overly centralized with risk to security, privacy, and actual costs.

Blockchains will be the low-entropy carrier to our high-entropy creativity!

Gilder says, “The inevitable conclusion is that machines based on mathematical logic cannot exhaust the human domain; they can only expand it. Every new mechanism frees the human mind for more creative adventures and accomplishments.” The question is whether or not blockchain will be the new mechanism that frees us evermore going forward. 

In the end, I would rather place my bet on a technology that aligns with Gödel than one that tries to play God.

The central mistake of recent digital culture is to chop up a network of individuals so finely that you end up with a mush. You then start to care about the abstraction of the network more than the real people who are networked, even though the network by itself is meaningless. Only the people were ever meaningful. — Jaron Lanier

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Dr. Feelgood

This holiday season I do feel a bit more inclined to hand out alms. I don't have any delusions of grandeur that my actions do much good, but it does make me feel good.

Chögyam Trungpa coined the phrase “idiot compassion”; meaning, any compassionate act that enables the bad behavior of another. Like giving an addict money for food — when it will unlikely be used for those purposes. While the intention may be “compassionate”, the outcome will do little good for the well-being of the person. 

The general tendency is to give people what they want because we can't bear to see them suffer. Moreover, we do feel good about ourselves when we do it, and it helps deflect some of our own internal suffering. But this isn’t true compassion, or agape. There are mixed motivations involved, along with a lack of logic to see if the intentions are truly good.

These days everyone talks about compassion (along with tolerance) as though it’s the only virtue(s) that matter. But virtues always need to be balanced with other virtues, so they can be enacted in a way that is appropriate to the given circumstances.

Compassion also tends to work better in the microcosm than on the macrocosm. This is why political acts of compassion are so difficult. For example, if we opened our borders to everyone, would this eventually undermine the whole of a nation to benefit a few? The relationship between political ideals and cultural outcomes in a big, diverse society isn’t linear, therefore often leading to unintended consequences.  

(It should also be noted that compassion for the masses is often too abstract to be relatable. Recall Mother Teresa’s comment: “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” That's why human interest stories of the individual always move people more than state-sponsored statistics.)

But our idiot compassion has a bigger consideration beyond the fact we can’t always trust our feelings: we also need to trust in something Higher. 

William Wildblood makes the astute point on his blog: 
“When you no longer have the idea of God as the centrally organising fact of existence you have to replace it with something else. Today that something else is the abstract notion of humanity, and humanity, abstractly considered, is regarded as just one thing with no distinctions within it allowed. It is seen in purely material terms and so everything is equal. There is no better or worse except insofar as better corresponds to this idea and worse is what goes against it. Compassion is defined as treating all humans and their cultural achievements in the same way, and anything that resists this tyranny (which is what it is) becomes branded as hateful.”
A poster then followed up with this comment:
“As a young man I read Flannery O'Connor's comment that in the absence of faith, we rule by compassion, "...and compassion leads to the gas chamber." It puzzled me then and it was some years before I began to appreciate the crucial truth of the statement. By Faith, I think O'Connor meant trust in God and His Providence; by compassion, I think she meant the sentimentality that views suffering as absolutely undesirable and irredeemable. In a materialist view, suffering has no value and should be eliminated at any cost. ...But as suffering can be salutary, and as hierarchy is God's creation and, therefore, the condition of our existence, the leveling and numbness is doomed to failure and, ironically, will cause even more suffering.”
When compassion is conceived only materialistically and with no ordering principle, we are prone to cause enduring spiritual harm. Dr. Feelgood may help with some symptoms, but never find a cure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

More Real Gnosis, Less Fake Nous

I took on another Robert Bolton book recently, to add to the two, here and here, I have already tackled. He isn't an easy read, since each sentence is jammed pack with something I need metabolize. But his genius is all there. He notes early in the book, that:
“The thought employed in the following chapters is an inclusive kind, which effects a combination of reason and intuition. This is to prevent thought from falling into the extremes of either an analytical philosophy with no transcendent dimension, or a mystical thought which aims at transcendence without the theoretical principles which would allow an objective grasp of it. Metaphysical thought has essential things in common with both mystical and rationalistic thought without having any need to identify with either.”
I couldn't say it any better, but I could say it more often. I find that in many spiritual circles this metaphysical inclusion is sorely lacking. In fact, much of our notions around transcendence and logic has given way to today's recreation pursuit of unearned spiritual experiences, as depicted in the following meme:

There are many places we could go with Bolton's work: the false egoic self is not who we are, but there is a real self that is “the combination of the physical self of common sense and the soul with its world representations”; that “meaningful purpose must be founded on something both absolute and part of the self”; that Reason or Intellect in the Real sense, must involve a “third dimension, that of depth, which reaches to the essence of things and processes”; that our desire to know is not an option but for most it is “random, unfree, and ultimately self-defeating” when the path is for it to be “creative and free”; that when we decide to be hard on ourselves, consider that “that in us which convinces us we are despicable cannot itself be despised”; that free will exists, but in order to be fully free, it requires “causal power, circumstantial knowledge, and a relation to ultimate value”; that tradition matters in civilization, as it has been shown that how it endures is “in exact proportion as it imposes prenuptial and post-nuptial restraints upon sexual opportunity” (a challenging idea in our milieu); and that “if God was purely impersonal, man would in a real sense be greater than God” (good luck with that!).

Phew! You see what I mean. But I will tackle a little more thought around his ideas on Fate and Providence. 

We are only predestined by Fate, as it is our physical being based on our human nature (not Nature) that leads to a destiny, yet not necessarily our telos. If we are are just subject to Fate, we are merely a means to an end. Bolton says, “Conversely, Providence comprises of a different kind of order, one which combines with freedom, albeit a freedom with laws particular to itself, by means of which individual beings can realize purposes which are their own, and not of those of the cosmic system.”

Both Fate and Providence are complementary as Providence requires the constraining force of Fate to give it meaning. For instance, the fact we are limited in life years offers a sense of urgency to get on with it (for some!). 

The issue is that modernity has rejected Providence for the idea that we can control our Fate through progress. Bolton notes, “If this succeeded in the long term, mankind would have succeeded in opting out of its place in the cosmic hierarchy, while retaining a dominance over nature based on human powers and techniques alone. Nothing further from truth and stability could be conceived, nor anything better calculated to result in a stampede into the jaws of Fate in the its most inhuman form.”

All in all, Bolton is metaphysically on point, but acknowledges completeness will always be lacking. For the “grand unity of things as diverse as the personal and the impersonal, and the different traditions, can only be known in its completeness by its Creator.”

Exactly! So go ask Him.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

What's Our Big Story? And Is It a Comprehensive & Unified One?

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

We people are a funny lot as to how we can compartimentalize our lives. We all have a story we follow, whether we are cognizant of it or not. I am not referring to our personal story in this instance, but our big story behind our life's story. In other words, what guides us in life, to what we are directed for, and how we are calibrated for it.

In many cases, we are dualists when it comes to our big story. It’s sort of a metaphysical dissonance. I recently read books by Stephen Freeman and Nancy Pearcey that highlights the two-story scenario we fall into. For example, Pearcey notes how this dualism shows up in our modern sensibilities:

In short, the lower story is what we know (in this case, the Enlightenment with its positivism of science and reason); while the upper story is what we can’t help believe (some Romantic notion of humanity, or a religious impulse).

As modern thinkers, we often make a “leap of faith” from the lower story to the upper story. Intellectually we embrace the values of the Enlightenment, but this philosophy does not fit our whole experience of life. So we’ll attempt to affirm a set of contradictory ideas even though it doesn’t cohere to our intellectual system or even how we direct our daily lives.

Even a secular postmodernist will fall into this trap. They will believe we are “frisky dust” that evolved to carbon-based machines, while they somehow affirm values that have no basis in Truth. The performative contradiction is at hand!


Stephen Freeman says, “The word secular should never be confused with atheist. Instead it refers to a separation between our daily life and God.” We are condemned to religion: whether or not we believe in God, we will always find a god. It just comes down to what we decide our god is, and where we draw the fact/value line.

We do pay a price for this incoherent model with two rival visions. It offers belief without conviction, existence without significance, and relationships without joy. We are not made whole, and are left feeling doubt, confusion, and alienation.

To counter this, and in order for us to embrace a life with dignity, freedom, personal identity, and ultimate purpose, we need to be part of a comprehensive, coherent story that affirms life within Reality! In his important book After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntye says, “I cannot answer the question, ‘What ought I to do?’ unless I first answer the question, ‘Of which story am I a part?’”

In this, he was saying we are not defined as much from our history, as we are from our end! When I am part of a telos, I can align my disposition towards it in such a way that allows me to part of a story that shapes my deepest loves and longings.

As in Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, most stories follow a typical mythic structure. Much of this structure comes from biblical themes that include an origin (Creation), struggle (the Fall), and a return (Redemption)

Pearcey says, “This comprehensive vision of Creation, Fall, and Redemption allows no room for a secular/sacred split. All of creation was originally good; it cannot be divided into a good part (spiritual) and a bad part (material). Likewise, all of creation was affected by the Fall, and when time ends, all creation will be redeemed.”

Yet even when attempting to overcome the long-standing secular/sacred dualism, if our worldview is too small or partial, then we can still bump up against powerful dualisms in the secular world as well. These meta-narratives aim at privatizing and marginalizing the biblical message within their own teleological stories. Once again, we are all condemned to religion!

Content from Nancy Pearcey's book "Total Truth"

The difference is these stories fail to fulfill the total Truth of Reality. They are only distorted versions of it! These stories are not comprehensive, or unified in such a way that they would address all our deepest longings and passions. What story would make our lives part of one singular story (and not a collection of fragmented parts)?

There is probably only one story that can do that, which in essence, would be the true myth which all the others were pointing to! 

Everything is trivial if the universe is not committed to a metaphysical adventure. — Dávila

Saturday, November 3, 2018

God-less Merit

I'm going to contradict myself here, as I actually do see much good in the modern world. But there are always the trade-offs; such as, how we now relate to existence.

There’s good reason why we feel so separate, autonomous, independent, alone: we choose to see things this way.

We see ourselves as substances, but without relations. 

Decartes initially articulated the divide, which then got fleshed out more so with Locke. I don’t believe these thinkers compartimentalized things on their own. As Jonah Goldberg says, “We tend to give too much credit to intellectuals for creating ideas. More often, they give voice to ideas of impulses that already exist as pre-rational commitments or attitudes. Other times they distill opinions, sentiments, aspirations, and passions that already exist on the ground, and the distilled spirit is fed back to the people and they become intoxicated by it.”

Consider it all part of the Fall.

At some point we became intoxicated with the new science. In this, “we let one’s method dictate what counts as reality, rather than letting reality determine one’s method” (Feser).

The world was no longer enchanted with beings, animated with the supernatural, and gifted with aliveness! It was now a world of objective observation of the fragments. And “What is often regarded as a “discovery” arrived at via empirical scientific inquiry was in fact a stipulation concerning the nature of scientific method, a limitation, more or less by fiat, of what would be allowed to count as "scientific"” (Feser).

This should have got stuck in our claw, but we indulged to gain God-less merit. “If the science of the moderns has “succeeded,” then, it might be argued that this is in large part because they stacked the deck in their own favor” (Feser).

The traditional Scholastics did not see an epistemological and representational gap, or the self as buffered. There was relation and unity between things, with forms and matter making a whole. The unity between the parts was “organic and necessary, not mechanical and contingent.”

The character of existence was relational: this exists because that exists, and they exist in one another: inseparable, but distinct: substances-in-relation.

But these relations were not just horizontal, but vertical too. In fact, it is only because of the Trinity that we can relate to existence at all. 

It is in the Trinity, where we can relate as existence itself.