Sunday, 30 January 2011

The essence of my concept of political correctness...

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...and of how it differs from most other people's ideas, is that I see PC as underpinned by psychology: specifically by hereditary psychology, specifically by the abstracting ability and tendency to abstract.

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In other words, I regard purely cultural theories of PC (i.e. everyone else's ideas of PC!) as fundamentally deficient since they neglect that most people in the history of the world have been biologically incapable of political correctness.

In yet other words, I see PC as a by-product of high general intelligence (roughly, high IQ).

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It is high IQ which sustains the thought processes which characterize political correctness and its related forms of nihilism (such as Liberalism, scientism, vitalism, socialism and communism, anarchism and so on).

These types of thought are not possible to the majority of people in the world due to relatively low IQ - or at least they are so alien and unspontaneous as to be merely temporary or a pretence.

Almost anyone will go-along with PC when it is expedient; but PC could not be established and dominant in a society unless

1. there were a lot of people of high IQ/ abstracting tendency and

2. the ruling class is (more or less) composed of such people.

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This required, in the first place, societies in which IQ was selectively advantaged across an evolutionary timescale. Then the evolution of these societies such that the most intelligent, by and large, became the rulers of society. 

So, PC has become dominant as the ruling classes became more-and-more IQ meritocracies (instead of military meritocracies, or religious meritocracies).

And this domination happened as a by-product of modernity (increasing productivity per capita, due to the technological breakthroughs mostly created by the high IQ elite; continual increase in functional specialization etc.).

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Therefore (like Greg Clark in Farewell to Alms, or Cochran and Harpending in the 10000 year revolution) I see the rise of modernity as depending on the prior rise in intelligence (and the taming of personality) resulting from certain types of selection pressure in extreme latitude and then agricultural societies where spontaneous violence is suppressed for many generations.

And I see this same increased intelligence and tamed-personality as being the underlying (permissive) cause of political correctness.

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High (abstracting) IQ and a tamed personality have set in process  a series of evolutionary societal changes which first led to modernity, but are now leading to the destruction of modernity.

At first this process was constrained by religion - specifically by Christianity in the context of a divinely ordained monarchy. Under such a system intelligence is constrained by religion, held in check, must work within that context.

But the abstracting tendency of the high IQ elite has progressively dismantled these constraints (in order to 'liberate' the intellect - a process first unambiguously seen in the prideful genius of Peter Abelard - 1079-1142).

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The autonomy of abstracting intelligence is not, in principle, irreversible - since there is always a possibility of repentance and restoration of divinely-ordained monarchy. But, in the West, the process has not in fact been reversed - except locally or temporarily, once the process had begun.

The evolution of intellectuals, then Western domination by intellectuals; and the pride of intellectuals (their assertion of freedom from the constraints of religion, their resulting sense of their own omniscience and omnipotence) was therefore the root of the rise of modernity; and it is now the root of its rapidly accelerating destruction by political correctness (among other related factors).

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Why Liberalism/ PC is immune to reason and evidence - Seraphim Rose

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From Nihilism by Eugene (Seraphim) Rose c 1962 

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/nihilism.html#2 

Italics were added.

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"In the Liberal world-view, therefore - in its theology, its ethics, its politics, and in other areas we have not examined as well - truth has been weakened, softened, compromised; in all realms truth that was once absolute has become less certain, if not entirely "relative."

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"Now it is possible - and this in fact amounts to a definition of the Liberal enterprise - to preserve for a time the fruits of a system and a truth of which one is uncertain or skeptical; but one can build nothing positive upon such uncertainty, nor upon the attempt to make it intellectually respectable in the various relativistic doctrines we have already examined.

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"There is and can be no philosophical apology for Liberalism; its apologies, when not simply rhetorical, are emotional and pragmatic.

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"But the most striking fact about the Liberal, to any relatively unbiased observer, is not so much the inadequacy of his doctrine as his own seeming oblivion to this inadequacy.

"This fact, which is understandably irritating to well-meaning critics of Liberalism, has only one plausible explanation. The Liberal is undisturbed even by fundamental deficiencies and contradictions in his own philosophy because his primary interest is elsewhere.

"If he is not concerned to found the political and social order upon Divine Truth, if he is indifferent to the reality of Heaven and Hell, if he conceives of God as a mere idea of a vague impersonal power, it is because he is more immediately interested in worldly ends, and because everything else is vague or abstract to him.

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"The Liberal may be interested in culture, in learning, in business, or merely in comfort; but in every one of his pursuits the dimension of the absolute is simply absent.

"He is unable, or unwilling, to think in terms of ends, of ultimate things.

"The thirst for absolute truth has vanished; it has been swallowed up in worldliness. "

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[Note: 'worldliness' means the hedonic perspective: the primary focus on human happiness and suffering in this world. It can be seen that almost-all modern Western people and institutions, including almost-all Christian denominations, are primarily (most-often exclusively) concerned with worldliness. Almost-all modern Western people and institutions are therefore Liberal - including almost-all of those who consider themselves to be Libertarian or Conservative.]  

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Burns nicht and Kenneth McKellar

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Today is when the Scotch celebrate the birthday of their national poet Robert Burns, and via this Scotch culture in general.

One of the finest exponents of Scottish culture, and perhaps the perfect person to attend a Burns supper during the mid-20th century, was the tenor Kenneth McKellar (1927–2010).

McKellar was, from the late 1950s and for a whole generation, the most widely known singer of traditional (and modern) songs, mostly from Scotland.

He was also one of the best singers ever to have been produced in the British Isles (musically - although not technically - superior to the more-frequently-praised Irishman John McCormack, from the generation before).

So, here is a lovely Burns song from him, My love is like a red red rose:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXX2AJkKJNI

But McKellar was at his best when the voice was most exposed: in Sally Gardens accompanied only by piano, or - even better - unaccompanied in She moved through the fair - which I regard as simply one of the best bits of singing, ever.

McKellar was rated as perhaps the best light tenor in Britain for Handel, Mozart and the like when he left the world of high art to become rich and famous in popular culture (including the Eurovision song contest!).

He was not immune to kitsch.

But the voice and musicality remained unsurpassed.

Truly, one of the greats.

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Corruption of education and academia by 'liberal' regimes - Seraphim Rose

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From Nihilism by Eugene (Seraphim) Rose, written circa 1962 -

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/nihilism.html#2

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The totalitarian Nihilist regimes of this century [- both Communist and Fascist -] have undertaken, as an integral part of their programs, the ruthless "reeducation" of their peoples.

Few subjected to this process for any length of time have entirely escaped its influence; in a landscape where all is nightmare, one's sense of reality and truth inevitably suffers.

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A subtler "reeducation," quite humane in its means but nonetheless Nihilist in its consequences, has been practiced for some time in the free world, and nowhere more persistently or effectively than in its intellectual center, the academic world.

Here external coercion is replaced by internal persuasion; a deadly skepticism reigns, hidden behind the remains of a "Christian heritage" in which few believe, and even fewer with deep conviction.

The profound responsibility the scholar once possessed, the communication of truth, has been reneged; and all the pretended "humility" that seeks to conceal this fact behind sophisticated chatter on "the limits of human knowledge," is but another mask of the Nihilism the Liberal academician shares with the extremists of our day.

Youth that--until it is "reeducated" in the academic environment - still thirsts for truth, is taught instead of truth the "history of ideas," or its interest is diverted into "comparative" studies, and the all-pervading relativism and skepticism inculcated in these studies is sufficient to kill in almost all the natural thirst for truth.

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The academic world--and these words are neither lightly nor easily spoken--has become today, in large part, a source of corruption.

It is corrupting to hear or read the words of men who do not believe in truth.

It is yet more corrupting to receive, in place of truth, more learning and scholarship which, if they are presented as ends in themselves, are no more than parodies of the truth they were meant to serve, no more than a facade behind which there is no substance.

It is, tragically, corrupting even to be, exposed to the primary virtue still left to the academic world, the integrity of the best of its representatives--if this integrity serves, not the truth, but skeptical scholarship, and so seduces men all the more effectively to the gospel of subjectivism and unbelief this scholarship conceals.

It is corrupting, finally, simply to live and work in an atmosphere totally permeated by a false conception of truth, wherein Christian Truth is seen as irrelevant to the central academic concerns, wherein even those who still believe this Truth can only sporadically make their voices heard above the skepticism promoted by the academic system.

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The evil, of course, lies primarily in the system itself, which is founded upon untruth, and only incidentally in the many professors whom this system permits and encourages to preach it.

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Why not just go with the flow: embrace political correctness?

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Since you can't do anything about it, why not just make the best of it?

Why not exploit the situation instead of moaning about it?

Do what is expedient - why not?

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Why not make a successful career out of PC - like so many others?

Why not surrender your private mind to PC, in the same way as you have already surrendered your public behaviour?

By having any reservations at all, you are making yourself miserable - why not simply cast-aside those reservations?

Just say an inner yes to what you will, anyway, be forced to do...


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In a world of pervasive and powerful PC, there is really only one positive reason for holding back and resisting in any way, shape or form - which is that embracing political correctness will shrink your soul.

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If you do not believe in the soul, this reason will carry no force at all: so by your own calculations you are stupid to resist PC.

Or, if you believe the soul is inviolable, and that nothing you think or do can affect the soul: then also, by your own calculations, you are stupid to resist PC.

If you do not believe in natural law, and that breaking natural law harms the soul: then logically you should learn to love PC.

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If you do not believe in the reality of transcendental good - then you might as well go with the flow, allow yourself to be re-programmed: to learn, by regular practice, to re-label lies as truth, ugliness as beauty, evil as virtue; until PC has entered into your heart and soul, as well as pouring into your ears and out-from your mouth.

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Political correctness is nihilism; therefore it is not merely political: it is existential. 

To fight against political correctness is an existential act: a battle to preserve the eternal soul.  

But if you do not believe that political correctness will harm your eternal soul: then you would be well-advised to suck it up.

Why not?...

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Monday, 24 January 2011

Bryan Magee - the noble nihilist

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My main introduction to philosophy as a teenager was via the Bryan Magee television series Men of Ideas, then his book on Karl Popper - I have since read several other books by him including Confessions of a Philosopher, which I recommend highly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Magee

Magee is worth noting as someone for whom I have very high regard and whom I regard as being wrong about almost everything on which I have read his opinion.

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In Confessions of a Philosopher, Magee confirms that he is not merely extremely intelligent, well-read and a lucid explainer - but that he is scrupulously honest and humble.

At the end of his personal odyssey through philosophy, he candidly admits that it has not really led anywhere; and he is clearly dissatisfied with his own tentative conclusions (Magee's favourite philosopher is Schopenhauer, yet he does not regard S. as having succeeded in his aims, and clearly Magee is not satisfied with the position that S. reached).

Magee is remarkable in not having been corrupted by a successful life in academia, in politics (he was even a member of parliament), then the highbrow media.

To work - and to achieve success - in academia, politics and the mass media and retain integrity is remarkable!

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And today I have just seen an article in the journal Philosophy in which Magee discusses the reality of the soul and the possibility of immortality from the perspective of old age. And stating that he recognizes that the soul could be real and immortality could be true, acknowledging that he wishes they were real and true, but concluding that he cannot bring himself to believe either.

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Bryan Magee. Intimations of mortality. Philosophy (2011), 86: 31-39. Abstract: The nearness of death can lead me to see the empirical world as separate from myself since, only too soon, it will exist without me. This raises the question whether I might partake of some other mode of existence without the empirical world. Logically, such existence may be possible; but our inability to validate any conception of what is actually the case without ultimate reference to experience, or to the possibility of experience, renders us permanently unable to have grounds for believing in the reality of it. This inability does not eliminate the logical possibility, but a logical possibility is all we are left with. And we do know that only the very tiniest proportion of logical possibilities is actualized.

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Magee represents for me the tragedy of a decent man, indeed potentially a great man, in our nihilistic culture.

As well as this, Magee had to contend with extreme intelligence, a natural philosophical perspective amplified by advanced professional training and experience, and a pervasive leftism in politics - so he really had very little chance of attaining to wisdom.

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In his twilight years Magee resembles a sad (although certainly not self-pitying) Stoic of the Roman Republic living-on under the Empire.

Still striving, still seeking, still acknowledging and holding fast to the transcendental verities (even though he finds it impossible to regard them as being really real).

In another age, Magee might by now have been a wise soul of immense stature; he might have risen to the stature of a Blaise Pascal - as it is, Magee is a tragic figure.

(Albeit, in an era when very few have the dignity to attain tragic status, this is in itself a rare achievement.)

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I hope there is still time for Magee to transcend philosophy, to go-behind his assumptions (which he would need to do), and to recover the spontaneous humanity from which he could swiftly think through to a satisfactory conclusion.

Indeed, I believe there is time for this to happen, for there to be a 'happy ending' for Bryan Magee.

And furthermore I believe it will happen - although we may never get to hear about it.

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Sunday, 23 January 2011

Free-will, purpose, prophecy and providence in Tolkien

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At the Notion Club Papers blog:

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2011/01/free-will-purpose-prophecy-and.html

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Who will guard the guardians?

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How can rulership be both wise (just) yet avoid corruption (for short term benefit, and/or the benefit only of the ruler or ruling group).

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It is an old problem, going back to Plato and Aristotle and their reflections of the possible types of rulership.

Nobody has improved on Aristotle's division into rule by the one (monarchy, dictatorship), the few (aristocracy, oligarchy) or the many (democracy).

But Aristotle can do no more than describe the advantages and disadvantages of each 'system' and state a preference.

Monarchy is potentially the best and highest form of government, but also potentially the worst; democracy vice versa, and oligarchy somewhat in the middle. 

In secular terms, in worldly terms, there is no other answer.

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Modernity thinks it has another answer, which is to make rulership impersonal - in other words to rule by an abstract system.

In practice this means rulership by a system of rationally-interlocking laws and regulations; created and implemented by bureaucracies that depend on committee voting.

Yet rational bureacracy is not a solution to the dilemma, because it is not rulership at all.

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'Rational bureacracy' is impersonal rulership only because it is inhuman rulership.

Rational bureaucracy is not impartial with respect to humans, it is indifferent to humans.

Rational bureaucracy is also, as we now observe, utterly corrupt (short-termist, fractured and fragmented by covert self-interest and unresolvable in-fighting between the rulers).

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So we now have not an Aristotelian compromise between the potential and the actual, but the worst of both worlds: corruption without limit (short-termism to an extent unimagined in the past), and a rulership under which nobody ultimately benefits: not even the rulers themselves (not even the bureaucrats).

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Since there is no answer to 'who guards the guardians' in worldly terms, the only potential answer is in otherworldly or transcendental terms.

Rulership can (at least for a while) be both wise (just and long-termist, for all the polity) and relatively uncorrupt (i.e. neither short-termist nor pursued for the exclusive benefit of the rulers) in a situation when rulers and ruled are devout: united in worship and guided by transcendental revelation.

(An example, King Alfred the Great of England.)

But the necessity for devoutness rules out (in practice) large scale democracy.

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For large societies there is only (theoretically) a choice between divine oligarchy and divine monarchy - and the conditions for a wise and uncorrupt divine oligarchy are extraordinarily unlikely.

The only example of divine oligarchy (wise and uncorrupt leadership by small groups) that I can think of are situations such as prevailed in the early Christian Ecumenical councils and the translation of the Authorized Version of the Bible under King James I of England.

A small devout group united in prayer and with a sincere common aim.

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At any rate, there is no secular solution to the problem of 'who guards the guardians' and it is a waste of time and misplaced effort to refuse to accept the fact.

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The nonsense of 'enlightenment values'

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How sick I am of hearing people say that they adhere to 'Enlightenment values'!

What nonsense!

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What was the Enlightenment but a bunch of intellectuals (albeit, some being creative geniuses - for what that is worth) abstractly theorizing along the lines of: wouldn't it be pleasant and useful if...?

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What was the Enlightenment but an extremely brief and unsustainable cultural transition between much more lasting cultural types?

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Thursday, 20 January 2011

The PC rationale for unlimited mass human migration

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To allow, indeed encourage, unlimited mass human migration is such a foolish, indeed clearly suicidal, notion that it is surprising to find the idea politically dominant (indeed unchallengeable) throughout the West.

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(The fact that some powerful special interest groups benefit materially from mass migration in the short term is insufficient to account for the phenomenon - ruling elites have seldom acted to destroy their cultures for their children; indeed the ruling elites have traditionally had by far the longest time horizons of any group. Planting trees for your great grandchildren to enjoy was not unusual behavior among the English aristocracy.)

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Mass migration of humans fits well with political correctness's underlying ethic of unselfishness and the underlying hedonic evaluation: by-and-large PC policy is justified in terms of increasing the happiness/ reducing the suffering of the greatest number of people.

This is operationalized in policy terms as taking goods (material goods such as money; and social goods such as status) from the haves to give to the have-nots.

A swift way to achieve this is to allow or facilitate the migration of have-nots into the nations of the haves, where they will be entitled to an equal share of goods; or indeed an extra share of goods since they have suffered so much in the past, and to set-them-up for the future. 

Logically this redistribution of people ought to continue until differentials in goods are removed and peoples' hedonic levels are (thereby) equalized - indeed potentially reversed, as a punishment inflicted on those who formerly had more than their 'fair share'.

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The obvious rejoinder that the situation is unsustainable is given short shrift - since we don't really know for sure exactly what makes for sustainability of a society - and the suffering is immediate and present whereas possible futures are disputed and uncertain. Maybe things will turn-out fine?

The short-term-and-certain trumps the long-term-and-contingent. 

Therefore, we should not refrain from doing certain good (i.e. redistributing goods) now merely for fear of what might, or might not, happen in the future.

And anyway, things are different nowadays, and the process of mass migration can be 'managed' so that everyone (or, at least, everyone who matters; everyone who deserves consideration) can benefit from it. 

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The role of the PC elite is therefore not to stand in the way of mass population migration from have-not nations to have nations... except perhaps when it involves the have-not elites leaving their nations.

The usual politically correct line is that the most skilled and expert segment of have-not populations ought to stay where they are, should indeed be forced to stay where they are if necessary and prevented from migrating to have countries - since that is the unselfish thing for them to do.

More people will (probably) be made happier and helped to suffer less if have-not nations force their doctors, engineers and computer scientists to stay-put.

But the poorest and most helpless mass of have-nots clearly benefit hugely and immediately (in terms of goods) from migrating to a wealthy place where they will be given preferential treatment over natives, and therefore they ought to be allowed to do this - as long as the process is 'properly managed' (by the PC elites of the have nations).

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But there is a problem: the selfishness of the haves. 

Specifically, the (non-PC) native population in the have countries will tend to resist the confiscation and redistribution of their surplus of goods - this presumed 'surplus' being (roughly) the difference in average per capita wealth between the have and have-not nations.

But this resistance is selfish - and selfishness is the ultimate PC sin.

(Indeed, the non-PC haves are the only real villains of the piece, the flies in the ointment - since everyone else is merely trying to do what is right and proper and moral.)

However, the trouble is that humans are intrinsically selfish; so the problem of the selfish non-PC haves resisting redistribution is not likely to be one that is going to go away...

Obviously, people should not be free to be selfish... obviously people need to be made-to-be unselfish... and yet who will guard the guardians?...

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The politically correct answer is to take matters out of individual human control and hand-over the whole process to an impersonal bureaucracy with committee decision-making by vote.

The bureaucracy will then frighten, force, or defraud the (evil) non-PC haves into behaving unselfishly, as they ought to do.

(This will actually be good for them - although they may not recognize the fact.)

And thus the process may continue to completion, and much benefit may be conferred upon the world - and all by the PC elite acting altruistically on-behalf-of the have-nots, and managing the whole thing.

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Become a Christian, then join a Church?

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Some autobiography - but not much, I hope.

I became a Christian, like many in recent decades, under considerable influence from the writings of C.S. Lewis - especially his concept of Mere Christianity.

One aspect of this is that it should be a matter of indifference which Christian denomination you join (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal etc) - so long as they really are Christian.

And then you must join that denomination, you must join a specific church - and practice according to that church's rules.

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Lewis advises joining the church of your birth, if you have one; or the national church, if you don't - but not to make a fuss about it.

He advises attending and worshiping at the nearest convenient branch of this church - and, again, not to make a fuss about this.

Just get on with it.

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Good advice - which I have completely failed to follow.

My reasons, and they are not excuses - they are flaws in myself - range from sheer laziness or self-indulgence and that I do not like 'joining' any group, to the fact that I simply could not be indifferent to the denomination nor to the specific branch of the church I attended.

Indeed, after just a few weeks of blessed indifference during which I followed Lewis's prescription, I felt forced by circumstances into 'taking sides' in the current horror story that is Church of England politics; and once I had started to take notice of this I could not stop.

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The difficulty, albeit one which a stronger person than I could overcome, is that secularization has proceeded so far in our society that joining a specific church can feel more like a training in fitting Christianity into the changing world of modern socio-politics than the reverse (which, presumably, ought to be the case).

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Enough autobiography.

My point is this:

Do not be put-off becoming a Christian because of these kinds of reasons.

Do not be put-off because you cannot find a denomination or a local church which you find wholly acceptable.

Do not be put-off because you are too lazy or fickle to attend worship regularly.

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(The real Church is not an institution in a particular time and place but is a mystical and trans-generational entity, only imperfectly understood or known. A Christian must be a part of this mystical Church - by prayer - even when not a member of a modern institution. Indeed, there have been times and places when there was no institutional church for a Christian to belong-to or worship-at - and some of the people in this situation became Saints or Martyrs through their membership of the mystical Church. This may be a consolation - it should not be a rationalization for your own weakness, nor the corruption of existing churches.)

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In a nutshell: do not be put-off becoming a Christian by the problems of society or by your own deficiencies.

Maybe society's problems are just too great, maybe your own deficiencies never will be overcome - no matter: you should act anyway.

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What then should you do?

If you cannot be a Mere Christian, then at least be a Minimal Christian who will declare that Jesus Christ is Lord.

(Even though you probably don't know what this means at first; and if you do get glimpses, keep losing a grip on what it means.)

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Pray, as often as possible, in whatever way you can manage. Address God.

Pray to Jesus Christ. Pray for belief, for strength, ask for help, give thanks.

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Read what you can manage to get yourself to read about Christianity that you think is true, think about it, speak with anyone you believe may help (but probably most cannot or will not) - and in any way possible try to learn about Christianity.

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And declare yourself to be a Christian if asked or when relevant.

If asked whether you are a Christian then Just say Yes.

Train yourself never ever to answer "Yes-but..."

- because that 'but' will be taken to negate the "Yes".

To the enquirer (who will be waiting for you to say the but) the phrase Yes-but means "not really...".)

So, do not qualify your answer with an apologetic account of your feebleness and deficiencies, do not say that you 'try to be'.

Except for Saints, all Christians are 'bad Christians' - that can be taken for granted.

The point is that you are a Christian.

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But there are serious problems with what I recommend.

The first is ignorance. Lacking guidance you will make errors.

However, there is no reliable modern source of good advice on the real nature of Christianity. So this is something you must just struggle-with.

But the main problem is (of course) pride: the primary sin.

It is natural to try and justify oneself, to argue - and then believe - that your own weaknesses are a sign of superior spirituality and purer holiness. Rubbish!

You are a Minimal Christian merely because you are not good enough for anything better; and you must not be satisfied with this, and need to struggle to become something better.

Aim as high as you know how, and acknowledge your miserable failure to attain this. 

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However, even to be the most pathetic and ineffectual Minimal Christian is the first and the most important step across the line; and it may be as far across the line as you will ever manage to get. But that is no reason for failing to take the step across that line.

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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The most unselfish people

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I have said that the core ethic of political correctness is unselfishness - which is a reaction against the natural selfishness of humans; and which is (in its ideal expression) operationalized in abstract (usually bureaucratic) systems of altruistically-motivated redistribution of 'worldly goods' (material and social) to people and groups defined as 'deserving'.

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However, the most unselfish people that I know of are Evangelical Christians and Mormons.

The behaviour of these groups is based on divine revelation as encoded in holy books: i.e. The Bible - plus the Book of Mormon and other scriptures and revelations for Mormons).

Both these groups are patriarchal and favour traditional sexual behavior.

And, of course both groups are loathed by the politically correct.

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Why is it that the two groups which best embody in practice the underpinning PC doctrine of unselfishness are such hate figures for PC?

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The answer is that the unselfish behaviour of Evangelicals and Mormons is indeed valued by political correctness, but the fact that the groups are nonetheless disapproved indicates that political correctness is not about behaviour.

The clue is the distinction between in practice and in theory.

Both Evangelicals and Mormons are very practically-oriented groups, in which adherence to relatively strict laws of behaviour is seen as crucial.

(This is not to say that these groups lack spirituality, but that practical adherence to rules is very carefully monitored, compared with prescriptions, and subject to group rewards and sanctions.)

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Political correctness is, of course, a discourse - not a set of behavioural rules.

PC is communicative, not practical (or practical only insofar as practice concerns communications.)

Insofar as there are PC rules of behaviour, these relate to what you say or write or in some fashion depict; and somewhat to manners and lifestyle choices - but not to what you do in a practical ethical sense.

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For PC it is much more (infinitely more) important how you justify your behaviour than how you actually behave.

This is because political correctness is relativistic, nihilistic, denies the reality of the real - so the world of communications is the bottom-line.

For PC there is no essence to humanity, all is socially-constructed and contingent.

If not actually real, then for PC discourse is the real-est thing; because discourse is understood to construct our perception of reality.

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So PC polices discourse, not behaviour.

PC values unselfish discourse (infinitely) more highly than unselfish behaviour: almost any amount or degree of selfish behavior can be excused so long as a person or group sticks by the laws governing discourse; and no degree of unselfish behaviour can compensate and any way for a breach of the laws of PC discourse.

Groups with non-PC discourse are utterly beyond the pale: they are evil, and their actual behaviour is completely irrelevant to this judgment.

Common sense says we should take notice of what people do, not what they say; but in the morally inverted and anti-commonsensical world of political correctness this is reversed: notice is taken only of what people say and not at all of what they do.

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Hence those people (Evangelicals and Mormons) who in their actual lives most fully embody the highest moral ideal of political correctness, are also precisely those people that PC most despises.

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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Which was/ is worst? Nazism or Communism?

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The correct answer is Communism. And this is a matter of fact.

But the chances are you may think that you disagree, or regard them as equally bad, or that it is too close to call.

However, if so, you are mistaken, and for one of two reasons:

1. Most likely, almost certainly, you do not know enough about Communism. Even I, who am no friend to Communism, continue to be surprised by what I did not know about the evils of the USSR. It has only been during the past year I have begun to appreciate this, and even in the past week some major new horrors have come to my attention. But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself.

2. The Texas Sharpshooter fallacy

I described the TSF here: http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2010/06/measuring-human-capability-moonshot.html

The way it work in this instance is that Nazism is defined as the ultimate evil - then other evils are measured according to how closely they resemble Nazism. Naturally, when this is done to Communism, it seems less evil than Nazism.

*

The relationship between ideologies (over the past couple of thousand years in the West) is as follows:

1. First came Christianity: primary sin = pride; primary virtue = love (i.e. the type of love which is agape/ charity). These defined ultimately in terms of spirituality, transcendentals, other worldly factors.

2. With leftist/ progressive atheism (e.g. Communism) the primary sin became selfishness; the primary virtue = unselfishness (a.k.a. altruism). These being defined in this worldly and materialistic terms - as 'worldly goods' ('goods' including all valued materials factors such as money and also socially-defined factors such as status).

Unselfishness is operationalized as altruism on behalf of others - e.g. other classes, other races, other sex, animals, climate, the planet...

3. Rightist/ reactionary atheism (of which Nazism is a type) reacts against the self-hatred and suicidal effects of leftist altruism on behalf of others, by reversing the morality of unselfishness to regard this-worldly materialist selfishness (under some communitarian description) as a virtue rather than the primary sin.

(In this sense, Nietzsche was indeed the philosopher of Nazism.)

Selfishness is operationalized by right-wing atheism as distributing worldly goods to one's own class, nation, empire, race, sex or whatever.

To be paradoxical about it, Nazism is aggressive altruism on behalf of oneself!

*

Both Communism and Nazism are relativistic/ nihilistic - they do not aim at a specific state of affairs, but a permanent revolution in a particular direction - secular leftists aim at continually increasing altruism to others, secular rightists aim at continually increasing selfishness.

Hence atheist ideologies of both right and left are capable of unrestrained evil, so their regimes are the worst in human history - but atheist leftism is capable of attracting vastly more widespread and sustained support and idealistic zeal by its pseudo-morality of un-selfishness.

Hence Communism has spread almost everywhere and accomplished (and is accomplishing) vastly more evil than Nazism - which was a narrow and unsustainable product of unique circumstances.

*

So - Christianity promotes transcendental love, Communism promotes worldly unselfishness on behalf of others, Fascism promotes worldly selfishness.

Leftists and progressives therefore regard Communism as intrinsically superior to Nazism - in a way that takes no account of evidence, since they see Commuinism as having the highest possible human aspirations - albeit they are usually corrupted.

Leftists regard Nazism (and other forms of secular rightism) as intrinsically evil because its advocates openly  promote their own interests: its primary morality is selfishness. Since this is the exact opposite of leftism - indeed, an exact inversion of leftist morality - it is the ultimate evil.

*

(Note: Leftists also regard supernaturalist Christianity as intrinsically evil because it promotes non-worldly goods, which do not exist; thereby ignoring or neglecting the moral centrality of enforcing the altruistic distribution of worldly goods.

But, for leftists, Christianity is not the ultimate evil, since it is not the exact opposite of leftism. Rather, orthodox Christianity is seen as a hypocritical mask for secular rightism - which is seen as primary. Christians are therefore seen as promoters of selfishness who cleverly disguise it under a cover of nonsensical transcendental aspirations.

Explicit, open, un-ashamed secular rightism is the primary enemy.

So, Communists fear Nazis - because they understand and respect them, but despise Christians - who are seen as fools and cowards.

Communists want to fight real Nazis (if they think they can win), but want to exterminate Christians (as mere vermin.)

*

So, for leftists, the difference between the mainstream secular right and Nazis is merely that Nazism is more honest and brave: the secular right with the gloves-off. Mainstream rightists are seens as nothing more-than - or other-than - feeble Nazis.)

*

Monday, 17 January 2011

The binary nature of human evalutions

*

An anonymous commenter made an excellent point recently (such that I broke my rule of not publishing anonymous comments):

"There are many, many examples in history of bitter factional conflicts in which one side (or both) invite foreigners into the country in order to destroy their domestic enemies. The foreigners inevitably destroy one faction, then the other, and never leave. This has happened so often that one can only conclude that it is human nature to develop such a blinding hatred of your domestic foes that you would do anything, including hand over the country to foreigners, rather than see your domestic foes win"

*

Politics is simple and binary at the level humans can understand it

(i.e. politics is either simple or incomprehensible);

and any social group gets cohesion primarily by exclusion.

We define ourselves and our allies primarily in terms of who we are not.

*

Therefore, as domestic politics becomes more conflicted, and the perceived gulf between who we are and who we are not becomes (apparently) wider; a point is reached at which anything seems justified in order to defeat the enemy (not least because the situation has become so polarized that we are rightly terrified of what the enemy will do to us if we are defeated).

*

At that point people make a grab for the One Ring using the-end-justifies-the-means arguments

(i.e. that 'nothing could be worse' than being defeated by the domestic enemy).

And that is when a group invites the alien powers, the mercenaries, the irresistable machinery to help them win the war they cannot contemplate losing.

*

So - here's are some questions to consider:

Which side is ramping-up the conflict?

Which side is most terrified of losing?

Which side has invited the alien powers to help them win?

*

To ask these questions is to know the answers.

We have - in other words - already passed that point in which one side cannot contemplate losing the domestic battle and would therefore sacrifice anything and everything to win it.

*

 

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The salvation of Mencius Moldbug

*

Commenters have recently referred to the ideas of the pseudonymous Mencius Moldbug who blogs at Unqualified Reservations - http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com - and the great man himself once graced this blog with his comments!

*

I regard Mencius Moldbug as one the the most important thinkers of our time (OK, there is not much competition - but still...), and I have learned a great deal from him.

He is extremely astute, extremely well-informed (and about relevant matters), honest, shows his working, and (most important) is a truth-seeker.

I think I have read everything on his blog, and have also spent a lot of time thinking about it.

*

But (and you were waiting for that 'but', weren't you?) his system is based upon arbitrary axioms and is pragmatic and 'utilitarian' - in the sense that MM argues that his plans for government and society would in practice lead to the greatest happiness and/or the minimum misery for the greatest number of people.

(Or, at least, for the greatest number of people who deserve it, in the sense that those who 'deserve' to have their happiness enhanced and misery diminished are those whose net effect on the gratification of others is positive.)

*

MM is perfectly aware and explicit that his axioms are un-founded, and to be judged therefore by their consequences; and he is explicitly utilitarian (with a typical 'liberal' emphasis that the diminution of misery is more important - and more objective - than the optimization of happiness: so that for MM reducing violence and the pain it brings is more important than expanding opportunities for pleasure.)

*

But why is happiness good and pain bad? (This being the basis of utilitarian morality)

Of course we feel that way; but (to the secular materialist) these feelings, the specific pairings of stimulus and response, e.g. suffering violence paired with pain, engaging in sex paired with pleasure - are merely contingent facts of natural selection.

And such contingent facts can be, and are, manipulated by training, drugs, surgery and (in future, perhaps) genetic engineering.

Hence, that which previously caused pain can be made a pleasure and that which previously gratified can be made pain.

(Indeed, such inversions of traditional pairings are a major element in political correctness - albeit with inconsistent success, so far.)

*

And, anyway, in the Big Picture (as perceived by secular materialism) - what do these momentary phenomena matter? Who (or what) cares about human happiness or suffering? Even a whole human life does not even amount to a micro-spark in eternity.

*

In other words, Mencius Moldbug is an advocate of pure nihilism: a total denial of reality (since bottom line 'reality' - i.e. human emotions and what triggers them - is by this analysis wholly reversible, hence wholly relativistic).

*

But MM is perfectly well aware of this fact.

And he is not, I am sure, happy with this state of affairs - he is not content to be a nihilist, not content to live in a state of nihilism (however free from pain and misery, however filled with pleasurable distractions).

*

Mencius Moldbug is not, therefore, content to leave his ideology, his system, where it happens to be at the moment - but he will continue to seek something better.

*

Assuming that Mencius Moldbug does not abandon his search for truth, he will become a Christian. Sooner or later, and possibly at the very last moment, but inevitably so.

He is on the path.

He has, indeed, already crossed the Pascalian+ threshold for salvation: the threshold which lies between being a contented atheist and a seeking atheist.

And therefore, whether he acknowledges it or not, MM is already destined to be saved (assuming, that is, he does not abandon his honest search).

*

+Blaise Pascal - Pensees, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18269

*

Friday, 14 January 2011

The neccessity of revelation as a basis for (unavoidable) faith

*

Excerpted from Nihilism by Eugene Rose (later Father Seraphim Rose)

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/nihilism.html

*

"We have discussed, in an earlier chapter, the universality of faith, seeing it as underlying all human activity and knowledge; and we have seen that faith, if it is not to fall prey to subjective delusions, must be rooted in truth.

"It is therefore a legitimate, and indeed unavoidable question whether the first principles of the scientific faith--for example, the coherence and uniformity of nature, the transsubjectivity of human knowledge, the adequacy of reason to draw conclusions from observation--are founded in absolute truth; if they are not, they can be no more than unverifiable probabilities.

"The "pragmatic" position taken by many scientists and humanists who cannot be troubled to think about ultimate things--the position that these principles are no more than experimental hypotheses which collective experience finds reliable--is surely unsatisfactory; it may offer a psychological explanation of the faith these principles inspire, but since it does not establish the foundation of that faith in truth, it leaves the whole scientific edifice on shifting sands and provides no sure defense against the irrational winds that periodically attack it.

*

"In actual fact, however,--whether it be from simple naivete or from a deeper insight which they cannot justify by argument-most scientists and humanists undoubtedly believe that their faith has something to do with the truth of things. Whether this belief is justified or not is, of course, another question; it is a metaphysical question, and one thing that is certain is that it is not justified by the rather primitive metaphysics of most scientists.

"Every man, as we have seen, lives by faith; likewise every man--something less obvious but no less certain--is a metaphysician. The claim to any knowledge whatever--and no living man can refrain from this claim--implies a theory and standard of knowledge, and a notion of what is ultimately knowable and true. This ultimate truth, whether it be conceived as the Christian God or simply as the ultimate coherence of things, is a metaphysical first principle, an absolute truth.

"But with the acknowledgement, logically unavoidable, of such a principle, the theory of the "relativity of truth" collapses, it itself being revealed as a self-contradictory absolute.

*

"The proclamation of the "relativity of truth" is, thus, what might be called a "negative metaphysics"--but a metaphysics all the same. (...)

"The "pragmatist" and the "agnostic" may be quite sincere and well-meaning; but they only deceive themselves--and others--if they continue to use the word "truth" to describe what they are seeking. Their existence, in fact, is testimony to the fact that the search for truth which has so long animated European man has come to an end.

"Four centuries and more of modern thought have been, from one point of view, an experiment in the possibilities of knowledge open to man, assuming that there is no Revealed Truth.

"The conclusion (...) of this experiment is an absolute negation: if there is no Revealed Truth, there is no truth at all; the search for truth outside of Revelation has come to a dead end.

*

"The scientist admits this by restricting himself to the narrowest of specialties, content if he sees a certain coherence in a limited aggregate of facts, without troubling himself over the existence of any truth, large or small; the multitudes demonstrate it by looking to the scientist, not for truth, but for the technological applications of a knowledge which has no more than a practical value, and by looking to other, irrational sources for the ultimate values men once expected to find in truth. (...)

"Logic, thus, can take us this far: denial or doubt of absolute truth leads (if one is consistent and honest) to the abyss of solipsism and irrationalism; the only position that involves no logical contradictions is the affirmation of an absolute truth which underlies and secures all lesser truths; and this absolute truth can be attained by no relative, human means.

"At this point logic fails us, and we must enter an entirely different universe of discourse if we are to proceed. It is one thing to state that there is no logical barrier to the affirmation of absolute truth; it is quite another actually to affirm it. Such an affirmation can be based upon only one source; the question of truth must come in the end to the question of Revelation.

*

"The critical mind hesitates at this point. Must we seek from without what we cannot attain by our own unaided power? It is a blow to pride--most of all to that pride which passes today for scientific "humility" that "sits down before fact as a little child" and yet refuses to acknowledge any arbiter of fact save the proud human reason. It is, however, a particular revelation--Divine Revelation, the Christian Revelation--that so repels the rationalist; other revelations he does not gainsay.

"Indeed, the man who does not accept, fully and consciously, a coherent doctrine of truth such as the Christian Revelation provides, is forced--if he has any pretensions to knowledge whatever--to seek such a doctrine elsewhere; this has been the path of modern philosophy, which has ended in obscurity and confusion because it would never squarely face the fact that it cannot supply for itself what can only be given from without.

"The blindness and confusion of modern philosophers with regard to first principles and the dimension of the absolute have been the direct consequence of their own primary assumption, the non-existence of Revelation; for this assumption in effect blinded men to the light of the sun and rendered obscure everything that had once been clear in its light. To one who gropes in this darkness there is but one path, if he will not be healed of his blindness; and that is to seek some light amidst the darkness here below.

"Many run to the flickering candle of "common sense" and conventional life and accept--because one must get along somehow--the current opinions of the social and intellectual circles to which they belong. But many others, finding this light too dim, flock to the magic lanterns that project beguiling, multicolored views that are, if nothing else, distracting, they become devotees of this or the other political or religious or artistic current that the "spirit of the age" has thrown into fashion.

"In fact no one lives but by the light of some revelation, be it a true or a false one, whether it serve to enlighten or obscure. He who will not live by the Christian Revelation must live by a false revelation; and all false revelations lead to the Abyss."

*

Comment:

This passage contains the key to this end-stage of modernity in which we now dwell: Four centuries and more of modern thought have been an experiment in the possibilities of knowledge open to man, assuming that there is no Revealed Truth. The conclusion of this experiment is an absolute negation: if there is no Revealed Truth, there is no truth at all; the search for truth outside of Revelation has come to a dead end.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Cynicism and kynicism in political correctness

*

The politically correct are people who do not believe in absolute truth.

Yet they insist that everyone should believe what they are telling them today.

Or else if you do not believe whatever they tell you today, you are evil.

Yet the politically correct do not believe in evil.

What they do believe in is culture - culture is the bottom line 'reality'.

And culture is consensus.

Yet the politically correct believe in the liberation of individual desire: that is, they believe in the overthrow of consensus.

So the bottom line reality for political correctness is... a continually changing, compulsory consensus.

*

Is this to be what Richard Rorty described as a 'liberal ironist' - to live passionately by understandings one knows to be temporary and contingent?

Not really - political correctness is better characterized by Peter Sloterdijk's 'enlightened false consciousness' of the modern cynic.

Enlightened = realistic; false consciousness = self-serving illusion.

The combination is a clear eyed awareness of one's own self-manipulating fantasies; fantasies which one also believes absolutely.

To make reality and then to forget one has just made it, and then to remember, critique and re-make reality; and again to forget it - and so on and so forth...

*

Neither ironical nor detached; enlightened false consciousness is a severe, rational, anger-fuelled stance which aims to impose meaning and purpose onto life via the continual bureaucratic and authoritarian process of creating and moulding culture - undoing and reversing the inequalities and miseries of the past, and chasing always after the flickering fashions in upper class status.

Culture is arbitrary, yet it is reality; culture is managed, yet it is contingent; culture us everything and irresistible, yet it is nothing and as insignificant as the life of a mayfly.

This enlightened false consciousness collapses into careerism, which collapses into parasitism (life as a permanent holiday, travel, good living), which collapses into the secret-guilty cult of the openly instinctual and unashamed psychopath: the invincible gangster, the irresistible and expert sexual predator, the envied permanently-stoned junkie.

This opposite to the disaffected cynic is what Sloterdijk (in his Critique of Cynical Reason) terms the kynic.

The kynic has (merely) discarded consciousness; has solved the problem of being a modern human in a modern society by becoming an animal and preying upon society.

*

But in the cynic and the kynic, Sloterdijk has exhaustively described the possibilities for modern secular life - the bureaucrat who lives inside of culture OR the junkie who lives outside (and upon) culture.

Make your choice.

*

Except that the normal, mainstream, generally accepted thing is to alternate between these states.

Hence PC is remarkably tolerant of the kynic; because (to parody Solzhenitsyn):

...the line separating cynic and kynic passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.

This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years.

Even within hearts overwhelmed by kynicism, one small bridgehead of cynicism is retained; and even in the most cynical of all hearts, there remains a small corner of kynicism.



*

Limited sympathy for politically correct nihilists - Seraphim Rose

*

From Nihilism by Eugene Rose (later Father Seraphim Rose)

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/nihilism.html

*

"Anyone aware of the too-obvious imperfections and evils of modern civilization that have been the more immediate occasion and cause of the Nihilist reaction--though we shall see that these too have been the fruit of an incipient Nihilism--cannot but feel a measure of sympathy with some, at least, of the men who have participated in that reaction.

"Such sympathy may take the form of pity for men who may, from one point of view, be seen as innocent "victims" of the conditions against which their effort has been directed; or again, it may be expressed in the common opinion that certain types of Nihilist phenomena have actually a "positive" significance and have a role to play in some "new development" of history or of man.

"The latter attitude, again, is itself one of the more obvious fruits of the very Nihilism in question here; but the former attitude, at least, is not entirely devoid of truth or justice.

"For that very reason, however, we must be all the more careful not to give it undue importance. It is all too easy, in the atmosphere of intellectual fog that pervades Liberal and Humanist circles today, to allow sympathy for an unfortunate person to pass over into receptivity to his ideas.

"The Nihilist, to be sure, is in some sense "sick," and his sickness is a testimony to the sickness of an age whose best--as well as worst--elements turn to Nihilism; but sickness is not cured, nor even properly diagnosed by "sympathy."

"In any case there is no such thing as an entirely "innocent victim." The Nihilist is all too obviously involved in the very sins and guilt of mankind that have produced the evils of our age; and in taking arms--as do all Nihilists not only against real or imagined "abuses" and "injustices" in the social and religious order, but also against order itself and the Truth that underlies that order, the Nihilist takes an active part in the work of Satan (for such it is) that can by no means be explained away by the mythology of the "innocent victim."

"No one, in the last analysis, serves Satan against his will."

***

Comment:

Thinking back to my own days as a PC Nihilist, and of course the frequent (daily, hourly) lapses into that state which naturally I still experience, this passage is absolutely correct: I was not an innocent victim of ideology, nor was I mererly in error; but I actively embraced nihilism, invited it into my mind - essentially as a means to justify living for my own worldly comfort and gratification. My behaviour was understandable, my situation one to evoke sympathy; but I was wrong and I was actively fighting against even the possibility of Truth, Beauty and Virtue

*

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Everybody is a sinner, yes; but some people are better than others

*

A consequence of the fact that Heaven is hierarchical is that while almost everybody is indeed a sinner - some people are better (i.e. Holier, more advanced spiritually) than others.

The advantage of acknowledging the reality of Saints is that these were people who were without sin ( in the sense of already being continuously in communion with God) - and progress towards, or away from, this state is quantitative. 

The only thing is that we should not make this judgment about ourselves, because of the danger of pride.

However we can, and should, make a judgment about the relative Holiness of others. How else could we be guided?

These judgments will not (in this corrupt world) be wholly reliable, and we may need to change our minds, and we should make judgments in light of the wisdom of the Church through the ages and by asking for help in prayer and not by our own individual unaided analysis; but we must perceive that Holiness is hierarchical and make judgements about its presence and degree.

Holiness is not egalitarian. 

*

Secular utilitarians ought, if consistent, to mourn the end of colonialism

*


The national liberation movements that brought about the end of colonialism had at best dubious, and mostly clearly negative, consequences for the mass of people who they purported to help; while having very clear and definite benefits for the elites to whom power and wealth were transferred.

*

In mainstream political discourse the bottom line is hedonic, utilitarian: policy purports to aim at the greatest happiness of the greatest number and at the minimization of suffering.

And it is pretty uncontroversial that endemic violence and permanent starvation cause suffering.

Therefore mainstream political discourse ought to mourn the end of colonialism, and set-out restoring it.

*

The ending of colonialism in Africa is the clearest example of what I mean. In many places 'liberation' from colonialism had clear and immediate benefits for the local elites - who became top dogs instead of second fiddle to the colonial powers.

But the mass of the population suffered the most extreme starvation and violence yet seen on earth.

This outcome would generally considered to be the worst possible situation, yet of course the end of colonialism is seen by PC as a cause for celebration.

*

Something similar happened in India - exacerbated by the partition into Pakinstan, then re-partitioning into Bangladesh - each 'liberation' caused immense disadvantage to everybody... except the new elites.

*

But I do not advocate a return to colonialism, because clearly it leads to immense resistance from the colonized - proving that (in a this-worldly and hedonic sense) humans obviously do not know 'what is good for them'.

The repeated rebellion of colonials throughout history has demonstrated as a fact that people en masse act as if they have different and non-material goals from optimizing peace and prosperity (or else, more precisely, they can readily be manipulated to act in this way by local elites, which amounts to the same thing in practice).

The repeated successful pattern of 'liberation' from colonialism is therefore yet another proof of the poverty of secular materialism.

*

Secular materialism - utilitarian policy aiming at comfort for all - is weak, weak, weak.

People like it when they have it, but don't want to keep it strongly enough to lift a finger to defend it.

Even nationalism - such a feeble and artificial emotion compared with religion - is easily strong enough to defeat secular materialism.

*

[Note: The European Age of Nationalism was only possible due to the decline of religion - ethnic-Nationalism becoming (by default) the next-strongest force of social cohesion possible in that era.]

*

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Hierarchy in Heaven

*

The modern world is so permeated with egalitarianism that we cannot think straight.

Because reality is not egalitarian;  reality is hierarchical.

Especially, Heaven is hierarchical.

And this is profoundly important to Christian life on earth.

Indeed, the purpose of life on earth substantially depends on Heaven being hierarchical.

*

If Heaven was not hierarchical, then life after death would ultimately be dichotomous (salvation or damnation, heaven or hell, all or nothing) and life on earth would be drained of meaning except to ensure that one ended-up on the right side of the line.

If Heaven was egalitarian, then (once the soul was in heaven) there would be no difference whatsoever between a Saint and and a last-moment-repented sinner - leading to the question of why bother to struggle, to practice the virtues: why strive to be a Saint?

*

There are two matters to consider: salvation and theosis.

In a sense, salvation is 'easy': we are told it is 'merely' a matter of believing in one's heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.

But what then?

What about all the rest of a Christian life with which the Church is concerned? What about prayer? What about religious practices? Living by the Law.

What does all this achieve? Is is merely a matter of insurance?

*

The answer is simple: Heaven is hierarchical, and once salvation is attained then life on this earth is (crudely put) about attaining the highest possible rank in Heaven.

This is what the Eastern Orthodox Church calls 'theosis' - the main purpose of a Christian life - the process of becoming more God-like while on earth, the process of coming into closer communion with God.

The highest attainable Heavenly rank is Sainthood.

And while still alive on earth, a Saint will live both on earth and simultaneously in Heaven; a Saint experiences Heaven while still on earth (his head in Heaven while his feet walk the earth).

*

Why am I so sure that Heaven is hierarchical? Because that is what we are told: not once but many times.

Angels are arranged in a hierarchy.

The Old Testament prophets are arranged in a hierarchy (with some accorded higher rank - such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah).

The Saints are arranged in a hierarchy (with some accorded higher rank - such as Mary the Mother of God, St John the Baptist - and among more modern Saints and martyrs, some are accorded a higher degree of veneration).

Heaven is permeated by hierarchy.

If that bothers us, then that is our problem.

*

Christian life, then, is first of all a matter of salvation: but once salvation is attained then it is a matter of steps towards, or away-from, communion with God.

That is the main job of life.

And rank in Heaven is (roughly) a matter of where this process has reached at the time of death.

After death, the possibility for changing rank in heaven more-or-less ceases: in Heaven we remain what we have become while on earth.

*

However, the Christian does not know while on earth exactly what rank he will have in Heaven.

And indeed, there is the big, constant problem of spiritual pride to contend with - whereby the striving for higher Heavenly rank may be subverted by the desire for spiritual status while on earth.

Spiritual pride is the desire for recognition (while on earth) that one possesses a more advanced degree of spirituality than is actually deserved.

Pride can force a wedge between spiritual status as recognized by the (inevitably corrupt) Church on earth, and the reality of Heaven.

And spiritual pride can mean that we believe that while on earth we have the power to discern our own deserved spiritual rank in Heaven.

Ultimately, this can lead to damnation - hence the pitfalls of striving for Sainthood, temptations so well recognized in the Orthodox tradition.

*

Furthermore, we know that the hierarchy of Heaven is almost the reverse of the hierarchy on earth (the rich man rated lower than the poor man, the humblest ranked highest etc.)

This is not a matter of precise inversion of earthly hierarchy - because theosis is a matter of free will, of choices; but that the higher one's status on earth, the harder it is to attain high status in Heaven.

*

Hence the traditions of Holy poverty, Holy asceticism, and Holy fools.

To be poor and humble, to suffer, to be regarded as a fool and to be devout is at least correlated with the highest rewards in Heaven.

(And vice versa.)

So these are things that those highest in status on earth need to do to increase the chance of being justly rewarded by higher rank in Heaven.

*

What does high rank in Heaven actually mean, and why should we want it? Would it not be enough to have the lowest rank?

These are deep questions to which we apparently do not have such clear answers.

The best answer may be along the lines that we get what we want: when we are full of pride then we do not want the closest communion with God for eternity; and we will get what we want to the degree that we want it.


*

Monday, 10 January 2011

A David against the Goliath of PC? Or spiritual warfare?

*

How to oppose PC, assuming that you want to?

One thing not to do, one pitfall is to see yourself as a David pitted against the Goliath of political correctness - and to nurture the hope of slaying PC with a single, perfectly-directed swirl of your slingshot.

That is a self-gratifying fantasy based on pride.

But, on the other hand, a single person's principled efforts over a period of time can make an extraordinary effect.

*

(Naturally it never is a single person who produces the effect, many others are involved, nonetheless the effect may depend on a single person. Leaving aside, here, the operations of Grace.)

*

As an example consider Eugene Rose (1934-1982) - a young Californian academic who eventually became Hieromonk Seraphim Rose.

Read if possible, Father Seraphim Rose, his Life and Works - a thousand page biography and summary by Hieromonk Damascene. Look around the internet to estimate his current influence.

Look at those dates: Fr Seraphim died aged 48.

Consider that he did not become an Orthodox Christian until his mid twenties, and did not publish a book until the mid-1970s.

*

Consider also that he lived a deliberately obscure monastic life (not even living in a normal-sized and established monastery but in a tiny rural 'skete' inhabited by just two monks, for much of the time), mostly isolated, and engaging for much of his adult life in a great deal of 'manual labor' - such as tending a shop, printing and building.

And of course in religious practices such as participating in long services, fasting and praying.

Does this look like a strategy for changing the world?

Is hermetic isolation a subtle tactic for socio-political transformation?

Or is it a mere unrepeatable random fluke?

*

Seraphim Rose was not a David confronting the Goliath of the modern world in direct battle.

Nor did Seraphim Rose go in for shrewd tactics and compromises, or for 'playing the system'?

Nor did he get boosted by a powerful institution (at the time the worldly centres of Orthodoxy were mostly crushed or under Communist control - especially the Russian church).

Then reflect on his actual impact on 'the world' - even thinking merely of the English language world and ignoring the effects on Greek, Russian and other Orthodox cultures.

*

My point is that the example of Seraphim Rose proves that an individual can make a positive difference, even nowadays, even when measured in a worldly scale.

And this was achieved by doing almost the opposite of trying to make a difference to the world: by a near complete focus on things of the spirit, and on the next world.

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Yet Seraphim Rose was trying to change the world, explicitly so; and his first written book 'Nihilism' (written before he became a monk) makes this crystal clear.

It is perhaps the best analysis of nihilism, and a premonition of post-Communist political correctness - written at a socio-political level of analysis - but published only after his death -

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/nihilism.html.

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Of course, this is not intended as an alternative strategy for a political movement!

It is the opposite; that it is time to stop thinking in terms of political movements and instead to model ourselves on devout and other-worldly saints rather than devious and Machiavellian dictators.

And in doing so, not to seek situations that (we hope) will display our heroism (the David and Goliath scenario - although naturally these should not be shirked if they arise).

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In a nutshell, political correctness is not something we ought to seek to slay (how could something so formless and dispersed be slain, except by general catastrophe?).

Seraphim Rose did not work in that way - yet nobody has a deeper understanding of the psychology of PC, and the absolute necessity that PC be replaced.

The necessity, I mean, for our souls - each one of them; never-mind the necessity for PC to be replaced to sustain social order.

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The problem of PC is that it would destroy our souls, would render us incapable of attaining salvation - would indeed destroy our humanity.

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The David and Goliath scenario is deceptive because in the profoundest sense, this-worldly, nihilistic political correctness cannot be fought: it should be - it must be - displaced.

And displaced in our hearts - by the other-worldly, the transcendental.

The battle against political correctness (against nihilism) is, indeed, essentially an example of spiritual warfare.

Seraphim Rose is a spiritual inspiration - and his effect on the world is 'merely' a by-product.

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Considered as such; the example of Seraphim Rose shows that the war could be won, even yet.

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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Dane-geld: tactical retreats, pragmatic compromises, pacts, pay-offs...

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DANE-GELD

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:
"We invaded you last night - we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:

"We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"

Rudyard Kipling - 1911

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The mainstream political Right spends far too much time and effort (in practice, all of its time and effort) on discussing and pursuing tactics - in seeking the best battle-ground, in preparing ground, in taking step back in hopes of sometime later taking two steps forward.

Short-term tactics justified only by their long-term strategy.

Yet, somehow they never get-round to pursuing their strategy: the time is never quite right.

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The enemy is paid-off, sure; but the hoped-for re-building (supposed to happen during the negotiated peace) somehow never happens...

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Too much Dane-geld.

In the end nothing but Dane-geld.

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Dane-geld is advocated on the basis that it wins a space of relief during which there can be re-grouping and re-arming, and preparation for the big battle later.

The trouble is that paying Dane-geld is losing ground: it weakens the payer and strengthens the receiver.

You will immediately be weakened by paying Dane-geld, and you will strengthen the enemy immediately.

Unless the enemy leaves you in peace for a long time they will be back - after all, why not? - and you will not have had enough time to rebuild, and you will need to pay some more Dane-geld just to gain a bit more time...

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Paying the Dane-geld weakens physically (one has retreated) and spiritually (one has agreed to retreat) - perhaps the mental effect is the worse?

It is only ever wise to pay Dane-geld when the brief space made is decisive, and will be used to build-up strength and with the firm intention to seek a major battle in more favourable situation.

This will involve considerable sacrifice - since ground has just been yielded - and this was ground that the enemy chose and wants to occupy - so presumably it was valuable ground.

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Surveying the mainstream Right I see nothing but Dane-geld payment all round.

I see an obsession with tactics, with picking exactly the right fight (not too big, not too small), fighting exactly the correct threat (focusing energy) on exactly the right ground.

I see tactical retreats, pragmatic compromises, tactical pacts, tactical pay-offs - horse-trading.

All based on detailed daily analysis of the political news and personalities, trends, data, logic, modelling - calculation, prediction - seeking the perfect, precise, incisive scalpel-like intervention which will win the war easily, with the minimum of pain and sacrifice.

All based, in other words, on immersion in the world of the enemy.

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The Right thinks it can swiftly pay the Dane-geld and then fight the war so cleverly, so stealthily, on so narrow a front; that the Danes will not even notice the decisive battle; and the war will be won before they have time to recognize what is happening!

In sum, the Right behave as if they will win the war purely on tactics.

And so paying the Dane-geld - yesterday, today and forever - is to them just being sensible, just a tactic...

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Saturday, 8 January 2011

Tolkien, Faery and Oxford

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2011/01/curing-vulgarization-of-england-from.html

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Friday, 7 January 2011

Stamp on the fire...

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Excerpt from The Silver Chair (from the Chronicles of Narnia), by C.S. Lewis, 1953:

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The Witch shook her head.

"I see," she said, (...) "You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You've seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it's to be called a lion.

"Well, 'tis a pretty makebelieve, though, to say truth, it would suit you all better if you were younger. And look how you can put nothing into your make-believe without copying it from the real world, this world of mine, which is the only world.(...)"

Come, all of you. Put away these childish tricks. I have work for you all in the real world. There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan.

"And now, to bed all. And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow. But, first, to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams."

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete.

But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing.(...) With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth.

And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less.(...) This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the blood to fire inside your veins."

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

"One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so.

"Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.

"Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.

"And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow.

"That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.

"So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland.

"Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."

http://www.mylibrarybook.com/books/677/C.S-Lewis/The-Silver-Chair-9.html

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Comment:

Just to clarify: this wonderful passage is (also) an allegory of the human condition and the choice confronting modern Man: viz. the choice between the nihilism of secular materialism and Christianity.

To break the spell of the witch (the intoxicating distractions of the modern world) requires not a great intellectual nor a warrior but a simple and stubborn character like Puddleglum.

Acting on gut-instinct; by stamping on the fire (despite the short term pain) Puddleglum weakens the glamour, clears his head of induced delusions, and saves the world of Narnia (for a while).

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Argument has no effect, the Narnians cannot escape the webs of illusion, until after the fire has been quenched.

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But what is the fire?

Roughly speaking: the mass media.

So long as we are engaged with the mass media, so long will the delusion continue.

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We hopelessly-entranced intellectuals must hope and pray for a Puddleglum!

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Today's Tolkien action

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...over at the Notion Club Papers blog:

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2011/01/essential-meaning-and-purpose-of-notion.html

This is the beginning of my attempt to explain how (if it had been completed) a heavily-revised version of The Notion Club Papers was intended by Tolkien to be the means whereby modern England might be 'saved'.

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The modern inability to *get* metaphysics

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I remember as a teenager encountering philosophy and being mystified by the early metaphysical debates, among the ancient Greeks, about whether reality was changing or un-changing.

So-and so-said reality was unchanging, such-and-such said reality was change; Socrates/ Plato said that unchanging reality was transcendental and this world was change; Aristotle said the forms were unchanging and appearances changed, and so on...

The whole thing struck me as silly, pointless, just an arbitrary choice between silly options.

What I was interested in was Truth - in the sense of how did we know what was true and what was not (I was accepting that mathematics, logic and science were true; and working out from there).

It was only about a year and a half ago, as a result of reading Edward Feser - http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/ - that I suddenly understood what the ancient Greeks were getting-at and what they were trying to do.

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As I understand it, reality must be unchanging, or else if everything changes we cannot know anything (not even that reality is change); yet if reality is unchanging then everything we experience is an illusion (including the illusion that we have have experienced understanding of the unchanging nature of reality). Therefore there must be change.

Therefore reality - since reality must both not-change and change - reality must be a mixture of the eternal and the changing.

Then we try to understand whether change and eternity are on the same level, or whether one is fundamental and the other more superficial - and try to understand the relationship between them.

But because reality is actually whole then the mere fact we have divided it into the eternal and the changeable does violence to our understanding, so that no explanation can ever be wholly satisfactory.

(The paradox: to explain reality we crack it into pieces, must divide and distinguish; but having done so we can never put the picture back together again without being able to see the cracks.)

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My last secular philosophy was a version of Luhmann's systems theory including a heavy dose of selectionist (evolutionary) thinking - http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/modernization-imperative.html.

This was an 'everything changes' theory that could only survive by a wholly arbitrary decision to accept axioms on which it based itself; in other words an assertion of eternal knowledge which could not be justified by the theory itself.

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I was able to do this from a sense of intellectual pride/ honesty...

(Saying something like: ' 'at least' I admit that my system is arbitrary, all systems are indeed arbitrary, but 'at least'; I know that mine is arbitrary while the others deny the fact')...

But I could not in practice accept that the axioms on which the system of systems theory was built really were arbitrary, contingent, indefensible; and I therefore persisted in thinking that my philosophy was superior to, deeper than, alternatives.

Such is human nature.

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I now perceive that the only solution to the insoluble basis of philosophy is religious - intervention from outside philosophy: i.e. divine revelation. The only non-arbitrary source of axiomatic validity.

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This was perceived by many people in the past, and the vast consequences of lack of divine revelation (of disbelief in divine revelation as a basis for philosophy) were also perceived.

But for modern thinkers - such as my former-self and the hundreds of philosophers and thinkers that I read/ listened to/ talked-with for most of my adult life - the basic metaphysical question is not understood, seems irrelevant, seems silly, seems arbitrary.

Which is, of course, a situation that is precisely what was understood and predicted by those who recognized the effects of rejecting revelation as a basis for human knowledge.

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Of course, philosophy is rare and restricted to very few cultures and people. But modern thinkers, and at the highest level of acclaim, have not - for many scores of years now - reached the point reached by the first and simplest and most basic of ancient Greek philosophers.

And they, we, congratulate ourselves on our pragmatism in this.

What it actually means, what 'pragmatism actually means' is that philosophy has been abandoned in favour of hedonism - in favour of doing and saying what makes us feel better about ourselves (even when 'feeling better' means feeling heroically noble in our despairing negations).

And indeed this has often been specifically argued to be the true nature of philosophy, the proper goal of philosophy by many, many 'philosophers'.

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My point is that it is hard to exaggerate the depth of confusion of modern intellectual life. It is hard to exaggerate the lack of basic grasp.

Our most lauded and influential thinkers nowadays, and for several generations, do not even rise to the level of children or the simple-minded in their philosophical reflections; they are delirious maniacs who experience reality as discontinuous fragments during momentary awakenings from unreflective nightmares or euphorias, and yet who expend their energies arguing that this perspective has progressed beyond, has superseded those of our ancestors.

We are delirious maniacs with delusions of grandeur.

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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Not what *I* want - but what we will get

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A comment I wrote at http://foseti.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/questions-for-the-secular-right - which may help clarify:

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I’d like to emphasize that this is not really a matter of what *I* want, but of what we will get. And that I am thinking on a timescale of human generations (c. 25 year units), not of the next few years

I was profoundly influenced by the analysis of Ernest Gellner who (in brief) divided all human societies into:

1. the hunter-gatherer,

2. the agriculturally-based (dominated by warriors and priests, in various combinations), and

3. the post-industrial revolution modern societies – which depend on permanent growth (which means permanent increase in efficiency/ productivity – largely by increasing functional specialization and coordination).

When (and not if) industrial civilization collapses (and this will happen sooner rather than later, not least because the politically correct ruling elites want to destroy The West and they are clearly succeeding); The West will (like it or not) revert to the agriculturally based societies run by combinations of warriors and priests which existed everywhere in the world (except among a handful of hunter gatherers) before the industrial revolution.

Our choices are between different balances of warriors and priests, and between different types of priests.

The current default world religion is (obviously) Islam, not Christianity – due to its demographic growth and sustained assertive self-confidence.

It is on that basis that I prefer the Byzantine Christian Orthodox model.

But – more importantly – since I regard Christianity as true, obviously I believe that society should *at its bottom line* be organized around the need for Christian salvation; and not around the desire for comfort (maximum pleasure and minimum pain).

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H/T to Isegoria - http://www.isegoria.net/2011/01/should-western-civilization-be-saved/ - (I had forgotten I had written this).

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