Monday, 30 June 2014

Addicted to Distraction (my latest mini-book) is out today



See a description and samples at:


A personal God: God who is a person


It seems our great need (here and now) is for a personal God - impersonal deity does not answer to our needs: it just doesn't.

A God who is a person, and who has a personal relationship with us as persons... anything less and we dissolve into meaninglessness.


It is not that it is an error to conceptualize deity in impersonal terms - as bliss, consciousness, physical force, tendencies, cycles, directions... It is not so much an error but a radically partial truth.

It is mostly that if even 100% accepted and assimilated - it doesn't do us any real good: it doesn't do us the good that most needs doing and without which improvements are futile.


To envisage our mortal life on earth as an attempt to dissolve our selves back into deity - to lose person-hood - is to regard life on earth and our selves as some kind of mistake.

Why do we exist as mortal incarnates living on this planet, merely in order to reverse the situation - to dismantle the essence of mortal life? We are conscious only to have the task of destroying consciousness? What for?

No - to aim at obliterating the ego into impersonal deity is an analgesic only - a tranquillizer - a way of numbing the pain of existence: it cannot, intrinsically cannot, provide a purpose for earthly mortality because it denies the basic validity of this state of earthly mortality.


A personal God: a God who is a person... this is a stumbling block for moderns who consider this kind of God to be a naive and childish psychological 'projection' - 'anthropomorphism' - thereby unwittingly accepting a Freudian psychological process which has, of itself, zero validity, to explain-away, dismiss, dissolve the most fundamental and vital basis for motivation.


Motivation is modern man's most lethal deficit: lacking motivation all else follows.

Motivation depends on meaning.

An arbitrary motivation, a contingent motivation, a temporary motivation, a manufactured motivation, a motivation we 'see though - these are not motivations at all across the span of a life - or the scope of a civilization).

Motivation depends on meaning, and meaning depends on personal relations; and personal relations must be underpinned by a personal relation with God else they will destroy motivation rather than sustain it - because we know that we and everybody else will die; and sans God that dissolves everything.


We cannot wriggle off this hook - from where-we-are the choice is stark. We must have a relationship with a God who is a person; or we face nihilism.

This is the situation into which we have been engineered by purposive evil triumphant: we must have a personal God - yet a personal God strikes us as made-up nonsense.

And many people cannot shake-off this sense of made-up-ness: some of them seek refuge in abstract deities of an impersonal type - but such gods do not, indeed cannot, do the job we ask of them - the job that must be done.


So here we are. This is what we must do, or die inside (die inside as individuals and as a society): experience nothingness of motivation, relation, purpose, meaning.

We must believe in, live by, the reality of a God who is a person and with whom we personally can have a relationship.

That's it in a nutshell - no escaping it.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

What kind of man was Socrates? A prophet, not a 'philosopher'


I have recently been studying Plato's Apology (Apology = 'Justification'), which is the speech Socrates gave in court as a defence of his life and actions, against Athenian accusers. He was found guilty of various charges and condemned to death - drinking poison.


Plato was a pupil of Socrates, and uses him as a character in many of the Dialogues - which have perhaps had more influence on philosophy than anything else - except perhaps Aristotle's work.

Over the years I have read a great deal about Socrates, including a source book which collected all the non-Plato references. And at the end of the day I found myself more confused than enlightened.

But if it is assumed that the Socrates of later dialogues is more-or-less a mouthpiece of Platonic philosophy, and if our focus is therefore placed almost wholly on the Apology, then a clear picture of Socrates emerges which is very different from how I have usually regarded him. 


1. Socrates is primarily a religious man.  

The Apology is replete with pious references to The God (of Delphi - i.e. Apollo) and the gods as a whole - everything Socrates does and his reasons for doing things is ultimately referenced back to God/ the gods.

Not only is Socrates abstractly pious, but he describes how his conduct is guided my frequent personal revelations in the form of a warning voice which communicates divine guidance on what he must not do - he is left to his own devices in deciding what he should do. 


2. Socrates seems to have no other philosophical views except this piety to the gods.

Socrates only positive agenda - which was laid upon him by Apollo via the Oracle of Delphi is to expose the pretension, hypocrisy, selfishness and arrogance of the Athenian ruling elite.

He uses the standard 'legal' method of cross examination to demonstrate that the elite have views that are incoherent; and that they think more of themselves than of the gods - that they take personal credit for what are actually divine gifts.

For example, Socrates discovers that the politicians and orators are incoherent and working on their own behalf (not that of the gods), that the poets and creative artists dishonestly claim ownership of an inspiration which is actually divine, and that the skilled craftsmen assume that specific technical skill confers upon them general wisdom.


In general, Socrates deplores professionalism - the corruption of people doing things for money, which means for themselves and not from duty to the gods  - but especially he deplores professional philosophers (i.e. professors).

In general, Socrates ideals are humility before the gods, and piety towards the gods - as known by revelations and 'laws'.


Socrates loves Athens - he has almost-never left the tiny city during seventy years. He personalizes the city in terms of its 'laws' by which he means not just its rules, but the traditions, customs and ideals - and the Athenian gods behind these practices.

Socrates engages in this activity - despite the unpopularity and the dangers this brings - simply because Apollo has laid the duty upon him - when he considers doing anything else, we is warned to stop. For the same reason, Socrates will not cease from his philosophical activities - whatever the court may say.


What comes through from the apology is Socrates not so much as a philosopher - and not at all a philosopher in the modern sense; but Socrates as a divinely inspired and guided prophet - and one who became a martyr in the strictest definition of being killed for his religion when he could have escaped death by repudiating his religion.

The Apology tells us that Socrates was therefore a model of religious piety, devoted to his city state and its customs, traditions and laws; and therefore Socrates was NOT - as so often portrayed and understood - any kind of proto-skeptical, atheistical, counter-cultural intellectual rebel - interested only in abstract ideas, and loyal only to 'philosophy'.

On the contrary, as well as being rigorous and indomitable; Socrates' aims and methods were apparently simple, straightforward, easily understandable, loving and humble - to recall a corrupt society back to divine service.


Socrates was therefore in the major essentials very much like an Old Testament prophet - and the differences were mostly of nomenclature (Apollo instead of the Hebrew God), details, circumstances and style.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Brief review of Maleficent - a near-perfect new Disney movie


Excellent movie - five stars (from a possible five).


Enchanting and beautiful mise en scene, charming acting and directing, thrills and suspense, an original shape to the plot.

(Happily, no 'needless peril' twists, nor much improbable last-moment-coincidence nonsense.)

Well written dialogue.

Warm-hearted, loving but realistic morality.

Several eucatastrophe moments.

Passed the blub-test^ (more than once).

Great stuff!


There are some tremendous fantasies - real new fairy tales - that are still coming into the mainstream mass media; perhaps especially among the kids movies that I see, and going against the general trend of things.

These provide the possibility of en-couraging and inspiring some of the younger generation (those with eyes to see, ears to hear).

Something to nestle, latent in the heart - perhaps to provide nourishment through life and to emerge when needed, sometime down the line. 


^Blub-test - How often one feels tears running down the face. 

Note: the casting of Aurora (the princess) was marvellous. She grew up, starting as the sweetest little baby, through delightful stages to a '16' year old who was played by an actress who really looked (and acted) as innocent, generous and unguardedly-lovely as the part required: an 'English Rose'. 

Dysgenics is *mostly* due to reduced childhood mortality and consequent mutation accumulation (and only secondarily - but very importantly - a result of the lower/ sub-replacement fertility of the most intelligent/ educated)


The idea, culminating here:

Is that the 'dysgenics' discourse may have been focusing on the wrong topic  - too much focus on fertility, and neglect of mortality.


Natural selection depends on both fertility/ birth rates and mortality/ death rates. Babies are born, but reproductive success depends on how many of these babies reach sexual maturity and live long enough to have offspring.

Those interested in dysgenics have focused on the fact that the less intelligent (and those with less socially desirable personality traits) are more fertile than the more intelligent and more conscientious, self-controlled and altruistic.

But the primary fact is, I believe, reduced mortality - the situation that since 1800, more and more of the babies that are born will live to have offspring. 


Every new baby is likely to have one or two new spontaneous deleterious gene mutations - some lethal, some only mildly harmful and others in between - they may also inherit mutations from their parents.

Why doesn't this genetic damage mount up, generation upon generation, to overwhelm and destroy the fitness of the species?

Essentially, under 'natural conditions' because the mutations are filtered-out by high child mortality rates.

Through most of evolutionary history, most babies and children (probably a large majority of them) especially those with the worst genetic damage - have died before reproducing. Thus mutation load is filtered by differential child mortality rates with each generation.

Those who have the least genetic damage are the healthiest and best adapted, and only they will (on average) be the parents of the next generation.  


If it is correct that - up to about 1800 - in almost all situations almost all babies died (and maybe only the 'fittest' 15 percent or so survived - or the fittest thirty percent... the exact number makes little difference).

But since 1800, starting in England then incrementally spreading across the whole world with no exceptions, child mortality rates have got lower, and lower; the mutation filtering effect has got less and less complete - and the mutation load has got greater with each generation.

This must have happened. The only question is how much?


So, the primary mechanism of dysgenic change is mutation accumulation. But this is where more usual dysgenic topic of differential fertility comes in. 

Theoretical calculations suggest that the effect of mutation accumulation under these circumstances would be quite slow - IF normal natural selection was in play and higher levels of mutation accumulation led to lower fertility.

But in the modern world, the direction of natural selection has reversed. In the modern world, higher levels of mutation accumulation lead to higher fertility (so long as the mutations are sub-lethal).

In historical times, natural selection filtered-out mutations; but in the modern world natural selection amplifies the carriers of damaging mutations!

(Up to a point, where pathology more-or-less prevents reproduction), the carriers of accumulated deleterious mutations ('mutants') - probably both between and also within populations, have the highest fitness, on average. 

Indeed, in the modern world, natural selection actually filters-out undamaged genomes - since the people with the least damaged genomes are least likely to have offspring.

The best genetic specimens have sub-replacement fertility - the (ever fewer) least damaged genomes are being actively eliminated by reproductive choices: this applies especially to women more than men. 


The above is why things are happening so very fast - e.g. why general intelligence is declining so rapidly (as revealed by simple reaction time slowing).

What is now needed is to gather more data to measure the long term rate of mutation accumulation.



Friday, 27 June 2014

Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings music played on Solo Electric Bass Guitar...


This is quite remarkable - lovely arrangement, very musically-played - and exploring aspects of the electric bass guitar which I did not know existed.


After finding that playing the alto sax broke my front teeth - well cracked them horizontally so they were in danger of snappage - I once upon a time tried to play bass guitar in a couple of amateur R&B groups; but I couldn't manage it, and practice proved useless.

Normal bass playing (rather than this extraordinary Zander Zon way of playing) is technically simple, but all about rhythm - and rhythm is something you either have (to a sufficient degree) or you just don't - and I was the latter. I could hear I was playing it slightly wrong - but I couldn't play it right.

I had rhythm enough to sing or play melody, but not to be the basis of it, in the rhythm section. No way...


How many elite universities are there in the UK? Answer: About a dozen (although there were thirty-something a few decades ago).


Which are the elite universities in the UK?

And why is the number declining?

 Oxford Magazine – 2008; 275: 22-3

Bruce G Charlton

How many elite universities are there currently in the UK? And which are they?  

If ‘elite’ is defined in terms of the intellectual quality of their students, then the number of elite UK universities has declined very substantially from about 35 to about 12

I suggest that the main reason for this decline is the expansion of the undergraduate intake in the most-selective universities. My suggestion is be that the current elite UK undergraduate universities are: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, Warwick, St Andrew's, UCL, York, Bristol, Edinburgh, Bath and Durham.



There were about 50 UK universities pre-1992 (when the former polytechnics were re-christened). The current ‘elite’ of these pre-1992 institutions are usually considered to be those thirty-eight research-orientated universities who are members of either the Russell Group (larger institutions) or the 1994 Group (smaller institutions).

Among the Russell and 1994 Groups, according to the Sunday Times University Guide, the top-twenty most-selective UK universities are, in order: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, Warwick, St Andrew's, UCL, York, Bristol, Edinburgh, Bath, Durham, Nottingham, Manchester, King's, Glasgow, Birmingham, Sheffield, Southampton and Newcastle.

But how many UK universities are elite? Are all of the Russell and 1994 Group universities elite, or just the Sunday Times top-20, or more, or fewer? The answer depends on how terms are defined.  

Defining the cognitive elite of students

I will define elite universities as those recruiting mostly from the top 10 percent of the population in terms of IQ. Since IQ in the UK has an average of 100 with a standard deviation of 15, the top 10 percent of the UK population have an IQ of about 120 plus.

IQ mainly measures rapidity of learning and ability at abstract logical thinking. It is highly predictive of a wide range of successful outcomes in modern societies such as educational attainment, salary, life expectancy and social class. But IQ does not measure all valuable attributes – for example a ‘conscientious’ personality capable of sustained and methodical work also predicts success in many domains. (For a clear and balanced discussion of IQ see Intelligence: a very short introduction, by Ian J Deary from OUP.)

My definition of the cognitive elite derives from the work of IQ scholars such as Linda Gottfredson or Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray (authors of The Bell Curve). They note that US data suggest that relatively few ‘high-IQ’ professions have an average entry standard of 120 plus and absorb about half the cognitive elite.

These professions include accountants, architects, scientists, computer scientists, social scientists, university teachers, mathematicians, engineers, lawyers, dentists and physicians. Leading Chief Executives and senior managers make up the other main high-IQ group. 

The suggestion is that the great majority of the national elite in societies such as the US and the UK are drawn from the top ten percent of people with an IQ of at least 120; since in modern developed societies (although less-so in less-complex societies) almost all leadership positions require a high level of those attributes such as rapid learning and abstract thinking which are measured by IQ.

Defining an elite university – a majority of elite students

Using the IQ 120 threshold, I will define an elite university as an institution that has a majority of students in the top ten percent, with an IQ at or above 120.

There are currently approximately 800,000 eighteen year olds in the UK population in any given year. This means there are about 80,000 potential undergraduates per year in the cognitive elite group having an IQ above 120 (ignoring undergraduates from abroad).

I roughly estimated the numbers of first year undergraduates in the Sunday Times guide top-20 most selective UK universities by looking at the number of undergraduates listed in Wikipedia and dividing the number by three (this will somewhat overestimate the number of first years because some undergraduate degrees last for longer than three years – for example MAs in the Scottish universities and also several professional and vocational degrees).

In round numbers it turns-out that there are around 80,000 undergraduate first year places at the top-20 most selective UK universities – i.e. about the same number of first year places at top-20 universities as there are 120-IQ 18 year olds. I will assume that virtually all of the top ten percent of 18 years olds by IQ will go into higher education – and this seems to be largely correct.

So, if there was a perfect system and assortment of students by IQ, there would be enough 120-IQ students completely to fill the top twenty universities with none left over, or else to provide between 20 and 40 universities with a slim majority of cognitive elite students.

However, this cannot be the case; because in practice cognitive elite students are spread across a much larger number of institutions. This happens due to personal choice (students who choose to attend a less-selective institution than their qualifications would allow), constraints on personal mobility (eg. students’ need to attend a local institution), centres of excellence located in lower-ranked and less-selective institutions (such as medical schools and law schools – which may be attracting 120-IQ students to institutions that are considerably less selective than this on average) – and of course the inevitable imperfections of national examinations and institutional selection procedures.

My guesstimate, therefore, is that less than half of the age cohort of 80 000 elite – not more than 35,000 students per year - will find their way into the top 20 most-selective UK universities.

It is worth focussing on this number for a moment. My proposition is that there are at-most just 35,000 IQ-120 university students for whom all the best universities are competing. It does not take very many universities to absorb 35,000 UK students per year.

This analysis implies that at most twenty UK universities can be regarded as truly elite in the defined meaning of it being possible for them to have a majority of students from the top 10 percent of IQ.    

Fewer than twenty elite UK universities

However, twenty elite UK universities is an upper limit, and in practice the number of elite universities must be lower than twenty.

A further down-grading of this estimate is required because there will be large differences in the proportion of the cognitive elite even among elite universities defined in this fashion.

If US data on the Ivy League are taken as a guide, a university such as Oxford or Cambridge will probably have students with an average IQ more like 145; which is three standard deviations above average – or roughly the top 0.1 percent of IQ, or roughly the top thousandth of the UK population. So that we should assume that virtually all Oxbridge students will have an IQ above 120. This would mean that more than six thousand of the best of the top ten percent students in each year cohort will go to Oxbridge alone.

Recall that there are only about 35,000 potential elite undergraduates. If the top-two universities pretty-much fill-up with elite students, then the same applies – to a decreasing extent – as we descend the selectivity league table. Each decrement in university selectivity will take a lower proportion of the elite among their n-thousand first year entrants; nonetheless the threshold at which there is less than a majority of IQ-120 undergraduates in an institution will be reached considerably before the twentieth university.

The conclusion is that there is currently something between ten and fifteen elite universities in the UK 

But if we go back forty-something years, the average intake of a UK university was less than half, more-like a third of what it is today. In those days, even the largest of the most selective universities took just a few thousand new undergraduates per year, and some took less than a thousand. Inevitably this meant that the cognitive elite was spread thickly across a much larger number of institutions.  

My hunch is that forty years ago, instead of about ten to fifteen elite universities there would have been more like thirty to forty elite universities. In other words, a couple of generations ago most UK institutions with the title of ‘university’ could legitimately have been considered ‘elite’.

This means that twenty-something previously elite UK universities have declined to non-elite status over a fairly short period of time – mostly during the past twenty or so years of rapid university expansion .

Who are the current elite among UK universities?

This analysis suggests that there has been a rapid decline from elite status in more than half of the less-selective pre-1992 universities as the most-selective universities have expanded their intake; because relatively few top universities can now hoover-up almost all of the top ten percent of students available for selection.

My point is that a major but neglected cause of the average students’ cognitive decline, which has been noticed in many of the UK’s most prestigious universities, must surely have been the several-fold expansion in the size of the most selective universities. As the annual undergraduate intake of the top UK universities doubled, then trebled in size; they became able to mop-up almost all of the limited supply of circa 35,000 students per year who constitute the UK cognitive elite. 

There must therefore have been a very-significant decline in average cognitive ability of undergraduate students at most (but not all) of the Russell and 1994 Group universities – especially a decline of IQ-related abilities such as rapidity of learning and capacity for abstract logical thinking.

The outcome is that the student intake at the minority of most-selective Russell/ 1994 Group universities is bigger in numbers and has largely retained the same high levels of average IQ as before the massive UK university expansion; while among the lower-ranked majority of the Russell/ 1994 universities the post-expansion intakes are bigger in numbers but also the average students are significantly lower in terms of IQ. So that most of the Russell and 1994 Group universities are now non-elite.

In conclusion, I suggest that there are now likely to be only between ten and fifteen elite universities in the UK; where an elite university is defined as one in which the majority of the undergraduates have an IQ in the top ten percent of the population.

Assuming that the Sunday Times data are correct, my tentative suggestion is be that the only current elite UK undergraduate universities are: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, Warwick, St Andrew's, UCL, York, Bristol, Edinburgh, Bath and Durham.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

The genius as a 'medium': channeling external influences


Noting the death of Seth Roberts


I should have noted the death of Seth Roberts on 26 April 2014. Seth was professionally a psychologist, but most influentially a nutritionalist and known for his use and advocacy of self-experimentation. I think I first got in touch with him inviting him to write on this subject for Medical Hypotheses:

Later, he valuably exposed the dishonest plagiarism of Professor Les Iversen of Oxford University:

I was also grateful that Seth (from his libertarian-ish secular Leftist stance) provided staunch support in the process of my being sacked from the editorship of Medical Hypotheses and subsequently.


Seth was certainly a throw-back-to, or survival-from, the golden age of science: being fascinated and motivated by the science (not career, grants, status) and absolutely honest in all things.

Seth Roberts was a real scientist, one of the few; and a very good one. How sad that he should have died so young; but his contributions are many, and they are still there - if people choose to take notice and to make use of them.


Evaluation of "Dead, White, European Males" - another litmus test issue


Following from


Those who doubt that the Left is strategically evil should ponder the fact that a generation ago Dead, White, European Males (DWEMs) were identified, mocked and demonized as the basic problem of modern, 'enlightened' civilization - when in (obvious) fact the overwhelming majority of the creative geniuses who drove the industrial revolution and enabled the seven-fold expansion of the worlds population and the survival of an extra six billion people were of course DWEMs.


And, by one of those ironies of modernity, DWEM geniuses also enabled the collapse of Christianity in the West, the rise of the Left (including all of the -isms) and the self-hating suicidal horror which is political correctness.


How to make sense of DWEM-hatred when the Left is itself a product of DWEM genius?

Easy - if we remember that the Left is not coherent, and not intended to be coherent - but is in fact (and intention) a project of  destruction: the destruction of the Good.


DWEM geniuses are (or were) the greatest power the world has ever known - power for good, power for evil.

The greatest triumph of the Left was surely to hijack many of the DWEM geniuses and turn them against God and then Good; and then to turn the resulting degenerate society against the DWEM geniuses - to ensure that there was no way out of the mess (at least, not with earthly power).


The early DWEM geniuses created a great opportunity for great Good; later DWEM geniuses chose to turn against God and this actual and potential Good, and provided terrifying tools of destruction - perhaps most destructively the modern mass media and the technologies and cleverness which sustain its growth.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Coming soon - the Giga-death world of the mutants


Note: the following is based on a speculative conversation with Michael A Woodley - and it was Michael who invented the tern Giga-death to describe the post-industrial world of collapsing population. This post continues from:


The Industrial Revolution had the effect of allowing many billions of people who would have died to stay alive - this meant that genetic mutations which would have been eliminated by death during childhood instead accumulated.

The Industrial Revolution has kept the mutants alive - including (very probably) you, and me, and billions more like us!


Indeed, for reasons which are somewhat uncertain, most people in most of the world chose not to have replacement numbers of children (the only exceptions being among the most devout members of highly traditional religions) and a combination of contraception and abortion mostly allowed them to achieve this choice.

Therefore, on the one hand mutations have been accumulating, generation upon generation, with (approx) one or two deleterious mutations being added to each lineage with each generation; on the other hand, people who exhibited traits caused by deleterious mutations - such as lowered intelligence and impaired long-termist conscientiousness, or higher impulsivity, aggression and criminality - were positively selected, were genetically favoured - simply because their pathologies meant they were either unable or unwilling to use fertility-regulating technologies.

In other words, accumulating mutations which damaged functionality actually amplify reproductive success under present conditions and for the past several generations.

Or, after the Industrial Revolution, humans have been bred for increased levels of genetic disease: we are now a mutant-enriched species.


Thus the proportion of mutants rose from two causes:

1. Incremental accumulation of spontaneous mutation, generation upon generation.

2. A positive feedback effects whereby damage from mutations (unless lethal or nearly so) would amplify reproductive success.

So there are more mutants in the population from accumulation, plus these mutants are more successful at reproducing and thereby spreading the mutations.


This trend is amplified further by recent and current patterns of mass population migration from areas with higher established mutations loads which have been further amplified by the effects of the industrial revolution, and various degrees of population replacement. 


At some point, the proportion of mutants - who are on average significantly damaged in functionality - will become so great that the Industrial Revolution will fall-apart, collapse; the 6-7 billion excess population will be unsupportable; there will be a Giga-death (i.e. billions of deaths) scale of mortality over some period - and eventually the world will again become agrarian.

However, countries such as Europe will not return to the medieval level of agriculture but to somewhere below the mediaeval level in terms of social complexity and productivity.

We could expect something more like the Dark Ages or the Ancient British (Iron Age) agriculture at best - or maybe even back to the productivity of Neolithic (New Stone Age) agriculture if metalworking is lost. 

In other words, productivity after the Industrial Revolution will be below the levels of productivity before the Industrial Revolution - because the post-Industrial world is full of damaged mutants.


This is important to recognize. A population of mutants whose intelligence has been dragged-down to a certain level will be much less functional than a population where selection has kept it in equilibrium at that level - the mutants will be carrying multiple pathologies in addition to their impaired intelligence. 


But arriving at this situation will take a while.

Before then there will be the Giga-death phase: the die-off of the billions of excess population which have been sustained by an Industrial society of frequent productivity innovation, but otherwise not.

So, there will be lots of mutants of many different types, living among a contracting, collapsing, population - as the billions in excess of the earth's agrarian carrying capacity begin to die-off.

This world of mass dying will provide a new kind of selective environment - some mutants may reproduce vary rapidly under these strange (and temporary) conditions by evolving to exploit unusual resources which are (temporarily) abundant in a Giga-death world..

And if the dying-off lasts a few generations, some weird mutant 'scavengers' may come to dominate in some places.

Interesting times...


The rise and fall of the Industrial Revolution


Throughout recorded history, it seems that the human population of the world could not exceed (approximately) one billion.

The effects of the industrial revolution - beginning in England and spreading its benefits everywhere else - was to enable the population of the world to increase several-fold and rapidly:

Up to 1804 - world population does not exceed one billion; 123 years later (1927) doubles to two billion; 48 years later (1975) doubles to four billion; (projected) 50 years later (2025) doubles to eight billion.

It seems reasonable to infer that extra 6-7 billion people added since 1804 are a result of the Industrial Revolution.


Or, 6-7 billion people's lives depend on the Industrial Revolution - subtract the Industrial Revolution and you subtract 6-7 billion people.


The essence of the Industrial Revolution has been increased productivity - more production per person especially relating to food and other essentials (at least seven times as much productivity on average per person - but of course in reality it is heavily skewed, and the great bulk of the increase in productivity is mostly due to a small minority).

The major cause of the Industrial Revolution was frequent breakthroughs in the production of food and other essentials.

The reason for frequent breakthroughs was a high concentration of creative geniuses in those fields in Europe (and the European diaspora) - the benefits of these breakthrough diffused to become generally available.

Therefore the Industrial Revolution, and an extra seven billion people by 2025, was caused by a relatively small number of creative geniuses in Europe - plus the fact that societies were able and willing to use (to exploit for increased productivity) the breakthroughs which geniuses provided. 

(Subtract a small proportion of creative geniuses in Europe - and you subtract the Industrial Revolution.)


This picture is pretty much the opposite of that which is disseminated in the West, where the standard notion is that the Industrial Revolution caused poverty, and Europe extracted resources from the rest of the planet.

In fact, if it is tracked by population changes, it can be seen that the Industrial Revolution has primarily 'benefited' the poorest people and the poorest nations - whose populations have been growing extremely rapidly since the Industrial Revolution and continuing; outstripping the richest people and nations who are actually declining - fast (material support for this population increase among the poorest being provided-by the Industrial Revolution generated by richest people and nations).


But creative genius has dwindled to low levels in European populations and the world, and insofar as genius still exists, its output tends to be ignored rather than exploited to enhance productivity.

The rate of major productivity-enhancing innovations has apparently declined considerably since 1970.

Yet the world population continues to grow; billion upon billion...


The life of billions of extra people all over the world depends upon the Industrial Revolution / enhanced productivity which depended on the breakthroughs provided by a very small proportion of European creative geniuses - who no longer exist...

Europe is dying and degenerating, both - subtract Europe and you subtract the Industrial Revolution, and you subtract 6-7 billion people.


But it is worse than that, because the basis of intelligence and personality which created and sustained the industrial revolution have for several generations been under negative selection; and the opposite positively selected - indeed people carrying a high mutation load such that this impairs their intelligence and makes them short-termist and impulsive - and who either avoid education or cannot do it... these 'mutants' have been strongly positively selected-for at a global level... and continuing.

So not only are we failing to innovate - we are failing to repair and maintain what has already been invented.

Entropy (and novel threats) will do the rest: humans need to keep innovating just to stay in the same place.

Stop innovating and we will 'soon' be overwhelmed.


Q: What will happen? A: How long can we continue to live off capital?


The pointlessness of pointing-out the obvious


These are very, very strange times.

For someone who uses common sense and the experience of their own observations and experience, it is weird (to put in mildly) to be in a position where you are required to argue, persuade, provide 'evidence' for, and mount elaborate arguments to support what anybody can see for themselves.

Modern society - dominated by the mass media - has created a world where anything can be believed except the obvious: the obvious is invisible: necessarily so, else the mass media could not be so vast and could not continue to grow.


Clearly, for this to be the situation means that stating the obvious is not going to achieve recognition of the obvious - if it would, there would be no need to state it.

When the obvious has been rendered invisible, then pointing at it just looks crazy!


When the world is full of unclad Emperors who are solidly regarded as being sumptuously garbed - then any person standing in the marketplace, pointing and shrieking that everybody around them is naked is going to be the one who looks weird.


And this is what we find. When someone states the obvious or points-out the obvious in the public arena (and it doesn't happen very often) - then they are not argued-with, but instead treated as crazy.

If the obvious needs pointing-out - then, obviously, the obvious cannot be seen - so there is no point in pointing it out!


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Lop-sided genius


Liberalism versus Ultra-correctness in Christianity


In one sense Christian salvation is very straightforward - and was made deliberately so by the atonement of Jesus Christ. That's what it means that Gospel means Good News - it really is good news.

But there is no formula for Christian life - extremes are corrupt, and the middle ground is slippery.


So-called Liberal Christianity is by now very obviously not Christian, but rather an anti-Christian strategy, a highly successful fifth column within Christianity, eroding from within.

That shouldn't need emphasising, but it does - because nearly everybody (including all mainstream political parties) are now Left/ Liberal - and so is the modern state and its administration, and so are all large and powerful institutions.

So all successful and powerful people are Leftist/ Liberal to the extent that they participate in mainstream modern life - and therefore all powerful and prosperous Christians experience constant pressure on their Christianity to conform to Left/ Liberalism - and since Left/ Liberalism is foundationally secular, to yield to this pressure is to destroy Christianity at its root.


But ultra-correctness is also a serious problem in Christianity.

The term comes from Fr Seraphim Rose, and he used it to refer to people whose focus on observable externals of Christianity became so total that a superficially detailed and exact observance of rules and rituals masked an anti-Christian, and indeed evil, pride: coldness and hatred in the heart.

Ultra-correctness would include many examples from all churches - especially the point-by-point 'legalism' which is a temptation to all - as if Christianity was primarily about enforcing obedience to regulations.


So Liberalism and ultra-correctness are both anti-Christian; and also the reaction against Liberalism and ultra-correctness - strenuous and one-sided efforts to avoid the one or the other - can propel people to the opposite. So a reaction against the Liberalism of modern life may lead to ultra-correctness; and the reaction to ultra-correctness may lead to Liberalism - and both of these may lead (wittingly or unwittingly) out of Christianity...


Why should these be a particular hazard in modern life - to the extent that it can seem impossible to hold the middle ground?

Part of it is, I think, a decline in intellectual life related to the rise of the Mass Media. People's attention spans are so brief that unreal extremism is almost inevitable - reality is divided into two alternative, neither of which is true or viable - but people are forced to choose between them in a snap decision (and if they do not choose, they will be allocated to one or the other).

So, for example, you are forced either to embrace the lethal lunacies of political correctness or be regarded as a racist and a hater. Or, in an ultra-correct church, to adopt an attitude of slavish and unquestioning mechanical obedience to all rules and doctrines, or be vilified and shunned as heretical, evil, and anti-Christian.


Partly, this false dichotomy is a consequence of genuine flaws or weaknesses in mainstream classical theology which have been found-out, attacked and exploited by mainstream secular Leftism. For example, there is an apparent paradox or contradiction in the understanding of free will and choice, there is the problem of explaining the existence of evil and extreme suffering when God is supposed to be omnipotent, and there is the problem of supporting marriage and family and opposing the sexual revolution in a religion conceived in terms of individual souls and where marriage, family and sexuality are regarded merely as temporary this-worldly expedients. 


Also, I think this false dichotomy of ultra-correctness versus Liberalism is a consequence of the significant decline in average intelligence among theologians, philosophers, theoreticians and the like. The problem is that people do not, and perhaps cannot, understand the religion they have inherited from previous generations.

On the one hand, Christianity has been made, and has evolved to be, over-complicated. The faith is supposed to be fully comprehensible to children and the simple minded - but was elaborated to become the province of an elite.

Now the elite don't understand it either!


Liberalism and ultra-correctness are two responses to this incomprehension.

Liberalism has the attitude that: 'If I don't understand it, then it must be nonsense; so it should be replaced; and replaced with something better in-line-with what everybody knows is ethical and real'.

So, a dumb intellectual, whose attention span is eroded by the Mass Media, and who swims in a world of progressive sexuality - cannot understand why traditional marriage is necessary to Christianity, therefore feels able to redefine it at will - and in line with the notions current in today's media.


Ultra-correctness also does not understand the real reasons for inherited theology, doctrine, rules and regulations  - but responds by a literal obedience to 'the letter of the law'.

So, a person may not understand the New Testament as a whole, but can understand it one sentence at a time, especially in a modern ('more scholarly') translation.

The ultra-correct may not understand the reason or purpose or motivation behind the list of dos and don'ts - but he can take each do, and each don't - and monitor the situation for compliance. Christianity is reduced to a rulebook on the whatsoever-is-not-forbidden-is-compulsory model - goodness is pride-fully equated to adherence to all of the rules all of the time; while sin = disobedience to the rules (mostly, doing prohibited things, but also to a lesser extent not doing mandatory things).

An ultra-correct Christian education is about ensuring compliance to rules - all or nothing, white or black: and beyond that is the void.


My point is that Christianity cannot long survive (except as a mere pride-enforced shell of rules and rituals - which may come to mask evil intentions, hate-driven motivations and a rotten heart) if Christianity is not understood.

Or, Christianity - in its essence, its core, that which is necessary - cannot be more complex than the people who practice it.

(Except in the case of young children and the permanently dependent, who are intended to be subsumed under (loving) parental or other familial guidance.)

As the people who practice Christianity become simpler, so must the faith - or rather, Christianity IS simple - or rather: real Christianity is simple and if what we have is not simple then it is (so that extent) not real (or at least not necessary).

If something in Christianity is too complex to understand, or too complex to explain (given a willing learner); then that means that either it is not necessary (not essential), or that we have somehow got it wrong.

But in discarding that which is incomprehensible, we must not dissolve into mainstream secular Leftism; and we must not confuse genuine incomprehension with inattention, laziness, self-justification or any other fake reason for rejecting that about Christianity which is inconvenient.


There is no formula for this! There is no 'safe' way to be a Christian: no rulebook, nor discarding the rulebook! No assured path to reform, no standard method of ensuring that hazards will be avoided.

There is always need for discernment - the ability to judge according to goodness: the evaluation of the heart.

If there is no discernment, then there will be apostasy - loss of faith, one way or another; but if there is discernment, then all else follows.


Note added: Since I don't suppose many people reading this blog will be prone to Christian Liberalism, the main purpose of this post is warning against Ultra-correctness; and to emphasize that it is not a 'safe' path - either for an individual person, or for a church. There is no safe path. As soon as Christianity is reduced to any formula or algorithm or decision path; any set of clear, simple rules and regulations which can easily be 'implemented' by anybody - even if they are not themselves Christian - then Christianity evaporates - and is usually replaced with something extremely nasty. For example, when Secular Right Wingers and Reactionaries - who are not themselves Christian (but to all appearances seem to be motivated by pride, hate, resentment, hedonism and the urge to dominate and exploit) - try to influence Christians by approving or recommending policies, they almost-always urge Ultra-correctness (e.g. literal interpretation of specific Biblical verses; or a slavish attitude to Canon Law, or institutional hierarchy, or philosophical statements); partly because Ultra-correctness is all that the secular mind can understand about religion, but also because u-c can easily be incorporated-into their covertly-evil agendas.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Why I am fascinated by William Arkle


Why am I fascinated by William Arkle's work - why have his writings (and also paintings) hit me like a bolt of lightning? 

There are two answers - 

First: That what Arkle has to say is important and relevant to current cultural needs; and has validity because (I believe) it comes from well-motivated and genuine mystical-experiential insights. 

Second: I can perceive - in retrospect - that I was 'meant' to be doing this many, many years ago - and have been ignoring strong 'hints' to this effect since the mid-1970s...


1. As a teenager I lived in the same village (Backwell) as William Arkle - probably overlapping for about a decade; and my sister knew his wife and daughter (via an interest in horses).

2. I used to be close friends with Arkle's next door neighbours - visiting often and staying as a guest a few times. And these were 'neighbours' in the sense of being two of only three residences - the other was a farm - on top of a hill and with no other houses for a radius of about a mile in all directions!

3. I saw a BBC television documentary program about Arkle in about 1976, and was both amazed and reluctantly fascinated by the idea of a spiritual 'guru' living so near-by. 

4. I read his book Geography of Consciousness in 1978, having I discovered a copy in the Edinburgh City Library after my family had moved from Somerset to Scotland. The introduction to GoC led me to read Colin Wilson, and from then on I read a lot of CW - however, I tended to regard Arkle as essentially a Wilsonite; an influence on CW, rather than a thinker in his own right. 

5. Nonetheless I loved the first section of GoC about awakening in the morning, throwing back the curtains etc. It stuck in my mind and fascinated me - so from 1978 I was looking-out for a secondhand copy of the book. I would often check for this whenever I went to a secondhand shop. I never found a copy anywhere. 

This led to the most clear-cut example of synchronicity of my whole life. 

I was walking through the Bloomsbury area of London, near the British Museum, sometime in the mid-1980s when I saw an unusual-looking little bookshop (it may have been an Eastern Religious or Anthroposophical shop, I can't recall); and it came into mind that they may have a copy of Arkle's book - or perhaps that they did have a copy. I walked into the shop, and straight to an upper shelf (no looking around) where there was the book - apparently waiting for me. 

6. I even visited William Arkle's house (in about 1982-4) and spent an excellent evening with his son Nick (an electronic music composer - he was showing me around his studio). During this visit I actually saw William Arkle, and said hello to him. But I didn't take things any further. 

7. In early 2008, just before a visit to Glastonbury, I discovered the web pages and discovered that the Arkle family had relocated to Glastonbury before Arkle died in 2000. While I was in Glastonbury, I asked a couple of people if they knew about him (in a cafe and a book shop), but drew a blank. 

8. However, it was only after the death of Colin Wilson earlier this year that I read, and really engaged with, and finally understood William Arkle.  


The significance of all this is that, in retrospect, it is clear to me that I was supposed to meet Bill Arkle, or at least to engage fully with his ideas, for several decades before I actually did so. 

And by 'supposed' I think I mean by some kind of divine providence - because nobody else could have laid-on all these encounters. 


My understanding (and I don't much care what other people may think about it! - after all, synchronicities are not designed to be any kind of scientific proof or legal evidence or public rhetoric) is that this was a path set out for me to take, for my own good - but a path that I resolutely and repeatedly avoided treading. 

I was given chance after chance, hint after hint - all of which I rejected. 

Who knows what might have happened has I taken notice of these chances and hints - but I did not!


So I start from where I am, belatedly.

Perhaps I was not ready earlier, because it was not until 2008-9 that I became a Christian and open to the reality of the divine, and then it took longer before I felt able to discern when someone was a real mystic - speaking with the validity of direct personal experience, and probably I also needed to understand and align-with Mormon theology to appreciate Arkle's particular contribution.

Or perhaps I would have been ready earlier if I had taken notice of the chances and hints. 

Anyway, that is why I am now reading and thinking about William Arkle with such intensity. 


Who is worth listening-to, and why?


This is a big question - the question of discernment; that is perceiving or feeling the difference between Good and that which is destructive of Good.

When it comes to people in our personal experience, if they are obviously nasty at first encounter then we might well try to avoid them in future - but there are those whose intentions are malign yet who 'charm' us, or place us under a kind of glamour - or upon whom we 'project' good qualities for whatever reason...

Then it is usually time and experience which provides the correct answer.


Mostly, however, it is advice - we accept the judgement of others, and avoid X or follow the teachings of Y because we were advised to...

But which 'others' - who advised us?

If most advice is followed back to its source, we cannot find a source or else the source cannot account for the basis of his judgement. The source is often the Mass Media - which is 1. evil and 2. a source founded neither in common sense nor experience but unfounded assertion.


The path of wisdom is, I think, to ignore all advice except when its provenance is known and approved and relevant.

However, this is considered an aggressive act. There is a general expectation from the givers (or inflictors) of advice that their advice be followed - or if not that you should be able to provide some 'good reason' for rejecting it.

The reality is that all advice should be rejected unless there is a good reason for following it. The opinion of some 'random person' is worthless at best and may be actively malicious.


This is the case across the board. The fact that somebody is your manager, or has a job as a scientist at a famous university, or whatever - means nothing in and of itself - or should mean nothing - unless you have decided that this provenance is authoritative.

This is particularly relevant to 'research'. My conviction is that published research means nothing. We have zero obligation to 'believe' or act upon published research - because published research is of zero intrinsic validity.

The modern world of professional research is full of careerism, status-seeking, money-grubbing hype and spin - in other words the world of research is essentially dishonest; and why on earth would anyone believe anything which emanated from a society characterised by dishonesty?

There is no obligation upon us to provide 'reasons' why we reject some or another bit of research - on the contrary, there would have to be solid reasons for us to accept it. We do not have to prove the dishonesty of 'researchers' by specifically documenting and testing their statements - on the contrary they have to prove their honesty to us.

When we read a Mass Media report of research the problem is compounded - the Mass Media is orthogonal to truth - what they say has zero detectable relationship to reality - so a media report of science is invalidity squared; an actively dishonest account of essentially dishonest communications...


In a world, an environment, which we know is permeated-with and motivated-by dishonesty - the default must be disbelief - and a disbelief far more radical and wide-ranging than usual.

Actual lying is obviously a big problem with the Mass Media and some individuals such as politicians, officials, managers, administrators, advertisers, sales and marketing people and bureaucrats generally - since these are compelled to lie on pain of losing their jobs and suffering other harsh sanctions.

But many or most people will be as dishonest as they can get away with - for example they will say one thing in order to make you believe something else, by choosing their words carefully - and in order to make their dishonesty deniable; and indeed to blame other people for having misunderstood them.


This is perhaps the biggest problem in modernity, deniable dishonesty - and one cannot always be on guard. And people and organisations express a great deal of self-righteous indignation when they are disbelieved on the basis of their known track record of selectivity and false emphasis designed to mislead - the attitude is:

'Just because we often lied/ distorted/ selected/ hyped in the past doesn't necessarily mean we are lying now!" - and on that basis we are supposed to believe them.

Yet the right to be believed is, properly, something which is earned, over time, by truthfulness.


Aside from truthfulness, there is wisdom - which is rare; and there is motivation - who is well-motivated? Because it is only worth listening to people who are well motivated.

How to we know this?

Time, and the heart. It is relatively easy to fool and manipulate people in one short interaction - especially when the content of that interaction is controlled by the manipulator. But repeated, and free-ranging interactions, with gaps between, can reveal many examples of deception - and provide something of an antidote to charm and glamour (especially if you witness the charm and glamour being deployed on another person - or switched on and off!)


This is why in traditional societies teaching involves prolonged and unstructured and multi-situational personal contact between master and apprentice - nobody can keep up an act under such conditions, so people get to know each other.

What of modern conditions? Something similar applies. Frequency of interaction across a wide range and over time - and judging with gut feelings, the head and - most importantly - the heart: these are ways in which we come to know, and perhaps to trust, another person or institution.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

What is the biggest delusion in the world today?


A lot of candidates, aren't there - but my vote goes to:

That human policy can control the earth's climate. 

Any other suggestions?

Problems with the devout and active Christian life


As somebody who has been, I think, until now fated (unhappily fated) to pursue a largely individual and mystical form of Christian life - I am aware of many asymmetries between this path and the one of communal church practice.

For a start, there are all kinds of very obvious problems about being unaffiliated - perhaps the three most obvious being pride, craziness and despair. Pride, because of the habit of judging everything by one's own standards; craziness as a consequence of following a path without supervision of constraint, despair because so much depends on mood.

Furthermore there is the legitimate and necessary fact that individuals are judged by the church, not the other way about; and the institutional judgement across the churches is that an individual, unaffiliated Christian is necessarily in a bad way - either damned or consigned to a low level of salvation; and the individual Christian must reach an honest judgement about this without special pleading or rationalization.

The individual depends on the church - but the church does not depend on the individual - although individuals may influence it for better or worse; and of course the individual is often correct when the institution is wrong (although not about the most fundamental and vital things - however, what actually is fundamental and vital is often the question at issue).


Thus the dangers of the individual, mystically-based approach to Christianity are obvious to the point of being platitudinous - or even regarded not so much as a dnager as an impossibility.

But on the other hand, the individual can perceive, with a yearning and homesick eye, dangers of the devout and active life.

Looking at human history, looking around at the world today, it is clear that in terms of human psychology, there is no safe way, no foolproof way of being a Christian. The fear of pride, craziness and despair which an honest individual must acknowledge have their reciprocal threats from within a devout and active life.

In sum, a Christian life, doing Christian things - can become so busy that Christianity is hollowed-out from it. 'Christianity' becomes habit bolstered by obedience - and faith is like a complexly and intricately coloured shell covering little more than routine social compliance.


This is how I account for the astonishing capitulation of so many devout and active Christians to secularism - the abject ideological surrender to Liberal/ Leftist ideas of so many good people whose lives put me to genuine shame.

To take an example which has been much on my mind, Leftist Mormon intellectuals with links to the Mass Media have been engaged in an onslaught on the CJCLDS in relation to the wedge-issue of ordaining both sexes to the priesthood, this issue ramifying into a comprehensive rejection of the basic doctrines of the church concerning the nature and destiny of men and women.

As an individual I stand aghast that devout and active Mormons who are Liberals or Leftists and advocate reconstructing the CJCLDS on the basis of principles of gender 'equality'/ sameness. 

I am truly astonished that devout and active Mormons cannot perceive what seems so obvious - that the movement to ordain women is a secular aggression which, if successful would either destroy the LDS church, or reduce it to impotent insignificance (of which there are many examples - the closest being the Reorganized LDS).


But the fact is that so many people whose lives are so very much better than my own, active church members, who have done and do all the right things and are inside the church and exposed to wise and benign authority and teachings, and who have all sorts of good habits and practices - apparently lack the most basic discernment, apparently lack the ability to perceive what ought to be blindingly obvious; that the doctrine of sex equality is lethal to Mormonism - that it attacks the very root and basis of the faith.


My understanding of this is that when somebody leads a life devoted to observance - observances become just following practices based on doctrines; and doctrines are seen as... whatever doctrine is.

Active Mormons - whose every waking moment is taken-up with good works (and these really are good works, I am not being sarcastic) must tend to develop the idea that this comprehensive life is the real thing, the essence of what it is to be Mormon: sufficient to being a Mormon.

As if the active life was a factory for making good souls - and because it is a factory, all the aspects are a means to the end, and all the parts are essentially functional, and the parts can be - should be - replaced and improved when needed to enhance the function...

I am trying to visualize how someone who lives an active religious life inside the church could see things in such a way that they regard sex differences as something which could be obliterated, and yet imagine that the active religious life would continue - and indeed be improved by this change.

I think this can only happen when the 'life' has been severed from that which gives rise to the life: metaphysics, theology, doctrine.


My inference is that many active Mormons regard metaphysics and theology as if they were doctrines.

Doctrines can be changed, and are changed, and when done properly the change in doctrine will enhance the church.

But metaphysics is the understanding of how reality is set-up, and theology is the fundamental understanding of the meaning, purpose and nature of human life. These are not things that can be changed; they are things which are real - and the only thing that can change about them is understanding of that reality.


Since Mormonism is based on a metaphysical reality in which Men and Women are distinct and complementary, such that the highest goal in life is available only to the dyad of a husband and wife - this view of eternal reality absolutely and permanently rules-out any and all arguments based on the equality or sameness of the sexes.

The conclusion can only be that the active and devout life can be, and is, often detached from a fundamental understanding of the nature of reality - and becomes an arbitrary collection of interlinked social practices which can be, and should be, changed according to criteria that are perceived to be more urgently compelling.

So, on the one hand, a person lives wholly by the practices of an active and devout life - yet this life is horizontally justified. The active life is not seen as a thing rooted, but as a thing built or assembled like a mosaic - in which any specific tile can be change in colour and groups of tiles with an overall shape can be replaced by other groups that fill the gap reasonably accurately.


When active life, of any kind - whether it be mainstream secular life or religious life - is un-rooted, then it will drift.

Life will drift by random entropy and also in response to purposive evil. Parts are replaced, the replacement leads to new pressures (one change leads to another, creates demand for another) - change of parts is accepted as the norm, and never reversed, and bad changes therefore lead to greater consequences than good changes.

Life becomes the business of this replacement and responding and more replacement; life is active and busy - plenty to keep people occupied, far too much to do - no time and even less interest in fundamentals or ultimate objectives; all issues are reduced to the level of 'Why not replace this old chipped (imperfect) mosaic tile with a new one? (Fresh, fashionable, acceptable.)

Why not?" - and in a world based on continual replacement, there never is a good enough reason why not to replace this tile (among so many tiles) with a new one - maybe it will be nicer? Give it a try at least? At any rate it will make life interesting in novel ways...


An individual Christian lives very much in the realm of contemplation, mysticism, metaphysics and theology - it is his life which is deficient - and this is bad. However it is also bad when the life is active and devout but lacks any real contemplation, so becomes detached from metaphysics and theology and is reduced to a set of arbitrary practices.

And we can see that this is the reality for significant numbers of religious people whose lives are exemplary - their inner perceived reality is that they have developed a habit of busily ticking-off their duties and practices and that is it!

When somebody comes along with a proposal to change those duties and practices in a way which destroys the whole set-up, they cannot see what is actually happening, or else don't really care about the consequences - for them, one type of busy and full life of works is as good as any other - and if a church keeps the same name, then it remains the same thing.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Socrates and the gods - philosophy without the gods


The last words of Socrates were: Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt? 

In other words he was talking about the gods. He talked about the gods a lot. Talk about the gods is all over Plato - pretty much everything gets related back to the gods, sooner or later. And philosophy is footnotes to Plato.

When, and why was it decided that it made sense to do philosophy without the gods? That it made sense to be a Platonist, but not believe in the gods?

Of course, this entails deciding what was meant by talking about the gods - and when I was an atheist I simply assumed that because I couldn't take the gods seriously, then neither did Socrates and Plato. Or even if they did 'believe in' the gods, this was merely a shallow and conventional conformity to the contingent culture of their world.

But it does seem that without the gods, the whole thing falls apart  - without the gods philosophy seems to be just a matter of opinion, playing with ideas, this metaphor or that...

But if Socrates was serious, and the most important thing in the world as he approached death was to sacrifice to one of the gods - the god of doctors - then we ought to assume that the gods were the foundation of Socrates most profound beliefs. And also of Plato - and therefore of philosophy.

Take away the gods and philosophy falls to pieces.

And this is what we find.


Christianity and existential hope - versus social structure


There are two sides, or threads, to the appeal of Christianity - inner and outer. Naturally, for someone who is not already Christian, there needs to be a push as well as a pull - a convert is fleeing from, as well as towards...

Social breakdown, demotivation, and the organization of modern society on the basis of false and anti-good principles was a strong factor (a kick) in propelling me toward 'religion' of some sort; and the other intractable dissatisfaction was inner, psychological.

Reading mid-twentieth century culture critique, these are linked in the phenomenon of alienation, which was perceived to be a consequence of specialisation of function (division of labour), which was also perceived to be a schism of art and science. The 'two cultures' debate was simmering from the time of Jung right up into the 1970s (when thought in public discourse pretty much ceased).

Healing was sought in individuation, which was a process of integrating the severed parts of the soul or psyche - and this project was also advocated in the public realm - for example in education and scholarship. The idea was that there should be a re-integration of science and arts, of technology and the environment and so on.

In the event, not only did nothing happen to heal the severed souls and social forms, but things got so much worse that the question actually lost its meaning - and people ceased to feel the sharpness of pain from living as divided Men that earlier generations had suffered.

The problem of alienation was reframed in terms of the pleasure-pain axis - and the pseudo-integration offered was politically correct Leftism (the New Left) which offered a pseudo-integration of art and science, and subjectivity and objectivity, in terms of a project of permanent revolution self-proclaimed as intending to eliminate all forms of suffering and thereby provide a meaning and purpose.

But it turned out to be a bait and switch nightmare - nihilism masquerading as meaning, permanent destruction of the good masquerading as a purpose, and the integration of art science, technology and religion under the category of unrooted, irrational, arbitrary and ever-changing assertion.

Having discovered that common sense and experience revealed a profound malaise of the human soul and society, these universal forms of reason were rejected. But not for therapeutic reasons, instead the opposite. The human condition was denied in order that it could be allowed to get worse. 

New Leftism has anaesthetized the patient - which is us, and our society - but not in order to alleviate suffering, but in order that the cancer may grow unhindered; in order that we may fail to take the nasty-tasting (but ultimately joyous) medicine of repentance which alone could cure us.