Monday 15 July 2024

A big problem with spiritual interventions such as prayer/ meditation, especially in groups

I have been very un-impressed by what I know of the "results" of group prayer, or meditation - especially when groups are arranged to pray "for" something or another. 

Such things seem recurrently popular - among Christians, and also in the New Age and occult world. Those involved in group prayer/meditation/ ritual almost-invariably seem to be emotionally satisfied by their activities - yet, as so often, anyone outside of the magic circle of participants sees only a kind of self-fulfilling psychology at work. 

In principle, this could be because the change is at an imperceptible spiritual level of things; or it could be that actually nothing valuable has happened - but worse; I suspect that such attempts to do good by prayer or meditation often do actual harm. 

This is because people nearly always seem to be asking for the wrong things. 

Either they are asking for some outcome that is inferred from distorted or false information derived from the mass media-globalist bureaucracy; or else they are asking for something abstract that itself is an evil-motivated concept... 

I mean something like "peace", "justice", "healing", "safety" ;or the triumph of some particular side in some dispute. 

When it comes to matters outside of our direct experience, we are on shaky ground when we engage in attempted spiritual machinations. 

It is more important to pray or meditate for the discernment to know what is needed; than to try and achieve by consciously-willed spiritual-force some particular outcome; concerning situations for which our understanding is derivative and insecure (the significance of which is often externally dictated)... Situations when we personally don't really know what is happening, nor what would be a better thing to happen. 

The problem is not so much that group-prayer meditation does not work as that it does actual harm - because the harm of asking for wrong things is amplified by the "group dynamics" of the situation.  

There is no such thing as value neutrality. When we are not working to sustain the side of God and the good; we will very probably be lending spiritual aid to the side of evil - and/or opening our-selves to demonic influence: inviting it in. 

Note added: As so often, I think this problem is a modern one. In earlier eras of human consciousness, Men were (to a much greater extent than now) spontaneously immersed in both the group consciousness, and the spirit world of the divine. But one aspect of modern consciousness is that this is no longer the case: our freedom and individuality comes with the flip-side that we don't have a natural (and largely unconscious) connection with group, angels or God. We must make a conscious personal choice to attain knowledge of The Good - and positive groupishness tends to be rare and evanescent. 

Sunday 14 July 2024

Philosophy: insane or boring? An apocryphal story about Wittgenstein.

There is an apocryphal story hereabouts (recalled from memory) about Wittgenstein when he was working as a laboratory assistant in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne during the second world war (lodging in the Jesmond house - illustrated above - that is currently, inhabited by some family friends). 

Apparently he turned up - unannounced, and at first unidentified - at a philosophy department, seminar presumably after his work had finished: I like to imagine he was still wearing his white lab coat. He sat, stony-faced, through the fumbling talk, as the whisper went around that he was present. When it came to the question time, nobody said anything - waiting for W to speak. 

Wittgenstein is supposed to have delivered the following crushing line: "Well, that was very interesting... Now! Shall we do some philosophy?"... And then he, of course, proceeded to take-over the proceedings. 

If there is any truth in this, W was being typically arrogant and cruel; but there is a "moral": he did have a point - In the sense that there are few things more boring and futile than studying and expounding "about" philosophy (as happens in 99-point-something percent of seminars); yet (for those with the taste for the activity) there is little in life more fascinating than actually doing philosophy.  

In other words; I think Wittgenstein may have been making the point that there is a world of difference between talking-about and doing.   

Actually doing philosophy - by oneself or with a few other people - is (like many of the best things) something that can only be done from a genuine motivation; from genuinely wanting to know oneself and for personal reasons.

Wittgenstein himself tried to do philosophy in a formal academic setting, in his "lectures" - but, while he sometimes found an audience of suitable stooges who stimulated him in the ways he required; I don't think he truly succeeded for other people. 

Because W's motivations were not their motivations; and his disciples turned-out every bit as conventionally academic and externally-driven as the adherents of any other "school".     

So perhaps, like all creative work, real philosophy is essentially a solitary activity. 

Note: The "insane" of the title may seem obscure. What I was getting at was that is that when some person, usually an individual, is doing philosophy - he is doing so for personal reasons, that may not be at all widely shared. His work is quite likely to seem incomprehensible, even crazy - especially when seriously pursued, and over a significant timespan. To other people; he seem to be engaged in a trivial pursuit, using idiosyncratic methods, in a thought-world of his own. Insane!...

Saturday 13 July 2024

The Trimphone of the 1970s

Although apparently designed in the 60s; at the time when I was in my teens during the 1970s the Trimphone still seemed the height of Space Age sophistication. 

My best friend's family had one; and when I was visiting I got great satisfaction from its electronic trill (with volume control!), its shape, and the crisp way that the receiver fitted into position. 

By contrast our home phone, with its old-fashioned bell and rounded contours, was unexciting; and it was a bit lame that we needed to share our telephone line with a neighbour so that only one of the houses could talk at a time. 

Not that that was often a problem, because the phone was used very seldom and only for very short periods. Calls in that era in England were extremely expensive; and the culture was one in which letters and cards were exchanged rather than electronically transmitted words. 

For instance; when I was at medical school I made one call home per week, from a public phonebox (outdoors or in a corridor) for three minutes - but wrote at least one newsy latter (and received the same). 

It was not until I did my overseas study elective in the USA, and was house-sitting for a Harvard Professor (who gave permission for it), that I sampled that culture of endless (because very cheap) rambling phone conversations with people who actually lived quite nearby; carrying the phone around the house with me on a 30 metre extension, or even putting it beside my bed - just like I had seen in the movies. 

There was one significant problem with the Trimphone, that became evident when our family eventually got one; which was that the base of the phone was too light and the diameter too narrow, so that dialling required the other hand (the one holding the receiver) to hold the phone steady... 

Our old-style phone had been so broad-based and solid that one-handed dialling had been easy and normal.

Later Trimphones had buttons, avoiding this problem; although the buttons just triggered a kind of pseudo-dialling sound. It took another decade or so before The Post Office/ British Telecom changed their system to use tone rather than clicks to distinguish numbers.

Why we are confident about things-in-general, while sceptical about the truth of facts (The metaphysics of the supernatural/ paranormal/ occult)

Following up on a post of mine from a few days ago; William James Tychonievich challenged the coherence of my statement that I believe in the reality of many supernatural/ paranormal/ occult phenomena - while disbelieving nearly all specific reports of such phenomena. 

How - he asked - could I believe in the reality of ghosts, if I did not believe in any particular report of a ghost? Surely the one depends on the other? 

After thinking about his argument a while, it seemed to me that William was discussing epistemology; while I was talking about metaphysics. 

That is; he was implicitly talking about the empirical or factual certainty of items of "knowledge"; while I was discussing underlying theoretical assumptions that describe the nature of reality. 

I have often argued here that epistemology has been an intellectual dead end - despite being the dominant philosophical mode since Descartes, exactly because it sets itself up as prior to metaphysics (indeed, typically, dismissive of metaphysics). 

Thus, epistemology discusses (or tries to discuss) how we can know stuff, without discussing its assumptions about the reality within-which such discussion are supposed to occur. 

What I am implying in my discussion of supernatural etc. phenomena; is that we can (and should!) be aware, clear, and explicit about our fundamental metaphysical assumptions - e.g. the assumption that ghosts really are true; yet in a way that does not apply to specific "factual" instances. 

This means we do not need to be sure that any specific report of a particular ghost is objectively true in order to believe that ghosts are real. 

We can rationally believe in ghosts in principle, but in practice reject many, most or even all of the specific reports of ghosts that come to our attention. 

There are some reports of paranormal phenomena from other people that I believe are "true", or at least possibly true; yet that truth which I believe is, in practice, more of a working hypothesis than any kind of certainty or assumption. 

Nothing major hinges upon whether any particular exact report really is true. 

Much the same applies to aspects of public life that I can never discover. I am confident that some of the totalitarian world leaders are in alliance with Satan in some way (perhaps as willing servants or slaves, or possessed by a demon, or in other ways I don't understand); but I don't know for sure the names of even one of these leaders, and have no conceivable way of checking this in a factual sense. 

For me, this is a metaphysical assumption concerning the nature of reality in our world now - validated by intuition, yet with no chance of empirical validation. 

Metaphysics is primary. Examples of metaphysics are religions and secular ideologies - nowadays, in the West, it is leftist secular ideology that is dominant. because ideology structures the identity, nature and interpretation of "evidence"; this is why evidence can never (and almost never does) overturn ideology; and why accumulating evidence "against" some ideology, has no effect on it. 

It is a commonplace insight that religions are un-dis-proveable. Less obvious, indeed ignored - but more relevant - is that this being undisproveable-by-evidence applies to that mainstream modern ideology (significant;ly; an ideology with no name!) that pervades and rules the West, is assumed in all public discourse, and is taught by every major institutions from the media to the schools and colleges.  same applies 

Therefore, secular ideology is much more dangerous than any religion (as seen by the unequalled scale and nature of evil of the secular totalitarian states of the past century, since the Russian Revolution). More dangerous than religion because it will not name, and indeed denies, its own metaphysical identity; indeed, denies that it has fundamental assumptions: denies that its ruling concepts (such as class/sex/race "equality") are assumptions - but instead pretends (in a circular argument) that its assumptions derive from evidence. 

It is an aspect of my oft-iterated theme, that we need (need spiritually) to honestly acknowledge, become clear and explicit about our metaphysical assumptions - especially that they are indeed assumptions

Our metaphysical assumptions concerning the nature of reality are believed, and acted-upon - yet such belief is of the nature of a choice and a commitment. This is not a knowledge-based belief, such as is the focus of epistemology.  

The qualitative distinction between committing to metaphysical assumptions and belief in particular facts is part of that argument.

Friday 12 July 2024

The promise of each morning: Days, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days, 
Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes, 
And marching single in an endless file, 
Bring diadems and fagots in their hands. 
To each they offer gifts after his will, 
Bread, kingdoms, stars, or sky that holds them all. 
I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp, 
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily 
Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day 
Turned and departed silent. I, too late, 
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.

Days - by Ralph Waldo Emerson


I don't especially like Days as poetry (nor, indeed, any poetry of Emerson's) - but its "message", its cry, is one that returns frequently to my mind. 

It is (I think) about the promise felt by people such as Emerson and myself, at the start of a day - the promise of each day, its gifts, and what we might do with them - compared with the inevitable disillusionment of the day's end, when we have not done much, or anything at all.  

This sentiment contrasts with the youthful optimism for the sunny future expressed in many other places by Emerson, that sense that on just such a day as this, a man such as Shakespeare, wrote something like Hamlet... and, if him, then why not me? (In my own way, at at my own level.) 

The idea that nothing is stopping us, but our own narrowness of vision and triviality of ambition...

In truth, it is the mismatch between optimism and actuality that leads to the disillusionment. Emerson felt great powers in himself; and indeed achieved greatly - but realized that whatever he had achieved was in the past, and he was always concerned primarily by the potential of the present moment

Shakespeare looking back on having writt-en Hamlet was (no doubt) a very different, and probably sadder, creature than Shakespeare actually writ-ing Hamlet. 

This is the human condition; and apparently nobody has ever eluded it - except by the suppression or obliteration of awareness that it is true. 

And this is exactly why the only escape from wise pessimism - from that stoic attitude which is only divided from rational suicide by irrational (yet true) residual scruples - is to know our mortal lives to be a stage or phase of experience that is both contributing towards, and destined to transform into, resurrection and the reality of a fulfilled life to come. 

Eternal Heavenly life is not, therefore, a compensation for the deficits we now suffer. Neither is it a time of happiness nor of perfection (whatever they may be...). 

It is instead a life in which the limitations of infirmity of will, of death (entropy), and of evil in and around us - are left-behind; and we can then fulfil that "morning feeling" so valued, yet mourned, by Emerson. 

We are not supposed to look-forward to life beyond life, as if it was a holiday - wanting to shorten or hasten-through the intervening days before we can quit the "work" of this world forever, and live in (perpetual!) leisure.... 

But instead, we should think of Heaven as a situation where we can get on with our real work; without having it continually dismantled by the fading of memory and the hazards of this-world. And having prepared our-selves as best we may by the experiences of this-life; acknowledging the-reality-of, learning-from, and seeing-beyond, Emersonian disillusionment. 

Such disappointment with ourselves for wasted days is valid; but it is a lesson, not a conclusion. .  

Thursday 11 July 2024

When I was interviewed by Keri Ford about The Inklings

For those of you who don't already know this interview from five years ago, I've just been re-watching it - and I found it pretty interesting!

What was good and also distinctive about Western civilization/ culture?

In discussing whether or not Western Civilization/ Culture is worth defending, saving, rebuilding; there is often confusion regarding what it is, and to what extent distinctive. 

I tend to assume that when it comes to what might be termed "the arts" - literature, poetry, visual arts, architecture, dance, music etc - there is a kind of relativity between civilizations and cultures; in the sense that each produces what it wants; and it seems overly subjective to assert the superiority of one over others. 

Looked at across time, and across history; it certainly seems that some bits of some civilizations (e.g. the music, the architecture) are better than the same bits of others; yet the cross-cultural cosmopolitanism that is able to make such comparisons is itself not really a creative or generative culture; but a second order kind of thing - an aspect of cultural criticism rather than creativity. 

At any rate; I find it unconvincing to assert any distinctive superiority of Western Civilization when it comes to the arts and humanities. There is superiority of my civilization for me, and for people like me; but I would not expect people of a different kind from different civilizations to see things the same way. 

But Western Civilization since the 17th century does have a qualitative superiority over all others (past and until the recent present) which is science: more exactly, in terms of science as a "social system".

There have been in many times and places, and still are, individual real scientists; or even duos, or small and short-lasting groups of scientists; but it was only in Western Civilization that science became a structured and multi-generational activity

It was only in Western Christendom that the necessary ethic of honesty; the truth-seeking and truth-speaking of and between scientists, became large scale and sustained. 

Therefore science in the West became qualitatively more powerful and wide ranging than at any other time or place. 

I think this can now be seen clearly because science is dead - or at least real science is dead. A bureaucratic professional research activity continues, now fully integrated with global totalitarianism; but this is not what used to be science, it is not real science. 

Science has died for lack of the reason it began: the ethic of inter-scientist honesty that created and sustained science has gone. So-called modern "science" is dishonest, untruthful, selectively exaggerated, deliberately misleading - from top to bottom and in external relations: therefore it is not science. It Does Not Work. 

Science as a social activity has dwindled to near-nothingness, and we have now reverted to the science of individual persons.  


Of course; science was always double-edged in its goodness. It was exceptionally honest; but only about its chosen subject.

Science is based on models of reality, not reality; and like all models this means it is distorted at best and deluded at worst -  yet unable (from "within" science) to recognize its own radical limitations and potential evils. 

(i.e. To stay science, science absolutely needs scientists to have an external viewpoint from which to evaluate "science", and keep it honest.) 

When the West, when scientists, ceased to be Christian and Christianity was forgotten; there was no ultimate reason for scientists to be honest - not even about science; so over several decades science became, briefly, net-evil - before it killed itself from corruption and fakery. 

My understanding is therefore that it was science that - in world historical terms - was the distinctive good of Western civilization; but that is dead and gone. While Westerners like myself love much of my civilization; after the death of real science The West no longer has anything distinctive and good to offer The World. So its demise will not be mourned by the world. 


Note: Although Western Civ an old topic here; this particular post was triggered by Bonald's recent reflections at the Orthosphere

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Belief in the supernatural/ paranormal/ occult phenomena

I don't know how unusual it is; but I find that I combine a firm belief in the reality of many supernatural/ paranormal/ occult phenomena; with an almost 100% reflex dis-belief in the objective reality of nearly-all specific examples of these phenomena, by nearly everybody.  

So, although in principle I am convinced of the reality of - in no particular order - telepathy, ghosts, miracles, synchronicity, personal destiny, magic, purposive personal evil (demons), angels, fairies... Nonetheless, I am very sceptical of the objective truth of almost every single report of such things I have encountered. 

Even among people whom I respect and trust; I find I often do not believe the specific truth of what they say or write... 

And indeed; to my mind, across such people, they have said and written a vast range of incompatible and often incoherent things. If I tried to base my life upon believing the specific information (facts and understandings) of even those relatively few sincere persons who I respect and trust - I would nonetheless be building my faith on a seething mass of sand, rubble, and water - not on solid rock!   

Something seems to happen in the process of communicating such phenomena; in the transfer of knowledge between the personal realm and public discourse, such phenomena become (to me) un-convincing: not something I feel that has the kind of validity upon which I could depend.

Thus, in almost every instance of reading or hearing about such things, I feel a rising sense of mistrust and rejection. 

This is confirmed by the apparent fact that such communications seem to take place in the context of sub-cultures of cultivated credulity: I mean groups of people who (it seems to me) have a kind of pact of mutual-belief. I have studied several of these in some depth; and this is how such groups seem to work - I mean on the basis of a tacit agreement to believe (almost...) any and all such such claims.  

This is why I try to refrain from ever communicating my own such experiences; because I know that they will be unconvincing to others, that there are many alternative mundane explanations, they can be explained-away or else my own honesty and competence will be rejected - and therefore in making such communications I feel an almost irresistible temptation to persuade, exaggerate, distort - and I assume others do also.

This is an interesting and significant metaphysical situation - I mean, one in which a whole world of vitally-important phenomena cannot (apparently) accurately and honestly be discussed in objective public discourse. 

Yet that does seem to be the actual situation! 

We can publicly discuss and analyse these matters in-general and in-principle; but, seemingly, not specifically. 

Note added: As I've said a few times before; I think the reason for this mismatch between personal and public knowledge is an important aspect of our times and place, and the nature of human consciousness as it has become. It is one aspect of the change from a pooled and mutually-aware group consciousness, to the greater freedom and agency - but also "alienation", cut-off-ness, isolation - of spontaneous human awareness and thinking. The point is not to resist or attempt to reverse this change; but to accept and take responsibility for the fact and necessity of our free agency. Explicitly to take personal responsibility for choosing our own fundamental assumptions about the true nature of reality - rather than (as in earlier eras) aspiring passively to obey "authoritative" external sources of validation.   

Tuesday 9 July 2024

Did Jesus *really* say "sin no more" in the Fourth Gospel?

There are two places in the Fourth Gospel (in the Authorized Version) where Jesus is quoted as saying "sin no more": 

After healing the man by the pool at Bethesda:
5: [10] The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. [11] He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. [12] Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? [13] And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. [14] Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. [15] The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

Following the episode of the woman taken in adultery:
8: [9] And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. [10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? [11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. [12] Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The problem is that - as a straightforward order given to any human being - "sin no more" is impossible, hence nonsense; because the very essence of Jesus's teaching is that all Men are sinners and no Men can cease from sinning. Which is a major reason why the incarnation and work of Jesus is necessary. 

So the alternative is to finesse the statements into something specific, that might be true. 

But there is no context that the man beside the pool in Chapter 5 has sinned as a cause of his infirmity, so that "sin no more" seems irrelevant, as well as impossible. Furthermore, when Jesus is quoted as uttering the following "lest a worse thing come unto thee"... well, to my eye this threat identifies the sentence as a later and false interpolation. And, indeed, the entirety of verse 14 can be deleted without loss of continuity. 

What of the usage in Chapter 8? Well, here again the phrase "go, and sin no more" can comfortably be deleted; and this deletion also avoids the contradiction between "neither do I condemn thee" and "sin no more".    

On this internal evidence; I regard the phrase" "sin no more" as alien to the Fourth Gospel, alien to Jesus's teaching; and thus presumably a later addition by some other hand. 

Monday 8 July 2024

Did Jesus (in the Fourth Gospel) ever express compassion? Not really! Then how come so many "Christians" regard compassion as the primary virtue?

If the Fourth Gospel is regarded as the primary and most authoritative source concerning Jesus Christ; then it seems that Jesus hardly ever (maybe never) expressed "compassion" as we moderns would understand it. 

Jesus did a lot of alleviating suffering, including in the miracles and illustrated in parables; but the purpose seems always to have been teaching, not compassion. 

Jesus did very little in the way of expressing sympathy for individuals. On the contrary, his typical tone is one of scathing criticism, even a kind of sarcasm. Jesus was very seldom "nice", mostly "nasty

Of course Jesus did express and act-upon Love a great deal, more than anything; but my point is that compassion is not love - but an optional sub-set of loving behaviours, and one that Jesus neither asked-for nor modelled for us. 

Going through the IV Gospel up to the events of the Passion, it can be seen that compassion was not the focus of the major episodes:

The miracle at the wedding of Cana; Jesus is pretty sharp and scathing in his words.

The Nicodemus episode; again Jesus is almost mocking towards Nicodemus, in his efforts to snap Nicodemus out of his habitual thinking.

The Samaritan woman at the well; Jesus adopts a stern tone towards the woman.

The Nobleman who asks Jesus to heal his dying son; Jesus is very matter of fact, no compassion expressed.   

The healing by the pool at Bethesda; again no compassion - mostly focused on teaching about the Sabbath. 

Feeding the five thousand; Jesus goes to great lengths to present this as Not about feeding the hungry, but instead an illustration of the transience of earthly bread compared with Heavenly "bread". 

The woman taken in adultery; Jesus is very crisp towards her - despite that she is facing a horrible death, and instead mostly addresses the accusing bystanders on the subject of sin. 

Healing the man born blind; again, no compassion expressed, instead Jesus says the whole thing (including, it seems, the man's lifelong blindness) was so that "the works of God should be made manifest in him" - teaching, not sympathy.

And so on.

Jesus's message is about what we want most. 

Is it resurrected eternal life in Heaven - or... something else? 

Those who most want compassion, and regard "compassion for suffering" as the highest ethical value, should look elsewhere - Buddhism perhaps? But not to Jesus Christ.  

Or maybe they should consider where a primary ethic of compassion will ultimately lead them...

Friday 5 July 2024

Post UK election predictions

The UK election has been "won" by the Ahrimanic totalitarians who will try to push ahead more rapidly with Agenda 2030/ Davos/ WEF plans for a perma-lockdown world.

(Fake-justified by climate, equity, environment, inclusion etc etc.)

But against this, and sabotaging it, is the Sorathic ascendancy at the highest levels of demon-affiliated leadership; subverting the mono-bureaucracy-media with spiteful chaos.

And They will be pushing for full UK participation, indeed leadership, in an expanded WWIII - plus escalation of within-UK civil aggression.

Inter- and intra- national violence, with disease and starvation in its wake...

(The covert aim being the annihilation of the UK and its population. A spiritual war, because They believe the masses have become so corrupt as to choose damnation.)

I predict that short-termist, selfish chaos will beat strategic top-down control.

Because this is an entropic world... Dis-order is just So Much Easier!


NOTE ADDED: William Wildblood's take on the UK election is well worth a look. 

Wittgenstein - obscuring obvious incoherence

From Ludwig Wittgenstein a memoir, by Norman Malcolm

Wittgenstein did once say that he thought that he could understand the conception of God, insofar as it is involved in one's awareness of one's sin and guilt. He added that he could Not understand the concept of a creator... The notion of a being Making The World had no intelligibility to him at all.


How utterly extraordinary that a Great Philosopher found the notion of a creator God not untrue but incomprehensible, when every child and almost every human being in the history of the world found it natural, spontaneous, obvious that the world was created.

How extraordinary that anyone could suppose that strong emotions of sin and guilt were the best reason to believe in a God - but That God was Not a creator.

Yet such extraordinary stuff is now normal, mainstream, official, the basis of our society.

It's as if our world has been made by people who have something seriously wrong with them, something missing - and have remade life in their own, distorted and deficient, image...


Note: I should make clear that for significant periods I myself believed and expounded exactly this extraordinary stuff - so I know its whys and wherefores from the inside.

Further note: Previous posts on Wittgenstein.

Thursday 4 July 2024

The wrong starting point in philosophy and for Christian faith

A Big Problem in philosophy, is picking (or rather assuming) the wrong starting point for enquiry, for analysis and reasoning; and there has been and is massive propaganda to encourage this fatal error...

In particular to ignore or reflexly reject a child's innate and spontaneous assumptions, and to start from... Somewhere else... Anywhere else!

It turns out that these alternative starting assumptions are always abstract, difficult, unintuitive, artificial.

This applies to all traditional philosophy, especially since Descartes, and to Christianity.

To be A Christian, according to nearly all churches, one must First accept as foundational dogmas several counter-intuitive assumptions (regarding the nature of creation, God, Jesus...) within-which the entirely of Christianity is Compelled to exist.

Alternatively we Could assume what is natural, spontaneous, innate...

Can God read minds?

Can God read minds, and if so - to what extent?

It seems clear that God can read minds or else prayer, for instance, would be meaningless... It seems absurd to assert that God would require thoughts to be spoken aloud, or written down. 

And if this was so, there would be the usual problem of uncertain interpretation of such indirect and symbolic media God might misunderstand!

Yet, if free will or agency is real (which, for Christians it must be), then there must be something inaccessible to God.

Yet again, it makes little sense to suppose that we could conceal our plans from God, and successfully lie to God. 

Did Satan do this, at first - did he conceal his real nature and plans from God?

My conclusion is that God knows our conscious thinking, but neither God nor our consciousness has direct knowledge of our ultimate selves. 

Thus God cannot read-off our ultimate nature, cannot know by observation and fully and for-sure - how we really are - and neither can we do so.

In other words, God can know our thinking, but our thinking is not our-self. 

Both God and our thinking only know ourselves by inference, by observing what our-self does, including what thoughts emerge from our-self.

God could only know Satan by observation and inference.. Albeit that  observation included Satan's thinking.

But this model can't be complete (no model can be complete!), especially because it has only one-way traffic from the self to consciousness, which would mean the self could not learn. 

Since the self can learn, the self can't be divided from consciousness... 

Indeed, this is another of those "polar logic" situations where self and thinking may be distinguished but not divided, since they are not separate in origin or nature... 

Both thinking and self are attributes of All Beings, but the self stands for that individual unknowability which enables agency...

That "bit" of us which God cannot read.

Thus it was that Satan deceived God as to his nature and plans. It was possible because Satan was also deceiving himself. 

Satan did not even Know himself, except by observation and inference.

And neither do we.

Wednesday 3 July 2024

A civilization that has turned against itself

 I find very little awareness of the profundity of shift in our civilization. A civilization renews itself across generations, but ours seeks its own annihilation.

This is just a fact, and quite explicit in detail. In every field or domain, subversion and inversion are most valued. 

There was, in all civilizations, a handing on and preservation of the meaning and importance of symbols whether in poetry, or science, or anything. Symbols carried the civilization through time, and the symbols linked back though the middle ages to Roman, to Greek civilization and beyond - for good and for ill, but that was the way it worked.

At some point the symbols began losing their objective nature. We were no longer sustained by the objectivity of the symbol. The symbol did not impose itself upon us...

What then happened, which was an evil thing - motivated against the divine - was that symbol was replaced by bureaucracy. Instead of continuity by objective symbol, continuity became organizational - from the overlapping personnel and procedures of system.

Now, "objectivity" comes from bureaucracy, and the actual bureaucracy works to subvert/invert the symbolism linking us to the past - and thereby remove a rival to its power and domination.

This is why poetry, science, music, farming, law, crafts, patriotism, religion... have all declined or collapsed: they are all symbols actively being killed by bureaucracy.

We no longer inhabit a civilization but a bureaucracy, and that bureaucracy is primary; because it redefines and deletes symbols at will, in order to weaken and destroy them.

In order to destroy creation, and thereby deny and replace creation.

Tuesday 2 July 2024

Reconsidering Robert Graves and Ludwig Wittgenstein

 I'm currently rereading George Malcolm's memoir of Wittgenstein, and (first read) a short biography of Graves by Bruce King. Graves was a very early craze of mine, beginning age 14; and I began on Wittgenstein about a decade later. 

This time I'm struck by similarities between them. Both ruling class, both in the avant garde (contemporary members of the same circles): and/also sexually Platonic by nature. Both capable of "superb" statement - charisma and/or self-righteous and aggressive arrogance. 

Both made insightful diagnoses of the civilizational problems, both on the wrong side when it came to answers - their ultimate affiliations were to their "class", hence (in the twentieth century West) on the side opposing God and divine creation.

Monday 1 July 2024

Lack of positive life planning - A frustrating deficit, but in accord with destiny

I have always, both before and after being a Christian, found it easy to know that I was doing the wrong thing (and, to a lesser extent knowing what I shouldn't do) - but very bad at discerning my proper future path.

Although I have known plenty of people who mapped out their lives and stuck to, and sometimes accomplished, their plans - I always thought they were making a serious mistake.

Nowadays I regard my inability - my personal deficit - as (through no virtue of mine!) in accordance with the real nature of the human condition.

We are supposed to be committed to those we love (at least, within the inevitable constraints of mortal life), but beyond that we sin by living for our future planning - and this is indeed one of the cankers poisoning the heart of human civilization.

Something maybe inevitable but a necessity we ought to repent rather than praise.

Saturday 29 June 2024

The palliative life versus the purposive life

One lethal consequence of the mainstream modern assumption that death is annihilation, is that it renders this mortal life merely palliative. 

Because life is assumed to end in nothingness, mortal existence cannot be more than palliative: i.e. a series of temporary attempts to avoid or alleviate suffering... and maybe attain some temporary pleasures.

This nihilism is what seems like ordinary "common sense" to the modern Western mind, and has done for several generations. 

It is the great benefit of assuming a continuation of life beyond this mortal life, that it makes it possible to have a positive purpose - because there is the prospect of carrying-forward something of whatever we have done in this life. 

This benefit of a potentially purposive life, may derive from a variety of convictions about the nature of life-beyond-life (e.g. resurrection, reincarnation, forms of paradise etc). 

The point is that a continuation of our life after death is what makes purpose possible; whereas the contrary belief that we are extinguished at death, makes any subjective feeling of life-purpose into just a futile delusion. 

Given that so many people in The West (especially among the higher and leadership classes) apparently regard their own death as absolute the end of themselves, and anything else as mere wishful thinking -- many things about the experienced futility and evil of life in Western modernity become understandable - indeed inevitable.  

Friday 28 June 2024

Emotions: can't live with them, can't live without them...

Because emotions are partly physical, we cannot lead a spiritually satisfactory mortal life

This statement sounds startling (or just plain false!) but it derives from the nature and properties of emotions; and their role in this mortal life. 

Emotions derive, significantly, from the state of our physical bodies - our body state (including especially the hormone and neural activity) as sensed and interpreted by our brains. This is not the whole story, but there is a sense in which we cannot get away from the physical when it comes to emotions. 

There have been many attempts through history to train people to become spiritually independent of the emotions - i.e. the tradition of religious asceticism. 

But all valid authorities agree that humans can never be wholly free of the passions: the spirit can never become independent of the body. The tyranny of emotions may be diminished, but this lessening is never more than a quantitative change; a reduction of the causative drive; but never an elimination of our subjection to emotion. 

Furthermore, when asceticism works and there is a successful diminution of the strength of emotions - this has bad effects as well as the desired good ones. There is some degree of demotivation, and of disengagement from life; because it is emotions that link us to the world, other people, other beings. 

For instance, the technical word for a person who lacks sympathy or empathy - which means the capacity to feel the emotions of another - is psychopath. A psychopath is one who lacks the automatic and innate response to resonate emotionally with others. 

It is this unemotionality which (to some degree) underpins cold, selfish cruelty without remorse.  

Thus on the one hand we are (to an extent) slaves to our emotions, hence our bodies - and bodies are subject to the entropic changes of degeneration, disease and death; and also to the temptations of evil. 

Yet if it was possible to reduce or eliminate emotionality; we would also thereby lessen vital aspects of our basic humanity. 

For me, this emphasizes that our mortal life is not the kind of thing that can be perfected; and that even the scope for improvement is limited, since there is a "swings and roundabouts" quality to many basic human changes. 

And, in turn, this brings me back to the fact that when Jesus offered Mankind the chance of resurrected eternal life in Heaven - a life in which we remain our-selves, and retain our emotional nature but perfected by love; He was offering the greatest gift that it was possible for us to receive - and exactly the best response to this fundamental problem of human existence. 


Thursday 27 June 2024

Reading JRR Tolkien aged thirteen made me a Romantic "Outsider"

Over at The Notion Club Papers blog; I discuss the life-transforming effect that reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings had upon me; such that, from then onward, there was always a strong underlying element or Romanticism in my nature - something that made me identify most with those individuals that Colin Wilson famously termed The Outsiders


Wednesday 26 June 2024

The asymmetry of "good" and evil actions

It is striking (when you think about it) how it is easy to recognize - and be confident of the identity of - evil actions; but not good ones. 

There are plenty of well known actions that are evil with such a high degree of certainty as to make it nigh impossible to imagine any situation in which they could deliberately and consciously be done from genuinely good motivations.   

Yet, because good and evil are not symmetrical, the same does not apply to good actions. I can't think of any action that is good in and of itself - what makes it good comes from the motivation, and from that motivation proceeding from a full accordance with God's creative will. 

This is why it is so much easier to talk about "goodness" in double-negatives; in terms of opposing evil rather than genuinely doing good. 

It is the doing of good that is the problem; because nothing "done" is good in and of itself - we just can't get away from why it is done.   

People really want good to be definable in terms of acts; because if it could be, then good could be made into a plan, described in bullet points; and "implemented" on the world and other-people.  

Yet it is the fact that good cannot validly be thus conceptualized that has made all schemes for making-the-world-a-better-place (i.e. the entirety of politics and social engineering) into the realm of such self-deception, lies and horrors.

I suspect that we can only really-do real-good in those sadly-brief moments in which we are ourselves really good - when really-are on God's wavelength, as it were. 

And of course that means that the real-good which is done by us is only seldom in any objectively observable or definable form - but most likely to be in our thinking, a particular choice, a word or phrase, or some very particular (maybe unnoticed) action.