Friday 10 November 2017

That deadly passivity fantasy

I suggest that there is a prevalent fantasy that anything valid is something that we will be compelled to believe; that we will be swept-along by reality, willy-nilly, like-it-or-not...

That a true religion or ideology is one where will be forced (by overpowering conviction) to be good, happy, fulfilled.

And that we should believe nothing less than this; that the real truth is non-optional and enforces itself - pushing aside all agency, all freedom.

We feel that we ought to be helpless in the face of reality - that we do not need-to meet reality halfway; because if it was really-real then we would not need to make any effort or choice. To deliberate, discern and choose to acknowledge truth is seen as dishonest self-manipulation.

This fantasy is encouraged, and is deadly - because Man's destiny is to become ever-more conscious, free, agent and divine - which means we must remain autonomous, active, clear-headed and knowingly-detached.

That which is good can only be chosen, from the depth of our true self.

And if we absolutely insist on passivity in-face-of truth, then we insist upon evil: and, of course, that is precisely what we are getting...


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I think you're conflating several things here. Making an effort to reach the truth is not the same as just choosing what to believe. Take mathematical truth, for example. Finding it out often takes considerable effort, and we are free to make or not make that effort -- but the result of that effort is a truth that forces itself on us. It is, as we say, "compelling." Having done the work of calculating the cube of 528, I am no longer free to believe that it is anything other than 147,197,952.

But what you seem to mean is that, even after all the evidence has been collected and the thinking has been done, there remains a choice -- not the choice of whether or not to collect more evidence or think more, but a direct choice of whether or not to believe. And you don't mean mere assuming, either. It's not "I don't know if this is true or not, but I choose to adopt it as a working hypothesis"; rather, it's "I freely choose to know that this is true -- and therefore I do know it, and that knowledge is valid." And, yes, that seems like dishonest self-manipulation.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Reality is that which will kill you without caring what you think.

Reality does not meet us halfway, it does not care whether you choose to ignore it or misperceive it. It goes its own way without consideration for where you are at all, and if you are in that way it will crush you and never notice.

Truth gives us freedom to sidestep the law, which is death, through the merits of He who is mighty to save. But we must make that choice, or we are not being saved at all.

Justice will claim its price, whether you lay hold on the mercy of Christ in paying the price for you or not. But it does not force you to believe one way or another, it is incapable of caring what or even that you believe.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - That wasn't that point that I was getting at.

@CCL - Neither was that!

Chiu ChunLing said...

Yes, I know.

I take a view of God in which, though God is Supreme in all good qualities, He is not therefore the source of any bad ones. I find that a universe without God is plausible, merely senseless and without meaning. An unintelligible and meaningless universe does not require God, only the beauty and truth that fills our own experience needs divine origin.

Thus I do not accept the ex nihilo view of Creation literally, only in significance. The universe (and probably most of its laws) already existed, God uses what is there to create something that matters. When? I don't really know, possibly God created matter from energy, or energy from zero-point (in this view, the universe existed as a set of physical laws but it was actually empty in the first place, which seems to lend physical but not philosophical credence to the idea of creation of everything from nothing).

I realize that this view is unpopular with theologians, but I see no real intellectual difficulty in it. Instead, I see insoluble difficulties with every proposed alternative.

Anyway, I mostly rely on the fact that God never refers to the Law of justice as something He made up or created, but always as something even He cannot disobey. God even maintains this in cases where it is likely to cause some confusion.

I said in another comment that duty and obligation are finite feelings, because you are working to return to a centripetal point, call this zero if you will. Love and hate are unlimited, because you are moving away from neutrality, and that movement away from neutrality becomes its own motive, they are centrifugal. An unlimited duty can only be produced by an infinite debt, and we exist under such a debt, so the distinction may not seem pragmatic...but only if you assume we recognize the infinitude of our indebtedness.

Not everyone does.

That's why love is essential, because without the limitless self-reinforcing nature of loving more strongly as we serve in love, we cannot have the infinite endurance required to service our boundless debt.

But the universe doesn't actually care whether you serve out of love or out of a sense of your debt or by mere accident. It's just that you are not, in fact, capable of keeping up the service eternally out of anything but profound love.

And God doesn't really care that you serve at all, only that you escape the immutable and implacable demands of justice on all who will not.

Of course the universe doesn't care whether you escape or not, it will simply roll over you without a thought if you don't.

Bruce Charlton said...

BTW - Today's post about marriage is intended further to explain what I meant here.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - Probably you seem to have been thinking along the same lines as I have - although details differ.

What you describe is not far from orthodox Mormon theology as explicated by the (not very many) people who have formalised it - the ones I have studied are Sterling McMurrin, Blake Ostler, Terryl Givens.

My own take (after five years of contemplation) is summarised at:

since when, over the past four years, I have been completing and expanding the picture with Rudolf Steiner, Owen Barfield and William Arkle.