Tuesday 22 May 2018

Why traditionalism has become impossible in an age of corrupted instinct

There are various lines of argument that point to the since fact: modern Man has corrupted instincts.

By this I mean that when modern Man does 'what comes naturally' he does not behave in an adaptive way. Adaptive means fitness enhancing; means increasing of reproductive success.

So modern Man, behaving 'naturally' is Not a 'healthy animal' but a sick one, a demented being, a crazy creature.

This is something new. There used-to-be a thing called the Natural Man, who had a natural morality - and upon-whom Christian morality could build; but this is no longer the case.

There are several materialist/ scientific reasons why this might be so; such as mutation accumulation, the multiple and combined toxicities (chemical, hormonal, electromagnetic...) of the industrial society, the evolutionary 'mismatch' between the society we evolved-in and the society we live-in, and the saturation propaganda for evil and unnatural behaviour from The System of bureaucracy and the Mass Media.

There are also spiritual reasons: the idea that we are meant to, divinely destined to, be attaining a higher form of spiritual consciousness; but are (en masse) refusing to do this; and are therefore unwitting victims of unconscious and distorted instincts.    

The corruption of instinct is the end of traditional forms of religion - of those many forms of religion based upon an authoritative church structure and the obedience of the adherents: the large-scale traditional forms of (for example) Eastern and Western Catholicism, Anglicanism, Calvinism and the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and other churches.

To varying but vital degrees - all of these depend upon a baseline of unconscious consensus about 'natural' Good and evil, beauty and ugliness, truth and dishonesty. This consensus has been destroyed along with the instincts that supported it.

And this corruption of instinct has happened soonest, most powerfully and more thoroughly among the church leaders; thereby accelerating and increasing the problem among the masses, the laity, the followers.

Thus, everyone is corrupt; but the corruption is made worse by the fact of its being worst among those with power, status and wealth. 

Nowadays, everything must be made explicit and fully conscious; including the assumptions which used to be taken-for-granted.

This has become most obvious in the area of sex and sexuality, where what used to be regarded as good, desirable, virtuous on the basis of common sense assumptions; are now subverted and inverted because the common sense is either become feeble or itself inverted.

We need to go as deep as our primary (metaphysical) assumptions, to know them; discern and decide - decide not not by common sense, nor by instinct - which is gut feeling; but by intuition which is the discernment of fully conscious, primary thinking of the real and divine self.

Indeed, before we can even attempt this, we each need to have decided that it is coherent and possible; that there is a part of ourself which is divine  and which can know - know directly and without mediation - the truth of things.

We must - that is - be able to distinguish between instinct - which is thing of the animal in us; and intuition, which is a thing of the divine in us.

Instinct cannot save us - but will, on the contrary, direct and drive us into damnation and death; but divine intuition can save us; and it is the only thing that can save us.



Agellius said...

"Nowadays, everything must be made explicit and fully conscious; including the assumptions which used to be taken-for-granted."

This is more or less the premise of most of the things I blog about: That we can no longer assume an understanding and acceptance of "the basics" among our fellow Christians, so they need to be spelled out, even things as basic as the need for repentance and obeying the commandments.

I wonder whether the main reason man no longer acts in an "adaptive" way (as you define it, i.e. ways that are calculated to perpetuate the species) is simply the availability of effective and cheap artificial birth control. I suspect that introducing modern birth control into any society throughout history might have had similar detrimental effects.

I know that's not the whole story though. The development of modern birth control has been just another step in the long process of "Enlightenment". Possibly if it were introduced in medieval times it would have been stamped out by force.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Agellius - Birth control (or 'fertility regulation' including abortion on demand) is another canditate cause to add to my brief list!

Although it is worth noting that devout Mormons nearly all use contraception, but still (just!) maintain above-replacement fertility - however, I believe they are the only counter-example - and all other groups that have above-replacement fertility either forbid contraception, or else are in societies where it is very difficult to access/ or available only in inconvenient or ineffective forms.

I'm glad we agree on this importance of being as explicit and clear as possible about our assumptions!

It's becoming my single most recurrent theme, these days. I think that unacknowledged metaphysical assumptions have massive downstream effects, which are hard to resist.

You may or may not know my thesis that the successful rivals to Christianity have grown due to deep problems in Christian metaphysics - Islam grew due to the problems in Christology and Trinitarianism (ie. that the standard explanations don't make rational sense); while the sexual revolution has been Achilles hell because Christians have failed to develop a sufficiently robust theology of sexuality and marriage.

I would like to see these assumptions revisited, instead of Christians doubling down on them - but unfortunately the present climiate tends to punish self-reflecting honesty as if it were an admission of guilt and weakness, and 'liberal Christians' will try to hijack any such examination.

Chiu ChunLing said...

While it's true that instinctive behavior is far less adaptive for modern man than for pre-historic man, it is not as though instinct was ever a reliable guide to morality.

At a fundamental level, morality must involve conscious choices to do what is not merely instinctive, because the aim of morality is freedom, and freedom requires that you do more than blindly follow instinct.

Lucinda said...

From my perspective, the underlying problem with birth control is the fact that men are able to avoid responsibility about fertility. Men tend to think that women want to have all the right (and responsibility), and women don't do a good job of communicating the feeling of unfairness about this, probably because they don't notice how much of their stress about having babies has to do with feeling the entire burden of 'fault', often thinking that the physical burden is the biggest difficulty.

I know a bit about this. I'm expecting my tenth child. I don't 'believe in' birth control, by which I mean I don't believe it is good for human thriving. This child was conceived when both my husband and I were under a lot of stress and I think most people would say we should have figured out a way not to have another baby, but this comes down on my husband differently than on me. He's seen as an unusually lucky guy, I'm seen as an unusually foolish woman.

Generally, I try to avoid giving too much heed to such vain concerns, but it does serve to illustrate to me why women, when given the full right of decision about fertility, have difficulty embracing it. I think women are adapted by nature to a more collective mindset regarding reproduction that usually protects them emotionally from bearing sole responsibility for conception during their fertile years. Bearing sole responsibility for a potentially catastrophic decision is an intensely difficult emotion to deal with on top of the physical stresses of pregnancy. Placing responsibility on the man involved has almost completely disappeared from society, at least in part because even husbands have been stripped of any rights surrounding reproduction. This situation diminishes women's ability to access the compassion they especially need during pregnancy and post-partum because reproduction is seen as a kind of luxury-lifestyle choice.

All this manifests itself among many Christian men as a somewhat indifferent attitude about the particulars of their wives' fertility, as though their lack of interest were a badge of true chivalry. But this full willingness of husbands to surrender their rightful claim to take part in fertility decisions has, I think, generally hurt women and children in unintended ways.

This ties into the theological idea. I find it hard to believe that Heavenly Father would leave all the conscious intent of bringing forth His children to the Mother's discretion. Rather I think He would exercise loving persuasion and invitation and reassurance of being there for her through the maternal suffering, such as depicted in Michelangelo's Pieta.

This companionship has helped me through many of the difficulties of motherhood. That is, I feel intentional fatherhood on the part of both God the Father and my husband has helped relieve my fears about my insufficiency, as well as easing the pain of anticipating and witnessing the consequences of the Fall on my children. I don't feel the heavy burden of sole responsibility for the choice to bring children into a world of inevitable suffering.

Anyway, that's my perspective about why birth-control exacerbates mal-adaptation.

Nigel Worthington said...

Regarding distinguishing between the animal vs the divine within - for some reason this reminds me of spiral dynamics popularized by Ken Wilbur. The idea being that humans develop predictably through stages of consciousness centering around increasing awareness, moving from self-identification to more global even cosmic level of identity. According to the model we can distinguish "higher" and "lower" levels within ourselves So we can be aware of our hidden motives (and which level those motives originate), tribal tendencies, other peoples motives and feelings and so on with different values depending on stage in the model. I've grown skeptical of the utility of this model over the years for various reason. While I think there is some truth to it, I don't think intellectual awareness is enough. Like a deeper moral choice is necessary.