Allotetraploid asks, after noting my reference in the last post to The Sword of Damocles, "But why not be satisfied with statistics over the fates of kings and tyrants? 68,3% of all rulers meet an unhappy end, remember that class! Well, here’s the nitty-gritty of our primate brains again."; in other words why do we need floating swords, tortoises and burning bushes to communicate Truth? Why not just explain the facts involved? (I'll follow up more fully and justly to Allo's comments in a later post - today... I just want to wind this series up!)
In fact, that's the question that the last few posts have been leading up to, that learning to become Human, a human that is Civilized, and in particular one that is civilized in a Western way, is a process that is an unnatural (meaning it is not an automatic response like fight or flight, it is not biologically evolved, but morally evolved), learned attainment – and there are certain assumptions and requirements to achieve it. If what we are after is an educative learning, then there are two successful methods, via rhyme and wonderment (which along with musicality, are very closely tied), rhythmically repetitive rote learning (best done in leader/group settings) such as times tables, prose tales, and pure dry facts and figures. If what you are after is not an educative learning (edu-care), but instead instilled training, ‘skilled’ recall – then forced flat memorization will do. Here there is no leading out, but instead a filling up.
Educate:It is important to realize that the proregressives finally succeeded in turning the entire structure of Education in the United States on its head at the opening of the 20th Century, where it shifted from the ‘a’ points above, to the ‘b’ points.
Middle English, to rear, from Latin educatus, past participle of educare to
rear, educate, from educere to lead forth — more at educe
15th century transitive verb1
a: to provide schooling for
b: to train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession2
a: to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction
b: to provide with information :
Education, and by extension Reasoning, shifted from “…educere to lead forth” to “to train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession”, from a goal of developing mentally and morally in order to “lead out ” from bondage (bondage? To whom? Hmm…see if you can guess who to) in general, and in particular the Liberal idea of making one worthy and able to live in Liberty, to “… train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession” – This is the crux of the matter, the point of capital ‘R’ and little ‘r’ reasoning. Does education and thought occur in response to input, deterministically, from the outside in, or as a result of inwardly contemplating foundational principles, to align and order yourself in harmony with what is Right and True, and so lead yourself from within to without. I’ve touched on this elsewhere, and will so again, perhaps partly in response to one of Allo’s posts claiming that moral values are an evolutionary response. Please. But that is for another post, without arguing the processes involved at this point, let’s look at the relative merits as told by historical fact on the effectiveness of each.
Prior to the Proregressive invasion, American schooling (mostly mom's and dad’s and locally controlled school houses) relied upon education for preschool to preteen in the form of rhymes, nursery rhymes, just-so mythic tales, Poems – narrative and scriptural. At the 11-13 yr. old level, they began transitioning to more factual narratives, never fully breaking with the earlier tales, but giving detail and support or clarification to them, still with emphasis on seeking and identifying with the Good, the Beautiful and the True, to inspired, exalted goals.
In this way kids were able to take math tests in '9th' grade which today’s graduating seniors (high school OR college) can barely read. They had comprehension of Geo-Historical place, time and events which most adults are clueless about today. Don’t believe me? Check out these excepts from the 8th grade final exam from Salina, KS circa 1895. Here’s a peak:
· Arithmetic: If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?For some time the proregressives had succeeded in twisting the concept of Education into a political class-warfare type issue, and at the turn of the century several publicized commissions were set up to ‘study the matter’ and make suggestions for how the Gov’t should take over the area – not whether or not to, but how. The progressive inspired (but still Classically reared) Charles Elliott’s blue-ribbon "Committee of Ten" report of 1893 embarrassingly (to the proregressives) goofed, not getting the gist of the movements suggestions, they actually came up with a plan for Educating our youth.
· Grammar: Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters. (did you even know that there were 9 rules?)
· U.S. History: Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
· Orthography: What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?.
· Geography: Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same
That was ‘corrected’ by a NEA’s commission, which this time reduced the number of commissioners who might actually have something to do with Education, and loaded it up with bureaucrats and busy-bodies (See Richard Mitchells “Seven Deadly Principles”). The proregressives brought in strategies of facts being tied first and foremost to relevance and relevance to current events and to concerns irrelevant to education (health and hygiene, etc), and the slide to creatively relating to math in order to relate to the mathematical process, rather than wasting time on the memorization of it’s principles (This can be found laid out in nauseating goals in the Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education). What they meant for them to understand (and many such as Dewey and Wilson came right out and said it), was that they wanted a plan for training youth to fill jobs, instead of making them fit for a college Education – and what they didn’t say quite so publicly, was the understanding that such a training would make their actual Education nearly impossible. Ditto for reading in whole word English and rules of grammar. Ditto for social studies and civics education in respecting the worth and value of manners and other cultures.
The very idea of learning has been twisted and corrupted. We learn science as independent facts, like Newton’s laws, as if they come from nowhere. They are sterile, devoid of wonder, nowhere is there taught the quest for understanding (as in Boorstin's “The Discoverers”), there is not even teaching of the foundational discoveries and observations from Thales on through Galileo within which Newton’s genius was able to find the related thread, the One in the Many which revealed the laws of motion and gravitation.
There is something missing here….
The Wind From Athens Blows Into Jerusalem
In the last post, we looked at how the Greeks ideas of Gods had led to high-minded considerations of the nature of the universe, and even to the idea of A ‘God’, what the nature of such a prime mover might be, and the first speculations on the afterlife, but tending more so towards the here-and-now-life. They discovered how to hold their thought up to inspection, to be able to pass it around the campfire for others to examine, refine, improve and pass it back to you again, and spread to others and then apply it to stuff here in reality. They discovered how to look at and see the world here, and to change it – but they had lost their way in the Why department.
Not that they didn’t have philosophy – they created it – them – philosophies, but for the most part those philosophies with some notable exceptions lived in the debate, but not so much elsewhere, the belief had gone out of them. The Sun was no longer Apollo driving his chariot across the sky, but a fiery hot rock.
Interesting, perhaps, but not nearly so inspiring.
Truth, as a tangible aspect of reality, of a value in and for your life, had slipped from their grasp. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides - Socrates, Plato, Aristotle; all had been gone for hundreds of years by the time the Romans hit their stride in 100 B.C., and the Romans took the Greeks ideas and put them into practical practice, developing them into the distinctive ideas of Roman Law, Republican structure, the idea of a Citizen – but it was for things & methods, not eternal Truths. And though they valued the Greeks as teachers, they looked down on them as a people (Cato the Elder would say things like “They’ll lie, cheat, and steal and sue you for catching them at it”).
But their ideas on how the world worked, how the mind worked, what must the universe be like – what was The Good, The Beautiful and The True, these ideas did manage to burn on with their own fire – and back burner though it may have been, it kept the coffee warm.
Everywhere they went, the Greeks Ideas went with them, and not just some particular thoughts of so-and-so philosopher, but the manner and methods of thinking them, and re-thinking them. When, a couple centuries before, Alexander conquered the known world, he brought with him the ideas of Plato and Aristotle as well. In Alexandria, a colony of Greeks and Greek thought thrived, and the light of learning drew peoples from all around the world to warm their hands at its fire, and some of that warmth intermingled with those peoples own hearth fire as well. People such as the Jews.
There is an argument, some very interesting ones, whose popularity fluctuates, that the Greek ideals, either philosophical or via mystery cults such as Dionysus, and ideas of their being an afterlife, had strongly influenced the thought of the Jews, and by extension Christianity (Good luck finding ideas of an Idealized afterlife predating Plato, or even Cicero, for that matter). Then as fashions go, it has fallen out of favor. Many extrapolations of their Ideals details do conflict(between Greek and Jew), ideas on ex nihilo etc, of Material and the body being essentially corrupt (Greek) and it being integral to being Human (Jews), and many other details. And so the consensus has turned to saying that their influence was only surface level, not of any real depth.
Hmm. Perhaps. Still….
Something changed on the ground in the world of the Jews, didn’t it? For several hundred years, to be considered educated in the middle east, meant to be educated by Greeks, and to read and write Greek. So much so that the leaders of the Jews of Alexandria nearly lost the ability to read and write Hebrew; the translation of the Tanakh, or Old Testament, were made into Greek in the Septuagint because they feared that those Jews of the nation of Israel who could read and write, were unable to read and write in Hebrew - but those same Jews could read and write in Greek! True, the Jews who were still grounded in their Jewishness scoffed at many of the ‘translations of the 70’ in it, but they were there and used by huge numbers of Jews (and the later generations used That, to translate into the Christian Old Testament). Gymnasiums were built and used in Jerusalem – and that was huge.
The Core of the Jews beliefs may have persisted, certainly did, without being altered by contact with the Greeks – but their way of thinking, and other thoughts they thought, and wrote… I doubt they escaped the ‘Taint’ of the Greek’s.
Martin Hengel showed fairly persuasively in"Judaism and Hellenism: Studies in Their Encounter in Palestine During the Early Hellenistic Period", that the area of Jewish Palestine beginning around 300 BC, had already been touched by Greek thought in significant ways. Such as,
· under Ptolemaic (the main surviving house established from Alexander’s time) rule, the Jews had no choice but to deal with Greek ideas of Gov’t and Greek methods of administrating them,With all of that, it’s hard for me to buy the idea that Judaism escaped untouched by Greek thought, and it is even more unlikely that early Christianity somehow emerged free from any signs of Greekness, and that it was only in later centuries that it was ‘corrupted’ by Athens – it just doesn’t seem plausible, History just doesn’t unfold in such compartmentalized ways. True, Scholars forever debate whether the source languages were Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic or Latin… but the status was that while Latin was the language of the Rulers, Greek was the language they looked to for Intellectually respectable learning (there was also quite a bit of cross pollinating between Latin and Greek as a result of the Romans using Greek as the primary administrating language in the Hellenistic areas (see 'A History of Ancient Greek') - new terms and meanings crept into both language. Hey, a little mud won't hurt the waters here.), Aramaic was the common language of middle eastern business… in that pecking order, it was Greek that was the one that set the intellectual tone - even when it wasn’t directly used.
· the land they lived in, Palestine, then as now, was not only a prime location for coastal ports, but it was also a crossroads for trade through the Mideast and across the Mediterranean, which meant dealing with, bargaining with, and contractually adhering to bargains with, Greek traders and merchants who operated throughout the area,
· Greek language was the common language throughout the Hellenized Mideast, and naturally it became the common language of the Roman Empire, and so it was unavoidably important to Jewish culture – there is a Reason why it became the language of the New Testament,
· What with Greek learning being the mark of the educated throughout the Greek and later Roman periods, Greek paedia, or educational techniques were practiced on, and by, the Jews.
Whatever the case, something definitely changed, for change did come. And Jesus was almost certainly an educated Man (not to imply that he was a Hellenized Jew, but that he did see the Jewish teachings… differently, that they were not just to be lived as laws but that they were laws in order that they might properly live, he saw further into them, than others had before him, and he certainly practiced them in fresh ways), and those who followed after him most certainly were – Mark, Matthew and of course Paul in particular, and if you think that substantial thought can live in your mind, separately from other thought, compartmentalized and without affecting other thoughts and beliefs in your Soul – then you need to seriously ponder what the meaning of Is, IS.
… And The Wind From Jerusalem Blows Back Into Athens
Prior to this time, the Greeks had been exposed to, and been interested in, Jewish philosophy … but more as a curiosity than anything else – they didn’t gravitate to it, didn’t learn to speak it, think it, live it – they examined it as they would interesting fauna and flora from parts unknown, and that was pretty much that.
That changed however, when that fellow named Paul came a calling. Paul conveyed Jesus’s teachings of Judaism in language and terms that the Greeks Got. Here were ideas that didn’t just live in debate, but succeeded in tapping into your soul, and YOU your soul and your choice to preserve and love it – that it, you, were important to God – That was a new and compelling concept, and with it, Paul showed the Greeks the way to the Vertical fire escape, and they began to take it and run with it. Mind and body re-attached with Soul, via Truth - and more importantly, it required Your Free Choice to make the connection. A fragile third leg began to emerge.
Again, this isn’t to say that the Christian message was intrinsically Hellenized, but that it was transmitted from mind to mind along Greek thoughtways, is I think, inarguable. Just as where we can read and study Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and the works of the great Tragedians and Philosophers and their thoughts as Greek thoughts – translated into English – any Classicist who is able to read and write ancient Greek, is going to tell you that there is a Greekness missing in your understanding, and an Englishness present that the ancient Greeks would not recognize. This was even true with the translations of Greek into Latin, even though most educated Romans were fluent with Greek. So to with the Gospels.
For instance, a fascinating analysis can be found at this site, The Living Words which includes a few key words from his larger book. Wholy (or holy) apart from the nature of the words, it's interesting to see how words transform in their travels from language to language.
You can read the full analysis of “Hell”, as it travels from ancient Hebrew into Greek, but I'll just grab a few excepts here.
Hell ~~Such information should give pause not only to Literalist Fundies, but also to literalist Atheists - there is an idea here to be seen and explored. Reasoning isn’t just analyzing and solving, but contemplating, relating, considering, integrating, and it develops and has meaning, and if you are thoughtful in such a manner, it not only has value, but creates value and substance for your mind to chew upon.
The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.Psalm 18:5 (KJV)In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word l was she’ol is translated as either “hell” or “grave” or in some translations, it is transliterated as “Sheol.” What is she'ol and how did the Ancient Hebrews of the Old Testament perceive it? As I have said before, in order to better understand a word, it is essential to look at its root and other related words. The verbal root of the word l was she’ol is l as sha'al and is used almost 200 times where it is usually translated as “asked” such as we see in Genesis 24:47.And I asked (sha’al) her and said...Why do we ask questions? We are looking for information that is currently unknown to us. This word, “unknown,” is the key to understanding the root l as sha'al.
The word hlasshi’eylah, a noun derived from las sha'al is also related to the idea of “unknown” such as can be observed in Job6:8 where it is translated as a request.
“Oh that I might have my request (shi’eylah); and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!(KJV)”
The word l was she’ol is the place where one goes when they die. The question is, did they understand this to be simply the grave where one is buried or another place one goes after they die—the underworld? This is a difficult question for one to answer, because the Hebrew Bible never really defines she’ol. There is evidence, however, that the Hebrews understood she’ol to be more than just the grave.
The Ancient Hebrews did not know where, or even what, she’ol was. To them it was an “unknown” place, hence its relationship to sha’al meaning “unknown.” Ancient Hebrews never speculated on something unknown—to them it was simply “unknown” and left at that. But one with a Greek mindset always desires to know the unknown. It is our Greco-Roman western mindset that needs to know where and what she’ol is.In the New Testament, we find three words translated as “hell.”
The first is geenna. When the New Testament was translated into Greek, the translators transliterated rather than translated some Hebrew words into Greek. ... ayg gai , meaning “valley” and Mnh hinnom , a place name of uncertain meaning. Gai hinnom or “Valley of Hinnom”is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem. In the days of Yeshuathe “Valley of Hinnom” burned continually with fires that consumed the garbage and dead animals dumped there… Mark 9:43 (KJV)
The idea of a “fire” being associated with she’ol is unique to the New Testament and no such reference will be found in the Old Testament. Apparently, the fires of hell
is a concept introduced into the Hebrew culture from an outside source, possibly
while Israel was in Babylon during their captivity.
The second word translated as “hell” in the New Testament is hades. This is the Greek word used in the Greek Septuagint for the Hebrew word she’ol. Hades is used in the New Testament in the same sense as the Hebrew she’ol, the place of the dead, the
underworld. However, in the New Testament hades/she’ol is first described as a
place of torment…
The third word translated as hell is tartaroo and is found only once in the Bible.
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartaroo), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved untojudgment2 Peter 2:4 (KJV)“
The word tartaros comes from Greek Mythology and was a deep abyss and a place of torment where the Greek gods banished their enemies. The use of this word in the New Testament is a clear case of a Greek influence on the New Testament text. The verb tartaroo, from the noun tartaros, means “cast into tartaros.”...
Key to being able to deeply consider such issues, is to not discard the poetic imagery, but to use it, to realize that it in part serves to provide a third dimensional perspective from which to examine the issue at hand. With it you are freed from the constraints of simple linear travel in thought from point A connecting to B connecting to C... instead, it provides you with a vantage point to be able see how A relates to C and D, and perhaps even creates a substructure of their own within the larger issue. The image of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden should be example enough of this, but you have to activly look, you have to patiently consider and explore it, image by image, and as a whole as well. If all you are able to get from Genesis is talking snake stories and cosmic real estate agents, you're being blinded by the slight.
Also, the poetic imagery is more lasting than the detailed telling in language, easily outliving the demise of its carrier (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin... all have passed on as living languages, but the stories once told through them, live on), and also, of course, it provides such expansive room for Reasoning. For instance, many of the Latin words and phrases used in the telling of the Aeneaid, are subtly altered in translation, and though those reading it in English may derive different granular meanings from it, the imagery of Aeneas losing hold of his wife’s hand in the escape from Troy, but all the while carrying his father on his back, speaks volumes about the Roman thinking regarding personal desires as opposed to traditional duties.
It is potent imagery that casts up a scaffolding for detailed Ideas to then fill – such details may change in depth and meaning from one peoples language to another, Latin, English or what have you, each of which will inscribe different details using different materials – marble, granite, etc, but the shape of that greater Cathedral of thought, remains constant between them all. The person who reads the Aenead in French, German or English, will be fully able to discuss it between themselves, bringing certain shadings peculiar to their language and culture to the discussion – but the story remains the same because the imagery persists across the vagaries of language.
So too with the Bible, for instance with the righteous townspeople preparing to stone an adulteress, a Pharisee attempts to catch Jesus in opposition to Jewish law with his words of peace and love, but the righteous would be stone-throwers he seeks to stir up by asking Jesus how to deal with a brazen violator of the law, are themselves internally disarmed by Jesus saying to them that he who is without sin, cast the first stone (Richard Mitchell gives a fascinating example of (a non-religious) Reasoning on this matter in Chapter 4 “The Right Little Thing” of his “Gift of Fire”). He exited the Law, pre-empted its realm, and turned the attackers into facing the violators within their own hearts – gave them a ‘but for the grace of god go I’ moment. They dropped their stones and drifted away. The Pharisee who represented church AND (client) state, was out of his league – tripped up by the start of the third leg. There are many different shadings of meaning in that episode between Greek, Latin, German, English – but the imagery persists through them all.
Whatever their original language, Aramaic, Hebrew… let the scholars debate… it was spread in Greek. Paul wrote in Greek. The Old Testament and New Testament were first transmitted in Greek thought, and it most certainly left its mark. Augustine, Denys the Areopagite, these were educated people, educated in Greco-Roman thought, and lifted up into a One inspired consideration of The Cosmos.
The later (or initial - again, scholars debate...) translations into Latin left its mark as well, and still later translations into German and English and so on, have brought together the ancient wisdom of the Greeks and the Jews into a uniquely Western form of thought – Greco/Roman Judeo/Christian is far too clumsy – the entire ball of wax, from Homer to Socrates to Jesus to Cicero to Shakespeare to the Founding Fathers – you can try to run a mass spectrometer test upon it if you want (I think that’d be pointless), but the end result is the different pieces have melted into a unique expression as Western Culture.
The Old Testament intimation of an all powerful, undefined God, is not a weakness of the Judeo/Christian religion, but their secret strength. “I Am that I AM” was the fire escape to the higher heavens which later Greeks would help to illuminate – but prior to then and lacking that, the Olympians had long since begun to flag, as more ‘clear minded’ Greeks such as Thales focused upon the here and now. For a time, they were able to balance the two views – but the stool of Reason requires three legs, and no matter how beautiful and strong their two legs may have been, or how much an improvement two legs were over a single leg, in the end the stool was still unbalanced and doomed to fall.
Why is Religion necessary?
When asking that question, you should also ask ‘necessary for what'? And even more fundamentally, why is Poetry (in its wider sense of imaginative integrations, wonderment, vividness, not merely as a convention for rhyming words) necessary? And then ask what mental posture is created with, and what mental posture is created without, it being present?
Perhaps you would like to go to any middle or high school (if you dare) to judge the relative merits of the current system of Reasoning being learned.
I think that part of the answer is hinted at in these two approaches – attempting to Educate and Reason, with and without, Wonderment. Wonderment by its nature conveys an openness to wider truths, an expectation of understanding how this current oddity fits into what you know of the world. Facts as facts alone, don't do that, they are only more stuff, competing with other stuff on a flat relation with your life, and unless it is understood that they are arrayed within hierarchies of higher meaning, the result is that they will tend to trivialize the remaining areas of meaning you still hold to within your life. Wonderment brings with it the implicit sense that, all is connected and hierarchically structured, it entwines Truth, fact and Lie, pleasure and pain, fulfillment and emptiness altogether, in a way that nothing else can.
Have you ever read a grade school ‘social studies’ textbook (in which, as with my 8 yr olds)? You’ll find such gems as “The purpose of Gov’t is to provide the community with Recreation, Transportation and Safety” – seriously. And no, no mention of Individual Rights. A math textbook? A ‘Comm Arts’(the current fad faux grammar) textbook? There is nothing interesting in them for the mind or soul – there are some splashy and amateurish graphics (as the kids themselves note, being familiar with professional grade graphics from video games) . They are second rate advertising campaigns for the current educationistic fad which is given more prominence than the material they are supposed to be imparting, at best they are mind numbing. There is no wonderment within them or within the prison-lite compounds (aka schools’) they are used within – the life of the mind has left them.
When you’ve asked why is Poetry necessary, all roads will eventually lead to religion, it arises as a natural highpoint, an ultimate goal and highest point towards which all tends, because it is concerned with preserving your highest value (or at least it should be, in either a religious or seculuar view)– your Soul. This is well understood by the proregressives, hence their eagerness to root out all semblance of it. The concept of religion isn't just an arbitrary creation of nutty old men bent on controlling their community. It is an abstraction of the All, that the mind seems to naturally intuit. It is a poetic abstraction that underlies any and all that we think, do and experience - and intend to think, do and experience. That sense of an all encompassing whole, also implicitly communicates a sense of the actual existence of Truth, of which all things that are, are of, have relation to - and that that which isn't, doesn't exist, or is in opposition to what IS.
I should qualify that - this does not occur 'naturally', by which I mean, automatically - at least not in a recognizable Western way of high minded, idealized virtuous Religion – what comes naturally is appealing to brute power worship. The unnatural Western way must be actively discovered, conveyed and opened into consciousness.
The test questions that I excerpted at the opening of this post came from a method of schooling that was immersed in wonderment, myth and poetry – all of the basics such as the alphabet, rules of grammar, times tables, civility and manners, etc, were infused with and began with rhyming and rhythmic rote learning – at every layer it was infused with the poetic. Our modern methods of schooling are devoid of the poetic, replacing it with alleged infusions of ‘relevance’ – mind killing data related to more data with no semblance of the poetic in sight, other than maybe some artless rhyming pap (or Rap). Allo's suggestion of "68,3% of all rulers meet an unhappy end, remember that class! " is the depressing norm.
This is the role of wonderment, of Poetry, of Religion.
Why is Religion more necessary, more important than nursery rhymes or Myths? Well, this shouldn't be that difficult to Reason out. How much attention, significance, do you give to Nursery Rhymes? Myths? Feel a great deal of relevance to your life and well being there, do you? Wake up in the morning and recite “Jack & Jill, went up the hill…” in order to get in the proper frame of mind?
Religion, perhaps can be seen 'scientifically' as nursery rhymes or myths (former or also ran religious tales) writ large. With the onset of Wonderment, they are told with grave import, that they are important to community, body and soul. But there is more to it than that, Religion is the pinnacle of Poetry, and necessarily, all roads will eventually lead into IT, it arises as a natural highpoint, an ultimate goal and highest point towards which all 'Why' questions tend, because, again, it is concerned with not only preserving your highest value – your Soul, but through your active commitment to what is True through its offices, and it functions to improve your soul by ordering all of your other concerns in proper relation to it, and to that which exalts it, The Good, The Beautiful and The True. In short, Religion is all encompassing. The Poetic is three dimensional, and Religion sits at the conic tip of the entire structure.
Another thing to perhaps consider, is what is it you seek, assuming you have the wit to, in a Liberal Education? What is it you seek to be liberated from? The State? Corporate Oligarchies? Parental Authoritarianism? That may be all that 'b-track' education or training are sufficient to accomplish, but they are not the goal of, and they fall far short of the goal of a Liberal Education.
The goal of a Liberal Education is to liberate you from yourself. To make you worthy of Liberty, to be worthy of being set free from control by the state, corp’s, parents and others, means that you must be of sufficient timber as to be free from the merciless tyrannies of your own natural passions.
In short, you must seek to rise above yourself, and to do so, there must be prepared a place to rise up to.
Sign Or Seinfeld?
Enter the whirld of Religion. A realm of imagery uniting all principle into One Truth. It intuits a ‘place’, a state of mind and soul, that is built of the non-conflicting integrations of All, the best of the best are seen to be working together in harmony, and the worst in you is seen as ‘efforts that miss the mark’ aka ‘Sin’. Religion posits an ideal towards which you will always aim for, and even while knowing that you will be unable to be like Robin Hood splitting one arrow after another in the bullseye – you still try.
Allotetraploid commented on one of my earlier posts, "The bible might be believed but is seldom read. Can even the pope name the fathers-in-law of Moses more readily than the names of the Pevensie siblings in Lewis Narnia?" Apparently he somehow sees the problem of discarding tradition – without somehow admitting to it. Because people have taken leave of their cultural footing, and so their senses, should we assume that that is something worthwhile to do? Do we as a Culture really want to find ourselves as temporally adrift as many of those I work with who are stunned that people no longer seem to speak Seinfeld?
Traditions cannot be passed on as mere fact – not and also live within the culture, nor I think, can the Culture expect to live on without its traditions, poetic and religious – without them, the details of daily life, of technology, draw down and swamp all direction and purpose; but it too must be balanced, ordered, or it too can upend the culture. The stool of Reason requires three legs, evenly balanced, each lending support to the other. I certainly won’t deny that religion can result in tyranny and stultification, but neither will I fall into the fools trap of thinking that little ‘r’ reason will somehow be free of the same peril. Good God, you don’t even need to do a 30 min investigation of the silly claims of Global Warmers, or even of Marxism – all you need to do is read the course offerings of Berkeley or Harvard! The unbalanced leftist reach towards blind tyranny is blazingly clear.
What also must be kept in mind, is that the ratio of poetic imagery to intellectual understanding, must be adjusted by the degree towards which it is deliberately and finely applied within peoples lives. Something like a simple understanding of the Ten Commandments is quite suitable to a normal Americans life in regards to living well, which can be boiled down to: do not lie, cheat, steal or betray, and remain focused upon what is of value to you and your community (as long as you remember that boiling it down will utterly destroy it’s reach and power within the peoples lives).
Such an understanding however, is wholly inadequate to those who will have a more intellectual involvement in their own, and their community’s lives, such as a Judge, Professor or Cleric. As a person climbs in relevant involvement of the Mind and Spirit in daily life and affairs, they need to apply a deeper intellectual understanding of ethical and spiritual matters, and as a more and deeper understanding develops in the person, there is and should be less reliance upon the imagery in favor of intellectual understanding. But as the circle rotates, even fully, there is not only no need or requirement for the person to pull away from the imagery – or for science, to denounce or renounce the imagery, there is instead a need to pull towards it! The poetic imagery, the Religious understanding Must be kept in mind, because as with most dangers it is perfectly natural to abandon what cannot be seen, for what can. Seeing can be dis-believing.
In fact the person who wishes to remain in full capital 'R' Reasoning, must make an intellectual effort to retain the uniting imagery of the poetic/Religious understanding, or the foundations of his soul and understanding will crumble to sand and wash away. He must be sure to keep an appropriate ratio, never a monolithic mass of either one or the other - the intellectuals need to always be sure to interpret and apply each to the other in an appropriate manner. Again, you must remember that boiling the message down to facts, will utterly destroy it’s reach and power within the peoples lives, with such one sided thought they become stuff, and then either hedonism and license, or literalist theocratic predestinationism, is going to build up to the point of tipping the culture towards a volatile implosion.
The literalist fundie preacher, who does, or should know of the differences between poetic and analytic, is a destroyer of, or at the very least a crippler of, the person preached to, and the message being preached. The greatest failure and danger of the protestant revolution, was to put every enthusiastic imbiber of biblical story, into a potential position of authority while having little or no understanding of the deeper knowledge contained within the narrative.
In part I feel the Atheist’s pain when they decry the ‘Reverend Billy’ types out there, but it is pointless to ask why people are, as they most certainly Are. People, even Christopher Hitchens, as I pointed out in the last post, have a need for the religious, for wonder - not just amusement and curiosity, but positive or negative Wonder, and the negative is only too obvious around us in the modern world. Lacking that which a positive Religious grasp imparts via The Good, The Beautiful and The True; we are left with the sublime only – of being impressed only with overwhelming quantity, and we risk reverting to a pre-Western culture, one that imparts only a sense of power and doom, alone and all pervasive – and ultimately all destructive.
Again, it is helpful to keep in mind, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
What’s the Point? Establishing the Third Leg
From the Poetic sense of morality, the sense of the Most High is enabled to flow through your thoughts and actions, inspiring and integrating them in emulation of those ideals. After all, a few short phrases such as:”
...And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
… makes silly and incomplete any effort flat prose ("68.3% of all rulers meet an unhappy end...") might make to compass the same scope of concepts, even armed with numerous essays and volumes of explanation and logic about the necessity of defending your king and country, how such risks will be worthwhile in the end, etc, etc, etc. In fact (a hint ahead) attempting to codify and impose what the above few lines would freely inspire your followers to enthusiastically do of their own free will, would be more likely to produce sullen rebellion than esprit de corps.
The Poetic turned inwards and so involving you, your deliberate consideration upon what is The Good, The Beautiful and The True, what is the moral ideal to strive for – Jesus’s ‘cast the first stone’, is what leads to developing the third leg of Reason, the integration of your active thought, the fruit of your free will, with a governing ideal in Reality.
George Washington worked very hard to become the image he had developed into his public reputation, that of a stoic classical liberal Man. He was very careful of his public actions and speech and mannerisms – question, was he trying to pretend to be something he wasn’t, or was he trying to create and become something he envisaged to be exemplary? Washington not only used the poetic, but sought to become the poetic, sought to embody the higher poetic truth, in the best sense, that man might become Godlike in the flesh.
The Founders generation was the culmination of Western Man and Civilization(If you can find a copy of this book "Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic" by James J. Walsh (1935), get it! – an eye opening research into the schooling (long gone) that produced the true Greatest Generation, that of the Founding Fathers). Some have taken Plato’s Republic as an allegory for how an individual’s soul should be ordered. It is flawed – hugely, but fruitful food for thought, and it was the best possible for the time. For its time it was a huge stride forward – for ours, it is inadequate. And even as the Roman Republic would be an improvement over anarchy, or despotism, so is it improved upon with constitutional republicanism, where the people attend to their education and morals, and the Gov’t attends to their laws - but that didn’t make the Roman republic false, or even Plato's, only incomplete. So too the Olympians give way to the Judeo/Christian, as the English parliamentary system gave way to the American constitutional republic.
I think probably the point of Religion, is to evoke the whole, that which can not be grasped, but whose existence, since all exists within it, can be sensed. As I noted before with poetry
“I suggested in an earlier comment that the unconscious might
be represented as conduits which connect and integrate data, but don't
themselves contain data. When you're grasping at a thought that you can't quite
verbalize but can almost palpably feel in your grasp, you do in fact have your
mental "hand" upon one or more of these connective conduits which are ready to
carry you to their data; if you'll just stop trying to pull their ends to you
and allow yourself be carried along to their destinations, they will take you to
what you're seeking.
Those who paint conceptual integrations with their words, the true poets, are those that help us to "see" truths which are connected and integrated in ways we can't always fully grasp at once, but their poetry leads us down paths that manage to enable us to connect one once distant side of our soul, to another.
When you find a Poem that "speaks" to you, what is happening is that the Poet is deftly raising a series of images together with particular concepts, which plucks your mental integrations as if they were plucking a harmonic chord of integrated subconscious strings, and suddenly you're being flooded with multiple images, thoughts and feelings coursing through your mind as those conduits draw their connected data into your conscious gaze.”
Focused reason - Of what use is a lover of Wisdom, who is not wise? Leg One
The Greeks offerings to the Gods, in both the Ideal and Physical world, were the scraps off their table, not the filets. Alone of all the peoples of the world, they discovered the EARTH, and perhaps because of that, their myths lacked the lift to keep them from crashing back into it, much as Daedelus did. Perhaps because they only approached the Ideal, instead of becoming it, which the Judeo Christian religion could and did do. The Jews discovered a personal God, but largely missed out on the world. Still, you miss much if you miss the fact that the West is as much Greco/Roman, as Judeo/Christian – what has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Nearly everything, and those combined Ideas of the West have been expanding and deepening the layers of our conceptual landscape ever since – but that landscape exists only after being created afresh within each person and each generation, in their mental RAM. Ideas that began with the Polis, moved into the world and discovered the Soul – have done so because they’ve been able to build upon the previous layers – and those previous layers must be learned and laid down, for the next to be properly acquired – and for the cultural tradition to carry on.
To do that, requires all three legs of the Stool of Reason.
The first Leg is the scientific branch of morality, the Law – the external interactions between Individuals and their Government via the intersection of their Individual Rights; that which is tangible, identifiable, applicable and verifiable between citizens, but it still relies upon you, your consideration and participation. Micro-managing and excessive regulation which seeks to substitute specific detailed commands in place of individual thought, banishes the human along with any chance of being respected, obeyed and upheld(an excellent, compact little book called [The Death of Common Sense, does a very good job of showing how regulatory decrees eventually prevent, or at least greatly hinder, free and common sense thought). This hints at a very important feature of the balanced three legged stool of Reason - If you attempt to enforceby public decree that which falls into the realm of the internal poetic, deterministic ‘morals’ upon others, you will destroy morality. If you seek for others to define morality for you, you abandon it. And if you then try to pretend morality doesn’t exist, you will have no clue who, what or where, you are. You must take considered account of high and low, North Star and Footfall, and actively live the balance of them.
The scientific branch of morality, is the Law – that which is tangible, identifiable, applicable and verifiable between you, but it still relies upon you, your consideration and participation – micro-managing, regulations that substitute detailed commands in place of thought, banishes the human and any chance of being obeyed and upheld(an excellent, compact little book called [The Death of Common Sense, does a very good job of showing how regulatory decrees eventually prevent, or at least greatly hinder, free and common sense thought).
This hints at a very important feature of the balanced three legged stool of Reason - If you attempt to enforce that which falls into the realm of the internal poetic Morallity decision upon others, you will destroy morality. If you seek for others to define morality for you, you abandon it. If you try to pretend morality doesn’t exist, you will have no clue where, or who, you are. You must take account of high and low, North Star and Footfall, and actively live the balance of them. When a society attempts to intrude upon the responsibility of the Individual, or if the individual attempts to default upon his own self responsibility for moral reasoning, allowing, or even inviting in occupation by one or the other, unbalance will come, and you can be sure the entire stool will eventually be tumbled to the ground, and The Gods of The Copybook Headings will return once more.
‘Don’t bother to try to examine a folly, ask only what it accomplishes.’ Leg Two
What is accomplished with the assertion that we are nothing but animals? In this case, 'animals' is used as an example of a reactive machine, a machine determined by its environment, and conceding that eliminates the Inside from your life, Wonder is out - commiting you to admitting the existence only of the Outside.
You have no control.
You have no responsibility.
You have no you, and in no time flat, the State will come to collect you.
Wonder is our full attentive partaking in the moment – being here now – as this new X is occurring, our synapses are wide open, our connections ready … and waiting… to name and relate… ready… we’ve heard 5 notes… where’s the last 2!? In that wide eyed moment of anticipating we don’t know what – we experience Wonder. In those moments, our free will is in full active operation, WE are there in that moment, not recalled memories of how to act, of signing off on purchase orders of habitual behavior – WE are present and acting in our life, and Reason is the guide we use to choose what to consider, what to do next.
It’s been said that the answer is the death of curiosity – in many ways this is true. Any Philosophy or Religion purporting to give answers that eliminates you from the equation – intends to eliminate you from all equations.To those of the West, the dangers to Reason from the spewings of something such as the Taliban are still self evidently abhorrent. But what must become of Reason at the hands of a Philosopher who attempts to reduce capital ‘R’ Reason to little ‘r’ reason?
The history of those who were spawned by proregressivist/Marxist thought is evident throughout the 20th century, ranging on a scale from Wilson to Hitler to Stalin/Mao/Castro, and all of their mixed variations across the world; they have been utopian, socially and economically stultifying and eventually (to date or foreseeably) genocidal in practice. One example from a recent Aninnymouse Troll at One Cosmos, who said of Heidegger "...but still he *is* a great philosopher, even a spiritual one..."
My question to him was, of what use is a Philosopher, a lover of Wisdom, who is not in a wider sense, Wise? Who not only makes such monumental 'errors' of judgment such as choosing the ideals of Nazi Germany over America, but who would not even acknowledge it as a mistake afterwards? This is not merely a trivial item of preference such as choosing candidate X over candidate Y, or a disagreement over party affiliations - this is a defining choice and reflects his deepest most fundamental judgments and values and ultimately his estimation of what is Good, Beautiful and True - or whether or not such things even exist - which in the end, for him, they did not – and so ugliness proceeded forth from such thoughts and the thinkers who thought them.
Heidegger may have put some fine looking decorations upon his philosophical house, but he showed his house to be vacant and his foundation to be rotten to the core, and I guarantee you that if you look closely at those pretty adornments you'll find them to be corrupt as well.
It is only when you have Religion on high as a part of your Reason, and Logic in its proper place at your feet, and you in the middle, the active focal point, the agent of Reasoning, that you have all in tune and in their proper places, that you can safely, harmoniously channel the power of thought.
The materialist is a fool who thinks that his little 'r' reason is Reason and with it he can banish all threats, his own failings, blind to Religion, he takes his eyes off it and thinks it no longer exists - nothing but intellectual ostrich's. But the scary Truth is that little 'r' reason can't banish Religion, it isn't gone from any one of you - it is still there, but unknown - do you have any idea what horrors can creep into the shadows of the willfully unknown? The fool who thinks himself wise is a danger. If he gains power with no one of Wisdom to correct him, he's an apocalypse. If the materialist world ever comes fully into being, its inhabitants will pray for something as cute and cudly as shrunken heads and witch doctors to banish the horrors of their lives.
Two Legs Looking For A Third...
As the Age of Enlightenment rolled around, we in the West had before us recorded histories of two legs of the stool of Reason. The Greco/Roman world which established the leg of Science – Science of Nature and of Man, Natural Science and Philosophy. It was a first glorious step towards a Human world, but it eventually tottered and fell.
Partly through its lights, the second leg brought Religion from the outer directed primitive pagan power worships, into an emphasis on the internal soul, and the necessity of choice, that there was a You inside you, and it was important to the All, that you harmonize with it. That understanding resurrected the first leg again, with the Renaissance… but that too was incomplete and shaky… and we nearly tumbled back again into prehistory… but then the Enlightenment brought about the first tentative ideas that Man was possibly worthy of self responsibility, of self governance before the world and the Heavens – and the land of America was discovered just in time to run the experiment.
In this land of unbuffered reality, and free from the detritus of worn out social conventions, science and tradition worked upon themselves to clean eachother of their sores, and to prepare for the third leg to finally extend without unwanted interference.
Science shows us where to step on the trail, how to improve our clothing and footwear, how to improve our hunting skills and make us stronger and safer and more comfortable, more effective. But the Americans, knowing the past, knew that it must be directed, and if it were not directed from above, it would be directed from below, and such questioning unbound, would soon turn to skepticism, sophistry and destruction. And the potential for destruction abounded here, from nature, the Indians or the French, and a level head was necessary to survive.Reason proved to be our distinctive tool for living as human beings, rather than just clever animals, but it was obviously not infallible and though we might get to decide (or behave as if we can) the rules – nature and experience told of its accuracy – some rules can be shown to work, and some can be shown to err, you discover that of course, by Reasoning your way through it – in Reality.
Rationalistic silliness such as Descartes “I think, therefore I am” wouldn’t fly here, and neither would Humes hyper skeptical ‘no one can know anything’ both were seen (for a blessed while) to be major weakness, not of Reason, but of reasoners seeking to play god.
But God is that IS of which all that is, is of. God can only be described by that which he is not, by that which he is more than, which is hardly a definition, but an absence of, and the reason is that in using parts to describe parts of the whole, of which they are but parts of, and of which it is greater than… picture putting all of the parts of an light bulb together and describing them as Light.
You cannot describe the parts of a light bulb as features of Light, you can only say that without them, there will be no light. They are not light, but only those material pieces which can serve as a locus for giving off light, but they are not the light itself, and cannot rightly describe it. Discarding the concept of light because the parts of the bulb do not describe it, leaves you with an ambitious plan for assembling fine quality bulbs, but to what purpose? Why for screwing into the sockets of course! Why? Well to keep people from sticking their fingers in them, of course. Ah.
The founding generations of America came to see that that which can not be defined, should also not be prescribed or proscribed - and though it was apparent that Religion was needed by Man, and indeed by society, it would be up to each Man to decide upon the Way he would travel that road. And just such Men, the first in all of History, applied the same Reasoning to Government, Religion and their own Individual choices. Reality must be consulted, choices needed to be made, and each must be responsible for their own choices, and to ensuring that others were able to make their own choices as well.
The Third Leg of Reason, of actively consulting the Outer and Inner sides of Reality for yourself, of seeking guidance and evidence, but not neither tolerating others to make those choices for you, nor forcing those choices upon others - each Man making his own and taking responsibility for them, and trusting others to do the same - that gave rise to the world of the Founders; the first example of a properly balanced Three Legged Stool of Reason in all of the History of the world.
Knocking off the new third leg
And the whole ball of wax was running rather smoothly, as smoothly as a warm ball of wax rolling through the forest can be expected to run, until what brought about the end of the Enlightenment – specifically the later implications of the Frenchified branch of the Enlightenment(Descartes, Rousseau and the German Kant), kicked in. Here we first come into conflict with a type of thinking that is opposed to integrating and assimilating as One, and instead is twisted into breaking One into many many’s.
And that is a Bad thing.
It took proper Science, the practice of temporarily partitioning a whole for the purpose of examining its particulars in order to better comprehend and understand the whole, and short circuited it into being a practice of permanently partitioning the whole for the purposes of establishing pet particulars as several separate and independent wholes of their own. How? First and primarily, through the rejection of Reason. No, not outright, they never rejected ‘reason’, by name, no, quite the opposite.
They kept the name, but rejected its meaning.
Or more precisely, they went about it in the tried and true method still practiced by leftists today, by redefining the word out of existence, while coasting along on it’s past brand recognition. They bound its meaning and legitimacy to expressions of statistical quantities in favor of, and even in opposition to, Quality, and that leads from the One in the Many, to only many manies. By kicking off the third leg – our integrative, individual Free will selves, and presenting the world as one of Feelings and logic, and of Feelings being the primary, more authentic source of self, eternally separated from the logical mind.
The logical mind was relegated to examining the things of the world, to practicing business, war, etc, and appeased into thinking that it held sway in practical matters. But as with most swindles, the practical people such as Mill & others, either weren’t told or didn't grasp, that their sway went only so far and no further. Feelings were superior to little r reason. Your own particular brand of feelings, those from your language, your experience of nature, were superior to the dictates of science and logic, and eventually in the late 20th century, they came to enforce the expulsion partly through new methods of History. And by the way, regarding History, the _ism'ist theories is general, and Hegel in particular, I see as , technically speaking, Stücke von Exkrementen, or Pieces of Poop.
Their theories, rules and explanations of History are as useful as literary theories of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and plays - they may help to put them into some structure, you just need to remember that Shakespeare didn't know them, and didn't use them, and they are very often inadequate or flat out wrong.As Math requires a student to memorize their multiplication tables in order to move above the mechanical levels of arithmetic, so does a student need to memorize numerous names, dates and events - but that isn't History, anymore than multiplication tables are mathematics – they are only appendixes.
History is an understanding of how the prevalent ideas of the time led to the facts that occurred, as viewed through your best understanding of those Ideas and philosophies, as can best be grasped from within your own philosophical framework - undertaken with a willingness to examine and amend as needed, your own philosophical framework. That alone explains why history is not taught today, Math either, only _ism'ist views of them. The why, is that Math and History cannot be done without You.
Social Studies ? - no problemo, that can easily be indoctrinated. Comm-Arts-Literature-whatever? - no problemo, that can easily be indoctrinated. Philosophy? - big time no problemo, that can easily be indoctrinated, as Neitzche noted, all you have to do is muddy the waters, and those puddles look wayyyy deep.
But History? Math? No way, those have to be understood. The Social Studies type courses, heck, understanding B.S. breads more B.S., and as long as it's the right consistency, easy 'A'. But Math? Understanding B.S. like the New Math, breeds only confusion and error.
You have to do the 'x'ing in 5x5 in order to arrive at 25, You have to solve for '5n x 3a = 15a x 1n' there is no template in the appendix that can do it for you, there's no removing your thinking with Reality, from the equation.You can't teach History without facts, without understanding the ideas prevalent at the time, and without teaching ideas that are themselves greater than or equal to the Ideas that were in place at the time. Hence, the History of the Founding Fathers is not taught, but not just because it is inconvenient or looked down on, it is not taught because it cannot be taught without resulting in the total destruction of every 'idea' that the leftist NEA teachers are drilling into our kids through every other class in the 'curriculum'.Multicultural ideas of all being equally worthy, of each particular variation of being so authentic and worthy and having their own rights, was oh so wonderful and respectful to all Other cultures and traditions – except those from the West.
Because the Western Way of thought which was transmitted through Liberal Education (to liberate you, to set you free- from whom? Should be your next question) and the western religion of Christianity, is the enemy of cant (and Kant), of posturing, of pretenses to authenticity based upon unfounded assertions – its like holding a cross up to a vampire or trapping him in the open as the Sun rises.
The prime mode of transmitting the core of the West, has been through its founding and defining languages, Greek and Latin. Not for nothing were they the first targets of the progressive multi-culti’s to be expunged from school curriculums. To remove the Greek and the Latin language, and then the works written in them, is to remove the Western Way of thinking from the West – and with that gone, the Western way of reverence follows soon after. Or so their theory goes.
Is this not what we’ve seen played out across the last 150 years? Those who don’t see what Athens has to do with Jerusalem, will also not see what IS America.
Or what it was.
And yet… still…no matter the lengths to which the lefties have gone, and intend to go further still, The Good, The Beautiful and The True exist and can be seen by all, even by those who don’t realize that they are adhering to it (objectivists). Truth IS, and will out over falsehood.
Yet even after the smothering of progressivism and PC thought in the schools and upon the churches, still there beats the idea that in fact all IS One, that all is and should be integrated into one, and any misreading of that is error – that in fact there can be error, because there is in fact something which exists, which exists independently of, and over all else, there is Truth.
Even after removing children from their homes in order to school them in progressive thought and social rules, even after changing every book and exercise studied in the classrooms, their still lurks America – it lives in tales, in stories, in books they haven’t been able to burn. One Star Wars movie One Cowboy, one success story, one good deed, does more to thwart their plans than 20 new republican educational initiatives.
And it drives them nuts. Reagan and Bush were derided as ‘Cowboys’ not because there was anything bad about cowboy’s, but because 'Cowboy' means independent Men, each a potential hero willing to fight against the odds for what is right. More crosses, holy water & sunrises.
The falling away has been gone into often, I have as well, but then I think that the more interesting question should be ‘What did the Connecting of Athens and Jerusalem do?
All people Reason, few people are aware that they reason, fewer still – primarily those of the West, are deliberatively self aware in their Reasoning, this produces self critical tendencies, a somewhat frantic awareness of shortcomings, and an urgency to becoming better at maintaining a grasp on their goals.
When folks remark on how necessary it is for public schooling, lunches, etc, or how much a Childs self esteem and natural creativity and intelligence my be stunted with rote learning, times tables, difficult reading, testing, etc, Or how authoritative parenting and religious teachings might make a child unfit for living in a ‘democracy’, or inhibit ‘tolerance’, etc, it might be useful to consider what was and wasn’t in place in the mid 1700’s when the Founding Fathers were born, raised and schooled.
They were quite simply the best educated, most adult, most civilized, best governing, moral and tolerant (in it’s proper sense) of any generation of the world since its beginning.
Don’t believe me? Take a look. If you want to gain a good grasp not only of Classical Liberalism, but of History and the Founders era, read the constitution clause by clause in light of the relevant thought (all linked to) that, and as, they understood it at the time - NO ONE presents such a intellectual and historical feast as this site "The Founders Constitution" , presented by University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund.
Look at what has not only been lost, but wrenched off and discarded.
Back to basics - focused reason leads to efficient and effective knowledge, but unguided by wider and deeper understanding, it is animalizing to humanity
I was recently rereading one of Richard Mitchell's newsletters (all of his newsletters and books are available from my sidebar link above, either on line or pdf or doc downloads), there's this gem, which I'll hack up so for brevities sake, he starts with this quote from Dante, rips the typical 'no longer relevant dead white guy' objections, before the portion I've plopped below:, The Curriculum from Hell
"For we have reached the place of which I spoke,
where you will see the
those who have lost the good of intellect."
Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries
were echoing across the starless air,
so that, as soon as I set out, I wept.
Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements,
accents of anger, words of suffering,
and voices shrill
and faint, and beating hands,
all went to make a tumult that will
whirl forever through that turbid, timeless air,
like sand that eddies
when a whirlwind swirls."
Nevertheless, those who have read Hell will see that in all of these objections--and they are not faked--there is an amazing inappropriateness, and will be brought to wonder how anybody could possibly imagine that such considerations were, well, relevant to the book, even if true. And among those that stand amazed at such irrelevance will be the girl from the barrio who has read Hell. It never fails. And with her there will stand atheists and suburbanites and vegetarians, and even those who think of themselves as Roman Catholics.
How can this be?
Go back now and read again the epigraph. Carefully. Notice, for instance, that we are among those who have lost not intellect, which readily lends itself to anything we want to do, but the good of intellect, which must be something else. Wonder what that something else might be. Ask: is there some special Roman Catholic notion hidden here, some at least religious notion, some notion that would be foreign and abhorrent to the Chinese perhaps, or the Martians, or some notion suitable to men only?
Ask yourself this:
where could you go, today, to find yourself surrounded by strange utterances,
horrible pronouncements, and accents of anger, all making an endless, gritty
tumult, like whirling sand in the turbid air? If you are at a loss to answer,
watch the news tonight.
Herein lies the power of Dante's Hell, where also lies the power of any number of works against which charges of irrelevance are so easily brought. It just happens to be true, and accurate as well. But its truth is in principle, not in particulars, which change so universally and rapidly as to seem, in any serious consideration of the business of human life, the truly irrelevant details.
As I have said many times before, Richard Mitchell is a worthwhile addition to your head.
When you are, as I once was "... among those who have lost not intellect, which readily lends itself to anything we want to do...", you tend to recoil at phrases such as "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
The Jesus-willies set in damn fast. Most of us, as would Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris, think 'What an evil concept, saved not through your actions buy by some cosmic real estate agent, and in spite of what good you do!', but that is only true if you take it out of the religious/poetic vertical realm and attempt to paste it as horizontal prescriptions for thought and action.
But that would be to take 'good' as a particular thing done, and to miss completely "...but the good of intellect, which must be something else. ", and having grasped that, that the Good, the Beautiful and the True exist, and whether or not you do good deeds "...like the man who is willing to be virtuous so long as he is known to be virtuous...", to your internal core, your soul, if you do not grasp that the deeds must be done because they are Good, then it matters not whether or not you have done the deed at all - if it is done as a good and not for Good, it is but a deed, and nothing more, and you will never be a part of the Good that lasts for evermore.
Wordlessly conveying truth through the use of words
There is a structure to the Poetic, to Literature, Religious and Secular, which draws you in, which by its plot form, conveys through almost wordless links, direct lines to deeper metaphysical truths, that mere itinerary transcripts of a figure such as Jesus, ever could. How can stories, an assemblage of words, possibly be thought to convey Truths wordlessly?
As I’ve mentioned previously regarding works such as The Iliad, The Aeneaid and Jesus’s ‘He who is without Sin, cast the first stone’, the imagery and form of a tale conveys not only a way to grasp the tale, but the truths inherent within it. Evident also in misreadings such as “Easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle, than to enter the kingdom of Heaven” even in it’s modern misunderstanding of the ‘eye of a needle’ as being literally that, rather than a narrow city gate it originally referred to, conveys this well all in itself.
Everyone reading that is going to have the image of a Rich man futilely attempting to bring his grasping possessions through a focused, self cropping passage. Nonessentials, that which is not good in You, is of no True value, you can’t take it with you, and it is holding you back from spiritual progress.
That message is not literally in the words used, but through poetic imagery, and their conceptual relationships, and through them the meaning passes on through those words that are used. Deeper consideration of the phrase will also open up even more than the light treatment I’m giving it here.
It is possible because it touches on principled Truth, and such core concepts extend you into the related conceptual structure flowing from them. Picture how an archeologist is able to examine a section of thigh bone, and from his knowledge of thigh bones, and their relation to the full entire skeletal structure, is able to tell you the age, height and sex of the person what that fragment of bone belonged to.
Concepts are the skeletal structure of our thoughts, some lend themselves to a poetic ring, which dives deep into their structure. About Intelligence, particularly the 'quickness' of high IQ's, when it comes to worthwhile thought - it doesn't really seem to be that big of a help.
It takes considered reflection - holding up the horizontal particulars to the vertical principles - and not in a deductive, rationalistic sort of way, but considering, inferring, re-examining over and again...to arrive at, to recognize, Truth. Solutions are much easier to arrive at. The real problem of intelligence, is how easy it is to be duped into thinking that it is the same as quickness, IQ, the ability to problem solve or having facts & memory recall - useful things, but misleading, and downright dangerous when operating on their own.
Welcome to one 21st century clockmakers grasp of the universe.
Those of you who are computer programmers, relational database designers, will recognize the concept of a Class. A definition containing properties with measurement omitted. Any Rand would have gotten programming. As with Plato’s forms, it exists only as a non-existent – the moment it is instantiated with measurement and data, it is a Class no longer, and a particular object from here on out. Data exists in a db in relation to other data, but the relations can be defined, but not grasped, and they unite data into information, or if misused, into corrupt data, but they are known by their effects, not by touch. The Ideal is only an Ideal, never to exist, and existence impossible without it as template for existence.
It takes considered reflection - holding up the horizontal particulars to the vertical principles - and not in a deductive, rationalistic sort of way, but by hierarchically considering, inferring, re-examining the issue over and again...A real problem of intelligence, is how easy it is to be duped into thinking that it is the same as quickness, processor speed, IQ, the ability to linearly problem solve or even of having massive factual memory recall - useful things, but misleading, and downright dangerous when operating on their own as if they were Reasoning.
Intelligence of the sort that wise answers come from - wisdom - seems to me must come from a process. From patient inspection and reflection upon the interaction of the vertical principles and the horizontal particulars; and not only reflecting upon solving the particular problem at hand, but upon whether or not that problem is in fact the actual problem? What is Right? Why?
And those 'answers' only come from outside and above the problem solving arena. Problem solvers who don't have their roots in the above, end up like poor Oedipus. Told by an oracle that he was going to kill his father and marry his mother, instead of reflecting upon what flaws he might have that would make that possible, and other deeper issues such as his tendency to make overly hasty assumptions and actions, instead he said "Don't think so! I'm moving to Thebes! Problem solved!" and promptly fled to Thebes killed his father and married his mother - unknowingly sure, but that's the issue.
Very Efficient –yes, but Wise? Not so much.
That Aha! moment, of everything coming together, a focal integration that isn't just a coming together, but also that flash point where you are touching everything else. All the areas integrated become in that moment accessible, touched - flash point-like as with a flashbulb that touches all with the flash, illuminates all to be captured by the film, so too the moment of apprehending Truth brings all together at once and sends a charge through our brain, mind and spirit. Truth is One. Everything we need to be able to grasp that part of God we are able to, is already here at your grasp. Discover the Truth revealed in knowledge and understanding, and you touch upon the whole of Truth, though you can grasp it only where the fingers of your reason touch. [I hasten to say that I don’t believe that human knowledge exists intrinsically in reality, only that the material of reality exists in such a way, as to potentially form knowledge within us, as we grasp it conceptually. Similarly the raw data of the world as conveyed by our eyes, is not itself Vision, even lines and circles must be learned in order to be ‘seen’ by us – see a fascinating discussion of this in Robert Kurson’s book “Crashing Through: the true story of a man who dared to see” on a blind man who gained eyesight at mid-age, in it he clearly shows how Vision is Knowledge, just opening the eyes and letting the world spill in is not enough to See].
The unity of existence, the one of the universe, these are facts grasped by Isaac Newton as well as by Matthew Arnold. As with a man standing within a sphere, it is both the ground below his feet, and the heavens above his head, and though adornments and decorations which may obscure it to the eye, they are all still contained within it.
Truth is One, and that One is a One of Three - Poetically and Philosophically(with apologies to Ayn Rand).
- Poetically, the One is three through the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
- Philosophically, the One is Three via: 1)Existence Exists, 2)That something exists and it is perceived by you to exist – that it exists as something, it has identity; and to exist is to exist as That thing, and That that, is the sum of its Identity, and 3) you exist possessing Consciousness, which is the faculty of grasping that existence exists, that A is not both A and B at the same time.
In short - Reality IS, and to say that ‘There is no getting to the Father except through me”, is to say, IMHO, that you must start with reality, there is no getting ‘beyond’ the universe, except by going through it – by respecting a scrupulous allegiance to reality and its principles, and only then, can you hope to approach the heart of reality, and pass into it – and perhaps ‘beyond’, if there is such a thing (BTW, that there always remains some trace of an 'If' there, I think is of the utmost importance - not a rejection, but an if...).
The Third Leg – Attached, Detached and the process of Re-attaching it
Are we there? Are we at a place in History where Men have nothing to fear from the unbalancing of Science, Religion or The People? Alas, No. There is a difference between a stool with 2 legs assembled, and a stool that was fully assembled prior to having one of its legs torn off. That is what we have left, and also why we are so ridden with cynicism, instead of just skepticism. It is an infection that will have to be carefully cleaned out, before our Reason is again in tune.
But we have made a first grasping of it with the Founding Fathers. Unfortunately we were seemingly startled at the novelty of becoming fully human, and the world staggered back a step – but like the curious cat, we will reach for it again. As the warring bronze age tribes of Homeric epic stand in relation to Periclean Athens, and they to Rome, and they to Elizabethan England, and they to the Founders America, we stand to some far off time and place – in short, I think that the current state of Historical Human development is earlier than we think.
We Moderns enjoy the self flattery of believing we’re it! That we are the culmination of History! I think we mistake our exit ramp for a finish line. And we look very silly in doing so. In short, as Ayn Rand used to say ‘It is earlier than we think’.
On the other hand, I think we have Reason to believe we'll get there sooner or later.
(Heh, yeah Right!)