Sunday, February 24, 2008


Well, Allotetraploid has interrupted the post on "Liberal Fascism" which I was working on, by stirring up a response to his latest reply in our ongoing (and thoroughly enjoyable) blogwar:

"Blogodidact is of the opinion that culture bears the mark of the transcendental and just as a Paleolithic priest in Botswana he seeks out the commanding heights to perform his worship. Though his mount is not one made out of stone but words and concepts. Gods, he writes, are the sum of human understanding; they are the king of concepts, the folder which collects all the files. Without this unifying concept we are stranded on the flatland of unconnected facts, or so he fears. Without it we will lose our ability to coherently communicate and will be degraded to anarcho-leftist. And let us not forget that Christianity was the final update in man’s cultural upgrade; that which gave birth to the idea of individuality. This is what Blogodidact had to
say in this matter and this is how I will reply: -Bogus! "

Oh come on "Blogodidact is of the opinion that culture bears the mark of the transcendental and just as a Paleolithic priest in Botswana he seeks out the commanding heights to perform his worship. " Now THAT's Bogus!

"Gods, he writes, are the sum of human understanding; "

No, I make no claim to a physical existence of any God or a hereafter - while I have my suspicions, I base no conclusions on Religious grounds, instead, religious ideas help me to grasp reality as I find it here and now; and keeping in mind that it took me 7+ posts to say it, so condensing it to one sentence is a bit dicey, but to try to anyway with improper prose, I'd venture that the concept of God is the poetic expression of our sum grasp of Truth, and it implies, and is deepened by, the conceptual coherence and correspondence to reality, within your grasp of Truth.

"Without this unifying concept we are stranded on the flatland of unconnected facts, or so he fears."
I think that is a fairly self supporting statement, without an identified unitary concept – in my case that Truth and existence is a whole, you are left with separate and ultimately competing positions, unintegrated and chaotic.

"Without it we will lose our ability to coherently communicate and will be degraded to anarcho-leftist."

I think the current mania upon the campus's of UNIversities for Diversity, or the groupist politics of the Modern Leftist, shows in practice the fractured state of modern intellectual life.

Without a coherent philosophy, whatever initial momentum that might be generated in the drive for progress, will eventually dissipate and fall apart – as has happened in the west, with the unresolved (in popular understanding and awareness) oppositions of empiricism and rationalism. This doesn't rely upon any religious overtones at all, in fact the one philosophy which does grasp this (and which shows the way past both of those dead-ends), is explicitly atheistic, Objectivism (if you dislike Ayn Rand's literary style or message, don’t miss out on the values of the philosophy. If nothing else, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and Philosophy of Ayn Rand will rouse either new understanding of yourself or at the very least help to clarify your thinking through its oppositions).

"The talk about files and folders is just a rephrasing of the Quinquae viae of Thomas, to be precise the “ex gradu” argument. This argument states that since everything in this world comes in degrees there must be a highest degree ..."

Actually I didn't get the folders idea from Thomas Aquinas, but mixtures of MS-DOS, Object Oriented Programming, Objectivism, Aristotle & Plato - and me – I didn’t deeply begin to fill in the other gaps in my knowledge until afterwards, and I had it long before I gave any credence to religious thought, which has only been in the last two years or so, and that slowly synthesized only when I began to read poetically - I guess Truth just surfaces whenever the flow is conducive for it. (See my post “The I Doctor” and its referenced description of the way to read poetically by Dante.) Religious understanding is perhaps not only a necessity, but an easing, a way of sparing you the explicit difficulty of consciously exploring and establishing each and every cognitive step before making any progress, without it your understanding of self and truth is cramped and flattened, and whether or not you acknowledge it, the encompassing poetic vision that is Religion, will be replaced with some other prosaic and inadequate substitute, such as Leftist governmentalism or Green’d environmentalism, or… well... you’ll fill in the blank.

"And let us not forget that Christianity was the final update in man’s cultural upgrade; that which gave birth to the idea of individuality. This is what Blogodidact had to say in this matter and this is how I will reply: -Bogus! "
Oh please, this is not what Blogodidact had to say on this matter, and to assert that the sum total of my last seven posts was that, is extremely Bogus!

As you noted, there was nearly 2,000 years of non-upgraded history in the West between the birth of Christ and the birth of the Enlightenment, and that’s excluding the thousand years prior to that which saw the birth of the West in Homer. Christianity alone and of itself, did not perform the upgrade, a Reason based culture such as ancient Athens, and to a much lesser extent Rome, did not, and could not perform the upgrade. Russia was Christian, and it certainly did not bring forth the realization of the Individual which the (predominantly) Anglo West did. It took the existence of each of the three legs of reason, then a rediscovering of Reason, beginning in the renaissance, a tempering of Christianity through the centuries between then and the 1600's which succeeded in highly secularizing it into a predominantly spiritual and moral poetics, rather than a detailed guide for how to conduct affairs from day to day, and then finally the interposition of unvarnished reality along with Reason and Christianity, to result in the full flowering of the Enlightenment with the Founding Fathers in America.

With the establishing of the colonies in America, the colonists could not in anyway pretend that reality was other than it was, without suffering severe hardship (see my post “What never was and never will be: Modern Madness pt 7” ), Reason was seen as the method of dealing with reality, and Religion the expression of the teleos for moral goodness, the expression and reward of Virtue in service to Truth. Together with a benign neglect from England in the governance of their affairs for half a century, that lead to the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the birth of The United States of America and THAT enabled the full installation of the cultural upgrade.

"There you found it, stop the search, the matter is settled! You might discern that the earth is a sphere but to detect spots on the sun is impossible! This is one of the chief dangers with the religious mindset, it halts science and stop progress and thus shrink the knowable world within the narrow confines of ancient mythology. "

No, that is the chief danger of a dogmatic mindset, the indoctrination of disconnected information and opposition to an integrating Education, as readily visible in the opposition to Galileo as well as in the assertions of Marxist doctrine, Determinism, eugenics or manmade global warming. Anyone who uses their 'mythology' as an explicit set of instructions for day to day life, rather than as an inspirational grasping of the actuality of the Good, the Beautiful and the True, will surely kill all intellectual growth; proof of which is equally visible and on display in Tehran and Kyoto.

Consequently all theological categorization of reality will be a distortion of that which exists. It will make false analogies and lead to the wrong conclusions.”

Again, attempting to cast the Vertical poetic onto the Horizontal surface of day to day instances in reality, will be as literally disorienting as the attempt to cast a globe onto a flat surface with a Mercator map and then declaring that the map is how the world really exists “Yes of course Greenland is larger than north America, how can you doubt it! There it is!" The religio-poetic sphere is grasped internally, it is discussed and passed around for discussion externally in the form of the inscribed map and can provide inspired reference, but no more, mistaking the inscribed map for literal reality, is the province of fundamentalists and determinists.

As for your admiring references to behavioral psychology, you needn’t read much further than Wundt, to see that it is entirely established upon predetermined suppositions about the nature of man (see Rousseau and Godwin) – that he is in essence a pinball machine and free will an illusion - and all else is determined by the ‘truths’ it is determined to declare. Unsurpassed dogmatic garbage.

To think that you are going to find the causes of Shakespeare in our genetic code, or the Bible for that matter, is ignorance, baseless hubristic pride and stupidity. If there is anything that we are a product of, it is of individuals opened up and released through the operations and structure of our culture. Look about you, what other culture, on its own, produced anything close to that of the West? China would be the closest comparable, and if you read their history, you can’t help but be struck by how close they came on so many occasions to putting the pieces together over and over again. They discovered rudimentary forms of science, capitalism, technology in most cases before the west, but like the Greeks and Romans who also concocted steam engines... they had no context for putting the pieces together, and they fell along the wayside as curiosities and nothing more.

What they lacked, IMHO, was having all of the necessary pieces together at one time, in other words – a well rounded three legged culture of Reason. And as can be seen in Science, when the pieces do come together, along with a mind capable of grasping it, the solution comes soon after - seemingly spontaneously as with Calculus emerging simultaneously from Newton and Leibnitz, not through determinism, but through new integrations of wider knowledge and a ready reception and application available in the society around them.

It is similar in my mind as a thumb sketch, to what is involved in loading a Major software application on a computer. First you need a compatible operating system, then a number of supporting applications, databases, drivers and related programs, then finally the application itself, and very likely a number of service packs to keep it running properly, and if you install an application that steps on a vital dll(dynamic link library), then the application becomes crippled or even corrupted.

If you've studied some philosophy other than the post-modern pap, you can't avoid seeing how all ideas are inherently integrated and dependent upon each other to enable further growth – massively Integrated. You can't even make the statement "Our plane will be delayed 30 minutes" without indirectly involving every bit of knowledge Western Civilization has discovered to date. Aerodynamics, engineering, biology, geology, mathematics, physics, weather, computers, astronomy, logic and all of the philosophic structure which underlies and supports them all. Your John Frum reference is a perfect example of the chaos that results from trying to grasp isolated particulars of a culture while ignoring the rest.

The fact is that the modernist assorment of narrowed analytics, linguistics and materialism, is deliberate and assiduous cognitive stupidity. The attempt to pretend philosophical progress while stringently avoiding any acknowledgement of the obvious role of religious, spiritual or poetic expressions of Truth in the mental and social aspects of culture, is not only stupid, but dangerous and destructive - witness the 20th century.

"There is also a taint of creationism in this thinking, well okay, not just a taint but a big blot that covers the whole darn thing."

Nope. Not in my thinking, to literally believe the poetic as literal fact, is itself ignorant and self stupefying. While I believe that we don't yet have the full picture with the theory of evolution, that doesn't invalidate it - only invalid is the attempt to behave as if it is the whole picture. I believe that the universe contains much which we don't know, and contains all that is necessary for the emergence of life through its natural processes. That doesn't not imply materialism or determinism however, because once consciousness 'clicked on' so to speak, it exists as a self sustaining process. Certainly it interacts with the physical world, but in Man, it operates by its own choices, or I should say is capable of operating by it's own choices, more and more removed from direct cause and effect. As an aside about Consciousness, I could semi-arbitrarily imagine consciousness as being an existent of that universe itself, which becomes ‘visible’ in the visible material world only when the necessary material emerges as life - as the lightening strike only occurs when the conditions, materials, positions and timing are conducive for it to - how would such a thing happen with life or consciousness?… somehow – how? I don’t know, we aren’t there yet, we don’t have enough information yet to suppose one way or another, and in the end such suppositions barely rise to the level of speculation.

"The death of god does in no way make your understanding of reality fragmental or incoherent."
Other way around, actually. The conception of reality became fragmented first, only then followed by the poetic recognition of that, with the rejection of God. Look at what happened in the West, with just such fragmentation and declarations as did occur. The Enlightenment grew over the course of centuries, and coexisted with the Religious sense, one which had been finally nudged into its proper realm, and during that period the West reached the culmination of rational thought in the period between Newton and America’s Founding Fathers. Newton’s Physics was not only done in a religious atmosphere, but by a religious person, Newton himself. The majority of the American Founding Fathers, including Franklin and Jefferson, possessed a religious sensibility not in conflict with what I’ve been discussing here.

I hope it goes without saying, that there is a visible difference in society, civility, politics, regard for rights and education, between their time and ours… something was changed, something was removed which provided a semblance for unity in western thought – that cannot be denied. In my opinion that something fully took root with Kant’s ridiculous attempt to ‘defend faith’ by attempting to destroy the philosophic possibility of knowledge about reality (see his 'Critique of Pure Reason' the title itself is only possible in light of Descartes revival of 'I think, therefore I am'). He set out with the explicit determination to end the Enlightenment, and he succeeded because he destroyed the very possibility of the conception of Reality being experienced, and with it, Truth (see most of what you believe, for reference), in the minds of the intellectuals of the time (and carrying on to our time still). Pragmatism (a key ingredient of Fascism) was a reaction to the utter incomprehensibility of metaphysics after Kant; if you want to see the derailing of Reason, there’s your source, not religion. With the roots gone, the wilting of the flower came soon afterwards with Nietzsche’s declaration that God was dead (more an observation, but still), which he clearly showed, also meant to reject community, standards, ethics – in short, culture, all of which must fall in a culture based upon them, and were left to seek their support by the exertion of Power alone, and little else is more incoherent or disintegrating.

The rejection of reverence for what is Good, Beautiful and True, necessarily is an action towards disunity which masquerades as diversity (or Dieversity), ugliness and raw physical stimulation. How you can observe the disprogress of the 20th century from the heights of Bouguereau or Godward to Munch, Piccaso and Pollack and conclude anything else, is thoroughly baffling to me. To compare the world formed with a sensible conception of religion, and one after it has been rejected, lets have a look, shall we?

(sorry, I couldn't bear to post Pollack - follow the link if you've got the stomach for it)

Which would you prefer to live in? For an interesting discussion of Art, see the ARC philosophy.

To state that Christianity gave birth to the individual as a category or idea is false… To state that Christianity gave birth to the individual as a category or idea is false but even if it were true it would have no bearing on the question if god exists or not, let alone the myth of the Jewish space-zombie god.”

Space zombie? I’ll just leave that one to speak for itself. Allo gives a number of historical references for other cultures who amazingly noted the existence of the individual, including Cicero (whom I thoroughly enjoy and admire - good luck finding a reference to heaven and hell prior to him, btw), and other religions, and then the fifteen hundred year gap from 1 B.C. until individualism began to gain any real recognition in the west. His historical ramble through all things individual, could have been expanded even further to that of Pharaoh Akhenaten Amenhotep IV of 1,350 B.C. Egypt, what historian James Breasted referred to as "the first individual in history, possibly the first monotheist even the first scientist and the first romantic", possibly raising the first monotheistic religion – some have even tried to tie him to Moses. And of course, Socrates clearly alludes to a single God - but all the same, the obvious point is, to what avail? They didn’t get any further than they did because… why? Allotetraploid, you ignored my argument for the three legged stool of Reason, by declaring that one leg didn’t produce a stable stool all on its own. Pardon me while I just note,


It didn’t give birth to the individual all on its own, but it gave to the emerging western culture an avenue and focus for recognizing the divine within each Individual, yet without the other areas of western thought, philosophy and science, it was a message limited by what it lacked – or rather an inspiration in potential, unrealized, without corresponding support from philosophy and science, and the physical opportunity for it being actualized.

What I’ve aimed to show is only that there is no direct connection between the Christian ideology as such and the rise of civil liberties. Correlation doesn’t per se imply causation.”

Neither does declaring an expulsion from causation because it doesn’t correlate into your own dogma. Ignoring the fact that I haven’t been arguing for Christianity per se, but for Religion itself as being not only unavoidable, but a necessary one of three legs of Reason, and that Christianity, which is the Religion of the West and has served to channel a reverence for the Individual and is unique among competing cultures. But more to the point, all three legs have existed to one extent or another in the past, it wasn’t until they all came together within one culture and struck a spark from their mutual presence, that we see the emergence of, and the fruits of the Enlightenment - excluding the damnable Rousseauian fork - from which all you argue for descends from - in more ways than one (BTW, your reference to Martin Luther, who referred to Aristotle as ‘lice and vermin’ – yeah... he's not one of my favorites).

I find it tragicomic that an citizen of this nation built on the very denial of belief in belief (“E Pluribus Unum” in 1782) should so easily fall prey to the recently introduced denial of the same (“under god” in 1954 and “In god we trust” in 1956).”
Again, see my previous post “What never was and never will be: Modern Madness pt 7”. To either make the assertion that America was founded as an exclusively Christian society, or as a secular and atheistic society, are both easily shown to be nothing but the selective and equivocative dogma of their mutual proponents, over the clear and easily discoverable facts of history. BTW, the original push for the pledge of allegiance was put forward by one of the Bellamy bros., an archetypical leftist, progressive, socialistic fascist – I think its interesting how the antibodies of American culture took in that subversion and cleansed it – and yes, religion – the reverence for Truth, was one of those antibodies.

I think I present a difficult target for Allo to pin his strident athiestic bromides and darts upon. I don't present an entirely welcome resting place for the religious minded either. I accept that I am an odd duck, I know of no religious people, in my physical vicinity, who would consider me religious, and my Objectivist inspirations would reject my views as mystical. But obviously, I don't. I've arrived at my views through a thoroughly objective examination of the evidence of history, philosophy and poetics. I suppose if I were to be labeled, I would reject religionist and atheist, but would accept Poeticist - (partly because it doesn't exist and so I can define it as I wish!)


QP said...

Allotetraploid -

Here's what bogus looks like!

Anonymous said...

Fun Read, thanks. Love it.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Van, I don't have an email for you.

I just learned that Larry Norman has passed on to the big Rock n' Roll band in the sky...


He's still paving the way for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Quibbles - Slight adjustments to historical (mis)perceptions:

"The Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin."

A bill recently introduced into the House of Representatives:

An excerpt:

"...Whereas the first act of America's first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of 4 chapters of the Bible;

Whereas Congress regularly attended church and Divine service together en masse;

Whereas throughout the American Founding, Congress frequently appropriated money for missionaries and for religious instruction, a practice that Congress repeated for decades after the passage of the Constitution and the First Amendment;

Whereas in 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence with its 4 direct religious acknowledgments referring to God as the Creator (`All people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'), the Lawgiver (`the laws of nature and nature's God'), the Judge (`appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world'), and the Protector (`with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence');

Whereas upon approving the Declaration of Independence, John Adams declared that the Fourth of July `ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty';

Whereas 4 days after approving the Declaration, the Liberty Bell was rung;

Whereas the Liberty Bell was named for the Biblical inscription from Leviticus 25:10 emblazoned around it: `Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof';

Whereas in 1777, Congress, facing a National shortage of `Bibles for our schools, and families, and for the public worship of God in our churches,' announced that they `desired to have a Bible printed under their care & by their encouragement' and therefore ordered 20,000 copies of the Bible to be imported `into the different ports of the States of the Union'..."

Van Harvey said...

Yes, or From the 1776 preamble to:

WE, the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance, do ordain and establish this Constitution."

The attempts to assert that America was not founded by men largely conscious of, and sympathetic to Christianity, is pure posturing ignorance.

On the other hand, the idea that the Founders were seeking to establish a Christian and even vaguely Theological Gov't, is equally so.

The Founders were men of wide and deep education and understanding, men who understood the importance of morality and spiritual self knowledge. Not even Ethan Allen, who was fervently atheistic, belittled the importance of morality. These were whole men, not yet the fractured creatures of the coming age of selves fractured on the non-sense of Hume, Rousseau and Kant.

They deliberately decided to exclude some of the religious tests which were in some current constitutions, not as an attempt to exclude religion from the public mind, but to remove the taint of Governmental force from the important decisions and beliefs of its citizens.

If someone’s intellectual positions are too weak to refrain from seizing upon isolated points in order to make blanket assertions in support of their own position, while pointedly avoiding or denying the rest of the facts... well... like Kant to found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to preserve faith, what they do possess is neither knowledge nor faith.