Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Label Me and You Negate Me"

The title I take from Kierkegaard; but's it's a pun, rather than the original sense of the term. Why is it a pun? Because I will be talking about definitions. Definitions are half of argument; for knowing what a thing is is the precondition for acting rationally upon it. (I may make this a continuing series; if you think it good to do so, please say so. Advice and criticism is not appreciated, but ought to be, so please write that as well. Seriously, do I have comments turned off? No one is bringing any argument onto this blog.)

The thing which I wish to define is this: the idea of liberalism, or the left, or progressives - that is, what is this thing which we call by these names, and what better term may be found to describe that thing which we refer to by them.

First, what does the term "left" mean? Nothing intelligible, except perhaps a connotation of wildness, as in "way out in left field," or as left-handed men are characterized.

Second, what does the term liberal mean? In before times it meant a free man; and the liberal arts meant the pursuits of a free man; art and science and philosophy, things which men free of pressing need could attend to. The liberal arts appealed to that in man which is not appetite, but passion and reason. However, in the modern world, it means something about being free of some particular philosophy or philosophies; and to be free of certain traditions. It has the connotation of become free from some tyranny, real or imagined, which is customary or normal. Hence, it is anathema to tell a child to be normal; there is a strong urge to be an exception from the rule; or in practice, for men to be exempt from rules.

Third, what does progressive mean? Rationally speaking, it merely demotes the furthering of some condition or quality, to go further in some direction and towards some end. When "progressivists" call a thing progressive, it appears they mean something vague about the progress made in the physical sciences, and then about various moral and social trends advanced or not advanced since the close of the middle ages; any time something considered a taboo or improper is allowed, it is considered a "liberation" or "progressive." 

In other words, the "left" advocates the removal of some thing or things from culture, and the dissolution of certain structures; and the negation of the philosophies the undergird them.

In order to give this thing we call the "left" a truly befitting name, and thus (like some druidic enchanter of popular imagination) gain understanding and power over it, rather than wallow in the glamorous of this zeitgeist, we must first discover what exactly are the ideas which the "left" reject, or think they reject. Then, we may see what positive premises they hold. Once this is done, the true form of their philosophy is known.

What are the things the left rejects?
Firstly, it is something in the western world, and particularly, Christendom, which they most strongly despise and call tyrannical. They despise certain types of structures: they do not like structure in morality (a consistent or objective ethics), in religion, and in academic discipline. Their theory holds that man is best served by "the liquidation of anachronisms."

If I were to form a generalization of all these behaviors and more, I would say that the thing the left hates most is the idea of an immutable human nature. They believe that humanity is utterly plastic; not a form, but matter or substance; a thing of chained or indefinitely wandering will, defined only by social custom or accident.

The history of this idea is in social Darwinism; but it predates him. It also runs through Nietzsche and the hippie culture of the 60s. It runs through utopias of Morlocks and Eloi. What is this idea?

I think it is the idea that man is simply another beast of the field, a philosophical precept I will henceforth term brutism. It specifically is the denial of the rational nature of man.

The old and proper definition of man is "the rational animal." Rational means not only capable of logical thinking or mathematics, but also that man recognizes the good, true, and beautiful in his soul; art and morality are part of the rational nature of man.

A theory of infinite human plasticity is the enemy of this definition of man, because it IS a definition of man; not to mention that if man is shaped entirely by the accidental, and has no end or form, then man needn't be and couldn't be rational.

When man is a mere animal that does not know good from evil, but merely pleasurable and painful, then man cannot be reasoned with. Man must be molded using societal pressure, not pardoned or punished. Why do you think the panopticon was invented by Bentham?

The modern Left is the enemy of beauty (in the arts); of marriage (when it is a permanent vow of man and woman); of reason (for all it does is shame its critics). What we call the Left, we can more accurately call the brutists; they think man is another beast of the field, who never ate of the tree of knowledge, and never fell - only progressed by natural forces.

To close, here's a relevant quote from GKC:

Nebuchadnezzar the King of the Jews
Suffered from new and original views,
He crawled on his hands and knees, it's said,
With grass in his mouth and a crown on his head.
        With a wowtyiddly, etc.

Those in traditional paths that trod
Thought the thing was a curse from God,
But a Pioneer men always abuse
Like Nebuchadnezzar the King of the Jews. 

(Pioneers, O Pioneers)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Knowledge is not Domination

There is a clear distinction between two types of thinking; and they are far more different than night and day - for they are the difference between gratitude and pride, between good and evil.

In the study of the physical universe, this distinction can be drawn between science and scientism, or the worship of technology. For the purpose of technology is to harness the structure of the universe, not to know it per se; and science, though it is necessary for creating technology, by no means includes application as a necessity. Science is the search for knowledge, the map of the known discovered by explorers of the universe. Its purpose is liberal, not technical. And more importantly, this knowledge, and the technology derived therefrom, is not (read CSL's The Abolition of Man) for dominion over man.

By nature, by definition, technology is dependent upon science; if science is pursued for the purpose of creating technology, we go against the nature of both science and technology, and the result is a putrid mess (think of "Jewish science" rejected by Hitler, and so on).

The very same dichotomy is present in the humanities (as opposed to... the inhumanities? The siderealities?) - but on a clearer and even more insidious level. It is the thesis of modern "scholarship" that narrative or story is primarily of means of controlling others - of having power. Or more accurately, of domination. This is the driving premise of postmodern literary theory, historical theory, and so on... and it is among the greatest heresies to ever spring to death. It is the great and horrible evil infesting our universities today.

The classical - and sane, and human - literary theory is just like classical theory of physical science: that we write to find what is already there; to discover; to illuminate the soul. The poet, like the philosopher, intends to know himself and his world (or more of it).

What madmen were our fathers, that they listened to one who called all men liars? For the one that says this is by their own claim a liar. To believe the one who claims to be a liar before those who claim to be honest, on the basis of that lying liar's testimony, is madness. Indeed, whoever that liar is (but he is Satan, the accuser, the prince of liars) has pulled the greatest ad hominem in history (bar one). He has called the whole human race liars!

Another name for the ad hominem is "poisoning the well." Well, this ad hominem has poisoned not only the well, but the village well; making every historian a liar, the whole family of ancestors, the "democracy of the dead." Not even the dead are safe from defamation; and who shall defend them?

We shall.

The supreme irony is that these liars are liars by their own admission. They are forced by their false philosophy to slander honest men and honest women; but we do not slander them when we say they use what they can to pursue dominion over their fellow-men. The vast majority of people can feel this, vaguely, but have no words for it. They do not wish to be lied to; they desire the truth. If we but reveal the truth, no honest man or woman would choose lies. And we cannot live searching for truth without the virtue of gratitude, the enemy of pride.

As for the those who would still chose a world of liars and tyrants, those prideful savages, we may pray for them: but they are a brood of vipers, and the devil is their hindmost. We cannot change their mind by force or by trickery, for they live in a world of their own devising; it is hell.

-Christian Boyd

Carthago Delenda Est.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Language in which we may Communicate

What is the proper way to find truth?

The prominent dilemma of modern philosophies is the divide between perception and reality - a divorce of the internal and external worlds. The result is the dominance of two views: materialism and postmodernism.

Materialism says perception is capable of equating reality, but only insofar as perception is an illusion based on states in reality - mind is a function of matter. It annihilates language into the machine-response and animal-instinct which is the only "reality." Perception does not actually exist.

Postmodernism, on the other hand, says perception is itself reality, or the only knowable reality. Action is taken upon the entirely of sense-perception, but only upon that basis. Reality does not really exist - only perception.

Neither of these solutions are satisfying. They are literally "not enough." One illustration of what I mean: a language, by definition, cannot communicate unless the signifier and signified agree and are consistent among speakers. Words and the World - these two must be married in intimate fashion in order for any sort of rational society. But neither materialism or postmodernism can provide this full marriage of language and universe. Either the world makes language, or language the world - only one exists, the other is fiction and fairy-tale. This is the very language of the nihilists on both sides of this unholy duality.

So how can this problem be fixed? What view of perception and reality is rational, capable of supporting (among other things) a working language? What, in other words, is a complete language, a language that really is "about" the world?

Only a language which, instead of uncomfortably nestling these two opposites, is their mutual enemy - a language which accepts as real the person, and accepts as real the cosmos; one which marries perception and reality; so that perception is true and of a reality, and reality supports and corrects perception. When I name a thing, it is the thing itself that I name, and not merely my perception of that thing, or of things in general: the leaf I call a leaf really is a leaf, and can be discovered as such by every sense, is in essence and accident a leaf.

It is not easy to have a universe-perceiver in the universe, though - for if the person is to know the universe, the universe must also be within the person. How can the world be in the world? There must be something outside of the world in the world; this is the soul, of which the Philosopher said "man holds all things in his soul" and the wise king Solomon said "He has set eternity in their hearts."

This is the basis of the language we shall use; it is the only proper way to find truth. No other way may suffice, we have already seen what happens when the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, but is rejected by His own: it is our present, damnable condition, this fleshly perdition, which so rots society.

So when I say a leaf, I mean a leaf. This is the simplest of truths; it is called a tautology, a thing today denied in the streets. It is also called a truism. The obvious thing which is not obvious.

I have said nothing which you did not already know.

More soon eventually.

-Christian Boyd

Carthago Delenda Est

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lost! Oh, so Lost!

"Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost."

(Dante, the Comedia I.1-3 Hollander translation)

The first thing to do, when we are lost, is to stop, calm ourselves, and try to get our bearings. In the dark wood, it is necessary to find the Son where He rises in the East. Providentially, it is now only a bit before Easter morning. So we know, somehow, what we desire.

I will assume, therefore, that no one reading this proposes that Goodness is subjective, or that it does not exist, or that we cannot find it. Our arguments are important, for our musings may lead us away from our goal, or towards it. It is a matter of deadly danger and supreme importance, for we must find the way out of the dark wood, and towards God, towards Goodness. Otherwise we die.

Now that we are calmed and sober, we must begin to ask the questions that orient us correctly. So what is this dark wood like? How did we get here? What is different from this place and what we desire, that is, the Good?

We must ask this question at the cosmic level, at the level of humanity, of the history of our civilization, of particular nations, of individual institutions or policies, and so on down to the smallest things. We must relate existence to the good or ideal, and know both of them, before we can understand the distance between and the path to bridge.

What then is the reality of the cosmos? What is the reality of the human condition? Let us begin there.

<<And, dear friends and readers, if I have missed anything, please tell it to me. I do not mean to attach the universe unaided, any more than I meant to be born unaided, unsupported. Do you disagree with my argument for methodology? Do I miss or misplace a premise? Argue it to me, to everyone! The purpose is to find the truth.>>

- Christian

Carthago Delenda Est.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Straw May Feed a Flame

This is the text from my FB post. It's not a comprehensive or detailed manifesto, but I thought it best to note it down here for now, as FB is not a very permanent place to save it.

"Let's begin with the premise that America is in ruin, and is heading towards a more abyssal ruin. The question then becomes, shall we either abandon her like rats a sinking ship, or with desperate measures caulk the bottom of the "ship of state?"

If we wish to be sensible, with full consideration of history and of the nature of men, we would abandon ship. Swim to other shores, or build financial life-boats proof from the political chaos to ensue. We will be prepared for a new age, relatively safe and secure.

If we wish to be foolish, mad, and heroic in the full measure of a patriot, we will stay and fight. We will become true citizens; we will entreat our neighbors and admonish our officers; we will refuse to elect the avaricious man and the moral coward to govern us. We will defy history and condemn the inevitabilities of time.

In the end, our only hope is to be madmen. We will have to tilt at giants and yet win; for if we are not brave now, will our future peace be just? If we never fought for a hopeless cause, will we have surety in any cause henceforth? Our virtue or our vice may create the world in a hundred years. Are you so certain that you will live in a safe world, if it has been built by the deserters of a city?

No. Rome was not founded by those who, sad of heart and pining for comfort, left the ships of Aeneas. A just, safe, and good America will only belong to those who were not dismayed. The rest shall perish, even at long last and full of years, in the waste this side of Jordan."

-Christian Boyd

Carthago Delenda Est