Arimathea
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All wisdom begins in wonder, and this delight kindles a desire for truth that leads us on a quest for the really real -- the source of being itself. Hence, the philosophical impulse, albeit often manifested in atheistic and irreverent stumblings in the dark of human ignorance, begins and ultimately ends in theology -- communicating and communing with our origin and goal. We men are rational animals who seek to know. We are agents of truth who want correct answers to questions that we must ask. From the noblest objects of contemplation to the seemingly insignificant everyday trivialities of life, we attempt to unravel perplexing knots. Limited, blind, and distracted, we nevertheless struggle for wisdom. This is our lot, and it is also our glory.
Friday, February 17, A.D. 2012
Whence the Will?

The recent posts “Abortion as a Sacrament” and “Nominalism, Nihilism, and the Will” have elicited some interesting commentary. For today’s post, I offer Kristor’s comment about the unintelligibility of the undetermined will:

You write:

I find it difficult to understand anything undetermined. The world that we witness is one of intelligible causality, and it is bizarre to think of the will as free. Yet, we have the experience of a faculty that suggests uncaused action.

I sympathize. I don’t have any answers, but I do have a clue. It seems to me that the mystery of the freedom of the will is deeply linked to the mystery of the coming into being of novel entities. A being that is determined ex ante cannot be really said to come into being at the point when it attains actuality; for, really, it is not a separate entity at all, but rather a mere function of its factors, an *aspect* of its factors. It is not, apart from its factors; so, it is not. If we are to say then that we really do exist, it must be the case that we are undetermined ex ante, at least a little bit. And the “ex ante” refers to priority in the orders both of time and of logic. But this is to say that there is an element of our coming into being which is ultimately mysterious - which is, precisely, not intelligible.

NB that this doesn’t make the world fundamentally unintelligible. It just means that the world is intelligible, through and through, *but only ex post.* [This is tantamount to saying that creatures are contingent, for an entirely perfectly completely predictable event would be, not contingent, but necessary - the two notions, of contingent being and of not completely intelligible being, have their source in the same wellspring.] Looking back, we can see the reasons for things. Looking forward, from within the moment of creation, the springs of our being are hidden from us. Where did this moment I am now “in” come from? It came, ultimately, from nothing, so far as we can tell. The mystery at the seed of each moment of our own becoming may be “what it’s like to be created ex nihilo.” Nothingness *just is* unintelligibility, no? In a world governed by a rational omnipotent God, there could be no such thing as an unintelligible actuality. So, what is, is ipso facto intelligible, through and through, at least in principle. What is not, and what is not yet, are not intelligible; if they were, they would already be (they would be past); but this is just the same thing, is it not, as to say, “what is not, and what is not yet, simply do not exist.”

If we do really exist, then, we were not completely determined ex ante. And this gap in intelligibility, this volume of as yet but partial existence, seems to be the playground of the will.

How fitting that Heisengberg should have discovered an irreducible uncertainty at the root of physics, that absolutely rules out prediction, even in principle. How fitting that the physicists who study consciousness generally locate human freedom in the ontological room opened up by that uncertainty.

***
I now recall that in our discussion last year of the Falls both of Adam and Lucifer we both took note several times of the sheer unintelligibility of evil. I recall also that the zero both of goodness and rationality (& ipso facto of intelligibility) is the zero of being.

So the mysteries at the roots of freedom, of being, and of evil may be all impenetrable because we and our acts come ultimately from nothing.

I never could understand how the uncertainty principle allowed for free choice. It always annoyed me when I heard it invoked in discussions about the will. However, Kristor’s point makes it defensible. How the study of being and the basics baffles me!

For instance, I often wonder just how—and what—we are in the mind of God. If creation is the unfolding of the divine ideas in time and space, then it seems that not only essences of kinds but also anything that is intelligible exists in the divine mind, including each “nexus” of intelligible universals that inform every moment of the world in motion. Any particular being in time and space manifests many forms in an orderly way; its peculiar appearance in the world at any given moment provides a meeting point of constituting ideas in the intelligible structure of being. Perhaps, there are threads of such nexus that correspond to particular things, and maybe there are forms for such relational patterns, like henadic strings in the fabric of reality.

I have never found the Aristotelian doctrine convincing that “matter” is the individuating principle, even if we interpret matter liberally as a potential time and space for being to manifest in some particular way. Each particular moment brings together a great host of formal input, and I do not see the need for a non-formal, receptive principle to render it understandable. However, as Parmenides understood, becoming suffers from a lack of intelligiblity. Each “snapshot” in time and space may instantiate formal reality, but what is the relation between such snapshots? Movement, change, and continuity therein appear to my metaphysically challenged mind to require some shady power that makes room for the odd dance between being and non-being—some additional stitching that accompanies those threads of particular beings that persist though change through time. Perhaps, Kristor’s point about every moment’s having an ex nihilo quality has something to do with the hazy truth to which the Peripatetics’ treatment of matter reaches.

In metaphysics, we deal with the most fundamental objects of the mind, and I do not expect to grasp much of the truth. I think that philosophical insights are mere glimpses, and we should remember that ontology is the map rather than the territory, to use one of Kristor’s images. If we commit ourselves too dogmatically to one particular map, we might fail to notice several aspects of the land. Of course, it is not always easy to figure out how different maps correspond, especially when we are traveling in unfamiliar country. Accordingly, I feel no shame in trying to harmonize Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant, and others even though I realize that their approaches differ radically. Consider our sense faculties as a metaphor; each power approaches an object in its own special way. The information collected by seeing will differ from that gained by hearing or touching. Yet, the object is the same. Likewise, I suspect that mechanistic physics and teleology understand different aspects of nature, and perhaps different philosophical schools also understand that which underlies nature complementarily.

Update: Kristor asks about henadic strings. Read the comments for a fuller explanation.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, February 17, Anno Domini 2012
Metaphysics • (4) CommentsPermalink
Monday, February 13, A.D. 2012
Nominalism, Nihilism, and the Will

For today’s entry, I wish to respond to a comment submitted by Tyler, a reader, on last Friday’s post, “Abortion as a Sacrament”:

As a someone who generally lines up with Right-libertarianism but has sympathy with neocon and Straussian thought, I appreciate the point you are making. I’m also an atheist (though I was a Protestant years ago as you may remember). So I guess my problem is that I don’t see how nihilism dictates worship of the will. If everything is meaningless, so is my will (and consistent nihilists like Alex Rosenberg would argue that the will is an illusion to begin with). From a godless viewpoint parts of your reactionary philosophy could be defended.

But my real question for you is how do you truly avoid worshipping the will? You are exercising your will by writing about your philosophy—if enough people come to agree with you, and your ideal society came to be, it would be an act of human will. The restrictions on human will that you like would come into being through human will, would they not?

I do not deny the existence of the will or that it has a proper place in human life, though I admit that I do not understand the faculty. My friend Andrew argues that there was no fixed understanding of the will as a special faculty before Augustine. If you look at ancient psychology, the consensus seems to be that the soul is a composite of different forces. Consider the numerous images of the soul in the Platonic corpus or the rational, animal, and vegetative parts of the soul in Aristotle’s De Anima. There are distinctions between voluntary and involuntary actions in the context of ethical discussions, but the driving force in the soul behind a man’s voluntary actions appears simply to be the strongest part of his particular soul. The good man’s reason leads him; his inner man rules the lions and the beasts of his thumotic and appetitive drives. The virtuous man’s practical reason determines his course of action. Hence, the Socratic tradition and its descendants stress the importance of moral education and the habitual exercise of virtuous deeds in order to shape the soul so that the rational element grows strong in its command over the irrational elements.

With Augustine, however, we get a faculty that appears to be the desk on which the buck of volition stops. For the Hellenic tradition makes it difficult to see men as ultimately responsible for their actions. Virtue is largely the result of being well reared. Yet, we might wonder how we can justly blame a man for his own upbringing that corrupted him and set him on a wayward path. Political necessity requires judgment and punishment, but such penalties are more practical in character; they make no claims on the ultimate origin of good or bad behavior. By contrast, Augustine the Christian worries about the divine justice in the judgment and punishment of a higher court. Augustine’s attempts to address that problem set the stage for the Western debate on the will, from De libero arbitrio to his later anti-Pelagian writings, which inspired Calvin’s predestination doctrines a millennium afterward.

I have no settled opinion on the matter. Last year at this time, frequent View from the Right commentator Kristor and I had an exchange that resulted in several posts where I stated my perplexity and my commitments regarding the will, mainly in the context of the problem of evil. I find it difficult to understand anything undetermined. The world that we witness is one of intelligible causality, and it is bizarre to think of the will as free. Yet, we have the experience of a faculty that suggests uncaused action. It is therefore understandable that Descartes and other moderns find the imago dei in the will, which seems a fitting image for the uncaused cause. Perhaps, Kant’s distinction of the noumenal from the phenomenal realm offers the best way possible to approach the mystery of the will.

The point of my last post stands regardless of our precise understanding of the will—namely, that the reduction of reality to the will is the wicked seed from which modern madness has grown. I suggest that the previous philosophical tradition is the correct one, where volition, however we conceive of its exercise, occurs in a world that has meaning apart from the will . . . and where will finds its appropriate exercise in conformity to our knowledge of the good. I proposed that modern confusion resulted from a bad turn in late medieval theology. Nominalism—the rejection of formal reality beyond a tool of human thought—was championed by religious men who thought that essences restricted the dominion of God. Their concern has its roots in a prior theological mistake that separates God’s will from God’s knowledge. For only by introducing such divisions in God may one conclude that essences threaten divine omnipotence. Yet, it is perverse to separate God’s will from his knowledge and his goodness. Though we do not know God’s essence, the divisions in being and in the faculties of our soul that relate to being do not apply to God, where the transcendentals exist in a unity, or at least in a state that transcends our understanding of unity. For us, truth and goodness—being as known and being as desired—remain distinct. Moreover, our faculties that deal with truth and goodness—our intellect and our will (however it is understood)—are distinct from each other and from their objects. Our divisions do not apply to God. There is no divine will separate from divine knowledge or divine goodness or divine love or divine power. The cruder Mohammedans and Calvinists err when they consider essences or an eternal standard of goodness an impediment to God’s omnipotence. For they make God into a divided being like us rather than the source of all being.

Historically, this theological error corrupted natural and moral philosophy, as well. Reality was reduced to will. Nominalism ultimately undermines all knowledge save the brute, irreducibly felt presence of the self. A brilliant and decent man like Descartes may recover enough ground to reconstitute some edifice of knowledge after having wrecked our cognitive abilities to understand the world as intelligible, but the worms of this reductionism would not rest. Yet, the slide toward more reductionism was not justified. Take Hume, for instance, who by all accounts was an intelligent and observant fellow. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the Scotsman fails to account for our knowledge of “mathematical facts,” and his nominalist epistemology cannot explain how our minds associate “similar” ideas without admitting the metaphysical system that he wishes to reject. Even with a sincere philosopher like Hume, obstacles and snags to his project are curiously overlooked and forgotten. Likewise, the long march of Western philosophy from the love of wisdom to the dejection of nihilism is accompanied by thousands of such moments wherein men of genius continue to build their castles upon clouds while ignoring foundational problems that just happened not to be their problems.

“All reality is simply the stage upon which the self wills to act.” “But, Herr Doktor, are you proposing solipsism?” “No, not at all, for you are another self” “But we share the same stage?” “Indeed!” “But how does your self recognize my self as distinct from your self and from the world that it evidently creates?” “It is in the nature of the self’s free positing of itself to recognize the free self positing of other selves.” “But if the self can detect independent selves and is aware of the nature of these selves, at least in this respect, why can’t we affirm that we might understand the nature of the world in which the selves meet? After all, the world is the context of the self, and a shared world between multiple selves seems more independent than a projection of the selves.” “Achtung! You risk caving to the transcendent temptation! Don’t you realize that we abandoned all that superstitious, unfounded medievalism centuries ago? After all, it’s 1804!”

Such is not really that much of an exaggeration. Instead of picking on German idealism, we could consider any modern philosophical current where its claims about the limitations of knowledge undermine its own philosophical endeavor. See “The Necessity of Knowledge” for a fuller treatment of this story. Ockham’s parsimony has resulted in systems so niggardly that they cannot afford the mental resources to see the world as it is or even as they dare argue it to be. They make lavish claims about the world like the prodigal son, but they have rejected traditional approaches to the world that affirm man’s ability to know and the world’s ability to be known just as that self exiled youth rejected the household and ways of his father. In this, they just do not notice their ideas’ inadequacy because their attention is turned to their pet questions. I suspect that my fellow Cincinnatian Thomas Kuhn described intellectual labors within world views correctly. Though his concern was natural philosophy rather than metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, I think that the same human tendency prevails in all disciplines. Men often see only what interests them; they ignore or disregard tangential matters that do not relate to their current obsession.

What has concerned Western man for centuries has been power. Interest in nature for reasons other than mastery has been a minority position for ages. Knowledge of formal causes would not help us build more effective rockets or washing machines. Such knowledge might even cause us great inconvenience; it is a costly enterprise to consider natural ends. Just dealing with Kantian liberals and their moral hangups with autonomous wills really takes its toll on the bottom line. Do we really want to open up Aristotle’s long buried box?

Nominalism thus prevails not due to its rational superiority but because it facilitates increasing human power and because nominalists have failed to ask fundamental philosophical questions for the past seven hundred years. Ask a materialist basic metaphysical questions about matter, about the structure of an atom, about the identity of atomic structures, and you will bore him, anger him, or convert him. With apologies to Cardinal Newman—to be deep in metaphysics is to cease to be a nominalist.

Our reduction of all reality to the will, which is the consequence of nominalistic reasoning whereby our knowledge of the world continually diminishes as we rob ourselves of the ability to look at the world with our full intellectual faculties, eventually leads to chaos. I hold that our political disorder has its origins in the misplaced supremacy of the will, which has resulted in an endless rebellion against authority of any kind, whether ancestral, natural, or divine. If there is no natural value—no true hierarchy of goods—then everything is arbitrary. Everything becomes a projection of the will, and authority becomes simply an opponent in the struggle of wills. Yet, for what do these wills struggle if nothing else can be known—if nothing else matters? It is an absurdity that leads men to misology and nihilism. As Tyler notes in his comment, true nihilism entails the rejection of the will itself, but that rejection can only be theoretical. If a man lives, he necessarily affirms his will’s existence (however the will is conceived) by undertaking any act. So, having rejected God and reason, modernity becomes the idolatry of the will, disconnected from other aspects of reality that impinge upon boundless freedom. We might call modernity’s intellectual destination “dishonest nihilism”—an inconsistent rejection of being.

Andrew suggests that modern thought consists chiefly of philosophers with daddy issues who assume that no one ever had insight until them—a sort of adolescent intellectualism that refuses to grow up. When such spiritual immaturity informs—or fails to inform—political life, we get modern politics, wherein the most rebellious of the rebels (and all modern men are rebels) rejoice in their Satanic rejection of good. Accordingly, Lawrence Auster of View from the Right often calls leftism the political expression of evil:

. . . because people become immoral and unworthy of love, people stop caring for each other. And since, as I’ve often said, leftism is the political expression of evil,—more particularly, since leftism is the political expression of the rebellion against God and goodness of which Jesus speaks—under leftism people become increasingly unlovable and turn coldly away from each other. The forces of cohesion that hold a society together, die.

What is leftism? The deliberate destruction of the forces of cohesion—namely, goodness and love—that hold human society together.

It is not by coincidence that the Anton LaVey and his band of liberals, hedonists, and Nietzscheans chose to honor evil when they founded the “Church of Satan” in the 1960’s—that decade of tacky rebellion. For Satan is the ultimate rebel. Two of their “Pentagonal Revisionism” objectives are:

4. Development and production of artificial human companions—The forbidden industry. An economic “godsend” which will allow everyone “power” over someone else. Polite, sophisticated, technologically feasible slavery. And the most profitable industry since T.V. and the computer.

5. The opportunity for anyone to live within a total environment of his or her choice, with mandatory adherence to the aesthetic and behavioral standards of same—Privately owned, operated and controlled environments as an alternative to homogenized and polyglot ones. The freedom to insularize oneself within a social milieu of personal well-being. An opportunity to feel, see, and hear that which is most aesthetically pleasing, without interference from those who would pollute or detract from that option.

Ours is an age of autonomy, of empowerment, of freedom, of choice! At least, the self proclaimed Satanists understand the true nature of modernity. It is an exultation of the will divorced from any other considerations; it is praise of Adam’s sin wherein he placed his ego above God in his ranking of goods. Of course, these latter day Satanists eschew the traditional understanding of the demonic, at least at first. They worship themselves, not the devil, but the turn from God and toward nothingness is the same. I think of Screwtape’s seventh letter to Wormwood:

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”—then the end of the war will be in sight. But in the meantime we must obey our orders. I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.

Lewis well recognized that the forces of hell are cunning.

Tyler’s point about nihilism is a personally moving one for me. In my entry, “Criterial Argument for the Existence of God,” I copied an exchange wherein I admitted to having a “nihilistic temptation.” Since my first year in college, I have had a nagging suspicion that every absurd claim might be true, even though such fails the obvious retortion test and removes the possibility of further thought. Yet, it appears that our freedom for foolishness is so great that our minds are able to entertain, at least in a suggestive way, any ludicrous proposition. In response, Kristor notes:

As to the temptation of nihilism, I feel it, too. But is not this the same thing as to say simply that I feel temptation? Temptation to any sin, however trivial, is a temptation to some turn or other toward nothingness. Followed persistently, all sins lead ultimately to the outer darkness.

Nihilism offers no truth, of course. Yet, we are agents of truth. We are agents of action. We are. Nihilism is the purest Satanic stance, though it is a path that we cannot tread. We cannot live according to nothingness. We inevitably must affirm goods in order to live. Even the simple act of brushing one’s teeth or drinking a glass of water necessarily implies goods that we have claimed to exist. To be a human being is to act, and to act is to proclaim a moral dimension to the universe. Dionysius notes that even the demons, insofar as they exist, are good. Similarly, insofar as we remain men, we manifest the goodness of existence and, perhaps unwittingly and even, ironically, unwillingly, we thereby acknowledge the falsehood of nihilism in deed.

Update: Kristor adds the following comment on the original post:

The mere exercise of the will is not tantamount to the worship thereof, particularly when it is constrained by an intellectual knowledge of truth. By the same token, to say that the will ought to be subordinated to the intellect is not at all to denigrate the will, but only to coordinate it to its proper role in the economy of the person.

Rosenberg is quite right in saying that if there is no truth then the will is an illusion. If there is no truth, then “the will exists” is false. But then, so is “there is no truth.”

Posted by Joseph on Monday, February 13, Anno Domini 2012
AnthropologyEpistemologyEthicsMetaphysicsPhysicsPolitics • (8) CommentsPermalink
Friday, February 10, A.D. 2012
Abortion as a Sacrament

Last month before the March for Life, I was thinking about an idea that I have encountered in recent years that abortion is a sacrament for the Left. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life notes that Ginette Paris published the book, The Sacrament of Abortion, in A.D. 1992, wherein she supports abortion as a pagan affirmation of life. I was surprised that the idea has its origin on the Left, but I should get used to the perversity of this world. Although the prophet Isaiah proclaims, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!,” one must not forget that the wicked delight in wickedness.

Upon reflection, however, I think that the Left’s position is remarkably consistent given human nature. Consider sacrifice and its place in human society. Sacrifice is pretty much a universal human phenomenon. Man gives up something dear to his gods. Crudely, this act is seen as a transaction wherein the sacrificer seeks to appease divine anger or curry divine favor. The more philosophical understanding is that by sacrifice man makes clear to himself and to everyone the proper order of being, where lesser goods are given up for greater ones. The act of sacrifice to the gods demonstrates vividly to the human soul and to the human community the appropriate hierarchy of the world; it is an impressive (as in impression making) act that proclaims the community’s ranking of values.

Among sacrifices, none is greater than offering human life, especially the life of a child who represents the very continued existence of the human community of which he is part. We find stories of child sacrifice repellant, and we are quick to condemn the practitioners of such acts as evil and demonic. However, from their point of view, they are offering their most precious good to the divine. In the scriptures, we read of the Moabite king:

And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew sword, to break through unto the king of Edom; but they could not. Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

The king killed his son and successor to gain divine power. It is obvious from the story that he did not want to do this for its own sake. He did it to prevail in battle and to save his kingdom, and it appeared to have worked. We on the Abrahamic side of the story might conclude that his murdering his son would only have pleased demons, and the great wrath was not a divine force but a Satanic one. Nonetheless, from the Moabite point of view, offering one’s own child to the gods was the most powerful offering because it was the greatest sacrifice possible. What more can a loving father give than his own child? Child sacrifice, seen in this light, is the supreme act of submission.

We have this in our own heritage with Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac. Of course, the Lord saved Isaac at the last moment, but there can be no doubt that the test of Abraham demanded the most from him that God could ask. As Christians, we further see the extreme expression of sacrifice in the crucifixion of Christ, and I propose that the sacrifice on Golgotha is the archetype for all sacrifice. Every sacrifice, whether burnt, blood, or living, of fruits, beasts, or human beings, of enemies, friends, or children, is an imperfect attempt to copy the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ—“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”—whose peculiar metaphysical status makes the crucifixion an eternally significant event that connects time and space to that which is beyond being. Consider, for instance, how the author of the letter to the Hebrews contrasts the temple cult to the sacrifice of Christ.

What, then, does this talk of child sacrifice have to do with abortion?

I believe that the positions and goals of the “Left” are the logical consequences of modernity. By that, I mean that the shift in world views that occurred in the late medieval period and Renaissance has been playing itself out over the past seven centuries, and the “cutting edge” of this development is, unsurprisingly, the “progressive” Left. The end of the Middle Ages saw the rise of nominalism—a philosophical doctrine that denies that essences exist in the world. The Franciscans who created this theory did so from a certain kind of piety, thinking that formal ontological realities limited the power of God. They thus conceived God as an omnipotent and unrestricted will, disconnected from and superior to anything known and, therefore, to knowing. This fundamental change in thinking about God revolutionized everything else, including the West’s understanding of nature and of mankind. Will has become the most important reality. Indeed, it is the only reality in quite a few philosophical currents. Having discarded the divine will, atheists keep only the human will, or perhaps will as such, and the will remains the touchstone for all other considerations. This change is the origin of all modern philosophical movements, almost all of which deify the will and discard any restraint upon the will. As with the original nominalists’ theology, the elevation of will corresponds to a diminution of truth. For truth is a restriction upon will, and the glorification of will necessarily accompanies a demotion of the intellect. For if we admit that there is reality apart from will, then the will’s freedom and scope become limited as there would be truths independent of the will. In summary, modernity is fundamentally an idolatry of the will.

I do not know if we should blame this aberration on the medieval nominalists or on Augustine who ensnared the West with the will’s tangle, but I do think that the reduction of reality to the will underlies all modern madness from the Cartesian mastery of nature to liberalism to utilitarianism to nihilism to Marxism to fascism to feminism to postmodernism to all the insane -isms that afflict men’s minds. Contemporary political thinking remains a prisoner in these fetters.

One obvious problem when everything is reduced to will is how we manage conflicting wills. One possibility is the Darwinian world where the stronger overcome the weaker. Think of Nietzsche’s will to power and the struggle of wills that we call life. Then, there are the ways of liberalism, where society attempts to maximize the ability of each will to exercise its power. Classical liberals seek to manage such conflicts loosely by instituting general rules of fairness, whereas egalitarian liberals want to engineer a society wherein each will has an equal ability to manifest its power. For why should one will be considered more important than another? If will is the fundamental reality, then everything else such as talent, intelligence, fortune, and discipline are irrelevant in discussions of justice. A just world is one of equal outcomes that allow equal opportunities to exercise power. Biology, consequences of decisions, and considerations of social stability cannot have any standing in this court of justice; for they are external to will and the Left is therefore uncomfortable with them. Nature must be reconstructed to agree with our choices, not the other way around. Something is willed; it therefore must be.

Therein, we see how abortion is a sacrament. For one sacrifices his children to his highest god, and there is no higher authority or power in the modern world than the individual will. Abortion is our society’s form of child sacrifice where babies are killed on the altar of the ego. There is no higher authority than the will; there is no greater good than the will’s current object. Abortion is simply a powerful manifestation of this belief. It is an affirmation of the superiority of the will over instinct, tradition, morality, and nature. The sacrificing priests of old both represented and taught the community through their sacrifices, and contemporary women and abortionists do the same in our society. Hear, all ye nations, the will is most supreme. Choice is sacred.

Update: This topic continues in “Nominalism, Nihilism, and the Will.”

Posted by Joseph on Friday, February 10, Anno Domini 2012
AnthropologyEthicsMetaphysicsPolitics • (3) CommentsPermalink
Monday, February 6, A.D. 2012
Priorités Noires

Last week, George Michalopulos posted a lament over the Episcopal Assembly in America: “Another Missed Opportunity by the Episcopal (Non) Assembly.” I commented so:

Is it really true that the health care plan for the OCA’s employees covers elective abortion? How is that possible? Were the folks involved in the benefits selection disinterested in such matters or willfully supportive of the culture of death? This is yet another instance that shows how much further advanced the Latins are when it comes to engaging a post-Christian culture in practical ways.

Though tangential to the point of this post, I want to address the following statement:

This means that blacks, who gave 96% of their votes to Obama made a concerted effort to vote in landslide proportions the other way for a traditionally conservative proposition. This is a staggering consideration. Besides showing surprising political sophistication among African-Americans, it gives the lie to the thesis that liberal voters are blase when it comes to matters of cultural import.

I think that these words manage to be naive and condescending at the same time (unintentionally, of course). The “surprising political sophistication” of black Americans? “Why, George, bless my soul, Old Jesse’s over there reciting the Pledge of Allegiance! Isn’t that precious?”

Moreover, how is it a mark of political sophistication to disagree with a radical social platform of your chosen team but still to remain on the team because your support assures you many unearned goodies? While there are blacks on the “New Left” who go along with the sexual revolution and all that it entails, I do not think that black preachers often extol the splendors of diversity of sexual identity, lesbian literary criticism, or the dogmas of PETA. Rather, the Left has successfully recruited the vast majority of American blacks to support a racialized version of Marx, where ethnicity has supplaced class based on labor. It is the Old Left in blackface — Labor without the labor. Johnny-come-lately conservatives, like Glenn Beck, for example, fail to understand how leftist black Americans are. Conservatives fret over their “intolerable whiteness,” worrying that such makes them racist, whereas the truth is that proportionally few blacks hold conservative principles. Tea Parties and Republican conventions are overwhelmingly white because American whites are the only ethnic group to support traditional American notions of the state’s role in our lives, justice, social order, and the like.

The economic leftism of American blacks does not make them the typical San Francisco voters of Nancy Pelosi’s district. Black leaders hobnob with the other constituents of the Democratic coalition from necessity. They tolerate the glorification of sodomy and feminism in order to grease the rails of the statist gravy train. And they do so in good conscience, having bought into the racial Marxist explanation of blacks’ lower class status in America. If only Whitey did not keep them down, they would be doing fine in the Land of Milk and Honey. So, while it might be unpleasant to mobilize politically in arms with NAMBLA sympathizers, it is what one has to do for his “community.” Ethnic interests almost always trump other principles in normal human affairs. Yet, when an opportunity comes along where one can vote his disagreement, as in referenda, he does so. Yet, at the end of the day when it comes to whom average American black Mr. Jones puts in power, he remembers who butters his bread. That is what Democrats mean when they say that people vote their economic interests. It means that they support government managed theft as long as they are the recipients of that transaction. You know, that “social justice” beloved of the Left that is neither social nor just.

Men keep many goals. Human life involves ranking such goals as we limited beings must prioritize. Wisdom involves conforming those value choices to the true hierarchy of being.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, February 6, Anno Domini 2012
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