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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.
Tuesday, May 17, A.D. 2016
Escolios Adecuados de Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Steve Sailer’s commentators have recently offered a few aphoristic gems from the Colombian intellectual Nicolás Gómez Dávila, to which I have added some worthies:

In philosophy, a single naive question oftentimes suffices for the whole system to collapse.

The cause of democracy’s stupidities is confidence in the anonymous citizen; and the cause of its crimes is the anonymous citizen’s confidence in himself.

Being a reactionary is not about believing in certain solutions, but about having an acute sense of the complexity of the problems.

I distrust every idea that doesn’t seem obsolete and grotesque to my contemporaries.

For the progressive modernist, nostalgia is the supreme heresy.

The intelligent man quickly reaches reactionary conclusions. Today, however, the universal consensus of fools turns him into a coward. When they interrogate him in public, he denies being a Galilean.

Nothing is more dangerous than to solve ephemeral problems with permanent solutions.

Modern persons believe that they live in a plurality of opinions, whereas in fact what reigns today is an asphyxiating unanimity.

Stupidity appropriates with a diabolical ease whatever science invents.

In augmenting its power, humanity is multiplying its own servitudes.

The much celebrated “dominion of man over nature” resulted simply in an immense homicidal capacity.

The anarchy that threatens a degrading society is not its punishment, but its remedy.

Modern society works fervently to put vulgarity within the reach of everyone.

A simple fit of impatience often soon bridges the distance between utopia and murder.

Modernist mentality is the daughter of human conceit inflated by commercial propaganda.

Many love humanity only in order to forget God with a clear conscience.

Rather timely untimely observations, no?

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, May 17, Anno Domini 2016
Monday, May 9, A.D. 2016
Charlton on Modern Cynicism

Christ is risen! I hope that my fellow Orthodox had fruitful Holy and Bright weeks. Enjoy the festive season—and the spring.

I have several accumulated links that I would like to share, but today I recommend Bruce Charlton’s “Ingwaz - the metaphysics of ‘-ing’, of polarity.” As is often the case with Charlton’s musings, I found the post extraordinarily insightful. Following a clear, brief exposition of what I would like to call Realism 201 (τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸ νοεῖν ἐστίν τε καὶ εἶναι), Charlton explains:

So the division of inner mind and outer reality/ nature is nonsense; we are always and inevitably involved in everything we ever consider by thinking.

However, this thinking can be (usually is) something of which we are unaware. We therefore tend (unthinkingly) to regard the ‘outside’ world as if it was independent of our thinking. We tend to suppose that the outside world is real and solid, while our thinking (which in reality is involved in everything we know or imagine about that outside world) is merely ephemeral and pointless.

This is because if we divide thinking from the outside world, thinking dies - it becomes static, inert, it stops ‘-ing’ and is a mere dead specimen (‘thought’). What is really happening is that we have started thinking about a situation where there is no thinking, and are unaware that in thinking this we have not actually imagined a situation where there is no thinking - we are merely unaware of the thinking that is engaged in imagining it!

This is the modern condition. Modern analysis is unaware of - and denies - the pervasiveness of thinking at all times and in all situations. This state of unthinking doubt about thinking can be called cynicism.

So, the first move is to become aware of our own thinking in any and every situation - to recognize that everything involves thinking - we are therefore always engaged with everything, involved with everything: there is no objective alienation.

But is thinking valid? That is the fear that haunts cynical, nihilistic modern man. The fear is that - even though it makes no sense and cannot be done to use thinking to doubt the validity of thinking; maybe thinking is not valid anyway - maybe we just live in an un-avoidable delusion? The idea accepts that it makes no sense to be thinking about thinking being ‘unreliable’ - but maybe that is true anyway!

This cynicism, I believe, is the modern condition; it is a fear rather than a philosophy, it is a cynical suspicion that there is really no purpose, meaning or reality - and this state was facilitated by Natural Selection which seems to have ‘discovered’ that that is how nature works. This is untrue, and makes no sense; but the effect is rather to implant a fear, a suspicion that it might all be a delusion than to make any kind of logical point.

That has been the point at which Western thought has been stuck for more than 200 years - the fear that everything we think we know about everything comes from thinking, and that thinking - the very basis of knowing itself - might be a circular system of unavoidable but nonetheless false assumptions.

This places Man into an existential state where he does not know where to start in escaping. Once he has come to doubt thinking, then he cannot get out. All he can do is try to manipulate his emotions so as to feel better, here and now.

Yes! Brilliant. Myself, I have wrestled with this very illogic since my undergraduate days, knowing (abstractly) how absurd it was—but nonetheless remaining a slave to the fear. As I was reading the post, I thought, “Indeed, it’s demonic.” And, of course, Charlton nails it. He likewise notes how most modern men adopt a cynical attitude toward the most fundamental questions but casually and bovinely follow the herd when it comes to the venerated venereal idols of the age. Fortunately, I was cynical enough to want to follow the nihilistic path to its conclusion—and I realized that such was pure, hellish madness—the ultimate (and existential) reductio ad absurdum. My firm and absolute confidence in Platonism co-exists with—perhaps depends upon—an awareness of what its rejection ultimately entails, and I am not willing to consider that path any more than I have. My accompanying daemon shouts, “NO!” And, by grace, I hearken unto it.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, May 9, Anno Domini 2016
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