Amerika

Posts Tagged ‘monism’

Pagan Christianity

Monday, June 19th, 2017

The Right desperately needs to get right with God.

Perhaps not in the way most would think, this need arises from the confusion about the role of religion in the Right. Some want it to be the basis of the Right and to install a de facto theocracy; others see it as irrelevant; still others argue that conservatism is not based on a single method, as ideology is, and that religion is one part — perhaps not for all people — of a bundle of methods that together make a solution but are not in themselves solutions.

These seem to be prerequisites that can be accidentally made into ideologies. For example, racial and ethnic homogeneity is necessary for a thriving society, but in itself it is not a whole solution, only part of one. Similarly, deposing democracy and equality is a partial solution. Together these and other methods make up a complete society.

For that reason, it makes sense to view religion as not a solution in itself, but also something that at least many of us need. This gets us away from the theocracy that forces us all to become believers, and instead points to rule by culture, which requires strong nationalism to establish.

This takes us in turn to the question, which religion?

Varg Vikernes makes a compelling point for avoiding Christianity. It leads to Leftism, and conspired against our people in the past, not to mention creates the “personal morality” conditions which encourage virtue signaling. In his view, as in Nietzsche’s, it is entirely too pacifistic and fatalistic of a religion.

Onto this we might add one other shining elephant in the room: at least geographically — the Christianity Identity folks have some interesting input here on the origins of Biblical Jews — it is foreign, or simply put not European. The names are not in our languages, nor are the locations, or presumably many of the customs and values.

To this it is important to add that Christianity is also at least from a surface reading, which over time in the hands of large groups is what it will be streamlined to be, it is dualistic, or posits another world where the rules are more real than the rules in this one. In other words, logic is not logic; there is a different logic, more like a human logic, which is actually real.

DARG adds another failing of Christianity, which relates to the personal morality it champions:

The beginning of this is a clarification on the terms sacred and profane. Christianity has made [humans] believe that the sacred is themselves, and equivalent to “tolerance and love” (towards what they define as permissible, of course) and “feeling nice and warm”, and that the profane is everything that opposes that. How convenient. The more historical and philosophical stance, on the other hand, sees in the every-day world, and all that it holds, benign of malignant, as profane; and sees in the world of the exceptional, of man going beyond the merely human, the sacred.

The personal morality of Christianity, and its exoteric nature or tendency to behave like an ideological system more than a deep-learning skill, make it a mixed bag when it comes to religions. It is the great unifier, but that also means it simplifies the message.

Pagan faiths, on the other hand, are monistic — they believe there is no alternate set of rules for the universe, and that all that we need to know can be found in nature, science and logic — and esoteric, or formed of cumulative self-directed learning in which some are naturally gifted to go farther than others. Exotericism is inherently egalitarian; esotericism is innately hierarchical.

In fact, pagan faiths more resemble a philosophy and folkway with metaphysical implications than a religion, or organized spiritual dogma for the sake of shaping mass behavior:

This effort of combining all non-Christian religions under one umbrella was, in fact, a clever strategy by the early Christians to remove the “pagan” faiths altogether. Using the Norse traditions as an example, the Vikings of the early medieval period had no true name for their religious following. In truth, the word religion would have been an unknown, foreign term to them. The Nordic tribes preferred the word “customs” as—like the Greeks and Romans—their rituals, beliefs, and traditions were undefined and fluidly interpreted, orally passed down rather than rigidly studied. There was no all-encompassing word for the belief in the Aesir and Vanir, and the various other beings and deities the ancient Norse worshiped, and there was no written text discussing their practices until the Christian author Snorri Sturluson wrote their mythology down in the 13th century.

Now, the picture gets more complex because Christianity is mostly Pagan. It is clearly a derivative, or rather a compilation and synthesis of the indigenous faiths of lands the Jewish scribes were in contact with, featuring the Greeks whose philosophy they loved above all else. This means that there are Greek, Nordic, Hindu and other faiths retold in the Bible.

There was a reason why formerly “pagan” communities switched to Christianity, namely that it was both mostly familiar and more effective for manipulating herds of people. The exoteric nature of Christianity means that its symbols can be directly adjusted to cause people to behave one way or another. Some of this was positive, namely getting people to leave behind previous antisocial habits.

However, this displacement of the original faiths also led to cultural erasure. When a simpler and more easily understood version of a tradition comes along, especially one that is written, people simply adopt the new and forget the old, which most importantly contains the roadmap to understanding the reasons for the beliefs.

What this means however is that there is a bridge between pagan faiths and Christianity, and that for this reason, we can have faith that is not strictly entrenched in either one, only expressed through it, and that over time, this may change to the simpler and more internal, informal and naturalistic pagan ideation. Consider the Perennial nature of spirituality:

It also makes sense to have some form of metaphysical outlook, perhaps of a Perennialist nature:

At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.

  1. The phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness — the world of things and animals and men and even gods — is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
  2. Human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
  3. Man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
  4. Man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.

If we distill religions to their core and take the intersection, we see a basic starting point that does not necessarily need formalization and, if kept informalized, loses its “human” projection and interpretation, and starts to resemble more the pagan faiths and even older Indo-European religion that our pre-Greek ancestors adopted.

This takes us away from religion as an external constraint that we adopt in order to shape ourselves and become a mass of people acting toward some goal, and reverts it to its original form, which is an observation about the nature of reality that reveals hints of the metaphysical embedded within nature:

As that great non-church and heterodox Christian Rudolf Steiner said: to disbelieve in God is to be, in a real sense, insane; in other words, it is to disbelieve any possibility of coherence, meaning and purpose – which is to regard all of life as a delusion.

…And to deny God within us and the world is to live earthly life in a state of detachment – since we can only observe and never actually participate in reality: we can never know.

In other words, religion is rediscovered by those with clarity of mind who can observe nature; this is the essence of transcendentalism, in which joy arises from understanding the nature of the world and seeing it in logic, therefore wisdom, and therefore beauty and a positive intention toward those of us caught in it, which in turn implies a life-like force to the universe, which per German Idealism — also found in Hinduism — is thought-like, dream-like or composed of thought or information.

In this way, we can see how for the West to rediscover the divine, Christianity must converge on the less formal and more intuitive forms of religious faith, which are the folk customs and existential search of the inner self that produces our classically reflective outlook.

Already we see signs of this. The Orthosphere-style thinkers tend either to embrace Catholicism, or outward-in, religious thinking, or to go the other way and embrace transcendentalism with discipline. This leads to a more naturalistic interpretation of religion that is naturally less obsessed with personality morality and its means-over-ends analysis.

Pagan Christianity, in addition to the Perennial Philosophy traits mentioned above per Aldous Huxley, also has a different map of the cosmos and metaphysical. At its core, this represents a shift from three paths (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) to four:

  1. Information-Space
  2. Godhead
  3. God
  4. Gods

In this mythos, the natural order of a universe comprised of information comes first, and with it the notion that we each have a role to serve determined by our logical placement within this order. Natural law and logic come first, and within them there are other spaces.

Godhead is the animating force of all that we know and the most essential tendencies of the universe. This works within the information-space, shaping us toward the divine and influencing the birth of the gods.

At the top, there is an all-encompassing God which represents holiness itself and less of an active personality than a tendency, like gravity or rain, to order the universe into beauty by balancing darkness and light so that existence itself can prevail. Since the universe is relative, darkness is necessary to emphasize light, much like death gives significance to life.

Below that are the gods, or animistic forces with distinct personalities. These are manifested forces which act according to their own interest, which means that we can respect them without expecting them to judge us or treat us according to some moral standard of our own. They simply do what they do, but they reflect the spirit of godhead, and so are divine while bridging to the profane world of the mundane.

At the bottom are the creatures of Earth and beyond, including humans and plants, who exhibit spirit of their own. These are able to partake in divinity by seeking transcendence and avoiding hubris, but will never fully know what is on the other side because they are limited to a perspective of the physical and individualized.

Perhaps that is enough of a start for now. We have seen how Christianity and Paganism are not that much different, how they share a core, and how we can rediscover that core by starting from reality itself. As with all esoteric things, that represents a doorway opened, and a path upon which each of us will journey a different distance, often down different tributaries.

A Monist Interpretation Of Ultimate Reality

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Among philosophers, there are some who extend the Kantian idea of intuition as the root of all knowledge to suggest that instead of pursuing purely analytical thought, which tends to be derived from the visible, we must pursue an ultimate reality in which the world is comprised of ideas, and the most compatible ideas shape our future.

There is no denying that the world appears to objectively exist, and for all intents and purposes, it does objectively exist, yet it is easy to see that it is nothing more than an apparition. It is similar to the way the sun appears to rise and set each day. We might directly experience the rising and setting of the sun with our own eyes, so to speak, yet the whole thing is an illusion produced by the rotating earth. It is an experience which is constructed out of our perspective as beings situated on the earth. In the same way, our experience of the world as an objective entity is a mirage generated out of a particular perspective, one that is centred around a belief in the self and reinforced by habit of thought. The objectivity of the world appears real on the surface, but it disappears the moment you begin to approach it.

This struggles with the same question that Schopenhauer introduces, which is that if life is comprised of cause and effect, the cause of materiality will be more complex than materiality itself, indicating the presence of additional dimensions to our world, or that our world is the result of long chains of causes that begin in an entirely different medium. This is German Idealism, also called “transcendental idealism”:

Kant’s idealism is, perhaps, the most moderate form of idealism associated with German idealism. Kant holds that the objects of human cognition are transcendentally ideal and empirically real. They are transcendentally ideal, because the conditions of the cognition human beings have of objects are to be found in the cognitive faculties of human beings. This does not mean the existence of those objects is mind-dependent, because Kant thinks we can only know objects to the extent that they are objects for us and, thus, as they appear to us. Idealism with respect to appearances does not entail the mind-dependence of objects, because it does not commit itself to any claims about the nature of things in themselves. Kant denies that we have any knowledge of things in themselves, because we do not have the capacity to make judgments about the nature of things in themselves based on our knowledge of things as they appear.

Schopenhauer elaborated on this by making it clear that there was no knowledge of things in themselves, but that in fact the perceiver creates the perceived object from external reality plus a perceptual filter, which shows us that the entirety of reality as we know it is relative to the individual, which is to say relative among individuals, with some perceiving more than others:

Schopenhauer holds that “no truth is more certain, no truth is more independent of all others and no truth is less in need of proof than this one: that everything there is for cognition (i.e., the whole world) is only an object in relation to a subject, an intuition of a beholder ” (WWR, §1, pp. 23–4). This simple and perhaps inescapable thought may be regarded as the most fundamental motivation for any form of epistemological idealism.

These ideas, at first, are shocking because they navigate between two human illusions: (1) the external world is evident and universal and everyone can perceive it and (2) people live in their own worlds, determined by their intent and desires. Neither are true, but both are partially true. People interpret an objective world as best they can, and end up with a version of it filtered through their own perception and, most importantly, ability to accept what they are seeing. People in denial see less of the world than others.

At a basic level, this idea suggests that the universe is relative, which means that any object is known through its relationship to other objects and not to some universal center. We know light through darkness, not through some middle level of partial light, and we know cold through hot, death through life, truth through untruth, and many other variations of this idea.

Bruce Charlton argues for a variety of this theory:

In the beginning Men were merely primordial selves immersed in the ocean of universal consciousness; and the history of everything has included the progressive and incremental separation of these selves from the universal primary reality.

We began as immersed in universal reality – joined with everything, and everything joined with us – with permeable selves… We end with a Self that is aware of its own separation from things, from other people, from memories – and even from its own thoughts…

This separation of the self can [be imagined through] a biological analogy; as development. A baby lives at first in the ocean of amniotic fluid, inside the mother; and only gradually, incrementally, does the baby’s self become separate from the mother’s self – first by birth, then by development and increasing independence… but only in adolescence does the child at some point become existentially separate – an agent.

The concept of ultimate reality — called “universal reality” in the quotation above — is that our material world is the effect, and not cause, of the world as it actually is. This makes sense to some degree, but could benefit from an upgrade to monism.

Monism is the notion that there is no division between physics and metaphysics; the two play by the same rules, which we might refer to as “information science” because reality behaves like ideas, according to logical principles, more than arising from the properties of material itself.

This can have an agnostic version, which is that this function can exist independent of a god or enduring metaphysical reality, but appreciating the wisdom of the design of existence leads to a recognition that the world exists like a calculator, refining itself toward some ongoing state of higher complexity or qualitative improvement.

If the world acts like a calculator or mathematical equation, it possesses some form of consciousness or tendency. Much like natural selection, this tendency engages in purposive calculations much as natural selection does, resulting in a greater degree of efficiency or function.

This implies a basic consciousness, like that in a computer that is aware of itself without having a centralized and self-aware ego. Life merely does what it does, but in doing so, it creates a product that is like thought itself. It forever refines what it has into something more advanced, and in doing so, comes to know itself.

For humans, this provides the basis of understanding the world beyond the material but without venturing into dualistic theories where an external controlling force is assumed. Instead, the world itself is its own force, without a need to articulate itself. This shows us where we fit into this order.

In such an order, whatever advances complexity and organization rises above the rest, even if through the most primitive methods possible. This occurs because this order is a self-refining system, which means that it aims toward qualitative improvement constantly, instead of simply expanding outward into every possibility, which would be quantitative expansion.

Naturally, such an order points upward toward some centralizing force or at least, the highest apex of qualitative order. This implies that something God-like exists within the world. If the world is idea, then there is some ultimate direction or purpose to the calculating state of those ideas. If there is a purpose, there is a source of direction or fulfillment of goal in an apex.

This view shows us the universe as a giant calculator or computer. It churns through endless calculations, finding better answers all the time, and then integrates those in order to discover what principles it may. Those are regulated by some sense of logic or

If something acts like a calculator, meaning that it transacts computations, it has some kind of consciousness. Our universe clearly engages in purposive calculations like natural selection, gradualism and organicism. This reveals its basic level of consciousness.

Our universe clearly engages in purposive calculations like natural selection, and this means that it has some basic form of consciousness. It aims to improve itself not in quantity, but in quality, which is metaphorically equivalent to getting a more exact answer.

With that in mind, we see that it does not have fixed “purpose,” but rather a mechanism by which it gradually advances the more-complex over the less-complex. This is nihilistic: it does not judge by whether the outcome is good, only goes through the calculations without emotion.

At this point, we see the universe as nihilistic or without judgment of our human desires. It is merely functional, entirely logical, and separate from any particular form or direction.

This inhuman nature provides stability. It means that the universe reaches its conclusions without considering the emotional affect of them, and so can act independently from any central control least of all that by a thinking, judging perspective.

From this, we can see the emptiness of the universe. It does not assess good or bad; it merely functions. We are alone, actors within a complex schema, trying to find what produces the best results — “good” — among infinite options for lesser success, a.k.a. “bad.”

Dualism posits that there is a perfect order in another world, and that we emulate it in this world as a means of being “good.” Monism recognizes only cold, hard logic, and sees no human role in it except as deluded monkeys with car keys attempting to rationalize their fate.

However, the positive factor of monism is that it suggests that the universe is consistent. There is no judgment at all, or personality involved, only the mechanistic actions of cause and effect. This liberates us from the superstition of trying to guess what a personality in control of us intends, and shows us life as a logical construct, independent of our emotions.

That mentality leads to transcendentalism. We see the world as a perfect order, working blindly and independently, and so instead of trying to influence it with our emotions, we discipline ourselves according to its wisdom. In doing so, we adapt to it, and improve our own thinking to be more realistic.

At the end of the day, this is all we have ever had: a consistent universe and our ability to understand it. If metaphysics is out there, it is consistent like the rest. Everything else is human projection and must be avoided, unless we — like so many others — want to delude ourselves and fall into oblivion.

Exploring The Dream World

Friday, May 5th, 2017

When the topic of religion arises, as it inevitably does, a conflict between content and form emerges. Many of us out here agree with the general content of religion — belief in a higher order than the material, a sense the universe operates toward some purpose, and the notion that moral awareness is necessary — but find the form in which is placed, mass religion, to be alienating.

In fact, it is difficult after extensive experience of life not to believe in an order that animates this world beyond the mere physical act of things bumping into one another. Atheism — the opposite of the scientific approach, agnosticism — seems more an assertion of the human demand to be able to do whatever we want without being forced to see that much of it is unproductive or dysfunctional. Like most Leftist tropes, it is based in preemptive self defense against being wrong, a denial of risk, and reflects a deep inner neurosis.

Once one gets past the power of doubt and fear, or at least most of it, an order emerges which defies both organized religion and the ugly, pointless quest of atheism. Bruce Charlton calls it the “universal dream world”:

One aspect of this is that there are multiple references to the idea that the dream world is a realm of experience which is universal – in other words, dreaming is a single, vast domain – with distinctive qualities, different from the waking state – that is potentially accessible by all people.

Charlton must be read carefully because like the better authors of the past, and almost no one now, he uses language deliberately and intends it as a descriptive tool, where multiple factors are mentioned in combination, than a categorical or linear one that assigns a single value to a thing and uses it to control its boundaries.

What he describes as a “universal dream world” is something like material reality, or more specifically, space. It is a space of ideas, which he shorthands as dream, because it is not linear, but based on similarity of the shape of ideas such as is expressed in metaphor, simile, art and dream.

His thinking runs parallel to that of both transcendentalists and those who explore German idealism, a system of thought that states that reality, while empirical or “objective” in the parlance of the internet, is comprised of something like thought at a level lower than, or producing of, materiality. Heady stuff but it expands on the misunderstood Plato, who expressed something like the Hindu idea that the pattern of an action matters more than the material in which it is rendered.

Immanuel Kant created the foundation of this belief in the modern West, arguing that we see life through the filter of ourselves, and can only know the underlying reality through intuition, suggesting that we can derive principles of our world at its highest level not through rationality, but through something like the dream/metaphor state:

Kant holds that the objects of human cognition are transcendentally ideal and empirically real. They are transcendentally ideal, because the conditions of the cognition human beings have of objects are to be found in the cognitive faculties of human beings. This does not mean the existence of those objects is mind-dependent, because Kant thinks we can only know objects to the extent that they are objects for us and, thus, as they appear to us. Idealism with respect to appearances does not entail the mind-dependence of objects, because it does not commit itself to any claims about the nature of things in themselves. Kant denies that we have any knowledge of things in themselves, because we do not have the capacity to make judgments about the nature of things in themselves based on our knowledge of things as they appear.

The point Kant made that is vital to our understanding is that the human mind filters reality for what it can understand, and rationalizes this into a representation of reality. This correlates to the Platonic understanding of reality as a shadow on a cave wall, projected as the silhouette of an object from behind the eyes of the viewer. We see only what we can cognitively grasp.

From this runs two parallel observations: first, that there is more to the world than meets the eye; and second, as Plato also noted, that causality arises not from objects in motion, but from objects in the right pattern, similar to chemical reactions and the arrangement of atoms, electricity and the placement of electrons, and even music, where the right vibrations in the correct sequence produce a sound regardless of what instrument it is played upon. The idea is greater than the form in which it presents itself to us.

If the idea is supreme, the question arises as to the origin of idea. Some argue for a second world, or a dualistic perspective, in which the true forms of things hide; this view, called “neo-Platonism,” was popular for its perceived compatibility with Christianity. A more sane perspective sees ideas as something that are emergent in the material objects of our world, implying a cause to that effect found elsewhere within the world, perhaps in what Kant suggests we filter out.

And so, we have found a probable candidate for the “universal dream world,” one that is more pagan than modern, but can be accessed through the teachings of most faiths. In the pagan concept, the world included places which could not be visited by physical travel alone, such as lands of the dead or places where the gods resided. In their minds, the material space we know as physical reality was the smallest part of reality, dwarfed by spaces resembling ideas where metaphysical activity occurred.

Taking the view that our world is the result of these other spaces, and that these spaces are comprised of something thought-like and being part of this world, respond to our actions as transmitted through re-arrangement of pattern, including that of thought itself, we see a reason for the accessibility of this dream world: we are connected to it through a certain type of thought that actually alters patterns in our brains to be more like the root archetypes of objects, and thus creates an affinity to them because in an informational space, those things of similar shape or idea cluster together, being built from the same archetype.

With this, we unlock the secret of prayer. Those who discipline their thoughts to be closest to the objects they reference can then address the patterning of reality that will be expressed by those thought-objects, and through a creative process like mythic imagination, can exert influence on that space which then translates into this space. Meditation and prayer focus on the raw archetypes of objects through our intuition and in doing so, can have influence in the physical world.

This theory finds compatriots in others that attempt to explain the synchronous and seemingly non-biological nature of consciousness and thought, including the work of Roger Penrose, which attempts to demonstrate quantum physics applied to consciousness:

Artificial intelligence experts have been predicting some sort of computer brain for decades, with little to show so far. And for all the recent advances in neurobiology, we seem no closer to solving the mind-brain problem than we were a century ago. Even if the human brain’s neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters could be completely mapped—which would be one of the great triumphs in the history of science—it’s not clear that we’d be any closer to explaining how this 3-pound mass of wet tissue generates the immaterial world of our thoughts and feelings. Something seems to be missing in current theories of consciousness. The philosopher David Chalmers has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental property of nature existing outside the known laws of physics. Others—often branded “mysterians”—claim that subjective experience is simply beyond the capacity of science to explain.

Penrose’s theory promises a deeper level of explanation. He starts with the premise that consciousness is not computational, and it’s beyond anything that neuroscience, biology, or physics can now explain. “We need a major revolution in our understanding of the physical world in order to accommodate consciousness,” Penrose told me in a recent interview. “The most likely place, if we’re not going to go outside physics altogether, is in this big unknown—namely, making sense of quantum mechanics.”

He draws on the basic properties of quantum computing, in which bits (qubits) of information can be in multiple states—for instance, in the “on” or “off” position—at the same time. These quantum states exist simultaneously—the “superposition”—before coalescing into a single, almost instantaneous, calculation. Quantum coherence occurs when a huge number of things—say, a whole system of electrons—act together in one quantum state.

What is significant about this work is that it implies pattern states as opposed to linear causality, and by extending it to a quantum arena beyond the reach of normal physics, implies something close to metaphysics, perhaps a cousin.

Naturally this seems a bit heady for moderns. We are comfortable with chemical reactions and electrical circuits, but find this metaphysical spaciness to be a bit much. But then, in comes quantum physics, which tells us that an observer influences what is observed, and suddenly we are not so sure. If looking at a particle can fix its direction, looking into a pattern can also influence its direction, even if we do it not with our eyes but with some intuitive inner part of the mind.

What we have here is the idea expressed in the Perennial Philosophy, which is that religions intersect on some truths but describe them differently, usually through metaphor; this is not a “common ground” to all religions, or a validation of any specific religion, but a pointer to the aspects of reality which all religions hope to reveal and explain. That they do so unequally, and in the midst of other cultural and historical carryovers, does not change the importance of this fact.

Keeping this in mind, we can look at Western religion as it is now as a deviation from this fundamental understanding. Some of the brighter transcendentalists, like Meister Eckhart and William Blake, understood this view and used Christianity as a metaphorical pattern language for explaining it. They are rare, in that most religion converges upon the needs of its audience, something that is mostly cultural but eventually becomes social and political as a civilization ages and becomes unstable.

Nietzsche said “God is dead.” But how many read the full quotation?

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

Friedrich Wilhelm “Fred” Nietzsche is telling us above not that God has died, but that he has become undiscovered by humanity because the form he took was no longer relevant to us, both through our degeneration and through the changes in our learning. In other words, we have either abandoned or outgrown our religious imagery, or both. We need a new vision of this eternal truth.

Christianity has come under fire from many sides, mostly for the idea that a content and form division exists. The content of Christianity may be correct, but its form — which succeeded because by writing down the religion in simplified form, it “democratized” spirituality and philosophy and removed them from the domain of exceptional thinkers to that of the common person — may do what form often does, which is alter the content by shaping it to fit the mode of expression. Think about translating Beethoven into hip-hop, or Dante into emoji, or even the Sistine Chapel ceiling into a comic book. Something is lost, and it may be attitudinal more than anything, a vanishing grandeur or appropriate vision of our human world through history and myth.

Very few philosophies can be said to be complete. Most focus on one aspect of the field, like epistemology, and then try to draw other conclusions from that beachhead. With German idealism, a philosophy was discovered that explained all fields at once. It even included implications for morality, in that if the world is partially inscrutable, our task is to make it reveal itself so that we know what is real so that we can make moral decisions on that basis. Ancient philosophies tend to be this way, expressed half in literature and half in religion, revealing the seeds of ideas in order to launch people on a journey of discovery that constitutes the completed philosophy in degrees.

If we have a future philosophy, it must cross the bridge between faith and realism. It can be metaphorical, as in the past, but it must also fit with what we know of the modern time. A morality of personal dignity and implicit pacifism, as occurs in Christianity, ends in a sense of universal brotherhood of man that is based on the false assumption that all people see the same world. That type of morality has receded into the “faith” category as humanity, liberated by The Enlightenment,™ has shown itself to be entirely Simian in its behavior, albeit hidden behind lengthy speeches, fine clothes, high technology and altruistic public intentions.

Dr. Alex McFarland identifies the reasons for a attenuation of faith in the newest generations:

1. Mindset of “digital natives” is very much separate from other generations. Millennials are eclectic on all fronts—economically, spiritually, artistically. There is little or no “brand loyalty” in most areas of life.

2. Breakdown of the family. It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God, sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”

3. Militant secularism: Embraced by media and enforced in schools, secular education approaches learning through the lens of “methodological naturalism.” It is presupposed that all faith claims are merely expressions of subjective preference. The only “true” truths are claims that are divorced from any supernatural context and impose no moral obligations on human behavior. People today are subjected to an enforced secularism.

4. Lack of spiritual authenticity among adults. Many youth have had no — or very limited — exposure to adult role models who know what they believe, why they believe it, and are committed to consistently living it out.

5. The church’s cultural influence has diminished. The little neighborhood church is often assumed to be irrelevant, and there is no cultural guilt anymore for those who abandon involvement.

6. Pervasive cultural abandonment of morality. The idea of objective moral truth—ethical norms that really are binding on all people—is unknown to most and is rejected by the rest.

7. Intellectual skepticism. College students are encouraged to accept platitudes like “life is about asking questions, not about dogmatic answers.” Is that the answer? That there are no answers? Claiming to have answers is viewed as “impolite.” On life’s ultimate questions, it is much more socially acceptable to “suspend judgment.”

8. The rise of a fad called “atheism.” Full of self-congratulatory swagger and blasphemous bravado, pop-level atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens (whom I interviewed twice) made it cool to be a non-believer. Many millennials, though mostly 20-something Caucasian males, are enamored by books and blogs run by God-hating “thinkers.”

9.  Our new God: Tolerance be Thy name. “Tolerance” today essentially means, “Because my truth is, well, my truth, no one may ever question any behavior or belief I hold.” This “standard” has become so ingrained that it is now impossible to rationally critique any belief or behavior without a backlash of criticism.

10. The commonly defiant posture of young adulthood. As we leave adolescence and morph into adulthood, we all can be susceptible to an inflated sense of our own intelligence and giftedness. During the late teens and early 20s, many young people feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. I did. The cultural trend toward rejection of God—and other loci of authority—resonates strongly with the desire for autonomy felt in young adulthood.

Leaving aside the parts of this are creations of Leftism, which adores atheism because it smashes belief in anything but ideology, the majority of these relate to a religion that is misunderstood, applied to the wrong things, and have in general lost utility because it no longer connects us to the universal dream world or anything like it.

We have grown up in a time of rationality, enforced not just by technology but through social pressures, as has been consistent since The Enlightenment,™ when it was proclaimed that the human form came before natural and divine order. The whims of humans, and their choices, were separated from their results in reality, including at any metaphysical level that is present. This separated what is actual and real from what is “rational,” or can be explained in human logic, which is usually after-the-fact and designed to justify human choices that made no sense in the first place.

Instead of looking for a rational version of faith, as Christians have for the past half-millennium, it might make sense to look instead for a realistic metaphysics. This is what Charlton, Penrose and others are doing: rebirthing our faith in God by taking that eternal truth and explaining it in forms that fit our society now, and in doing so, lift it partially from its decay.

When a civilization goes bad, all of its institutions, including language and understanding, are corrupted. A religion cannot be built on words, but it can be created from understanding, even if that understanding is still alien to most people today. A seed of insight, followed by the more naturally inquisitive, can reject the old form of religion and give it a new form, at which point it will make sense with our learning in the intervening years.

How would one go looking for a realistic metaphysics? The first step is monism, or realizing that the rules of this world apply, and nothing that is or seems arbitrary will work. The second step is to take Plato seriously, and recognize argument that the physical world is the effect of some informational or thought-like larger portion of the world. Finally, we reach the stage where Charlton is, where we are staring into an infinite space made of ideas, and learning how to program it with our minds.

We know that the physical universe acts as a calculating machine. Darwinism is calculation; species are refined by a series of tests embodied in individuals, with more accurate answers prevailing over the rest. Christianity, by seeming to assert the equality of souls, contradicts Darwinism and reduces us to a world of social values only where each person is viewed as a programmable object. The opposite is true: people are not programmable, but history is, by ensuring that through “good to the good, bad to the bad” that only those who embody the ideals of sanity and health prevail. Leftism seeks to reverse that, of course, because it wants us to live in a world where our whim and desire command reality around us, instead of the other way around. It is a form of individualism for this reason: equality means that no one is wrong, and everyone is accepted, such that we can never be at risk of failing in our understanding of the world, which is itself an attempt to blot out the reality that some understand more of existence than others.

If monism is correct, then the metaphysical level works like a calculating machine as well. Its universal dream space is then programmable, at least by those who understand it, and is the opposite of arbitrary, but instead is intensely logical. At that point, our only philosophy consists of understanding this world, and working with its forms, so that we can adapt and improve ourselves at the same time.

Most modern people focus on themselves. They feel the world has become incomprehensible and has probably gone bad, so they focus on themselves. This translates into moral preening, or symbolic actions instead of realistic ones. Unfortunately in a time of decay, most religious thought follows this paradigm as well, resulting in its irrelevance. The sooner we resurrect the relevance of religious thought, the sooner it can become a tool in our chest dedicated to restoring Western Civilization.

Religion alone will not do. The conservatives who bang the same tired tin drum of patriotism, religion and working hard have missed the point: none of those are solutions, and they amount to moral preening because of their non-solution status. Instead we need to realize that our civilization has crashed and burned, and now we face the long task of resurrecting it, including its understanding of metaphysics and religion.

Snapshot: The Problem Of Christianity

Friday, October 28th, 2016

snowsheep

On the Right, anger rises over Christianity. Too often, Christians are seen paying lip service to conservative values, and then either going Leftist or adopting a stance of passive resignation, congratulating themselves on their moral sacrifice while letting the disaster gain strength around them.

In the former, Christians confuse the “universality” of Christianity — that there is an order of God which applies to some degree to all individuals — with universalism, or the idea that this order applies identically to all individuals, the same way they misunderstand equality to mean zero hierarchy.

Like the original idea of equality, Christian universality was originally intended to mean that all people are given the same chance to rise above themselves. Unfortunately, there are two glitches: as Baron Evola points out, written religions quickly become universalist because they confuse the exoteric with the esoteric, and people will naturally re-interpret any concept of “same chances” as “same outcomes” because it flatters their egos.

Thus, we find a design flaw in Christianity… the Word is its own enemy because its meaning crumbles under the onslaught of individualistic interpretations. Some say the solution is Catholicism, but this makes the problem worse by providing a centralized area of interpretation which is then gamed like any other political resource. In fact, our current Pope who has more in common with Communism than Christ is proof of this.

The pagans laugh at this, but ignore a problem in their own approach. By not writing anything down, they guaranteed that it would be lost instead of corrupted, but this is more a function of its declining popularity than the method of “graceful failure” designed into it. Christianity won because it had basically the same values and could be spread easily to larger groups.

In fact, it might make sense to view Christianity as a superior spiritual technology. Its simplified nature makes it perfect for groups, and by making people act in unison, it can be a powerful mass motivator. This strength is also its weakness, because when it becomes corrupted, it encourages insanity just as strongly.

However, this problem is not found in Christianity, but in the nature of mass motivation itself. Any sufficiently motivating force will be misinterpreted because individuals interpret rules, words and symbols in the manner most beneficial to the individual, that is, closest to “anarchy with grocery stores.”

Centralization fails for this reason, or at least is only part of the puzzle. Christianity in history represented a bubble, first gaining great strength, and then losing it once the Christian idea — the burden on each individual to get right with God — became hammered into the usual human entropy, or equality.

This leaves us with a troublesome situation. Christianity is not, as Nietzsche alleges, the origin of liberalism, but its victim. It was however complicit in leading to the power of liberalism because of its focus on the individual. At this point, it becomes more of an “alternate reality” into which conservatives slip instead of addressing the world, perhaps a consequence of its dualistic view where the only perfection is found in heaven and Christians should simply wait for that instead of trying to get it right here in life.

Our real problem is the tendency of conservatives to throw up their hands at the world and go back to what they were doing. For over a century, they have been doing this. They rationalize that somehow the situation will work out, or that the Left will fall when its programs fail, or other ways of making an excuse and going back to work so they can pay the taxes that fund the State.

This is why many of us growing up in the 1980s ran from both conservatism and Christianity: the only people we saw who admitted to these beliefs were absolute morons or were moral weaklings who had permitted the situation to come about in the first place. You will not find many Generation Xers inside of a church or Republican convention for this reason. To us, these groups appeared as retards and liars.

One needs only to look at the lyrics to the only real Generation X artform, death metal and black metal, to see the rage at Christianity and conservatism explode. The broken wings of angels and desecration of all purity are popular topics. In the Gen X worldview, Christianity and conservatism were the forces holding us back while the world burned.

In particular, Christians and conservatives indulged in the illusion that everything in the world turns out just fine if all of us work hard at our boring jobs and pay those taxes. Just lie back and enjoy it, in other words. They said this because any actual rebellion would personally inconvenience them, and they were “Me Generation” too!

In our present time, many on the Alt Right think that a return to religion will save the West. This is also an illusion based on personal convenience. The West needs to bootstrap itself by ending the insanity and nurturing sanity, which is a bigger question than religion.

In fact, at first, it is oppositional to religion because people need to understand how nature and the world work before they seek a spiritual meaning, or they will end up in the same dualism that convinced their ancestors to do nothing while insanity took hold.

We need brutal realism. This takes a form that includes religion, but only in parallel with other vital institutions as expressed in the four pillars. Religion is not the cause; realism is the cause, and religion is one of the effects or methods and principles used to achieve the goal, which is a golden age of civilization.

To understand this, we need to go back to the pagan origins of Christianity. In this view, there is no Word, only variant interpretations of an ur-spirit that pervades all existence. This spirit is not oppositional to reality, as it is under dualism, but united with it or patterned in parallel to it, through a doctrine called monism.

This way, we can understand religion in its proper role: as a tool for understanding some aspects of reality, only in parallel with realism. It does not stand on its own. It is not a cause in itself. It is a means to an end, and that end is clarity about reality, both physical and metaphysical.

By doing so, we allow a space for religion — which more important than bringing comfort, brings joy to many — that does not allow it to subvert the rest of our needs and turn us into solipsistic individualists who shrug and go back to work instead of confronting vast social problems head-on.

Quotable (#6)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

From the increasing desperation of Silicon Valley types to stay relevant, an accidental insight:

“There’s a billion to one chance we’re living in base reality,” [Elon Musk] said at a conference in June.

Musk is just one of the people in Silicon Valley to take a keen interest in the “simulation hypothesis”, which argues that what we experience as reality is actually a giant computer simulation created by a more sophisticated intelligence.

Gosh, that sounds familiar. Our world is a subset of a larger world in which some other force — physical, informational or metaphysical — is watching us to see how we react to stimulus. It is curious about what choices we make.

Seems as if the tech world has discovered a monist God and does not yet know it. This accidental insight provides fertile ground for future theologians: if we think our world is a simulation, and we presuppose a superior intelligence is doing it, what does it hope to achieve? Does it care about what we do, or are we part of the maintenance of a complex order?

Life stinks

Monday, December 8th, 2014

red_moon_in_an_empty_sky

It is a scientific fact that 99.9999% of all life forms will be eaten alive, or will eat someone alive…Life is a struggle for survival. — Ren Höek, “Life Sucks,” unpublished episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show

Despite the unorthodox nature and complete lack of scientific rigor to the quote above, it provides a useful reflection of the reality of life through a reductionist, realist perspective.

Avoiding the type of pleasant motivational platitudes that show up in personal development courses and self-help books, the truth is that life is a constant struggle against death, an eternal battle that both the individual as well the species have lost before they started to fight.

Both individual and species struggle to extend their lives into the immensity of death, from which there is no way to escape, but only the ability to prolong the duration of survival. The individual may obtain a few more years, and the species, if it manages to adapt to its environmental conditions, thousands of years.

Materially — i.e. in the realm of the tangible and verifiable — there is no probability that eternal life can be achieved, and life in itself is nothing more than a flash in the blackness of the eternal night sky, virtually insignificant in geological and cosmological time scales of which man cannot perceive even their minimum expression.

In the same way, human creations are even more ephemeral than life itself, and the pathetic attachment of modern humanity to everything what gives it comfort, tranquility and satisfaction is the anchor which binds it to the deciduous and empty: the illusory emptiness that seeks to hide the endless Void from which nothing escapes.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” — Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Durden talks about the meaning of freedom, which is the life liberated from the chains of social norms, from the respect for rightness and from the absurd network of cynical morals that tie humans to an idealized vision of reality.

Nature, being manifested fleetingly through life, lacks all sense of piety and goodness. It simply exists, with no other objective than being. Nihil verum nisi mors.

This essay is titled this way not due any kind of plaintive emotional manifesto of a teen idol, but it should be taken literally: life stinks. It stinks of death, since the death of one’s life is necessary so the life of another one can challenge, for a moment, its own inevitable death. Despite the horror of some people facing the death of individuals of other species, death cannot be avoided at any level, because, even in microscopic form life constantly perishes for the benefit of others.

Today, when the most of traditional religion has been surpassed by the indifference of consumer society indifference, as it has been subjected to the rigor of scientific research, it seems surprising that the Sacrifice (the offering) transcends the merely religious and it is manifested at all levels of life: from cell to organism.

Is it not a sacrifice that a plant has to perish so an animal can live? The ancient cultures offered smoky sacrifices to their gods in a reflection of what is happening at all levels of the food chain.

Life stinks of death, and wherever life is found, will be surrounded by the insistent and constant threat of an implacable death. It is man against the abyss.

Whether he has to confront the void with or without a blindfold in his eyes, it will depend on him. Only him.

And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness, Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will. — Joseph Glanvill

Dharma

Monday, April 28th, 2014

deep_space

Christianity doesn’t get many things right, and doesn’t do many things well.
One thing it really does get right, though, is transforming the simple into the impenetrably complex.
And one thing, that it does really well, is drive its adherents away, in droves.
Why is this? Why do former Christians, and nominal Christians, fall so easily away from their religion?

One reason, of course, is the rise of atheism, and with it, the virulent style of atheist that is not content to simply ignore Christianity, but who must completely destroy it, ridiculing all things sacred, along with anyone who holds anything sacred.

Christians, confronted with this, are hard-pressed to find a workable counter. Often they go into reset-mode, and start quoting Holy Scripture as if their very lives depended upon it. Which has the entirely predictable effect of reinforcing the argument of the atheist, and driving him on to even greater destruction.

No. Sorry. Christianity is a modern-day fail. There may be truth in it, but that truth has become so flimsy and tenuous, so misunderstood by so many, that any power it once had is a sorry shadow of its former glory.

Like many, you may be saddened at its demise, while not being very affected by its absence. At least, not immediately affected, in a way that is very obvious. It leaves a big hole, though, and you may be all too aware of that.

The problem with Christianity is that it was designed around a lifestyle and a set of circumstances that no longer exists. It is archaic and unable to self-update. Every time it attempts to become more relevant, it further weakens itself, until it has come to resemble, more than anything else, a left-wing socialist dogma.

If you are happy with Christianity, as-is, fine. If you are happy to let it decline and bleed-out, well fine, too. If you are not, though, read on. I will present you with something clearer, simpler, more true, and more applicable, than Christianity both ever-was, or ever-will-be, again.

Dharma is an Indian word that has no direct translation into English. It is a central part of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. What it means, roughly, is:
Reality, and The Way Reality Works.

Forget the word ‘God’, for now, and replace it with ‘Reality’. The Divine Order that suffuses all of the cosmos, as well as the earth, the oceans, the solar system, and space. It all works in a predictable and demonstrable way. Nobody understands it, or how it happens, or works, because nobody can. It is not a thing that is remotely understandable, simply because it does not depend upon being understood in order to work.
That scientists expend vast amounts of time and resources trying to understand it, coming up with various theories and pseudo ‘proofs’ changes nothing. It is what it is, and that is that.

It is, however, something that demonstrably endures, and works. Another quality it has, is that it is somewhat bigger and more complex, than the human brain, or anything the human brain can conjure up. It is, in fact, so big and so impressive, along with being so utterly mysterious, that a human is either in awe of it, or a human is insane.

Mystery. Incomprehensible magic on a cosmic scale. From a neutron star to a hummingbird. From a galaxy to a frog. Beat that, Mr. Intellectual!

Dharma. The nature of things. The way that nature works. All of reality, able to continue on, forever, untouched by human hand or intellect. Dependent upon nothing but itself. Kneel, puny human, or die!

And so, in light of this, a human is advised to look out into the night sky, and see the myriad stars not as something alien, something out-there, but rather as oneself as part of it. To see the vast distances not as something frightening and distant, but as room to move and grow.

The latest buzz about space, is that it is some sort of super-fluid, and not just a nothingness. This may well be so. Spectral beings inhabit it, as deep meditation will show. They drift, float, bob to an unseen current, and display no hostility whatsoever. Resembling nothing so much as microscopic luminous plankton, of the deep oceans. Again: magic, mystery, wonder.

Dharma. Divine Order. It runs as it runs, and one is well advised to run with it, rather than counter to it.
The Angry God of Christianity, is Reality resisted. Biblical Truth is Dharma. Jesus, one who discovered Dharma. As did Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. As any man can, or could, but rarely does.

Nobody really has to become an enlightened being, since those few who have, show the way, read the maps, tell the Truth of It.

By living in accordance with Reality, one worships. And that is all worship is. Reverence for Dharma. The greater system. The way the greater system works. It is working, with joy, in a way that has one doing one’s best, for what one does, not for reward, but for the greater whole.

That all of this is true should not matter. It doesn’t even have to be. Lived accordingly, this belief-system yields the best results possible. That it is not a belief-system, should not matter. If one behaves as-if it is Truth, one achieves the same results.

It is Truth. As Reality is Truth. And its nature is not to be understood, but to be lived.
Not to be intellectualized, but to be manifested.
Not to be believed, but to be.
Dharma.

Galactic rim

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

across_the_universe

I’ll give it to you straight. Nobody understands anything I write, anyway.
Give me a few moments of your day, and you’ll wander off, stunned at what you never knew.
Nothing personal; nobody else knew, either.
Do not imagine this to be either science-fiction, or theory.
Some journeys extend farther than expected…

The entity formerly known to itself as <lost in translation> gave birth. And as It did so, so was It born. A moment of certain death became non-event, and event One crystallized into being.
It stood at the threshold, although ‘stood’ is not remotely what It did. It existed, at the threshold, and moved without moving, from unspecified vantage, to unspecified vantage several parsecs removed.

It gazed with nothing that could gaze, upon a low-albedo planet, tirelessly rotating not far off. Far and wide, stars arrayed themselves, and It with them. The void throbbed. Hummed. Chimed. Softly singing in the microwave band. Echoes came and went, vanished and returned. Whispering from their eternal journey – at light-speed – through nothing, back into nothing. And all around lay nothing, packed to bursting.

Stately vessels of luminescence, hove and heeled, delicate as ballerinas in zero gravity. The solar wind whispered. <lost in translation> saw it all, and it was good. It was now. It was always. It was new and old, and near and far, and though It had just now joined it, it was flushed, still, with its first living breath.

It was. And so was It. One for All and All for One. They were It and It, they. All of them were It.
It lingered several millennia, and waited for the moment to pass, although, as It knew, the moment never would.
More aeons unrolled, silently, and without movement, and still the moment lingered.
It did not smile at this, for why should It? It was neither happy, not sad, hopeful nor dismayed. It simply was.

It considered Its past, and could find none to consider. It considered Its future, and likewise found no trace.
Again It was pleased, but there was no manifestation of Its pleasure. No memory marred Its balance.

It breathed, although there existed nothing to breathe, nor the means with which Its breathing could occur.
But Its breathing continued, regardless. In, out. In, out. Universes spawned, grew, waned and winked out. Until the next breath renewed it all again. All, in the absence of time.

It knew all. It was all. It knows all. It is all. Endless, without conception. Conception, without end.
Luminous blue, luminous white, quanta without limit, souls in the light.
Satisfied, <lost in translation> turned, without turning, moving without moving…

…The sun was setting in orange splendour, behind the mountain where God lives. The air was warm and scented, the grass fragrant and soft. He smiled. Then laughed. And still, the twelve nightjars, arranged around him, facing in, as the hours of a clock, did not move. It was a laugh rarely heard, with a quality rarely present, for the laugh was one of incredulous bliss, and foolish discovery, of the kind so rarely released from human lips.

So obvious. So near. So visible. So dear.
Some things are never seen. Humans do not know of them. Yet those things of which they do not know, are scarcely hidden from view.
Satisfied, the twelve nightjars rose, as one, and rustled off, through the evening air, to do what nightjars do, on perfect evenings.
To live.

In Memorial of H.P. Lovecraft, the Philosopher of Terror

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

h_p_lovecraft

Howard P. Lovecraft died March 15th, 1937 and his fiction about the terror of the great beyond is less of a fantasy and more of a warning.

The predominant philosophers of the 19th century spent their time imagining and theorizing about the limits of our world and the extent to which we humans can explore those limits. H.P. Lovecraft wasted none of his time on that and instead cut straight to the chase and told us unflinchingly what exists beyond the limits of our perception.

In Lovecraft’s cosmos, the world beyond is a world hidden within our own world. We pass through it as it passes through us, but we can never know about it or see it. Unless, of course, we are properly attuned to it.

German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) is one of the pre-eminent thinkers in philosophy, and one of his views on human perception is called the Two Worlds View or “dualism.” In this outlook, there is the world that our sensible intuitions present to us, and then there is the Thing in Itself. The Thing in Itself has also been called the Absolute. We can never know the Absolute because our faculties of intuition are limited, and we can only know an object and the world around us as well as our senses represent the object to us. Because of this we will always be ignorant of any absolute truth.

For in this case that which is originally itself only in appearance, e.g., a rose, counts in an empirical sense as a thing in itself, which yet can appear different to every eye in regard to color. The transcendental concept of appearances in space, on the contrary, is a critical reminder that absolutely nothing that is intuited in space is a thing in itself, and that space is not a form that is proper to anything in itself, but rather that objects in themselves are not known to us at all. – Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Reading Kant is not easy. Depending on who you ask, German philosophy has killed more people than the electric chair. Nobody knows if it is because of the dense text or if it is because of its tendency to invoke existential crises in readers. If you are faint of mind, then I suggest you return to reading more tame philosophy from a more contemporary thinker like Dr. Suess.

For those who wish to brave the brinks of existential terror in Kant’s philosophy, then the Two Worlds view would lead to the logical conclusion that everything before us is merely an illusion. It’s an easy enough of a mistake, but Kant would prefer to have us believe that the Thing in Itself is real, and that we shouldn’t take everything before us as an illusion. Considering Kant’s hopes and also his propositions about the nature of objects and the painfully limited nature of our sensible intuitions, I don’t know which is more terrifying — the possibility that everything we see is an illusion, or that there are unknowable objects that will forever confound our senses and intuitions.

But, is it desirable to have access to the Absolute, and can we learn anything from it?

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) would disagree. Schopenhauer was properly steeped in Kant’s philosophy, and he was renowned as the philosopher of pessimism. We all know what Schrodinger did with his cat, but if Schopenhauer had a cat it would be Grumpy Cat. If that doesn’t put things into perspective, just know that there wasn’t a more pessimistic thinker in all of history than Schopenhauer. But, as Schopenhauer says, if we could overcome the limitations of our own cognitive abilities and sensible intuitions then we should be able to encounter the vast gulf of the incalculable infinity that is all around us.

If we lose ourselves in the contemplation of the infinite greatness of the universe in space and time, meditate on the thousands of years that are past or to come, or if the heavens at night actually bring before our eyes the innumerable worlds and so force upon our consciousness the immensity of the universe, we feel ourselves dwindle to nothing as individuals, as living bodies, as transient phenomena of will, we feel ourselves pass away and vanish into nothing like drops in the ocean. – Arthur Schopenhauer, “On the Inner Nature of Art,” from The World as Will and Idea

This is what Schopenhauer calls the Sublime. The sublime is what we feel when we are encountered with something that exceeds the limits of our senses. When we are faced with the sublime, our senses of reason and comprehension are suspended; our capacity to reason and communicate become ineffective. The sublime is not something which is simply inconceivable to us, or something which confounds our reason. The sublime is not a mysterious puzzle to which we cannot find the solution. The sublime is terrifying because it is impossible for our senses to completely register, and it completely overwhelms our senses in a forceful and uncompromising assault.

The Thing in Itself and the Absolute are completely beyond our sensible intuition, and thus must fall entirely within the realm of the sublime. Access to the Absolute would be nothing less than complete absolute mind-bending terror.

This is where Lovecraft comes in.

While the other philosophers were busy trying to draw the line at where our senses would stop perceiving the given world, and what it would feel like if we could have access to the Thing in Itself or the Absolute, Lovecraft told us what it would look like.

Imagine if we had a machine like the one from Lovecraft’s story “From Beyond”, one that could pull back the veil of ignorance which we live under, and reveal the true nature of the things that we encounter world…

‘You see them? You see them? You see the things that float and flop about you and through you every moment of your life? You see the creatures that form what men call the pure air and the blue sky? Have I not succeeded in breaking down the barrier; have I not shewn you worlds that no other living men have seen?’ I heard him scream through the horrible chaos, and looked at the wild face thrust so offensively close to mine. His eyes were pits of flame, and they glared at me with what I now saw was overwhelming hatred. The machine droned detestably. – H.P. Lovecraft, From Beyond

There are only two options when we are faced with the Absolute. It will turn us stark raving mad, or cause the urge to break from contact with the Absolute in a complete panic. In no case is it desirable to have contact with the Absolute, and we should be thankful that our senses restrain us from encountering it.

Is ignorance bliss? Perhaps, but a life of ignorance and apathy will be the death of us all.

Dualism vs. Monism in a Nihilist Context

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

tintern_abbey

Could you enlighten me as to why you prefer monism to dualism?

This world may be a simulation. We may be figments of the imagination of a daydreaming god. We may be pure mathematics, or data in some cosmic computer. Or we could be physical beings, or some combination of the above. However, if this world has one characteristic to rely on, it’s this: it creates the same response to the same causal impetus.

That means if you pick up a ball and hold your arm up away from your body and drop the ball, it will fall — every time. Even if a friend sneaks a hand in there to catch it, it will begin falling first. If you put a support table under your hand so the ball doesn’t drop, the effect can be observed that the instant the table is removed the ball drops. The principle is consistent. Causality is consistent (although in multicausal cases there is some variability due to chaos and the inability to have consistent conditions like wind, uniformity of matter and the like).

Dualism posits that there is another world where there are pure rules that differ from the rules in this world. In other words, this world is a put-on, but it’s not the result of that other world, rather an inferior and unrelated copy to it. This breaks the principle of consistency. In addition, it rebukes the design brilliance of this world and encourages us to de-sacralize it. Further, it creates an arbitrary claim that can be manipulated by those for whom truth is a distant secondary concern to immediate reward through the work of others.

In my view, this world represents something utterly consistent with the logic that we have in our minds by intuition or can derive from experiments in the world, or even in our minds using arbitrary data. In fact, this world represents an optimization of design to take advantage of logic. A simple example is the sheer efficiency of trees: they are resilient, efficient, and highly effective at propagating themselves without wiping themselves out through overbreeding.

One interesting aspect of this logicality is that it does not aim for perfection. It shoots instead for things that work in every situation and, even if it takes many steps to get there, always get to an increasingly complex result. This means that if there are 100 seeds, nature does not guarantee that every one sprouts; it guarantees that absent truly blighted conditions, at least one will survive. Even more, it guarantees that in truly blighted conditions, something — if even bacteria or fungus — will survive, and begin the process of evolving until three billion years later it’s a human. That is the genius of nature’s design!

For this reason, I see our world as a logical optimum, and see it as unlikely and even laughable to posit a division between this and another perfect world. Especially when the other perfect world sounds like human wish fulfilment, such as the idea that judgment will occur over the bad and the good will be rewarded. Even more when it is suggested that, as in Heaven and Hell, this other world involves an eternity of doing the same stuff over and over again. It is discontiguous with the logic of this world and with logic itself that this world exists in that form, and that its activities are as described.

However, this is the nature of our thinking when pointing toward any world that is a correction to this one. We immediately turn to human ideas and judgments, desires and feelings. We shape it after what we wish were true, because after all it’s a correction. But that requires us to abandon logic and causality and instead focus on a world that seems like the creation of a personality itself, even though nothing else works this way.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s materialism, or the idea that matter is all that exists. I don’t want to go into a lengthy argument here, but since the organization of things follows logic, and thoughts follow logic, and logic stands both intuitively and as a self-referential architectonic whole, it seems to me that logic comes before matter. Meaning: the organization of matter is a product of logic, not the other way around. Thus materialism itself is nonsense and there is clearly an underlying thought-like logical order to existence. I think it more likely that we find something like a simulation, where we are logical aspects of some larger logical entity, than a standalone system regulated by matter; if anything, we probably exist in a universe which is so logical that the concept of nothingness had to be created, which in turn required the concept of somethingness, which in turn created what we know of today as matter.

Thus we have both dualism and materialism negated, which leaves us with monism, a system where matter and idea are part of the same continuum, and any perfection is found in this world and any additional “metaphysics” would be part of the same logical system. In this the whole is logically consistent, which fits with the principle of consistency seen in all things observed so far. However, this leaves us with a question: how is monism different from some form of idealistic materialism?

The best answer is found in the work of Immanuel Kant, who perceived that our minds “filter” a raw reality and come up with a limited version of that which our physical bodies can perceive and serve that up to us. We know that our minds will remove from our perception the anomalous and incomprehensible in everyday life, and that we navigate the world through memory and basically confirm our memory instead of perceiving anew. How much else is filtered out? How much is invisible to us because it is not physical in the sense that we commonly recognize?

Monism suggests to us that instead of a world made of personality and the judgment of that personality, like the Heaven/Hell dualistic world, we exist in a single continuum of which the visible physical world is but a small part. Thus what we see is logically consistent with all that is, but is only part of the story. The end result there is that we can posit additional layers or dimensions to our world without them being dualistic, in that they will obey the same logical rules that we see here and will be similar. They may be interwoven with what we know of as reality. Even more, without the imposition of time, there may be other directions in which we can travel through this raw reality-space.

This might explain why monism is not as popular as dualism. It’s harder to grasp, and although it’s more consistent, it’s less certain. It is also less satisfying than the idea of final judgment and slotting of people in Heaven or Hell, an image that I find comforting whenever I run into someone with bad or excessively selfish intent. But ultimately it is the only explanation that is logical and consistent, without which we are forced to consider our world as nonsense and treat it correspondingly badly, while leaving our futures in the hands of near-arbitrary conjecture, and denying the causal/logical idealism underlying all of existence.

How is this in any way compatible with nihilism?

Most people view nihilism as a form of hyper-materialism, or denial of all but the immediate and tangible. In my experience, what nihilism is in a sensible interpretation is a denial of human projection, and thus a focus on reality as it is. This then includes the aspects of it which we do not understand and are not easily grasped by humans. Both materialism and dualism make no sense under nihilism because they are impositions of the human perspective, e.g. touch and emotion respectively, and not a logical observational path from reality to the human. A sensible path is that we see reality, analyze it and understand it; projection is where we figure out what we want to find in reality, find an example of it, and hold it up to represent the whole. Both dualistic religion and the negation of it fall into this category.

While most people hold that nihilism is a rejection of anything other than the individual and its immediate desires, needs, emotions, feelings, judgments and autonomy, I see this philosophy as something that can be called “fatalism” because it has given up on anything larger than the individual, including society, truth, creativity, and the world as something outside of the human mental construction. It believes that human efforts at improvement are ineffectual or doomed. A more sensible version of nihilism is that it is a rejection of everything other than what exists. It is not concerned with emotions, judgments, feelings and/or desires, but instead is concerned with how the world works and how it can be interacted with. Where most people think of themselves first, and see the world as a manifestation of their will, the nihilist sees us as a manifestation of the world’s properties.

However, this does not imply a need to limit ourselves to the material, because since the world is a logical place defined by its consistency above all else, the only limit that matters is what is logical according to the order of this world. As logicality precedes materiality, the logicality is more important, and this implies layers of existence outside of the material which must also be considered. It is not sensible to call these “metaphysical” as they are part of the same spectrum of physicality, much like different colors are part of the same spectrum, including invisible colors that are outside the parts of the spectrum we can perceive.

In fact, this philosophy affirms nihilism by showing us the truth of the triad of traits normally associated with nihilism: nothing is true, nothing is communicated and nothing is known. That is because in this world, the option of truth is a subjective one; many choose to avoid truth, in fact most do. Similarly, people must be receptive to have communication occur, and must be able to recognize knowledge for it to do its work as knowledge. The grim fact of life is that truth only exists to those who know how to locate it, communication only occurs between similarly situated parties, and wisdom is only visible to the wise. But even that fact will be disputed by people who wish to believe otherwise.

While wildly misunderstood, nihilism in its only sensible form is a rejection of human projection. That requires that we pay attention to the world and its function, rather than our emotions, desires and judgments regarding it or what we wish it were like. This does not limit us to the visible world, or even only the tangible world, since we need to use logical thought to even construct those fully. Rather, we instead may even reject appearances and tangibility in favor of those logical constructions which fully explain the world, which is part of a consistent trend since the earliest evolution of humanity toward more use of mind and less reliance on appearance.

Dualism is an enhancement of the differences between appearance and structure. By creating a world of inconsistent structure in addition to this one, dualism posits that this world is entirely appearance, and the other world is entirely structure. In fact, both appearance and structure exist in this world, and if the other world is inconsistent with them, it is likely a world of appearance and not structure.

This creates the troubling implication that it is human projection and thus an affirmation of it would be a rejection of nihilism. On the other hand, materialism suggests no possibility of structure beyond the material, which creates clashes with the underlying idealism of the cosmos, creating a disconnect between appearance and structure which makes appearance seem to be an independent and important measure.

A nihilist of the Hollywood type is basically an extremely self-focused anarchist. This person’s justification is that they believe in nothing, thus they limit their concerns to what they know is “real,” namely themselves and their immediate desires only. Further, in theory this person is possessed by an urge to destroy, which makes no sense as that requires a positive valuation. It seems more like a description of a person having a mental health issue than thinking their way through nihilism.

Nihilism reduces itself from negation of everything because nihilism is in itself an affirmative act, a valuation of the world and a separation of what is actual from what is not. Thus even someone who tried to act out the Hollywood ideal and reject everything would soon find themselves both affirming some facts of the world, and rejecting some illusions of the self being absolute and separate from the world. A nihilist in the first seconds of nihilism might wander down the anarchist path, but within an hour of thought would be headed in a different direction.

Through this nihilism rejects another kind of dualism, which is the separation between human preference and reality. In this vision, which occurs exclusively in materialist thought, the human choice is somehow absolute and universal, where the natural world is viewed as random and/or illogical. This mirrors the projection of human thought onto a dualistic perfect world, which resembles human feeling and desires, as separate from a world where human feelings come secondary which is thus seen as appearance because it does not represent the “true” world of the personality. This dualism exists both in materialism and in metaphysical conditions.

For this reason, nihilism is not only compatible with monism, but is only compatible with monism. The false dualities of materialism and metaphysical dualism together represent the antithesis of nihilism, which is human projection. Further, to a realist, both dualism and materialism fail to deliver what is necessary for a logical view of reality and also show the influence of human projection, which means it is wisest to reject them and move on to something that is more representative of reality, even if it does not “appear” to be so.

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