The Irreducible Remainder of Improper Reduction

If you reduce all x to nothing but y, then what you have left at the end of the process is no x at all: nothing to explain. To say that x is nothing but y is to say that there is really no such thing as x in the first place.

Eliminative reductionists generally prefer to overlook this difficulty. They try to explain explananda exhaustively as nothing but collisions of dead items, yet retain their reference to the explananda. They won’t take the last entailed step of asserting that there is in the first place simply no such thing as the explananda.

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Importance Iff God

A public discourse that recuses from any reference to a supreme and ultimate and ultimately binding moral order – that is, i.e., morally relativistic – forecloses any possibility of investing any public act with true and perfectly general meaning. When there is nothing that must in virtue of its factual meaning under the highest heaven certainly mean therefore at least one same thing to everyone beneath the orbit of the moon, nothing can mean the same thing to anyone except by happenstance, or by the constraints ever imposed upon all creatures by the logos of corporeal becoming (as, e.g., when the flood approaches and everyone feels it truly and existentially important and valuable to flee, regardless of their politics or sexual identification).

To put it bluntly: if you can’t talk of God and his will for us in a language that everyone understands and accepts (even if only pro forma), then nothing you say can be quite definite, in the final analysis, or therefore definitive, or then authoritative, or suasive. Every utterance then will be tentative, merely pro forma and nothing more; ergo, not really binding, or even interesting, but only conventionally. At most, you’ll muster only indignant insistence about this or that outrage, full of sound and fury but, as signifying really nothing, empty of any real conviction.

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Collapse: It’s What Man Does

Collapse is what man does. It is what we do best; in it, we do our best. It is what we are specially adapted to cope with. It has formed us again and again. Civilization today is what it is, and has reached its present heights of power, capability, knowledge and coordination, because of the many civilized orders that preceded it, and that worked brilliantly until suddenly they didn’t. From their failures, we may keep learning how not to fail. Tradition is the lore of past collapses; new collapses cannot but refresh tradition, even as they edit and reform it. 

Naturally and rightly we seek to avoid it, because collapse is always costly, and painful. But so is life; is there any human life that suffers no collapses, no irreparable disasters? The question answers itself. How then might any society of humans ever do otherwise? We ought then look upon the coming collapse as a runner looks forward to a race, or a singer to a recital – or even as a runner looks forward to a workout, or a singer to her scales. The adversity of collapse makes man himself, and more than he has been.

Bring it on.

Familiar Democracy *Can* Work

We here at the Orthosphere are skeptical about the prospects for any merely democratic political order. As has been common knowledge since Plato, democracies are vulnerable to the excesses and errors of the mob, to the suasions and blandishments of sophists and scoundrels, and their political discourse to a rapid devolution toward the lowest common denominator – a race to the bottom, in every way. They tend to vice and imprudence.

The only sort of democracy that might have therefore any very good likelihood of success would be a republic characterized by such constraints of the franchise as to constitute it an aristocracy wherein the aristoi – the electors, ergo their elect – were raised from among hoi polloi by some other principle than a mere accident of heredity (not forgetting that such excellence in life as befits and tells aristoi is largely after all an outworking of just such accidents – so that a merely hereditary aristocracy has a fair shot at working out over the long run).

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Worship ergo Being

As theology includes and subvenes metaphysics, so mysticism – which is to say, simply, effectually realized worship – includes and subvenes theology. Metaphysics then can usher us in to theology, and theology to worship. But to enter worship through the double vestibules of philosophy and theology is to take the long road; a direct and immediate entry is available to all creatures, as near to them as their own hearts. As subvening metaphysics, worship subvenes all that metaphysics subvenes, and covers; which is to say, that worship is the basis and sine qua non of being. At our animal bottom, and at its most primitive, worship is expressed in our love of life, of our own mere existence.

Indeed, even the simplest entities exist and perdure only in virtue of their love of the forms they inherit from God and express in their concrete actuality. That love is the urge to become. To be, then, is at least to begin to worship: to attest in act to the worth of the Lord of all being. Everything partakes it. And this is why mystics in their raptures notice that the very mud of the street is afire with surpassing beauty, effulgent with joy. 

Contingency per se Entails creatio ex nihilo

Every contingency is brought into being from a state of affairs in which it does not actually exist; from a condition of things in which it is nowhere to be found. And as this is true of each contingency, so therefore is it true of all contingencies, and of the whole lot of them taken together. Contingent being as such comes into being from a prior state of its own non-being.

In a state of affairs in which there are no contingent beings, there is nothing but necessary being. If contingent beings are to be brought into existence from this state of affairs, there are only two possibilities: either they are made from God, and he furnishes from his own actuality the matter of their becoming; or he creates them from nothing. If the former, then, as departments of God, contingencies are in fact necessities. They aren’t contingent in the first place. This is monism. It radically contradicts experience as such, which it has no alternative but to declare our lives illusory and radically unintelligible. So it can’t be true: we can’t really even think it might be true.

Creatio ex nihilo must therefore be true. Having come into existence from nothing turns out to be an inherent aspect of contingent being.

Nature Never Sucks

When my kids were taking high school biology, their (brilliant) teacher’s jocular mantra was, “Nature never sucks.” It meant, first, that Nature is wonderful, beautiful, and so forth – worthy of admiration, study, awe. Second, it was a nod and a prod in the direction of Ockham’s Razor, urging his pupils to adduce no more factors of natural phenomena than are absolutely necessary. But third, and more salient to his honest reductive Ockhamist pedagogical purposes, and most of all, it meant that Nature is not teleological: it neither seeks nor is pulled toward goal states, but rather pushes itself toward certain equilibria, not intentionally, but on the contrary chaotically. The idea is that these equilibria are not themselves somehow attractive, but rather are simply the most stable way that things can be arranged, so that when things happen to blunder into those stable configurations completely by accident, they then tend to stay there until something disturbs them. Things are never falling into place, but are rather only, always, merely falling.

The notion is not new. It goes back to the first Greek atomists, Lucretius and Democritus.

It is Dawkins’ notion that what perdures is only what has not yet failed to perdure: “there are lots more ways to fall apart than to hang together.” It’s true, but as tautological is uninformative.

There are other problems with it.

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Can Diverse Christian Sects Coexist Peacefully?

Despite their many differences, Traditional Christians of diverse sects seem doomed to each other as shield mates for the foreseeable future, willy nilly. But someday their common dire enemies – modernism and Mohammedanism – will have been vanquished, if only in virtue of their enmity to Truth and disagreement with reality. The spectrum of doctrines found on the orthogonal Right will then constitute the full diapason of political discourse. Assuming they have not by then been forced by exigencies of war into a single catholic confession of brothers in arms – a not unlikely eventuality, in my opinion – will the Christian sects be able to live thenceforth together in peace?

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The Inevitable War of Incompatible Cults

Cults are incompatible when their doctrines contradict and entail taboos that conflict irreconcilably, in such a way that they cannot be practically and honestly and harmoniously honored by and in a man, or therefore in any society of men. E.g., one can’t live and render each his due unto Caesar and YHWH if Caesar insists that what belongs properly to YHWH should be given instead to him. No man can serve two masters, nor can any people.

When incompatible cults continuously interact, war between them is inevitable. The choice for Christians before the Edict of Milan was between apostasy and persecution. Rome was at war with Christianity.

Likewise today, it is more and more difficult to live as a Christian in the West. More and more, our choice is between apostasy and persecution: either we agree to live by the taboos of liberalism, implicitly rejecting those of Christianity, or we shall be persecuted. Islam and Christianity are likewise incompatible, as are Islam and liberalism. All of these cults but one will eventually be deleted.

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Disutilitarianism: a Post Scriptum

My first post on disutilitarianism began with the realization that simply rubbing together the different utility functions of individuals is by itself completely impotent to reconcile them. You can’t build a society out of disagreeable men unless they have some prior common basis for reaching a mutual agreement about how to proceed, despite their differences, in a coordinate way. And their different preference schedules cannot themselves furnish any such basis.

I want this, you want that: unless we have some idea that an agreement between us would be better than disagreement, we have no way even to get started talking together, and all we may then do is war.

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