Genealogies of Straw?

 

…If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,

for tomorrow we die.”

1 Cor. 15:32

 

People delight in looking into their genealogy to tell them where they came from and their ancestral background. But, what about the genealogy of our thoughts and our beliefs that are passed down? Continuing with the theme of my previous post, man as logos and centerpiece of the universe, man considers himself left to his own devices and to fend for himself. The “dead are not raised” has been passed down to us. Also passed down, la dolce vita, the Epicurean worldview prevalent today.

The originator of Epicureanism, the Greek philosopher Epicurus, and many others since, decided that God was not good at being God so man must take his place. In terms of the evil man encounters, this thinking is restated in the Epicurean paradox.

Per the Oxford Dictionary, Epicurus (341-270 B.C) was a “Greek philosopher, founder of Epicureanism. His physics is based on Democritus’ theory of a materialist universe composed of indestructible atoms moving in a void, unregulated by divine providence”.

According to several accounts, Epicurus lived and taught a philosophy of the unnoticed good life. He posited that man, a collection of particles he called atoms, would return to the earth when he died. From atoms to atoms you shall return, he postulated. When you are dead you are dead and while you are alive, as Epicurus advocated, seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Epicurus was not a political nor a spiritual man. He was more of a homebody given to a small circle of friends. Per Epicurus, everything to be trusted and believed came through the senses. And so, he deemed that God was remote if at all. And friends were real and to be trusted.

Epicurus also taught that nothing should be believed, except for that which was tested through direct observation and logical deduction – believed via the sensate and reason. Hence, the beginning of the fact/value split so prevalent in man’s thinking today. It is likely that Epicurus formed this worldview when he decided that God was uninvolved and impersonal at best and that he had to fend for himself.

Epicurean thought was embraced by some and passed down through the centuries. The Roman poet Lucretius, a disciple of Epicurus’s teachings and someone who lived about 70 years before Jesus, promoted the “god is angry” meme along with the theory of atomism formulated by Demetrius (460-370 B.C.), who died 29 years before the birth of Epicurus.

The atomic theory of the cosmos in brief: random, unguided ‘atoms’ smash into each other, thereby create the world and life as we know it. Such a hypothesis turned philosophy by Epicurus offered the ‘means’ to do away with a personally involved god and remove human accountability to God. Lucretius went on to tweak Demetrius’ theory.

Demetrius said that atoms do not always go in straight lives but can “swerve”. As such, his philosophy was then able to avoid atomism’s inherent determinism and to allow for man’s free will.

“What was most important in Epicurus’ philosophy of nature was the overall conviction that our life on this earth comes with no strings attached; that there is no Maker whose puppets we are; that there is no script for us to follow and be constrained by; that it is up to us to discover the real constraints which our own nature imposes on us.” ― Epicurus, The Epicurus Reader

Unlike the innocuous passing-on-sex Epicurus, the Romans took Epicureanism to new lows. The name of the Roman Emperor Caligula is associated today with unbridled decadence. Licentiousness continues today as the justification for the avoid-pain-seek-pleasure self.

The Enlightenment furthered Epicurean acceptance. As many began to claim science as the explainer for things being as they are and man as the interpreter of things as they are, the Enlightenment augmented the fact/value split. With science being claimed as the only arbiter of truth and reality, the transcendent was eschewed, as being unreasonable to ponder. Materialism and utilitarian atomism replaced the transcendent and facilitated the self-made man as the imago homo. An honest look around today would reveal that the worldview from the days of Epicurus down through the Enlightenment has been passed down to us.

“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.” –Epicurus

As I see it, underlying cultural Marxism, secular humanism, Progressivism and the American Dream is the philosophy of Epicurus: extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption, aka, solipsism. It is the worldview of safe spaces. It is the philosophy behind the Progressive’s push for acceptance of multiculturalism whereby all cultures are deemed equal including the dehumanizing ones so that individual culture has a larger safe space to operate in. The philosophy promotes universal healthcare as another safe space in the form of insurance against financial suffering as paid for by others so one can live an Epicurean lifestyle without pain. It is the worldview of the virtue-signaling relativist social justice warriors – I want a safe space for me to live my life as I see fit so I will serve up my self-justifying, self-righteous viewpoint of high-sounding humanitarianism. Epicureanism is the doctrine of the Religion of Humanity and the paean to mind and matter as savior.

Epicureanism underlies identity politics and individual rights. It promotes a circling of the wagons around your ersatz ‘friends’, your tribe, to protect your values and your territory for further self-satisfaction. It promotes dehumanization with its message that life has no meaning other than what you give it; life is only material and sensate. So, grab yours while you are alive. Out of this dehumanizing process comes the art, music, literature, media and architecture which degrade human existence and the imago dei in humans. But. Modern man, left to his own Epicurean devices, comes up short.

The narrator in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy novel That Hideous Strength tells us about one of the central characters Mark Studdock. He is a young academic, a sociologist, and a member of the Progressive Element at Bracton College. He is an ambitious, self-centered and shallow intellectual who has come into the service of the National Institute of Coordinated Sciences (NICE). He believes NICE will serve the best interest of humanity through progress at any cost. Once he stopped hemming and hawing about joining the organization he is welcomed into the inner circle. But he soon finds that he has committed himself to a hellish organization which plans to re-do humanity by force so that only the best humans (in NICE’s view) remain. He is made aware that the tentacles of the organization are growing.

Studdock is told in no uncertain terms that the organization wants his wife Jane to join him. He is ordered to bring her in. With no moral depth and no moral base outside himself to guide him, Mark is perplexed and now in great fear for his life. Pain and death are the only things that are real for him.

It must be remembered that in Mark’s mind hardly one rag of noble thought, either Christian or Pagan, had a secure lodging. His education had been neither scientific or classical – merely “Modern”. The seventies both of abstraction and of high human tradition had passed him by: and he had neither peasant shrewdness nor aristocratic honor to help him. He was a man of straw, a glib examinee in subjects that require no exact knowledge (he had always done well on Essays and General Papers) and the first hint of a real threat to his bodily life knocked him sprawling. And his head ached so terribly and he felt sick. Luckily he now kept a bottle of whisky in his room. A stiff one enabled him to shave and dress.

What is your genealogy of thought and belief? Is it a genealogy of strawmen?

~~~~~~~~~

The opening quote is from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. He is countering the embedded Epicureanism active in the church in Corinth. He does so with the resurrection.

To be continued.

Lost in Self-logos

 

Thus, in the conception of Humanity, the three essential aspects of Positivism, its subjective principle, its objective dogma, and its practical object, are united. Towards Humanity, who is for us the only true Great Being, we, the conscious elements of whom she is composed, shall henceforth direct every aspect of our life, individual or collective. Our thoughts will be devoted to the knowledge of Humanity, our affections to her love, our actions to her service. -Auguste Comte, A General View of Positivism [1848]

 

Mankind learned centuries ago, by the efforts of men like Polish astronomer Copernicus, that we do not exist in a geocentric universe. Now, according to some physicists, mankind is at the center of the cosmos. In order to avoid a Creator scenario, these scientists promote the anthropic theory:  the reason for the perfectly-tuned universe, for its fundamental physical constants, and the reason why things exist as they are on earth is that human existence required it. To support this theory, they posit a multiverse scenario with infinite trials and errors until man could exist.

Amir Aczel, PH. D., in his book Why Science Does Not Disprove God, describes some physicists’ viewpoint:

…if we are here, and the parameters need to be perfectly chosen for us to be here, then surely there must be infinitely many other places where parameters are wrong. We are here because we can only live where the parameters are right for our existence.

Now, I have no issue with the possibility of multiverses. But as Dr. Aczel writes, the proposed multiverse-as-cause theory to replace the creation narrative offers no mechanism to create the multiverses. The theory proposes an infinite number of somehow existing parameters doing something over and over infinitely many times to finally ‘create’ the perfect conditions for a habitable zone. Dr. Aczel goes on to state, “The anthropic theory is the weakest route to the multiverse.” As I see it, the theory has no mechanism for merit other than those who promote a God-less universe. The theory is basically one of effect with no Ultimate Cause. It is a theory of chance which says man is the reason for his existence.

Man-centered philosophical endorsement would come from the likes of Nietzsche. His “God is dead” rejection of Christian values was a push for mankind to move beyond good and evil and to loving necessity. One is therefore to live with uncertainty as a “superman”, above and center of it all. From the mighty-warrior Nimrod to Wagnerian heroes to the present FX-ed generated superheroes versions of Nietzsche’s “superman” have been around since the Garden. The “superman” notion is akin to Darwin’s theory natural selection and the survival of the fittest. In Nietzschean terms, What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Social scientists place man at the center of the universe. Since Adam and Eve’s forced exit from the Garden of Eden, man, it seems to me, has always struggled to reclaim the Garden. Many seek to create a Garden Utopia through a relentless and self-directed improvement of the species. Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species supplies the process: selection, struggle, favored, preservation. Engels and Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and MaoTse-tung used Darwin’s theory of natural selection as justification for their “class struggle” political and economic theories. Millions have been imprisoned and slaughtered under the banner of “class struggle”. Strands of this ‘societal improvement’ is behind the current humanist thinking which is now being promulgated systematically by the Progressive Element. For Progressives, the social multiverses are the identity-centered tribes they select and deem struggling and require favored status and preservation.

Man, as the principle cause and logos of the universe, creates his own values. Thus, the religion of humanity. Secular humanitarianism is the tie that binds the Progressive Element: atheists, agnostics, deists, social Darwinists and those who buy into sentimental Christianity for the sake of progress. The creation of man-as-logos values produces a querulous society of competing values, hence the culture wars. Amorphous and relativistic values are promoted under the high-sounding and ambiguous rubric of “social justice”. Individualism is turned inward toward self-centered anodyne interest to be protected by “rights”. Progressivism inverts The Second Commandment: “love me as you love yourself”.

Vying for special status, groups call themselves “marginalized” and “victims”. This self-centered push for center stage drives identity politics: self-designated victims ‘struggling’ to ‘survive’ require ‘protection’ (rights). “I’ll make you care about what I care about – me” is the right to impose myself on others and call it “social justice”. Man, as logos, defines the impetus of the “social justice warrior:  resentment disguised as compassion which drives the will to power.

Resentment? Life is not easy to begin with. The arbitrariness of life and the forces beyond our control fuel resentment when contemplated in the context of others. Resentment leads to claiming that one’s gender or sexual proclivity or income status or healthcare as being victimized by others. Such a worldview, one without meaning except for self and necessity and a belief that relationships are defined by power, breeds contempt for those having some perceived advantage. Hence, the demand for societal and economic reparations and at any cost to others. Resentment is fueled by zero-sum thinking: one does not have because someone else has.

Resentment disguised as compassion? Man, as logos, wants to be seen as a self-justified humanitarian. Virtue signaling accomplishes that while being resentful at the same time. It is no-cost faux-altruism intended to make one appear empathetic and compassionate without appearing resentful except for those who question their virtue signaling. This is underneath the self-righteous clamor for the right of universal healthcare, of potable water, of inclusion, diversity, equity and the host of arbitrary self-placating categories.

Resentment disguised as compassion which drives the will to power? In an age that is increasingly nihilistic, power has become the transcendent meaning to life. And once you believe that relationships are defined by power you exercise the will to power to subjugate others to the relationships you desire. The exercise of the will to power implements mental-conditioning of its subjects, hence the revision of language and of history, to fit the narrative. The power to create one’s own truth is what is desired.

The best way to sum this mash of words is with the clarity of two Scripture readings from today. The first relates the man-as-logos worldview. The second reading describes those who are Logos centered.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son was the gospel reading for today: Luke 15: 11-32. The would-be Prodigal Son demands his rights (inheritance) from his father. The son considers his father dead to him. The father transfers assets over to his son. His son turns his shares into cash as he sells the property his father had accumulated over time through the father’s effort. The universe of one departs with his values and his will to power. He’s off to a distant land, far from the logos he knows. He leaves behind his father and the remaining older son to pick up his portion of work.

A lifestyle of nihilistic (sever famine) and sensate pleasure (self-directed compassion) has him eating slop in a pig sty. He’s sees that he is just another animal. His humanism ran out of money. He returns to his senses and heads home. His father sees his son a long way off and runs to meet him. The prodigal repents and the father rejoices in his return from the distant land of self. There is a celebration for the son who was lost but is found … alive. They are reconciled. But the brother has a growing resentment disguised as compassion for his father (“I’ve been slaving for you all these years!”) which drives his will to power to up his rights. He feels his rights, his pride of place, is diminished by his brother’s return and the father showering him with a wealth of unintended consequences.

The second reading is from the Epistles: 2 Corinthians 5: 16- 17. Paul writes about a Logos worldview that sees humanity from a kingdom perspective. He writes what the Prodigal experiences when he returns to the Logos and what the other brother claims as his right to experience.

From this moment on, therefore, we don’t regard anybody from a merely human point of view. Even if we once regarded the Messiah that way, we don’t do so any longer. Thus, if any man is in the Messiah, there is a new creation! Old things have gone, and look – everything has become new!

 

 

~~~

I recommend reading The Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis for insight into humanism.

The Bill of Rumored Rights

 

Retired prison psychiatrist Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple) speaks and writes with keen insight gathered from his experience of the human condition and of its surrounding culture. Here is a short introduction of Daniels from the website Goodreads:

Anthony Malcolm Daniels, who generally uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple, is an English writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist. He worked in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries as well as in the east end of London. Before his retirement in 2005, he worked in City Hospital, Birmingham and Winson Green Prison in inner-city Birmingham, England.

Daniels is a contributing editor to City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute, where he is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow. In addition to City Journal, his work has appeared in The British Medical Journal, The Times, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The Salisbury Review, National Review, and Axess magasin.

In 2011, Dalrymple received the 2011 Freedom Prize from the Flemish think tank Libera!.

Not only is Anthony Daniels a prolific writer and well-read, as you’ll discover, he is also well-traveled. His accounts of staying in five countries (North Korea, Albania, Romania, Vietnam and Cuba), all five of which operate under leftist-ideology based regimes, is recorded in The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World. Would-be fellow travelers in the long march of cultural Marxism, both young and old, would do well to read about life in the totalitarian state under centralized government. Daniel’s accounts would be especially revelatory for the would-be fellow travelers promoting ‘democratic’ socialism, the ‘gateway drug’ to full-blown addiction to life under top down government. Democratic socialism is currently being promoted as the means to secure peace of mind (aka happiness) by coercively and exhaustively taxing the wealthy and then having unelected central planners redistribute the take. The uninformed traveler could also read about the state of Venezuela.

I first encountered Anthony Daniels via his essays in The New Criterion, a monthly literary magazine I subscribe to. His extensive bibliography is listed in the Wikipedia entry Theodore Dalrymple.

Having read several of his books, I recommend, for starters, the book noted above and the two books shown below.

Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass (start with this book)

Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality

Numerous articles written by Anthony Daniels appear in the Law and Liberty blog.

Below is a video of Anthony Daniels speaking at the Property and Freedom Society Annual Meeting last year (2018). His talk on multiculturalism begins with the subject of rights as misunderstood and misapplied today. My take: rights-gatherers employ victim status leveraged with inalienability to secure advantages in society. With their Bill of Rumored Rights they seek to bypass “the pursuit of happiness” and go directly to happiness.

 

How did our culture get turned on its head? “German Marxists”…”Marx and Freud”…”the Frankfurt school… left-wing academics… Columbia University”…

[Italian communist Antonio] Gramsci also looked to culture. If the Left truly wanted to win, it needed to first seize the “cultural means of production”: the culture-forming institutions such as the media and universities and even churches. He saw societal transformation coming about by a “march through the institutions.”…

Gramsci insisted that leftist intellectuals needed to question everything, including moral absolutes and the Judeo-Christian basis of Western civilization. They needed to frame seemingly benign conventions as systematic injustices that must be exposed. This is where we got professors fulminating against everything from “the patriarchy” to “white imperialism” to “transphobia.”

Marx at 200: Cultural Marxism’s Long Happy March Through the Institutions

 

How is the Cultural Revolution brought to bear on others? Enforceable Subjectivity (article by Theodore Dalrymple):

According to the Metropolitan Police, “evidence of the hate element is not a requirement. You do not need to personally perceive the incident to be hate related. It would be enough if another person, a witness or even a police officer thought that the incident was hate related.”

Example given:

Had a message from Guildford police tonight about my tweets following an appearance on @GMB with Susie Green and Piers Morgan. Susie Green has reported me for misgendering her daughter.

https://twitter.com/CF_Farrow/status/1107779340723515392

“A British police force is investigating @CF_Farrow, a journalist, because of words that she published,” writes @jameskirkup

https://twitter.com/SpectatorUSA/status/1108144367716302848