Philosophical Skeleton Keys: Person versus Entity

The Trinity is confusing and confounding to many because almost no one who talks about it remembers to point out that persons are not entities. If you treat persons as things, then the Trinity cannot possibly make any sense. It seems to say that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. That’s nuts. Yet that’s how almost everyone talks about the Trinity.

I learned (from Whitehead) that persons are not concrete entities, but rather characters of concrete entities. When I much later figured out that the Persons of the Trinity are not different things, but rather characters of a single thing, the logical difficulties that had bedeviled me melted away, and I worried a lot less about it.

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It’s Logoi All the Way Up

Worlds are implementations of logical calculi; or, equivocally, every world is an implementation of some logos. But no particular logical calculus is both consistent and complete. Inconsistent logical calculi cannot be implemented concretely, for it is impossible to enact contradictions. At best, we can wave our hands at the notion of an inconsistent calculus; we can’t actually *operate* with it, can’t *do* anything with it. So inconsistent calculi – i.e., falsehoods – can play no constructive role in worlds. They can play only destructive roles, as defections of consistent calculi.

Whatever is, is then necessarily an implementation of some consistent logical calculus. So, the logos of this world is consistent. But it is incomplete. It can be completed only by some more spacious calculus, that includes the logos of this world as a subdomain.

It must have been thus completed, for in no other way could we ascertain the truths that it can express but cannot itself demonstrate.

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Fixing American Health Care Funding

Seven years ago at VFR I addressed a question Lawrence Auster – may God rest his soul, the dear man – had posed about fixing health care in the United States. Obamacare was then only a rumor. Now it seems to be already on its last legs, and the Trump Administration is preparing to kill it somehow or other, and replace it with something better. The White House strategists are reported to be reading us Reactionaries. So I thought I’d trot this out again.

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Identity: The Future of a Paradox

My essay on Identity: The Future of a Paradox appears at the 2017 Symposium of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum along with essays by Paul Gottfried, James Kalb, Valdis Grinsteins, Urho Lintinen, and Richard Cocks, among others.  I would like publicly to thank the Forum’s convener Edwin Dyga for his meticulous editorial work and fine presentation of the essays.  The Future of a Paradox explores idea, argued in a book by the French historian Rémi Brague, that Western Civilization is uniquely a civilization that has its founding principle outside itself and that has understood itself since its first embodiment in the Roman polity as the steward of something that it received (namely Greek high culture) but did not create. The essay examines this thesis in light of the Western epic tradition beginning with Virgil and proceeding through Ovid, Jordanes, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Snorri Sturluson, Harry Martinson, and Ezra Pound.  I offer an extract:

The Gothic successors of the Western Empire stood to Romanitas as Romanitas stood to Hellenism, in a relation of secondarity or even second or third secondarity.  When Jordanes, in his Origin and Deeds of the Goths (mid-Sixth Century), narrates Theodoric’s departure from Constantinople for Italy, where with the Eastern Emperor’s permission he would establish himself as viceroy, he uses this quaint phrase: “He set out for Hesperia.”  Jordanes’ allusion to Virgil anticipates the Trojan pedigrees that Geoffrey furnishes for the Britannic kings of the annals and Snorri for the Aesir of the sagas.  That the gesture approaches self-consciousness to the point of sentimentality neither belies nor obviates it.  Now a sentiment, like a father, might be a burden onerous to shoulder, but that fact never divests it of sincerity.  A complementary image of shouldering the father, as Brague reminds his readers, is standing on the shoulders of giants, the structure of which subordinates the subject in a slightly different way from the onus, but insists on that subordination nevertheless.  In Medieval stained glass, the Saints stand on the shoulders of the Prophets; in Gothic decorative statuary, Pagan figures mingle with Hebrew and Christian figures.  It is nearly a thesis in capital letters.

The two images stand in common tension with an opposite image that takes the form of the consciousness or identity that claims, for its own part, an entirely autogenetic status.  For [Rémi] Brague, the prototype of that stance is the Second Century Marcionite heresy.  As did many Gnostics, Marcion of Sinope (85 – 160) hated and rejected the Old Testament, arguing in respect of the New Testament what Islam would later argue in respect of the Koran, that it was aboriginally new hence genuinely and uniquely primordial and that it therefore abrogated everything that claimed spuriously to have come before it.  Modern liberal people are the issue of Marcion despite their complete unfamiliarity with him, and their deluded consciousness corresponds to his point by point.  Modernity and liberalism, in the making since the Eighteenth Century at the latest, and currently triumphant in the West, exist in a second reality in which all debts have been cancelled, all obligations annulled, and the way lies open to that urge without origin or goal that goes by the name of progress.  Tellingly, in its acute current phase, the modern liberal regime has mounted an explicit attack on family, attempting to define the institution away by imposing contradictory deformations on it by judicial fiat.  Likewise, the modern liberal regime attacks sovereignty, the concept that separates one nation from another and by doing so guarantees a people’s rights.  The modern liberal regime seeks, rather, a globalizing borderless society in which differential evaluation of ethoi and defense of one’s proper ethos are criminalized.  The modern liberal regime pursues an agenda of forced promiscuity for the sake of abolishing difference, while insisting contradictorily that difference is a supreme value.  The modern liberal regime collectivizes, homogenizes, and atomizes all at the same time.

Philosophy and the Crisis of the Modern World

Philosophy and the Crisis of the Modern World is my contribution to a symposium on the topic of identity published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum. René Guenon criticizes philosophy for generating this crisis. He argues that removing or ignoring the esoteric content of Platonic philosophy resulted in exoteric rationalism which has dominated Western philosophy, certainly since the scientific revolution. Since rationality is not itself generative, but merely analytic, philosophers find themselves with a vacuum where God should be and inevitably head in the direction of nihilism – the unavoidable consequence of postulating a Godless universe.

It is hard to see how a nihilistic culture could sustain itself in the long term. My argument is consistent with these comments by Scott Weidner concerning T. S. Eliot:

Eliot formulated the most basic tenet of his cultural theory, that religion and culture are essentially “related.” <4>  In fact, Eliot argued that “no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion: according to the point of view of the observer, the culture [appears] to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of the culture.” <5>   They might be thought of as different aspects of the same thing; culture was “the incarnation of the religion of a people.” <6>   Civilizations which appeared to be secular or humanistic, such as ancient Greece and Rome, were actually religious cultures in decline. <7>   Culture could not be preserved, extended, or developed in the absence of religion, nor could religion be preserved and maintained if culture was not. <8>

The Wages of Moral Nominalism is Rage

It’s amazing how quickly liberals – and especially Social Justice Warriors – descend into rage, into foaming at the mouth, screaming, insults, violence – whenever they suffer the least jot of cognitive dissonance at the hands of a based Reactionary interlocutor. How come?

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Evolving a Feudal Stack of Sovereign Corporations

In Completing the Groundwork of a Hierarchy of Sovereign Corporations, I suggested that we have all long lived under the government of a stack of sovereign corporations, in each of which we each own an effectual single share; and that a transition to a feudal stack of such sovereign corporations could be effected if these shares were split into two classes of dividend paying shares: D for denizens and C for denizens who are also citizens [for more on the similarities and differences between D and C shares, please review that post].

What would happen if such D and C shares were issued, one of each class to each citizen?

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Completing the Groundwork of a Feudal Hierarchy of Sovereign Corporations

The thing need not be that difficult, in principle.

Consider first that you are already at once a denizen, participant and – provided you are not merely a stranger passing through – a member of a village or neighbourhood, of its county or city, of its province or state, and of its nation. All of us, throughout the world, live this way without a second thought. We each of us bear duties to and enjoy privileges under each of these sorts of sovereign entities. So has it been since the dawn of civilization.

Villages, counties, provinces and nations have furthermore been always ordered, and have always been legal agents. They have acted, owned property, engaged in commercial transactions (even if only so far as to collect taxes or fees and then pay their officers), negotiated agreements, granted benefices, levied penalties, and so forth. They have, i.e., been actual entities – i.e., entities that act – and for a thousand years at least have been treated as corporations (with the sole proprietorships of royal or lordly domains construed as ‘corporations sole’). They have been construed as corporations on account of the fact that they were understood to be real, albeit invisible, bodies.

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Why don’t people want Muslim immigration?

It’s not terrorism, crime, or wage depression.  We don’t have nearly enough of them for those to be major issues (yet).  The real reason many don’t like Muslim immigration is this:

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This is an excellent propaganda piece for our side.  It’s easy for people to say that our country isn’t defined by religion, race, or culture, but to see that picture is to behold the abyss behind those thoughts.  “We the people”, it says, meaning this is a picture of us, a picture of Americans.  And yet, the first thing you think when seeing that woman is that she is foreign.  Not only does she belong to a religion alien to our civilization, she maintains the style of dress and standard of modesty of an alien culture.  To notice this is not to criticize.  There is nothing wrong with the hijab, but it is not how we traditionally cover our women.  Islam is a false religion, but so is Unitarianism, and we easily recognize the former but not the latter as foreign.  This woman is probably not a terrorist.  She might be able to recite the Constitution from memory, and her political philosophy might be identical to that of James Madison.  According to liberalism, according to the First Amendment, she is as American as any one of us, because to be American means nothing more than to be committed to a certain set of procedures of government.  If in a hundred years, all Americans were to look like this, liberalism demands you accept that nothing fundamental would have changed.

And yet we immediately sense that the woman in the picture is foreign–her image was chosen precisely for this reason, to show us the implications of our tolerance.  If she is “we the people”, than what are we, the people belonging to America’s traditional culture?  We are nothing; no such “we” is allowed to exist.  No region of the country, no profession, and no association can admit that this woman is foreign to it.  People say that Islam is the dog that pisses on every tree; where it comes, it owns.  But even if our Muslim American harbors no such designs for supremacy, she delegitimizes our culture just by the fact that we cannot admit her foreignness.  A Muslim America wouldn’t necessarily be a bad place.  It might have any number of virtues.  But would it really still be our country, the same country that exists right now?

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