The Principle of Sufficient Reason & Creaturely Free Agency

Note the conjunction in the title of this post. It is meant to convey the double intuition that on the one hand we (and perhaps many other sorts of creatures) are free agents, and on the other that everything that happens must be sufficiently caused – must, i.e., be exhaustively caused, and tied in to all other things that happen with perfect coherence and logical consistency in a seamless ontological web, so that we have for our environment an orderly cosmos, rational and therefore intelligible: the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).

It seems prima facie that the truth of the PSR rules out creaturely free agency. It does not.

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Feminism versus the Gedanken Policy Test

Few proposals of social reform fail the Gedanken Policy Test as completely and ignominiously as feminism. Clearly, then, any sane society would repudiate feminism.

Not because it hates women, but because it wants to survive; indeed, because it wants more women (the supply of women is the rate limiting factor of social survival: few women few children few women … so, women are precious; men on the other hand are cheap, ergo relatively expendable (in war, the hunt, dangerous work, and so forth)).

To recapitulate the Test:

Here’s the experimental set up. Take two experimental subjects. They are two nations, or two peoples, that are exactly similar in every way – same population, same genetic inheritance, same natural resources, same climate, same customs and traditions, same system of political economy, same religion, same technical and industrial capacities, same wealth, same everything. Assume no natural disasters or benisons that afflict or benefit either group differently. Both are faced with exactly the same set of environmental factors.

Having taken this step, you have controlled for all the factors of social success and failure, other than the policy you are interested to test. So, now, you are ready to test your proposed policy. Apply it to one group, but not to the other. Which is more likely to prosper: the group that adopts the proposed policy, or the group that does not?

Notice that we are not asking which group will be nicer or more fair or more just. Justice, fairness and niceness are optional only for societies that have managed to prevail and survive in the competition with their neighbours. We are only asking which group will be wealthier, more powerful, larger and more capable; and which group will have greater morale, commitment, ingenuity, all the moral, emotional and intellectual factors of demographic success. So, it’s purely a question of natural selection; like asking which is likely to do better, as between a pig and a pig with opposable thumbs.

The nifty thing about the Gedanken Policy Test is that it excises from our consideration all questions about how society should be ordered according to some scheme or other, or according to what we think society ought to be. Ideology ain’t in it; nor are any of our preferences or biases. So, the Test can be conducted without rancor, and with no grinding of axes. About its findings, there is no reason to feel either upset or angry, on the one hand, or triumphantly vindicated, on the other: they are what they are.

OK then: how does latter day feminism fare under the Test?

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Pentagon Says Guido Reni’s Saint Michael is White Supremacist Dog Whistle

The banner of the Orthosphere has always been a detail of Saint Michael, Archangel, a 1636 picture by the Genoese painter Guido Reni.  The scene is based on Revelation 12:7-9, which tells us:

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

St. Michael has ever since been taken as the patron of those who defend that which is holy and oppose that which comes from Satan and his fiendish crew.  I was not here when the Orthosphere was founded, but suppose this is why the founders chose to use an image of St. Michael in the website’s banner.  Little did they know that Reni’s St. Michael would become (in the hands of those who “deceiveth the whole world”) an emblem of white supremacy.

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Resurfacing, Sort Of

I have been traveling and while traveling I fell sick.  The blogging muse does not visit a sick man who daily moves between hired lodgings, and who nightly groans and gags in a damp and tissue-strewn bed.  My illness may be best described as a great sticky sundae of influenzal misery that is garnished, science now says, by covid sprinkles.  This misery was yesterday, however, somewhat tempered by the fact that I returned home and am now gagging and groaning and napping just as I please. Continue reading

Divine Providence in Satan’s kingdom

Satan is the prince of this world.

It is said that God can bring good out of evil, but that’s not quite true. Evil in itself cannot be the cause of good, even by divine arrangement. God can use the occasion of misfortune to work some good in the universe, but it is the good He adds to the occasion that is the true cause of subsequent goods, not evil itself. If we are loyal to God, we can expect misfortune. God’s providential care of us means that He will give us the opportunity to learn needed lessons and inculcate needed virtues through the occasion of these misfortunes. However, we will only benefit from these opportunities if we consciously choose to recognize them and see circumstances in this light. Suffering, deprivation, and fear in themselves will not make us more virtuous. In fact, we can expect that the Enemy who deals these out will calculate his afflictions to be those most likely to inspire discouragement and resentment. No improvement will come to us without our consciously recognizing the goods God is offering and deliberately participating in their actualization. Still, I have find a real comfort knowing that God is also calculating, that He will provide opportunities for our spiritual benefit in everything the Enemy will do to us.

Of course, we must have true and not false hope. We shouldn’t expect that these spiritual benefits will ever translate into future temporal success, e.g. that the suffering of the Church Militant will cause her to get her act together and inspire a future religious revival. In the order of this world, God’s side will never know anything but humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat. The Satanic Left is invincibly triumphant, and nothing will stop the totalitarian hell it is constructing. Whether we are exposed and ostracized or manage to squeak out our lives in hiding, we will suffer a nightmarish isolation from our fellow men, and this will be relieved only by death. But we as individuals may gain in endurance and resignation to our own sufferings and in tender love for Christ’s helpless Bride.

I used to share the popular belief that there could be a Christianity that de-emphasizes the next life, that a Christianity ordered primarily toward spiritual goods in this life might actually be “purer”. I no longer think that, and it is clear that serious Christians of all past ages put their hope not in moral improvement, not in social justice on Earth, but in being with God in Heaven. I’ve come to suspect that these Christians who want us to put our hopes in this world are thinking to cut a deal with its Prince.

On the other hand, I’m unable to be comforted by the thought that what happens to my soul is the only thing that matters, and that the Enemy can’t control that. The Enemy also has designs on my daughters, and enormous resources with which to ensnare them. This terrifies me, and I know it’s bad theology, but I can’t imagine being happy in Heaven with them in the other place. I can, however, imagine that if I were to wake up in Heaven and find my family and my good friends–and while I’m fantasizing why not include my Orthosphere comrades here–there with me, welcomed into eternal communion with our Lord, Jesus Christ, then the thought of the world going to hell wouldn’t bother me overmuch.

I have long struggled with an inability to believe in the afterlife, but I find that most of my prayers now are for my salvation and the salvation of those close to me. My hopes are more and more focused on a Heaven in which I can hardly believe, because there is nothing else to hope in.

The last years have been a brutal education in the futility of hope in this world. The Christians of all past ages thought that the appropriate attitude toward this world is scorn, and they were right.

An Argument from Our Agency

Longtime commenter Ilíon Troas and I have been corresponding privily about topics tangential to my recent post on error and free agency. In a recent message to me, he shared the following startling argument, and courteously agreed to my suggestion that we should publish it here as a guest post. A more expansive version may be found at his blog, Iliocentrism; here, I reproduce only the core of his argument. It is this argument that prompted the train of thought in me that resulted in my even more recent post on causation.

We theists recognize two general categories of causation: mechanistic (i.e., “cause-and-effect”) and agency (“ground-and-consequent”). Most people, including most God-deniers, will initially agree that these two categories are real, and distinct, and unbridgeable … until they see where the argument is going.

From recognition of the unbridgeable distinction between mechanism and agency, I argue that agency cannot “arise” from mechanism – this is what the God-deniers who haven’t denied agency from the start will then deny and this denial can then be shown absurd and thus false – and thus that agency is, and must be, fundamental to [the] nature of reality.

But, as there is no such thing as agency unless there is an actually existing agent, it follows that *an actually existing agent* is fundamental to the nature of reality.

That is, *we* cannot be agents unless God (who is an agent) exists; or put another way: the fact that we *are* agents proves the reality of God and simultaneously proves the falseness of atheism, in all its forms.

On the other hand, atheism in all its forms denies, and must deny, true agency. For, as per the little argument above, to acknowledge the reality of agency is to acknowledge the reality of God.

Some *atheists* will try to posit random causation, or ‘randomness’ as a causation – and these people will frequently try to subsume agency under ‘randomness.’ But, this is absurd, and thus seen to be false. For, to speak of ‘randomness’ is to speak of a lack of correlation between two or more things. That is, to speak of a “random cause” is to literally speak of a “cause” which is not correlated with its alleged effect – literally, it is to speak of an effect which is not caused by a “cause,” and of a “cause” which does not cause an effect.

Is the Liberal a Voyeur?

“For your Lordship sayeth, it is sincerity, as such, that procures the favor of God.  If it be sincerity, as such, then it is sincerity independent and exclusive of any particular way of worship: and if the favor of God equally follows every equal degree of sincerity, then it is impossible that there should be any difference, either as to merit or happiness, between a sincere martyr, and a sincere persecutor; and he that burns the Christian, if he be but in earnest, has the same title to reward for it, as he that is burnt for believing in Christ.”

William Law, Defense of Church Principles (1717-1719)

I detest the phrase “people of faith.”  Firstly because it draws a false division between people who live by ancient faiths and people who live by the mushroom faiths of the hour.  Secondly because it peddles the notion that it is not what a man believes that matters, but rather the ardency with which he believes it.  There is, for instance, a fad for home decorations that bear the simple and impertinent exhortation to Believe.  Has there been an outbreak of Pyrrhonism?  Do these hortatory pillows and coffee mugs shame men out of epochê.  Are they inciting a rush to judgment?

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All Causes Are Reasons

There cannot be a cause that is irrational; for, as incoherent, any “thing” irrational could not be realized concretely in itself, or therefore in its effects. It could not be a thing. So there cannot be a brute cause; a cause, that is, which is prior to reason. Nor by the same token could there be a brute state of affairs prior to reason, and thus without reason or ratio; for, what is not logically consistent cannot subsist.

No Lógos no reason no cause no being.

Being;; ergo, Lógos. QED.

NB: this argument – *like all arguments whatsoever* – presupposes the Lógos.

Hence, a corollary argument: no Lógos no argument; argument; ergo, etc.

What are the practical implications of these arguments? Get to church, dude! Confess, and repent! The Lord our God – who is the Lógos, logic himself in person – is implacable. All your pathetic puerile gamma atheist dodges are for naught. Get home, now, or begone, into the outer darkness.

Up to you.

NB: that it is up to you presupposes the Lógos. By the definition of the Lógos, everything does.

Some Lessons Worth Learning from Edmund Burke

We must begin to think like a minority.  Not like those modern minorities who are protected clients of the state; but like the old despised and friendless minorities that had to be shrewd.  A rich man can be careless with his money.  A poor man must be thrifty.  And a man no longer rich finds old habits hard to break.  This post contains some lessons on how to be a shrew minority taken from a letter Edmund Burke wrote to the Marquis of Rockingham in the summer of 1775.  The American rebellion was coming to a boil and Burke and Rockingham were in the despised and friendless minority that opposed the war.

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