The Proper Terminus of All Thought

No matter what aspect of experience we might begin to think about, once we have begun, then provided we are honest, careful and courageous as we follow the path that patient deliberation gradually makes apparent to our inward eye, we shall eventually discover that we have arrived at that ultimate basis of all thought, from which it proceeds, upon which it supervenes, and toward which it relentlessly tends.

At that Ultimate, we confront always the same choice, the choice that is first and last, alpha and omega of all our doings: the choice between Being and Nothingness. On the one hand lies reality, meaning, significance, importance, truth, purpose, life, and light; while on the other lies utter irreality, absurdity, chaos, indifference, noise, vacuity, death, darkness. One is the proper terminus of all thought, as being its basis and beginning; the other is the negation of thought, as rendering it either moot, or meaningless, or impossible.

There are no other alternatives. At its very root, and thus pervasively, existence is either one or the other.

Time to choose!

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

                                                                         — James Russell Lowell

15 thoughts on “The Proper Terminus of All Thought

  1. At that Ultimate, we confront always the same choice, the choice that is first and last, alpha and omega of all our doings … There are no other alternatives. One is the proper terminus of all thought, as being its basis and beginning; the other is the negation of thought, as rendering it either moot, or meaningless, or impossible.

    This is why I believe concessions of any sort are founded on a lack of faith. Recently I’ve disagreed with Mr. Roebuck on the concessions of Christian men marrying non-virgin brides and on men submitting to their wives if they are afraid of what she may do, but really it is cowardly to make any concession that goes against God’s Word . God is the only source of truth, and we know that He will ultimately be victorious no matter how lost and chaotic the world seems. As we await His final victory, we must do what is right, not what is expedient. He has told us what is right, and He has encouraged us to choose that. Obedience is the only way we can demonstrate the choice we have made.

    15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules,[b] then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” – Deuteronomy 30:15-20

    Sometimes I find that traditionalists put doing what is traditional above doing what is right, and by right I mean what God says in His Word. This is the sole reason I do not define myself as a traditionalist, even though I am in agreement with traditionalists on so many issues.

    • On the definition of “traditionalism,” here is part of my post “Introducing the American Traditionalist Society:

      Whereas liberalism denies man all that sustains his spirit, traditionalism restores the life-giving ties between a man and his people, their past, and his God. It restores wisdom and common sense by reconnecting man to the eternal order of being, a multifaceted order that is spiritual, moral, intellectual, religious, social and physical. Whereas contemporary thinking is fundamentally unwise outside of the procedures of the natural sciences and technology, traditionalism seeks to fill this void and strives for justice, truth, beauty, and the proper ordering of society.

      Our traditionalism is therefore not simply a longing for the past. Since the present is radically defective, we naturally look to the past for a model of a more properly-ordered society, but we do not aim to recreate the conditions of the past. As Lawrence Auster has said [in a private communication],

      “Traditition” is but one dimension of traditionalism. Traditionalism is, first, an orientation toward the transcendent structure of the universe–the natural, social (including historical and traditional”), and spiritual orders that make us possible. Each society orders itself uniquely according to those orders. So traditionalism is not just the past tradition, it’s our active relationship and tension with the order of the world, but always grasped and expressed uniquely and newly in each time and society according to the particularities of that society.

      So a “traditionalist” in our sense of the word, although he respects the traditions of his people, does not regard tradition as the ultimate authority.

      • Thank you for the link. I will read it now that I have finally finished reading The Futility of Liberalism and the Hope of Traditionalism. I have a few questions, but I’ll wait until you write on this topic again to ask them, since the old threads aren’t active and I don’t want to pull this thread off topic.

    • Somewhat off topic; but, where does it say in the Bible one must never marry a non-virigin? Or that a man should never submit to the wishes of his wife? These may be prudent suggestions; but, not, in my understanding, part of the faith.

      • I will link to the verses rather than quoting them here so that my comment doesn’t get too long.
        On female virginity:
        Read Deuteronomy 22:13-28 – Women who have sex before marriage are to be killed.

        Exodus 22:16-17 – A man who seduces a virgin has to marry her or pay the bride price because she is now ruined for marriage to another man.

        There are also many verses in the New Testament about avoiding sexual immorality, but these verses are generally understood to apply to men and women equally (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:18).

        On submission and headship:
        Colossians 3:18-19 Wives (not husbands) are to submit.
        Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives are to submit to and respect their husbands; husbands are to love their wives.
        1 Peter 3:1-7 – Wives are to be subject to their husbands and obey them; husbands are to be understanding of and loving toward their wives.

        I haven’t provided an exhaustive list of all verses, but rather just a few verses to exemplify the consistent principles of virginity, submission, and headship in God’s Word.

      • Of course sexual purity and chastity are prized throughout; and, sexual immorality is correctly identified as sin; but, neither in these passage nor anywhere else does it say that someone who has sinned in the past is no longer able to marry. In the same book, Deuteronomy 25:5-10 there are prescriptions for marrying a deceased brother’s wife. So there can be nothing specifically against marrying a non-virgin. I assume you only mean fornication; but, again there is nothing that specifically in the bible that says people with past sexual sins can never be married.

        It doesn’t say it in the Bible. There is nothing in the cathechism against it. There is no papal bull forbiding it. There is nothing from the church fathers I can find condemning it. In short, its not part of the faiith.

        A command for a wife to submit to her husband is not the same thing as a command for a husband never to submit to the wishes of his wife. It seems clear to me that it leaves this up to prudence and circumstance.

      • Marrying one’s brother’s widow is not analogous because she has not sinned. A woman who has committed fornication/adultery has. The words “Do not marry the woman who has committed fornication/adultery” don’t appear in Deuteronomy 22 because the text says to kill this woman. Most people understand that you cannot marry a dead person.

        However, I agree that the New Testament does not outright forbid it. If a woman became a Christian later in life, she may have already engaged in sexual sin. The Bible does not say whether such women are to be married or not, so one would think it is up to the discretion of the man, and he should use his common sense. Given the association between a wife with previous sexual partners and increased risk of divorce, common sense would dictate avoiding such a woman, unless the man has a clear leading from God that he should marry her.

        On submission: Husbands are the head of wives the way Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23). Christ sacrifices for the Church but he does not submit to her; so it is to be with husbands.

      • Nothing I can disagree with there. Other than it can be understood that Jesus did submit to be baptized by John in order to “fulfill all righteousness” and he did submit to the church of the time in order to redeem us.

    • The author of the post you cite makes the common error of supposing that the facticity of the eternal would entail that there could be no such thing as disparity, contingency, optionality, or therefore error – sin, conflict, catastrophe, and so forth. This error is what he calls eternality. The truth is, as he intuits, that eternity and disparity are not in conflict.

      He errs also in thinking that reals have no completely definite meaning. The definite meaning of a thing is the definition of what it is. It is what makes each thing just the thing that it is, and not some other. An indefinite thing is deficiently actual.

      This is just another way of stating the Thomist doctrine that acts have forms.

      That everything must have a definite form does not mean that any such form is ever going to be completely intelligible to us. On the contrary, for any finite mind, the only way to attain complete intelligence of something is to become it. And this one cannot do without ceasing to be one’s own self.

      What’s more, the full definition of any thing is not completable. Such definitions are always infinite specification strings, so we haven’t the time to grasp more than a few of their statements. This is why the meaning of things is both multifarious and obscure, and subject to interpretation depending upon our different perspectives.

      Finally, the author errs in thinking that eternality rules out meaninglessness. There can be irrational things in a rational world – which is to say, that in a rational world, there can be things that are not immaculately rational, that suffer from defects. But absent a superordinate and subvenient rationality, the very notion of irrationality is null. You can’t get meaninglessness anywhere outside a context of meaningfulness.

  2. My friend, there are two patterns set up in reality. One is divine and supremely happy; the other has nothing of God in it, and is the pattern of the deepest unhappiness. – Theaetetus 176e

    Each of us must choose which form of life to adopt. The divine life dedicated to wisdom, piety and virtue or the demonic life of ignorance, impiety and vice.

    I take refuge in the Buddha, the greatly Compassionate One, the Savior of the world, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, of most excellent deeds in all the ten directions;
    And in the Dharma, the manifestation of his Essence, the Reality, the sea of Suchness, the boundless storehouse of excellences;
    And in the Saṁgha, whose members truly devote themselves to the practice,
    May all sentient beings be made to discard their doubts, to cast aside their evil attachments, and to give rise to the correct faith in the Mahāyāna, that the lineage of the Buddhas may not be broken off. – The Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna

    • FWIW, the author of the post I linked to above is also a serious Buddhist, although obviously of a very different flavor than you are.

      • Just to be clear, David Chapman (the author of the blog Meaningness) is a serious Buddhist in the same way as the Rev. Moon was a serious Christian. While you’re free to invent your own religion, common decency should lead you to admit it. A very nice refutation of Chapman’s (and many other’s) make-believe Buddhism is Master Hauan Hua’s Smashing the Evil and Revealing the Proper: Spoken on Behalf of Living Beings.

      • Since I’m not a Buddhist or a Christian, I don’t care much which branch of each claims to be more authentic. I care about what is true and what works (which I’ve been told is the attitude of Buddhism as well).

        Out of curiosity, do you consider all of Tibetan buddhism to be heretical (if that is the word) or just Chapman’s version? He certainly is straightforward in admitting that he is trying to “reinvent” Buddhism.

      • Aro gTer, Chapman’s pernicious pseudo-Buddhism, is a Buddhism stripped of ethics, ritual and philosophy. Since it retains nothing of traditional Buddhism but the name, I see it as being a cult under the influence of demons whose sole purpose is to deceive beings. The traditional schools of Tibetan Buddhism are a different story. I may have more or less serious disagreements with certain teachings or practices of the various schools, but this is far from claiming they are not Buddhist.

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