The Argument from Imperfection

In general, an imperfection of x cannot be obtained in the absence of a perfection of x. This is most easily seen with noise. There can be no defect of signal if there is no signal in the first place. Likewise you can’t disorder what is not ordered. Nor can you sin if there is no righteousness, or kill what is not alive.

Partiality is another sort of imperfection: you can’t be a part of a whole that is not there to begin with. So likewise, participating a form is impossible if there is no such form.

Then there is incompleteness. What cannot be completed cannot be incomplete, strictly speaking. We can’t count to infinity; if we count to 100, then, we have completed, not part of the count to infinity, but only the count to 100. Likewise, partial knowledge is not knowledge at all in the absence of omniscience.

Our lives are pervasively imperfect. They point always toward perfection. They indicate it; and they aim at it. If there were no such perfection in the first place, there could be no imperfection in our experience, nor therefore any nisus to correct it. If there were no perfection, it could not be a problem for us that we feel we have not achieved it, and we would not feel its lack as painful. Yet we do.

Imperfection presupposes perfection. The latter is therefore prior to the former, and is its forecondition.

134 thoughts on “The Argument from Imperfection

  1. Pingback: The Argument from Imperfection | Neoreactive

  2. This is essential, Kristor. Liberal Titanism collides with the iceberg on its claim of empirical imperfection in the social condition.

    • Liberalism iff – and only insofar as constrained and informed by – the Law of the Logos. You can be relative to some other relative only in respect to some absolute.

  3. This is exactly correct; it is also why evil cannot be understood without reference to the Good, but the Good is intelligible in and of itself.

    • I should have said also, and far more strongly: any *actual* imperfection presupposes *actual* perfection. The Perfect must be concretely real prior to the realization of anything less.

  4. Pingback: The Argument from Imperfection | Reaction Times

    • Lol… And now I’m being moderated.

      With “friends” like the Orthosphereans, who needs enemies?

      “Self-annihilation for salvation” is a self-inflicted pathology that might as well just be called “liberalism for religious dummies.”

      I would like to know the ages, number of children and number of violent altercations Orthospherean commenters have engaged in… There is so much talk of death, violence and decline BUT CLEARLY most here DO NOT ENVISION at all violent confrontation in their near future. My hunch as an informal profiler is that the bulk of Orthospehereans are either >50 year old married men with multiple grown children and above average income and <30 year old mostly single males with no children and average income and possibly seeking family or Church employment. In other words, I couldn't be more different than this majority crowd. But the main difference is really just a willingness to inflict violence for what one believes when it is necessary to inflict violence for what one believes. And I BELIEVE what the truly constituted racialist Christian believes… But for the bulk of the Orthosphereans, even in this time of Final Liberation, inflicting violence is PURPOSELY PUT farthest out of mind. So far out of mind is the thought of invoking violence for what one believes that one arrives at SUBMITTING to violence for what one believes. And so here this is white man seeking "intellectual" ammunition and being "shot down" by moral cowards WHEN I already know from a lifetime of experience who is going to fight and who is going to submit when the moment arrives. I do not condemn Orthospehereans for submitting to annihilation in a testament of their beliefs, I only condemn those who claim such a method of salvation when it is merely an act of self-annihilation for what you believe. So do not condemn one who shares your belief in Perfection and our moral legitimacy to seek it by force if necessary ESPECIALLY in the face of those who WILL FORCEFULLY deter our desire for ascension. Is this not the modernist affliction? An all-out assault on any individual seeking Perfection, but especially white men and doubly especially for white men operating COLLECTIVELY to seek Perfection?

      • Relax, Thordaddy. It isn’t all about you and your idea. This isn’t your blog. Show some respect. We’ve got readers complaining that you are driving them away with your relentless harping on the one subject you seem able to talk about. We are not going to sacrifice this place for the sake of your project. Work it on your own blog.

        Talk here about something else for a change. Drop all the capitalizations, the randomly inserted scare quotes, the tortured equations, and the idiosyncratic use of terms. Write like a normal person (this is critically important when you are expressing abnormal thoughts)(and you want people to listen to you, instead of writing you off as a crank).

      • Kristor…

        What a rather unsavory retort. And please do not create false emotions in your mind and then attempt to impose them on me. I write here and elsewhere for the simple joy of writing truths.

      • That comment was written with normal syntax. Thanks.

        Unsavory? Pluck the beam out of your own eye. Read over the comment to which it replied, in which you essentially accuse us all of being milquetoasts because (as you thought) we were persecuting you by moderating your comments, and boast of your proclivity to violence.

        I imputed no emotions to you. I sought only to make clear to you that you personally were not singled out for moderation. Rather, I last evening took the precipitate action of enabling moderation for all comments, while we of the Orthosphere decide whether to make that change permanent.

      • I remember when Thordaddy challenged Vox Day to step in the Octagon. I think he’s calling you out Kristor. He wants to know your age, number of kids, weight class, reach, and win-loss record.

      • Thordaddy, take the advice. You bring your definition of ‘white supremacy’ to EVERY thread, and it is highly distracting because it is often without link to the topic being discussed. People have routinely pointed out your etymology is so counterintuitive that it obscures the communication of any point you may have.

        And do not brag about violent exploits. especially to engage in some ego-trip. I’m sure you are aware that there is round-the-clock surveillance of far right outlets and such. You have to be careful what you say via public correspondence, otherwise you run into hazards. I learned this very early on. Be smart, and respect the host. On his own blog, Kristor is effectively the monarch. I’m unsure why you haven’t started your own blog as you’ve been forwarding a point of view for a long time now.

      • Thordaddy:

        I want you to know two or three things. (1) Some Orthosphereans, for damned good reasons, want to ban you permanently. I consider their arguments to be entirely valid ones, but for the time being I have cast my vote, whatever value it has, in the other direction. I think, provisionally, and subject to moderation, you should be allowed to post here. But (2) you have no right to dominate threads and send the blade out of the furrow on every single occasion. You are a guest in our house – we impose the patriarchal order of “our house, our rules.” (3) Dominating the thread with your tendentious mannerisms and fixation on one idea is what you just now tried to do in Kristor’s new thread. I will not permit you to spoil and derail another thoughtful exchange. Enough already! That is why I have suppressed your remark. I will suppress similar violations of guest-comportment as they occur – rigorously. I will do it should you respond to this warning with yet another screed. I advise you not to respond at all, or I will change my vote.

        Take Kristor’s friendly advice: Write normal prose; stay on topic; keep your choler under control – or start your own website.


      • “We’ve got readers complaining that you are driving them away with your relentless harping on the one subject you seem able to talk about. We are not going to sacrifice this place for the sake of your project. Work it on your own blog.”

        And you say that you are not SJW. Silencing thordaddy on behalf of the mob, while espousing Christianity and Girard. Grotesque.

      • You yourself are no part of any mob, of course. Right? You yourself have no particular vision of social justice, no?

        The bottom line: the Orthosphere does not exist to serve as a platform for this or that coterie of commenters. We won’t be hijacked. Blogs are easy and inexpensive to set up and run, so there is no dearth of platforms. Knock yourself out.

        And for the record, Thordaddy’s comments were problematic, not because of the ideas he sought to communicate, but because they were so execrably written and so monotonic – and he refused to heed any criticism or coaching on these scores.

  5. I’m far from a dualist, but for some reason, Evil as a depravity has always bothered me. I have a similar problem with the Aristotelean maxim “all men by nature seek the Good.”

    Has not everyone here known someone who willed something bad merely to do so? Not only just to pervert some good, even if it is only his own pleasure, but almost as though he felt a compulsion to do Evil for its own sake? It certainly seems this way this side of the Beatific Vision.

    I can’t quite unpack my instincts into tight syllogisms but it’s been my experience so far that Evil is something wholly other than good and not just its absence (perhaps this is a blasphemy, but I’m really just thinking aloud here, not offering dogma).

    • It isn’t blasphemy by any means, Jim. Evil is hard to understand. Indeed, I think it is impossible to understand: as the defect of good, one of the goods in respect to which evil is defective is rationality, ergo intelligibility!

      The notion of evil as the privation of good has been around in explicit Christian formulation at least since Augustine – I seem to recall it goes back even to Philo – and it is implicit in Scripture. It is very difficult to conceive of it as something completely independent of what is good without running into Manicheanism of some sort. The key thing to remember is that there can be a Principal of evil – Lucifer – who embodies the Principle of Evil – a defection of a thing from the perfect goodness proper to its given nature, its ideal form or essence – without it being a Power in Heaven effectually equal to God. The Principal of evil can act upon other creatures, just as we do: can determine the actual character of his own being, and in so doing propose the evil causal effects thereof upon others. His defection is then his own doing, rather than God’s. And this freedom of action in Lucifer (and in us) accounts for our strong apprehension that evil is quite another sort of thing than the Good.

      As for “all men seek the Good,” have you ever wanted – can you even conceive of wanting – to do something that you absolutely hated in *every way*? I can’t. When I sin, it is always in choosing some lesser good than I might practically have chosen.

      • Kristor…

        When you claim that “Evil Is hard to understand,” are you saying that attempting to understand Evil will be “hard” on one, ie., take a degenerately physical toll, or that most are just too stupid and thus too “hard” to understand? Or, is it a combination of both? Hard in all ways, absolutely?

      • Hard in all ways, absolutely. In a sense it might be said that the damage we sustain – physiological, moral, spiritual – in doing evil is concomitant with understanding it poorly. When we understand something well, that understanding adds to our power, life, vitality. E.g., when we learn to multiply or to shoot, our powers and capacities grow. When we understand a thing poorly, our resources of all sorts continue tied up in trying to understand it, until we do. So evil saps our energy – again of all sorts – until we get out from under it, get the monkey off our back.

      • I can’t really say I have, but, although I can’t read minds, I’ve seen it in others. Not only individuals but entire cultures often seek evil for its own sake.

        For example, Chesterton pointed out (whether correctly or not I’ve never verified) that cannibalism isn’t actually found in the simplest cultures, such as the Australian Aborigines. Rather, it is most often found in either pathological individuals in advanced societies, or is practiced wholesale in extremely sophisticated pre-civilization peoples, such as the Maori or Aztecs. They don’t practice it because they don’t know better and are at a lower cultural level, they practice it because they are at a very high cultural level and know exactly what it is. In other words, they do it only because it is horrible.

        I suppose you could argue that this is all evidence of the “total depravity” of the Scholastics and Calvinists, but on the ground Evil can often seem like a thing with a life of its own, not merely an absence.

        I would never say that Evil is equally sovereign with the Good, but it does seem like a thing with its own positive (for lack of a better word) characteristics wholly separate from the Good.

        I don’t know much about theodicy, so I’m wandering a bit blindly here, so if anyone could go into the idea of the bad as depravity a little more, I’d be grateful. I know my Plato and the other Greeks here, and a little Aquinas, but not much else.

      • Evil persons do have lives of their own. Those lives are entirely derived from God. Qua lives, their lives are good, in the same way that existence as such is good, power as such is good, and so forth. But their goodness – their being, power, beauty – has been depraved and corrupted by being turned to evil ends. Satan is a corrupted and evil seraph, but he is still a seraph, with seraphic powers, all of which in themselves are goods. That’s what makes him so dangerous.

        Evil depends upon the good of being for its own existence, even as it parasitically devours that good. The completion of evil is the annihilation of the being on which it feeds.

        I don’t quite buy Chesterton’s analysis. Not that he’s altogether wrong (although cannibalism is found in simple cultures), but that he is not quite connecting all the dots properly. Nobody does something that has no good in it at all. To the extent that a person does choose evil, it is because his moral faculties are warped by the evil he has inherited from his past, so that he evaluates good and evil perversely, mistaking evil for good. That inheritance is Original Sin, and the depravation it works in our moral faculty is our concupiscence.

    • Has not everyone here known someone who willed something bad merely to do so?

      What is it that makes the corruption of innocence enticing? Is it the corruption or the innocence? Obviously, it’s the conjunction, but, if you have to pick a dominant one of the two, it’s pretty clearly the latter. Even in your worst state of mind, do you want to look at a modestly dressed virgin or an immodestly dressed, dead-eyed crack whore? In looking at the latter, the only (evil) interesting things to think about are what hidden innocence may be left to corrupt, what corruption of innocence led to the current state, what the dead, innocent version of the crack whore would think about herself now, or what an audience of modest virgins would think about her. That is, so boring is the near completion of evil that you call up imaginary goods.

      In A Clockwork Orange, Alex’s appreciation of Beethoven is much more beautiful than any other character’s identical appreciation would be. Why? Because that single beautiful aspect of his character is thrown into such painfully stark relief by what a monster he is otherwise.

      Human senses and human minds are tuned to appreciate relative differences not absolute levels. A candle may be impossibly bright or practically invisible depending on the ambient light level. Innocence is so much more innocent when it is slipping away. The David is so much more sublime the instant before the wrecking ball hits it. Think how awesome the knowledge collected in the Great Library must have been just as the flames became visible!

      Our retarded culture calls concupiscence addiction and, rather vainly, tries to trace out its merely mechanical manifestations. Oxytocin and endorphins and serotonin and whatnot. But, in a way, they have the etiology right. MOAR!!

      • Ah, but this may be where we disagree. Sorry but I’m a bit of a film buff and Kubrick fanboy, so I can’t let this go.

        Wouldn’t it be better to say that Alex’s love of music and capacity for violence are from one and the same source? Not to say they both stem from his sins, but, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, the great sinners and the great saints are often made of the same stuff.

        Who really appreciates the Ninth more? Alex or some milquetoast man who wouldn’t hurt a fly? In my mind there’s nothing mild about any great work of art, be it Beethoven, Dante, or even “A Clockwork Orange.” Alex’s love for beautiful music is actually strengthened by his need for rape, violence, and theft.

      • emendation: read “desire to” rather than “need for.” Probably not the best choice of words, since obviously he didn’t need to do any of it.

      • Who really appreciates the Ninth more? Alex or some milquetoast man who wouldn’t hurt a fly?

        That’s my point, though. You’ve shifted the perspective from outside Alex’s mind to inside it, but it is the same. Indeed, his internal experience of the one good thing he adheres to is undoubtedly more vivid, more intense, more good-seeming than the experience of a better man would be. Because of the contrast.

      • Yes, but the point the film and book are trying to make is that there really is no contrast. The one strengthens the other in Alex’s world. Why do you think that Alex, during the scene by tidal pool, was cowed at first, but as soon as he heard Beethoven he “vidied just what to do?”

      • It’s been a while (like, decades) since I saw the film, so I don’t recall which scene you are talking about. I googled a little and didn’t manage to find anything.

        I would have said that Kubrick’s main point was that personalities are integrated wholes which you can’t monkey with, Chinese-menu-style. I don’t think he makes that point very effectively—taking away Alex’s love of Beethoven was a per accidens effect of the treatment, not a per se effect. If the soundtrack had been Wagner, then Alex’s love of Beethoven would presumably have been intact.

        To wander back to another of your points, although I agree that Kubrick probably thought of Alex’s love of violence as a bad thing, we don’t need to. There is nothing wrong with loving (in the sense of having powerful affection for) violence. It means you are called to be a soldier or a cop or an executioner or a butcher.

        So, this is another way to approach what Kubrick’s (Burgess’s if you prefer) commentary was about. To Hollywood and to moderns, resisting and ruling your impulses is alien at best and harmful/evil at worst. (approximately every Hollywood movie is Footloose) So, when they are confronted with someone who is a pedophile or a fan of ultraviolence, they have a dilemma on their hands. How can they tell those guys “to thine own self be true?” So, they can kill such people or try to engineer such people’s psyches. This is not a happy choice for them. Kubrick wants to say that engineering their psyches is the same as killing them. Or perhaps even worse. It is a zombification.

        I don’t think the movie is really about the source of Alex’s love of Beethoven. It is certainly all tangled up with his behavior, and Kubrick’s point is that important aspects of our personalities have to be all tangled together. The movie is about the claim that you can’t just fix the disagreeable bits of someone’s personality without dynamiting the whole thing.

        Also I still don’t see how this opposes my use of the film, though I could easily be wrong.

      • We seem to be saying pretty much the same thing in different language.

        The nutshell of my argument is something like “whoever has the potential for great good also has the potential for great evil, and the implication of this is that good and evil are often irreparably linked within the same man.”

        The movie may be a bit of a tangent, but if you’re still interested in the scene I was talking about, here you go:

      • Elegantly stated. Hell will be worst of all for Lucifer, who as a seraph knows better than any other sort of creature the beauties that might otherwise have been possible to him; in losing everything he might have been, a seraph loses more than any other sort of being might possibly lose.

      • Exactly! Perhaps we’re far away from the argument from imperfection, but this may give us a little insight into the problem of Evil nonetheless.

    • Jim, dualism is the only possible description of some situations – for example, of the psychopath and his victims. Like many contributors to The Orthosphere, I would describe myself as a Christian Platonist, but Plato’s definition of evil as only the privation of the good has never satisfied me, any more than Aristotle’s derivative maxim satisfies you. The moral dispensation of Christianity forces choices on people. Moral choices tend to be “digital.” They require “yes” or “no” – or “on” or “off.” Equivocation can, itself, become evil when the situation presents a sufficiently drastic choice – as in the example of the psychopath and his victims.

      I reject the Manichaean premise, however, that Good and Evil (God and Satan) are equal players in a zero-sum game.

      Sincerely, Tom

      • Yeah, I never thought of them as being in any way equal as far as sovereignty goes, but Evil does often seem to me to be “something else” not only a deprivation. It may not be that way in the intellectual heights, but in the sub-Lunary world it certainly seems that way to me.

      • The concept of the Greek Fathers, “corruption” (διαφθορά) may be helpful, here. Sin itself is non-existent, a vacuum; the effects of this existential decadence manifest in the created order as corruption. The etymology of the word is δία, “through” and φθορά, “destruction/ruin.” Corruption is that which has come through the ruin, the void, the destruction, of sin. For them, it touched upon such things as concupiscence and mortality, especially the darkening of the soul and the decay of the material body. This preserves the truth that sin is a nothingness, but obviously the Nothingness impacts the created and material orders in real, tangible ways.

  6. The idea of Tolma, audacity, as the beginning of evil played a large role in Plotinus’ and Augustine’s philosophy of our fall. Whether or not it’s ultimately intelligible, it’s worth thinking about.

    From the Enneads:

    What is it, then, which has made the souls forget their father, god, and be ignorant of themselves and him, even though they are parts which come from his higher world and altogether belong to it? The beginning of evil for them was audacity and coming to birth and the first otherness and the wishing to belong to themselves. Since they were clearly delighted with their own independence, and made great use of self-movement, running the opposite course and getting as far away as possible, they were ignorant even that they themselves came from that world; just as children who are immediately torn from their parents and brought up far away do not know who they themselves or their parents are. Since they do not any more see their father or themselves, they despise themselves through ignorance of their birth and honor other things, admiring everything rather than themselves, and, astonished and delighted by and dependent on these [earthly] things, they have broken themselves loose as far as they could in contempt of that from which they turned away; so that their honor for these things here, and their contempt for themselves is the cause of their utter ignorance of god. For what pursues and admires something else admits at the same time its own inferiority; but by making itself inferior to things which come into being and perish and considering itself the most contemptible and the most liable to death of all the things which it admires it could not possibly have any idea of the nature and power of god. One must therefore speak in two ways to men who are in this state of mind, if one is going to turn them round to what lies in the opposite direction and is primary, and to lead them up to that which is highest, one, and first. What, then, are these two ways? One shows how contemptible are the things now honored by the soul, and this we shall develop more amply elsewhere, but the other teaches and reminds the soul how high its birth and value are, and this is prior to the other one and when it is clarified will also make the other obvious. (V.1.1)

    • Fascinating! One of Plotinus’s proto-Christian good works was that he established and administered an orphanage, with an endowment put together by himself and his students.

      P.S.: Plotinus should be sanctified, or at least beatified, by the Church.

      • I’ve always considered Plotinus and many of the later Platonists (yes, even Porphyry!) as honorary Christians like Virgil, men who sought the Good but never found the whole truth.

    • For Plotinus matter (evil) is absolute nonexistence and, ex hypothesi, unintelligible, having no relation to the second hypostasis, Nous. Or, to reference Aristotle, to be is to be knowable. Evil can have no origin because it is not, and it cannot be known for the same reason.

  7. Jim:

    Regarding the remark just previous to this one – agreed!

    You write elsewhere in the thread: “Who really appreciates the Ninth more? Alex or some milquetoast man who wouldn’t hurt a fly?”

    “Milquetoast” is a prejudicial term – do you not think so? How would you respond to this question: Who appreciates the Ninth Symphony more, supposing that both appreciate the Ninth Symphony, Bobby Fisher, the chess champion, or Baldur von Schirach, the Gauleiter of Ostmark?

    Joseph Stalin undoubtedly appreciated the symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovitch more than any of my freshman composition students do. Stalin was not a “Milquetoast.” None of my students is a Stalin.

    I suspect a category error. What do you think?



    • Probably more of an accidental subject change on my part than a category error. I’m afraid I don’t know much about Schirach, but Bobby Fisher and Stalin may make my point.

      Take Stalin. None of your students may be a Stalin, but none of them will be a St. Paul or Charlemagne either. They (I’m guessing. don’t know any of them) have a much lower threshold for both good and evil.

      If Stalin had followed a slightly different path, we may be talking about Stalin the incredibly pious Orthodox monk today. If Constantine hadn’t had his vision, perhaps he would have been the greatest opponent Christianity had ever known.

      Potential for great good and great evil both seem to come from the same source; I’m not sure what to call it.

      As for Alex, “appreciate” is probably the wrong word. Many people like and appreciate Beethoven. Alex, on the other hand (and I’m guessing the book and the movie is saying people like him do to), “gets” Beethoven on a whole other level not privy to others.

      • “If Stalin had followed a slightly different path, we may be talking about Stalin the incredibly pious Orthodox monk today. If Constantine hadn’t had his vision, perhaps he would have been the greatest opponent Christianity had ever known.”

        That’s fair enough. I put the question because I suspect that there is a hierarchy of hierarchies. Stalin or a Hitler might occupy a high rung on the ladder of aesthetic sensibility; my students, a low rung. On the other hand, whatever their intellectual limitations, and granting that none of them is a saint, my students, or most of them, are least nominally moral people, and on the ladder of moral development they certainly occupy a higher rung than Stalin or Hitler. Aren’t they therefore closer to the perfection of their human nature than Stalin or Hitler were, despite the fact they they were aesthetically refined? Or how do we correlate these phenomena?

        PS. I teach an eight o’clock class and have to climb out of bed at five o’clock in order to be sufficiently awake three hours later not to make an ass of myself. My fourth and last class ends just before three o’clock. When on the previous night I have not slept enough, my mental acuity at this time of day is low. This is such a day. I hope my sentences are coherent.

  8. It’s weird because the word “evil” does not even appear in this post that has been diverted off the discussion of Perfection and segued it into talk about Evil by the SJW within. Even weirder is that the basic claim made by Kristor was a claim equal to the one I made a day or two before which was that Perfection is the white Christian’s “operating paradigm.” Then when I felt compelled to thank Kristor, I was greeted in my very next post a moderating restriction to be followed up by Kristor making a demand to “relax” and “show some respect!” In the world of the radical autonomist, thanking one is no clearly meaningful sign of respect, no sir.

    Most “normal” people, not given to radical liberation, can “see” that Perfection is equal to objective Supremacy, whereas imperfection can be “seen” as objective degeneracy. So the “aim” of the Equalist is the equating of Perfection to objective degeneracy, ie., perpetuating evil, and for good measure the equating of imperfection to that which is “objectively superior.” It is from this combination of pathological belief that the “self-annihilation for salvation” “Christian” concretely manifests.

    • In short, those who attempt to project Perfection into this world are perpetuating Evil. This is the fundamental belief of the anti-Christian.

    • Thordaddy: the comment moderation is for everyone, not just for you. You don’t need to feel special in that regard. We may or may not continue it, but for the time being it is in place.

      I appreciate your thanks for the post, but you should understand that the post was about metaphysics. It was not about the predicament of white Christians in the West circa 2015, except insofar as metaphysics pertains to everything whatever. It was not about the Christian’s pursuit of perfection. It was about the perfection of *God.*

      I urged you to relax only when you reacted strongly to finding that comments – as you then thought, only yours – were suddenly moderated. I meant only, “don’t worry, Thordaddy, this is not directed at you.” I asked you to show some respect because you had just failed to do so.

      There are some good insights lurking beneath your murky prose, I am convinced of it. To make them apparent to readers, so that they can consider your thoughts, you need to focus with tremendous intensity on writing normally, using terms and syntax the way everyone else does. Please, please, enough already with the scare quotes. If you find yourself tempted to use them, hit the rewrite button so you don’t have to. This will take more work on your part, but the alternative is to find that your comments don’t make it through moderation.

      • Kristor…

        I don’t feel “special.” I feel contemptuous of a demonizing attack equivalent to bearing false witness. I’m coming to “see” the Orthosphere as a place where white males with IQs ranging from 110-130 become psychologically paralyzed in the face of the modernist onslaught.

        “We” live in a radically autonomous society so that the square quotes around “we” is meant to indicate a liberated language where certain truth can no longer be confidently written and so “we” don’t actually know who “we” is… All “we” know is that “we” are immersed in radical autonomy, ie., “we” are all liberal… Ergo, “we” are all equal… “We” are redundant and “we” become unknowable within and without.

        The only pertinent question for one seeking to escape this psychological chaos is “where are the best and most confident Christians able to lead us to Perfection and out of this total disorder?”

        Are you telling me that this is not such a place? If you are the monarch then you aim to be the perfect monarch or you aim for nothing. These are
        YOUR metaphysics that I totally agree with and now you indicate an unwillingness to project them outwith? Just like the alt-rite, Orthosphereans want a “King,” but not a Perfect King, so they want no king at all.

      • By “you don’t need to feel special” I meant only “you don’t need to feel singled out for special treatment.”

        You are not being attacked, let alone demonized. Your rhetoric is being criticized, that’s all. And the criticisms are not lies. We are not lying in saying that your prose is impenetrable, confusing, and so forth. We do all truly have these reactions to it. That these reactions are pervasive among us indicates, not that we are all milquetoast SJW’s co-opted into the degenerate agenda, but that there is in fact a real problem with your prose style. It is preventing people from understanding you. It is irritating them so much that they begin to experience an aversion to coming to the Orthosphere where they might encounter it.

        The proper, courageous response of a writer to criticism of his work is to take the criticism on board and try to learn from it, so as to improve his work – not to whine about being personally attacked. Likewise for a thinker, the appropriate response to critics of his thought is to respond thoughtfully to their critique, amending and correcting his thought, or his presentation of it, or both, as need be. Criticism is a gift from the reader to the writer.

        Even if I were the monarch of this blog – I’m not – that would not mean that I wanted to be, or that I ought to want to be, the Perfect Christian King who would lead us all to the Promised Land. We already have one of those, and it is a Big Mistake for any other man to try to take his place.

        Your use of scare quotes is still indiscriminate, and confusing. E.g., do you see the Orthosphere as such and such, or do you “see” it? When you say, “I ‘see’ the Orthosphere as such and such,” the reader interprets that to mean that you *don’t* really see the Orthosphere as such and such. But then the rest of your text indicates that you *do* see it that way.

        Just make a rule for yourself never to use quotation marks again, ever, except when you are quoting someone or defining a term.

    • Even better would be if you would make some effort to understand what others are saying and to contrast this in an intelligible way with whatever it is you are trying to say.

      For example, others immediately jump from the contrast between perfection and imperfection to the contrast between good and evil. That’s because a lot of us think those two distinctions are extremely similar or the same. It’s all natural-law-y.

      Just what is the difference between the Good/Evil distinction that we SJWs adhere to and the Perfection/Degeneracy distinction that you normal people adhere to? If you can answer without using either the words “white” or “Supremacy” that would be great.

      Also, why do you use the abnormally-capitalized word “Supremacy” to mean perfection or good or whatever unusual private thing you mean by it? Why don’t you just say perfection?

      The extent of your failure in rhetoric is immense. After a bazillion comments, nobody knows what you are talking about. This does not represent a failure in everybody else. There are lots of smart guys here with significantly varying personalities, experiences, communication styles, and knowledge bases. And nobody knows what you are talking about. Well, I guess I don’t know that. If anyone knows what thordaddy is talking about, please explain it to me.

      • Is this it?

        Jesus is perfect.

        Perfect is the same as Supreme.

        A person who believes in perfection, is a Supremacist.

        White people exist.

        A white person who believes in Jesus, believes in perfection, and is thus a “White Supremacist”.

        But “White Supremacist” is usually a pejorative.

        White supremacist became a pejorative because anti-Christian forces ret-conned the phrase to promote “anti-Supremacy” which is the same as anti-Christianity.

        They do this because they embrace equality, which means there can be no perfection as this perfection would be superior.

        In denying objective perfection, they embrace “degeneracy” which is imperfection.

        In using white supremacist as a pejorative we are denying Christ and perfection and specifically embracing a kind of privation of good, aka evil.

        So it is imperative that we all go around calling ourselves White Supremacists.

        Is this it?

      • He’s fixated on the truth that much of our society is expressly anti-white, and he is white. While it is upsetting to see a society create anti-white laws, I think he’s become disproportionately fixated on it. (Yeah, it sucks, but it could be worse.) He throws in Christianity, somehow linking a sinless Christ with the pursuit of holiness by white people. I have not figured out how he gets from Christ’s sinlessness in general to white holiness in particular. My hunch is he uses an argument from Forms to say that since white people exist as a Form, and since Christians seek perfection (both their own individual perfection and the Form of perfection personified: i.e. Jesus Christ) then: White Perfection exists and ought to be sought by all whites, without quibbling or reservation or PC concern for appearances. Anything less than agreement with his “White Supremacist” pursuit of collective and individual white holiness is capitulation or alliance to the SJW/Cathedral/Liberal/Gnostic/Self-Annihilation cult, which he is willing to fight with violent force.

        All things that many non-PC thinkers can agree to discuss, but something that should not be front and center in every single discussion about any topic whatsoever. It’s like an existential angst that has driven him over the edge.

      • Dr. Bill…

        The difference between supremacy and Supremacy is the difference between relative and absolute. The real world problem are the liberals who use supremacy and do not believe in Supremacy. YOU GRANT THEM THIS discrepancy without mention. Not only do you grant them the use of supremacy when they do not believe in Supremacy, but you also grant their relatvistic perversion of supremacy as the equIvalent to degeneracy. Lastly, because this perversion has carried far and wide into the ignorant masses, the meta-perception is Supremacy equals degeneracy culminating in a modern belief that white Supremacy equals white degeneracy. This is what YOU believe, Dr. Bill? Or, you don’t? Or, you remain in a state of radical autonomy and pretend that you still cannot comprehend what I’m saying. All grown American white males over 20 KNOW that they are not to be white Supremacists in any way, shape or form, relativistic or absolutely. This should mean something to Orthosphereans.

      • Thanks, guys.

        I dunno, Josh. You have him using the term “evil” which I thought was the mark of the SJW.

        I agree that what you are saying sounds like what he says, Earl. I guess that a God who is all good is/contains the perfection of white people. But doesn’t He also contain the perfection of chimpanzees and oranges?

      • The dictionary defines supremacy as the state of being supreme. The dictionary defines supreme as highest in rank. Obviously, this is a relative concept. Relative both to the set of objects being considered and the method of ranking them.

        Among the possibilities you suggest, it’s this one I’m afraid (modulo that I don’t know what you mean by radical autonomy either and that I’m not pretending):

        Or, you remain in a state of radical autonomy and pretend that you still cannot comprehend what I’m saying.

  9. Yes–chimps and oranges. Thor doesn’t seem to have a problem with non-white supremacists, or non-whites as non-whites, as long as his White Supremacy is granted him.

    Thor, this should mean something to Orthosphereans, and it does, and they talk about it here quite often, and those on the Blogroll do as well, and the hosts/long timers understand you for the most part, which is why I presume you’re still permitted to comment here. I guess it is just not enough for you?

    We’re not sufficiently radically liberating ourselves from radical liberation, I guess?

  10. Having spent too much time getting myself banned from Buddhist discussion groups lately, It’s nice to be back among the rational. And to that end, Kristor’s piece got me thinking about Ennead 1.2, On Virtue. In this Ennead, Plotinus seeks for the origin of virtue and distinguishes the Forms of the virtues in the Intellect, which are not virtues, and the virtues a good man practices in imitation of the Forms. As usual, man is left in his amphibious state that I picture as an angel handcuffed to a chimpanzee:

    Our concern, though, is not to be out of sin, but to be god. If, then, there is still any element of involuntary impulse of this sort, a man in this state will be a god or spirit who is double, or rather who has with him someone else who possesses a different kind of virtue: if there is nothing, he will be simply god, and one of those gods who follow the First. For he himself is the god who came Thence, and his own real nature, if he becomes what he was when he came, is There. When he came here he took up his dwelling with someone else, whom he will make like himself to the best of the powers of his real nature, so that if possible this someone else will be free from disturbance or will do nothing of which his master does not approve. What, then, is each particular virtue when a man is in this state? Wisdom, theoretical and practical, consists in the contemplation of that which intellect contains; but intellect has it by immediate contact. There are two kinds of wisdom, one in intellect, one in soul. That which is There [in intellect] is not virtue, that in the soul is virtue. What is it, then, There? The act of the self, what it really is; virtue is what comes Thence and exists here in another. For neither absolute justice nor any other moral absolute is virtue, but a kind of exemplar; virtue is what is derived from it in the soul. Virtue is someone’s virtue; but the exemplar of each particular virtue in the intellect belongs to itself, not to someone else.

    • Could this be Plotinus distinguishing the nature of Man’s free will? And could it be that this stems from being defective, as you said an “amphibious” being? After all, Aquinas pointed out that among the angels that intellectual assent, once made, is made forever, since that is the nature of spirits. It would make sense to Plotinus that matter is what allows us to choose sin, since it is the very substance of sin itself.

      Though naturally his feelings about matter are wrong, as said above, Plotinus intimated a lot of Christian philosophy centuries before it was put to paper. His idea of civic virtues of men and the divine virtues of God (to him The One), for example, prefigure the natural virtues of the pagans as disctinct from the heavenly virtues.

      It’s been a while since I’ve read him, but I wrote a paper on his aesthetics a few years back.

      • The short answer is my refusal to accept what Dr. Bertonneau calls “the great blanc mange of dogmatic relativism.” In Buddhism there are clear rules of epistemology that determine what sources are authoritative when we discuss Buddhist ethics. Buddhism forbids certain pracices that are valorized in secular society: homosexual sex, abortion, the equality of monks and nuns, etc. I hold to the traditional teachings; ergo, I quickly become persona non grata. Five years ago I lost my teaching position for much the same reason. And I’m not the only one. In town we have a small group of us who have been black-balled for the same reason: an Orthodox Buddhist, a Traditionalist Catholic and a Marine who believes in free inquiry. The modern gnostics, be they Christian or Buddhist, dislike the simple fact that authentic religion requires hard work, including hard intellectual work. Our minds, as well as our wiils, desperately need to be rectified so that they accord with objective spiritual reality.

      • In other words, you were banned from Buddhist discussion groups for actually being a Buddhist. Sad times all around, I suppose.

    • Oh and one more thing on Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy. It’s kind of a holy grail among classicists to find some connection between ancient Greek philosophy and philosophy originating on the sub-continent. The further back you go the more similar they are; just read the pre-Socratics. Other than some stories about Hercules or Dionysus travelling to India 10,000 years ago (or however long) there really isn’t much. Any insights? I suspect a common origin long before the oldest records, but this is pure conjecture (I hesitate to use Indo-European as a universal explainer, but there it is.)

      • When I was in graduate school, my thesis adviser, Ninian Smart, was obsessed by intellectual cross-pollination between India and the Mediterranean basin, so I got to do a lot of research in that area. Historically, we can say that Greeks and Indians started serious religious and philosophical interactions about the time of Alexander. Alexander plays a crucial role. He founded cities in the North where Greek sculpture greatly influenced Buddhist art for the rest of time, but also allowed a space where Greek and Indian thinkers could learn from each other. I also hold that the meeting between Alexander and the Indian princeling Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Dynasty, which eventually led to the unification of India under the Chandragupta’s grandson Emperor Ashoka (the greatest of Buddhist monarchs), led to even greater philosophical contact. Remember, after converting to Buddhism, Ashoka sent his ambassadors of peace (merchants and Buddhist missionaries) to all neighboring kingdoms, including the Seleucid. Before Alexander the historical record is very thin, to say the least. Shankara and his strict non-dualism doesn’t exist before the eighth century AD, so it’s more likely that Plotinus and Porphyry would have been influenced by Mahayana Buddhism, if they were influenced at all by Indian thought, than anything coming from the schools of Hindu philosophy.

      • Interesting. I actually didn’t know that about the Egyptians. I honestly suspect that ancient civilization might be a lot more interconnected and a lot older than the current narrative suggests.

        The oldest records reveal a Mankind both already very sophisticated and in many way already very old.

        The problem is that it is much easier to deconstruct than to construct when it comes to history (and most other things) so dates are often easier to move forward than to move backward. Also, as no one knows better than I, people with doctorates really hate to admit when they simply don’t know something. You only have to look at the Homeric Question to see this going on in our lifetimes. Our picture of the past is far hazier than most are willing to admit.

      • I learned about the Pharoahnic use of tobacco from World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492 (Sorenson & Johannessen). The book is basically 350 pages or so of mind-blowing factoids. They’ve discovered all sorts of interesting things. Blue water sailing is an *ancient* art.

        The trade and travel between regions was also quite as routine as it is today. From The Cosmopolitan World of Jesus (Thiede), I learned that the librarians at Qumran could have ordered a copy of, say, the LXX or the Nicomachean Ethics from scribal enterprises in Rome, and received their scrolls only a few weeks after sending the order off.

      • If we consider philosophy to be a reflection on the grammar of our language (Being – Nouns / Becoming – Verbs), then it would make sense that Greek and Indian philosophy would have similarities because they flow from similar languages with a common linguistic ancestor. This is not to deny cross-pollination from the time of Alexander forward.

        We see Chinese political philosophers, but where are the Chinese metaphysicians, scholastics?

      • KD,

        You’ve hit on a very important point. Classical Greek and Sanskrit (and some other Indo-European languages) are excellent languages in which to do metaphysics, Chinese is not. The most rarified indigenous school of Chinese metaphysics, the Hua Yen School, is presented, like all traditional Chinese metaphysics, by visual and imaginal similies, not abstract structures. If you feel like it, heres a link to the most famous introduction to Hua Yen:

      • Additionally, the Kushite Capitol Meroe and later Aksum were middlemen between India and the Mediterranean for a millennium.

      • Before Alexander the historical record is very thin, to say the least.

        Years ago I stumbled on a blog from some guy who claimed that the Greeks invented Buddhism (invented in the sense of coalescing a bunch of folk tales into a coherent religion). What you are saying here was among the key supports of his claim—that there are no artifacts or texts which are both clearly Buddhist and clearly date from before Alexander. I lost track of the blog though.

      • Why do you think Chinese is bad for metaphysics? I’m afraid I know close to nothing about Chinese thought other than a few folk tales and some glances at the major philosophers.

        Also, Greek and Latin aren’t as abstract as you may first think; we just have very late versions of them, so the work of abstracting had already been done by the Classical period.

        There’s a book called “The Origins of European Thought” by a man named Onians. It’s controversial (and later shown to be riddled with mistakes), but he argues that ancient Man was originally exclusively physical in his thinking and most Greek philosophical terms have their origins in the physical features and processes of the body.

        What we think of as abstract terms may simply be very old and very sophisticated metaphors (I’ve often wondered if “to understand” in English started in this way: by a man literally “standing under” something, and in Latin “to think” is the same word as “to prune”). You can even see Plato struggling with this centuries after Homer. Just look at his treatment of eros in “The Phaedrus” or “The Symposium;” originally the word simply meant sexual love or lust, but Plato identifies it as the force that holds the cosmos together.

        And, of course, if there were ever a language that abhors abstraction and loves the concrete, it’s Hebrew.

      • Yeah. I wish I still had the link. He claimed anacronism/appropriation against all such claims. That generic folk art/religion had been incorporated into a later-constructed tradition. I don’t see anything in that article which he would have found troubling.

        Here, I think, is an article he wrote for another web site. He claims it is an academic theory of Justin Halter. There is a link to the guy’s web site, but the arguments are much less extensive than I remember them. So, maybe this isn’t the guy.

      • The newest archaeological findings in Lumbini are about a year old, and the carbon dating of the ancient wooden foundations put them at about 2600 years old. The Vedic Aryans didn’t build permanent religious structures, so it’s not Hindu. It’s like St. Helen building the Church of the Nativity, except the stone Buddhist structure at the site of the Buddha’s birth built by Ashoka was laid out, exactly, on a wooden structure three or four hundred years old.

  11. Hello Kristor!

    Good stuff. Seriously, often I think the dividing line between being a mature atheist and mature theist is not that wide. A mature atheist will agree this is how the human mind works. The trick question is whether reality outside the mind also works like this. But it is no question it is a healthy way for a human mind to think. The only difference is whether reality is adapted to healthy minds or vice versa… if you have the time, please read and reflect on this:

    Also, this is not the first time I go on the Internet – I used different nicks before. I made this one for the purpose of this new blog. If you have an idea who I may be, based on the tone or content, please keep it to yourself and don’t guess about it in the open – this blog touches really un-PC topics so I want to stay very anonymous about it.

    (BTW “dividual” means human beings have multiple conflicting wills, not one unified one. This seriously fscks with most kinds of liberalism esp. existentialist ones.)

    • Thanks, Dividadmin. I’m glad you’ve decided to start commenting. Your identity is safe with me, because I have no idea what it is!

      The gist of the essay you link is that theism is an instance of the tendency of the human brain to detect agency where it does not exist. But notice that this hypothesis presupposes that the agent in question – God – does not exist. In other words, it can be true only if God does not exist, *and* if theists ground their theism (qua doctrine in philosophy, mind, rather than qua religion in practice) on an impression of divine agency at work in the world they experience.

      But whether or not God exists is the very question at issue; it can’t be settled then by recourse to a hypothesis that presupposes an answer in the negative. Nor as a matter of historical fact is the *philosophical* doctrine that God exists warranted by experience: God is not a finding of natural history. It is warranted rather by metaphysical argument than by empirical discoveries. The truth of theism is established not by an impression of agency at work in the world, but by considerations of what *must* be true if the world is to hang together coherently and intelligibly in the first place.

      None of this is to deny that men do see agency at work in things. They do. But, as you say in your comment, the real question is whether such sights are true or not. And this question simply cannot be settled by recourse only to such sights. It must rather be settled by an analysis of sight as such, of being as such – by, i.e., metaphysics.

  12. Jim and Arrogant Prig: There were Greek kingdoms in Central Asia and the northern part of the Subcontinent from the time of Alexander’s campaigns until about the time of Julius Caesar. The region of Afghanistan-Pakistan (known sometimes as Bactria and sometimes as Khorasan) was polyglot, but Hellenophile in its cultural leanings, for centuries. Mahayana seems to have been largely a Greek development based on Subcontinental influences. The long-lived Greco-Buddhist civilization of Central Asia was another victim of Muslim expansionism. I believe that I once had a discussion here with AP in which we both addressed the Greco-Buddhist book called The Questions of King Milinda. When Emperor Ashoka promulgated laws and decrees in his northern territories, they were always incised in Hindu and Greek.

    • Exactly. And we shouldn’t forget the Roman trade settlements on the west coast of India. I still like the story of the last Hindu king of Kabul. When faced with final defeat by the Islamic armies, he agreed to convert to Islam with two caveats: he wouldn’t eat beef or participate in sodomy.

    • And don’t forget that our friend Plotinus joined the army on the off chance that he may travel to India!

      But actually I was wondering about stuff before Alexander. Indian philosophy actually most resembles very early Greek philosophy (at least it’s always seemed that way to me), when the two civilizations hadn’t really had any contact yet. I suspect some common source, but of course this is way beyond the bounds of what anyone can prove or really even speculate about in a learned setting. But it is very odd that Greek gods and heroes often traveled to the east to discover ancient secrets (albeit in later writings that may have very ancient original sources). Sorry if I’ve entered “Black Athena” territory, but it’s fun to speculate.

      • Not to mention the libraries of the Schools at Nisibis, Antioch, and Constantinople.

        The Arabs have a lot to answer for. Before the Muslim invasion of Egypt, the Egyptians still read hieroglyphs, and could read their history all the way back. A century later, that knowledge was lost.

      • Chinese monks who studied at Nalana in the seventh century “describe three nine-story buildings comprising the library that housed millions of titles in hundreds of thousands of volumes on a vast variety of topics.” It is said it took the Muslim conquerers three months to burn the library’s holdings.

  13. Burnt Libraries and Annihilated Kingdoms: There is a project of knowledge and comportment, which knows, of course, that it cannot fulfill itself in this world, but wishes to make as much of an advance as possible; and there is the resentful enemy of that project. We have come back to Kristor’s topic of perfection, via a few detours, but meaningful ones. And yes – the incineration of all those books is physically sickening.

    • That it is “physically sickening” strikes me as a bit of hyperbole, but let me leave that point behind. Kristor says the Arabs “have a lot to answer for.” It seems, as well, that their victims have something to answer for. Why weren’t they capable of defending themselves and/or their libraries? If you think the destruction of libraries is a “physically sickening” phenomenon then surely martial preparedness and self-defense ought to be imperative to you, as there’ll be no protection of libraries without a robust capacity to kill or otherwise harm those who would seek to destroy them–and nonwhite barbarians such as the Arabs specialize in the destruction of the rudiments of civilization. Of course, in contemporary America we don’t have to go overseas to encounter the barbarian, he’s probably living next door.

      And so we come back ineluctably to thordaddy’s insistent point about the necessity to prepare ourselves for violence. In the final analysis, thordaddy’s criticism had mostly to do with the inadequacy of the “bow-tie conservatism” that is principally on offer here–the sort of prissy conservatism that wrings its hands over the destruction of ancient libraries, but balks at any thought of cultivating a serious resolve to harm our barbarian enemies.

      • That it is “physically sickening” strikes me as a bit of hyperbole, but let me leave that point behind.

        If it’s not worth talking about, why are you mentioning it in the first place, other than to be nasty? “[That] strikes me as a bit of hyperbole” strikes me as arrant nonsense: what information do you have on my physiological status that I do not? Speculate on my viscera all you want, but all you’ll produce in doing so will be reflections of your own. Are they noble, or mean and vile?

        … there’ll be no protection of libraries without a robust capacity to kill or otherwise harm those who would seek to destroy them …

        The West lacks no capacity to destroy our enemies. If we wanted to do so, we could obliterate them in a few months. The problem is that the men of the West *do not want to defend their patrimony.* They do not love it; they do not even know of it, or therefore understand it. The defect is not martial, but moral, or, more fundamentally, philosophical – and ultimately, spiritual. The Orthosphere is dedicated, not to martial subjects, but to the moral, philosophical and spiritual regeneration of Christendom. If we get that right, war making will take care of itself. If we don’t, we’re doomed.

        … thordaddy’s criticism had mostly to do with the inadequacy of the “bow-tie conservatism” that is principally on offer here–the sort of prissy conservatism that wrings its hands over the destruction of ancient libraries, but balks at any thought of cultivating a serious resolve to harm our barbarian enemies.

        No site can cover everything worth discussing. This is not a site devoted to discussion of warcraft. There are many others that are. If you aren’t getting the sort of blood and guts you want from the Orthosphere, go elsewhere for them. There are street-fighting sites, too, where tough guys like you can pick up tips for their nightly rumbles with the orcs down in the ghetto.

        Our adversaries here are the doctrines that have undermined Christendom, sapping from within the civilization that by 1918 had conquered the planet. So naturally the tone and matter of our discourse focuses on theory rather than praxis. Had you noticed, for example, that the post at the head of this thread is about *metaphysics*? If you find yourself disappointed that such a discussion does not focus on war and preparations for war, then you are simply barking up the wrong tree, and should go elsewhere for your dopamine fixes.

      • Civilization in the West has been in a steady decline since the 14th century, which leaves us in the uncomfortable position of having at best a crepuscular quasi-civilization to defend. As Plato showed us clearly in the Republic, the righteous man and the just civilization are mirror images of each other; we have to cultivate both.

      • Kristor, in your haste to refute me, you seem in some respects to have overlooked my point(s). You describe yourself as “physically sickened” by the destruction of, for example, the ancient library at Alexandria. At the time, Alexandria was presumably a veritable model of the sort of Christianity which you are so keen to recuperate, yet those worthy Christians of the old school weren’t capable of protecting either the library or North African Christendom against their barbarian enemies. A good question to ask might be, why didn’t the antique Christianity which you extol eventuate in a victory over the Arabic savages? Beginning with Machiavelli, more than one modern thinker has suggested that Christianity effeminizes the martial spirit. Regardless of whether or not the Florentine et al. were right about that, the fall of ancient Alexandria is grist for their mill and not yours.

        I say this as a Christian myself, one who believes that Christianity and Western man are inseparable. But the fact remains that medieval Islam scored far more victories over Christianity than vice versa and it was only with the coming of modernity (i.e. post-Machiavelli) that the West finally reversed the age-old trend. How do you explain that, Kristor?

        You write: “The West lacks no capacity to destroy our enemies. If we wanted to do so, we could obliterate them in a few months.”

        As I made clear, the “enemy” to which I was referring was not the enemy overseas, but rather the enemy next door. Is that what you yourself mean when you say “If we wanted to do so, we could obliterate them in a few months[?]”

        I am by no means “the resentful enemy of [your] project”–and neither was thordaddy, whom you treated disgracefully. You and I have a disagreement about the best way to realize the aims of said project. I contend that we must use whatever means necessary–and the only means possible–to defend our esteemed patrimony against the savage next door. I’d like to think we could both agree that being “physically sickened” is a very poor substitute for physically obliterating our wicked and perverse enemies. But if the Orthosphere persists in articulating a conservatism a la Charlton that is fit only for a bunch of grandmothers at a knitting club, I’m afraid the poor substitute is all you’re gonna get.

      • I have a question for my Orthosphere colleagues:

        Mr. McKenzie behaves like our enemy. He speaks as one who hates us and has contempt for us. To be sure, some of his comments do contain some validity. But he is overall an enemy. At least that’s how he writes to us here.

        Mr. McKenzie, if you wish to deny that you have contempt for us, go ahead. But until you show compelling evidence to the contrary, I will assume that you do.

        That being so, should we continue to tolerate his insolence?

      • Forgive him (as soon as he admits he’s in error that is).

        But barring that, he seems to be mostly harmless. It’s just that he seems to see Christianity as either a tool for or an impediment to White Supremacy. As far as I can tell, Wade thinks Whiteness trumps all things, even the Church, and openly advocating a White Supremacist State will instantly solve all the problems of modernity. He loves Christianity only insofar as it is white.

        He also, in his last post, seems to be advocating a kind of “might makes right” approach to truth. I can’t really figure out whether or not he really believes that the Byzantines or North African Christians were lukewarm pacifists at the time of the Arab invasions or what. Moreover, he seems to think that some of the people here are “Sean Hannity” type conservatives because they’re not immediately committing or at least planning to commit some sort of violent act against a brown person.

        I also don’t understand why this subject is the only one any of us are allowed to talk about, since this site is more geared toward history and philosophy than anything immediately practical; I don’t even think I’ve seen a single article about current events. This is fine, since the fight against the “synthesis of all heresies” is at least two centuries old (though I’d say the problem began with the Reformation, but I’ll save it until Alan writes another article), and we’re not going to win anytime soon.

        My biggest thing is that I’m really not sure exactly what he wants us to do. Admit he’s right and start an anti-muslim gun club for aryans only, with him (or TD) as supreme (I’ve come to loathe this word) leader?

        And all this would be fine if he wouldn’t get so defensive, actually engage in argument, stay on topic, and at least let the conversation flow organically, but neither he nor Thordaddy have done this.

        Wade: why don’t you and TD collaborate on an article about how Christianity=White Supremacy, and, if Kristor et al. allow, we’ll all read it and happily comment?

      • I’d like to think we could both agree that being “physically sickened” is a very poor substitute for physically obliterating our wicked and perverse enemies.

        If that’s the source of the disagreement, you could have one Orthospherean on board with your project very easily. Why don’t you (and/or thordaddy) begin by explaining how “obliterating our wicked and perverse enemies” is feasible? Nothing would make me happier than chanting “St Thomas More, ora pro nobis! Tomas de Torquemada, ora pro nobis!” while I obliterated some wicked and perverse enemies (though I guess I’d have to go on a diet first). When, say, Franco obliterated a lot of our wicked and perverse enemies, he did it from a position of strength. He had much of the Spanish military, the Carlist paramilitary, and the Falangists on his side. These were large, powerful organizations. The fight went on for quite a while and wasn’t exactly easy.

        We have absolutely nothing. No institution. Nothing. We don’t even have those guys running around in the woods in fatigues. Most of them are libertardian.

        Currently, I don’t think the possibility of obliterating our wicked and perverse enemies is even remotely visible on the horizon . . . from the cliffs of Dover . . . on a crystal clear day. You disagree, I guess?

      • No, Dr. Bill, I don’t disagree at all. But we will never have any institutions or other capabilities until we begin explicitly to talk about the need to cultivate a forthright resolve to obliterate our enemies. It can only begin with a forthright resolution, a resolution that few here appear to have or to desire–and a resolution that an Orthospherean like Bruce Charlton explicitly rejects. Somehow I suspect his is not a minority view. You appear to feel otherwise and I applaud that. As far as I’m concerned, someone like Franco is an excellent model.

        We don’t need to be wasting time–as some here have recently done–fretting about Joel Osteen. We have infinitely bigger fish to fry. And we sure as hell shouldn’t be wasting time defenestrating someone like thordaddy. He was our friend and ally.


        Seriously, if your military skills are on par with your thread-ruining skills, ISIS had better watch out (or some random black guy minding his own business. whatever).

        Maybe the imperfect nature of this thread can point us towards Kristor’s original argument, but I doubt it.

        Why can’t you just write your own article if you don’t want to talk about anything else but this?

      • . But we will never have any institutions or other capabilities until we begin explicitly to talk about the need to cultivate a forthright resolve to obliterate our enemies.

        We won’t win over our enemies by talking to them. In the imagined world in which we win, looking backward we will see bloodshed. It can’t be otherwise.

        I don’t see much use at this point in talking about the bloodshed, though. It’s not the night before the battle. Or the week. Or the year. Or the decade.

        It would be nice to suss out some rhetorical tools to use to get our message across, though. It would be nice to figure out what, exactly, is wrong with modernity and how, exactly, to communicate this to others. We have largely sucked at that.

        Criticizing Joel Osteen is useful. We are marking him off as not a Christian. Worse than not a Christian, he is a worshipper of Mammon. He is not us. He is the enemy. Lots of people can see what a scuzzy huckster he is. We want to be next to them saying what a scuzzy huckster he is. He is inauthentic. That insult resonates. We’d like to be remembered as people who said he was a scuzzy huckster even before whatever scuzzy hucksterism finally brings him down.

        Maybe not all Christians are morons or hucksters, hey? You can’t convince anyone you are not a moron or a huckster by saying “I am not a moron or a huckster.” It’s by purifying yourself of moronic hucksterism by burning the damn witch (rhetorically, unfortunately) that you convince them.

        It’s possible that none of this talking is the way for us to go forward. Maybe we will eventually win converts via martyrdom. Maybe we will eventually win converts by being the vigilantes, the only people willing to defend whites against Rotherham-style abuses. Or some other way. But talking about killing people doesn’t seem like a very useful topic of conversation. At least not very often or for a general audience.

      • It’s by purifying yourself of moronic hucksterism by burning the damn witch (rhetorically, unfortunately) that you convince them.

        Yes; starting with the witch within. What good will it do to triumph over this or that party of orcs *while still liberal in our thoughts and affections*?

        This is the other great mission of the Orthosphere, and of online reaction in general: to discover and purge the arcane residue of our native liberalism.

      • The Joel Osteens of the world are the devil’s fifth column. For years. the Taiwanese True Enlightenment Education Foundation has been running an active campaign to expose the dangers that the Dalai Lama and the other Tibetan Lamas pose to orthodox Buddhism. As unpleasant as the task seems, Christians need to do the same to expose the evil actors in their churches.

      • We have only to look at the historical context in which St. Thomas and other Dominicans preached and taught theology: he was composing the Summa under the shadow of the Albigensian Crusade.
        The literal perversion (to pick up a theme of the thread) of the Cathars rivals today’s relativism in its sheer idiocy. For example, in one district (albeit this story is apocryphal) if a man could reasonably prove he was married, the inquisitors and Regal forces would no longer bother with him, since the Cathars were Gnostics to the point of hating even good things of the world; a married man doesn’t really believe that all matter is evil.
        The Summa was originally the rock standing against the waves of Eastern mysticism.
        But that disease wasn’t so insidious as the one we’re dealing with today; we modern Dominicans don’t have armies or even really a church that supports us.
        To Wade and others like him: inserting your ideas about “racial” Christianity into every conversation, insulting the editors of the website you’re writing on, and calling everyone cowards all the while refusing to answer any objections politely or even intelligibly really isn’t the best way to tackle our problems. And saying things like “we must obliterate our enemies” makes you sound like a crazy person.
        I’d say that everyone ought to at least learn how to defend themselves, be physically active, and seek out like-minded people. And be realistic! You’re not going to overthrow your respective native countries and install the fourth Reich, and not everyone hates or even dislikes non-whites.
        A good project would be joining the Minute Men (actually mostly a bunch of idealistic ex-cops and military who believe strongly in national sovereignty and have seen their property devastated by the drug war) or, if you’re in Europe, there are whole political parties of the far-right (including Catholic ones) that are arising to combat Islam. But you’re not going to do something silly like ship black people out of the United States. Also, this kind of “race trumps all” biological reductionism is ultimately shallow and just a symptom of the modern illness. The Church (and our problems) is simply much bigger than the white race. And if you’re interested, though I can’t stand his perennialism, see Evola’s writings on race and its spiritual aspects, even within Christianity.
        There, that should be the beginning, middle, and end of the topic of “race war” for the next couple of decades, but somehow I don’t think it’s the last I’ve heard of it on this site.

      • Yes; starting with the witch within. What good will it do to triumph over this or that party of orcs *while still liberal in our thoughts and affections*?

        Yes, indeed. Liberal modernity is truly insidious. When I look around my mind, I don’t see any ragweed, except perhaps fleetingly out of the corner of my eye. Yet my nose is always running. Somehow, a ragweed is only visible after you’ve started to pull it out.

  14. Upthread, Mark Citadel said: “I’m sure you are aware that there is round-the-clock surveillance of far right outlets and such.”

    While such may well be the case, Mark, there’s really no need to worry about that sort of thing in these precincts. If the “round-the-clock surveillers” have bothered to examine the Orthosphere at all–a highly dubious proposition to begin with–I’m sure they discovered rather quickly that the Orthosphere hardly qualifies as a “far right outlet”. After all, the Orthosphere has just spent the last few days preoccupying itself with defenestrating one of the very few voices here that could with justice be characterized as “far right”–and if, say, the SPLC was listening in, I’m sure they were quite pleased with the result.

    Now, Mark, it isn’t my intention in the least to criticize your own “far right” bona fides, which I consider impeccable. But surely it strains all credulity to suppose that guys like Bruce Charlton, Tom Bertonneau, et al. can accurately be termed men of the far right. I think their brand of rightism, such as it is, is best described as a grandmotherly conservatism (not reactionism–it isn’t that at all).

  15. Kristor wrote: “Our adversaries here are the doctrines that have undermined Christendom, sapping from within the civilization that by 1918 had conquered the planet.”

    But presumably, Kristor, the Christians who failed to defend ancient Alexandria were imbued with just the sorts of theological and metaphysical doctrines which you so highly esteem. Yet they fell before a savage, barbarian, and infidel race full of false doctrines and martial ardor.

    The ancient Christians went on to lose all of North Africa and suffered the gradual liquidation of the Byzantine Empire–that splendrous empire that was surely as infused with correct theological and metaphysical doctrines as empire ever was. I suppose you are “physically sickened” by the demise of Byzantium and the fact that Istanbul is today the haunt of a swarthy and depraved race.

    It was only when Christendom began to shuck off all the correct theological and metaphysical doctrines which you extol that it at the same time began to gather power for a decisive repulsion of the Muslim threat. How do you explain that, Kristor?

    • The truth seems to be the opposite. The humiliation of Christian peoples has coincided with their apostasy. The Africans had succumbed to provinicialism, Monothelitism and Monophysitism; the Greeks succumbed to Caesaropapism, Palamism, anti-Latinism and plain old apostasy from Apostolic doctrines; Europe began to apostatize piecemeal via the heresies of the humanist spectrum, from Protestantism to Modernism. Only now, when the Catholic Faith has been lost even by people sitting on the hill of the Vatican wearing the cardinalicial purple (or the white of the supreme pontifex), are the European peoples being winnowed away by the Mavroi.

      I would recommend a swift and hasty recourse to the Sacred Heart by means of the Immaculate and Dolorous Heart of the Blessed Virgin, for a miraculous increase in our defenses against the forces of dissolution.

      • It worked in 1571. It can work again.

        CuiPertinebit, thanks for that précis of the confusion of Christian minds and tongues. You saved me a lot of time! To your list should be added the fact that Islam itself began as a Christian heresy.

        I should add likewise, in answer to Mr. McKenzie’s (actually quite important) question: nominalism and its heirs – modernism, secularism, liberalism, etc. – are all Christian heresies, too. As with the controversy between the Orthodox and the Arians that rocked the first millennium of the Church, the great “[Shucking] off [of] all the correct theological and metaphysical doctrines” that began at the very pinnacle of the High Medieval Synthesis, and the subsequent civil wars between orthodoxy and heterodoxies, did not strengthen the West, but catastrophically weakened it. The philosophical, spiritual, moral, and thus cultural rot that began with nominalism in the 14th century and that has evolved and gained strength ever since was for centuries masked by the huge explosion of Christian wealth and power unleashed by the Age of Christian Exploration, and then by the Christian Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. Neither the geographical, nor the scientific, nor the technological projects of the last few centuries are in any conflict with Christianity; on the contrary, they are *fruits* of Christianity. The Christian West conquered the world *despite* being wracked with profound and bloody internal divisions. We conquered the vast Ottoman Empire as a sideshow to one of our own, far more cataclysmic, internecine spats.

        Had we remained all orthodox, and unified, the triumph of Christendom would have been far, far more total than it has yet been, or shall yet be.

        Nominalism has gone from strength to strength since 1400. From our perspective, it seems here to stay. But so did Arianism; so did Nestorianism. The Nestorians and Arians had pretty good runs for 600 years – about as long as nominalism has been around – and then, they almost all eventually rejoined the orthodox churches. So will the nominalists, eventually; those that buck the trend of their own endemic failure to reproduce. Nominalism in any of its varieties makes far, far less sense than either Arianism or Nestorianism, so its desuetude is pretty much inevitable.

        In the meantime, though, the moral rot implicit in it has more and more pervaded the West. This rot has very dire consequences, which we are now only beginning to suffer even despite the continued massive burgeon in wealth and power still rolling in from the various Christian revolutions in human affairs. As those moral and demographic consequences become ever clearer and more difficult to overlook, nominalism will be more and more spewed forth by hoi polloi, who have after all until very recently viewed it with tremendous skepticism.

        As CS Lewis reminded us, we must always remember that we are still the early Christians. The Church is still just getting started – learning to walk and talk.

        Our task here at the Orthosphere is not to coach street fighters through this or that tactical engagement with the enemy of Christendom, necessary as those are, but to crush his ideas, that found his whole project. Complaining that we are not committed to the fight is madness. It is like complaining that the cryptographers who cracked the Enigma code were not engaged in the war effort.

      • I would recommend a swift and hasty recourse to the Sacred Heart by means of the Immaculate and Dolorous Heart of the Blessed Virgin, for a miraculous increase in our defenses against the forces of dissolution.

        This is the very sort of thing that I characterize as “grandmotherly sentimentalism”.

        Now, Kristor, despite the ostensible friction of our exchange today, I count you a sensible man and I honestly enjoy interacting with you. I’d be very surprised if you authentically believed that the principal answer to our sociopolitical troubles is “a swift and hasty recourse to the Sacred Heart by means of the Immaculate and Dolorous Heart of the Blessed Virgin, for a miraculous increase in our defenses against the forces of dissolution.” I do hope I’m not wrong about that.

        Modernity is filled with heresy, antiquity is filled with heresy, the Middle Ages are filled with heresy–the excuses never end.

        And despite the revelation that the fall of Alexandria, the fall of Christian North Africa, and the fall of the Byzantine Empire were all due to heresy–you’ve yet to explain, Kristor, why it is that the West only decisively repulsed Islam once and for all after it began steeping itself in all the modern heresies which you and CuiPertinebit decry.

        Incidentally, Kristor, I feel you treated me justly today by permitting my comments to go through–and I want to thank you. It appears that Tom Bertonneau has subsequently deleted two of my comments. I guess I can understand the deletion of the one where I responded disdainfully to Alan Roebuck’s challenge. [Did you notice that I left the comment in which you called Bruce Charlton and me grandmothers intact? (TFB)] But the other comment–the one where I said that my purpose is largely to militate against the theorem that “Metaphysics ought to come first, then armed struggle”–I can’t for the life of me imagine why that comment was deleted. You and everyone else here may disagree with my sentiment on that line, but it was a perfectly legitimate point to be made in response to something you said. [Was calling Bruce Charlton and me grandmothers a “legitimate point”? Didn’t you read what I wrote, Wade? I deleted you because you engaged in a completely unnecessary personal insult and because I could. I am illustrating to you your theory of power. It might not be much in the way of power, but I will settle for it. (TFB)]

        Tom has a tendency to vandalize other people’s comments. [Previously I was a grandmother, but now I’m a Vandal. How do you square that?(TFB)] There are at least two comments in this thread that carry other commenters’ names above them, yet contain nothing but Bertonneau’s words–and Tom takes impish delight in adding his editorial emendations to other people’s comments. He’s the only one here who doesn’t just write out comments the way all the rest of us must. [“Impish delight”? Really? Are you a Bostonian, a second-grade teacher, a co-ed? (TFB)] I certainly can’t object to a comment being deleted outright–but there’s something unseemly about defacing someone’s comments and then leaving them in place. [Is that how you propose to respond to Liberals and Muslims – in a seemly manner only? (TFB)]

        [You accused us of being passive. I acted. If you don’t like it – tough luck. Indeed, I am “the only one here who doesn’t just write comments the way all the rest of us must.” Who’s the boo-hooing maiden aunt now? (TFB)]

      • I would recommend a swift and hasty recourse to the Sacred Heart by means of the Immaculate and Dolorous Heart of the Blessed Virgin, for a miraculous increase in our defenses against the forces of dissolution.

        This is the very sort of thing that I characterize as “grandmotherly sentimentalism.”

        You must not have very much confidence in prayer. It seems also that you must misunderstand it (this being, I suppose, the only way you could think it ineffectual): leaving aside its direct causal efficacy, prayer does not drive out martial spirit, but nerves it to far greater efficacy. Ceteris paribus, no man is so courageous or therefore lethal as he who believes both in his own personal immortality and in the righteousness of his cause. And if we are not fighting for Christ, we are fighting for his enemy. If on the other hand we are fighting for Christ, so that God be for us, who can be against us? Who can succeed against Almighty God? What other side could we possibly choose for ourselves, knowing that his side was his?

        As for your repeated question about heresies, I believe I have already addressed it in my edits to my last comment.

      • Kristor, I’m afraid I rather hastily reviewed your comment precedent to mine and I see now that you do indeed offer an explanation of sorts to the question of modernity’s decisive overcoming of the Muslim threat. I don’t find it at all persuasive–but I do apologize for my oversight.

      • Well, don’t beat yourself up about it; I was adding all that stuff to the comment at the same time you were composing your response to it, and published my edits only just before you did your response.

      • “You must not have very much confidence in prayer.”

        Kristor, the Church has been praying for spiritual and cultural rejuvenation in the United States for a long time now–decades, centuries–and things just keep getting worse and worse.

      • You betray your misunderstanding of prayer. That the answer to your prayer seems to be “no” does not mean that your prayer is inefficacious. Nor does it even mean that the answer really is “no.” Usually, what seems like a “no” from Providence is in fact a “yes, but not in the way you had quite expected.”

        Sometimes that way you had not quite expected involves your own martyrdom. Ugly; but then, it is a soldier’s duty to shoulder that risk, and to suffer death should it be needful.

        Consider Roland and Ogier. Were their deaths in vain? Consider now then likewise the 21 Martyrs of Libya. They are already commemorated in ikons in the churches of Russia, which is now at war with ISIS. For Roland, Ogier, and the rest of their rearguard, as also for the 21, things turned out for them very badly in worldly terms, despite what must have been their desperate prayers that the cup they had to drink might instead pass by their lips. Were their prayers then answered with a simple, “no”? How so, when as martyrs they won the victor’s crown and stand now forever at the very altar of the heavenly mass, shoulder to shoulder with angels and archangels? They lost each a paltry few years of life, suffered some pain, and by the purity of their sacrifice they gained everlasting glory. How is this a “no”?

        No matter how worldly our intentions when we pray, provided we do it truly, our basic intent is always, must be always, “not my will, O Lord, but thine be done.” How in logic can the answer to this prayer be other than “yes”?

        The efficacy of prayer then is not to be measured in terms of near term mundane objectives. To measure it that way is to miss its point.

        Notwithstanding all that, and despite the likelihood that Providence is curing us by fire, things are not as bad in the West as they would have been without the prayer.

      • Along with the necessity of repentance and invocation, I find Plato’s recommendations for life in an unjust state:

        Now, the members of this small group have tasted how sweet and blessed a possession philosophy is, and at the same time they’ve also seen the madness of the majority and realized, in a word, that hardly anyone acts sanely in public affairs and that there is no ally with whom they might go to the aid of justice and survive, that instead they’d perish before they could profit either their city or their friends and be useless both to themselves and to others, just like a man who has fallen among wild animals and is neither willing to join them in doing injustice nor sufficiently strong to oppose the general savagery alone. Taking all this into account, they lead a quiet life and do their own work. Thus, like someone who takes refuge under a little wall from a storm of dust or hail driven by the wind, the philosopher—seeing others filled with lawlessness—is satisfied if he can somehow lead his present life free from injustice and impious acts and depart from it with good hope, blameless and content. Republic Book 6, 496 C-E

      • [Previously I was a grandmother, but now I’m a Vandal. How do you square that?(TFB)]

        At times like these, I am most envious of those who can draw. This comment begs for an illustration. LOL.

  16. Kristor’s argument is a type of St. Thomas’s fourth way, which I’ve always read as an argument from intelligibility. But it also points to something else. In the gospels, Jesus commands, “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” While this perfection is bodied forth by Jesus, who is, to say the least, the embodiment of the Form of Man, it’s also a command. By faith, ascesis (moral struggle) and the theurgical (sacramental) ministrations of an orthodox religion, we must transform ourselves into the living image of Christ. I think Lloyd Gerson, in his Plotinus, clearly lays out the path we are required to follow, insofar as we are servants of God:

    There is a more important reason, though, for Plotinus’ insistence on an orderly ascent “from external to internal, from lower to higher.” The ascent does not end with acceptance of conclusions of arguments about the existence of Intellect or the One. The ascent, if it is to be successful, must consist in the construction of an ideal self in the incarnate individual which includes a kind of synonymous image of the true ideal self. One must become the person who naturally acts like that ideal self. So, the ascent must include what can only be called a conversion experience. And this means recapitulating the metaphysical order — One, Intellect, Soul, nature — in reverse. For example, Plotinus does not envision a vicious man as bypassing lower virtue and ascending directly to higher virtue or even to the construction of an ideal self beyond virtue. A conversion from vice is a conversion to what vice is a corruption of, namely, the lower virtues.

  17. Getting back to Kristor’s article here. I guess another objection to it would be of the “Gaunilo’s Island” variety. Just because we hold an idea of perfection and completion in our minds, doesn’t necessarily mean that it exists in the revealed world. It could be a mere projection of what we need to survive day-to-day onto the meaningless void that is the cosmos.

    The problem with our a prioris is that they’re a priori. We can’t through any force of mind jettison ideas of non-contradiction or equality from ourselves. I guess one of the big arguments for theism is that it “saves the appearances.” Without God, many of our a priori ideas wouldn’t make a lot of sense, if we could even talk of things like “sense” without an ultimate end and beginning.

    • Gaunilo’s counterargument is not quite apposite. He is quite right that it is not possible to conceive of any sort of finite being than whom no greater can be conceived. But then, God is not finite! Thus the maximality of God is different than the maximality of any other sort of being.

      If God is that than which no greater can be conceived, and he exists only in our minds, then we can conceive of a greater than he, who is like him in all respects except that he is also actual, rather than merely an idea of ours. Conceiving of God as existing only within our minds turns out to be conceiving of that than which no greater can be conceived *and* conceiving of a yet greater being – one who is also actual.

      The *only* way we can coherently conceive of God, then, is to conceive of him as actual. If the concept of God is then coherent in itself – if, i.e., it is not a contradiction in terms, so that he might possibly exist – then God must actually and necessarily exist. I wrote a post about this a while ago.

      • Yeah, I get into God’s difference from other beings whenever I encounter a “Russel’s teapot” type argument, the most popular now being the flying spaghetti monster, but God being wholly strange is often difficult for even believers to grasp yet alone atheists.

  18. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/10/18) | The Reactivity Place


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