The Principle of Sufficient Reason & Creaturely Free Agency

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

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

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An Argument from Our Agency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Causes Are Reasons

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

No Lógos no reason no cause no being.

Being;; ergo, Lógos. QED.

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

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

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

Up to you.

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

The Phenomenology of Error → ¬ ¬ Free Agency

Last night at choir rehearsal our choirmaster casually refuted the notion that Benjamin Libet’s justly famous experiment showing that neural activity manifesting decisions precedes conscious awareness thereof falsifies free agency.

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The King is a Traditionalist

And he has apparently been reading deeply in the traditionalist canon for many years. The address below was recorded in 2016.

His advocacy of traditional architecture is of course quite well known. And, of course, impudently scorned by the apostles of architectural modernism.

It will be interesting to see how hard the glitterati work to ridicule him. Now that he’s King, it is likely to start in earnest. They’ve been after him for decades already, of course, as a dolt, and a poltroon, a weakling and a fool. My earliest impression, from my boyhood, was their avowed conviction that Charles is a dunce. But that sort of ad hominem attack is of course in complete concord with their determination to destroy every institution of the West whatsoever. It is formally analogous to their toppling of the statues of our cultural heroes. In his very body, Charles is an exponent of the Traditional Order: that suffices to his immolation on the altar of the Modern.

It has nothing necessarily to do with Charles himself.

This is evident from his address which I here post. Charles is in it revealed as a thoughtful, careful man, who grapples with history from the deepest, widest, highest perspective.

It is the sort of perspective we should all want from a king. It is the sort of perspective to which kings are purposed, and called; it is the perspective proper to their offices.

On the Peculiar Difficulty of the Ascension

Herewith, a guest post from commenter PBW:

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I had a lot of trouble with the Ascension. Every time I recite the Rosary, to take the most frequent example, I start with a declaration of belief: The Apostles’ Creed.

In saying the Creed, I assert a series of beliefs that are jarring to modern sensibilities, but not, for the most part, to me. I believe in God, and in his only begotten Son. I believe in his conception, by divine intervention, in the womb of the Virgin. I believe that, his body in the tomb, Christ descended into Hell. There is much here to ponder, but it is all comfortably within the assent of faith.

“[T]he third day he rose again from the dead …” This is the fulcrum of the Faith. Whilst the work of our redemption was done in the Passion, the sign of our redemption is the Resurrection. It is the incontrovertible revelation of the nature of Jesus Christ. “My Lord and my God.” I believe, unreservedly.

What is it then, in the midst of all these wonders, that makes for awkwardness about the Ascension? For one thing, it is the staginess of it. It is the levitating Jesus, who “was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9.) It is the convenient cloud; it is the trapdoor into Heaven.

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Romantic Christianity versus Christianity Proper

To my recent post about Finding the True Way to Life, Bruce Charlton commented:

@Kristor – I find your post and comments both surprising and confusing! Your post concedes pretty much all the ground to Romantic Christianity; so that you seem to be advocating the same attitude to churches.

Your comment of July 25, 2022 at 4:49 AM suggests that any particular actual or manifest church (including the RCC) is ultimately ‘merely’ (secondarily) helpful or harmful – but never should be regarded as primary or decisive – precisely the Romantic Christian attitude.

And that the individual person’s intuitive knowledge of the mystical/spiritual/immaterial ‘church’ is all that *really* matters at the bottom line (albeit, I cannot distinguish this concept of ‘church’ from knowledge of deity – of God the Father/Jesus Christ/the Holy Ghost).

Most remarkably, you apparently regard the actual, worldly functioning of the Roman Catholic Church to be a matter of ultimate indifference to you! I.e., whether or not the RCC locks its churches; if it ceases to offer the mass, marriage, funerals; and if most of its bishops and priests focus their teachings on defending and endorsing … whatever policies the global totalitarian Establishment are currently pushing – you say:

I am not too troubled by all of this outward and merely formal ecclesial subjection to the tyrannical civil authority.

I suppose the crux is that you regard this as ‘merely’ formal submission. Yet when formal *and informal* RCC discourse overwhelmingly endorses – and indeed instructs – not just submission, but enthusiastic and active participation, over many years and increasingly … Well, I believe you are in error.

Altogether, I don’t [see] you are putting forward a coherent argument here – which may simply mean that you are in a transitional phase.

Indeed I hope so; because I find your casual, dismissive attitude to the RCC enthusiastic-self-shut-down of 2020 (etc.) to be abhorrent!

Like Archbishop Viganò; I regard 2020 as probably the worst disaster in the history of Christianity, an existential catastrophe, the significance of which can hardly be exaggerated.

These are all important points, and it is important that I respond to them cogently, and forthrightly. The first thing that I would say in response is that this latest travesty of the craven responses of the various church hierarchs to the mandates of the civil authorities in respect to the supposed crisis of covid is not our first rodeo of that sort. Things were much, much worse with the Church during the Black Death, a real pandemic:

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The Maximality Test Crushes the Great Heresies

The Maximality Test simply asks which of any two notions of God are greater, along some many dimensions of excellence. It turns out that in practice, the Test straightly demolishes the great Christological and Trinitarian heresies so prevalent in the early Church from AD 33 through AD 2022.

Let’s run through those perennial heresies in alphabetical order (rather than order of their allure, historical importance, foolishness, or wickedness), and see how they fare under the Test. Their descriptions are taken from the Infogalactic article on Trinitarian and Christological heresies.

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The Sacraments are Prior to Everything Else in Mundane Life

Liturgical innovation – e.g., priestesses – is metaphysically obtuse. It presupposes that the sacraments are merely human artifacts, when in fact – the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world – they are logically prior to the creation. We are not the masters of the sacraments, any more than we are the masters of the oceans or the skies. Our office is not to deform them, but to reckon and grapple with them, as objective aspects of Reality.

If Reality is Real, then the sacraments in respect thereto, as given ideally, are nowise subject to correction. They are, rather, handed down from on high. There is then nothing we might do about them, or want to do about them, other than to admit them wholly to our lives. Do they want correction? That then is to be had only in their admission to our lives.

Not us, first, but the rite, and of course the obedience in it signified.

What the hell is a ritual for, after all, if in the last analysis it is just meaningless? If a ritual is meaningful, then it must just force us to its formal purposes. In what other way might we be interested to participate in it?