Was Dante a Pioneer of Radical Individualism?

Posted January 26th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Body of Christ, Human nature

Ten years ago or more, I read the Inferno, the first volume of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. It didn’t make too much of an impression on me, seeming to be at least in part a matter of Dante taking shots at some of his enemies, a lot of people he didn’t admire (often, for good reasons), and a few friends who led disordered lives and didn’t even try to repent or reform.

After the past 9+ years of working out my worldview, a Christian understanding of created being, which necessarily included an understanding of human being, of its relationships to God, and, hence, of salvation and damnation, I wished to read all of The Divine Comedy—Singleton’s prose translation with heavy annotations. In a not so short sentence: I wished to see how much sense Dante’s theory of salvation and damnation made from the viewpoint of one who had struggled with both Christian teachings and with modern empirical knowledge and had produced a worldview which makes sense of both as compatible and mostly overlapping descriptions of the same world.

Dante doesn’t seem to have believed in the main teaching of the Bible: the Old Testament teaches that the members of the People of Israel will be saved as members of that community and the New Testament teaches that members of the Christian Church will be saved as members of that community. In Dante’s Paradiso, even those saved to live on the outermost realm of Heaven live as a gathering of individuals who are not in communion with the other souls who made it to regions closer to the center of Heaven; they are gathered together as they might have been at the hearth of a warm and well-run tavern. (That outermost realm is the everlasting home of souls who lived good lives but didn’t live up enthusiastically to their vows or presumably other serious commitments.)

Looking back, I can see that Hell and Purgatory were little different in the presentation of human beings as individuals—though I could appreciate a presentation of the damned as those who refused to properly engage with their communities and are bound not to ever do so. In any case, Dante’s poetic masterpiece doesn’t so much as hint of that ultimate community which is the Body of Christ, or rather it presents communities as mere gatherings of the `true’ human beings who are individuals.

On the other hand, I teach that we human beings, at least those who will achieve full membership in the Body of Christ, are like the three Persons of God and that Body, as I said, is like God. This is to say that, as true images of the Trinitarian God, individual human beings remain fully so while being also fully the Body of Christ. Each and every one of those who are saved to share God’s life for time without end. Dante has no such sense. Certainly, he can’t be blamed for not seeing much that history and modern biology and other sciences has brought into view or into more clear view in the past few centuries. Evolutionary biology and history and sociology supports the idea that we have a strong communal component to our human being—we aren’t just individuals who travel in groups or enter into voluntary relationships of a contractual type, though perhaps tinged with deep feelings.

Dante seems to me to be someone already on the path toward Hobbes and Locke and Jefferson and Nock—all admirable men, but dangerous men whose ideas are worth investigating and contemplating and whose ideas on human being must be rejected by any who have a Biblical faith or who are making sense of modern empirical knowledge of men and their various communities.

I’d even say that it’s pretty clear an individual human being of the sort found in Hobbes and other Liberal thinkers, finite in many ways and only displaying some of the virtues and gifts of human being even as we know it in this mortal realm, couldn’t tolerate life without end. We don’t have enough to draw on and would soon enough be praying for an end to time.

Dante is simply wrong that an individual human being could forever be satisfied, let alone in a state of bliss, by adoration of God—when that worshiper has to rely on the stuff of an individual. We can see the way to a solution when we posit a rich and complex Body of Christ in which we all share in the gifts and accomplishments of St Paul and St Augustine and Alfred the Great and St Thomas Aquinas and Blaise Pascal and John Henry Newman and Leo Tolstoy and Flannery O’Connor. But that’s still not enough. Not to fear. The Body of Christ has more—Jesus Christ, Son of God and true God. We can share in the fullness of God’s own Being and live God’s own life along with the Son and, through Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit.

As individuals standing outside of God and adoring Him, we would not be able to tolerate life without end. It is only by sharing God’s own life that we could enjoy life without end and we could share that life only through full membership in the Body of Christ and full communion with its Head: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Frost, a paleoanthropologist who is well-versed in genetic issues, has been writing for at least several years of the ways in which ethnic communities have characteristics which reflect their unique histories. One of the strong findings of modern research is that the ethnic groups which have inhabited much of Europe in recent centuries have personality characteristics consistent with their political and economic and cultural systems; these characteristics, especially a stronger sense of individual self which can be extreme in some, are said to be especially strong in northwestern Europeans, but seem to exist throughout Europe, possibly because of migrations of related peoples into all regions of Europe over the recent millenia.

The more recent immigrants from Asia and Africa to the countries of Europe and North America seem to have different characteristics, sometimes consistent enough with `Western’ characteristics that assimilation is possible at least in the public marketplaces, economic and political. Many of the more recent immigrants from eastern Europe and some from east Asia and southern Asia exhibit behaviors consistent to some major extent with the political and other systems of Europe, even the most Liberal (collectivist or classical) of countries. Even European styles of collectivism rely on pulling together mobs of individuals rather than the long-term development of complex, often kin-based relationships—Marx and Dante have similar assumptions about human communities so far as I can tell, though I admit I haven’t studied either writer too much and have no interest in doing so. Combining ethnic groups which have evolved in radically different environments can work but problems might develop between Europeans and even those groups of Chinese and Jews who have more respect than most Europeans for the accomplishments of Newton and Shakespeare and Mozart. (“Damn it, there’s some guys in tuxes playing crap music. Somebody must be broadcasting the national championships of the Women’s National Mud-Wrestling League (WNMWL).”)

In other words, as I stated above, there is now even scientific information that all that shallow speculation found in Locke and the classical liberals of the 19th century and forward is wrong but was worth pursuing but only with regards to some human beings at the extreme end of the spectrum for northwestern Europeans, themselves seeming to be at a fairly extreme end of the spectrum for mankind in general. Other peoples with equal or better accomplishments in politics and economics and culture and science aren’t even interested in the ways of the West. And they shouldn’t be.

And these wonderful northwestern European traits in their more moderate form showed up at least by the time of Dante, as did a blindness to their uniqueness and also the contradiction between an unqualified acceptance of those traits and the Biblical teachings on salvation as well as modern, scientific understandings of human being. Wonderful so long as we realize we are at the extreme end of certain human characteristics and then go on to understand, and act as if, other ethnic groups can be much different. We should also remember that many from that northwestern European population, or the European population in general, have far weaker individualistic traits.

This evolutionary stuff, including gene-culture co-evolution, is for real. The Bible is for real. Neither evolutionary thought nor the Bible should just be mined for verbal bullets to shoot at our enemy of the moment, only to be put back in the closet until another such opportunity. Both evolutionary knowledge of human being and Biblical knowledge of that same human being have to be fully accepted in understanding the fullness of human life or fully rejected.

See my freely downloadable book, A More Exact Understanding of Human Being, for a little bit more on human being as I understand it. More will be coming, God willing. See The Struggle Between the Individual and the Community in the Body of Christ for one of my recent efforts to move beyond that book.

The Struggle Between the Individual and the Community in the Body of Christ

Posted January 20th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Body of Christ, civilization, Freedom and Structure in Human Life

A large number of Americans, leading good lives in most ways, believe the United States is and always was a champion of justice and charity towards all nations when we really believe that the only good life is one ordered to the individualistic tendencies so attractive to those descended from the residents of northwestern Europeans. These tendencies were sharpened into truly dangerous weapons, used to sunder the individual from his communities, by a host of thinkers from Hobbes through Voltaire through Mill, father and son, through the classical liberals of the late 1800s and on to various barbarians home-grown in the hothouses of the modern West, no longer describable as Christian and not unified nor coherent nor complete enough to even be described as a civilization.

Oddly enough, the basic principles of the radical individualists were set in concrete as the evidence started coming in that they were wrong. In particular, the work of evolutionary theorists and historians and anthropologists and geneticists has tended to a rich and complex, and as-yet partially ordered, view of man not so much different in outline from that found in the Bible and in the great literary works of the ancient and Medieval and modern world. Men of the West, especially the Anglo-American regions, tend strongly to think, in a peculiar fit of self-righteous bigotry, that our ways of living are appropriate for and desired by all human beings when our ways are in a state of disorder as individuals, once the source of the creativity and energy of the West, have been set loose from their communities and have run amok, having broken the ties to Western tradition which once nurtured that creativity and that energy and guided them toward good goals.

I’ve stated the problem in terms more or less forged by traditionalist critics of the modern West, but much of my work, in nonfiction writings and novels, is aimed at showing our situation is far more dire and the problems go even more deeply into our individual selves and our communities.

There is a conflict which is part of the evolution and development of human being, individual and communal, which is obvious in the 20th and 21st century in a particular and concrete manifestation. The West in recent centuries has been dominated by Northwestern Europeans who are now known be strongly individualistic due likely to co-evolution of their genes and culture. A long history, including the response to Mao’s policies, would indicate the Chinese have traits leading to the opposite problem of communal human being threatening to swallow the individual human being.

Those who know a little of modern geometry and topology can think of it in the terms I’m trying to develop into an appropriately rich and complex model, quantitative and qualitative, of human nature and maybe of all concrete created being. I’ll present imagery in terms of a vague and necessarily simplistic model in two dimensions–the surface of a sphere with a bit of raggedness going into the third dimension.

Individual human beings can be seen as sheets—think of us as more or less flexible pieces of sheet metal. We are to be found on the surface of a sphere and making contact with other sheets in ways good or bad or mixed. We have to think of the surface of globe as truly being formed as the individuals form. We also have to bear in mind that this is one level of community and also one level of individual as he could develop in his primary communities of family and other local communities. We also have to bear in mind that we might sometimes have to imagine the globe’s surface as being too small for the individuals and more local communities trying to find space and sometimes too large so that we can visualize isolated individuals or communities. Keep these complications in mind but I’ll speak mostly as if we’re dealing with simple and fully-defined individuals (being tangent to the globe’s surface at a point which `locates’ the individuals) and just one layer of community. [The stuff about `tangent’ is very sloppy language and needs to be refined by use of some sort of qualitative limit process which are similar in some sense to the epsilon-delta limits of calculus. Some of this language has been developed in modern physics where `small-enough’ regions of spacetime do have separable space and time and follow the dynamics of Newtonian physics. These small-enough regions are tangent to surfaces like that of a hypersphere but attach to that hypersphere in a way defined by the business of small-enough. In physics, the hypersphere of interest usually has spacetime rather than space and time and follows the dynamics of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.]

In terms of this physical image, groups of human beings which are excessively individualistic make bad contact with others in their community and with their community or even nearly no contact in the extreme case of some mental or emotional disorders. Groups of human beings which are excessively communal make contact too easily in a way that produces smooth boundaries and uncertainty as to the start and stop of the individual.

There are two major groups of tasks for those who feel a calling to help the Body of Christ to better form in this mortal realm or for those who simply wonder, “What the hell is this guy up to?.” First, philosophers and scientists and creative writers and others must develop this sort of a model (or maybe different but with similar potential descriptive power) so that we can understand what we human beings are and what our possibilities really are—as we can currently see them. I think I provided a solid introduction, though no explicit model in my freely downloadable book: A More Exact Understanding of Human Being. The second group of tasks is the practical task of working towards some goals in various communities and with various degrees of certainty and pure hope. Experimentation would seem to be much in need in the upcoming generations and that experimentation might proceed along with or even ahead of efforts to understand and describe.

In these terms, excessively individualistic groups of human beings, seem to be bad in a clear way but excessively communal groups of human beings seem not so bad in any clear way. I’m sure I’ve been biased in my discussions because I come from one of those excessively individualistic peoples and I’m trying to work my way to an understanding which might produce a better balancing, one equivalent in many ways to the views found in the Bible and in the works of some great thinkers, certainly the Jewish sages so deservedly beloved by Jacob Neusner who saw, in particular, the disciplined emotions of men as being the binding forces of human communities—see Do We Need Heart and Hands as Well as Mind to Understand Reality?.

Strong individuals, who remain separate selves even as they become fully their communities, are needed as a Christian would assume from Trinitarian theology where Father and Son and Holy Spirit remain fully their individual selves even as they are fully God. These sorts of statements communicate some important core truth but they are too simple even for the reality of human being, individual and communal; certainly too simple for the large and complex human communities which have emerged in recent centuries. Yet, they are a starting point for the beginning of an effort to understand human being more exactly and more accurately, in appropriately rich and complex terms. To a Christian, the Body of Christ in its perfected and completed form must have an exact and accurate self-understanding and human beings, Christian human beings and perhaps others, who will have a future as part of the Body of Christ when it fully shares the life of God must play their role in all of this by proper development of powerful individual and communal minds, hearts, and hands which will lead to that self-understanding.

I’ll also suggest that the major cause of the often violent turmoil in human communities of our age is caused by this particular imbalance. I can see the possibility of moving forward, of realizing an overarching community—a civilization or prefiguration of the Body of Christ—on the great Eurasian landmass, reaching from China and her sphere of direct influence through Central Asia and Russia and perhaps other parts of Eastern Europe and perhaps even ending at the British Isles. Other regions of the world may participate to various degrees, perhaps even the United States once it is taken down a few notches and the juvenile leaders of the various political and economic and cultural and religious communities are replaced by adult leaders who are willing to take on the Augean stables of a promising country sunk into moral and cultural rot. But, a people gets the leaders it deserves and the American people will have to develop some true moral character before they could get any leaders with true moral character.

Developing Human Minds, Individual and Communal

Posted January 15th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: communal human being, Freedom and Structure in Human Life

Reality often messes up our formal models or our less rigid schemes of how reality should work. A good thinker takes such glitches not as a sign that we can’t use models in a particular situation but rather as an invitation to think their way to a better model or perhaps to develop a more flexible understanding, perhaps a narrative structure in which some of the entities and events are describable by quantitative or qualitative mathematical models and much has to be described in a more purely qualitative way.

We need a general way of thinking this through and one of my goals has been to produce an understanding of created being which unites created being, and allows us to also see the true relationship of created being to its Maker. Specifically, I’m choosing to look at the `boundary’, which may be gradual or abrupt, between qualitative mathematical models and more purely qualitative understandings. This is roughly the domain of openended, non-deterministic narratives. This is also the domain which largely gives the setting for the more formal models and also points toward the greater story which is Creation, all the realms of created being.

I advocate the idea that relationships between and among creatures and other `abstractions’ are also a form of being. We can now abstract from matter and energy and fields to a level of reality already very abstract to us, though largely quantitative and deterministic to an extent that I’d further claim it can’t be the entire source of this concrete world’s being. That limited but extensive abstract level is described by the formalisms of quantum mechanics. Even on strictly physical grounds, it can’t be the entirety of the abstractions from which the thing-like being of this world is shaped. Spacetime comes from a different set of abstractions which may or may not be tightly linked at some highly abstract level to the abstractions of quantum mechanics. I’d go beyond what I’ve said in the previous few sentences: recognizing the dangers in consistency for its own sake, I would yet argue we get a more consistent and also more coherent description of created being if we simply consider those abstract levels (or realms) as created being. In this way of thought, I speak of concrete being as shaped from more abstract being. See How a Christian Finds Metaphysical Truths in Empirical Reality for a more complete description of my ideas, including a discussion of this very simple, almost cartoonish chart: .

Don’t think of this chart in terms of knowledge of being but rather in terms of being which we can encapsulate in our minds so long as we respond properly to what lies outside of us, abstract being which is metaphysics and mathematics and some qualitative aspects of our concrete world and also concrete being which is chemical engineering and surgery and carpentry and child-rearing. Our vocations and avocations are created being as much as the tools and materials we use.

There is no absolute separation of abstract and concrete being. Concrete being is shaped from abstract being itself shaped from relatively more abstract being until we reach the truths God manifested as the raw stuff of this Creation, but abstract being remains yet in the lowest and most degraded things of this world.

This gives a new perspective on what a mathematical model is, including the most complex of scientific theories, say those of quantum physics or modern gravitational theory. It also gives us a way of speaking about my division of knowledge: revelation, speculation, scientific empirical knowledge, and practical empirical knowledge. (For more on this, see my freely downloadable book: Four Kinds of Knowledge.) Note also the problem I’ve created just by trying to break the bounds which were holding back human efforts to understand Creation, including human being, and to better order our own individual and communal selves: I’m forced at times to use a confusing, mixed language in which `knowledge’ seems to mean what I deny it means. But `knowledge’ had a meaning to ancient Hebrews and ancient Greeks far closer to that which I propose. For a man to know a woman was to become one with her in an act of sex and, at least to the ancient Hebrews, this implied a respectful and loving act. We can recover such an understanding of `knowledge’ and purge our thoughts and feelings and acts of the modern dualism which fragments our world in a way less plausible than the ancient split between body and soul or matter and spirit.

I propose:

For a man to know this world is to have an encapsulation of that story being told by God in his own mind, so that it shapes his feelings and thoughts and actions. If such a story is morally well-ordered, it can be the stuff of a civilization.

For a simple and short introduction to my understanding of being, see two essays I wrote early in the process of developing that understanding: A Christian View of Einstein’s and Bohr’s Debate on Reality and Quantum Mechanics and Moral Formation. In that second essay, I pointed out the similarity of Bohr’s `radical’ position to the teachings of the school of St John the Evangelist.

I’ve written of human being as a matter of heart and hands and mind—see Do We Need Heart and Hands as Well as Mind to Understand Reality?. Since we are images of God the Creator, this means we can speak, in the sense in which we already have something of a share of God’s life, of all created being as created by human mind and human heart and human hands at work along with our Father in Heaven. All three are necessary. All three acting together is truly God-like and when we share God’s life there will be no true distinction between the three. To feel is to act is to think. There will be one person even if the organs of brain and heart and hands yet exist.

I’ll quickly examine a case where some scientists applied the type of thinking associated with the study of complex dynamics (physics) to a linguistic problem. In the article, Focus: Why Language Exceptions Remain the Rule, Michael Schirber, a freelance science writer, discussed some work done by Christine Cuskley of the Institute for Scientific Interchange in Turin, Italy and her colleagues on an oddness which is particularly noticeable in English: Why do irregular verbs survive? Why “swept” instead of “sweeped?” Children try to apply the rules to every verb and will say “sweeped” until `corrected’ often enough that an eccentric verb form settles into their minds.

It turns out that it’s the verbs less often used which remain irregular. The force of many users, including children learning English, will lead to the use of a regular verb form so long as those many users do truly use that verb often enough.

The last paragraph of the article is a summary sufficient for my current purposes:

“The strength of this paper is that it focuses on the essential ingredients of simplified models for the evolution of language,” says Eduardo Altmann of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany. Because the new model can be solved analytically, it provides more direct access to the conditions that produce the different language states, he says. In addition to irregular verbs, Altmann imagines the model could also work for instances where two languages (or ideas or beliefs) compete.

The initial model didn’t work and the scientists complicated it, making it more accurate but at the cost of adding in a population of people with certain behaviors about adopting simpler rules or staying with the older rules—this population can’t be identified. To match reality on a global level, they had to move away from reality on a local level.

This is all very interesting but my point will be a still more general one. Because we, as individuals, are very particular, we view being from a particular perspective at any time. On the other hand, we as communal human beings, view being—including this thing-like world—from a multitude of particular perspectives which an individual can somewhat assimilate and, in a weak sense, come to understand a great deal about Creation. Of course, what we understand about Creation is always timebound and spacebound, culturally constrained, subject to our particular role and skills, and so on.

When communal forces suppress an individual’s inclination to do things more consistently and, at least arguably, better, we see the communal mind at work; this should be generalized to the conflict when any individual tries to think or feel or act in a creative way that conflicts with convention. Our communal minds are themselves far from mature, even for the simplest of communities with the simplest of roles in the life of the community which can be called mankind and is really the Body of Christ in formation. (This doesn’t mean all men will be saved into the Body of Christ in Heaven, just as it is well recognized that formal membership in the Church doesn’t imply any automatic salvation.)

In Mathematical Models of Human Communities: Randomness, I wrote:

From facts come—sometimes—patterns. We’ve become somewhat accustomed, by way of terribly vulgarized mathematics and biology and other sciences, to the idea that patterns come from `randomness’ or `chaos’. Something of an overview can be communicated to those who have not heard of Poincare or Hadamard or Duhem, Ruelle or Smale or Prigogine and to those who don’t know what a nonlinear equation is; we should wonder what sense these people make of it. We are at a more complex transition point than the one noted by Oystein Ore, prominent number theorist and teacher (see Number Theory and Its History republished by Dover Publications in 1988): in the 14th century or so, long division was coming into use and was considered to be a topic for mathematical geniuses, well beyond those even of more normal high intelligence. Nowadays, we start learning long division in mass education elementary schools, though many still have trouble with it and some can never master it even to the point of figuring how much per pound a roast costs if 4.5 pounds costs $25.

In the struggle between consistency and established convention in verb forms, we see the communal mind reluctant to change certain fundamentals of language unless it has good reasons to do so. In the ongoing expansion of the human mind’s capacity for learning what was once considered advanced mathematics in elementary school, we see the communal mind growing and maturing and individual minds somehow becoming capable of mastering skills well beyond the capacity of similar minds in earlier generations. Could the same happen with quantum mechanics and other hard theories some day? Could it happen with larger and more complex bodies of theories and concepts and narratives, such as the greater narrative of this world and the world of the resurrected set in the entirety of Creation?

We can see in the study of the irregular verbs that there is always the possibility of an imbalance between the individual mind or the communal mind. It’s hard for a people to develop individual and communal minds in a way such that both are strong and healthy, though—in principle—the strongest and most capable of individual and communal minds will develop together and co-exist. But not in peace, for we live in a world of struggle. It’s almost a cliche that some of the best literature has been written by authors fighting the constraints of implicit or explicit censorship. I think of myself as fighting an implicit censorship which is the result of willful ignorance and the resultant stupidity of Americans and most other Westerners; this censorship takes the form of a sort of Gresham-like flooding of the bookstores and movies and television lineups with mindless crap which dulls the mind and stimulates our less noble emotions and will often lead to immoral acts.

My current opinion is that we’re not in a situation where individual or communal minds have become too strong at the expense of the other. There are certainly some who think only the thoughts put into their heads by the wig-stands of the mainstream media or by the speeches of Presidents or Senators. There are also certainly those who think to break free of a morally disordered society, or perhaps to protect their own interests as they remain part of that society, by nurturing their own sense of individuality and denying what they inherited from their fellow-citizens or from men of distant times and places. This latter denial often takes the form of treating received human being as objective knowledge, that is, knowledge which can be treated as if it were x’s to be combined in logical formulations. In any case, the West in 2015 has individual and communal minds which are both weak.

We Americans are morally unordered or disordered individuals who are ignorant and functionally stupid, yet we have some sort of strong attachment to the idea that we are well-formed individuals. Our communities, and communal minds, are equally disordered and yet express a strong self-regard, unlovable and criminal communities demanding our full and unqualified love. We Americans are poorly formed individuals moving in disordered herds and we think ourselves to be at the height of human accomplishment, downright exceptional we are. Similar states hold in most Western countries though the paths to those disordered states were different and some of those other Western peoples seem to at least suspect something is profoundly wrong inside of us and our various communities.

And, yet, there is much truth in claims that we’ve reached our disordered states at least partly because of those who sought to develop our communal natures at the expense of our individual natures, because of others who sought to rip individuals from their communities or to seduce them to leave their families and other communities. Marxists and libertarians are equally committed to deformed understandings of human being.

Updated Collection of Weblog Writings Now Available

Posted January 10th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: books for free downloading

I’ve uploaded an update to the collection of my weblog writings: Acts of Being: Selected Weblog Writings From 2006 to 2014. Here is the text from the Preface for this new edition:

I’ve added nearly 50 chapters to this Fifth Edition. All but this chapter are reformatted essays from my writings during 2014 which were published on this weblog, Acts of Being.

In 2014, I shifted course slightly and began working on a more than half-completed novel which has sat in storage for nearly 10 years—how the time does fly. I continued my study of mathematics of a sort which might help to develop the qualitative tools, concepts and words, which can help generate proper descriptions of human being and its various relationships, including the issue so important in an age in which the `positive’ sciences (including empirical studies of history and literature and so forth) have been so successful: how much can be understood by way of quantity and what is left over to be understood by way of those non-quantitative modes of understanding which often seem to be as necessary as they are ghost-like in recent generations?

And it remains true that I hope your thinking is stimulated by what you find in this book.

Body-killing Men and Soul-killing Men

Posted January 9th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: decay of civilization, Freedom and Structure in Human Life

Some young men who think to solve problems with machine-guns killed some men, of ages unknown to me, who think to advance human enlightenment by sneering at all things of which they don’t approve. They don’t approve of God or those who claim, falsely or truly, to serve God. The intellectual and moral midgets at the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, published cartoons insulting to Muslims, others insulting to Jews, and still others insulting to Christians. Some Muslims killed some of the midgets. Just as would be true with the murders of pimps or drug-dealers or child-abusers, the French police should investigate with energy and others in the judicial system of France should prosecute with proper aggression. To be sure, there were at least two innocent victims that I’m aware of: a security guard and a policeman shot execution style as he lay injured on the sidewalk, perhaps trying to surrender.

On the whole, I consider men who murder bodies to less my enemy, less the enemy of anyone wishing to be a friend of God, than those who murder souls and minds. I think someone in the Bible said something similar. I can’t speak for God but He might be inclined to favor those who have a deformed understanding of the Almighty over those who commit sophomoric blasphemy under the Modernist delusion that it is intelligent commentary. Nowadays, there seem to be a lot of people of no great intelligence or other talents who have been encouraged to believe they are creative or insightful. They think to lead mankind on a better path by application of the principle of the corrupted, secularized, surviving strain of the Enlightenment:

We tolerant intellectuals of the modern West are what human beings should be and we’ll do our darnedest to make every human creature into our images.

Some of those moral and intellectual midgets work by way of nasty and sneering cartoons. Some make blood-filled movies or movies depicting moral commitments as jokes—except those moral commitments which serve the needs of our political and financial elites. Others worm their way into power in the United States government or one of its international agencies and use military and financial weapons to destroy those who seek to defend their own traditions, especially if those traditions are from the earlier, Christian phase of the West.

In any case, here’s a good take from Aaron D Wolf though I perhaps consider it a good take because his thoughts are in line with mine: Reaping the Whirlwind With Charlie Hebdo,

Here is a commentary on the general situation by a war-journalist of deservedly high reputation, Patrick Cockburn: Charlie Hebdo Attack.

And, finally, a commentary about the actual moral norms throughout history written by Razib Khan, himself born into a Muslim family and now an atheist: Taboos Against Blasphemy Are Normal.

The Modern Failure to Deal with Large, Complex Human Communities

Posted January 6th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: communal human being, decay of civilization, Freedom and Structure in Human Life

See the article, Notable: Bigger groups make less social time for red colobus, at John Hawk’s website. [I had a problem linking properly to this article but it can be found under “Stories” if it doesn’t come up on the front page. I will adjust my link when possible.]

Professor Hawks discusses an article summarizing research on troops of red colobus monkeys in Uganda. The research article provides empirical evidence that, for this particular primate, greater group size can reduce socializing because of the greater need to move about to gather food. For monkeys as well as men, there are only 24 hours in the day. Think of this trivial truth in light of a complex human community where “making a living” covers a lot of ground, education when young and, at various times and in various ways, participation in the lives of overlapping communities of a political or economic or religious or cultural nature.

I’ll move to more speculative realms of thought, seeing what can be made of this empirical data within the context of my Christian understanding of monkeys, of men, of this world, of all of Creation.

Of course, the obvious difference between men and monkeys is that men supposedly are more rational and can work to make their lives better in various ways. Obvious, maybe in theory and in the practice of better ages and better communities than those of the modern West. Not so obvious in light of the growing incoherence in the political and economic and other communities of the West, including that community which is Western Civilization itself.

The world is too much with us. There are only 24 hours in the day and we are given only our three-score and ten years on earth. We must make choices and set priorities. Are we to be active political animals? Are we to be devoted to demanding careers? (This latter was, and sometimes is, more possible for men in ages or social groupings where the wife takes on the role of building and maintaining family and other relationships as well as running the household.)

Though it might be coming to an end very soon, modern men of the West have been rich enough to be able to afford to waste much time (not in the useful way of creative writers or artists) and to teach their children that they can go to school for seven hours a day and practice/play a demanding sport a couple hours a day and play the guitar another two hours and watch three hours of videos each evening and spend many hours on their cell-phone and… Then you can look at the school-day and see it is typically a smear of diluted learning and shallow socializing and the satisfying of bureaucratic rules and… There’s always time to do many things and much time to play our roles as vulnerable consumer widgets but not enough time to do the important things right—which often means intensely.

There have been some strange life-styles made possible, though only for a decade or two in all likelihood. Think of all those people, mostly but not all young, who seem to ignore all traditional and more earthly forms of socializing to engage in socializing by way of cell-phones or video games or Facebook and similar stuff.

Speculatively: I think that, faced with the need to choose activities, modern human beings—at least those of the West—have chosen a way of socializing that numbs them rather than truly engaging them in a rich, complex human life. Deeper engagement in careers in science or art or literature or house-building or teaching is sacrificed, often under pressure from exploitive political or economic systems. I’ve read testimony that some in the younger generation have good formal skills in many areas and show no real life inside of them—they make better physics students than physicists in one such testimony, at least so long as being a student is defined in terms of textbook learning and the corresponding tests.

Within our limited lives, many make their choices according to this pretense that each of us can be whatever we want and we can be that soon. In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of damage being done to individuals and communities by the shallow sorts of men and women who had taken to this world devoted to feel-good busyness rather than to accomplishment. In particular, a great deal of harm has been done by the ambitious but mostly untalented human beings who have chosen to devote themselves to careers and volunteer-works which allow them power over human communities and human individuals. Politics, in the United States and other Western countries, is dominated by those with little in the way of knowledge or intelligence or the intellectual skills which can help the less-intelligent to function by way of thoughts and rules of behavior developed by the great thinkers and doers of a human community and filtered through communal consensus. (For my use of `intellect’, see Intelligence vs. Intellect and—for the greater context of a complete human nature— Do We Need Heart and Hands as Well as Mind to Understand Reality?. Better still, download my book on the subject: A More Exact Understanding of Human Being.)

In a world where human beings tend to be busy rather than engaged, those with the talents of being busy dominate over those who might do their work in more appropriate ways only to emerge from, say, their cubicle at CIA with an intelligent analysis of the shooting down of flight MH17 over the Ukraine only to find the busy little bees have already set a disastrous policy in place. It doesn’t take long for a busy little bee to generate a flashy presentation using all sorts of graphics, to-do lists, and have-done lists.

How have we arrived at so basically incoherent an understanding of human nature? How have we constructed human communities so fundamentally incoherent? How have we built so many political and economic and cultural communities and institutions dominated by those not good at much except acting beyond their competence? By way of what I call “the poisons of individualistic ideologies.” As I will explain in the essay I plan to finish and publish soon, a creature both individualistic and communal which pretends to be radically and almost solely individualistic will greatly deform itself; that deformed creature will live in small-scale communities partly deformed but at least somewhat conforming to human nature; these deformed individuals and small-scale communities will start to gather together in ways which seem voluntary and, in any case, correspond poorly to the needs and legitimate desires of better-formed individuals and small-scale communities (such as families and economic groups). The resulting large-scale communities might well be absolute disasters, as is true of the economic and political communities of the West.

From there, our communities at all scales will grow still more incoherent and the individuals in those communities will be more deeply deformed over the years. Until the breaking point comes. And it might be almost here for the West.

Taking Stock of What I’ve Done and Plan to Do in This New Year of 2015

Posted January 2nd, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Christian in the universe of Einstein

Happy New Year. May the Good Lord bless you and yours.

It’s now 2015. Where Am I In My Mission?

Clearly, I’m not writing a blog which simply responds to cultural or political or intellectual events or states. I’m not part of an established institutional effort, not part of a mission as the term would imply in general usage inside a church or inside a modern secular institution which has acquired much of the bad which was in early modern Christianity and nothing of the good.

I’m thinking and writing my way toward an understanding of the Creation which is the work of the God of Jesus Christ, Father and Son and Holy Spirit who are one God. I’ve done much on certain fundamental topics, call them parts of a new, Christian metaphysics. I’ve put some effort into the understanding of specific aspects of the universe and time and space and matter and human nature.

St Thomas Aquinas made specific a principle underlying all rational human thought, including metaphysics; this is to say it’s a principle which shows in the history of all rational human thought though sometimes implicitly while being explicitly denied: metaphysics depends upon empirical knowledge and upon the forms of theoretical and speculative thought tied directly to such knowledge.

I’ve found my mind moving to and from different levels of abstract and concrete being, often in a fun but frustrating effort to link them. Sometimes, I’ve tried to figure out if there is a more general importance to criminal conspiracies of the sort ever and always committed by the greedy and ambitious and by dynastic families which sometimes have a bit of true nobility in their thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes, I’ve turned to an effort to understand the nature of the human mind, itself formed by our responses to our environments and founded upon a brain itself formed by our ancestors’ responses to their environment.

To me, it seems that we are dealing with being when we discuss these issues and not talking about some sort of knowledge about concrete things and other forms of concrete being. We don’t know about created being or divine Being, at least in the modern sense of `know'; our being forms a relationship with other created things and with created being in general. We come in contact with all of that created being, including even those abstract truths of mathematics which God manifested as a particular form of abstract being. We can also come into contact with God Himself but I’ll mostly leave that to the side in this discussion.

For now, I’ve done about all I can in building my worldview and I’m trying to re-focus on what might be called `applications’—take the scare quotes as merely a sign I can’t come up with a single word to accurately describe the multiple paths I see in front of me.

I hope to complete three novels which have hung around for 10 years or more, at least in the form of characters in my mind. Still one more has been alive, but asleep most of the time, for several years. Having released the first of three projected volumes of a spiritual conversion novel—of a sort which will merely confuse those with a peasant piety, I’d like to get to work on the second volume by this summer.

I hope also to continue working toward a case-study of sorts, or perhaps I should call it a case-example: developing a disciplined way to speak of human nature in its totality, individual and communal, using qualitative language or abstractions similar to what has been used in modern physics and other sciences—such as the use of tensor calculus to describe relationships by defining groups of allowable transformations. Though often powerful in well-focused analyses, quantitative analysis as used in the social sciences is deeply unconvincing as understanding or even as good pointers to understanding. I suspect that proper qualitative analyses, dealing with shapes and relationships, will lead to tensor-like `equations’, that is, to descriptions of the transformation properties which more particular equations would have to meet. More recently, I’ve come to some interest in the generalizations of the concepts of `limit’ and `continuity’ in topology.

I’m not opposed to heavy amounts of quantitative analysis in even matters of, for example, moral nature. Nor am I opposed to conventional modes of metaphysical analysis, historical analysis, theological analysis, etc. Yet, I see a problem and am surprised so many intelligent human beings seem to be blind to this problem: a human being’s thought takes place inside a mental context, almost a virtual world, which is an image of reality as understood by that human being. It is a world of being and not a world of being and minds rising above being to understand it using truths from some sort of transcendental realm.

At this level of a creature struggling to encapsulate Creation in his own mind-brain, it isn’t the case that thought is divided between global and local, rather is it the case that global and local thought takes place in a context which is more or less true to created reality, to Creation, as best understood by a particular group of thinkers. We also deal with quantitative and qualitative aspects of created being in this context. An understanding of Creation does involve moving into more abstract realms of being, ultimately reaching the truths God manifested as the raw stuff of Creation, but those abstract realms aren’t truly separate from the concrete realms of being. Concrete, thing-like, being is shaped from abstract forms of being—as we should have learned from quantum mechanics—and those abstract forms of being remain present in the most mundane of concrete things.

There is a bit of historical relativity in this. We understand by forming relationships with being, ideally an encapsulation of being in the operations of our own brains and minds, and we understand those realms and types of being with which we can form relationships. Plato and Aristotle were, in this sense, just as correct as were Aquinas and Einstein or Darwin but their context was more limited—they knew of a more limited range of created being and this means, is equivalent to the claim that, they had a more limited range of relationships with created being. They brilliantly encapsulated much truth from the realms of being they could observe or theorize about or speculate about and that truth comes out. Any effort to make sense of Creation using that more restricted part of Creation in this year of 2015 would produce results being false in a deep sense.

In terms of modern physics, cosmological studies and studies of how matter and energy and fields are built up in the small both take place within an overall understanding of the Universe, an understanding shaped from the cosmological studies (dominated by the best current gravitational theory—general relativity) and studies of the small (quantum mechanics). It’s a recursive process in which the parts form the whole which then works to shape the parts.

And yet we have to remember that element of historical relativity: we work with what we have and often the best of human thinkers have had better materials at the local level or at the global level. After making initial observations of empirical reality, the ancient Greeks engaged in speculation—“philosophy.” The way was more open for what might be labeled global or cosmological thinking, though the Greeks had accomplishments in the more empirical realms of thinking and doing. In more recent centuries, human accomplishments have been far greater in the empirical realms of being though oddly enough that led physicists to redefine space and time and matter and energy and led mathematicians to redefine infinity and to generally open up new ways of human thinking. Empirical scientists, including mathematicians and mathematical physicists, had reached the boundaries of what the Greeks would have considered to be the Cosmos, the totality, and yet created being wasn’t exhausted.

Cosmological thinking, in physics or philosophy, at the level of the physical universe and perhaps a bit more give a good model for still greater perspective—thinking at the level of Creation.

In a sense, a strong sense for Christians, such thinking at the level of all contingent being is constructing a story which makes sense of the best available knowledge of theology and astronomy and history and technology and uses the best of the arts and literature. Nowadays, even Christians don’t seem to see a need for such an effort—they are pretending to be comfortable living in a world where Christian understandings of human nature and of time and space and matter are at odds with the scientific knowledge seen in television documentaries and deployed in our medical and communications and power-production technologies. The children of those Christians are exposed to this modern empirical knowledge and and technology at young ages and throughout the periods in which their minds form and, not surprisingly, Christianity makes no sense to them and doesn’t even draw their interest as they enter adulthood.

I’m trying to remind my fellow Christians and others of our duty and our need to make sense of Creation in all realms of created being; doing so, after all, is no more and no less than an effort to share the thoughts God manifested in Creation, no more and no less than an effort to form proper relationships with various sorts and realms of created being.

And so it is that I’ll continue my work but I’ll turn, at least for now, to novels and to the studying which might make possible that case-example of using abstractions from modern mathematics and physics to understand the way in which individual humans are, so to speak, regions on a hypersurface which is communal human being. But I don’t plan on ignoring my blog; it is likely my selection of topics will be more idiosyncratic. I may also try to write some more accessible efforts and even to prepare presentations though I fully expect to go to my grave before Christian leaders and thinkers are ready to admit they don’t have all the answers they pretend to have. I most certainly don’t expect mainstream thinkers to admit that Christian beliefs should inform efforts to understand our world.

Debunking the Putin-as-Demon Myth

Posted December 29th, 2014 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Christianity, Evil, honesty in perception, Moral issues, politics

There are those who prefer facts and rational thought. There are even those who are Christians and realize that participation in a campaign of lies against a man or a country is a mortal sin. Moreover, Christians should realize that a mind deformed by lies is a disordered mind, a mind of a human being who wouldn’t be happy living in any Heaven consistent with Christian beliefs. The wages of sin are death, a death proceeding through and more deeply into regions of disorder. This can be literally true when the lies seem intended to perhaps start one or more wars but certainly to prevent countries not subservient to Washington and Wall St from rising to a prosperous condition. Yet, the main issues remain the moral duty to treat others, God’s creatures, with the proper respect and the corresponding moral duty to treat God’s world, the story He is telling in this concrete realm of Creation, with the proper respect. True Christians, certainly not including the huge number of American jingoists who play at being Christians, look for the truth and don’t try to keep alive fairy-tales convenient to the American power-elite—who oddly enough are the ones who have stolen much wealth from the ordinary American citizens and have nearly succeeded in making this country no more than their toy.

In any case, those who wish to have some facts in hand before forming opinions might wish to read Boyd D. Cathey’s article on some of the basic facts of Vladimir Putin, his life and his expressed thoughts, as well as a little bit of the facts supporting Russian nervousness about the intentions of the West: Examining the Hatred of Vladimir Putin and Russia

My personal take on Vladimir Putin: He seems to be a true Christian who will hold the line on matters of importance; he will defend Christian social and moral order. He also seems to be a true Russian patriot who will protect his country against the pirates, politicians and bankers, of the West who are looking for loot to keep their murderous and thieving schemes going for just a little longer.

My personal take on Western Christians: They have revealed themselves to be treacherous, fair-weather friends of God. They are waging war upon God’s Creation, thinking tolerance for troubled human beings should be turned into a celebratory endorsement, stealing from those and murdering those who refuse to allow themselves and their countries to be exploited by a West that lives beyond its current means.

Traditional Morality is Dead, Long Live Traditional Morality: Reformulating Traditional Morality

Posted December 24th, 2014 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Body of Christ, Christianity, civilization, Human nature

I have published two essays in this short series: Traditional Morality is Dead, Long Live Traditional Morality: A World of Evolution and Development and Traditional Morality is Dead, Long Live Traditional Morality: The Dangers of Understanding God’s Acts-of-being.

Now I will write about the greater meaning of this line of thought. I’m writing in response to Claes Ryn’s essay describing how the moral teachings and traditions of the West could re-establish some sort of peace in our world: The Moral Path to Peace. Some who traveled part of their intellectual journey as I did might ask, “How can you criticize an essay summarizing a clearly articulated and morally well-ordered knowledge of reality, a speculative wisdom with which you claim to largely agree?” I criticize in the same spirit in which I criticize even that Founding Father of the West, St Augustine of Hippo. He was human and made some mistakes but still more importantly: he was a man of the 4th and 5th centuries and we’ve learned much more than was known to the entirety of the human race in 400AD.

But what did he do in his effort to save something of Roman Civilization and all of Christianity as he knew it? At the time of Augustine, the best of pagan thinkers were claiming the fall of Rome and the collapse into barbarism was due to Christian influences which weakened the Roman character. Rather than trying to restore all that had been lost, Augustine met the challenge with courage and honesty. He presented the world with a Christian understanding of history as a linear series of passing entities and events and periods in which the Roman Empire itself was only one of those passing entities. In doing this, he preserved the Christian faith for the West and also preserved much of what was good in Roman and Greek culture in a way that disciplined those noble pagan cultures to future Christian purposes. Christ became the Lord of History and Augustus Caesar was pushed into the background; Virgil eventually served the Christian poet Dante.

In terms of our knowledge and understanding of Creation, the task for Christian thinkers in the modern world is similar but still broader and deeper than that of Augustine of Hippo. Christian understandings of Creation have been devastated, left in ruins, not so much by willful vandalism, though there was some of that, as by true advances in human knowledge in those realms of Creation we can directly explore (biology, physics, history, Biblical exegesis, etc.) and human knowledge of realms of Creation in which we must speculate (metaphysics, mathematics, logic, etc.). As Etienne Gilson claimed: Catholic intellectuals (I’d say all Christian intellectuals) have failed since 1800 to answer the questions raised in the modern world. As Joseph Ratzinger put it: modern Christians have been morally irresponsible in not properly caring for Christian civilization. I have my own ways of discussing this problem and the reader should know beforehand that I speculate that the Church Herself is the primary and central organ of the Body of Christ which is, in this mortal realm and in its ultimate form in Heaven, a completed and perfect human community which is a civilization containing a Church at worship but also much else which is validly human.

Men, individuals and also the entire species—however defined, are creatures, empirical inhabitants of a world of concrete being though not only concrete being. Still, we as a species have an evolutionary history which is a bit disturbing in some ways; murder and deceit and thievery are part of human behavior as are self-sacrifice and those random, little acts of charity which smooth our way in a sometime harsh world. We as individuals are sinners, as well as sometimes saints and often potential saints. But there are important details in any answer to such questions as: Why do we murder and steal and break trust in various ways? Is it because we inherited some sort of spiritual blemish due to a fall from grace by the ancestral couple Adam and Eve? Evolutionary theorists and geneticists tell us our last common male ancestor and last common female ancestress probably lived thousands and maybe tens of thousands of years apart. Is it because we’re descended from creatures who survived and reproduced with some success in a world with some nasty aspects? We can see our moral and spiritual failings and our corresponding strengths as the result of some complex mixture of traits and instincts and desires rather than as the result of a battle between a little angel and a little demon.

This entire line of thought I’ve been pursuing has raised questions as to the legitimacy of `schemas’ of understanding as used by Plato and Aristotle and Kant. Can the moral states of men be best, or even competently, understood in terms of virtues or any other such well-defined categories of moral traits? What I’ve said above would imply a rather strong, “No.”

This matters greatly in politics for various reasons, some having to do with observable and measurable differences in ethnic groups which have great implications for political and social and cultural issues. For me, those differences point also to a more complex Body of Christ than has been conjectured before.

In fact, it would seem doubtful there is a homogeneous or uniform `man’ to be described in terms of the tradition. Plato was speaking mostly of Greeks and not so much of Chinese or Africans; something similar can be said of Locke and Kant and most other philosophers who were part of what might simplistically called the schematic tradition. There is actually so much commonality and also so much clear thought of their situations that the best of these philosophers can play a role in understanding a world, indeed an entire Creation, though that world and that Creation must be seen in terms largely alien to most of the great philosophers, from Athens to the modern-day Cambridges.

Man not only has changed over time but man is also really the multitude of men whose characteristics vary over sometimes wide spectrums. There are some ethnic groups where shame holds (at least some Asiatics) and some where guilt holds (at least Northwestern Europeans). Some behave well when they know their kinsmen, at least, are observing and some struggle to behave well when isolated in the jungle. The first can more easily form great and stable communities and the second tend to a radical individualism, if not properly disciplined by other considerations. We’ve seen some of the dangers of the first realized in the extreme conventionalism of China when the Confucian bureaucracy controlled that land in the name of the emperors. We’re seeing some of the dangers of the second being realized in the moral and social disintegration of the liberal West. Since we know of no peoples perfectly balanced between individualistic and communal tendencies, we need to accept the historical fact—even if matters could have been different—that we need to work toward the formation of the Body of Christ and the formation of ourselves as members of that Body by way of a messy process involving two extremes.

See the writings of Peter Frost for an accessible entry into the anthropological and genetic work which has been done on these fields. These analyses indicate rather strongly that there are no absolute standards for organizing human communities because human nature, while a coherent concept pointing to a true sort of being, isn’t so uniform, isn’t so homogeneous, isn’t amenable to manipulation by either the warm fuzzy feelings of modern liberals nor by the harder-edged feelings of the followers of Burke nor Kirk nor Locke nor Jefferson nor—most certainly—those of the followers of von Mises. To anticipate a little, Ryn points to the importance of differences in cultures and local traditions but recommends a path for moral reform in the modern world which would be most plausible for those of northwestern European descent. And that probably won’t work even for those particular peoples because the West is currently dominated by a self-righteous American nation.

I consider myself to be, without qualification, a defender of Western, Christian Civilization, but I seem, with strong qualifications, to be turning away from much of post-Augustinian ways of thought. First I’ll note what would be obvious to any of my steady readers: I do think the citizens of the West have no intention to take up their moral responsibilities to their descendants and to God; as a consequence, I think the Body of Christ will be moving to the great Eurasian civilization whose economic aspects are being consciously shaped by the Chinese, the Russians, and others. This is sad, but it’s the Body of Christ which is of primary importance and the United States and its citizens are of no greater importance than any other particular nation and people and it is the American people and their leaders who have chosen to turn away from their responsibilities and their debts to pursue delusions of absolute power.

Ryn writes as if he considers Christian morality as binding upon himself and also quotes Jesus: “Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will be able to see and take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” And he goes on to speak with great wisdom and a tolerance of, perhaps even a liking or love for, the great variety to be found in men and their various communities:

The notion of universality that I associate with cosmopolitan humanism contains no implication that persons, peoples, and civilizations should conform to a single model of life or that universality can be imposed by means of political engineering. It may be helpful to contrast genuine universality with a type of universalism that today is particularly common and influential in the United States. I am referring to an ideologically intense variant of the Enlightenment mindset that assumes a single political system is desirable and even mandatory for all societies and should be everywhere installed, through military means if necessary. I have called this ideology the new Jacobinism. The French Jacobins summarized their putatively universal principles in the slogan “freedom, equality, and brotherhood.” They saw France as the redeemer of nations. The new Jacobins speak of “freedom” and “democracy,” and they have anointed the United States.

It is important to understand how radically that form of universalism departs from the older Western tradition in which there is an unsettled balance of the individual, or personal, and the communal in human nature.

The goal is noble, the method for reaching or even understanding the goal is defective. This becomes more clear in later lines in Ryn’s essay:

According to the classical and Christian traditions, moral virtue is indistinguishable from personal character. It is first of all a form of self-rule. It means subduing and ordering the passions. Jacobin virtue, by contrast, is primarily and directly political. It is a sense of moral superiority, of being a benefactor of mankind.

Though recognizing differences in “model[s] of life” and opposing ways of thought which assume “a single political system is desirable and even mandatory for all societies and should be everywhere installed, through military means if necessary,” Ryn advocates an individualistic approach to morality, “moral virtue is indistinguishable from personal character”. To be sure, he points to a true problem in the limited and deformed understanding the Jacobins had of what I call human communal nature. The problem with modern men is not an excessive longing for community; some modern thinkers hold a bad understanding of community in which all which is human is in the political sphere and some reject true community in favor of voluntary or even contractual relationships. As Ryn says, “Jacobin virtue…is primarily and directly political.” Our bloated estimation of what is possible by way of politics is a true problem but that indicates not that we should return to “personal character” as the only reality of human moral nature but rather that we should form proper communities in which our individual and communal natures can be properly formed and nurtured.

We men are, in fact, so tied in to communities in our moral and intellectual aspects as to make it difficult, at times, to think how we retain our individuality. I began to develop more clearly my ideas on this issue in Intelligence vs. Intellect where I was responding to Jacques Barzun’s discussion in The House of Intellect. I started my line of thought by responding to Barzun’s understanding of intellect which he stated simply:

Intellect is the capitalized and communal form of live intelligence; it is intelligence stored up and made into habits of discipline, signs and symbols of meaning, chains of reasoning and spurs to emotion—a shorthand and a wireless by which the mind can skip connectives, recognize ability, and communicate truth. Intellect is at once a body of common knowledge and the channels through which the right particle of it can be brought to bear quickly, without the effort of redemonstration, on the matter in hand.

As part of my response, I claimed that there is a human communal mind and, more generally, human being is both individual and communal. For real and not just a matter of speaking `as-if’.

In an essay I published later that same year of 2012, Do We Need Heart and Hands as Well as Mind to Understand Reality?, I continued to develop my understanding of human being, individual and communal. These ideas are presented in their currently most mature form in A More Exact Understanding of Human Being.

We do remain individuals while also being fully our communities—both are true in this world only in some sort of extrapolation as confessors and psychiatrists and novelists can tell us. Though there are always the exceptions which prove, that is—test, the rule, personal character and community character move together. This doesn’t mean that all men in the future American states in 1776 were at the same level—the Founding Fathers were not uniformly moral giants but all did display at least the virtue of courage in difficult circumstances. (Though some weren’t particularly brave in the way of serving in the Continental Army but they all risked the hangman’s noose.) What it does mean is that the Founding Fathers, including a disproportionate number who were relative moral giants, were unusual; the American people never chose to even try to emulate men of (real or idealized) public honor and our current mess, as well as earlier messes, are the results of not just objective historical events but also of the lack of American moral character capable of dealing with serious problems or with great wealth and power. This isn’t a weakness which can be overcome by a sudden reform of personal character on the part of millions of individuals. It is a problem which can only be solved by a multi-generational effort on the part of individuals and communities alike, an effort to raise both personal and communal moral character, inch by inch, with the personal sometimes moving ahead and the communal at other times. Such an effort would interfere with our trips to DisneyWorld or our concern for the NFL playoff situation or the latest wonderful television show about shallow, unlikable, and morally disordered human creatures.

We Christians believe we are images of God, He who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit in one God. Each of the three Persons remains a true individual while each being fully God. I’ve developed a modern Christian understanding of Creation by taking the Western theologies and philosophies and empirical sciences seriously. Under this understanding, I claim that those who will be saved and share God’s life will remain fully themselves while being fully the true and perfect man, the Body of Christ, or even—Christ.

Ryn, and most conservatives who may be Christians or have at least an appreciation for the Christian foundations of the West, know this. And they can’t take the bull by the horns. Ryn speaks of a “cosmopolitan humanism” which is a gathering of peoples and not a mob of uniform carbon-based entities. But it also isn’t anything like the Body of Christ which is an image of God in His unity as its members are images of the divine person who is the Son of God. With an imperfectly Christian understanding of community, Ryn then speaks of of moral virtue as if each of us stands free from the communities to which we belong, though those communities remain important in some sense subsumed under the term `cosmopolitan humanism’.

No.

The West was and is merely a fraud if it isn’t the product of a 1500 year long period in the life of the Body of Christ, a period in which that Body was being formed by evolutionary and developmental processes from a large number of human beings in their individual being as well as their being as members of overlapping human communities formed of families and ethnic genetic-lines, religious communities and vocational or professional communities, neighbors and fellow-citizens of more or less coherent nations or other political entities.

We are bound to these communities of individuals and communities. We are shaped by them. We are them and they are us. We are Christ and He is us.

I think the Body of Christ to be a complex entity indeed in which each individual member is also a member of many of the communities which function as organs.

The Christian Church is the central organ, but not the entirety of the Body. The reasoning toward this claim is found in my various writings including the freely downloadable book referenced above: A More Exact Understanding of Human Being.

I welcome the idea that other groups, certainly Jews, will also become part and parts of this complete and perfect human community which is also Christ, the Son of God. That is to say, I think the idea is plausible and worthy of exploration.

Yet, each person in each community has to live and speak in specific terms if we are to diagnose and heal our civilization and such a healing—to a Christian—is a return to the path which can be traveled by men of good-will and which leads to salvation; God is, of course, free to put some on other paths where they have no direct access to human means of salvation. There is also the optimistic idea that men of weak good-will and even some rebels might well travel with the pilgrim Body of Christ even into the world of the resurrected. Do we retain a pagan view of being or do we adopt the view proclaimed by St John the Evangelist and rediscovered by `radical’ thinkers in quantum mechanics? (See two early and short essays for the meaning of this statement: Einstein and Bohr’s debate on the meaning of reality and Quantum Mechanics and Moral Formation.)

Civilization is what shapes us, what lives inside our minds and souls. Civilization is a narrative which tells us what it all means, including our lives individual and communal. Civilization, and not just the Christian Church, is the Body of Christ in its mortal, pilgrim form. A proper Christian civilization would be the best possible earthly school to prepare us for Heaven. And, finally, the Body of Christ in the world of the resurrected will be much like a completed and perfected civilization.

We Christians or Jews or Moslems or other believers in a personal God Who is concerned with this world are bound to very explicitly put God in the center of our thoughts and our communities and our civilizations. Since we Christians believe not just in a Creator but in a Creator who became man, immanent in His own Creation, then we particularly are bound to pay attention to empirical reality, including all of the abstract forms of knowledge derived from that reality. We must shape our understanding of human nature using the best of modern empirical knowledge, however disconcerting at times.

I’ve done much towards the goal of understanding Creation so that we can properly shape our minds and souls as well as those of our communities, even the Body of Christ on earth. Interested readers can find information on my writings by downloading Catalog of Major Writings by Loyd Fueston.

The Long War of the American Ruling Class Against All That Exists

Posted December 17th, 2014 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: decay of civilization, Narratives and truth, politics

That Brazilian globetrotter, Pepe Escobar, has summarized the New Cold War in a recent article, The new European “arc of instability”. In that article, he published a paragraph from an email he received from the Saker, a former military intelligence analyst who lives outside his homeland of Russia but defends her strongly and intelligently in his comments on the Internet. Saker tells us:

“Putin is telling both the West and the Russian people that there is a long war in progress and that the Russian people have to morally be prepared to accept sacrifices for the survival of Russia. This is one more step in the ‘coming-out’ of what I call the ‘Eurasian Sovereignists’ in which the US [has] now openly declared as a Russophobic (Russia-hating and Russia-fearing) enemy, and the Europeans as a powerless colony. Military power is not directly a factor in this, the internal power balance between the pro-Western ‘Atlantic Integrationists’ and the ‘Eurasian Sovereignists’ is.”

(You can find more writings of the Saker at The Vineyard of the Saker or Russia Insider.)

All of this is interesting and extremely important but I’m going to deal with this specific idea of a “long war” and in a terrible insight into the moral degeneracy of the American ruling class but a degeneracy being endorsed by even those Americans who live local lives of moral integrity: the United States is waging a demonic war against all that exists to the extent it won’t bow to the American ruling class. Captain Ahab, he of utilitarian competence and moral insanity, is the normal American, as Melville feared back in the 1850s. (The results of recent American adventures in Asia and Africa and even in Detroit and Ferguson raise questions as to our competence in 2014, but that merely turns a moral tragedy into a greater farce.)

As I see matters, the American ruling class is waging a long war against nearly every entity and region on the face of the earth. I don’t exclude the American people or peoples or individual citizens nor do I exclude the various regions and cities of the United States. So far as I can tell, the American ruling class is comfortable only with gangster and bankster behavior, enforcing their desires upon others. I almost think they would be disappointed if everyone on earth were suddenly to obey Washington or Wall St. A great period of boredom would set in. There would be no reason for ambitious young Americans to go to Harvard or Stanford to learn how to play with the world as if it were a risk board and its men, women, and children were plastic pieces.

This moral sickness on the part of Americans, foreseen by the likes of Melville and Hawthorne in the 1850s and others since, is what doomed the peace dividend when the Soviet Union fell: we Americans, along with some of our allies in Europe and other regions, had built up bloated militaries and national security agencies which had no way to justify their existence unless they continued waging war upon…anyone and everyone. From the beginning there were Dr Strangeloves and bomb-crazy generals and politicians combining ignorance with an egocentric understanding of the world. Nearly all American leaders, including those religious leaders betraying God and flocks, came to enjoy this idea that we Americans know how human beings should live. All Americans are ever horrified to discover some peoples hate us for our DisneyWorlds and our McDonalds and our military bases in their backyards. Those who fear such a morally trashy culture and nation for the sake of their own children are as jingoistic as those who treat wars against largely defenseless countries as another spectator sport—see Dumber Every Day, With Beer in Hand and War on TV.

In a fit of paranoia, we Americans fell in behind our profiteering leaders to threaten war against the entire world and to actually wage it upon various countries, including two countries, Iraq and Libya, which were suffering under brutal leadership but were also advancing in many ways toward a stable and prosperous state. And, all the time, our leaders were using some American citizens to wage war upon the entirety of the citizenry.

I’ve covered much of this ground before and have little to add. I prefer to get back to my goal of developing ways of thought which can help us, or our descendants, to better shape our multitude of overlapping communities, including those of a political and military nature. Above, I gave some links to relevant essays I’ve written. The interested reader can also check out a recent essay I wrote trying to make larger-scale sense of this bad situation: Deep States and the Modern American Citizen. That essay contains links to other, related essays I’ve posted over the past 5 years or so which deal with conspiracies in the sense of deep-states or predatory classes. (A little warning: I prefer to speak in terms of classes or institutions and to reserve the word `conspiracy’ for specific criminal projects.)

Finally, for two different takes on the state of the American moral character, see The Need for Abstractions in Moral Self-understanding and Quietly Charitable or Quietly Murderous But Always Quietly American. That first essay discusses the moral insanity which was already well-developed in the New Englanders of the 17th century as they waged war against Indians, even those who had become Christians, because they hadn’t become English middle-class Christians of the Puritan sort. There were, of course, other issues and the native Americans had their own brutal criminals, but my broad-brush statement holds when properly qualified.