The Good of Metaphysics and the Sophists

Aristotle's Masterful "Metaphysics"

By: Jay For Aristotle, the starting point of Wisdom, or philosophy, was metaphysics.  Modernity has more or less rejected metaphysics in its quest for self-destruction.  But metaphysics will never go away, because metaphysics is reality itself - the study of the totality of what is.  Metaphysics is the starting point in terms of actual foundations of knowledge and presupposition, yet comes at the end of the process of pedagogy, as it is the highest science.   Nowadays, aside from some continental philosophers who follow in the train of genius writers like Husserl, theoria and metaphysics have been jettisoned for pragmatism, post-modernism and other forms of nonsense that Ayn Rand aptly describes as the self-destruction of philosophy.  There is a long train of contributors to this gradual decline. Unfortunately, certain basic flaws in Aristotle's own position led to the decline, particularly his adoption of empiricism.  Aristotle cut the world off from the possibility of any other world or reality or dimension, and while it took a millennia or two, this ultimately resulted in materialism, positivism and then, the tossing out of all meaning and purpose.  In fact, that last notion was crucial for early moderns like Bacon who did have legitimate scruples with Aristotle.  Aristotle had adopted several ideas about the natural world from tradition, such as that the heavens are perfectly unchanged, static realities, or that rocks have an essential quality of "going downward."   Bacon rightly laughed at this, but Bacon didn't foresee that tossing out Aristotle's final cause, or telos, would result in the total collapse of philosophy. The place of Thomas Aquinas can also not be forgotten in this chain.  Aquinas followed suit with an Aristotelian-Platonic synthesis (so he thought), which placed human reasoning on an independent basis that never touched the divine, since the absolutely simple divine essence, within which the divine archetypes upon which even "natural" reasoning was based, were never accessed by the mind of man in this life.  He held this because of his idea of simplicity, which was such that the divinity, which is also the ground of human knowledge, never interacts with or connects to the abstracted phantasms in man's mind, since the exemplars themselves are "in the divine essence" is a "First Cause" that is always only able to "reveal" itself by created effects in this life.  Bacon departed from these ideas, and turned to a more consistent (so he thought) empiricism. 

We don’t observe a telos, or purpose. We observe cause and effect, from a human vantage point.  But this is a double-edged sword: If things don’t have any purpose, essence or meaning outside of the arbitrary “meaning” individual, discreet humans ascribe to them, then meaning doesn’t inhere over time, and we end up with the problems Hume elucidated about identity over time.  Certainly Bacon still thought there was a Deity and meaning in the world, but he set in motion the train of (flawed) reasoning that would toss out any objective meaning.   If one truly adopts Bacon’s more consistent Thomistic more consistent Aristotelian empiricism, then one ends up with Hume’s radical skepticism.  And radical skepticism led moderns to adopt bizarre, destructive philosophies like nihilism, post-modernism and other forms of humanism.   Kant was thus right to seek for an answer to Hume in transcendental categories, because that is a return to the crucial area of a priori notions where Plato was right and Aristotle was wrong (though Aristotle was right about a lot).

For Kant, the solution was to reconcile how there could be a synthetic a prior claim that was true: how can we make an a priori claim about all experience?   Kant, following the Aristotelian notion of transcendental arguments correctly listed preconditional necessary categories that were presupposed in any human experience of cognition.  However, Kant messed up in still ascribing to empiricism, and in so doing, his categories never touched the objective, external world.  Kant could never know if any of his claims  and arguments were actually true of the noumenal world, and so he said they were only true of the phenomena of experience as they appeared.  And from there, as a rationalist, he tacked on all kinds of other ideas that only further ended destroying what was one of the greatest insights in the history of philosophy – preconditional categories of experience, proven by indirect, transcendental argumentation.

The solution to this imagined dilemma is rather simple: toss out the imagined divide between the phenomenal and noumenal, and hold to a direct experience of the world, and that the transcendental categories do apply to and explain the objective world that all men are party to.  This actually works, it makes sense, and explains how we do things like see, interpret, walk, cognize, build rockets, make sentences, etc.   Brilliant philosophers like P.F. Strawson have carried on this monumental work of real philosophy in transcendental arguments, taking into the realm that most obviously demonstrates this: that of linguistics.  For a human person to make a single sentence presupposes an entire world, structured in a certain way – this is the salvation and continuation of real philosophy, while the relativists and post-modern losers will be left in the dust.

So we can salute Aristotle in his primacy of metaphysics and be simultaneously saddened in his acceptance of the nascent empiricism that would be the death of the west, ending in total relativism.  It may have taken a few thousand years to realize the full implications of the supposedly neutral “scientific method” to collapse, and if there is to be science any longer, it must recognize that theoria and philosophy is necessary.  Of course, one of the problems is getting people to even understand what transcendental arguments are and why they are relevant.

These are the kinds of issues that should appeal to the Godel-ish mathematical types, who are often far better minded for such issues than so-called “philosophers” at these pathetic universities, who are in truth nothing more than the sophists Plato and Aristotle argued against.  This worthless crew needs to go work in a factory somewhere or commit suicide in league with their nihilistic nonsense, and leave the philosophizing to those who know there is objective truth.   They are the enemies of all progress and are agents of destruction and morass.  And, it’s no accident that the ancient sophists are an unknown rabble, aside from one or two obscure names.  Thousands of years later, the world knows who Plato and Aristotle are.  The sooner the modern sophists pass out of existence, the better.  We need a return to Aristotle and logic, purged of its errors – a return to sound reasoning – to the trivium and quadrivium, and to the esoteric.  Let the relativists destroy and abort themselves out of existence.

8 Comments on The Good of Metaphysics and the Sophists

  1. Christopher Tello // November 1, 2011 at 3:29 am // Reply

    If you are not a moral relativist, why would you suggest suicide? Tongue in cheek is your answer correct? Isn’t that a slippery slip that desensitizes us and leads us right back into the mire? Why make a solid argument only to get overly emotional and undermind yourself?

  2. In my free ebook on comparative mysticism, “the greatest achievement in life,” is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

    E=mc², Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Love, Grace, Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

  3. Good stuff. Much better than some of the “quackademic” poison I’ve been reading the last few days. That is, a book by a socialist activist/professor Eric Havelock, arguing that the philosophy of Plato, especial ideas like universals, the immortal soul etc, are just the arbitrary products of a society transitioning from oral to literary culture. The argument is essentially the same as that of Mcluhan, that advances in communications technologies fundamentally change the way people think. Havelock argues the written word, unlike the spoken word, exists as an isolated, unchanging unit on a page, seemingly separate from a mere human speaker, thus it suggests towards a separate unchanging self, (the pysche) and underling, unchanging universal principles (the forms).
    He presents the pre-Socratics, (who unlike Plato and Aristotle expressed their philosophy through poetry) as part of an older oral tradition, that was concerned more with “doing” rather than “being.” ie, acting and feeling over thinking and theorizing. As evidence he points to the infrequence of the verb to be in earlier Greek literature (which he assumes to be reflective of pre-literate oral poetry.)
    While I agree with his thesis that writing provides the tools to think about things in a new way, leading to new ideas, I do not support his notion that this makes those discoveries mere arbitrary projections of an overly literate mind. Though it’s never openly said, it’s pretty clear the whole theory was concocted to support Marxist dialectic notions about the mind and Nietzsche’s Apollonian/Dionysian nonsense. Thus, man has no essential nature to be protected; all actions are mere products of blind historical circumstances and natural forces, the transcendental argument is false, existentialism prevails, there is no ultimate truth, etc, etc.
    After chocking this down, I read a LaRouche movement pamphlet suggestion that McLuhan’s whole “medium is the message” idea, was pushed to the forefront by the elite in an attempt to misdirect society. If wars, depressions and the like can be attributed to nothing more than historical forces, then it follows that no individual members of the ruling class can ever be identified as the cause of all these crimes.
    I can tell from this article that you are encountering much of the same garbage in academia. It’s unfortunate that, unlike you, most people entering university lack the preexisting philosophical tools required to combat or even identify this kind of claptrap, mostly due to the erosion of classical education under the current state model. Logic, reason and historical knowledge are largely ignored. Are you going for a PHD? Perhaps you can change the system from within. That’s what my brother is intent on doing. As for myself, I might one day return to academy though for now I’m content to boo or cheer from the sidelines. In the case of the above article, I’m definitely cheering.

    • Hey my man – sorry about the delay on the interview, I’ve been having to read “Blood Meridian” and do a presentation on it, as well as Aristotle’s metaphysics. Blood Meridian is totally gnostic, by the way.

      I’m bored to tears with those kinds of lame arguments against metaphysics like you mention. There is a book I’ve been perusing that makes that same point your illustrating about changes in language by Dudley Young – Origins of the Sacred: The Ecstasies of Love and War. It’s Vico meets Carl Jung. Some good stuff, but the same old tired modern arguments that end in relativism and meaninglessness. I completely agree with you – similar material in this book. I totally agree a lot of this is pushed on purpose – look at the publishing companies who print these books and who owns them. The elites destroyed the trivium and quadrivium in the schools, so that they alone would possess it, while the rest of the populace is under the control of the state. There is a good chapter in Hanna Arendt’s book “Origins of Totalitarianism” on this, titled “The Totalitarian Movement: Totalitarian Propaganda” ( LaRouche is correct about knowing the classics as a means to power, too. I read a bunch of this, which I think is somewhat far-fetched, but there is something to it (I typed this post before I had read this LaRouche article, too):

      That Judaism is another flavor of ancient near eastern paganism I don’t buy at all. I don’t seriously think there are two age-old secret societies of Aristotelians fighting Platonists, either, but some of this is insightful. And, both Aristotle and Plato have flaws. Certainly Aristotle’s position leads to materialism, positivism and pragmatism, as I argued above, because of his adoption of bare empiricism. Arendt’s piece also mentions the same idea of displacing the blame on mere historical forces that the “scientists” of the given regime, whether Soviet or Nazi, “discover.”

      “Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself: the masses have to be won by propaganda….It was recognized early and has frequently been asserted that in totalitarian countries propaganda and terror represent two sides of the same coin.” -Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, pg 341

      “Noam Chomsky, whose work is used prominently, and directly, for the development of explicitly brainwashing techniques, is a direct protege of the apparatus set up under Russell’s leadership. Russell-Korsch-Carnap-Chomsky linguistics extend the methods of synthetic religious-cult building of the Peripatetics to an extreme. The cognitive feature of the use of language is systematically outlawed wherever linguistics methods are employed. The philosophical outlook of the cult of Dionysus is central to linguistics. There is no universal lawfulness, but only the heteronomic impulses and desires of the individual and small group. In other words, the doctrines of Thomas Hobbes, also perceptively adopted by the Nazi regime as appropriate to its character.” -LaRouche

      I don’t know if I’d like to be in academia. It’s very controlled and boring – I like the idea of trying out other fields.

  4. Haha, Larouche is very out there to be sure! I agree with your above assessment of him. His presentation of the historic struggle between Aristotelians and Platonists is a manichean oversimplification to say the least. People, when behaving badly, be they lowly plebs or the so-called ruling elite, are less slaves to theory then they are creatures of convenience, adopting whatever philosophy can be used to justify their actions at the time. This lies behind the actions of so many tyrants and oligarchs. True some are religiously committed to one insane belief or another; in the service of which they will attempt to twist human nature itself but I think the majority of them are just power mad A-holes.
    Larouche’s misrepresentation of Judaism, his subversion of Christianity to Platonism, and his disconcertingly lukewarm criticism of Marx, are reflective of his own totalitarian, utopian-socialist proclivities. Larouche is quite clever to the point of arrogance. For this reason he’s has been able to build a cult of followers and for this reason he believes he knows what’s best for mankind. He sees himself as the self-appointed philosopher king who must head up a select committee of central planners. His rejection of the so-called Second Genesis account is ultimately just a rejection of the idea of original sin, a fact of life that has consistently proved the biggest roadblock to all utopian dreams. When men prove incapable of over coming this limitation, utopians deem Man something to be overcome. Larouche is slightly less susceptible to this error than many other socialist types, since, as a Platonist and Renaissance style Humanists, he at least believes man to have an essential nature, however he still wears his Promethean Hubris like a badge of honor and follows his convictions down the Gnostic rabbit hole. Though some of Larouche’s criticisms of anti-centralization Libertarianism is correct, I still think it is important to deny government too much power incase (perhaps well meaning individuals) like Mr. Larouche grab the reigns and take us all for a ride.
    Despite what I’ve just said, I still think that his critique of empiricism is quite good. His quote about Chomsky has some substance to it too. On the one hand Chomsky and other Cognitivists provide a useful counter to the error of tabla rasa nut jobs (the gender is a construct crowd and such) but in cognitive science there is also the danger of reducing man to a mere robot, enslaved to biological mechanisms. One group says any one choice is as good as another the other says choice itself is impossible. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Much of Western history has been an attempt to synthesize Aristotle and Plato. Larouche uses the School of Athens painting to signify the two of them being at odds when it reality it symbolizes the need to temper the idealism of one with the practicality of the other. As you rightly point out, there are essential errors in both philosophies, which are reconciled when both are maid subordinate to proper Christian doctrine. With a stress on the word “proper.”

  5. Hannah Arendt discusses the idea of the cia and mi5/6 as controlling the world as a Bolshevik invention. Interestingly, that’s precisely what Lyndon LaRouche argues.

    Yes, how one views man – as fallen, or as able to be “prefected,” or to be transcended, invariably affects your ideology and praxis.

    Yes, I made the same criticism of Aristotle in my blog post above. As above, so below, in this blog!

    Humans are creatures of extremes, and often when they find some position or proposition to be false, rush the furthest opposite end of the paradigm. Such is the dialectic.

  6. Philosophy’s biggest threat nowadays is definitely not a sort of philosophical nihilism, but, if anything, a global eliminativism through neuroscientific findings that do away with intentionality all together.

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