Category Archives: Philosophy

Three modes of principledness

Being principled means that you prioritize certain moral values over your own immediate personal interests.

There are at least three motivational modes of principledness.

Let’s call the first altruistic, the second virtuous and the third magnanimous.

The altruistically motivated person treats principles as something beyond self, apart from one’s own being. He sets aside his selfish needs, in order to dedicate himself to something higher than himself.

The virtuously motivated person treats principles as qualifications of excellence. He follows principles to cultivate his best self.

The magnanimously motivated person treats principle as a condition for membership in higher-order selves. By committing to principles and being faithful to them, one enters into relationships with others who honor the same principles, and participates in transcendent selves, for example, a marriage or a friendship or a community of faith.

Identity comes from higher-order selves, within which we participate, to whom we belong.

What identitarians call “identity” is just social category. It is no wonder that identity is an issue for them. They do not know what identity is or how a sense of identity is developed. Everything they do to solve the problem exacerbates it.

Uniqueness, universality and the social region

What is unique to each of us is intimately connected with what is universal to all of us.

The connection is intimate but it runs a long and intricate circuit through everyday, practical life.

Let us call this intimate, intricate circuit the social region.

In good times, the social region mediates between uniqueness and universality and provides us roles and identities that do justice both to our uniqueness and to universality. Because it mediates uniqueness and universality, we find social existence tolerable and sometimes worthwhile.

In bad times, the social region imposes upon us roles and identities which suppress our uniqueness and eclipse our relation to universality. Social existence alienates us from ourselves, and from universality beyond socially given commonalities.

Cut off from our uniqueness, individuals are reducible to identity. Cut off from universality, reality is socially constructed.

Cut off from everything apart from social existence, tormented by their alienation, social activists work tirelessly deconstruct and reconstruct society, in order to win the recognition, power and resources to which those of their identity are entitled. They win and win and win. But with each victory they feel less and less victorious. And the social region, as it tries to do more and more of what it cannot do, becomes more and more alienated and alienating.

Arthur C. Clarke famously said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The supreme example of such a technology is religion.

And ironically, another example is… magic.

We do not even know what either of these technologies exist to do.

But we go on knowing, anyway, with “the sublime confidence of the ignorant.”*

This addled age is a cargo cult of history.

Credit to Freddy DeBoer for the hilarious expression: “the sublime confidence of the ignorant.”

This article, by the way, is about the unfounded belief that a normal, intact personality lurks beneath the outward personalities of the severely autistic.

This exhibits the same disastrous mental move I have observed in vulgar understandings of the subconscious. Somehow, fully-formed but unspoken beliefs lurk beneath the surface of consciousness, forever trying to bob up, despite our frantic efforts to push them back under, away from our awareness.

Both are the result of an incapacity to think subjectivity-first.


Something incomprehensible is happening to us.

It is happening to all of us, all at once, and each of us, personally.

It is happening so rapidly, so pervasively and so totally that the change is, as yet, incomprehensible.

It is happening immanently, in every minute detail of our individual and collective lives, but it is obviously also happening transcendently: something portentous is going on elsewhere, beyond, and manifesting here, now, personally.

The whole itself is disturbed, and life is saturated with signs of the disturbance.

Some read the signs as the creaks and groans of decaying institutions, preceding total collapse. Some read them as clues of secret scheming of a malevolent totalitarian cabal, while others diagnose this reading as precisely the kind of paranoid theories concocted and propagated by totalitarian populists. Some read the signs as Gaia making final preparations to heal herself of the destructive parasite we have become. Some interpret these signs as an approaching futureshock of exponential proportion. A post-singularity artificial god will purge us from the planet. Some read the signs as the harvest of evil seeds planted centuries ago — a long overdue reckoning — a humanist ultio dei. Others see it all as prophesied trials and tribulations finally coming to pass.

Different faiths, different metaphysics, different elsewheres, different beyonds — different accounts, different explanations. But for all their differences, they all point to a common phenomenon: our shared sense that the fabric of reality is unraveling.

It manifests as uncanniness. We are all collectively and individually anxious about everything-all-at-once. Most of us fixate on one or several particular foci. But the themes and things upon which we focus our angst are just condensations of something in the air. That something defies focus. It demands something else.

The something-in-the-air that everything-all-at-once is not calling us to action.

It is calling us to a reorientation to subjectivity.

We can no longer be naively objective. Mere objectivity will no longer deliver us.

We must learn to comprehend our own subjectivity, and the supersubjectivities in which we participate.

Who are your supersubjects? Or rather, to which supersubjects do you belong?

And do your supersubjects answer to anyone higher than themselves?

Some do, some don’t.

Most don’t.

Remedial phenomenology

For the last couple of months I have been re-grounding myself in Husserl’s phenomenology. The work I am interested in doing is phenomenological, but it is not, itself, phenomenology. By returning to Husserl, I hope to arrive at the point of departure for my project. I am interested in approaching philosophy as a design discipline, both in the form of the philosophy (writing, visuals, practices designed to impart a particular faith) and in its substance (the life afforded by adoption of the faith). To make matters weirder, the faith itself is designerly. Obviously, it is a synthesis of philosophy, design and religion that profoundly scrambles the current meanings of philosophy, design and religion.

Natural as opposed to what?

I’ve used the word “natural” to four very different ways, and each is defined against a different opposite. These are each

The first two are the boring obvious ones.

  • Natural versus manmade. Is it from the wilderness, or is it from our own hands?
  • Natural versus supernatural. Does it obey the laws of nature, or does it follow the laws of something or someone beyond nature? Note: I understand there are less vulgar notions of supernatural, but for the present purposes, let’s use the vulgar sense.

The second two (to me, anyway) are more interesting.

  • Natural versus unnatural. Does something subjectively feel as though it spontaneously participates in nature or does it seem alienated from it and at odds with it? This could be subdivided into any number of categories, depending on the perceived location of the unnaturalness. For example, it could be one’s own self (“this action feels unnatural”) or in a perceived or conceived object (“that light looks unnatural”).
  • Natural versus phenomenological. Am I regarding some phenomenon in solely terms of the object given to my perception or conception, or am I understanding the phenomenon also as a subjective act of perceiving or conceiving some given object? And I will always add: and if conceived differently, will reveal a different given object.

These latter two are at the heart of my philosophical design work.

Can phenomenological freedom be used skillfully to suspend one natural way of perceiving in order to reconceive reality (or nature, if you prefer) in another way — a way that is shockingly unfamiliar, yet just as natural as the old one. A new comprehensive praxic gestalt clicks into place, replacing the old “everything” gestalt.

This is a non-supernatural account of metanoia, and it suggests that philosophies rooted in phenomenological reflective practice can be a kind of genuine religious practice. If one is willing to pay the necessary exorbitant price, one can radically reconfigure one’s own subjectivity, objectivity and subject-object relations.

For a long time I was planning to call my perpetually unwritten book on this subject Second-Natural. I was also playing with another title The Ten Thousand Everythings.

Now I am leaning toward calling it Enworldment.

Phenomenological prayer

Reality is an articulate whole we inhabit.

Reality is myriad interacting things among us.

Reality is participation with our fellow inhabitants.

We participate in realities beyond our comprehension.

Interacting things unite and divide.

The whole can rearticulate in shocking ways.

Reality is not what we think it is.

Things can be otherwise.

We are not who we think we are.

Metanoia and the triad

A problem is coming into view for me.

For the last two decades, it has seemed true to me that we have three fundamental factors that shape our being:

The first factor is intuition, and intuition’s “object”, everyday, immediate givens — those real entities we encounter and interact with in the course of our practical lives. Do we have a clear conception of these givens, that allows us to relate this particular given to other givens? Or is our intuition purely tacit recognition that lies dormant in oblivion until it spontaneously recognizes and responds to some given, and then recedes back into oblivion? All encounters with entities around us, whether conceived or merely recognized, are given to experience. Intuition is the faculty of immediate givenness.

The second factor is will — our own motivated response or nonresponse to what we experience. Do we ignore or attend? If we attend, do we merely observe or do we respond? If we respond, do we respond subjectively by adjusting our understanding or attitude, or do we try to respond objectively by changing that which we experience? Or do we do both at once, and interact — alternating fluidly between acting upon and being acted upon? All response, whether ignorant or attentive, whether observational or active, whether inward, outward, or both is will.

The third factor is metaphysical attitude — our sense of reality and our own place in it and our relationship with it, to it, within it. In fact, it might be the essence of our metaphysic what preposition we prepose when relating self to beyond-self. This metaphysical attitude is an implicit faith, which might or might not be articulated as a metaphysical doctrine, and that articulation might be a faithful expression of the implicit faith or it might be in conflict with one’s implicit faith, which means it is held in bad faith.

This is my best understanding of the great triad. The source of intuitive givens is Earth, who is Prakriti, who is Shekhinah, who is the Virgin. The source of reality within whom we exist is Heaven, who is Purusha, who is Keter, who is YHWH. Between is Man, who is the Ideal Person, the polycentered heart of the world, and the schlub who is each of us.

Rabbi Simcha Bunim taught: “Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. On one: ‘I am a speck of dust,’ and on the other : ‘The world was created for me.’”

If we manage to change our metaphysical attitude, it changes also our intuition and our will. I am talking here about metanoia.

This is not the same thing as coming to authentic articulation of a faith that was misrepresented in bad faith.

Nor is it that more common, much worse reverse case, where we adopt a bad faith that allows us to make coherent articulates sense of things, and share it with others around us — but at the cost of fidelity to our implicit faith and our intuitions. We gain the world(view) but lose our soul (our intuitive and metaphysical connection with reality). This bad faith dooms us to clearly and compellingly positing things rooted neither in our experience nor in our sense of reality.

I am talking about shift in how we tacitly situate ourselves in reality, due to a shifted tacit understanding of reality, a shifted tacit understanding of self and a shifted tacit understanding of relationship between this new self and new reality.

My problem is: In the metanoia experience of rebirth as a new person in a new reality, is it better to think of it as new conceptions — new receptive faculties affording new realities to which, before we were oblivious due to lack of receptive faculties? Or rather, is it registering novel ordered stabilities emerging from the chaos and instability of unordered experience, which we did receive but could not order?

Is metanoia more like being blind but now seeing? Or is it more like becoming able to make out murky forms we see in the shadowy fog? I’ve been inclined to see it as the former.

Wisdom trouble

(This post is notes to myself. If you read it — and you are welcome to — you are reading as an eavesdropper. Something is troubling me badly. It is the best kind of trouble, which is why I have been chasing it around it with my philosopher’s stone. Just this year I’ve chased it through at least six gnarly books and through at least six dozen excruciating conversations.)

Wisdom is practical understanding of first-person being.

Wisdom is practical understanding. The understanding manifests in practice. To convey it, it must be demonstrated. It cannot be given by explicit propositional language.

An understanding that manifests in practice is an ability to act in some intentional way. It is not knowledge content. Practical understanding, though, might use knowledge as a means or support in its practice. We sometimes call such knowledge “wisdom”, but this badly confuses matters. A wise person’s knowledge (or a wise tradition’s knowledge) is an instrument, not the wisdom ability itself. Just as possessing a guitar does not make one a guitarist, possessing a wise person’s knowledge does not make one wise. One must have an ability to do the practice — play a guitar if a guitar is available or act wisely if an occasion for wisdom arises.

The practice in question is a participatory practice — participation in first-person being.

First-person being is not nearly as simple as our everyday working notions of I and we suggest. Practical understanding of this complexity — manifested as participation in first-person in its full complexity — is essential to wisdom.

Wise participation is first-person is participation in a subjective manifold comprising one’s own first-person singular being (I), other persons’ first person singular beings (fellow-I, a.k.a. thou), within transcendent first person being plural (We).

(We is a complex and elusive kind of being about whom we know little, but about which we unwisely believe we know perfectly well. We don’t even know how to know it, because when we try to know we approach it as objective immanence, when the everse approach is required. We is essentially participatory and transcendent, not objective and immanent. This is the most radical category mistake, and it forces any believer in its grip into the unwise either-or of a relatively decent atheism or an indecent fundamentalism.)

The understanding exists as a capacity for this kind of participation, which emerges if the occasion for such participation presents itself.

Let’s return to the role of knowledge in wisdom. We have established that wisdom is not knowledge. We have also established, however that some knowledge can be instrumental to wisdom.

It is also true that we can state true propositions about wisdom. As wisdom is not knowledge, a true proposition about wisdom is not itself wisdom. But knowledge about wisdom can be instrumentally useful to wisdom. And an act of using instrumentally useful knowledge about wisdom can be wise. In this case, wisdom is manifested in the speech act, not in the content.

Philosophy, at its best, is the attempt to demonstrate wisdom by stating true propositions about wisdom that are instrumentally useful to wisdom, and its wisdom is demonstrated in its attitude toward wisdom as something inexhaustibly transcendent. We don’t possess wisdom, we love wisdom, and we love it by desiring its beyondness, wisely pursing wisdom beyond our current ability.

This is the structure of love: Love is transcendently oriented, loving past what is objectively given, toward a subject who forever eludes our possessing, comprehending grasp, a semi-mysterious person we know essentially through our shared participation in We.

To covet what is objectively given, or to value only the experience of what is given, is mere lust.

What do we call a person who acquires, collects or distributes wisdom facts and wisdom tools, while neglecting the development of wise practice?

A lot of wisdom happens without the use of knowledge.

Many wise people cannot tell you many facts about their wisdom.

They just act wisely when the occasion calls for it.

Others gravitate to forms of wisdom that involve knowledge. It is easy to automatically conflate them with knowledge fact and knowledge tool hoarders, but it is unwise to do so.

The test is the same: can these knowledge users act wisely with their knowledge when the occasion calls for it?

Some people learn some wisdom, but unwisely conclude from this that they now possess wisdom. They were ignorant in thinking they knew — but now they know that they really know. Others who resist their new knowing resist ignorantly. They too only think they know.

It would be wise to ask if perhaps one still only thinks one really knows. Or better, that knowing must be something other than we have conceived it.

But instead one becomes foolishly, arrogantly and presumptuously wise like a new religious convert, or like a university student who has learned just enough to be dangerous, or like a new initiate in a compelling new conspiracy theory, or like a fanatic drunk on a comprehensive political ideology that finally makes sense of everything.

A fool possessed by a conceit of wisdom is called sophomoric (sophos– “wisdom” + -moros “foolish”).

A fool with a head full of wise content is somehow even more foolish than an empty-headed fool.

Wisdom and Golden Rule Prime

I am clearly in a serious perplexity. It is very painful, but the pain feels promising. It is manifesting as increasing impatience at being condescended to. Some are people who seem to me manifestly unqualified to condescend. They know something important, but they seem unaware of how much remains beyond their understanding, and how crucially important that beyond is. Others are possibly qualified. They might have important knowledge beyond mine, but I’m frustrated with our relationship — but perhaps because they are perplexing me with something as-yet inconceivable to me. The interference between the two possibilities is jamming me up. Plus I have some scary medical stuff going on, and that’s intensifying my already excessive intensity.

Here is my current attempt at resolving this perplexity…

A while back I began reflecting on the Golden Rule, and came up with the idea of Golden Rule Prime.

At its surface, the Golden Rule is a pretty terrible rule. Do to others as you would have others do to you. So you would have others serve you the disgusting food they themselves would like to eat, or have you listen to the terrible music they prefer? Who would want that?

But if we note that very fact, and run it back through the Golden Rule again, we get something much better. What would we like better? We would like others to serve us the food we ourselves like, or play the music we ourselves prefer. This iteration of the rule is Golden Rule Prime.

But even Golden Rule Prime is not quite right. Maybe we are not hungry, even for our favorite food, or maybe we are not in the mood for any music however much we normally love it. What would we like better? If we run this back through the Golden Rule again, we get something even better. We would like someone to check with us on what we want and then respond to what we tell them, or something along the lines of asking and responding to the person, instead of speculating or guessing. That would be Golden Rule Double Prime.

With each iteration the Golden Rule yields a deeper principle, approaching a moral asymptote, which I believe is absolute and not attainable. And with each iteration we presume less that we know better (or ever can know better), and put ourselves more on equal footing with others — who we must involve in our decisions if they are to be good ones

I am inclined to see wisdom as a function of this approach. How many Primes can you actively intuit in your dealings with others, how aware are you of the remaining unclosable distance between your own understanding and the intersubjective reality of the situation, and how ready are you to involve others in your effort to reduce that distance?


I’ve been reflecting on the word “philosopher” recently, and wondering why Socrates might have felt a need to coin a new word instead of just being a new variety of sophist. Why “lover of wisdom”?

This seems connected with the myth of the Oracle at Delphi identifying Socrates as the wisest man in Athens for knowing how little he really knew.

Is loving wisdom connected with awareness of the limits of one’s own thought?

I link this with the understanding that when love a person, we must not confuse that with loving our idea of who a person is.

We must love her semi-mysterious being who is forever beyond the limits of cognition, who will never stop surprising us. Yet we do know her more than our mere our cognition knows, in a directly intuitive way. And that intuitive knowing has something to do with participating in a shared being with her.

In love, our own subject subsists within another greater subject, and our being participates in this greater being.

Wisdom seems connected with this capacity to participate in reality without needing to reduce to reality to thought — to think toward a reality known to transcend thought.

Unwisdom — sophistry — is to confuse our thoughts of reality for reality itself.

We think we love a person but instead love our own idea of a person.

We think we worship God but instead we love our own mental image of God.

We think we know who we are, but we don’t know how to know the kind of being we have in order to know it. We grasp some identity — a category of object — instead of participating in our own way as our selves.

Participatory being is subjectivity, and objectivity is its product, not its substance.

As long as we must cognize everything objectively before we will know it as real, we will remain unable to know ourselves, other people, or God. We will be cursed with the Midas touch of objectivity, and be unable to nourish ourselves. We will be nihilists.

I entertain the possibility that Socrates saw that the consequence of sophistry was nihilism.

And now I am wondering if the purpose of Socratic interrogation is to get people to realize how much they are able to do perfectly well despite lacking the? ability to account for it with explicit thought?

First principles last

I am finally getting around to reading Husserl’s Ideas. I should have read this long, long ago. He already developed the language I’ve needed to say what I most need to say.

One important capability of phenomenology — in my opinion, the most important capability — is this: a phenomenological attitude permits us to port an enworldment across multiple differing metaphysical platforms.

The need (which is more often than not nothing less than a compulsion) to maintain compatibility with one metaphysical platform will narrow the range of ideas we are willing to entertain and develop, as well as the range of intuitions and perceptions we take seriously. Consequently we risk neglecting or rejecting regions of being crucial to our humanity.

Not every truth will play nice with an ultimate reality built with the materials of physics, or with a universe spun from divine love, or with a realm of manifested archetypal forms — but we might need those truths anyway, say, if we want to make an electronic device, or to cure a disease, or to feel healthy empathy for our neighbor, or to know viscerally that our life has purpose, or to account for mathematic’s miraculous ability to find order in the most chaotic of chaos, or to be bound to others within binding truths — all at once, all within the same life.

Maybe the first principles of metaphysics should come last in our understanding of our human — all-too-human — condition.

Anamnetic learning

What the world needs more of is teachers of what everyone already intuitively knows.

From the perspective of a learner — the most important perspective to both learner and teacher — learning what you already intuitively know is the most inspiring kind of learning. — “I always knew this but could never say it, before!” —

We feel relieved, dignified, liberated, restored, empowered when we learn this way. We feel grateful without feeling humiliated or indebted, because nobody gave us anything that was not already ours.

Everyone loves this kind of learning.

Plato called it anamnesis: unforgetting.

From the perspective of our social existence, anamnetic learning liberates private intuitions from solitary confinement within the skulls of individual persons, and brings it out into the light of shared understanding.

It socializes private knowing and allows it to participate in public knowledge.

I mean social and public in a positive sense. For many of us, the words “social” and “public” taste sour in our mouths. They imply imposition of unwanted burdens, constraints, exposure, artificiality, impersonality, de-personalization — alienation. But it has not always been this way. The ancients experienced public life very differently, and maybe in a different way that is partially recoverable.

The difference is preserved in the lonely etymology of the word “private”. Privare meant “to bereave, deprive, rob, strip”. Private means deprived of public existence.

Looking at the word “social” offers us clues into how Roman citizens may have experienced society. Socialis — “of companionship, of allies; united, living with others; of marriage, conjugal,” from socius “companion, ally.”

Is it possible that anamnetic teaching could help restore a non-alienating society, where living and working together in public affirms what we know and love most immediately?

Could we ever abide in a self-affirming, other-affirming, world-affirming common truth — a truth rooted in the soil of our souls, but growing upward as public knowledge, branching out as specialized practical expertise, efflorescing as culture, fructifying as teaching?

This is the stuff of utopian dreams, but I think it is a truth-bearing fantasy.

I imagine my younger daughter would laugh at me for being such an extreme Aquarius. But I am actually feeling it right now, and even as I see the wrecking ball of the day ahead swinging right for my  skull…

Learning to teach is helping me shed the burden of intellectual avarice. What seems deeply true to me is not mine. It’s not me. Truest truth should be everyone’s. The value of truth is actualized in the sharing of it with others.

One of the world’s most cloying day camp songs:

Love isn’t love
Until you give it away
Give it away
Give it away
Give it away
Love isn’t love
Until you give it away
You end up

I’m making myself throw up, now. Have a good day.

Eversive knowing

For better or worse, my own mind is radically wired for vision.

I understand that this is generally true for all human beings. Our species’s primary sense is sight, and our visual processing apparatus, relative to other animals, is hypertrophied. But experience has demonstrated to me that I rely on visual intelligence more heavily than most. I use the visual mode of understanding for cognitive functions other people might (and maybe should) assign to linguistic or logical or even kinetic intelligence.

My over-reliance on visual intelligence allows me to understand things other people miss, but it also makes me mentally incompetent wherever visual intelligence is the wrong tool for the job. Luckily, visual intelligence is a flexible instrument, and I’ve gotten it to do all kinds of things it shouldn’t. But where it fails, I fail. And it fails in some pretty simple workaday competencies that people reasonably assume is basic to adult functioning, where nobody even suspects failure is possible. Polite political euphemisms normally obscure painful truths, but applied to me “differently abled” is revelatory.


I understand reality in geometric and topological terms. I do this despite knowing that this necessarily introduces distortions, blindness and nonsensical noise and artifacts into my understanding. I try to rely on “complementarily abled” others to compensate.

And a central operation of understanding for me is eversion.

I recently read in a trusted source that inside-outside is the primary relationship the horizontal, worldly plane, and that above and below is the relationship on the vertical plane. I can’t decide if this means that I am unconsciously trapped in a horizontal mode of understanding, or if eversive knowing (eversivity) is a synthesis of verticality and horizontality.

Weird post, I know.

Thanks for reading.

(I live on that magenta line.)

Participation, theory, wisdom and love

Etymologically, to comprehend means to grasp-together.

What does “together” comprise? It is the new object of knowledge together with the existing body of knowledge.

In comprehension, new and old knowledge are grasped together and integrated.

Not all forms of knowledge can be grasped together. Whenever we comprehend some matter, some remainder of the matter refuses to be integrated.

The remainder that is left out of comprehension we call “irrelevant”.

The remainder that remains, but which can’t integrate, we call “contradictory”.

The part of comprehension that is intentionally integrated through a mental assembly process we will call “synthesis”. Etymologically, to synthesize means to put-together. Syntheses are held together with logic, causality, hierarchy or other formal organizing principles. This is the stuff of theory, epistemology and logic.

The part of comprehension that is spontaneously integrated through spontaneous intuition is concept. Etymologically, to conceive means to take-together. What is conceived is taken-together as a given. This is the stuff of ontology.

Sometimes when we synthesize a new idea from an assembly of ideas, the new idea is spontaneously intuited as a whole, so we comprehend it both as a synthesis and as a concept. Or sometimes when we carefully examine a concept and disassemble it into components we find that the components are each intuitively conceived. The components can now be disassembled and reassembled both synthetically and conceptually. When we know this way, we understand through “analysis”. Etymologically, analysis means loosen-up.

When we are able to analytically loosen a synthesis up into concepts, then re-synthesize the parts into a concept whose conceptual sub-components remain visibly present as parts of a whole, our understanding is “articulate”. Etymologically, articulate means to separate into joints.

Ultimately, all understanding, whether conceived or synthesized or both, is developed up from givens, which, as explained above, are taken as givens. But we can only take what we have capacity to conceive. Anything we cannot conceive, even if it is real and actually present is inconceivable, and we are oblivious to it. Etymologically, oblivious means smoothed-over. When we are oblivious to something, not only is nothing there, but the nothingness is smoothed over, so nothing is missing. The thing exists, but to us, it is non-existent.

All of this is theoretical knowing. And it is only one kind of knowing.

Theoretical knowing that conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is one-third of wisdom. As philosophers would say it is a necessary condition of wisdom but not a sufficient condition.

Practically knowing how and morally knowing why conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is the other two-thirds of wisdom.

Wisdom is known in our hearts, felt in our souls and done with our strength.

But even wisdom is not enough.

Wisdom must also be wisdom that loves, because love is our participation in being in whom we are only part — an organ — together with others who, with us, are participants in a being who sustains us as who we are. When we love our spouse, this is our participation in the being of our marriage . When we love our friend, this is our participation in a friendship. When we love an organization, we participate in the life of a group who sustains who we are as a person — a member — an organ of this living whole.

These wholes in whom we participate are inconceivable and incomprehensible in theoretical terms. We can certainly theorize about the limits of theoretical knowledge, as I am presently doing, and it can be helpful (which is why I am doing it) but it is insufficient.

Without threefold loving wisdom that not only conceives, but also does and feels, we are oblivious to the beings in whom we participate, and we remain oblivious to the Being in whom our own being and all being has being.

Obliviousness to the the Being in whom our own being and all being has being is atheism. We say with Bertrand Russell “I have no need for that hypothesis” without recognizing that belief in God not a matter of theory.

We must wisely love beyond the limits of ourselves, with the entirety of our hearts soul and strength, and this is actualized by loving our fellow participants in being and in Being.

Weird liberal

When we are young we lack awareness of how much awareness we lack.

We see all the faults, stupidity and pure viciousness embedded in the system, and we have a vision of a system without all these faults. We see it so clearly! Why shouldn’t we tear out the faults, or even dismantle the system and rebuild it more purely and on cleaner ground?

We would — if it weren’t for the powerful. They will not yield their place. They insist on blocking the way for those who wish to change the world for the better. They have power and wish to keep it, enjoy it and multiply it.

So think the powerless. So think those who have lived under the shelter of other people’s imperfect (sometimes bungled) efforts to make order from the chaos of reality. So think those who have benefitted so much from this orderly sheltering that they believe order, equality and justice is the natural default state and that these defaults persist unless some wicked person disrupts it.

When something goes wrong this must have been inflicted by some other person. They cry out in indignation: “Who is responsible for this?”

It does not occur to them to notice when things go right, and even less when things stay right for long durations. It does not occur to them to cry out in gratitude: “Who is responsible for this?”

Humility develops when one actually takes responsibility for one these sheltering layers. Failure is inevitable and imperfections turn out to be ineradicable. And gratitude grows with awareness of how much sheltering is still happening.

One begins seeing life against the background of chaos.

Health happens against a background of decay and death, and only with effort does health expand out by decades.

Reason happens against a backdrop of insane passion, and only with effort does it expand further and further out into the inexplicable, arbitrary and meaningless.

Justice happens against a background of inequality, coercion, physical violence snd terror.

Leisure happens against a background of toil.

Contentment happens against a background of discomfort and deprivation.

In this age, a great many old people make it to then end of life, never having given shelter to anyone, and without developing humility or gratitude. They still think, had the world been more just and reasonable, they could have done it better. Entire professions exist that permit people to grow old without ever maturing. (Can you guess what these are?)

Entire generations can live under the shelter of ancestors, whose accomplishments were so effective the generations following them are not even aware of the stormy skies outside the azure ceilings under which they have lived. Instead of repairing leaks, they curse those responsible for the leaky roof that is the very bane of their existence.

I am a liberal, but a weird liberal. Through my own persistent trying and failing, I have come to appreciate what a monumental but fragile accomplishment liberalism is. Even under the many superstructural roofs and substructural ceilings over my own head, I still struggle to keep the modest ceilings for which I am responsible intact and dry.

I do not want to surrender this imperfect but mostly-good order to naive idealists who credit themselves (and their kind) for a sunshiny faith that people are innately good, that the world itself is innately good, that order, benevolence and fairness is the default state of things — unless someone makes it otherwise. I do not want to put people in charge who feel that their responsibility is only to prevent wicked people from introducing wickedness into what would otherwise be an automatic paradise.

These idealists feel that all that stands in the way of possessing the order, goodness, reason and justice to which they are entitled is to displace those responsible for this flawed system that deprives them of perfection — and, of course, to replace them with less biased, more aware and more morally awakened people who, on this basis, deserve power. I do not want to live under the rule of innocently ambitious, naive ingrates. It was not their fault that they were badly parented and miseducated — but who (besides them) says that not being in charge is a punishment? They are simply unqualified. They see only the dark side of responsibility.

Perhaps I have become a conservative liberal. So be it.