Tag: philosophy

Modernism’s Malice – III

Modernism’s Malice – III posted in Eleison Comments on March 21, 2020

If there is any one thing that a Catholic priest needs to know and to understand thoroughly today, it is the one key sentence at the heart of St Pius X’s great Encyclical letter, Pascendi, written in 1907 to defend the Church and mankind from the deadly threat of modernism. Modernism is that movement of thought and action by which men give up changing the world to fit Christ and His Church, and work instead on changing Christ and His Church to fit the modern world. And what is the key sentence from Pascendi by which this is to be done? Here it is, from paragraph 6 (or thereabouts) of the Encyclical:

“Human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, i.e. things perceptible to the senses and in the manner in which they are perceptible; it has no right and no power to go beyond these limits.”

In other words the human mind, which in fact is all day long reading behind what appears to the senses, is finally declared by modern man to be incapable of reading behind the appearances! In other words what looks to me like a door might be a wall, what looks to me like a wall might in fact be the door. From which it would follow that I might better try to walk through the wall than through the door! Of course this is such utter stupidity that nobody will be surprised to know that even modern followers of Immanuel Kant (1732–1804) who invented the stupidity, rarely actually try to walk through walls. In other words they succeed in living by not taking their own philosophy seriously. Here is why modern philosophy has gotten for itself such a bad name. Yet the utterly stupid Kant reigns supreme in the philosophy department of almost all “universities” of our own time! How can that possibly be?

Because Kant is the great Liberator. It is he who once and for all liberated the mind from reality. It is he who decreed that the mind is free from external reality because it has no access to it! The mind cannot get to reality as it is in itself, the “Ding an sich,” because it cannot get behind what the senses show to it. No matter if I can only live by assuming 24/7 both that my senses are telling me what is real around me, and that my mind or intellect is capable of deciphering or of “intelliging” what my senses tell me. From Kant onwards, reality around me is of less and less interest. What matters is “transcendental philosophy” as he calls it, i.e. thinking which will climb the heights and plumb the depths of my fantasy quite independently of humdrum day-to-day reality such as doors and walls. My mind has taken off! My mind is free from reality! Henceforth anything I want is “true”! In fact the word “Truth” has taken on a quite different meaning. In fact all words take on a transcendental meaning. Liberty reigns in my head!

Yet if you insist on pulling me back to what you call the real world, then I can still choose to assume, like all poor non-universitarians, that to continue to survive (“ugh!”) in the humdrum world (“ugh!”), it is best not to try to walk through what look like walls, and best not to try eating stones. In other words my mind is transcendentally superior to, and free from, all your base “common sense” (“ugh!”), but I can still operate in accordance with it – when I choose to – for purposes of daily living (“ugh!”).

Now liberty is the real religion of modern man, and it is the apparent religion, that which has all the trappings but none of the substance of religion, in the lives of far too many Catholics. As St Paul says, “In the end times . . . men will be . . . holding the form of religion but denying the power of it” (II Tim. III, 1–5), in other words keeping the appearances but denying the substance. What are such Catholics? They are precisely Kantian Catholics, or modernists, because almost everybody today is Kantian, because almost everybody today worships liberty, and it is Kant who finally gave them the key to get out of the prison of God’s reality and to escape into clouds of transcendental modernity. I can always submit to God again for as long as I choose, but He can no longer keep me in bonds. I am free, I am free, I am free!

The incredible perversity, pride and perfidy of Kant should be coming into view. More than ever,

Lord, have mercy.

T.F.P. on Liberalism

T.F.P. on Liberalism posted in Eleison Comments on November 3, 2018

Whatever have been from its beginning – and still are – the faults of the organisation known as T.F.P. (Tradition, Family, Property), it is a pleasure to say that it is doing some good work in the United States today. In a regular circular letter (available from tfp@tfp.org) it presents brief essays often on three important points for the understanding of how the Catholic Faith needs to function in today’s demonic world. The essays are not too deep for ordinary readers to understand, but neither are they shallow. They may not be infallible, but they are thoughtful and full of good sense, and they often address important problems in today’s Church and world. Here for example is a summary of Four Characteristics of the Liberal Mind that are Destroying Society, from the American T.F.P. Letter of one month ago:—

The fragmented and polarised state of society today is proof that something has gone terribly wrong. Conservatives often blame the breakdown on liberal activists at work in politics and in the media, but the liberals’ dissolvent activity comes from a whole liberal mindset, spread far and wide. Almost everybody today accepts the principles of classic liberalism, enshrined in the American Constitution but moderated at that time by America’s Christian heritage. With that heritage now being largely repudiated, the full dissolvency of liberal principles is today becoming evident, as it was not evident before. In order to see where our chaos is coming from, let us look at four characteristics of the liberal mindset.

1 The liberal mind is always moving away from objective truth. Wanting to appear more compassionate and kind than the “heartless conservatives,” by means of half-truths they slide into error which they did not at first embrace. For instance liberals may well oppose crime in principle, but they promote it in practice by going soft on criminals, because of supposed injustices that criminals may have suffered.

2 To replace unpleasant and impersonal objective truth, the liberal mind is always looking for pleasing subjective opinions, or personal judgments, to confirm them in their own way of thinking and acting. A classic example comes from a Supreme Court decision of 1992, justifying abortion: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of the meaning of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

3 The liberal mind is always wrongly defining freedom as the right to do whatever one wants to do. By this definition, sheer whims and fantasy can ultimately take over. Liberals will then call in doubt whatever contradicts their whims, but never what confirms them.

4 The liberal mind is always disliking rules and laws, which it feels as being automatically restrictive. In reality, law consists of reasonable precepts put forward by any society’s competent authority as being essential to that society’s common good. But liberals will resent even rules of clothing or grammar if these are felt to be too restrictive! Thus to replace the real God of Justice and the Ten Commandments, they fabricate their own god, a god above all of compassion, a god of ten Recommendations.

In brief, all four characteristics are centred on the self. According to liberalism, each person determines for himself what are true and false, right and wrong. Here is where society is breaking down.

For indeed liberalism as such cannot create a social order, or a society, but only a social breakdown. If it has survived until now, that is only by the solid Christian order which it inherited, and of which it is the dissolution. Liberals depend on what they destroy, and destroy what they depend on. In 2018 they are pushing ever closer to chaos. Liberalism is intrinsically anti-social. No society can be made out of anti-social members. Liberalism can only make people more and more isolated, lonely and frustrated. It can only make human life turn more and more into a series of clashes between sacrosanct individuals.

Kyrie eleison.

Artificial Intelligence – II

Artificial Intelligence – II posted in Eleison Comments on July 21, 2018

Artificial Intelligence is in fact a contradiction in terms. Anything artificial cannot be intelligent. Anything truly intelligent cannot be artificial. Any intelligent being must (as such) be living, spiritual and free. Anything artificial must (as such) be non-living and material and cannot be free. Therefore nothing artificial can be intelligent in the true sense of the word, and nothing truly intelligent can be artificial. An intelligence can be created by God alone. Man can create only things artificial.

To show as much, let us assume with the “Comments” of last week that there are three ranks of spiritual beings: the (1) Creator, (2) angels and (3) men, and four ranks of material beings: (3) men, (4) animal, (5) vegetable and (6) mineral. This means that man is the most complicated of creatures, because he alone is both spiritual and material. If anybody claims that man is purely material, he is probably making the most elementary of errors in philosophy, namely that only material beings exist. That error is widespread in our materialistic world of today, but either such a man has never thought or loved, or he is denying the full nature of his own experience. But if then he is nothing but matter, why does he have such a sharp sense of his own human dignity? And why does he behave as though freedom is of supreme importance to him?

In fact the six ranks of being can be graded by how far they climb out of matter. (6) Mineral is locked into matter but (5) plants are not so locked – they live and move, but still they are fixed in place and know nothing outside of themselves. (4) Animals live and move, but are not fixed in place and they have sense-knowledge and sense-desire of material things outside themselves. (5) Men live and move, are not fixed in place, and have not only sense-knowledge and sense-desire of material particulars outside themselves, but also intelligence and desire by will of non-material universals outside themselves, which is a huge step forward in climbing free of matter. The word “intelligence” comes from the Latin “intus-lego,” meaning “within I read,” that is to say, intelligence reads within things sensed their non-material form or essence. This is because intelligence, and the will which follows it, are both spiritual faculties, belonging to that part of man which is, as such, free from matter and above matter.

And upon these two faculties follows the freedom of (3) man’s will, shared by no other (4) animals which are all locked into their instincts. And that freedom manifests even to the most atheistic of materialists his superior dignity above all mere (4) animals, if he is only honest enough to recognise the fact. Above man are the (2) angels who are purely spiritual and intelligent but still particular beings, whereas (1) the Creator is universal spiritual Being Itself, locked into no matter nor even into any particularity.

Thus (3) man is living, and spiritual by his immortal soul with its intelligence and will which are the foundation of his free-will, making him free. Now is anything “artificial,” like a computer or a robot, either living or spiritual or free? Firstly, is not living from within itself. Nature spills human, animal and plant seed in all directions, and every seed contains life. But despite tremendous effort now for many years, human art has not succeeded in creating one seed with life inside it (and one suspects it never will). Secondly, if nothing made by human art is living, still less can it be spiritual, because a spiritual being presupposes a high (3) form of life. And thirdly no computer or robot made by man can possibly be free, because free-will presupposes a spiritual intelligence which no human art can fabricate. A (3) spiritual intelligence can be created not even by a (2) angel, but by (1) the Creator alone, God.

Therefore (6) computers and computer-driven robots cannot be living, and can initiate nothing outside what has been programmed into them. They cannot be intelligent in the full sense of the word, because that requires a spiritual being which God alone can create. And so they cannot be free to make any decision on their own, they are mere (6) machines, locked inside their (6) material programme. To credit them with any human passions, original thinking or freedom is simply childish materialism.

Kyrie eleison.

Doctrine Again

Doctrine Again posted in Eleison Comments on August 18, 2012

The scorn of “doctrine” is an immense problem today. The “best” of Catholics in our 21st century pay lip-service to the importance of “doctrine,” but in their modern bones they feel instinctively that even Catholic doctrine is some kind of prison for their minds, and minds must not be imprisoned. In Washington, D.C., around the interior dome of the Jefferson Memorial, that quasi-religious temple of the United States’ champion of liberty, runs his quasi-religious quotation: I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. Surely he had Catholic doctrine in mind, amongst others. Modern man’s quasi-religion excludes having any fixed doctrine.

However, a sentence from the “Eleison Comments” of two weeks ago (EC 263, July 28) gives a different angle on the nature and importance of “doctrine.” It ran: So long as Rome believes in its Conciliar doctrine, it is bound to use any such(“non-doctrinal”) agreement to pull the SSPX in the direction of the(Second Vatican) Council.In other words what drives Rome supposedly to discount “doctrine” and at all costs to conciliarize the SSPX is their own belief in their own Conciliar doctrine. As Traditional Catholic doctrine is – one hopes – the driving force of the SSPX, so Conciliar doctrine is the driving force of Rome. The two doctrines clash, but each of them is a driving force.

In other words, “doctrine” is not just a set of ideas in a man’s head, or a mental prison. Whatever ideas a man chooses to hold in his head, his real doctrine is that set of ideas that drives his life. Now a man may change that set of ideas, but he cannot not have one. Here is how Aristotle put it: “If you want to philosophize, then you have to philosophize. If you don’t want to philosophize, you still have to philosophize. In any case a man has to philosophize.” Similarly, liberals may scorn any set of ideas as a tyranny, but to hold any set of ideas to be a tyranny is still a major idea, and it is the one idea that drives the lives of zillions of liberals today, and of all too many Catholics. These should know better, but all of us moderns have the worship of liberty in our bloodstream.

Thus doctrine in its real sense is not just an imprisoning set of ideas, but that central notion of God, man and life that directs the life of every man alive. Even if a man is committing suicide, he is being driven by the idea that life is too miserable to be worth continuing. A notion of life centred on money may drive a man to become rich; on pleasure to become a rake; on recognition to become famous, and so on. But however a man centrally conceives life, that concept is his real doctrine.

Thus conciliar Romans are driven by Vatican II as being their central notion to undo the SSPX that rejects Vatican II, and until they either succeed or change that central notion, they will continue to be driven to dissolve Archbishop Lefebvre’s SSPX. On the contrary the central drive of clergy and laity of the SSPX should be to get to Heaven, the idea being that Heaven and Hell exist, and Jesus Christ and his true Church provide the one and only sure way of getting to Heaven. This driving doctrine they know to be no fanciful invention of their own, and that is why they do not want it to be undermined or subverted or corrupted by the wretched neo-modernists of the Newchurch, driven by their false conciliar notion of God, man and life. The clash is total.

Nor can it be avoided, as liberals dream it can. If falsehoods win, eventually even the stones of the street will cry out (Lk.XIX, 40). If Truth wins, still Satan will go on raising error after error, until the world ends. But “He that perseveres to the end will be saved,” says Our Lord (Mt.XXIV, 13).

Kyrie eleison.

“Enlightenment” Darkness

“Enlightenment” Darkness posted in Eleison Comments on April 28, 2012

Whether or not the Society of St Pius X finally decides to by-pass the doctrinal disagreement and to enter into a purely practical agreement with the authorities of the Conciliar Church in Rome, souls concerned for their eternal welfare must understand as fully as possible what is at stake. In this connection a friend of mine just sent me an admirable synthesis of the heart of the matter:—

“From 2009 to 2011 so-called “Doctrinal Discussions” took place between Vatican experts and four theologians of the SSPX. These discussions made clear just how firmly the Roman authorities are attached to the teachings of Vatican II. That Council attempted to reconcile Catholic doctrine with the concept of man as developed by the “Enlightenment” of the 18th century.

“Thus the Council declares that by reason of the dignity of his nature, the human person has the right to practise the religion of his choice. Accordingly society must protect religious liberty and organize the peaceful co-existence of the various religions. These are invited to take part in ecumenical dialogue, since they all possess their own part of truth.

“In effect, such principles deny that Christ is truly God, and they deny that his Revelation, the deposit of which is guarded by the Church, must be accepted by all men and all societies. Thus the doctrine of religious liberty, as expressed in the Conciliar document Dignitatis Humanae#2, contradicts the teachings of Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos, of Pius IX in Quanta Cura, of Leo XIII in Immortale Dei and of Pius XI in Quas Primas. The doctrine expressed in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium #8, according to which divine Providence uses non-Catholic sects as means of salvation, contradicts the teachings of Pius IX in the Syllabus, of Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum and of Pius XI in Mortalium Animos.

“These novel doctrines which along with many others contradict the formal and unanimous teachings of Popes before the Council, can only be qualified in the light of Catholic dogma as heretical.

“Therefore since the unity of the Church rests on the integrity of the Faith, it is clear that the SSPX cannot come to any agreement – be it only “practical” – with those who hold such doctrines.”

When my friend accuses the 18th century movement of intellectual emancipation known as the “Enlightenment” of being at the root of the churchmen’s 20th century collapse, he is making essentially the same point as Archbishop Lefebvre when he said to priests of his, half a year before he died in 1991: “The more one analyzes the documents of Vatican II . . . the more one realizes that what is at stake is . . . a wholesale perversion of the mind, a whole new philosophy based on modern philosophy, on subjectivism . . . It is a wholly different version of Revelation, of Faith, of philosophy . . . It is truly frightening.”

So how does one get one’s mind back in subjection to God’s reality? One way might be to get hold of the papal Encyclicals mentioned by my friend above, and study them. They were written for bishops, but Conciliar bishops are not reliable. Today’s laity must take in hand their own formation – and their own Rosary.

Kyrie eleison.

Benedict’s Thinking – II

Benedict’s Thinking – II posted in Eleison Comments on July 16, 2011

If one divides into four parts Bishop Tissier’s study of the thinking of Benedict XVI, then the second part presents its philosophical and theological roots. By analyzing the philosophy first, the Bishop is following Pius X’s great Encyclical “Pascendi.” If a wine bottle is dirty inside, the very best of wine poured into it will be spoiled. If a man’s mind is disconnected from reality, as it is by modern philosophy, then even the Catholic Faith filtered through it will be disoriented, because it will no longer be oriented by reality. Here is Benedict’s problem.

Like Pius X before him, the Bishop attributes the prime responsibility for this disaster of modern minds to the German Enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel KANT (1724–1804), who finalized the system of anti-thought, prevailing now everywhere, which excludes God from rational discourse. For if, as Kant claimed, the mind can know nothing of the object except what appears to the senses, then the mind is free to reconstruct the reality behind the sense appearances however it may like, objective reality is dismissed as unknowable, and the subject reigns supreme. If the subject needs God and postulates his existence, well and good. Otherwise, so to speak, God is out of luck!

Bishop Tissier then presents five modern philosophers, all grappling with the consequences of Kant’s subjective folly of putting idea over reality and subject over object. The two most important of them for this Pope’s thinking might be Heidegger (1889–1976), a father of existentialism, and Buber (1878–1965), a leading exponent of personalism. If essences are unknowable (Kant), then there remains only existence. Now the most important existent is the person, constituted for Buber by intersubjectivity, or the “I-You” relationship between subjective persons, which for Buber opens the way to God. Therefore knowledge of the objective God is going to depend on the subjective involvement of the human person. What an insecure foundation for that knowledge!

Yet involvement of the human subject will be the key to Benedict’s theological thinking, influenced firstly, writes the Bishop, by the renowned School of Tuebingen. Founded by J.S. von Drey (1777–1853), this School held that history is moved by the spirit of the age in constant movement, and this spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Therefore God’s Revelation is no longer the Deposit of Faith closed at the death of the last Apostle, and merely made more explicit as time goes on. Instead, it has a constantly evolving content to which the receiving subject contributes. So the Church of each age plays an active and not just passive part in Revelation, and it gives to past Tradition its present meaning. Is this beginning to sound familiar? Like the hermeneutic of Dilthey? See EC 208.

Thus for Benedict XVI God is not an object apart nor merely objective, he is personal, an “I” exchanging with each human “You.” Scripture or Tradition do come objectively from the divine “I,” but on the other hand the living and moving “You” must constantly re-read that Scripture, and since Scripture is the basis of Tradition, then Tradition too must become dynamic by the subject’s involvement, and not just static, like Archbishop Lefebvre’s “fixated” Tradition. Similarly theology must be subjectivized, Faith must be a personal “experiencing” of God, and even the Magisterium must stop being merely static.

“Accursed is the man that puts his trust in man” says Jeremiah (XVII, 5).

Kyrie eleison.