Monday, 18 December 2017

Worst and best Christmas carols

 (The central Wise Man has a particularly amusing facial expression...)

The worst of the common Christmas carols is Once in Royal David's city - for three reasons:

1. It opens nearly every carol concert, due to a tradition established by King's College, Cambridge - which also means the first verse is usually sung unaccompanied by a boy treble who is seldom quite secure enough for such an exposed role...

2. The tune is dreary and there are too many verses (six).

3. The lyrics are both excruciatingly bad and theologically malign.

The key word of the carol is 'lowly': stood a lowly cattle shed (although I sang it as 'lonely' as a child, which is preferable); the poor and mean and lowly; the lowly maiden; poor lowly stable...

We also have such insipid stuff as 'mother mild'; and the cringe-inducing and dishonest propaganda: 'Christian children all must be/ Mild, obedient, good as he.' (This, of the same Jesus who left his parents at the Temple without explanation and was gone for Three Days!) Followed by Jesus as 'little, weak and helpless', 'dear and gentle'... Ach!

To be fair, there are some good things too, especially in the last two verses; reminding us that the author also wrote memorable words for two of the hymns with the best tunes: 'All things bright and beautiful', and 'There is a green hill far away'.

('...Without a city wall'... although as a child I wondered why a green hill would be expected to have a city wall...)


One of the best Christmas Carols is We Three Kings. Alright - the tune is a bit simple for grown-ups; but is a rollicking riot when 'sung' (with 'appropriate' gestures) by infant-school-aged boys.

And the lyrics symbolically encapsulate the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ in a way that should be the envy of most sermon-writers:

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.


Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship Him God Most High.


Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.


Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia!, Alleluia!,
Earth to Heaven replies.


And how good is that fourth verse, about myrrh! I can still recall being haunted by it, as a young child.

 Aled 'I'm walking in the air' Jones; I'll bet he got sick of singing 'Once in royal David's'...

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Some ideas for Christian evangelism

If I am correct that alienation is the major problem in modern societies, the Christian evangelism will need a new strategy.

What I am discussing is not a new way of reaching people, but what we say to people when we have reached them.

Alienation is partly lack of meaning, purpose and connectedness; and partly a general deadness, dullness, materialism and two-dimensionality in life and consciousness.

In other words alienations has (at least) two aspects: metaphysics and thinking

Modern metaphysics entails basic assumptions of Life as meaninglessness, purposelessness and our-selves as isolated; these are inescapable consequences because we have already assumed them to be reality. 

Modern everyday work-and-leisure thinking is passive; lacks depth, breadth and scope; is disconnected and impatient; prefers novelty to creativity; prefers quantity to quality; craves stimulation over creativity.

Too often the observable Christian Life is every bit as alienated as mainstream modern life; or even-more-so, since the Christian is a hated or despised outsider with respect to the modern project.

Christianity is often presented as a set of beliefs - which are inserted into the typical modern mode of thinking; or practices - which (whether enjoyable or tedious) fail to provide any transcendent experience; or social engagements - that are just like other social engagements, but with different personnel.

In sum, observation suggests that most Christians think and experience in a manner qualitatively undistinguishable from that of mainstream modern secular people.

For a person living in chronic, demotivating, despair-inducing alienation - even-if ordinary Christianity gave everything it claims to give, it fails to address The Problem.

What the mass of modern people actually have is the Iron Cage of bureaucracy at work, the superficial distractions and shock-culture of the mass media in leisure, and the hedonism of  (often sexual) relationships in their daydreams...

What people crave is a higher, deeper, richer, purposeful and integrated, more-divinely transcendent experience of living. Christianity can give this - to a partial but significant extent: That is the message evangelicals could attempt to convey. 

Christian evangelism needs to show, and to provide the possibility of, at least some proportion of a person's individual experience becoming a real Life of meaning and purpose; in spiritually-felt connectedness with people and environment and the divine; lived by means of an active, satisfying, whole and creative way of thinking. 

This comes from a mixture of new assumptions and a new way of thinking. That should be the content of evangelism.

To depict this kind of Christianity would be to offer 'a cure' for what most-people most-feel most-need of curing.

Bureaucracy is the main form of Positivism

Bureaucracy is, along with the mass media, the most powerful form of intrinsic evil in the modern world (that is, bureaucracy - like the mass media - is intrinsically and always metaphysically Positivist, hence evil in its form - quite aside from intent, it is evil).

1. Operational definitions
Bureaucracy works by reducing life to operational definitions - which are always wrong; wrong because simplified and distorted (wrong even-when, as is exceedingly unusual, the intention behind making an operational definitions happens to be honest and competent).

2. Procedure
Bureaucracy works by assuming that correct procedure leads to correct outcomes; which is again false - since all procedure (like all operational definitions) is necessarily simplified and distorted.

Furthermore, most bureaucracies are indifferent whether any particular procedure will yield good outcomes even on average and under normal situations - this is not tested nor evaluated honestly, it is just assumed - and contrary evidence ruled-out on the basis of falling outside of operational definitions and procedure.

Thus far, we can see that bureaucracy operates on the basis of constructing a model of reality, and like all models this must-be simplified and distorted. Of course, from within the model errors, bad-outcomes and contradictions are invisible - however, there is a danger that the falseness of bureaucracy would be unmasked by a human being evaluating the whole-situation.

Therefore to make the evil of bureaucracy impregnable requires:

3. Committee decision
Modern bureaucracy is ruled by committees which means that - since judgement is individual - all bureaucracies are non-moral which means immoral.

Even when an individual person is nominally in charge of an institution, he is regulated-by and can be over-ruled by, a committee.

We have created a world run only on the basis of necessarily-false models, in which ultimate authority is impersonal.

In place, therefore - everywhere, at the highest level - is a global, linked system of bureaucratic power without responsibility: we inhabit a system that is necessarily evil in form and effect.

The most dismaying thing about the story of Abraham (nearly) sacrificing Isaac

...Is to hear sincere Christians trying to explain (and justify) the story.

To explain the story involves either the sacrifice of God's goodness, or sacrificing the theory of Biblical infallibility; and it is dismaying how many self-identified Christians choose the former. 

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Jesus and the human 'gene pool'

I was startled recently when a priest (Anglican, liberal) in a carol service said that Christmas celebrated Jesus entering the human 'gene pool'.

I expect he didn't really understand what he had said. But it set me off thinking what he meant, and whether it could even be true! And if so, how.

I think he probably meant a spiritual (not genetic) sense by which Jesus, by incarnating, became a-part-of the human condition. All Christians would agree with that, I suppose...  

However, for Jesus's genetic material actually to have entered the human gene pool; presumably Jesus would have had-to have-reproduced while a mortal man; therefore he must first have been married. The obvious candidate is Mary Magdalene.

I find it plausible that Jesus did marry Mary of Bethany - who then became known as Magdalene. And if he married, then presumably it would necessarily have been consummated (to count as a real marriage).

So everything would then hinge on whether Mary became pregnant, then more generally on what happened to Mary Magdalene after the ascension of Jesus. I don't know of any potentially-valid source on this - but my feeling is that Mary would have followed Jesus soon-after, at least if she was not pregnant.

If she was, she would probably have remained living with Mary the Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple ('John') (the group present at the crucifiction) and, I guess, brought-up the child...

Then, Jesus could indeed have entered the human gene pool!

But I strongly suspect that that was not what the preacher intended to imply...


Eddie Floyd's Knock on Wood - an un-replicable classic

There is no better Soul-R&B recording that Eddie Floyd singing Knock on Wood - it has been covered many times, but all cover versions are hoplessly inferior - why?

The reason is quite simple: the rhythm section - bass and rhythm guitars and drums (the keyboards can only be heard in the 'middle eight' from 1:46).

Eddie Floyd's singing is great, the brass section is great, the main introducing riff is one of the best ever and supplemented by a superb second riff in the verses... But it is the rhythm playing which cannot be replicated, and that is due to its syncopation.

Syncopation is the hardest thing to do well (as a broad generalisation!) - and the Stax-label house-band (aka Booker T and the MGs) that played with Eddie Floyd was a group of first rate musicians that played together A Lot.

Also they were mostly black (an exception was the genius rhythm guitarist Steve Cropper, who co-wrote and played on Knock on Wood); and most of the best players of syncopation-based music are 'American' blacks (who invented it, with ragtime - and several other forms including ska/ reggae).

This probably means that this music has become essentially un-replicable in modern times - since 'rap' displaced singing among blacks, synthesiser replaced real-instruments, and house-bands are a thing of the past...

Still, we have the recordings: what I said about Knock on Wood also applies in essence to Hold on I'm Coming, by Sam and Dave - although the vocals in KoW are another major reason why it is de facto un-replicable.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Wha is the specific meaning of a specific synchronicity? (And how do I find out?)

I am fascinated by synchronicity - 'meaningful coincidences' - which have played an important role in my life, and indeed my late conversion to Christianity.

The specific meaning of a specific synchronous event in one's life cannot (as a rule) be interpreted by anybody else other than the person experiencing it: there is no objective symbolism to synchronicities, they are not a code.

The way to understanding one's own synchronicities is through Primary Thinking.

In Primary Thinking all truths concerned with synchronicities are linked meaningfully by the thread of thought; so the reality of specific aspects of synchronicities ought to become clear, by the context they occupy in the thinking of other truths. This is the method of discernment.

Why? because in this time and this place; all conspires to ensure that we can each make spiritual progress only by voluntary, free, personal, intuitive thinking.

We cannot make the next step from alienated modernity passively; not by unconscious processes -- we cannot be compelled to take the next step, neither can we do it by obedience; we cannot be informed by (external) inspiration; logic and reason are of no help for this purpose; experience is no good either...

These were good, right and effective in other times and other places - but not for us, here and now. 

This makes sense to me because we are being invited (offered the gift) to begin thinking in the divine way ('final' participation); functioning as the agent (minor) deities we are (sons and daughters of God); so that detailed discernment needs to come from the divine-within us, and not by obedience to the divine-without us (which can contradict error, but not discern truth).

So... there is indeed something significant in the specific details of synchronicities - they are not merely quantitative and general in significance (although they are that too); but only you can discover what that significance is, and only for your own synchronicities.

But this you can do - via Primary Thinking.

The Innumerable Christ - a poem by Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978)

The Innumerable Christ  

Other stars may have their Bethlehem and the Calvary too. Professor JY Simpson

Wha kens on whatna Bethlehems
Earth twinkles like a star the nicht,
An' whatna shepherds lift their heids
In its unearthly licht?

'Yont a' the stars oor een can see
An' farther than their lichts can fly,
I' mony an unco warl' the nicht
The fatefu' bairnies cry.

I' mony an unco warl' the nicht
The lift gaes black as pitch at noon,
An' sideways on their chests the heids
O' endless Christs roll doon.

An' when the earth's as cauld's the mune
An' a' its folk are lang syne deid,
On coontless stars the Babe maun cry
An' the Crucified maun bleed.

Written in a version of Scottish dialect: kens = knows; the nicht = tonight; whatna = whichever; heids = heads; licht = light; 'yont = beyond; een = eyes; unco = strange; bairnies = children; lift = sky; cauld's the mune = cold as the moon; lang syne = long since; maun = must

MacDiarmid is, for me, the best lyrical poet of the 20th century - mainly for his early work in a version of the Scots dialect he created using his own knowledge and experience supplemented by archaic words from Jamieson's etymological dictionary.

This method shouldn't work, as a way of making poetry... but it did.

MacD was a man of stark and unintegrated contradictions; and a hardline, activist Communist and Scottish Nationalist materialist for much of his adult life; and this ultimately overwhelmed and corrupted his work. But in these early years politics was overwhelmed by a profound and mystical, unorthodox Christianity of transcendent beauty.

Matter and Spirit - polarity explained

William Wildblood has a book coming-out, which I have had the great luck to read in manuscript - and one of the chapters is an excellent discussion of 'Matter and Spirit' which I found to a clarifying alternative-take on the 'Polarity' question that I have been (with only very partial success!) trying to explain on this blog.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Three suggestions for Awakening Albion...

Metaphysics, Motivation and Actions... over at Albion Awakening

Some vital definitions relating to Primary Thinking and Final Participation

Imagination - mental 'pictures' - important but not-necessarily true

Inspiration - true knowledge coming from external divine sources

Intuition - true knowledge coming from the inner divine source

The Real Self - the divine within, unique to ourselves
(due to our eternal pre-mortal existence), and shared with all others (because a part of God; due to us each being a son or daughter of God)

Primary Thinking - thinking of the (divine) Real Self
(and Not the mass of sometimes-willed and sometimes-automatic 'cognitive processing' resulting from instinct and environmental interactions)

Final Participation = Intuition - our true relationship with the world when engaged in Primary Thinking

My Xtmas wish for you: please, Please, PLEASE don't waste your time in pointing-out the inconsistencies of The Mainstream Left (i.e. our society), or trying to make sense of them...

The Left, which is the mainstream modern official government, bureaucratic and media world - is Not coherent because it is primarily oppositional.

It is in essence opposed to Good, which means that it does not need to be coherent. It is opposed to Good, which means that coherence is one of those things to which it is opposed.

It is opposed to Good because, at the highest level, it is strategically controlled by demonic intelligences  - which is how its purpose has been maintained across the generations, across the world.

So don't waste your time in pointing-out the inconsistencies of The Mainstream Left (i.e. our society), or trying to make sense of them (that is exactly what They want you to do...) There is no sense to be made; the lack of sense is (almost) the whole point of it all.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Apologies to commenters on the Owen Barfield Blog

I didn't know about you!

Common error - 'regression to the mean' of intelligence

People say that the offspring of high IQ individuals will regress to the mean (average) of their 'population' - and they calculate this as if it were a mathematical law...

But intelligence is a measure of a biological variable, and 'regression towards the mean' happens, if-and-when it does, for biological reasons - it is not a mathematical law.

When a high IQ individual is a descendant of high IQ parents, grandparents etc - there is no regression to the mean.

(Except for the trivial reason that test-takers who score highly because they 'have a good day' will re-test at lower scores. This can be somewhat dealt with by having several measurements of IQ - although this also increases the chance of 'having a bad day' maybe from non-random illness, and falsely dragging down the average. In practice there is no substitute for high quality data and increased numbers/ averageing does not help. This means excluding from the data any people who are suffering from acute, test-score suppressing illness or any other systematic cause for false measurement. In biology; smaller higher quality studies are always better than larger, poorer quality studies.)

In other words, to the extent that a high IQ individual comes from a genetically-relatively-intelligence-inbreeding caste or class; there is no regression to the mean.

And, in fact this is a very common situation - at least to the extent that regression to the mean is insignificant in amongst other factors. 

The point to hold in mind is that no variation/ distribution is really random; randomness is just an assumption, a model, which may be expedient for specific purposes - but is not a general truth; indeed randomness is usually a false model when it comes to biology.

In sum, human behaviour and ability cannot be explained by mathematical rules - at most such rules summarise a specific data set - which must then be evaluated in terms of scientific quality. We cannot explain unless or until we know something of causes. 

Who/ what is the Antichrist? Recognise by motivation, not doctrine

The Antichrist is often wrongly assumed to be an anti-Christian - like the majority of modern political, business, and other leaders in The West. But the idea is meant to convey a person who is superficially, apparently Christian - who therefore gathers the support of Christians... and then leads them into deceieved but self-chosen damnation.

Also, there need not be one Antichrist - but a multitude - it can be a type rather than a group.

How to penetrate the deception? Well it is seldom a matter of false doctrine - because doctrine is easily faked or distorted - the world is full of people who advertise that they are doing X, but interpreting matters so that they instead destroy X - and humans are very vulnerable to that kind of deception at all levels: the own-nation-hating patriotic politician, the women-destroying feminist, the pro-science advocate who converts research into bureaucracy; the doctor who causes sickness; the educationalists who transform teaching into form-filling...

So good doctrine is compatible with being Antichrist; while on the other hand 'bad' Christian doctrine seems perfectly compatible with true Christian status, in that real, exemplary Christians are found in many churches and denominations.  

No - what makes Antichrist, and what makes Antichrist detectable, is any kind of Christianity pursued with unChristian motivation.

I say 'detectable'; but of course detecting motivation is a matter of intuitive inference, which each must do for himself (or else take the word of somebody he intuitively trusts as being both well-motivated and sufficiently informed).

In sum, we should not accept Christian leadership from anyone who does not place Christianity first, and foremost, as the priority in life (and repents their failures to live-up to this ideal).

The danger is that in today's climate, even someone who is merely interested-in and lukewarmly-supportive-of Christianity (perhaps as a means to an end of a more peaceful and prosperous society), might be set-up by Christian followers, out of a kind-of desperation.

Since this leader is, as a matter of fact, Not primarily motivated by Christianity - he will then use Christianity as a means to socio-political-business ends - as well as to fulfil personal goals such as status, sex, wealth etc. Since he is a leader, he will draw his followers down the same path - thus Christianity is made secondary, redefined expediently, evaluated in materialistic and worldly terms. 

And this is an Antichrist, one of many - although not The Antichrist. I expect several names have come to mind as you read this - and names of not-bad, not-the-worst people... well, they (and not the obvious baddies) are indeed the Antichrists of our time.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Schroedinger's Cat and the Anthropic Principle

I will not try to explain the Schroedinger's Cat thought-experiment, or the Anthropic Principle, as associated with Fred Hoyle -

I just want to make a comment about the status of this kind of theoretical reflection in Physics - or in science generally. (Another related example would be 'the collapse of the wave function' when something 'quantum' is observed.)

As a scientist I have always felt there was both something significant, and also something wrong, with this kind of reasoning. And this, I think, is the consequence of trying to deal with matters of metaphysical philosophy within the paradigm of science - where problems of this kind can be described, or sensed, but not solved.

Science developed as a subject, at least since Newton, by ignoring the observer - that is by assuming that all relevant (competent, properly-motivated) observers would observe in the same way such that the observer could simply be left out of consideration.

There is an element of covert fixing about this! In the sense that only a few people are 'allowed' to function inside science - and there is an extended process of education/ training/ socialization/ indoctrination which scientists must go-through before their observations (or opinions) count for anything within science.

Some/ many/ most people either cannot or will not get through this process - and are excluded from science - indeed, all active scientists know that the ability to do science (that is, to be an observer who observes like other scientists) is pretty rare; and most will have come across plenty of people who just cannot do it.

(In the past, this was known via the personal contacts of 'invisible colleges' of self-selected and self-regulating people working on particular areas and problems - but nowadays what calls-itself science is populated mostly by people who can't do it - neither can they interpret it nor use it. Thus science is overall and overwhelmingly a thing of the past.)

However this pragmatic solution is incoherent, and always was incoherent - as Goethe (among others) sensed and argued two hundred years ago. It is obvious, on consideration - which is seldom done - that the observer is always involved in any science, as well as the inferred-unobserved-phenomena. In sum, consciousness must exist before science can be done; and science also requires phenomena independent of consciousness - however, nothing can be known of phenomena without consciousness.

More exactly, scientific knowledge involves, not either, nor or, but both phenomena and an observer. Furthermore, any real knowledge must be the same for all observers. So that-which-observes needs to be common-between scientist, and it must observe validly, if any science can be true. A Fred Hoyle commented 'It makes sense to suppose that a bit of God is operating in all of us... it is almost as if God doesn't know what is going on in the universe [and that human intervention] is the way that records are kept'.

In other words, Physics theoretical reflection like Schroedinger's cat and the Anthropic principle are partial and distorted formulations which are properly dealt-with in the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield - and indeed this seems to have been well understood by Barfield and his friend David Bohm.

The quantum aspect is just a red herring - it merely highlights the problem of not being able to know exactly, not being able to predict exactly, not-knowing unless we 'observe'.

In sum, these are problems that can be sensed from within science - in terms of theoretical incoherences; and problems of replication; and problems of inability to conceptualise a scientific method leading to anything more than expedient-but-not-true models, imperfectly communicated in ways whose imperfections can never be pinned-down...

John Michell on the meaning of coincidences (synchronicities)

I once kept a coincidence diary... and I found that the more I noticed them, the more frequently they occurred. 

If I thought about someone he would immediately call or write; words I had never previously heard of repeated themselves in twos or threes; the clues in my crossword began giving personal messages; long-lost objects began reappearing in places where they should always have been; and if I wanted a reference to any subject, I had only to pick up a book lying one someone's table and there it was. 

Life became so nervously intense that I grew tired of it, gave up the diary, and sank back into normality. 

I think that during that period I was in a state of Primordial Perception, the state in which our primitive by highly sensitised nomadic ancestors lived. To live well, or at all, they had to be alert to all the clues and hints which nature provides, and know how to take advantage of them. 

They rode their luck, but not fatalistically but as they themselves made it; through the forms of sympathetic magic, which develop naturally from the primordial, spiritual mode of perception. 

That is not a state in which one can comfortably live today. It clashes painfully with the modern way of perception; and those who discover or fall into it are liable to end-up in the madhouse...

From 'Just a coincidence' in The John Michell Reader: Writings and rants of a radical traditionalist (edited by Joscelyn Godwin), 2015.

This is one of those matters about which Owen Barfield's scheme of Original Participation versus Final Participation has much to say. To do what Michell did, was to recover Original Participation - that is, to some extent to recover (in the adulthood, in the modern world) the child-like state of unconscious belonging-in the world.

But this recovery is only partly possible and entails a lowering of self-consciousness. This is indeed a path chosen by many - for example Michell; who reportedly smoked cannabis almost continually; presumably partly for this purpose. Other people use alcohol, trance states, partial sleep, or immersion in suitable external stimuli (this path is taken by separatists among tribal people).

Michell indeed advocated explicitly (and argued beautifully for) a return to an earlier state of group-consciousness - in effect to Original Participation.

But I would regard this as a failure of our spiritual destiny towards divine consciousness, as well as being in-practice impossible: having discovered that life was fuller of meaning than he supposed, Michell felt compelled to give-up this unconscious participation in the world because he felt himself slipping-towards insanity.

What we are supposed to infer from the proliferation of coincidences (i.e. synchronicities) which happens after they are noticed and taken seriously as communications; is that we should move forward to Final Participation - instead of sinking-into Life, we should bring all Life together into the encompassing, intuitive thinking of the real self: into Primary Thinking.

Instead of trying to lose our self-consciousness into a waking-dream; we should aim to expand our consciousness to include meaningful-coincidences in the stream of thought; to intensify thinking by learning how to think in freedom, from our-selves - instead of allowing thinking to become almost-always automatic, robotic, inculcated, manipulated...

So, it is a pity that Michell did not press forward into his life of coincidences; as probably (as a modern prophet) he really should have done. It was a test that he failed. Lapsing back into the usual incoherent and despairing compromise did not really help him, or us.

Monday, 11 December 2017

An Introduction to Owen Barfield

I am currently working on putting together a book on Owen Barfield: this is a draft of what might be the introduction:

It seems clear from accounts of those who knew him, confirmed by surviving filmed evidence, that Owen Barfield was a genuinely modest man. Of course, he had the solid, inner confidence that is essential to a genius; but this inner confidence did not come-out in personal interactions, where he was self-effacing and conciliatory. Much the same applies to his writings - which seek common ground rather than confrontation. This was, of course, a virtue; yet there is a consequent tendency to underestimate the depth, scope and originality of Barfield's achievement.

Furthermore, Barfield's writings are extremely careful, precise and balanced to the point that it is sometimes unclear what exactly are his own views. The prose is lucid and aphoristic; stimulating - yet, perhaps from not wishing to over-state or exaggerate, from not wishing to antagonise or dominate - Barfield did not always do justice to himself. He had a tendency to over-prepare the background; to explain and deal with objections, and to surround his assertions with qualifications and distinctions; to such a degree that by the time we eventually get to read his own actual beliefs - they are easy to miss. His considered views are typically articulated without much emphasis, or repetition, or re-explaining - so concisely that they can seem ambiguous.

In introducing my interpretation of Owen Barfield, his modesty can serve as a springboard; because it is the man's modesty that has, I believe, led to a general misunderstanding of the nature of his achievement. And therefore it has led to the potential value of a book which focuses on Barfield's philosophical understanding, states that understanding somewhat baldly, and accepts that understanding as a basis for development -  rather than re-rehearsing the arguments...  

...Barfield was working at a level much deeper than philology: he was a metaphysical philosopher engaged in redescribing modern Man's basic assumptions concerning the nature of reality; and Barfield underpinned his metaphysics with a radical Christian theological reinterpretation of the nature and purpose of God's relationship with Man and creation.

I suppose that if Barfield were confronted with the above passage, he would quietly but firmly agree that he was - indeed - essentially working in metaphysics and theology; and would then modestly point-out the large extent of his debt to Rudolf Steiner; that much of Barfield's philosophy can be seen as built-upon the foundations of Steiner's early philosophical books culminating in The Philosophy of Freedom (1894).

And debt is real and vital; despite a few differences, and that Barfield's work leaves-out the great bulk of Steiner's enormous output of 'spiritual science'. Yet it also seems to be true that Steiner's work served more as a confirmation and clarification of Barfield's pre-existing intuitions than a primary source of them.

In the end, it seems necessary to acknowledge both that Barfield's ideas are built-on those of Steiner; and also that Barfield is his-own-man - and for many or most people Barfield could justify the status of serving as one of a handful of truly important philosophers of the twentieth century; one whose work is of potentially-life transforming, life-enhancing value.

Read the whole thing at the Owen Barfield Blog. 

An imaginary future historian looks back on the 21st century

A really insightful, clarifying and thought-provoking-thought-experiment from 'Bonald' in the blog section of Throne and Altar.

My understanding is that something-of the-sort will happen, unless somebody or something stops it (and there is no sign of that happening, so far) - but Bonald's is a kind of minimal view of what would happen (which would probably be much more extreme). And the real story (including the real motivations) is understandable only at the spiritual level of analysis (i.e. warfare between the powers of Good and of evil). Civilizational outcomes are just a side-show: a means to that end.

Metaphysics comes before Epistemology - we need to assume the nature of reality before we speculate on how we know what is true

For the past century and a half, metaphysics (the philosophy of ultimate assumptions concerning the nature of reality) has been ignored, ridiculed, asserted to be unnecessary; and the philosophical focus has been on epistemology - that is, the question of knowledge (how we can known anything, or know any specific thing).

Thus, it has been common since Logical Positivism for modern thinkers to claim - incoherently - that do not have any metaphysical assumptions, but 'instead' base their beliefs on 'evidence' (thereby including the assumption that they already-know what counts as valid evidence and they already-know to interpret it validly...).

Anyway - we should acknowledge that metaphysics is necessary, and an explicit metaphysics is necessary in modernity because metaphysics Will Be Challenged.

So - anyone can state a basic assumption, something about which we say: It Just Is; and the proper question is how may metaphysical assumptions be evaluated? 

Ultimately personal evaluation is an intuitive process, by which our true-self (our real-divine self) grasps the proposition entire and makes a solid evaluation. But that comes at the end of a process of clarification - that is, we need to come to that state of simplicity and clarity before we can evaluate it as-a-whole.

One help is to assume the truth of the assumption, then ask: Does this assumption make sense of the fact that I know it? 

(In other words, does this metaphysics support a coherent epistemology?)

If the assumption is (assumed to be) true,

Then could we, personally, know-that it was true?

Many metaphysical assumptions cannot sustain an epistemology by which they could be known.

This would incline me to reject them - how about you?


Most mainstream metaphysical assumptions are incoherent wrt. epistemology. As examples:
      If natural selection is assumed metaphysically true, as the only and sufficient explanation of Man; then human reason must be a product of natural selection; which means that human reason can never know anything (because natural selection is about differential fitness, not about truth).   
     If it is assumed that the universe is assumed to be a combination of randomness and determinism; then we personally could never know this - because we personally would be a combination of randomness and determinism and could never know anything. The universe might actually Be random/ determined - but if so, we personally could never know that. 


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Each birth is a death - and emergence of a new dyadic polarity

(Polarity is a term from Coleridge via Barfield meaning a dyadic relationship between two distinguishable but inseparable complementary elements - it implies that fundamental reality and priority of dynamic process - of creation and procreation. The prime polarity is love of two distinct, complementary, eternally wedded persons.)

Spiritual progression is a sequence of deaths and births.

The conception then birth of Jesus was the death of Jehovah, when Jehovah (who made this earth) became a part of a polar dyad with Man;  Jesus's baptism was the birth of Christ in dyadic polarity with the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of Jesus Christ required his death and a polarity with The Father.

Baptism and Marriage imply the death of a previous singleness and birth of a new dyadic polarity.

Truly to be born-again as a Christian is death of what we previously were; the birth of a child is the emergence of a new relationship of parenthood - and the death of our previous state.

An eternal marriage of a fully divine son and daughter of God is a recapitulation of the primal dyad - and the ultimate creative polarity; capable of procreation of new spirit children from primordial human 'intelligences' - as well as of 'normal' creation.

(I presume that marriage was the final stage in the theosis of Jesus Christ - by which he achieved the full nature of the Father; such is - I believe - represented in John's Gospel.)  

Because what emerges is a new polarity, to be Christian it is not a static state - it is the balance of a polarity - and that balance may go in either direction, even a long way towards apostasy, without the polarity being destroyed - so long as repentance is effectual.

(The sin against the Holy Ghost refers to the destruction of this polarity; which is non-viable, and a kind of death. Polar complements cannot be separated without destruction - perhaps into mere abstraction - of both parts.)

So at Christmas we celebrate a birth - which is also a death; complementary to Easter where we celebrate the same process with the opposite emphasis.

A birth is rightly to be celebrated; and for birth, death is necessary - including that death which terminates mortality and opens to resurrection.