Welcome to the Pons Asinorum

There is no easy fix

Entering Lonergan's Novum Organon

Facing the Reality of a Lack of Moral Courage

Joyous Insurgency & the Long Game?

A Strategy for People Celebrating Life

Grounds for Two Generative Principles deals with the fundamental dialectic in world history: the life-affirming Divine and the death-embracing "Satanic." In this short essay we explore the essential nature of such a dialectic.

April 27, 2020

Part V: Islam: Resentment Runs Wild

Islam, meaning submission to Allah, emerged from the Arab's encounter with Jewish and Christian communities in North Africa. It is in effect a totalitarian ideology designed to create warriors as part of a drive to conquer the known world. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam's locus of control lies not with the individual but with the state. Also, unlike the West, the use of violence is not constrained to the state but opened to anyone. What passes for "civil" law is nothing but the interpretation of the Koran in the context of the Hadith in order to answer contemporary questions. The realm of mind out of which Western science emerges is not possible in a culture that places no limits on the will of Allah. All this, among other things, leads to a deep rage and resentment against all that does not belong to the Ummah (the Muslim brotherhood or community).

April 14, 2020

Part I: Preliminaries

Years ago, in my late teens, I looked up into the starry heavens unobstructed by any clouds and demanded God prove His existence. Then I forgot all about this challenge and went on with my merry business of university, marriage, and career. But He did not forget and my career was less than stellar.

Now I re-read this post and realize that God, when I wasn't looking, did indeed prove His existence. The proof lies in pudding, as they say; and this pudding contains a call for repentance.

Over the past dozen years we have touched on a number of themes that may play an important role in creating an evaluative history not only grounded in Lonergan's Novum Organon but in the now vast body of recorded history. The problem is to select what is important and leave the unimportant—the inessentials—behind. Here we anticipate what there is to be known, knowing full well that delving into the data may reveal something quite different. It is my hope that we can follow the data as best we can until we arrive at a virtually unconditioned evaluative history. Perhaps the very effort is the thing that is important, for before an answer comes the question.

P.S. This approach is an extension of the invariant theory of human life-cycles developed a few years ago. RCB

May 6, 2020

Part VIII: The Great Transformation

Christianity was the first radical change in human history; the recurring schemes of operation that brought into being a wealth creating civilization is perhaps the second. In both cases, an advance was made not only in human consciousness but in the good of order where the exploitations characteristic of wealth redistribution now faced a radical call for individual freedom as a new global order was being formed. The result was a new configuration between the three levels of intelligability: energy/material, institutional, and transcendent so powerful that it dominated all around it.

April 29, 2020

Part VI: China: The Warring States

In this section we take a peek at what can happen in areas of the world where a Judeo-Christian way of living has never influenced the development of a civilization. For this we turn to mainland China, where unlike Taiwan and Japan, the CCP has rejected all Western influence. The desire to rule rather than to fall under the power and authority of others, even if co-operation on a global level may be beneficial, falls within the death-embracing generative principle. Here we cover such things as:

  • A poor geographical location that leaves any government open to hostile take-overs,
  • Little or no religious movements other than Buddhism, Confucianism, or Taoism,
  • No concept of the sacredness of individual human beings,
  • The degradation of society due to an over-concentration of a non-elected  powerfully elite,
  • The deadly art of saving face through gas-lighting,
  • Chairman Mao's near total destruction of Chinese culture on the mainland,
  • The contrast with the Taiwanese who not only maintained their Chinese heritage but adopted key features of the wealth-creating Western civilization, and
  • The example of Japan.

Again, all this uses the energy/material, institutional, and transcendental levels of intelligibility that hopefully expands our understanding of the dynamics of fundamental institutional change.

May 4, 2020

Part VII: The In-Between Places

In this section we considered the unequal distribution of resources across the globe, especially those areas that are in themselves incapable of supporting complex civilizations for any length of time. These areas become frontiers for more capable cultures with access to necessary resources, many of which occupy the temperate climates in the northern hemisphere. We also introduce the thermodynamic principle that the more energy/material flows the greater the complexity of the ecosystem. This also applies to a civilization's institutional structure: the greater the access to energy, the more complex the society can become. At the same time, we hint at deeper processes of natural selection.

This is a single document in two page booklet form that includes all the above plus an extra two chapters, preface, introduction, and epilogue. In lays out an outline for a comprehensive evaluative history, the third section in Volume Two of The Project where the first two are the primary cosmopolis language (the Schematic) followed by the use of this concept universe to create an invariant structure of the human life-cycle. N.B. This is a place-holder text; the fully edited copy should be ready in a few weeks.

Educational Projects: Evaluative History: Anticipations

July 12, 2020

Part XVIII: Reflections

A series of reflections on the entire sketch of an evaluative history reveals an isomorphic relationship between the invariant structure of a human life-cycle and the complex, non-linear systems whose divinely inspired historical development that not only reaches into the past but extends into the future. In both cases, the underlying mechanism involves a shift from animal to control mediators. How this might be carried out is through a process of mutual self-mediation that will be the topic of our next essay.

Applying the Ideal Model continues the discussion on the two fundamental generative principles by recategorizing the current institutional players along a continuum between good and bad, active and passive, and strong and weak, keeping in mind Kenneth Burke's end to his definition of being human: "rotten with perfection."

June 7, 2020

Part XVII: It Can't Happen Here?

Or can it. In this part of an evaluative history we deal with the second image of the future. The culture after ours lays out one possibility grounded in the life-affirming generative principle, one that could emerge depending not only on our will and capacity to bring it into being but the support of God whose interests may lie in its actualization. It can't happen here lays out an alternative future, one that has a high probability of emergence should present trends  continue and Christianity's reputation lies in tatters. It is each person's responsibility to not only educate themselves into the realities of our time, but take a stance one way or another. This part lays out the other.

May 17, 2020

Part XII: The Rise of the Middle Class

Between the .1 % elite and their servants, and the very poor, lies a middle class that provides not only stability over time but adherence to transcendental values, the rule of law, and the freedom to do as one wills even though it seems the majority of people are quite content to be taken care of (the nanny state). Now however this Western middle class is coming under multiple attacks that include the destruction of the family, the breaking down of male/female relations, a vindictive secular "religion", the elimination of reason and logic in favor of emotions and good intentions, etc. The problem is that the disappearance of a productive middle class will take with it all signs of prosperity as society falls back into the wealth-distributing schemes that have dominated most of human history.

Note that the weekly sessions are lightly edited, but corrections have been made in the "final" full document. rcb Oct. 2, 20202

How the The Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World lays out one of the two fundamental contemporary modes of a "satanic" generative principles in a dialectic between good and evil (Islam being the other foundational mode). This video presents a graphic illustration of the death-embracing principle that once accepted at the core of one's being destroys all around who become caught up in its destructive patterns of behavior. Note the importance communists give to destroying mankind's ability to discern between good and evil.

N.B. This video belongs to the realm of common sense,

where "Satan" is a real entity directly involved with human history. Our analysis belongs in the theoretical realm of meaning, which means we attempt to relate things to each other regardless of human interests or concerns. This means that the viewer, if he or she is to follow our line of thought, has to translate common sense objects into theoretical things. Hence our definition of "Satan" as a recurring scheme of operations that uses a death-embracing generative principle as its seed mechanism to generate highly destructive worlds mediated by meaning.

May 16, 2020

Part XI: Pax Americana: An A_Historical Period

If we wish to understand the fundamental institutional changes taking place in our own day, we need to understand the global institutional structure that was put into place at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference. This agreement opened the American market to the world, provided safe passage of the seas around the globe, and set up organizations like the WTO, IMF, and the WB to regulate trade as long as the countries involved provided support for the U.S. against the rising threat of Soviet expansion. This agreement more-or-less worked up until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, at which point the purpose behind the agreement disappeared leaving only institutional inertia to maintain the global order. This system is now under threat from a number of sources, including the rise of the CCP "gangster" regime and the rise of a secular Left that seeks to undercut Western civilization. At this point in time, the primary institutional need is for a replacement scheme of operations that will allow marginal countries to continue their access to the global economy while preventing the slide into poverty and famine that would otherwise ensue if the U.S. no longer provided freedom of the seas. But such a reform requires cooperation from the transcendental ream of meaning, i.e., a reformed church capable of understanding and responding to the needs of the time without falling into the trap of adopting the horizon and insights typical of a death-embracing generative principle.

May 30, 2020

Part XV: In Transition

We now preform our magic trick. Rather that extend current trends into the future we imagine the culture that can come after our own based on the application of Lonergan's methodological work, create a transitional device to bring this Novum Organon into being, and note how current conditions lead to such an emergent reality. This part of our broad evaluative history delves into the essential features of the primary transitional device: a cosmopolis.

April 25, 2020

Part IV: The Rise of Christianity

The second radical transformation took place when a number of converts to The Way sought to understand the meaning of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. With this came the possibility of a shift into a third level of consciousness, a level of self-awareness sans any objects including one's own self. This is the level at which fundamental transformations of the individual take place, for literally one finds oneself living in a totally different world than that of pagan pantheistic societies. All of a sudden, institutional changes modeled upon Judaism's covenant could be extended into the world at large. The story of Christianity is a long process of adjusting to this new radical way of being that started once the idea of redemption through Christ's hypostatic union was adopted through an act of assimilation. All this might be boiled down into one statement: All men are created equal.

May 20, 2020

Part XIII: Losing Contact: Common Sense Bias

We are now zooming in on the current political realities of a fragmented and degraded Western society, or rather on the root cause of long-term decline that inevitable leads to a dark age in which all knowledge acquired by one's forefathers is lost. The problem is that intelligent people of common sense overvalue their own expertise to the point where larger political, philosophical, and theological issue are ignored as getting in the way of the world's work. In this section we explore a number of such truncated rationalizations that have been and are used to justify highly political and destructive orientations. At the end is a call to the only possible high level appreciative system capable of uniting all humanity as a creative enterprise and not yet another attempt to dominate through fear and power. To do this requires not only the recapturing of the original Way but how that core Christianity is to be reflected in our own times without taking on the same blindness that common sense bias has engendered. As Lonergan writes: "A theology mediates between a cultural matrix and the significance and role of a religion in that matrix" (Method, Introduction). To do this requires a deepening of human consciousness, i.e., Lonergan's Novum Organon.

April 22, 2020

Part III: The Impact of Judaism

In this part we continue digging into the linear development of progress, decline, and reversal that replaced the cyclic notion of time common to pantheistic civilizations. We start with the creation and founding myths that "explained" not only what it meant to be a Jew but the foundations of Israel itself. Up to this point, all transcendental impulses had to pass through the gates of common sense. But now Judaism created a separate transcendental realm accessed through the specialized work of Torah scholars and lived by the Jewish people. Furthermore, this tradition established a "natural law" code of ethics that transcended human desires and wishes, as well as the equality of all men and women as creatures created by God. Part III ends with the need to transcend Jewish common sense customs in order to form a universal religion, a need met by the rise of Christianity.

May 12, 2020

Part X: World War and the Loss of Faith

After pointing out a number of fundamental achievements in Western Civilization, and noting that while evil is universal good is not, we go on to the loss of faith that led to a post-modern world. If Western Civilization goes into a dark age, than the world will revert to its traditional standards of slavery, human sacrifice, poverty, and exploitation.

May 31, 2020

Part XVI: The Culture After Ours

Here we lay out the next potential emergent reality for the human species, using Lonergan's ideas of transcendental method and functional specialization not to set out yet another normative culture but a culture grounded in a method at arriving at the truth of the human condition more or less free of various forms of bias. It is not a Utopian world; far from it. But it is a less materially wealthy society in the process of transition to a spiritual mediator without losing any of the drive that has been part and parcel of Western Civilization.

April 17, 2020

Part II: From Whence We Came

In this post we sketch out a number of key factors when it comes to anticipating what there is to be known about the human condition prior to the emergence of Judaism. Again, the underlying model is the three levels of intelligibility operating within the world process of emergent probability. Key factors being considered are:

  • Access to the transcendental via pantheistic traditions
  • No concept of the innate importance of the individual
  • Holding conflicting ideas at he same time (no law of the excluded middle)
  • The interplay between technological access to energy and complex institutional structures
  • The oral transmission of knowledge and wisdom
  • Short and brutal lives for a majority ruled by a small elite
  • Only way to wealth is through expropriation
  • Normative cultures in conflict with each other

In short, life for most of human history included slavery, economic exploitation, low--level warfare, environmental degradation, and extreme differences in wealth.

May 8, 2020

Part IX: Global Reach & A Common Humanity

Global reach: good or bad? While there are problems in this first experiment in building a global economy transcending national interests that could well bring it to an end, it also brings with it a common understanding that we are all humans. It also provides a rich soil for the next possible step toward the Kingdom of God, i.e., it provides a conflict between civilizations that focuses the attention on fundamental values in a way a time of peace and plenty does not. We are now observing a planet that, whether it knows it or not, is engaged at the third level of reflective intelligence where leaders rather than managers are a necessity. What better grounds for actualizing Lonergan's transcendental method and functional specialty that they current stresses reverberating through the upper level institutional structure.

May 24, 2020

Part XIV: Embraced by Love

The successes of Western civilization in a world where evil is ubiquitous is due to the transforming actions of the Holy Spirit released into the world through the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. But ever since then, there have been agents dedicated to the destruction not only of Christianity (and Judaism) but of Western Civilization itself. At this point in history, where old evils are about to be unleashed upon the world with the end of the Pax Americana and the rise of a secular Marxism that has undermined any belief in the Divine, we need to find ways to bring the Divine back into our collective consciousness. This part deals with the question of redemption, of reversing decline by taking personal responsibility for the state of the world, and of finding ways to create an institutional structure that not only allows but encourages the sublating effects of the transcendent to permeate down through society.