I shouldn’t, but what the heck.
we are actually engaged in a three-way war. It’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the most important consequence of it is simply the recognition and acknowledgement that it is a three-way struggle.
So, the most important consequence of ‘it’ – i.e. the war – is ‘recognition’ or ‘acknowledgement’ of the nature of that very war? Hegel himself might blush at such a lofty, self-reflexive conceit: a war primarily to know what the war itself is about. (If so, why not just not hold the thing and be satisfied with the answer: nothing.)
Many things have happened which are inexplicable under the assumption that there are only two sides.
So Den Beste deduces this must be a three-way war, a priori, by helping himself to the major premise: anything inexplicable on the assumption that it has two sides must have three sides. (How else?) Plato himself, author of the Theaetetus, might blush. Even the Medium Lobster, transcendent being that he is, might balk at playing a ‘prove everyone is a triangle for free’ card.
But can Den Beste really be meaning to assert these strange, speculative things? Oh, who the hell can say? On the other hand, in dovetails neatly with what comes next. He explains how it all flows from the abstract, metaphysical nature of the three combatants. “There is a significant degree to which each of the three should be thought of as ‘hive-minds’.” Or as one hive-mind. Each. One hive-mind. So you get three. Attacking each other with their minds. Anyway, we have here an abstract war of Ideas. Ergo, by harmonic mental attunement, one may apprehend the agonically teleological operations of Mind behind the scenes. That is, the war.
So what will we see, according to Den Beste, if we claw our way out of the cave, into the Sun? First, Islamism – radical, jihadist, militant Islam.
The other two sides are derived from Western philosophical roots. For them I’ve had to invent my own names: “p-idealism” and “empiricism”.
One world view is known as teleology, which refers to a basic assumption that there’s a fundamental elegance of design to the universe, a deep sense in which things are related so that outcomes are intellectually and esthetically pleasing. When things happen, it’s not just the result of localized cause-and-effect; there’s also a “final cause”, a deeper meaning and source of it. And because of that, it all relates; everything is of a piece, and it’s all part of an elegant overall pattern.
…One of the ways in which this all ultimately manifested was in the basic philosophy of idealism, which posits that the mind is the essential and central force in the universe. . .
And that was why you could figure it all out: if you could somehow attune yourself to that higher order of existence, you’d automatically know it all. And those who had come closer to achieving such enlightenment were therefore more wise than anyone else, and should be able to wield power over the others.
It started with the question, “What is the universe like?” and came up with the answer, “I dunno; let’s go look and see.” It posits that there actually is an objective universe, and doesn’t automatically assume that it has any kind of underlying purpose. If such a thing is present, it will become clear in due course, and in the mean time let’s all look around to see what kind of place we’re living in.
Notice the peculiar ‘It’. To what does ‘it’ refer? Ideas doing it for themselves? Very Hegelian.
At any rate, the hive-mind known as ‘p-Idealism’ is emanating (in semi-Plotinian fashion) mostly as Europe. The Ding an sich known as ‘empiricism’ manifests itself, empirically, as the United States (roughly).
The basic competition at all levels between the rising force of empiricism and the existing entrenched p-idealism has a long and bloody history. Empiricism dominated the US and still does, but p-idealism has spent most of the last hundred years trying to challenge that, as yet unsuccessfully. In Europe, it’s been more complicated with a long and strong competition between empiricism and p-idealism for control, and the balance of power changing constantly, but since the end of WWII p-idealism has largely come to dominate in western Europe.
Den Beste is, of course, firmly and staunchly on the side of empiricism. Not an p-idealist bone in his body. Nope. No flights of speculative fancy for him. Wouldn’t talk about a messy, empirical thing like it was an abstract dialectic. This isn’t one of those fruity, Hegel passages where you can’t tell whether you are hearing about people, or premises, or a war, or an abstract argument. Or what. Nothing like that.
OK, I’m laying it on thick. But as someone with a weakness for speculative philosophy – from Parmenides on – it bothers me when folks think they can dance ad nauseum to these airy tunes without having to pay the empirical piper. For them to say they are the piper is sillier still.
Seriously, from Hegel’s History: grand, unbroken march of World-Spirit – to den Beste’s War: three-way cage-match of hive-minds – to Calvin’s last-minute report on bats: bats, the big bug scourge of the skies – the finest, truest response is and shall remain that of the tiger, Hobbes: your report only contains one fact, and you made it up.
Hey, it worked for Parmenides. Sort of.
I guess what I’m really saying is it’s about time that whole ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ meme – which was funny for about three days – gets laid totally and finally and utterly to rest. It doesn’t need, at this late stage in its career, to morph into a giant sequel to the Phenomenology of Spirit. It doesn’t need to be an a priori philosophy of anti-Europe grousing that pretends its motto is ‘I dunno, let’s look and see.’
If John Kerry loses a single red-blooded, empirical American vote on the grounds that he fraternizes with p-idealizing surrender hive-minds – I swear somebody is going to deserve a kick in the noumenon.