Avoiding Babylon and the Quest for the Grail of the Unholy  (Part 1 of 1)

0001 The actual title of this blog is Looking at Avoiding Babylon’s 2023 Year in Review Podcast.

0002 One avenue to the podcast is https://spiritustv.com@avoidingbabylon.

At the moment of this writing, these comedic, yet earnest, podcasters are also on youtube and rumble.

0003 The current title employs an Arthurian legend riff, because, if anything, the four interlocutors in this video elaborate a sign-relation specifying what Pope Francis, seemingly simultaneously pope and poseur, means to each one.  The appropriate Tarot card is the Hierophant.  So, that is what I will label this confluence of fallible human and political position.

0004 In general, the sign is a triadic relation where a sign-vehicle stands for a sign-object in regards to a sign-interpretant.

Here is a picture.

0005 In a specifying sign, a content-based sign-vehicle (SVs) stands for a situation-based sign object (SOs) in regards to the question of what it means to me, operating on the potential of ongoing content (SIs).

The actions of the Hierophant play a prominent role in the year-end review.  These actions serve as a specifying sign-vehicle (SVs) that stands for the reviewers drinking from a chalice of unholiness (SOs) in regards to what the news events of 2023 mean to traditional Catholics (SIs). 

0006 Here is a picture.

0006 Now, the members of the discussion do not quest for the grail of the unholy.  Rather, they suffer it.  The elixir that they reluctantly imbibe is a distillate of the rotted fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, vaporized and condensed by nefarious operators similar to those fingered in Charles Theodore Murr’s book (2022) Murder in the 33rd Degree.

0007 Razie Mah offers two snapshots of this distillate.

One is Looking at Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s Music Video (2022) “Unholy”, presented in Razie Mah’s blog on February 11, 2023, several days after the Grammy awards.

Two is Looking at Carlo Vigano’s Speech (2021) “How the Revolution of Vatican II Serves the New World Order”,presented during July 2022, in the same blog.

This is what the talents at Avoiding Babylon taste.

0008 So, what is this distillate?

Well, the answer is obvious.

The distillate is the liquid in the grail of the unholy.

Surely, the elixir is spiritual.  But, it is not the blood of Christ.  Its mash is stamped from the modern grapes of alienation and resentment.

0009 At this moment, pause, and take a glance at the title of this blog.  The title proposes a quest, not for the distillate, but for the grail of the unholy.  The grail is the vessel, the cup, the chalice of what is unholy.

0010 Spoken words are so slippery.

Perhaps, the following articulation is more suitable.

I propose a quest for the doctrine of original sin.

0011 The doctrine of original sin is the vessel of the unholy, purchased by Christ in the transaction of all time, bringing good out of the fall of Adam and Eve.

0012 But, has not Augustine’s doctrine of original sin been disproven by modern science?

This is a very good question.

To witness one Christian author caught in the tentacles of this “has not”, consider Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) “The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”, appearing in Razie Mah’s blog between November 30 and 1, 2023.

0013 I propose that Avoiding Babylon pose this question to their audience, in an open forum, along with the following queries. (1) Is Augustine’s doctrine of original sin still valid after modern science demonstrates that there is no genetic bottleneck, as would be expected if Adam and Eve are parents of all humans? (2) Does Augustine’s diagnosis of concupiscence still apply? (3) What about other diagnoses, such as the Protestant’s doctrine of total depravity?  Do they still apply? Finally, (4) are there any alternate formulations of original sin proposed after Augustine but before the modern Age of Ideas?

0014 I suspect that the answers will be: (1) No.  (2) Yes.  (3) Yes, look no further than the demos-racket party members and their rino consorts beholden to the glow-baloney-ists. (4) Yes, Thomas Aquinas proposes that original sin is the deprivation of original justice.

0015 In a subsequent open forum, I propose that the audience of Avoiding Babylon riddle this question.  Does Aquinas’s proposal that original sin is the deprivation of original justice apply to human evolution?

In other words, is there a twist in human evolution?

Is human evolution shaken, not stirred?

Has the living world of humanity changed?

Is the German word, “Lebenswelt”, appropriate?

What if our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?

0016 Why stop there?

Can the Lebenswelt that we evolved in correspond to an era of original justice?

Can our current Lebenswelt correspond to an era of original sin?

0017 Of course, with questions like these, an open forum may descend into chaos.  To date, no one seems willing to connect the dots, except for Razie Mah.  That give this literary figure a certain daring.  He even proposes a label for the transition from the Lebenswelt that we evolved in to our current Lebenswelt.

The label is “the first singularity”.

Yes, there is an archaeology of the fall.

0018 If Aquinas’s concept of original justice applies to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, then how are we to envision this… um… Edenic existence?

Perhaps, inquirers may consider the lives of newborns, infants, toddlers and young children.

These innocent creatures did not evolve to grow up in civilization, did they?

0019 Two recent blogs by Razie Mah assist in opening the modern mind to the possibility that we evolved to be what children expect us to be, which is nothing like what we adults actually are in today’s unconstrained social complexity.

One is Looking at John Deely’s Book (2010) “Semiotic Animal”, appearing from October 30 to 2, 2023.  John Deely (1942-2017 AD) is the only postmodern semiotician buried in the cemetery adjacent to Saint Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  His last student, Brian Kemple, runs the Lyceum website and is worthy of an interview.  So are the contributors to his online journal, Reality.

Two is a series of examinations of the works of Michael Tomasello, recently retired Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany (and may be living near Duke University in North Carolina).  These will appear from March 31 to January 4, 2024 (and will be wrapped into an e-book titled, Comments on Michael Tomasello’s Arc of Inquiry (1999-2019), soon to be available at smashwords and other e-book venues).

0020 So, the question is, “Are these little tykes expecting us to be, who we evolved to be? And, if so, then why do we seem to fail to live up to their expectations, say nothing of our own expectations for ourselves?”

I suspect that Dr. Tomasello might want to take a swing at that hardball question.

0021 Imagine the implications of associating Aquinas’s original justice to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

0022 As for our current Lebenswelt of original sin, the prior specifying sign says that Pope Francis, as a premier news maker of 2023 (SVs), stands for traditional Catholics being forced to drink elixir from the grail of the unholy (SOs) in regards to the question of what it means to believers, who are concerned about ongoing events (SIs).

0023 Of course, scientists like to call these news items, “memes”, easily transmitted virus-like units of cultural information.  Today, memes are everywhere.  They are incessantly broadcast.  So if the Hierophant employs memes, then what is the nature of memes?

Here, Looking at Daniel Dennett’s Book (2017) “From Bacteria, to Bach and Back”, appearing in Razie Mah’s blog in December 2023, offers a notion that memes, bits of gossip, pithy justifications of concupiscence, demoralizing proclamations, and label-attaching accusations involve the specifying sign (as already noted) as well as the interventional sign.

0024 The interventional sign?

The interventional sign is like a mirror of the specifying sign.

In a specifying sign-relation, the content-based sign-vehicle (SVs) is picked up by the senses as a mind-independent being.  The situation-based sign-object (SOs) is mind-dependent.

In an interventional sign-relation, the content-based sign-object (SOs) is available to the senses as an apparently mind-independent being, which is totally backwards from the specifying sign.  The perspective-based sign-vehicle (SVi) is mind-dependent.

0025 For the interventional sign-relation, a perspective-based idea in the mind of someone (or something) (SVi) stands for what the participants sense (SOi) in regards to the content-based question, what is happening, drawing upon the possibility that ‘something’ is happening (SIi).

0026 Here is a picture for the meme at hand.

0027 Note that the sign-object of the interventional sign (SOi) is contiguous with the sign-vehicle of the specifying sign(SVs).

However, the interventional sign-relation is much more difficult to assess than the specifying sign-relation

0028 The lesson is on display in Avoiding Babylon’s podcast of the year 2023 in review.

The Hierophant offers an elixir that tastes like poison to traditional Catholics and the interlocutors ask what is happening.  They cannot figure out the potential of ‘something’ happening’ because they cannot ideate, much less imagine, that the current Hierophant is an object (SOi), called into being by an alien intelligence guiding what is happening and the potential of ‘something’ happening (SIi) in the process of implementing an alien idea, plan or judgment (SVi).

0029 Now, substitute the word, “unholy”, for “alien”.

An unholy idea (SVi) stands for this Hierophant making the news (SOi) in regards to the question of what is happening arising from the potential of ‘something’ happening (SIi).

0030 No, this does not sound like concupiscence.

This sounds like something far more deranged.

0031 Has the Yaltaboath of Modernism found its Voice?

Does the Modern Yaltaboath seek to destroy the chalice of the unholy, which has been disproven, then disregarded, but still retains its power to contain the elixir of whatever idea, plan or judgment that our unconstrained minds can conceive?

Will Avoiding Babylon conduct a quest for original sin?

Will they seek to discover the cup of the unholy capable of containing the juices of Modernism?


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Book (2019) “The Intersection” (Part 1 of 4)

0001 According to Neoplatonic legend, the descent of the soul starts with a small immaterial gem resting on an undefinable pillow in the presence of transcendental beauty.  Then, a trap door opens and the little source of illuminationbegins to fall.  As it descends, it accrues matter.  Matter enters form.

One may say that the matter is evil and the soul, good, and conclude that the immortal soul becomes encased in corruptible matter.  But, the story is more complicated, because the term, “matter” slyly includes the capacity to become entangled with purely relational being.  Matter holds the capacity for meaning.  Matter substantiates form.  So Christians, following the complication, witness the baby as bearing a message.  The message?  Baptize me.

0002 The book before me is Brian Kemple’s The Intersection of Semiotics and Phenomenology: Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue, published in 2019 by Walter de Gruyter Press (Boston/Berlin).  The masterwork is dedicated to the memory of John Deely (1942-2017 AD), who served as Kemple’s professor.

0003 The book presents a complex argument.  I, a simpleton, fixate on the titular word, “intersection”.

For me, the term has a technical definition, as formulated in the chapter on message in the e-book How To Define The Word “Religion” (by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues).  An intersection is a single actuality composed of two actualities, each with its own category-based nested form.

Say what?

See A Primer on the Category-based Nested Form.

0004 A photon is an example of an intersection of two actualities: a wave and a particle.  The normal context of a diffraction apparatus3 brings wave properties of light2 into relation with the potential of ‘observations of wavelengths’1.  The normal context of a metal plate3 brings particle properties of light2 into relation with potential ‘observations of the photo-electric effect’1.

0005 Here is a picture.

Figure 01

0006 Here is another way to look at the photon as intersection.

Figure 02

0007 In the following blogs, I will endeavor to visualize whether Kemple’s use of the term, “intersection”, coheres with this technical definition.

In order to do so, I will locate two category-based nested forms, one for both Peirce and one for Heidegger, and see whether the two actualities meld into one. 


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Book (2019) “The Intersection” (Part 4 of 4)

0020 The term, Bildendwelt, sounds like the concatenation of the words, “Bilden” and “dwelt”, as in the English statement, “I dwelt in that Bilden, before it came crashing down.”

In order to appreciate my humor, consider the October 1, 2022, blog at www.raziemah.com, titled, “Fantasia in G Minor: A speech written for Gunnar Beck MEP”.

Da Bilden is coming down!

Oh, I meant to say… the Bildendwelt makes no sense at all.

0021 So much for wordplay.

The compound-word, Bildendwelt stands, waiting to be refined in the furnace of postmodern use.

0022 The third division of Kemple’s book weaves together divisions one and two, titled World and Sign, into an intersection.  In the process, Kemple focuses on two elements in the following figure: Sein1V and sign1H.

Figure 08

0023 To me, Kemple’s focus is remarkable, because Being1V and triadic relations1H are crucial for bringing our lineage from Umwelt, to Lebenswelt, and further into Bildendwelt.  Indeed, I wonder whether these compound terms should be used to label the single actuality of Peirce’s experience2H and Dasein2V.

0024 But, let me not ignore one further possibility, the single actuality is us.

Here is a list of labels for the single actuality.

Figure 09

0025 Now, I can portray our descent.

Imagine us, as purely spiritual illuminations, perched on undefinable pillows, in the presence of transcendent beauty in an era when all time is now.  A trap door opens and we descend into Being and Time.  As we fall, we accrete two actualities, coinciding with Peirce’s experience following his realization that signs are real1H and with Heidegger’s vision of Dasein1V.  These actualities are full of contradictions.

As we descend through Being and Time, we accrue World and Sign.  We pass through our primordial Umwelt, the Lebenswelt that we evolve in, the first singularity, our current Lebenswelt and now, our Bildendwelt.  Descent with modification.  Then we are born, in the present, and each one of us bears a message.  Baptize me.

0026 What does baptism do?

Baptism cleanses us of Gestell, the grammars of our world, carrying temptation, misdirections and lures that entrap us, confound us, and, in the end, convince us that the truth can never be found.

How so?

Truth is just a spoken word.  We create our own “truth”.  Spoken words are merely projections of our Innerwelt upon that which is outside ourselves.  After temptation fixes our occasions of sin, after our own projections redirect the projections of others and weave a veil of reality, and after we begin to believe in our own self-divinizing speculative grammar, we construct artifacts that validate our spoken worlds.  We build our own prison.  Heidegger calls it, Gestell.

0027 When the waters of baptism pour over an infant, the baby often cries. The baby represents all of us.

The waters of baptism disturb.  Dasein2V!  We enter a world perfused with signs.  We are welcomed into a world where the material finds meaning in the immaterial.  The human niche is the potential of triadic relations.  How all encompassing will Peirce’s experience2H be?  We stand on the threshold of a new age of understanding.

Kemple offers the reader a portrait of John Deely’s vision, in a book that lives up to its title, in more ways than one.  Bravo!


Day 1: Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 1 of 8)

0001 What is Reality?

Reality is a journal for philosophical discourse.

It is worthy of financial support by people of good will.

Reality is the only journal, to date, closing the gap between Thomistic philosophy and Peircean semiotics.

Brian Kemple Ph.D. is the editor of Reality.

0002 He is also the last graduate student of the late John Deely (1942-2017), of fond memory.  

0003 The essay at hand appears in 2020, volume 1, and covers pages 76-123.

The full title is “Signs and Reality: An Advocation for Semiotic Realism”.

0004 The issue is captured on page 115.

Kemple writes (more or less), “If we are to have a living, thriving realism, it must be a realism capable of dealing with the entirety of the real; not only the reality that we engage directly through our senses, but the reality we experience perceptually and intellectually as well, a reality comprising the relations and especially the sign-relations that constitute so much of our experience.”


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 2 of 8)

0005 Matthew Minerd Ph.D. pens a commentary that follows Brian Kemple’s essay.

Thomists currently exhibit an attitude when it comes to semiotic things.

0006 He notes (more or less), “For contemporary scholastics, the domain of cognition-dependent reality generally is a kind of terra non-considerata.  Real being is ens naturae and is separate from the domains of knowledge, technical craft and moral freedom.  These are entia rationis (mind-dependent beings) that, honestly, belong in the shadow.”

0007 How so?

The shadow is not the causalities inherent in ens rationis.

The shadow is the awfulness of the topic.

Look at the shadow side of the domains that Minerd mentions: ignorance (shadow of knowledge), incompetence (shadow of technical craft) and depravity (shadow of moral freedom).

Entia rationis are the things of original sin.

0008 What Thomist wants to wade into that mess?


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 3 of 8)

0009 Now, I regard Kemple’s article “Signs and Reality”, in the journal, Reality, and Razie Mah’s Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (available at the smashwords website).

Is there a crack in the mirror of the scholastic world, as it reflects on res (thing)?

Things are real.

So are sign relations.

If so, are sign relations things?

0010 If sign relations are real, then the consequences of their realness cannot be denied.

This if-then statement applies to biology.

Are sign-relations so real that they are able to support a niche, into which some hapless creature may adapt?  A niche is the potential of an actuality independent of the adapting genus.  Could sign-relations, or triadic relations in general, be so real as to constitute a niche?

Consider the masterwork, The Human Niche.

0011 There are more consequences.

If sign relations are real, then a cultural change in the natural-sign character of talk may account for a rapid, inexorable alteration of a Lebenswelt.  Does such a transition explain why our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?

Consider the masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall.

0012 Finally, if our current Lebenswelt turns the evolutionary progression upside down, elevating stipulation over custom and custom over nature, then how do we validate our spoken words?  If the meaning, presence and message underlying a spoken word is stipulated, upon what thing do we staple our stipulation?  How about this: If we construct an artifact, then that artifact should validate our stipulation.  The artifact validates what we stipulate it to be.

What can go wrong with that?

Consider the masterwork, How to Define the Word “Religion”.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 4 of 8)

0013 Three masterworks, all available on smashwords, The Human NicheAn Archaeology of the Fall and How to Define the Word “Religion”, expose scientific implications of Brian Kemple’s claims.

If sign-relations are things, then we have an entirely new way to appreciate human evolution, including a recent, and revelatory, twist.

0014 Another triadic relation, the category-based nested form, proves invaluable in discussing these issues.

A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form and A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction provide the background.

A category-based nested form consists in a normal context3, an actuality2 and a potential1.  The subscripts refer to Peirce’s categories.  These three elements fulfill four relational statements.

0015 Here is a picture.

Figure 1

Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 5 of 8)

0016 Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”, available on the smashwords website, examines Kemple’s work using the category-based nested form and the three-level interscope.

0017 Kemple presents three actualities: species impressaspecies expressa and species intelligibilis from various texts by Aquinas.

These fit into a three-level interscope in the following fashion.

Figure 2

0018 Of course, one may contest these associations.

But, how else would these terms fit into the empty slots of a three-level interscope?

Perhaps, I could put in the word “normal context” for the normal context3 for all three levels and “potential” for the potential1 of all three levels.

But, that would not change the overall picture.

0019 Even more curious, these three actualities serve as sign-objects and sign-vehicles in sign-relations.  There are three sign-relations in this figure.  So each actuality may serve as both a sign-vehicle and a sign-object.

The interventional sign couples the perspective and content levels.

The specifying sign couples the content and situation levels.The exemplar sign couples the situation and perspective levels. 


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 6 of 8)

0020 Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” tells a story and suggests associations between Kemple’s… er…. Aquinas’s terminology and the category-based nested form.

First, three kinds of sign-objects correspond to three actualities in a three-level interscope.

Second, three sign-relations couple the levels, so that each object may serve as both a sign-vehicle and sign-object.  The only sign that does not serve as both a sign-vehicle and sign-object is the interventional sign.

0021 Here is a picture.

Figure 3

0022 The interventional sign couples the perspective and content levels.

The specifying sign couples the content and situation levels.

The exemplar sign couples the situation and perspective levels.

0023 Kemple specifically mentions three types of signs.  These correspond to the character of the sign-vehicle for the interventional sign.

These types are nature, custom and stipulation.  

These three types associate to periods in human evolution.

0024 The first two are discussed in Comments on Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language”.  See this blog for the middle of May, 2021.

Early in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, natural events serve as sign-vehicles for interventional signs.  Since hominins adapt into the niche of triadic relations, the sign-objects of the interventional sign, sensations and feelings, turn into sign-vehicles for specifying signs.

Later in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, linguistic manual-brachial word-gestures serve as sign vehicles for interventional signs.  The sign-objects decode the interventional signs according to custom.  Specifying signs are trained by timeless traditions.  Exemplar signs cannot be articulated using hand talk, yet they involve crucial adaptations, because the exemplar sign-object manifests as a commitment.

0025 Finally, after the first singularity, in our current Lebenswelt, the exemplar sign is able to be symbolized by speech-alone talk.

This turns out to be most problematic, since speech-alone allows the interventional sign-vehicle to be stipulated.  Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” tells a story about a stipulation.  The story also tells about concupiscence.

0026 The sign-object of the exemplar sign occupies the same position in the three-level interscope as the sign-vehicle of the interventional sign.  This is significant.  Thomas Aquinas’s theology of original sin conducts itself precisely along the circuit depicted above, as discussed in Comments on Daniel Houck’s Book (2020) “Aquinas, Original Sin and the Challenge of Evolution”.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 7 of 8)

0027  Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”, available at smashwords, includes a story of a rot consuming the Age of Ideas, the third age of understanding.  Modernism is frozen in its gaze upon a thing, an innocent thing.  Certain modern elites hunger to financialize and harvest such innocence.  Call it what you will.  The yearning goes by many names.

In time, the rot will run its course.

Modernism will fail.

However, in this theodrama, the premodern Thomism of the Latin Age, the second age of understanding, may transubstantiate into the postmodern Thomism of the Age of Triadic Relations, the fourth age of understanding.  Deely predicts it.  Kemple aims to manifest it.  Signs are real, just like things.

0028 This is not the only fissure to appear in the scholastic mirror of the world.

Shall I elaborate?

0029 Smashwords contains an entire series of commentaries devoted to the question, “Is Aristotle’s hylomorphism an expression of Peirce’s category of secondness?

Another series is devoted to empirio-schematics, starting with Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) “Natural Philosophy” and Comments on Nicholas Berdyaev’s Book (1939) “Spirit and Reality”.

Several commentaries in the series, Reverberations of the Fall, expand on Aquinas’s breakthrough concept of original justice.

0030 These series are not anomalies.  They are features of what happens when Thomists take seriously the very topic that they struggle to avoid.

Kemple’s advocation leads the way.