By Judge Bartley

One Being or Many?―Monism (Pantheism) vs. Pluralism

Are beings many or all part of One?
One “all-God”, pantheos, and others none?
Or are there other beings real, distinct?
Some beings separate, yet also link’d?
To the last, ye must answer, “Yes, of course”,
There are multiple beings, God the source,
First cause all things, but not one with the Earth.
That beings are both profuse and diverse
Is plainly manifest’d, as we perceive
Stark differences ‘tween a stone and a Steve
And things profuse we readily believe,
For sense unanimous does not deceive;
And all can see things in plurality,
Set in an order’d numerosity,
The beings array’d in God’s hierarchy
In the grades and ranks of Porphyry’s tree,
Diverse forms, beings by His hand compos’d;
Parts all to share His goodness predispos’d
And to claim all things, God, a unity
Is to say, “Matter and God―same esse”
But things are compounds of form and matter,
Stocks and stones to which changes do recur
But God has nary a quark of hyle;
First Mover, unmov’d, all incorporal,
And consequently e’er immutable,
Distinct from objects, things material.
Thus fall the twin “isms”―monism, pantheism―
To realism of clear-cut pluralism.
Reality Outside the Mind?―Subjectivism vs. Objectivism
Subjectivism, the scourge of modern times,
Is, broadly speaking, any view that denies
Reality external from the mind.
‘Tis a malaise which clouds the eyes, then Blinds
The soul to viewing things exclusively
Through the lens of its felt acuity;
Absorb’d, creates its own reality,
And soul, derang’d, slides to pomposity.
This disease, this worm, presents in tri-form:
Type I’s to morals as a chloroform.
Like its clone, Relativism, it accepts
No principles of conduct, norms, except
Inventions of the individual,
According to the free will’s whimsical,
Bound only by the “What is right for me”,
With no thought for eternal verities.
Will, fickle, with the conscience thence equat’d,
And vice, corruption are emancipat’d.
Type II destroys all real philosophy,
Holds knowledge and Truth both futility,
There being no sooth and no certitude
Beyond mind’s own verisimilitude.
Type III, last course in germ’s pathology,
The virus’s terminal catastrophe:
Soul’s liberation from the Deity,
Replac’d by Ego’s self-idolatry;
Faith and God then no longer fix’d concepts
But proteans to false faiths well-adept.
When Ego rules, God and Truth don’t intrude
And the soul perishes in lassitude,
And “time hangs heavily on one’s own hand”
For true faith, all hope are at last unmann’d.
Contrast the mind-mush of subjectivism
With the philosophy, objectivism,
Which holds things are ground’d in reality
And independent of psychology;
Holds certitude to be attainable,
And propositions indisputable:
Such as, “Whate’er is, is”, and other laws,
Such as, “Each change, each movement has a cause”;
“Things equal to thsame, equal each other”;
Are axioms to which all must concur.
And likewise as to moral certitude:
The Law Eternal has definitude
Set in rules and standards divinely-scrib’d
By Decalogue and from the Mount prescrib’d.

Reality: Merely a Flux of Appearances? Phenomenalism vs. Substantialism

Phenomenalism comes in forms dual:
One says that substances, all things real,
Though palpable, are indemonstrable,
For knowledge limit’d to phenomenal,
To what appears from the pure sensual;
No knowledge save for the empirical;
No ken of substance metaphysical,
For knowledge being only the spectral.
Form II claims all substantiality,
All matter and corporeality,
False absolutely, all illusory.
For that’s the claim of Bishop Berkeley
Who taught that only spirits do exist;
Perception the sole essence, he insists,
And nature’s order merely God’s vapor,
Some false varietals man to savour.
Fun with Berkeley’s Metaphysics
The Bishop’s “Nay” to the fact of matter
To Doctor Johnson, a lot of blatter.
Told that the case was irrefutable,
Sam straightaway the Bishop’s “Nay” dispel’d
By kicking a large stone with mighty thrust,
And rebounding, cried, “I refute it thus!”
And Johnson once begg’d a Berkeley fan
Not to leave his group, for, said Doctor Sam,
They might stop thinking of him and therefore,
The absent man then would exist no more!
The Bishop’s “To be is to be perceiv’d”
Drew Monseigneur Knox this verse to conceive:
“There was a young man who said, ‘God,
You must find it exceedingly odd
That a tree, as a tree,
Simply ceases to be
When there’s no one about in the Quad.’ ”
And then to his own limerick’s parry
Rejoin’d it with this merry contrary:
“Dear Sir,
Your astonishment’s odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that’s why this tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by
Yours faithfully,
To which some cunning students at Oxford
With this, “Ode to the Tree”, the final word:
“But one day there came a small squad
Of tree surgeons into the Quad;
And cut down the tree
That will no longer be
Observed by the DEAN or by GOD.”
Now time for metaphysical fun’s run
For serious we scarcely have begun.
The fact of the matter: matter’s a fact,
A certainty on which all men must act, .
Or fore’er in the Bishop’s quagmire trapp’d
All headway, in yap vapid, men be strapp’d.
Phenomenalism I, though less extreme,
Still nullifies reality’s regime.
As with Subjectivism, it gelds man’s thought,
For by it Wisdom, Truth be set at naught.
Depriv’d of certainty, mankind distraught,
By deluge of data, man’s overwrought.
The Fundamentals of Substantialism
Compare Substantialism (or Realism),
The metaphysic of Catholicism,
From Aristotle, on through Saint Thomas.
It holds reality’s hypostasis
Of substances, of beings in close link,
Existing; yet in, by themselves, distinct.
For substance underlies phenomena:
Each substance has for itself noumena,
Has being, in and of itself real,
Distinguish’d from the mere perceivable.
Each has its quiddity: “Stan is a man”;
Each its hæcceity: “This man is Stan.”
Things do change of course―ev’n that blast’d Quad Tree,
For it’s impossible for things to be
Twice absolutely in the same fix’d state:
As the Tree in fall would de-foliate
And then in the spring would re-foliate.
The Tree flush in lush-leaf, full-germinate―
Changes extrinsic but insubstantive,
For bare or leav’d keeps its definitive.
So not all change is really profound:
Sir Tree was a tree ‘til ‘twas fell’d aground.
But when by the quack “surgeons” Sir Tree brought down,
Its splendid limbs, trunk laying dead on ground,
‘Twas no more a tree, but mere piece of wood.
And as wood it remains unless it should
Be used as firewood which, when flames consume,
Transform’d, ‘tis, radically to ash, fume.
Ere Aristotle, on change were two “schools”:
One, Hereclitus, constant flux his rules,
For, he insist’d, it is impossible
In the same stream, twice to step or dabble.
A disciple, the zealous Cratylus,
Could have won a Nobel for fractiousness,
Strong sceptick, very nearly Nihilist,
Precursor, or first Deconstructionist.
Against his master (that loquacious dunce):
Held one can’t wade the same stream even once!
SophoCrat (to rename thbrat) stopp’d not there,
For he flux’d into language’s own Robespierre,
Averring all communication null
Save finger wags (and perhaps nods of skull).
For language, claim’d he, is as flux-able
As the stream, and thus quite ineffable.
The second school, that of Parmenides
His school to Cratylus’s: antipodes.
Parmenides taught nothing ever changes,
For change is an illusion that estranges
Men from reality’s fixidity,
Its permanence and its rigidity.
Mr. P and his school were soon laughing-stocks
Caus’d Zeno, his chum, to vox paradox:
(Caution: lines below could make one quite daft,
By causing one’s brain cells to overdraft,
And rush’d off to the funny farm sublime
Where life is beautiful, aye, e’er in rhyme.)
For a thing to move, from its place must light.
Take his example of an arrow in flight:
The flying arrow just seems like it flies,
For to fly it must move from where it lies,
The place it, at that instant, occupies,
To a locale it not then occupies.
But the shaft cannot move, in that time-jot,
A tittle from where ‘tis, to where ‘tis not.
Nor can the shaft move from where then it is,
To where ‘tis, for already there it is.
Consequently the arrow never mov’d ,
And seemingly stay’d in the bow-string, groov’d.
Maybe the archer ne’er it de-quiver’d;
Or his supplier’s shafts ne’er deliver’d;
Or the tree that gave wood to craft that shaft,
Ne’er came to be, its being all witchcraft.
Just one more paradoxical hurdle:
Of Achilles and “Speedy”, the turtle.
In a race to see who wins the myrtle
To Speedy, Warrior, who can hurtle,
Gives graciously a handicap, large spread,
Of ninety yards for a course one hundred,
Ends at the stump that was once Proud Quad Tree,
Now used by Quad dogs as felicity.
The runners have each chosen Berkeley:
Perceive, will he, the winning nullity
With Zeno to help if a seeming tie
The winner Zeno would then signify;
By coin “toss”? but like arrows, coins can’t fly
So what would Zeno do to break the tie?
But lo, those questions we needn’t consider,
For, Zeno says, Achilles can never
The turtle overtake, for he must first
An infinite amount of points traverse,
Just to reach a point Speedy has surpass’d,
And for Achilles and runners first-class,
For even wing-sandl’d Hermes to over-fly
Latitudes limitless, no termini.
The race, if e’er begun, can never end:
Achilles, lo, with Speedy ne’er contends.
But even so, the race comes to its “end”
When flying arrow at long last descends;
The arrow Paris so long ago shot,
Apollo-guid’d to you-know-who’s soft-spot.
Achilles, drawn by Mum from river Styx,
To Oxford bound, home to Knox’s limmericks,
To cricket fields, lawns, and trees in the Quad;
The warrior breath’d his last on bloody sod.
Readers: Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
For Zeno-Phobia’s left it quite dead.
But to my widow, orphans, please send bread
And rescue them from Zeno’s syndrome dread;
Please Cratylus and Zeno, blame instead.
Each the sort that gives cause, as Trumbull said,
“Metaphysicks, as it is rightly shown,
But teach how little ever can be known.”
Route of roads many, Bierce did so declare,
From nothing heading, leading to nowhere.
But gloom no more, for next time we shall see
Retort of sensible philosophy,
As Aristotle parries sophistry
And metaphysickal monstrosities.

ERRORS, AND HERESIES (continued from Epistle 5)


Of Heraclitus con Parmenides,
Of Cratylus and Zeno’s alchemies
Of streams ne’er same and Flying Arrow’s freeze,
Crat’s flux incessant, metastases;
Z’s dormancy, to flux: antitheses;
Next come the Stagirite’s analyses.
Of Cratylus’s claim that words mean nothing,
Because their meanings always are changing,
To Aristotle a soph’morick trick:
If meanings are ne’er the same tick-to-tick,
How could Cratylus maintain his view sane
When each time he spoke he meant just the same
As that which previously he had said
And not the opposite, reverse instead!
(Cratylus, prophet of our modern courts,
In love with changing laws of contracts, torts;
And worst of all, our constitution fix’d,
By lawless deconstruction, long deep-six’d.)
As for Parmenides and friend Zeno
(Both dead e’re the Philosopher’s how-so),
If everything is in statu quo
Where now Parmenides and compeer Zeno?
From Aristotle, common sense corrects:
Things change, but not always, in all respects.
Some things remain substantially the same:
A wood chair’s still a chair after it’s stain’d ,
But smashed to pieces, it becomes mere wood,
Perhaps fire fuel, as “Quad Tree” that once stood.
Change either is substantial, radical,
Or accidental and extrinsical.
Substantial when first the thing comes to be
Or when the thing at last ceases to be;
And accidental when change but partial:
When Sam’s tooth uproots, Sam’s not terminal,
For he can still say, rightly, “Sam, I am.”
Or when Sam crams down a whole leg of lamb,
With a side order of green eggs and ham,
His biliousness aside, still he’s Man Sam
For at least as long as Sam’s gluttony
Plunges him not nether to eternity.


The Skeptic holds any ken impossible
And Skepticism comes in types multiple:
Th Phenomenalist denies things subsist
Th Acosmist denies that the world exists
Th Idealist’s Acosmism’s twin brother
And the Illusionist, too, will concur
For, says he, the world is a mere specter
Th Agnostic shrouds truth in a foggy blur
Th Anarchist rejects all truth as null & void
Th Conceptualist claims concepts devoid
Th Empiricist & th Perceptionist both say,
All knowledge sensory—th view they purvey
And th Pos‘tivist promotes the same lame claims
For th Nominalist truth, good only names
Thus nullifying the universals
As ideas only chimericals


For th Relativist truth a quaint fiction
Eternal verity strange affliction
The Relativist denies th absolute
Views human reason as irresolute
Maintains truth floats with person, place, and time
And plunges man into a swill of slime
The malady presents in many forms
All of them in breach of God’s holy norms
Subjectivism snubs rules save those self-made
Embraces Autonomism for firm rules th trade
And Antimoralism becomes the norm
With Egoism man’s morals fast deform
Which in due course morphs into Solipsism
Lapses to Sensualism, Hedonism
Help’d by Permissiveness th enabling cause
Man’s drawn into Materialism’s maws
And Antinomians claiming heaven’s graces
Frees them exclusively from sin’s mean traces

And th Pluralist promoting the false view:
Th church’s fix’d creed one may rightfully eschew.

To be continued

1 Information on Epistles 1-4 (and 5) is found @

Published in: on January 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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