Friday, May 11, 2012

The Asylum (OR "Community/Chesterton Crossover!!!")

I watched the latest episode of Community the other night on Hulu (side note: isn't the internet awesome?). One member of the group is forced to see a psychiatrist, and the others go with him. The psychiatrist determines that he is, indeed mentally ill, shortly before revealing that all of the members of the group are mentally ill: All their "memories" of their time together at Greendale Community College are merely shared hallucinations, pathetically acted out while jumping on cots or taking medication at Greendale Asylum. There is even a short segment of the show demonstrating what such a reality would be like.

Of course, it is revealed quite quickly to be a lie, with each individual able to find hard evidence of the reality of their experiences. But just as the group itself revolted against the idea, Anna and I revolted against it, as I'm sure the vast majority of viewers did. That would have been an unimaginably crappy way to end the season. That would have been terrible. It would have easily qualified as the worst ending of a show ever (as the finale of Scrubs is easily the best).

And as I'm laying in bed and thinking about it, I realize: That is the only possible result of materialist philosophy. C. S. Lewis, of course, addressed this quite powerfully in The Silver Chair, as Chesterton did in Orthodoxy, but it, like all great truths, is worth saying again (if not so well). We go through life believing life and existence to be full of meaning. We find love and happiness and joy, we witness larger-than-life heroes and infinitely petty villains, and things of uncountable wonder happen on a daily basis to anyone who bothers to look... and then we are told, by materialist philosophers, that it was all a dream: Everything we thought we had seen, and been, and loved, was only a figment of our addled imaginations: The results of mere chemical combinations in the lump of grey matter we all carry inside our skulls.

We did not love: It was merely chemicals in the brain.You did not love your wife or husband: It was merely a left-over sensation of dependence and attachment, from when primates needed to stick together. You did not love your child: It was only a byproduct of when monkeys survived better when mothers tended to their offspring. You did not love your friend: What you felt was merely the fact that humans developed as social creatures.

We did not have any meaning. Meaning was something constructed to make yourself feel better: A way to pretend you were not in the asylum. Nothing you did has any meaning, nor did it ever have meaning. Nothing you cared about has meaning. You were merely delusional, jumping around on your hospital cot and playing with your pills every day while those who knew better watched you with pity.

There were never any heroes, nor villains. All actions were the same, in the long run, and those that died in military service were, fundamentally, no different than those that died a coward's death, or those executed for murder. The man who died saving a woman from a burning building was not, in any meaningful way, better or, indeed, different from the man who lit the fire.

And so the only result of materialist philosophy is that we may be persuaded that the whole world is nothing more than a dirty asylum, to which all must awaken eventually. And that will be our finale, the final episode of the human race: For there can be no moving forward from an asylum that has swallowed the world. There can be no further developments when all we can hope for is to keep the hallucinations of life at bay. The victory of materialism will be the death of everything human about humanity.

tl, dr:

"If the cosmos of the materialist is the real cosmos, it is not much of a cosmos. The thing has shrunk... the whole of life is something much more grey, narrow, and trivial than many separate aspects of it. The parts seem greater than the whole."
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


  1. Did you actually believe that the Asylum bit was true?

    I mean, I know they wanted it to be played that way, but I just wondered if it convinced anyone.

  2. I did not... But I believed that the writers could have left it that way, if they wanted to. It would have been terrible, but they could have done it.

  3. and thus is expressed the fact that, as materialistic philosophy "adds" to our "understanding" of the world, we are only in fact reducing our ability to appreciate the everyday miracles of life