Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Liberal Emotiology: I Feel, Therefore I Am (and You Must, Or Else)

It is clearly not possible to even begin to think about the world in the absence of the category "transcendence." The moment one thinks, one has already transcended the world, or rather, realized that the world consists of more than its physical constituents. Although science is literally inconceivable without transcendence, it can never account for it. Rather, transcendence is a necessary condition for the practice of science. Ultimately, no God no science, but that's the subject for a different post.

"For example," writes Spitzer, "the laws of physics described by standard equations... cannot be identified by direct observation or standard scientific instruments or tests." So, where are they? We know them by their effects, but we can never perceive the thing itself.

I suppose the strangest and most surprising thing of all is that these transcendent laws are intelligible to our own transcendent consciousness, *almost* as if they were made for each other. Einstein famously observed that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe was its comprehensibility.

We can compare this to how our senses work. Obviously our senses are proportioned to the environment they sense. To paraphrase Einstein, we might say that the most non-sensical thing about the world is that it can be sensed. Nevertheless, our senses interiorize a world that is exterior to us, as does our consciousness. Just as our senses are made for the physical world, our consciousness is made for a transcendent one (without excluding the physical).

I suppose I first encountered these ideas in Ken Wilber's Eye to Eye back in the early '80s. Humans have three "eyes," the eye of the senses, the eye of reason, and the eye of spirit. Even the tenured are forced to recognize the first two in some form or fashion, but seem to know nothing of the third.

But consistent with what we said yesterday, just because we ignore the third eye, it doesn't mean it stops "seeing." By way of analogy, there are certain people who are physically blind, and yet, will flinch if you take a swing at them. Something in them still "sees," except that the seeing isn't conscious. One of the purposes -- or outcomes at any rate -- of the spiritual life is to train the third eye, so that it can become familiar and comfortable in the spirit-realm. Notice, for example, how the spiritually untutored -- Bill Maher comes to mind -- simply ridicule what they cannot perceive. How easy is that?

And yet, they do perceive it. Or better, the perceptual apparatus is still there, but not seeing what it should. We all perceive higher values. Where did Bill Maher get his? From reason? No, because again, reason cannot furnish its own materials. Probably he derives them from his feelings, which is not generally a good idea. I mean, feelings should be consulted, or at least not ignored, but they should never be dispositive.

This is one of the main characteristics of the left, that they replace thinking with feeling. To the extent that they deploy their third eye, it simply ratifies what they feel about this or that, conferring upon it the familiar arrogance and self-righteousness. This is a kind of master key to understanding the preoccupations of the left, and how they transform the subrational to the transnational. Then their own feelings acquire a kind of omnipotent authority to which they are in no way entitled.

Think, for example, of their attitude toward the redefinition of marriage, or envy of the rich, or global warming. Because they consult only their feelings, and their feelings are imbued with a kind of bogus omnipotence via an absence of higher reflection, mere sentiment is transformed into a categorical imperative. Then, the person who denies the imperative -- that would be us -- is rendered evil. Yes, it is evil to transgress genuine moral imperatives. The left just substitutes the real ones with their feelings.

Back to how the higher fields of transcendence might operate. Spitzer writes that "they could exist in the same way as physical laws and constants -- as determinative information in the universe as a whole." This information "is not a thing, but rather, a controlling influence on things" and their relations.

In the past, I have used the example of how language works (probably borrowed from Polanyi). There are 26 letter of the alphabet which may be combined in certain ways to create words. The purpose of letters cannot be found in themselves; rather, they can only be understood with regard to what they converge upon, i.e., words.

The same relation applies to words and sentences, sentences and paragraphs, paragraphs and blog post, blog post and ... well, it depends. In most cases, the post is converging upon O. We are trying to aim language at higher realities -- not realities disclosed by the senses or by mere reason, but those realities disclosed by a proper awakening and discipline of the third eye.

The really shocking thing is that from the moment of the Big Bang, the universe is implicate with innumerable information fields that will only be explicated much later.

For example, the laws of physics were (are) buried in there, as was mathematics, life, mind, all of it. This is why I came up with the idea -- at least I think I did, because I've never really heard anyone else explain it quite this way -- that when merely biological homos became human, they specifically entered a "human space," so to speak, that pre-exists us. Life is the exploration and colonization of this space.

Think of Jesus' ungrammatical crack that "Before Abraham was, I AM." There is definitely something similar going on with all humans, which is why Plato was correct that the most important things involve vertical recollection, or what he calls anamnesis. Much of scripture is understood in this way, as in, "oh yeah, I remember paradise!" Or. "I remember escaping from slavery," or "I remember driving in that nail at the Crucifixion," etc.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Religion in the Raw at the DNC Convention

"The hard problem of consciousness," writes Spitzer, "really begins with the hard problem of living systems."

In other words, the mysteries of life and of consciousness are really two iterations of the same mystery. In neither case can the phenomenon be reduced to its physical constituents without eliminating the higher principle that animates, defines, and illuminates it.

Life is transcendence, because "in living systems, physical processes are oriented toward objectives that lie beyond them..." In short, organisms are oriented toward their own future. In Robert Rosen's expensive terminology, they are anticipatory systems.

And "if a living system cannot be reduced to physical processes, then how much more irreducible will be consciousness in animals and self-consciousness in humans?" (Spitzer). Animals have their ends and we have ours. But ours are infinitely remote from other animals, whose aims, while transcendent, are nevertheless quite "close" to the body and its immediate needs. Animals always orbit closely to their own biology.

Conversely, man's transcendence can -- and should -- go all the way up, and to all points in between. Actually "should" is not quite the correct word. In reality, our consciousness always proceeds to God; or better from God, who is its sufficient reason. As daylight is to the central sun, consciousness is to God, simultaneously distinct and yet "not-two."

So much becomes clear if we simply dis-invert the cosmos and see things from the top down instead of bottom up! Then, instead of the impossible leap from matter to consciousness -- the infinite journey from existence to experience -- we see a kind of smooth transition from Creator to creation: from supra consciousness to consciousness, from mind to life, and from life to matter.

In another book that I almost understood, Rosen argued that it was simply metaphysical prejudice to assume that the simple, linear, and unambiguous physical systems described (and describable!) by physics were the cosmic norm.

What Rosen really accomplishes is to provide a scientific alibi for accepting Whitehead's conceptualization of reality: that everything is process and that all processes have a degree of life and of consciousness, however attenuated. Then you don't have to somehow magically shoehorn them in later. The cosmos is an organism that converges on God; cosmic evolution is simply the mirror image of a prior involution. For this roundtrip back to God, we must unpack what is involved in us (as potential) in order to realize it in time. Woo hoo!

At the remote end of our consciousness is the necessary being we call God or O. Between man and God is a whole hierarchy of transcendental values that are easily discernible as Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity. Without these transcendentals, nothing makes sense down here. Man is always oriented toward his own transcendence, no matter how hard he tries to deny it.

This explains how and why man is necessarily, always and everywhere, homo religiosus. I say, if you don't believe in God and religion, try watching a few minutes of the DNC convention. There you will see religion "in the raw," that is, the religious impulse untethered from and unbound by any divinely authorized channel. This is why it so resembles madness, because both madness and transcendence are "unmoored," so to speak, from physical reality, only in opposite directions.

Looking at the convention the way I have described will help you to avoid throwing up. And if the spectacle does not induce vomiting, then you are ontologically insensate to what is going down.

Our way turns a pagan ceremony, rife with hatred, scapegoating, and magical manipulation of reality, into an interesting cosmo-anthropological study. They are always trying to bait you, to drag you down from your peaceful transcendent perspective. But you must remain detached and alert: wise as the serpents on stage but innocent as doves.

You're really looking at a lower form -- or better, mode -- of humanity, and I mean that literally. Not only do they violate every commandment of God -- each being a signpost to transcendence -- but they incorporate the violation into their platform: idolatry, murder, theft, envy, deceit, etc. Truly, it is a "plunge into darkness." Which is why they project their own darkness into Donald Trump. This remarkable crockstep unity is either an example of DNC-MSM coordination, or of instantaneous nonlocal quantum coherence on the lower vertical plane.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Soul and Consciousness, Tool and Brain

In Spitzer's The Soul's Upward Yearning: Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason, there is a chapter on The Soul and Its Brain, which I've been meaning to discuss. Not much time this morning, but at least we can lay a foundation or something.

First of all, no one knows what the relationship is between soul and brain. It is a Total Mystery that is not susceptible to any merely rational explanation, the reason being that your reason will still have to explain the Reasoner.

Besides, who said you could rely upon reason to arrive at the answer? That's a very unGödelian sassumption that can never be proven, plus, reason can only operate on premises supplied from outside the chain of reasoning. Thus, reason is founded upon non-reason (or trans-reason, if our Raccoon fathers are correct).

You might say that not a soul knows the answer. Then again, you might say that not a brain knows, which illustrates the dilemma. Spitzer tips his hand in the title, implying that the soul contains the brain, rather then vice versa. Any properly indoctrinated, post-sensible biped knows that the flow of causation is the other way around -- that the brain contains the soul, which, by the way, doesn't exist.

Hey, that's what I learned in graduate school. And also the opposite of what I learned. That is, I had to take the usual physicalist courses in neuroanatomy, psychobiology, neurobiological development, etc. But none of that exterior paraphernalia had much practical application. Rather, the real action was in the software, the programming, the Great Interior. They didn't call it the soul, despite the fact that psych-ology is its study.

I remember a helpful book by a Buddhist fellow named B. Alan Wallace, called The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness. Sounds chopraesque, but it isn't, at least as far as I can recall. He states in the Introduction that "Strictly speaking, at present there is no scientific evidence even for the existence of consciousness!" Rather, "All the direct evidence we have consists of nonscientific, first-person accounts of being conscious."

And the "first-person" perspective can never be scientific. Rather, science is always from a third-person, I-it, perspective. And even then, how did this mysterious "I" sneak into the equation? Ideally, science would be an it-it relation, i.e., purely quantitative. The I, to the extent that it exists, would simply serve as a link between quantities, like an equal sign.

But we all know how subjectivity "infects" science, most notoriously with regard to "climate science," but also gender, IQ, and other sensitive subjects. In other words, there are subjects -- souls -- so sensitive that they cannot bear the truth of certain subjects.

Last night, because of the DNC hacking brouhaha, I checked into the Crazy Liberal station to see how they were coping. Instead, it was Chris Matthews interblowing Bill Maher. Republican denial of AGW came up, and they chuckled over how the absence of snow on Kilimanjaro is all the proof we need that GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL AND WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! I hadn't heard that one, but a quick search revealed that this was one of the feary tales peddled in Al Gore's Oscar-winning science fiction thriller, and that it has no basis in fact.

I see that Wallace begins his introduction with a quote by the always pithy A.N. Whitehead, to the effect that When we consider what religion is for mankind, and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relations between them.

Which I would modify to say every generation, since each generation must face anew the primordial and irreducible conundrum of a world and a world-sensorium -- AKA subjects and objects, interior and exterior, perception and perceived -- and the relations between them.

So don't pretend to know the answer! Without first consulting a Senior Raccoon. For "Modern science does not know any better than Augustine how or why consciousness originates, nor does it have any way of directly detecting the presence or absence of consciousness in a human fetus or even a human adult" (ibid.). Wallace quotes from The Dictionary of Psychology that "it is impossible to specify what [consciousness] does, or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written about it."

Until today.

One thing you will have noticed is that there is a political bifurcation that mirrors the complementarity of Inside and Outside. That is, the left is the party of the Exterior, while conservatives are the party of the Interior. For the left, all problems are located outside the individual. We call those individuals victims, and without these passive amoeboids the left would have no political traction whatsoever.

Because the left is running out of victims, they have invented the term "microaggression" to create more of them. Black Lives Matter -- and the Professional Negro Industry in general -- is in the victim business, as are the open border enthusiasts. In other words, they have no enthusiasm for importing high IQ people from first world countries who won't serve as liberal victim fodder.

Look at their first instinct in the DNC scandal: "We are victims of Putin's hackers!" The left specializes in transforming bullies into victims, which is why the mother of notorious bully Michael Brown will be speaking at their convention. Their whole war on cops is rooted in this inversion. It's why they want to outlaw bullying, for if we legislate against bullying, only legislators will bully.

Just as it takes a Constitutional Scholar like Obama to lose more Supreme Court cases than any previous president, it takes a true genius such as Stephen Hawking to come up with the following: "it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion." Nothing demonstrates more the limitations of genius than when they step outside their narrow speciality. As if the soul can be contained by matter!

This ramble will continue tomorrow, when I will have more time to penetrate beneath the surface and hurl some real insults.

Friday, July 22, 2016

God Becomes Asymmetric So that Man Might Become Symmetric

Again: it is not the unrestricted power and infinite nature of God that becomes man, because that would be impossible; the former would overwhelm if not annihilate the latter.

Rather, it is the second Person of the Trinity who does so. It is this Person who makes "unconditional use of the one unrestricted power and nature," and who enters "into a finite human nature."

This reminds me of something I heard Bill Buckley say many years ago, before I knew much of anything about Islam or Christianity. He pointed out that Islam has a simplistic and rather primitive theology, compared to the richness and sophistication of Christianity. Under the assumption that all western religions were equally products of magical thinking, I thought to myself, "what's the point of bragging about a more convoluted fantasy?"

Suffice it to say that I have since then understood his point. Islam begins and ends with the tautology that "there is no God but God." True enough, but it's like reducing science to the statement that "there is no matter but matter." Thanks for the tip! In orthodox Islam (we're not talking about Sufism, a la Schuon) there is no way to "enter" God, only to slavishly follow his external dictates.

But Christianity -- among other things -- invites us to enter into, and participate in, God's very interior reality. Instead of rendering us slaves, we can actually become children and brothers of God. Perhaps I'm being unfair to Islam, but it seems to me that there is a considerably lower level of divine intimacy. And of course, the Koran specifically denies that God could in any way be "three," (unsophisticatedly) confusing the Trinity with polytheism.

Thus, ironically, in the Muslim mind the Koran serves as a correction and progression from a more primitive and error-prone Christian polytheism. But in reverting from the intersubjective God of Christianity to an interobjective one (in which we are reduced to mere objects of God), I think it's the other way around.

I might add that the two metaphysical conceptions have obviously led to very different forms of civilization. Many ideas that underpin western civilization are unthinkable in the Islamic world, e.g., political liberty, freedom of conscience, and separation of secular and religious law.

At any rate, in the same appendix we've been discussing, Spitzer has a brief section called Making Sense of the Incarnation. Is that even possible? Well, it ought to be, since they say that nothing in Christianity should run counter to the highest gift God has given us, our reason.

Why would God's highest revelation violate his most precious gift? If it did, then God would be analogous to the "crazy-making" parent who places the child in a double-bind from which there is no escape.

Of the Incarnation, Spitzer notes that "if self-consciousness inheres (makes use of) a finite nature," then "it will be subject to the limitations of that nature." On the other hand, if it inheres in "an unrestricted power and nature, then there is no limit to the power of its understanding, creativity, freedom, and will."

So, with the Incarnation of the Son in the man Jesus, there are two vectors, as it were, one unrestricted and the other restricted.

I'm trying to come up with a useful analogy. Probably not a good one, but I'm thinking of how, as a psychologist, one must empathically "enter" the restricted world of the patient, even while another part transcends the limitation. Just as the second Person of the Trinity will really and truly know what it is like to be a man -- with all its limitations, conflicts, and suffering -- another "part" has unrestricted access to the divine relationship that transcends the finite. And he wants us to participate in the same power, which is none other than being fully in the world without being of it.

Spitzer: "Christianity holds that the second Person (self-consciousness) did not stop using the divine nature when He took on the limitations of human nature, but rather continued operating through His divine nature so that the one self-consciousness had the perspective, understanding, and will of both an unrestricted nature and a finite nature" (Spitzer).

Ah ha! This sounds a little like the bi-logic discussed a couple of posts back. Indeed, in searching for an (admittedly disanalogous) analogy, Spitzer suggests that our own dream state might illuminate "how a single self-consciousness could have two such different perspectives." (Again, it is not the dream state that illuminates Jesus's consciousness so much as vice versa.)

Note that in the dream, it is as if our consciousness is bifurcated into the "unrestricted" power of the Dreamer and the restricted power that we have as subjects in our own dream. I wonder if Bomford discusses this in The Symmetry of God? Let's have a look.

Yup: "The doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, particularly, are dominated by symmetric logic and become virtual expressions of its laws." "In terms of bi-logic every effort seems to be made to make it rational and consonant with asymmetric logic: yet, at its heart, is irresoluble paradox " -- i.e., the co-presence of two forms of logic, and of a self-consciousness inflected through each.

To cite just one conspicuous example of symmetric logic, we could say that "because God has become human, humanity has become divine." "Symmetric logic makes unities out of things apparently different.... Many of the historic controversies of Christianity may be resolved by accepting the necessity of expressing them through paradox and myth, by recognizing the symmetric logic implicit in all talk of God."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I -Thou and We-Thou

A relatively short post that is also unusual for having only one Big Idea instead of the usual scattershot of fully half-baked ones...

Continuing our plunge into the heart of the Trinity, Spitzer writes that the first two of its Persons, Father and Son, "form a unity of interpersonal love through the one unrestricted power" (which we have compared to "beyond-being").

In turn, the Holy Spirit is "not simply the beloved of either the Father or the Son," but rather, the "beloved of the union between Father and Son."

That won't be clear until we flesh it out a bit. If the relation between Father and Son is that of "I-Thou," then you might say that the Spirit introduces a kind of "We-Thou" relation, with the We being the Father-Son "couple" -- as in how the child is welcomed into the marital-we (which goes to the intrinsic ontological defect of willed single parenthood, divorce, and newly invented caricatures of marriage; or in other words it is the denial of the gift of a healthy and natural We to the child).

As Spitzer describes it, love "need not be only an outpouring of self," but "can also be an outpouring of an us" -- that is, a gift of the union of the two; or, it is the two welcoming a third into its union of love. We fall in love with another person, but the love we give a child isn't only of a dyadic nature, especially from the child's point of view.

Is this a subtle point, or is it obvious? I'll just speak from my own experience. My parents rarely got along. Either it was a cold war or they were bickering about God-knows-what. I remember this lack of harmony causing a kind of familiar but nameless pain in me.

However, there were moments of harmony, in which they were kind and affectionate to one another, and for me, it was as if a light from above were penetrating the darkness below. There was a great sense of relief, and everything felt "right" in that moment. I remember one time in particular, when they were walking ahead of me, holding hands. The feeling of peace was very distinct -- as if all was right with the world -- but obviously different from merely being loved by one's individual parent.

To the contrary, I never doubted that my mother and father loved me. But that is in the I-Thou realm. The problem was in the We-Thou realm. I knew they would never divorce, but nevertheless, it was a rocky we they bequeathed to me.

I think this is why, to this day, I can't stand any kind of Disturbance in the Force in my house. I have a peculiar need to avoid interpersonal stress and conflict around here. As a result, my son is having a very different experience of the We than I had. Rather, his background environment is one of a harmonious and loving We, and the effect on him is obvious. He has to visit other homes in order to get the sense of a distressed and unhappy We.

The point is, just as we can trace the love between persons back to the Trinity, so too can we trace the love between two persons and a third: just as there is a loving space between the I and Thou, there is a new loving space between the We and Thou.

Here is how Spitzer describes it: "This occurs in marriage where a couple can give its 'us' (its collective self) to another person by welcoming that person into the relationship. One can generally tell when a couple has this loving quality as a relational whole because their invitation is harmonious and welcoming."

Of note, it's not just children who are so welcomed, but anyone else who enters the relational orbit. We have a couple of married friends who are passionately devoted to one another, but at the same time, extremely extroverted, such that to be around them is to enter a... I hate to sound corny, but it is a very palpable We of love.

Conversely, according to Spitzer, "If this quality of the 'us' is not there, or if there is a problem causing a disruption in the relationship, it is immediately discernible." As in the case of my parents. Or, think of the uniquely dysfunctional nature of the We between Bill and Hillary Clinton. I use the word "unique" advisedly, because I've never seen anything like it -- a seemingly loveless political crime family rooted in a cunning will to power. What a perverse We!

In any event, "when Christians say that God is love, they do not mean only that the attribute of love belongs to the one infinite nature of God." Rather, "that there is real interpersonal love (gift of self and gift of the 'us') taking place through three perfect acts of self-consciousness..."

Monday, July 18, 2016

Patterned Transrationality

We've been discussing how the one unrestricted power can be the single source of the three Persons. This is consistent with the very nature of consciousness, which routinely violates aristotelian logic by being in two "places" at once.

This is especially true vis-a-vis dream consciousness, in which we are the Subject who dreams and yet a subject in the dream we dream. In fact, we are all of the subjects in our dreams, which means that our own consciousness is appearing in the form of other persons. It's like quantum entanglement or something, a single field with multiple particles of subjectivity: the parts are a function of the whole.

Which we have discussed in the past in the context of a unique (as far as I know) and helpful book called The Symmetry of God. From the description on the amazon page: "Why does the age-long quest for the eternal express itself always in paradox? Eternity is both an attribute of God and a characteristic of the Freudian unconscious. Recent developments in psychoanalytic theory have discovered an irrational logic at work in the unconscious process.

"This symmetric logic (in the mathematical sense of symmetry) produces paradoxes incomprehensible to asymmetric classic logic. The path of the mystic is an approach to an aspect of God analogous to the human unconscious, and is expressed through paradoxes of symmetric logic; whereas the god who reveals himself in history is a god who, by the same analogy, also exercises consciousness and is, at least partially, subject to classical logic.

"Christian faith holds to both the concept of an eternal god beyond time and of a god who acts in time. This involves both logics, and explains the paradoxical, symbolic and mythical nature of theological propositions. It also throws light on the conflict between realist and non-realist views of God and allows an understanding of orthodox Christianity which transcends both."

The key here is the distinction between asymmetric logic, which is our normal, everyday, commonsense, wideawake, cutandry, linear and left-brain approach, and symmetric logic, which violates most of the things Aristotle says logic cannot do. Superficially, symmetric logic may be dismissed as "illogic," but it simply has a logic of its own. I don't agree with everything Bomford says about it -- he seems to be on the liberal side of the theological continuum -- but I give him credit for being the only person saying it.

I don't remember him discussing the Trinity in the book, but I'll bet you anything a bi-logical approach to it will be a verticalisthenic exercise worth engaging in. Because I'm pressed for time this morning, I will borrow from some past posts in order to avoid having to rethink everything from the ground up:

Bomford is an Anglican priest who is a student of the psychoanalyst Ignacio Matte Blanco, who himself is not well known but had some brilliant ideas about the logic of the unconscious mind. Bomford has applied Matte Blanco's ideas to the relationship between God and consciousness, and how we may meaningfully communicate about something that vastly exceeds the limits of language.

One of the purposes of the book is to navigate between the shoals of a softheaded fundamentalism and a hardhearted modernism. It is aimed at the reader who "neither clings rigidly to the literal truth of every word of the Bible, nor on the other hand reduces the faith by rejecting most of what the past has believed to be central."

With regard to the potential dangers of mixing psychoanalytic metapsychology and religion, Bomford makes the important point that "from the beginning the church has borrowed philosophies from the world as handmaids to faith, and has expressed its faith through them. This has not only been to communicate with those outside, but also so that faith may understand itself."

Bomford begins with what amounts to a truism, that our conscious self -- or ego -- is situated in a much larger area of consciousness as such, much of which goes by the name "unconscious." This is a misleading term, since the unconscious is not unconscious, just more or less unavailable to the conscious ego. The unconscious is obviously quite active and aware, only "below," "behind," or "above" the ego.

Traditionally, psychoanlaysts have imagined a sort of horizontal line, with the ego above and the unconscious below. But a more accurate mental image would be an island surrounded by water on all sides, like a point within a sphere [ʘ] (the sphere itself being hyperdimensional).

I would also argue that consciousness is not linear but holographically structured, so that the unconscious is not spatially above or below, but within consciousness (somewhat analogous to God, who is both immanent and transcendent, the deepest within and the furthest beyond of any "thing" that partakes of Being).

One of the most important points to bear in mind is that we might believe a person to be illogical, when they are in fact obeying a different form of logic: symmetrical logic. Indeed, this was one of Freud's central insights, that the sick person was actually logical in his own way. One of purposes of therapy is to expose the unconscious logic that is causing conscious pain or dysfunction.

But it is also important not to automatically "pathologize" all symmetrical logic, for without it we wouldn't be human. Rather, we would be hyper-rational Vulcans with no "emotional intelligence," no interior understanding of things, no ability to comprehend God, religion or art, and no ability to love or create.

With everyday aristotelian logic, if something is in it can't be out; or if it is up, it can't be down. Or in other words, things can't be in two places at once. But if God is up he is simultaneously down, and if he is out he is always in. And vice versa. For God, it is not a problem to be two "places" at once, since there are no places to begin with, only everyplace.

Is this way of talking merely nonsense? Undoubtedly. But it is perfect nonsense, or what I would call patterned transrationality. It describes something that is surely real, but not in the same limited sense as material reality and its interior cousin, the empirical ego.

The difficulty arises in attempting to express the infinite through the finite, or the transcendent through the immanent, which can only be accomplished with paradox, myth, symbolism, and a number of other literary deivoices we will discuss in more detail below. Religious language -- whatever else it is -- is without question a way to memorialize, instantiate, extend, deepen, and meditate upon that which transcends ordinary language.

... God has an outer aspect, which we call being, and an interior aspect that is beyond being. In Orthodox Christianity, the difference is conceptualized in terms of God's energies (which may be known by us) and his essence, which we can only unKnow. I suspect that the dialectic between them is the source of God's creativity, or his eternal surprise and delight at his endless productions.

Now, it is not actually possible for us to experience or know the eternal. Or, to be precise, we can only experience it if we no longer exist, because to identify with it would be to disappear from time, and thought and existence require time ("no one sees my face and lives"). As Boethius wrote, "An unchanging thing displays no before and after, nor does it begin or end." Rather, eternity is "the instantaneously whole and complete possession of endless life."

But there are a number of ways we can experience the eternal and think the otherwise unthinkable in the herebelow. As Bomford explains, "among temporal things, the everlasting most nearly expresses the eternal. It provides the closest image of the timeless within time." This is why our souls are stirred in the presence of the very old and ancient -- the Pyramids, Yosemite Valley, a European cathedral, Barbara Walters, etc.

But interestingly, another penultimate form of eternity -- the symmetrical opposite of the everlasting, so to speak -- is the momentary, for such a thing is also "instantaneously whole and unchanging -- it has no time in which to change. It is not there -- it is there in its fullness -- and it is gone again" -- like a shooting star, or giving your daughter's hand in marriage, or one of Obama's campaign promises.

I don't think we got very far this morning, and now I'm out of time. I'll do better tomorrow.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Collaborating with the Handicapped God

Continuing with yesterday's post, we left off with the idea that persons are subjects of consciousness and freedom. Person "signifies self-consciousness," such that the three persons of the Trinity "may be seen as 'distinct acts of self-consciousness making use of that one unrestricted power.'"

Now, "Self-consciousness is awareness of one's awareness" or "consciousness of one's consciousness" (Spitzer). Thus, "this remarkable power seems to defy physical explanation, because it can be in two relative positions with respect to itself simultaneously." In other words, it is as if the inner universe of consciousness may double back "on itself at an infinite velocity, so that it can be 'inside' itself..."

That is not as clear as it could be. I would say that with self-consciousness we are simultaneously conscious (in consciousness) and somehow above or "outside" it. But this can't be the case. There can't be any strict line between consciousness and self-consciousness, because the latter must ultimately be a mode of the former. Even so, they are quite distinct, and the distinction lies at the foundation of our humanness.

It very much reminds me of the distinction in psychoanalysis between the conscious and unconscious minds. We can talk about the two as if they are separate, but they can't be. Rather, it is more like the yin-yang symbol of the Tao, in which there is unconsciousness in every act of consciousness, and vice versa.

Or, it is like the wave/particle distinction in quantum physics: a particular thought is the precipitate of a wavelike flow of consciousness, in which our conscious mind is analogous to the "shore." We're just children at play along the infinite shore where the waves of eternity break upon the sands time.

We all attempt to use what we know to understand what we don't. In the past, I have mentioned my suspicion that there is something analogous to the conscious/unconscious distinction in God. However, this expresses it backwards. That is to say, it is we who are in the image of God; therefore, our conscious/unconscious structure must be a distant echo of what goes on in God. We are the way we are because God is the way He is.

And remember, when we say "unconscious," we certainly don't mean ignorant, or undirected, or sub-conscious. Rather, it is more like a supra- or hyperconsciousness -- like the total implicate field as opposed to the particulate point of selfhood. As the psychoanalyst James Grotstein expressed it in this decade old post, what we call the unconscious is in actuality

"a sort of alter-ego, or 'stranger within' that shadows our existence in a most intimate, creative, and mysterious way. Far from being 'primitive and impersonal,' it is 'subjective and ultra-personal,' a 'mystical, preternatural, numinous second self' characterized by 'a loftiness, sophistication, versatility, profundity, virtuosity, and brilliance that utterly dwarf the conscious aspects of the ego.'"

From the same post:

Grotstein sees the unconscious as a sort of “handicapped” god who needs a partner in order to accomplish its mission. The goal of psychotherapy is not merely knowledge of, or insight into, the unconscious, but something far greater. Rather, it is to establish a sort of dynamic collaboration between the phenomenal ego -- our conscious self -- and the “ineffable subject of being” upon which the ego floats, and into which it infinitely extends (for the boat is paradoxically made of the same water upon which it floats).

Through a creative resonance between these two aspects of ourselves, we are much more spontaneously alive, creative, and “present.” It is like adding another dimension (or two or three) of depth to our being, through which we become something that has never actually been, but is somehow more real than what we presently are. A new entity emerges, a “transcendent subject” that lives harmoniously in the dialectical space between our “foreground self” and this mysterious “background subject” that surrounds and vivifies it.

You might say that we help God come into being, or to transition from the implicate to explicate order. Could it be that something similar occurs within the Godhead?

This is what I mean by applying the Being/Beyond-Being distinction to God. Again, it is all just one flowing movement.

And now that I think about it, it is as if there exist vertical and horizontal in God; the distinction between Godhead and Trinity would be on the "vertical" plane, while the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity would be "horizontal." The Father is not "above" the Son or Spirit, but on the same level. But the infinite Divine Nature must be "above" them, in a manner of speaking.

Spitzer: "[T]here can be only one unrestricted power, but Christian revelation holds that there are three Persons in this one power.... This is not contradictory because [as explained above] an unrestricted power can accommodate multiple acts of self-consciousness.... The one unrestricted power acts as a single 'power source' for the three distinct acts of self-consciousness."

So, that's about it for today. To be continued...