Saturday, May 12, 2007

Drinking from God's Firehose

In response to yesterday's post, Susannah asked some good followup questions, :

--I have trouble wrapping my head around the implicit ontological monism of the scientific method. How would science look if it were done by a Coon?

--Theology used to be known as the queen of sciences, and no one at the time perceived any kind of contradiction in that designation. Would science done by a Coon still employ the scientific method, only recognizing its limitations?

--Atheism is generally a visceral thing. The atheist has some personal beef against God. It's not as if materialists simply use the scientific method to come to a rational conclusion about God. So, why do materialists blame their bad religion on the scientific method? Because in fact there were (and are) theistic and even Christian scientists before the onset of militant materialism. So, they had their miner's helmets on, right?

*****

Also, one hates to respond to an attention-starved troll, since the troll is always here to teach, not to learn. As such, the only appropriate response to one such as Zi is a tactful silence followed by uproarious laughter as soon as he is out of earshot. As he says, he is affirming, not arguing. Nevertheless, he made a number of provocative affirmations that we are free to reduce to feathers, even if he is not, such as

--Serious people get beyond a mere acquaintance with philosophy before dismissing it as Bob does [which Bob does not do, by the way].

--Socrates is a much better example of human excellence than Jesus or Augustine.

--Bob fails to understand that for many people there is no desire or need to "escape." Perhaps Bob needs to posit something outside his everyday Being to make life worthwhile or to explain it, but this is simply Bob's pathology and he should not suggest [not even suggest?] that others share it.

--Bob worships his own psychopathology, which is fine, but just don't pretend that others should. [I thought I was only "suggesting," which is true: I offer my views, but I do not insist that anyone accept them, least of all the uncomprehending troll for whom my writing is not intended to begin with.]

--Bob's conception of Religion is myopic. Not all religion is an attempt to account for some misperceived Lack in the world. [That explains a lot, being that the answer is the disease that kills curiosity: no lack, no substance -- or, in the terms of chaos theory, a closed system cannot evolve.]

--And we should turn to Taoism, because it represents a wholly naturalistic religion/philosophy which regards the world as materially and logically self-sufficient, with no outside causes that need be evoked to explain or account for anything.

Let's begin with Susannah's general question, "what would science look like if done by a Coon?" The answer is simple. It would look exactly like what it looks like. The only difference is that a Coon does not confuse method with ontology. As I mentioned in a comment yesterday, there is actually no philosophy or science that is incompatible with Christian metaphysics, which easily I-AMbraces everything from Taoism to existentialism to materialism. But the reverse is never true: materialism or Taoism can never account for Christian truth, since the latter is on a higher and more encompassing metaphysical plane.

In other words, science is simply a rational way to "interrogate" the material world. It begins with materialistic assumptions, but these are simply for the purpose seeing what we can see with those assumptions -- with that particular miner's helmet. And we can see a lot.

However, the materialistic helmet cannot tell us the meaning of what we see with it. We should not conflate the assumptions of science with conclusions, which is what the philosophy of scientism does. Materialism is simply an assumption dressed up as a conclusion. Obviously, you cannot actually derive any truth whatsoever from matter, for "truth" would simply be reducible to matter, which is clearly neither true nor false. It just is. If that. Again, no absolute truth can be known in a materialistic universe. In fact, one of the reasons we know that the universe is not reducible to matter is that it is the prerogative of man to know absolute truth and know it absolutely.

The truthful aspect of Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that the scientific enterprise is always informed by an overarching paradigm that not only shapes what we know, but what we can discover. In short, "percept follows concept." The most profound scientific discoveries, such as quantum physics, require a change in paradigm, since the existing paradigm cannot account for the anomalies, for example, the idea that a subatomic entity is simultaneously a nonlocal wave and a local particle. Nothing in our everyday experience of matter can prepare us for such a shockingly counter-intuitive discovery. It literally makes no sense under a materialistic paradigm. Instead, we must posit something along the lines of an implicate sea of nonlocal energy underlying our everyday wideawake world of cutandry subjects and objects.

But from the human standpoint, is the world disclosed by quantum physics more "real" than the human world of color, emotion, thought, love, laughter, poetry, beauty, and truth? No, not at all. Again, that's just another misplaced materialistic assumption. It's not as if there are two worlds, a false one that we experience, and a true one that we can never experience, but only infer through abstract mathematical equations. For one thing, only a human in this world can peer into and study the quantum world. Therefore, you might say that it is an "extension" of our world, as opposed to the human world being a sort of "residue" floating atop the quantum world.

In fact, a Coon insists that this is the case, for the very same reason that man is not descended from animals, but rather, vice versa. Put another way, the human being is not "animal plus X." Rather, various animals are "human prototype minus X," just as life is not "matter plus Y," but "life minus Y." (If I recall correctly, this was an argument in Schumacher's Guide For the Perplexed.)

This is a key point, for a world is simply a ponderable reality. There are empirical worlds below and intelligible worlds above. When we talk about Christian truth, we are specifically talking about intelligible truths from an ontologically higher realm. As soon as they are reduced to empirical truth, then confusion arises. This does not mean that certain things didn't "happen" in the material sense, only that they cannot be comprehended in that way. Rather, they are intelligible in the light of awakened faith and an activated intellect, or nous. Obviously, there are plenty of "spiritual materialists" -- both religious and irreligious -- who attempt to comprehend Christian truth empirically. I say, let the dead bury the tenured, and vice versa. They are of no interest to a Coon. They are medullards who think only with the hindbrain.

Returning to the so-called conflict between science and religion. There is neither conflict nor is there complementarity, as if they are simply two sides of the same coin. This is an unfortunate idea that entered the Western stream through the illustrious Saint Augustine, which made the development of science possible, but in such a way that it eventually became needlessly "detached," so to speak, from theology. For a variety of reasons, this never occurred in the world of Eastern Christianity, and it is this latter (which is to say, earlier) view that I embrace. Rather than regarding theology as a handmaiden of science -- or vice versa -- they achieved a genuine synthesis.

According to Nesteruk, the early Christian fathers "found that they could easily accommodate themselves to any partial view of nature with no fear of losing their orthodoxy and the integrity of life in Christ." This is because the world is not merely an epistemological construct, a la Kant, but "an ontological rational order whose existence has its ground in something other than the things that are ordered, that is, the very being of the reason or Word of God." Again, this is why the world is intelligible to the intellect, since both are a reflection of the same Word that subtends them. But it is also why higher spiritual worlds are accessible and intelligible to us -- why it is possible for us to understand Christian truth.

Now, as to this question of the ontological monism of science. The Coon view is that this is a logically self-refuting position, and we do not spend a great deal of time trying to refute it, at least since we wrote our book. Christian truth is necessarily grounded in metaphysical truth -- those truths which cannot not be, and which are as follows.

The early Christian fathers drew a sharp distinction between dianoia and nous. The former applies to our rational understanding of the created world. But the nous operates though direct perception of an intelligble spiritual truth. For the same reason, the fathers made a sharp distinction between theologia and economia. This correlates with the difference between God's essence and God's energies. God's absolute being is known only to him, which is why we may ultimately only approach it through the negative theology of apophaticism.

Another way of saying it is that there is God with distinctions -- say, the trinitarian God whose face is toward us, so to speak. But the early fathers also insisted on the absolute ontological priority of God's being-in-itself. Pondering the intelligble mysteries of the cataphatic God can lead us to the threshold of the apophatic God that is beyond the horizon of human knowability. Indeed, this is the basis of Christian mysticism and theosis, through which the intelligible mysteries lead to the absolute ground, as Meister Eckhart would later call it.

This then is what we mean by the ontological dualism of Christianity. Our first principle must be the distinction between Being and Non-Being, or between God and Godhead ("God-beyond-being"). The Supreme Reality is absolute; being so, it is intrinsically infinite. The first distinction, therefore, is that between Absolute and relative, or Infinite and finite. Thus, the knowable God -- because he is knowable -- is the "relative Absolute," since the Absolute may only be unKnown -- which again, the early fathers paradoxically insist is a mode of knowing that is appropriate to the Absolute.

The next distinction, as formulated by Schuon, is the vertical principle within the world of relative being, between heaven and earth, or principle and manifestation.

You know what? I'm running out of time and starting to rush this, which I don't want to do. Someone compared one of my posts to "drinking from the firehose," which is what national security folks such as Thomas Barnett call it when they must rapidly assimilate a great deal of information. Well, this is truly the firehose, so I want to slow down a bit, so we can at least swallow a few drops. To be continued.

58 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"As such, the only appropriate response to one such as Zi is a tactful silence followed by uproarious laughter as soon as he is out of earshot."

I know, I know... I know. But to paraphrase Khan, sometime "He Tasks me!"

Joan! Joan of Arrgghh! Stop snickering at me!

5/12/2007 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Van: Maybe there's a 12 step program. WATA (whack-a-troll anonymous)
;)

JWM

5/12/2007 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM! LOL!
(P.S. Liked the 'Willies' comment last night - I can relate)

5/12/2007 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Mr. Language Person notes of the pre-spellchecked post, that Google asks "Did you mean: apophaticism "

5/12/2007 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

I recently re-read Guide for the Perplexed for the fourth time, and was startled to find how much of it had been "brought alive" by OCUG, and Bob's posts. Also pleasing was to find numerous references to Bishop Ware, whose works I am now a-ware of. Schumacher had his share of conclusions that I disagree with (in other books, relative to economic theory, and Socialism), but in THIS particular case, I think most Coons would find the book "quite a read."

5/12/2007 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger CARL TOFFLE said...

You know, it's one thing to have attention-starved trolls and another to be so attention-starved that one desires trolls. It's nice to be in the former category. I wish I were.

I started a blog just so that the neat little coon-avatar would accompany my inanities. I have only attracted a one-comment, one-time troll. The blog has been up a scoche more than a week and for some surprising reason I actually care about it! I'm sure the feeling will pass.

5/12/2007 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Don't worry. Sufficient light will inevitably attract the darkness.

5/12/2007 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Our first principle must be the distinction between Being and Non-Being, or between God, and Godhead or God-beyond-being. The Supreme Reality is absolute; being so, it is intrinsically infinite. The first distinction, therefore, is that between Absolute and relative, or Infinite and finite. Thus, the knowable God -- because he is knowable -- is the "relative Absolute," since the Absolute may only be unknown -- which again, the early fathers paradoxically insist is a mode of knowing that is appropriate to the Absolute."

Takes me back to my first encounter with the idea of Axioms, where my first response was "Do you have some salt? I prefer salt with my pretzels", and that is exactly how it made my brain feel - pretzeled and cooked!

Fellow raccoons tackling this for the first time, I feel your pain! But as with Axioms, there are boundaries, past which the human mind can not go, since there is no further explanation, definition, possible which doesn't doesn't require reference to what it is you are trying to define, in order to define it! As you realize that is the case, you just have to accept it and focus on what you can develop further (Herman, this, and what Gagdad is refering to here, was the point I was so clumsily trying to make the other night).

Cheese goes well with it too. Chew well, sip from that firehouse, swallow slowly, and it will eventually make reassuring sense. Then pass me the salt please.

"Well, this is truly the firehose, so I want to slow down a bit, so we can at least swallow a few drops."

Phew... thanks.
;-)

5/12/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Late Convert said...

JWM,

How about a two-step program instead?

Step One:

We admitted we were powerless to stop trolls from posting comments and that our attempts to engage them in any fashion merely encourage them to post more profusely.

Step Two:

Having had a nearly-spiritual awakening as a result of step one, we decided to carry this message to other OC posters and to practice a principle of "tactful silence" in all our affairs pertaining to trolls.

5/12/2007 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Late Convert said "...to practice a principle of "tactful silence" in all our affairs pertaining to trolls."

Joan of Arrggh! has been trying to teach me that one for a year now... some of us are just slow.

5/12/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

... and like any vice, there is an element of 'fun' to it...

5/12/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

... must...

5/12/2007 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

...resist...

5/12/2007 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Sal said...

late convert-
let me boil that down even further for ya:
GAZE

You know even in the face of merciless drubbing, they're going back to announce that they rendered us speechless.
Why not let them be half-right?

5/12/2007 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh, I don't know, Van. I just don't have the luxury of taking time to smack trolls. There's so much to think about and to read that actually is edifying.

It's just that the newcomers are bewildered by all the cross-talk. I actually think comment registration would help.

The other night was kinda fun, though, just taking pot-shots at the Baked Ziti.

5/12/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Baked Ziti sounds tasty!

A lot in this one, Bob. Think I might share it with my some of my Christian friends.

Van, I recall reading about Axioms... I think Hofstader? Man, my brain was pretzel'd as well... I was like, 12. But I was determined! So I actually tried to figure it out on paper.

But once I understood axioms math was a cinch (as were functions.)

5/12/2007 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Van -

All you need in your quivver is what the oft-imitated-but-never-surpassed Hoarhey used:

"Pffffttt!"

5/12/2007 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"In other words, science is simply a rational way to "interrogate" the material world."

Now were talkin'!
I'm an expert at "persuasive interrogation", if ya know what I mean.

5/12/2007 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Late Convert said...

It's just that the newcomers are bewildered by all the cross-talk.

Speaking as a relative newcomer, whack-a-troll is more off-putting than it is bewildering.

I always hope to read comments that elucidate or expand upon GB's offerings. Of course, I always hoped to get a talking pony for Christmas, too.

So far, the former has panned out better than the latter, whack-a-troll notwithstanding.

5/12/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Pondering the intelligble mysteries of the cataphatic God can lead us to the threshold of the apophatic God that is beyond the horizon of human knowability."

Speaking of the mysteries of the cataphatic God,
John of Damascus wrote that positive statements about God reveal "not the nature, but the things around the nature."

B'ob-
Would you say that's the "most" we can gno about God?

And, since that can lead us to the threshold of the apophatic God which is about "unknowing" God, or, knowing what God isn't, since it's impossible to put into words,
am I right in saying that the cataphatic God should be the foundation of what we gno, or do both form the foundation?
And, are both considered to be a part of the O->k experience?

5/12/2007 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Darn!
Gotta go to an eye appointment at the VA.
Who knew they were open on Saturday?
Later.

5/12/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ben:

Good questions. As you know, I formulate my answers in the process of writing the posts, so I will try to get to those tomorrow. But off the top of my head, the most a Christan can "know" in the usual sense is the Christian dogmas, which are surely true in themselves, but also the jumping off point into what the fathers call true theology, which is more experiental (while never denying the dogmas, which are "supports" for the awakened nous).

5/12/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Here's what I've seen, the various glums, lickcurs, and bitter tutti-fruittis quickly oust themselves when their gravely despirited posts go unacknowledged.

We may hope, although we do not know.

Laughter is assured.

5/12/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Susannah said...

Am I the only one with dictionary.com open in the next window? ;) I figured out apophatic, cataphatic, and theosis. Oh, I see Van was googling too. Whew!

Maybe I'm Eastern Orthodox at heart. Is that why I like Dostoevsky so much? I took one of those goofy internet quizzes once and it actually pegged me as Eastern Orthodox. I think DH would peg us as third-wave charismatic. I wonder what they have in common.

"The only difference is that a Coon does not confuse method with ontology. ...In other words, science is simply a rational way to 'interrogate' the material world."

Okay, that's kind of what I thought. That makes it clearer.
"We should not conflate the assumptions of science with conclusions, which is what the philosophy of scientism does. Materialism is simply an assumption dressed up as a conclusion."

That's a good way to put it!

"Nothing in our everyday experience of matter can prepare us for such a shockingly counter-intuitive discovery. It literally makes no sense under a materialistic paradigm."

My husband was saying something simliar to this a few weeks ago re: quantum physics. It sheds light on other paradoxes inherent in creation and in faith. I wish he were here to repeat it all. I thought it was brilliant. :) As for me, my unscientific brain can barely grasp the concepts involved.

O/T, but he was describing "blindsight" to me this morning. Has anyone heard of that? I'd no idea. It was fascinating.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindsight

Glad you slowed down, Bob. I definitely can't drink from the firehose. My brain is pretty strained as it is. Pass the cheese! :D

5/12/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Pffftttt!

5/12/2007 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

jwm,

Second Van on the "Willies" comment. The fire of the Spirit has a way of burning them off.

Van you mentioned Cheese! I perk up at the thought of cheese.

Chesterton said "the poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." 

So far I've only found one quote:
"Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality."

Don't know why that is. Seems to me we we're given an appetite so that we would nourish ourselves at God's firehose.

The big cheese being the enticement and the reward. Guess some will always say ''No" to cheese.

Ha Ha Ha LOL

uqlsa - Viva Mexican cheese

5/12/2007 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

susannah - you are not alone.
Separate dictionary window open is one of the prerequisties to deeper comprehension here at GD's blog.

A 'coon' deciphernary helps too.

5/12/2007 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

We call it a theosaurus. Bob always has his handy when I speak.

5/12/2007 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Theosaurus it is!

zwscegvc - Thanks for clearing up that mythunderstanding.

5/12/2007 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just aphasia go through.

5/12/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just mowing the lawn thinking about this very thing. My conception, faith in a trinitarian God is not in the least threatened by science although there are bounds to which I think science shoule go regarding the dignity of human beings, but that is a separate issue. I remember speaking with a Evangelical fundamentalist when she made some offhanded comment about how could people really believe in evolution. I told her I thought God was bigger than having to neccessarily have his thumb on any one particular creationm,but if chose he could do so. He could have envisioned everything and by making a certain aspect of partical physics go one way everything would follow and he would be able to know exactly what that was. He was so much greater than just a designer. Science can explain many things but it can never answer the metaphysical, nor should we reduce God to a builder. She was speechless, this was a way of looking at it she had not been challenged with before.
I had a delightful time mowing the lawn.

5/12/2007 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous alan said...

"let the dead bury the tenured, and vice versa. "

My favorite line of today. It reminded me of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail...
Bring out yer tenured!

Change "king" to coon in the last part of the dialogue for bonus fun.

Youtube version (without the last bit of the dialogue)

Youtube version

5/12/2007 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

mizze and susannah - most days I can make it through without having to look things up, but when the fire hose is on full blast I have to do the same thing. If I recall, we've had trolls here in the past who whined about Bob's use of big words. If he didn't, though, the post would have been twice as long with half the info, just trying to explain what can be summed up, for example, in "ontological monism" - and it would probably be more confusing, not less.

I can't even imagine trying to learn these things a century ago without living in a monastic library.

5/12/2007 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, I do hate to use fancy words just for the hell of it -- made up words, that's a different story. But, for example, there's just no other word for "apophatic" than apophatic, although there are comparable terms in other traditions -- for example, the ain sof of Kabbala or nirguna brahman of Vedanta.

5/12/2007 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I say we all chip in and get Cousin Dupree one of these.

5/12/2007 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Pfffftbpla!...
"Pffuhtt!"...
ahem. "Pffffooo!"
eh.. ahem... "Pffffttt!" Hey!
12 step, huh? I suppose I can try that.

"Pffffttt!" "Pffffttt!" "Pffffttt!"
Yeah, I can give that a try... sure I can. not a problem.

"Hi, my names van, and ... uh... eh, I'm a compulsive whackatroller."

I suppose that's not so bad.

"Pffffttt!" "Pffffttt!" "Pffffttt!"

Hmmm.

5/12/2007 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Maybe not completely cold turkey... sort of eassse into it....?

5/12/2007 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Susannah said "Am I the only one with dictionary.com open in the next window?"

Google for me, clicking two or three varrying hits tends to give a decent overview....

Unless its in response to...
"Pffffttt!""Pffffttt!""Pffffttt!"
(that was close)

wv:pgeufeva

5/12/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

MizzE,
My Theosaurus lists cheese as "Chi-ease", apparently a favorite treat of Confucius.

5/12/2007 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anonymous said "... I remember speaking with a Evangelical fundamentalist when she made some offhanded comment about how could people really believe in evolution."

I've always been puzzled by the issue. From the fundie point of view, they seem to accept that the universe and all it's laws of physics, etc, were somehow put in place by someone other than God, that he dictated the wording of their latest edition of the newly revised KJV, and it's their mission to save face for him.

From the Scientivists point of view, they seem to forget that they are still in the initial stages of trying to figure out those laws of physics, etc, and are completely threatened by that same latest edition of the KJV, as if they are really in competition with it "Scientist #1:How should I calculate this mass/energy ration?"Scientist#2: Hold on, let me consult Genesis for the formula" Have they forgotten about Flogeston? Ether?

"Materialism is simply an assumption dressed up as a conclusion. "

I suppose. And what is going to be the point of having knowledge without understanding?

Neither of them seems to realize that Religion is several steps (12?) Vertically above that interpretation. I suppose that's easy for me to say now, now that I've got that perspective... but even before, I just couldn't really believe that they thought they were talking about the same thing.

I suppose that's watering the issue down somewhat, but they both seem to be missing the forrest for the trees.

5/12/2007 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Alan said "Bring out your Tenured!"

Ha! I've been shopping with wife & kids all day, feet are killing me, couldn't tell you a single thing we got, other than it fills several bags - except for one very unique and fine item, currently chilling in the fridge -
"Monty Python's Hole Ale"!

It's spelled 'Grail' with the g & r x'd out.

Doesn't matter what it tastes like, after draining thoroughly, it's becoming a bookend in my library.

5/12/2007 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ah! "Monty Python's Hole Ale"! should be "Monty Python's Holy Ale"!

5/12/2007 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Van, where did you find that?

5/12/2007 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Only those who followed Joan's link will be able to play...

One Cosmos Jeopardy

Answer: "It takes a special person to stick three of them up top and make the middle one swivel."

Question: Who is Cousin Dupree?

5/12/2007 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

The Book of Joe is one of my favorite hangouts. Lots of cool links to cool stuff.

My personal fav right now is the metal hair comb that stores static energy created when you comb your hair. You can then use it to power up your cell phone or other small electronics.

I'm sure there's a spiritual analogy there somewhere...

5/12/2007 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JulieC,
Found it at 'World Market', it's imported by EuroBrew Inc, UK www.eurobrews.com.

And having just finished it, I can tell you it's pretty decent. Not surprising, considering the sub title "Tempered over burning witches".

Walt, the swivelling is key.

5/12/2007 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

anonymous: Often I am struck by the notion of God holding a single spark at the tip of his fingers and releasing it.

Just one look- and bam! Big bang.

Also, I really like this line here:

Another way of saying it is that there is God with distinctions -- say, the trinitarian God whose face is toward us, so to speak. But the early fathers also insisted on the absolute ontological priority of God's being-in-itself. Pondering the intelligble mysteries of the cataphatic God can lead us to the threshold of the apophatic God that is beyond the horizon of human knowability. Indeed, this is the basis of Christian mysticism and theosis, through which the intelligible mysteries lead to the absolute ground, as Meister Eckhart would later call it.

As a strategist/logician this really appeals to me - having in mind Musashi's Book of Ground - the strategy rooted in the Absolute Ground - what may overcome it?

5/12/2007 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

This was an unexpected fun read. The weird words could mostly be guessed from context. It's about real things after all, not something invented.

What struck me was that this will likely make no sense to people who read it as pure theory. You've got to have been there.

5/12/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Yes, oddly I guessed what Apophatic meant without having to look it up. It helped taking a look, though.

It makes me wonder of the necessity of it? I was always of the though that the concept of The Father encapsulates God's beyond-being -- the indescribable being of God that cannot interact with the creation without absolutely annihilating it.

But then, I'm not certain if that counts as the eneffability? I generally think of The Father as the one whom we cannot Describe (though I think John describes him? Not sure about that) but can only say what cannot be said about him. Or is the Father merely the representation of this part of God's nature in a comprehensible fashion? And the actual BEING of God is so totally absolute and ineffable that it can only be spoken of in negative terms?

Oohh... well, I think I might understand what is trying to be said, but the whole Father part of the trinity versus the ineffable Being of God thing is a little muddy to me.

5/12/2007 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

BTW, I had an important question that I'd like feedback for. On my site I've been doing these posters (three are up so far) that ATM can be printed on a 8 1/2 by 11 sheet and hung up, etc.

The Question I have is about attribution. It is KJV so the words are public domain, but I'd like to know how I should attribute them? I don't want a normal (Ecc. 3) kind of thing; that immediately tells people it is from 'The Bible'.

I had an idea to just put the writer's name (if known) at the bottom. But, I'm not certain about it... Should they just be left naked text or should they have some kind of attribution?

5/12/2007 07:42:00 PM  
Anonymous In other words... said...

The HeartStrings are vibrating, the conscious mind reels at the verbiage and yet Every Thing is Understood!!

Thanks, BoB!

5/12/2007 07:49:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

feh-
If I had spitwads I'd sling one at all you who figured out apophatic and cataphatic without going over to wiki (two for you, River ;)). I've still got the Wiki tab open and it needs another read...

All goofing aside, when I looked up 'apophatic' it reminded me of something I had encountered when I was practicing Buddhism. (I gave it a year, but that's another story.) My wife, who is a devout practitioner, found the passage for me. The Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings lists 34 negations to describe "entity of the Buddah".

His body neither existing nor not existing,
neither caused nor conditioned, neither self nor other...
It goes on.

Too, it is fascinating to put words, and hence awareness on processes that have been going on for a long time in my own mind, and I'm sure in everyone else's when we think about God- using both approaches to try and wrap your mind around something that you can't quite wrap your mind around.

Oh- Wallace, of "Wallace and Grommett" had a thing for cheese. Did he have a cheese poem? I fergit.

JWM

5/12/2007 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

River said "...As a strategist/logician this really appeals to me - having in mind Musashi's Book of Ground - the strategy rooted in the Absolute Ground - what may overcome it?"

Wouldn't that be ku? Translated (poorly) as emptiness? When the four paths become so learned as to become one path, and then that path so learned as to no longer be a path, that is ku no maki.

'Book of Five Rings' - Wo! You just time travelled me back to the 80's, on the road, me and my travelling library in the back of my Van. ("Where's Van?", "Dunno, if he's not cooking spaghetti all over the kitchen, he's probably out in his van reading").

5/12/2007 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said... "feh- If I had spitwads I'd sling one at all you who figured out apophatic and cataphatic without going over to wiki"

I hear ya. My brain seems to be losing the ability to find nouns, names... very strange... I know what I'm looking for, but can't find the name tag to access the info! Thank goodness for Google!

5/12/2007 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

River said "It is KJV so the words are public domain, but I'd like to know how I should attribute them?"

If you're looking for obscure, you could try the "Documentary Hypothesis" 'authors': JEDP?

5/12/2007 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said "His body neither existing nor not existing,
neither caused nor conditioned, neither self nor other... It goes on.

Could the difficulty be in part, that words describe... words allow us to grasp some one thing, to bring a portion of existence into direct focus, separate from all else which falls into the background?

Words are our tools for analyzing, for separating something from the rest in order to affix our attention upon it, that, this... but not all. Even when we attempt to speak of all, it is as 'all of that', or 'all of this'?

Sometimes Poetry can give us those rare moments of contact with wider expanses, a mystical sort of momentary 'connection'... but that's a case of using words to slip past their direct meanings, to touch the meaning beyond them... but that's not using words, that's finessing ourselves, our minds, with words. And even then, the success is limited.

It seems to me, that in attempting to grasp the Father, Existence, the Universe, however you want to put it, we are attempting to put 'all', the all encompassing, the infinite, into a very finite container - to contain that which cannot be contained. It's doomed to failure - literally by it's very definition.

It's fine as a concept, a working approximation, but we need to understand that as far as delivering us into actual understanding or contact with what the concept points towards..., well, to borrow a line from my cheesy 80's businessmen's translation of Miyamoto Musashi, it works about as well as a Chiliagon helps us to imagine the thousand sided figure it names.

How are you doing visualizing those thousand sides in your minds eye?

Pass the salt please. And the Cheese.

5/13/2007 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Van -

When do you sleep?

5/13/2007 03:44:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

The early Christian fathers drew a sharp distinction between dianoia and nous. The former applies to our rational understanding of the created world. But the nous operates though direct perception of an intelligble spiritual truth

This is one of those breakthrough understandings that I owe solely to Bob. I am somewhat amazed that in 20 or more years of sporadic reading in philosophy and literature I never really grasped this (and it is still "sinking in") until I came here. I suppose during most of those yeas I was--like the hapless antehelmet Dupreee--searching only under a grimy 40-watt bulb.

5/13/2007 08:07:00 AM  

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