Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Cosmos are You Living in? (10.05.10)

Where does the idea of a universe, or “cosmos,” come from, anyway? Why do we assume it exists? Animals don’t know anything about a cosmos, for they can't escape or transcend their sense impressions.

Humans imagine there is a cosmos, but what do we really mean by the word? Is the universe the sum of things, or the whole of things? -- for these are two very different ideas. If it is merely the sum of things, there’s really no way to understand it, because each part is more or less independent of the other parts. But if it is the whole of things, that must mean that there is an underlying wholeness that somehow transcends and yet participates in each of the parts. Thus, to say "cosmos" is to say "unity" -- which is to say "the One," no matter how you say it.

Insofar as the universe is a whole, science cannot speak of it consistently. In other words, science, in order to be science, must treat the universe as a collection of objects, and simply assume their underlying unity -- if only to separate the scientific observer from what he observes. Like the mind itself, wholeness cannot be observed, only inferred. This leads me to believe that there is some hidden relationship between the mysteries of consciousness and wholeness. In short, the one cannot exist without the other -- they are somehow reflections of each other.

Every sense perception is an act of division within prior wholeness. Only the particular is ever observed, and there is no knowledge at the level of the senses. But every mental act is an act of synthesis and integration -- of bringing particulars together into a wholeness that reveals their meaning. Thus “the cosmos” is the ultimate scientific act of mental synthesis, very much the material equivalent of conceiving of God -- who also represents an absolute integrity and cohesion that we can never perceive in its a priori fulness with our senses.

For this reason, we can say that the cosmos is the exterior of God, while God is the interior of the cosmos (while not limiting God to that). Conceiving of either is only possible because human beings are able to intuit both the wholeness and withinness of things. We are able to conceive the Absolute not because it is a fanciful wish, but because it is the inner reality that subtends everything; in other words, the Absolute is the necessary condition for conceiving it.

All bad philosophies -- which is to say, almost all philosophies -- take the cosmos utterly for granted, without getting into the prior question of why they believe there is a thing called “cosmos,” that is, the strict totality of interconnected objects and events (much less how we can know that it exists).

The religionist doesn’t have this problem. Judeo-Christian traditions affirm that “in beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In other words, there is a prior unity called “God” underlying the apparent division between the celestial and earthly realms -- the vertical and the horizontal, consciousness and matter, whole and part, knower and known, yin and yang, guys and dolls. Religion teaches: where there is apparent duality there is wholeness and unity, whatever the duality. Even life/death. Woo hoo!

The Mundaka Upanishad takes the story of existence back even further than Genesis, affirming that “Out of the infinite ocean of existence arose Brahma, the first-born and foremost among the gods. From him sprang the universe, and he became its protector.” In other words, the creator God -- Yahweh, Brahma, the Father -- is himself an aspect of an even deeper unity, called Brahman, the Ground (by Meister Eckhart) or the Ain Sof (in Judaism), for even God (like the youman beastlings that mirror him) must possess a relative outside but an infinite inside.

In the absence of revelation -- either “given” or “intuited” -- there is no way to know about either the cosmos or its "parent," or source. Reduced to natural reason, human beings are like spiders spinning concepts out of their own substance and then living in and crawling about on them, catching the occasional meal. In fact, if the secular black window spider is going to be honest, he will have to admit that all he can ever know is his own web, which was Kant’s point. Kant took profane philosophy as far as it could go, which is why most philosophy since has merely been a footnote on Kant.

For you have a choice that you must make at the outset: either we live our lives in an illusory, phenomenal universe, cut off from the noumenal reality. Or, because we are made in the image of the Creator, we can know the absolute in both its material and immaterial, supernatural aspects. The former aspect of the absolute subtends science, while the latter makes it possible to know transcendentrialities such as love, truth and beauty, being-conscousness-bliss, father-son-holy spirit, Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, kether-hokmah-binah, or Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

Thus, secular philosophies create a problem where there is none. First, they exile us from the cosmos, and then complain that we can’t get back in. True, we are exiled in maya. But religion goes to great lengths to explain that as well, including how to cure us of that particular metaphysical illness. Scripture fully anticipated Kant and all of his followers in the allegory of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Yes, you have free will, so you are therefore free to nourish yourself from that particular tree. But just don’t be surprised if you end up with a bad case of spiritual malnutrition.

Of course, this doesn’t stop scientists from talking about the universe and making all sorts of absolute claims about it. In fact, science has hijacked the universe concept, and will permit no one else to make statements about it on pain of ridicule, ostracism, and ACLU lawsuits. As the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, it is as if all of the central banks had been taken over by counterfeiters. So much of scientific epistemology and ontology is based on intellectual “funny money” that is not fungible into any underlying reality.

Like leftists who are only concerned with the distribution of wealth rather than its creation, secularists are only concerned with the propagation of "truth" rather than the specific metaphysical principles that make Truth itself knowable.

For example, science assures us that their model of the cosmos truly accounts for the strict totality of interacting objects and events. But how can the model contain the proof of its own claim, since it is part of that totality, not outside of it? The question is, can we take a scientific dollar bill and cash it in for real Truth? We can, but only if we realize that there is indeed a central bank that ensures the value of each of those scientific bank gnotes.

Yes, there is a cosmos. For the same reason there is a God: you kant half one without the under One. As a matter of fact, the same thing holds true of biology. Say what you want about natural selection, but it presupposes something that its theory cannot account for: the wholeness of the genome and the organism, which is a reflection of the primordial wholeness of Being. Natural selection operates on entities that are living benefactories of a prior wholeness, without which Life itself could not be.

Knowledge is simply adequacy between subject and object. We can know the Absolute because our intelligence is mirroculously proportioned to it.

The subject as such takes precedence over the object as such: the consciousness of a creature capable of conceiving the starry heavens is more than the space and the stars so conceived.... It is precisely in virtue of the dimension of inwardness, which opens onto the Absolute and therefore the Infinite, that man is quasi-divine. --F. Schuon

39 Comments:

Blogger NoMo said...

Beautiful, Bob.

"I Am" - therefore I think.

We are only able to even conceive of a cosmos because there is one - and the same goes for God. We only are because He Is.

9/12/2007 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Yes, indeed. Here's another example of leftist dissonance...

Saving the environment by ... not having kids!

Hopefully the plan will succeed and the greenies will depopulate themselves out of the world.

Crossin' my fingers.

9/12/2007 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

"...the consciousness of a creature capable of conceiving the starry heavens is more than the space and the stars so conceived...."

Cobalt
silence of the deep
stars come out to play mah-jongg
listening again

9/12/2007 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

I know, river. This notion that we should just do ourselves in and be done with it seems to be cropping up more and more among the intelligentsia. And it seems like a natural product of modern liberalism.

Cool, after all, is really an expression of cynicism, which is really depressive in its essence. Nothing's really to be taken seriously: nothing matters much: I don't matter: I'm a blight on the surface of an otherwise beautiful planet.

9/12/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Someone in a related article: 'Ted was a mediocre anchorman, but he was a good economist. People solve problems. More people means more people to solve problems.'

If I get the chance, I'll have at least six kids.

9/12/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Voltron said...

"Hopefully the plan will succeed and the greenies will depopulate themselves out of the world."

Oh but didn't you know?

The lefties make their plans for US, not themselves. After all, who'd tell us what we must do if all the "intellectuals" were gone?

9/12/2007 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Coonified said...

That's funny. Just the other day a guy at work brought up the notion of humans as invasive species. My response was that we just rock! As long as I see an influx of spirit in myself and others--mostly young faith based people starting families--the negative stuff doesn't really worry me as much; reminds me of a Stuart Davis Show espisode.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8JqXQ-FG3k

Nice post bob. I like the ones with alot of explicite metaphysics. I tried to bypass the middle man and go strait to Schuon...but i don't have the mind power yet. Maybe in my mid to late twenties.

Later.

9/12/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Anonymous he who walks between the rows said...

Undoubtedly the One Lord splits himself into the many so as to create forgetfulness, which is the only way to assuage the monstrous isolation that He feels.

The Universe is a coping mechanism for a being in a predicament-- he in inconsolably lonely.

Loneliness is the worst pain--it gnaws at the soul. It is that pain that God himself struggles against.

Be a good friend to God--talk to Him, but don't let on that you know that you ARE Him, because then the jig is up and the illusion is shattered, and the whole purpose of the cosmos is negated in one stroke.

And that, friends, is why God allows and even cultivates atheism among people.

Play dumb.

9/12/2007 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

I have always thought that the concept of a secret, elite group of extreme environmentalists meeting in a secret location somewhere to plot the extinction of humanity for environmental reasons would make a superb thriller. Perhaps they would try to cook up some kind of ultra-lethal virus to do the job. The scary thing is, I have read that there are groups called "Deep Environmentalists" (environmentalists that take their philosophy beyond mere environmentalism into the realm of extreme radicalism), which may or may not contain sub-groups of these "extinctionists". If this is true, the CIA, M5, Interpol, etc, should all have their eyes and ears on them. Wonder if Clancy, Grisham or Chrichton has already written the book. If not, get writing, guys!

9/12/2007 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Rows,
I sincerely hope you are not creating God in your image by projecting onto him your own state of mind; if true, I would suggest running, not walking, to therapy. The God that I know and that is in the Judeo-Christian scriptures is not schizophrenic or multiple-personalitied. He created the universe as an expression of Himself; a kind of canvas upon which to paint His own picture of Himself and His nature. As for His loneliness (if it can be called that), He has ameleorated that by creating us and redeeming us from our fallen nature so that we can know Him, not just cerebrally but with all of our being. My God, though he continually desires fellowship with me, is not lonely, thank you.

9/12/2007 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post Bob. I know that most of my life has been spent trying to understand the universe by adding all the parts together, in other words I practiced scienticism. I feel quite lucky to have had a few fortitous guiding moments in my life where I have felt an unshakeable wholeness. Without this I'd still be spinning my web with selected facts and my compass of "reason". I wonder like you what happens to a society that destroys this revelation as a given?

River cocytus, perhaps its still some materialistic parasites working away in my mind but your absolute dismissal of a potential population problem does disturb me. Surely you must acknowledge that there is an upper limit on the population earth can support?? Surely you must believe that some basic resources to human existence are finite? Do you think that there are limits to growth in an economy on earth? Please don't brush my comments away I'd really like to hear your perspective on this. I admit to being worried that we will basically run out of stuff, but I am also open to being shown a different perspective and I'd really appreciate hearing yours.

Nick

9/12/2007 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

tsebring,
I think Crichton did already write something at least a bit similar. It was a good read. And of course, the environmentalists hated it.

9/12/2007 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Nick--

In the developed world, population is already shrinking -- more affluence = fewer children. This is why globalization and economic development are so important. Once development is complete, global population will naturally begin shirinking as of about 2050 -- so long as the environmentalists don't get control and prevent economic development.

9/12/2007 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Nick,
your worries about the population "problem" truly are unfounded. As cultures become modernized, levels of population growth drop drastically while levels of sustainable resources increase dramatically (look at the demographics of any Western Nation, not counting their immigrant populations). Our government (very stupidly) actually pays farmers to not grow crops. In fact, many countries are facing a crisis of negative population growth, Japan and Russia being chief among them (or hadn't you heard that today is Russia's national Make a Baby day?). If negative population growth were actually a good thing, why isn't Russia encouraging more people to not have kids?

Countries that continue to exist at third-world standards tend to have terrible problems as a result of overcrowding and limited resources, it's true, but the way to assuage those problems is not to kill everyone off or force them to not reproduce. They also, by the way, tend to have the worst pollution and environmental policies. To remedy these problems they must join the 21st century. Of course, bringing about such a change is, to put it mildly, extremely difficult if not outright impossible, given the dominant cultures in most third-world countries.

9/12/2007 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

This is One Cosmos Classic(c)

This is the sort of concentrated, tightly wound, high-octane Truth that makes me want to print the post out, laminate it, and carry it around in my briefcase permanently.

I generally have no real substantive comment on posts like this one because they leave me speechless...

Bravo, Bob.

9/12/2007 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Nick,
You may want to consider that maybe your perception of this “finite” may be a great deal smaller than it actually is. I think this has something to do with our changing language Bob spoke of yesterday. What we once called the World is now commonly referred to as the planet. Sounds a lot smaller doesn’t it?

I posted a link here to an article a couple of months ago:
Defanging the Energy Scaremongers
It’s written by a professor of chemical engineering/energy analyst. When mentioning his acceptance of Peak Oil and that the amount of oil is in fact “finite”, he is also comfortable saying we won’t peak for several decades nor run out for several centuries. To the enviropanicists, his mere mention of the word “finite” is to them a gotcha moment. Now this gentleman has no problem with saying the word finite. I’d be concerned if he did have a problem saying it. He’s perfectly comfortable with the word but most importantly I think with the fact that he is well aware of just how large this “finite” is. Almost infinitely larger than the scaremongers imagine it to be.

9/12/2007 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

What Smoov said.
(And what you said yesterday about Amy Winehouse.)

9/12/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger debass said...

The entire global population will fit in the state of Texas.
Here is an article that addresses the subject of overpopulation.
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTdlZTVkM2Y0OWQyYzJiZWEwMzA0ZDg2OThmNjI2YjU=
I've listened to this same argument about overpopulation and the ensuing disasters for at least 40 years. The only real problem is that the Turd Worlders are out breeding the first worlders. Especially in Europe with the Muslim population where they will be the majority in some countries.

Joe Zawinul-RIP

9/12/2007 07:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

I'm finally catching up to today...

"Thus “the cosmos” is the ultimate scientific act of mental synthesis, very much the material equivalent of conceiving of God -- who also represents an absolute integrity and cohesion that we can never perceive in its a priori fulness with our senses."

Oohhh yes indeedy! Well said!

9/12/2007 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I think the population scare is a holdover from Ehrlich's book, which-- as eventually happens with all liberal scare tactics--was proven completely and totally wrong decades ago.

http://www.reason.com/news/show/34775.html

I'm expecting our seventh child this winter. Promise, we won't breathe up all your air. ;)

9/12/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

"For this reason, we can say that the cosmos is the exterior of God, while God is the interior of the cosmos (while not limiting God to that). Conceiving of either is only possible because human beings are able to intuit both the wholeness and withinness of things. We are able to conceive the Absolute not because it is a fanciful wish, but because it is the inner reality that subtends everything; in other words, the Absolute is the necessary condition for conceiving it. "

And similarly, it is the inner reality that we perceive with ourselves - and why the deterministic materialist tinker toy concept of life is so self evidently lacking and wrong. It lacks an inner in there - which they try to counter by saying that we aren't really here - it's all just an illusion.

To who?

9/12/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Postscript:

My kids and I were watching one of those old Moody science videos yesterday. The scientist narrating made a great comparison between the so-called "silent deep"--silent only to human ears, inadequate to a watery environment, as the invention of the hydrophone proved--and the spiritual realm to the natural man (cf. 1 Cor 2:14). Of course, my mind went straight back to some of the recent threads here on OneCosmos...

9/12/2007 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

"... a central bank that ensures the value of each of those scientific bank gnotes.

Yes, there is a cosmos. For the same reason there is a God: you kant half one without the under One. "

;-)

hOHMe run today.

9/12/2007 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Debass said,
“I've listened to this same argument about overpopulation and the ensuing disasters for at least 40 years.”

Same here. Ice age was all the rage back then. Remember the crying Indian TV commercial?
A bit tired of that manipulation.

9/12/2007 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“Yes, there is a cosmos, Virginia.”

9/12/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

Tsebring said "Wonder if Clancy, Grisham or Chrichton has already written the book. If not, get writing, guys!"

Didn't ... Frank Herbert? write one like that a long while back... White Plague?


wv:lxggomy let go o' my... what? Ego?

9/12/2007 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

Annonymous Nick said "Surely you must acknowledge that there is an upper limit on the population earth can support?? Surely you must believe that some basic resources to human existence are finite? Do you think that there are limits to growth in an economy on earth?"

The problem to that is discounting what makes any of it a worthwhile resource to begin with - Us. Resources are only resources to us because we find value in them. If and when they become too scarce to use (history actually shows that usually we find something more useful and therefore valuable first, but...), we will turn to something else, or find other sources for it. Nomo linked to an item yesterday noting a new discovery - saltwater burns when beamed with particular radio frequencies. Something a while back about H3(?), a mineral extremely rare here, but like sand on the Moon, that is supposedly the ideal fuel for Fusion reactors.

The point isn't that we may run out of one thing, or find another first, but that our minds are the ultimate resource (I think there was actually a book recently by that title) - that is what produces resources and values. And if... and that is a very very big IF, which becomes apparent if you take a clear eyed look at the actual expanse of the earth, but IF we ever ran out of room, or even became uncomfortably crowded, we would expand upwards, or into the sea, or outer space.

(Oh, and River? Not to contradict myself, but those six'll eat you out of house and home, before they begin to earn their keep. Just sayin.)

9/12/2007 08:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

Ah.

What Smoov said. And what DeBass said. And ... oh my what Susannah said!

Seven? I think my sleep deprivation limit was three. My wife almost became a widow when she & her mom decided to prank me into thinking the ultrasound on our last was twins - face paled, fell back into the wall...

(Congratulations!)

;-)

9/12/2007 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

RE Van’s “minds are the ultimate resource”, did you notice this little guy popped back into the news yesterday. I had forgotten about him. America made him and he was only expected to last for 90 days…
3 ½ years later…:
Mars Rover Dips Toe into Crater

9/12/2007 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Debass - So, no more Weather Report? I hadn't heard. That is a shame - one of my long time favs.

9/12/2007 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Run out of resources? Impossible.

Soylent Green!

debass - I will miss Zawinul, such a beautiful musician. Thanks for bringing his passing to attention.

9/12/2007 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Everyone deserves a listen to a little "Heavy Weather" in remembrance of Joe...

9/12/2007 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gagdad bob, julie, smoov, ricky raccon van and others, Thank you all for your insightful responses in regaurds to my finite resource concerns. I can and do see many of your points. I especially like ricky raccon's point about the human mind being the ultimate resource. It is so very true that resources are meaningless without intelligent minds to develop and that indeed takes a modern innovative and perhaps God fearing culture to develop intelligent minds.
I certainly admit to my idea of finite being much much smaller than what the finite resources are. I also agree with Bob 100% that we must encourage economic development in third world countries so that they may thrust themselves and all their nasty mind parasites from the dark ages once and for all.
Having said all that I still feel our material balance as a whole is precarious. Lets all hope for more innovative minds and a quick development in third world countries.

Nick

9/13/2007 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Nick,
Thanks but the credit to “ultimate resource” should go to Mr. Van.

By the way, have you read Bob’s book? I think you would enjoy it.

9/13/2007 07:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ricky,
Oops your right that was Van's point. Anyways just got Bob's book via Amazon. I've just been through the first chapter. It really is like no other book I've ever read. I think I could reread that chapter countless times and get something new and deep out of it each time. I guess as Bob often points out that IS the point of scripture, endless revelation.

9/13/2007 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

By the way, thanks, Nick, for sparking some interesting debate.

9/13/2007 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Nick: One word: Space.

To hit the target, you must shoot beyond it.

9/13/2007 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Van said...

;-)

9/13/2007 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

River,
Shooting beyond the target is indeed a nice way to slip into the infinite that was already and always there anways.

BTW I have just gotten my paws on Bob's book and am devouring it, it is terrific! Like getting multiple virus protection upgrades in the old internal operating system so that (.) will shut up and O to (n) can commence with great speed!

9/14/2007 07:22:00 AM  

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