Thursday, January 01, 2009

None of This Post is True! (1.01.10)

Just a dashed-off verticalisthenic that I didn't think I'd be able to finish. But the boy slept in until 8:30, so here it is... It's a bit rambly, but then again, you can be sure that it's Oven fresh...

We'll start with a couple of pneumanautical observations:

God is distinguished by his indistinction from any other distinct things...--Meister Eckhart

"Eckhart was obviously fascinated by the question of what we think we are doing when we attempt to speak about God. In one sense, his whole surviving corpus is an exploration of this issue. Why is speech necessary when silence is more fitting?" (McGinn).

You might say that Eckhart picks up where Aquinas himself left off, in the abysmal silence at the beginning and end of all verbalization; which is why he could say that "the Word which is in the silence of the fatherly Intellect is a Word without word, or rather a Word above every word." In the beginning -- or at the Origin, to be precise -- is the wordless Word, or pure spirit-breath hovering over the face of the deep.

Now, is this true? No, not really. It just removes some of the barriers to falsehood.

I was reading some Balthasar again yesterday, and he was essentially emphasizing a point also made by Schuon, to the effect that if you do not first appreciate the infinite chasm between you and God, you cannot possibly appreciate the unity; for the difference is a fact, while the similarities are merely analogical. In other words, there is always an "as if" component to our divine likeness. To deny this is to engage in a monstrous breach of spiritual etiquette, to say the least. After all, even to say "I and the Father are One," is to equally say "One is I and the Father." Or, you could say that "three's company and One's a crowd."

Here again, the metaphysical implication of this would be a kind of irreducible dualism, as argued by Bolton in Self and Spirit: "Arguably the duality of soul and God could be an ultimate reality.... There are in fact profound reasons for the duality of God in relation to the soul, which are only ignored because of prevailing habits of thought."

I always chuckle when someone expresses the cliche that we only believe in dualism because of what some philosopher said 400 years ago. It's like arguing that we only believe in, say, the reality of time, because Hegel said it was a mode of the infinite. That's giving way too much credit to intellectuals. But that's what intellectuals do -- i.e., give way too much credit to themselves and each other. For example, as I have argued in the past, liberty had to first be "lived" before it could be discovered and developed as an abstract value. Here you see an important point, that incarnation precedes cogitation.

Bolton agrees that "when we attribute the influence of Dualism to Descartes, we are implicitly attributing to him the power of imposing his peculiar way of thinking on a whole civilization for three centuries.... In reality, this kind of power is so rare that it is usually considered an attribute of the founders of religions, not of philosophers."

Rather, Descartes simply identified "a certain element in the way in which human minds have always worked, and create[d] a system around it." After all, consciousness and matter are so profoundly different, that no one has to press the point. The trick is in trying to understand how they relate.

This reminds me of something Richard Weaver wrote, to the effect that the denial of religion always conceals a denial of mind. Here again, Bolton agrees that "the denial of Dualism means in practice a denial of consciousness itself, and the modern philosophers who argue for this are arguing for something which not only most people do not believe, but which they themselves do not believe except, perhaps, in the lecture room."

In reality, as it pertains to the manner in which we actually live, consciousness is quite literally everything, for "it is the container and basis of phenomena as such." No "theory of everything" will ever account for the person who understands it, why he wants to tell others about it, or how it is even possible to cause "understanding" in another subject -- whatever that is. The moment you understand the theory, you've breached the unity.

If we are going to ditch dualism, then we had better come up with a more adequate substitute, not merely a philosophy that unexplains everything dualism explained. After all, we only know that there are objects of consciousness because there are objects and consciousness. Therefore, any denial of dualism necessarily begins in dualism, or else there is no knower and no possibility knowledge, "as if the Cheshire cat's grin really could remain when the cat was gone" (Bolton).

Still, there is a way out of this duality coonundrum. In my view, there are certain irreducible dualities in the cosmos. Furthermore, I have always suspected that they are all somehow related, or perhaps reflections of some primordial meta-duality. I am thinking of the One and many, time and eternity, absolute and infinite, male and female, wave and particle, part and whole, form and substance, individual and group, subject and object, conscious and unconscious, and a few others.

Some might suggest that the brain is therefore a kind of "duality generator," but Bolton argues that the brain evolved long before we had anything to say about it, "under cosmic conditions which had the power to determine the form of the brain in accordance with their own nature." In short, the objective structure of the brain reveals something objectively true about the subjective nature of reality -- or about the inner nature of the ultimate Subject.

To be continued....

22 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

"...incarnation precedes cogitation..."

It is, therefore we think about it. And attempt to consume, digest and metabolize it.

Mmmm.... Fresh New Year's Daily Bread!

1/01/2009 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Yes, totally OT, but this has gotta be a joke?

1/01/2009 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>I have always suspected that they are all somehow related, or perhaps reflections of some primordial meta-duality. I am thinking of the One and many, time and eternity, absolute and infinite, male and female, wave and particle, part and whole, form and substance, individual and group, subject and object, conscious and unconscious . . . <<

Positive/negative, matter/anti-matter, Beatles/Stones, beer/wine, dogs/cats . . . . even within the divine fusion of the holy androgyne - the ultimate promise land - duality still exists. I think that the Primordial Sea of Potentiality must have included everything and its opposite - how could it not? Existence, Creation is due to the actualization of polarities.

1/01/2009 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

This reminds me of something Richard Weaver wrote, to the effect that the denial of religion always conceals a denial of mind.

There are many new and excellent minds on the Right, that are actively "atheist."

Be they Allahpundit or Hitchens, I find that their opinion is limned by their own disinterest in absolutes or consciousness. How can one trust any opinion of import when the mind has been actively closed to real Truth?

****

Meanwhile... Happy New Year, Bob, Mrs. G, and Future Leader! Thank you so much for sharing the Light in this little corner of the 'sphere.

1/01/2009 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

For example, as I have argued in the past, liberty had to first be "lived" before it could be discovered and developed as an abstract value. Here you see an important point, that incarnation precedes cogitation.

Liberty incarnate! So basically, God (Jesus) lived liberty before we were aware of it.
I don't believe this can be said enough: Liberty is the entire point of Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism.
(I can't really speak for Buddism n' Zen and all the variations thereof. Perhaps Walt or someone more qualified can chime in on that).

I mean, without liberty there is no growth, no transcendence,
NO SLACK!

Of course, I'm speaking about liberty of the soul n' mind, primarily. Even if our bodies are slaves we can still be free but it's more difficult to live liberty when we aren't free.

There's millions of slaves walkin' around America today. Not physically, but mentally and spiritually.
I gno, 'cause I was one.

Anyway, that's what grace is for, right?
Okay, I'm ramblin'. I thought I had a coherent idea here but it slipped away into the night.

If any of y'all see it I would appreciate it's return. Thanks! :^)

1/01/2009 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ximeze - new meaning to a close shave.

1/01/2009 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

A good start for the year.

Descartes duality wasn't so much revolutionary in its identification of a duality, yin-yang and so forth had identified that long before, it was the implication that his duality was ALL there was, with the added sweetener that since one aspect of his duality was responsible for the other (I think therefore I am), and could even be tweaked into saying that it controlled the other, it was in fact a stealth single-Ity, believing in Descartes' duality means that you can deny reality while pronouncing how you think it should be accepted and dealt with, since after all, you thought it, therefore it must be - and with the refinement of determinism you don't even exist, it's just the atoms ricocheting around, no you, no guilt, no problem dictating what's what, not like you had anything so crude as an "I" motivating it, its just pure reason.

And no, they don't really believe it, except in their classrooms and idiotorial pages, even Hume said all his ramblings weren't worth squat outside the classroom, but it gives them intellectual permission to indulge their whims, which is the cash value of the denial of causality. With that accepted, then the blackheart and soul of leftism begins to beat to strains of 'democratic' egalitarianism they get to demand equal goodies from unequal efforts, equal benefits from unequal performance - everyone deserves what they demand, so just spread the wealth around, no reason not to after all.

Ben... I found this idea next to my keybOard, The other thing denial of consciousness accomplishes, is the elimination of squeamishness over enslaving the soul - if it ain't there to start with, there's certainly no need to point out that your policies have got it under your thumb, is that the one you were looking for?

1/01/2009 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgive my confusion:

"After all, we only know that there are objects of consciousness because there are objects and consciousness."

Could you elucidate what you mean by "objects of consciousness?"

Is that meaning that we perceive objects because of consciousness or there is matter that has consciousness?

1/01/2009 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes.

1/01/2009 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it necessarily skews it any, but that one point was heading somewhere significant for me and I wanted a clarification.

1/01/2009 07:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, hehe, I understand that it may not make a difference, but I was heading two completely different directions philosophically based on one or the other.

1/01/2009 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess they're both good to feed on tomorrow, I'll be dreaming of consciousness.

1/01/2009 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Van! That'll...um...work, yeah! That's the ticket! Hey, it sounds good to me. Did the idea have grog stains on it?

1/01/2009 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ximeze-
I only see a drawn razor spinning around next to "0% loaded" (obviously, it was no where near Skully recently).

I'm assumin' you saw more than I did. Lessee, FIFA, a cartoon razor and shave everywhere...must be a European soccer thing, I'm guessin'.

1/01/2009 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

BTW, coongratulations to Julies Arizona Cardinals for winnin' the NFC West! If the Seahawks couldn't do it (and they couldn't), I'd rather see the Cards take it. :^)

Besides, it's good to see the "old man" Kurt Warner doin' well.

1/01/2009 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ben said "...must be a European soccer thing, I'm guessin'"

(Psst! Ben! Duck!)

1/01/2009 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ben - Saturday, keep an eye out for me inthe stands. I'll be the one in the Cardinals jersey ;)

I don't expect we'll win, but it'll be fun to see a playoff game live.

1/01/2009 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not put DesCarte before the horse, eh?

Quito

1/01/2009 11:58:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Ben,
The unspeakable #%&*ing unDudes of FIFA, only addressed in this house (in English) as The Fecals, are spinning cartoon drawings. Nice call on that one.

Old salt that you are, I'll spare your blushed as to 'how' they're addressed in non-English. Let's just say I feel the need to cover Beaky's delicate ears, tho Skully would prolly think it hilarious.

Perhaps you're coonflating my studmuffin preoccupations: Tunabods do shave all over to stay slippery when wet; Soccermeat, tho face cleanshaven, tends toward the very hairy indeed.

sigh...

Try 'philips bodygroom uk' on Youtube if that will load & you believe you can stomach unStudmuffin on parade.

**************
Van & Ben: that's 1, for those of us who have begun counting. Keep it up guys. 18 months or so till next World Cup is plenty of time to dream up proper retaliatory measures to stick it to you in spades. You've been warned.

1/02/2009 01:11:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Hmm, is not, to some extent, the problem of duality/unity resolved in trinity? That is, things which are on one hand truly distinct but on the other truly one? Thus it becomes in what way they are distinct and not so much, whether they are or not. For if God, who is one, also has a distinction within him, that of three actual persons, what can be said then to have no distinctions at all? But then, if in the person of the word we have a single person who impossibly combines those things which are most truly distinct, that is, the created and the uncreated, what can then be said to be not in some way joined?

It would seem to free us from arguing whether or not duality or unity exists or is the primary thing, to figuring out what is distinct and what is common.

1/02/2009 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Well said, River. It bumps up the duality discussion another plane higher. Always a good direction to move.

1/02/2009 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I'm not disagreeing with River.

Descartes' dualism usually leads off into one of two false trails, what Ayn Rand termed 'mystics of spirit' or 'mystics of muscle'... a Deepak or a Dawkins.

Think of an arrangement of dots, a single dot just sits there, two dots leads off in one direction or the other, endlessly going nowhere. With a Trinity, the three dots establish a pattern for the traveller and a way hOme.

1/02/2009 09:38:00 AM  

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