Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Evolution and the Divinization of Man

Okay, so now I'm completely sidetracked. While I'm still blogging about volume one, I'm now up into volume three of The Glory of the Lord, which has a chapter on the 19th century Russian philosopher, theologian, prophet, mystic, and all-around holy man, Vladimir Soloviev.

I'd come across the name before, but never followed up. Now I'm so preoccupied, that it's difficult to pick up the thread from where we left off yesterday. Might as well get it out of my system. Or, as John Lee Hooker said, let that boy boogie woogie, 'cause it's in him and it got to come out!

This all happened at around bedtime last night, so I ended up staying up late on a wild nous chase. Here's what initially caught my attention:

"Soloviev's skill in the technique of integrating all partial truths in one vision makes him perhaps second only to Thomas Aquinas as the greatest artist of order and organization in the history of thought."

As the note to myself in margin puts it, (?!).

Balthasar goes on to say that "There is no system that fails to furnish him with substantial building material, once he has stripped and emptied it of the poison of its negative aspects" -- including Darwin and evolutionism. Which naturally made me think of Aurobindo, who was floating in just as Soloviev was floating out (Soloviev died in 1900; Aurobindo began his outpouring in about 1912 or so).

So then I'm thinking to mysoph, "maybe this guy already accomplished the Aurobindonization of Christianity (so to speak), so my work here is finished, except that no one knows about him." Hmm.

Balthasar goes on to claim that Soloviev's is "the most universal intellectual construction of modern times," and is "beyond question the most profound vindication and the most comprehensive philosophical statement of Christian totality in modern times." He brings the "whole ethical and theoretical scheme to perfection in a universal theological aesthetic."

Furthermore, "Soloviev's thinking has an urgency attained by no one since Hegel, and it operates on the same level as Hegel's," that is, in the highest reaches of Absolute Spirit. (Of course, many people have compared Hegel and Aurobindo in that regard, at least in broad outline.)

So, who wouldn't be curious? I read a little further, and discovered that Soloviev honed in on the ideas of process (anticipating Whitehead) and evolution (anticipating Teilhard), which provide a master key -- both macro- and microcosmically -- in the sense outlined in my book, i.e, Cosmotheosis:

"By this means, the total meaning of the world's evolution is clearly established for the future: the development of humanity and the totality of the world into the cosmic body of Christ, the realization of the eschatological relation of mutuality between the incarnate Word and Sophia" (Balthasar), in a profound marriage of cosmic coonvenience.

Or, put it this way (and this has an obvious Aurobindean flavor, in terms of the divine descent and the divinization of Man): "The theme and content of Soloviev's aesthetic is nothing less than this: the progressive eschatological embodiment of the Divine Idea in worldly reality."

On the one hand, "the Divine Spirit is indeed in and for itself the highest reality, while the material being of the world is in itself no more than indeterminacy, an eternal pressure toward and yearning after the form" (↑).

In turn, "the impress of the limitless fulness and determinacy of God [acts] upon the abyss of cosmic potentiality" (↓). The human state is the conscious meeting place of this metacosmic (↑) and (↓), but only because O took on human form and now dwells in human nature.

So we live in a kind of spiritual whirlpool or dynamic process-structure created by the vertical energies of (↑↓), which in turn have a "purifying" effect, somewhat like the rinse cycle in your washing machine, which baptizes the garments in clean water and spins out the entropic impurities.

Soloviev refers to the "conquest" of the nondivine, through which God can "manifest his plenitude and totality and cause it to prevail even in what is opposed to it -- in what is finite, separated, egotistically divided, evil." In other words, the (↑↓) process automatically lifts us out of the closed system of our finite state, while simultaneously "cleansing" us of various personal and cultural parasites.

On the other hand, materialism is like trying to wash clothes in the drier. In that case, the impurities are simply baked in.

Soloviev also makes room for the divinization (as opposed to obliteration) of the individual personality, which, of course, is of great interest to a Raccoon, especially me.

Specifically, Soloviev's thought integrates "all partial points of view and forms of actualization into an organic totality that annuls and uplifts all things in a manner that preserves that which is transcended," i.e., you. What is specifically preserved -- and this is a very Coonish sentiment -- is

"the eternal, ideal kernel of every person in so far as it has been integrated into the entirety of the cosmic body of God.... There is no ultimate absorption of all things into an absolute spiritual subject."

Again, evolution; it is not as if the Kingdom of God crashes down into history once and for all. Rather, the Kingdom "must necessarily grow into maturity just as much from within," like any other organismic entity.

True, Christ is dropped down into history at a certain point, but it is not as if the human soil didn't have to be prepared for thousands of years, nor does it mean that we don't have to nurture and gradually assimilate this divine explosion as it ramifies through history. Again, timelessness takes time.

As Soloviev explains, this ultimate divine descent becomes a kind of fixed foundation planted within the middle of change, as opposed to being the principle of change. What is therefore sought "is a humanity to answer to this Divinity," that is, "a humanity capable of uniting itself" with this object. Evolution no longer implies an absurd, open-ended nihilism with no ground or goal, but the very basis of hominization and its fulfillment in Homo noeticus.

This then becomes "the active principle of history, the principle of motion and progress," as man evolves toward what he already is in essence, thanks to the grand-me-down of the Son, or our adopted brother. "The outcome must be man divinized, that is, the humanity that has taken the Divine into itself." And vice versa, so that the world becomes "the vessel and the vehicle of absolute being."

What, you have something more important to do?

31 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

...a "purifying" effect, somewhat like the rinse cycle in your washing machine, which baptizes the garments in clean water and spins out the impurities.

Okay! Then that daily spinning sensation in my mind must be a good thing, yes?

And, if I understood what you wrote, the task we face:
"the eternal, ideal kernel of every person in so far as it has been integrated into the entirety of the cosmic body of God...."

Okay, then.

So, uh ... the specific instructions will be in a later post? (I.e. No - your work is not done!)

2/03/2009 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Soloviev refers to the "conquest" of the nondivine, through which God can "manifest his plenitude and totality and cause it to prevail even in what is opposed to it.

In other words, the (↑↓) process automatically lifts us out of the closed system of our finite state, while simultaneously "cleansing" us of various personal and cultural parasites.

There is so much hope packed into those sentences. Helps redefine failure at those times when I pass the point of I cannot do this myself.

2/03/2009 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

from an amazon book description - "The founder of modern Russian philosophy, Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900) is widely considered its greatest practitioner. Together with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, he is one of the towering intellectual figures in late-nineteenth-century Russia, and his diverse writings influenced much of the non-Marxist tradition of twentieth-century Russian thought"

How come we haven't heard about this guy - thanks be to Bob for finding him.

2/03/2009 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Probably the same reason we don't hear much about other non-leftist giants such as Hayek, Polanyi, Voegelin, and others...

2/03/2009 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

The influence was probably a reaction. He sounds kind of very Orthodox...

But if anything the Marxists learned the Christian trick of assimilating everything they could get their hands on. In their case it was always to dismantle it and resurrect it a la Shelly's Frankenstein.

"Graaaahhhh! Classssss Struggggggle!"

There are a lot of great Russian writers from 1700 ~ 1900 that are a blank for us - the only good sources for them are the academy (which is reticent to translate so pungent a conservative and religious a tradition) and the Russians, who were progressive and atheist for the majority of the 20th. The only other source would be ROCOR (Russian Church in America as well) but they're a small group that few are willing to hear...

2/03/2009 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

So we live in a kind of spiritual whirlpool or dynamic process-structure created by the energies of (↑↓), which in turn have a "purifying" effect, somewhat like the rinse cycle in your washing machine, which baptizes the garments in clean water and spins out the impurities.

(Also, the part Robin quoted.)

"There is no system that fails to furnish him with substantial building material, once he has stripped and emptied it of the poison of its negative aspects"

I like this mindset; if we must be in the world, we have to be able to take it as it is, right here and now, and still be able to see the Divine, now matter how wonderful or awful the nowhere happens to be. Which is not to say I manage that, by any stretch, only that I'd like to. Two things I've been trying to remind myself of lately, as much as possible, are Patience and Trust, in the sense that when the spin cycle feels as though it's set on "cyclone," if I respond with Patience and Trust I might be able to maintain a bit of equilibrium, and if I'm really lucky will acquire some of that substantial building material.

wv: menstor
a mentor so mighty and towering, you have to crane your neck and shade your eyes to see him, and you suspect you'll never measure up even to his pinky toe. But even that would be a great accomplishment for a mere mortal.

Sounds about right where Balthasar and Soloviev are :)

2/03/2009 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of your best posts; it embodies your acute sense of comparative philosophy/theology. You are a master of reduction; your organizing view attains to the largest and widest possible scope.

Soloviev deserves closer attention. Apparently he mined the same vein of intuition as Aurobindo and got similar results; further evidence of the probable truth of the writings of both sages.

It is the "cat on the mat" of spirit inquiry.

2/03/2009 12:04:00 PM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

Maybe this link can be helpful regarding Soloviev:

/Johan

2/03/2009 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

"Solovyov provides a facile answer to the perennial question of how a morally perfect God can permit the existence of evil: Its elimination would mean the annihilation of human freedom thereby rendering free goodness (good without freedom is imperfect) impossible. Thus, God permits evil, because its removal would be a greater evil. "

ooooo! Snap!

2/03/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Dear Leader said: True, Christ is dropped down into history at a certain point, but it is not as if the human soil didn't have to be prepared for thousands of years, nor does it mean that we don't have to nurture and gradually assimilate this divine explosion as it ramifies through history. Again, timelessness takes time

Like a mustard seed that is the smallest of all seed -- according to Jesus -- but when planted grows into a tree-like plant in which the birds of the air can nest.

The whole "birds of air" has always intrigued me -- I see that as a sort of grand reconciliation where the Kingdom unifies everything, and everything makes sense.

2/03/2009 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Another important coonection I forgot to highlight is that Balthasar wrote the afterword for Meditation on the Tarot, a book which Pope JP2 apparently read; and both Pope JP2 and then Cardinal Ratzinger were instrumental in bringing more attention to Balthasar and Soloviev, and bringing their ideas into the fold. So although some of these ideas may appear esoteric, they are well on the way to becoming mainstream, so long as we continue to have such enlightened popes.

2/03/2009 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

It seems most of the readers of Soloviev couldn't make heads or tails of his various 'mystical' elements and were trying to dig for justifications for this or that or new ideals. Even the article I read seems like most I've read on say, Plato, or Aristotle - a hit or miss affair. I get the sense that there is greater depth than that article can even begin to comprehend.

2/03/2009 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Another word verification too good to waste -- "snollike" -- like a snail on the grassy knoll.

Since I'm at it, to expand on my other comment, the reference is to Mark 4:30-32. Birds are rather like thoughts -- not earth-bound, not limited to crawling along the ground, but not necessarily anchored in reality. The Kingdom becomes the anchor for man's systems and philosophies. It "grounds" them and gives them a place to nest, and rest.

2/03/2009 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"Dear Leader said: True, Christ is dropped down into history at a certain point, but it is not as if the human soil didn't have to be prepared for thousands of years, nor does it mean that we don't have to nurture and gradually assimilate this divine explosion as it ramifies through history. Again, timelessness takes time

Like a mustard seed that is the smallest of all seed -- according to Jesus -- but when planted grows into a tree-like plant..."

To riff on a riff, can it not be said that the soil in which the seed grows is just as much the final tree as the seed itself? After all, the seed is super-concentrated being, coalesced into a teensy point, but for it to expand at all it must borrow substance from the ground in which it is laid. Which is why soil preparation is so important. The Tree is really earth, air and water transformed (I'll bet there's no small amount of fire in there, as well), substance breathed into Life when a little seed began to take the world in.

2/03/2009 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Of course, on further reflection the fire is the Light of photosynthesis - substance from insubstantiality.

Life is miraculous.

2/03/2009 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

There is no part of you that didn't first pass through your (or your parents') stomach, including your stomach, meaning that.... that the world really is a Klein Bottle, I guess, in that the inside is the outside and the outside is the inside.

2/03/2009 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous LaFayette said...

Can I buy some pot from you?

2/03/2009 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Upon even further reflection, that all just illuminates yet again the importance of growing with roots aloft.

LaFayette, sorry - I only keep enough on hand for personal consumption ;)

Actually, would you believe me if I said I've never smoked pot nor consumed anything stronger than booze and the occasional stogie? I've never even properly hallucinated with surgical-grade pain meds (very disappointing, that was). However, I was told once, on a date with a weird kid whose amorous advances I was trying to fend off, that I talked like I was on acid (all I did was ask if he ever noticed images in the texturing on his wall). So probably it's just all in my head, in which case you're SOL :)

wv says its time for some Bacie.

2/03/2009 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soloviev is a remarkable and remarkably ignored spiritual philosopher, much like Rudolf Steiner who admired him. I highly recommend Soloviev's last book, published under the title War Progress and the End of History. It contains his Three Conversations and the story of the anti-Christ. He predicts in this book an attack on the West by a reawakened Islam. Soloviev's work is brilliant and prophetic.

2/03/2009 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I'm a little further into the chapter now, and I see that the later Soloviev was considerably more sober than the early Soloviev, which is a good thing. He never abandoned the Christ-based evolutionism, but he had a much greater appreciation of the Hostile Forces that oppose the evolution, both individually and collectively. Balthasar feels that this makes him a much deeper thinker than Teilhard, who had a fair amount of new-age fuzziness and happy talk about him.

2/03/2009 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Here's an address by Cardinal Biffi in 2000, describing the life and ideas of Vladimir Soloviev.

2/03/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Mmmm, bologna....

2/03/2009 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

There is no part of you that didn't first pass through your (or your parents') stomach,

No wonder I feel like a cheeseburger.

wv: myolita I work there sometimes- really!

JWM

2/03/2009 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger [...] said...

You wrote:

Soloviev also makes room for the divinization (as opposed to obliteration) of the individual personality, which, of course, is of great interest to a Raccoon, especially me.


You're running the wrong direction, my dear fellow. You want to know, or become, Divine? What might the obstruction be?

2/03/2009 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

At the moment, the only thing I can think of is "you." But it will pass...

2/03/2009 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(With apologies to Bob for self promotion in his comment space, if you'd like to see my Super Bowl photostream, details are here)

2/03/2009 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Bob: Thanks for the late night laugh - badly needed and sorely appreciated.

Despite having Amazon Prime, I'm always grateful to find books here...
Internet Archive version of War, Progress, and the end of History

Also
Internet Archive version of Soloviev: A Russian Newman

2/03/2009 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

wv: unteed...that's me!

2/03/2009 09:28:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Julie said:
"The Tree is really earth, air and water transformed (I'll bet there's no small amount of fire in there, as well), substance breathed into Life when a little seed began to take the world in.

Of course, on further reflection the fire is the Light of photosynthesis - substance from insubstantiality.

Life is miraculous."

Fire is in a tree in latent form also, ie the potential fuel for its own 'destruction' and transformation into some other form, say into smoke, ash and charcoal, thereby returning much of its essence to the earth from which it grew.

2/03/2009 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I like the idea of the "conquest of the nondivine". I see everything since the onset of the Big Bang (at least) as part of a relentless expansion of God into the void of utter nonexistence. First space and time, then matter, then life and mind etc, culminating with the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth (and the cosmos in general), until it is leavened all the way through and God is all in all, every bit of creation glowing with divine beauty, harmony and sheer rightness.

I may be wrong, though. There are only a few passages to this effect in the Bible, while there are chapter after chapter with threats of death and destruction and going on about how angry God is and how good reason He has for it. The conquest of the nondivine must be pretty hard work - if not at the still center of the Godhead then certainly out here at the frontier. (Though I suppose some of us are more frontier than others...)

2/04/2009 01:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Topper of a post & comments.

Personaly, I've always felt that the only purpose for making a sandwich, was to bring out the flavor of the mustard... so I feel especially vindicated this morning.

Thanks for the link Alan... didn't you (or someone else) mention this many moons ago?

wv:tallbi
Look for the adams apple. Just sayin.

2/04/2009 07:14:00 AM  

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