Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If it Looks and Talks Like a Cosmos, it Probably is One

I'm afraid this post is barely a peek at the wild godhead. Partly due to the recent time theft, I woke up later and simply didn't have sufficient time for the timelessness necessary to bring back a big catch from O. In the coming days, as we return to Balthasar's brilliant Theo-Logic, we're going to be exploring some extremely deep, dense, and subtle ideas, and if I don't get an early start, eternity will elude me. So this is fairly brief.

Balhasar begins with an initial description of truth as "the unveiledness, uncoveredness, disclosedness, and unconcealment of being." Which in turn implies two corollaries: "that being appears; and second, that being appears."

In other words, the essence of being necessarily appears as appearance. Essence and appearance can be distinguished, but never separated. So what looks like a duality is really a singularity in the form of an objective complementarity: essence <---> appearance (which roughly mirrors sensation <---> intellect on the subjective human plane).

Importantly, this is not analogous to Kant's idea of the one-way noumena --> phenomena, because in that case, the noumena (which, as Schopenhauer pointed out, should really be the singular noumenon) is forever unknowable, while the phenomena show us only what amounts to an illusion, based upon our innate ways of knowing it.

In other words, we can never know the Real, only the forms of our own sensibility. In short, we are forever trapped in the world of appearances. This is essentially where modern science -- or, to be precise, scientism -- leads, but never in an honest and consistent way. It habitually speaks of a "reality" that it cannot know or even coherently think about. What Raccoon emeritus Alfred North "you can call me Al" Whitehead said some eighty years ago still holds true today:

Hmm. Can't find the quote I'm looking for, but this will do: with the dominance of scientistic materialism, "Clear-sighted men, of the sort who are so clearly wrong, now proclaimed that the secrets of the physical universe were finally disclosed. If only you ignored everything which refused to come into line, your powers of explanation were unlimited." Ho! Take that, Queeg!

Whitehead's point was that the advance of science had lead to the curious situation of "explaining" a world that is not only unfit for humans, but can never explain the most striking aspects of it -- not the least of which being our ability to explain it!

In other words, as explained on pp. 43-44 of the Coonifesto -- albeit very briefly -- science does not actually explain any of the things that most interest us, but relegates them to an ephemeral realm of "secondary qualities" that are not considered ontologically real.

For reasons that are just too bobvious to get into, this is an intrinsically self-refuting position. Suffice it to say that unexplaining the explainer pretty much ends your hope of explaining anything. For as Whitehead explains, "A self-satisfied rationalism is in effect a form of anti-rationalism. It means an arbitrary halt at a particular set of abstractions. This was the case with science," which necessarily severs things from values -- and which in turn engenders truly permanent and therefore hopeless confusion.

Also, as I have pointed out in the past, only a theist can actually believe in evolution, which is an absolutely necessary consequence of a created cosmos that is deployed in time (which it must be, if it is to be separate from God). On any materialistic basis, evolution is strictly impossible. Whitehead:

"A thoroughgoing evolutionary philosophy is inconsistent with materialism. The aboriginal stuff, or material, from which a materialistic philosophy starts, is incapable of evolution. The material itself is the ultimate substance.

"Evolution, on the materialistic theory, is reduced to the role of being another word for the description of the changes of the external relations between portions of matter. There is nothing to evolve, because one set of external relations is as good as any other set of external relations. There can merely be change, purposeless and unprogressive" (emphasis mine).

As I have said before, to say "progress" is to say God, for progress has no meaning except in the light of an unchanging standard. Which is why -- verily -- the political progressive should be called an ontologically spineless changeling, or tottery tower of teetering tapioca.

To put it another way, only the classical liberal can be a progressive, for his metaphysic understands time as the very field of evolution toward the nonlocal telos in whose light the whole existentialada may be measured and therefore understood. And as we shall see later, truth is the measure of being.

In fact, here is another relevant observation by Whitehead that comes close to summarizing the nature of our own religious coonception:

"Religion is the vision of something which stands beyond, behind, and within, the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and yet, waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest."

Of course, I would disagree with the "hopeless" part, unless he means the proper abandonment of horizontal for vertical hope. Again, progressives, who have no right to any kind of hope, are the ones who immamentize the eschaton and try to force their utopian tyrannies -- i.e., their unhappitat for subhumanity -- on the rest of us. Raccoons just want to be left alone by the progressives, who will never be content until every last person is wide asleep to the transcendent, and therefore human, reality. Everything else is just commentary.

For as Pope Benedict observed, "the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia."

He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture,
Spinning in infinity,
He says, Amen! and Hallelujah!
--Paul Simon, You Can Call Me Al

26 Comments:

Blogger The Slackosopher said...

GB-

Again, thank you for my daily dose of Hope!

Okay, you have convinced me that I really can't put off understanding Whitehead better.

Would you be able to recommend a place to begin for a beginner?

Thank you.

3/10/2009 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Whitehead is very difficult, but the obvious place to begin would probably be Modes of Thought followed by Science and the Modern World.

3/10/2009 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger The Slackosopher said...

Many thanks...I am on it!

3/10/2009 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

(Completely off-topic, but I thought Leslie might appreciate this series, along with anyone else who cares about our military)

3/10/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"I woke up later and simply didn't have sufficient time for the timelessness necessary to bring back a big catch from O"

Oh those magic words! 'No time, this is gonna be brief', Always means, this is gonna be goOod!'.

3/10/2009 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"For as Whitehead explains, "A self-satisfied rationalism is in effect a form of anti-rationalism. It means an arbitrary halt at a particular set of abstractions. This was the case with science," which necessarily severs things from values -- and which in turn engenders truly permanent and therefore hopeless confusion."

Bingo. Starting with Descartes putting 'Doubt' as a primary (which amounts to a demand that reality meet your approval first, before you will (if you will) acknowledge it), then Hume's discarding of causality and the assertion of an IS implies no Ought (which apart from the obvious relativism, it allows that by denying that one thing must lead to another thing, it enables you to say that whatever you'd prefer led to something else, could have just as much validity as anything else), and then Kant's you can't ever really know anything; that had to result in leftism, and the assertion that any thing can have as much value, as any other thing - which is just putting a happy face on nihilism.

The metaphysical root of leftism is the desire to remake reality in their own image - darkness.

Speaking of which, I don't like it being in the 1:00 hour now, it should be back in the 12:00 hour still. Actually, given the fact that I'm just now beginning to feel that the pajama's should be exchanged for pants, I'd prefer that the current time be more 9:00-ish... maybe we can get a stimulus bill for Time passed too? Maybe a 'Slack-light savings time' bill... maybe I could get a grant for it... after all, why not?

3/10/2009 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, Bob, given the time limitations.

A nod to the material world: as you have seen, well rested neurons are required for success in any endeavor, including metaphysical musing.

That quivering gray matter stuff? Yes, essential. Yes, it evolved in a Darwinian fashion. But, even so, we know from your wrtings it isn't the be or end all.

Let's move on to attitude. You wrote:

"Raccoons just want to be left alone by the progressives,"

However much truth there is to this, it remains a defeatist attitude that should be changed.

Raccoons should definitely seek out contact with progressives, in order to influence them.

The job of the raccoon is to influence, make no mistake. And the influence is not needed so much by other raccoons as it is to the more deluded world at large.

So, don't hide under a bushel basket, a foxhole, a living room, or wherever you may hunker down.

Get out there and do your duty. Don't make me say it again.

Sargent Slackhopper

3/10/2009 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"unhappitat for subhumanity"

Snork.

"Raccoons just want to be left alone by the progressives, who will never be content until every last person is wide asleep to the transcendent, and therefore human, reality. Everything else is just commentary. "

... written on the Cave wall.

"For as Pope Benedict observed, "the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia.""

Yep, Severing things from values, quantities from qualities, is the process of amputating the Human from humanity.

3/10/2009 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(hmmm... think I must have bumped a ctrl-z in that second comment... eh, s'all good)

3/10/2009 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Yup Van, those variants of insufficient timelessness necessary are actually code words for oh goodie! Now pay attention.

******************
Not sure whether Iowahawk's 2nd round of fun with ObamaCons has made it to the den yet, so here it is:
I Daresay It Is Time We Deal With the Mutineers Aboard the S.S. Conservatism

3/10/2009 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Sarge, again, feel free to put on your 'coon mask, grab your coonifesto and go knocking door to door asking the residents "Have you heard the word of the raccoon today?"

We'll pop a cool one in your memory on the next transdimensional raccoon day.

For the rest of us, being raccoons already, we don't need to pretend to be.

3/10/2009 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

We do not Ovangelize, we attract.

Bylaw 7, subsection c.

3/10/2009 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

'Coon and see'? Heh. I think that's the one.

3/10/2009 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

science's last words:
"please allow me to explain"
rollover minutes

wv: Aye, maties!

3/10/2009 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

...Jake Rademacher’s intimate documentary about his need to bridge the growing distance between himself and his two younger brothers serving in Iraq is a beautiful and moving piece of work which transcends agenda to tell the story of three brothers at war, not in Iraq, but with the gap their different life choices created between them.

Brothers at War comes out this weekend (limited release - wider later this month)
Big Hollywood has a couple of posts on it
here and here

Producer Gary Sinise has been giving interviews about the film here and here

3/10/2009 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raccoons:

The enemy is darkness in deluded human minds, including our own.

We don't shrink from the darkness, but we seek it out.

It will run from us, not vice versa.

Petey says to attract, not to force, and that is a good way to operate. It is an effective covert technique.

The point the sarge was trying to make is to meet the enemy, do not run from her.

Slack any way you like but not that way.

3/10/2009 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I went out to play today, and got a portrait of Saturday:

Sonlight kisses core
radiance flows through the (w)hole
cosmos in a stem

***

Anony,
The point the sarge was trying to make is to meet the enemy, do not run from her.

*snork*
keep on plugging; each time you do, you simply reveal how little you comprehend about the Bro'hood.

3/10/2009 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anonymouse said "The point the sarge was trying to make is to meet the enemy, do not run from her"

If you are the same lame exhorter who's been pushing this line the last couple of years, you know that I for one have said over and again, the need to let no comment go unanswered, as I did in the comments earlier this week , where I suggested "Don't miss a chance to speak out, it doesn't need to be a speech or a harangue, a simple rebut, an "I don't agree", or if you've got the nack, use humor on the leftists (and mindless's) 'hope and change' spouting's - humor turned upon them is like holy water on a vampire.", but you are not suggesting that people live right, name either the fool or the evil for what they are and stand your ground or battle them as needed, you are suggesting we artificially attempt to force others to 'believe' and behave as we would tell them was 'sensible' to, which shows you have little or no understanding of what 'sensible' is or what it requires.

A Raccoon has nothing in common with rousseauian's who would 'force them to be free'.

Your line is tiresome, get a grip. Or at least a cup of coffee. Wake yourself up before complaining about others snoring.

3/10/2009 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Aquila said...

Anonymous Sarge,

To paraphrase the Hells Angels: "We don't recruit Raccoons -- we recognize them!"

3/10/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Also, we never recommend the Way of the 'Coon. We only offer it.

3/10/2009 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Frank!
:D

Also, wv says color. And a minute ago, it was asking for dimes. It's getting entirely too lucid...

3/10/2009 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos of nothing, but for grins and giggles you can grade Obama at MSNBC.

3/10/2009 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Interestingly, a brilliant mind like Alfred North Whitehead can both speak truth and inspire heresy. As far as I know he was not a professing Christian.

One of my "heroes", Francis Schaeffer, referenced Whitehead:

"Recall that, as Alfred North Whitehead said, Christianity produced modern science because it gave a context in which the early scientists such as Galileo, Copernicus, and Francis Bacon believed that the world could be understood by reason - it had been created by a reasonable God. Therefore, they were not surprised that man by his reason could find out the order of the universe. Modern man no longer has this assumption. I am convinced that science as we have known it with a commitment to objectivity can not continue now that this philosphy is gone." (The Church at the End of the 20th Century)

At the same time, the brilliance of Whitehead has inspired Christian heresy such as "process theology", in which God is evolving with His creation. See this absurdity for instance. What Tim said.

wv: eucked (pretty much)

3/10/2009 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, you might say that Whitehead, although in the Christian tradition, tried to come up with a natural theology that ended up contradicting Christianity. But I think that was more a result of people that came later. As far as I know, he himself did not coin the term "process theology." In a way, he's similar to Polanyi, in that he was apparently not an orhtodox believer, although many Christians find some of his ideas quite useful. As your quote points out, he was also one of the first to understand the deep connection between Christianity and science, which was considered shocking at the time.

3/11/2009 06:12:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I think God's body - that is the Church, evolves insofar as its members do. Therefore there is a paradox introduced by the incarnation itself, where the impassible God becomes passable. God does not grow, but yet in Jesus, he does as a man. Not that God himself changes, but that this change is united to God through a man, through the person of the Word. (This is why the distinction - persons - who are united and actually one - is required.)

I don't know enough about Whitehead, but I would assume that a rationalist 'believer' got a hold of his ideas and mistakenly tried to use them to rationalize God.

It is as classic as the modalist heresy: When we talk about how we experience God, we are not talking about how God actually IS.

How and why this is lost on so many ... I cannot explain.

3/11/2009 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Whitehead talks about a "consequent" nature of God, which I have thought about many times myself, for can there not be some part of God that does "suffer" change? In a certain sense it seems unavoidable, so long as he participates in time.

3/11/2009 06:26:00 AM  

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