The Being Without Whom You Are Not Real
Bob replied that "It seems that the granite block doesn’t really have being -- or real being -- in the absence of the subject for whom it is real, otherwise it’s just a pattern of atomic activity with no necessary boundaries between it and everything else. Which leads to the question: who/what/where is the being without which I am not real?"
My point was that a material object only really exists for a subject, existence being synonymous with "definition," or "boundaries." In other words, something cannot exist unless it is in some way separate and distinct from everything else. But only a subject can define, bound, and delineate. Again, until there is a subject, there is only a vast sea of quantum energy.
For example, try to imagine what the cosmos "looked like" prior to a living being seeing it. Obviously, it didn't look like anything. It's a purely meaningless exercise, because sight is a property of eyes and brains. Not only that, but everything depends upon perspective, and there were no perspectives prior to the emergence of life. There was only "everything at once" from "all possible perspectives," which is indistinct from nothing at all from no perspective (again since existence requires definition and boundaries).
But today we have a radically different sort of cosmos than we had 4 billion years ago, prior to the appearance of life. Now, instead of no subjects and no perspectives, we have billions upon billions of them -- every human, every animal, every insect -- each one is a window on existence with a different view. As Balthasar notes, it may be possible to know what another person knows, but it seems fundamentally impossible to know as he knows it, that is, "with the same subjectivity and by illumination of the same light."
To cite one mundane example, patients seemingly never remember what you think they will, but almost always pick up on some small point that you didn't consider important. Actually, the same thing happens with the blogging. Different people focus on entirely different points, often to the exclusion of what I considered the important one. Truly, it is a wonder that human beings can share so much truth and have so much common reality.
But what is the source of this commonality? It cannot be situated in the lower -- in multiplicity and outwardness. Rather, unity, if it is to be unity at all, must be inward and upward, toward a shared third, which is shared in intimacy -- similar to the way mother and father are brought closer together by the incredible intimacy they share with the baby, the generative "familial third" who reveals the purpose of their union. (And it doesn't have to be a baby, but the couple must surely share a common third which they mutually love, or else the relationship descends into narcissism and other problems.)
As Balthasar emphasizes -- and this is a subtle point -- "subjectivity is intimacy." He is the only other theologian -- and the only professional theologian, since I am strictly amochair -- of whom I am aware who locates the source of this intimacy in the mother-infant bond, a bond which ushers us not only into the world of the Other and therefore ourself, but into the intersubjective space that recreates the intimate and loving triune nature of God. Please note that one only becomes subjectively real in the context of an "intimate and loving containment." This is recreated later in life, in that to "fall in love" is to again become real, or to manifest the most intimately real part of ourselves.
Of note, serious disturbances in the mother-infant bond often result in a nagging feeling that one is "not real" (because one was never adequately contained), the result being that the person attempts to "create himself" with the construction of a false self, or "as if" personality. This is much more common than you may realize. I think many of these people become actors, because it is so easy for them to be someone else. The rest become politicians.
If Balthasar doesn't directly say it, then I will: we are only irreducibly intersubjective because God is. And if we weren't intersubjective, nothing would be real, including us. For in the end -- and beginning, actually -- it is our intersubjectivity with God, or O, which allows us to participate in the Real. Which is also the eternal, but that's another story.
Here again, one of the main reasons why I despise the ideas that animate the left is that they have no idea how precious this intersubjective commonality is, what with their obnoxious doctrines of multiculturalism and moral relativism. For surely these represent a flight from truth, away from the principles that unite us at a higher level. It is actually a descent in the direction of our animal nature, in that each animal species exists in its own sealed-off world separate from the others. You and I can never even imagine what it is like to be a dog, a lizard, or a fruitfly, any more than we can imagine what the cosmos was like before the human subject.
The multiculturalist says that "all perspectives are equally valid" (and even precious), which is a huge contradiction right out the gate, because obviously the perspective that all perspectives are valid must be higher than the perspective that says they're not! And it also means that we must respect those cultures not worthy of respect, such as the Muslim world, which is 180 degrees removed from this kind of multiculturalism.
This fuels the well-known arrogance and sanctimony at the heart of the leftist, which allows them to elevate themselves above you, even while pretending to be so egalitarian and tolerant. They actually demolish the subject by making him merely an extension of the culture. They also do violence to the mystery and intimacy of being, by identifying the subject with what is most outward, i.e., race, class, gender, etc. To turn a person into a race or class is to deny his personhood.
Again, what is the real source of human unity? How does our intrinsic finiteness ever translate to what is universally true and good? How do we bridge the infinite gap between separate subjects? America's founding avatars believed they had hit upin the solution: all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Why is this so important? Because it answers the question Bob posed at the outset of this post: who/what/where is the being without which I am not real?
In other words, I am no more ontologically real than the arbitrary granite block or secular blockhead if I am not real in the light of a higher Subject who transcends, binds, and defines me.
Put it this way: either you have a reason for being here, or you do not have a reason for being here. If you do have a reason, then it cannot be located in you. In fact, even the materialist must allow this realization through the back door. For example, for the metaphysical Darwinist, your reason for being is not within yourself, but in your offspring. Your reason is to perpetuate your genes; according to Richard Dawkins, your reason is your genes.
But what is the reason for genes, especially since they do not exist in the absence of a human subject who can define them? Simple: on the Raccoon view, the reason for genes is evolution, and the reason for evolution is God, who is both its origin and end, its alpha and omega. In short, the purpose of evolution is cosmotheosis, which is a doctrine that was held by many in the early church. That is, the shocking hominization of God is at the same time the otherwise impossible divinization of man, which is in turn the sanctification and salvation of the very cosmos.
Which, if you think about it, is the opposite of the way things stood prior to the emergence of man. As I attempted to make plain in my book, what we call history is really a kind of existentially naked streak from the trees of Africa to the aBrahmanic tree of life, whose roots are aloft and branches down below. What did I say? Here it is:
"I believe that history is a chronicle of our evolutionary sprint from biology to Spirit, in which we first climb down from the trees of east Africa and then up the metaphorical Upanishadic tree.... Thus, we start our evolutionary journey 'out on a limb' and soon find ourselves 'grounded,' but eventually find a 'radical' solution to our troubling situation, arriving at the 'root' of the cosmos ('radical,' of course, comes from the latin word for 'root')."
As such, not only has the left stolen the beautiful word "liberal," but they have also misappropriated the word "radical," for there is still nothing as radical as Christianity. If you really want to see radical change, just imagine if everyone, say, in Oakland, California, had the same values as everyone in Provo, Utah. Or imagine if the so-called Palestinians had Jewish values. Or if the Chinese had American values. If that were the case, this would be as close to paradise as we can get in this vale of tears.
But would that stop the left from their perpoutual bitter complaining? Of course not. For the fact remains, this will never be paradise, but they won't rest until it is. Even if it means recreating hell over and over. Never, ever imagine that the left does not believe in God or heaven. They just displace them to Man and earth. Which is why the left is so unreal.
I think I'm done.
Coondog update -- that's her on the bottom: