Man: The End of, and Escape from, Evolution
In a subtle passage, Balthasar writes that man "lives himself into God and lives God into himself; in that sense, he becomes a 'part of God.'" This mutual transformation occurs in a kind of bipolar space which God "opens up to man." Within this space, "man's divinization takes place through the love of God" and "God's hominization takes place through the love of man."
I don't know which is more shocking, the (↑) that potentially results in the divinization of man, or the (↓) that makes possible the hominization of God.
But in any event, it is clear that (↑) and (↓) must be necessary reflections of one another, for each implies the other. And since we are not God, we must conclude that (↑) is already a form of (↓); in other words, our aspiration toward God is already God; it is certainly a grace, and grace can no more be separated from God than daylight from the sun.
This would also imply that man-as-such is already Christ -- in potential -- even before the appearance of Jesus in time. If this were not the case, then Jesus could not have become man, nor could the Incarnation have benefitted him.
Thus, if you really want to understand (↑) and (↓) in their fullness, then you have to picture them as interconnected, like a spiraling circle. Then, widen this circle to encompass all of creation, and you have an accurate symbol of the cosmic procession and return, or involution and evolution, or creation and salvation, or Incarnation and Resurrection. And you will begin to intuit how man is the realsymbol of this metacosmic process.
In other words, man could not "return to God" unless it were already possible to do so. The path must be there, even before no one has taken it. Obviously we couldn't make the passage on our own, any more than dead matter could simply "come alive" one fine day, or monkeys could arrive at the theory of relativity.
As Balthasar writes -- and this should be a truism -- man is ontologically incapable of "the fulfillment of its own intelligible structure without at the same time reaching out toward what is other than itself," and "without loving the infinite reality that lies at the root of its own radicality." In other words, "fulfillment of the creature within the world's terms is unthinkable." Man is made for transcendence; not only that, but transcendence in love (which are two sides of the same coin).
I haven't yet gotten too far in The Philosophical Baby, but this is something Gopnik hints at (even though she is a materialist who, like virtually all Darwinians, doesn't understand the implications of her own scientific findings; still, I'm pleased that science is slowly catching up to coonical pslackology and confirming our wildest spookulations about the human baby being the fulcrum of cosmic evolution).
For example, Gopnik writes that "If our nature is determined by our genes, you would think that we would be the same now as we were in the Pleistocene" -- that everyone would think like Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher. But "The great evolutionary advantage of human beings is their ability to escape from the constraints of evolution."
Talk about a non-falsifiable (and therefore unscientific) theory! Violation of the theory is proof of the theory. This verges on leftist logic, e.g., "crime down despite increased rates of incarceration," or "black families destroyed despite welfare," or "medical expenses out of control despite government intervention," or "government revenues down despite tax increases." Leftism too is unfalsifiable, which is one of its great appeals, for it means never having to say you're a sorryass.
Later she discusses infantile bonding and attachment, and notes that "All the processes of change, maturation, and learning depend on love" (emphasis mine). "Parental love isn't just a primitive and primordial instinct, continuous with the nurturing behavior of other animals."
Why yes, precisely! But what is the nature of this ontologically discontinuous thing we call "love?" I'm afraid we won't find it in this book. But that's okay. We can easily assimilate scientific truth into a higher synthesis, whereas the reverse is impossible.
Back to reality. Now, hominization is already divinization -- which is precisely what it means to say that man is deiform, or "in the image of the Creator" -- not just his mind, mind you -- which is obvious -- but his body as well.
This latter point is something that was emphasized by Schuon, that is, the "traces of divinity" that illuminate the human form. This is a key idea, as it can help to rescue one from the kind of dead-end Darwinism or philosophical cul-de-slack that constrains Gopnik. That is, some things come from "below." Other things come from "above." There are terrestrial and celestial energies, and if you cannot distinguish between them, then you are what we call "lost in the vertical." In Gopnik's case, she realizes that love is discontinuous with natural selection. But she has no paradigm to account for it, so it just hangs there suspended, like something hanging there suspended.
The human being doesn't just transcend the animal mentally and spiritually, but physically. I was thinking about this the other day. Think of a man raised in the wild by other animals. He has never shaved, had a haircut, or worn clothing. He scrambles about on all fours; there is no "light" in his eyes, which simply dart about the landscape looking for food or predators. This would not be a man, but something less than a man, a failure to embody the human archetype. Note that from a Darwinian perspective, he would still be 100% human.
But a Darwinian has no way of knowing that man is "the summit of earthly creatures, but also -- and for that very reason -- the exit from their condition" (Schuon). Is that clear? This goes directly to what Gopnik said above about man "escaping the constraints of evolution." You might say that the "escape from evolution" is the fulfillment of evolution, since we have now entered a realm that quite obviously transcends matter.
But as I tried to make clear in my book, this transcendent realm is not formless, any more than the material realm is formless. Rather, it is filled with archetypes that are ontologically (that is, vertically) anterior to our entrance into it. But we cannot expect a committed Darwinian to know anything about this space, any more than we should expect him to know anything about the quantum space "beneath" biology.
"Male and female he created them." No, not Darwin. Rather, as Schuon explains, the masculine body accentuates the absolute, while the feminine body accentuates the infinite. This helps to explain why there are no female "porn addicts," since this is specifically a male problem, i.e., "falling" into the infinitude of the female form, in which a million is not enough.
Obviously, female beauty is "infinite." To put it politely, "the feminine body is far too perfect and spiritually too eloquent to be no more than a kind of transitory accident" (Schuon). Once you realize this, you can gain some degree of control over it. Or, you can spend your life looking for that elusive signified behind the multitude of nubile signifiers. But there's always more where that came from, sucker.
If our humanness were reducible to natural selection, then it could have no finality. Rather, every species would only be "on the way" to something else. But again, man cannot be surpassed, because man is capable of conceiving and knowing the Absolute. Obviously there cannot be a "more absolute absolute." Rather, there is only one Absolute. Therefore, man is the end of, and exit from evolution. Because there is Man, we can know that more primitive forms are descended from him, not vice versa.
Again, man is the "perfect animal," if you like; or, the "imperfect God," so to speak. That being the case, there are necessarily "degrees of perfection." But there could be no perfection at all in the absence of the transcendent Absolute.
In contrast to man, the animal is a "closed book." "The animal, which can manifest perfections but not the Absolute," is "as it were enclosed in its own perfection; whereas man is like an open door allowing him to escape his limits, which are those of the world rather than his own" (Schuon).
In other words, in an odd way, man's perfection is his imperfection. It is only because we are capable of sinking beneath our humanness -- like the animal-man or MSNBC host described above -- that we are capable of transcending it. If you want to have man, you just have to tolerate the unfortunate possibility of olbermann.
Here again, this is something Gopnik describes, but without really understanding its implications (unless the book changes tone rather dramatically later on). That is, it is only our neurological immaturity that makes us fit vessels for divinization. In the absence of that neurological plasticity, we would be like any other animal, basically driven by hardwired instinct.
But this plasticity is not, and cannot be, infinitely open-ended, or there could be no such thing as truth. Thus, man is open and yet converging upon a transcendent reality we call O. And if we weren't converging upon O, man would be a truly pathetic beast, a freak, a monster even. Which, of course, some people are. Some ideologies are the products of these monsters. And the purpose of these ideologies is to create more monsters.