Thursday, August 13, 2009

Man: The End of, and Escape from, Evolution

I woke up quite early this morning, so I actually have time to think. Let's get this party started!

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."

Huh?

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.

31 Comments:

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Abdul:

Good comedy means knowing when the joke has ended.

8/13/2009 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Leftism too is unfalsifiable, which is one of its great appeals, for it means never having to say you're a sorryass."

Cue gulpingpotty.

8/13/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That is, it is only our neurological immaturity that makes us fit vessels for divinization.

That's funny. When I was a kid, my mom was told I had an immature nervous system, but that it would sort itself out eventually. I don't know that it ever quite did.

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.


I've thought about that before, too - when you hear stories of feral children, once they reach a certain age they never attain humanness. It has to come from outside, and be taught and learned in the earliest stages of development. That very fact should cause any Darwinist to wonder how in the world it first came about, if not by the mechanism of grace. Though if I recall, on the rare occasions they do wonder they tend to find it more plausible to attribute the escape from evolution to the actions of an advanced alien species. But of course, they never seem to wonder how the advanced aliens may have come about, which would really just go back to the same question.

8/13/2009 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couple of comments to today's post:

Regarding females and porn, I know of one who although not seemingly addicted uses it to obtain or increase gratification.

Secondarily, man as the summit of evolution which cannot be surpassed I find shaky.

I had a fairly substantial intuition that the next summit holders are going to be physically a departure from carbon based wet forms like us. They will be composite/inorganic formations.

Yadda yadda know you hate it but oop, dey it iz.

8/13/2009 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Hedley Lamarr said...

My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.

8/13/2009 10:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Olsen Johnson said...

Now who can argue with that? I think we're all indebted to Anonymous for stating what needed to be said. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed the courage little seen in this day and age.

8/13/2009 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Johnny Wad said...

Anon,
Your intuitions are fucked, dude.

8/13/2009 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wad:

You will be further abused by this intuition:

The inorganic formations that will supplant man and be the summit of physcial evolution will go on to experiment and tamper with energy until they create stable conscious formations composed entirely of energy. Then these conscious energy forms will summit the evolutionary charge.

And even then, some women will like porn.

8/13/2009 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

"Abdul:

Good comedy means knowing when the joke has ended."

That's precisely why I'm leaving American Idol.

8/13/2009 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Elephant said...

Anon:

Sounds like demons posing as neutral beings/phenomena (or some such things) such as the "aliens" in that weird Nicolas Cage movie, Knowing. I hesitate to post this, but, just saying. It is also not exactly worth a lot of time today, given the heights of today's post, which is more pertaining to more elevated subjects.


wv: sycicki

Heh.

8/13/2009 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Elephant said...

I say weird because that movie seemed so thick with propaganda to me. Less so about the "automatic" writing and codes. That part wasn't as straight-up weird to me as the propagandized symbolism all over the place.

8/13/2009 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

It was very weird, and frankly just kind of craptacular. Also, Cage's hairplugs are taking on a life of their own.

8/13/2009 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

One wonders how many Gopniks remain imprisoned in their materialist flatland despite having the exit starting them in the face. Up and out!

8/13/2009 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the book turned out to be a disappointment -- a thoroughly banal thinker wrestling with a subject far surpassing her modest intellectual gifts. This is why I hold academic psychology in such low regard.

8/13/2009 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Elephant said...

Julie,

I did a brief bit of Google-looking-up a minute ago, and the odd thing is that on the internet the general temperature seems to be that Christians are calling it prophetic and the media is saying it was Christian propaganda. I don't know how either of those can actually think that. I experienced mounting stomach curdling until the end when I wanted to hurl or yell from embarrassment at where it went at the end.

This is very OT but for a good walk down uber-propaganda/lame movie lane, I recommend Storm Cell with Mimi Rogers. In terms of terribleness, it really takes the cake. Brandishly poor special effects, plot, and dialogue along with a raging cross-pollination of terrorist threat with Republicans and land developers, conflating the two to form a militant cause and enemy. It will make you laugh though. I can't overemphasize how tragically silly it is.

8/13/2009 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Elephant said...

The obvious main notion of the movie is in the title: storm cell >> terrorist cell... ...brought on by non-environmentalists who are causing these cells that kill and terrorize. So the subtext was that non-environmentalists should potentially be treated as terrorists and even murderers.

Anyway, very OT.

8/13/2009 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous goddinpotty said...

"Leftism too is unfalsifiable, which is one of its great appeals, for it means never having to say you're a sorryass."

Van: Cue gulpingpotty.

Well, if you insist...but I'm not sure what it would mean to falsify something that apparently incorporates everything from Hitler to Hillary, from Ford to Franklin Roosevlt, from Wilson to W. That's an awfully big design space, containg some things that worked out for the good (child labor laws, social security), some things that were outrageously evil (the Holocaust), some things that sounded like they might be good ideas but failed in practice (public housing), some things which are a mix of working and non-working (universal public education). Does that "falsify" "leftism"? Does falsifying leftism require that all of the ideas in this big space have failed, or only some of them? More than half?

Or is it possible that this is an ill-posed question for multiple reasons, which are left as an exercise for the reader.

8/13/2009 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

gulpingpotty said "Does that "falsify" "leftism"? Does falsifying leftism require that all of the ideas in this big space have failed, or only some of them? More than half?"

Proregressivism & Leftism cover so many things... so that makes it invalid as terms. I see... so....
2+2 = 4 is right, and there is no other correct answer.

2+3 = 4 is wrong, as is 3+4=4, 1+1=4, 1+2=4, and a potentially infinite amount of other combinations would also be incorrect... but it would be invalid to term them so?

Does it matter that it was well intentioned to try to make 1+2=4? Not in the least.

It is a very simple process in principle, of identifying those individual rights which are requirements for a person to make the decisions necessary in the course of their lives, to live their lives - free speech, freedom of association, sanctity of contract and inviolability of property rights. Together with the necessity of objective laws, representative government and equal taxation, they, the principles of Classical Liberalism, are the concepts which this country was founded upon, and which should guide our legislators, executive and justices in writing and applying laws.

If a law is passed which violates those rights, if they remove a persons ability and right from their own life to make the decisions proper to a human being, and on top of doing that, mandate their actions by law, force, what actions they must take, in place of where their own individual choice would have been... it is wrong.

Whatever the intent which lay behind it, it is wrong, they are wrong, and leftism is wrong.

No matter how good and swell you may feel about what shape you are going to reform other peoples lives into, it borders on evil. Sometimes spilling over those borders.

Those actions, policies, laws, which leftists propose, and the many panels of experts which proregressives in particular delight in proposing to give the power to impose their own decisions into other peoples lives, in whatever shape or form they propose them; are definitely false, and they are failed before even they finish conceiving, let alone proposing them. They are false because they are rooted in a denial of what is real, in favor of what they'd prefer to be real, and as such they are in their very essence a desecration of individual rights, of liberty, and they are ugly to their very core.

No doubt this is beyond you, but for others who might yet happen across here, I hope it is useful as more than a mere exercise.

8/13/2009 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Elephant, I'll bear Storm Cell in mind next time I want to watch something so bad, it's hilarious. I wonder if there's a Rifftrax for that? They did wonders for Daredevil. And don't feel too bad about going off topic; I'm way worse about that than you :)

8/13/2009 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

" 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."

Cooncidentally I was having the same thought the night before, for similar reasons, making the similar point that it is the ever Higher thoughts, concepts, morality, that make us Human - and that thoughts and actions which don't reflect the 'upward incline', which trumpet counter-beauty, counter-higher standards, etc, are anti-human, and are efforts to return us, shove us, down the incline back towards animallity.

8/14/2009 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/14/2009 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"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." "

My first reaction to this was welll... I could envision improvements, meniscus' that don't tear, that'd be an improvement... corneas that don't require goofy glasses as you get old, there's certainly room for that improvement, and even a more reliable, searchable, retrievable system for our memories database, that could certainly be improved (maybe even a usb bio-thumbdrive for those of us who don't want to have to wait on the million year darwinista 'quality is job one' program)... but that all sorta brings us back to the previous point about the separation between animality and humanity... any improvements that maybe conceivable, are on the flat level of material quantity, but of what makes us Human, the perception of and ability to participate with Truth... "Obviously there cannot be a "more absolute absolute." "

8/14/2009 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"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."

I was sorta shocked this didn't generate some comments... there are a lot of ways that could be interpreted and misinterpreted, but it seems to me that that would be one of the leading reasons for saying 'let there be light' to begin with... but maybe that's just me.

8/14/2009 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous goddinpotty said...

Van: It is a very simple process in principle...

Morality and politics is indeed simple, if you're a simpleton.

8/14/2009 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

potty mouth,
See my comment on 8/14/2009's post at 02:02:00 PM. Fit's well here too.

8/14/2009 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

It is unfortunately so that scientists, whenever they discover something truly wondrous and amazing, are compelled to try to make it look as banal as possible. I don't know if this is a requisite for publication or simply a constraint of their conditioned mind.

So often scientific facts come with so much banality goo attached that one must routinely wash one's mind in running water until only the nuggets remain.

8/15/2009 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Magnus said "scientists, whenever they discover something truly wondrous and amazing, are compelled to try to make it look as banal as possible."

Yep. I think it's the 'Mr. Spock' effect of dualism - anything smacking of emotion is tarred with physical associations which means they are less 'intellectual' and therefore 'not serious', 'Serious' thoughts can only be expressed through clinical, flat, verbiage purged of any signs of emotion, humor, etc, a prescription for the banal.

8/15/2009 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I was wondering if someone could let me know if this article is a joke or not. I checked the author's profile and couldn't tell if he is being serious in his arguments. I don't have time right now to research it further, so please help me out.

Thanks,
Russell

8/17/2009 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it is a joke or not.

8/17/2009 06:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will imply from your response that the article is a joke. Thanks.

8/17/2009 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cooncur. It's for the best.

8/17/2009 08:28:00 AM  

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