Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Crown of Creation: On the Cosmic Necessity of Man

Under these oppressive rhinoviral circumsneezes, I'm not even going to try. So here's an innerattuning flashslack from a few hundred posts ago, fourtofived with six essential vertamins and 70% more bobservations.

Today's invOcation:

Human destiny is to hear and respond to God's speech in creation and thus, as the principium in the created universe, to draw all things back to their ultimate source. --Bernard McGinn

Back to our free associations on Self and Spirit. Just remember, these associations are going to be exceptionally free, and you get what you pray for.

Bolton begins with the perennial idea that mankind is the mediator between God and nature, or creator and creation. He is -- and this is me talkin' at ya now -- a third term that vertically links all degrees of creation, from matter to life to mind to spirit. Therefore, human beings are surely creatures, but they cannot only be creatures, since we transcend our creaturehood even while being rooted in it.

As such, transcendence is an irreducible cosmic category that pretty much blows Darwin out of the water, gosh! I say this because the principles of Darwinism cannot even be articulated without simultaneously transcending them. Or, once articulated, they falsify themselves -- like the old story of the scientistic cretin insisting that contingent cretins cannot know truth.

Now, our transcendence of nature would be an inexplicable absurdity, not to mention a bizarre nuisance, if it were not connected to, and explained by, its own source, which is "above" not below. In other words, we cannot begin our metaphysics with human consciousness somehow "hovering over the face of the waters," like God in Genesis. That's just stupid.

Let me rephrase that for added oomphasis: how can one naively begin philosophizing before accounting for the consciousness that is capable of philosophizing? For it is either contingent and therefore incapable of truth; or capable of truth and no longer contingent. To know truth is to know the necessary, or absolute. But since only like may know like, there must be something in man that shares in the being of this absoluteness.

You could say that in man there is a union of two natures that produces a third thing.

At this point I am going to ask you to use your feeble imagination, since I don't know how to reproduce the images in the book. [Update: I think I'll use that image from the other day, which I think is actually more accurate, since it depicts the "holographic middle" -- the interference pattern produced by the ascending and descending waves -- where human consciousness lives.]

Just imagine a triangle, with the base at the bottom and apex at the top. At the top is the divine-human archetype, or the Creator if you like. This bifurcates into the two points at the horizontal base of the triangle, which are male and female. In turn, the union of male and female produces a fourth thing. Thus, draw another triangle, this one the inverse of the above, with the apex now at the bottom (i.e., the nadir). If you're still with me, God should be at the top and the baby at the bottom.

As I wrote in my book, the neurologically incomplete baby is not just the hinge of cosmic evolution, but the very point of entry for our humanness, the narrow pain in the neck through which we must all pass on the way to maturity.

As such, we have a novel way of understanding Bolton's observation that "the fourth element (the nadir) is in a sense a recapitulation of the first (the apex) on a lower level, which also has some bearing on the meaning of childhood in relation to God."

For the baby -- the divine child, as it were -- is indeed a sort of earthly analogue of God, in that he knows no boundaries, is innocent and "omnipotent," and embodies a kind of infinite potential. I don't think it is any coincidence whatsoever that the baby Jesus is so central to Christian iconography. For God to become man, he had to first become infant, for infancy is the quintessence of, and gateway to, humanness.

Another way of considering the same triangle is to place God at the top, only now bifurcating into providence (or destiny) and fate, or perhaps freedom (or chance) and necessity. Once again, place a second triangle below, with man representing the union of fate and providence.

Here again, this encapsulates the irreducible irony, as it were, of the human condition, which makes us simultaneously apes and/or gods, so to speak (Darwinians get this right, but in a metaphysically garbled manner, since the ape is vertically descended from man).

How could one not laugh at the human predicament? Once again, we see that the man below is an earthly analogue of God above. Man is the "cosmic baby," with all that implies. Like a baby, we are born with a kind of infinite potential (relatively speaking) that we may or may not fulfill. And to fulfill it, we must indeed "imitate the Creator," more on which below.

Either way, we must somehow reconcile fate and providence. As mentioned yesterday, "the stars incline, but do not compel." However, as our the Minister of Doctrinal Enforcement reminded us, they do indeed compel in the absence of insight or self-understanding.

In short, as we discussed at length a couple of weeks ago, fate is precisely what interferes with our destiny. Or, to put it colloquially, if you remain on your present path, you're liable to end up where you're headed. Which could very well be a waste of a perfectly good cosmos. So if you see a fork in the transdimensional road, by all means take it.

Now, Bolton makes the interesting observation that Adam and Eve are created on the sixth and final day of creation, after the rest of the creatures (which, when you think about it, is entirely consistent with an evolutionary worldview, only in a higher Octave). As such, "on this basis, the human being can be taken to be resultant of divine action and the created natural order as a whole." Human beings are last because they are first; or first because they are last.

In any event, the point is that humans, and only humans, recapitulate the whole of creation within their very substance, which you might say is "two creatures" in one being. We are simultaneously fully animal and man, with two distinct wills with which we must grapple and try to reconcile. I forget the words they use, but Jewish metaphysics articulates this truth very precisely.

Which may well be why Freud came up with the idea of id and superego to talk about the lower and higher selves. "Id" is simply the German word for "it." We are all inhabited by the It, are we not? Usually, a mind parasite is a kind of unholy union of the It and a purloined piece of our subjectivity. Come to think of it, you could draw another triangle on that basis, which is why our mind parasites become the equivalent of "unconscious gods," if you will, or even if you don't. That is, they have wills of their own.

Bolton notes that the lower realm (remember, human beings necessarily embody all realms) "represents the life of instinct which attaches to the body, ruled by pleasure and pain, because its higher possibilities depend on its participation in those of the soul." In short, we must baptize the It (or make it kosher, I suppose).

Now, you could say that man was and is a cosmic necessity, in the sense that only he binds the higher and lower, and there is no such thing as an incomplete hierarchy. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it: "Unless there was such a being as man, comprising both archetypal and material reality at once, Providence and Fate (or nature) would have no means of relating to one another." Man's primary vocation is therefore "bridge builder," or "universal pontifex," "so long as it is understood that this function is a potentiality in need of realization."

In short, no man, no cosmos.

Where does this leave Christ?

I know, I know! Pick me!

Yes Dr. Bolton?

"[T]he mediation of Christ as Redeemer is both the prototype of man's cosmic mediation, as well as being the revealed basis of salvation."

It is in the cosmos of natural kinds that the fulness of the Being of the world must needs unfold and manifest itself, and man is the being in which this fulness becomes fulfilled and comes into its own. This is precisely the reason why God's absolute fulness of Being can choose man as the being and the vessel in which to reveal his own inner fulness to the world. --Hans Urs von Balthasar

24 Comments:

Blogger xlbrl said...

That sounds like John Muir's 'That which is excellent remains forever a part of this universe.'

1/06/2010 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

"...the perennial idea that mankind is the mediator between God and nature, or creator and creation."

As such, Man has a place in this Universe, a role to play, fills a need which satisfies a reason (without a "need," there is no "reason"), fulfills a function and at least in that sense is wanted, etc., etc.

Those concerns dealt with, I wonder, are we up to this? Am I? This is the value of the prototype.

1/06/2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

And of Grace, without which I suspect damnably few humans would ever even be close to being up to this.

1/06/2010 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - nice switch on the eternitable. I was thinking, right after I posted my last comment, that I should have used the (⇵) instead of "Grace."

I hope you're feeling better soon, Bob. If you've never tried one of these (or the neti pot, but having tried both I prefer the rinse bottle - it gets past the stuffiness better), they help a lot. And are available at any drug store.

1/06/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Now, you could say that man was and is a cosmic necessity, in the sense that only he binds the higher and lower, and there is no such thing as an incomplete hierarchy. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it..."

Our thumbs may be bruised and bloodied, but ya gotta keep hammering those nails in. At least we get to hold the hammer.

"In short, no man, no cosmos."

And no one to know it.

1/06/2010 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"I say this because the principles of Darwinism cannot even be articulated without simultaneously transcending them. Or, once articulated, they falsify themselves -- like the old story of the scientistic cretin insisting that contingent cretins cannot know truth." I'm still astonished that so many do not see this when it is patently obvious to me. I mean, if a dunce like me can understand this... Really, it has less to do with native intelligence and more to do with that Grace Julie referenced. The cosmos cannot be properly understood any other way. Any other worldview I've tried to "view through" brings in impossible contradictions. I may not understand everything, viewing through the lens of transcendence, but even that which I don't understand comes into focus the "further up and in" I go.

1/06/2010 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

By the way, the triangles you've drawn here are beautiful, Bob!

1/06/2010 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Susannah said "I'm still astonished that so many do not see this when it is patently obvious to me. I mean, if a dunce like me can understand this... Really, it has less to do with native intelligence and more to do with that Grace Julie referenced."

Interesting how the left inverts that process of transcendence down towards their idolized material reality.

They in effect demand that we 'transcend' our ability to see what we clearly can see - reality, cause and effect, law of markets, no evidence for man made glowbull warming, etc (but which they don't want to acknowledge); and yet they refuse to acknowledge that possibility of transcendence when looking upwards, where it is appropriate.

They reject the need to recognize and acknowledge what is clearly perceivable and comprehensible in the physical world around them, though inconvenient to their wishes (history and unavoidable failure of marxist notions and practices); and deny the possibility of acknowledging that which, though not perceivable, clearly must be, in order for anything to be, and be comprehensible("how can one naively begin philosophizing before accounting for the consciousness that is capable of philosophizing?").

We, looking up the cognitive chain, can see there is something lacking from our perceivable knowledge, but which is obviously a prerequisite to our having any knowledge of anything; but in looking out and down into the reality which we are all fully capable of perceiving and comprehending, the leftist presumes some mysterious absence of knowable reality, which becomes a convenient gap which enables them to explain what they'd like reality to be.

The Un-God of the gaps.

They do this through the power of, what Will (Happy New Year Will!) once pointed out as, 'Glamour', and it is vitally important to the leftist vital man. The leftist mindset routinely picks out it's position or person of affection, it's anti-heroes, then anoints them as being the one most high, effectively shielding them from the requirements of providing either understandable proofs or any other requirements of logic... and this for their 'real world' claims!

I noted one early example of just such a wackademic recently, Friedrich Max Müller, who said,

""...Kant’s Critique has been my constant companion through life. It drove me to despair when I first attempted to read it, a mere school-boy. During my university days I worked hard at it under Weisse, Lotze, and Drobisch, at Leipzig, and my first literary attempts in philosophy, now just forty years old, were essays on Kant’s Critique. Having once learnt from Kant what man can and what he cannot know, my plan of life was very simple, namely, to learn, so far as literature, tradition, and language allow us to do so, how man came to believe that he could know so much more than he ever can know in religion, in mythology, and in philosophy... "

What Kant taught him to know that he could not know, was that Myth was a 'disease of language' (no need to mention where Religion soon fell), and that the ancient stories and language of wisdom was nothing but a mass of elaborate word accretions, like glittering grime, making tall tales out of what they consider to be the more worthwhile, but now forgotten, historic 'facts' and occurrences... they had to be reduced down to mere realities so that their meaning could then be swept into the gaps.
(annoying blogger break)

1/06/2010 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

Once that mantle of glamour has been laid upon the leftist icon, that blanket of 'ignore this', then any difficulty they may find in making sense of what they have to say, whether it be Kant's tortuous verbiage to deny our ability to know reality, or of glowbull warming's freezing weather and lack of data for proof of man caused warming, they assume that their own inability to make sense of the glamourously decreed, means nothing other than their own failure to defeat their own weakness and their own inabilities to understand them - and that we who don't accept their glamour, their 'ignore this' ignorance, are weak, obtuse and mean, in our refusal to enable their desires.

The less they are able to comprehend something; reality, economics, post-modernism, climate 'science', etc, the more they assume that it not only must be true, but that it must be vigorously upheld as true, even though they don't understand how or why.

Sheesh... or as WV is saying: hophen

1/06/2010 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/06/2010 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Susannah said "I'm still astonished that so many do not see this when it is patently obvious to me."

I think it may have to do with something I read on Gil Bailie's blog awhile back about getting "too close." Bob mentions something similar with, the closer he gets to the root of the problem the harder the mind parasite fights him off or gets angrier. I might add to that, the person is damned if he's going to give up all that hard work over something so obvious. Foolish is the last way these types will want to look. It's the one thing worth fighting for. To the death. Because it means death.
RR

1/06/2010 07:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susannah said: "I say this because the principles of Darwinism cannot even be articulated without simultaneously transcending them. Or, once articulated, they falsify themselves..."I'm still astonished that so many do not see this when it is patently obvious to me. I mean, if a dunce like me can understand this...

Have you considered the possibility that your understanding of "Darwinism" is flawed? Something being obvious is no guarantee that it's right, since human intuition has severe limits and biases.

...transcendence is an irreducible cosmic category that pretty much blows Darwin out of the water, gosh!

Whatever transcendence may be, it is not likely to be in contradiction to the observable facts of the universe. Your version of transcendence is pitifully weak if it is threatened by science.

1/06/2010 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

"Whatever transcendence may be, it is not likely to be in contradiction to the observable facts of the universe."

Ho! To observe a fact is to have transcended it, if only because there is no such thing as a brute fact in the absence of an observational framework. Contrary to what you may have learned in junior college, the world isn't a collection of things labeled "fact."

1/06/2010 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Does that anon sound angry or will he get angrier?
RR

1/06/2010 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

"Have you considered the possibility that your understanding of "Darwinism" is flawed?"

Yes.
Have you?

1/06/2010 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Bob, RE the neti pot, I've likewise had a good deal of relief by it. Although more when the alergies are getting the best of me. I've used it for sinus colds but not as much luck.
The neti pot for me is easier on the membranes in there as by the time my alergies are winning the membranes can't take the other device Julie mentions. It's pretty powerful. The neti is gravity-fed and more water and heat flows over my "problem area" which is why I've had better results with that one, I think.
RR

1/06/2010 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Anyway, take both of them and call me and Julie in the morning.
RR

1/06/2010 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "RE the neti pot, I've likewise had a good deal of relief by it."

I prefer the old fashioned method... take nothing, rub your nose raw with kleenex and glare at everyone in sight.

Much more satisfying....

(ahem)

1/06/2010 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

I probably should have mentioned the neti thing is not entirely pleasant. Sort of like getting ocean water up your nose. But it's better than ketchup up there, or in my case with the alergies at full tilt, a continuous snort of cayenne pepper.
RR

1/06/2010 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous njcommuter said...

Bob, this isn't realllly important, but isn't "id" the Latin word for "it"?

1/06/2010 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good catch. Freud used the term "das es," but his first translator used "id," and it stuck. The It would have been a better choice, but he wanted to make the theory sound scientific and medical instead of more literary and hermeneutic, which was a big mistake.

One of Freud's adages about the purpose of therapy was "where id was, ego shall be," but it makes much more sense to say "where IT was, I shall be." In other words, we colonize the It with the I.

1/07/2010 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Whatever transcendence may be"

I like that. At least this troll speaks from first hand ignorance.

1/07/2010 07:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not ignorance, it's something called humility. You might want to look into it.

1/07/2010 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Child of God said...

We are all one life. Flesh begets Flesh and Spirit begets Spirit. What then is begetting?

At conception two living, material cells combine into one living material cell. No new matter, nor new life was needed. The matter and the life in the two parent cells reduces to a single living cell.

Begetting is effectively a reduction of two (matter & life's) into one bit of matter with one life. Paradoxically it's this reduction that expands the population.

1 + 1 = 1

Tracing back the life of any individual reveals an unbroken continuum of reductions of the same life back to a single origin in time.

That life is the same life all the time. There is no "new" life; just new individual organisms being animated by it.

Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.

1/11/2010 12:27:00 PM  

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