Monday, August 09, 2010

Within and Without the Godhead

In recent days, we have been discussing the principial distinction between Being and Beyond-Being, as a prelude to mapping the vertical reality in which man has his being.

Why does any of this matter, you might ask? First of all, we've only just begun lifting and deveiloping our pneumagraphy of the vertical.

But the short answer is that it is the only metaphysic that not only makes sense, but makes total sense. Not only is it true, but all truth -- both religious and scientific -- is grounded in it. If you have a better one, I'd be happy to hear about it. But most alternatives are ridiculously shallow, inconsistent, or incomplete, at least when they aren't refuting themselves (e.g., scientism, Darwinian fundamentalism, or any other purely horizontal metaphysic).

As nine out of ten whollymen agree, only the Good is ontologically real, while evil is a deprivation; likewise truth and falsehood, beauty and ugliness, freedom and slavery, liberty and leftism. In each case, the latter term is only a cosmic possibility because it is parasitic on the former.

Schuon reminds us of Augustine's self-evident dictum that it is in the nature of the Good to "communicate itself." Here we touch on an aspect of the Trinitarian Godhead, for what is the Trinity but eternal communion?

But at this point we would like to discuss this in more general and universal terms. Plus, we are talking about the "descent" of the Good, so to speak, as opposed to the Good that abides within the Absolute. In other words, it is one thing to say that "God is good." But how does so much good end up down here, of all places?

For unlike some of our competitors, we don't engage in the theidiocy of wondering how all the evil got here. Rather, we wonder about how all the virtue, love, truth, freedom, dignity, nobility, objectivity, and beauty got here, and how to obtain some peace of that action.

In speaking of "God's will," Schuon suggests that it matters whether we are talking about Being or Beyond-Being. One might say that Beyond-Being "wills" Being, and that Being wills creation. Perhaps a preluminary schematic would be of assistance:

Beyond-Being
(↓↑)
Being
(↓↑)
Creation (or manifestation)

A key point, in the words of Schuon, is that "this manifestation by definition implies remoteness from its Source, so that in 'willing' manifestation, the Essence wills implicitly and indirectly that ransom which we call evil, on pain of not wishing to radiate or 'diffuse' Itself, precisely."

Again, if creation is to be -- a creation that is truly semi-autonomous and not just God -- then evil must be, even while being "impermissible." There is a reason why even in paradise there is a serpent -- who symbolizes the whole possibility of "falling vertically" further and further from the Source, even into the blind nothingness of pure evil and falsehood, i.e., hell. Here again: one might say that because God is, hell must be.

Schuon raises a subtle, but nevertheless critical point; not everyone will be comfortable with it, but I see no way around it: "[T]he Divine Will which wills moral good and for this reason forbids sin, is not the same as that which wills the world: the Will of Beyond-Being... wills the world itself, whereas the Will of Being... presupposes the world and exerts itself only within the world."

Sophists throughout the ages have tried to disprove the existence of God by saying that he is either omnipotent or good, but that he cannot be both, for if he can eliminate evil but doesn't, then he isn't good, and if he cannot eliminate evil, then he isn't omnipotent.

Here again, this is an illusory problem rooted in a false metaphysic, in which there is only God and World, which is then covertly reduced to just God. In short, it presupposes a kind of single-level pantheism, so that God is personally responsible for everything that happens.

But that is not how the cosmos works. And it is especially not how man works, since he has free will and is able to make the conscious choice between good and evil. Our free will is a legitimate gift, not some illusory side effect of God's iron will. Rather, we may obviously go against God's will, which is the only reason why we may align ourselves with it.

The cosmos is shot through with "degrees of freedom" which are the "residue" of the Divine freedom, so to speak. Thus, we see its traces to the very periphery of creation, for example, in the quantum indeterminacy, or in the upward thrust of the genome.

But the higher up the vertical scale, the more freedom. This, of course, presupposes that there is a virtually infinite range of freedom within the human being as well. Being that the human being is the microcosm -- a cosmos within the Cosmos -- he may be as enslaved to an extrinsic program as an ant, or as free as the saint or sage who has conquered illusion and aligned himself with the Real.

Schuon expresses the same point in another way: "Beyond-Being desires good as radiation, manifestation or world, whereas Being desires good as the participation of things in the Divine Good."

Yes, God is good, but in different ways, depending on one's perspective. Note that after the creation, God blesses it as good. This refers to Being itself, which is essentially good, in spite of all the mischief that will ensue as the result of a quasi-autonomous creation that is relatively separate from God. It is surely a core truth the mischief is ineveateapple.

Elsewhere I read of a good analogy. That is, I willed my son into existence. But I do not will the badness he does, even while knowing full well that he will inevitably do naughty things. Now you know why God weeps, especially now that we are going through this rebellious adolescent phase.

This also speaks to the critical distinction between guilt and innocence. Civilization cannot exist in the absence of a system of justice, even though it can never be absolutely just (rather, only God can). There are always "extenuating circumstances" if you look hard enough, especially with the development of modern pseudo-psychology, which can provide an alibi for anything.

Which is why the Christian is enjoined to love the sinner but not the sin. In other words, he is to judge acts and not souls.

You will note the cultural mayhem that ensues (and that did ensue) when this principle is ignored, and we engage in the impossible task of trying to judge souls, as the left has been doing for the past fifty years or more. We must understand criminals (except people of pallor, or white collar criminals), empathize with them, get to the "root causes" of their sociopathy and criminality.

Or, we must understand why the Palestinians and Islamists are such monsters. No, actually we mustn't. Rather, we must kill them, insofar as they insist on behaving like monsters, just it was necessary to kill Nazis and Japanese supremacists.

The left would like us to displace God and judge souls, which is strictly impossible for man. It is well above our paygrade, which is why it is preferable to stick with acts that we know to be wrong.

So, there are different levels "within" God. It is not just God and World, although this can be a useful shorthand for people so long as they don't abuse the concept.

But in reality, there is a vertical scale, with Good at the top. In between the top and bottom is the murky world inhabited by human beings -- a world that is deliberately made murkier by the sizable class of humans in whose interest it is to work under cover of darkness.

And the worst offenders are those whose job it is to radiate this truth, but instead propagate sterile relativism, malignant skepticism, and that pseudo-sophisticated god-of-the-saps known as blind chance.

To be continued....

41 Comments:

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, Christianity makes the distinction between the economic and ontological Trinity, which is perhaps a way to think about the within and without of the Godhead.

8/09/2010 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, some Christians make a distinction between the economic and ontological Trinity, which is perhaps a useful way to think about the within and without of the Godhead.

8/09/2010 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"For unlike some of our competitors, we don't engage in the theidiocy..."

(Hoot!)

.." of wondering how all the evil got here. Rather, we wonder about how all the virtue, love, truth, freedom, dignity, nobility, objectivity, and beauty got here, and how to obtain some peace of that action."

Exactly so, first things first.

8/09/2010 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, some Christians draw a distinction between the economic and ontological Trinity, which may be a useful way to think about the within and without of the Godhead.

8/09/2010 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

WV may have a clue as to the missing comments:
proonion

Professional satirists are attempting to impose the only thing against your comments that can be said - nothing.

(trolls: Cult! Cult! Cult! )

8/09/2010 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

wv: nouswerd

8/09/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Kind of like "word" but... nouswerd.

There was a "commu" earlier, too... commu-nicate?

My right brain registers these as interesting, but my left brain doesn't quite know what to do with them. I generally took them to mean that wv was trying desperately to get the comments to press. :)

8/09/2010 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What can I say? I just don't agree with you that Jews are monsters.

8/09/2010 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Evil-as-deprivation has been covered here at OC a number of times. In general I understand it, I think...

Where does love go when stalled school bus meets barreling freight train?

I know it's a naive question but it helps to have it answered now and then by someone like Bob, who has ascended high enough in the literature to bring back the answer intact.

8/09/2010 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Seems self-evident to me. More often than not, it's just bad luck.

And feel free to ask questions, but the flattery is creepy.

8/09/2010 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Schuon raises a subtle, but nevertheless critical point; not everyone will be comfortable with it, but I see no way around it: "[T]he Divine Will which wills moral good and for this reason forbids sin, is not the same as that which wills the world: the Will of Beyond-Being... wills the world itself, whereas the Will of Being... presupposes the world and exerts itself only within the world.""

Yes, the whole is not be defined by it's parts, IT must logically come before what it is, even though they are absolutely inseparable.

"This also speaks to the critical distinction between guilt and innocence. Civilization cannot exist in the absence of a system of justice..."

Yep. And while we may manage to have loads of people living together, organized and operating by customs & rules, it won't be a Civilization if it isn't founded upon an understanding of Justice, and if that understanding is unjust, that civilization will be a failed one. Speaking of Palestinians and Islamists,

"Or, we must understand why the Palestinians and Islamists are such monsters. No, actually we mustn't. Rather, we must kill them, insofar as they insist on behaving like monsters, just it was necessary to kill Nazis and Japanese supremacists."

Bingo.

"And the worst offenders are those whose job it is to radiate this truth, but instead propagate sterile relativism, malignant skepticism, and that pseudo-sophisticated god-of-the-saps known as blind chance."

Speaking of leftists, might be interesting to google up the grand daddy of relativism, Jeremy Bentham, and his Panopticon. Bentham, he whose prodigous head was only put to it's best purposes by naughty school boys after his death - for football practice - (it's worth looking up), designed some of the first instances of prison reform. And if you look into his philosophy - which was very much anti-American, anti-Individual Rights ("nonsense on stilts!")- it is an excellent preview of where a society which rejects Natural Law (and all that implies), and seeks to be utilitarian instead, to provide for the greater good as a highest value, understand 'motives' and treat them, is headed (Paging Mr. Orwell), or as he says,

"A new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example: and that, to a degree equally without example, secured by whoever chooses to have it so, aganst abuse."

Even the pomofo's saw where that one was going... and whether or not the legislator's, regulators and willing cattle see it or not, they're following the finger's shadow, nonetheless.

8/09/2010 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(on the off chance that was a google delete, I'll try it again)

"Schuon raises a subtle, but nevertheless critical point; not everyone will be comfortable with it, but I see no way around it: "[T]he Divine Will which wills moral good and for this reason forbids sin, is not the same as that which wills the world: the Will of Beyond-Being... wills the world itself, whereas the Will of Being... presupposes the world and exerts itself only within the world.""

Yes, the whole is not be defined by it's parts, IT must logically come before what it is, even though they are absolutely inseparable.

"This also speaks to the critical distinction between guilt and innocence. Civilization cannot exist in the absence of a system of justice..."

Yep. And while we may manage to have loads of people living together, organized and operating by customs & rules, it won't be a Civilization if it isn't founded upon an understanding of Justice, and if that understanding is unjust, that civilization will be a failed one. Speaking of Palestinians and Islamists,

"Or, we must understand why the Palestinians and Islamists are such monsters. No, actually we mustn't. Rather, we must kill them, insofar as they insist on behaving like monsters, just it was necessary to kill Nazis and Japanese supremacists."

Bingo.

"And the worst offenders are those whose job it is to radiate this truth, but instead propagate sterile relativism, malignant skepticism, and that pseudo-sophisticated god-of-the-saps known as blind chance."

Speaking of leftists, might be interesting to google up the grand daddy of relativism, Jeremy Bentham, and his Panopticon. Bentham, he whose prodigous head was only put to it's best purposes by naughty school boys after his death - for football practice - (it's worth looking up), designed some of the first instances of prison reform. And if you look into his philosophy - which was very much anti-American, anti-Individual Rights ("nonsense on stilts!")- it is an excellent preview of where a society which rejects Natural Law (and all that implies), and seeks to be utilitarian instead, to provide for the greater good as a highest value, understand 'motives' and treat them, is headed (Paging Mr. Orwell), or as he says,

"A new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example: and that, to a degree equally without example, secured by whoever chooses to have it so, aganst abuse."

Even the pomofo's saw where that one was going... and whether or not the legislator's, regulators and willing cattle see it or not, they're following the finger's shadow, nonetheless.

8/09/2010 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van:

I notice that my comments with links were gobbled up. We'll see if yours stick around.

8/09/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Poof!

8/09/2010 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

So basically God made a stone that was too heavy for him to lift, and it was me. No matter how much he wants to lift me up, he cannot do so without my consent. God WAS omnipotent, but for the duration of my lifetime (not very long, admittedly) he is not.

(I have a feeling I recently said this, but it may have been the voice in my head.)

8/09/2010 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Arghhh!

8/09/2010 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Magnus, that's a good'un.

(and a wise choice not to include any links)

8/09/2010 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

MI says:

"So basically God made a stone that was too heavy for him to lift, and it was me. No matter how much he wants to lift me up, he cannot do so without my consent. God WAS omnipotent, but for the duration of my lifetime (not very long, admittedly) he is not."

Everything's eventual.

8/09/2010 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

NB says:

"Where does love go when stalled school bus meets barreling freight train?"

Uh, this is a human-created problem.

I think you meant hurricanes and tsunamis.

Uh, which is also mostly a human created problem.

Moral of the story?

Use your intelligence to understand where not to live and how to deal with natural phenomna (the same phenoman that allow your body to function) so that you avoid doing things that result in death.

Physics. It's a double edged sword.

8/09/2010 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

"God is, hell must be."
heha:
'According to church fathers of early Christianity, El was the first Hebrew name of God.'

8/09/2010 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Anna re: WV

WV is the Raccoon I Ching. It is extremely prescient. So far no one here has been able to codify its workings.

8/09/2010 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Comedy gold. Can't provide the link, but Greg Gutfeld is raising money to build a Muslim gay bar next to the Ground Zero mosque:

"I’m announcing tonight, that I am planning to build and open the first gay bar that caters not only to the west, but also Islamic gay men. To best express my sincere desire for dialogue, the bar will be situated next to the mosque, in an available commercial space.

"This is not a joke. I’ve already spoken to a number of investors, who have pledged their support in this bipartisan bid for understanding and tolerance.

"As you know, the Muslim faith doesn’t look kindly upon homosexuality, which is why I’m building this bar. It is an effort to break down barriers and reduce deadly homophobia in the Islamic world.

"The goal, however, is not simply to open a typical gay bar, but one friendly to men of Islamic faith. An entire floor, for example, will feature non-alcoholic drinks, since booze is forbidden by the faith."

8/09/2010 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I suggest a military recruitment facility next door....

8/09/2010 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re:

"I suggest a military recruitment facility next door...."

How about a BBQ joint and a good Jewish Deli? A strip club would round things out nicely.

8/09/2010 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I love "Red Eye"! Most leftists are certain that being conservative MUST mean you have no sense of humor.

I have to say that is the most brilliant idea I've hear re: the Ground Zero Mosque yet!

8/09/2010 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

hearD.

wv: hawfu. The ancient martial art of laughter.

8/09/2010 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I also strongly suggest, in the interests of outreach, leasing surrounding space for a new Hooters, and a franchise of "The Plush Pig, St. Louis, MO"(apparently link's no workee today, but a google will show you their marquee sign, if it's not obvious.

I sincerely believe this will truly be accepted by the islambie community in the real spirit of fellowship with which it is extended.

8/09/2010 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Nuance!

8/09/2010 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "If someone suggested locating those sort of things next to a Catholic Church in order to express their dissatisfaction with Catholicism, what would your reaction be?"

Yeah... gee anin... that's such a great point. You know, I might even think of that person as if they'd maybe, oh... I dunno... maybe as if they'd proposed building a huge islambie mosque right across the street from a place where nearly 3,000 innocent people were slaughtered in the name of the same ideas that mosque represented.

Wow... go figure.

8/09/2010 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van, you have to explain it in terms a leftist can understand -- like how offensive it would be to allow military recruiters at Harvard, or a conservative black in the NAACP.

8/09/2010 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"you have to explain it in terms a leftist can understand.."

First, start with a million dollars..

8/09/2010 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If nothing else, it sheds light on the alliance between pre-liberal Islam and the post-liberal left.

8/09/2010 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "...terms a leftist can understand -- like how offensive it would be to allow military recruiters at Harvard, or a conservative black in the NAACP."

Ooh... yeah... but... I don't know... I really don't want to risk being perceived as being indelicate....

8/09/2010 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(speaking of indelicate, let me retry the linky google fodder comment from earlier)
"Schuon raises a subtle, but nevertheless critical point; not everyone will be comfortable with it, but I see no way around it: "[T]he Divine Will which wills moral good and for this reason forbids sin, is not the same as that which wills the world: the Will of Beyond-Being... wills the world itself, whereas the Will of Being... presupposes the world and exerts itself only within the world.""

Yes, the whole is not be defined by it's parts, IT must logically come before what it is, even though they are absolutely inseparable.

"This also speaks to the critical distinction between guilt and innocence. Civilization cannot exist in the absence of a system of justice..."

Yep. And while we may manage to have loads of people living together, organized and operating by customs & rules, it won't be a Civilization if it isn't founded upon an understanding of Justice, and if that understanding is unjust, that civilization will be a failed one. Speaking of Palestinians and Islamists,

"Or, we must understand why the Palestinians and Islamists are such monsters. No, actually we mustn't. Rather, we must kill them, insofar as they insist on behaving like monsters, just it was necessary to kill Nazis and Japanese supremacists."

Bingo.

"And the worst offenders are those whose job it is to radiate this truth, but instead propagate sterile relativism, malignant skepticism, and that pseudo-sophisticated god-of-the-saps known as blind chance."

Speaking of leftists, might be interesting to google up the grand daddy of relativism, Jeremy Bentham, and his Panopticon. Bentham, he whose prodigous head was only put to it's best purposes by naughty school boys after his death - for football practice - (it's worth looking up), designed some of the first instances of prison reform. And if you look into his philosophy - which was very much anti-American, anti-Individual Rights ("nonsense on stilts!")- it is an excellent preview of where a society which rejects Natural Law (and all that implies), and seeks to be utilitarian instead, to provide for the greater good as a highest value, understand 'motives' and treat them, is headed (Paging Mr. Orwell), or as he says,

"A new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example: and that, to a degree equally without example, secured by whoever chooses to have it so, aganst abuse."

Even the pomofo's saw where that one was going... and whether or not the legislator's, regulators and willing cattle see it or not, they're following the finger's shadow, nonetheless.

8/09/2010 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Poof!'d again.

Sheesh.

8/09/2010 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

the flattery is creepy

Heh. So is the heresy, but you don't hear me complain about that ;-)

8/10/2010 03:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "Van manages to pack an impressive number of falsehoods into a single sentence"

High praise indeed from a master such as yourself, but I'll have to withdraw, since I was using an expression 'right across the street!', not tyring to give some one directions.

As for it not being a mosque, what a good little aninny you are... I'm sure you'll do quite well as a dhimmy... after all you are already a dimmy... gotta count for something.

Not wanting to anger the linky gods, here's one to look into:

"St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which once sat right across the street from the World Trade Center, was crushed under the weight of the collapse of Tower Two on September 11, 2001. St. Nicholas was the only church to be lost in the attacks, and nine years later, while City of New York officials are busy removing every impediment to the building of the Cordoba mosque two blocks from the site, St. Nicholas’ future remains unclear."

8/10/2010 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

To play with the topic again, I came across this bit:

"There is no possible relationship between the Absolute as such and relativity; for a relationship to exist, there must be something relative in the Absolute and something absolute in the relative."

Then he puts his finger on some interesting trouble:

"If one wishes to emphasize the incommensurable aspect [of Divinity relative to man], one cannot do so simply by denying relativity within the Divine Principle; one can do so adequately only by disassociating the Creating Principle from the intrinsic Absolute..."

A dissociation which then leads to all kinds of problems.

8/10/2010 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

Sorry: that was Schuon in _Christianity/Islam: Essays on Esoteric Ecumenicism_.

8/10/2010 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

Schuon continues later:

"Above all, we must aver that this projection [Creation] is 'made of goodness' namely of Radiation, precisely, which is the principle and prime mover of Existence and hence of the existential unfolding of the Divine Qualities, hence too of all the goods that we know and can conceive, around us and within us. What we call evil -- and which is so in its fragmentariness and on its own plane -- is in the final analysis the price paid for relativity; and relativity -- which coincides with contingency -- cannot not be, since the Supreme Principle is infinite and since infinitude implies All-Possibility...

All-Possibility must, by definition and on pain of contradiction, include its own impossibility; the Infinite must realize the finite on pain of not being the Infinite. Regarding the 'exhaustion' of a possibility by its manifestation, we would say that in the world there is no absolute impossibility...

The reason for the existence of contingency is the manifestation of the Good in and by relativity, thus by combinations, gradations, and contrasts, which entails or requires the privative and consequently existential phenomenon of evil; but evil would not be possible if this plane of relative Good were not remote and separated, on account of its very relativity, from the Principle. The Good wills to prolong or reflect itself in relativity in order to unfold all its possibilities and thereby to exhaust them, but inexhaustibly since It is limitless."

Good stuff, and as Bob says, the basic idea in life/relativity/contingency is to hang out on a Raft of the unfolding Good as much as possible. Helping others aboard is good, too.

8/10/2010 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The Imam behind the center is a moderate who wrote a book entitled What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America."

No surprise that you (and most on the left) consider this Imam moderate. Afterall, he supports Hamas and the implementation of sharia law.
And now Obama has hired him to conduct a "goodwill" tour of the middle east.

Idiots.

8/11/2010 12:21:00 PM  

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