Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Surfing the Future of Mankind

Let us recall how we washed up here, because I've lost track.

Let's see. We were riffing on the biography of John Paul II (to which we will return), but before long were rafting into a discussion of his theology of the body (to which we will return), before sailing over the horizon of Ratzinger's evolutionary cosmos (to which we will presently return), and then coming ashore with some of Balthasar's thoughts along the same lines, as outlined in his three volume Theo-Logic.

One point to bear in mind (as alluded to in yesterday's post) is that we cannot regard the cosmos as some sort of static or given fact, if only because its factuality hasn't yet fully disclosed itself. The world is always evolving, always coming-into-being; furthermore, "world and human existence belong necessarily to one another, so that neither a worldless man nor even a world without man seems thinkable" (Ratzinger).

No one disputes the first half of this equation, but few people outside the coonosphere even think about the second part, i.e., the impossibility of a world without man -- not necessarily Homo sapiens per se, but more generally, the necessity of a vertical "bridge" between Creator and creation in any manifestation deployed in space and time.

Even the most materialistic scientist knows that there is an intimate link between cosmos and anthropos, if only because all science depends upon the consummation and development of this intimate marriage of intelligence and intelligibility.

To put it another way, even the scientist presumably knows that science is impossible without scientists. In short, there must be a kind of anterior and posterior oneness beneath the explicit twoness (or complementarity) of cosmos and man, in the absence of which we couldn't explain anything.

Again, science advances via the reduction of multiplicity to unity. A single concept -- say, gravity -- draws together a host of phenomena, on both a micro and macro scale, that had seemed entirely separate. For Ratzinger, this "two-in-one structure" of man and cosmos "has always pointed to... unity as its final goal."

This being the case, it is incorrect to suggest that history is something that simply "happens" in the cosmos. Rather, "the cosmos is itself history. It does not merely form the scene of human history; before human history began, and later with it, cosmos is itself 'history.'" Ultimately, "there is only one single all-embracing world history, which for all the ups and downs, all the advances and setbacks that it exhibits, nevertheless has a general direction and goes 'forward'" (ibid.).

Now, this "one single all-embracing world history" is....

Take a guess!

Correct: it is the unifying theme of our book and of this blog, no matter how far we may seem to stray from the plot. We are always on the way to the place from which we never left, even if we never arrive there.

I remember an analogy used by Alan Watts. Imagine looking at a wooden fence with a hole in it. A cat walks by on the other side. Assuming no prior knowledge of cats, one would have no way of unifying the disparate phenomena appearing from our side of the hole. We would see an event play out in time, which is actually unified in a higher space.

We may apply the same idea to the cosmos, since we are in the analogous position of viewing its diverse phenomena through our finite and transitory existence on this side of the whole. As Ratzinger explains,

"Of course, to him who sees only a section of it, this piece, even though it may be relatively big, looks like a circling in the same spot. No direction is perceptible. It is only observed by him who begins to see the whole" (emphasis mine). (For example, even simplistic Darwinian evolution may only be seen by those transcending it; nothing less than man knows anything about it.)

In other words, the lower dimensional evolutionary "movement" of the cosmos can only be seen from a higher perspective -- one more reason why there can be no "naked facts," because the nature of any fact changes, depending upon the temporal and dimensional perspective.

For example, in this larger perspective, the "natural world" is not, and cannot be, some sort of abstract realm cut off from the totality of the cosmos. Rather, in an evolutionary, historical cosmos, "matter and its evolution form the prehistory of spirit or mind" (emphasis mine).

Here again, as explained in the book, it is nothing more than an unexamined prejudice -- a postmodern superstition of the tenured -- to attempt to pull the subject down into into the object, as if this provides any kind of satisfactory explanation for either.

This approach is analogous to attempting to pull the space of a building into its walls. One would have to be quite uncurious -- or a kind of craven conformist -- to accept it without at least raising one's hand in class and asking w-w-why?

One doesn't have to accept the Christian solution, but at least it confronts this question of an evolutionary cosmos head-on, without coming to a gentileman's agreement not to ask certain questions.

For if Jesus is who we think he is, then "the consummation of the world in that event could be explained as the conviction that our history is advancing to an 'omega' point, at which it will become finally and unmistakably clear that the element of stability that seems to be the supporting ground of reality, so to speak, is not mere unconscious matter."

Rather, "the real, firm ground is mind. Mind holds being together, gives it reality, indeed is reality: it is not from below but from above that being receives its capacity to subsist" (ibid., emphasis mine).

This is indeed one of our foundational orthoparadoxes, and quite literally the "connecting thread" of all our cosmic adventures. For without this connecting thread, there could be no connections and no threads at all. Regarded in this manner, what had looked merely "natural" is drawn up into a much more glorious narrative, i.e., the Adventure of Consciousness.

And not only. For this way of looking at things is, in a manner of speaking, the death of death, since the "dead world" of matter (or the world of dead matter) looks very different once life emerges from its dark womb.

But might we say the same of Mind? Is mind merely a dead end, a cosmic nul-de-slack, or does it point beyond itself to a higher source and destiny? Again, at least Christianity confronts and answers the question without changing the subject into an object:

"We have said before that nature and mind form one single history, which advances in such a way that mind emerges more and more clearly as the all-embracing element and thus anthropology and cosmology finally in actual fact coalesce.

"But this assertion of the increasing 'complexification' of the world through mind necessarily implies its unification around a personal center, for mind is not just an undefined something or other; where it exists in its own specific nature, it subsists as individuality, as person."

Therefore, this "implies that the cosmos is moving toward a unification in the personal," and "confirms once again the infinite precedence of the individual over the universal.... The world is in motion toward unity in the person. The whole draws its meaning from the individual, not the other way about" (ibid., emphasis mine).

Thus the conclusion of Christianity, at once "scandalous" and yet fully in keeping with the way things Must Be: that a single individual, a fully integrated and complete Cross-Word puzzle, is "the center of history and of the whole.... What stands at the end is a countenance. The omega of the world is a 'you,' a person, an individual."

And this, by the way, has political implications, since this quintessential cosmo-historical Person "is at the same time the final denial of all collectivism.... The final stage of the world is not the result of a natural current, but the result of responsibility that is grounded in freedom." Terrorists indeed.



I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song
A child is the father of the man


(All of the quoted material is from Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity. Some introduction.)

25 Comments:

Blogger swiftone said...

"Some introduction" indeed. This post could be an introduction to the blog, perhaps the book as well. Or perhaps as usual, I'm missing the point. Anyway, thanks for the digression of digressions. That cat through the knothole is trying to come together. Surf's up.

8/02/2011 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Introclusion.

8/02/2011 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

"The omega of the world is a 'you,' a person, an individual."

All(books of the Old Testament)
Four(books testify of Christ)
One(Son of God)
And
One(Son of man)
Four(Spirits work til the return)
All(Mankind)

8/02/2011 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...a prehistory of spirit or mind ...

Yes, sometimes I get the feeling I'm here just to restore balance to the Force.

8/02/2011 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

It seemeth like you or Ratzinger is about to coin an already-coined word: Anthropocosmos [Schwaller de Lubicz]

+ Auro too:
I have broken the limits of the embodied mind
And am no more the figure of a soul.
The burning galaxies are in me outlined;
The universe is my stupendous whole.


--Sri Aurobindo, The Cosmic Spirit

8/02/2011 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

What stands at the end is a countenance. The omega of the world is a 'you,' a person, an individual."

And this, by the way, has political implications, since this quintessential cosmo-historical Person "is at the same time the final denial of all collectivism....


On some level, too, I think the left understands this perfectly well. Hence all the "freedoms" and "individual rights" for which they fight so fiercely - the right to "self-esteem," "choice," complete sexual "liberation," and the importance of "expressing yourself."

All "freedoms" used for debasing Man as such, and indeed reducing him to a mere member of the collective.

Another thing about becoming a parent is that suddenly, the future matters on a very personal level. The thought of that beautiful little person growing up to be just another dumb beastling is completely intolerable. Of course, to the extent I'm able I won't let that happen, but the dominant culture right now is definitely not on my side. There is comfort in knowing that, no matter what the local and present circumstances may be, the Truth is continually unfolding and enfolding, revealing and reveiling, and always toward a deustination far greater than my little mind could ever begin to comprehend.

8/02/2011 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I don't know who invented this word "person", but clearly, we can't do without it.

8/02/2011 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

No person, no mission.

8/02/2011 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger katzxy said...

Check this out.

http://www.prageruniversity.com/Religion-Philosophy/The-Four-Big-Bangs.html

Looks like Dennis Prager is letting the cat out of the bag.

Now to read the post.

8/02/2011 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"For this way of looking at things is, in a manner of speaking, the death of death, since the "dead world" of matter (or the world of dead matter) looks very different once life emerges from its dark womb."

The ultimate womb with a view.

8/02/2011 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "All "freedoms" used for debasing Man as such, and indeed reducing him to a mere member of the collective."

Yep. And those are indeed some scary quote marks of a beastly nature.

The inverse of the highest good is always a source of the very darkest evil.

8/02/2011 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

Or, as we learn in the Sacred Texts of Buckaroo Banzi: "Remember: no matter where you go... there you are."

8/02/2011 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

"world and human existence belong necessarily to one another, so that neither a worldless man nor even a world without man seems thinkable"

Ridiculous considering that since the appearance of the first animal life on earth 600 million yrs ago, humans have been around less than 1/2 of 1% of that time.

8/02/2011 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

We're talking about "quality time" here, William. Not aeons of grunting and farting about under the alluvial plains.

"It's not how long you make it. It's how you make it long."

8/02/2011 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

a world w/out human brain conceiving it is not a world...
as strange and wonderful to think as that is.

Bill, whatever idea of such a manless world you have is only an idea in your present human brain, or dinky approximation thereof

'world' from the old germanic:
Vir =man
ald =old
It's raining it's pouring
the Vir Ald [world] is snoring

ie thundering

8/03/2011 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

meanwhile Bob you appeared in a dream last night [I was at your place semmingly invited but you seemed pretty unwelcoming/distracted!---can't blame you :) ---were even smashing something violently with a hammer, as i'd found myself doing in a recent dream also]
Anyhoo in the dream i found myself trying to show & tell, find this song which is allegedly the only vocalist Miles ever worked with [can that be true?]

8/03/2011 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

ge @ 6:35 - thanks for that! I was thinking of that little tune a few weeks ago, and wondering if I had remembered it right because it is so very odd, and then of course I wondered where it had come from. Now I have some idea :)

William - gosh, I was starting to think you didn't hate us (or at least Bob) anymore. I see you've found a point to miss, though, so I guess all's still wrong with the world.

8/03/2011 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Here again, as explained in the book, it is nothing more than an unexamined prejudice -- a postmodern superstition of the tenured -- to attempt to pull the subject down into into the object, as if this provides any kind of satisfactory explanation for either.
"

Hence all the snobjective reporting we hear from the left wing media.

Not to mention Willy's snobjective comments.
Free Willy Redux!

8/03/2011 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

ge--

That is correct. I can't think of any other vocalist who ever sang with Miles. Dorough, by the way, produced and arranged Spanky & Our Gang, which is one reason why their harmonies are so intricate and jazzy. He also wrote one of the candidates for One Cosmos theme song.

8/03/2011 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Vanderleun said...

Or, as we learn in the Sacred Texts of Buckaroo Banzi: "Remember: no matter where you go... there you are."

Skully sez: "By jove! I believe I've been there! Small world."

8/03/2011 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for the info Bob and GE!

I knew there was another reason I liked Our Gang/Little Rascals (besides Spanky and Buckwheat that is).

Can't hear the youtube but I know the theme song. :^)

8/03/2011 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/03/2011 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Vanderleun said "Remember: no matter where you go... there you are."

Oh well, sure, easy enough to say from the otherside of the 8th dimension. But just try being here and realizing there you are... I mean, please, just get me out of my way first, then we'll talk about my already being there.

Just as willian, run, run, run all day long and still he isn't able to get ahead of himself to see where he is.

Gotta be frustrating as heck.

8/03/2011 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Vanderleun said...

Or, as we learn in the Sacred Texts of Buckaroo Banzi: "Remember: no matter where you go... there you are."


Yeah, try telling my wife that. She's always wanting to ask for directions when I know perfectly well "there we are." :^)

8/03/2011 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

ge--

Speaking of Miles, interesting release next month: the second Great Quintet live in 1967.

8/03/2011 09:01:00 AM  

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