Friday, August 26, 2011

History and How it Gets that Way, Part One

In what follows, I have woven together a number of posts from five years back, all reflecting upon the cosmological significance of History -- or the importance of what happened to what's gonna happen, what always happens, and what wants to happen in spite of ourselves. It ended up being pretty long, so I'll post it in two parts.

The historian of the future... will not compose a history of civilization -- that is, the story of technological progress and sociopolitical struggles -- but will trace the path of mankind through the stages of purification and illumination to its ultimate attainment of perfection. His narrative will detail mankind's temptations and their vanquishment, the standards set by particular individuals and groups, and the progressive lighting-up of new insights and the awakening of spiritual faculties among human beings. --Valentin Tomberg

One of the main things that divides left and right is our very different conceptions of history -- not just this or that fact or interpretation, but rather, the very meaning of History as such.

In my formulation -- borrowed from Valentin Tomberg -- I find it useful to consider history as having a “day” aspect and a “night” aspect.

For example, that ABC movie of several years back, The Path to 9/11, offered us a retrospective glimpse into the night time of history between the two Twin Tower attacks of 1993 and 2001. Although few people noticed at the time, it was during the sleepy Clinton administration that sinister events were incubating in the night time womb of history.

History, according to Tomberg, “is not to be understood as something which plays itself out on one level, but must be comprehended also in its dimension of height and depth.” Furthermore, “the key concepts for understanding the night aspect of history are ‘degeneration’ and ‘regeneration.’”

Degeneration involves a gradual, step-by-step descent from a higher level, while regeneration is the opposite: re-ascent to a higher level.

This is why, both personally and collectively, in the absence of periodic “booster shots” from above (↓), things will simply degenerate below. Our much-rumored fall didn't just happen once upon a timeless, but is repeated by each generation, and even on a moment-by-moment basis. There is no reason to place one's faith in spiritually amputated man, to put it mildly.

These periodic booster shots often enter history like depth charges from above. History records the existence of celestial emissaries charged with a divine mission to regenerate a spiritually exhausted mankind. Subtract these relatively few luminaries from history, and it becomes a dark place indeed. You only get one Moses, one Socrates, one Washington, one Lincoln, one Churchill.

As Tomberg puts it, “All movements of a social, political, artistic, intellectual, and religious kind may indeed have different speeds of devolution, but one thing they have in common: if no reinforcing impulse is given after a certain time, they will inevitably exhaust themselves. A thing of motion or or of life becomes a corpse unless 'reawakening impulses' intervene.” This is why most cults end with the death of their founder. Malevolent cults that survive are kept alive via the constant ingression of a demonic (↑) from below (i.e., the lower vertical).

Now the reactionary, illiberal left has repackaged itself as “progressive,” when the very nature of leftist assumptions prevents genuine integral progress (soul-body-spirit). Because they are bound to the horizontal and “live by day,” the best they can hope to do is to regenerate themselves via their own products. Horizontality feeds upon horizontality, leading to a state of severe spiritual malnourishment, a kind of ontologically "weightless monkey" who subsists on his own excrement (once he attains tenure or is admitted to the MSM).

Conversely, the conservative liberal movement is clearly oriented to the “above,” always mindful of looking for regeneration and redemption outside the things of this world. The inspiration of the American founders did not come from the visible world. Indeed, this was their very first announcement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” and “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men...”

History is a circle, but it is an open circle, or spiral. However, it can only maintain the upward spiral -- i.e., Progress -- if it is specifically oriented to the finality of spiritual ideals that are not located in the field of time. These revivifying impulses from above eventually exhaust themselves unless human beings keep them alive and embody their cosmic role of co-Creator, or bridge between Heaven and Earth.

This is indeed the esoteric meaning of American classical liberalism. In its absence -- in the absence of a conscious conservation of spiritual energy -- entropy and gravity take over, and human nature takes care of the rest. To assimilate grace is to hitch a ride on one of the ubiquitous spiritual streams that course through the arteries of the cosmos, luring us toward our nonlocal ground and destiny.

*****

All our destinies are interwoven; and until the last of us has lived, the significance of the first cannot finally be clear. --Hans Urs von Balthasar

The great historian Christopher Dawson made the provocative and yet axiomatic assertion that being an eye witness to history is of no consequence whatsoever to historical insight. Rather, it is possible -- even likely -- to live through "history" without actually seeing it at all. For one thing, time needs to play out in order to see what it entails. But also, in an important sense, to be inside time is to be outside history, and vice versa.

Dawson uses the example of the Battle of Hastings, which every British schoolchild once knew: “A visitor from another planet who witnessed the Battle of Hastings would possess far greater knowledge of the facts than any modern historian, yet this knowledge would not be historical knowledge for lack of any tradition to which it could be related; whereas the child who says ‘William the Conqueror 1066’ has already made his atom of knowledge a historical fact by relating it to a national tradition and placing it in the time-series of Christian culture.”

Similarly, an eye witness to the Crucifixion might have taken as much notice of the two criminals beside Jesus. Only in hindsight was the centrality of Jesus’ death recognized, even by his closest disciples. It is fair to say that no one who witnessed it thought to themselves, "I cannot believe I am here to witness this. This is the center and still point of cosmic history. Yesterday was BC. Tomorrow will be AD.”

Dawson is in accord with Tomberg, writing that “Behind the rational sequence of political and economic cause and effect, hidden spiritual forces are at work which confer on events a wholly new significance. The real meaning of history is something entirely different from that which the human actors in the historical drama themselves intend or believe.” A contemporary observer cannot have imagined that “the execution of an obscure Jewish religious leader in the first century of the Roman Empire would affect the lives and thoughts of millions who never heard the names of the great statesmen and generals of the age.”

Thus, there is an unavoidably eschatological aspect of history. Events cannot be fully understood without reference to their finality, that is, what they point toward and reveal only in the fullness of time. As Dawson says, “The pure fact is not as such historical. It only becomes historical when it can be brought in relation with a tradition so that it can be part of an organic whole.”

Another historian, Dermot Quinn, writes that “The fact does not tell the story; the story, as it were, tells the fact. It is the latter that gives pattern and meaning; it is the former that lacks a meaning of its own.”

Therefore, in order to be a proper historian, one had better get one's story right. And what is the story? Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it?

For as alluded to above, left and right are operating under -- and within -- vastly different narratives -- historically, politically, culturally, economically, psychologically, theologically, and even cosmically. Our disagreement over American exceptionalism is just a symbol -- albeit a useful one -- of this divide.

If history were nothing more than the recording and accumulation of facts, it would be of no use to us. Detail alone does not constitute history, any more than randomly played notes constitute harmony and melody. Only by knowing what history is for can we know what is of importance in history. Since history as it happens consists of unique and unrepeatable events, it is unintelligible unless bound into a larger scheme of order.

As Quinn puts it, “Randomness has no meaning. Yet to give meaning to events in time is to remove them from time itself, to deny them the singularity that makes them historical.”

Likewise, as the philosopher Michael Polanyi argued, to see meaning beyond the local is to see it in the local. A fact does not and cannot speak for itself. Depending upon your nonlocal understanding of history, you will see completely different facts and regard them very differently.

For the Jew, the Torah is the cosmic Center. For Dawson, it is the Incarnation that gives history its center and therefore significance:

“Viewed from this center the history of humanity became an organic unity. Eternity had entered into time and henceforward the singular and temporal had acquired an eternal significance. The closed circle of time had been broken and a ladder had been let down from heaven to earth by which mankind could escape from the ‘sorrowful wheel’ which had cast its shadow over Greek and Indian thought, and go forward in newness of life to a new world.” On the other hand, people outside the Judeo-Christian tradition tended “to solve the problem of history by a radical denial of its significance."

Thus, Dawson admits his metahistorical prejudice at the outset. And whether they admit it or not, all historians operate under their own implicit or explicit metahistory. Without one, they could not “see” or imagine history at all.

In my case, I attempt to take into consideration all of the facts of existence - -scientific, biological, psychological, anthropological, historical, and theological -- and weave them into a tapestry of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution. Based upon this model, I know what is of historical significance to me. It is those things that either facilitate or impede the cosmic evolution of which human consciousness is the leading edge.

In other words, I like to place history in its ultimate context, for in the absence of an ultimate context, merely secular history really is a dark prison from which there is no hope of escape:

“It is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the light comes, all the elaborate mechanisms that have been constructed for living in the dark become useless. The recovery of spiritual vision gives man back his spiritual freedom” (Dawson). Conversely, the absence of this vision gives rise to fantasied utopias that are always being forced upon us by intoxicated adultolescents.

The radically secular culture of the left can only exist by keeping man in the dark. So don’t ever be surprised when they attack the Light. For,

When the prophets are silent and society no longer possesses any channel of communication with the divine world, the way to the lower depths is still open and man's frustrated spiritual powers will find their outlet in the unlimited will to power and destruction. --Christopher Dawson

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is the Left Insane or Merely Unsane?

Ahh, if only everyone were sane.

But what does it mean to be sane? The dictionary is of little help to us -- it simply says that to be sane is to be healthy, to be "free from hurt or disease," to be "mentally sound, especially able to anticipate and appraise the effects of one's actions," or "proceeding from a sound mind: rational."

Uh oh: able to anticipate and appraise the effects of one's actions. Does this mean that the left is intrinsically insane? Yes, it does -- at least when they are not criminally insane.

Actually, I would prefer the less loaded "unsane," because I believe the vast majority of leftists could see reality if only it were carefully explained to them in a non-confrontational manner. For example, to understand Hayek's knowledge problem is to understand why leftist economic schemes not only don't work, but always have unintended consequences, i.e., quackfire on us.

Conversely, conservatives see and anticipate these adverse consequences, whether we are talking about socialized medicine, rent control, porkulus, relaxing lending standards, printing too much money, redefining marriage, whatever.

The question of sanity is not, and cannot be, an either/or proposition. Rather, there are clearly degrees of sanity, and therefore, degrees of insanity.

Apparently -- except at the extremes-- all of us are more or less sane and insane at the same time; or sane about some things and less sane about others. We all have our buttons, which, when pushed, cause our ghosts to invade reality. This implies that there are degrees of reality, as opposed to the more stark dichotomy of reality/unreality.

More generally, think of psychological development: a child is not insane just because he sees and experiences reality in a different way than an adult. But development does not cease with chronological or biological adulthood. Rather, psychospiritual growth is an endless horizon.

Sanity clearly cannot be reduced to merely being rational, for a rationalism pushed to the extremes becomes patently irrational. Rather, reason must always be in the service of something else -- something called intelligence, and intelligence is beyond all reason.

In other words, no rational operation accounts for intelligence as such, or is able to judge why and how some people are so much more intelligent than others. Only intelligence can discern and judge intelligence.

And what is intelligence? If intelligence is to be a useful or meaningful construct, it can only mean one thing: the mind's conforming or adequation to reality, and reality is another word for Truth.

For no matter how high someone's IQ, if their intellect isn't conformed to truth, how intelligent are they really? It is foolish to suggest that IQ somehow correlates with truth -- as if a person with an average IQ of 100 is intrinsically less in touch with reality than a person one standard deviation above, at 115.

Look at Obama. Many on the left have suggested that he is the most intelligent man to ever occupy the White House. Leaving aside the intrinsic absurdity of such a claim, his intelligence clearly doesn't prevent him from embracing any number of untruths -- or, more neutrally, ideas that do not conform to reality.

But what is reality? Animals are beautifully conformed to reality, but does this mean they are sane? No, because they are conformed only to the lowest degree of reality, the outer shell or "epidermis" of the cosmos, the material world. But nor are they insane. You can't put a dog on trial for sexual harassment for humping your leg.

Unlike animals, human beings are consciously aware of the paradox of inhabiting two worlds, an external world of objects and quantitites, and a subjective world of qualities -- of thought, imagination, values, feeling, creativity, beauty, virtue, will. Thus, if sanity is conformity to reality, what does this mean as it pertains to the wider subjective world?

We are currently in the midst of a triangulated war for the future, between Islamism, Western European socialism, and American classical liberalism, i.e., liberty, free markets, and a spiritually grounded individualism. Only one of these is sane, or at least more sane than the others, i.e., more adequately conformed to both external reality (the way the world works) and, more importantly, internal reality (real human nature; note that the left doesn't have a problem conforming itself to our animal nature, but in such a way that it destroys the human).

However, it would be a mistake to view this struggle in terms of three competing ideologies on a horizontal plane. Rather, like most important historical events, this war is also taking place in vertical historical space.

In this regard, you may view the (real) United States and its spiritual allies as reflecting a transcendent position above, the Western Europeans occupying a fully immanent one on the two dimensional plane in between, and the Islamists who swim in the parasite-infested waters of the lower vertical.

Importantly, this infra-human domain is not to be confused with the animal realm, for there is obviously no animal that would or could sacrifice its own life for a transcendently evil cause, as do Islamists. Animals are not evil. Rather, they're just animals.

Most of the real wholesale evil in history is caused by groups inhabiting this lower vertical area, which is both sub-animal and infrahuman. Moreover, just as there are vertical Missionaries who embody the upper transcendent, there are avatars of evil who embody and give voice to the lower vertical: bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao, et al. The awesome power of these men is trans-human (or infrahuman, to be exact), and cannot be explained by recourse to any mere human psychology.

If there is a purely animal-human realm lacking in transcendence, then it is actually the immanent-horizontal space occupied by Western Europe and the international left. Although they think of America as "selfish" because of our belief in low taxes and limited government, it is actually the other way around.

While socialism may superficially appear to be more humane, Mark Steyn points out that "nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow is enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hoot about the broader social interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him." In this sense, social democracy is eventually "explicitly anti-social" (NR, 11-7-05). [Note how Steyn "saw the future," i.e., the unintended consequences playing out today, back in 2005.]

There is a further corrosion of the soul that takes place with European style socialism, in that, because it elevates material desires to the highest, it cynically cuts the heart out of any transcendent view of the world, anything beyond one's immediate animal needs.

As Steyn explains, it perversely elevates secondary priorities, such as mandated six week vacations, over primary ones such as family and national defense. And (real) progressive political change eventually becomes almost impossible, because the great majority have become dependent upon government, which causes a sort of "adherence" to the horizontal. To paraphrase Dennis Prager, the bigger the state, the smaller the human.

You cannot rouse the ideals of a nation that has lost its ideals. Any politician who threatens the entitlement system cannot get elected in Western Europe. The situation is analogous to an addict who has given over his power to the pusher.

By attempting to create the perfect society on earth through government coercion, it actually diminishes our humanity, since it relieves human beings of having to exert the continual moral effort to make the world a better place -- and oneself a better person -- as this is only possible by maintaining contact with the realm of transcendent moral and spiritual ideals.

In other words, European socialism is actually a flight from morality, thereby making people less humane, not more. It is a bogus kind of freedom, because it merely frees one from the vertical while condemning one to the horizontal.

As Pope Benedict has remarked, "I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia" (emphasis mine; this should be pasted over every goofy left wing bumper sticker).

As Tomberg summarizes it, the human being is always faced with the choice between two basic attitudes or outlooks: that of existential being or that of essential Being. According to the choice he makes, he is either "orphaned" in the purely material, deterministic and horizontal realm with no reality higher than his individual meatsack, or his individual being is grounded in the more essential, trans-subjective Being which is both his sanctuary and destiny.

The European existentialist lives shackled in the Egyptian "house of bondage," in manacles forged by the deterministic/materialistic outlook, resulting in a materialized reality drained of divine-human meaning. That is, no vertical causes can arise in the closed chain of cause and effect, so that one is truly imprisoned as it pertains to the moral/spiritual realm.

From the existential outlook follows a host of disastrous ideas, such as class determines consciousness, poverty causes crime, free will is an illusion, private property is theft, hierarchy is evil, the vertical dimension is an opiate for the masses to keep them oppressed, and worst of all, the idea that a coercive state is needed to enforce equality (vs. the American belief in a Creator who endows us with a spiritual liberty which it is government's primary duty to protect). The freedom of mere animal passion forges the fetters that bind Western Europe to the horizontal wasteland.

So, back to our original question: what is sanity? Sanity is not reason, but intelligence. And intelligence is conformity to the real -- both internal and external -- which is Truth.

Intelligence is the perception of a reality, and a fortiori the perception of the Real as such. It is ipso facto discernment between the Real and the unreal -- or the less real....

It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. The paradoxical phenomenon of even a “brilliant” intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively “horizontal,” hence lacking all awareness of “vertical” relationships....
--Frithjof Schuon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Incarnation, Discarnation, and Reincarnation

Okay, okay, a post. This one was spat out five years ago, and has never been rewordgitated. It will be as good as news to most readers. It certainly is to your early morning psychopomp.

To back up a bit, we've been spending some of our free time in a first approach at organizing the Knowa's Arkive.

No, we are not making much progress. Plus, most of 2005-2006 is pretty dispensable, in our esatimation. Sometimes we wish the blog were better known, or at least unKnown by more souls. But whenever we review what we have written, we always say to oursoph: "glad the blog wasn't better known back then!"

This one is in response to a question about reincarnation, asked in the course of an interview conducted by the improprietor of the blog Sigmund, Carl and Alfred.

Q: Do you believe in reincarnation? Do we really get another chance to “get it right?” Why?

A: Hmm... Why do I get the feeling that I have begged this question before?

Oh, wait. That's deja vu. This question is about reincarnation.

It is interesting that the Eastern, “right hemisphere” of the world regards reincarnation as a banal matter of faith, while it is a stumbling block for the Western, left hemisphere of the worldbrain. Is there a corpus colossum that can join the two hermetispheres and make sense of the concept?

As always, words are problematic and potentially misleading in discussing spiritual matters. In short, words are words, not the reality to which they point, nor the experience which they memorialize.

To start before the beginning, there is a fundamental difference between Western and Eastern approaches to philosophy, in the sense that the former generally begins and ends with knowledge by analysis and discernment, while the latter rests upon knowledge by experience and identification. (As we will see, this is more a matter of emphasis, for in reality, we cannot have the one without the other.)

For example, the touchstone of Vedanta is the Upanishads, which were written (actually, remumbled by others) by ancient rishis, or seers. As such, the Upanishads do not contain ideas that are argued but visions that were seen and experienced. Not only is this truth “seen,” but the seer comes to embody the truth so perceived.

In other words, this is transformative truth -- in knowing it, one is not the same. Naturally words must be used to convey the experience, but they mustn’t be confused with the thing in itself. This is a very different from Western philosophy, which mostly consists of ideas -- however wooly or trite -- that can be passed like an object from mind to mind.

The horizontal aspect of language is mostly reducible to a purely Darwinian explanation. But there is an irreducibly mysterious vertical aspect to language that cannot be so reduced, unless one wishes to be absurd. Most modern people don't mind being absurd, so long as they can imagine that they understand. Better to be absurd than to deal with the anxiety of not knowing. Hence, college.

It has been remarked that poets are metaphysicians in the raw, mediators between the essence of being and the miracle of knowing.

More generally, in its sacred, mythological, or poetic modes, language is the nexus between the nighttime and daytime realms. It imparts a kind of knowing, but one must not confuse this knowing with profane knowing of the linear and unambiguous variety. Just like everyday language, it reveals and discloses an "object." But it is not a three-dimensional object. Rather, it is a hyperdimensional subject-object.

Or one may think of profane language as dealing with horizontal recollection, while the type of language we are discussing involves vertical recollection, or anamnesis.

It is said that “that which is Night to all beings, that is Day to the Seer.” The typical soul is blinded by the bright and shiny objects of the waking world, while the seer is able to detect hidden connections in the night womb where events incubate before undergoing the formality of becoming in the external world. This we call the seer's catalogue.

There is a Bigstream of Life into which the particular stream of your playful lila life enters upon conception. Your life is a little eddy, so to speak, in the stream of Life, and partakes of that larger Life.

Once here, we see through a glass darkly: “on earth the broken arcs, in heaven the perfect round.” We float atop this mortality-go-round, but the stream below is full of information that links us to the whole.

Down below is a storehouse of collective memory to which we have access, and which can definitely give us the feeling that we have been here before, in particular, because spiritual growth always involves recollection -- not horizontal recollection but vertical recollection. We have a memoir of a future samething-or-Other that is already "inside" us, in our deepest, most inward being (or "beyond" us in our "highest" being. Whatever.).

Reincarnation is a way of talking about the two very different kinds of heredity that clearly operate in us: a horizontal heredity that is encoded in our genes and our culture, and a vertical heredity that seems to shape us from "above" rather than "behind."

In our view, when we talk about reincarnation, we are simply acknowledging the reality of vertical heredity. It is a way of talking about something real yet mysterious -- about that part of ourselves which not only has distinct inclinations and attitudes -- even perhaps a terrestrial mission -- but is also able to tap into a sort of knowledge base of which it has had no personal experience.

Are we really the product of two heredities? I don't know about you, but genes or no genes, I have no idea how I dropped into my particular spacetime matrix, AKA family, given the indifference and mutual incomprehension. I incarnated with very specific inclinations -- a bicosmic orientation -- that I can find in none of my relatives, either living or dead (at least until my son).

But I certainly see these connections in non-blood relations with whom I share vertical DNA.

*****

So, we apparently have a terrestrial heredity that extends back through higher primates, lower mammals, fish, plants, single cells, and across the dark abyss to insentient matter.

On the other invisible hand, we have a vertical heredity that extends through various degrees of being, all the way up until we reach Brahman, the Absolute, the One, The Father in Heaven, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs and the Uncreated Slack.

Our "frontal self" comes into the world the usual way, while another part of us is imaginately conceived, or, one might say, "word made flesh."

Unlike the horizontal word of DNA and natural selection, this is the vertical word of transnatural election.

There was a time, not too long ago, when human beings were not aware of their vertical descent from above, any more than animals are. Again, if you think of our humanness as situated at the innersection of the horizontal and vertical, it took some time for Homo sapiens to realize their place in the vertical.

In fact, one cannot even know of the horizontal until consciousness has lifted us above it. Otherwise we are simply immersed in our perceptions and engulfed by the senses. But as consciousness ascends, one begins to realize that the vertical is also a world in its own right.

After all, Homo sapiens was genetically complete as long ago as 200,000 (or as recently as 100,000) years. And yet, either way, we don't see much evidence in the archeological record of "vertical liftoff" until about 35-40,000 years ago, with the sudden appearance of beautifully realized cave paintings, body decoration, musical instruments, statuary, widespread burial of the dead, etc.

Clearly, vertical liftoff had begun by then, into a nonsensuous dimension of transcendental Love, Truth and Beauty that was anterior to our arrival there. For what would motivate an erstwhile ape not just to paint, but to do so with such refined delicacy of line, shade, and contour? Why bother?

But vertical progress for humans is frequently stalled, both collectively and individually. Human beings have reached many historical impasses, or crossroads (frankly, we are in a somewhat nasty one right now).

In reality, these are not horizontal impasses. Rather, they are vertical impasses. Overcoming these world-historical obstacles is not a matter of additional horizontal evolution. That process is basically over, although recent research seems to demonstrate that some additional evolution has been going on at the margins.

But even if certain brains have been getting a little bigger or smarter, it is not our hardizontalware, but our vertical software -- or aloftware -- that counts. You can have a gifted IQ but still languish below on the vertical launch pad, a point that is obvious if you consider the sorry state of contemporary academia. Plenty of big-brained primates there, all messed up with no place to grow.

As such, past historical impasses have been broken through in one of two ways: either a vertical ascent by some great hero from this side of manifestation, or a descent of the divine energy into time or into a particular person.

The vehicle of both ascent and descent is our perfected self, unencumbered by the accidents and distortions of horizontality. It is actually already there calling you, just waiting for you to catch up.

One of the main purposes of a religious luxicon is to provide memes of talking about an otherwise immaterial and nonsensuous dimension. Light, transparent, bright, freely coursing energy... these are all gladjectives that apply.

In the gospels, it says that Jesus gave a few disciples the privilege of seeing his vertical body of light. What must that have been like? First, of course, the disciples had to "ascend" vertically, "high upon a mountain." There, within the orbit of their highest aspiration, Jesus' face "shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." Then Jesus held a summit conference with two other luminous bodies, Moses and his shadowy double, Elijah.

Our physical body is on loan from nature, whom we must repay at the end of our days. "Thou owest nature a death."

But looked at vertically, the body is descended from the spirit, not vice versa; or, one might say that the spirit is the form of the body. Death, or disincarnation, involves an apparent separation of the vertical from the horizontal. Reincarnation is one way to talk about their mysterious union down here in 4D, but the realincarnation is above and ahead, not behind or below.

Monday, August 22, 2011

You Can't Plan a Head

My deblogging will continue through August, at least. As always, I have no plan to blog and no plan not to. Frankly, there is no plan except not having one, and certainly no plan to ever start planning to blog, but rather, to continue following the unplanned plan to the letter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summa Vacation

Excuse us while we inhale. Vacation starting in 3-2-1... O!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Cosmic (M)Other


In Theo-Drama III, Balthasar touches on the very subject we've been discussing. In a section called Jesus' God-Consciousness and Its Historical Medium, he says that

"The issue is this: If Jesus' consciousness of an absolute (divine) mission is to coincide with his I-consciousness, how can the child Jesus ever have awakened to self-consciousness without simultaneously knowing of his mission -- at least implicitly?"

For example, "many a pious picture shows the little Child playing with pieces of wood in the form of a cross." More problematically, theologians have often attributed to Jesus a complete knowledge of his mission and destiny -- along with everything else knowable by man -- from the moment of Incarnation.

Perhaps not problematic to you, but I don't get that.

T-Aq went so far as to suggest that Jesus could not learn from men at all, but if this is the case, then in what way can it be said that he was human, since the essence of humanness is relationship and exchange with other persons?

Balthasar points out that this is the case of a scholastic a priori colliding with reality, for "unless a child is awakened to I-consciousness through the instrumentality of a Thou, it cannot become a human child at all."

No one can escape this principle without escaping from his humanity. Thus, "if it is essential for self-consciousness to be awakened by a 'thou' and subsequently initiated into a world of spiritual tradition," then "it follows that the 'I' who awakens the unique 'thou' of the Child Jesus must have a unique relationship to him."

This does not imply that Mary had foreknowledge of Jesus' mission, the unusual circumstances of his conception notwithstanding. But as I described in the book (subsection 3.2, The Acquisition of Humanness in a Contemporary Stone Age Baby) -- well, let's just begin with that wise crack by Tolstoi, who said that "From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance."

Not only can we not exempt Jesus from this abysmal ("immeasurably great") developmental journey, but I would suggest that his many provocative statements about children and childhood -- quite unusual, if not unheard of, for the time -- suggest an acute awareness of the stakes. The fact that he is routinely depicted as an infant and a defender of children, and that he speaks of the virtues of childlike-ness, suggest that he was quite attuned to this reality, and that he didn't care who knew it.

Indeed, if we want to attribute to him a kind of super-human intelligence, then, with all due respect, it would actually be the opposite of what Thomas describes; that is, rather than being unable to learn from man, Jesus possessed great insight into every man's developmental roots in his own childhood. Why else put it in such vivid terms: It would be better for him if a millstone were hung about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than he should offend one of these little ones.

As I wrote in the book, babies "interact with mothers in such a way as to use them as an 'auxiliary cortex' for the purpose of 'downloading programs from from her brain into the infant's brain.'"

Actually, this is slightly misleading, because prior to the downloading of any explicit "content," the baby takes in the whole maternal matrix (matrix = womb) -- the context rather than content -- which becomes the "background subject of primary identification." And this is, of course, where the deepest mind parasites get in.

As it so happens, I've been observing a particular mother who is extremely anxious but doesn't know it, and how she is unfortunately transmitting this to her son, whom she then must "protect" because of his identification with her anxiety," in a kind of closed intrapsychic circle.

The point is, if a mother is unable to think her thoughts, she will end up forcing her child to think them for her. But how can an infant possibly bear such thoughts? (BTW, if I had been a younger parent, I would have undoubtedly transmitted a lot more mind parasites into my son. As things stand, he doesn't seem to have any except for those he brought with him, plus the standard issue pests that come with being human.)

Back to Schönborn. He agrees that "Human awareness is inconceivable without relationships with others." We do not become self-aware "as a result of withdrawing all bridges to the outside and being with" ourselves. "There is no such thing as isolated self-awareness. Openenss to and dependence on others are an essential part of human self-awareness: first of all, to the mother, the first person to whom one relates."

I'm thinking about this for the first time, but it has always been recognized that the Incarnation has a relationship to History, in that it is as if the author of the world-historical play jumps down onto the stage and enters the action.

But for me, History is dependent upon psycho-developmental history. No other animal besides man has history, because no other animal has the open-ended psychological development resulting from his neoteny. Thus, not only is childhood critical to understanding man, but, in an important sense -- just as Jesus advised -- we remain children for life, in that we are always growing toward our nonlocal developmental telos.

Now, Ratzinger and other esteemed theologians suggest that Jesus is, in a sense, the "end made middle," or the fulfillment of history crashing into time. But what if we apply the same eschatology to personal history? This doesn't really require much of a leap, given that Jesus is, so to speak, God's icon of man, of which we are more or less pale reflections.

But in any event, rather than providing us with a model of ontological completeness, Jesus clearly provides a model of dependence, relationship, and obedience (to the Father). Thus, of all people, he would be the last one to think of as closed off to others.

Schönborn reminds us that "every human self-awareness is mediated and not unmediated," and that "only in knowing other people and things, and only by this means, do we know ourselves." So, "In that sense, we may and must assume that Jesus came to know himself through others, and, like any child, especially through his mother."

It is quite the opposite of Sartre's claim that "hell is other people." For hell is no other people -- no relationships -- precisely.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How the Under Half Lives

Let us cautiously proceed with this idea of Jesus' psycho-spiritual or pneuma-cognitive "development," which essentially comes down to his -- or anyone else's -- deployment in time.

Obviously, no human being is born "complete," or, less inaccurately, finished. No one is -- or should be -- finished until their life is. And even then... or so we have heard from the wise.

Rather, just like the body, the soul always points toward its own fulfillment, meaning that it must, in a sense, be both an "already" and a "not yet" -- which, as we shall see, has some important implications for Christian eschatology in general.

(And with regard to these irreducible orthoparadoxes that are not susceptible to aristotelian logic, -- e.g., already/not yet, I-in-Christ, Christ-in-me -- I would recommend using your God-given bi-logic to understand them.)

I am reminded of a couple of quotes by Norbert Elias contained in the Cʘʘnifesto:

"[T]he individual, in his short history, passes once more through some of the processes that his society has traversed in its long history.... If one wished to express recurrent processes of this kind in the form of laws, one could speak, as a parallel to the laws of biogenesis, of a fundamental law of sociogenesis and psychogenesis."

Never ask why human beings keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over, or why each generation discovers anew the wonderfulness of socialism, only to see their collectivist tower of bubbles come crashing down.

The second quote, and it's a good one, full of implications:

"It seems as if grown-up people, in thinking about their origins, involuntarily lose sight of the fact that they themselves and all adults came into the world as little children. Over and over again, in the scientific myths of origin no less than religious ones, they feel impelled to imagine: In the beginning was a single human being, who was an adult" (emphasis mine).

Interestingly, one thing I've really noticed about Balthasar, Ratzinger, and Wojtyla, is their deep appreciation of psychological development, and with it, attachment, bonding, parental relatedness, etc., which automatically, even if only implicitly, confers much more importance upon Mary, since carrying Jesus in her womb was only the beginning of her task (as indeed all mothers know).

With all due respect -- and I love icons -- the baby Jesus cannot resemble those paintings in which he looks like a mature little man with a full head of hair, grasping a Torah scroll instead of a bottle.

The idea we've been developing over the past several posts is that -- consistent with long-established dogma -- Jesus is man and God, unmixed and yet undivided. Here again, with the use of our bi-logic we may imagine how such a situation could be.

For Rahner (as described by Schönborn), we might imagine in Jesus "a basic mode of being that is immediate to God, of an absolute kind," coexisting with "a development of this original self-awareness of the absolute fact of the creaturely intellectuality having been given away to the Logos."

I don't know if that last sentence was entirely clear, but Schönborn goes on to suggest that "what develops in the human life of Jesus" is obviously not the basic mode, or his essential ground of divinity, but rather, "the thematization and objectification of this basic mode of being in human concepts that are taking place."

Here again, this allows us to at least imaginatively enter into his mentality, and understand how he could gradually come to terms with his mission -- for example, while praying in the garden of Gethsemene.

And it helps get our minds around the idea that Jesus can be God and yet have an "I-thou relationship with the Father that occurs in history."

For Balthasar, Jesus "mission" in time is precisely the realization in history of the eternal activity of the godhead, or the historical prolongation, so to speak, of the Trinity into time.

In a certain way, I suppose we may imagine it as the dialectic of O and (¶), only writ large, to put it mildly. As alluded to above, Jesus both "is" and, in the End -- or better yet, Begending -- "becomes" O: not My will, but Yours, be done.

This we might say is the full concordance of Man and God, or the full conscious realization of ʘ. Indeed, we might even pneumaticonically represent the well-known formula of the Fathers by unSaying: O became (•) so that (•) might become ʘ.

As we have discussed in many posts, there is not, nor can there be, any humanness in the absence of relationship, and this would apply quintessentially to Jesus.

For who is Jesus, ultimately? He is Son, and the essence of Son-ness is the relation to Father (and vice versa).

Gotta get rolling. To be continued....



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Does I AM Say that I AM?

If omniscience is more the mode than the content, then it is clearly in the subject, irrespective of the object(s) it contains and contemplates.

In other words, even if we had access to every single "fact" -- like a vast computer -- we would not be omniscient unless we were in the mode of omniscience. Conversely, even with no "facts," so to speak, omniscience remains omniscience.

I believe it is possible to approach this coonundrum by way of analogy. As it so happens, psychoanalytic theory describes clear developmental stages which result in fundamental transformations to the subject, so that the "objects" within undergo changes as well.

To be perfectly accurate, the objects do not change, but the "vertex" of the subject does, but this seems to bring a new object into being; or at least hidden dimensions are disclosed that can only be perceived in the higher mode.

I've posted on this subject before, but I know not when. I believe I characterized psychological development as a "conquest of dimensionality," a phrase I once heard Terence McKenna use in a more anthropological sense.

For if we consider the long view, human historical development clearly involves an ongoing conquest of dimensionality, or exploration of the cosmic interior.

By the way, just yesterday I noticed a provocative sentence by Ratzinger, which includes the words, "theological advances have not ceased..." Advances. What can he mean by this?

For animals, the world is mostly surface. They have a sensory orientation to the world, which is why their reality is quite unimaginable to us. It's still "the world," obviously. And sometimes they experience much more of it than we do, albeit on a single plane. For example, who can imagine what it would be like to be a dog, whose olfactory sense is so acute that it can detect urine to the tune of one part in ten thousand (or whatever it is)?

But a normal human being comes into to the world oriented to the cosmic interior, to which almost all other animals are entirely closed. However, it doesn't end there, with the simple binary of interior/exterior or human/animal.

Rather, just as there are degrees of sensory attunement -- e.g., dog nose vs. human nose -- there are degrees of interior attunement. For example, psychologists now talk about "emotional intelligence." I'm not one of them, but wikipedia describes it as "an ability, skill or... a self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups."

I don't have time to go into the etiology of my own model, but....

BORRR-ring.

Agreed. I just googled myself (it tickles!) and found a previous post in which I discuss the subject.

Now, there is a question in developmental psychology -- at least in integral/transpersonal circles -- as to whether "spiritual development" inhabits its own maturational track, or whether it goes along with psychological maturation in general. It's a little difficult to say, because, for example, one can attain sainthood in the absence of great intellectual development, or, conversely, one may be a great theologian without attaining sainthood.

Still, I think the "more perfect man" would be someone like Aquinas, or Eckhart, or John Paul II, in whom sanctity and intellect are equally developed. Many a fall is caused by good intentions in the absence of intellectual rigor. But so too are falls caused by intellectual development proceeding ahead of emotional and spiritual development.

Another way of saying it is that sanctity may be attained in the realms of truth and/or of virtue, but ideally these two are united, for virtue is the truth of action, while truth is the virtue of intellect.

Sanctity as such is not a "moral concept, but an ontological reality: the divine reality communicating His intimate and proper Life to some of His children. The saint is thus not primarily the humanly perfect Man, but the divinised human person." It is "not so much God-realization on Man's part, as Man-realization on God's part" (preface to Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle).

Thus, "The progress of a spiritual person towards God is rather the progress of God in him or her. The ascent to the mountain on a person's part (↑) corresponds to the more real descent of God (↓) into his/her being" (ibid., emphasis and sharp objects mine).

Therefore, we might say that God -- and only God -- discloses his omniscience in this (↑↓) trialectic, or what we call the cosmic gyrescape.

Returning to Schönborn, he says that in the "ultimate unity of the conscious subject, in which I know myself, in which I am as it were everything," lies "the clearest analogy to the divine omniscience, which must surely be thought of as a unity, not as an infinite sum of perceptions."

As it pertains to Jesus, he writes (following Rahner) that what "develops" in his human life is, or must be, a kind of gradual disclosure of his own interior. For even -- or especially! -- Jesus was a baby, a boy, an adolescent, a young man. Presumably development took place, just as it does for any human. We are not born adult, which is to say, mature. Eternity takes time.

Quoting Rahner, "This does not of course mean that Jesus 'came upon something' that he absolutely did not previously know but, rather, that he more and more grasps what he already always is and what he basically already knew."

In this way, we are able to, in a sense, reconcile the divine and human, which can be seen as both without confusion and without division.

In a way -- and I'm thinking about this for the first time -- we might think of Jesus as "God deployed in human (developmental) time," since a human being cannot help but be situated in developmental time. Jesus is God refracted through the lens of humanness, but this lens has very specific temporal properties that we need to understand in order to see how God manifests in the human mode.

We (intuitively) know, for example, how God manifests in the mode of nature, since the latter radiates something of the divinity in what Schuon calls its "metaphysical transparency." I suppose that glory, or divine beauty, is ultimately how he manifests in Jesus. Only when we perceive this resplendence are we able to exclaim with Peter, Wo, you really are the Son of the living God!

Like anyone can know that! For again, this is not God-realization on Man's part, but Man-realization on God's part.

I call it a guman... It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like God and human unmixed and undivided... bred for its skills in salvation...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mister Gnosis-All & Miss Understanding

... omniscience? Which is what, exactly? a: infinite knowledge b: universal or complete learning or knowledge

Omniscient: 1: having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight : knowing all things : infinitely wise 2: possessed of universal or complete knowledge

Not sure if that's helpful. What do you mean, "infinite?" 1: being without limits of any kind : subject to no limitation or external determination 2: having no end : extending indefinitely : having no limit in power, capacity, knowledge, or excellence : immeasurably or inconceivably great

Seems to me we're entering an absurcular tautology here: omniscience is having infinite knowledge, and infinite is having no limit in knowledge, AKA omniscience.

And let's not get into "universal," or even "knowledge," because I believe we'd encounter a similar tautology, for if a truth isn't universal, it isn't true and therefore not proper knowledge.

Let us stipulate that God -- or O, rather -- is by definition "OMniscient." We could also turn this around and say "omniscient is O," since it is the only case -- even if hypothetical -- of omniscience.

Except we are also told that Jesus is "true God." If so, then he is "ʘmniscient." But how? How can a man be omniscient? We can affirm it, but can we understand it, even by analogy?

And if we can't, isn't it just nonsense? Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, for such "nonsense" can nevertheless serve the purpose of placing a border around thought, and let us know that beyond this border, no productive thought is possible. Like "zero" in math, we need a placeholder for nothing in order to think.

There are many such boundaries in Judaism, which no doubt contribute to their being such a freakishly productive people. For example, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Period. Issue settled. Move along. Get a job. Support your family. Don't waste your life in idle speculation about what comes "before" creation.

(The doctrine of creatio ex nihilo serves a similar purpose in Christian metaphysics, which one might say is meaningless in a meaningful way.)

So, again: how are we to understand how this applies to Jesus? In other words, if we say he is "omniscient," is this something we may actually "think about," or is it more a kind of pneumacognitive boundary to prevent us from wasting our time on unproductive speculation? Should we just say it's a "mystery," and leave it alone?

No doubt this is fine for most people, since most people are not metaphysicians or Raccoons. For the majority of believers it is more important what they "feel" than what they know, although it should be emphasized that in a normal person, feeling serves as a kind of very sophisticated and rapid-response knowing.

Revelation is addressed to the "average" mentality. So where does this leave those of us who are at the margins of normality? Is there no religion for us? Did God forget about us in his haste to fashion a revelation for mass consumption?

Oh, and before you even go there, no, this does not make us "elite" or "special." Rather, it simply and dispassionately acknowledges who we are. We could pretend to be otherwhos in order to "pass" in normal society, but as we mentioned a day or two ago, the "original sin" is pretending to be someone we are not.

A lot of mis- and disunderstanding might be avoided if our detractors could simply acknowledge that we do not run a blog for normals. As we speak, there are over 500 religious blogs that cater to normotic personalities, and are (naturally) more popular than ours. This is to be expected, as there is no shortage of nonbʘbs.

Back to our idle questions about the nature of Jesus' mentality. Schönborn asks, "Is the concept of 'omniscience' a meaningful concept at all?" If so, "what might represent its corresponding finite analogy in human consciousness?"

Is it Al Gore, the self-styled omniscient weatherman who drunkenly assures us that any opinion deviating from his is BULLSHIT!!! Is it the petulant and peevish know-it-all Obama, or is he just bluffing? No, because someone who pretends at omniscience is just infinitely stupid, or Ømniscient. That sort of unsettling Ømni-science is indeed settled.

Let's start with some basics. As Schönborn explains, "Omniscience cannot be the sum of all present, past, and future propositions." In other words, by its very nature, "One does not become omniscient" because "one cannot get from a finite to an infinite knowledge by a process of addition."

That may be helpful, because it suggests that omniscience is not so much the "content" as the "mode," so to speak. In fact, it can't really be the content, because (as deifined at the top) in the mode of the "infinite" there can be no boundary, no limitation, no determination, no distinction between knowledge and its knower.

Bob, that makes me a little uncomfortable, because you're beginning to sound like some kind of mush-headed non-dual mystic who reduces the world to an infinite blob of no-thingness.

Don't worry about that. We are not one of those. Nor are there any hidden fees in my saying so. One Cosmos will never grovel for your love offerings.

Schönborn goes on to point out that "negative [apophatic] theology" is a kind of unknowculation against our attempts to grasp what cannot be grasped with our finite minds, which "simply cannot imagine a total knowledge."

Unimaginable. Immarginable. Reminds me of Joyce's boundary-less and omnihilist text. Perhaps it can provide a clue or two.

"There is no agreement as to what Finnegans Wake is about, whether or not it is 'about' anything, or even whether it is, in any ordinary sense of the word, 'readable.'"

Now we're getting nowhere, and fast! An unreadable text that isn't about anything. And yet, "it is, perhaps, the single most intentionally crafted literary artifact that our culture has produced." But why would someone spend their life painstakingly crafting a meaningless text?

O, I don't know, except when I do. How and why does a meaningless cosmos make such sense to us? And doesn't any kind of real and universal knowledge necessarily partake of...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wanted: One Messiah. No Experience Necessary

Lord of the Flies. Happens every time you put the children in charge.

Any idiot can change the world, but that doesn't mean you can change reality. But the left long ago abandoned any pretense of understanding the world for changing the world. Change! Change is good, isn't it? Isn't this what they were hoping for? Finally the death of capitalism.

It's fine, I suppose, to have an adolescent ideology when one is an adolescent. But what if adolescence is the maturational terminus of said ideology, and every institution established or infiltrated by these immature ideologues legitimizes their immaturity?

Not only do we need a different ideology -- one that isn't, to be exact -- but some adults to administer it. Because it will take the rest of our lives -- at least -- to undo the mess the left has gotten us into, not just here, but around the world.

Yesterday I had to inform my six year-old that his allowance will not begin to cover the bill for Obama's spending spree. Naturally he's going to want a raise, but then I had to explain to him the perils of inflation.

Indeed, it will require an unusual (these days) degree of maturity to endure the patience that will be required to dig our way out. For one thing is certain: even the wisest and most mature adults will not be able to turn this around in one, two, or four years. Which will be the basis of the left's shrill calls for more socialism in the coming years, in order to solve the problems created by socialism (which, you will recall, all started with the socialist attempt to make everyone a homeowner -- or rather, to force lenders to make loans to unqualified borrowers).

Oh well. Human nature. Never say that it's not in need of redemption.

Which brings us back to our freewheeling discussion of Christology, in particular, how we may approach the question of human and divine natures coexisting in the same being.

"For the Son is not the Father -- for only one is the Father, and yet he is what the Father is -- nor is the Spirit the Son, because he comes from the Father, for only one is the Only-begotten, and yet he is what the Son is" (Gregory the Theologian).

In other words, the three persons of the Trinity share an essential "what" but not the "who." This would imply that the What is "deeper" or more fundamental than the Who, but this is not so, because the "whoness" is intrinsic to the "whatness."

What this means is that there is no What without a Who, or rather, no AM without an I. And there is no I without a Thou, and no I-Thou without a link between that is called "love," but which I would prefer to symbolize (L) and (K).

For love and knowledge -- or truth -- are always related, no matter how much one may wish to deny it (but why would one want to, anyway?). Put it this way. You -- you there: do you have any obligation to Truth? Do you owe the Truth your allegiance, your respect, your devotion even?

Of course you do. If you don't, then why am I listening to you? And why are you bothering with me?

If we ask the question, "Who am I?", it is obviously insufficient to answer it in any materialistic way, but also with any general appeal to Being, because man is always personal being. Indeed, he is the mode of personal being within the cosmos (which is why a part of him is always "without" the cosmos, i.e., transcendent). And this personal being is always particular, even though it shares the general features. Yes, I am somebody, but not just anybody.

Oddly enough, this issue reverts back to our opening comments about the current crisis. For if we fail to respect the distinctions within the Trinity, we end up with an admixture that always redounds to our detriment: "Intermingling would mean caesaropapism or political messianism, when a political reality is equated with the Kingdom of God. The human element is swallowed up here" (Schönborn).

This is why genuine religiosity was and is an inoculation against the latest messianism of the left, i.e., Obama. Only a rube or knave would place hope in this mediocrity, who is merely a nothing when he isn't busy pretending to be everything.

And you will see more and more of this recognition on the left, as the scales fall from their eyes and he transitions from everything back to nothing, from somebody back to anybody. The important point is that he hasn't changed, only the projections of those who saw something more in him than a smooth-talking but none-too-bright community agitator.

As usual, this will not be an occasion for introspection on the left or in the media (but I repeat myself), but an occasion to reassemble the search committee for the next messiah. In fact, I believe they'd already have one in place -- as they did in 1980 -- if it weren't for Obama's "race" (which I place in quotes only because I attach no importance to it). For the Democrats cannot alienate blacks and win any national election. Live by the race card, die by the race card.

Picking up where we left off yesterday, we were discussing the nature of "self-knowledge." Now, even the most thorough knowledge of oneself is nothing whatsoever like scientific knowledge, i.e., knowledge of objects and principles. Rather, it is first of all interior knowledge of one's interior, but also "knowing oneself as a whole" (Schönborn), even though the latter is never -- and can never be -- completely conscious.

This a priori "wholeness of self" is an extremely mysterious reality that doesn't receive sufficient attention. For it's one thing for us to perceive exterior oneness, or relative wholeness, in an object of some sort, which has clear boundaries around it. But how to account for the interior wholeness that we take for granted, but which is the implicate ground of our humanness?

It seems that Augustine confronted this question way back in the day. According to Schönborn, he was "convinced that there is something that 'every mind knows of itself and about which it is certain,'" which is none other than I Am.

In this regard, he anticipates Descartes by a millennium or so, but without going off the rails into a mere rationalism: "This ultimate certainty, which can never become objective knowledge, is the basis of all perception" (ibid.).

Thus, not "I think, therefore I am," but rather, "I am, therefore I think." For remember: there is no AM in the absence of the I; and in order for thinking to be both "in truth" and (therefore) efficacious, it must obviously be in conformity to Truth. And do you owe no obligation to Truth? Of course you do. We've already settled that.

Long story short, I believe it is fair to say that, since Jesus is "true man," then all of the above observations must apply to him as well -- indeed, must apply to him quintessentially.

For he surely respects the distinctions within the Trinity, even while knowing that they cannot ultimately be separate; he has an unusually high degree of self-awareness, and with it, other-understanding, or empathy; has a total allegiance to Truth; and does not conflate celestial and terrestrial dimensions, despite the ubiquitous temptation to vote Democrat.

Ah, nostalgia. Good times, good times... until Thatcher had to come along and wreck things.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Monday Morning Metaphysical Quarterbacking

We are in the midst of a discussion of Christology, which essentially comes down to that age old question: Who do you say that I am?

Well, obviously I am Bob. Even the least of you knows that. Nevertheless, just because one knows that I am Bob -- and some days even I have my doubts -- it doesn't mean one knows what it is like to be Bob, hence the need for a more systematic Bobology, not to mention all those years of psychotherapy.

In the case of Jesus -- as mentioned in the antepost -- it is one thing to say that he is "two natures in one person," but this serves the purpose more of defining what he is not as opposed to providing any kind of understanding of what it is like to be him.

For if someone is truly sui generis, one-of-a-kind and kind-of-a-One, isn't it a little like trying to understand the consciousness of a different species? And yet, it is insisted: true man. That being the case, there must be some way to relate to this true man despite the fact that he also happens to be true God.

Returning to Schönborn's discussion of Rahner's stab at it, recall that the latter begins with a proper description of human consciousness, which exists on a vertical spectrum, to which our conscious mind -- which is only a small part of consciousness as such -- does not and cannot have total access.

For practical reasons alone, if we were bombarded every moment with everything we "know," we would immediately become paralyzed.

For example, the average human knows tens of thousands of words, and yet, at the moment, they are pouring out of me without any conscious awareness of this reservoir, nor any agonizing decisions over which ones to use... er, deploy... no, wield... toss out there... press into service. It is not as if I rifle through this word-dump and and consider the infinite possibilities buried there. And in a pinch, I just make up a new one anyway.

The point is that for any "true man," one of the most striking things about him will be this dialectic -- or complementarity -- between what is implicit and explicit -- between tacit and focal awareness, between what we know and all we know. Does the jazz musician plot out his solo before he delivers it?

And this isn't even getting into the issue of the neurotic person, who unconsciously knows all sorts of troubling things he consciously denies, or who consciously knows things that just ain't so.

Presumably, this would be one of the human foibles to which Jesus was not heir. He was of course tempted by it, but did not fall into it. For the "first temptation" is always the invitation to be someone you're not.

Regarding our tacit knowledge, I once read something about the extremely sophisticated knowledge of physics and gravity that the successful NFL quarterback must possess. I mean, some nerd could work out on paper the timing, velocity, and trajectory required to dispatch a 15 ounce object to its moving target, but by the time he arrived at the answer he'd be sacked.

When we say we "know ourselves," what kind of knowledge is this? It certainly is not, and cannot be, scientific knowledge, since it is entirely private knowledge, which no one else can ever know on a firsthand basis.

But more troublingly, science does not regard it as ontologically real anyway. This means, perversely, that in order to be an "orthodox scientist" -- i.e., to embrace scientism -- the rallying cry must be do not know thyself! For to believe there is a "self" to be known is to fall into the trap of essentialism, which science dismisses as pure illusion.

For the record, I do not believe that such scientists exist, but that they are analogous to the neurotic referenced above. That is to say, they deny consciously -- and rationalistically -- what they unconsciously know full well. No one could actually live their absurd metaphysic and remain human. I'm not sure "what" they would be, but whatever it is, it would not be human. Ayn Rand, maybe.

So clearly, when we say that Jesus is "true man," it cannot mean that he is analogous to, say, Spock, a creature of pure reason; or omniscient in the manner, say, of a computer, which has immediate access to "all it knows." For a computer, there are no "hard" questions and "easy" ones. No computer says, "Hmm, that's a provocative question. Hadn't considered that angle. Mind if I sleep on it?"

Speaking of which, we learn from the gospels that Jesus spends a lot of his spare time "praying to his father." What's that all about? More to the point, what does it say about his -- and our -- humanness? For clearly, it implies a simultaneous continuity and discontinuity between one aspect and another -- or one person and another, to be precise.

I'm just free associating here as usual, but it just occurred to me that (in my opinion) a breakthrough occurred in psychoanalytic theory when it was discovered that the unconscious is not full of static "objects," so to speak, but relationships. This is why modern psychoanalysis is referred to as Object Relations theory.

But even that is a misnomer, because a more accurate name would be Subject Relations. The unconscious mind is really a kook depository of troubling relationships which most people end up acting out in relationships with other people. "Acting out" is the opposite of "insight," which we might term "thinking-in." Thinking-in prevents acting-out, while acting-out substitutes for thinking-in. To put it another way, neurotic action is exteriorized thought.

And as it so happens, many of Jesus' parables and actions can be seen as counsels to stop acting out and to start thinking about one's emotions and impulses, e.g., turn the other cheek, pull that beam out of your eye, stop stoning that sinner, don't be so quick to judge, etc. The only way to "know thyself" is to first create a space between thought or emotion and impulse or action.

Back to the question of what self-knowledge is. Rahner calls it "an a priori nonobjective knowledge of oneself.... This basic mode of being is not objective knowledge, and normally we do not deal with it; reflection never adequately catches up with this basic mode of being, even when it is explicitly directed toward it."

This essential "selfhood" is indeed a problem. Again, scientists just make it disappear via denial, whereas eastern religions do so via a radical disengagement and subsequent impersonal identification with its ground (even though they do not and cannot really rid themselves -- much less, us! -- of themselves, but rather, generally become new-age Salesmen).

I'm pressed for time this morning. I'll have to pick up the thread tomorrow.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Son of God? Tell it to the Pagans!

A brief aside before we proceed into the meat of the post.

One of the obvious tensions in early Christology resulted from the fact that these were Jews, even devout ones. "Christian" was not a self-designation, but a Roman epithet for these eccentric and annoying meshugeners.

True, they were messianic Jews -- but that can be said of all Jews, since being a Jew means being always on the lookout for his appearance. The problem was that the résumé of this particular candidate in no way met expectations. More problematically, there was nothing in existing Judaism permitting the messiah -- or any other man, for that matter -- to be the "son of God." Judaism is not some kind of pagan fertility cult.

Remember, these were strict monotheists. There was nothing kosher, to put it mildly, about the idea of God being a man, becoming a man, or appearing in the form of a man: Er, no. We don't do that. That is for the superstitious Romans who make up silly stories and pretend their Caesars are gods.

Which is perhaps why the story generally went down easier with the goyim, but often at the expense of distorting it with a pagan, not Jewish, mentality. Many of the heresies that had to be struck down over the centuries were a result of thought that was not properly Christian -- which was in the process of development -- and certainly not Jewish, but rather, pagan. No different from today.

In fact, I had this very conversation with a Jewish relative a couple of months ago, who said she had no difficulty with the idea of Jesus as a prophet or moral teacher, but that the second commandment was an insurmountable obstacle to ever regarding him as God. Can't go there. Monotheism is monotheism, and idolatry is idolatry.

She is, of course, correct. Except that she has erected a false dichotomy of Jewish-pagan, rather than the complementarity, or organicity, of Jewish-Christian. This is in no way to imply that she should abandon Judaism, only to say that in order to understand Christianity, one must look at it through its own categories (some of which address precisely the issues she raises).

Ironically, the reality, in our opinion, only adds to the credibility of the gospels, since only a rather inattentive or frankly oblivious Jew would try to convince other Jews with a tall tale calculated to repel them. While you're at it, might as well say the messiah is a bacon-loving polygamist who sacrifices children to Ba'al. If you're going to make something up, why not at least make it plausible -- or even just palatable -- to your audience?

But as we were discussing yesterday, this is precisely why it took hundreds of years to sort this all out, and to square monotheism with the circle of trinitarianism -- which is obviously not tri-theism, God forbid!

The ultimate result was a delicate balance that preserves a strict monotheism while allowing the Incarnation. Just the fact that it took so long to fine-tune this theology shows how seriously these early theologians took the connection to Judaism.

On to the main program. I'm going to skip straight to the part of the book that most caught my attention and made my eyes bug out of my head, carom off the page, and shoot back into their sockets. I should point out that I haven't yet thought about the implications. I just knew that there were some implications, and that the passage would make for good blogfodder. I put my mind "on hold" until I could post about it, so the bobservations could be freshly half-baked, as usual.

Schönborn reviews Karl Rahner's attempt to grapple with the question of what Jesus' mentality must have been like. Is there any earthly analogue that allows us to at least imagine what it must have been like? After all, it is said that he was "true man." That being the case, how can this be reconciled with being "true God"?

In practical, everyday terms, what is it like to have "two natures"? Does this mean he's conflicted, like any other neurotic with competing agendas? Does the man know what the God is up to? If so, then what's the big deal about the Passion? Doesn't he know it will all turn out well in the end? Isn't he omniscient?

These might seem like silly questions, but they were precisely the sort of questions that have been asked since the beginning. You can just say, as many people do, that the questions are not susceptible to any rationalistic answers, and that it's just a mystery. Fine. But is this really a satisfactory answer?

More to the point, doesn't this create a huge barrier between us and Jesus, when there is supposed to be not just "companionship," but intimacy? How can one be intimate with someone whose mentality we cannot possibly understand? How may we approach someone who is so elevated, so brilliant, so lofty, that we are not worthy of him -- like the pagan godman Obama, who is barefootin' while the Dow burns?

Rahner's analysis of this question is quite "modern" -- and I mean that in a good way -- in that it takes advantage of just how much more we know about the mind than was known in "pre-critical" times (without tossing out what moderns have forgotten!).

For example, he begins with the critical idea that consciousness is never a kind of one-dimensional phenomenon. Rather, it is a "many-tiered structure" in which "at any given point in time man will consciously know some facts, but unconsciously know others" (emphasis mine).

And this doesn't just go for the "Freudian" or "pathological" unconscious, important though that may be. Rather, it would also apply to the scientific, cultural, historical, religious, and any other kind of unconscious -- which should really be called unConscious, since there is nothing "un" about it. Rather, it is quite conscious, only operating outside the realm of immediate ego-accessiblilty.

Think, for example, of one of our foundational thinkers, Michael Polanyi, and his theory of tacit knowledge. As science advances -- and in order for it to advance! -- more and more knowledge is assimilated and becomes "tacit." This knowledge -- or paradigm, really -- becomes an unConscious tool to discover new knowledge, similar to how a blind man uses a cane to probe his surroundings.

In so doing, the blind man is not consciously aware of the sensations in his hand, the only place where sensations are actually occurring. These sensations are instantaneously converted by the brain into a projected map of the space surrounding him. Indeed, if he should focus upon the hand -- the "explicit" knowledge -- then the world around him collapses and shrinks correspondingly.

If you want to know why the world of secular materialists and other flatlanders is so "small" and cramped, this is why. Like dogs, they sniff the finger pointing at the moon.

Note that any knowledge, any sensation, any thought, any conscious moment, must take place within a context of consciousness-as-such, a kind of space or sensorium for the play of thought.

And yet, can there be any kind of essential division between thinker and thought, between consciousness and its content? Or is it analogous to physical space, in which -- in a post-relativistic universe -- things are not just unproblematically in space but of it?

Grotstein calls this greater space the "background object of primary identification." It precedes us, in the sense that this is the intersubjective space we share not just with the m(O)ther, but with the cosmos -- and with all living beings. And unfortunately, things can go disastrously awry in the developmental journey from background object of primary identification to foreground subject of egoic identification, but that is the subject of a different post.

Only a "small" "part" of our consciousness is, or can be, of the self-reflexive variety, or present at any given moment. "Beyond that, there is a broad area of the subconscious, to which modern psychology devotes a great deal of research. Yet there is also a dimension, too much neglected by psychology, the 'superconscious,'" which is "a sphere of consciousness that is qualitatively different from the rational-objective consciousness" (Schönborn, emphasis mine).

Schönborn continues: "The superconscious [I would prefer "supra" conscious, or the more neutral "upper vertical"] is simply the constantly active spiritual dimension of the human soul, the original and life-giving source of any of its intellectual activity, [the] source of artistic 'inspirations' and of the great moral choices. Without being able itself to be the subject of discussion as such, the superconscious is the hidden source of every conscious activity of man" (ibid, emphasis mine).

Here I think Rahner has committed a subtle error that conflates the space of O with its content or structure -- like confusing the ocean and the fish who live there. But he is surely correct that, just as there is a constantly active unConscious, there is a ceaselessly active supraConscious -- even though, at the same time, there can be no ontological division between the two, owing to the intrinsic oneness of O.

And this leads straight to a way of understanding -- or at least imagining -- Jesus' mentality. For "The analogy with the superconscious allows us to form an idea of the simultaneous existence of two levels of consciousness, in which the upper level does not abolish the activity proper to the lower, but strengthens and guides it" (ibid.).

This is a good place to pause. To be continued....

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Jesus, Christ?!

We've written many posts on the nature of the Absolute, on the Trinity, and about divinization and theosis from our side of the cosmic divide, but not so much about Jesus as a man.

After all, we are told that he is two natures in one person. It shouldn't be too difficult to understand the man per se, nor the divinity. But how do the two relate? In other words, it's one thing to say that he was a man, just like any other. Bueno. But when you throw in that he also happened to be God, doesn't this make the first statement a little problematical?

Well, doy!

By the way, before we proceed any further, I hope that what follows will be of interest to non-Christians. I should think that anyone interested in religion, or even just our humanness, or the foundations of western civilization, will find it provocative, even though I don't yet have any idea what I'm about to write.

At any rate, please bear in mind that this is from the perspective of an "outsider" -- or perhaps border-dweller at the edge of O -- or more to the point, an "explorer" who is surveying this intriguing landscape for the first time. Only an impertinent newcomer could ask such stupid questions. And whatever this post happens to be about, it feels important, and is eager to be written. So get on with it!

I also realize we're covering some very old ground here. But hey, it's new to me. In particular, the first few ecumenical councils between 325 and 680 were called in order to try to nail down this mystery, and to exclude various false formulations too numerous to mention. But few of the heresies that were repudiated along the way were exactly "stupid" or outright wrongheaded, let alone malicious. To this day, many Christians still embrace one or another, e.g., Assyrians and Coptics.

The majority of heresies were honest attempts to grapple with an issue that is not only difficult, but sui generis. In other words, there is nothing else to compare it to, plus, in reality, it's inconceivable anyway. This means that the early Fathers were essentially trying to achieve the impossible, to define with words what words cannot define.

In a very real sense, it was more of an apophatic than cataphatic endeavor, in the sense that the eventual formulation -- one person and two natures, without confusion and without division -- was designed so as to prevent traversing down certain fruitless avenues.

It reminds me of a map with clearly drawn boundaries around a completely mysterious center. Just because we know the boundaries, it doesn't mean we have any idea of what's going on within them. I know that Judaism has many similar boundaries that are designed not so much to disclose the mystery as to protect it.

But think for a moment how long it took to nail this bit of theological jello to the ecumenical wall. The first Council wasn't called for nearly 300 years after the death of Jesus. That's longer than the existence of the United States. It would be analogous to the Constitutional Convention still going on today, with different factions arguing over the meanings of "liberty" or "equality."

Which, of course, is still going on today, with the two factions as bitterly divided as ever. You might say that for constitutional conservatives, the left is a heresy. But for leftists who believe in a "living constitution," we are obviously the heretics and even terrorists.

In any event, the reason I've been thinking about this is because I've been reading Cardinal Schönborn's new work of Christology, God Sent His Son. This follows my usual highly disciplined pattern of reading whatever happens to fall into my hands, whether it is a cereal box or a work of metaphysical speculation.

Schönborn is apparently one of the cardinal's heavy hitters; among other things, he was editorial secretary of the catechism of the Catholic Church, and he obviously moves in the same theological circles as luminaries such as Balthasar and Ratzinger (although I don't find his writing to be nearly as exalted -- much more dry and scholarly).

Much of the book comes down to a somewhat tedious, if necessary, history lesson about this 2000 year long debate. Is there anything fresh that can be added to it? We have been given the fence. That's not going to change. But is there any new or better way to think about what's going on inside that fence?

In other words, I fully understand that certain things must be taken "on faith," not only because faith is a prelude to understanding, but also because minds much finer than ours have already thought this through, so that we don't have to reinvent the spiel each generation.

Nevertheless, I am not the sort of person who just wants to jettison everything we've learned about the world over the past two millennia. In fact, I don't happen to think that we should try to adapt our thought to premodern modes (nor could we anyway).

Rather -- and this is one of the mysteries and miracles of revelation -- I have discovered, to my surprise, that it is eminently possible to adapt revelation to whatever history happens to toss up, without in any way compromising the revelation.

This is indeed a mystery. Why should words uttered by some anonymous peasant 2000 years ago have any relevance whatsoever to contemporary human beings? No doubt most all of what was thought, said, and written back then is of no interest or relevance to us.

And yet, we have this fellow Jesus, whose words are still pored over for meaning which is too superabundant to be contained by any generation that has followed him. If nothing else, this argues for a very peculiar type of mentality. It's a little depressing when you think about it. Is anything you have said or written going to be debated in 2000 years? Will I still have cyberstalking trolls in 4011? I can only hope.

As Schönborn writes, "even if Jesus' period and his environment left their mark on him, it is still more true that he has left his mark on his, ours, and all other ages and on our whole world.... Only a unique and incomparable consciousness can be at the source of Christ's work of revelation and redemption" (emphasis mine).

What I would say is that there can be no effect without a cause. The effect of Jesus is clear enough. I don't think it can be gainsaid -- by believer and non-believer alike -- that he has been the most "efficacious" person in history, the most influential, impossible to ignore.

That being the case, what is the cause of this outrageous effect? Obviously the question is impossible to even approach in the absence of a framework that permits transnatural and nonlocal causation. The alternatives are just too banal to take seriously.

The most readily accessible information about Jesus is contained in the Gospels, but even -- or especially -- there, we are always confronted with a Mystery, which is again why it took hundreds of years to even place some kind of boundary around it. So let's dive into the Mystery, and see if we can't pull out a live one.

One of the purposes of theology is to facilitate thinking about -- or in -- God. Structurally speaking, this is no different than science or psychology, which provide us with models to think about what otherwise cannot be thought.

Thus, the question is not necessarily whether this or that scientific theory is "true" in the ultimate sense -- indeed, we know going in that no relativity can be absolute -- but whether it is fruitful, whether it answers questions, whether it pulls together diverse phenomena, and whether it generates new and deeper questions. This is how we should think about theology, not as absolute truth, but as a way to think about the Absolute in our relative sphere.

To be continued....

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wisdom is Not Autism and Life is Not Death

Anything that is knowable conceals the unknowable mystery of its own knowability.

In other words, even the merest scrap of knowledge always points in two directions, or has an interior and exterior horizon. As we ascend the hierarchy of being, this division of interior and exterior becomes increasingly apparent. When we look at another person, we always know that there is an interior hidden from us -- by which we do not mean blood and guts, but interiority per se. For just as there is a dark side of the moon, there must somewhere exist an infinitesimal bright side of the moonbat.

There are exceptions to this rule. Most conspicuously, severely autistic people do not have access to the human interior, resulting in a bizarre world of arbitrary and unpredictable "human furniture." But autism, like most forms of mental illness, runs along a continuum. We all know people who are reliably "clueless" about human reality. One of them is a frequent commenter here. You may know him by his impregnable head of solid rock.

Importantly, our first and most enduring orientation to the world is via this human interiority. We do not start off "autistic" and only then enter the human interior. Rather -- and this is obvious both personally and historically -- the interior precedes the exterior.

Only very gradually has mankind evolved so as to disentangle mind from matter, so to speak, and view the world scientifically, which is to say, objectively. Science provides knowledge of exteriors. But this hardly means that real reality consists of exteriors only. Insisting otherwise constitutes a metaphysical boo-boo that is fundamental, pervasive, and naive in the extreme.

In reality, there can be no real separation between the poles of fact and value, quantity and quality, knowledge and mystery, known and unKnown. Yes, there can certainly be a methodological separation between them, but the scientistic mind makes the elementary error of confusing method and ontology -- which is very much analogous to the absurd belief that there just so happen to be no fishes smaller than one's net.

A net pulls up creatures of a certain size, and no smaller. Likewise, Newtonian physics captures "facts" of a certain size, while quantum theory catches even smaller ones. But one would have to be slightly autistic or severely tenured to imagine that we're even close to catching everything in the ocean.

And this is leaving aside the fact that scientists are part of the selfsame ocean they are attempting to explain. Which is why anyone who fails to assimilate Gödel's theorems into his metaphysic is just like Mickey Mouse's cheating girlfriend, Minnie. That's right: she was fucking Goofy.

As was Gödel, but that doesn't mean his logic was unsound. Indeed, it probably required a maladjusted person -- someone external to the consensus reality -- to recognize the real one, or at least rule out the false ones.

At any rate, "this insight gives us the means to resist any division of 'value' and 'being' into two different spheres. Such a division, we recognize, is not only untenable but is nothing less than a mortal blow to the mystery of being" (Balthasar).

Again, we have no problem whatsoever with methodological dualism. If I should ever have open heart surgery, I'm cool with the idea that my surgeon looks at the heart as a blood pump. Conversely, I wouldn't want to see a psychologist who regards the brain as a thought pump.

In his The Phenomenon of Life, Hans Jonas describes our primordial, interior relationship to the world. Given the fact that modernism exiles us from this interior world, while postmodernism imprisons us in a purely personal one, it is difficult to imagine the "enchanted" mentality of premodern man, when

"Soul flooded the whole of existence and encountered itself in all things. Bare matter, that is, truly inanimate, 'dead' matter, was yet to be discovered -- and indeed its concept, so familiar to us, is anything but obvious" (Jonas).

Again, we begin -- both individually and historically, or psychologically and anthropologically -- with the interior. It could not have been otherwise, for the same reason that we don't start off autistic, and then begin to deduce the presence of the human interior by studying the parts of a face: "Let's see, the lip is upturned and the skin around the eyes is crinkled. This must mean Mother is happy. Whatever that is."

Please bear in mind that we would be the last to argue for some kind of Rousseau-ian reenchantment of nature. Ironically, this is what the scientistic types end up doing when they aren't busy disenchanting the world with their unreal abstractions. The latter activity -- unleavened by any spiritual sensibility -- results in an unreal, desiccated world, and therefore a longing for some kind of connection to primoridial reality, untouched by the chilled hand of scientism.

I'm pretty sure this is how one ends up with the retrograde paganism -- i.e., Gaia worship -- concealed in the climate changers. It's what happens when the religious instinct is denied, only to return in morbid form (which indeed occurs in virtually any kind of doctrinaire leftism). (And please recall that we do not necessarily deny "climate change." We just don't make a religion of it.)

Jonas notes that what we call a philosophical "problem" is in essence "the collision between a comprehensive view (be it hypothesis or belief) and a particular fact which will not fit into it."

Now, one way to deal with such problems is to deny the existence of any facts outside one's belief system. For example, for the left, it is impossible that other valid economic theories might exist, therefore, those of us who hold another theory are in actuality terrorists.

The psychologist in me would not minimize the feelings and perceptions of the left. Rather, if the left were my patient, the first thing I would do is acknowledge the psychic reality of the Terror. There is surely terror going on, but let's not jump to conclusions about where it is emanating from. Let's just sit with it for awhile, explore it, find out where it leads, what it is connected to in your psyche.

"You mean their psyche, right Doc?"

No, my dear Mr. (or Ms.) Leftist. Let's forget about them for awhile, at least for the hour we're here together. This time is for you. Let's just talk about you and your thoughts and feelings, and leave the world out of it for the time being. Let's pretend the world is a kind of canvas you paint upon, or a dream you dream."

Anyway, for premodern man, Death is the great riddle, the great exception to the rule of Life. But "modern thought, which began with the Renaissance, is placed in exactly the opposite theoretic situation. Death is the natural thing, life the problem" (ibid.).

As a result, "it is the existence of life within a mechanical universe which now calls for an explanation, and the explanation has to be in terms of the lifeless.... That there is life at all, and how such a thing is possible in a world of mere matter, is now the problem posed to thought" (ibid.).

Again, bear in mind that we are not arguing for a romantic reversion to animism; rather, the orthoparadoxical Raccoon argument is for the transcendent position, i.e., the psychic Third that integrates the other two. As such, we also reject the philosophical stance of the dead and tenured, who insist upon a universal ontology which negates Life (to say nothing of Mind and Spirit) "by making it one of the possible variants of the lifeless" (ibid.) -- as if life is just a weird way of being dead.

You are, of course, free to believe this, so long as you refrain from treating others as lifeless objects to be manipulated by your wonderful policies.

But in believing this nonsense -- or onlysense, rather -- please understand what you are destroying. For "to reduce life to the lifeless is nothing else than to resolve the particular into the general, the complex into the simple, and the apparent exception into the accepted rule" (ibid).

This represents the polar opposite of what was elucidated in yesterday's post vis-a-vis the particular representing the ultimate, i.e., a person. Conversely, in the scientistic view, we only become truly ourselves when we are a corpse, no longer subject to this illusory hoax of nature called an "interior."

Thus, in the conclusion of Jonas, "Our thinking today is under the ontological dominance of death."

The bottom lyin' is that one cannot be upside-down without rendering oneself inside-out.