Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cosmos and Reality, Infinite and Absolute

The human being is faced with a range of phenomena -- both exterior and interior, i.e., thoughts and things -- of which he needs to take account and make sense. And if he is to comprehend the totality of existence, i.e., the Kosmos, then the True Philosopher, the extreme seeker after knowledge, the ardent lover of wisdom, the off-road spiritual adventurer, must exclude nothing (including, of course, Nothing; in other words, he must also be mindful of non-being, or more or less complete privations of the Good and True).

Being that man cannot bearth or begaial himself -- for no man is autochthonous -- and stands in a venerable stream of tradition, he will eavoid dissing in it and dismissing the illustrious minds that went before, the vast majority of whom found the existence of Spirit to be soph-evident.

If embracing the fancies of a Dawkins or Dennett means rejecting the oceanic depths of an Aquinas or Maritain, then so much the worse for the modern misosophers who are blind to any reality that exceed the limits of their narrow reason. For example, reader William, as usual, turns reality on its head by appealing to what he calls "the infinite" in order to maintain his rigidly finite, parochial, and earthbound attitudes.

What he forgets is that to posit the Infinite -- which only man can do, and which in a certain sense defines man -- carries with it certain immediate implications. If nothing else, to take seriously the principle of the Infinite is to leave vulgar materialism behind and enter the realm of pure metaphysics. If the Infinite "exists," then it is obviously a first principle, since it cannot be surpassed. If nothing else, it is the end of the lyin'.

As Schuon explains, "To say Absolute, is to say Infinite."

I mean, right? Again, the mind cannot surpass infinitude, so it is an absolute: "Infinitude is an intrinsic aspect of the Absolute." As such, "It is from this 'dimension' of Infinitude that the world necessarily springs forth; the world exists because the Absolute, being such, implies Infinitude."

Now, we know the cosmos is "expanding," for that is an implication of Infinitude. Schuon:

"The Infinite is that which, in the world, appears as modes of expanse or of extension, such as space, time, form or diversity, number or multiplicity, matter or substance.

"In other words, and to be more precise: there is a conserving mode, and this is space; a transforming mode, and this is time; a qualitative mode, and this is form, not inasmuch as it limits, but inasmuch as it implies indefinite diversity; a quantitative mode, and this is number, not inasmuch as it fixes a given quantity, but inasmuch as it too is indefinite; a substantial mode, and this is matter, it too being without limit as is shown by the star- filled sky. Each of these modes has its prolongation" in our world, "for these modes are the very pillars of universal existence."

Those who "go off the deep end" receive all of the attention from mental health professionals, but it is also possible -- and more common, actually -- to fall off the shallow end, "to lose everything but one's reason," as somewag once said. These people can't really be helped, since they find the shallow end to be quite congenial to their simplistic (not simple) souls. They know how to wade, to tread water, to dog-paddle, and that's all they want or need to know.

This blog is not addressed to them, so I don't know why they keep returning. Their little vessels will just keep crapsizing unless they overcome their dysluxia and learn to god-paddle in the bobtismal waters of Raccoon Central.

The materialists propose what amounts to an absurdly false hierarchy with man at the top, but no way to explain how he got up there (since there can be no objective progress in a random and meaningless cosmos). As Schuon explains,

"To say that man is the measure of all things is meaningless unless one starts from the idea that God is the measure of man, or that the absolute is the measure of the relative, or again, that the universal Intellect is the measure of individual existence.... Once man makes himself a measure, while refusing to be measured in turn, or once he makes definitions while refusing to be defined by what transcends him and gives him all meaning, all human reference points disappear; cut off from the Divine, the human collapses."

This is why there can be no philosophy more anti-human than secular (as opposed to Christian) humanism; you cannot turn man into a god without placing him beneath himself, for you will simply create a demon who is beyond good and evil.

"Intelligence is the perception of a reality, and a fortiori the perception of the Real as such" (Schuon). Therefore, intelligence is the ability to discern the Real from the unreal, or from the "less real."

Furthermore, intelligence itself must share something of the substance of the Real, or it could not possibly know it. Ultimately, Truth and Intelligence must be two aspects of the same thing, or both are meaningless, at least as far as humans are concerned.

As Schuon explains, "the sources of our transcendent intuitions are innate data, consubstantial with pure intelligence." This is a key insight into how and why the intellect "resonates" with divine revelation and with the "inward appearance" of things in general. As I mentioned a couple of posts back, just as our physical eye perceives empirical reality, our spiritual vision is able to perceive the vertical realm. Or, to paradoxaphrase Eckhart, "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."

To put it another way, Intelligence itself is proof of eternal values, since man's intellect would be inexplicable -- for it would lose its sufficent reason -- if deprived of "its most fundamental or loftiest contents," which include Truth, Reality, the One, the Infinite, the Absolute. To recognize the Infinite is to reject all idols and graven images, including those of science.

Conversely, you can say -- as do postmodernists and other tenured apes -- that objective truth doesn't exist; but if so, then neither does intelligence, so there is no reason to pay any attention to their avowed lack thereof.

Scientific materialism provides us with facts and details, but no wisdom as to what they mean, or even whether it is worthwhile to know them. Philosophy, in the words of Josef Pieper, is simply "the hunt for that which is worth knowing, for that wisdom which makes one unconditionally wise..."

In fact, Pieper's conception is quite similar to Schuon's, in that he regards philosophy as being concerned with reality as a whole and with wisdom in its entirety, which can be seen as two aspects of the same underlying unity. He quotes Plato, who wrote that the lover of wisdom seeks not this or that part, but "integrity and wholeness in all things human and divine."

Clearly this is not so of science (nor should it be), which explicitly limits itself (or should, anyway) to this or that aspect or part of the cosmos, not its totality. It does, however, assume that there is a totality, even though this totality can obviously never be observed or proven empirically. No one but the Creator has ever "seen" the cosmos.

In fact, one could say that Cosmos and Creator are also two aspects of a single reality. There is no cosmos that cannot be known, nor knowledge in the absence of a hierarchically structured cosmos. Again, Being is Truth, at least around these parts of the whole.

To reduce reality to what may be clearly and unambiguously known through the scientific method is to in effect say that "I want to know only what can be made blindingly obvious and is thoroughly demonstrable to the densest man."

Such an approach is not worthy of the name Philosophy. Philosophy begins where science ends, which is to say, at the edge of the known, where it shades off into the vast unKnown that shines forth with a dark light visible to the eye of the soul.

18 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

As Schuon explains, "To say Absolute, is to say Infinite."

Yes, exactly, which was why I found W's comment about the known universe and expanding your horizons to be so hilarious. His lack of self-awareness (not to mention inabality to follow his own ideas to their logical conclusions) is truly something to be-holed.

3/15/2012 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If embracing the fancies of a Dawkins or Dennett means rejecting the oceanic depths of an Aquinas or Maritain, then so much the worse for the modern misosophers who are blind to any reality that exceed the limits of their narrow reason.

There was an article up at AoM this week about The Cabinet of Invisible Counselors, or what we here might call one's nonlocal Operators. I cannot, for even one second, imagine allowing a Maher or a Dawkins or even a Hawking to act in that capacity. Such men can only offer, well, nothing in the way of imparting meaning, wisdom, insight. All they have to offer is matter, or on occasion animality. Of what makes us human, though, they are as clueless as my dog, and of what it means to transcend ourselves, they cannot acknowledge that such is even a possibility.

3/15/2012 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

In fact, one could say that Cosmos and Creator are also two aspects of a single reality. There is no cosmos that cannot be known, nor knowledge in the absence of a hierarchically structured cosmos. Again, Being is Truth, at least around these parts of the whole.

I'm again reminded of Blake's "To See a World..." With all due respect to that great man, I maintain that not merely a world, but rather the whole universe is implied in the humble grain of sand, for it cannot exist without the entire universe to support it. They are not separate, even though the one is not simultaneously the other.

3/15/2012 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

This post is so rich with truth. How can anyone with any kind of comprehension read this and not understand?

...they find the shallow end to be quite congenial to their simplistic (not simple) souls ...

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (Matthew 6:22)

3/15/2012 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Of what makes us human, though, they are as clueless as my dog ...

I agree, though perhaps that's a little unfair to the dog. After all, a dog is usually doing the best he can.

3/15/2012 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Shoot, come to think of it, Maher probably is, too.

3/15/2012 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

"What he forgets is that to posit the Infinite -- which only man can do"

"Which only man can do" = First Law of Bob's Egocentric Model

3/16/2012 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I admit it. I'm a man.

3/16/2012 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Yes, I admit it. I'm a man."

willian gasps and reels in horror... anti-catnip for trolls.

3/16/2012 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I find it amusing that in William's world, the only possible reason one might turn to that which is "divine" or "true" is because one lacks understanding.

In reality, it is precisely the lack of under - or inner - standing that causes man to reject both truth and the divine.

3/16/2012 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

" This blog is not addressed to them, so I don't know why they keep returning. Their little vessels will just keep crapsizing unless they overcome their dysluxia and learn to god-paddle in the bobtismal waters of Raccoon Central.“

I love that, sadly willian didn't quite grasp it, but hey, his loss is our laugh.

3/16/2012 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"This is why there can be no philosophy more anti-human than secular (as opposed to Christian) humanism; you cannot turn man into a god without placing him beneath himself, for you will simply create a demon who is beyond good and evil. "

Whoa. Archiving.

3/17/2012 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"Therefore, intelligence is the ability to discern the Real from the unreal, or from the "less real." "

I used to play chess many years ago.

There are very very many wrong moves.

There are some 'more correct' moves and some less correct moves.

But there was no 'absolutely correct' moves (other than 'Check-mate' or the unbreakable sequence - endgame positioning - of moves to checkmate ).

The more consistently in tune with the 'more correct' moves you are, the better you are at that game. The best become 'Chess Masters' - though it can easily be said that each of them attain their victories through flawed concepts (more/less correct moves).

This is how it is in life and decision making (Intelligence at work) - the vast majority of time 'there are more correct moves and less correct moves'. To calibrate (in life) what is a more correct decision or less correct decision is really weighed by your knowledge of ethics (Metaphysical Truth), which, btw, is very different ethically than of the movement of Chess pieces on the game board (though, it too, is the work of Intelligence): Afterall, in Chess, 'Checkmate' as an 'absolutely correct' move is incorrect metaphysically, as it has a touch of murder to it.

3/17/2012 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

-Bob:

"To put it another way, Intelligence itself is proof of eternal values, since man's intellect would be inexplicable -- for it would lose its sufficent reason -- if deprived of "its most fundamental or loftiest contents," which include Truth, Reality, the One, the Infinite, the Absolute. To recognize the Infinite is to reject all idols and graven images, including those of science."

I think this puts to rest williams comment in the last post where he said:

"Most humans are not wired to accept or even ponder the concept of infinity."

In otherwords, William is not wired to accept or ponder the concept of infinity (a projection). Thus his break with the eternal.

Makes sense.

3/17/2012 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Quite true, but that's just one problem in a mind that has proven over time to be totally incoherent. William will say anything in order to prove he's wrong, as evidenced by his comment on the subsequent post.

3/17/2012 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

Whether William realizes it or not, but he is actually a benefit to us here at your lodge Bob - aside from the entertainment value. Its just that the benefit is derived in ways that he has not intended.

"And thou, Melkor, shalt see that
no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.'

http://home.earthlink.net/~johnrpenner/Articles/Ainulindale.html

Again... Tolkien's genius in realizing one of G-ds Truths.

3/17/2012 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Very true, but somehow it doesn't make him any less annoying...

3/17/2012 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"Very true, but somehow it doesn't make him any less annoying..."

...or that we should be thankful for his presence. :)

3/17/2012 09:27:00 AM  

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