Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Human Progress and the Metabolism of God

If we are going to search for the origins of humanness -- and more to the point, the origins of you or me or I -- we're going to need to know what we mean by "human," aren't we?

True, we can take the easy way out and say that a human is someone who can mate with another human and produce human offspring, but that's both circular and meaningless, in that we share that characteristic with every other mammal and reptile. We could take the liberal approach, and say that a human is someone whose mother doesn't want to abort him, but that is way too subjective, not to mention bereft of even rudimentary logic.

For Purcell -- following Voegelin -- there are three major pulse points in history, when humanness dramatically emerges like the big bang it is: "in the Hebrew Bible, in classic Greek philosophy, and in the New Testament."

This troubles me right away, because in my book I trace the big bang of human consciousness to around 50,000 years ago, as evidenced by the sudden florescence of all that beautiful art in those early mancaves.

Obviously we must be operating with a different definition of humanness. I would agree that something quite unusual occurred to the ancient Greek and Hebrew peoples, but I regard it as somewhat analogous to a celestial "solar flare" that was picked up and assimilated in different ways by different cultures. Furthermore, man had to already be there in order to receive the transmission, as opposed to the transmission "creating" him.

I'm thinking of Karl Jaspers' axial age, which saw the downloading of various revelations and realizations, from Plato to the Upanishads to Lao Tzu, Buddha, and the Jewish prophets. This diverse logogenetic activity culminates in the logos actually taking on human form. In other words, it is first dispersed more widely into cultures before being narrowly focused in a particular person.

I notice that the wiki article also references Voegelin, pointing out that he "referred to this age as The Great Leap of Being, constituting a new spiritual awakening and a shift of perception from societal to individual values. Thinkers and teachers like the Buddha, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Anaxagoras contributed to such awakenings which Plato would later call anamnesis, or a remembering of things forgotten."

Remembering of things forgotten. This is another way of saying "vertical recollection," which, in the Raccoon view, is simply the inverse of psychoanalysis. In other words, just as there is a lower vertical -- the unconscious -- there is a higher vertical -- the supraconscious -- which it is man's vocation to colonize. Hence, the more being we colonize, the more humanness we manifest or actualize. The psyche is a kind of hyperdimensional space, but it is up to us to explore as much of it as possible, for its horizons are endless.

To put it another way if God is, as Thomas suggests, "pure act," then by the law of inverse correspondence in the herebelow, man would be something like "pure potency." This would account for Man's relative infinitude which must be actualized in time, whereas God's "infinite infinitude" is present all at once in an atemporal (i.e., eternal) mode.

This also makes sense of one of the favorite wisecracks of the early fathers, that "God became man so that man might become God." Or, more simply, we can just say O (↓) so that (¶) (↑), culminating in ʘ. ʘ is when your divine adoption papers become final.

As we have discussed on many occasions, man is an open system, both horizontally (obvious) and vertically (evidently not as obvious, at least to the tenured). With respect to the axial age outburst -- or perhaps inburst -- alluded to above, Bergson called these "the opening of the soul" (in Purcell). Purcell adds that this was "the period when human beings first reflected explicitly on their own nature and origins, breaking more or less decisively" with myth (emphasis mine).

This is another useful way of looking at it, one touched upon in my book. That is to say, Life Itself emerged when that first molecular entity "wrapped around itself," so to speak, in a time-binding defiance of entropy. Likewise, humanness is clearly characterized by consciousness -- which animals obviously possess -- wrapping around itself in a recursive manner, which one might say is the basis of our self-consciousness, and with it, the possibility of a progressive mental metabolism.

The psychoanalyst W.R. Bion called this mental recursiveness "alpha (α-) function," in the absence of which we cannot metabolize experience. In fact, one could say that when a person enters psychotherapy, it is almost always because of some failure in α-function. The patient is "suffering" some sort of experience that cannot be metabolized, converted to linguistic meaning, and deposited in the memory bank.

Thus, instead of the recursive and soul-building spiral, the soul is trapped in the body's neural circuitry. At the extreme this becomes obsessive compulsive disorder, but we are all prone to the occasional "neural eddy," if only in the form of an earworm from a song we can't get out of our heads.

My most recent obsessive-compulsive patient is a case in point vis-a-vis the failure to metabolize experience. For example, before leaving her apartment she had to kiss her cat repeatedly -- I'm talking dozens of times -- and even then had to simply tear herself away in order to get out of the house.

Exploration revealed that this ritual revolved around unresolved feelings of abandonment and separation. Because she could not face -- and metabolize -- the latter, she lived it out symbolically at the expense of her cat. Kissing the cat would temporarily diminish the anxiety, but it would always return.

Interestingly, the patient was deeply ambivalent about taking medication to resolve the problem, because she was afraid it would cause her to become insensate to the feelings. This demonstrates how the OCD concealed something "vital" to her being, which she was not prepared to give up.

I want to add something about α-function and the apprehension of the metaphysical/theological One. Among other things, α-function is able to resolve a mass of data into a higher unity. Thus, the move from mythic polytheism to strict monotheism represents a psychic achievement and purification of the first rank (not without backsliding, of course), and sets the stage for the later emergence of science, which assumes the oneness of creation.

In any event, at around the same time, expressed in different ways, we see the "discovery of the One" -- or Absolute -- among the Hebrews, Greeks, and Upanishadic sages.

But there is nevertheless this -- what to call it? -- abyss between the One and the many, God and man. In my opinion the gradual "closure" of this abyss is man's vocation, precisely, and is the very measure of our earthly quest. It is why we are here, you might say, for it seems that most everyone, whether atheist, agnostic, or theist, wishes to be in conformity to Truth, and we all have a deep intuition that this Truth is ultimately One, whether we call it O, or God, or the physicist's chimerical TOE (theory of everything).

Must stop. Running out of time. To be continued....

11 Comments:

Blogger Cond0010 said...

"That is to say, Life Itself emerged when that first molecular entity "wrapped around itself," so to speak, in a time-binding defiance of entropy."

The most elmentary memory building block in an electronic circuit is a feedback loop back unto itself.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7002821.html

This creates a... circle. Interesting, no?

4/10/2012 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That is interesting, Cond. Although, the description makes me think of this image instead. I suppose the two actually illustrate the ideas in the post fairly well, though - yours being something functional, because it contains a vertical element (if you will) that turns the loop into something more than just a loop; mine being dysfunctional, because it is entirely self-enclosed.

4/10/2012 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Every programmer dreads the eternal loop... always gotta have a way to break out, or it'll be the death of your system.

4/10/2012 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

@Julie:

heh. For me, 'the feedback loop' as the fundamental building block of a memory circuit was profound as I have a very philosophical streak to me. I cannot recall all the cool stuff (at this time) I thought about at the time of learning it, but it fed more the existentialist and less the mechanist within me. Wheres a Troll to cattle prod me now so that I get the jolt needed to recharge/refresh those memories as they are worthy of posting here.

(* sigh *)

@Van Ya. computers do a 'Core-dump' from that logic error. They simply can't deal with the infinite - like a certain being that we know. :)

4/10/2012 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"This troubles me right away, because in my book I trace the big bang of human consciousness to around 50,000 years ago, as evidenced by the sudden florescence of all that beautiful art in those early mancaves. "

I'm with you on the 50,000 year old Man Caves as being the big bang of record. Not to diminish their importance, but with,
"... the Hebrew Bible, in classic Greek philosophy, and in the New Testament."

, I think we've got much more of an example of a revving of the engine, a shifting into passing gear and an 'exhibition of power' in these instances (emphasis on the plural), than an example of the Real thing. The key had to be turned for the engine to be turned on. Without that, you can press on the gas pedal all you want, but it's not going to produce a thing, except maybe a bad smell.

" Purcell adds that this was "the period when human beings first reflected explicitly on their own nature and origins, breaking more or less decisively" with myth (emphasis mine)."

Interesting the dismissing or diminishing of the significance of 'mere myth', it reminds me of the uber-libertarians who think they can just begin Politics with the wizbang idea of 'Liberty!' that the bewigged ones somehow just stumbled upon, with no regard or concern for where it came from or what it relies upon... and think that they're going to be able to preserve and defend it.

As even Bacon allowed, 'Nature to be commanded, must be understood', if that applies to plants and chemistry, how much more so must it apply to yourself, and to society?

4/10/2012 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It seems clear that humanity was saying, "I am" -- which I don't think my dog or my cats say -- 50,000 years ago.

But, maybe about the time of Abraham, a few here and there began to see that if "I am" there must be "I AM". At which point God said, "I thought you guys would never wake up. I am that I AM. Nice to meet you."

Or something like that.

4/10/2012 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Most of the time my stuff dumps core because of a bad memory allocation. One particularly insidious one is when a value goes out of range and steps on another location.

That seems to fit right in, now that you mention it.

4/10/2012 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Interestingly, the patient was deeply ambivalent about taking medication to resolve the problem, because she was afraid it would cause her to become insensate to the feelings. This demonstrates how the OCD concealed something "vital" to her being, which she was not prepared to give up."

Yes, it's mind-boggling the lengths a mind parasite will go to make sure it gets it's fix.

I've caught myself doing this. Not kissing cats but going to extraordinary lengths to feed a mind parasite.

Mind parasites often don't care if the host recognizes a symptom.
However they fight tooth n' nail if you decide to actually do something about the core problem.

I have found it's not a good idea to point this out to my wife when I see it happening in her though.
At least not directly.

It doesn't matter how helpful you are trying to be either.
I couldn't get a more hostile response if I tried.

Interestingly enough, she has no problem pointing out mine so apparently she did listen to me.

Most of the time I thank her (even if she does seem to be condenscending or smug about it, but that could be something my parasites just want me to hear).

And no, that doesn't mean she wants the same help from me now, thank you very much.

The intial response of my MPs is to justify themselves based on that (or anything else they can think of).
Thankfully that also doesn't work but it's not very pleasant either.

Then there are times when a trap is set in the guise of asking me to "help."

Patti: "I need you to help me stay on my diet. Would you do that?"

Translation: if the diet doesn't work I get the lion's share of the blame.

If I actually do try to help her maintain her diet she will rip my head off (perhaps not right away but soon enough) and apologize later...IF I'm sorry enough and don't point out any inconvenient truth's or plot holes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certain she earnestly means she wants my help and wants to be successful, but it's just a red herring by her MP's to her self.
My role is the patsy in that scenario, no matter what I do.

It would be more fascinating if I wasn't involved in the process.

4/11/2012 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Ben, that reminds me a lot of what Lewis described in Screwtape. Interactions between husband and wife or parents and children are targeted by demons. We expect what we say to be taken at face value, but we carefully analyze what the other person "really means".

Sounds like you have pretty good insight into the situation.

Here from Letter III is a mind parasite suggesting passive-aggressive behavior to damage the hosts:

In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying thing which appear harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow the face.

4/11/2012 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Totally off topic!

I was so glad to see One Cosmos is available on the Kindle. I FINALLY bought a copy.
Was afraid the puns would be too much for me--Finnegan's Wake totally defeated me--but I am enjoying it (and, more to the point, understanding it. I think.:)

4/11/2012 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"Mind parasites often don't care if the host recognizes a symptom.
However they fight tooth n' nail if you decide to actually do something about the core problem."

Yea, no kidding, Ben.

The first step is identifying the Mind Parasite. Many times, once you start digging it out for extraction from your personality, you find that it permeates many aspects of your life and behaviors.

The trick is to keep digging - and be totally honest with yourself. Once your find its TRUE NAME, the extraction process can finally begin (and that is a very long process in itself. But the most important thing is to FIGHT THIS FIGHT ALONE (no crutches!!!) as the parasite will play your partner off of you like a naughty child will do.

Side note about alcoholics: it saddens me greatly that the Alcoholism caused by a Mind Parasite is so powerful with in some people that they need to stop drinking alcohol completely.

Somehow, this strikes me as a spiritual maiming of the individual who has the problem. Still, its better than a continuance of alcoholism as it really does destroy the persons life.

imho, of course. ;)

4/11/2012 10:32:00 AM  

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