Photosynthesis, Pneumosynthesis, Logosynthesis
I'd like to complete our journey From Big Bang to Big Mystery before getting back to Voegelin. Bearing in mind what was said in the first paragraph, Purcell references a remark by Wittgenstein, who, in a lucid moment, observed that "even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, our problems of life remain completely untouched.... One keeps forgetting to go right down to the foundations. One doesn't put the question marks down deep enough."
Right? Right. Either one gets this, or one doesn't, so there's nothing to argue about. It couldn't be more clear, so if you don't understand it, you are cosmically retarded and beyond help. You are ø, and you have no one to blame but your(•).
Now, why this statement should be controversial is beyond me, and it seems to me that the only objection to it would be on the grounds of a blind hatred of religion, for religious metaphysics picks up where science leaves off, and certainly not just in terms of the old "God of the gaps" canard.
Rather, religion primarily deals with being, whereas science can only cope with existence. Obviously, existence is a "special case" of being, and science, in order to operate at all, must take being for granted.
Conversely, metaphysics begins with principles of being; it is higher up the cosmic food chain, so that nothing that occurs in science can violate it, say, the law of non-contradiction, or of sufficient reason, or of not walking the first batter of an inning.
The other day we spoke of spiritual and intellectual wet and dry rot. Both of them occur as a result of a conflation of being and existence. Scientism, for example, which is the quintessential form of dry rot, confuses what it can affirm about reality with all that can be affirmed about reality, which is why it is so anti-intellectual to the core.
For one of the first things the scientistic worshiper must jettison is the intellect per se, which of necessity (for him) reduces to something less than itself, on pain of a self-refuting contradiction. And in the absence of the intellect (nous), no higher realities can be perceived at all, so the result is a closed circle of ideological fantasy.
Conversely, wet rot occurs when existence is confused with being, so that things that pertain to the vertical are mindlessly transposed to the horizontal. In this regard, Voegelin points out that we have indeed seen a beneficial differentiation within the Ground over the centuries.
In other words, man first awakens to a kind of compacted realm of being, and our journey through history allows us to unpack and map its dimensions and coordinates, both horizontally and vertically. Things were pretty jumbled at the start of history, for the same reason that things are pretty jumbled for an infant.
One doesn't have to travel too far back in time to see a conflation of science and religion to the detriment of both. For every kooky religious idea there was an equally kooky scientific idea, say, the theory of blood-letting that for so many centuries made a visit from the doctor a deadly gamble.
Probably the most detailed map ever made of the totality of reality was by Thomas Aquinas. Naturally, parts of it are now obsolete because of the state of 13th century science, which has evolved so dramatically since then.
But nothing that has occurred in science has posed any fundamental challenge to Thomas's metaphysics, given some tinkering at the edges. To the contrary, something like the Big Bang would be a necessary consequence of his metaphysics (although he also allowed for the possibility that the cosmos has no horizontal boundary, so long as one bears in mind the priority of atemporal, vertical creation).
One might say that science can only take a view from "inside" the cosmos, whereas metaphysics is able to take the wider view from the perspective of being as such. Now granted, few people are metaphysicians, hence the beauty of revelation, which conveys the essential truths -- the one thing needful -- to those who are open to them. These truths resonate on a level much deeper than the conscious ego, which is why they evoke (and deserve) our faith.
You might say that being pertains to the Center, science to the periphery. Now, everywhere we look, we see signs of the Center poking through the periphery, and one might even say that it is our duty to be aware of this phenomenon as much as possible, for it is the essence of maintaining an open and wide stance to the queerness of reality.
Again, for Voegelin, all forms of pneumopathology involve spiritual and intellectual closure. To put it the other way around, our task is to maintain noetic and pneumatic openness to the world and to experience (for there is no unexperienced world; or, it won't "ex-ist" until someone experiences it).
I remember back in grade school, learning about biology. I don't know if it is still true today, but back then photosynthesis was a big mystery. And this is no mere peripheral concern, because photosynthesis is the very engine of life.
"Photo," of course, is light. Does anyone really understand how light is converted to the energy and information that powers the whole biosphere? I mean, I fully realize that there are scientific explanations, but do they bring the question marks all the way down to the foundation? Because I personally find it peculiar beyond words that sunlight can be transformed into plants, animals, symphonies, poetry, stupidity, everything.
At any rate, if we transpose this mystery to the level of man, we see something analogous, which I call pneumosynthesis and logosynthesis, or the transformation of spirit and reason, respectively. However, we could also just call it photosynthesis, since both of these organic mechanisms, just like their biological cousin, involve transformations of Light -- spiritual Light and intellectual Light.
One problem -- and this is addressed by Voegelin, just as it is by Schuon -- is that we no longer have proper words for these higher human functions, since they have been confused with lower ones. As Voegelin put it, we can no longer use words such as "intellect," or "spirit," or "reason" in the manner of a Plato or Thomas.
For which reason I developed those abstract symbols for them, so we wouldn't imagine we know what we are talking about just because we have words for them.
Note that this linguistic pathology is the result of a devolution, which, instead of taking us from compaction to differentiation, takes us in the opposite direction, back to compaction. Someone like our troll William lives in a compacted and de-differentiated world, which again accounts for the breezy confidence he has in his own stupidity.
Obviously, in order to describe reality we need words, but if these words become corrupted, then the ability to perceive reality is compromised.
For example, on a mundane level, if you confuse "liberal" with "leftist," you will lose the ability to perceive political reality. Likewise, if you fail to understand the distinction between male and female (in the spiritual sense), sexual reality is lost to you (or you will only exist on a quasi-animal sexual level).
The question is, is this attack on language intentional or just a result of stupidity? Hard to tell, but I suggest we judge them by their fruits. I do sense a kind of deep malevolence behind the attacks from elites, but the rank-and-foul leftist often has a good spirit that has just been manipulated by elites and hijacked by bad ideas. Such people are educable and correctable, and grateful for the heads-up.
I suppose that would be the key: the non-malevolent person can be helped, because deep down he remains open to reality in all its fulness, and hate hasn't supplanted love (for one who doesn't love truth will never know it).
Many are the times I've given a spontaneous spiel to one of these individuals, which has prompted a flood of vertical recollection which then sends them on a path back to themselves and back to reality. I've got the letters and emails to prove it.
To be continued....