Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spoiler Alert: Anthropology + Cosmology = Christology

We left off yesterday with the question, "What -- or who -- is this point of existence?"

First of all, we can all agree that existence either has or doesn't have a Point. However, this does't necessarily imply that we could know -- or not know -- it.

In other words, existence might have a Point we can never know. Conversely, we could mistakenly believe that it has no Point when it actually has one.

But if you have the intuition that it does have a Point, that intuition may ultimately be traced back to God -- or let's just say O to keep everybody honest.

In fact, human reason is powerless to determine whether or not there is a Point, first, because reason can only work with the premises it has been provided from elsewhere, and second, because it cannot adopt a stance from outside the total cosmic system, and render judgment on the totality of which it is only a part.

More generally, people will deploy reason to prove the truth of this or that intuition, the latter of which can emanate from spheres above and below the realm of reason per se.

The latter is called "rationalization," and is only a caricature of proper reason. The former is called various things, including intellection, infused contemplation, and riding the currents of the slackstream.

This just highlights the fact that we have various sources of information, interior and exterior, subjective and objective, empirical and suprasensible, that we draw upon to toss into the cognitive hopper and come up with the Answer.

Revelation is one such source we may draw upon. In fact, it is the only source that is presupposed to emanate from outside the total cosmic system, and therefore the only information that can truly bear upon our opening question about the Point of existence.

Now, if this point is truly the Point, it won't just appear at the "end" of the cosmic process. By way of analogy, the point of a novel doesn't just abruptly appear on the last page, disconnected from everything that has preceded it.

Rather, in hindsight it will be seen that the end was there all along, shaping the narrative and infusing it with drive, coherence, and purpose. Again, there are hints along the way, but only at the end do we acquire the area rug that pulls the whole room together.

Think, for example, of the first generation of Christians who were shocked to discover the abundance of meaning in the "Old Testament" which had eluded them before. In this way, the novel events of those three days in particular had the effect of utterly transforming the past, so to speak.

But this is only an extreme case of what history always does. Since the present is always changing, this changes the meaning of the events leading up to it. One can only understand the meaning of something by allowing its effects to play out.

In the margin of Credo for Today "I" wrote a note to "myself" -- or was it the other way around? -- that Anthropology + Cosmology = Christology. Colloquially speaking, this is the equation of our cosmic birth (see p. 15 of the Encirclopedia).

This inburst of data is an example of what was stated above about the different sources of information. For what is the ultimate source of this "fact," if that's what it is?

Yes, it's from "me" -- with a big assist to the Cardinal -- but that just begs the question, because it isn't anything I thought out ahead of time.

Rather, the reverse: the moment it entered my head -- or broke into my sphere of conscious awareness -- it was accompanied by the thought that this was something I needed to think about.

These types of thoughts occur all the time, but I only began noticing them when I began paying attention to them. Now they occur so frequently that I must write them down, as in the case of the above. I compare it to seeds falling from the sky. First you have to catch them. But then you need to plant them. Yes, occasionally one will randomly fall into fertile soil and flower on its own, but why waste the bounty?

One question we need to address is whether any musings about the totality of the cosmos are just forms of anthropology dressed up as cosmology. For any discipline short of traditional religion, this must be the case, because for the secular atheist it is quite impossible for man to know anything outside his own neurology and cognitive categories -- including that!

Ratzinger notes that for Christianity, the convergence of person and cosmos, of anthropology and cosmology, is the end of "the world." The revelation of the unity of the two reveals that this unity has been the goal all along, precisely:

"Cosmos and man, which already belong to each other even though they so often stand opposed to one another, become one through their 'complexification' in the larger entity of the love that... goes beyond and encompasses bios."

That was already more than a mythful, but allow Ratzinger to continue before we add our own commentary:

"Thus it becomes evident here once again how very much end-eschatology and the breakthrough represented by Jesus' Resurrection are in reality one and the same thing; it becomes clear once again that the New Testament rightly depicts the Resurrection as the eschatological happening."

In other words: the Resurrection is the unsurpassable end and meaning of existence. It certainly meets the criteria mentioned above, in that it is not something we could ever accomplish on our own, and it is indeed an ingression from outside the total cosmic system, and one that has the effect of transforming the cosmos, in the same way that the passage of time always reveals the purpose of what went before.

We're not through here. But that's probably enough to think about for one morning, and besides, I don't want to saturate the space or flood the field right away. To be continued.

15 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

This just highlights the fact that we have various sources of information, interior and exterior, subjective and objective, empirical and suprasensible, that we draw upon to toss into the cognitive hopper and come up with the Answer.

Speaking of which, too often I see people making the mistake of believing that the Answer is something that can be contained by a simple formula. Perform x action and receive y result. Then inevitably, when the formula fails, they find themselves falling headlong into error, which all too often makes whatever they're suffering that made them fall seem that much worse.

6/21/2012 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, better to just do the right thing for its own sake than try to treat the cosmic system as a machine. Instead of a lot of heavy-handed rules and regs, I tell Tristan that he needs to be conscious of, and attracted to, the plane of virtue itself. I can't believe it's working. He's actually the best behaved child in his class, even though he's completely irrepressible and full of energy. Or in other words, still a wild boy.

6/21/2012 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:)
If Tristan is ever not a wild boy, I would be worried that something had gone horribly wrong.

6/21/2012 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Today is the first day of summer, and he's been counting down the days for like six weeks. So this morning he wakes up singing, as usual, comes down the hall, looks at me, and says, "I'm bored."

6/21/2012 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

When I was a kid, that was a very dangerous announcement. My mom would raise an eyebrow and say, "Well, you can either go outside and play, or you can go do [dread chore that no kid in their right mind wants to do]." We spent a lot of time outside.

Gotta run - my kid is getting bored, and it's too hot here to send him outside...

6/21/2012 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Since the present is always changing, this changes the meaning of the events leading up to it. One can only understand the meaning of something by allowing its effects to play out.

This probably relates to the cause of mid-life crises -- both for individuals and nations. It's a lot easier to buy a Camaro or start quantitative easing that to fight the good fight and finish the course.

6/21/2012 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Mush, that reminds me of another think that's been thinking me lately, about rootedness. Or rather, about the importance of having one's roots aloft and one's branches herebelow. Which is another way of seeing life as a whole, instead of merely a series of unfortunate events.

6/21/2012 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

"I tell Tristan that he needs to be conscious of, and attracted to, the plane of virtue itself." Bob, I do hope you've read or plan to soon, Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead".

6/21/2012 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Bob wrote "These types of thoughts occur all the time, but I only began noticing them when I began paying attention to them. Now they occur so frequently that I must write them down, ..."

Apologies up front Bob - that statement reminded me of an old movie - Night Shift - where the Michael Keaton character was similiarly bombarded with ephiphanal thoughts ...

"I'm an idea man Chuck, I get ideas, sometimes I get so many ideas that I can't even fight them off!

OK, here's an example. Watch out, stand back.
[speaks into tape recorder]

What if you mix the mayonnaise in the can, WITH the tunafish? Or... hold it! Chuck! I got it! Take LIVE tuna fish, and FEED 'em mayonnaise! Oh this is great."

6/21/2012 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

But seriously, you're on to something really intriguing. Anthroplogy + Cosmology = Christology. The whole space/time continuum thing has always fired my synapses and connecting it to the spiritual realm in this way is leaving me wanting more. Can't wait for tomorrow's post.

I've gotten into the habbit of reading yesterday's post before reading your current post which I find often helps me get deeper into the flow.

6/21/2012 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

Mizz E

Good call on Robinson. That's a lovely book. I thought its plot was thin, but the tone of it, the way she captured the voice of John Ames, was very persuasive.

And her characterization of the restless, crazy-haired, bony grandfather as looking "like a man everlastingly struck by lighting" -- well, it seems to hit this nail on the head:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/John_Brown_daguerreotype_c1856.png/220px-John_Brown_daguerreotype_c1856.png

6/22/2012 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

"What -- or who -- is this point of existence?"

To unify that which does not exist.
As an Idea is not made manifest until it has been brought to fruition.

Now the word is made flesh and Mankind is reunited with God.

6/22/2012 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Reunited is probably not the best word though.

6/22/2012 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Re-awakened?

6/22/2012 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

Magister, Ha. Your visual fits nicely.

Due, no doubt, to my advancing age and the internal accumulation of more and more books, I've taken a shine to Kindle and the highlighting/note feature that I can easily retrieve. I just did a search of "Gilead", which I read during my seven day crossing of the north Atlantic, and found 44 highlights
referencing water, no doubt, because I was experiencing it in new and profound ways.

Here's one sample of Robinson's wonder-ful storytelling:

Ludwig Feuerbach says a wonderful thing about baptism. I have it marked. He says, “Water is the purest, clearest of liquids; in virtue of this its natural character it is the image of the spotless nature of the Divine Spirit. In short, water has a significance in itself, as water; it is on account of its natural quality that it is consecrated and selected as the vehicle of the Holy Spirit. So far there lies at the foundation of Baptism a beautiful, profound natural significance.”

Feuerbach is a famous atheist, but he is about as good on the joyful aspects of religion as anybody, and he loves the world. Of course he thinks religion could just stand out of the way and let joy exist pure and undisguised. That is his one error, and it is significant. But he is marvelous on the subject of joy, and also on its religious expressions.

Before we disembarked, I was more deeply experiencing "In Him we live and move and have our being."

6/22/2012 08:31:00 AM  

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