Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who is I AM and What Does He Want From Me?

The penultimate chapter of From Big Bang to Big Mystery is entitled The human person's limitless orientation to horizons of beauty, meaning, truth and goodness. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

No? Let me try.

I am first reminded of Schuon's compact formulation, that "The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute." We might say that the child, or first fruit, of the Absolute, is the Infinite, analogous to the sun and its radiation. Indeed, God radiates light, which is another way of saying that his goodness is infinite.

But we cannot think of this in horizontal terms, because the two co-arise, like Father and Son, or Mother and Child: "to say Absolute is to say Infinite, the one being inconceivable without the other" (ibid).

So there is a kind of linear implication in this verbal description, even though it is an atemporal reality, very much like the orthoparadoxical "timeless activity" within the Trinity.

Absolute entails Infinite but implies relative; for the same reason, Man, who is relative and dependent, implies God, who is neither.

Man, who is contingent, knows the necessary, but if there were only the necessary, then error could not exist, and we'd really be screwed. Thanks to the possibility of error, we are free to know the truth. O felix culpa, and all that.

"Like the Universe," writes Schuon, man "is a fabric of determination and indetermination; the latter stemming from the Infinite, and the former from the Absolute."

Note that there are numberless "rigid errors" which are none other than relativism irrationally (or merely rationally) partaking of, and masquerading as, absoluteness, e.g., Darwinism, Marxism, multiculturalism, and leftism more generally.

So when Purcell speaks of man's limitless horizons, he is speaking of our participation in the Infinite, which, of course, no other animal can do. In all animals, however, there is a relationship between what they are and what they may know.

In the case of man, our mind is not conformed merely to the physical environment, but to realities that far surpass it. To put it another way, a man who is only adapted to the natural world is not a man but an animal, precisely.

"Man is made for what he is able to conceive; the very ideas of absoluteness and transcendence prove both his spiritual nature and the supra-terrestrial character of his destiny" (Schuon).

But only if you are open to proof, i.e., if your infinitude has room for some absoluteness, your contingency for a little necessity. You know what they say: spare the Absolute, spoil the Infinite!

Reminds us of an aphorism: "Only God and the central point of my consciousness are not accidental to me" (Don Colacho).

Or just say O and ʘ. You might say that the Adventure of Consciousness -- of human life -- is the journey from (•) to ʘ. For the non-believer this adventure is just an inconvenience at best, plus it never happened anyway.

Back to what Purcell was saying about our infinite horizons. Note that the infinite "is not determined by any limiting factor and therefore does not end at any boundary; it is in the first place Potentiality or Possibility as such, and ipso facto the Possibility of things..." (Schuon).

Thus, this is where man himself manifests his deiformity, his creative plenitude, to which there can be "no end," although, orthoparadoxically, there must always be a standard. Art, for example, without a standard, is like math with no answers.

And contrary to the toxic relativism that pervades our culture, man cannot furnish this standard, or it is no standard at all:

"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....

"Once man makes of 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 his meaning, all human reference points disappear; cut off from the Divine, the human collapses" (Schuon).

So man has a "limitless orientation to horizons of beauty, meaning, truth and goodness," so long as we bear in mind that this limitlessness is not without limits.

If we are literally without limits, then we end with, say, the art of Robert Mapplethorpe, the ethics of Peter Singer, and the politics of Obama. Or: ugliness, brutality, and the various forms of tyranny, from the soft and seductive to the hard and merciless (or the infantilizing and animalizing, the smothering mother and the brutal father, respectively).

But man, if he is to be one, must know the True, will the Good, and love the Beautiful. Thus, anything that denies or interferes with this vocation is the essence of subhumanism, de-personalization, and re-barbarization.

There is a horizontal Big Bang and a vertical Big Mystery, both of which are happening now. And the biggest mystery of all is the human person, who is the two-way door into the Infinite.

Each person is the fresh re-conception of being, and each child is a new opportunity to both confer (by proxy) and receive what infinitely surpasses us. We must all open this divine presence, but it is worthless unless we regift it.

Always a catch!

27 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

“Once man makes of 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 his meaning, all human reference points disappear; cut off from the Divine, the human collapses.”

Collapsed humans -- what a potent and precise description of the technocratic, the tenured, and the totalitarian.

But man, if he is to be one, must
know the True,
will the Good,
and
love the Beautiful.


Amen.

8/29/2012 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I am pleased to report that your recurring attempts to explain the relationship between the necessary and the contingent is starting to provide me with these tools for thinking about metaphysics, or whatever it is I am thinking about. I have intuited since my younger days that the world of worlds must have a vertical aspect, in which higher worlds were more REAL than lower worlds. This also turned out to be the case. But it is interesting to note that this reflects the proportion of necessity to accident. And that it also represents the gradient of eternity to temporariness. So that it is a matter of picking that which will always be true, or always be beautiful, over that which just happens to seem true or beautiful at the moment. Blessed are they who don't need to grow old to notice this difference.

8/29/2012 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I think it was Huston Smith who compared the accidental beauty to the sun reflected in a shard of glass. It is not that it isn't really there, it is just that we mistake the reflection for the source.

8/29/2012 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

I shook hands with Robert Mapplethorpe [before he expired be it known] and I'll have you know he did not tickle my palm w/ his finger, thank God!

8/29/2012 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I hope you washed it. With bleach.

8/29/2012 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Does that mean Mapplethorpe wasn't a Mason?

8/29/2012 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

You know what they say: spare the Absolute, spoil the Infinite."

That's a superb way to put that timeless truth!

8/29/2012 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Thus, this is where man himself manifests his deiformity, his creative plenitude, to which there can be "no end," although, orthoparadoxically, there must always be a standard. Art, for example, without a standard, is like math with no answers."

Ironically, the left in particular always sees standards or boundaries as limitations on their freedoms, which it most certainly is not.

Of course, freedom to a leftist is assimilation into the borg hive, so good luck with that.

8/29/2012 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Love this tweet from Iowahawk:

David Burge‏@iowahawkblog

"I'd rather have a corporate wife than a government prostitute."

All net!

8/29/2012 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ben! Lol!

8/29/2012 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Here was the realworld circumstance of my RM --a fellow Scorp. Bob!-- meeting: I was dating the mom of a 10 year-old girl model, who also sang in a band I led. Lauren Hutton lived in the same building and somehow it coalesced that her pal the taboo-breaking artsy photog. would do a shot of the child---who surprised Robert with the request to do it nude! He explained this to me emphasizing the kid-glove delicate nature of the arrangement when he delivered the shot which ended up being a sensitive non-sexual b&w portrait of a shadowed girl basically knees-to-chest covering up her naked undeveloped body and looking seriously-vulnerably at the camera...with a bullwhip handle up her butt----JUST kidding re that :)

8/29/2012 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Rick!

Here's another one by Iowahawk:

#AskObamaAnything Can you create a deficit so large that even you couldn't spend your way out of it?

That would be a great one for Romney to ask at the debate, lol.

8/29/2012 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

That's a real Catch-44!

8/29/2012 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Rick: LOL! Good one! And Obama wrote the material.

8/29/2012 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

The left is perpetually mad ... rather they're doubly perpetually mad as in angry AND insane.

Sometimes I find myself a little too gleeful knowing the hollow existance those nasty leftists live with, but then I think of how sad God must feel that so many of His children don't know Him and I am reminded to not wish ill on any of my brothers and sisters - no matter how lost they are. It's perhaps the most difficult thing I struggle with.

8/29/2012 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Bob, I wonder about something. Other blogs I frequent usually have one or two trolls that seem to have as their mission in life to disrupt and annoy the comment section. But since William departed this coonscape ... well ... our village is short an idiot. So here's my quandary - is it that the eye of Sauron hasn't noticed you and sent forth his trolls, or, have you and your commenters proven to be more than the trolls can handle so they don't waste their time?

8/29/2012 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cootie protection. It works.

But mainly, barbarians can't reach or even see this high, and they just look foolish when they try.

8/29/2012 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or in other words, "the secret protects itself."

8/29/2012 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Well hallelujah for cootie shots :)

It's nice to take a contemplative walk without stepping in some discarded bubble gum ... or worse.

8/29/2012 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Skully may be interested in a village idiot job if it includes alcoholic benefits.

8/29/2012 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Comment from an Ace of Spades commenter El Kabong:

Paul Ryan to Obama: "I'm coming for you, you hear!? And math's coming with me!"

8/30/2012 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Obama campaign slogan: Burn the Math Witch!

8/30/2012 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Democrat, I mean journalist fact checkers are working around the clock to disprove what Ryan didn't say.

8/30/2012 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bob: LOL! That would make them the new Salems Lot.

8/30/2012 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...


"But we cannot think of this in horizontal terms, because the two co-arise, like Father and Son, or Mother and Child: "to say Absolute is to say Infinite, the one being inconceivable without the other" (ibid)."

Wow... there's a lot packed into that... it might take an eternity to upload it all. Truth is, I guess that's the beauty of it.

9/01/2012 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Art, for example, without a standard, is like math with no answers."

Nice. Makes me think of the artist at work, perfecting his work, trying to reach that point where it feels right, or right enough... as beautiful as he could make it - and the mathematician in pursuit of solving for pi*r squared... enough.

9/01/2012 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"But man, if he is to be one, must know the True, will the Good, and love the Beautiful. Thus, anything that denies or interferes with this vocation is the essence of subhumanism, de-personalization, and re-barbarization."

That pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

9/01/2012 09:01:00 AM  

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