Turning Faint Signals into Cosmic Vibes
So: human beings are constantly attending and responding to a spectrum of information that is somehow "embedded" in the cosmos and "radiates" outward.
Conversely, a mere animal attends only to things that have a direct bearing on survival or pleasure. A dog, for example, will just fall asleep if there are no walks or no food in the offing.
In my opinion, this capacity of ours is rooted in developmental psychology, specifically, the vicissitudes of attachment in the neurologically incomplete infant. As a result of this, our very being is intersubjective right down to the ground.
Of course, this still begs the question of how intersubjectivity could get into the cosmos to begin with. In my view, it is because ultimate reality is irreducibly trinitarian. We are members of one another because this is a reflection of the interior economy of the Godhead.
I think Alexander errs in attempting to hitch his empirical / phenomenological findings to a scientific metaphysic. I can see that by the fourth volume he begins to slip in the G-word, but it is almost in an apologetic way.
Nor does he do so in the context of any actual theology, just in a vague sort of mystical way. I'm not necessarily criticizing him, because there was a time that I might have attempted the same thing, i.e., to toss out religion and tradition but retain God (or at least the experience of this thing people have historically called "God").
The bottom line is that Alexander is often speaking of God -- or better, O -- without seeming to realize it.
For example, he describes the feeling he is looking for in an effective design: "It is some ultimate, beyond experience. When I reach for it, I try to find -- I can partly feel -- the illumination of existence, a glimpse of that ultimate. It is always the same thing at root. Yet, of course, it takes an infinite variety of forms."
This is O, as it undergoes transformation from eternity to time. Or, just say "transformation in O."
He even speaks of how the most sublime examples of what he is talking about have occurred in a mystico-religious context, but he doesn't seem to put one and one and one together -- as if there is no transhuman input (↓) going on, and that, say, the designers of Chartres just had really good taste.
Similarly, he speaks of encountering the "I" "in a work of art, or a work of nature, which makes one feel related to it." This "I" is none other than the personal / intersubjective nature of existence, as alluded to above.
We all recognize it, for the simple reason that we are persons. It is nothing that anyone needs to "prove," because the experience of it is as constant as it is unavoidable. It is never not happening, unless one is autistic, blunted, or soul-damaged in some other way.
Nevertheless, there are obviously degrees of sensitivity to it. But in any event, atheism is not something anyone can ever experience. Rather, it is a mental abstraction that can only be imagined, never lived.
What Alexander has attempted to do in his life and work -- and I'll let others decide whether he has succeeded -- is to "amplify" the sense of personhood that is provoked in these architectural encounters with O. In this regard, I don't think he's doing anything different from an expert or connoisseur in any field. It certainly pertains to the religious matters we discuss here.
I spoke of this in the book, for example, with respect to the symbol (≈), which stands for the sympathetic resonance that occurs between us and a more evolved human fleshlight. This resonance "amplifies" our own signal, and as we grow spiritually, we are better able to receive the signal.
In other words, the communication is occurring all the time. The limiting factor is our capacity to receive it. Alexander wants to amplify our ability to receive and create beauty.
I'm just flipping through the book page by page, so this post may be a bit disorganized.
On page 8, Alexander mentions one of his key findings, that "it is in the nature of matter, that it is soaked through with self or 'I.'"
I agree entirely, but he seems to think he can better articulate this via science than religious metaphysics. I disagree. Science is posterior to metaphysics, and I think he's falling into the very trap he decries by trying to subordinate his ideas to science.
For example, you wouldn't say God is nonlocal because the quantum world is. Rather, vice versa: the world is nonlocal because God is. Likewise, we don't say that God must be love because human beings are capable of love. Rather, we love because God does.
Alexander wants to heal the "bifurcation of nature" (into the object/subject duality) that occurred with the scientific revolution, but you don't do that by trying to force science into being something it isn't. Rather, you do so by putting everything in its proper place in the scheme of things. Obviously, science is not, and can never be, at the top.
Little time this morning. We'll leave you with another aphorism or three by Don Colacho, a cosmotherapist who finally gets me:
If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors. And
The natural and supernatural are not overlapping planes, but intertwined threads. And
The scientific proposition presents an abrupt alternative: understanding it or not understanding it. The philosophical proposition, however, is susceptible to growing insight. Finally, the religious proposition is a vertical ascent that allows one to see the same landscape from different altitudes.