Even God Can't be a Little Bit Pregnant
We can attempt to think beyond these by choosing one side over the other, but doing so always comes at the expense of sneaking in properties of the excluded term through the backdoor.
For example, if you really choose object over subject, then the conversation must stop then and there, because objects don't think or speak. Thus, to even acknowledge the bare existence of material objects is to simultaneously acknowledge the existence of subjects. Call it the Law of the Excluded... sibling or something.
Now, one of these complementarities has to be Absolute/Relative. As with the others, we can try to think beyond this orthoparadox, but doing so will simply generate paradox -- the bad kind.
I call a bad paradox any idea that negates itself or simply generates unthinkable absurdity.
Take, for example, determinacy/indeterminacy. To affirm the former over the latter is to affirm nothing, because the affirmed is simply the necessary. Only if there is contingency can we know the necessary. Likewise, if predestination is true, then we couldn't know it. (For similar reasons, if natural selection is the sufficient cause of man, man couldn't know it.)
Hartshorne asks a naughty theo-logical question, that is, "What is the basic logic of the assumption that relativity is primary, not absoluteness?"
Yes, there are passages in scripture suggesting the primacy of absoluteness, but there are also passages implying otherwise. Besides, Hartshorne is inquiring into the "basic logic," and perhaps the logic is necessary in order to sort out conflicting passages in scripture.
For example, if there is a passage suggesting the sun revolves around the earth, we can safely (and appropriately) ignore it, because it conflicts with observation and reason.
In a more general sense, is it helpful to conceptualize a Creator who gives us the precious gift of intelligence, only to ignore it in transmitting his most important communication to us? Why then do we have the intelligence, if it only gets in the way? Or, to what is the revelation addressed? To stupidity? Credulity? Fantasy?
Could be. But this places intelligent people in a bind, because then they are forced to choose between intellect and God.
Let's begin with some definitions of relative: "considered in relation or in proportion to something else"; "a being or object posited by virtue of its relations"; "having mutual relation with each other."
Now, do we arrive at relativity via absoluteness? Or rather, do we posit absoluteness based upon our familiarity and intimacy with relativity?
For Hartshorne -- and for me, for what it's worth -- it is clearly the latter: "The concept of the non-relative is parasitic on that of the relative. Given the concept of relatedness, we can then by negation (itself an example of relativity) arrive at that of non-relatedness."
In other words, in everyday life, we confront nothing but a concrete (not abstract) web of relations. To the extent that things can exist apart from the web, this is always an abstraction. There is "absolutely" nothing that is radically separate from anything else, which is why it should have come as no metaphysical surprise -- the surprise of physicists notwithstanding -- that the quantum realm should reveal itself to be a field, a web, a network, and not a world of externally related parts.
True, there is the famous wave/particle complementarity, but of the two, which must be primary? (And please note, to say "primary" is not to exclude the complementary term, for there is still relation.)
I would suggest that the field must be primary, just as, say, our body is primary over the cells of which it is constituted, even though both are necessary. A bunch of cells does not equal a body, nor is the cosmos a pile of atoms.
Now, being relative means that what something is -- i.e., its identity -- "depends for being what it is upon some relation to another."
I don't know about you, but I find it fascinating that Christianity posits a God of "absolute relation." In other words, there is no God "beyond" the mutual indwelling and roundabout relations of F↔S↔HS. What a strange idea!
And yet, in my opinion, it accords with basic logic in a way that "absolute absoluteness," so to speak, cannot. Rather, in my opinion, absolute-absoluteness (AA for short) -- in which all relativity is bleached out -- is absurd and paradoxical.
An AA God, in whom relativity is denied, would, of course, be a changeless God. Thus, such a God would be neutral as to all alternatives and differences.
Interestingly, the radically un-judgmental God of the New Agers often approaches this ideal; for example, who are you to claim that God has an issue with homosexual marriage? Differences between the sexes are just human constructs, but in God there are no such distinctions, just absolute gooey oneness!
From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth. The essence of God is birthing. --Meister Eckhart
Well, that's about it for today. To be continued...