Wednesday, April 09, 2014

In the Beginning, Now & Forever, Worlds without End

This is the best I could do under the oppressive workumstances. Straight off the top of my head in a very short span of time. Consider it a brief pause or lateral sidetrip in our ongoing discussion...

It all comes down to time, doesn't it? If we could just figure out that one enigma, then the rest might fall like dominoes.

You can understand why no real progress has been made on the subject since Aristotle or Augustine or Aquinas. If you want to get a sense of how little we really know about time, just ask a childlike question such as, is the past real? Where is it then? Does the present emerge from the past or does it come into being from the future? Either way, how can choice exist?

When we arrive at a fruitless paradox, it's probably a sign that we're going about things the wrong way. It's not that the questions are wrong, but that our whole paradigm is off. We need to examine our assumptions at the very foundation of things.

Existence "takes place" in space and time. Or, one could say that we are "contained" in these two. But being contained in space is very different from being contained in time. Schuon writes that space is "static and conserving" while time is "dynamic and transforming."

That's helpful, for it suggests that classical liberal conservatism is woven into the very fabric of existence, i.e., change within conservation.

Must you politicize everything, God?!

YES and NO.

We are subjectively at the center of space, otherwise we could never conceive it. Objectively -- or abstractly -- we can see that space has the three dimensions of height, width, and depth, but subjectively (or concretely) we experience things from our center to the periphery, the latter extending up and down, forward and back, left and right (paraphrasing Schuon).

Likewise, time has subjective and objective modes. Concretely, time is "the changing of phenomena," whereas abstractly it is simply the "duration" or measurement of the change.

Now, just as abstract space has the three dimensions of height, width, and depth, abstract time has the three dimensions of past, present, and future.

Is time nested in another kind of time -- divine time, say? Think of how the rotation of the earth measures our days. But this takes place in the more expansive time it takes for the earth to circle the sun. And the sun too orbits the center of the Milky Way, one cosmic year taking around 225-250 million years, give or take.

But that's objective time. What about subjective time? Does our time have something analogous to the cycles within cycles? Yes, in the obvious sense that we celebrate birthdays, or the sabbath, or the new year, or bar mitzvahs, or anniversaries, or beer o'clock, etc. Thus, there is the "ordinary time" of mere duration, nested in more concrete markers of slackramental time.

Yes, but are there only these manmode markers, or are there objective, which is to say, God-given ones?

Hmm. Schuon suggests that time is not just abstract duration, but that it has four phases. We may think that our experience of the seasons gives rise to the idea of temporal phases, but Schuon says it is the other way 'round, so that time unfolds as spring, summer, fall, and winter; or morning, day, evening, and night; or childhood, youth, maturity, and old age; etc.

Is it just me, or is it getting a little chilly in here?

What about all of history? This is where I would tremulously disagree with Schuon, for he regards it as essentially cyclical, whereas I can't help seeing it as spiroidal.

In short, we both believe time necessarily has an "origin" or source. But Schuon believes that history is essentially a departure from the source, and therefore a privative and degenerative phenomenon. However, the whole idea of Resurrection seems to me like the hope of an eternal spring coiled inside that last cold winter we endark upon

18 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

What about all of history? This is where I would tremulously disagree with Schuon, for he regards it as essentially cyclical, whereas I can't help seeing it as spiroidal.

If you think about it, even days are actually spiroidal, both spatially (in that we are in fact spiraling around the sun) and through time, inasmuch as even the most apparently-repetitive life is changing incrementally from one day to the next. Fractally speaking, it seems that history would have to be so as well.

4/09/2014 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I guess it depends upon whether you're a pessimystic or an optimystic, something Morson touches on from a different angle.

4/09/2014 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Inotherwords, one can respond to both freedom and determinism with either dread or elation.

4/09/2014 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

We certainly have a good system for measuring duration. The cesium clock does a spanking good job:

http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/cesium.html

It's incredibly useful to have this sort of thing, since it makes all kinds of advances possible in navigation, computing, you name it.

I wonder what it was like to get used to duration itself. When do we really become aware of duration per se? At some point, we must have really gotten used to the experience of elapsing -- so much so that it's not a problem at all to waste time. A lot of it, in fact.

Having gone through some heart problems recently, I can tell you that there comes a point in life when you realize that you've now started looking back on your life as something that is close to being complete, that your body will not last forever, and that time here -- *your* time here -- is limited.

As for other markers, how about moons turning to blood?

4/09/2014 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think duration is a function of absence, or the presence or absence. Otherwise there is timeless unity. So time is the form of plurality.

4/09/2014 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hm.

Could I buy some pot from you?

4/09/2014 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Which isn't to say that I disagree, only that my brain needs some assistance before it can perform that yoga pose.

4/09/2014 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I just lifted that line directly from Morson after stumbling upon it this afternoon. I didn't quite understand it myself until I used it in the comment. I think of Bion, who says that time is a kind of symmetry break resulting from the realization of NO BREAST. Before that, it's all groovy oneness. One can think of this in a mythopoetic way (similar to being ousted from Eden) but in any event, it seems to indicate that unity is to timelessness as plurality is to time.

4/09/2014 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Well, the future always casts a shadow on the present.

So, there's that.

I'm glad we are covering symmetry breaking here.

So, we've agreed that spacetime is staticdynamic.

Did you ever notice that people, in general, are both all the same and all different?

4/09/2014 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Morson gets into each of those issues in the book. Just read all about that last one. To sum it up, I would say that the AM can never exhaust the I, which is why whatever we accomplish always falls short of who we are, which is inexhaustible potential. Only when we're dead do I and AM converge, and we are what we were, since we then belong to the past.

4/09/2014 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

If I don't see you in the future, I AM will see you in the pasture.

4/09/2014 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Related?

The Darkside of Album Covers: If album covers had a flipside, instead of just a track list on the back.

4/09/2014 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Other than God, isn't everything its past? I get this sense all the time as I get older, that the past is alive AS me, and part of my job is do as the Psalmist says and declare the works and wonders of God to another generation.

Identification with Christ allows us a way out of the bondage of the past because instead of being what we were, we can be what He is.

Yeah, this is one that might make sense if I were stoned.

4/09/2014 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Note to myself yesterday: stay high on the logos to keep one step ahead of the conspiracy.

4/09/2014 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


What about all of history? This is where I would tremulously disagree with Schuon, for he regards it as essentially cyclical, whereas I can't help seeing it as spiroidal."

Hence the spiroid rage of the jihadists. Among other things, natch.

4/09/2014 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Gagdad Bob said...
I guess it depends upon whether you're a pessimystic or an optimystic, something Morson touches on from a different angle."

So...are pessimystics too crynical?

4/09/2014 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

"I get this sense all the time as I get older, that the past is alive AS me, and part of my job is do as the Psalmist says and declare the works and wonders of God to another generation."

Standard-issue life stage.

It means your life is working.

Congrats.

4/10/2014 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"Inotherwords, one can respond to both freedom and determinism with either dread or elation."

Well, absolute determinism is similar to asphyxiation.

Whereas absolute freedom is similar to being lost in an an endless desert.

So, there is always bounded freedom.

4/10/2014 06:32:00 AM  

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