Anthropo-Cosmology or Something
There is the cosmos, AKA, the total order of interacting objects, events, and processes; and there is man, the most astonishing and unexpected fact within this cosmic order. Both are in need of explanation, but perhaps the same thing explains both.
In order to begin to comprehend the cosmos, we can't start with inanimate matter at the foundation, because doing so will exclude a priori matter's most important features, such as, I don't know, the capacity to suddenly COME ALIVE! and start thinking. Besides, matter cannot "contain" the cosmos, because it is the contained.
Therefore, my approach has always been to start with, say, me, and ask: just what kind of cosmos is necessary in order for this me to exist? And not just Me, as in the objective Me visible to the world, but the immaterial I whose boundaries disappear over the infinite subjective horizon.
How does subjectivity even get "into" the cosmos unless it has always been here? Furthermore, how does it gather itself into the concentrated and organized form of an individual self, each one being unique? Therefore, one's cosmology must also make room for this notion of "subjective uniqueness." In what kind of cosmos can such a weirdity occur?
The short answer: in a personal cosmos. We'll expand upon this as we proceed. But if we start with a foundation of Person rather than Matter, a lot of things start to make sense -- including Matter.
Now that I've had the chance to read and digest several books on Corbin, I think I can say that his supreme concerns were two: man and God. Most importantly, he wanted to know the latter without negating the former. Or in other words, he wanted to preserve the Absolute while elevating our own absolute individuality, or what the Raccoon calls our Holy Eccentricity or Sacred Weirdness. As Toots Mondello always said to new raccruits, Go weird or go home.
Clearly, what concerned Corbin about traditional religiosity was the danger of losing our individuality in God. I can appreciate that. Who hasn't developed a case of the Jesus Willies as a result of contact with some dogmatic religious robot? Nowadays they don't really bother me, but there was a time.
As we said a few posts back, our mission, should we choose to accept it, is "to make ourselves capable of God" (in Cheetham) -- with an equal emphasis on ourselves and on God. One of Corbin's books is called Alone with the Alone, and I'll go out on a limb and guess that this is what the title refers to: we want to know the one God, and God wants to know the one of us, so it's a win-win.
However, the whole adventure has a very different inflection if we speak of God as Trinity as opposed to monolith; or perhaps better, person, being that a person is both unique and related by definition. Therefore -- orthoparadoxically -- we are called upon to "imitate" God by being ourselves, i.e., individuals.
How can one simultaneously be "image" and one-of-a-kind? I would suggest that Jesus makes many otherwise inexplicable statements that go to this gnotion. Indeed, doesn't his whole mission involve being man and God? And not just some anonymous or mythic generalization of man, but a real, individual, flesh-and-blood, one-of-a-kind person. True, he is "everybody" (which is why everybody can "relate"), but he is also somebody. Have you ever met anyone like him?
Thus, as Cheetham explains, to become "capable" of God covaries with becoming "capable" of oneself. In other words, our unique personhood makes us a theophany of the personal God: "our most profound and essential function is theophanic: 'to manifest God'" and to be "the bearer of the Divinity."
Referring to our first paragraph above, we agree with Cheetham that this is "an anthropo-cosmology so grand in its conception, so all-encompassing in its vision that little in modern thought can rival it."
Or nothing, to be exact. Do you have something better, something equally intellectually satisfying and metaphysically thrilling? I'd like to hear it. In practice, all of the alternatives are either intellectually or spiritually crippling, and usually both.
"[A] scientific or rationalistic context for the events of the soul is insufficient at best and damaging at worst" (ibid.). Why? Because such "remedies" begin with the "implicit presumption that the prison in which the soul is trapped is the whole of reality."
In other words, they -- by which I mean the Conspiracy -- first place us in a prison, and then pretend to sell us the key. But in reality -- to paraphrase what I said on p. 182 -- these are really just fellow prisoners with their own dreams and delusions of escape.
Thus, philosophers wonder about the nature of the prison, while artists decorate its walls and scientists study the composition of its bars. Medicine secures a long life in prison, while the conventionally religious try to pray them bars away. But if I understand rightly, some eccentric individual actually broke into this prison in order to lift us out from above. Or in other words, there is a perimeter but no roof, so stop banging your head against the walls.