Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bob, Bobber, and Bobbest

Whether you are a religious believer or merely a faithful atheist, you have to admit that the structure of human existence is a little strange.

What I mean is, all living things have a telos, i.e., a mature form toward which their development is drawn, or at least might as well be.

I remember reading Sheldrake's A New Science of Life, on morphic resonance and formative causation, way back when it came out in the early 1980s. Something about his presentation struck (even) me as a little dodgy, but I don't see any way around the broader point that biology makes no sense at all in the absence of teleonomy, which essentially comes down to "future causation."

I see that the wiki article on teleonomy mentions Robert Rosen in the third paragraph, and it wasn't until his books fell into my lap that I felt I had a Coonworthy theoretical biologist to bring along on the bus.

Rosen may be saying some of the same things as Sheldrake, but since half the time I have no idea what he's talking about, it gives me confidence that he knows what he's talking about. In contrast, Sheldrake comes across as rather facile, and in the ensuing years has become downright Chopraesque.

Another rider we picked up along the way was the apparently obscure philosopher Errol Harris, whom we don't discuss much. He wrote a number of books, beginning with Revelation Through Reason, which were revelations to me at the time, but I have since then become more reasonable.

Let's inspect some of my Higher Marginalia in the latter book, shall we? "Life is the universe flowing through itself." That is literally true, because instead of traveling in a straight line, toward entropy and disorder, the universe somehow wraps around itself, creating a boundary through which energy and information pass. That's life.

A lot of this must have stuck with me, for example, "God's reality cannot be denied, as any such denial must rest on grounds which only God's reality can provide" (that may be a direct quote or my own formulation).

Here is another proof of God: "Every proposition is contingent, but in order for this to be so, there is one fact that must be asserted, and that is the existence of the completed system.... The perfected whole of knowledge and reality is, therefore, the necessary presupposition of all reasoning and all proof. The denial of its reality is self-refuting, such that without God's existence all rational discourse is undermined."

But we're getting a little far afield. Back to the weird structure of human existence. Just as every animal develops toward its mature form, human beings also mature toward theirs. The Big Difference is that this doesn't just take place in the key of matter -- i.e., our bodily form -- but is somehow transposed to the key of psyche.

In other words -- and I don't see how this can be denied, any more than biological teleonomy -- human beings develop towards their "true" (or at least truer) selves. That may not be the most felicitous terminology, but the main point is that we always live in a kind of dynamic and fruitful tension that reaches toward our better, or fuller, or more actualized selves: in my case, Bob, Bobber, and Bobbest.

Which is precisely Corbin's point, with all the angel business.

Because the first thing the curious primate wants to know is, "since this higher Bob is not yet here, where is he?" In other words, he surely "exists," but only in potential. But where is this "potential existence," and what is its ontological status? What about Bob?

For Corbin, this true self is our "angel." It is the source of our uniqueness, our individuality.

Again, it is indeed curious that, just as each human being has a distinctly recognizable face, we somehow possess a unique self, even if it is only in potential and generally stillborn. Much of the drama of history has involved creating political and economic conditions that will allow the self to be born and to flourish in this world.

This flaming article by Ann Coulter helps explain why this is so, as most cultures essentially function to either suppress individuality or allow only pathological versions of it. Liberals will no doubt call her "racist" for being so objective about these worthless cultures.

What happens to an animal if it is prevented from achieving its mature form? Another name for this is death, since the maturation process will take care of itself so long as something or someone doesn't prevent it.

Does something similar -- okay, identical -- occur with regard to psychological development, i.e., soul death, or zombiehood?

If zombies could vote, they would vote for someone like, I don't know, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and that could never happen here, of all places, the Land of the Free and Home of the non-Zombies.

Rather than using the loaded term "angel," my preference is to simply use an unsaturated placeholder, or pneumaticon, for the angelic phenomena. The symbols I use came to me in about five minutes. Perhaps they look like it, but they have nevertheless done the job over the past ten or fifteen years, in this case (¶). When Corbin says "angel," I just think (¶), as in the following:

Each (¶) "is unique because it mirrors the potential individuality of the soul. It is a call to our individuality. Becoming yourself is a task. We are born with the potential to become who we truly are -- to engage in the struggle for the [¶] who is our celestial counterpart" (Cheetham).

I'll have more time tomorrow. To be continued...

12 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

In other words -- and I don't see how this can be denied, any more than biological teleonomy -- human beings develop towards their "true" (or at least truer) selves. That may not be the most felicitous terminology, but the main point is that we always live in a kind of dynamic and fruitful tension that reaches toward our better, or fuller, or more actualized selves: in my case, Bob, Bobber, and Bobbest.

And yet so many people, particularly those who idolize youth, look backwards as they age, convinced that their most actualized self existed only when they were younger.

5/28/2015 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I remember being bothered by the idea of potential energy when I first ran across it. I'm getting my battery recharged.

Sheldrake wanted to be accessible, though I think with good intentions. Accessibility probably increases profits for the non-prophet.

5/28/2015 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I don't know about this angel business. Unless the kind Corbin speaks of are different than tradition or the Gospel speaks of. Such as the ones who (underline who) attended to Jesus after the devil left Him; and the ones in the tomb after Christ left it. Who were these Angels? They did not exist in potential. They are persons. I get the sense they always existed as angels as such. Is Corbin's description in line with say Tomberg's or St. Thomas and so forth?
I get the feeling it's not such a bad thing that we have the word angel; especially if it bugs us. The more I think of them, the more fruitful the thoughts.
My old self would have found this comment quite strange coming from me.

5/28/2015 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I don't like his terminology either. Why conflate two such different categories?

5/28/2015 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Perhaps saint is a better term for what Corbin means.

5/28/2015 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not really, because he's talking about the form of our true self, which relates to us as if another person -- like Jimmy Stewart's angel in It's a Wonderful Life, except that they are like two sides of the same person, or two persons in one, or something.

5/28/2015 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Well, what Corbin describes (or rather, what you describe that Cheetham describes that Corbin describes :-) is akin to what Fr. Barron describes as ourselves eventually in heaven will be known as "Saint So-and-so"; since we can't be in heaven as anyperson less than saint. If we believe as Origen in the preexsistance of souls, then there must be a Saint Bob in heaven right now setting the example (it seems to me).

5/28/2015 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. That would indeed be a good way to conceptualize what he's talking about. I'm tempted to plagiarize it, but I think I'll just steal it outright.

5/28/2015 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

My understanding -- which is often wrong -- is that Christianity backed away from Origen's view because it could "dilute" the uniqueness of the Second Person of the Trinity. We want to be clear that as creatures we do not have the same kind of preexistence as Christ. As long as we keep that distinction, I'm OK with preexistence. In fact, it makes sense. But then I'm a disciple of MacDonald.

5/28/2015 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

It sounds like Corbin means "who we are after Purgatory."

5/28/2015 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Mush, yes, and to assign saint to Christ would clearly dilute (absurdly so) I think. Though saint is far from (well, me) it is the highest human "rank" attainable.

5/28/2015 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"In other words -- and I don't see how this can be denied, any more than biological teleonomy -- human beings develop towards their "true" (or at least truer) selves. That may not be the most felicitous terminology, but the main point is that we always live in a kind of dynamic and fruitful tension that reaches toward our better, or fuller, or more actualized selves: in my case, Bob, Bobber, and Bobbest.

Which is precisely Corbin's point, with all the angel business."

Interesting that the comments center on the same point. My thought was along the lines of the imagery that we've bandied about before, of a sphere or a hand passing through Flatland - with the perspective available to us (or not), what Is, doesn't seem to match with what seems to be, and yet it IS.

Perhaps we are simply in the situation of having to grapple with the dimensions of length, width and breadth in the key of Psyche, while having experience only of length and depth. While we can sense or intuit that somehow there is more to our philosophy than we've dreamt of, what that 'more' is we can't quite say well... sorta like it has to be taken on faith or something....

5/31/2015 08:32:00 AM  

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