Give Me a Premise and I Will Destroy the World!
Man cannot contain himself. Even on the physical plane, our skin doesn't actually contain us per se. Rather, it is a semipermeable membrane through which pass moisture, light, and sensations (and probably some more subtle energies as well, e.g., certain kinds of touch). It is simultaneously inward and outward turning.
This two-faced property of inside/outside proceeds all the way up the cosmic hierarchy. It not only defines life, but also mind: the mind too is a kind of membrane that bounds the "self." However, there is no self without an and ultimately the Other, this otherhood being built into the very nature of things, i.e., the Trinity.
At risk of belaboring a point that no one outside the Coonosphere will appreciate anyway, this is my main argument against both artificial life and the likelihood of discovering intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos, for an artificial intelligence will not cohere around a nonlocal interior, and the evolutionary circumstances for its terrestrial appearance are so insanely specific that it could never occur by chance.
If we do ever discover an intelligence that is in any way analogous to ours, then it will simply be because God didn't limit it to one planet. The aliens will be "like" us because they have the same source, which is not from below, but above.
This has nothing to do with "creationism," mind you, nor intelligent design. Rather, it follows from the principles involved. The argument -- which is highlighted in a book I recently read, Who Designed the Designer? -- is metaphysical, not merely empirical or (lower case r) rational.
For the intellectually honest, the conclusion is ineluctable but not of course foolproof, since a fool can prove anything. Just as that Greek guy who said "give me a big enough fulcrum and I can move the world," if you allow me to specify the premises, I can prove whatever I want.
How can someone be a devotee of reason and not understand that reason is tautologous, simply following from its premises? How can they not know of their master, Gödel? Or that they are contained, not container?
"Who designed the designer?" is, of course, a trick question. To even ask it is to betray an implicit premise, or to not understand the nature of a first cause. Or, it is just an incoherent projection of human limitations.
Corbin speaks of a "primary theology" which is prior to all of our secondary elaborations, rationalizations, and intellectualizations, the latter of which may perversely function to distance us from that First Naked Encounter with the Nameless Other.
This, I think, must be the function and the appeal of what a Catholic would say is at the center of the whole existentialda, which is to say, communion. Can't get more physical than that that. It is meant to be a primary, irreducible encounter that bypasses all of our (sometimes) unhelpful pneumababble. Its motto might be Just duit!
However, for Corbin -- and I suppose for any esoterist -- communion would nevertheless ultimately be the outward instantiation of an inward principle, albeit the Highest Principle. It is not the only way to know the principle, except for most people. After all, most people can't even read between the lines, because their literacy obscures the transliteracy of the text. It takes a long time to unlearn to read!
Not to in any way devalue Aquinas's immortal accomplishment, but even he -- when he had that direct encounter and contemplative infusion of First Theology -- was heard to exclaim that All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me. Everything short of this is number two or lower!
Faith and belief are no doubt essential, but they have a function. They are not ends in themselves, but serve the higher purpose of assimilation, such that we may actually believe what we profess to believe. Faith is indeed the evidence of things unseen, or the establishment of a kind of link through which a flow of energies takes place. Without this infusion, "you have nothing -- just a catechism as a list of doctrines, more or less abstruse and impenetrable" (Cheetham).
Just as it is up to us to look through Galileo's telescope in order to see what he's talking about, it is up to us to peer through the teloscape in order to understand what scripture is going on about. The former is necessarily a kind of echo of the latter, otherwise science itself would be strictly impossible.
We might say that First Theology is to theologians as genuine art is to critics. Obviously, all of the Shakespearean criticism in the world doesn't add up to single Hamlet. The tenured will apparently be analyzing it "forever," without ever exhausting it or equalling it. This is because art is what we call a clue as to the Way Things Are. It is why we are "attracted" to art in the first place. The critic is the parasite, not the host.
It calls to mind an aphorism: A work of art has, properly speaking, not meaning but power (Don Colacho). Or, its meaning flows from its power. It first "makes an impression" on us, after which we explore the nature of the powerful impression.
Am I just repeating myself? Sometimes I feel like Schuon, who wrote in the preface of one of his books that "Everything has already been said, and well said; but one must always recall it anew, and in recalling it one must do what has already been done: to actualize in thought certitudes contained, not in the thinking ego, but in the transpersonal substance of human intelligence."
So, I suppose this blog really is one great big exercise in vertical recollection, or at least avoidance of vertical forgetting, especially mine.