Monday, June 01, 2015

The Individuation of the Beyond

As mentioned a couple of posts back, partly because of its associations and partly because of Corbin's idiosyncratic use of the term, I would prefer to deploy the unsaturated pneumaticon (¶) for when he says "angel." This allows us to consider the phenomena he describes from a more purely functional and experiential angle.

In other words, it doesn't so much matter what we call it as how it actually functions. As we know from our Aristotle, knowledge of any reality requires the proper mode of investigation. One doesn't study religious objects in the same way one would study physical objects, which is what occurred to me while taking a random walk through this atheist site.

Such sub-metaphysical blah-blah is unavoidably beside the point, since you can't actually transcend transcendence from below, although many people try. On the other hand, such a missgodded approach is a time-honored path to the divine -- a lefthand path -- for just as communism is the longest distance between capitalism and capitalism (or at least it feels that way), atheism -- pursued to its absurd and destructive ends -- can be a circuitous path from a preconscious theism to a mature and fully developed theism. That's how it was for me, anyway. Atheism is the ironyclad link between the two.

Besides, why would anyone want to make transcendence go away? It is without a doubt the most privileged view and interesting property of the universe. It is what makes the immanence tolerable, as we always have our vertical freedom, or inweird mobility and upward nobility. Without it, this really would be a prison.

"Human beings can become Angel or demon or anything in between," writes Cheetham. Again, my preference is to simply situate human potential along a vertical spectrum, one reason being that it is so experience-near. We all know there are saints and sharptons; and minimal acquaintance with oneself leads to the conclusion that the line between saint and sharpton runs straight through the human heart.

If our highest potential is (¶), then our culture- and timebound ego is (•). How then do we psymbolize the lower vertical? In the book I called it (•••). This was for a number of reasons: first, because it is always a state of fragmentation, or partialness, or lack of integration; second, because development -- whether scientific or spiritual -- involves the reduction of multiplicities to unity; and third, because (•••) has the literal meaning of an ellipsis, in that it "goes on forever," as in pi equaling 3.14159265....

In other words, it is the paradigmatic case of a naughty infinite: "A bad infinity contrasts with true infinity, which is closely associated with the finite, for something that is infinite in one perspective can also be finite in another. True infinity is like a circle, finite but unbounded..." Or better, it is an absolute point which is "everywhere," from which radiates infinite potential, or a circumference which is "nowhere."

The world is not infinite, but it does "reflect" infinitude, most conspicuously in the transcendence of the human psyche. However, in the absence of a complementary and dependent relation to the Absolute, it simply redounds to nihilism, or a mayaplicity of false selves all the way down.

Absoluteness is also reflected in the herebelow, and this is precisely the function of (¶), which is both one and unique, but only in light of the Absolute, i.e., it is the "image and likeness" of O. Otherwise, it is just random error, or the intrinsic absurdity of "absolute contingency," or the truth of untruth.

None of this relies solely on logic, even though the logic is ineluctable. Rather, it must be lived, enfleshed, incarnated, sophered, etc.

As Cheetham explains, "The exegesis of the soul is the individuation of the Beyond," in the absence of which life is "a journey into madness, into the unconscious and impersonal realm of the powers of the psyche that can destroy a soul, a society, and indeed, the world itself."

The individuation of the Beyond.

What a perfect way of expressing it, for without this individuation, the Beyond is like an obscure and I-ambiguous nonlocal cloud. It is analogous on the physical plane to the wavelike ocean of energy that "collapses" into individual particles. I generally don't like these analogies from physics, unless it is emphasized that physics is the way it is because God is the way he is, not the other way around. If humans are soph-evidently trinitarian, it is because God is. Likewise, if we are persons and not indistinct blobs, it is because this mirrors the interior of the divine situation-comedy.

I will be the first to acknowledge that many people are indistinct blobs, which goes back to what (•••) is supposed to convey, i.e., a meaningless agglomeration of drives, impulses, desires, habits, masks, personas, and cultural programing, with no personal teloscape. It is the direction toward which the political left always tends, in case you haven't gnosissed.

And to be fair, one might add that an overly rigid or literal religious understanding tends toward the the other extreme of a crystallized, closed, and hardened (•). Cheetham quotes Emerson, who warned of the religious error of "making the symbol too stark and solid."

Rather, in order to function, the symbol "should flow" and not "freeze." Indeed, this is how we grow with the flow while avoiding the embarrassment of existential shrinkage. ("Let the soul fall in with the Ugly and at once it shrinks within itself" [Hillman, in Cheetham]).

Cheetham writes of the "cosmically unique process by means of which a divine figure, an Angel, meets with, struggles for, and transforms with an incarnate human soul" It is this "coupling" which "produces the eternal individual."

Here again, I would simply say that there is a complementary or dialectic relationship between (•) and (¶), which "bears fruit" herebelow; (¶) is in the orbit of O, and already its reflection, but only in potential; it is image, but not yet likeness, the latter resulting from identifying with and assimilating its energies.

This is a "transmutation," or change of form through which "the world becomes more real, more alive, more intense," for "the soul has come Home. This is the hallmark of the Return" which begins in metanoia, i.e., turning around, looking up, and opening within.

Thus, our own free will is a necessary condition but not the sufficient one, as only God can (or could) provide the latter, i.e., grace. Man could no more invent or provide his own grace than he could truth, beauty, virtue, or unity. Each of these comes from above or doesn't really exist: God or nihilism, person or animal, O or Ø.

The cosmic bus is on an adventure; this adventure is "the individuation of the world and the energies of the world. That is why it has its end in freedom -- the release from the compulsions of nature" (ibid.).

You could say that the adventure relies upon a map that we simultaneously navigate while drawing it. But isn't that the nature of all genuine discovery?

16 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

What a perfect way of expressing it, for without this individuation, the Beyond is like an obscure and I-ambiguous nonlocal cloud. It is analogous on the physical plane to the wavelike ocean of energy that "collapses" into individual particles.

Along those lines, at Mushroom's on Friday there was a bit of discussion about the following lines (and then some) by Swedenborg:

"Put away space, and deny the possibility of a vacuum, and then think of Divine Love and of Divine Wisdom as being Essence itself, space having been put away and a vacuum denied. Then think according to space; and you will perceive that the Divine, in the greatest and in the least things of space, is the same; for in essence abstracted from space there is neither great nor small, but only the same."

It occurred to me then to wonder about "dark matter." Like the Beyond, it isn't something that only exists "out there" in the vacuum of space, helpfully allowing rays of light to travel through patches of nothing where they ought not travel at all; rather it is necessarily everywhere present, even though science is incapable of detecting it save by deduction. Suspiciously like the Love from which all things have their being...

6/01/2015 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Before I proceed, I clicked the atheist link. The purpose of the site is, in part, ... to push back against undeserved privileging of religion ....

I may start walking with a cane just so I can use it on the first idiot that says "privileging" to me.

6/01/2015 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

... already its reflection, but only in potential; it is image, but not yet likeness, the latter resulting from identifying with and assimilating its energies.

In software, we always like to develop and test against known outcomes. It's always easier to figure out what we are doing wrong if we know the right answer going in.

6/01/2015 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In other words, it is the paradigmatic case of a naughty infinite: "A bad infinity contrasts with true infinity, which is closely associated with the finite, for something that is infinite in one perspective can also be finite in another. True infinity is like a circle, finite but unbounded..." Or better, it is an absolute point which is "everywhere," from which radiates infinite potential, or a circumference which is "nowhere."

The world is not infinite, but it does "reflect" infinitude, most conspicuously in the transcendence of the human psyche. However, in the absence of a complementary and dependent relation to the Absolute, it simply redounds to nihilism, or a mayaplicity of false selves all the way down."

Bob, you are smokin'.

6/01/2015 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"... already its reflection, but only in potential; it is image, but not yet likeness, the latter resulting from identifying with and assimilating its energies."

"In software, we always like to develop and test against known outcomes. It's always easier to figure out what we are doing wrong if we know the right answer going in."

That's good, Mush. If one's a priori truth is wrong before even starting, one will never realize where one is wrong, and perhaps, at best, only able to feebly treat one's symptoms of the disease one created.

6/01/2015 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

You mean all ya gotta do is quit makin' yerself sick?

6/01/2015 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sailor metaphysics:
Ya don't want Captain Morgan piloting yer ship.

6/01/2015 01:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"As Cheetham explains, "The exegesis of the soul is the individuation of the Beyond," in the absence of which life is "a journey into madness, into the unconscious and impersonal realm of the powers of the psyche that can destroy a soul, a society, and indeed, the world itself.""

I jouneyed into madness, and I gotta say I never wanna go back there. Worst port o' call evah!

6/01/2015 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"I generally don't like these analogies from physics, unless it is emphasized that physics is the way it is because God is the way he is, not the other way around. If humans are soph-evidently trinitarian, it is because God is. Likewise, if we are persons and not indistinct blobs, it is because this mirrors the interior of the divine situation-comedy."

It's a comedy show, about everything instead of nothing. Everything important, that is.

6/01/2015 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Besides, why would anyone want to make transcendence go away? It is without a doubt the most privileged view and interesting property of the universe. It is what makes the immanence tolerable, as we always have our vertical freedom, or inweird mobility and upward nobility. Without it, this really would be a prison."

Yep. Which makes this story rather interesting. I've seen this mentioned in a few scientistic venues, "Jeremy England, the Man Who May One-Up Darwin",

"The 101 version of his big idea is this: Under the right conditions, a random group of atoms will self-organize, unbidden, to more effectively use energy. Over time and with just the right amount of, say, sunlight, a cluster of atoms could come remarkably close to what we call life."

Typical stuff, or so it seems. And it's not hard to guess how 'Scientistic American' and 'Salon' handle it ("...God is on the ropes: The brilliant new science that has creationists and the Christian right terrified...").

But somehow they've all left out this angle on the fellow:

"And all from a modern Orthodox Jew with fancy sneakers...

...It seems ironic, then, that anti-Semitism would eventually push England to the faith he says his mother spurned. While studying at Oxford in the early 2000s, he faced his first anti-Israel sentiment from classmates — which got him, in expected fashion, reading books and picking people’s brains to figure out where he stood on the issue. And in 2005, he visited Israel for the first time — where he “fell in love.” Studying the Torah provided an opportunity for intellectual engagement that he says was “unlike anything I had ever experienced in terms of subtlety and grandeur of scope....

...So what does God have to do with all this? In his quest for answers, England, of course, finds himself at the center of the classic struggle between science and spirituality. While Christianity and Darwinism are generally opposed, Judaism doesn’t take issue with the science of life. The Rabbinical Council of America even takes the stance that “evolutionary theory, properly understood, is not incompatible with belief in a Divine Creator.”


Huh. One way or another, this could be interesting.

6/02/2015 04:41:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Indeed.

Some days, it surprises me (even though it shouldn't by now) that more people don't grasp that there is and can be no incompatibility between genuine scientific understanding and the existence of a Divine Creator, as if the science is even possible in the absence of the created world.

Seems to me people may be getting a misguided understanding about his theories, though. To say that the molecules in a glass would "rearrange themselves" to better absorb the singer's energy sounds like a bit of poetic license. The molecules do not have agency. Slap a blob of ooblek on top of a bass speaker and you can see the very same process, just in a different set of scales. The blob, no matter how it dances and no matter how lifelike it appears while the beat goes on, is not "rearranging itself," it is simply reacting.

Whether this process provides clues as to how life comes from matter, I don't know. It would be awfully surprising if, after the music stopped, the blob of ooblek kept on dancing or just sort of oozed off the speaker in search of another beat. I suspect the reporters are getting excited about terminology, but by my reading, he still hasn't come any closer to discovering how to create life from lifeless matter.

6/02/2015 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Of course, having said that, I can have a little sympathy for the "science trumps religion" crowd when certain religious leaders make claims like these. Everybody knows that, while masturbation may cause blindness and hairy palms, it doesn't actually make your hands pregnant. Duh.

6/02/2015 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There is always a first cause, ultimately either matter or intelligence. But materialists simply attribute godlike properties to matter and call it science.

6/02/2015 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

I haven't had the time yet to really look into what his theory is, but I thought it interesting that the Darweenies were reading into him to hear "Spontaneous generation is proven! Life from random atoms! ", whereas he seemed to be saying not that atoms did it without God, but that he might be onto how God did it through atoms.

Really funny that neither Salon or others make any mention of his religious thoughts. God loves good comedy.

6/02/2015 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I am the ooblek. God is the beat.

6/02/2015 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

Van, well said.

6/02/2015 09:16:00 AM  

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