Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Sound Mind is a Sound Cosmos

We left off with a reminder from St. Thomas that the pursuit of wisdom is a game, and that this game -- like any game -- "is not ordered to something else but only to itself."

Moreover, the game "brings the greatest delight."

I deem Thomas's observations Entirely True, otherwise what am I doing here? Why am I doing this? For money? Fame? Attention? Boredom? My health?

The answers to the last five are, respectively, No, No, No, No, and Yes. Yes, I am doing this for my health, AKA wholeness. Health is of course cognate with WHOLE, and we might say that the One Cosmos is the Ordered Whole, or the whole order.

Here is how Webster's defines health: the condition of an organism or one of its parts in which it performs its vital functions normally or properly: the state of being sound in body or mind.

Several points: health can only apply to organisms. Ah, but what is an organism? The answer may surprise you!

Second, health applies to parts and wholes, or to parts within wholes. If a part is sick, then the whole cannot be well. And if the whole is sick, then the parts will suffer.

Third, the concept of health is incomprehensible in the absence of teleology: both the whole and its parts have "vital functions" that may be performed normally or abnormally. And these functions are never static, but always in process (which is part of the definition of an organism).

Fourth, there is objective health of the body, and subjective health of the mind or soul. Thus, the soul too has vital functions, including an intrinsic relation to a larger whole (i.e., a purpose or telos).

Let's go back to what Thomas says about the pursuit of wisdom bringing "the greatest delight." Why would this be?

Well, for starters, wisdom is to the soul what nutrition is to the body: it is a literal food, to which many biblical passages will attest. The dictionary adds that health is a "flourishing condition" marked by vitality and well-being. Thomas calls it "delight." Which is? "A high degree of gratification of mind or sense," or "lively pleasure."

Not to get pedantic, but out of curiosity I just looked up "game," and the first thing it says is "amusement," which adverts to the Muses, who were the Greek goddesses associated with learning and creativity. Thus, they seem to be play-cousins of Sophia-wisdom.

Now, in an organism everything runs in cycles, and a cycle is a kind of self-renewing spiral. This implies that wisdom must also be a cycle, and Thomas says it is: his entire Summa is structured around this cycle, which is ultimately emanation from, and return to, God. This represents the Cycle of cyclicity, the Rhythm of rhythmicity, and the Circle of circularity: it is the fundamental respiration of the cosmos.

It is a spiraling movement; however, spiral is apparently not cognate with the breath, but rather, with spire, or a central axis around which things move. So you could say it makes implicit reference to the unmoved mover, or again, the Cause of causes to which Wisdom is conformed.

Now, just as there is in-spiration and ex-spiration with regard to the lungs, it seems that there is an analogue of this on the spiri-tual level. If the mind is an organism, then this follows the principle that an organism is defined by an open exchange of matter, energy, or information.

What is the spiritual analogue of expiration? Jesus makes many references to it, but it essentially comes down to "poverty of spirit," i.e., a kind of positive emptiness, for the poor shall receive, the last shall be first, the dead shall be given life, etc. (And to die is to expire.)

We might even say that Jesus's mission involves the Whole becoming part so that the part might be made whole. "It is not the healthy" -- the whole -- "who need a doctor." But who is whole? Only people who pretend to be, or who cannot tolerate their part-hood.

So, wisdom begins with consciousness of part-hood and incompleteness, which implies dependency. How do we express this parthood?

Well, I would say the Quest begins with questioning. Whatever else we can say about man, man is the being who questions: Aristotle, for example, "said that questioning was the essential operation of the human mind..." (in McGinn).

For truly, man begins with an epic (?!) that can still be heard today, the sacred WTF?, the astoneaged shout heard 'round the cosmos.

Now, that right there is interesting, because it implies that the essential operation of man is not a "fullness" (as an animal vis-a-vis its settled and invariant instincts), but rather, a kind of anticipatory emptiness.

And what is anticipatory emptiness but faith, or what we symbolize as (o)? Faith is implicit foreknowledge of as yet undiscovered truth. It is truth waiting to happen, or to be born. The question is the Womb of Truth.

The pathological versions of this are many. For example, this morning I saw this headline on how a Leading science publisher retracts dozens of papers for fake peer reviews. What does this mean? It means that the scientists in question only pretend to ask why. Therefore, there is no space for the answer. Instead, they fill the space where the Why ought to be with someshit they just made up.

This means that leftism -- which has thus far been mostly confined to the liberal arts, to history, and to politics -- has now seeped into science. Which we already know -- cf. global warming -- but the larger point is that this failure of Emptiness is an intrinsic cosmic pathology.

I don't know if we got anywhere today, or if I've just wasted our time. One thing you can say about the spirit: it blows where it will so long as you provide an empty space.

7 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

I just looked up "game," and the first thing it says is "amusement," which adverts to the Muses, who were the Greek goddesses associated with learning and creativity. Thus, they seem to be play-cousins of Sophia-wisdom.

I like the idea of muses, the way they work not for themselves but rather to inspire (there's that word again) creativity in others. And so we have amusement, and also music, museums, and musing.

8/20/2015 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joyce:

"This way to the museyroom. "

8/20/2015 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Ann Kellett said...

One Cosmos, unlike Finnegans Wake, has readers.

8/20/2015 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Faith is implicit foreknowledge of as yet undiscovered truth.

Possibly the best definition ever.

I had the same thought about the inspiration of the Muse. I guess calling Him the Holy Muse would not have worked, but that might be His rap name.

8/20/2015 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/21/2015 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Well, I would say the Quest begins with questioning. Whatever else we can say about man, man is the being who questions: Aristotle, for example, "said that questioning was the essential operation of the human mind...""

Yes, the Question, and how you go about asking it, is all important. That should add a level of fear to your game play, especially as you reflect upon what more, besides answers, might be promised in "Ask and you shall receive..."

8/21/2015 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes; "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required..."

8/21/2015 08:40:00 AM  

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