Friday, November 20, 2015

From I Have a Dream to A Dream Has Me!

We left off with an interesting observation by Hartshorne and a cryptic one by me. Hartshorne pointed out how billions and probably trillions of influences contribute to the experience of you and of the moment.

This is an example of an extremely weird phenomenon that is so ubiquitous that we take it for granted. For without this experience of unity -- or unitary experience -- we wouldn't be having any experiences or any discussions to begin with. Rather, our "experience" would reflect an infinitely heterogeneous world with no center. Experience would be dispersed instead of integrated.

Now, the latter does sometimes happen to human beings. We call it psychosis. A useful way to think about the psychotic person is that he has no center, no spontaneous organization of his many parts. Thus, you could say that the psychotic mind is a kind of rolling catastrophe that never resolves itself into unity -- except perhaps the faux unity of terror, or persecution, or hatred, or dread.

By the way, this does, or at least will -- I think -- touch on my cryptic comment claiming that "the so-called quantum world below is actually outside us, while the starry expanse is inside." Give me a moment. It will come to me. It's right on the tip of my temporal lobe.

In a colorful passage about the world of the psychotic, Bion speaks of a dread-full "sense of imprisonment" that "is intensified by the menacing presence of the expelled fragments within whose planetary movements he is contained." In other words, the psychotic mind is contained by what it should properly contain; it orbits around what ought to orbit it.

As an aside, I want you to assume that psychosis is not only on a continuum, but that we are all possessed of a psychotic mind (or a psychotic part of the mind, to be precise). For some of us it is integrated -- it is often implicated in creativity, for example, -- while for others it is un-integrated, untamed, unmastered.

You could even say that healthy "mental metabolism," so to speak, involves a dialectic or complementarity of psychotic <-> nonpsychotic, or what Bion calls PS <-> D for short.

And in a way, you could say that PS <-> D is very much similar to Hartshorne's description of the trillions of influences that contribute to the simple and unitary experience -- the simplest experience conceivable! -- of I AM in every moment.

BTW, I think this is what They mean when They talk about God being "simple." Not simple as in an undifferentiated blob, but simple like us despite our infinite complexity. Only in God's case, it is amplified by orders of magnitude. In other words, think of what must go into God being able to declare that I indeed AM!

Here is another important observation about the psychotic side: "Each particle is felt to consist of a real external object which is incapsulated in a piece of personality that has engulfed it" (Bion).

Here it seems we are venturing very far from the everyday map, but this is precisely in order to examine the everyday. For Bion is describing something very basic, very concrete, very experiential, i.e., that it is possible for us to inhabit a world -- a psychic space or sensorium -- that consists of persecutory objects that are vivified by the bits of our personality engulfed by them. If not for this process, then the world would just appear "dead" to the psychotic, but it is very much alive, in a monstrous and menacing way.

I would suggest and perhaps insist that something similar must be the motive force of our psychopathic Islamist monsters. For what do they see when they see us, or Paris, or Jews? Do they see them at all?

And it's not just Islamists. For we could ask the same question of the fascist snowflakes of the Campus Crybully movement, or the auto-persecutory slaves of the Black Lives Matter sickness. When the latter looks at a white person, what does he see? He sees a projected bit of his own psychic enslavement.

So, why does this Black Life project his enslavement into the external world, where it contains and persecutes him? The question answers itself, because it is a dreadful thing to be enslaved by one's own thoughts, perceptions, and passions. Yes, our first property is the self, but only if we make it so, i.e., by ruling and mastering ourselves.

You could say that the persecuted Black Life would actually prefer to be mastered by white people than to undergo the painful process of mastering himself, the only true liberation. Which is the real reason why there are so many blacks in prison -- as if you can vote for a huge government to do only pleasant things for you, and not expect it to do unpleasant things to your unmastered ass!

What Happens Next? I mean, once you inhabit a world consisting of unmetabolized and projected bits of your own personality?

"The patient now moves, not in a world of dreams, but in a world of objects which are ordinarily the furniture of dreams." These objects of psychic furniture are "primitive yet complex," and partake of various qualities which are integrated into the healthy personality, say, anger.

This really explains how and why the liberal sees us as he does. When a liberal describes a conservative, we naturally say, "Dude, that's crazy. You sound like you've never actually spoken with a conservative."

In this regard, the village liberal is like the medieval peasant who never met a Jew, but knows only that they have horns and cloven feet.

You could say that for the liberal, his intestine is where his brain should be. Thus, it is strictly inaccurate to say they have shit for brains. Rather, shit for thoughts.

It also explains why they cannot "swallow" -- which is to say, assimilate -- a thing we say. That's just not what an intestine does. Not only that, but the effort to put an object in there will naturally be experienced as an aggression, a "violent intrusion." It's why liberals are always buttsore about some microaggression.

What is the solution for this madness? A little thing called thinking: "An attempt to think involves bringing back to control, and therefore to his personality, the expelled particles and their accretions" (Bion). In so doing, the projections must be translated into words, so it can be a long and painful process.

From a very different angle, Schuon describes these same phenomena in To Have a Center. He writes of how "To be normal is to be homogeneous and to be homogeneous is to have a center."

Thus, a normal homo has his diverse sapiens (thinking) in a row: "if not altogether univocal," he is "at least concordant." He isn't fundamentally fractured and dispersed like an Islamist or campus snowflake. "Such a soul is a priori a 'house divided against itself,' and thus destined to fall, eschatologically speaking" -- which is a nice way of saying destined for hell.

Schuon even speaks of the psychopath, who, "not knowing how to master himself, has to be mastered by others." Such a man "finds his center only outside himself."

Almost all activists are of this nature, from the global warmists to Islamists to Black Lives Matter. Their only psychic continuity is an artificial narrative that they impose on the world, and they are personally threatened by any threat to the narrative -- which is what makes these snowflakes so flaky to begin with.

Let's get back to our koan about the stars being inside us and the quantum world outside. Does it have a solution?

Consider how, when light from a distant star is registered on our retina, we not only see the past, but use this information-containing light to construct the cosmos, such that the cosmos is a kind of re-projection of what we have assimilated. This is literal photo[light]synthesis.

As for the quantum world, here again, this is just a projection of the mathematics we already have inside of us.

There's more, but we're out of time for today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Matter is the Ultimate Abstraction, Mind the Ultimate Concretion

Back to Ultimate Reality and how it gets that way. First, I think we can stipulate that it is either changeless or changing. For Plato, change and truth were essentially antithetical, which is why he sought reality outside the transient appearances of the world.

Inside his cave, all is shadow and movement, but outside the cave are the pure and unchanging forms. These forms can be trusted because they are always the same, whereas the world keeps changing on us. Thus, in the Platonic view, science deals only with the circumstances of the cave, while philosophy addresses what goes on outside.

Now, what is metaphysics? At least in the Whitehead/Hartshorne tradition, it is the study of those principles that simply Cannot Not Be True. Therefore, everything we perceive and experience (for there is no a priori reason to place "matter" above "experience") will be a special case of these more general principles.

Some people believe it is possible to think coherently without metaphysics, but they are asses. They are so naive and lacking in self-awareness that there is no reason to waste a moment arguing with them. For in fact, any statement about reality betrays any number of hidden assumptions. Thus, to deny metaphysics is to affirm it.

I was thinking about this the other day in reading Ridley's Evolution of Everything. Here he is, at once insisting that free will is an illusion, and yet, trying to convince us that this is the case. So which is it: are we free to assent to truth, or not?

Although free will is self-evident -- for it reveals itself to be so in any meaningful communication -- it is also easy to prove (onto)logically. Yes, things have causes. However, there are so many causes that go into being human -- literally millions of them -- that this equates to being undetermined by them.

What I mean is that the causes are many -- even infinitely many, considering our billions (or is it trillions?) of neural interconnections, not to mention whatever is going on at the quantum level.

And yet we -- assuming we are healthy, AKA whole -- are one. Now, how does that even happen? In other words, how do the trillions of causes harmoniously resolve themselves into one effect, if that effect isn't its own (at least partial) cause of those effects?

I always remember something Whitehead wrote back in 1925, and I've never heard it refuted: that

"an electron within a living body is different from an electron outside it, by reason of the plan of the body. The electron blindly runs either within or without the body; but it runs within the body in accordance with its character within the body; that is to say, in accordance with the general plan of the body, and this plan includes its mental state" (emphasis mine).

Therefore, biology (or organism) by definition transcends physics: you can't get to the former solely by way of the latter.

A reductionist such as Ridley pretends that we are only a consequence of lower causes such as chemicals and genes and instincts, when there is actually a two-way causation, from the bottom up and top down. This ubiquitous dual causation is another cosmic complementarity.

But I ask you: of the two forms of causation, which must be primary? Is it even intellectually conceivable that those trillions of causes could result in the simplest and most unitary experience of them all, I AM? Indeed, without this latter, it is not even possible to entertain the idea of causality.

Ultimately, we would say that, just as being is an abstraction from becoming, part is an abstraction from whole, and material and efficient causation are abstractions from formal and final causation.

Indeed, matter itself is an abstraction from something that is always flowing and always interiorly related. There is no such thing as an unambiguous bit of exterior matter, right here and right now, unrelated to everything else.

This only highlights how any form of ideology -- whether political or religious or scientistic -- is really an idolatry, or an elevation of some abstraction to the concrete reality.

This is precisely the burden Obama's little mind labors under, such that he can no longer even perceive concrete reality. In other words, he is trapped inside an ideological abstraction that forces concrete facts to comport with it.

And people say the second commandment is irrelevant!

Again: matter itself is an abstraction. Therefore, what is actually concrete?

What is concrete and undeniable is organism. To paraphrase Whitehead, biology is the study of large organisms, while physics is the study of small ones. Indeed, thanks to relativity and quantum physics, we now understand that cosmology is the study of the largest organism (excluding God, i.e., the metacosmic organism of the Trinity).

Where were we?

I'll just close off with a relevant quote by Hartshorne:

[T]he stimuli moulding an experience are many.... but all this multiplicity of influences is to produce a single unitary experience, yours or mine right now, let us say.

The effect is one; the causes, however, are many, literally hundreds of thousands, billions even, considering the cells in our brains, for example. This vast multitude of factors must flow together to produce a single new entity, the experience of the moment.

I also wanted to say something about how the so-called quantum world below is actually outside us, while the starry expanse is inside, but maybe we'll get to that tomorrow, when I regather my many thoughts into another one post.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Constitutional Law is What You Can Get Away With

In response to people who aren't so sure it's a good idea to import thousands of Muslims into the country at this particular time, President Obama said that failure to do so would represent a "betrayal of our values."

He didn't specify which ones, but he was probably referring to well-known liberal value of being so broadminded as to refuse to take one's own side in a war. Indeed, the left has effectively been fighting for the Islamists since 9-11, so it would be hypocritical to stop now.

Being that this country -- love it or hate it -- was explicitly founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, it is a little difficult to understand why giving priority to Christian refugees would betray those values. Christians throughout the Middle East are being murdered by Muslims.

By way of analogy, "in the 1930s and 40s it should have been permissible for American officials to view Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied territory differently from those of, say, non-Jewish Germans who sought to flee Europe..."

It is actually a betrayal of our values not to let these persecuted Christians jump to the head of the line.

Even -- or especially -- Muslims should be able to acknowledge that our values are not Muslim values. Consider the plight of the so-called Palestinians, who only exist because no Arab-Muslim state will absorb these pathetic refugees.

In actual practice, "Muslim values" dictate that the Palestinians remain a permanently stateless people so as to pose a mortal threat to Israel. That is why they exist. There is no Judeo-Christian analogue to weaponizing a people for the purposes of promoting genocide.

Islamic values dictate that man exists to surrender to God, and by extension, to the state. Thus, there is nothing un-Islamic per se about the Islamic state. Indeed, every Arab constitution is rooted in Sharia law, which is as it should be (if one is to embrace Muslim values).

Our values hold that government exists for us, not we for it. Prior to the separation of church and state is the separation of society and government. Our culture was a spontaneous outgrowth of our Judeo-Christian values, and the purpose of government is to protect this sphere of liberty and personal responsibility, i.e., self-governance.

Why do we have a constitution? For one reason, which bifurcates into two. That is, it is to protect us from tyranny. But tyranny comes in two forms, from the tyrant and the mob. Note that if we were actually a democracy, then no constitution would be necessary, since law would be reduced to the tyranny of the majority.

Now, does the federal government have the power to compel the states to accept foreign refugees they don't want? The question answers itself, for no one would have signed the constitution if they were signing away such a power.

As Madison wrote, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite" (in Charles, emphasis mine).

And the latter "extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state." It seems to me that the forced importation of potential terrorists touches on the latter three.

Jefferson, commenting on the above, wrote that "To take a single step beyond the boundaries" of the enumerated powers "is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to definition."

Unfortunately, that horse has long since left the barn. For example, if the federal government can force us to purchase a particular kind of health insurance, what can't it force us to do? What is the principle that protects one from the reach of the state, if it can already reach into our bodies -- if our "first property" isn't even our own?

Now, what does this all have to do with ultimate reality?

Well, one's vision of ultimate reality is necessarily the source of one's values, is it not? The real issue is that for a nihilist such as Obama, his only value is power.

And being that Professor Obama is a liberal Constitutional Scholar, he knows as well as anyone that constitutional law is defined by what you can get away with, precisely. Time and again throughout his presidency he has proven that this is a nation of law, and that the law is what he wants it to be.

But if this value of his is truly universal, it means that we too are the source of our own truth, law, and reality, so we are free to ignore this dimwitted pest.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ultimate Reality: I Think it Moved

It happens. Flat out of inspiration at the moment. It always comes back eventually, but one doesn't want to have a sense of entitlement. If you have any ideas for subjects, feel free to share.

If only for my own benefit, I would like to take time to review why I think God not only changes, but must be the very essence of change.

As we've discussed before, changelessness tends to get a free ride -- and change an unfair reputation -- because of the ancient Greeks. In turn, the early fathers, because they wanted to show that Christianity could be reconciled with the most prestigious philosophy of the time, identified the Judeo-Christian God with the Greek/Neoplatonic One.

But if we simply take the Bible as it is, and develop a metaphysic from that, then I don't see how anyone could affirm that God in no way changes.

And yet, this is still the Official View. Through the application of pure reason, contemporary Thomists affirm that because things obviously change, this necessitates the existence of an unchanged; or, because things move, there must be an unmoved mover, otherwise we end in an absurd infinite regress in which we have effects with no cause.

But I think God goes to all the trouble of revealing himself as Trinity for a reason. If the Trinity is the foundation of existence, then surely this must imply some kind of ceaselessly creative change, no? In other words, the first cause is not a substance or a thing, but a process -- not a noun but a verb.

Verb, of course, is cognate to word. Just sayin'.

Hartshorne covers this topic in his Creative Synthesis & Philosophic Method (which I do not recommend -- too turgid and diffuse). He points out that "Prior to the twentieth century, scarcely any philosopher... saw in the idea of creativity a fundamental principle, a category applicable to all reality."

It wasn't really until Whitehead, and I suppose Bergson before, that process, creativity, and evolution began to be appreciated in their own right.

Now, the moment I encountered Whitehead, I concluded that what he was saying Must Be True. Not all of it -- I am not a Whiteheadian -- but at least the broad outlines. I'm trying to think back on when I first bumped into him... must have been in the early 1980s, and he has been an implicit touchstone ever since (as has Polanyi).

I don't know, maybe I'm a little effed up in the head, but someone needs to explain to me how God can "create" without undergoing change. It seems to me that there is no way to squeeze creativity out of a changeless entity, unless you just play word games.

Let's look at it in a purely logical manner: the world isn't necessary, but rather, contingent. We can all agree on that. It didn't have to come into being. Rather, God had a choice.

Or, maybe you are suggesting that God had the choice of whether or not to be creative, and that if he had chosen not to create, then there would be no such thing as creativity? Nevertheless, this implies the possibility of creating, i.e., potential (which, in the traditional view, God is not supposed to have; rather, he is all act and no potency).

I just remembered my key takeaway from reading Whitehead: it is that ultimate reality is subject rather than object. This goes to the discussion in the last post, and to my rejection of Matt Ridley's vision of cosmic evolution: for him, it is as if it is objects all the way down, whereas for Whitehead, it is subjects all the way down.

To be precise, subject-object is one of our primordial cosmic complementarities. However, as with all cosmic complementarities, one must be prior, and in this case it is the subject, because you cannot get a subject out of an object, but you can get objects from the subject.

Now, to say that ultimate reality is subjective is but a step away from saying it is Person. Looking at the Trinity, we can say that it is one process with three "objects" (in a manner of speaking). Or better, there is this subject-object vector at the very heart of reality. When a person relates to another person, it is in the form of both subject and object.

Back to the divine creativity: "a free agent must create something in himself, even if he decides not to create anything else; for the decision, if free, is itself a creation."

For Hartshorne, the implication is that "freedom is self-creation," or in other words, freedom means not being determined by outside agents. To the extent one is determined, one is not free. So God is either changeless or he is free.

It seems to me that to be made in the image of God is to be invited to participate in God's trinitarian nature.

Or, let's turn it around and suppose that the God of whom we are the image and likeness is the unmoved mover. In this view, "God influences all things, nothing influences God. For him there are no 'stimuli'..." Is this how God wants us to be? An unchangeable absolute? How can something that is admirable in God be sociopathic for humans?

I read somewhere over the weekend that the Father is God beyond us, the Son God with us, and the Spirit God in us. How in particular can God be with us without being truly open to us?

Hartshorne completely inverts the traditional view in a way that I find quite appealing. That is, instead of being the distant and absolute unmoved mover, God is the most relative thing conceivable, as in relationship. He is related to everything and everyone, most intensely to human persons.

And although Hartshorne nowhere mentions the Trinity, God's relatedness must be because he is intensely related even -- or quintessentially -- to himself: ultimate reality is pure relationship and therefore "relativity." It moves.