Communing with Reality
For as Clarke says, if we deny relation, then there is no way for the existent substance to manifest itself to other beings:
"There would be no way for anything else to know that it exists; it would make no difference at all to the rest of reality; practically speaking, it might just as well not be at all -- it would in fact be indistinguishable from non-being."
But we live in a totally interconnected cosmos in which everything is related to everything else, right down to the quantum level and back up to the metaphysical (i.e., Trinity). In short to be is to be related.
This first occurred to me in reading Whitehead, and it first occurred to Whitehead in the late 1910s, when he left mathematics for philosophy and began pondering the implications of recent discoveries in physics. I'm going to briefly hand the lectern over to Professor Wiki for a moment, while I search for a quote:
"In the notes of one his students for a 1927 class, Whitehead was quoted as saying: 'Every scientific man in order to preserve his reputation has to say he dislikes metaphysics. What he means is he dislikes having his metaphysics criticized.' In Whitehead's view, scientists and philosophers make metaphysical assumptions about how the universe works all the time, but such assumptions are not easily seen precisely because they remain unexamined and unquestioned."
Whitehead "argued that people need to continually re-imagine their basic assumptions about how the universe works if philosophy and science are to make any real progress, even if that progress remains permanently asymptotic. For this reason Whitehead regarded metaphysical investigations as essential to both good science and good philosophy.
"Perhaps foremost among what Whitehead considered faulty metaphysical assumptions was the Cartesian idea that reality is fundamentally constructed of bits of matter that exist totally independently of one another, which he rejected in favor of an event-based or 'process' ontology in which events are primary and are fundamentally interrelated and dependent on one another" (emphasis mine).
"He also argued that the most basic elements of reality can all be regarded as experiential, indeed that everything is constituted by its experience.... In this, he went against Descartes' separation of two different kinds of real existence, either exclusively material or else exclusively mental. Whitehead referred to his metaphysical system as 'philosophy of organism,' but it would become known more widely as 'process philosophy.'"
Back! Thank you, Professor. As you can see from what my colleague just said, there are several key principles, including the ideas that reality is organic, that subjectivity and experience are intrinsic to it, and that nothing is radically independent from anything else. While I am not a Whiteheadian per se, those are certainly three of my non-negotiable demands.
I never retrieved the quote I was looking for, but you get the picture. As Clarke says, "relationality is a primordial dimension of every real being, inseparable from its substantiality..."
What I would add is that this ontological openness applies both horizontally and vertically, i.e., with other local existents and with the very nonlocal source of local existence itself.
That would be another key Raccoon principle in addition to the three mentioned in the paragraph above. So we're up to four, including organicity, subjectivity, interdependence, and vertical/horizontal openness. Or really, one could reduce the four to organism, for every organism is characterized by subjectivity, dependence, and openness.
But in order for there to be organisms, we must ask the question: by virtue of what principle are organisms possible?
The most metaphysically simple and elegant answer is: Trinity. Without this principle, it is impossible to account for the most astonishing features of existence, up to and including the human mind.
If we try to look at it the other way around and begin with physics, well, physics has absolutely nothing interesting to say about Life or Mind, which operate at a right angle to it. Or, Life operates at a right angle, while Mind is like the "subjective angle" of Life, or Life turned toward the great interior horizon.
"All being," writes Clarke, has an "introverted" or "in-itself" dimension, and an "extroverted" or "towards-others" dimension. Or, as we say around here, man is truly I-AMphibious, or an I who is (like any other I) intrinsically related to a Thou (or to Thou-ness as such).
"To be, it turns out, means to-be-together. Being and community are inseparable." Communion is simply The Case: "Personal being, therefore, tends ultimately toward communion as its natural fulfillment" (ibid.).
And supernatural fulfillment: our "universal dynamism towards the Good turns into an innate implicit longing for personal union with the Infinite Good..." This whole cosmos is one "immense implicit aspiration towards the Divine."
That would be another Raccoon principle to add to the others.