Monday, April 25, 2016

Tripersonal Metacosmic Ecstasy and You

I'm rereading an excellent little book called Person and Being which traces the soph-evident fact of our own personhood up to ultimate reality -- the Trinity -- and back down again. I don't recall blogging about it, or at least not as much as I could have or should have.

I mean, it's a Big Idea, maybe the biggest of them all: that human personhood is the most adequate reflection of the ultimate principle of the cosmos. Of course it says so in the Bible, but Clarke makes no appeals to authority or scripture, rather to pure metaphysics.

To jump ahead a bit, the central idea is that substance is not ultimate, but nor is the pure relationality of, say, Buddhist metaphysics; rather, the irreducible reality is the complementarity of substance-in-relation: there is no substance that isn't in relation, and no relation that isn't between relatively autonomous existents.

Because substance is always in relation, it is always self-communicative. This accounts for the intelligibility of the world, in that everything that exists somehow gives itself over to our understanding.

Something that didn't do this would be simply nonexistent: to exist is to be known (at least in potential), and to be incapable of being known is to not exist.

Which puts an interesting twist on the idea of being known by God: God doesn't know us because we exist, but rather, we exist because God knows us.

Substantiality is the "in-itself" modality, whereas relationality is the "toward-others" aspect. Again, humans always have both, but only because God does. It's a very strange idea, but God has his own otherness built into him!

Which I think helps to explain why a lot of bad things happen down here. Let's say that everything, right down to the itsiest bitsy, is a fractal of the trinity.

This means that nothing is really under absolute control, because everything is always giving itself over to what is not itself (beginning with the Father wholly and unreservedly giving himself over to the Son).

That's true from the bottom -- say, vis-a-vis the unpredictability of quantum physics -- to the top, whereby fully functional human beings routinely give themselves over to relationships they do not control.

As they say, having a child is like having your heart running around loose in the world. Imagine how the Father felt!

All those liberal dreams of control are anti-trinitarian -- and therefore anti-reality -- to the core. They shouldn't call their predictable destructiveness "unanticipated consequences," but rather, inevitable catastrophes.

So: "self-expression through action is actually the whole point, the natural perfection or flowering of being itself, the goal of every presence in the universe" (Clarke). This "innate dynamism" is "in the very nature of actual being as such." The point is, human beings are not the Great Exception, but rather, the Highest Exemplar this side of God.

In other words, "the very nature of the Supreme Being itself -- even before its outflow into creation -- is an ecstatic process... of self-communicating love" (ibid.).

Within the Godhead there is both giver and receiver, in a movement which in turn "flows over freely in the finite self-communication that is creation. No wonder, then [as alluded to in paragraph four above], that self-communication is written into the very heart of all beings" (ibid.).

I've been pondering this for, I don't know, thirty years, and am in 100% agreement that the approach we are discussing represents "one of the few great fundamental insights in the history of metaphysics, without which no viable metaphysical vision of the universe can get off the ground."

In short, trinitarian personalism -- or tripersonalism -- is the First & Last Word.

Have you discovered the beginning and now are seeking the end? Where the beginning is, the end will be. Blessings on you who stand at the beginning. You will know the end and not taste death. --Gospel of Thomas

9 Comments:

Blogger ted said...

Person and Being is one of my all time favorites. For such a small book, it packs a lot of metaphysical punch!

4/25/2016 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

They shouldn't call their predictable destructiveness "unanticipated consequences," but rather, inevitable catastrophes.

Or rather, anticipated consequences, as quite often the catastrophes they bring about are the whole point. Can't usher in utopia if too many people are content to live in traditional families and quietly go about their lives, after all.

4/25/2016 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Haven't had time to read this yet, but I am definitely stealing the term "structural statism."

4/25/2016 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "I am definitely stealing the term "structural statism.""

That is a goodie.

4/25/2016 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

God doesn't know us because we exist, but rather, we exist because God knows us.

Beats Descartes.

4/25/2016 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Anticipated/unanticipated -- I don't know. I am amazed at the functional, reasonably intelligent people of my acquaintance who simply cannot think through the chain of events resulting from certain actions. The action or policy itself is "good", "compassionate", or whatever so the consequences must be good as well.

4/25/2016 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

"I've been pondering this for, I don't know, thirty years, and am in 100% agreement that the approach we are discussing represents "one of the few great fundamental insights in the history of metaphysics, without which no viable metaphysical vision of the universe can get off the ground."

In short, trinitarian personalism -- or tripersonalism -- is the First & Last Word."

Thank God we have the capability to understand and realize this!

4/25/2016 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

"In other words, "the very nature of the Supreme Being itself -- even before its outflow into creation -- is an ecstatic process... of self-communicating love" (ibid.).

Within the Godhead there is both giver and receiver, in a movement which in turn "flows over freely in the finite self-communication that is creation. No wonder, then [as alluded to in paragraph four above], that self-communication is written into the very heart of all beings."

I have come to realize that there must be a balance between giving and receiving, or at keast that's ny goal.
Both are essential and without it one cannot be human.

4/25/2016 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

"So: "self-expression through action is actually the whole point, the natural perfection or flowering of being itself, the goal of every presence in the universe" (Clarke). This "innate dynamism" is "in the very nature of actual being as such." The point is, human beings are not the Great Exception, but rather, the Highest Exemplar this side of God."

I don't gno hiw many times I didn't realize this in the past, but I thank God I realize it now! For the first time in over 5 decades, I feel complete. ☺️
That's not to say I have nothing left to learn, but I have a good foundation to start with now, and I gno it. It's a real epipheny!
I know not everyone here will agree with me on this, and that's fine, I respect your opinions.
I also understand that some, perhaps many people cannot understand or relate to me, but I do, and I thank you my sisters and brothers for still being my friends. I know it isn't easy in light of who I am now, and who I have always been down deep inside, but you have shown true charity and it's a real honor for me to be able to call you brothers n' sisters under the pelt! 🤗

4/25/2016 11:42:00 PM  

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