Monday, May 08, 2017

The Divine Archcomedian

So: there is no system we can invent or discover that contains us; and yet, we are obviously contained in or by some sort of system. What -- or Who -- is it?

It is God, of course -- or better, O, since the word "God" can become so saturated with meaning as to become a human projection, thus once again containing us in our own system. Certain realities cannot be reduced to words without thereby becoming mere words. This, it seems to me, was one of Kierkegaard's principal concerns.

What can a person mean when he uses the word "God?" He cannot possibly mean GOD as God exists in his own Godhood. Rather, he can only mean his opinion or experience or understanding of God. When a terrorist screams ALLAH IS GREAT just before committing mass murder, he is expressing his particular slant on ultimate reality.

Likewise, when an atheist claims that God doesn't exist, he is essentially expressing the view that God is contained by godlessness, or that ultimate reality is contained by appearances. This approach is utterly backasswards, for obviously ultimate reality is prior to our opinions about it.

Again, Hegel was deluded enough to believe he had contained ultimate reality within his system. But there are plenty more where he came from. The whole Bill Nye-Neil Tyson science-lovin' leftist pomposity is similarly rooted in the Mother of all Fallacies, i.e, that it is possible for science to transcend science.

A riddle: how is it possible to transcend religion? It isn't possible, since religion is concerned with the dimension of transcendence, precisely. Yes, there are more and less adequate maps of this territory, but this hardly means the territory isn't real.

It's like those old maps of the world from before it was explored and settled. In a very real way, man is still exploring and settling a nonlocal vertical world that he only definitively entered as recently as 40,000 years ago. Is it any wonder there are difficulties in adapting to it?

Truly, it is the final frontier, and we are analogous to the first proto-men who had one foot in the trees and one on the plains. In other words, there must have been a transitional phase between our tree-dwelling ancestors our bipedal relatives. Indeed, we are always the monkey in the middle, and always will be. It's just a matter of where we are situated on the vertical scale.

Early in his exploration of the vertical, Kierkegaard wondered whether there could be an Archimedean point from which man could objectively and disinterestedly regard the totality of existence.

The answer is Yes and No, or Not Really but Kind Of. Again, this is where O comes in (or we come into O), for we can objectively affirm its existence without claiming to comprehend it.

Rather, -- and this is Kierkegaard's central thesis -- "man's true home, his true Archimedean point, can only be found in the realization of God's fatherly love for us, providing us with a stable life-view which frees us from both pride and despair" (Watts).

In other words, it is obvious that man cannot create his own Archimedean point, any more than the eye can see itself or the hand grasp itself. But this doesn't mean existence is Pointless. However, the Point, if there is one, can only be furnished by God.

In the Christian view, Jesus is the Point; but he actually points to an even deeper Point, i.e., Trinity. Interesting, isn't it, that Hegel at least intuited a necessary threeness at the heart of things, i.e., the dialectic of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

You might say that thesis is the Father of antithesis (the rebellious Son), and that synthesis is the friendly geist who reunites the family into a higher union.

Now, how does one transmit religious truth without reducing it to mere knowledge? This is not a problem in the sciences, where the whole point is a knowledge-to-knower transmission:

Kierkegaard perceptively observed that although direct communication can be very effective in communicating facts or information, it cannot adequately catalyze the realization of subjective truth, which is the only type of truth that can evolve a person's consciousness...

The problem is, man lives in illusion, the primary illusion being that he Understands, or contains himself. How do you communicate ideas that will vault him out of his illusion instead of merely aggravating it?

Think of how this plays out, say, in politics. You try to explain to a leftist how the world works, and he responds that you are a tool of Big Business or White Privilege or RUSSIA! or whatever. Instead of liberating him from his narrow and oppressive intellectual system, he simply incorporates you into it!

The "direct approach" doesn't work with the left, any more than it does with a paranoid personality (but I repeat myself). So, what was Kierkegaard's strategy?

"He avoids [their defenses] by challenging them undetected, through 'approaching from behind.' If one does this effectively, the person's defenses can be bypassed or sufficiently weakened, before they notice they are 'under attack,' and in this way, one can subtly undermine the confidence they have in their approach to existence" (ibid.).

You know, socratic like. Notice how often Jesus approaches his interlocutors in this roundabout, elliptical way. We may not be able to see from the Archimedean point, but we can be drawn up into a divine Archimedean spiral. To be continued...


julie said...

You know, socratic like. Notice how often Jesus approaches his interlocutors in this roundabout, elliptical way. We may not be able to see from the Archimedean point, but we can be drawn up into a divine Archimedean spiral.

Yes, just so. Not only in what he says, but this is how God approaches man each and every day. Rarely directly, but rather for most people most of the time, it is the still, small voice, the little way that beckons us to turn around when we have gotten off track.

Gagdad Bob said...

Life in the repenthouse...

Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of being trapped in one's system with no way out, the latest in feminist scholarship:

"I, therefore, juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food studies scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized, and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices, their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region, and the western, modernist human frame through which humans interpret these actions."

julie said...

Satire or not (who can tell, these days?), that gives new meaning to the phrase "tortured sentence." More to the point, it indicates a tortured mind; they should consider renaming Women's studies "Word Salad studies."

Anonymous said...

Splendid post! In this and other posts, you've outlined a detailed case of, as I parse it, "God is real, and people should know that, and act accordingly," and its implication "Those who think God is not real, or do not grasp His true nature, are a problem."

Thus Hegel, who was mistaken in his beliefs, is soundly denounced. No objections here.

If I'm mistaken about the gist of your writing, let me know. But if not, the following questions should be addressed:

If those mistaken about God and reality were somehow all corrected and became repentant, would this be a good thing? Is so, why?

Does the Catholic believer have it right, or do there exist glitches in the Catholic doctrine which places them in the camp of the (mildly) mistaken?

Of all traditional belief systems, where would you, if you could, place all minds and hearts of humanity for the best results in terms of understanding God and reality?

Does the materialist have, at least in part, a pragmatic piece of the puzzle for understanding reality? Or another way to phrase it, should the God lover strive to master at least some aspects of materialism to maintain creature comforts?

You've taken the de-facto pulpit on your blog, and this reader accepts your authority on the matters to which you speak. You've taken pains to lay out the problems in depth and in detail. Now, kind sir, the solution, if you will.

julie said...

Speaking of the madness of leftism, the alternate universe where Hillary won.

Somebody out there really believes - or at least, desperately wishes - that Hillary would have achieved somewhere between 92 and 99% positive ratings in her first hundred days.

BZ said...

I ran across this quote of Kierkegaard that I like: "and in the same way it is comic that Don Juan has 1,003 mistresses, for the number simply indicates that they have no value."
Or, as I put it, a man with a thousand mistresses, approximate value of each approaches zero.

I've found a perusal of great thinkers notable quotes is a good indication of whether I want to explore them more deeply or not.

I liken Kierkegaard as akin to Thoreau, sort of a prickly sort, but some worthwhile things to say.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

We can not do anything without words even god has sent his messages through words. False interpretation can not be avoided.As there are false prophets there are true prophets and the ultimate separation remains with the one who has given the humans the freedom to lie or be truthful. This is the struggling game of humanity ever since the beginning which has been programmed initially in the struggle between Adam and the devil. If only people truly believe there is divine accountability and work on saving themselves and those whom they can help. God in, the neglected scripture, said that all his religions can be summarized in two words, truth and just, so it is a question of being truthful in your relation with others and being just in your dealing. Of course everyone knows when failure committed. It seems the age of 40 is a decisive point in the human journey where crossing the bridge of repentance is the key transformative tool that helps the human to move from heedlessness to heedfulness. There are people who are programmed on the insistence of their errors even after they have been alerted and there are those who commit the crime and put it on others. God has created his world with all different maladies and problems that is why he is God and left it to the humans to correct the malady and the problems and not to work toward increasing them as the situation of our present world. Trinity is a basic principle of our existence there is always the knower ,the known and the knowledge, the sender the sendee and the message etc, the negative impact shows itself when this principle is applied without good evidence to the one and thus contribute to people shifting their personal responsibility to god who sent his son who is also god to die for their sins. Such interpretation has played a great role in colonization and the exploitation and subjection associated with it.Whitehead said that the multiple human actualization is programmed to fulfill god actuality. The law of paradoxes will continue to work until god inherits the earth and everything, The unification of the one and the many.

Paul said...

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Matthew said...

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

doug saxum said...

How do we engage the left?

As Jesus is the Bridegroom.
Drop the Republican label and meld into the politics of the Democratic whirled.