Monday, June 26, 2017

Adam's Mistake: Having Your Cake and Going Hungry

Just a short post because Time.

As mentioned in the previous post, the world is a tapestry of radial and circumferential lines emanating from, to, and around the Center; you might say they are the warp and weft of the primordial area rug that pulls the cosmos together. And again, do not visualize a flat and static surface, but rather, a spheroidal and dynamic one.

For example, it is critical to understand that the radial lines between the center and periphery aren't just one-way. Rather, they are always circular, which is precisely why they simultaneously veil and reveal God.

I wonder if this is why, as Einstein discovered, the spacetime of the universe itself is spheroidal -- i.e., curved -- such that if you travel in a straight line forever, you will eventually return to where you started? Same with God: wherever He goes, there He is.

We could also say that the world is woven of appearances and reality, or, as they say in the East, Maya and Brahman; and in the final unalysis, Maya is not other than Brahman.

How can this be? Well, if the world were only circumferential, it couldn't be. Rather, like lower animals and Kantians, we would be confined to a particular ring around the center, and that would be that.

But in the case of radial -- i.e., vertical -- knowledge, it is always an appearance of reality, precisely. Conversely, with circumferential knowledge there are only appearances of appearances of appearances, AKA Turtles All the Way Down.

Which is why modern "philosophy" -- which isn't really deserving of the name -- is such a hot mess. For it is literally the case that it wants to have its cake and go hungry at the same time.

By which I mean that it wishes to pretend that reality doesn't exist and that only science can know it. In other words, it tries to situate absolute truth within an absolute relativity, which is obviously quite impossible.

There is nothing wrong with relativity. Indeed, without it we wouldn't even be here! Just don't elevate it to the absolute, that's all we're saying.

Why does someone elevate the relative to the absolute? Passion and pride, for starters. For reasons lost in the mysts of timelessness, Genesis 3 is inscribed in our bones. It seems we just can't stop ourselves from idolatry, hence the second commandment. It's so clear, and yet, humans still rebel.

Schematically, the first and second commandments can be expressed thus;

1. O = O.

2. Ø ≠ O.

And yet, although Ø ≠ O, it is not the case that O ≠ Ø. In other words, because God is both transcendent and immanent, we say that God is not the world, and yet, the world is not other than God.

To say that "the world is God" is the error (whether implicit or explicit) of pantheism, atheism, and scientism, while to say that "the world is not God" is the error of idealism, manichaeism, and Gnosticism. The former are monistic, the latter dualistic. The secret, of course, lies in God's own trialism.

Now, the two distinguishing principles of Christianity are Trinity and Incarnation (with Resurrection following in tow). Note how Incarnation in particular deals with all the issues raised above. As the Fathers say, "God becomes man that man might become God." And this can only happen in a radial cosmos. So we got that going for us.

9 comments:

julie said...

In other words, because God is both transcendent and immanent, we say that God is not the world, and yet, the world is not other than God.

In a similar way, the Earth is not the Sun; yet, nor is the Earth truly apart from the Sun.

Gagdad Bob said...

Even better, the sun and its rays : the sun is separate, and yet, we are "in" it.

julie said...

OT, I've been looking through Schuon's Art from the Sacred...
Lot's of great examples, and food for thought.

Must disagree with his love for Gaugin, though. I always hated that guy - seriously ugly paintings, plus he was a horrible man who deserted his wife and kids in Europe to live the dream ogling semi-naked underage girls in Tahiti.

Gagdad Bob said...

Gauguin never appealed to me either. I don't remember what Schuon says about him, but he was a sucker for native arts, even if imitation native arts. I'm guessing he likes the relative lack of dimensionality, as in pre-renaissance art and icons.

Having said that, if we only allow ourselves to enjoy the art of wise or saintly men, well... there goes art. I mean, so much of my favorite music was done by heroin addicts. I even know of Jews who can appreciate Wagner. But in general, I find it is best not to read a biography about an artist one likes.

Gagdad Bob said...

Very few human beings can survive a careful biography and come out looking better. Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill are exceptions to the rule.

julie said...

Good point - when I really like a contemporary artist/ musician/ whoever, I usually try to avoid knowing about them for that reason. Re. Gaugin, I hated his art first; learning about his character just solidified the general dislike.

Conversely, one of my favorites, Caravaggio, was also not at all a decent person. Even so, I find his paintings (contra Schuon) both beautiful and capable of transmitting Truth, in spite of their horrible naturalism.

Funny - I disagree with Schuon on a lot of his points here; nevertheless, it is very much worth reading and considering. And if nothing else, it is a treasury of fantastic art. Again, thanks for the recommendation.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, he's not a great art critic per se, because he doesn't consider the work on its own terms, but in how well it exemplifies his own principles of beauty. But still, the overall argument of art as a prolongation of the divine beauty is both important and almost totally forgotten.

Van Harvey said...

"Which is why modern "philosophy" -- which isn't really deserving of the name -- is such a hot mess. For it is literally the case that it wants to have its cake and go hungry at the same time."

:-)

"By which I mean that it wishes to pretend that reality doesn't exist and that only science can know it."

:-) :-)

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Schuon the messenger of the perennial wisdom said that the greatest calamity is the loss of the center and the abandon of the soul to the caprices of the periphery,emphasizing to be at the center, to be center. He said also that the worth of the humans are in their consciousness of the absolute.