Monday, February 26, 2018

Good and Bad Nothingness

Something that exists or has happened is a realized possibility, meaning that it must have been possible in principle. Moreover, it must mean that possibility as such exists in principle -- or that there is a meta-cosmic "principle of possibility."

Unless you are a nominalist, in which case each thing is a unique fact expressing no principle. The problem with this point of view is that it renders thought impossible. On the plane of thought, everything depends upon seeing generalities and extracting principles and essences. Indeed, any word is a general category, otherwise we'd have to invent new words each time we spoke.

Speaking of which, I can't tell if this line of thought I've been pursuing is of general interest, or just a private preoccupation. It feels quite essential to me -- in other words, like we're drilling down to the essence of things -- but maybe it strikes you as peripheral. I don't know what to do about that. A little secret: the bus is more or less self-driving. Although I am technically behind the wheel, that's just in case of emergency. Otherwise, the bus goes where it wants to go.

The following strikes me as an ultimate pole of thought, beyond which it cannot go; it is a truth of which there can be no truer, except in an extra-cognitive mode such as mystical union:

Beyond-Being is absolute Necessity in itself, whereas Being is absolute Necessity in respect of the world, but not in respect of Beyond-Being. Beyond-Being... possesses the possible as an internal dimension and in virtue of its infinitude; at this level, the possible is precisely Being, or Relativity, Maya. We would say consequently that Being is not other than possibility; possibility necessary in itself, but contingent in its increasingly relative contents...

This formulation resolves a lot of issues I have with exoteric religion. For example, perhaps trinitarian thought is a way of thinking about the same reality -- a point of reference, as it were. In other words, you are always free to think about God as a kind of indistinct blob of absolutely transcendent omnipotence and omniscience.

Islam tends toward this view, i.e., There is no God but God, full stop. Judaism does too, except in the case of Kabbalah, which is like an interior map of divinity with all sorts of interesting points of reference -- including the Ein Sof corresponding to the absolute ground of Beyond-Being. It

is understood as God prior to his self-manifestation in the production of any spiritual realm.... Ein Sof may be translated as "unending", "(there is) no end", or infinity.... Of the Ein Sof, nothing ("Ein" ) can be grasped ("Sof" -- limitation).

This is one of the reasons why the bʘʘk begins the way it does, with the black page that is even prior to nothing: Beyond-Being is orthoparadoxically beyond nothing! (Or nothing is beyond it.)

For which I do have some venerable back-up, mainly in the person of Meister Eckhart, who made many similarly strange claims:

God the ineffable one has no name. The divine one is a negation of negations and a denial of denials. God is nothing. No thing. God is nothingness; and yet God is something. God is neither this thing nor that thing that we can express. God is a being beyond all being; God is a beingless being.

Hard to understand. Easy to misunderstand. Again, it comes down to making distinctions within God, but -- consistent with trinitarian thought -- not separations. And what is a distinct without separation but a complementarity?

Which is why I would suggest that Being is not like an emanation from Beyond-Being, but its complementary mode. Somewhat as in how the Father engenders the Son, each of whom is nevertheless eternal. Father and Son are quite complementary, in that you cannot have one without the other.

An alternative perspective would be to say that the Trinity as already a kind of crystallization out of Beyond-Being. Looked at this way, it reminds me of a stable pattern of currents that is a function of the entire ocean. Yes, we can make out the contours of the currents, but can never pretend they could exist separate from their oceanic matrix. Rather, they are the ocean.

Analogously, the human ego could never exist outside its unconscious matrix; or, local consciousness floats on a wider sea of consciousness-as-such. We all have a kind of trinitarian structure, in that each moment our thought is flowing out of an implicate order which is unknown to us.

Where does creativity come from? Who knows? All we know is that we will never run out of poems, melodies, paintings, gags. How can this be, unless we participate in Infinitude, AKA divine possibility?

Speaking of art, another key point: due to the nature of Possibility, it is possible for possibility to detach from its divine source, and thereby careen toward impossibility.

Again, Contingency must be grounded in Necessity, prolonging the latter in diverse ways, without veering into pure contingency. Pure contingency is none other than the tyranny of relativism, AKA the absurdity of postmodernity, which like nothing so much as a counterfeit nothingness, or bad nothing. There is the good nothing of total possibility, and the bad nothing of total absurdity.


Anonymous said...

Great Post! I see you are aware your penchant for pure philosophy may not be everyone's cup of tea. But, undoubtedly you have a calling to philosophy and are already thinking and writing on what seems, to me, a pretty high level.

I conceive of God as kind of an amorphous unity (a blob, as you suggested). I look at the solar disk, there's God, the atmosphere with its clouds, there's God, a mountain range cutting the horizon, there's God, and so forth. I count everything as all-in. People, there's God. People are God. Animals are God. I picture God as like a single cell, and all these components within are organelles and such, I guess. Mental stuff, thoughts, that's God. Spirit, soul, time, energy, matter, and Entropy. All of physics inclusive.

So that being said, the philosopher's work may lead them to tease out the components and take a close look at how they inter-relate. So to speak of a Trinity, I'm down with it. You can slice it up many ways, and that's a good one.

But pragmatism is the overweening concern to some caught up in this thing, and so I tend to always ask "And so, how does that affect my agenda?"

julie said...

Again, Contingency must be grounded in Necessity, prolonging the latter in diverse ways, without veering into pure contingency.

It has always seemed strange to me how people tend to prefer one over the other without acknowledging the necessity of both. Much the way materialists believe all explanations lie in the realm of atoms, or HBD enthusiasts believe all human nature amounts to the programming of genes, as if this could possibly provide a complete understanding. Or conversely, as flat-earthers who profess only the most literalistic interpretation of the Bible while refusing as a conspiracy any evidence to the contrary.

The keystone requires two legs of the arch in order to be held aloft. One or the other, while both required, are insufficient alone.

or as the kids today like to say, "embrace the healing power of and."

Stu said...

Was listening to a Jordan Peterson video yesterday about the pyramid and the Eye of Horus on the back of the dollar bill. He was talking about how it symbolized that at the top of any hierarchy, you transcend the hierarchy and can look at the hierarchy from the outside. Seemed like an apt analogy for your post. God, both the top of the hierarchy (Absolute) and the transcendent source of the hierarchy (Infinite). Did I get that mapping right?

And to the first commentator, the Blob God guy: Consider that you might have it backwards when you say "People are God. Animals are God." God is everything, but every thing is not God.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

It seems consciousness is the principle behind all the creative processes that are operating all the functions that our existence require and the existence of everything else, utilizing the different aspects of life the primordial field that carries consciousness itself that enable us to know these aspects and to know how to handle them, major among them are polarity, knowledge, will,ability to perform,speech, empathy, charity,limits,flow, evolution and balance. It is the neglect of the scriptures as a guiding documents that are filled with the above concepts and more, given to humans to run their affairs and not to leave the field to the different brands of humans left ,right, conservative ,progressive and all the other different fragmented labels of experts and intellectual that have no connecting cord among them, forgetting the principle of the whole ( the holy ) the unifying field and get submerged in the parts without seeing the connection to the other part, reflecting, the turmoil, we are living under. It is talk without divine responsibility and action without divine accountability that is behind all his mess, since accountability versus government and other institutions proved useless voice but on the contrary proved to be behind the epidemic corruption that transverses our globe. It seems that social or political correction is not obtainable in light of the corrupted human selves. It seems we are living in a time similar to the time of Noah when he had turned to god saying , I am defeated, take over and we all know the story of the flood. Most people, it seems, are no longer have trust in a paradoxical divine force that of wrath and mercy that will not leave people in a corrupted status quo without a hitting reminder. The reminders that all prophets have warned people from its severe repercussions. it is true we reap what we have sown. It is true also that if we continue to exchange words without faith, we are going to end in the abyss.

Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse "...od, and so forth. I count everything as all-in. Peo..."

Aninnymouse: Tirelessly pursuing the possibility of transforming the deepest depths into an endlessly flattened plain.

Anonymous said...

Hello Stu and Van:

Stu, you mention God is everything, but everything is not God.

This requires some expansion, because at first take it looks like the equation should be symmetric to meet the needs of logic.

Van, your comment would need some expansion too. My take, the "total Unity" viewpoint, is entirely in keeping with the blog author's book, One Cosmos. I cannot see how there is any flattening going on.

People struggle with total Unity; it is hard. We want to think of God as all positive. That is very important for many, and hard to let go of.