Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Abstract, the Ponderable, and the Real

This is a quick post. I just wanted to jot down some preluminary ideas before they lose me.

Yesterday I was thinking about what a terrible trap the world of science has created for many of us. Because of the undeniable blessings of science and technology, it's easy to get lost in the alternate reality created by science, and to lose contact with human reality, which is to say, divine reality (i.e., the human world is where the horizontal and vertical worlds intersect).

There is a spiritually totalitarian aspect of science, which can lead man to be trapped in a cold and abstract prison of his own making, and therefore be exiled from the fulsomeness of the living Real. Humans are a "prolongation" of the Real, not reducible to the abstract.

It is terribly naive to say that science (especially modern science) deals with the "real world." It actually begins with the ponderable world -- the everyday world of the senses -- but eventually creates a wholly abstract world that is taken to be more "real" than the ponderable world. (Importantly, it also begins with certain implicit religious assumptions purloined from the Real, such as the idea of an intelligible cosmos that can be comprehended by rational observers, but we won't get into that for now.)

This process of abstraction leads to patent absurdities such as the belief that DNA explains life or that the brain creates consciousness, rather than vice versa. Both the brain and DNA are digital, while the human is analogue. Or, as I put it in the Coonifesto, semantics cannot be reduced to syntax; to put it another way, qualities cannot be reduced to quantities, especially when we are talking about the "divine qualities" of the upper vertical, or the Real -- e.g., Truth, Beauty, Being, Liberty, Consciousness, the Sacred, the Holy, etc. All of these things emanate from the top down, not the bottom up.

For example, we all know that there is a mysterious, subatomic "quantum world" underlying our ponderable world, a vast sea of unbroken energy that supposedly tosses up forms like transient waves from the ocean. It is a world of pure abstraction, and features principles that are literally impossible for us to imagine, since they so violate everything we know to be true about the ponderable world -- i.e., causation, simple location, separate identity, the forward flow of time, etc. None of these common sense categories apply to the abstract quantum world.

First of all, the quantum world is not something we can ever "observe." Indeed, to even use the word "observe" is to project qualities of the ponderable world into the abstract world. You cannot "observe" mathematics, and the quantum world is largely the extension of mathematical models into "further" or "deeper" levels of abstraction.

For example, as we mentioned yesterday, the "Big Bang" is an extrapolation of the meaning of certain mathematical models. It is analogous to "climate change" models, only accurate instead of fanciful.

Even so, despite its accuracy, it nevertheless leads to an absurd world that cannot be imagined by the human mind. No one has ever even seen "the cosmos" (at least in its scientific sense). Rather, it is simply a model, an abstraction. Revelation also provides a model of the cosmos, but in that case, the model is real, not abstract or ponderable (with important exceptions; for example the Real became ponderable so that the ponderable might become Real).

Human observers could only exist in the ponderable world, and could never exist in the quantum world. So we have to picture the Big Bang "as if" it were possible for a human observer to be there. But that is strictly inconceivable.

For one thing, we can only know what is knowable by a human observer, and the most astonishing thing of all is that the Big Bang was pregnant with the human observer who is "watching" his cosmic birth unfold through his own abstractions, and is therefore his own mother, so to speak.

To suggest that this Mystery of Mysteries can be reduced to a mathematical equation is pretty silly -- as if understanding the equation would be equivalent to understanding the mystery of the human state. But to comprehend the equation would only add to the mystery, not detract from it, being that the most incomprehensible thing about the cosmos is its comprehensibility. At least if you try to start at the bottom.

When you think about it, it is actually no different than Genesis. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. "How do you know? You weren't there. Since people weren't created until the sixth day, you can't say what happened before that."

Bill Maher is such an imbecile.

Suffice it so say that revelation deals with the Real world, not the abstract world of science or the ponderable world of everyday existence. (To be perfectly accurate, it also has has to do with the dependence of the ponderable upon the Real, or their intersection; we are not dependent upon physics, but upon the Creator who created physics.)

Or, let us say that there is an upper world of divine archetypes and eternally creative activity; a "middle earth" of ponderable existence; and a lower world of abstraction and impersonal forces. All must exist, although it is a moonumental lunacy to turn the cosmos upside down and take the abstract for the Real or the ponderable, or to regard the abstract as "fundamental" rather than derivative.

Furthermore, there are not actually three worlds. There is only one world, and it is not reducible to the world of quantum physics. Rather, the world of quantum physics is an abstraction or "descent" of the Real world to its furthest reaches. There are other lower worlds -- e.g., the "unconscious" -- which we will discuss in a later post.


julie said...

"Furthermore, there are not actually three worlds."

And there's the challenge, to realize that science and spirit and the human realm of day to day life are not separate, disconnected spheres, but are more like nesting balls, one contained within another contained within the third, but the relationship between containers and contained shifts depending on your perspective.

Ricky Raccoon said...

“Yesterday I was thinking about what a terrible trap the world of science has created for many of us. Because of the undeniable blessings of science and technology, it's easy to get lost in the alternate reality created by science, and to lose contact with human reality, which is to say, divine reality…”

This is what I meant when I made the slight edit to:

“The Devil IS the details.”

You have to be careful not to get carried away.

…and, I think, is one of many clues packed within:

“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die”

“and you will be like God."

Fact replaces Truth. You replaces Him. This may become your truth from your perspective, is the warning.

The potential problem with mathematics, physics, etc is they won’t let you down either. They can’t. They are not creations themselves but models of creation. You can keep proving all day long and for ever. It has to be this way. But they are models and only stand in place of, or imitate, the thing they model. They are never equal to it. So, in other words, if you begin with a science-only mindset the proving will just continue to allow you to think YOU are right. They will reinforce. But really, you are only discovering what already exists. If anything, you get second place for finding them.

I’m not anti-science, just trying to remember what it was that got us going in the first place, to stay in awe of Who makes it all possible.

Van said...

Thats a lot of preluminary ideas to be contained by a 'Jot'.

"But to comprehend the equation would only add to the mystery, not detract from it, being that the most incomprehensible thing about the cosmos is its comprehensibility. At least if you try to start at the bottom. "

Trying to grasp your jot, let me play off the previous image of the tree reflected in the lake, roots above... try this one on for size.

Imagine a horizontal plane, and two lines being drawn up out of it, at angles leaning towards each other. The lines eventually meet above to form a triangle where they intersect high above the plane, and in that meeting they can be used to calculate the area of the triangle. If you add the third dimension, where instead of two lines, you visualize two behind them as well, and all rising to a single point, we get a pyramid, and again the area can be calculated, but what might be missed, is if you continue to follow those lines beyond their intersection, there forms another pyramid above, mirroring the one below, and which follows its dimensions... except that there is no horizontal plane that contains the upwards depth of its area. The higher pyramid itself above, does not end with the measurements that the one begun on the horizontal plane does, it follows the same shape, the same angles, but continues on and on to incalculable depths above.

Those who ignore depths within their own angles, see but a triangle, and not the two lines behind it..."a triangle has three sides, how could it possibly make four corners?!" they see and calculate the seemingly same angles and areas, but miss and lack the depth and volume of the third dimension. When it is pointed out that the lengths of the sides are not equal to their height above the plane, they use that to deny the validity of measurement at all, "reality is but illusion", the possibility that that difference between length and height might be because the lines not only incline inwards, but incline backwards as well, to meet and rest upon its mirror triangle behind it, and that this leaning backwards is not a weakness, but a source of stability and support, they only scoff "Gain stability and support from falling backwards!? Idiot! I don't see it, it doesn't exist!” Those who do see all four corners, the poets and lovers of the Good, the Beautiful and the True, as they trace the lines up to their peak, they gain a far deeper understanding of their pyramid, but it all depends upon the inclined angle, which the 2D triangler's deny, and as they follow the echoing refractions of angles from their intersection at the peak, the pyramiders are able map, and touch, and inhabit the full interior space of their pyramid, far beyond what the 2D triangler’s can even begin to imagine – but only because they refuse to allow for that supporting tilt backwards.

But even those who may see all four corners, and trace the lines up to the peak of their intersection... if they assume that only the horizontal surface could give rise to their angles, they, from their vantage within the pyramid, may miss that the lines continue past the intersection... and while they do attain depth, understanding... of their space, it is for those, the higher poets, the prophets, who 'imagine' not the lines beginning at the horizontal and extending upwards, but from the intersection continuing up and down, who can visualize the pyramid above of unlimited depth, one with no limiting horizontal surface, it contains the same angles, and can map the same areas, but its depths can continue on and on and on.

If they do not allow for support from falling backwards, they are limited, if they do not allow their eyes to continue following upwards, they miss the even deeper depths of that form above them. Those who painstakingly have traced those lines upwards, miss that the angles did not develop from the surface upwards by themselves, but that they were merely tracing in the lines descending from those extending down from above.

And it is for still others to wonder... without hope of conception... where the lines came from at all, and out of which both line and space originate... that is beyond all geometry, and we... whether in two or three dimensions, are bound within that geometry, by the Geometer.

Van said...

...And of course, both 2D and 3Dr's can be confounded even further by the thought of their lines and angles shaping not into four corners of a pyramid, but rounding into the no corners, unbroken single continous line of a cone... which leads back into another past image of the upper and lower cones of the hourglass.

Gotta love Geometry.

Van said...

Looks like we all woke up on the same side of the bed this morning!

Dusty said...

"a vast sea of unbroken energy that supposedly tosses up forms like transient waves from the ocean. It is a world of pure abstraction, and features principles that are literally impossible for us to imagine,"

I didn't quiet get through Grotstiein's "intense beam of darkness,"(now that I'm distracted by Abishktananda and Raimundo Panikkar), but I did cover the first half, which covers the basics anyway.

Quantum space sounds a lot like Bion's abstract category (or maybe it's just a pure abstraction of what goes on between the contact-barrier of O and a-element), B-space-- multi-dimensional constellations of a-elements (primary process and dominance of pleasure principle)characterized as being contained by the unthought and unthinkable "void."

Sounds like a mind-warp.

jwm said...

Godd morning. I've been wanting to add something to the coonversation all week, but I've been working at a tough tedious assignment (manual labor rocks!), and I've been too damn tired to do more than read the post and comments.
But something just happened. I just came from the local Starbucks. I sat down with a person I've mentioned before: super nice guy, very talented artist, smart, but militant atheist, terminal BDS, and an unrelenting carping critic of America. Also relies on Huffington post for news and worldview. In other words- hardcore moonbat. He, and another fellow were ragging on Bush, Iraq, and America in general (as always)
I actually like these guys, and normally when I sit with them I just let it go, and try to divert the topic into neutral ground. Today I cracked. Before I knew it I had the double barreled atomic powered flamethrower out with the volume at eleven, and settings cranked up to scorched earth. I pulled the trigger on both barrels. Four years of LGF, and hanging here since the git go has kept the fuel tanks topped off pretty nicely on that puppy. I drained them dry.
And I don't feel good about it. It's one of those things we all BS about- taking a cluebat to a moonbat, and all. But I didn't change anyone's mind. I threw no light into any dark corner that I could see, and all I really did was ruin an otherwise pleasant morning's chat with people I look forward to chatting with, despite their politics. Now I got housework to catch up with. I'll check in later. Right now I just don't feel so good.


Ricky Raccoon said...

I know what you mean, JWM. If it were that easy (and it’s not easy) we wouldn’t be in this mess. I work in a small office that sounds like what you have there. I almost did what you did but stopped short thankfully. Had to. I could see where it was going. Both sides were going to insaneland. It’s much better now with this approach: I go incredibly silent when they start. Like a vacuum. Not mad – but completely unaffected, like they’ve started speaking baby talk. I smile a little and go back to my work until they get it out of their system. It gets easier with practice. They notice it. You can’t not notice it. You see, it takes a lot of control and they don’t have that. They don’t believe in it. They can make you lose control or they can’t. I prefer “they can’t”.

julie said...

Been there, done that, JWM - with my husband's sister, once, at a family gathering. Yeesh.

I apologized after a couple minutes of cooling off (yes, she was making annoying and inflammatory statements, but she kept her cool; I didn't), with no harm done, thank goodness; we all value family cohesion far more than politics, but I felt awful.

I hope your friends are able to see past the politics and keep hold of the friendship.

Van said...

JWM said "Right now I just don't feel so good."

I don't deny that it can be difficult... and yes at times... especially at work... moderation is needed, but the battle must be engaged - or conceded.

And really, you cannot judge the outcome of the battle by the end of the clash. How many ideas have you grown into now, that began from an argument you argued against years... decades even... earlier?

I have a good friend from the band days coming out in a couple weeks, who has taken a hard left (or perhaps continued on it) - last time he was here, before Christmas, we enjoyed some all-nighter arguments that didn't stop short of flying spittle, table thumping and my occasional trademark wall shaking bellow - both barrels of the blaster emptied in both directions - but then again, we know each other very well, and we were arguing our ideas - not our souls - and much to my kids amazement, there were no hard feelings, only delight... and some development on both sides... but... this time he's coming out with his fiancé, and I know those lengths will likely have to be kept on leash.

On leash, but not penned up.

Perhaps more voice to the questions rather than the conclusions, is at time needed... but silence?


QP said...

OT, but relevant ->

Pimping for the Pope:

Here's a handy link to the EWTN-TV schedule for B16's visit to the USA this coming week.

[Bookmark it before you get distracted, then make room in your schedule to tune in.]

/Bossy mode

Anonymous said...

Readers of this blog, including the author, might be interested in:

The VI International Bi-logic Conference Helsinki 29.8.-31.8.2008

The Suffering of Body and Mind:
A Bi-logical Approach

Hosted by The Finnish Psychoanalytical Society (IPA)

Price: 190€ if registered before 30.4.2008 210€ if registered after 1.5.2008

Registrations and enquiries:


Gagdad Bob said...

That's a coincidence. I was just thinking about a possible relationship between symmetrical logic and non-commutative geometry. To be explained later.

Robin Starfish said...

"I threw no light into any dark corner that I could see, and all I really did was ruin an otherwise pleasant morning's chat with people I look forward to chatting with, despite their politics."

Truth can only take so much. No doubt you planted plenty of seeds there, JWM. If a couple key people hadn't uncorked on me way back when, well, I wouldn't have eventually found my way here.

Stone of Stumbling
a basket reveals
seven loaves times six fishes
soul full of empty

jwm said...

Van, Julie, Ricky, and Robin, thank you for the feedback.
Robin, I was going to post this on your thread, but I can't seem to get to your comments section.
As I mentioned, I've been on a tough and tedious assignment this last week. We worked about 300 yards of chain link fence at an elementary school replacing beige plastic slats with some fake hedge material(picture an artificial Chrismas tree branch eight feet long) This was partly for looks, and partly to sheild the kids from the clients of the Orange County Transit District which has three bustops end to end there running coaches every fifteen minutes or so. I've worked the school several times and found booze bottles, cigarette butts, and even a syringe tossed over the fence and onto the playground on the other side of the fence. This is not the inner city, but City it has become, nonetheless.
I've lived here since 1963. This mile long stretch of Highway 39 is the inland end of Beach Boulevard, the road to Huntington Beach. There wasn't much reason to drive on it unless you were returning to LaHabra from somewhere else. You could safely cross without looking both ways, and stop to tie your shoe in the left lane. I've watched the area grow, watched the hills swallowed by housing tracts, watched the traffic increase till it's quicker now to ride my bike down to the corner than to try and drive the three miles from my house to Starbucks.
Yet somehow, without my being aware of it, I still looked at this part of town with 1963's eyes. It was standing on a ladder by the bus stop, threading the hedge stuff through the chainlink, while dealing with the street people and winos, hearing the whine and growl of bus engines, and the computer voice notifying the blind passengers of route numbers and destinations. It was not being able to keep up a conversation with my co worker because of traffic noise that drove the year 2008 home to me. I felt like I'd been jumped here to the future without my consent. And the future wasn't Jetsons style flying cars, space needle buildings, and robot butlers. It was panhandlers, traffic, paved over hillsides, grit, noise, and litter. And I can't shake the feeling. What is stranger, I get this flash over and over again that I can somehow leave this time, and go back, but as quickly as the notion flashes through my head the realization follows that time is not a destination. And then the questions: What am I doing here?What is it that I want? What is it that God wants from me? The answer is that for right now, God wants me to finish this fence. That is the task at hand.


NoMo said...

JWM - Since I'm not smart enough to counter point by point effectively, another approach is to make them actually think through their position by asking them questions. No defenses go up. Genuine interest in how they arrived at their conclusions can be engaging. Sometimes people just need a little help taking their beliefs to their logical conclusions - before they can see there is nothing there.

Now if I can just remember to follow my own advice.

phil g said...

Ah yes, the Socratic method. I'm not that skilled with it, but it is the only way I can engage with these types without losing my cool. It's interesting the answers you get when you ask about Obama...what does he mean by 'change; really, how do you know that based on what he hasn't said, etc...

I've been working on trying to stay calm and pleasant. Sometimes I get so agitated by the untruths that I become physically affected...shaking, tense, adrenaline flows, etc.

Ricky Raccoon said...

RE “silence”, I don’t want to beat a dead horse…but that may be my point. And with all due respect I do admit we may be talking about two different situations. Please don’t take the following as an argument or that I disagree with what you said. I want to clarify what I said because I think the difference is worth it.

“Silence” is not where I began. It’s where it is now. The people at the office know where I stand on things. I am referring to certain topics and certain mind parasites. JWM mentioned BDS. I won’t get anywhere with that person other than to let them know it doesn’t approach a topic worth discussing with me. I won’t be dragged into it. It would be like the President having a sit-down with Saddam before the war. There is only one normal person at that table.

I’m not saying the people I work with are not normal. I’m talking about the mind parasites. I’ll never forget this one conversation. It was just after they found the mass graves in Iraq. That was not the topic. The topic was the war in general and as basic as was it right or wrong. I said something to the effect “Saddam may be this generation’s Hitler.” And the other guy said, “Hitler?” as if it was the strangest thing he ever heard. All over the news at the time was that by conservative estimates 300,000 Iraqis were in mass graves. Some placed it as high as one million. When I heard his reaction I was stunned at HIS amazement that I would compare Saddam to Hitler. That was the last time we spoke about the war. If we can’t agree on that level, the rest would be a waste of time. I’ve had similar conversations with others in the office and I ended them at similar levels. Hopefully they remember where they ended.

Now topics like how big government and confiscatory taxes are bad, how there is plenty of oil, how the weather is doing what it always does, how America and capitalism are good, doctors in a free market is better than going to the doctor for free. Those are things I can point to in the room vs apparitions.

The approach I’m talking about is working better than the one I was using before – which went no where but to make ME look like the moonbat in the room, their parasites energized and out and about more often. Now, I think, when the topics go astray, I’m the adult in the room…until my boss walks in, who is also a conservative, and then there are two adults having a real conversation.

Smoov said...

Next time don't feel limited to oratory. A well-timed chomp to the schonz will drive home your righteous anger with a 'coonerific flourish.

Once they're on the floor, go for the wallet. 'Coon lodge needs a new plasma TV.

Smoov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricky Raccoon said...

Bwahh! Thanks, Smoov. How’d you get a picture from inside my office?

Here’s another example. File it under “beat a dead horse”. I am literally surrounded by BDS bumper stickers. It’s the area. I saw one a couple of days ago. This guy had a number of off-the-shelf ones you can easily buy on any moonbat website I’m sure. But he had another he clearly made himself. It was on the inside of the back window on a piece of paper the size of a standard bumper sticker. It was literally scratched in pencil like some maniac and it said “Buck Fush.” I guess he couldn’t find or couldn’t wait to get a laser printed one on there so rushed this one together in some rage. I thought a blast of my horn and swirling my index finger on the side of my head was an appropriate response. But I didn’t.
At times like that I always think about what “response” bumper stickers I’d have on my car. I’ve shared some of them here and on my other covert blog :-) The latest one I came up with is this: “Hillary is the Devil”.

Now I don’t think she's the Devil (she just plays one on TV :-) I just want them to see how ridiculous they look to us. But I won’t stoop to that level. I try like hell anyway. So far not one bumper sticker. But man that Hillary sticker is tempting. They wouldn’t “get it” anyway, so what’s the point.

Van said...

Giddee-up! Wham! Swack! Gidde-u...
It's dead. The horse is dead.
What's your point? Giddee-up! Wham! Swack!

No worries Ricky!

Certainly the setting, and whether or not the arguments have been raised and argued already affect how you respond to the issue.

There's a Moonbat in my bullpen at work, and earlier in the year he, I and a Dept mgr (turned out to be a mostly moderate, right leaning) were locked in a room for 2 weeks doing emergency trained monkey grunt work on some 250 field device PDA's, and, with mutual consent, it became a week long philosophical & political debate, by the end of which he retreated to "No I can't explain why, I just believe it", which I got to answer with "I didn't realize you were a person of faith" followed by a long, slow burn.

The Mgr came out of that with a better understanding of what he did and didn't believe, the Moonbat believes he was ganged up on and so his ideas didn't really lose since it wasn't 'fair', and I had a great time.

But there's also, as you found as well, no point or purpose to debating Moonie any further, he's not interested in the truth of the issues, only his positions, and like you found, he no longer tries to raise those issues in any serious ways.

In our bullpen, where we've got 9 Developers, most of whom have no deep interest in politics or philosophy, getting into a deep discussion on the issues would be very one sided and likely counter productive. There is one, however, who throughout the day announces the latest headlines to us, along with his one liner wisdom of what it really means - he's a very current events, wind blown, vocally cynical, quipping w/o understanding "Oil men rule the world", "X [insert Rep, Dem or any other] doesn't believe that, they're just following the money", "He dropped that pass on purpose, the Super Bowl's fixed" type of person; the sort which most people seem to feel they should give a knowing snicker to and hope he shuts up. Not surprisingly, the moonbat often feeds off the cynics remarks, adding something like "Well, what can you expect with Bush in charge."

To their comment pairs, I limit myself to a simple comment to try and tie them together, such as "You've no problem with the Gov't taking your money and saying how & what you're kids will be taught to think, but you draw the line at them knowing what you say in a phone call to someone in Iraq?", not super persuasive, but I've found that when they've become aware that the bullpen snickers that follow their comments are likely to be followed by snickers at them, their key issue comments have declined sizably.

And yes, as Nomo said, a question is usually far more effective than a direct reply, and in an open, unfixed setting, that is what I usually respond with, and let them and the interest of those in the setting determine how much further the issue goes, the key for me is that the issue not be allowed to go unanswered at all. That doesn't mean that you must always physically reply then and there - if, as in a fixed setting, your position is already known, a raised eyebrow is often better than an extended rehashing of it, especially somewhere such as workplace, family, or other fixed group of people, once the questions and answers have been hashed out, and positions are known to those present, yes, reflexively rising to the parasite's outbursts would only damage your position and push peoples patience with you as well, and in those situations a glance or pointed silence does become far more effective than a verbal reply - but it is still a reply, and just as effective and, I believe, necessary.

Of course, if you can get in a chomp to the schonz and get a new plasma tv for the coon lodge, forget about decorum, go for it!