Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Wondrous Thunder Rends it All Asunder (12.07.11)

Just a short post in order to make some headway on The Tower of Destruction....

How do we prophylactically avoid having our tower blasted by the thunderbolt? Easy. We will invite a bad case of thunderclap if we misconscrew evolution. That is, to express it in biological terms, extinction -- the ultimate bolt out of the blue -- occurs as a result of overspecialization, which confers a temporary advantage but ends up "painting one into an evolutionary coroner," so to speak.

Why are human beings atop the evolutionary heap? Because we specialize in generalization, in a way that no other animal can or ever will. In human beings, intelligence has wrapped around itself in order to produce self-consciousness, and therefore abstract thinking -- or virtual manipulation in the absence of the immediate object.

In my book, I advanced a theory -- which is mine -- of how I believe it came about that human brains became capable of hosting divine souls. Again, it has to do with the evolutionary development of the neurologically incomplete and helpless infant, and all this entails (in short, the infant "creates" the empathic and caring mother, who in turn enlists the protecting father). Space doesn't permit going into all of the details here, but the point is that humanness emerges within this trialectic transitional space. Infants specialize in helplessness, which is the gateway to human generalization.

Because of this arrangement, human infancy (in the collective) represents a kind of infinite potential, which is the precise opposite of specialization. Who could say what human potential remains to be actualized? One could not say this of any other animal, for their existence and their potential are roughly equivalent. The only exception is when humans interfere and bring out potential that would have otherwise remained latent, e.g., turning a mere canine into a seeing-eye dog, or Mike Tyson into a boxer.

So human beings are the ultimate generalists, and this is one of the keys to avoiding the tower and the thunderbolt. UF writes that it involves "the way of general growth or that of 'humbling oneself to the role of a seed,'" in contrast to "the ways of specialization or those of 'exalting oneself by building towers." In short, it is the way of growth vs. the way of building.

Now, growth is not just some local biological phenomenon somehow attached to an otherwise dead and fully exterior cosmos. Frankly, it is both absurd and incoherent to suggest that interiority could have ever resulted from pure exteriority. In other words, biological, psychological, and spiritual growth are not to be thought of as bugs, but features, of the cosmos.

And what is growth? It is a kind of dynamic interior unity with a developmental vector. Growth always wishes to "realize" its possibilities, so it is unavoidably teleological. To say "growth" is to say "teleology." Otherwise it isn't growth, just "expansion" or perhaps "metastasis," that is, the disorganized manner in which a cancer "grows."

The tower -- because it is a narrow specialization -- always leads to a spiritual impasse, at least if one attempts to elevate it to a metaphysical generalization. This is what scientism does, and the spiritual consequences are obviously catastrophic, being more or less synonymous with "hell."

For example, other animals "act out" evolution, but only human beings -- because of their generalization -- know about it. As a result, evolution -- ipso facto -- can never "contain" human beings. Rather, we contain it -- so long as we are contained by O.

For ultimately, it all comes back, down, and up to O. Last night I read a nice passage by Sri Aurobindo, in which he discusses the realization of God. In it, I will substitute O for Brahman, because I think it expresses it in an exceptionally clear and concise manner (one could no doubt locate a similar passage by Eckhart or Denys):

"We have to perceive O comprehensively as both the Stable and the Moving. We must see it in eternal and immutable Spirit and in all the changing manifestations of universe and relativity.

"We have to perceive all things in Space and Time, the far and the near, the immemorial Past, the immediate Present, the infinite Future with all their contents and happenings as O.

"We have to perceive O as that which exceeds, contains and supports all individual things as well as all universe, transcendentally of Time and Space and Causality. We have to perceive O also as that which lives in and possesses the universe and all it contains."

This passage touches on all the main characteristics of the "higher third" of God-realization, which is the ultimate generalization, but simultaneously the ultimate specialization, in that human beings "specialize in God." For at the end of the deity, he is the vector of our interior growth. Failing to follow that vector results in a corrective thunderbolt. If you're lucky.


Anonymous said...

Plasticity vs. elasticity.
A bodybuilder can elastate his body, but it goes back to what it wants to be if they don’t keep up the regimen.
But the philosopher? Can they will their mind into a different form, which will be permanent? Or does it matter, assuming that a physical body is nothing more than an observational ‘anchor’ for the all knowing spiritual personality?

walt said...

There are times I feel like I've painted myself into a corner -- not because I'm such a specialist, but because as time goes on, I continue to withdraw my "investments" in horizontal affairs.

But then, from this supposed corner, I look around and am shocked by the Beauty of the View. Sometimes words are just words, but other times they hit like a Thunderbolt, and are electric. For me, Aurobindo's words you quoted are like this.

"...both the Stable and the Moving...eternal and immutable Spirit and changing manifestations...all things in Space and Time, the far and the near, the immemorial Past, the immediate Present, the infinite Future...that which exceeds, contains and supports all individual things as well as all universe..."

Some "corner," eh?

Thanks for the Saturday "Extra!"

Gerard said...

Congratulations on having such a transcendseminal slog. But you may want to change
the name to One Cosmo on the Rocks

Anonymous said...

Speaking of transcendseminal can I tell you about my struggles with E.D.?

slim said...

Alls I can say is if yer talkin' 'bout some kinda "semen based recipe," you'd better mean yer woman's got a bun in the oven, or we gonna have trouble 'tween us.

jwm said...

come for dinner.
Stay for the comments.
(Thanks Gerard. Coffe through the nose, and a totally ruined breakfast.)


jwm said...

I can't spell, capitalize, and link while laughing.


Anonymous said...

What happens to a someone who builds a tower, and then gets struck by lightning?

She dies, right? And then what?

I'm trying to dope out the process of soul growth. Be born, deludedly build towers, get struck, either die or reconstitute as a non-tower builder, and then?

And where does the metaphor of the erection and the talk of semen come in? Is that a way of saying that God impregnates the receptive being when she has prepared an adequate "womb" inside of herself to gestate what, a soul child?


ximeze said...

New from VDH Ten Random, Politicially-incorrect Thoughts

Go gettum Victor

terrence said...

FYI, Raccoons, the infamous Queeg was voted the "Biggest Pro-Censorship Ass-Hat".

From the site:
"In a surprise, and shamelessly biased decision the Judge (that's me) decided to declare two winners in this category.

The Voters have spoken and CJ of LGF was the category winner by virtue of an overwhelming majority of the popular vote. Bravo Charles! I judge a man by his friends too.

However, finishing a close second and in recognition of the contribution made to the success of these awards by Jennifer Lynch I feel it my rightful duty to declare The Canadian Human Rights Commission co-winner in the Biggest Pro-Censorship Ass-Hat category. Short may you reign."

jwm said...

The Tower is Pride.
Pride is the first and deadliest of the seven deadly sins. It is the soil in which the other six grow.
The Tower is a category error, perhaps The catagory error.
On a purely material level, it doesn't matter whether you stand on the 34th St. sidewalk, or in the observation tower atop the Empire State Building; the distance between you and the moon remains the same. It's putting all the effort and energy into the wrong project. And then realizing it all at once.

...and you may say to yourself, "Oh my God. What have I done?"


cousin Dupree said...


I believe Bob was making a play on words, as an "erection" is a "construction," i.e., a tower. Anything else is a product of your filthy imagination.

julie said...

On a tangent, have you read much of the Feser book yet, Bob? And if so, what do you think?

Gagdad Bob said...

I finished it awhile ago. He definitely demolishes atheism, and shows how philosophically empty it is. But he's quite obnoxious and polemical, and could have done it much more efficiently without the abuse. The problem is that none of the ad hominem is clever, so it becomes a strain after awhile. Number one rule of comedy: if you're not funny, don't try to be. Still, I learned some things, and it has spurred me to brush up on my Thomism.

julie said...

Thanks, Bob.

Re. Thomism, I've bookmarked Blogging Aquinas and Just Thomism, but to be honest my attention is a little too squirrely for much of the parsing. It would probably help if I were reading along with them or if I had started from the beginning, but often I can't help thinking of Monty Python. Which is totally unfair to any of the above worthy thinkers. Anyway, I suppose at some point I should just read Aquinas for myself. Right after I get through that huge stack of other books that keeps growing thanks to you and Walt. I've added my reading list to my wish list this year; I'm sure my family members are going to think I've gone off the deep end :)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"How do we prophylactically avoid having our tower blasted by the thunderbolt? Easy. We will invite a bad case of thunderclap if we misconscrew evolution. That is, to express it in biological terms, extinction -- the ultimate bolt out of the blue -- occurs as a result of overspecialization, which confers a temporary advantage but ends up "painting one into an evolutionary coroner," so to speak."

And some folks say Bible study is boring. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

As a result, evolution -- ipso facto -- can never "contain" human beings. Rather, we contain it -- so long as we are contained by O.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Gerard said...
Congratulations on having such a transcendseminal slog. But you may want to change
the name to One Cosmo on the Rocks.

Shaken and stirred.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Wait a minute... Gerard VDL?

So, you're just sporting a bit with Dear Leader, yes?

Or are you trying to be the Enzyte of philosophical insight?


Djadja said...

1 John 4:16 says “God is love.” And in Acts 17:28 Paul recounts that " him we live and move and have our being.” So love is the ground plane of existence, and we live and move and have our being in love.

julie said...

Speaking of Just Thomism, I'm reminded this morning why I added this blog to my Google Reader:

"Things other than corruptible bodies (atoms, energy, angels, immanent activity) are each in various ways disproportionate to our intelligence. Such disproportion does not make these things simply unknown, but unknown distinctly and in themselves. We can only know these things in a general manner by other things proportionate to our intelligence. In knowing atoms, for example, we have to construct various models which look nothing alike in order to bring out various aspects we understand about the atom. When speaking of energy in physics, use again use various models and impose symbols which stand in for the various realities we want to understand. It is easier and perhaps absolutely necessary, for example, to understand EM waves in terms of things like water waves and billiard balls that are directly and distinctly given in our experience and therefore proportionate to our intellect.

This need to proportion things to our intellect is also important in metaphysics. Analogy, for example, is a proportion that our mind uses to understand one meaning in light of another."

"One consequence of the way we understand the things that are disproportionate to our intellect is that we often need several incompatible or distinct accounts to speak of the same reality. Because we are trying to understand a natural thing through an artistic model, we need more than one model of the atom, the molecule, and the EM wave in order to account for what we know about it. Because we try to understand the divine existence with human language, we need to predicate both concrete terms (”good” or “is”) and abstract terms (goodness, existence) of him."

Much more by A Thomist over at his blog, of course, but I really liked this set of observations.

Zoltan said...


I am charmed by the aetiology of the human soul as infant calling forth mother calling forth father.

What a rich,potent image, a fine symbol of the divine ground as well as of the divine essence of ground (matter).

Evolution pulled forward, not pushed. Teilhard. My wife will like the image.

So the offspring are not "ours," we are "theirs," or, they are not "our kids," we are "their parents."

Reminding me to inquire, how many four-footed furry raccoons do the raccoons here typically feed a day?

We manage ten to fifteen per day through four feedings, many double + dipping.

This accounts for about five generations, so far, with the babies usually pulled away -- or pushed there by mother -- towards the end of winter and new litters coming in spring/summer.

Several mothers have been with us for several years.

Correction, we have been called forth by several mothers for several years.

Curious regarding others' experience in this facet of Cosmogenesis/Christogenesis.


hoarhey said...

"We manage ten to fifteen per day through four feedings, many double + dipping."

Careful there Zoltan, you wouldn't want to spoil their wildness and make begging Democrats out of them. ;*)

Van said...

An interesting thought, that we are raised by our children... not of course that they consciously direct the parents, but that as a result of their selves, their existence, their needs, and our awareness of the, that we as parents, are transformed and raised into adulthood.

How much more the 'tragic', that so many attempt to be 'buddies' to their children, refusing not only the higher responsibility of raising their children, as opposed to indulging them, but they also refuse to be raised higher themselves.

Van said...

Hmm... some ... interesting cooking suggestions... pardon me, but don't take offence if any of ya'll ever come over for dinner and I keep you out of the kitchen.

Too many cooks... spoils the viva viva via....

jwm said...

Just keep your hands where we can see them at all times.
No mayo on mine, thanks.


julie said...

JWM, you almost owed me a new keyboard there...

Zoltan said...


Thanks, point taken.

They appear to us as trick-or-treaters wearing raccoon costumes.

They also leave nicely-shaped stones for us in the feeding area, which is in a wet-land buffer about 15 feet above a stream, where they appear to select the stones, by their rounded appearance (the stones).

House and garden are filling with these stones. We have to accept them, of course, dialectic of existence. They are coming from the raccoons, no other source possible or at least suspect. Appear to be thank-you gifts.

Do you feed at-large animals? Any experience similar to this, especially the thank-you gifts?


Van said...

I'll keep my hands where you can see them... now step away from the turkey....

hoarhey said...


Pretty much the only wild animals I feed are birds in the Winter. I try and avoid familiarizing animals with canine teeth with food and humans. It's nice for awhile but it always seems to devolve the more familiar the animals (particularly racoons) become with being fed, resulting in fights amongst themselves, smaller domesticated pets being harmed, adults and small children being bitten, trash-cans raided etc. I've seen too many examples where it goes bad and it eventually always seems to go bad at some point. Also, the incidents may not be happening to you but to other neighbors in the vicinity since the racoons become aclimated to humans.
It also sets up a false eco-system in that area where the population is boosted over what the natural habitat can handle and say if you were to move out of the area, the racoons would then be left to forage on their own on resources which aren't sufficient to sustain the population. They then begin to compete for food not only amongst themselves but with house pets and domestic animals which are fed outside.
I've been to remote campsites along trails where racoons were used to being fed and they stayed there all night fighting with each other, climbing trees and shimying down ropes to get into suspended backpacks, pulling zippers on tents open to get at whatever they thought was inside, it was a nightmare. One even ran off with a Preachers Bible one night. (Possibly the Origicoon) I kid you not.
I generally try and avoid it.
In some states (most?) it's illegal for those and other reasons.
You may get away with it on a limited basis as your mileage may vary but if it begins to ramp up with more frequent visits, look out.

julie said...

Yikes - speaking of towers of destruction...

At last, people will be able to track their bodily processes with an obsession and intimacy of detail heretofore unknown, and post them in the virtual world to compare and contrast with virtual strangers. And yet they will still know nothing of themselves, lacking in Mastery.

Ray Ingles said...

So... since we understand evolution, we're outside of it? Evolution may have produced us, but doesn't have to drive our every move and thought?

Wow. Neither Dawkins nor Dennett have ever said anything like that.