Friday, January 21, 2011

Making the Cosmic Loop-d-Loop

We're continuing our discussion of how to stay out of the loop.

A loop is, of course, a curving line that closes upon itself. Physicists tell us that our universe is a closed system. What they fail to realize is that if this statement is true, then it is false, because it proves that the system is not closed.

If the universe were actually closed, then we couldn't possibly understand it, any more than a moth knows why it is attracted to the light or a troll understands why he is attracted to me.

To com-prehend is to grasp, as with the hand, in such a way that it encompasses, or contains, the object therein. Thus, to comprehend something is in principle no different than the manner in which our hand contains a rock, except in a higher space. Only things transcending us cannot be fully grasped.

Only human beings may know that "it is possible to act in error." Conversely, "if fate ruled everything, error would not only be impossible, but the very idea of it would have no meaning" (Bolton). Likewise, to entertain a single regret is to acknowledge that things might have been different if only you hadn't been such a jackass and made such stupid choices.

To say "better choices" is to say truer ones -- or decisions aligned with truth and therefore rooted in reality. If the latter is impossible then our behavior is truly arbitrary, and autistics and sociopaths would be our sages and saints, respectively. The autistic's inability to penetrate beneath the surface would actually be the highest knowledge, while the sociopath's inability to behave morally would be the highest virtue.

One may say that there is nothing above logic, but one would be wrong. Even supposing, à la Spock, that our life could be governed by pure logic, we would still have to choose for that to be the case. We would have to say to ourselves, "a life rooted in logic is superior to one that isn't, therefore I will choose the former."

But one could equally say with Nietzsche or Jim Morrison that it is more fun to plunge into the Dionysian world of impulse and desire. (You may recall that the hotheaded Captain Kirk was always there to save the day when necessary, by overriding Spock's mere logic.)

Recall from yesterday's post that if something is purely determined or purely accidental, then it cannot be caused per se. This is because if something is purely determined, it is just an immediate implication of what preceded it, and not truly separate from it except in our imagination. And if something is completely contingent, then there is no meaningful link between cause and effect.

Again, the world of spirit is one of freedom, whereas the world of matter is alternately determined or random. Human beings are the vertical link between those two realms, which is where our freedom abides.

In Kant's phrase, this is the "kingdom of ends," or what Raccoons call the cosmic telovator. For human beings, things don't inevitably come about as a result of fate, i.e., the past. Rather, meaningful human action is always guided by a future we wish to bring about.

In truth, nature is shot through with formal and final causation. What makes human beings unique is the ability to consciously partake of them, i.e., to enact a plan or pursue an ideal.

In both cases, you might say that the future flows into the present, whereas with the material and efficient causation of primitive scientism, the present is purely the result of the past, with no remainder (again, the closed loop).

Any number of conditions are fated by nature, among them death, embodiment, sex (male or female), gravity. As Schuon writes, these may be summarized as the "four accidents of our existence: the world, life, the body and the soul; or we might also say: space, time, matter and desire."

It is precisely these contingencies that we rise above and over which we may triumph in spiritual development. But please note that the physicist who pronounces on the cosmos covertly does the same thing, for surely a mathematical "theory of everything" would represent a triumph over space, time, matter and desire.

Again, hell is the quintessential closed loop, and we would never deny that many people choose to live there. Dante said (in Upton) that those living in hell "have lost the good of the intellect."

And what is the good of the intellect? Well, obviously its ability to know truth. After all, if it can't even do that, then what good is it? Having an intellect would be as pointless as, say, a liberal man technically possessing gonads.

As Upton says, the hellbound "may be 'smart' like cunning politicians and lawyers, but they have no intellectual intuition of higher realities." Translated to politics, our freedom is protected by the Constitution, which is not a document that "gives" us anything. Rather, it preserves our intrinsic freedom by limiting the power of the state.

And it is necessary to go back up to the Declaration of Independence in order to understand the ground of the Constitution, i.e., our sacred rights and duties that can only have a supernatural origin, as Lincoln knew so well.

Now, as mentioned a couple of posts back, whatever physicists may say about the universe, it is critical to bear in mind that they are not talking about anything ultimately "real" in the metaphysical sense, only abstractions they use to frame and understand their data.

But the cosmos is obviously very different from, and infinitely more than, this abstraction. No one lives in the cold and dead universe of physics.

Rather, the world of physics is just one of many departments in the University of Soul. As Bolton points out, the soul is "a sphere of consciousness which contains the physical universe in its own mode, and many more subtle realities besides" (emphasis mine).

Put another way, the soul is "the container of our world-representation." The ego is merely an adaptation to the world (both the objective and subjective worlds), whereas the soul is a microcosmos -- an ordered totality -- that both mirrors and cocreates the experienced world. Otherwise, there would be no cosmos, only a linear succession of disconnected perceptions and sensations.

This is entailed in one of our first principles, "as above, so below," i.e., "man is made in the image and likeness of the Creator." But there is image and there is likeness, and human time is the distance between the two, which is none other than the spiritual path.

This path is a kind of wider, extra-cosmic loop, except that it is a möbius strip, which means that its inside is outside, and vice versa.

Or, in Schuon's description, it may be thought of as "a spiroidal movement around a motionless Center," except that the movement travels in both directions -- in other symbols, (↓↑).


SippicanCottage said...

Again, hell is the quintessential closed loop, and we would never deny that many people choose to live there.

What's with you and your endless diatribes against NASCAR?

Gagdad Bob said...

National Association of Crazed Anonymous Reactionaries?

julie said...

Sippy, you have to admit they're in an awful big hurry to go nowhere, fast...

Anonymous said...

I notice people are never satisfied.

Any given person will not be completely happy with his/her situation, even though to others they may seem to "have it all."

I think this relates to the loop you speak of, and to hell.

I'm of two minds about it.

If a person is completely satisfied, then they do not change or grow. They become static. That would be a bad outcome, I presume, in an evolving cosmos.

On the other hand, if they are never satisfied, they are not "happy" as the popular definition would have it. There will always be a sense of lack, or regret, or what have you. Discomfort of one form or another. Is that a bad outcome?

To step out of the loop and leave hell, one must therefore be constantly evolving, yet at the same time must feel "I am enough, I have enough."

It's a tough act. I'm guessing the raccoon way is to be satisfied with being unsatisfied. Or something to that effect.

mushroom said...

Only things transcending us cannot be fully grasped.

The monkey with his prehensile tail can grasp the limb but not the full-grown tree.

With my prehensile mind, I might grasp a fractal projection of the Cosmos but not the 0-thing.

Do I have to turn in my Redneck card if I admit that I don't get NASCAR? For one thing they have two too many wheels.

mushroom said...

Anon, Godliness with contentment is great gain.

The same guy who said that said, "Brothers, I do consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal..."
(Philippians 3:13,14)

Gagdad Bob said...

Somebody mentioned PZ Myers the other day. I'd never heard of him before, but whoever he is, he's now advocating infanticide (second story).

julie said...

I don't know if there are adequate words of revulsion and condemnation with which to describe either the doctor and his cohort, or the people who would defend his actions in the name of "choice."

DH read the actual grand jury report yesterday, until he couldn't anymore; then he came home early, told me not to read it, and spent a good while just holding his boy. I think I've seen enough, anyway, just by the news reports.

The really awful part for me was that it brought back to mind a conversation I had years ago with an ob/gyn of my acquaintance talking about late-term abortion, and how she was angry about the partial-birth controversy. Her beef wasn't with the fact that near full-term infants were being killed; it was with the limitations being imposed on how it may be done. While making her argument she described the process, the horror of which only seems worse in my mind as time goes by.

If we cannot keep the practice both "safe" and rare, I fail to see any reason why it should be legal.

JP said...

The entire abortion debate misses the entire issue of the pre-existence of the soul and whether we preplan our lives in advance of being born.

No one ever wants to talk about that.

julie said...

JP - and that would change the way we ought to live our lives how, exactly?

Also, just... dude. Way to disturbingly miss the point.

And now, for something completely different, because after the news of the past couple weeks, I know I could use a good laugh right about now. I figure I'm probably not the only one.

Jack said...


Thank you for the link. I'm not entirely sure why but some of those made me laugh harder than I have in months.

Much needed.

julie said...

You're very welcome.

I like the new pic, btw.

JP said...

I did not miss the point that the "medical procedure" involves the subhuman torture and slaughtering of a baby.

That goes without saying, but I said it anyway so that you knew that I did not Miss The Point.

I made a tangential comment. My problem is that I suspect the abortionists (just like people who have children they don't actually want to raise) are Screwing Things Up. And I don't like that at all.

I want things to Run Properly. And the only way to make things Run Properly is to Eradicate All Evil With Extreme Predjudice.

Jack said...


Thank you. A friend took that picture on his iphone when I was trying to concentrate on playing.

OT, I just watched "Exit Through the Gift Shop" on hulu. If one wants to see the idiotic endgame of postmodern
"art" this documentary is as good as anything. That is if it wasn't obvious already. Maybe some day humans will stop being fascinated with the idea that manic emptiness is somehow equivalent with depth.

jwm said...

You can change without growing, but you can't grow without changing.

(one of those little gems that just popped into my head)


Gagdad Bob said...

Wo. Fox hires Olbermann to clean up their news division.

julie said...


julie said...