Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Does I AM Say that I AM?

If omniscience is more the mode than the content, then it is clearly in the subject, irrespective of the object(s) it contains and contemplates.

In other words, even if we had access to every single "fact" -- like a vast computer -- we would not be omniscient unless we were in the mode of omniscience. Conversely, even with no "facts," so to speak, omniscience remains omniscience.

I believe it is possible to approach this coonundrum by way of analogy. As it so happens, psychoanalytic theory describes clear developmental stages which result in fundamental transformations to the subject, so that the "objects" within undergo changes as well.

To be perfectly accurate, the objects do not change, but the "vertex" of the subject does, but this seems to bring a new object into being; or at least hidden dimensions are disclosed that can only be perceived in the higher mode.

I've posted on this subject before, but I know not when. I believe I characterized psychological development as a "conquest of dimensionality," a phrase I once heard Terence McKenna use in a more anthropological sense.

For if we consider the long view, human historical development clearly involves an ongoing conquest of dimensionality, or exploration of the cosmic interior.

By the way, just yesterday I noticed a provocative sentence by Ratzinger, which includes the words, "theological advances have not ceased..." Advances. What can he mean by this?

For animals, the world is mostly surface. They have a sensory orientation to the world, which is why their reality is quite unimaginable to us. It's still "the world," obviously. And sometimes they experience much more of it than we do, albeit on a single plane. For example, who can imagine what it would be like to be a dog, whose olfactory sense is so acute that it can detect urine to the tune of one part in ten thousand (or whatever it is)?

But a normal human being comes into to the world oriented to the cosmic interior, to which almost all other animals are entirely closed. However, it doesn't end there, with the simple binary of interior/exterior or human/animal.

Rather, just as there are degrees of sensory attunement -- e.g., dog nose vs. human nose -- there are degrees of interior attunement. For example, psychologists now talk about "emotional intelligence." I'm not one of them, but wikipedia describes it as "an ability, skill or... a self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups."

I don't have time to go into the etiology of my own model, but....


Agreed. I just googled myself (it tickles!) and found a previous post in which I discuss the subject.

Now, there is a question in developmental psychology -- at least in integral/transpersonal circles -- as to whether "spiritual development" inhabits its own maturational track, or whether it goes along with psychological maturation in general. It's a little difficult to say, because, for example, one can attain sainthood in the absence of great intellectual development, or, conversely, one may be a great theologian without attaining sainthood.

Still, I think the "more perfect man" would be someone like Aquinas, or Eckhart, or John Paul II, in whom sanctity and intellect are equally developed. Many a fall is caused by good intentions in the absence of intellectual rigor. But so too are falls caused by intellectual development proceeding ahead of emotional and spiritual development.

Another way of saying it is that sanctity may be attained in the realms of truth and/or of virtue, but ideally these two are united, for virtue is the truth of action, while truth is the virtue of intellect.

Sanctity as such is not a "moral concept, but an ontological reality: the divine reality communicating His intimate and proper Life to some of His children. The saint is thus not primarily the humanly perfect Man, but the divinised human person." It is "not so much God-realization on Man's part, as Man-realization on God's part" (preface to Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle).

Thus, "The progress of a spiritual person towards God is rather the progress of God in him or her. The ascent to the mountain on a person's part (↑) corresponds to the more real descent of God (↓) into his/her being" (ibid., emphasis and sharp objects mine).

Therefore, we might say that God -- and only God -- discloses his omniscience in this (↑↓) trialectic, or what we call the cosmic gyrescape.

Returning to Schönborn, he says that in the "ultimate unity of the conscious subject, in which I know myself, in which I am as it were everything," lies "the clearest analogy to the divine omniscience, which must surely be thought of as a unity, not as an infinite sum of perceptions."

As it pertains to Jesus, he writes (following Rahner) that what "develops" in his human life is, or must be, a kind of gradual disclosure of his own interior. For even -- or especially! -- Jesus was a baby, a boy, an adolescent, a young man. Presumably development took place, just as it does for any human. We are not born adult, which is to say, mature. Eternity takes time.

Quoting Rahner, "This does not of course mean that Jesus 'came upon something' that he absolutely did not previously know but, rather, that he more and more grasps what he already always is and what he basically already knew."

In this way, we are able to, in a sense, reconcile the divine and human, which can be seen as both without confusion and without division.

In a way -- and I'm thinking about this for the first time -- we might think of Jesus as "God deployed in human (developmental) time," since a human being cannot help but be situated in developmental time. Jesus is God refracted through the lens of humanness, but this lens has very specific temporal properties that we need to understand in order to see how God manifests in the human mode.

We (intuitively) know, for example, how God manifests in the mode of nature, since the latter radiates something of the divinity in what Schuon calls its "metaphysical transparency." I suppose that glory, or divine beauty, is ultimately how he manifests in Jesus. Only when we perceive this resplendence are we able to exclaim with Peter, Wo, you really are the Son of the living God!

Like anyone can know that! For again, this is not God-realization on Man's part, but Man-realization on God's part.

I call it a guman... It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like God and human unmixed and undivided... bred for its skills in salvation...


Van said...

"Thus, "The progress of a spiritual person towards God is rather the progress of God in him or her. The ascent to the mountain on a person's part (↑) corresponds to the more real descent of God (↓) into his/her being" (ibid., emphasis and sharp objects mine)."

I think that soms it up quite well. Also shines a bit of light upon what happens when you refuse, one way or another, to acknowledge what is true... you replace what is, with what you wish, and bare the door, so to speak, to being able to say I Am hear.

Van said...

"In a way -- and I'm thinking about this for the first time -- we might think of Jesus as "God deployed in human (developmental) time," since a human being cannot help but be situated in developmental time."

There's a bell ringer.

julie said...

In a way -- and I'm thinking about this for the first time -- we might think of Jesus as "God deployed in human (developmental) time," since a human being cannot help but be situated in developmental time.

I like that; it's something that ordinary people can relate to, in the sense that even though I am not now who I was a child, an adolescent, or a young adult, still I have always been myself. Going with the dimensional concept, as we grow the world grows into us, in a way.

mushroom said...

Thinking of the way animals differ from humans -- there is quite a bit of data on feral children who seem to have that single plane experience, and usually are unable to become what we would think of as fully human.

mushroom said...

Man-realization on God's part

The other comment on this was a little too personally revealing. Let me generalize.

I think this gets said a lot in different ways. It seems to me if it were put this way, people would be more likely to understand, but then again, maybe we grasp it as is best for us individually.

julie said...

Off topic, but this guy is awesome. (Lots of F-bombs, if you're bothered by that sort of thing.)

who, me? said...

dilys here:

Thanks for the I'd-say-cutting-edge pieces on Christology, especially the What did he know and when did he know it? part. Lovely woven in with the Pope and the Cardinal's writings. I had no idea they held the reins of this with such subtlety.

The (↑)(↓) model is rich, and intimates that the human self-improvement default (↑) is far from the whole story. A God inclined to incarnation (↓), Spirit in love with Matter, plausibly fosters the hope that one morning you could just wake up in a little mountain lodge near the timber line where the ascending and descending paths have, finally and blessedly, connected. And the light is somehow different...

julie said...

Speaking of JPII, another relevant bit from T of the B (emphasis his):

"We should turn anew to those fundamental words that Christ used, that is, to the word 'created' and to the subject, 'Creator,' introducing into the considerations carried out so far [referencing Genesis & what Christ had to say about it - J] a new dimension, a new criterion of understanding and of interpretation that we will call 'hermeneutics of the gift.' The dimension of gift is decisive for the essential truth and depth of the meaning of original solitude-unity-nakedness. It stands also at the very heart of the mystery of creation, which allows us to build the theology of the body 'from the beginning,' but at the same time demands that we build it in precisely this way."

(I think "gift" in this context referes to the gift of the self.)

It's been interesting reading T of the B in conjunction with Bob's posts of late; they parallel each other very closely. Where JPII discusses the nature of man "from the beginning," he cannot help but also be talking about the nature of Christ. One point that he made which I thought was interesting in this context was the nature of shame after the fall, being that which resulted in an end (or at least, a barrier) to the communion which was man's first birthright. Shame was what caused man to hide himself away, even as he longed to be known in fullness. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems that if there was one thing Jesus lacked, it was this essential shame. I'd guess the same must have been true of Mary, in order for her to give the Yes which allowed all else to follow.

julie said...

(Oops - re. "gift" in this context, I was only slightly right. More accurately, he meant "the fundamental and original gift: man appears in creation as the one who receives the world as a gift, and vice versa, one can also say that the world has received man as a gift." And more besides, as that is the topic of the whole section I'm in. Details...)