Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Space: The Final Up-, Down-, Back- & Frontier

Within this space "Man discovers his existence as illuminated from within by Intellect or Nous" (Voegelin). The latter is both a part of existence -- obviously -- and yet transcends it in such a way that it may search after knowledge in various directions: up, down, forward, back, and laterally.

For example, "up" is the realm of metaphysics, theology, intellection, and the most general and universal principles; "down" is the plane of sensation, physical law, and empirical knowledge of things; "lateral" involves especially the human world, rooted in introspection, empathy, and natural reason; "back" is, of course, history, prehistory, and mythology, all the way down to the upagain of metaphysics and revelation -- to the origin and ground that is simultaneously meaning and end.

All of these areas -- and more -- are illuminated in the space of (¶). Furthermore, everything we have said thus far is already known by you, even if you don't yet consciously know it, or refuse to acknowledge it for reasons unknown only to you.

Truth remains evertrue, even if it is known by no one. It is your cosmic birthright -- at once gift and limit, for while these categories permit us to think, we cannot think beyond or outside them. So, in the words of Socrates, it's a good nous/bad nous situation.

When one refuses, or is in revolt against, truth, one has entered a state of pneumapathology. As we have disussed in the past, psychopathology is more of a lateral or horizontal phenomenon, rooted in disturbances either in the nervous system or in human relationships.

But pneumapathology is more of a vertical phenomenon rooted mostly in spiritual relationships, and secondarily in the body.

I won't spend too much time on the latter, because it's a rather murky subject area, but the literature is rife with vivid accounts of spiritual energy run amuck in the body. Most people on a spiritual path are familiar with its whims.

Voegelin describes pneumapathology as "a loss of personal and social order through loss of contact with nonexistent reality," i.e., the "up" alluded to above.

In fact, I would say that it is man's primary vocation to allow this nonexistent reality to ex-ist, which means literally to stand-out, march forth, and come into being.

This nonexistent reality is necessarily no-where until we render it some-where. Thus, the human being is analogous to a lens or prismhouse through which the light of (↓) is refracted into various spiritual "colors," e.g., love, truth, beauty, compassion, wisdom, and all the rest.

If you look closely, you can actually see this light in certain people, just as you can see the darkness in them. With eyes not made by Darwin, of course.

Now, (¶) is ultimately the divine presence in man. No, make that penultimately, because we need to preserve a little space for ʘ, more on which later. Actually, it is more a matter of degree or of development, analogous to the difference between a child's ego and an adult ego. You know the story -- when we were children, we spoke and thought and reasoned as William Yelverton.

Looked at from a certain angle, one can discern in history the repeated pattern of explosive encounters with O, gradual loss of O, and then sudden reacquisition (so to speak) of O. O is, among other things, what Voegelin means when he refers to "order," specifically, the human order (about which we will have much more to say as we proceed).

For example, just yesterday the pattern was revealed in this massive History of Prussia that I'm reading for some reason. Wait a second -- let me go fetch it.

By way of context, areas of Prussia were hotspots in the religious wars of the 17th century. It was here that Lutherans broke from Catholics, and that Calvinists broke even more radically with Lutherans. For example, "At the heart of the most committed forms of Calvinism was a fastidious disgust at the strands of papalism that survived within Lutheran observance."

But the real issue beneath the outward historical pattern is loss of contact with O. Man cannot live without this contact, which explains the passion and urgency of the actors. One offshoot of Lutheranism was Pietism, just one of many religious movements that longed for a more intense and committed encounter with O, as it were:

"Pietism was about living to the full Luther's 'priesthood of all believers'; Pietists cherished the experience of faith; they developed a refined vocabulary to describe the extreme psychic states that attended the transition from a merely nominal to a truly heartfelt belief.... Perhaps because it was driven by such explosive emotions, Pietism was also dynamic and unstable" (Clark).

True dat. You see, the state craves one kind of order, while (¶) craves another, and these were generally at odds until the establishment of the United States, which was founded on the principle that all men have the intrinsic right to pursue O -- or not -- in their own way. This was the American creed until 2008, when President Obama openly declared that the order of the state trumps the order of O.

That's enough Prussia for the moment, but one thing this demonstrates is that the problem was not with Catholicism per se, only the extent to which the Church had become ineffective in helping people maintain contact with O. This is what produces the offshoots.

But today, due to the same force (↑), people are abandoning many of the mainstream churches and returning to Catholicism and Orthodoxy for a more intense religious experience (which was clearly one of the purposes of Vatican II). Now that the latter two are no longer mixed up with the state, they can focus more purely on O.

This sure is going slowly. No wonder there are 34 volumes of it. Out of time again.


mushroom said...

In fact, I would say that it is man's primary vocation to allow this nonexistent reality to ex-ist, which means literally to stand-out, march forth, and come into being.

If a new Great Awakening comes to America, this is going to have to be the focus.

I heard a preacher a couple of days ago, maybe James MacDonald, talking about transcendence. Some of what he had to say was pretty fluffy, but he makes a similar point saying that we are “facilitators” of transcendence. We are to be making the transcendent nature of 0 immanent. He asked the Church a question: When did we decide that relevant need-meeting was superior to God-meeting?

Evangelicals have coined a number of terms for it – “seeker-sensitive” and “purpose-driven”, for example. This makes people better sinners – that is, not so mean and nasty in the horizontal. A local pastor has built a huge congregation by being what he calls “the third place” – home, work, and church. He has a Starbucks inside along with a gym and a big youth facility.

As Durocher said, “They are all nice guys, but they’ll finish last.”

Magister said...

Interesting note about that nice guys finishing last quotation here:


Durocher later noted that the remark was quoted accurately in the published interview, but came to take on a different meaning when some incorrectly thought he meant that such a team would finish last because it included "nice guys", when in fact he had meant that there was no correlation (and in fact, saw it more as an ironic situation) between the personalities on a team and their level of play.