In a comment yesterday Van mentioned the Greek contribution to the concept of person. Did we not touch on this in our lengthy discussion of Inventing the Individual? I don't exactly remember.
I believe we did, but from a slightly different angle, in that Siedentop discusses how the individual becomes more individuated -- more interiorized -- as a consequence of Christianity's emphasis on the value of the person, i.e., our equality before God and on our freedom of conscience. But in the wider ancient world, the individual was still very much subordinated to the family and/or city.
Ratzinger notes that even "Boethius's concept of person, which prevailed in Western philosophy, must be criticized as entirely insufficient," because it remains "on the level of the Greek mind." Which is to say, person is regarded as "the individual substance of a rational nature." In short, "person stands entirely on the level of substance," a metaparasitic error which continues to infect contemporary left-liberalism.
In contrast, Christianity teaches that person is relation, not substance; or, he is irreducibly substance-in-relation, never an isolated, atomistic I-land. If he were a radically enclosed atom, then he would always be one. In other words, the Raccoon affirms that substance and relation are complementary, not polarized. However, of the two, relation is the more fundamental, because it encompasses substance, whereas substance cannot encompass relation.
Note, for example, that Eve is of the same substance as Adam -- taken from his rib -- and thus intrinsically related. It would appear that this same pattern extends all the way down to the farthest reaches of matter, with the wave-particle complementarity. Particles are abstracted from waves, but are always nonlocally related to one another. So Adam & Eve are like atom & wave. Or rather, vice versa.
But we're just being silly.
Oh really? What, you know better than God how the cosmos is structured?
For Ratzinger, Christ is not the ontological exception, but rather, the rule. He is here to show us the Way Things Are and the Way To Get There. He even discusses this in the context of modern physics, wherein the scientific annoymaly is "very often the symptom that shows us the insufficiency of our previous schema of order, which helps us to break open this schema and to conquer a new realm of reality."
If only 19th century physicists had listened to Jesus instead of falling into a mechanistic metaphysic! Then again, if they had, then Germany would have had the atom bomb before World War I, so forget that.
Let's call it the Christwave. For in the words of Ratzinger, Christ "is the integrating space in which the 'we' of human beings gathers itself toward the 'you' of God." Again, this is not as simple as the so-called I-thou relation, because that still implies two separate beings that are then brought into relation. But for Ratzinger,
"On both sides there is neither the pure 'I,' or the pure 'you.'" Rather, for both sides "the 'I' is integrated into the greater 'we.'" Thus, not even God hiselves "can be seen as the pure and simple 'I' toward which the human tends"; you might say that there can be no I AM in the absence of a prior We Are -- which again goes to everything we have said about the mother-infant relation.
This is precisely what lends a kind of dignity to everything, to creation itself. That is, "The Christian concept of God has as a matter of principle given the same dignity to multiplicity as to unity." Conversely, the ancients -- but also neoplatonists, Buddhists, and other boring monologues -- "considered multiplicity the corruption of unity." But Christianity "considers multiplicity as belonging to unity with the same dignity."
You might say that the Incarnation is simply the Last Word in this elevation of matter and mayaplicity. I remember Alan Watts talking about how matter is related to mater. For Christians, it is certainly the case that the ultimate principle is planted right here in the womb -- the matrix -- of matter, in an act of wholly matterimany resulting in a mamafestivus for the restavus. It is very much as if we cognitively nurse on a metaphysical Klein Bottle. I do anyway.
We'll leave you with this orthoparadox to ponder: "This trinitarian 'we'... prepares at the same time the space of the human 'we'"; and Christ is the ultimate "'we' into which Love, namely the Holy Spirit, gathers us and which means simultaneously being bound to each other and being directed toward the common 'you' of the one Father."