Tuesday, April 07, 2015

I Think Therefore I Am, or Maybe I'm Just a Little Oxygen Deprived

Now, when we say that the ultimate order of the cosmos is Love, the irony is that the modern materialist is the one who is anthropomorphizing things, not us. Rather, we are... theomorphizing in an utterly impersonal way. It just turns out that doing so results in a personalization of reality.

In other words, just because we say the world is personal, it doesn't necessarily mean that we have a personal interest in it being so, any more than we have a personal stake in two plus two equaling four. It's just the way it is, and we assume that it's good to conform ourselves to the way things are, i.e., for mind and reality to be attuned.

Was that clear?


Okay, let's try to explain. As we know, all of western civilization went off the rails one cold night in Bavaria, when Descartes shut himself inside with the oven turned up to 11, and had several hypoxia-induced visions as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning -- similar to the first time Paul McCartney took LSD and concluded that THERE ARE SEVEN LEVELS!

In Descartes' case, he concluded that THERE ARE TWO LEVELS! Or rather, that there is one level divided by two: I and AM, matter and mind, object and subject.

This resulted in the infamous "mind-matter problem," in that people immediately forgot that the problem was only a chronic residual of the original carbon monoxide poisoning. It is very much like the man who keeps smashing his head against the wall while complaining of a headache. In other words, the dualists are suffering from a problem of their own making: they are laboring under a persistent metaphysical or ontological neurosis.

Oddly enough, I am not the only one who thinks this way. For example, Schindler alludes to "the anthropocentric Cartesian horizon that has largely prevailed since the seventeenth century, which makes subjectivity coextensive with human subjectivity" (emphasis mine).

Well, who says? That's right: some giddy mathematical genius with too much time and too little oxygen. If that's our standard, then let's filter carbon monoxide into every math department and see what they come up with, instead of just filtering it into humanities departments.

Let's go back to step one, before the bifurcation of reality. "What I have in mind," writes Schindler, is "a subjectivity that takes its first meaning in terms of a properly metaphysical interiority."

In other words, rather than splitting the world into interior and exterior, why don't we begin with the way things actually are, and recognize that interior and exterior are entangled in an irreducible way?

As alluded to in yesterday's post, this was one of Whitehead's central conclusions (although realization is probably a better word). As Harthsorne describes, Whitehead recognizes not only that "the general potentiality of the universe must be somewhere" (emphasis mine), but that this somewhere "can only be in a primordial mind."

Whitehead's "doctrine is that experience is the principle of all being" and "ground of order." This is why everything doesn't happen at once, or why there isn't pure chaos or entropy: his point is that "a multitude of agents could not select a common world and must indeed simply nullify one another's efforts, unless some common limitation or bias pervades their acts."

Thus, among other conveniences, God is what you might call limitation-on-probablility; or in other words, he provides the boundary conditions through which he exerts a top-down influence on creation. So we got that going for us.

All splitting aside, "only a being with universal influence" could exert such order, even while maintaining freedom -- the freedom of potential (which are two sides of the same reality).

Therefore, God must be a person. After all, he's certainly personal. And "personality, as any psychologist knows, is a sort of cluster of habits and purposes and ideas," with the caveat that analogies to God must be balanced by the lack thereof. Or in other words, you might say that we are like God, but God is not like us. So to speak, yada yada.

But in any event, "God's influence is supreme because he is the supreme actuality, supremely beautiful and attractive." And "there is no 'power' anywhere, on earth or in heaven, except the direct and indirect workings of [divine] attractiveness."

In other words, God is not force, but attraction (to beauty and truth), persuasion, surrender-in-freedom. Or one might say that love is his force. May it be with you. And take your head out of that damn oven.


julie said...

...similar to the first time Paul McCartney took LSD and concluded that THERE ARE SEVEN LEVELS!

Or like someone talking as they come out of a dream, convinced that the word salad they're spouting is meaningful.

Gagdad Bob said...

Okay, now you're getting personal.

julie said...

Apparently I was doing exactly that the other night. Glad it's not just me ;)

mushroom said...

But it was really good pot.

I've done that hypnogogic thing a few times where I answer a different question than the one asked. This sometimes required considerable explanation after the fact. It's a little scary.

Love is a force. I've done things for love that I would not have done at gunpoint. That's scary, too.

Van Harvey said...

Mushroom "But it was really good pot."

If you'll sell me your pot, I've got the awesome tree I'd like to plant in it... it's a little odd... the branches go down and the roots go upward, but I think it'll work well.

mushroom said...

I think you are right.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In other words, rather than splitting the world into interior and exterior, why don't we begin with the way things actually are, and recognize that interior and exterior are entangled in an irreducible way?"

Beginning with reality...what a concept. I don't think it's a coincidence that people who love liberty are grounded in reality/truth.

In order to love God we must be free to do so, and loving God means also loving liberty, truth, justice, mercy, the virtues, etc., or loving truth may lead one to loving God.

Whereas in order to love false gods one must be grounded in illusion/delusion, and there is no love for liberty, only force.