Friday, September 18, 2015

Why Believe in God when You Can Undergo Him?

Continuing with yesterday's line of thought, "discovery is not a matter simply of accurate sense perception." Countless people saw apples falling from trees before one of them apocryphally perceived gravity. A human being is someone who is (at least in potential) conscious of consciousness. But in the case of discovery, it is as if we perceive perception and thereby extend it.

I wonder if every discipline follows this bimodal pattern? For example, in psychotherapy the therapist monitors his own subjective flow of impressions: he listens to the patient while simultaneously listening to his reactions to the patient.

Or history: a mere chronicle of the past reduces to antiquarianism. Rather, the exploration of the past must be guided by some implicit vision. Of course, this vision can be on a higher or lower dimension (e.g., the meta-cosmic Arc of Salvation vs. Marxism and its retarded cousins of tenure).

Consider "Bullshit Bernie" Sanders, who looks at the American founding -- surely one of the most miraculous divine ingressions in history -- and literally sees a nation founded on racist principles. Well,

"Bullshit. The United States was founded on egalitarian principles which took a while to fully effectuate because the country was born in a world where slavery was common. (It still is, in many places where Anglo-American rule does not govern.) We fought a great civil war to validate the principles of our Constitution, whose promises of freedom had nothing to do with race, as Lincoln insisted. Granted, the Democratic Party fought a spirited rear-guard action on behalf of racism that lasted for more than a century. Bernie is an inheritor of that disgraceful history."

Not only that, but "racism" didn't even exist at the time of the founding. It was later invented by Democrats to legitimize the existence of slavery once the institution was under serious threat. Slavery existed always and everywhere, and no one needed to justify it with theories of racial superiority prior to the 19th century. True, coastal Africans assumed they were superior to the less developed interior Africans they captured and sold, but this obviously wasn't a matter of race.

Recall too that racial differences were and are a matter of empirical observation. No theory was required to see them. Rather, a theory was required in order to not see them ("all men are created equal") -- just as a theory is required to counter the empirical observation that the sun revolves around the earth.

The emergence of modern science did not involve coming to our senses, but coming from and through them into deeper and more integral dimensions. Science is a new way of seeing sight or perceiving perception that transforms the particulars into new meanings. (This is the whole basis of Raccoon Emeritus Michael Polanyi's philosophy.)

It is not a matter of looking carefully. Indeed, doing so can function to reify the misapprehension. Anyone can see that the earth is flat. Yet everyone knows it isn't. This is what we mean when we say that liberals are flat-earthers: that they are always trapped in their unexamined prejudices. Cultural Marxism is simply a catchall way to keep them gorounded in absurcularities of race, class, gender, sexual preference, Power Relations, etc.

"An observational discovery is a cognitive process, and not an instantaneous point-event." In addition to "the sensory aspect, there is also a nonsensory factor in cognitive perception" (Bortoft). A discovery involves a fusion or coalescence of the two, of sense and nonsense. It is analogous to a match striking the abrasive surface and producing fire. Either one alone keeps you in the dark.

If we naively begin with the fire, we will miss the components that go into it. Consciousness has always been analogized to fire and light, and it too involves one thing striking another to produce the flame.

As we have written many times and in many ways, the human person is not located in the head, but rather, in the space between persons (i.e., person is relation). You know the gag: there is no such thing as an infant, but rather, the transitional space between infant and mother. This space is where it all goes down -- and up. But it is also the space where nothing can happen, a kind of persecutory anti-space.

I've been thinking lately about what distinguishes the one from the other, and have come to the conclusion that it involves love and passion. Remove these and the space collapses into a dead zone of boredom, restlessness, ingratitude, anhedonia, envy, etc. But when they are present, then the space is full to the point of overflowing.

If you have the "one thing needful" (or it has you, rather), then various other things are added. But if you try to elevate the secondary things to the necessary one, you end up hollowing yourself out from the inside. So, I think Christianity is correct that it comes down to the metaphysics of love.

In keeping with what was said above vis-a-vis perception and vision, religion is obviously a way of seeing and organizing and relating to the phenomena.

Now, some things are only known via an orthoparadoxical absence. To cite an obvious example, in order to see that the world is round, you have to "void" your senses so as to open up the space of theoretical vision. You have to unknow what you know in order to make a little womb for the developing seed-idea.

Obviously this absence is not nothing. I read somewhere that there are two kinds of empty. There is the empty like the inside of a basketball, and there is the empty like the inside of your stomach. Your head should be empty like your stomach (or better, a womb).

We'll leave off with some observations by David Schindler that might help pull this womb together:

"The term 'life,' rightly understood, indicates more than bare physical existence.... [I]t signifies an ordered power that comes from within, a power bearing interiority and hence depth.... Human life, whose interiority takes a spiritual form, manifests the fullest richness and intensity of life among the beings of the world....

"It is passion and interior power, then, that enable human life and action to be truly dramatic. But what is it, concretely, that gives passion and interior power their substantive content?

"To be a creature is... to bear a relation to God that presupposes a 'space' inside what is deepest and most original in the creature, one that reaches from within the roots of the creature outward.... toward the highest heights, infinitely beyond us....

"Passion and interiority, in short, disclose the deepest truths of what characterizes our creaturely openness to the infinite. They indicate the human receptive capacity for relation to God."

The point is, you don't believe in God, you undergo God. You know, like an experiment.


julie said...

The point is, you don't believe in God, you undergo God. You know, like an experiment.

I like that; also the idea of being empty like a stomach, which of course serves to transform and absorb what is placed inside it in order to nurture the whole - and make room for more.

I had occasion to think today about the intellectual gymnastics one must go through in order to be a Biblical literalist; in essence, one must force oneself to deny the physical evidence of things unseen, in order to make room for that which was written. I think they are wrong, but can't help respecting their position because it is a conscious effort to undergo God, while at the same time trying to understand the world as they find it. Interestingly (in the context of today's post) when those discussions come up, I find that the space between myself and my friends goes instantly from one overflowing with ideas to one that is essentially empty. I don't know if they've noticed, though, as it is a group discussion and the group keeps chatting whether I participate or not.

Gagdad Bob said...

Some form of esoterism is the only way to harmonize the truths of religion. To try to do it on the literal plane causes all sorts of trouble.

julie said...

Yep. One of the things I find ironic about the mindset is that they are so determined to protect their children from any idea of evolution. Dinosaurs are a thorny subject, to say the least. Some day, as the kids grow older, the children will be able to look at the evidence for themselves, and therein be potentially set up for a major case of disillusionment.

They worry that by not taking the Bible as literally, historically, and perfectly true, they are calling God a liar. However, to take the Bible in that way is to force one to choose between the world and the Word, as from that perspective the two are really not compatible; it is, in essence, to make God a liar, one way or the other.

Joan of Argghh! said...

There would be more comments on this post, but like a stomach, we are busy digesting such a rich repast!

Van Harvey said...

[Urrrp] Yep.

Gagdad Bob said...

No time for a post today. Bogged down & backed up with work.

julie said...

I know that feeling; the Conspiracy has been very busy lately.

Something to read:

Neo-Puritans want to punish you for your sins. Not in the afterlife, of course, but right here and now.

mushroom said...

Your head should be empty like your stomach (or better, a womb).

"Be still and know that I Am the Lord."

We were singing that in a chorus yesterday.

Things are crazy time-wise. I don't know what's going on.