Thursday, December 15, 2016

Free to Be Three

From instinct to... to what?

That is to say, other animals don't have to worry about anything, because instinct takes care of every contingency -- even if the instinct is inappropriate to the contingency.

For example, we used to have a cat we rescued from a dumpster. In addition to being half-dead, he had been prematurely separated from his mother, so was never quite right -- or rather, better than right: he had to be the Funniest Cat Ever. His wires were crossed, such that he would exercise instinctual behaviors in the wrong context, for example, making motions to bury his poop while drinking water, or being startled by his food.

Come to think of it, many neuroses have a similar pattern. Think, for example, of all the strange things that are conjoined in unholy matrimony with the sexual impulse -- various perversions, fetishes, frotteurism, masochism, sadism, etc.

With regard to early humans, Bailie speaks of an "aboriginal world, now inhabited by a creature which had slipped its instinctual leash, so to speak, a creature whose survival could no longer depend on neurophysiological reflexes" to govern behavior. What a strange development!

How does a creature slip its instinctual leash, anyway? Is there some in-between state, of an animal that is mostly instinctual but just a little bit free?

Not really. Compared to man, the most evolved animal is infinitely distant -- literally. No animal could ever conceive of infinitude. Or of absoluteness, or eternity, or any other concept. Which is one of the main reasons it isn't good that man should be alone. A man allone could only pretend to be one anyway, since we are intersubjective down to the ground and up to the sky.

Which may provide a hint into what -- or Who -- we were released into upon slipping the instinctual leash: intersubjectivity. Not only do humans "interact" externally like any other objects, but we also do so internally, like... like what, exactly?

Well, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but like the Trinity. This answers the question of what we were released into in the most general sense: into an irreducibly trinitarian structure of intersubjectivity.

Come to think of it, I even had a dream about this last night, so it must be true. I was explaining to someone the whole idea; I remember she was a novice therapist -- possibly a student -- holding a baby; the idea "clicked" in her, and she gleefully ran from the room in an acute state of guffah-HA!

In fact, Bailie has a chapter called "It is Not Good That Man Should Be All Alone..." It begins with a crack by Balthasar: "It is clear that a conscious subject can only awaken to himself and his distinct selfhood if he is addressed by one or more others who regard him as of value or perhaps indispensable."

We are literally actualized by love and by the m(o)ther's (p)re-cognition of us. Love alone is not fully sufficient, for it must be a passionate love for a unique and particular individual, not just "anybody."

Nor can it be a disinterested and "professional" love -- the way, say, we are "loved" by the state. Under the best of circumstances the state is supposed to treat us equally, which is to deny individuality. That's appropriate for a state but not for a mother.

I've mentioned before that amazon seems to "love" me in a way; or at least it acknowledges my uniqueness, constantly suggesting far-flung books that only an intimate would recognize as appropriate. But that's hardly a substitute for human love. Even so, the Japanese never stop trying, do they?

In how many ways do people search after counterfeit trinitarian substitutes? I don't know. It's the first time I've put it that way, but I'll bet the answer is "lots."

"[T]he God in whose image humans are made is a Trinitarian God, a God who, prior to creation, is a community of such unimaginably generous love that the sources of this love are consubstantial. In the words of an early creed: 'God is one but not solitary'" (Bailie).

I would suggest that this truly represents our First Metaphysical Orthoparadox, one without which all the others can make only imperfect nonsense: that Ultimate Reality is neither substance nor relation but substance-in-relation.

Of note, this is not a "complementarity," since that would imply two agents. However, I would suggest that it will be mirrored herebelowintime in the form of various rockbottom complementarities -- even a complementarity principle.

Not to get all new-agey on you, but do you think it is a coincidence -- and what is a meaningful coincidence anyway but a celestial pun? -- that material reality is simultaneously wavenparticle? That wave is not the sum of particles, and that particles exhibit nonlocality, meaning that every thing is inside everything else, pardon my French? That physics is trinitarian?

Whitehead wrote that the properties of elementary particles "are in the end influenced by the history and state of the whole universe"; and that "we habitually speak of stones, and planets, and animals, as though each individual thing could exist, even for a passing moment, in separation from an environment which is in truth a necessary factor in its own nature."

But we can't speak of reality that way. Because Trinity.

Why is it not good that man should be alone? Precisely because he cannot fulfill his true human vocation in solitude, for he is made in the image and likeness of a God who -- even within the Godhead -- is a communion of loving self-gift. --Bailie


julie said...

As I heard this morning, paraphrasing Cardinal Dolan,

"The Mystery of the Blessed Trinity is the first and the most important aspect of our faith... Three persons, One God: that is the Mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity. That is the pivotal Mystery of Christianity. From that flows the Mystery of the Incarnation."

Abdulmonem Othman said...

I know you are going to be furious at me saying this but truth must be told. It is not part of any basic faith to assign human attributes to the non-comparable god who is the intelligent light that creates everything and made the human his conscious bridge to him and obliged him to use his multi-varied faculties in paving the road to him, through knowing him/herself as the only key to open the door to his presence. Consciousness is the most valuable gift given to the human and was warned not to abuse that gift and never jump in any boat without critical sound deliberation. The decision is a personal one and no intercession is of any use save the human own unique action and choice. We are living in a language based universe where cultural exchange become available to enable the humans to serve the truth and join hands in serving the one humanity and the one universal god, thus raising the level of understanding, creativity and out of box thinking. Every one has to make his own unique story and refuse to depend on other stories even if the other is a sage ,a prophet or seer. Tolerance is needed in the world of different stands and different interpretations.

Van Harvey said...

abdull said "I know you are going to be furious at me saying this..."

Project much?

Anonymous said...

"It is clear that a conscious subject can only awaken to himself and his distinct selfhood if he is addressed by one or more others who regard him as of value or perhaps indispensable."

How about the other way around? That someone is regarded as disposable by all the others? That the absolute first distinction between the animal/man is that of the disposable victim - and that produce the same awakening of oneself? For me that goes along with the thinking of Girard, and it goes around with the Fall, and the original Sin that brought Death into the World, that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was/is redeeming us from.

Gagdad Bob said...

Good point. I'm just reading in Macaulay's History of England about how the execution of King Charles I in 1649 ended up being a kind of "failed sacrifice," partly because there was far too much sympathy for the victim. It backfired and turned an unpopular king into a heroic victim: "the very man whose life had been a series of attacks on on the liberties of England now seemed to die a martyr in the cause of those liberties.... From that day began a reaction in favor of monarchy and of the exiled house."

I haven't yet gotten to this point in the book, but the wiki article says that after the restoration of the crown in 1660, 24 of those responsible "were given a posthumous execution: their remains were exhumed, and they were hanged, beheaded and their remains were cast into a pit below the gallows. Their heads were placed on spikes above Westminster Hall the building where the High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I had sat."

So they sacrificed the sacrificers, even in death!