Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A Translucent Cosmos

Where is the order or the cosmos?

First of all, the cosmos is not the sum of all things -- like a giant warehouse -- but rather, the unity of all things -- an organismic whole. However, this whole is not an empirical fact or observation, but more of a hypothesis. In reality it is an intuition. But just because its existence cannot be proved by science, we can nevertheless be sure it exists, for it cannot not exist and yet be a home for thinkers: no thought is possible in a non-cosmos.

Insofar as the scientist uses his scientific method, he has no right to talk of the Universe, of the strict totality of consistently interacting things. It may be that his model de facto covers that totality, but science can never be sure about that. Much less can science answer the question, "Is there indeed a universe?" (Jaki).

In short, it is not possible "for scientists or for their instruments to go outside the universe in order to observe it and provide thereby an experimental verification of it" (Jaki).

Science can only exist because numerical properties can be assigned to matter -- quantities to qualities. Or on other words, science is rooted in the extraction of a quantitative order in things. But then -- hello! -- we run into Prof. Gödel, who reminds us that "no non-trivial set of arithmetic propositions can have its proof of consistency within itself. This means that a necessarily true scientific account of the universe is a pipe dream" (ibid).

Hmm. This means that the ultimate order of things is a bit more ambiguous or subtle than simply assigning it a number or formula. Supposing physical cosmologists discover a "theory of everything," it is nevertheless a theory about the whole that is first intuited. In other words, the wholeness exists first, the theory second. The theory doesn't account for the wholeness but assumes it.

For Schuon, there exist three cosmos for man, "first the soul, then the world which is its medium of manifestation and finally the Universe of which this world represents but a minute fragment." This implies that there is an interior order (the soul), an exterior order (the world) and a transcendent order (the Universe of which the world is but a fragment).

Remember, whatever else we may say of existence, it must first be observed by a subject in order to say it. Perhaps you think that's a trivial observation, but it means that nothing can be radically independent of anything else; or rather, that a prior wholeness subtends anything we can know and say about the parts. If you really understand that, it's a can I buy some pot from you? moment.

Meister Eckhart understood it: Being is God's circle, and in this circle all creatures exist. So, Where there is isness, there God is. Creation is the giving of isness from God

To say knowledge is to say knower and knowability; to know anything = to be known by Someone. Therefore, truth implies persons, and in a way, the two are coequal, or of the same transcendent substance: Subject and Object are complementary, and this complementarity is the truth of things -- or, the very ground and possibility of Truth in Things.

This means that knowing is always a relation, such that relation is understood as the truth of things: it is the understanding of understanding. Thus, according to Pieper, "Truth is nothing else but the identity between the mind and reality, a relation originating and accomplished in the act of knowing..."

There is a truth in all things because all things are in the Truth. It is why facts can be factual, for only a tenured factsimian believes a fact could speak for -- or even perceive -- itself.

You could also say there is a Light in things. So, how did it get there? "All things are intelligible, translucent, clear and open because they are created by God's thought, and for this reason are essentially spirit related" (Pieper). To quote St. Thomas, "A thing has exactly as much light as it has reality."

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. Translucent. What a fine and useful word when applied to the vertical! As Pieper says, "the reality of a thing is itself its light," and things have more or less of this light at both ends. In other words, both subjects and objects are trans-lucent, or mediums of Light.

Cleaning windows. It's what this blog is about. Or better, windows and mirrors: a clean window allows us to see outside, while a clean mirror allows us to see inside -- and up. And thereby become more real.

"The soul is all that it knows," said Aristotle; it is necessary to add that the soul is able to to know all that it is; and that in its essence it is none other than That which is, and That which alone is. --Schuon


julie said...

To say knowledge is to say knower and knowability; to know anything = to be known by Someone.
it is necessary to add that the soul is able to to know all that it is; and that in its essence it is none other than That which is, and That which alone is.

My youngest brother died this past weekend. He had been on dialysis for twelve years and struggled with his health and life in general for most of it, but still it was sudden. A thought I've had, though, is that it is strangely comforting that he went on Good Friday, and breathed his last on Holy Saturday. In a way, he truly participated in Christ's Passion; like all of us he is one of the two thieves crucified with Christ. I have faith that he is the one who is spending this very day in Paradise.

ted said...

I am so sorry Julie.

julie said...

Thank you, Ted. Still trying to process it.

The good thing about being part of a whole-y cosmos is knowing that even when one of the parts seems to be missing, it is simply whole in a different way beyond our current knowing.

Unknown said...

It is definitely a commendable and a charitable occupation to help us see better through the windows and the mirrors. Eckhart vision of god as the circle in which all his manifestations take place, reminds me of Ibn Arabi vision that everything are planted in the divine field, and our precious souls are our conscious tools that enable us to perceive, understand and appreciate the lively circle that we are swimming in and what is in it. Recitations are our mental swimming in his never ending process of creation and our venue to feel his closeness better. I do not feel at rest when some draw down the circle to the level of its creations, or speak of the universe or nature in substitution of god the supreme that has no equal. It seems we are living in a time where human clarity of vision are enhanced in the way of understanding god actions away from the siege of the human logic, which Godel released himself from its enclosure. The creator that has built his creation on no previous examples. I thank god that has given us the soul with which we meander in his beautiful universe above and below. It is time for penance and reorientation of our notion of fairness to be inclusive of all.

Van Harvey said...

""The soul is all that it knows," said Aristotle; it is necessary to add that the soul is able to to know all that it is; and that in its essence it is none other than That which is, and That which alone is. --Schuon"

The implication of which should be especially disturbing to all, the possibility 'that so much of what you know, just isn't so'.

To treat 'what you know' carelessly, is a perilous thing to do.