Friday, September 11, 2020

I'll See Your Theory and Raise You One Vision

And now the rest of the post -- the one about all there is to know about all there is. Clarke continues:

The entire mental life of man consists in gradually filling in this at first conceptually empty and indeterminate but limitless horizon of being with increasingly determinate conceptual comprehension, as we step by step come to know one part of this totality after another.

The "conceptually empty and indeterminate but limitless horizon of being" is none other than O; while the endlessly flowing knowledge thereof is (k). Our intellectual life assumes the structure of O --> (k).

Of course, we can always turn that around and adopt a (k) --> O approach; this is acceptable so long as we don't go too far. For it is possible -- or maybe even likely -- to superimpose (k) over O, with the result that we are no longer in touch with reality, but only our little theory about it.

If and when a particular (k) --> O becomes rigid and static, this is precisely the point at which the idea becomes ideology, science becomes scientism, and philosophy becomes philodoxy. You could say Socrates is killed all over again. Scott Adams claims President Trump is the most successful stand-up comedian of all time. He's certainly the most successful today, but we'll have to wait another 2400 years to find out if we're still reading his wisecracks, as we are with Socrates:

I am only too conscious that I have no claim to wisdom, great or small. So what can he [the O-racle] mean by asserting that I am the wisest man in the world?

....[B]y dog, gentlemen -- for I must be frank with you -- my honest impression was this. It seemed to me, as I pursued my investigation, that those men with the greatest reputations for being wise, were almost entirely deficient, while others who were supposed to be their inferiors were much better qualified in practical intelligence.

To paraphrase the immortal gagfly, "it seems that I am wiser than our so-called elites -- our media-tenure complex -- to this small extent, that at least I don't freaking pretend to know what I don't know, or to presume expertise in one subject just because I know a little about another. I'm not Fredo Cuomo, let alone Paul Krugman."

So, (k) --> O is fine, so long as (k) is used to probe and explore O, not to foreclose it. The same applies to religion, by the way. Don't light a match to try to illuminate the sun!

Speaking of which, just as the sun exerts a powerful gravitational pull on us, so too does O. You could even say that O is the sun, or central star, of our intellectual and spiritual life; specifically, it attracts via love, truth, beauty, and unity.

Angelus Silesius: The abyss in me calls out to the abyss in God. Tell me, which is deeper?

Correct: the latter. Nevertheless, our little earth does indeed exert a gravitational attraction on the sun. Does the sun feel it? Does God hear our prayers?

We'll come back to that question in a subsequent post. For now, let's just say that the Divine Attractor

gives full intelligibility to the horizon of being itself, as its unifying center and source, and also confers full and magnificent intelligibility on the natural dynamism of my mind and the whole intellectual life arising out of it.

Yup. We are oriented to this "ultimate Fullness," to "the ultimate Whereunto of [our] whole intellectual life":

This at once launches us in a new direction, no longer along merely horizontal lines at the same level of things, but in a vertical ascent toward qualitatively ever-higher and richer realities.

Yesireebob, we "suddenly become aware in a kind of epiphany of self-discovery precisely that its very nature is to be an inexhaustible abyss that can comprehend and leap beyond any finite or series of finites..."

This goes to what we symbolize (¶), which is drawn and

magnetized toward an actually existing, totally fulfilling goal, which confers upon it total and magnificent meaningfulness and opens before it a destiny filled with inexhaustible light and hope.

You could say that "Man is an embodied affirmation of the Infinite," which goes to the reality of Incarnation and all it implies. But for now we'll leave off with this:

If I accept and listen to this radical innate pull of my nature as intellectual being, if I accept this nature gratefully and humbly as a gift, I will affirm with conviction the existence of the ultimate Fullness and Center of all being, the lodestar that draws my intelligence ever onward.

Amen. For a child's job.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

All There Is To Know About All There Is

I just reread W. Norris Clarke's The Philosophical Approach to God, and he comes very close to disclosing the whole darn secret of the Way of the Raccoon. Which is plain irresponsible. But since it's now out there, I suppose no further harm can come from my usual vulgarization.

Here's the bottom line:

As we reflect on the activities of our intellectual knowing power, we come to recognize it as an exhaustible dynamism of inquiry, ever searching to lay hold more deeply and widely on the universe of reality. It is impossible to restrict its horizon of inquiry to any limited area of reality, to any goal short of all there is to know about all that there is (emphasis mine).

Thomas Aquinas famously -- and correctly -- says that Every knower knows God implicitly in anything it knows. Some people don't know this, which imperils what little knowledge they might otherwise possess, since this knowledge will have no ground, no deeper context, no principle to establish and justify even its own possibility.

Nothing in this world -- no conceivable finite fact -- satisfies the inexhaustible dynamism of the intellect. Go ahead and try. Yes, you can always arbitrarily stop with this fact or that theory, but you're only fooling yoursoph:

For our experience of knowing reveals to us that each time we come to know some new object or aspect of reality we rest in it at first, savoring its intelligibility as far as we can (Clarke).

Mmm, intelligibility.

But as soon as we run up against its limits and discover that it is finite, the mind at once rebounds farther, reaching beyond it to wherever else it leads, to whatever else there is to be known beyond it.

D'oh!

No, it's okay. You just have to be content with the permanent and ineradicable structure of human knowing: we can only know anything because we can't know everything; or in other words, science is necessarily sponsored by omni-science:

"This process [of knowing] continues indefinitely in ever-expanding and ever-deepening circles" (otherwise known as a spiral). And as we reflect upon this inspiraling process of be-coming and of coming-into-being, "we realize that the only adequate goal of our dynamism of knowing is the totality of being."

Exactly. The "totality of being" is what we call O: it is the ground and telos of all knowing; it is our horizon of being -- or better, it is always just over the horizon.

But there's more, because our dynamic space of knowing isn't just "nothing," but ordered by ascending and descending energies and currents. How do we know this? This is like asking a sailor how he knows about wind. You don't have to know that wind is a side effect of high and low pressure areas seeking equilibrium to float your boat.

Likewise, you don't have to know about the eternal plenitude of the Divine Object to know stuff. An atheist blowhard can nevertheless get somewhere -- to tenure, and beyond! -- with science, just as a sailor who believes wind is caused by God sneezing can still get blown somewhere.

In any event, the Divine Object "naturally attracts or draws" the dynamic intellect toward itself. Which means that

the mind has, from its first conscious movement from emptiness toward fulfillment, a kind of implicit, pre-conceptual, anticipatory grasp or foretaste of being as the encompassing horizon and goal of all its inquiries.... This is to live mentally within the horizon of being.

Again, it's where we're always living anyway. Might as well be aware of it.