Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mankind's Theomorphism Confirmed

Later in the day, after having written the previous post, I was reading a supposedly unrelated book called Introduction to the Science of Mental Health. I can't say I recommend it, unless you enjoy reading highly technical and jargon filled 800 page introductions to your own damn specialty. Yes, after 30 years of practice in the field, I'm finally being introduced to it.

Recall where we left off with our speculations: it is as if

God had broken the coin of his Infinity in two, holding on to the positive side Himself and giving us the negative side, then launching us into the world of finites with the mission to search until we have matched our half-coin with his (Clarke, emphasis mine).

This reminds me of the Eastern Orthodox view (or at least that's where I ran into it), of the ontological distinction between the image and likeness in man. The image is our divine potential, while the likeness is our ongoing actualization of this potential.

It is as if this polarization results in a kind of energy; or you could say that the energy fuels the polarization. Either way, there is vertical aspiration at one (our) end, grace (which you might call God's ex-piration) at the other. This up&down movement is actually a continuous spiral.

Now let's see what Fr. Ripperger has to say in his introduction to our subject. He writes that "the human intellect is a mirror image of the ontological order," and a mirror is -- this is me speaking -- totally passive, receptive, and "empty." At least if it's a clean and functioning mirror. And not hidden away somewhere in total darkness, with no light to reflect.

Can a human mirror reflect darkness? Have you been to college? Do you ever watch the news?

Look: this is a very complicated subject with a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous, and a whole lotta strands to keep in my head, but the pedantic padre affirms that the intellect

initially starts out as a tabula rasa, i.e., it lacks all conceptual knowledge. While initially it may lack any conceptual knowledge, nevertheless it is a certain infinite power in the sense that it is in potency with respect to all forms (emphasis mine).

A footnote to this passage specifies that "By 'infinite' is not implied that it is actually infinite like the intellect of God, but that there is no limit to what it can know regarding that which is in its natural capacity to know."

The point is, God's actual infinitude is mirrored in our potential infinitude -- a potential that can never be fully actualized. Is that clear? Yes, it's a strange place to live, but here we are.

Now I want to flip back to Clarke, who writes that every finite is

by its very nature a pointer toward the Infinite. It is an image, a road marker, that necessarily carries the dynamism of the mind beyond itself in a search for intelligibility that can end only with an actual Infinite, from which all finite degrees of participation ultimately proceed.

There it is again: the open spiral of infinitude-to-finite and back to infinitude. In which, as human beings, we may knowingly participate.

We have reached, therefore, the unique, ultimate, infinite Source of all being, the ultimate mystery of Plenitude that is also the magnet and final goal of the entire dynamism of the human spirit, both intellect and will.

The final goal. Does this mean we're done? Yes and no. Yes, because the post is finished. No, because we're always just getting started. For

our dynamism for the infinite turns out to be a remarkably eloquent reverse image and pointer toward God as He is in Himself, beyond all possible finites (Clarke).

And our dynamism for the infinite is itself infinite: ʘ --> O and back again:

this movement of the mind from from the many to the One reflects what seems to be the most basic structure of the human mind's constant quest for intelligibility in all fields. To understand is to unify: it means first to discern the parts of anything clearly, but finally to unify them into a meaningful whole in itself and then with all else that we know. He who does not understand something as one, St. Thomas says, understands nothing.

Onething or nothing, One Cosmos or no cosmos, O or Ø.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Eternal Dynamism of Infinitude

Before moving on to the next urgent question -- whatever it is -- I want to highlight one last point in The Philosophical Approach to God, having to do with the image of God in man.

This can mean a number of things, depending upon how you look at it. But whatever it means, it would have to be among the most consequential principles or axioms in our metaphysical arsenal. In way, everything hinges on it, for if we're not theomorphic then we're purely...

I suppose we could say we're not even morphic at all, because we would have no form, no essence, and no soul at all. There would be no forms, period. No transcendence for you! Mandatory nominalism.

Which, like materialism or determinism, is an impossible philosophy. No one can consistently maintain it. Which is a critical point: if it's impossible in principle for your actions to line up with your philosophy, you're not just a hypocrite but flat out tenured.

Anyway, Clarke has an interesting take on the meaning of our theomorphism, which I like so much that I think I'll run it by Petey to see if he can declare it to be Infallibly Settled Doctrine.

Clarke makes the point that it cannot be a question of our having the "positive infinite plenitude" which "is proper to God alone." In other words, we are not God. Nevertheless,

there can be an image of the divine infinity in silhouette -- in reverse, so to speak -- within man, precisely in his possession of an infinite capacity for God, or, more accurately, a capacity for the Infinite, which can be satisfied by nothing less.

Now we're talking, and I have a feeling this will indeed segue nicely into our next subject. Because when you think about it, infinitude of any kind is a queer thing. True, other animals are infinitely ignorant, but they don't know that they don't know, nor is their ignorance ordered to anything that transcends their ignorance.

As it so happens, I've been rereading the three volume edition of Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty, which you might think has nothing whatsoever to do with God, but truth is truth no matter where we find it.

What do I mean? I don't want to get too far ahead of the present post, but it's unusual enough to recognize that we don't know. But how many people understand that 1) we can't know it all, and that 2) this is a good thing?

Among other things, this means it is wholly unreasonable to be a mere rationalist, i.e., to imagine that reason alone is sufficient to describe reality, much less human beings. If reason doesn't recognize its own limits, tyranny is right around the corner. To put it another way, would-be tyrants from Rousseau to Newsom always want to enclose us in their little rationalistic worlds, with catastrophic consequences.

Gavin Newsom? Aren't you giving this twerp a little too much credit for the decline and fall of California?

Yes and no. Consider his fidelity to the religion of global warming. I was about to say it has nothing to do with the state going up in flames, but radical environmentalism actually has everything to do with it, since it is responsible for the failure to clear forests, for pouring money into renewable energy instead of upgrading our ancient and fire-prone electrical grid, and for eliminating the nuclear power plants that would give us cheap, plentiful, and clean electricity.

But back to Hayek for a moment. What is his thing, his one Big Idea? Yes, the Fatal Conceit that we not only know more than we think we do, but that we can know things that we cannot possibly know and can never know. For a motley bunch of contingent primates, these metaphysical Darwinians sure presume to know a lot!

The fatal conceit applies in particular to complex systems such as the economy, but what if I told you the cosmos itself is a complex system? And that it is a fundamental error to believe that ultimate reality is characterized by the simple systems described (and describable) by physics? What if the universe of biology is actually larger than the universe of physics, rather than a subset of it?

Is this a "paradox"? No, not at all. Not if you examine the interior of your own skull and consider just what it contains. Which brings us back to Clarke; recall that man is, as it were, the negative image of God's infinitude:

This negative image points unerringly toward the positive infinity of its original, and is intrinsically constituted by this relation of tendential capacity.

I don't think that word -- tendential -- means what he thinks it means. Rather, he's thinking of "tending toward," certainly not "tendentious": that our own negative infinitude is always dynamically linked to God's positive infinitude, thus the ceaseless flow of energies. Polarization. That's how it works. Unless your battery is dead.

Come to think of it, someone said Joe Biden is a flashlight with a dying battery. That's true, but what's wrong with the battery of anyone who would actually vote for this blinking idiot? That's a deep question which will take us too far afield. But there is a kind of battery-powered darkness, isn't there? Moreover, it mimics the human-divine dynamic described above. Hmm. What could be the source and nature of this dark power?

Clarke continues:

It is as though -- as with the ancient myths -- God had broken the coin of his Infinity in two, holding on to the positive side Himself and giving us the negative side, then launching us into the world of finites with the mission to search until we have matched our half-coin with his.

Yes, I'm actually stroking my chin. This is true, as far as it goes. But what if, in this launching of infinitude into the world, God also launches himself into the world? What if this kenotic circle is the last word, or better, the Alpha and Omega of what we can say of the total metacosmic situation?

I don't want to end a post with a question. Was it a rhetorical question?