Thursday, May 13, 2021

Fooling Around with Ultimate Reality

Here are some timeless bon mots from Thomas, which may or may not provoke additional commentary on my part, depending on your luck. I've selected them on the basis of being 1) the foundation, or beginning of proper thinking, and 2) the end of thinking. How can they be both? Let's find out!

Our intellect in understanding is extended to infinity.

In other words, there is nothing man cannot understand, supposing it is in accordance with reason; things not in accordance with reason are called absurd, and even God can't understand the absurd, e.g., a "square circle" or "a woman in a man's body."  

On the one hand, the intellect is (potentially) in conformity to everything that exists; or, you might say that it is "pre-conformed" to existence. Everything out there is just waiting and hoping to be known by us!

At the same time, nothing in existence conforms to the infinitude of the intellect, which is the last thing we would expect of a wholly material and contingent being. For which reason Thomas says

This ordering of the intellect to infinity would be vain and senseless if there were no infinite object of knowledge.   

This infinite object of knowledge is also the object of infinite knowledge, which folks in the celestial lOʘp typically call God.

Here things get a little tricky, for the object of infinite knowledge is also the object of absolute knowledge, or knowledge of the Absolute. This implies that all knowledge reduces to knowledge of the One (who is surely simple but not simplistic). What? Schuon has asked me to hold his beverage:

The idea that the Supreme Principle is both Absolute Reality and, for that very reason, Infinite Possibility... contains everything, notably the necessity for a universal Manifestation.

Or the manifestation of a universe, if you like. It didn't have to be this universe, but it has to be something, for it is written: Creators gonna create, and the Creator who doesn't create is a contradiction in terms.

Principles. As we've said in the past, there is nothing quite like a principle for tidying up around the Intellect and its Cosmos, and what else is there? About them, Thomas writes that "The principles of reason are those which are conformed to nature," i.e., to the nature of things. In a word, to reality.

How do we know a Principle when we find one, especially if we've never seen one before? For the simple reason that "it is not even possible to think it can be false" (Thomas).  They are self-evident, meaning that they cannot be understood without being believed (in other words, if you understand them, your mind spontaneously assents to them).

Name one!

Okay, the principle of non-contradiction, which is equally the principle of identity. This may not sound like much, but it is the root of anything we can say of being and reality: a thing either is or is not, and these are truth (if it is) and falsehood (if it is not). 

Bottom line: being is, things are, and we can know them. This reduces to intelligence and intelligibility, which further reduces to Absolute Intellect and Infinite Intelligibility. If there's something better than that, God keeps it for himselves.

Come to think of it, there is something better, or at least higher, or maybe that's not the best way to express it. It's the idea that there is a Beyond-Being.

In the traditional view, God is Absolute Being or Pure Act. But there's another way of looking at it: that Being itself is a function of Beyond-Being. The natural born mystic will have no difficulty swallowing this, where as the more conventional type may prefer to stop chewing with Being. 

As I've mentioned before, I prefer to think of it as a -- or the -- eternal complementarity between Being and Beyond-Being. 

Moreover, I would situate the Trinity on the Being side, but this doesn't in any way diminish it; rather, it is to say that the Trinity is the first fruit of Beyond Being, with which it is in an eternally creative and renewing trialogue on the horizon of Absolute and Infinite. It's why things are never boring.

Since things tend to be fractally organized in this cosmos, is it possible to find some kind of trinitarian analogue within Beyond-Being? Yes, in the sense that anything that Is must first be Possible. Such mysteries are above our praygrade, and it is somewhat vain to think about things which thought can never adequately formulate, for the simple reason that the Formless surpasses any Form we might give it.

The best we can do -- or the furthest we can go -- is to say with Schuon that there is a primordial trinity (leaving aside the specifically Christian formulation) that comes down to the Absolute, the Infinite, and the Perfect. Everything that is participates in these.

Absoluteness of the Real, infinitude of the Possible, perfection of the Good; these are the "initial dimensions" of the Divine Order.

Just for kicks, what if we were to attempt to translight this into Christian terms?

Let's say the Absolute is the Father. "The Absolute is infinite; therefore it radiates, and in radiating, it projects itself; the content of this projection being the Good." This latter sounds to me like Logos or Son, and the radiation between reminds me of the Spirit. 

All in a manner of speaking.

21 comments:

ted said...

Bob: Ever come across this? May be up your ally. It was highly recommended by a theologian hobbyist I respect.

Gagdad Bob said...

Looks fascinating, but I wonder if it's too difficult to comprehend? The introduction says there are sentences that fill a whole page.

I'm going to check out my library for references to him. Maybe they'll offer some guidance.

ted said...

Well, he is German, so there's that.

Gagdad Bob said...

Found a fairly straightforward description here. Sounds compatible with what I'm saying.

julie said...

As CS Lewis put it in The Last Battle, “Further up and further in...”

Anonymous said...

This was one of your better posts, Gagdad. The concept of something beyond being is interesting and I'm pretty sure no one else has been talking about that, so this is your fiefdom and chance to stand out from the pack. Is there any further the concept can be taken?

The book by the German theologian that Ted referred to looks turgid and I would be hesitant to wade into that. And it might well not tell you anything you don't already know.

And lastly, is it just me or is Liz Cheney kind of hot?

Weigh in.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I think Elsie Stefanick, Liz's replacement, looks hotter. Check her out.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you. Reminds me of those times at the church socials when the plain women did all the work but the hotties got all the attention. Luckily, at my church we had a Sarah Sanders type amongst the workers who minced no words and set all the men straight.

julie said...

Hey Bob, just letting you know that something is screwy with Google today. They have the spambot alert system activated on this site, it can't be read without clicking past the red screen of doom. The claim is dangerous malware, but of course it's a lie. Your site status is totally clean, of course.

Not sure how people usually fix it, but generally you have to contact whoever is in charge of Blogger/ Blogspot. They're doing this to a bunch of Blogger sites today, it isn't just you. Don't know if it's only people on the right, because I never read leftist blogs.

Gagdad Bob said...

Must have been something I said.

julie said...

Looks like it's fixed now at all the sites that were flagged earlier.

Coongratulations, you must have made somebody's hate speech list!

Anonymous said...

Hello this is the Deep State. Robert we are watching you, but you're fine right now. Go about your business. Julie, you too. Thank you both.

DSBS 666/01

One Cosmos Container Ship Blog said...

We've filed complaints about what appears to be spam misdirected from this website, but are not associated with the Deep State in any way. We're just in the shipping business, and in no way associated with religion, politics, cosmology, phenology or necromancy and prefer to keep it that way. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The One Cosmos Container Ship has been rumored at various times to be controlled by the Dominion Corp, to be the headquarters of QAnon, is used by the Clintons to throw parties, etc, All of these lurid tales have been debunked, although it is to be noted that two maritime inspections teams have been lost inside the cavernous vessel and searches for them have been in vain. Rewards are being offered for information on their whereabouts

If anything new pops up about this, will let you know.

In the mean time, please weigh in on the Israel/Gaza conflict. What is the beef for this latest thing? Anyone know?

-Citizen X

ted said...

Zionist Lives Matter

Anonymous said...

An astonishing amount of ordinance is being expended in this latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 2000 + rockets from the Palestinians, 160 aircraft from the Israelis. This is a major operation. It is almost sexually gratifying.

Hopefully followed by 3-5 year of peace and quiet.

Now if any of you wankers want to make war, you have a benchmark. Don't even get started with under 2000 rockets. That is an order.

Commanding Officer X

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it somebody got their house repo’d. But it wasn’t just anybody, it was a Palestinian. As most of us know, Palestinians are even worse than welfare queens when it comes to not paying their bills. So what would you expect? You don’t pay the mortgage your house gets repo’d. For gosh sakes, no need to start a freakin war over it.

Speaking of dancing Jews, has anybody here ever seen a full blown Haredi rave? Those guys are flippin awesome! While Arabs are locked in smoke filled rooms making rockets, the Haredi are out dancing the night away. Well only the males, but it’s still pretty cool.

Google “Haredi dancing” today and enjoy the fun!

Anonymous said...

Here’s a techno circle from the “Shtreimel Train” Israeli dance show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep_35FTnYVA

Myself, I tried dancing along. Now, finding white socks, black shoes and coat was easy, but the fuzzy cap somewhat more difficult. I achieved some success with a coonskin cap stretched over a toilet seat. But I still dont get how these guys can keep all their fuzzy hats on with all that wild dancing going on.

Gagdad Bob said...

Hot take on the Israel-Hamastan conflict via the NY Times:

"progressives view it as a searing racial justice issue that is deeply intertwined with U.S. politics, linking the decades-long conflict over land in the Middle East to causes like police brutality and conditions for migrants at the southern border."

Gagdad Bob said...

Depicted in the photo: racial justice on the right, racism on the left.

Anonymous said...

While it may seem that I support the Haredim because they’re good with the dance parties (the men, that is), I do have a measure of respect for their views about Zionism. As I understand it, the orthodox Jew predicted that secular nationalism would replace the Jewish faith (besides that it was forbidden for Jews to restore a Jewish Israel before the arrival of the Messiah).

And so today the Zionist seculars do indeed now make up the Israeli majority. And the Haredi typically rank second to the Arabs as the most hated group in Israel. This seems a good lesson for the American Christian. Not that they’ll much care.