Friday, October 29, 2021

Abracadabra

According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words.... The Aramaic for "I create as I speak" is avara k'davara or, in magician's language, abracadabra. Not only are words the instrument of creation, in Judaism they are the primary reality itself. --Lawrence Kushner 

Ah ha. A cosmos made of language. That would explain a great deal -- in particular, it would shed additional obscurity on yesterday's post on the ins, outs, and what-have-yous of analogy, for an analogy is always between this and that word.

Now, a word is a form, and a form is a kind of word. In this context, it is noteworthy that Before the Beginning, when the Creator begins to begin, it is in the context of a void, which is to say, a complete absence of form. There are no words. Literally! 

It is also dark, which one would expect it to be with no words to light up the place. Think of, say, the world of Helen Keller before she made that infinite leap from the sensation of wetness to the concept of ¡water! That right there is an analogue of the moment man became man and left animality below.

To be perfectly accurate, we never left animality entirely. We are not angels. But that was the moment a link was established between. 

Yes, between, full stop. Between what? It almost doesn't matter, or, on the other hand, perhaps nothing matters more. 

I'm thinking of Voegelin's concept of the metaxy, which is the "in between" state where humans live, where we have always lived, and where we will always live. This space is humanness itself, hence its place of honor atop the comment box:

The quest, thus, has no external "object," but is reality itself becoming luminous for its movement from the ineffable, through the Cosmos, to the ineffable.

Some things will never change. Here is an exact definition of metaxy:

Between. Plato's symbol representing the experience of human existence as "between" lower and upper poles: man and the divine, imperfection and perfection, ignorance and knowledge, and so on. Equivalent to the symbol of "participation in being" (Webb).

"Between lower and upper poles" -- or in other words, within the space of verticality. With this firmly and clearly in mind, now you understand why we would never stoop to argue with someone who cannot or will not acknowledge something as soph-evident as our nonlocal verticality. 

By the way, this isn't just understood conceptually, or at least it shouldn't be. Rather, it is perceived by the intellect. Indeed, it is among the first things seen by the intellect upon opening its third eye on thinksgiving morn. 

With regard to verticality, you could say that man is suspended between animality and divinity; or -- and, rather -- time and eternity, spirit and matter, one and many, appearance and reality, angels above and demons below, etc.

Analogously, think of the space that is opened up with the local appearance of biological life in the cosmos. The other day, my son was inquiring as to why mosquitos exist. I think it's because this is a full-employment biosphere, or in other words, the very existence of a biosphere implies that every nook & cranny must be filled. 

Likewise our vertical world, filled as it is with so many crooks & loonies: it takes all kinds to make a pneumosphere. Alas, they will always be with us.

In the beginning we must begin with something that cannot be doubted, about which error is impossible, which presupposes no prior truth(s), and denial of which leads to absurdity. We're talking about the Truth by which truth is even possible. Thus, we're talking about necessary truth.

Which is kind of a trick, because a good working definition of truth is that which must be: 2 + 2 not only equals 4, but must equal 4. Certitude. 

Certitude! I'll let Schuon, with his limber mind, tie up the many strands unraveled in this post, emphases mine:

[P]hilosophy -- the “love of wisdom” -- is the science of all the fundamental principles; this science operates with intuition, which “perceives,” and not with reason alone, which “concludes.” 

Subjectively speaking, the essence of philosophy is certitude; for the moderns, on the contrary, the essence of philosophy is doubt: philosophy is supposed to reason without any premise, as if this condition were not itself a preconceived idea; this is the classical contradiction of all relativism. Everything is doubted except for doubt.

There is indeed "a source of certitude that transcends the mental mechanism, and this source -- the only one there is -- is the pure Intellect, or Intelligence as such." 

The intellect knows through its very substance all that is capable of being known and, like the blood flowing through even the tiniest arteries of the body, it traverses all the egos of which the universe is woven and opens out “vertically” on the Infinite (ibid.)

If anything is certain, it means that certitude is possible in principle. And what is the principle of certitude? Yes, God, the one thing of which -- of Whom -- we can be certain. For it is written:

If God were not a person, He would have died some time ago (Dávila).

In the spirit of shorter posts, I think I'll stop. Besides, 

God is the guest of silence.

Words and ears. Abracadabra! 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

What is Analogous to Analogy?

I suppose everything has its analogue in God, even analogy itself, being that the Son is -- so to speak-- analogous to the Father: 

exteriorization within God forms the ontological ground of possibility for the analogous exteriorization of a finite world, as well as for the exteriorization of God that we refer to as the Incarnation (emphasis mine).

Chapp adds that 

The concept of personhood, developed primarily to describe the relational hypostases within the Trinity and now applied analogously to describe spiritual creatures, allows us to overcome the autonomy/heteronomy impasse in our concept of freedom.

In other words, human persons (qua persons) are simultaneously free and subject to a higher authority. 

This is the ontological basis of our freedom to know truth and to choose the good. It is what gives a direction to both thought and action; it is why "progress" can even exist, and why "progressivism" is the denial of its real possibility (for in the horizontal flatland of the left, there can be no direction that isn't either arbitrary or rooted in the will to power).

Consider the many times Jesus makes reference to doing the will of the Father, and doing so freely: on the one hand, Not My will but Yours; on the other, No one takes its from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.

This complementarity goes to the Ultimate Anthropology, the highest and deepest principle and context of human personhood. Thus, 

If human freedom is made in the image and likeness of this relational, Trinitarian God, then it can only come to itself by going out of itself and drawing close to the divine freedom in a dialogical relationship of love (Chapp).

A post or two ago we spoke of approaching God's "immutability" in an analogous manner, and the same can be said of his "timelessness." For in reality,

there exists within God something for which our creaturely experience of spatiality and duration are analogies. The exteriorization of the interiority of the Trinitarian hypostases demands that we posit the event-like quality of these relations... (ibid., emphasis mine).

That's exactly what I thought, but I never heard anyone but Petey express it this way. Hartshorne does, but in a manner that denies immutability and instead places process and becoming at the foundation of things. 

This is a metaphysical non-starter, because a cosmos of pure becoming equates to an eternal absence of identity. If this were true, then boys really could be girls, homosexuals really could marry, math really could be racist, and Biden's 2 trillion dollar giveaway to liberal parasites really could cost their host nothing.

This is not to deny or devalue becoming, merely to situate it in the proper context. In fact, 

the becoming of creatures in their relations with worldly others is an image and likeness of the event-like quality of the Trinitarian relations (ibid.).

Moreover, "We are able to call God 'other' precisely because of the distance and relationally within God himself" (ibid.). 

In short -- and this is important -- we now have a principle that explains how it is possible for anything other than God to actually exist. Put conversely, any conceptualization of God as a radical monad cannot explain -- and generally must deny -- human freedom as a limit on divine omnipotence. But this "limit" is -- analogously -- within the Godhead itself.

We're almost out of time, so we'll end with this:

The Father is, from all eternity, nothing more than the act of generating the Son in self-donation, while the Son is nothing more than the act of letting oneself be generated. Hence, the Son is the ground of possibility for all extra-divine "allowing oneself to be." The coming of the creaturely realm is therefore the finite analogue of the intra-trinitarian act of begetting the Son (ibid.).

Exactly. Abiding in God may look passive, but it's actually quite time-consuming. It takes all day to get nothing done.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Keep the Change

Let's zig over to Chapp's The God of Covenant and Creationwhich we were discussing the post before last. Specifically, we pretty much agreed that divine immutability must be understood analogically -- like anything else we say of God, otherwise we will be led astray. 

Which is equally true of any idea about anything. Concepts help us to understand the object in question, but they aren't the object itself. Rather, they are the intelligible part of the object. (There are more elegant and official ways of saying that, but you get the point.)  

In this regard, Thomistic common sense occupies a nuanced third position between a naive and precritical realism on the one hand, and a Kantian phenomenalism on the other. The latter is the basis for the widespread barbarism that "perception is reality," AKA the absolute relativism of my truth, my lived experience, and other pathologies of the left. As if the cosmos starts and stops at their convenience!   

Everything, no matter how intelligible, is always partly unintelligible, which is precisely why our knowledge of things proceeds more deeply in an asymptotic manner. At the top of the asymptote is God himself; or, God is the origin of the infinite asymptotic ray(s) emanating from Celestial Central. Grab any one of them and ride it back to the top! Or, stop arbitrarily and call it a deity.

Come to think of it, these nonlocal rays form the warp of the cosmic area rug, while the circles around the center are the weft. As we've explained before, this is why the cosmos is both continuous and discontinuous: the rays account for the continuity, the concentric  circles for the discontinuity. 

If not for the rays, we could never, under any circumstances, pull the cosmos together via its timeless and universal principles. Rather, we would necessarily be reduced to nihilism, permanently banished to wanderment in blunderville.

But let's refocus! In last Saturday's post we made a passing comment about the principle by which the Incarnation is possible. Chapp agrees with our longstanding stand that it must be located in nature of the Trinity itself:

the sovereignty of God manifests itself in self-abandonment rather than a holding on to a static and univocal nature.... This exteriorization within God forms the ontological ground of possibility for the analogous exteriorization of a finite world, as well as for the exteriorization of God that we refer to as the Incarnation (emphasis mine).

In other words, the principle of both Creation and Incarnation is God-the-Father's own "prior" "exteriorization" of the Son-Logos. Except there's no "prior," rather, only this immutably continuous (so to speak) engendering.

This is why it's so misleading to say God is immutable and leave it at that, for the Trinity provides a way to understand such diverse things as relativity, change, time, contingency, multiplicity, human freedom, etc. -- you know, all those otherwise impenetrable and annoying things into which we are plunged.

It's a big deal, for it not only means "there exists within God something for which our creaturely experience of spatiality and duration are analogies," but that "the becoming of creatures in their relations with worldly others is an image and likeness of the event-like quality of the Trinitarian relations."

Again, we're trying to shorten the posts, so let's call a lid on this one.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Love -- and Truth -- at First Glance

Truly truly, one of the reasons we do not respond to trollbait is that Engaging in dialogue with those who do not share our assumptions is nothing more than a stupid way to kill time (NGD). To respond or even read them is to participate in the very stupidity one wishes to avoid. 

The only exception to the rule would involve a genuine argument over principles, but this is what the leftist scrupulously avoids, because to clarify his principles is to reveal their absurdity. 

Along these lines, a reader alerted me a helpful article called How Metaphysics Can Fix This American Mess, which is a somewhat unfortunate title, being that one of the most important metaphysical principles is the understanding that -- in the words of the Aphorist -- To be a conservative is to understand that man is a problem without a human solution.  (https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/10/how-metaphysics-can-fix-this-american-mess-john-horvat.html?utm_source=The+Imaginative+Conservative+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5c9a2bb4e1-Weekly+Newsletter_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6c8d563f42-5c9a2bb4e1-132498265&mc_cid=5c9a2bb4e1&mc_eid=4e99f8940d)

In short, one's metaphysic must in some form or fashion acknowledge our primordial catastrophe and our inability to save ourselves, otherwise we fall into a destructive promethean pride no less baleful than its sickular cousin. Obviously, a big part of metaphysics is knowing what man is and where he fits into the total cosmic scheme.  

Nor does anything in metaphysics -- i.e., on this side of heaven -- spare us the final leap of faith. To pretend man can live without faith leads to the implicit faith that man is a god, and we all know where that leads.

Moreover, metaphysics is abstract while life is concretely lived, such that one's metaphysical understanding must pass from vague to distinct to realized to lived to transmitted and back.

Consider the subject of this post: is it possible to adequately transmit what one hasn't realized and lived? You might counter that what Bob has realized is stupid or trivial, but you can't deny I've realized it and that I am thereby fully qualified to teach my brand of cosmic stupidity.

Now, while there is only one possible straight line between two points, an infinite number of lines can pass through a single point. At the moment I'm resting in the latter, meaning this post can take off in any number of directions and I have to pick one. Well, I don't literally have to, but if I don't limit myself, the post will never end.

So let's pick a line that's fresh in my mind, the last chapter of Garrigou-Lagrange's Thomistic Common Sense, called The Intellect's First Glance and Contemplation. It begins with the Padre noting the existence of a certain resemblance  

between the child's first intellectual glance and the simple contemplation experienced by the old man who has discovered the true meaning and value of life after the trials and disillusions that time brings in order to prepare us for eternity.

What G-L means by that first intellectual glance is the spontaneous understanding that the object of the intellect is being. Not to say this is consciously and distinctly realized or explicated, only that we vaguely apprehend the intelligible being of sensible things; the rest is commentary, no matter how deeply we subsequently penetrate into being

For "without the intellect's first glance on intelligible reality, all human, scientific, and philosophical knowledge would be impossible." Or better, "profound scientific knowledge, accompanied with humility, leads us to return to our primitive view of the whole of things seen from on high..."

Conversely, "in place of the primitive simplicity of an already-elevated glance, one finds the supposedly-learned complexity of a knowledge that in fact slides downward into decay.... If our life is not elevated to the heights of our thought, then the latter does not delay in descending to the level of our life."

And yet, it can cost close to 100k a year for the privilege of immersing oneself in this decay.

We all know the cliche that religion is for the intelligent-but-humble and ordinary-but-lofty souls, whereas it is beyond the reach of typical midwits of the politico-academic-media complex. Similarly, "A little science thus takes away the virtual richness of the first glance," but "much science brings one back to it." Or "much psychology" in my case. 

Once we are introduced as children to the intelligibility of being, we're off to the vertical races:

From this moment, the intellect seeks out something that surpasses the senses and imagination: the raisons d'être of things, their "why," their cause.... From this first contact with intelligible reality, our intellect grasps that the true is that which is and that a true judgment is is one that is conformed to reality.

Yes, common sense, but how uncommon -- and often illegal -- it has become in our day. As someone once said, political correctness is a war on noticing, especially commonsensical things such as boys = boys and girls = girls, or CRT = racist filth, or our president = demented crook. "Cancel culture" is just weaponized PC.

Which is understandable for reasons mentioned above: since these authoritarians cannot defend their principles without exposing their absurdity, they must harass, attack, cancel, and investigate those of us with common sense. 

Back to our common sense metaphysical principles. If one follows that first glance at intelligible being all the way up, one arrives at something like a Universal and Necessary Object -- or just call it UNO for short. 

If you're on the right track, the next thing you'll realize is that I am not that. Then again, I am not exactly not that either, depending upon how we look at it. For one thing, to realize it is to participate in it (or It in us, rather), and isn't that intriguing? This leads to a principle of Incarnation -- or a principle by which it is possible -- but we'll have to tackle that one in a subsequent post.

Penultimate bottomline for today: 

A beautiful life is a youthful thought realized in mature age. More beautiful still is the life that, up to its last breath, is the realization of a divine inspiration.

Bottom line goes to Sr. D:

A fulfilled life is one that after long years delivers to the grave an adolescent whom life did not corrupt.

At risk of sounding boastful, I have the adolescent part down