Friday, May 20, 2022

A Remedy for Finitude

Continuing with our Trump obsession meditations on the relationship of cosmos and person, yesterday I read a book called The Greatest Marvel of Nature: An Introduction to the Philosophy of the Human Person, by Pierre Emonet, but it was somewhat less than marvelous, not on the same level as Clarke's Person and Being

Let me flip through it and see if there's anything that advances the argument, or at least repeats it, since we welcome any scholarly backup from nonlocal explorers in the same attractor. 

For example, Emonet agrees with the Raccoon doctrine that the person is an open system that specifically "opens out upon the infinite." He further agrees that the soul is a kind of totality "capable of containing within itself all that is," AKA the whole existentialada.   

And here's an intriguing quote: "Together, consciousness and things 'super-exist.'" Moreover, consistent with what we were saying the other day about cosmic depth, "we shall never find the floor of the soul" -- nor its height or breadth for that matter. 

There are also some good things on the undeniable immateriality of the soul, for example, vis-a-vis "common sense" -- no, not the everyday common sense which is merely the polar opposite of progressivism, but rather, the soul's capacity to integrate and synthesize information from the external senses. 

Obviously, the senses don't know anything; to be perfectly accurate, the senses can affirm that something is, but they can never say what that something is, since they know nothing of essences. 

But what really interests One Cosmos readers -- or this one, anyway -- is the even higher and deeper unification and synthesis of all the nonsense understood by the soul. 

For example, we know that atoms, chemicals, organisms, and persons exist, but how do we synthesize all these diverse strands? Yes, there's always the path of reductionism, but let the dead bury the trolls and the trolls bury the tenured.  

There's an interesting etymological analysis of "intellect," which connotes "reading within" (intus = within, lectus = gathering or reading). As we've been saying, everything, it turns out, has a within, and the intellect is how we access this fathomless world of intelligibility: senses are to the Great Without what intellect is to the Great Within of the cosmos. 

Here's a coincidence: yesterday we alluded to cosmic communion via ex- and in-spiration. Well, the intellect "inhales essences." Moreover, the intellect is to intelligible objects as the sun is to objects of vision: it is a kind of "inner sun" through which the intelligible world veritably glows. We might call it the metaphysical translucence of being.

Here's another brief passage that opens worlds and meta-worlds: "Grammar implies a whole philosophy." That's a tempting rabbit hole to jump into, but I think we'll get back to Person and Being. Suffice it to say that In the beginning is the Word, but that any word implies a grammar, and that -- now that I'm thinking about it -- the Trinity must be this grammar. We'll probably come back to this idea later, since it's a pretty big deal.

Remember what we said above about super-existence? Well, "Thomas speaks of the power of the finite mind"

to gather up and "inscribe the whole order of the universe" in the unity of its own consciousness, "as a remedy for its finitude" (Clarke).

A remedy for finitude? One that doesn't involve the old snake oil, i.e., Ye shall be as gods? We'll take one bottle please!

What kind of bottle? 

Longtome readers know exactly what kind: a Klein bottle, in which the inside is the outside and vice versa. I ask you: how could the cosmos be structured in any other way, since this reveals how intelligence and intelligibility, within and without, are two sides of the same reality? Indeed, just knowing this is half the bottle.

4 comments:

julie said...

Ha - glad I wasn't drinking coffee for that opening sentence.

julie said...

Well, the intellect "inhales essences."

Lots of implications to this, as well. Not least being "garbage in, garbage out," in conjunction with, "But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them."

Gagdad Bob said...

Just read this in one of Schuon's letters: "we are with God wherever we breathe with the remembrance of God, and since we are always breathing, we are always with God, in the Center, in the golden Now."

Van Harvey said...

"...Grammar implies a whole philosophy." That's a tempting rabbit hole to jump into..."

Ooh... yep, jump, dive, and swim around in. The water's fine.