Thursday, May 12, 2022

Pneumopathology and Vertical Openness

So: "The full meaning of 'to be' is not just 'to be present,' but 'to be actively present.'" The relationality of this active presence "is a primordial dimension of every real being, inseparable from its substantiality." Being is an act, and the act of being is relational: it is

turned towards others by its self-communicating action. To be fully is to be substance-in-relation (Clarke).

But why? By virtue of what principle? Because every being -- every existent that partakes of being -- is an image of the very trinitarian God who is irreducibly substance-in-relation. That every lower being has both an in-itself and towards-others dimension finds its ground and principle in the godhead. 

The alternatives don't work. For example, Buddhism and process philosophy posit a universe of pure relations with no substance. But a relation is precisely between substances, not between nothings. A relation between nothing and nothing is just nothing: śūnyatā yada yada.

Josef Pieper (cited by Clarke) agrees that to exist 

means "to be able to relate" and "to be the sustaining subject at the center of a field of reference." Only in reference to an inside can there be an outside. Without a self-contained "subject" there can be no "object." 

We might say that subject is to interiority as object is to exteriority, and the two are always related or linked. Moreover -- and this has vast implications for the definition of psychopathology --  

The higher the form of intrinsic existence, the more developed becomes the relatedness to reality, also the more profound and comprehensive becomes the sphere of this relatedness: namely, the world (Pieper).

As it pertains to psychopathology, back in another life in the mid-1990s I published an article ponderously titled Psychoanalysis, Chaos, and Complexity: The Evolving Mind as a Dissipative Structure. Looking back on it 28 years later, I see that I was basically exploring the same ontological attractor as Clarke, only expressed in terms of metapsychology rather than metaphysics or meta-theology (this goes to what I said in the previous post about being predisposed to think in terms of reality as substance-in-relation).

I won't bore you with pedantic details, but in the article young Dr. Godwin suggested that 

While many may consider it a truism that the human mind is an open system, this is not always so, and we may trace many states of pathology to the matter of how open or closed the system is.

Among others, the article mentions schizoid states, autism, narcissism, and "false self" or "as if" personalities. But nearly every diagnosis I can think of involves either pathological closure (too rigid boundaries) or openness (relative absence of boundaries). 

Again, I won't get into all the details, but I will say that later in life -- a few years after publishing this -- I came to the realization that the human person is an open system both horizontally and vertically. And if this is the case, then it accounts for spiritual pathologies -- pneumopathologies --  ranging from atheism (i.e., self-sufficient vertical closure) to full blown demon possession (vertical invasion) and everything in between (e.g., metanoia, prayer, grace, communion, sanctity, infused contemplation, etc.).

What did Jesus say? Two rules: love God (vertical openness) and love your neighbor (horizontal openness). 

This openness is bi-directional: there is an outward facing communicative pole and a complementary pole of receptivity. This functions analogously to metabolism on the biological plane.

With this in mind, we now have a conceptual basis for understanding the receptivity and relationality in and of God. Is God related to us? How could he not be, if God is the very principle of substance-in-relation? 

Moreover -- and this is important, so pay attention -- this divine receptivity "should be looked on not as essentially a sign of imperfection [or] poverty," but rather, as a "positive aspect or perfection of being."

In the absence of this perfection of receptivity, "authentic mutual love would necessarily remain incomplete -- and love is of itself a purely positive perfection." 

Much more to go, but we'll conclude this post by suggesting that "all being tends naturally toward self-transcendence," and that our cosmos may ultimately be regarded as "an immense implicit aspiration towards the Divine."

Like the whole creation groans with labor pains or something. 


Gagdad Bob said...

Related -- How to Repay the Love of Christ:

"Love is repaid by love: anyone who properly views the Passion and has a human heart, will naturally be led to want to do something extravagant in response, even, to give up his own life similarly Yet how do we do this?"

julie said...

Moreover -- and this is important, so pay attention -- this divine receptivity "should be looked on not as essentially a sign of imperfection [or] poverty," but rather, as a "positive aspect or perfection of being."

And so it was, in the garden.

julie said...

From the article, I am saying that we should conceive of the Mass as our fundamental act of love. We are tempted by activism, but let’s be serious – and clear that the sacraments and prayer come first.

I'm reminded of how I always wanted my kids to feel when we took them to Mass when they were little. I remember being a kid in church, and mostly being alternately bored and chastised by my mom to stand still, pay attention, etc. With my own kids, while of course we always expected them to behave, we also tried to make it a place and time they associate with feeling loved. Hopefully, as they grow older, those associations will remain in their hearts and minds when they attend Mass, pray, and contemplate the sacraments.

Gagdad Bob said...

It's ultimately about a mutual exchange of love -- a sacrifice of self-offering on our part and the divine self-offering of the eucharist. There's a more elegant way of expressing it, but that's the idea.

julie said...

Good Friday comes to mind.