Thursday, March 17, 2022

In Reality

In reality....

What do we even mean when we say that?

Speaking for myself, I suppose it is to distinguish something from appearances: it looks like X, but in reality it is Y. Only man knows about reality because only man knows about appearances. 

Come to think of it, most blues songs have this structure of appearance / reality. To boil it down to the essence, it would go something like: Had me a good woman once / Least I thought I did

It also reminds me of a B.B. King song: Nobody loves me but my mother / and she could be jivin' too.

"In reality," writes Schuon (continuing with what he was saying yesterday about the theomorphism of human intelligence), 

the laws of intelligence, hence also those of reason, reflect the laws of the divine Intellect; they cannot be contrary to it.

I'm going to stop him right there, not because Like anybody could know that!, but to highlight that God too is apparently subject to his own law:

God can do anything, but He cannot be contrary to His nature; He cannot not be God. 

Conversely, Luther's God is not bound by any nature, such that, for example, if he decreed that murder -- or ignorance, or lying, or adultery -- was good, then it would be. But if God's nature is intelligence, then unintelligence can't be a virtue. And if He is good He can't be bad. 

Schuon's story checks out: according to Gagliardi (Catholic Dogmatic Theology),

The Christian faith is a gift of the Logos, and thus it is deeply logical, not in the sense that the dogmas of the faith are the result of rational inferences, but in the sense that the truth of faith, though it surpasses rational truth, does not contradict it.  

Moreover, 

The human intellect, our little logos, is created by the divine Logos in its own image.... the Catholic et-et [i.e., both-and] never descends into a form of irrationalism; namely the oxymoronic reconciliation of contraries. It does not violate the principle of non-contradiction... 

As above, so below: the micrologos is an image, creation, and projection of of the macrologos. And if God is on earth, then man is in heaven.  

Gagliardi goes on to say that 

Our perspective is that truth exists and that human beings -- along with all their known limitations -- have access to it.... Thus the human being can know the Truth about God and about what he wishes to reveal. 

The point is, reality for us isn't merely existential or epistemological, but ontological and even trans-ontological, truly "in the nature of things." In short, we can say: in reality. It's not just a custom or convention.

Let's bring Schoun back into the discussion:

If the functions of intelligence were opposed to the nature of God, then there would be no need to speak of intelligence, precisely; intelligence, by definition, must be fitted to the knowable, which means at the same time that it must reflect the divine Intelligence, and this is why man is said to be "made in the image of God."

Except I wouldn't limit it to intelligence (nor would Schuon), since there are also love, beauty, virtue, etc.

As to Luther and other fideists who "scorn intelligence," the question arises of how and why God

could have endowed man with an in instrument of perception which provides what is contrary to reality, or provides it in an arbitrary manner beyond a certain level? For it is obvious that if certain philosophers deny God -- those precisely who detach reason from its roots -- it is not because reason obliges them to do so, otherwise atheism would be natural to man.

After all, everything has a sufficient reason. To exclude human intelligence -- of all things! -- from this axiom is not only arbitrary, it's self-canceling:

Is it with the intelligence that we should admit that intelligence is intrinsically incompatible with the knowledge of God?

In conclusion -- because I have to leave, not because there's nothing more to say -- "in reality" we're describing a kind of expanding circle that spirals from God down to us and then back up again:

To the extent that God makes Himself the object of our intelligence, it is He Himself who knows Himself in us...

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Where's the Damn Cosmos? It Was Here a Vertical Moment Ago...

Just some free associating, i.e., spontaneous and undirected thinking out loud... 

In his The Form of Transformed Vision, our late unknown friend James Cutsinger touches on what we Raccoons call the "dual-track" vision of God, one we must always bear in mind -- whether explicitly or implicitly -- when grappling with the trans-empirical world.  

First,  

Whatever else it may involve and however its distinguishing characteristics are described, knowledge means relationship: a relationship, bond, or bridge between a knowing subject and a known object (Cutsinger).

Or subject, I might add, for not only is there intersubjectivity, it would appear -- or so we have heard from the wise -- that ultimate reality is an irreducible intersubjectivity of Persons. Nor do we need to flesh this out, since the Second Person already has.

Within this dual-track approach is "an element of continuity and an element of discontinuity," which might be characterized as "liberal" and "conservative," respectively. 

A liberal-continuous approach will "tend in the direction of immanence and availability" (of God), whereas a more conservative-discontinuous approach will "characteristically emphasize the divine transcendence or sovereignty."

We could say that the continuous approach is more mystical, intuitive, and experiential, while the discontinuous is more objective, dogmatic, and obediential. To say we need both is to state the obvious, and indeed, one can't really exist without the other, for this is one of those primordial complementarities we can never eliminate. 

Nevertheless, of these two, the continuity must be ontologically prior, since it can account for discontinuity, whereas no amount of discontinuity -- no matter how small the gaps -- adds up to continuity. Digital is not and cannot be analog.

So, just because each perspectival vector is necessary, it doesn't mean one of the two doesn't take precedence. Take Christianity, for example. Behind all the objective doctrine is nevertheless a Person and a community of Persons. It's a continuous party up there!

This must be one of the reasons why Protestants ditched the -- discontinuous, so to speak -- Magisterium, liturgy, and sacraments in favor of a direct and unmediated relationship with the divine person; in so doing, they embrace continuity ("me & Jesus") while seemingly forgetting about the discontinuity, although they import all sorts of new discontinuities through the back door, e.g., sola scriptura, total depravity, devaluation of reason and intellect, etc.

(There's also a misunderstanding at the heart of this, for it is difficult to conceive of any divine-human contact more direct and continuous than Holy Communion.) 

Each of these ruptures (and others) means there can never be any continuity between man and God from our side of the divide. Rather, any continuity is completely owing to God's initiation and accomplishment, which was fully worked out even before we existed: you're either one of the elect or you'r not, and there's not a thing you can do about it. 

Some people apparently find this complete powerlessness to be a relief. Luther no doubt did, for it helped him overcome his obsessive and guilt-ridden scrupulosity. I find it... troubling. But then I don't have OCD.

For Luther, we are totally passive in the face of sola gratia, just as our intellect is wholly impotent in the face of sola fide. For that matter, even (or especially) our will -- AKA freedom -- contributes nothing to the unfolding of a rigid predestination. 

For Luther man is continuous, alright -- a continuous trainwreck: nor is Luther completely wrong, just 50% right. Let's see if we can spot the errors:

original sin has left in humanity such consequences that the latter cannot do anything that does not represent sin. Because of the wound created by the sin of Adam, human beings find themselves in such a condition that whatever they do, even the good, is always sinful.

The human being is thus completely excluded from grace, cannot cooperate with it and, thus, cannot cooperate in his or her own salvation. The only attitude that is possible for the sake of being saved is total passivity (Gagliardi).

Looks to me like a straight-up Kafka trap, for whatever we try to do from our side "would be a sin that would be an obstacle to grace," and for Luther, our "absolute passivity coincides with faith."

And don't even think about trying to think your way out of this trap: for Luther, reason is 

an enemy of faith, its greatest obstacle, to the point that in the (hypothetical) moment in which human reason was completely annulled one would have the fullness of faith.

Along these lines, I remember something Schuon says about God and intellect. To paraphrase, why would God insist that the only way to be reconciled to him is to toss out his highest gift? This seems like another Kafka trap, although perhaps I'm being unfair to Luther. If so, it's not my fault, since I'm totally depraved. A Kafka-escape!

To be sure, thinking can be a dangerous and destructive activity, and the world would be a better place if most people would refrain from it, or at least confine it to more practical matters while simply obeying with regard to the more consequential ones. Few people are qualified to think about celestial ins, outs, and what-have-yous.

Although I'm certainly no fan of mankind -- individual members to the contrary notwithstanding -- I am convinced that Luther is over the line, man. A little perspective, please. Sure, mankind is depraved, but if everyone is equally depraved, then no man is worse or better than any other. I've even heard people argue that sin is sin, and that no sin is more serious than any other. Whatever.

I just located the Schuon quote mentioned above:

to believe that the nature of God must appear as absurd to human intelligence; to believe, in other words, that God, after having given us intelligence -- not "logic" alone -- could require us to admit what is contrary to this gift; or to believe that God could have given us an intelligence contrary to the most lofty contents of which it is capable and for which it is made; thus, that He could have given us an intelligence inoperative with respect to truths concerning it, whereas it is precisely human -- not animal -- intelligence which is "made in the image of God"...

If one wishes to believe all this, "then it is pointless to speak of human theomorphism; if, on the contrary, there is theomorphism, it must concern above all the intelligence, which is the essence and the very reason of being man." And if being an unintelligent human animal is the ideal, it would have been sufficient for God to have created only leftists.

Now, what is theomorphism but a certain analogical continuity between man and God? And what is original sin but a rupture in this continuity? And who is Christ but its repair? 

Still, we are free to participate in the repair or to go on living amidst the wreckage in a necessarily vain search for continuity, wholeness, synthesis, and union, AKA One Cosmos.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Please Hold While Bob Waits for Something More Important to Write About

Here's an excerpt from a letter by Schuon that reminds me of why I had to move on from psychology and begin the non-pursuit of Abiding on a full-timeless basis:

It often surprises me how deeply most men are sunk in phenomena, how much they identify themselves with their own everyday world of appearances, and how little strength of imagination they have...  

It goes without saying that this applies to the left -- to the Hysteria of the Moment -- but one often sees a variation of the same illusory identification in exoteric religiosity, which interests me not in the least. 

It no doubt has its reasons, since religion must meet man where he is, but for me it is as if such an approach is preemptively poisoned by that which it is here to help us transcend -- to what we "jokingly" refer to as the conspiracy

Both camps are tedious, but at least the latter types are mostly harmless.   

Is there really a conspiracy to distract us from reality? Good question. If you're a retard.

Schuon goes on to say that he noticed the phenomenon as a child, and while I don't mean to brag -- we'll see if Bob is entitled to boast as we proceed -- I perceived the same thing when I was a young 'un. Certainly by the age of nine, when I concluded that the world was mostly run by humorless Karens of both sexes. 

But the One Cosmos judges have determined that I have no right to brag, because in my case it was less owing to my being an unusually elevated and wise young man than to being a cynically unimpressed and disillusioned wise guy dominated by a profound sense of irony. 

In short, I thought almost everything was kind of stupid and pointless, especially things that concerned the Grown Ups. For which reason I vowed never to be one, and very nearly succeeded. 

This doesn't mean I was a nihilist. To the contrary, there were things that mattered very much to me -- too much, in fact. I've mentioned music and baseball. There was also... 

Well, there were other sports, because six months is a long time to go without baseball. Eventually there was reading, which I took up at the age of 23 or so. 

The other main pursuit is writing -- or this, whatever you want to call it -- which naturally leads to the question: why do I do it? What's the motivation? Why am I even writing and sharing this? Correct: to stay in shape while waiting for something more important to come along. In other words, I'm momentarily out of subjects.  

Now that I'm thinking about the past, there's the question of whether I actually rejected the Conspiracy or it me, certainly back when I was an adolescent. Today I would have the confidence -- or just the rudimentary common sense -- to be an outsider, but not then. 

Back then it was all an Overwhelming Mystery, and I wished the mystery would go away. In contrast, nowadays it's an Overwhelming Mystery, and that's just how Bob likes it: the more I know, the less I know, and that's fine. Abiding in the mystery. What else is there?

Correct: there is the question of whether the Dodgers will acquire Freddie Freeman, but I'm fine either way. The very purpose of a hobby is to pretend to care deeply about something that is ultimately of no consequence whatsoever. I'm not the type of person who riots when my team wins or loses. 

Conversely, music still seems "important" to me, the question being why. Off the top of my head I would say it is important insofar as it is audible spirit, a visitor from another realm. Otherwise to hell with it.

Back to Schuon's rumignosisses. With regard to most men being hypnotized by appearances, he again says that 

this surprised me even as a child insofar as I was capable of noticing it; I did notice it without any doubt, for otherwise I should not so often have felt myself to be as one standing outside, disinterested, as if I were an onlooker.

That's definitely part of it: standing outside, disinterested, as if an onlooker. Oh, I can pretend to be interested, otherwise I couldn't have been a psychologist for 30 years.  

I suppose Job One of the religious life is to shift one's fascination from the surface to the depth. Yes, that's it: to stay completely engaged, but with reality, not appearances. Is this too much to ask? 

At the moment -- this moment in man's history -- yes. It's an ongoing transformation, with the inevitable ups & downs, strikes and gutters, as we slowly adapt to the properly human world, which is obviously a divine-human world. But don't wait too long, for

Life: even if it is short, it is long; and even if it is long, it is short.

It is long because one day follows another, seemingly without end; it is short because it is only the dream of a night.

Yet this dream is all; it is all because it contains the seed of our Eternity (Schuon).

Bottom line for today:

Life is a dream, and to think of God is to awaken; it is to find Heaven already, here below (ibid.).

So, the rest of my day is set. Make that the rest of my life.