Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Structure of Metascientific Revelations

Okay, the question comes down to, are persons just accidents, or something worse: are we just contingent parasites on the fabric of being, or symptoms of a more serious condition? 

What does brother Nicolás say? Either God or chance: all other terms are disguises for one or the other.

This question is tied into the cosmos as a whole, since persons, and only persons, reveal (and are revealed by) a directionality in the structure of being: we are here, the big bang is back there, and we know it. How to account for this implausible development? How do subjects emerge from objects, biology from physics, freedom from necessity, etc? In a word, transcendence: by virtue of what principle is it here?

If human beings didn't exist, we would have no trouble whatsoever explaining the fact. But here we are, the most inexplicable fact conceivable. No wonder people turn to religion. Got any better ideas?

No one wants to toss out science, least of all me. However, when the anomalies, contradictions, and exceptions begin to pile up, we need to rethink its foundation. For

The seeming exception is in reality very often the symptom that shows us the insufficiency of our previous schema of order, which helps us to break open this schema and to conquer a new realm of reality (Ratzinger).

We're all familiar with Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Science can take care of itself, so long as it stays in its lane. What we need is a metascientific revolution. 

Come to think of it, some people think Christ was some kind of revolutionary. Well, he was. Just not a political one. 

And Petey has suggested that Christ didn't intend to found a religion -- rather, the cure for religion, and who could blame him? After all, the Way is not fundamentally an abstract idea, rather, a concrete person, an event -- an event that is prolonged in time, to be sure, but an event nonetheless. We're participating in it right now -- or vice versa, we hope. 

The exception shows us that we have built our closets too small, as it were, and that we must break them open and go on in order to see the whole (ibid.). 

Now, no one should be confined to the closet for simply believing the universe is queerer than we can suppose. Grow up: there are a lot of us out there. Moreover, it's who we are: transpersonal!

Lets' treat it like any other hypothesis: let's suppose that Christ is

the true fulfillment of the idea of the human person, in which the direction of meaning of this [human] being comes fully to light for the first time (ibid.).

How would we go about proving this hypothesis? Or maybe we can start by disproving the null hypothesis: that the message of Christ has no meaning or significance, whether personal or cosmic.

I ruled out the latter quite some tome ago. Not only does it explain nothing, it unexplains too much we know to be the case, both logically and experientially. 

Nothing is lost in believing ultimate reality is personal, for

human existence is not canceled, but comes to its highest possibility, which consists in transcending itself into the absolute and in the integration of its own relativity into the absoluteness of divine love (ibid.).

This is SCIENCE, so the allusion to love makes me a tad uncomfortable. Nevertheless, scientifically speaking, what is a human person without love? You don't want to know. 

Okay, a monster: take a human person, deprive it of all love, and that's what you'll end up with. Conversely, "Love is the act that transforms its object from a thing into a person" (Dávila).

Anyway, back to the irreversible temporal flow of the cosmos:

Christ is the directional arrow, as it were, that indicates what being human tends toward, although, as long as history is still on the way, this goal is never reached.  

Don't worry: this just means time and timelessness are complementary; or that time is a function of eternity. Come to think of it, for our purposes, there is only the present moment and eternity, the rest being an abstraction. Or in the words of the aphorist,

One must live for the moment and for eternity. Not for the disloyalty of time.

"If person is the relativity toward the eternal" writes Ratzinger, "then this relativity implies 'being on the way' in the manner of human history."

Another important point: as alluded to above vis-a-vis loveless monsters, the I and the We are properly mediated by and in love; now Christ is the very incarnation of this principle,

the integrating space in which the "we" of human beings gathers itself toward the "you" of God. Something emerges here that has not been sufficiently seen in modern philosophy, not even in Christian philosophy.

You don't say. Someone needs to write a blog post! 

Speaking of paradigm shifts,

On both sides there is neither the pure "I," nor the pure "you," but on both sides the "I" is integrated into the greater "we" (ibid.).

Which means that "not even God can be seen as the pure and simple 'I' toward which the person tends" -- or rather, least of all can God, of all persons, be seen this way. And

This trinitarian "we," the fact that even God exists only as a "we," prepares at the same time the space of the human "we."

So we got that going for us. Better yet, 

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

Friday, May 27, 2022

Vine, and Yourself?

The previous post left off with a wish and a gnotion: 

Sure would be nice to somehow be grafted onto this timeless [trinitarian] intersubjectivity. I have an idea -- it's crazy but it just might work!
The Incarnation -- and our participation in it -- is crazy from our perspective, as it's not something any merely sane human being would have come up with, nor ever did come up with. As Ratzinger observes in his Jesus of Nazareth,

The reaction of his hearers was clear: This teaching does not come from any school. It is radically different from what can be learned in schools. It is not the kind of explanation or interpretation that is taught there.

Got it: crazy.

Jesus' teaching is not the product of human learning, of whatever kind. It originates from immediate contact with the Father, from "face-to-face" dialogue... 

Okay. Crazier still. 

Perhaps we just need some additional groundwork in order to see that it's not crazy at all. After all, if you took Einstein and inserted him into Newton's time, his ideas would have seemed utterly crazy too. Come to think of it, it's hard not to sound crazy when you're not just trying to communicate a new idea, but a completely novel framework for interpreting everything.  

What is this new framework? Apparently, it is this notion that things are not substances and not processes, but rather, substance-in-relation. In an essay called Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology, Ratzinger writes that 

In God, person means relation. Relation, being related, is not something superadded to the person, but it is the person itself. In its nature, the person exists only as relation. 

As it pertains to the First Person of the Trinity, "the act of generating the son" is again not something added on, rather,

the person is the deed of generating.... The person is identical with this act of self-donation.

Ultimately, the Persons 

are nothing but the act of relativity or relationality toward each other. In God, person is the pure relativity of being turned toward the other; it does not lie on the level of substance -- the substance is one -- but on the level of dialogical reality, of relationality toward the other.

Crazy? Or just novel? Here again "we encounter the Christian newness of the personalistic idea in all its sharpness and clarity." For

Relation is here recognized as a third specific fundamental category between substance and accident....

And mere craziness would be in the realm of accident or contingency, not what we mean by the principle of God as an open system of relationality between persons. For "a profound illumination of God as well as man occurs here, the decisive illumination of what person must mean": that neither God nor man is

a substance that closes itself in itself, but the phenomenon of complete relativity, which is, of course, realized in its entirety only in the one who is God, but which indicates the direction of all personal being (emphasis mine).

That direction is again toward self-transcendence (in and toward God), as we've been saying, for it is the message that is Jesus himself: 

He is like the one who sent him precisely because he stands in complete relativity of existence toward the one who sent him.... The content of Jesus' existence is "being from someone and toward someone," the absolute openness of existence without any reservation of what is merely and properly one's own.

Crazy? Yes and no: "In important respects, what was decisive for him was not so much the idea of an eternal rationality." Instead, 

what was decisive was much rather the relativity of existence that lies in the concept of the Logos

For again, the point is that a word is essentially from someone else and toward someone else; word is existence that is completely path and openness. 

Bottom line for today:

Christ's doctrine is he himself, and he himself is not his own, because his "I" exists entirely from the "you." 

Applied to the restavus,

Your "I" is on the one hand what is most your own and at the same time what you have least of yourself; it is most of all not your own, because it is only from the "you" that it can exist as an "I" in the first place (Ratzinger).

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Godsplaining the Cosmos

Continuing with the subject of the intrinsic self-transcendence of the person, Clarke writes of how "all existing beings tend to reach beyond themselves and to form larger unities." 

However, only personal being can do so consciously and freely, or with intelligence and will. It is in this latter sense that "we see clearly the full meaning of the whole restless movement of the cosmos," i.e., where it's been and where it's headed, Alpha and Omega.

Speaking of Whom, note that prior to any message from Jesus is the message of Jesus; Jesus himself is the message he brings, and for good reason, since the message is the person as such, and the entire person must be redeemed -- or in the words of Gregory Naziazen, What has not been assumed has not been healed. Therefore, it would appear that the Incarnation touches on the health of the entire cosmos.

Which is either the best or craziest idea ever. If it's the former, then,

as images of God, we too must imitate in our own way the ecstatic, outgoing self-sharing of God as Infinite Good. Personal development in a created person is to become more and more like God.

Okay. Like how?

What I am talking about is a radical decentering of consciousness from self to God.... We are drawn out of ourselves, called now to focus on the Great Center beyond us -- also within us, of course -- to take as our own center the One Center and Source of the whole universe...

In the bʘʘk I called it the Great Attractor, but the meaning is the same; likewise, I referred to the two potential centers (or centers of potential) in man as (•) and (¶); the former is oriented to the World, the latter to O, or Celestial Central. 

Between (¶) and O is the Cosmic Telovator, or the nonlocal "place" where self-transcendence occurs. But it's really just a space-age name for old Jacob's ladder.

I prefer telovator, because it is a more dynamic image than ladder. For this is the very dynamo behind the "ecstatic decentering movement" alluded to above:

It is the pull of the Infinite Good, drawing the whole person as finite spirit toward the total fulfillment it longs for, at first implicitly, finally more explicitly.... 

This is the deep finality built into the very nature of every finite being as spirit, endowed with intellect and will, which can be satisfied only by the total plenitude of being as true (intelligible), good, and beautiful.

In other words, O or bust! Nothing short of this union will suffice.  

Now, if persons are the telos of cosmic development, then the Trinity is the telos of the person, wherein its immanent dynamic is revealed to be a circular movement or procession 

from the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit, then back again through the Son to the Father, in an intense, timeless, always completed yet always going on, ecstasy of intercommunion. 

Sure would be nice to somehow be grafted onto this timeless intersubjectivity. I have an idea -- it's crazy but it just might work!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Because We Said So

Our friend Nicolás reminds us... of a lot of things, but in this case we're thinking of how our first and last Principle must rest on a final Because I said so, or in other words, on authority. However, much depends upon the reliability or prestige of the authority in question, and afterwards by the fruits of our faith in it: if we're wrong, reality will let us know.

Irrespective of how sublime or mundane your Principle of principles, it can never be proved absolutely, and therefore must be taken on faith. Both the world and God are always what they are, no matter what we say or believe they are, nor can we ever know a single thing with God's certitude. But if life weren't a Mystery, we'd be plunged into endless boredom:

Happily, the world is inexplicable. (What kind of world would it be if it could be explained by man?)

On the one hand, science can can tell us what is, but it can never tell us what isness is, nor what ought to be, not forgetting what we ought to do about it. For
Being only falsifiable, a scientific thesis is never certain but is merely current.

And ultimately,

Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything.

To be precise, it will have failed to explain what we most wish to explain, which is to say, the Explainer, AKA the person. Is there a merely rational way to do so? Yes and no: yes because there is no better explanation, no because no explanation is fully sufficient, unless you are very, very incurious:

The man does not escape from his prison of paradoxes except by means of a vertical act of faith.

And let's suppose that

Faith is not knowledge of the object. But communication with it.

Along these lines, Clarke writes of how the acceptance of an explicitly Christian philosophy can advance philosophy as such. 

Put conversely, left to its own devices, philosophy can by definition only advance so far and no farther, since -- among other limitations -- any form of rationalism will necessarily be enclosed in its own premises a la Gödel: garbage in, tenure out:

To say that something is “rational,” without indicating in relation to what postulate, is a meaningless statement.

Many if not most folks believe they're being rational when they're merely being absurcular, even putting a childishly absolute faith in their faithlessness. You know the type.

On the other hand, revelation can open up

a new possibility in the nature of being that we might never have thought of ourselves from our limited human experience, but which, once opened up, is so illuminating that it now shines on its own and as an insight into the nature of being and persons that makes many things suddenly fall into place whose depths we could not fathom before.

Let there be Light -- the blindingly obvious kind: 

[T]he doctrine of the Trinity is a uniquely powerful source of illumination in both the philosophy of being and the philosophy of the person.

Speaking as a psychologist, every metapsychology (i.e., the first principles of psychology) short of this either assumes the existence of the person or explains this existence away. But in reality, the reason why we are the way we are is precisely because the Supreme Reality is the way it is they are. Apologies if we threepeat ourselves, but what if our destiny -- or telos -- 

is to fulfill the image latent within us and to draw it out into manifest likeness.... This is the deep finality built into the very nature of every finite being as spirit, endowed with intellect and will.

Thus, human personhood involves an intrinsic element of self-transcendence, something Schuon often highlights, for example, 

The paradox of the human condition is that nothing could be more contrary to us than the requirement to transcend ourselves, and yet nothing could be more essentially ourselves than the core of this requirement or the fruit of this self-overcoming.

And obviously, no God = no transcendence. Or, to put it the other way around, the fact that we (AKA the spiritually living) are always transcending is sufficient proof of God.

We'll leave off with a blunt aphorism and continue this deuscussion in the next post:

Truth is a person.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Systemic Communion and Metastatic Groomers

Let's review: if the ultimate real is substance-in-relation, then it is a kind of literal communion, not reducible to anything less.

There is no viable substitute for communion; this is the law of being itself (Clarke). 

This applies quintessentially to the Godhead, which is the sufficient reason or Principle of the self-communication of everything down here, AKA their intelligibility-to-intelligence.

If there is to be effective self-communication of any being, there must be a corresponding receptivity for it somewhere in being, otherwise the process would be aborted from the start. In a word there can be no giving without receiving.

If communication and receptivity are both situated in divinas, then each is a positive perfection: yes, God listens to us, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

We discussed this not too long ago, but there's no harm in re-belaboring such an important point, especially since no one else on the entire internet, as far as I can tell, is saying it. 

Besides, we discussed it with reference to Hartshorne, who is more than a little nutty heteroclite in his theology, whereas Clarke is cosmically orthodox.  

Even the metaphysicians out there -- wherever you are -- tend to equate "receptivity with the deficiency side of being, i.e., with poverty, potentiality, a prior lack to be filled up."

So, we need to rejigger our notion of receptivity, freeing it of any such privative implications and insinuendos. Is this possible? Don't ask me. I'm in the middle of writing this post.

What could be the ontological value of receptivity?

I know: it is the condition without which love is impossible, and rumor has it that love is the perfection of perfections. 

Very good: it reminds me of the ontological category of mystery, which is not a void, absence, or mere ignorance, but rather, a positive presence. Likewise, God's receptivity cannot be understood as a mere absence or lack; rather, it must be an active-receptivity or receptive-activity, so to speak. 

We certainly see this trend in the rest of creation; we have only to follow it all the way up and see where it leads:

the higher up the scale of created reality one goes the more this passivity (in the sense of an active receptivity) increases, and the more it may be seen, in the case of human interpersonal encounter, as a perfection.

So, if God is perfect, then he must be the most receptive of all. 

Which suddenly reminds me of the virtue of gratitude, which is the key to happiness. Its contradiction is envy, which is the cause and consequence of the misery of the progressive left. It is also noteworthy that the animating emotion of the left is a related cosmic privation, hatred. 

Let's say you're Satan, and you want to teach people how to be miserable. How would you go about it? Easy: inculcate envy-ingratitude and hatred-resentment, and gravity takes care of the rest. 

Truly, envy is the Satanic communion, a twisted caricature of the real thing. It's a big reason the left can only destroy, never build. And it always needs fresh bodies -- or souls rather -- to feed its vampiric appetite.  

Metastatic groomers. 'Nuff said. For now. 

Back to Clarke:

to be gifted and to be grateful are in themselves not a sign of inferiority or deficiency at all, but a part of the splendor and wonder of being itself at its highest actualization, that is, being as communion.

I haven't decided whether the official Trinity is a mythopoetic way of talking about this Ultimate Principle or if it is the Ultimate Principle, full stop. But that's my problem. Either way, it is "revealed to us by the Source itself," whereby 

being as receptivity is present in the Son and the Spirit at its most intense, as a pure perfection of existence at its highest, and hence of absolutely equal ontological worth and value with being as self-communicative. 

Therefore, 

within the unity of the Supreme Being the Father is subsistent Self-Communication, while the Son is subsistent Receptivity....

Except that each Person is a fractal of the whole, so the Son gives back to the Father as much as he receives, and the Father receives in love-gratitude as much as he gives. It's a non-stop communion up there!

I guess that's enough for one post. I can never tell if I've gone too far or not far enough.