Friday, June 03, 2022

The Truth About Double Truth

The theory of "double truth," according to Prof. Wiki, is 

the view that religion and philosophy, as separate sources of knowledge, might arrive at contradictory truths without detriment to either.

This has always been rejected by the Church, and Thomas Aquinas in particular built a pretty nice career out of the contrary idea that truth is one, irrespective of our opinions about it.  

Now -- spoiler alert -- not only is truth one, but every thinking person understands this, whether explicitly or, more often, implicitly. 

For the act of thinking presupposes the unity of reality, of intelligence and intelligibility. After all, if reality isn't intelligible to intelligence, then we're done here: truth is reduced to opinion, and man can only forever marinate in his own stupidity, like an endless loop of CNN. 

Our friend Nicolas observes that

Truths are not relative. What is relative are opinions about the truth.

Come to think of it, the act of thinking presupposes a number of things, and let us count the ways. 

Better yet, let's consider science, since it is believed by many to be synonymous with reason itself, and very much opposed to any so-called "truth" of religion. Indeed, scientism is the doctrine of Single Truth, period. All truth is scientific truth. And that's the truth!

Yes, it's too easy to point out that this epistemological assertion isn't subject to scientific proof, but we'll let that pass for the moment. Suffice it to say that science cannot prove that science is the only path to truth, any more than the Bible proves the Bible is infallibly true because it is infallible. 

Let's say we want to do us some science. What are the conditions that must be present in order for science to be possible? First of all, there must be an order in things, an order we do not invent but discover. On the one hand, these things are external to us, and yet, we are able to decode a hidden order via our own interiority. 

As mentioned a few posts back, the word "intellect" means read withinand this is indeed what the scientist does when, for example, he discovers the invisible laws that govern the material world. The weirdness of this ability is insufficiently appreciated, but certainly no mere animal can access this immaterial world of laws, causes, and principles. Only an immaterial being could do this.

What kind of immaterial being? A person

Now, we just finished a series of posts exploring the idea that person is the ultimate principle of the cosmos. I probably didn't convince anyone who doesn't already believe it, and besides, the deluded are prolix, so I probably should have just rested on the authority of the Aphorist:

Truth is a person.
However, terse as he is, he makes some other key points about truth, for example, 

In order for a multitude of diverse terms to coexist, it is necessary to place them on different levels. A hierarchical ordering is the only one that neither expels nor suppresses them.

This is helpful, because it allows us to see that what may look like a double truth is merely a result of putting these truths out of order, such that the lower truth may eclipse the higher. For example, the truth of scientism results in a total eclipse of God. But does the truth of God eclipse science? Not even remotely. 

Rather, the truth of science is a direct consequence of the truth of God, which is to say, Truth. For Aquinas, 

The intellectual light dwelling in us is nothing else than a kind of participated image of the uncreated light...

Which means that there is and must be something in humans that, despite the fact that we are created, nevertheless participates in the uncreated; although we are obviously contingent -- we exist, but our existence is unnecessary -- even in knowing this, we know a necessary truth; and as Aquinas says, "Everything eternal is necessary." 

Therefore, if I'm following my argument, I just now participated in eternity, because the converse must be equally true -- that everything necessary is eternal.

Which is precisely what Eckhart says about the intellect, and so too does Schuon -- that at least some part of it must not only be uncreated but uncreatable, to the extent that it knows the necessary:

geometrically speaking, the Intellect is a ray rather than a circle, it “emanates” from God rather than “reflecting” Him. 

Or only reflecting him. More specifically, we may distinguish  

a "created Intellect" and an "uncreated Intellect," the latter being the divine Light and the former the reflection of this Light at the center of Existence; "essentially," they are One, but "existentially," they are distinct.

And now that I'm thinking about it, it seems to me that the unfortunate events of Genesis 3 must involve a serious rupture in this prior unity, while the Incarnation must entail its reunification and healing via the metacosmic Person -- and our participation in Him.

So, I woke up two hours early this morning and decided to stay up. Big. Mistake. Without the usual nine hour coma, I'm feeling pretty fuzzy, so I never did get to the main event. To be continued... 

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Losing & Finding, Dying & Living

We're nearing the end of Person and Being, which, as I mentioned at the outset, is one of my favorite little books. Indeed, I wish all books were simultaneously this compact and substantive. The world would be a much better and more coherent place without so much writing. 

Fake News is only a symptom of a much deeper pneumopathology. Toss higher indoctrination into the mix, and we have millions of credentialed retards who think their low-watt words matter to anyone outside their immediate family. 

If you really have something important to say, it shouldn't take that long to say it. So, what's the motivation? I suppose the same instinct that moves dogs to pee on fire hydrants, only worse, since animals have no free will; linguistic narcissism is a choice.

For it is written -- and even then just barely --

Writing is many times unavoidable; publishing is almost always indecent.

Wordiness is not an excess of words, but a dearth of ideas.

The deluded are prolix.

The fewer adjectives we waste, the more difficult it is to lie.

Clarity eliminates rhetoric.

Write concisely, so as to finish before making the reader sick. 
Simple talent is to literature what good intentions are to conduct. 

Matter of fact, in the very next section Clarke describes what can go wrong if our movement toward self-transcendence is stymied or derailed: such individuals stagnate while wondering 

what is wrong with them now that the old ways of self-fulfillment no longer seem to work as effectively as before; they become restless, wander on the horizontal level looking for new challenges, new stimuli that will fill the mysterious void they feel developing, but avoiding the shift to a new self-transcending level of consciousness....

"Others more or less consciously and deliberately cling tenaciously to their self-centered ego," and thus

positively block the flow of the Transcendent Center in them and through them, with the final consequence of stagnation or perhaps even disintegration...

Schuon describes in similar terms how our subjectivity may become hardened and frozen -- as if under a thick sheet of ice -- or dispersed and dissipated in outwardness. 

But in reality, we are endowed with

a radical innate drive toward the whole of being, the unlimited horizon of being as intelligible. 

Therefore, 

since the Source and fullness of all being is Infinite Being, there is in every spiritual intellect a natural drive to know God as Source, fullness of being, and final goal of knowing... a natural drive in us as images of God to transcend our own limited point of view...

Let's stipulate that this drive is either present in us or it's not; and that it either has a proper telos or it is utterly inexplicable and devoid of meaning. 

I'm just now reading another book called A Catholic Scientist Harmonizes Science and Faith, and the author makes the same point:

Our universal drive for self-transcendence does not seem to come from our genes.... As St. Bonaventure put it, "We cannot rise above ourselves unless a higher power lifts us up."

To say that we are images of God is to acknowledge a key principle, for it explains how it is possible to "de-center and transcend our finite selves," and thus "take on the Infinite Center, the authentic Center of all being, as our own center and perspective." Only in so doing are we able to fulfill "the potentialities of personal being as such."

This is at once "a losing or letting go of oneself that is simultaneously and by that very fact a new finding of oneself at a deeper level."

Only by reaching beyond the human can we succeed in becoming fully human. To refuse to do so condemns us to fall short of the human itself. To be a human person fully means to self-transcend toward the Infinite. 

Like Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it or something. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

Volunteers Needed for Cosmic Mission

With everything we've said about persons + cosmos over the past couple of weeks, where does it leave us? It leaves us with -- or in -- 
a great double "movement" in the universe of actual being from the Source outward toward creation and from creation back towards its Source (Clarke).

So, a circle or spiral, and not just a moving line or static point? Precisely:

St. Thomas calls this the great circle of being, the exodus of the Many to the One. Being is always intrinsically "on the move," it seems, both within and without God.  

Sounds about right to me: movin' on up to Celestial Central. Or not, for we are always free, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it: O or Ø. 

To turn from the latter to the former is metanoia, our ontological reset, or reOrientation: 

Once our turning toward the Source, the Great Center, has become fully conscious and freely chosen, so that we take it explicitly now as the Center of our own lives in vertical self-transcendence..., then at this point the natural process of self-development of the person undergoes a kind of reversal.

If you're looking for the reset button, it's between and slightly above your eyes; or possibly to the right of the heart in older models. Either way,

as we move more and more into the phase of vertical self-transcendence, putting off our self-centered consciousness to open up to the Great Center and its transforming power, then a profound reversal in the movement of self-development takes place.

Any evolution requires an open system and a form of exchange, whether of matter, energy, or information. This one conveniently involves all three, in the form of various graces, charisms, and sacraments. This power, in whatever form, "now flows primarily from above downwards, transforming us from above."

Nor are we alone in our weirdness, for something similar is "taught in all the great spiritual traditions," boy and how. In the Book of the Same Name I just called it () and (↓), but these are abstractions that require concrete practice in order to "activate," so to speak -- otherwise they're like math with no matter, or essence with no form. God does 90% of the work if we only meet him halfway.

I guess what I'm saying is that this is always happening anyway, so we might as well be aware of, and participate in, it. Grace falls like rain, and we are free to ignore or be conscious of it:

many [people] slip quietly into it, I suspect, than are self-consciously aware of it. It is a phase in the journey toward full self-development as a person that usually emerges somewhere toward mid-life...

Although sometimes before mid-life if you happen to be extra-weird. It takes all kinds to make a world, and there are apparently "born pneumatics" who, in the words of Schuon, are "born with a state of knowledge which, for other people, would actually be the goal, and not the point of departure." 

This is no different from the person who comes into the world with a gift for sports or music or language or math. Everybody's good at something, although it is important to place it in a trinitarian context, otherwise we may easily become the dupes of our own gift. That way lies cosmic narcissism instead of vertical openness to the grace, i.e., the source of the gift.

Apparently, we have to give it away like a hot potato, or so my sources are telling me: once our 

sense of self and what we can do is securely established, somewhere around the mid-point of our life's journey, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, a kind of call comes to us from our depths -- or beyond -- sometimes clear, more often obscure.

Supposing we take the call,

We come to realize that our self-development cannot go on to full term if we continue living the same way. To move on further some radical shift of focus must take place.

This is none other than

the call to radical self-transcendence, to let go of our own selves as center of interest and take on the Great Center as our own new center of consciousness and open ourselves to let its life flow through us and express itself more fully in our lives.

In so doing, the vertical becomes horizontal, or incarnates in our lives, so to speak:

And now our self-communication to others becomes, mysteriously, more and more of a God-communication through us. 

Look, someone's gotta do it. Why not you?