I believe more in God's smile than in His wrath. --Dávila
More than a few tenured apes deny the possibility of any top-down causation via the soul, first, because it doesn't exist, and second, because
any exercise of efficient causality on a material system requires a new input of energy into the system, and this would violate the sacrosanct physical principle of the conservation of matter-energy.... Hence no intrusion on the material system from an outside nonmaterial agent is possible (Clarke).
Well, they have a point, but only within the limited universe studied and disclosed by physical science. However, everyday science in principle either ignores or is totally ignorant of the Total Universe in which our universe is embedded, and of which it is an expression (or creation).
Total Universe? What's that supposed to mean? We'll get to that in a moment, but first let's knock down the strawmanure argument from the conservation of matter & energy. In the words of Clarke,
What is needed for the soul to influence the brain and body is not more material energy; it is only a change in the information pattern governing the flow of energy in the brain...
And while information may require a material carrier, it
is not itself spatially extended material stuff, but of the order of form, and the transformation of form and information is precisely what the mind is equipped to do.
So, we're not talking about efficient cause from without, rather, formal (and final) cause from within. Therefore, in addition to just not liking the idea of the soul, they -- whoever they are -- reject two out of four types of causation.
Yes, you are always free (really!) to limit yourself to material and efficient causation, but bear in mind (really!) that doing so makes it literally impossible to explain how you are able to understand the truth (really!) of material and efficient causes. Suffice it to say that the truth of matter is not a material object, but is in the object -- and in our minds in a different mode, i.e., as immaterial form, AKA knowledge.
As it so happens, right now my intellect is using my material body to type these immaterial thoughts, as your senses are translating the material patterns on your computer screen into immaterial ideas. It's astonishing to me that there are people who prefer to hold a metaphysic that renders this miracle inexplicable and impossible. Why?
We'll get to that discussion as well, but it will have to get in line behind the Total Universe alluded to above. Think about it: any discussion of the Total Universe must account for the intellect contemplating the Total Universe, so that much is obvious.
As usual, let's first begin with a few aphorisms, since these are a good warmup for the nonlocal muscles of the soul.
Appearance is not the veil, but the vehicle, of reality.
That is to say,
Scraping the painting, we do not find the meaning of the picture, only a blank and mute canvas. Equally, it is not in scratching about in nature that we will find its sense.
The meanings are the reality; their material vehicles are the appearance.
The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality.
Perhaps you respond: Like anyone could even know that!
Okay, let's humor the worldlings and pretend this isn't necessarily true, only possibly true: or that there's a 50-50 chance the universe is totally random and contingent.
Well, it is written into the bylaws of the Benevolent Order of Transdimenional Raccoons that, all else being equal, we will always choose the cosmic vision that is more fun. And Metacosmic Meaning is more fun than infracosmic meaninglessness.
Back to the Total Universe: Schuon has some helpful -- and fun -- observations to share on the subject:
Modern science, which is rationalist as to its subject and materialist as to its object, can describe our situation physically and approximately, but it can tell us nothing about our extra-spatial situation in the total and real Universe.
Sounds like a Gödelian challenge has been issued. What is our actual situation? Astronomers, for example, can pinpoint exactly where we are in space, but where is this in relation to the vertical space of the total Universe? For example, if I'm sitting here with a rock in my lap, am I and the rock in the same "place"?
Yes and no. For we are in the same place physically, but certainly not metaphysically. Yes, I am here, but if I were only here, then we couldn't be having this conversation. Rather, it would be as if my rock were here and your rock there, with no possible communion between rockheads.
Where and how is this contact taking place? Here's a clue:
Everything has a center; therefore the totality of things -- the world -- also has a center. We are at the periphery of "something absolute," and that "something" cannot be less powerful, less conscious, less intelligent than ourselves (Schuon).
Sounds fun. But we want proof.
[W]hat proves the Absolute extrinsically? In the first place the relative, since it is meaningless without the absoluteness it restricts, and in the second place the "relatively absolute," that is, the reflection of the Absolute in the relative (ibid.).
I was discussing this subject just yesterday with the Gagboy, in the context of how we are able to discern beauty in an objective sense. We are able to do so because, although we dwell in a Shadowland of fissures and fluctuations, so things aren't always completely clear, we can nevertheless affirm, for example, that the music of, say, Duke Ellington, is objectively superior to that of Miley Cyrus. How do we know this, and why isn't it just your opinion, man?
Because beauty, like truth, is an adequation. More generally -- whether we're talking about the true, the good, or the beautiful --
Certitude exists in fact, or else the world would not exist; there is therefore no reason to deny it on the plane of pure intellection and of the universal.
The universe certainly exists, and in it we discern a circular flow from its nonlocal Source to us and back -- like a fountain, as it were.
Thus, there are descending and ascending energies, although not reducible to the mere efficient energy of physics. First there is a descent "from the Principle to the manifestation," followed (ontologically, not temporally) by the movement "from manifestation to the Principle."
And here's the important point:
there is unity "from the point of view" of the Principle and diversity or separativity from the point of view of creatures inasmuch as they are only themselves.
Thus, you and I, for example, are as separate as two rocks but as unified as one intellect, insofar as we are unified in the Universal Intellect -- the very source, ground, and principle of unity as such.
Or not. But it's fun to think so.
In the core of the Trinity the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us. --Meister Eckhart