Saturday, December 30, 2023

Temporal Holofractality

Seems like every once in awhile we delve into the subject of Time. I don't know if we make any progress when we do, since I don't exactly remember what was said before. It's hard not to speculate, since it's such a slippery concept, much like its slithery cousin, consciousness. 

In fact, Augustine speculated that it is  

only within our own minds that we perceive the presence of time. Rather than being an external, observable phenomenon, time exists within our own consciousness.... Our consciousness is a powerful tool because it is able to differentiate between what has happened, is happening and will happen.... 
Augustine writes: “If nothing passes away, there is no past time, and if nothing arrives, there is no future time, and if nothing existed there would be no present time.” Time moves constantly from past to future, and we know this because of the physical changes we constantly observe (Ashcroft).

Well, thanks! I guess. 

But can't we do better than this? We have a word for the "future," but what exactly is it, and how? Likewise the past. And let's not even talk about the present, because how long is that without being the past or future? By time you even say "time," it's already past: "an interval with no duration" (Augustine). So, does this mean life itself is an interval with no duration between two slabs of eternity? 

Aristotle once referred to the present as “a knife edge without thickness" whose only function is to connect past and future. This inability to be able to point at a moment in time and say that this "now" is the present: this is an irresolvable problem for the human mind (Ashcroft).

Oh? Turns out a unit of time is exactly 10−43 seconds (AKA Planck time). However long your "moment of time," it is constituted of these temporal bits, much like how a CD or your TV screen only sound and look continuous.

Well, thanks! I guess.

Hold it a darn second -- or 10−43 seconds -- because in the case of those technologies, the bits are organized from the top down, not the bottom up. In other words, the point (or meaning) is the song or the movie, both of which are composed of smaller units, and you can't hear the song by examining one of the digital bits. 

That is to say, the meaning is anterior to the organization, and what is the relationship between what we call meaning and the units of which it is composed? A voice in my head is telling me that semantics cannot be reduced to syntax. 

Now I don't pay attention to every voice in my head, but when it's Robert Rosen on the line, I take the call. But he won't mind my putting him on hold for a moment, since he no longer exists in time anyway.

Back to the CD analogy: it is limited, since you can't hear the whole song by listening to one of the digital bits, but you can the hear the whole composition of the human body by listening to a unit of DNA, so to speak. 

In other words, here the part indeed contains information about the whole, and in what kind of universe is this even possible? In other words, it seems that the existence of DNA presumes a cosmos with part-whole relations. 

But again, does this holofractal property extend to time? 

Well, just off the top of my head it seems to, because many developmental processes are encoded into DNA, thus requiring time in order to explicate themselves, and what's up with that? 

This discussion is starting to careen above my paygrade or at least outside my lane, so we better consult an expert. 

Bob, what is your lane anyway? I don't see a lane, rather, a lot of off-road -- let's be polite and call it temporizing. But it still sounds like bullshit to me.   

Maybe. Augustine's road ultimately led to nowhere but paradox -- the bizarre kind: he emphasized

how difficult it is for humans to explain out loud what time really is. And in general Augustine is happy to leave things that way. He never puts forward a definitive definition of time, preferring to highlight the many issues that arise from our consciousness of time.  
In the end, Augustine doesn’t provide us with a good answer as to what time really "is." Instead he highlights the bizarre nature of time, which doesn’t seem to exist at all, and yet is nonetheless still deeply significant to human beings (Ashcroft).

Well, thanks! I guess. Then again, he does allude to the Whole, which is to say, 

God’s eternity, in which “nothing is transient, but the whole is present.” In eternity, there is no such thing as transition from past to present to future. Eternity is simply one whole present moment (ibid.).

Good for God. But I say we can do better. Let's ask another expert:

Time is but a spiroidal movement around a motionless Center (Schuon).

He sounds pretty sure of himself, and he's not wrong, but....

The moving image of eternity. 

Yes, Petey, that's another way of putting it. But what we're asking is whether, or to what extent, everything is somehow present in anything. A voice in my head says YES, but some details would be nice. Let's begin with a passage from an obscure book by an obscure philosopher, Atheism and Theism:

the totality, as a developed outcome of the process, reveals itself equally as the beginning and source of everything that was involved in the process of its own development. That process can occur only if the totality is already in some sense actual, and the whole can be actualized only in and through the process. 
Thus we speak of a whole which is at once eternally realized and continually realizing itself by means of a process throughout which it is immanent (Harris, emphasis mine).

Yes, we are off-road, but I do believe we're getting somewhere -- a bit closer to the damn key to the world enigma.

Semantics is prior to syntax!

I haven't forgotten about you, Professor Rosen, we just ran out of time. Please call back tomorrow morning and we'll talk about it. Wait, now Polanyi is on the line, and I can't take two calls at the same time...

Friday, December 29, 2023

The Still Point of the Dancing Post

Yesterday we spoke of part/whole relations, and I've sometimes wondered -- for example, in the book of the same name -- if this principle applies to time as well as space. If so, then a ptee part of time would do duty for the holos of eternity. 

Or in plain English, every moment would be a reflection of all moments -- like an allforabit in the grammar of eternity.

You know how I hate to speculate, but out of nowhere yesterday's book touched on this possibility, in response to another fellow who argues that Aquinas' hermeneutic of the Old Testament is anti- or ahistorical, in other words, nonlinear and overly symbolic. 

Aquinas argues that God (from eternity, his eternal "present") creates because he has an end in view, [and] since God is God, moreover, we can assume that God's plan is efficacious... 

In the long run anyway, even if we can't see how at any given moment.  

In other words, if God is God, why can't he write with history the same way we write with language? Or why can't time be the language of eternity?

Thus, we can expect -- and we certainly cannot rule out -- that history has a unified meaning. Moreover, if God reveals that Christ is the key to history, then we can expect to find implicit references to Christ throughout history...

And not just vis-a-vis Israel, although that is where eternity would be most dense with references in time, or where Heaven has touched the earth, so to speak. 

(Not to jump down a different rabbit hole, but this book on How the World Religions Prepared the Way for the Phenomenon of Jesus highlights some of the references scattered all over the temporal and geographical place.)

Regarding the holofractal temporal resonance, Aquinas argued that

The author of sacred scripture is God, in whose power it is to signify his meaning, not by words only (as man can also do), but also by things themselves. 

This isn't so strange when you think of how man actually does the same in his creations, e.g., in novels and films. As Levering says, "It may well be of the very nature of history, in short, that 'the part illumines the whole.'" But that's all he says, leaving it to me to work out the details.

I didn't prepare anything, so you've put me on the spot, not unlike Augustine, come to think of it, who said (to paraphrase) that he knows all about time. Unless you ask him.

While I gather my few thoughts, let's ask the Aphorist if he has any.

Every beginning is an image of the Beginning; every end is an image of the End.

Very goodNicolás, because that indeed implies that all times are copresent, and besides, the Poet speaks of time future contained in time past, and of all time eternally present:

What might have been and what has been / Point to one end, which is always present. 

Hey, this guy's pretty good. It's not just poetry but gnoetry: A moment in time but time was made through that moment; and that moment of time gave the meaning

At the still point of the turning world.... there the dance is, / But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, / Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor / towards, / Neither ascent nor decline. / Except for the point, the still point, / There would be no dance, and there is only dance.

You get the point. In my beginning is my end, and that's all there is to it:

Or say that the end precedes the beginning, / And the end and beginning were always there / Before the beginning and after the end. Words strain, / Crack and sometimes break, under the burden.

And now you know why the book of the same bame has those two sections -- Before the Beginning and After the End -- and why the language is so cracked and broken. The words slip, slide, perish / Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, / Will not stay still. Shrieking voices...

Well, no shrieking really. Nevertheless, I only steal from the best, except I call it borrowing. Nicolás, may we borrow another aphorism? 

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

And now for something completely different, or at least a different angle, which is to say, the Koon Kult Klassic The Symmetry of God:

If it is to express the infinite and the eternal, theology cannot do without paradox, symbolism and myth.

And lots of cracked and broken gnoetry. Here's some from Thomas Traherne, recalling a childhood experience, when

all things abided Eternally as they were in their Proper Places. Eternity was Manifest in the Light of the Day, and som thing infinit Behind evry thing appeared... 

Time stood still between Everlasting and Everlasting, and yet there's the Dance referenced above, in "an instant that abides" (Aquinas).

Now, how can the instant express the eternal? Better yet, how can it not?

In order to speak of the eternal, it is sufficient to speak with talent of the things of the day.  

Or even of the moment: "For such a thing is instantaneously whole and unchanging -- it has no time in which to change" (Bomford).  

Stork raving infanity!

Likewise eternity is expressed in the very new, the new-born, in that which happens for the first time. 

Remama? Toddling loose & lazy beneath a diamond sky, too old, older than Abraham, too young, young as a babe's I AM?

The uniting of the old and new, or first and last, emphasizes this quality. The enthroned Christ of the book of Revelation announces himself as The First and Last and the Lord God himself is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

The end. Except to add that St. Augustine addressed God as Thou beauty, both so ancient and so new. We will continue this investigation of temporal holofractality in the next post.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

The Part Abides in the Whole

As we know, there is nothing in science per se -- nor will there ever be -- proving the existence of a closed cosmos. At best, this is but a methodological assumption, but if it's an ontological truth, it can't be, because it could only be known from a transcendent standpoint. 

In short, to place an ultimate limit is to have transcended it,

for how could the intelligence limit itself, seeing that by its very nature it is in principle unlimited or else it is nothing (Schuon)?

In other words, 

science must transcend itself to remain science. It stands as evidence that something beyond its own limits is inherent in the very consciousness that makes it possible (Harris). 

Atheism is always based upon appearances -- appearances that are of a reality we could never know in the absence of God. Ultimately, "finite nature transcends itself in man," just as "science transcends itself in philosophy." Thus, "Man's self-transcendent awareness is the image of God immanent in this thinking" (ibid.). 

I guess we could say that the Unlimited has sprouted here within the Limited, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it except enjoy the show.

Any true statement we make is sponsored by the Absolute, otherwise there would be no such things as objectivity and certitude. A principle of wholeness is built into the very nature of things, such that knowledge of parts not only gives knowledge of the whole, but is predicated on it. 

Not to go all Deepak on you, but this is a holographic or fractal universe, otherwise we would have no basis for knowing it is a universe, i.e., an ordered totality.  

Which reminds me of Finnegans Wake, of all things, for When a part so ptee does duty for the holos, we soon grow to use of an allforabit -- man himself being this petit part, and science and philosophy being the allforabit with which we speak of the whole. 

This is even a key passage to approaching the text, and Joyce says so right afterwords: Here (please to stoop) and pay attention to that last gag. 

Besides, Somedivide and sumthelot but the tally turns round the same balifusion. This may sound bally, but our analytical division implies the prior fusion of the whole, and that's all there is to it. 

With this in mind, let us switch seers back to Augustine. I think we can stipulate that he was a part of the universe, but a "guiding principle" of his philosophy was a gnostalgia for the Whole,

a longing that is a longing to return, to return to the One who made it, a longing that is experienced as restlessness, inability to settle and rest anywhere, a pressing sense that in all created things there lies something beyond, something that calls us to God (Louth).  

This longing is already "the movement of the Holy Spirit Himself in our hearts," which is to say, (↑) is already (↓), these two constituting a kind of eternal spiral. 

Suffice it to say, they are not two -- any more than transcendence and immanence can ever be radically divided from one another, for they are distinct but not separate.

In a famous passage Augustine describes rising all the way up to the toppamost of the poppamost and thensome: "And higher still we soared," until "we came to our own souls, and went beyond them to come at last to that region of richness unending," to "the Wisdom by which all things are made" and beyond, to "Wisdom itself not made," for "it is as it has ever been, and so it shall be forever."

Waaaay up there, where "it simply is, for it is eternal." Where God abides -- "abides in Himself forever, yet grows not old and makes all things new!"

Whew! Or is that too woowoo? For this appears to be nothing less than "a foretaste of the joys of heaven" (Louth), or at least Augustine thought so:

Sometimes You admit me to a state of mind that I am not ordinarily in, a kind of delight which could it ever be made permanent in me would be hard to distinguish from the life to come.

This state can't be continuous herebelow, because someone has to grow the food and take out the trash. 

Nevertheless, shoosh. I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' that Augustine's up there abidin' and takin' her easy for the restavus.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Openness to Openness

They say -- Chesterton did, anyway -- that the point of having an open mind is to eventually close it:

Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

Then again, perhaps the point is to never shut it, at least on the meta-level that is the very ground and possibility of our openness.

What I mean is that God himselves turns out to be an eternally open system. In the Trinity, the Second Person is 110% open to the First (and vice versa), and both are equally open to the Third, in one vast and merry goround of being. 

I AM is a function of WE ARE. Or rather, they eternally coarise, as there has never been One without the Others. In the grammar of being, God's pronouns are I and WE.  

That's the claim, anyway. But supposing we are in the image and likeness of this reality, then that's an important data point, without which we remain a mystery to ourselves, and not the good kind. An enigma, rather. A conundrum. 

Without a meaningful anthropology, ontology and epistemology go out the window too. For on what basis can man claim to know reality? Again, how is it that we are open to being? No other animal is remotely built this way. Rather, they are open to a thin slice of being dictated by instinct:

The animal cannot leave his state, whereas man can; strictly speaking, only he who is fully man can leave the closed system of the individuality, through participation in the one and universal Selfhood (Schuon, emphasis mine). 

Man is "the vertical axis where life opens onto the spirit and where it becomes spirit," and his very form is "an 'axial' and 'ascendant' perfection" (ibid.).

Gosh. If only we could interview the first man.... Wait -- breaking news from our reporter on the scene: 

Primordial man knew by himself that God is; fallen man does not know it; he must learn it. Primordial man was always aware of God; fallen man, while having learned that God is, must force himself to be aware of it always. Primordial man loved God more than the world; fallen man loves the world more than God (Schuon).

So, primordial man was spontaneously open to the transcendent, whereas fallen man is thereby enclosed? The very word "fall" implies verticality, and it seems that the lower we fall, the more we are enclosed in darkness, or rather, darkness is the "form" of closure. Analogously, think of a thick fog; it doesn't actually enclose us, but it sure looks that way unless we somehow rise above it.

For Voegelin, this existential closure is "the mode of existence in which there are internal impediments to a free flow of truth into consciousness and to the pull of the transcendental," in contrast to the open existence "in which consciousness is consistently and unreservedly oriented to truth and toward the transcendental pole of the tension of existence."

Best we can do? Yes, short of the transcendental pole becoming immanent, and I wonder what Voegelin says about that? The Incarnation is, among other things, "the symbolization of a divine movement that went through the person of Jesus into society and history." To which I would add, a realsymbol:  

Rahner’s notion of Jesus as God’s “realsymbol” proposed [an] analogy for conceiving how Jesus’ very humanity could be God’s self-expression in history and how the Church and sacraments could mediate that event to subsequent generations.

 A reminder that

Metaphor supposes a universe in which each object mysteriously contains the others.

And come to think of it, 

Any shared experience ends in a simulacrum of religion.

Which means that, thanks to the Incarnation, we can (re)experience the We of God and man. "With the appearance of Jesus, God himself entered into the eternal present of history" (Voegelin). Our We with Jesus is his We with the Father, or what's the point? For if God and man are united in Jesus, and we are united with Him, it seems a simple matter of logic (or the logic of metacosmic grammar, precisely):

The mystery of divine-human participation is realized in different degrees by different people depending on the divine drawing and on the willingness of the individual to dwell in the truth of existence rather than an illusory Second Reality (ibid.). 

As Webb writes, 

It is a matter, in other words, of openness of existence as compared with existential closure... [I]n Jesus there was perfect existential openness and a fullness of divine-human participation that was unique among men.

Thus, "history is Christ written large," and "individuals participate to varying degrees in the perfect humanity that is fully realized in Jesus, and they do so to the extent that through the drawing of divine grace they become like him."

Reality, verticality, openness, participation; or O, (⇅), (o), and ʘ, I suppose, speaking of realsymbols.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Is There Such a Thing as Non-Christian Philosophy?

"No," writes Pieper in response to his own question, "there is no non-Christian philosophy."

So that settles it. You've been a great audience, and drive home safely.

But how can this be, for as we know,

philosophizing means [or used to, anyway] asking what is the meaning of all that we call "life" or "reality" or simply this "totality." 

Now, if someone already has an answer to this question about meaning, if one "believes," if one is Christian: how can he still use his reason in the very radical way mentioned? How could he still be able to philosophize?


He's got a point: when someone knows the answers prior to the questions, that's what we call ideology (or even ideolatry), not philosophy. Looked at this way, Christianity is not even a philosophy. 

Nevertheless, Pieper persists in his absurd claim, and now I'm curious.

Is our argument with progressives just an intrafamilal squabble between different sects of Christianity?

Well, if, for example, "trans rights are human rights," what are the latter, and where do they come from? It so happens that the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain played a central role in the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and "his defense of natural rights"

influenced several of the members of the Drafting Committee of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, not only were some of Maritain’s key writings read in advance by the Drafting Committee, but one of its key members, Charles Malik, followed Maritain’s political thought closely in several respects. It is not surprising, then, that the Declaration has close parallels with the rights enumerated [by Maritain].

Now, I detest the U.N. as much as the next guy, but not because it's too Christian. 

At any rate, "trans rights" cannot be natural rights, for what could be more unnatural? Of course, members of the the Alphabet Brigade still have the same natural rights as the restavus, but it makes no sense to use Christianity to abolish Christianity.

Or does it? For if I were Satan, that is precisely what I'd do. Recall Landes' definition of the demopath: "enemies of human rights invoking them in order to destroy them." Not to mention "dupes of demopaths," i.e., "people with no ear for hypocrisy who accept demopathic argument as sincere."

Dupes, like the NY Times, and sincere, like the Mayor of Gaza City:

Why can’t Palestinians be treated equally, like Israelis and all other peoples in the world? Why can’t we live in peace and have open borders and free trade?

Gosh. We may never know the answer!

Along these lyin's, Landes' glossary of terms has another good one he calls the Human Rights Complex, which ignores "victimizers of color" and obsesses "about 'white' ones." Moreover, there is Humanitarian Racism, which makes "no moral demands of those designated as 'victims,'" and Underdogma, the "dogmatic assertion of humanitarian racism."

As we said before, to call our terror-supporting progressives "anti-Semitic" is giving them far too much credit. Rather, they have simply assimilated a vile and stupid ideology that transforms Jews into White Victimizers as surely as 2+2 = 4. 

Their hatred of the Zionist Entity is perfectly rational once one accepts the insane premises of the PoMo-PoCo (postmodern and postcolonial) cult. These zombified progbots suffer from "Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome," the belief that "everything is our fault" (ibid.).

Any ideology is a closed system. Which is what distinguishes it from philosophy per se, which is open to everything. Now, this everything must include the most consequential phenomenon of all, which is to say, the human subject (or even just subjectivity as such); nor will it exclude God on an a priori basis, because this is just a tautology: there is no God because there is no God:

The first element of the Greek concept "philosophy" has, in principle, a simple relationship to theology -- an openness, in principle, to theology (Pieper).

I want to say that to have an "open mind" is already prima facie evidence of God. For if we accept the evidence of natural selection -- which we do -- then you will agree that it is impossible for it to account for human traits such as our openness to transcendence, free will, objectivity, conformity to reality, sensitivity to beauty (itself an adequation to the Real), boundless creativity, etc.

Or just say human nature. And to say human -- to say it and mean it -- is to say God. We won't go so far as to say that God-human is a complementarity. Then again, we will say that the First and Second Persons of the Trinity are eternal complements, and that if we accept the Incarnation in principle, then we are given the opportunity to be participants in this nonlocal goround of reality. 

Seems like a good place to pause, because at this point my stream of thought iterates into various creeks, babbling brooks, & windy riverruns that deserve posts of their own, so to be continued...

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Jesosophy and Homerology

Didn't plan to post today, and still don't, but God laughed and pointed me to a book called The Philosophy of Jesus, by Peter Kreeft. I was moving some books around when it caught my eye. I recall having read it but don't remember anything about it. A search of the blog reveals a brief mention a few years ago. 

We've already stipulated that Jesus cannot be reduced to the category of "philosopher," but nor is he not one, since he must be the ground and possibility of philosophy as such, AKA the Logos incarnate.

Does this mean we're really engaged in logology or something? No, because it seems that word is taken: "Logology is the study of all things related to science and its practitioners."

Okay, how about... philology, love of the logos? No, that was Tolkien's day job, i.e., "the study of language in oral and written historical sources." 

There's Christology, but that's the study of Christ per se, not the content of his philosophy.

All the good names are already taken -- sophiology, theosophy, logosophy... Jesosophy? That's the ticket -- even google's never heard of it.

What we are about to discuss reminds me of the book The Beginning of Wisdom, by Leon Kass. It proceeds through the philosophy of Genesis line by line, treating it like any other classic philosophical text. e.g., Plato, Aristotle, or Marcus Aurelius. For example, Genesis conveys

an "anthropology," an account of the human being, embedded in its account of the good life. The Bible belonged in a conversation with those philosophical texts, where, I began to suspect, it could more than hold its own. 

Kass and his students approached Genesis philosophically, "solely for meaning and understanding, in search of wisdom." 

And guess what: Jesus wasn't only thoroughly familiar with the Old Testament, it may be the only book he ever saw. 

Right now I'm looking at the gospel of Matthew, and the second statement recorded by Jesus is "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," which means that he had Deuteronomy 8:3 right in his hip pocket. (His first statement in Luke is a slight variant of this.) 

Now I'm looking at John, where the first statement is a question: "What do you seek?," to which they respond by calling him Rabbi, which is to say, teacher. 

And here we are: teach us.

For Kreeft, the purpose of his book is, among other things, to show both Christians and non-Christians "a new dimension of philosophy, a new philosophy, and a new philosopher." It doesn't aim at conversion, rather, treating Jesus just as he would any other philosopher. 

In a trivial sense, "Everyone has some 'philosophy of life.' Even Homer Simpson is a philosopher." Especially Homer Simpson:

Jesus was a philosopher in the same sense "in which Confucius, Buddha, Muhammad, Solomon, Marcus Aurelius, and Pascal were philosophers." "After all," wrote C.S. Lewis, "how full of argument, of repartee, even of irony, He is" (in Kreeft). 

Now, if Jesus has the answers, what are the questions? 

Kreeft adverts to the perennial questions of philosophy, which (to paraphrase) come down to what is (or is most) real, AKA metaphysics and ontology; what we can know of this reality (epistemology); who we are in the grand scheme of things (anthropology and psychology); and what we oughtta do (ethics). In short, these "are questions about being, truth, self, and goodness."

And if "the most interesting question of metaphysics is about ultimate reality," then "the most interesting question of epistemology is about knowing ultimate reality: how can we finite fools know infinite wisdom?"

Which tracks with what Schuon says about the subject: Job One for us is to distinguish appearances from reality and to conform ourselves to the latter:

To “discern” is to “separate”: to separate the Real and the illusory, the Absolute and the contingent, the Necessary and the possible, Atma and Maya. To discernment is joined, complementarily and operatively, “concentration,” which “unites”: it is -- starting from earthly and human Maya -- the plenary awareness of Atma at once absolute, infinite and perfect.

And in fact, 

there is no truth nor wisdom that does not come from Christ, and this is evidently independent of all consideration of time and place. Just as "the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not comprehended it," so too the Intellect shines in the darkness of passions and illusions" (ibid.).

To be continued...

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