Saturday, June 22, 2024

How to Distinguish Reality from a Pigpen

The previous post highlighted the interior relationship between interiority and relationship, which sounds tautological, but is meant to be I AM-musing, or musing on the nature of personal being.

The point is, these two -- interiority and relationship -- essentially reduce to the same Principle: they can be thought about separately but -- like up and down or inside and out -- but one never finds the one without the other. Even -- or especially -- God is interiorly related to his very own intersubjective Other. 

A cosmos of pure exteriority wouldn't even be a cosmos, rather, a... a nothing, an absolutely inconceivable and unintelligible nonentity. 

And interiority is always related to something by which it recognizes its own interiority. The punishment for the man who searches inwardly for himself is that he finds it.

Why is that? Because that's not yourself, rather, just a kind of imaginary crystallized idol of what is always dynamically on--> the--> way toward transcendence, which is the human condition, precisely. Thou shall not make idols, whether of God or man.  

Just try to imagine an absolute interiority in reference to nothing outside it, i.e., with with no objects to contemplate or subjects with whom to dialogue and relate: no links to anything or anyone, just a center with no radii, or a circumference around no point. 

Perhaps this is why realist epistemology begins with the exterior senses, for if you try to begin at the other end, there's no there there. Man's being is always a becoming, which is to say, our essence can never be reduced to existence. 

Only God's essence is to exist, while our existence is an endless movement toward essence, AKA God. Being oneself is always becoming oneself. Or so we have heard from the wise.

The abstract self is analogous to empty space, which isn't space at all, since what is space in the absence of the objects it contains and surrounds?

Now, the first relation of the inside is to outsideness as such; consider your house, or even your coffee mug over there. Both have an inside, which is nothing but the exclusion of the outside. Ka-Ching! Exactly: according to the Tao Te Ching,

We shape clay into a pot / but it is the emptiness inside / that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house, / but it is the inner space / that makes it livable.

We work with being, / but non-being is what we use.

Wo. Can I buy some pots from you? Full of non-being?

But the Chinaman is not the issue. Rather, new age types in general like to speculate about the nature of consciousness based upon the weird properties of the "quantum world." But they have it precisely upside down and inside out, for the latter queer world is the way it is because consciousness, or spirit, or interiority is the way it is: interiorly related from the top down.

Last we checked, physics can only say anything about anything because there are physicists; to suggest that physicists are reducible to physics is to jump into a hole and try to pull the whole outside itself.

Or, to be literal -- again -- it is like trying to reduce the interior to the exterior, which can't be done, because the two co-arise and are complementary. Even God himself has a kind of eternal inside-outness, AKA Father --> Son, or Creator --> creation. Which is again why everything bears traces of the Trinity.

Having said that, there are degrees of interiority: a plant has some but an animal has more. And a human being has infinitely more than an animal -- literally, because the human station is defined by its access to infinitude and absoluteness.

Animals don't know anything about these two, while a human being can't know anything without implicit knowledge of them. Any knowledge is a kind of crystallization of the Absolute; and yet, we maintain an openness to the infinitude of truth and knowledge. A few of us, anyway.

Pieper discusses animal subjectivity, which is related to a world, but not the world. Rather, it exists in a kind of narrow cross section of the world, an environment. The animal sees what it needs to see and what it is programmed to see, and nothing else. It's why you can place a frog in an aquarium full of dead insects but it will nevertheless starve to death. 

Now, is there something analogous to the frogmind in human beings? Is there something in man that causes him to withdraw and shrink from the world, and inhabit a mere environment?

Let us count the ways: Ideology. Philodoxy. Ismism. Tenure. Fake news. Secondary worlds. Progressivism. Epistemic closure. Gen3 AOA.

In another sense, closure is fine so long as it remains open for isness, for a mind that doesn't close is like a house with no walls or nation with no borders. 

Pieper quotes a noted biologist, who agrees that "The environments of animals are comparable in no way to open nature but rather to a cramped, ill-furnished apartment."

But the noted philosopher Kant -- and all his modern descendants -- would place human beings in exactly the same situation: yes, our environment might be larger than the animal's, but it's a matter of degree and not kind: we're still imprisoned by our senses and categories, so we can know nothing about the real world, whatever that might be.

Like anyone could know that without transcending the very limits he says we can't transcend! C'mon, Manny! You're better than that.

The human spirit involves

the ability to enter into relations with the totality of existing things.... The spirit is, in its nature, constituted in the first instance... by the ability to enter into relations with Being as a totality. 
The spirit does not have an environment, it has a world. It belongs to the very nature of a spiritual being to rise above the environment and so transcend both adaptation and confinement (Pieper).


Man today does not live in space and time. But in geometry and chronometers.

Science cannot do more than draw up the inventory of our prison.

Even in the immensity of space we feel caged. Mystery is the only infinity that does not seem like a prison.

In order to abolish all mystery, it is enough to view the world with the eyes of a pig.

Or, to put it another way, what kind of world is the world of man, and is it the same as the world? Ever since Kant, the grumpy answer has been: No! No world for you! Our world -- the world we perceive -- is just a form of our sensibility, a kind of projection of our neuro- psychobiology. Therefore, it is not the world. Rather, the world -- whatever it is -- is radically inaccessible to man.

But to repeat, our animal friends live in a world, whereas human beings are privileged to (potentially, at least) live in the world.

For example, my dog has eyes, but when she looks at an object --  a toothbrush, for example -- she doesn't see the same thing I do, which is to say, the intelligible essence of the object in question.

Pieper cites the example of a certain bird that preys on grasshoppers but is incapable of seeing the grasshopper if it isn't moving. Only in leaping about does the grasshopper become distinct from the background -- which is why many insects (and higher animals) "play dead" so as not to be seen by the predator.

In their resting form, it isn't so much that the grasshopper is dead as literally invisible. It is as if it drops into a hole and no longer exists in the world of the predator. Even if the bird were starving, it could search and search, and yet, never find the unmoving grasshopper right under its beak.

Now do God. 

We're working up to that.

But sticking with animals for the moment -- including the animalized human -- they cannot transcend their biological boundaries, even with an organ -- the eye -- seemingly equipped for just this task.

Most of the world is simply not perceived or even capable of being perceived by the animal. Which means that the world didn't come into view until human beings happened upon the scene?! Recall that in Genesis, man names the animals, not vice versa. And a name points to an invisible, interior essence.

Given Darwinian principles -- which, by the way, we can only know about because we have transcended them -- how did mankind transcend animality and open the door to an infinitely wider, deeper, and higher world?

Or did we? Are we as trapped in a narrow cross-section of reality as our tenured apes? If so, then neither science nor philosophy are possible. Like the bird looking for the immobile grasshopper, we couldn't locate reality despite the most diligent searching. Indeed, we wouldn't even know of the existence of the reality for which to search.

Now, the intellect is not restricted to a particular environment. Rather, it is universal -- "relatively absolute" -- and therefore able to know the world. I want to say that any -ology is grounded in the Logos, but we're working up to that -- to logology, as it were.

Pieper writes that "it belongs to the very nature of a spiritual being to rise above the environment and so transcend adaptation and confinement"; which in turn explains "the at once liberating and imperiling character with which the nature of spirit is immediately associated."

Thus, natural selection is adequate to explain adaptation to an environment, but it cannot explain our discovery and comprehension of the world, which is to say, our surprising adaptation -- AKA conformity or adequaton -- to the transcendent object, O.

As Aristotle recognized way back in olden times, "the soul is in a way all existing things."

Thus, to be in Spirit is "to exist amid reality as a whole, in the face of the totality of Being." "Spirit" and "world" are reciprocal concepts, the one being unthinkable in the absence of the other. Science itself is a spiritual world, or it is no world at all, only an environment. Usually an academic environment.

Bottom line for this morning: there is no naturalistic way to get from the restricted intelligence of animals to the open and unrestricted intelligence of humans. Nature is already supernatural. And grace perfects nature, but that's another storey in the vertical hierarchy of being, which is conditioned from the top down. 


julie said...

Even in the immensity of space we feel caged. Mystery is the only infinity that does not seem like a prison.


Science itself is a spiritual world, or it is no world at all, only an environment. Usually an academic environment.

Not only a prison for the academics, but one which seeks to enclose those on the outside. Trust the science, or else...

Gagdad Bob said...

"Trust the science" = put your faith in the pseudo-religion of scientism.

Open Trench said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Open Trench said...

Hello All:

From the post: "Only God's essence is to exist, while our existence is an endless movement toward essence, AKA God."

I am confused on this point. I had thought each person's soul was part and parcel of God of Father and had all of the properties of the Father. Therefore I was thinking the soul does not seek God, as it already abides with God and in God. In conclusion I believed the soul was not on a journey towards God. I had thought the soul's mission was to proceed from God and to progressively inject light and divinity back in into the tenebrous and ignorant matter of Cosmos.

On the matter of tithing: A friend indicated they gave 10% of their income to their church. I was aghast. They stated doing this faithfully caused tremendous prosperity to redound back upon them. This was an interesting report. What does the panel make of this?

Let me know what you think if you dare speak out in this muffled and hostile comment section.

Regards, Trench.

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