Monday, June 17, 2024

The Principle of Everything

I'd like to write a post on that subject, but then again, if we search the arkive long enough, we're bound to find it. 

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I recently finished a book on this subject, called Participation in God: A Study in Christian Doctrine and Metaphysics, and am halfway through another called Christ the Logos of Creation: An Essay in Analogical Metaphysics

Each, in a different way, goes to the Principle of Everything. But again, I'm still digesting. 

We have consistently maintained over these past 18+ years that one of the purposes of religion is to convey to man an implicit metaphysic, or to provide man with knowledge of the Absolute -- not absolute knowledge per se, since this is reserved for the Absolute, or in other words, God's knowledge of himself, this latter being the Word.

This Word is bi-directional, so to speak, as it is God's icon of man and man's icon of God. It is the very Principle of creation, or in other words, the "eternal creation" prior to any particular creation such as ours.

Contrary to the blinkered view of religious and scientistic fundamentalists, the language of religion is and must be conveyed via symbolic points of reference.

By way of analogy, this is similar to the relationship between a two-dimensional painting and a three-dimensional landscape. The painting is a transformation of the landscape made possible by various constants that are preserved and transmitted to the viewer.

Even the words "Father" and "Son" are given to us as handy points of reference in order to get a handle on what is going on up there. 

You might say that God is not so much like a father as fatherhood is like God. This goes to the analogical metaphysics alluded to in the book above, in that, come to find out, everything is more or less like God, even while God is not everything, this latter being pantheism.

Rather, the the principle of analogy means that the similarities are always dwarfed by the dissimilarities. 

For example, you could fruitfully say that in many ways my dog is analogous to me, in that we eat, sleep, play, and obey my wife. Nevertheless, these similarities must be understood in the context of the much greater -- even infinite -- differences (infinite because we are ordered to it).

In the absence of the Absolute no genuine knowledge of any kind is possible, since all knowledge partakes of absoluteness insofar as it is true. We might go so far as to say that any "proven fact" is like a fragment of God: a luminous clue coming into view. Even Gemini gets it. But artificial intelligence is no match for genuine stupidity.

So human beings have an implicit grasp of the Absolute, regardless of whether they choose to deny it. To the extent that we think at all, we are engaging it, either in a from --> to, or to --> from, direction (i.e., inductive or deductive, respectively, leaving aside direct c ʘʘnvision or intuition for the moment).

With this in mind, we see that dysfunctional thinking is obviously a privation -- just as, say, blindness isn't just another type of sight. In order to repair and restore our thinking... well, we'll get into that later. 

But this is certainly one of the implicit purposes of religion: to aid us in thinking properly and fruitfully about ultimate things -- the Permanent Real -- and to adjust our actions accordingly. If actions have no bearing on truth and reality, then you just might be tenured.

Schuon makes the bold claim that

Man is made for what he is able to conceive; the very ideas of absoluteness and transcendence prove both his spiritual nature and the supra-terrestrial character of his destiny.


Our deiformity implies that our spirit is made of absoluteness, our will of freedom, and our soul of generosity...

"Deiformity" is one way of putting it. America, for example, is explicitly founded upon this self-evident principle of anthropic theomorphism, i.e., that man is created by the Creator -- that he is a local image of the nonlocal Principle of Everything alluded to in the title -- which has a number of immediate entailments, in particular, natural law and natural rights.

These latter two -- law and right -- are bound up with truth and will, respectively: the intellect is teleologically ordered to the True and the will to the Good. Thus there is literally a big OUGHT woven into the area rug of being, in that we oughtta' think true thoughts and do the right thing. Is this asking too much? 

What's the alternative, believing nonsense and behaving badly? This is the perennial Way of the Left, a wayward way that is grounded in the rejection of the Absolute, or in Genesis 3 All Over Again.

Why would anyone want to give absolute rights to an intrinsically irresponsible being? Rather, we are given rights because we are first responsible, i.e., capable of knowing the Law and feeling guilty when we transgress it. But we all know by now that the superpower of the left is shamelessness.

If there is a Principle of Everything there is an Anti-principle of Everything. But this is not a dualistic cosmos, so the latter is purely "reactionary," so to speak, always parasitic on the former. After all, no one is more aware of the existence of God than the Devil.

Our fallen nature -- which means we are vulnerable to falling for the ssseductive wiles of the Anti-principle -- shuffles the cards, clouds the intellect, dis-orients the will, and generally disrupts our intimacy with the Absolute. Like back when we walked with God in the cool evening of paradise. Good times. 

We'll no doubt return to this subject later, but again bear in mind that our fallenness is a privation. Thank God we can know of the privation, for if we can't, then... well, ideology is just one of nasty developments that follows the denial of reality and the superimposition of unreal secondary realities.

Another edifying passage from Schuon:

One of the keys to understanding our true nature and our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world are never proportionate to the actual range of our intelligence. 
Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing. The Absolute alone confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish and to be wholly what it is (emphases mine).

Hold on. Let me fact check that fact...

Yup. Zero Cosmic Pinocchios. I have consulted both the cosmos and my own head, and I rate this fact absolutely true: I AM contains the cosmos, not vice versa; we can either know truth or we can't, and our vertical adventure in consciousness never ends. Nor can the cosmos be just a little bit pregnant with meaning.

If I hadn't first read and assimilated Schuon, I don't know that I'd have been able to make sense of Voegelin's claim to the effect that "Christianity is not an alternative to philosophy, it is philosophy itself in its state of perfection."

I can back that up. But I'll do so in the next post, when I begin to tackle those two books referenced above.  

Voegelin made the related claim that "the gospel appeared to offer the answer to the philosopher's search for truth." Clement (in his The Mystical Roots of Christianity) agrees that for early Christian thinkers, "The whole of life, the whole universe was interpreted in the light of Christ's death and resurrection."

It indeed discloses to man the Principle of Everything. Which is pretty good news if you ask me.

"Our higher faculties reflect divine qualities" and arouse "within us an attraction towards what transcends us, a 'desire for eternity'":

Thereby we become greater than the universe into which we were born and which seeks to take possession of us. Thereby we assert our basic freedom. Ultimately, then, being in the image of God signifies personality, freedom.

Of course, for "someone who chooses to hide his eyes by lowering his eyelids, the sun is not responsible for the fact that he cannot see it" (Gregory of Nyssa).

Again, ignorance of the Absolute is a privation. If not, then absolute ignorance is the standard, and the votaries of the Anti-principle are the best and brightest the cosmos has to offer. 

One has only to look at their eternally punchable faces to know this is strictly impossible. Contrast with this face:


julie said...

Again, ignorance of the Absolute is a privation. If not, then absolute ignorance is the standard, and the votaries of the Anti-principle are the best and brightest the cosmos has to offer.

And so, here we are in Clown World. Sort of. Discerning reality merely requires that one open one's eyes and see.

Gagdad Bob said...

As we said a few posts ago regarding Platonism, if there's not a reality behind appearances, then it's not only appearances all the way down, but appearances concealing power rather than veiling and revealing truth.

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