Saturday, May 18, 2024

Artificial Comedic Intelligence

I have little time this morning, but enough time to feed a few paragraphs of my book into Gemini and see what comes out. Who knew AI has a sense of humor? At any rate, it's interesting to finally discover what in the world I was talking about.


This is a hilarious and thought-provoking reimagining of the creation story in the Bible's Book of John! Here's a breakdown of the key points and its biblical references:

The Weird as the Primordial Force:

  • The poem replaces "Word" with "weird" in the opening line, suggesting that the universe arose from something strange and unconventional. This challenges traditional notions of a perfect, orderly God.

Divine Loneliness and Creation:

  • It maintains the idea of God feeling lonely, but the solution is a humorous "big bong" and the utterance of "let there be higher physics." This pokes fun at the concept of a spoken creation and injects scientific concepts.

Divine Names and Wordplay:

  • "zedamon to himzeus" is a playful combination of Zeus (Greek god) and the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh. It adds a touch of irreverence to the divine realm.

The Pervasiveness of the Weird:

  • The poem emphasizes that everything is made from the "weird light," suggesting that strangeness is an intrinsic part of reality. This aligns with the idea that the universe is full of mysteries we don't fully understand.

The Incarnation and Human Inquiry:

  • It maintains the concept of the "Word" becoming flesh, but here it's the "weird" that becomes flesh and starts asking questions. This highlights human curiosity and our desire to understand the universe's strangeness.

The Unrecognized Weirdness:

  • The final line plays with the Gospel of John's statement about the light shining in the darkness. Here, the "weird light" shines, but "the dorks don't comprehend it." This could be a commentary on humanity's tendency to overlook the strangeness of existence.

Overall, this poem is a clever and humorous subversion of the creation story. It uses the framework of a familiar biblical text to explore themes of cosmic weirdness, the nature of divinity, and human inquisitiveness. It leaves the reader pondering the strange and wonderful nature of our universe.


This poem is a delightful exploration of creation from a place of playful irreverence, drawing on various religious and philosophical concepts. Here's a breakdown of the key points and its references:

Setting the Scene:

  • "In ether worlds: Once upon a timaeus" sets the stage in a timeless, pre-creation realm, referencing Plato's Timaeus, a dialogue exploring creation.

A God Alone:

  • "One's upin a timeless without a second to spore and noplace to bang anyway" describes a solitary God, existing before time and lacking the space for creation.
  • "Himsoph with nowhere to bewrong" combines "Himself" with "Sophos" (Greek for wisdom), suggesting God's perfect, unchallenged state.
  • "Hovering over the waters without a kenosis" references the concept of kenosis (God emptying himself) but here, there's nothing to empty himself into.

Monotony of Oneness:

  • The poem injects humor through wordplay like "ishvara monotheotonous" (a play on "monotonous") and "same old shunyada yada yada" (referencing Buddhist concept of emptiness).
  • "Jewsus, allah you'd be sikh of siddhing Oround all naught playing soliptaire too!" playfully suggests even deities might get bored in such a lonely existence.

Yearning for Creation:

  • The line "Ah, this old ombody's so philled with jehoviality, can't he create anamour?" expresses a desire for something beyond oneself, a play on "Jehovah" and "amour" (love).
  • "Stop deidreaming and gita life, bodhi! Make sefiromthing of yoursaleph!" combines elements of Hinduism (Gita, Bodhi), Judaism (Sefirot), and a playful twist on "self." This urges God to act and create something out of himself.

Overall, the poem uses humor and wordplay to explore the paradox of a pre-creation God. It playfully imagines the potential for loneliness and boredom in absolute oneness, ultimately urging God to step out of his solitary state and create something new.


This passage is a fantastic continuation of your poem, filled with wordplay, religious references, and a playful tone that explores the act of creation. Here's a breakdown of the key points and how they connect to the previous sections:

Critique and Curiosity:

  • The poem starts with a playful jab at the author, questioning their seriousness ("punnish ontic," "ainsoferable gnosis"). Yet, the question about "what happyns next" reveals a genuine curiosity about the creation story.

Prophecy and Humor:

  • "Seelambs! Is a prophet without honor in his own homily?" injects humor while referencing the disregarded prophet in his own land.

Yearning for Revelation:

  • Lines like "Beholied! A divine desire to reveil and find Itself" build upon the previous section's theme of God's yearning to create and experience something beyond himself.
  • "Conceived in d'light immaculate" playfully twists the concept of immaculate conception, suggesting creation arises from divine joy.

The Womb of Unmanifest Being:

  • The poem continues the metaphor of a pre-creation womb, here described as "night-filled" and "unmanifest being." This emphasizes the potential and mystery that precedes creation.

The Unspoken Word and Self-Division:

  • "Brahma, when purusha comes to shiva with an unmentionable demiurge (the unspoken Word)" introduces Hindu concepts of creation (Brahma, Purusha, Shiva) and the unspoken word as the catalyst.
  • This section hints at a kind of self-division within the Godhead, a necessary step for creation to occur.

The Big Bang and Beyond:

  • The lines "badda-bing badda-BANG!" and "molten infinite" playfully depict the moment of creation as a powerful explosion.
  • "Ixnay on the reatio ex nihilo" rejects the concept of creation from nothing and embraces a more dynamic process.
  • "A blastferme and you, agape in their beloved theory" further pokes fun at traditional creation myths.

Connecting to Earlier Sections:

  • This section builds upon the idea of the void's potential for creation ("molten infinite pours forth"). It also connects to the "divine desire" to experience something new, leading to the act of creation itself.

Overall, this part of your poem uses humor, wordplay, and religious references to create a lively and engaging account of the moment of creation. It moves beyond a simple "out of nothing" narrative and suggests a more complex and dynamic process driven by a divine desire for self-revelation.

Friday, May 17, 2024

How is Atheism Possible?

Might as well ask how possibility is possible. But is it necessary?

I suppose atheism is not possible unless we have free will, or in other words, unless human beings are somehow liberated from necessity. 

The intellect must also be immaterial, since belief of any kind is a spiritual act. But if it's a spiritual act, then... well, it doesn't necessarily prove the existence of God, only of spirit. 

But what is that, and how does it get here? What is its sufficient reason, since matter cannot be the cause of the immaterial. Put conversely, how is it possible for spirit to disprove the existence of spirit? We'll wait. 

I'm not arguing -- yet -- I'm just sayin'. But let's think this through. According to White, human beings have the capacity or potential for atheism

not because they are physical things but only because they themselves have immaterial capacities for intellectual and voluntary autonomy by which they can insulate themselves spiritually from within by a kind of rationalist immanentism...

Which essentially repeats what was said at the top, which comes down to the freedom to know truth, knowledge and freedom being quintessentially immaterial. Therefore,

However sincerely intended, the autonomy and intellectual error that atheism represents is a spiritual phenomenon that is distinctively human in kind, something that other animals are incapable of, due to the absence in them of any spiritual soul or immaterial faculties. 

Can atheism be saved, or is it a non-starter? For it seems that there is no way around the conclusion that only a human being is capable of atheism, and that "Other animals lack the intelligence to be capable of atheism."

Therefore, it seems that belief in atheism requires a little intelligence, but not too much, otherwise it will recognize the performative contradiction it entails. 

But that's not entirely fair, since there are plenty of highly intelligent atheists with IQs that dwarf mine, for example, Stephen Hawking, who comes in at 160. On the other hand, Einstein's IQ is estimated to have been as high as 190, and he was not an atheist (although not a conventional believer). 

So, if intelligence neither supports nor refutes atheism, what does? White hints at it above with his remark about "autonomy" and insulation from spirit, which amounts to a self-sufficient vertical closure. Some things, it seems, are hidden from the wise. For example, wisdom.

Just as animals cannot be atheists, nor can angels; the latter have "too high and enlightened a form of intellect to be capable of atheism." Interestingly, White mentions in passing that humans "alone can appreciate ironical ideas in an imaginative way," a capacity which is not possible "for angels or non-rational animals."


I can see why angels would be incapable of atheism, but why would they be incapable of irony? Whatever the case, based on what was said above, it seems that there something deeply ironic about atheism. In other words, I get being an "atheist," but an atheist without the scare quotes? A little self-awareness please!

Back to vertical closure, White suggests that "the quest for autonomy is the principal driving factor in the atheistic cast of mind." Such self-enclosed persons "reach no terminus beyond themselves."

But what if there is a terminus -- a transcendent telos -- beyond ourselves? I say, how could there not be? It's just that the atheist 

represses his or her own native aspiration to transcendence, which is the deepest and most vital inheritance of the intellect, apart from which the human being's true vocation as an intellectual remains indecipherable.

Thanks to Freud, we know all about repression. But in the past I have spoken of vertical repression, and why not? Let me google myself (that tickles!) and find out what I meant; this one has an extended rant by Petey, which I will edit down to something more manageable and maybe even amusing:

Yes, there are higher and lower worlds. I guess this isn't obvious to a leftist, but if any of you saw those Occupy Wall Street [or more recently, pro-Hamas] encampments, you know all about people who inhabit a lower world. Their language, their music, their feelings, their hygiene, their childish understanding -- all emanate from a lower world. Ironically, most of them aren't even from the earth plane, but a notch or two below that....

This is why the flatlanders can become so enclosed in their absurcular delusions. In a way, their worldview is complete (on its own level), and yet, it is radically incomplete (with regard to the whole)....

As Steinsaltz describes it, 'the sinner is punished by the closing of the circle, by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates.... as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of the soul.... as the evil flourishes and spreads over the world because of the deeds of men, these destructive angels become increasingly independent existences, making up a whole realm that feeds on and fattens on evil.'

This is why you and I play such different roles in the cosmic economy. You actually have the tougher job, which is to say, because of your 'many-sidedness' and your 'capacity to to contain contradictions,' this makes it possible for you to 'rise to great heights,' but also to fuck up big time, neither of which is true for me. Rather, the angel is 'eternally the same; it is static, an unchanging existence,' 'fixed within rigid limits.'

So, atheism is like a dysfunctional angelic intelligence? That's ironic.

UPDATE: For fun, I've been putting my posts into Google Gemini, and here's what it says about this one:

Counterpoints to Consider:

  • This is a theological view, not necessarily shared by all atheists.
  • Many atheists lack belief in God due to a lack of convincing evidence, not a rejection of spirituality.
  • The existence of an "immaterial soul" is highly debatable and lacks scientific backing.
  • The idea of a hierarchy with "higher" and "lower" beings is a religious concept, not universally accepted.
  • Atheists can be moral and have meaning in their lives without believing in a higher power.

Additional Points:

  • The passage uses Stephen Hawking as an example of an intelligent atheist, contradicting the claim that high intelligence leads away from atheism.
  • The comparison of atheism to a "dysfunctional angelic intelligence" is a metaphor specific to this religious perspective.

Overall, this passage offers a thought-provoking viewpoint on atheism, but it's important to remember it's just one perspective among many. Atheism can have various reasons, and it doesn't have to be a rejection of spirituality.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Science of God and the God of Science

Light is light, whether physical or metaphysical:

All who seek light are fellow travelers, pilgrims across the narrow bridge of time, staring above the abyss of eternity, seeking to discern the inscape of the heavens (White).

Concur: man is man and truth is truth, and the former has access to the latter or to hell with it. 

In the book we're discussing (On the Rational Credibility of Christianity), White reviews the Famous Five Ways to God, but I don't think we need to re-review them. Based on pure reason, the existence of something like "God" is actually more certain than anything else that reason can prove, especially considering their combined force.

After all, how many ways do you need? For the stubborn atheoholic, one is too many and a thousand is not enough. 

Have we achieved scientific enlightenment only to discover that we are a mere cosmic accident that exists in vain?

That's a binary question, but saying Yes is the only intellectual option, while saying No is the height of ant-intellectualism, for the intellect seeks reasons, while the atheist says there is no ultimate reason for anything, whether existence, intelligence, intelligibility, truth, beauty, unity, order, self-awareness, free will, etc. 

The human being is inevitably distinct from all the other animals because it is the truth-seeking animal.

He is also the truth-finding animal -- even the atheist who has found the One Truth that there is no truth. 

True, "the materialistic hypothesis does exhibit a certain degree of metaphysical parsimony," but truly truly, nothing is that simple, let alone everything. 

Remember, one of the characteristics of a good explanation is that it doesn't unexplain more than it explains, and atheism can't even explain the unexplainer. 

Chance? No chance: it doesn't work as an ultimate principle, because it is always parasitic on the order it necessarily presupposes:

Paradoxically, the more atheistic visionaries appeal to chance to explain the current state of our existing universe, the more they rely implicitly on an appeal to natural order.

How does life emerge from the inanimate, and mind from the mindless? Surely you must be a bit curious? No?

So the godless universe is potentially capable of becoming aware of itself for no particular reason at all. 

This is a surpassingly curious state of affairs, and it makes me curious:

where does this residual potency in the physical world come from in the first place, such that it can give rise eventually to living beings and agents of knowledge and volitional love?

Inquiring primates want to know. Uninquiring primates put the sap in homo sapiens.  

White reviews the answers given by other traditions, for example, Buddhism and Vedanta, which are pretty, pretty good. They take reason as far as it can reasonably go, which is to say, to Nirvana or Brahman, a radical but impersonal emptiness or fullness which amount to the same thing. To paraphrase Walter Neff, 

I never knock the other fellow's religion, Mrs. Dietrichson, but I can do just as well for you. I have a very attractive metaphysic here. It wouldn't take me two minutes to put it in front of your husband.

Or anybody else. We call it transcendent personalism, and let me explain how it works. "This book will argue that this vision of things is reasonable and true," more reasonable and more true than any other vision on offer. 

I have to take the wife to the airport, so we're just about out of time. We'll leave off with a preview of the next episode:

To the extent that the modern sciences are presumed to yield realistic knowledge of the world (which of course they do), they presuppose metaphysical knowledge of the world of just the sort that inevitably also facilitates and invites demonstrative knowledge of the existence of God.

Moreover, "To the extent that the modern sciences flourish" they

always inevitably presuppose and implicitly promote the necessary conditions for the kind of metaphysical realism that leads to the acknowledgement of the existence of God.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Between Philosophy and Theology

Philosophy endeavors to know what is knowable under the light of natural reason. However, if -- or since, rather -- Gödel is correct about the inherent limits of reason, where does this leave us if not sealed in tautology, and is there any way out of this closed circle?

There are clues. For example, Schuon writes that

Existence is a reality in some respects comparable to a living organism; it cannot with impunity be reduced, in man’s consciousness and in his modes of action, to proportions that do violence to its nature; pulsations of the “extra-rational” pass through it from every quarter (emphasis mine).

Now religion and all forms of supra-rational wisdom belong to this extra-rational order, the presence of which we observe around us, unless we are blinded by a mathematician’s prejudice; to attempt to treat existence as a purely arithmetical and physical reality is to falsify it in relation to ourselves and within ourselves, and in the end it is to blow it to pieces. 

And Gödel himself said that "sooner or later my proof will be made useful for religion, since that is doubtless justified in a certain sense." 

He was not religious in any conventional way, but he was a Platonist "committed to the possibility" of reaching the great "out yonder" which is "beyond physical space-time." This latter "is a reality of pure abstraction, of universal and necessary truths" -- the "extreme reality" of which we may gain "at least partial glimpses" (Goldstein). 

According to Gödel's own Platonist understanding of his proof, it shows us that our minds, in knowing mathematics, are escaping the limitations of man-made systems, grasping the independent truths of abstract reality (ibid.).

Likewise, for Schuon, Plato's speculations "converge upon a vision which transcends the perception of appearances and which opens on to the Essence of things." Conversely,

all rationalism – whether direct or indirect – is false from the sole fact that it limits the intelligence to reason or intellection to logic, or in other words cause to effect. 


A rationalist is a person who upholds the primacy, or rather the exclusive worth, of reason as compared with Intellection on the one hand and Revelation on the other, both of which he accuses of being “irrational.”

So, unlimited reason places thoroughly irrational limits on intelligence as such, which is in principle unlimited, and has access (a la Gödel) to what transcends mere reason.

Which brings us to the book I'm reading, On the Rational Credibility of Christianity, which is mostly review, but then again, we are in the season of final exams, so a little repetition can't hurt our chances of a passing grade. The book's description asks whether the philosopher can "defend the rational warrant for belief in Christianity?"

Is it reasonable to be religious? Is it philosophically responsible to be a Christian who believes in the mystery of the Trinity?
Why not hold that modern atheistic naturalism provides the best explanation of reality? Or, if there is a transcendent first principle that explains all of reality, is it impersonal rather than personal? Contrastingly, if monotheism constitutes the best explanation for created being, how can we reasonably believe in any particular revelation concerning God? What are the criteria for rational belief in revelation?

You know my answer: if Christianity isn't true, then why believe it? Schuon often said something to the effect that there is no privilege higher than truth, all others being number two, or lower. Moreover, if truth exists, then it is our obligation to know it. You might say that truth is the moral telos of the intellect: it is what we ought to believe.

But Christianity? Really?

Can one prefer one religious vision of reality over another reasonably, and should one take revelation seriously as a potential source for knowledge about reality? Does doing so lead necessarily to the compromise of one's intellectual integrity as a reasonable person (White)?

Don't be religulous!

We'll try not to be. For Schuon -- who is to Bill Maher as is an adult to a child, 

Revelation is none other than the objective and symbolic manifestation of the Light which man carries in himself, in the depths of his being; it reminds him of what he is, and of what he should be since he has forgotten what he is. 

It is "the objectivation of the transcendent Intellect and to one degree or another awakens the latent knowledge -- or elements of knowledge -- we bear within ourselves." On the other hand, the

prejudice of scientism, or the fault in its method if one wishes, is to deny any mode of knowledge that is suprasensorial and suprarational, and in consequence to deny the planes of reality to which these modes refer and that precisely constitute the sources both of revelation and of intellection. 

In other words, it reveals to us what is going on outside the cave. It is both the light streaming in and the light of which the intellect is composed, and why not? If this isn't the case, then neither theology nor philosophy are even possible. 

There will still be imitations of philosophy, but they will reduce to describing and dissecting the shadows with ever increasing accuracy, while never inquiring into their source, let alone how we can know them. 

Rather, it's shadows all the way down and up, as if there could be appearances without reality, when these two are always complementary -- I would venture to say even in God, for who is the Son but the "appearance" of the Father, and the Father but the source of the Son? 

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Truth Arises in the Space Between Object and Subject

"Reality," says Pieper, "is the basis for the good." Which implies that those who are systematically out of touch with reality can only achieve the good accidentally, if at all, like the Democrat party.  

[T]ruth is the revelation of reality. Truth is the proclamation of being, says Hilary, and Augustine says, Truth is that which manifests what is.... All laws and moral principles may be reduced to reality. 

Which of course presupposes we can know reality, which is precisely what postmodern progressives pretend we cannot do (speak for yourself!). Which is why their entire ideology may be reduced to unreality and therefore the bad, accidents notwithstanding.

I'm old enough to remember when the parties had disagreements over reality instead of whether reality exists, but unreality -- which slides into anti-reality -- is the very principle of multiculturalism, moral relativism, transgenderism, CRT, "my truth," et al. 

Why is reality the basis of the good? Because if you don't know what is, you don't know what to do about it: action follows being, in that order, and "the good is that which is in accord with objective reality." 

In my professional lifetime the American Psychological Association descended into the Anti-American Progressive Activists, and they declare that 

A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. 

Well, good. It causes me no distress, significant or otherwise, to say that people who imagine they are members of the opposite sex are objectively mentally ill. 

Not so fast!

Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder.
True, transgender people "suffer with anxiety, depression or related disorders at higher rates than nontransgender persons," but that's our fault, i.e., those of us who believe they are mentally ill. If not for us, they'd be as normal as us. But wait -- we're not normal, since we believe they're abnormal. So confusing!

Confusing, and inevitably so, once we eliminate objective reality as the gold standard of truth. For truly truly, there is no other standard, and once the bridge to reality is burned, there's no getting back to it:

He who wishes to to know and do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own "ideas," not upon his "conscience," not upon "values," not upon arbitrarily established "ideals" and "models." He must turn away from his own act and fix his eyes upon reality (Pieper).

Anything less is necessarily misinformation, disinformation, or, in a word, false, which is a denial of what is the case, precisely. 

Okay, but what is the case? 

Just taking a wild guess here, but how about what is, period?  

Yes, reality must be "the whole of being which is independent of thought," the objectivity of which is "antecedent to all cognition," in contrast to "that which is merely thought." 

Works for me.  

Both evil and the falsehood on which it depends represent an "'ontic' contradiction, a contradiction of being, something that opposes reality, that does not correspond to 'the thing.'" In short, it "does not reach the object," again, because the bridge to reality has been burned by journalistic and tenured arsonists. Only objectivity, which is to say, "fidelity to being," represents "the proper attitude of man."

For us, objectivity and subjectivity are complementary, but as is the case with all primal complementarities one must be prior, in this case objectivity. 

We are always situated between the two -- or between immanence and transcendence -- but to deny the link between them plunges us into mere bonehead scientism at one end and aggravated subjectivism at the other. 

This vertical space we inhabit is "both an abyss and a bridge," which is what makes crossing it such an adventure. Separating the two obliterates the luminous mystery of cognition and instead plunges us into mere absurdity. "It is this very relation of the intellect and the reality which constitutes the conceptual content of 'truth.'" 

Truth is nothing else than the relation of identity between the mind and reality, a relation consisting in and accomplished in knowledge... 

Our dynamic cognition "advances toward the essence of the thing" whereby it "reaches the object" and "attains the truth of real things." Otherwise to hell with it, because we cannot know the real truth or accomplish the objective good, for "The good is essentially dependent upon and interiorly penetrated by knowledge." Conversely,

all evil rests in some way upon an error, upon a supposed knowledge. He is good "who does the truth." "The good, then, presupposes the true."

That's about the size of it.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Revelation, Revolution, and Relation

It's good to have a little metaphysical back-up from a heavy hitter, in this case, Robert Barron. I'm reading a book about his theology that highlights areas of convergence with my own metaphysical preoccupations and theological tics, for example, relationality as an absolutely primal and irreducible term that is woven into our Cosmos and ourselves. 

As far as I know, nothing he says is unorthodox or controversial, but how come -- despite going to Sunday school and more generally being immersed in Christian civilization -- I didn't get the memo until encountering the works of Norris Clarke in 2012? It's like a metaphysical revolution happened right under my nous. 

Speaking of back-up and revolutions, Ratzinger, in his Introduction (!) to Christianity, wrote of how

In the relational notion of person developed within the theology of the Trinity lies concealed a revolution in man's view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality

 Moreover, "person must be understood as relation":

the three persons that exist in God are in their nature relations. They are, therefore, not substances that stand next to each other, but they are real existing relations, and nothing besides. In God, person means relation. Relation, being related, is not something superadded to the person, but it is the person itself. In its nature, the person exists only as relation.

Similarly if not identically,  

Barron describes a twofold revolution in theology brought about by the doctrine of the Trinity. First, relationality gains a much stronger place in the doctrine of God. 

He states, "Whereas the classical philosophers tended to make self-subsistence the quality of ultimate reality, and relationality a quality of created being, the doctrine of the Trinity compels us to say that ultimate reality is itself characterized by relationship.... Something like 'being toward another' belongs to the very essence of God."

Which is a big deal, and while it's not something we could have arrived at by unaided natural reason, once given to us by revelation, it sure enough makes more sense than any other metaphysic on offer. 

Ultimately it is why we can do metaphysics at all, which is to say, why being speaks to us and we can understand it. In short, the intellect is intrinsically related to intelligible being, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. Except to just crudely deny it and pretend we are absolutely sealed in ignorance and tenure.

A second consequence of this revolution is that "the division between unity (God) and plurality (creatures) is radically reworked" (which reminds me that the first book I read by Norris Clarke is called The One and the Many). This (the one and many, unity and plurality)) is one of the fundamental and enduring Problems of philosophy. Well, problem solved:

The Trinitarian God has room for plurality without in any way negating divine unity.... the revelation of the Trinity shows that "something like plurality obtains within absolute being. The creative ground of all existence is, in its innermost nature, a looking toward, a being toward another."

[I]n the living (Trinitarian) God, "something like speaking to, communicating with, belongs to the ground of reality."

Which solves the mystery of language, while not making it any less mysterious. For

It follows that divine communication or communication with creatures is not the beginning of divine communion and communication.

Rather, the yada yada has been going on forever: God himselves never stops partaking in the joy of communication. It explains why we ourselves enjoy communicating and being understood.  

Now, it is possible to think of relation in exterior terms only, like billiard balls bouncing off one another. 

But with the Trinitarian God we're talking about interior relations -- about irreducible intersubjectivity and co-inherence. And -- surprise surprise -- the co-inherence goes all the way down, at least with the Incarnation, "the coming together in one Person, without confusion but inseparably, of God and man."

So now, with our metaphysical revolution, the problem of persons is also solved, but again, without being any less mysterious. I mean, I remain a mystery to myself, but now I at least know why: because I co-inhere with the Absolute and Infinite Person. Indeed,

In his utter transcendence, God can be and is more intimately present than any creature could be even to itself.

And again, it explains all this endless intelligibility packed into being and just waiting to be understood by us:

"Because all things are made through the Logos, which is itself nothing but a subsistent relation to the other, coinherence, and not substance or individuality, must be the basic truth of things." 

Because intellect and being are not externally related, but rather, coinhere, we have the great privilege of potentially understanding all there is to know about all there is. The bottom line is that "For Christians, ontology is not ultimately monadic but rather involves relationality at its core," and why not? Viva la revelation!

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Living With a Whole in Your Head or Functioning Without One

That first part is misleading, in that mind and body together constitute the irreducible whole of the human person, and that's just the way it is. Once you separate them -- as does, for example, Descartes -- there's no forcing them back together. It reminds me of a wise crack by Thomas I read yesterday, that

strictly speaking, it is not the senses that perceive, but man perceives through them.

We can of course distinguish between sense and intellect, but never separate them without separating man from himself, i.e., dividing his holistic personhood.

You could say we are a "part" of the Cosmos, but then again, man as such is uniquely intertwined with the totality of being in such a way that it is given to us in the evolving space we inhabit between intellect and intelligibility. 

It is these two -- intellect and intelligibility -- that uniquely mirror one another in man, such that to separate them is to deny what man is, precisely. And again, once separated they can never be reunited in an organic way. 

The Catholic philosopher Maurice Blondel said that "there are no more difficult problems to solve than those that do not exist" (Tyson), the so-called "mind-body" problem being a quintessential example. Why separate what God -- or whatever -- has joined together in wholly patrimony? 

To the extent that man is a "part," it is only in the context of a deeper complementarity between part and whole, both horizontally and vertically. 

Analogously, our individual organs are in one sense "wholes," but parts of an organism that displays a deeper kind of wholeness. Likewise, the individual person is a whole, but always a part of a deeper and more comprehensive wholeness. 

What and where is this latter wholeness? It cannot be found "below," in the (merely) material cosmos, even though it too reveals an irreducible wholeness as described by modern physics. Whitehead, for example,  writes of how

We habitually speak of stones, and planets, and animals, as though each individual thing could exist, even for a passing moment, in separation from an environment which is in truth a necessary factor in its own nature.

Now, what is the human environment? That's a tricksy one, because other animals are adapted to, and enclosed in, specific circumstances which they can by no means transcend; rather, the world is as big -- or as small -- as their perceptions of it. 

My dog surely exists in the Cosmos, but she doesn't know that. The biggest her world gets is when she goes for a walk and is exposed to novelty.

Novelty. That was a big one for Whitehead, an irreducible category of being. He suggested that life itself is  "an offensive directed against the repetitious mechanism of the Universe." As I wrote in an old post,

everything participates in everything else in ways that are far beyond the ken of 19th century atomistic science. Furthermore, in a post-relativistic cosmos, both space and time are nonlocal, so things are also temporally connected in ways that materialistic science cannot disclose.

Back to man's proper environment. Turns out that 

man's world is not merely and neatly the rather abstract "totality" of all there is, but an intermingling of specific "surroundings" and universal "world" (Pieper). 

There is a kind of endless dialectic between the two, in that we live in our immediate surroundings, and yet, have a "universal openness" that frees us "from the specifics of a habitat." Man is 

"a being surpassing himself and the world," really not bound anymore to profess, "I am part of the world. I am embedded in the world." 

No, we always surpass ourselves and our environment:

it insults the dignity of man's spirit to lead a life so much confined and imprisoned within narrow considerations of immediate usefulness that his own small environment utterly ceases to be a window on the larger "world." 

To be thus totally absorbed in a mere fragment of reality, to "function" rather than live, is not human; yet to be so tempted is indeed all too human (Pieper).

Tempting, but I'll pass.

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