Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Axis of Evol... ution

In response to my suggestion that "collective development is analogous to individual development, in that -- obviously -- the further back you go, the more primitive things get," a reader commented that "This begs the question [of] what collective development is like the further forward you go. Is there a collective analogue to the sage or saint? Or does the analogy break down?"

The short answers are "no" and "pretty much yes." First, perhaps I should have specified that I'm using the word "primitive" in the psychological/developmental sense (as in primary, or earlier in developmental time). It might be the first category with which one assesses a new patient, even if implicitly. In short, is this person psychotic, or personality disordered, or neurotic, or (more or less) "normal?"

Each of these categories in turn correlates with different defense mechanisms. More developmentally primitive people rely upon primitive defense mechanisms such as delusion, denial, splitting, and projective identification, while less primitive (and more mature) people rely upon such things as repression, sublimation, intellectualization, and humor.

The quality of one's relationships will likewise vary along the same axis. For more primitive types, their relationships will be clouded and contaminated by primitive needs and agendas.

My most influential teacher back in grad school expressed it well, commenting that in terms of relationships, the primitive person wants to go from a sense of twoness (i.e., of being frightened by separation) to a primitive fusion of oneness, while the mature person wants to go from oneness (a sense of wholeness and unity) to twoness (i.e., a genuine relationship to -- not fusion with -- another person who is equally real).

It was specifically because of these ideas that I rejected multiculturalism even before I admitted to myself that I was a conservative. By way of analogy, let's say that the ideal weight for a 5' 10" man is 160 lbs (or whatever). If the 5' 10" men of another culture weigh 300 lbs, you don't abandon your standards and say that morbid obesity is now the ideal. Rather, the same universal standard should apply regardless of the culture.

Well, it's the same with psychological development. If we find a culture in which delusion is the norm, we don't call it normal. And if you don't believe there are cultures -- and subcultures -- in which delusion is the norm, then you haven't been paying attention. And you certainly haven't attended college.

Consider the relationship vector. For a number of reasons I probably don't have time to get into, mature heterosexual monogamy is the developmental standard and telos. Note that there are any number of alternatives, including immature heterosexual monogamy, immature heterosexual polygamy, and even (relatively) mature homosexual monogamy.

Yes, it is possible for a relatively mature homosexual couple to be more developed than than an immature heterosexual couple (although the typical homosexual couple is going to be more immature; male homosexuals often compulsively seek anonymous sexual encounters, which is as immature as one can get, because there is no real relationship at all).

Note that it is specifically because male and female are so "other" that an enriched relationship becomes possible. Or better, they are similar and other in equal measures, such that relating is more rich and complex. Which is why so much of this beautiful richness is lost in the homosexual relationship (and in a contemporary culture that is simultaneously genderful and genderless).

By the way, anyone who imagines that anything I have said above makes me "homophobic" is in fact delusional, and only proves my point. If you want to see primitive and delusional, see a one of the pictorials at Zombietime. Or, maybe you think we should celebrate those beautiful reflections of multiculturalism. So let's just stipulate that one of us is delusional, without all the name-calling.

Now, I am not one of those infertile eggheads who unduly idealize the so-called Enlightenment. Nevertheless, wouldn't you agree that a scientific culture is going to have advantages over one that revolves around myth?

And before you say "Nazism" or "communism," note that that was their whole problem: that they were (and are) rooted in mythology, not science. While each of them had science, the science was completely in service to the myth -- just as the mullahs are using nuclear science in the service of their Islamist myth (or global warmists use a warped version of climate science to advance their religious agenda).

In the case of, say, Obama, the issue is not whether he is Muslim or Christian, but rather, how mature he is. For there can be mature Muslims, just as there can be immature Christians.

Again, the developmental axis is going to be a relatively independent variable -- although, at the same time, I do believe it is going to converge upon certain universal psycho-political realities such as natural rights, free markets, the rule of law, etc. Does this make me a whig or evolutionist? I don't think so.

When I read history, one of the things that always strikes me about the past is the unimaginable cruelty. I can see killing your enemy and being done with it, but why the extraordinary sadism? Let's say I am a Catholic and you are a Protestant. Can't we agree to disagree without one of us disemboweling the other in the presence of his children?

That's the type of thing that gives religion a bad name, but remember, just as with science, religiosity is going to be situated along that developmental axis.

And I think I'm going to stop with that, because maybe I should leave early for work and try to avoid the holiday traffic.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Time and History, Development and Regression

From time to time we get the traditionalist commenter who suggests that the world of the past was far superior to the world of the present. Like last Friday.

I don't know if I was ever susceptible to that idea... No, check me on that. Now that I think about it, back when I was a liberal, I mindlessly joined in with the pack, imagining, for example, that American Indians lived in a kind of innocent paradise instead of being violent and repressive Stone Age brutes. Their lifestyle has little to recommend to the space-age Raccoon.

It was my study of psychology, and by extension, psychohistory, that cured me of the tendency. You could say that collective development is analogous to individual development, in that -- obviously -- the further back you go, the more primitive things get.

And no, I am not devaluing or dehumanizing our venerable furbears, without whom we wouldn't be here. Rather, the opposite. You may recall that on any number of occasions I have said that I don't regard children as "defective," or partial, or somehow incomplete human beings.

Rather -- for example -- I look at my 10 year old and see him as a perfect 10. The purpose of being 10 is not to be 11, let alone 18, or 21, or 30. I never give him the impression that his life will really begin in the future, and that there is no intrinsic validity and dignity to his current life, just as it is. We never talk about college, as if it is a matter of great importance where or even whether he decides to go. If anything, we let him know that he will have to gird his soul if he decides to explore those endarkened precincts.

Indeed, I assume that in 10 years time, everyone will have seen through the malevolent silliness, the infantile fascism, of college, and the bubble will have burst. The University Snowflake movement is doing everything in its power to move up the timeline.

Well, take that same principle and apply it to history, prehistory, and even pre-prehistory, AKA mythology. People of the past are often rather childlike by our standards, but that doesn't invalidate their lives, any more than our lives are invalid in comparison to the enlightened ones who will be here 1,000 years hence.

In fact, one of the most important functions of religion is to make sure that our current being has full validity in light of future developments.

What I mean is that religion speaks of universal truths, i.e., truths that will always be true regardless of future discoveries and developments. It's just that we must take those developments and inflect them through the prism of timeless truth. Which is what we are always doing around here.

For example, just as our predecessors took Aristotelian or Newtonian physics and examined them in light of religious truth, we do the same thing vis-a-vis quantum physics, or chaos and complexity, or information theory. The truth doesn't change, but our way of conceptualizing and communicating it does.

Among other things, this assures us that our lives will always have the possibility of being "valid," validity presupposing access to a truth that never changes -- in which we can confidently place our faith.

Conversely, let's say you place your faith in science in the vulgar sense. This automatically condemns you to obsolescence, being that science is always changing. For example, what if you placed your faith in Newton in the 19th century? Oops! Einstein just obliterated your faith. It is no different if you place your faith in Darwin today.

Having said that, just as there is a proper way to be a 10 year old -- for example, you don't expect him to act like a five year old -- there is a proper way to be an 18 year old or 30 year old. You still have expectations, it's just that you don't project future ones onto the present. Which is why mature people don't condemn America's founders because some of them owned slaves.

At one time slavery was universal. Indeed, I would guess that there were more white slaves in the world in 1860 than black slaves. I myself am no doubt descended from serfs or worse, but I don't brag about it. I don't try to use it as an invitation to not grow the hell up and to become dependent upon the state. Jews are the most mistreated people in history, but you rarely see one on welfare.

Another critical point -- and one we've discussed in the past -- is that, precisely due to the conditions of modernity, we have so many more ways to be wicked. People of the past were just as vain and greedy and lustful and narcissistic, it's just that they lacked the means to act on their badness (or at least the damage was limited).

But thanks to Obama, we have Genghis Khan with nukes. Historically speaking, he has given to two-year olds what only 40 year-olds are mature enough to handle. Ironically, he has no respect for their culture, which is only running about 700 years behind ours.

Prior to evil modern capitalism there was the predatory state. "What was odd about northwestern Europe in the eighteenth century," writes McCloskey, was "that it escaped from 'predatory tendencies' common to every 'agrarian civilization' since the beginning."

So, to the extent that there are residual predatory tendencies in modern capitalism, it is because the tendencies are in man, not in the system per se. Indeed, the predatory tendencies are only worse with socialism, as we have seen in the Obama regime, which is one gargantuan macroparasite on the economy.

McCloskey reminds us that as a result of the long "European Civil War" of 1914-1989, "capitalism was nearly overwhelmed by nationalism and socialism." It was as if man had reached adolescence and decided to plunge back into childhood (which only happens all the time).

But a child's mind in a man's body is quite different from a man in a man's body. Regression to earlier stages of development is always possible, and indeed, this goes to the deep structure of the culture war between left and right. The left is very much like an immature child who will never get what he needs so long as he is getting what he thinks he wants.

Much to do today. To be continued...

Friday, November 20, 2015

From I Have a Dream to A Dream Has Me!

We left off with an interesting observation by Hartshorne and a cryptic one by me. Hartshorne pointed out how billions and probably trillions of influences contribute to the experience of you and of the moment.

This is an example of an extremely weird phenomenon that is so ubiquitous that we take it for granted. For without this experience of unity -- or unitary experience -- we wouldn't be having any experiences or any discussions to begin with. Rather, our "experience" would reflect an infinitely heterogeneous world with no center. Experience would be dispersed instead of integrated.

Now, the latter does sometimes happen to human beings. We call it psychosis. A useful way to think about the psychotic person is that he has no center, no spontaneous organization of his many parts. Thus, you could say that the psychotic mind is a kind of rolling catastrophe that never resolves itself into unity -- except perhaps the faux unity of terror, or persecution, or hatred, or dread.

By the way, this does, or at least will -- I think -- touch on my cryptic comment claiming that "the so-called quantum world below is actually outside us, while the starry expanse is inside." Give me a moment. It will come to me. It's right on the tip of my temporal lobe.

In a colorful passage about the world of the psychotic, Bion speaks of a dread-full "sense of imprisonment" that "is intensified by the menacing presence of the expelled fragments within whose planetary movements he is contained." In other words, the psychotic mind is contained by what it should properly contain; it orbits around what ought to orbit it.

As an aside, I want you to assume that psychosis is not only on a continuum, but that we are all possessed of a psychotic mind (or a psychotic part of the mind, to be precise). For some of us it is integrated -- it is often implicated in creativity, for example, -- while for others it is un-integrated, untamed, unmastered.

You could even say that healthy "mental metabolism," so to speak, involves a dialectic or complementarity of psychotic <-> nonpsychotic, or what Bion calls PS <-> D for short.

And in a way, you could say that PS <-> D is very much similar to Hartshorne's description of the trillions of influences that contribute to the simple and unitary experience -- the simplest experience conceivable! -- of I AM in every moment.

BTW, I think this is what They mean when They talk about God being "simple." Not simple as in an undifferentiated blob, but simple like us despite our infinite complexity. Only in God's case, it is amplified by orders of magnitude. In other words, think of what must go into God being able to declare that I indeed AM!

Here is another important observation about the psychotic side: "Each particle is felt to consist of a real external object which is incapsulated in a piece of personality that has engulfed it" (Bion).

Here it seems we are venturing very far from the everyday map, but this is precisely in order to examine the everyday. For Bion is describing something very basic, very concrete, very experiential, i.e., that it is possible for us to inhabit a world -- a psychic space or sensorium -- that consists of persecutory objects that are vivified by the bits of our personality engulfed by them. If not for this process, then the world would just appear "dead" to the psychotic, but it is very much alive, in a monstrous and menacing way.

I would suggest and perhaps insist that something similar must be the motive force of our psychopathic Islamist monsters. For what do they see when they see us, or Paris, or Jews? Do they see them at all?

And it's not just Islamists. For we could ask the same question of the fascist snowflakes of the Campus Crybully movement, or the auto-persecutory slaves of the Black Lives Matter sickness. When the latter looks at a white person, what does he see? He sees a projected bit of his own psychic enslavement.

So, why does this Black Life project his enslavement into the external world, where it contains and persecutes him? The question answers itself, because it is a dreadful thing to be enslaved by one's own thoughts, perceptions, and passions. Yes, our first property is the self, but only if we make it so, i.e., by ruling and mastering ourselves.

You could say that the persecuted Black Life would actually prefer to be mastered by white people than to undergo the painful process of mastering himself, the only true liberation. Which is the real reason why there are so many blacks in prison -- as if you can vote for a huge government to do only pleasant things for you, and not expect it to do unpleasant things to your unmastered ass!

What Happens Next? I mean, once you inhabit a world consisting of unmetabolized and projected bits of your own personality?

"The patient now moves, not in a world of dreams, but in a world of objects which are ordinarily the furniture of dreams." These objects of psychic furniture are "primitive yet complex," and partake of various qualities which are integrated into the healthy personality, say, anger.

This really explains how and why the liberal sees us as he does. When a liberal describes a conservative, we naturally say, "Dude, that's crazy. You sound like you've never actually spoken with a conservative."

In this regard, the village liberal is like the medieval peasant who never met a Jew, but knows only that they have horns and cloven feet.

You could say that for the liberal, his intestine is where his brain should be. Thus, it is strictly inaccurate to say they have shit for brains. Rather, shit for thoughts.

It also explains why they cannot "swallow" -- which is to say, assimilate -- a thing we say. That's just not what an intestine does. Not only that, but the effort to put an object in there will naturally be experienced as an aggression, a "violent intrusion." It's why liberals are always buttsore about some microaggression.

What is the solution for this madness? A little thing called thinking: "An attempt to think involves bringing back to control, and therefore to his personality, the expelled particles and their accretions" (Bion). In so doing, the projections must be translated into words, so it can be a long and painful process.

From a very different angle, Schuon describes these same phenomena in To Have a Center. He writes of how "To be normal is to be homogeneous and to be homogeneous is to have a center."

Thus, a normal homo has his diverse sapiens (thinking) in a row: "if not altogether univocal," he is "at least concordant." He isn't fundamentally fractured and dispersed like an Islamist or campus snowflake. "Such a soul is a priori a 'house divided against itself,' and thus destined to fall, eschatologically speaking" -- which is a nice way of saying destined for hell.

Schuon even speaks of the psychopath, who, "not knowing how to master himself, has to be mastered by others." Such a man "finds his center only outside himself."

Almost all activists are of this nature, from the global warmists to Islamists to Black Lives Matter. Their only psychic continuity is an artificial narrative that they impose on the world, and they are personally threatened by any threat to the narrative -- which is what makes these snowflakes so flaky to begin with.

Let's get back to our koan about the stars being inside us and the quantum world outside. Does it have a solution?

Consider how, when light from a distant star is registered on our retina, we not only see the past, but use this information-containing light to construct the cosmos, such that the cosmos is a kind of re-projection of what we have assimilated. This is literal photo[light]synthesis.

As for the quantum world, here again, this is just a projection of the mathematics we already have inside of us.

There's more, but we're out of time for today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Matter is the Ultimate Abstraction, Mind the Ultimate Concretion

Back to Ultimate Reality and how it gets that way. First, I think we can stipulate that it is either changeless or changing. For Plato, change and truth were essentially antithetical, which is why he sought reality outside the transient appearances of the world.

Inside his cave, all is shadow and movement, but outside the cave are the pure and unchanging forms. These forms can be trusted because they are always the same, whereas the world keeps changing on us. Thus, in the Platonic view, science deals only with the circumstances of the cave, while philosophy addresses what goes on outside.

Now, what is metaphysics? At least in the Whitehead/Hartshorne tradition, it is the study of those principles that simply Cannot Not Be True. Therefore, everything we perceive and experience (for there is no a priori reason to place "matter" above "experience") will be a special case of these more general principles.

Some people believe it is possible to think coherently without metaphysics, but they are asses. They are so naive and lacking in self-awareness that there is no reason to waste a moment arguing with them. For in fact, any statement about reality betrays any number of hidden assumptions. Thus, to deny metaphysics is to affirm it.

I was thinking about this the other day in reading Ridley's Evolution of Everything. Here he is, at once insisting that free will is an illusion, and yet, trying to convince us that this is the case. So which is it: are we free to assent to truth, or not?

Although free will is self-evident -- for it reveals itself to be so in any meaningful communication -- it is also easy to prove (onto)logically. Yes, things have causes. However, there are so many causes that go into being human -- literally millions of them -- that this equates to being undetermined by them.

What I mean is that the causes are many -- even infinitely many, considering our billions (or is it trillions?) of neural interconnections, not to mention whatever is going on at the quantum level.

And yet we -- assuming we are healthy, AKA whole -- are one. Now, how does that even happen? In other words, how do the trillions of causes harmoniously resolve themselves into one effect, if that effect isn't its own (at least partial) cause of those effects?

I always remember something Whitehead wrote back in 1925, and I've never heard it refuted: that

"an electron within a living body is different from an electron outside it, by reason of the plan of the body. The electron blindly runs either within or without the body; but it runs within the body in accordance with its character within the body; that is to say, in accordance with the general plan of the body, and this plan includes its mental state" (emphasis mine).

Therefore, biology (or organism) by definition transcends physics: you can't get to the former solely by way of the latter.

A reductionist such as Ridley pretends that we are only a consequence of lower causes such as chemicals and genes and instincts, when there is actually a two-way causation, from the bottom up and top down. This ubiquitous dual causation is another cosmic complementarity.

But I ask you: of the two forms of causation, which must be primary? Is it even intellectually conceivable that those trillions of causes could result in the simplest and most unitary experience of them all, I AM? Indeed, without this latter, it is not even possible to entertain the idea of causality.

Ultimately, we would say that, just as being is an abstraction from becoming, part is an abstraction from whole, and material and efficient causation are abstractions from formal and final causation.

Indeed, matter itself is an abstraction from something that is always flowing and always interiorly related. There is no such thing as an unambiguous bit of exterior matter, right here and right now, unrelated to everything else.

This only highlights how any form of ideology -- whether political or religious or scientistic -- is really an idolatry, or an elevation of some abstraction to the concrete reality.

This is precisely the burden Obama's little mind labors under, such that he can no longer even perceive concrete reality. In other words, he is trapped inside an ideological abstraction that forces concrete facts to comport with it.

And people say the second commandment is irrelevant!

Again: matter itself is an abstraction. Therefore, what is actually concrete?

What is concrete and undeniable is organism. To paraphrase Whitehead, biology is the study of large organisms, while physics is the study of small ones. Indeed, thanks to relativity and quantum physics, we now understand that cosmology is the study of the largest organism (excluding God, i.e., the metacosmic organism of the Trinity).

Where were we?

I'll just close off with a relevant quote by Hartshorne:

[T]he stimuli moulding an experience are many.... but all this multiplicity of influences is to produce a single unitary experience, yours or mine right now, let us say.

The effect is one; the causes, however, are many, literally hundreds of thousands, billions even, considering the cells in our brains, for example. This vast multitude of factors must flow together to produce a single new entity, the experience of the moment.

I also wanted to say something about how the so-called quantum world below is actually outside us, while the starry expanse is inside, but maybe we'll get to that tomorrow, when I regather my many thoughts into another one post.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Constitutional Law is What You Can Get Away With

In response to people who aren't so sure it's a good idea to import thousands of Muslims into the country at this particular time, President Obama said that failure to do so would represent a "betrayal of our values."

He didn't specify which ones, but he was probably referring to well-known liberal value of being so broadminded as to refuse to take one's own side in a war. Indeed, the left has effectively been fighting for the Islamists since 9-11, so it would be hypocritical to stop now.

Being that this country -- love it or hate it -- was explicitly founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, it is a little difficult to understand why giving priority to Christian refugees would betray those values. Christians throughout the Middle East are being murdered by Muslims.

By way of analogy, "in the 1930s and 40s it should have been permissible for American officials to view Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied territory differently from those of, say, non-Jewish Germans who sought to flee Europe..."

It is actually a betrayal of our values not to let these persecuted Christians jump to the head of the line.

Even -- or especially -- Muslims should be able to acknowledge that our values are not Muslim values. Consider the plight of the so-called Palestinians, who only exist because no Arab-Muslim state will absorb these pathetic refugees.

In actual practice, "Muslim values" dictate that the Palestinians remain a permanently stateless people so as to pose a mortal threat to Israel. That is why they exist. There is no Judeo-Christian analogue to weaponizing a people for the purposes of promoting genocide.

Islamic values dictate that man exists to surrender to God, and by extension, to the state. Thus, there is nothing un-Islamic per se about the Islamic state. Indeed, every Arab constitution is rooted in Sharia law, which is as it should be (if one is to embrace Muslim values).

Our values hold that government exists for us, not we for it. Prior to the separation of church and state is the separation of society and government. Our culture was a spontaneous outgrowth of our Judeo-Christian values, and the purpose of government is to protect this sphere of liberty and personal responsibility, i.e., self-governance.

Why do we have a constitution? For one reason, which bifurcates into two. That is, it is to protect us from tyranny. But tyranny comes in two forms, from the tyrant and the mob. Note that if we were actually a democracy, then no constitution would be necessary, since law would be reduced to the tyranny of the majority.

Now, does the federal government have the power to compel the states to accept foreign refugees they don't want? The question answers itself, for no one would have signed the constitution if they were signing away such a power.

As Madison wrote, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite" (in Charles, emphasis mine).

And the latter "extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state." It seems to me that the forced importation of potential terrorists touches on the latter three.

Jefferson, commenting on the above, wrote that "To take a single step beyond the boundaries" of the enumerated powers "is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to definition."

Unfortunately, that horse has long since left the barn. For example, if the federal government can force us to purchase a particular kind of health insurance, what can't it force us to do? What is the principle that protects one from the reach of the state, if it can already reach into our bodies -- if our "first property" isn't even our own?

Now, what does this all have to do with ultimate reality?

Well, one's vision of ultimate reality is necessarily the source of one's values, is it not? The real issue is that for a nihilist such as Obama, his only value is power.

And being that Professor Obama is a liberal Constitutional Scholar, he knows as well as anyone that constitutional law is defined by what you can get away with, precisely. Time and again throughout his presidency he has proven that this is a nation of law, and that the law is what he wants it to be.

But if this value of his is truly universal, it means that we too are the source of our own truth, law, and reality, so we are free to ignore this dimwitted pest.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ultimate Reality: I Think it Moved

It happens. Flat out of inspiration at the moment. It always comes back eventually, but one doesn't want to have a sense of entitlement. If you have any ideas for subjects, feel free to share.

If only for my own benefit, I would like to take time to review why I think God not only changes, but must be the very essence of change.

As we've discussed before, changelessness tends to get a free ride -- and change an unfair reputation -- because of the ancient Greeks. In turn, the early fathers, because they wanted to show that Christianity could be reconciled with the most prestigious philosophy of the time, identified the Judeo-Christian God with the Greek/Neoplatonic One.

But if we simply take the Bible as it is, and develop a metaphysic from that, then I don't see how anyone could affirm that God in no way changes.

And yet, this is still the Official View. Through the application of pure reason, contemporary Thomists affirm that because things obviously change, this necessitates the existence of an unchanged; or, because things move, there must be an unmoved mover, otherwise we end in an absurd infinite regress in which we have effects with no cause.

But I think God goes to all the trouble of revealing himself as Trinity for a reason. If the Trinity is the foundation of existence, then surely this must imply some kind of ceaselessly creative change, no? In other words, the first cause is not a substance or a thing, but a process -- not a noun but a verb.

Verb, of course, is cognate to word. Just sayin'.

Hartshorne covers this topic in his Creative Synthesis & Philosophic Method (which I do not recommend -- too turgid and diffuse). He points out that "Prior to the twentieth century, scarcely any philosopher... saw in the idea of creativity a fundamental principle, a category applicable to all reality."

It wasn't really until Whitehead, and I suppose Bergson before, that process, creativity, and evolution began to be appreciated in their own right.

Now, the moment I encountered Whitehead, I concluded that what he was saying Must Be True. Not all of it -- I am not a Whiteheadian -- but at least the broad outlines. I'm trying to think back on when I first bumped into him... must have been in the early 1980s, and he has been an implicit touchstone ever since (as has Polanyi).

I don't know, maybe I'm a little effed up in the head, but someone needs to explain to me how God can "create" without undergoing change. It seems to me that there is no way to squeeze creativity out of a changeless entity, unless you just play word games.

Let's look at it in a purely logical manner: the world isn't necessary, but rather, contingent. We can all agree on that. It didn't have to come into being. Rather, God had a choice.

Or, maybe you are suggesting that God had the choice of whether or not to be creative, and that if he had chosen not to create, then there would be no such thing as creativity? Nevertheless, this implies the possibility of creating, i.e., potential (which, in the traditional view, God is not supposed to have; rather, he is all act and no potency).

I just remembered my key takeaway from reading Whitehead: it is that ultimate reality is subject rather than object. This goes to the discussion in the last post, and to my rejection of Matt Ridley's vision of cosmic evolution: for him, it is as if it is objects all the way down, whereas for Whitehead, it is subjects all the way down.

To be precise, subject-object is one of our primordial cosmic complementarities. However, as with all cosmic complementarities, one must be prior, and in this case it is the subject, because you cannot get a subject out of an object, but you can get objects from the subject.

Now, to say that ultimate reality is subjective is but a step away from saying it is Person. Looking at the Trinity, we can say that it is one process with three "objects" (in a manner of speaking). Or better, there is this subject-object vector at the very heart of reality. When a person relates to another person, it is in the form of both subject and object.

Back to the divine creativity: "a free agent must create something in himself, even if he decides not to create anything else; for the decision, if free, is itself a creation."

For Hartshorne, the implication is that "freedom is self-creation," or in other words, freedom means not being determined by outside agents. To the extent one is determined, one is not free. So God is either changeless or he is free.

It seems to me that to be made in the image of God is to be invited to participate in God's trinitarian nature.

Or, let's turn it around and suppose that the God of whom we are the image and likeness is the unmoved mover. In this view, "God influences all things, nothing influences God. For him there are no 'stimuli'..." Is this how God wants us to be? An unchangeable absolute? How can something that is admirable in God be sociopathic for humans?

I read somewhere over the weekend that the Father is God beyond us, the Son God with us, and the Spirit God in us. How in particular can God be with us without being truly open to us?

Hartshorne completely inverts the traditional view in a way that I find quite appealing. That is, instead of being the distant and absolute unmoved mover, God is the most relative thing conceivable, as in relationship. He is related to everything and everyone, most intensely to human persons.

And although Hartshorne nowhere mentions the Trinity, God's relatedness must be because he is intensely related even -- or quintessentially -- to himself: ultimate reality is pure relationship and therefore "relativity." It moves.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Cosmic Ramble Between the Many and the One

I wonder if it's a coincidence that our totalitarian college students are laboring under the same deficiency as our president: a congenital inability to join in with the rest of us and laugh at themselves.

One quick way to limit the "problem" of racial insensitivity on college campuses would be to end racial discrimination, AKA affirmative action. One suspects that the students who have been affirmatively acted upon are the most acutely aware of an unconscious inferiority that needs to be denied and projected into others.

People who excessively project are never funny, because what they are projecting is always a matter of fierce urgency -- which is why they are projecting it to begin with.

When I see students who looks like this,

I immediately assume they have no business being in an institute of higher learning, but that they have been inserted there for reasons of "diversity." Is this insensitive? Well, then end the racial discrimination to which I am sensitive. I don't have the same perception when I see an Asian student wandering around the engineering department. I have never wondered how on earth Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams or Shelby Steele managed to earn their PhDs.

Back to the subject of how these cosmic assouls get that way. Yesterday we spoke of how the revolution of 1776 wasn't a revolution at all, but a restatement and a recovery. There was, however, a revolution prior to it, but it was an interior revolution. In the words of John Adams,

"The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.... This radical change in the principles, obligations, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution" (in Charles).

In turn, I would say that this revolution was actually an evolution, or a psycho-pneumatic development. This is what renders it cosmically universal instead of being just an idiosyncratic feature of our particular culture. To put it another way, the principles upon which the interior revolution was founded were discovered, not invented, much less imposed in a top-down manner.

Liberty, truth, creativity, and virtue are all intimately related, such that none can be detached from the others without losing its meaning. This is the great error of a truly awful book I'm slogging through called The Evolution of Everything, by Matt Ridley. I hardly know where to begin.

Yes, most everything is evolving, but the fact that we can say this means that at least one thing isn't evolving. That would be a little thing called truth. Unless you believe nothing is true, in which case your theory of evolution falls by its own standard.

Another book I do not recommend but which contains far more truth about cosmic evolution is Charles Hartshorne's Creative Synthesis & Philosophic Method, for at least he is a philosopher, and therefore understands the religious and metaphysical implications of an evolutionary cosmos. Unlike Ridley, he is not a boneheaded materialist.

If Everything is Evolving, it means that becoming takes precedence over being, and with this axiom we have no disagreement. But just because you have eliminated the abstract and static Greek God of Pure Being, it hardly means you have dispensed with God. It just means you have dispatched a certain image or projection of God. An idol.

But what if Creativity is our first principle? Then it should come as no surprise that Everything is Evolving; plus there is the added benefit of understanding how it can be that things evolve toward higher and deeper and more comprehensive unities. Then you are not reduced to positing almighty Chance as your ultimate category, which is another way of saying that you have no explanation, or that the Answer is "just becuz."

For Hartshorne, "To be is to create." What this means is that being is actually an abstraction of becoming, not vice versa. Once you recognize this, then it all falls together. Creativity always involves the attainment of a kind of higher unity, of -- to paraphrase Whitehead -- the many becoming one and increasing by one.

The many → one vector is not deterministic. Thus, in the creative act between many and one is our freedom.

Now, that might sound a little abstract, but I assure you it isn't. Recall what was said a few posts back about our political liberty:

"In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power" (Charles). But in America it is precisely the converse: here "charters of power" are "granted by liberty.... [T]he American people were telling the government of their own creation what its powers were, not being told by that government what their liberties were."

It's quite a striking contrast: for the left, liberty is granted by power. But for us, power is granted by liberty. And liberty is completely intertwined with truth, and before that, the divine love. In other words, while the source of liberty is not in the state, it still has a source. That source is and must be God (as made explicit in the Declaration).

To be is to create, and we cannot create if we aren't free. Therefore, the highest form of freedom is really a creative becoming. Which, in my opinion, also happens to be the terrestrial icon of God, for God is free, he creates, and he is relationship, and therefore undergoes a kind of endless trinitarian "becoming." Otherwise he'd be bored stiff, and we'd be too. God is an adventure -- with us, obviously, but also in himself.

As for Ridley, who has overstepped the boundaries of his matter-mind and is trying to operate way above his evolutionary paygrade:

If anything is unscientific, it is the denial of aspects of existence because they seem inconvenient for our methods.... Science has enough to do if it seeks to trace out the mechanisms which underlie and limit creativity. The creative as such is perhaps outside the sphere of science.... philosophy and religion exist to restore the total perspective, taking all legitimate interests of man into account. --Hartshorne