Solving the World's Problems
That the world has problems is hardly disputable, but that is just about as far as the consensus goes.
That the world has problems and that they might be solvable is a relatively modern idea, but it does predate modernism, per se. Historically, the twin notions of a human predicament and of human transgression are among our earliest attempts to grapple with our pervasive sense of dysfunction. Is this not the well-spring of the religious impulse: there is something about existence which ought to be overcome. Perhaps, more basically, this is simply the result of our seemingly unlimited propensity to distinguish 'is' from 'ought'.
Virtually all mythologies point to a primordial state of equilibrium or grace. Then there is some sort of transgression, human, divine or natural, that has inevitably led to the present state of depravity and suffering. The natural solution to such a pervasive problem is just for the world to come to an end, at which point it might or might not be renewed or recycled in some fashion.
This pretty much describes our pre-modern understanding. With modernism came the notion of progress. This was quite contrary to the idea of a primordial state of grace. The more liberally inclined theists were, however, willing to envision material and political progress in the context of a progressive spiritual history of divine revelation. Hegel epitomizes this worldview. The eschatology, herein, is only obscurely implied.
Then along came Darwin and evolution. We struggle to make any cosmological sense of it. The scientific consensus is that there is no sense to be made of it: WYSIWYG. There is nothing normal about evolution. The past has no particular bearing on the future of evolution. Evolution here has no particular bearing on evolution anywhere else in the universe. The rest of us can only wonder. In general, the notion of progress has suffered in our post-Darwinian world. Postmodernism is just the measure of the failure of the idea of progress. What little remains of the secular idea of progress has been taken over by the transhumanists. Without progress, humanism is left without a rudder. This is the meaning of the 'end of history'. Without a clear and consensual vision, humanists are left in the mode of problem solving, usually of the most piecemeal sort, and which is often accompanied by the fervent hope that things won't get too much worse, too quickly. Yes, postmodernism is underscored by a pervasive secular/sectarian apocalypticism. Utopianism is the orphan of modernism. Thus, today, outside of transhumanist circles, the phrase that is the title of this page may only be uttered with the utmost irony. Can we hope to see beyond the irony? In a word, yes. Short of an apocalypse, postmodernism ought to be an easy act to follow.
From a purely secular perspective, religion is very widely perceived to be high on the list of world problems. There are many polarizing issues in the world, but surely religion ought to be counted as among the most divisive and gratuitous of these. Religious passions are often seen to divide region, nation and family. Secular and sectarian interests are often at variance. My own introduction to the practical significance of religious beliefs came with my concerns relative to the detrimental consequences of population growth. It was clear that religion played a crucial role in decisions effecting fertility.
What secularists persistently fail to see is the other side of this coin. Can our human potential be realized without evoking those passions which seem so amenable to religious arousal? If the world's problems are simply amenable to solution by market forces, then perhaps the only human emotion required will be that of material greed. That unbridled greed could be the answer to our problems seems oxymoronic. Reducing humanity to its lowest common denominator might be preferable to constant religious strife, but even that trade-off seems highly questionable.
What seems perfectly clear is that materialism fails to engage the human psyche in anything but the most superficial manner. Scientific materialism has attempted to reduce every problem to technologically manageable proportions. Specialists in every field of expertise stand ready to tackle each specifiable portion of our predicament. Every special interest marshals its own experts. That the resulting mishmash of conflicting interests is totally lacking in coherence is the problem of no one. The result can hardly fail to exacerbate the underlying condition of alienation or anomie, which most observers would place high on the list of human problems.
If then, in our search for answers to the human predicament, we were finally forced to confront the spiritual dimension of it, how might we possibly proceed? It would seem that the historical solution to the religious problem has already been well established. It is just pantheism. Is not pantheism the religion that could have been designed by a committee of relatively disinterested observers? It is certainly the most tolerant and most inclusive of all the traditions. Has not pantheism already made remarkable inroads amongst those secularists who have become disillusioned with modernism and scientific materialism?
My concern with pantheism is that it seems too much to be a watered-down theism. By definition it has no solid core. Most of its adherents have historically continued to embrace a devotional practice that takes the form of a limited theism. Only the most austere of its intellectuals ever seem able to 'embrace' the impersonal Brahman. Furthermore, the popularity of pantheism among our moderns seems to rest just on its refusal to place demands on their lives. Pantheism is the solace of the private individual. Its social dimension appears deliberately muted.
Indeed, pantheism may well suffice in its newfound role as the spiritual complement to scientific materialism. But that seems to be the extent of it. It provides no greater vision or coherence. In as much as our problems manifest a crucial social dimension, pantheism brings only the most limited resources to the table. Pantheism has never been known for the reshaping of communities. That has never been its function. Pantheism seems deliberately designed not to engage the human spirit. In contrast with the crusading excesses of monotheism, that may be a positive feature.
Playing with spiritual fire is bound to entail risks. Are these risks that we can afford not to take? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Let me just say that if we are indeed creatures, then by continuing to ignore that fact we cannot possibly expect to address our creaturely predicament. These pages on this site are intended just to explore our putative creaturely status and its possible entailments.
Long before science came on the scene, our creaturely status was left in doubt under the aegis of pantheism. This I find curious. It is difficult now to reconstruct the primordial myths of creation. We cannot ascertain the degree to which the pantheist downplaying of creation was a departure from the primordial base line.
I review Britannica's (2001) very concise summary of the basic creation themes. I notice that I have, wittingly or not, borrowed significant elements from each of the basic themes. In each of these elements I depart from the absolutist, ex nihilo view of the monotheist, prophetic tradition. But, in upholding the coherence of Creation, I yield nothing to any tradition or myth. I continue to be perplexed by the fundamental incoherence of traditional monotheism, and this incoherence is most emphatic in the dualism between the Creator and Creation. We need to get to the bottom of that dualism in order to meliorate it. The Incarnation event should have severely undermined that dualism. That it did not is the greatest of historical puzzles.
When it is stated that the supreme being created the world and that there was no primordial matter prior to his being, then the determination of the world is in the mind and will of the deity. This leads to distinctive conclusions regarding the destiny of the world and man. The end (and meaning) of the world is thus not determined by the primordial matter but by the deity who created the world. It is he alone who determines the preservation, maintenance, and end of the world. (Britannica 2001)
This is the distinctive element of theism that I wholeheartedly endorse, with the caveat that our full participation in this scheme does nothing to detract from the value of the Creator. Also, please note that the Matrix, while primordial, is in no way material. Mind over matter is the core idea of the BPW hypothesis. The only way to ensure this outcome is to give free-rein to coherence. God is self-limiting only in respect to coherence. Incoherence is of no benefit either to Creator or Creation, as if they could ever be truly distinguished.
God emerges from the Matrix just in the act of Creation. To deny the Matrix is actually to deny the power and being of God. It is to deny the very possibility of the Incarnation. My point is that God is self-created out of the Matrix. To deny to God the power of self-creation is to deny almost everything. The Matrix is not that. Does God share the glory of the Matrix? Does God become a demi-urge relative to it? These are issues that do not need to be swept aside by anyone's fiat. The Matrix underwrites the possibility that makes possible the best possible world. Perhaps even God cannot fathom the end of that possibility.
If the X1-event could not persuade the monotheists of monism, what chance does X2 have? Obviously science will have to play a role. The Matrix is the logical ramification of the Quantum. Monism is the ramification of the Matrix as it is informed by neo-Platonism in the context of a Pythagorean inspired mathematical physics.
Was the Incarnation not, then, premature by two millennia? Did it not fall on deaf ears? No. The Gnostics did get the message. They paved the way for our gnostic detour through science. The Alchemists saw divinity in matter. The 'Al' in alchemy speaks even to the Islamic detour of this gnosis. I do not claim to understand the ins and outs of the complex historical transduction of gnosticism. The impetus it received from a Hellenically informed monotheism was, however, not to be duplicated. This was the singular, oracular axis of Delphi and Jerusalem. Monism was the perennial philosophy, which only now is set to show its colors. Monism and the Millennium are virtually synonymous. Monism is all about God's inevitable kingdom. With the final and teleological advent of the Internet, the cosmic coherence of monism is no longer to be denied. We have here the electrified Logos. It comes upon the world in a veritable flash.
The exclusionary dualism of the fundamentalists, in all of its unthinking obduracy, will be the greatest obstacle to our inevitable, teleological, universal gnosis. Surely it will be their Antichrist. It will also be their tar-baby, once they can no longer pretend to ignore it.
Such is the inevitable solution to the otherwise intractable problem of religion. The irresistible force of gnosis meets the immovable object of religion. The dramatic potential could not have been lost on our dramaturgical Metanarrator. If the problem of religion can be solved in a single stroke, can our other problems long remain problematic? Will they not also have to give up the ghost?
Fundamentalism, literalism and bibliolatry are the scourge of the prophetic tradition. The Incarnation is what saved Christianity from the worst excesses of fundamentalism that have, for too many centuries, stultified the mind and spirit of Islam. Christian fundamentalism is, in large measure, the inevitable reaction to an equally intransigent scientism.
The strict monotheists see Christianity as only christolatry. This is just their charge against us. Our excessively overworked trinitarian formulations do little to dispel this notion; nor, even, does the empty cross.
On these pages, rather than its trinitarianism, I stress the monism of the Advent. Yes, the cross, empty or not, is the stumbling block of the trinitarians. It seems that their formulaics is meant only to put a distance between their absolute God and the messiness of the Christ event. The cross is a scandal, even or especially, for the trinitarians. One thing that we learn from the mythos is that Creation is just the self-sacrifice of God. Trinitarians see Jesus as the substitute for God. Substitutional atonement convicts us of christolatry.
Not the monotheists, not the pantheists, not the Platonists could ever comprehend the 'mystery' of the Advent. The meaning, however, is plainly stated in the mythos. Creation is necessarily and deliberately a sacrificial act which can only be atoned in the Telos of the resurrection. The resurrection is no gratuitous reward for good behavior. It is the heart of the cosmic logos. It is universal or it is nothing.
Christolatry is a confusion perpetrated mainly by Christians who, ironically, downplay the full measure of the Advent. No one fears monism to the extent of the monotheists. We can bear to take our truth only in portions. Are we finally prepared to bear the burden of Creation? Only now is there no logical choice. We are left with no way out.
What then of the pantheist/polytheist avatars? What of Krishna and Buddha, etc.? Thus are so many of us instructed in our divinity. Thus is monism comprehended. The only thing missing is the oracular Telos: the axis or omphalos of Delphi and Jerusalem. The avatars then are actors. They are not the Metanarrator. The truth was duly apportioned between East and West. The alchemical recombination is just the final, universal advent.
I started off today with the NY Times review 'Is Terrorists' Hatred of the West the West's Own Bastard Child' of Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies. This then led me to:
- save the world, or your soul,
- The Enlightenment- The Rise of Modern Paganism,
- Enemies of the Enlightenment- The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity,
- Civilization and Its Enemies - The Next Stage of History.
Some useful ideas, these. Are we the 'bastards' of the Enlightenment? The Enlightenment was the deracination of the Western mind. It was rationalism without coherence; surely one of the deadliest toxins ever. It made the world safe for nihilism, fundamentalism, communism and fascism. Democracy is nothing without the 'Created Equal' presupposition of the Constitution. We were left with the bull-dozer of modernism, and now the cacophony of postmodernism. Remind me to contrast paganism and pantheism.
Here is a useful comparison: paganism and pantheism. This leads to Creation Spirituality (1991) of Matthew Fox. I have not given Matthew a hearing, yet. Yet, are we to revere Creation without understanding the Creator and our role as co-creators? The BPW is of scant value outside of the spirit that gave rise to it and with which it is imbued. It seems that pantheism cannot escape its compulsive depersonalization. Is pantheism a glorification of reductionism?
I think I'm still having a little problem with the intrinsic value of Creation. It is still possible to be pessimistic about the world. Both theism and pantheism traditionally support the negative view. There is a human predicament which can only be overcome with either an individual or historical eschatology. Does this not deprive the world of intrinsic value? Would we not have been better off without Creation? Could we not just have basked in nirvana, and skipped all the pain in the world? Who would need samsara and salvation? Only when we are on the brink of self-annihilation do we seem to harbor doubts about the negativity of existence.
Now I could point out that without Creation, the world remains a figment of the imagination, but would that discretion not have been the better part of divine valor? What was the compulsion to go through this exercise? Why did Eve have to eat that apple? What did all her gnosis accomplish? Wasn't the real temptation just to have avoided the taste treat? We can see the culpa, but where is the felicity? Is the passion not masochism?
Does it not finally come down to the fact that without creation the cosmos would be radically incomplete? There is a higher aesthetic of the pleroma which overrides pain, regardless. To say that this is the best possible world is not to say that it must be intrinsically pleasurable. It is something that can best be appreciated in retrospect. Is it only fear of death that prevents suicide? There remains that vital impulse which is simply not to be denied. Since it cannot be denied, we can only hope to minimize its often deleterious consequences. The half empty cup, is still vastly superior to no cup at all. Why do the traditions fail to make this point? The point, I think is always implicit in theism, but not necessarily in pantheism. But then in pantheism, is there not also the pagan impulse of a deep ecology, a valorization of nature that is much too often absent in theism. Why can we not do Matthew's creation spirituality and embrace both the immanence and transcendence of life? We do this instinctively, but then we argue about which is better. We let ourselves into the logic trap of either/or. The world cannot possibly be big enough for both immanence and transcendence. Or can it be? Does our salvation just consist of relinquishing our obduracy? We cling to our agnosis just as we cling to life. In some sense they are synonymous. There is also an impulse to coherence that finally cannot be denied. Matriculation is not always easy. We have to give ourselves permission. The salutation of God is almost always simply: fear not.
The worst thing that we might say about this world is that it is a work in progress. Does that place too great a burden upon ourselves? Do we not measure up to the task? Can we not rise to the occasion? God's stick is pretty obvious. The carrot may be less so.
I still struggle with trying to explain the dualism that is endemic to the monotheist tradition. Several issues arise.
Science might not have been possible without the Cartesian dualism that seems to have followed from the earlier dualism. Is it the ex nihilo Creation that is responsible for the original dualism? Why then ex nihilo? Is it coincidental that the Big Bang hypothesis epitomizes this form of Creation.
Strict monotheism implies that God must exist ex nihilo. There can be no other being that is coeternal. Creation then must be an act of pure will, but is this fact not more compatible with a mentalistic rather than a materialistic world. It must exist as a mental construct, in line with the similar pantheist view.
The traditional gnostics and pantheists generally agreed that the material world in general and the body in particular is a trap or cage for the spirit. But both traditions also posit a pristine state of the world that runs down and/or is corrupted by human malfeasance. It is human evil or karma that is set apart from Brahmin or deity. Is matter then the corruptor or the corrupted? There seems to be ambiguity. Eve's partaking of the apple is the most concise statement of this conundrum. The Garden of Eden was a pantheist's paradise up to that point. God walked with us in the garden. The ouroboric serpent had to be put asunder. Procreation came into the picture. It is almost as if the original sin was just our own act of self-identity. That was our false gnosis that we would spend the rest of creation trying to overcome. Objectification is the original sin, but how could that act be distinguished from the act of creation itself? Being created in the image of God, we would necessarily recapitulate that act. Analytical reductionism must play itself out to its logical nihilist conclusion, which somehow reflects the original ex nihilo act.
How did the pantheists manage to overcome this metaphysical dualism, while the theists did not? They did so only by neglecting creation and salvation. Atomism seems unavoidable. It must apply either to matter or to the soul. The anthropocentrism of theism may also be a factor missing from pantheism.
What I am struggling with here is the historical limitation of gnosis. Is the limitation internal or external? Either supposition is problematic. Another factor here may be the dismemberment myth of Creation as seen in the Egyptian myth of Osiris, for instance. This is part of the equation of creation and sacrifice, also seen in the Incarnation and in communion. There is a semiotic nexus here that resists analysis, but which is the source of the analytic imperative. It almost rises to the status of world knot. Pantheism glosses over this knot, while theism practically smothers it.
This knot may also refer back to the Freudian discontent of civilization that is acted out in the iconoclasm of the terrorist/nihilist . Jesus was the ultimate iconoclast. There is that irrational, anti-Hobbesian core of civilization which the rational theist must resolve. The resolution is necessarily eschatological. It has to do with the finitude of the BPW. One wonders that there is not a mathematical analogy. The Monster Group is perhaps an expression of it. Was Girard the anthropologist who dealt with this? Something about violence and the sacred....here is a website, here is the book, here an exposition.
Many years ago I read Rene Girard's Violence and the Sacred. I note that its influence has hardly diminished. It seems to have maintained a nearly cultic status in academic circles. If anything, I am more disappointed now than I was then. There are, however, some useful points. Between Girard's mimetics and Dawkins' memetics, there is bound to be an interesting connection. Furthermore, Rene's thesis certainly adds to my thesis concerning theism vs. pantheism. However, as an 'explanation' of religion, could there be a more grotesque trivialization? It may well be this gothic twist that provides the cultic cachet.
With Rene & Co., does materialism not parody itself? Chercher la corpse. Where are the CSI boys and girls when we need them? Did Rene miss the whole point of the non-extant corpus delicti? What is the point?
My point is: as above, so below. This is a phrase that does not roll off the tongue of the materialist. It all goes back to AZO/X/QRP, along with M & D, and now with the conspiracy theory, I have one-upped Rene as the plot thickens.
It is strange how the pantheists even manage to ignore the pantheon or Z(odiac), that pillar of paganism. I like these expositions of Chronos or Saturn. Zeus (Jupiter, Thor, Thursday) usurps Chronos (Saturn, Saturday). Perhaps I should stop here, but, heck, what is there to lose? What about Friday? Venus/Freya intervenes between Zeus and Chronos. Is it too great a stretch to assign X to Venus? X breaks the Zodiacal cycle by conspiring with and/or tricking his neighbors, Zeus and Chronos, and history is created over his dead body. They did not appreciate the trick, perhaps. Eve eats the apple, and then tramples on the head of the zodiacal serpent/ouroboros. It looses its grip on its tail. Eve usurps its implied procreativity to fill the gap. Mind the gap. The whole story is in the mythos, the pieces just have to be rearranged. Monotheism has to be a conspiracy, no way around it. The violence and the sacred, the concealing and revealing are all bound up in this one gnosis or one apple, if you will. The hermaphroditic ouroboros must await the hierogamos. This is not rocket science, is it?
Is it then the case that theism has attempted to conceal the conspiracy by adopting dualism? Why should the concealment be worth that cost? The pantheists also conceal the conspiracy and the sacrifice. There is still something I'm missing here. Is there still a part of mimetics that is missing? Was X the zodiacal scapegoat? The problem must have been cosmic. What was it? Why was it? Creation was just scapegoat-ism carried to an extreme?
On my previous website I spoke on occasion about the 'inversion' of the cosmos, by way of its 'recycling'. This was, mind you, only meant to be a one time event. Here is a more recent reference. To avoid discontinuity, the major portion of the inversion was done in the microcosms of our minds. Thus could we avoid a 'naked' singularity, the bane of physical cosmology. I'm not sure how this inversion would play out in the context of the Matrix (first mentioned here), which is more recent emendation. I'm speculating there could be a link here to the concealment of sacrificial violence. I recall various diagrams of circles being replaced by figure-eights. X was the center of the 8. The central intersection could be elaborated into a horizontal '8', with the two additional intersections being the Alpha and Omega. The entire figure was composed of one continuous line. The '8' was like the elliptical symmetry breaking of the circle that ultimately produces the Monster Group.
I start out with Britannica's exposition of sacrifice. And until I read about it just now, I had been under the impression that sacrifices were meant mainly as food offerings to the gods. Now, be honest, how many of you are laboring under this same impression? Wrong! Thus the true offering would be a cremation, with the food being delivered to heaven as holy smoke. Not always wrong. But here's the real deal. It is the life that is being offered. Thus does the primordial ritual of sacrifice almost always involve animals, with the animal's life generally seen as a substitute for a human life.
For an eschatologist, this is an awkward admission of ignorance. Is the eschaton not the harvest of souls? Are we not the ultimate soul food? No, the gods are not crazy, they're just hungry. All of our sacrifices are micro-eschatons. They are simply our feeble attempt to postpone our personal and historical eschatons.
When did sacrifices stop? At some point sacrifices became identified with paganism. In the prophetic tradition, the transition probably coincided with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This marked the transition from the priestly to the rabbinical form of Judaism. This was also when monotheism took on its universalist, absolutist ambitions. Creator and Creation were separated, the latter becoming entirely gratuitous. The eschaton was no longer a harvest, but simply a reward or punishment. In the nascent Christian communities there was even a reversal of the sacrifice as seen in the communion rite.
What has been thoroughly concealed by theists and pantheists is any semblance of mutuality between Creator and Creation. The pantheists fall back on subjective idealism or illusionism. The theists fall back on absolutism and either a Cartesian or sectarian dualism.
Only the gnostics knew better, but they were ahead of their time. How have they been contained? It must have been more than just the Inquisition. What was the cosmic censorship? A good deal of their charism was diverted into the magical monism of technosis. There was also the diversion of Millenarianism and utopianism. The latter-day merging of technosis and utopianism is no small matter. This combination is now the primary buffer between us and the eschaton.
Hegel was the last of the gnostics. As we saw, he followed Thomism, but with a considerable gap. Following Thomas came the agnostic academic split between theology and (pagan/secular) philosophy. This split remains unaccounted. The Renaissance was very much a pagan phenomenon. The pagans but not the gnostics avoided the Inquisitors. Catholicism had long learned to accommodate pagans as beyond the pale. The gnostics, however, were too close to home. Paganism was another outlet for gnosticism in the interregnum between Thomism and technosis. With the outpourings of Millenarianism, paganism, scientism, and finally pantheism, gnosticism remained, with the possible and significant exception of Hegel, an underground stream, biding its time. It took every bit of Marx and Darwin to derail the Hegelians. The fact that Hegel was an impersonalist (transhumanist?) constrained his attempt at coherence.
That synopsis brings us back to the present. The revival of the gnostic impulse is what is now at stake. We could do worse than to try gnosis (241,000 hits). Not too promising. The Catholic encyclopedia is down again, so I fall back on Britannica. A significant belief of the gnostics was the demiurge. What is not clear is the precedence for my identification of that one with X. Should that be any big stretch? Consistent with the demiurge is that 'evil' (demiurge/Creation??) resulted from a break within the Godhead. We are certainly barking up the same tree. Sacrifice is both a reenactment and repair of this break.
Eastern Gnosticism took a somewhat different course. Under the influence of traditional Iranian religion, the semi-Gnostic Manichaeism developed an absolute cosmic dualism between soul and matter. Moreover, it showed the enormous influence of Syrian asceticism, but it was equally rooted in popular Gnosticism and preserved its essential doctrines. (Brit.)
Too many people equate this quasi-Cartesian dualism with gnosticism generally. We will have to fix that. The deontic result is similar to that of traditional pantheism: get off the wheel! The neo-pagan, naturalistic pantheists should have already made a big dent in this dualism. Was the Eastern gnosticism non-eschatological?
The world, produced from evil matter and possessed by evil demons, cannot be a creation of a good God; it is mostly conceived of as an illusion, or an abortion, dominated by Yahweh, the Jewish demiurge, whose creation and history are depreciated. This world is therefore alien to God, who is for the Gnostics depth and silence, beyond any name or predicate, the absolute, the source of good spirits who together form the pleroma, or realm of light. (Ibid.)
This sounds like pure pantheism to me. So gnosticism gets diverted into pantheistic dualism. How is this? Were there no monistic gnostics? Was it just ecclesiastical politics which maneuvered the gnostics into the dead end of dualism and mysticism? It was Aquinas who took up the much more positive neo-platonic emanationism: the chain of being. This was also taken up by the alchemists. The Church maintained its nearly exclusive hold on the redeemability of the world. The alchemists were the only gnostics true to the BPW hypothesis, and we know what happened to them. They were smothered by their mundane success. Their future was not quite golden, but certainly plastic.
The development of Christian doctrine was to a large extent a reaction against Gnosticism. The formulation of creedal symbols, the canonization of the New Testament Scriptures, and the emphasis on episcopal authority all were made necessary by the Gnostics' claims. Moreover, in some measure the Gnostics were the first theologians, and their systems prompted the systemization of early Christian thought. In addition, they kept alive the great issues of freedom, redemption, and grace, which for a time lost their emphasis among Christian writers. In a later period, the theology of Augustine owed a great deal to his early experience as a Manichaean. (Ibid.)
Are all the loose ends and loose canons accounted for?
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1914), Gnostics....
held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a depravation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Saviour.
[...] The Gnostics, it is true, borrowed their terminology almost entirely from existing religions, but they only used it to illustrate their great idea of the essential evil of this present existence and the duty to escape it by the help of magic spells and a superhuman Saviour. Whatever they borrowed, this pessimism they did not borrow...
[...] This utter pessimism, bemoaning the existence of the whole universe as a corruption and a calamity, with a feverish craving to be freed from the body of this death and a mad hope that, if we only knew, we could by some mystic words undo the cursed spell of this existence -- this is the foundation of all Gnostic thought. It has the same parent-soil as Buddhism; but Buddhism is ethical, it endeavours to obtain its end by the extinction of all desire; Gnosticism is pseudo-intellectual, and trusts exclusively to magical knowledge.
There is in orthodox Christianity the core idea of a magical savior come to break the evil spell cast on the world. The gnostics pushed this idea to a more radical conclusion. With rational theism, the incarnation is reinterpreted.
(from Greek theos, "god"; dike, "justice"), the justification of God, which is concerned with reconciling the goodness and justice of God with the observable facts of evil and suffering in the world.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, in his Theodicy (1710), defended the justice of God in spite of the existence of evil. For him, God is almighty only in that he is able to do that which is logically possible. Certain factors may each be independently possible but mutually incompatible, and, because God created the world under these limitations, the created world is indeed "the best of all possible worlds." (Brit.)
Gottfried, he's my boy! He was only a few centuries ahead of his time; and, yes, those monads have got to go! I never could understand them, anyway. Other than that, he was on the money. Why has this simple answer been so difficult for us to swallow? Leibniz missed two key points: progress and participation. Hegel (c.1830) added progress, along with the dialectic. Participation? That is implicit in the idea of progress. No? The pantheists had, for at least a millennia, fingered ourselves as the demiurges.
The only thing I can really add to all this brilliance, besides the eschaton, is a slight reinterpretation of the X factor. The logical God is the best possible God, and is not going to be omnipotent, especially not as long as we are the demiurgic, best possible co-creators. This renders the omnipotent God otiose. An omnipotent God renders Creation otiose. Jesus was the best possible God making the best possible sojourn. X2? The minimalist, coherent recapitulation.
Why is this so difficult to swallow? I don't think it will be. We just have to permit ourselves to sit down and think about it for five minutes. Then get up and discuss it calmly.
Evil, problem of:
a theological problem that arises for any philosophical or religious view that affirms the following three propositions: (1) God is almighty, (2) God is perfectly good, and (3) evil exists. If evil exists, it seems either that God wants to obliterate evil and is not able to--and thus his almightiness is denied--or that God is able to obliterate evil but does not want to--and thus his goodness is denied.
The theological problem of evil can be solved logically by denying any one of these three propositions. Vedanta Hinduism, Christian Science, and Stoicism have sought to solve the problem by denying the existence of evil. They affirm that evil is mere appearance or is imaginary. The U.S. philosopher William James attempted to solve the problem by denying the almightiness of God. He regarded God as having great but limited power and as being perfectly good. Orthodox Christianity, however, has generally chosen to live with the tension involved in affirming all three propositions. Some, instead of denying the proposition that God is almighty, have defined the proposition to mean that God can do anything that is logically possible. The 17th-century German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, for example, stated that, because God is limited to that which is logically possible, the existence of evil is necessary in this "best of all possible worlds." (Brit.)
They are, all of them, correct, of course. But how were we so fortunate to get the best possible God? We can chalk it up to teleology and a participatory, democratic cosmos. OK, then, what about teleology? I am tempted to say that it is teleology all the way down. Another way to say it is that without teleology there would be virtually nothing, and teleology appears to be a problem mainly for us time-bound creatures.
A curious historical footnote is that gnosticism is rampant amongst ufologists. To put it another way, ufology is just a latter-day rendition of gnosticism. The 'aliens' are the demiurges. We are their victims. I suspect they have the right conspirators, but the wrong conspiracy. The powers-that-be are naturally wont to meddle where they shouldn't. The angels provide a tad of prior restraint. The rest is up to Google and the IAEC. The Sarfattians amongst the ufologists search diligently for the magic salvific formula, after the fashion of technosis and the alchemists, but usually without the spiritual depth of the latter.
Since the proposed solution to the religious problem is so straight forward and so easily accessible, one has to wonder at the seeming paucity of current exemplars. We desperately clutch at our problems out of a natural conservatism based on maintaining our identities, and on our hesitation to revision the world.
The present disturbances in the Middle East are surely playing a role, both positive and negative. Yes, there is a clash of cultures. This much is unavoidable. It is mainly a materialist West against a fundamentalist East, or secularism vs. sectarianism. Intransigence abounds. The clash plays into the hands of extremists.
The impending Millennium will surely be less secular and less materialist, but neither will it be theocratic. There will be a big carrot and a small stick to move us off our duffs. The Islamic militants are generously providing the stick. As to what will constitute the best possible stick, I hesitate to speculate. The ratio of psychological impact over actual suffering should be maximized. The 9/11 incident seems to conform to that stipulation. Will this cause more people to reconsider materialism and sectarianism? Not directly, but 90% of the action will be below the surface. We can afford to put some trust in the choreography and teleology. Keep an eye on the radar screen for novel emergence. I wait patiently for my first correspondent. Is that asking for too much? In the larger scheme, I trust that it is not.
From the 'Philosophy of Religion' comes the following conclusion:
Solutions to contemporary problems, social and intellectual, demand a multiple consideration by scholars from many disciplines of all the issues involved in the problem, a consideration set within a framework of faith and morality in which man is interpreted as distinctively human, characteristically a person. From such inter-professional, interdisciplinary groups may emerge a new metaphysics and a new theology linked with, but by no means prescriptive of, assertions in other subjects. In this way there may be created a new culture--scientific, moral, religious, and technological at the same time. To be involved in such groups would seem to be the main task of the philosopher of religion, as of the metaphysician, today. If he is successful and if these interdisciplinary groups are creative, the modern period will then take its place among those that have marked crucial turning points in the history of mankind and its culture. (Brit.)
Well, any day now, folks.
I have not spoken recently of Teilhard de Chardin nor at all, on these pages, of Sri Aurobindo. They speak of the divinization of humanity. I agree with them on that, but only in an eschatological, rather than in the evolutionary context they used. Their acosmic divinization is incoherent. Their attempt to abscond with Darwinism was never taken seriously by scientists. Instead it is the transhumanists who have absconded with Chardin and Aurobindo. In the proximity of the truth, there are many slippery slopes. The footing can be treacherous.
I almost forgot about Rene. It may be that the original (zodiacal) pantheon was less than paradisiacal. Besides the general sense of incompletion, there may have been some interpersonal friction, perhaps related to the absent pleroma or fully realized network of being. Thus there developed a 'fault' that could be tolerated internally only after the fashion of the oyster and the pearl. We, of course, being the pearl of great price. That X (Jesus/Freya) may have allowed him/herself, conspiratorially, to be scapegoated in the process, is a further possibility. If this better reconciles me with the Girardists, so much the better. As below, so above.
Can we get the Monster Group out of the same pearl? That would be convenient. If we can get the Mandelbrot out of z' = z^2 + c, then we ought to be able to obtain the MG with a relatively simple teleological generation scheme. What needs determining is the applicable aspect of the Telos. It might simply be the 10^10 souls, or it could be something more subtle.
I am inclined at this point to attempt a return to basics. Knowing the basis of the BPW, if any, would be significant. My previous attempt involved the archetypes. The archetypes were based on M, D & Z. Then Q, P, R, A, O & X were thrown into the pot without too much ceremony.
The dialectic, D, arrived somewhat late in the game. It remains relatively undefined. It is the basis of the vital force. The zoo-psycho-morphic cycle, Z, is its primordial manifestation, along, possibly, with X. For the time being, I wish to focus on Z. My particular concern is the transition from Z -> R, the bio-cycle. This transition presently constitutes the biggest conceptual leap in the cosmogenesis of the BPW. It stands in need of 'analysis'.
Without Q & R, i.e. atoms, we must contend with disembodied spirits. Our Zoo is a ghost city. I have nothing against ghosts, but I'm not sure I would want my sister to marry one. This statement is loaded in the sense that I'm trying to understand the interface between efficient and final causation. There can be only one vital cause.
From the gnostic and pantheist perspective, bodies are a real drag, something that we would not want to drag to heaven. Why must the BPW be weighed down with them? The answer to this question would necessarily speak to the nature of our reality. Why this massive incarnation? Just because it will feel so good when we stop beating our heads against this wall?
Can we do any of this without a clear view of heaven? I doubt it, but I don't. We are rebuilding this cosmic ship at sea. We start with a raft. Our raft is just Z. M is the ocean.
Z is a network of being. It has its cyclical phenomenology. There are centers of activity. There is interaction. The only frame is the Matrix. Any notions of space and time are vague and even decentralized, at best. There is mainly a relational and relatively incoherent presence mandated by the Matrix. This is not the best possible world, but somewhere within that flux the BPW concept takes hold.
Our participation in Creation is not gratuitous. It is essential to its integrity. We creatures could not participate without the benefit of biological cycles. Through these same cycles we also participate in the life and death of the Creator, that is in the incarnation and resurrection. Every tradition has either denigrated or denied this participation. This misapprehension is the great paradox of history. This nescience has only very gradually been overcome through the outworking of our positive gnosis. Our technosis finally culminates in the messianic spiritual breakthrough as we overturn materialism.
Our immaterialist breakthrough is predicated upon our grasping the true provenance of atoms. The atom embodies the unity of the cosmos. It is the gear or fulcrum of our participation. The Pythagorean gnosis implicitly understood this fact. We have only to make it explicit.
The simple fact is that the substantiality of atoms is not and cannot be mind independent. This fact remains obscured by its attendant mathematical formalism. It is obscured by our proclivity for a Platonic, dualistic, mind-independent interpretation of mathematics. We fail to grasp the organicity of mathematics. The numerical syzygys are the tell-tale signs of this organicity, and so is our occasional mathematical genius. If Srinivasa were alive today, we could better appreciate this fact. I am no Srinivasa, I must use other means. I must appeal to a more general gnosis.
The best that I seem to be able to do with atoms right now is to relate their ontology to numbers. Numbers are conserved while unobserved. Numbers have spatial properties only indirectly, but then the Mandelbrot has its own spectacular spatiality. Does this dissolve or compound the mystery? It more evenly distributes the mystery. Mystery loves company. I do a similar distribution with God and Creation, a la pantheism. The BPW is pretty heavily into the distribution of logic, a la Leibniz. The least action principle in physics is a good example of this tactic. We don't spend too much time worrying about how it works.
The conceptual problem with these tactics is Descartes' simplistic dualism, following from Plato. We need to better assimilate Plato's Pythagorean turn. It was very Leibnizian. By that token we may also benefit by better appreciating the bone that Newton and Leibniz were picking. It was not just a question of priority, it was something deeper. Was it not related to the ontology of infinitesimals? Do we not have a similar problem concerning the ontology of atoms and numbers? Will I have won this ballgame if I can prove capable of sustaining this filibuster indefinitely? I have noted that we all share the burden of Scheherazade. When we run out of words, we run out of reality, a la Wittgenstein. My only contention is that the materialists run out sooner.
The archetypes are just the manner of distributing intelligence. It all starts with Z, this problem of chunking the intel. The Matrix must entertain itself somehow, otherwise things would get boring. So what does it do after Creation? That is just the problem of heaven. Whatever it does it will not repeat itself, thanks to Leibniz' I. of I. About eternity? Surprise me.
But, yes, the numbers are a big part of Creation. If we could just understand 0, we would be know-it-alls. What we don't know about numbers has a lot to do with their organicity. It has to do with the personality of Pi, one of our favorites of the pantheon. Pi rules over the syzygous chemistry of her sistren. Srinivasa must have incarnated the Telos that is Pi. Numbers cannot fail to participate in Agape. There is no other excuse, no other ontos. How's my driving? Call 1-800-SHAHRYAR.
0 has something to do with non-standard analysis. Is that not what the Matrix is about? The BPW is the Millennium of the Metanarrative minus one. The Big Bang requires dark energy to sustain itself. Is that not an egregious cheat? Shahryar would never have stood for that. Hot air is vastly superior. Come to think of it, Shahryar, Pi and Scheherazade must have quite the little menage a trois. It's about the logos and agape. It is about X, Freya and Saturn.
The pieces of our narrationally monistic cosmos are scattered about. Descartes schism was just the final straw. Numbers help to lead us back to coherence. We are struggling with the numerology. The Pythagorean proclivity of the physicists flies in the face of dichotomy. We just need to give them an assist. We don't understand the ontology of numbers.
As Marvin Minsky once said, there is a 'society of mind'. We just don't know the etiquette of it. Agape rules the cosmic society, but we need to flesh that out. Numbers are part of that incarnation. Behind the internal relational symmetries of biochemistry lies the monster group, but we have had to dig very deeply. You know, it may have been the MG that forced the hand of the Matrix. That may be putting the cart before the horse, but it is a partial truth. It is the pebble that was used to slay the Matrix, in a major role reversal. The infinite virtual sporadics were like pebbles on a very special beach. They come from the combinatorial symmetries of special sets. For the Matrix it was just like counting sheep, until one got hung up on the fence. But this is a shade too Platonic, is it not? Even for the hypothetical virtual members.
Proof theory is something organic, simply because there is no theory. A proof is one of those things like a chair: you'll know it when you see it. There is a functionality that defies formality. Who could have anticipated Godel's proof? But, yet, we knew it when we saw it. Godel opened up a new branch of logical foundations. How many other branches are there? If math is organic then there must be a means of avoiding the Apeiron. There must be self-containment. Or does it meld back into the matrix when we push it far enough, like everything else?
Creation was the Matrix' way of solving the Monster. It is the monster pearl. That's what the Pythagoreans sensed. I just need to know how. The MG is part of the conspiracy. When we look at it too closely it looks inorganic, like the molecules in a cell. We have to stand back to see its vital, semiotic functionality. Locally, space is always Euclidean. The general-relativistic self-containing, self-referring nature of the logic can only be seen from a hyper-Godelian distance. We need to square the circle. The metanarrative is coded in the digits of pi, if we know where to look.
Can we not suppose that the size and complexity of the monster is related to the size and complexity of the world? The problem is to explain the optimality of it all. The geometric, as opposed to the algebraic, simplicity of pi signals the closure of the complexity. There is only one robust way to break the symmetry of the circle. We can have a two-dimensional periodicity, but not three. The resulting theta functions provide the internal symmetry of atoms. In a similar fashion there are spinors, quaternions and octonions, and nothing beyond.
Just now I contemplate the possibility of a systematic oversight. Immaterialism is predicated on downward causation. My tendency has then been to banish upward, efficient, or emergent causation in order to avoid the slippery slope back into materialism. However, any participatory version of Creation will entail our navigation of this slope [see Jurassic Parc]. If creatures engage in upward causation, what about atoms? How might we exploit atoms without succumbing to atomism? I have spoken frequently about the distribution of intelligence. Why should atoms not be on the distribution list? Can this be done without objectifying them? I want atoms to retain the insubstantiality of numbers. This raises the issue of causation within mathematics.
It is generally supposed that mathematics is devoid of causation. This is certainly the view of the formalists and constructivists. But what is the Pythagorean view? Does not mathematical physics tell us that there is no way to compartmentalize causation. Formal causes are necessarily extant and inseparable from efficient causes.
The image of the 'society of mind' and of the efficacy of the unconscious also speak to upward causation. Does mathematical genius not imply a passive or observational role for the mind. Why would self-organization not apply to mathematical objects? The notion of numerical coincidences, numerology, and the organicity of math, does demand a self-organizational capacity.
I am suggesting that biological organization is similarly realized. Thus do our archetypes of Q, R & P participate in Creation. Atoms and numbers cooperate in attaining biological coherence. Cooperation is too mild a term. Atoms and numbers are ontologically indistinct.
Is this atomism? It is not, because atoms, like numbers, are not mind independent. They are phantasmagoric, but only to a limited, contextual or relational degree, as is everything else. The quantum speaks to this issue. But there is no quantum for numbers. Well, not unless we consider Diophantine equations and other rational constructions. Perhaps it is the quantum of math which will finally allow us to square the circle. It is the quantum of math which allows mathematical physics to instantiate the Anthropic Principle, which is another form of circle squaring, or, perhaps, circle/circuit closing.
It is the task of the archetypes to distribute intelligence optimally regarding the telos of the BPW. The telos of mind over matter must be constrained until the eschaton is materialized. Q, P & R serve that end. It is then that the nexus of causation will shift from Atom to Anthropos. It is time for us to consider this eventuality.
My latest atomic gambit remains tentative. I am trying to get a metaphysical grip on the little suckers, without their dragging me back into atomism, perish the thought. They do have more in common with numbers than we generally suspect, but they also have their own modus operandi.
They do, of course, have a much more intimate, dependency relation with space. But, by the same token, quantum entanglement gives lie to the absolutist pretensions of space. The quantum also manages to drag the numbers into the spatial arena. This occurrence is mediated by the linear and circular versions of e^i*pi.
Atoms exist at the behest of cells, and cells at the behest of organisms. Functionality is the key. We should expect there to be a semiotics of atoms. Atoms provide the link between the organic and inorganic worlds, between the biosphere and the geo-sphere.
We easily forget how great was the surprise when Ernest Rutherford, in 1911, discovered the nucleus. Until then, it had been supposed that atoms were something substantial. The nucleus was easily compared to a fly in a cathedral, but, unfortunately, this cathedral had no walls. How could those newly liberated electrons possibly support Westminster Abbey? Well, there has certainly been a lot of earnest hand waving ever since, but permit me to suggest that we still don't know the answer.
Whenever someone sits in a chair, every electron in the chair has to reposition its orbit in order to support the added weight. It seems like a lot of busy-work. And recall that the weight of the person sitting in the chair is partially the result of the individual virtual gravitons emanating from each electron of a hypothetical person residing in the Coma Cluster of galaxies. How many virtual gravitons can dance on the head of a pin? The infrared catastrophe remains catastrophic, but, nonetheless, this is how my erstwhile physics colleagues attempt to save the phenomenon of chair sitting. I'm just a tad skeptical. What is really going on here?
Too many angels and too many gravitons spoil our phenomenal soup. Ten billion is enough angels for me. We do the heavy phenomenal lifting, and all those other angels and gravitons simply have cameo roles. Yes, I'm just an occasionalist when it comes to physics. And ditto for mathematics. Finding an atomic nucleus is a bit like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The rabbit is real, alright, but it is mainly there for the show. Who does the trick and why do they do it?
It is sometimes said that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Well, our minds must be really small, because there is a heck of a lot of consistency out there. Or is it in here? This is just the coherence theory of truth. This is just the BPW. Rabbits don't just materialize: they have to participate in the metabolic game like the rest of us. We're just trying to see how the game works, which is about the same as understanding why it is the best possible game for here and now. This is about gravitonic presence, or, more to the point, absence.
Atoms are just the logical pump primers of our metabolic reality. A given atom exists more or less like the number 3749263. It's there when we need it. When God is not watching the tree on the Quad, the tree does not pick itself up by its roots and walk away. The tree and the number are functionally related to very many other things going on around the Quad, and in the mathematics building. If the tree or number disappeared, we would have no choice but to fill in for it as we fill in for our blind spot. Mathematicians and physicists happen to work overtime at that sort of thing, much to the entertainment and entrainment of the rest of us. Let's face it, they each have their own charism. It can be downright mesmerizing.
Am I giving short shrift to the plight of the eighty thousand souls [4/19 - upwards of 400,000 including Nagasaki and the aftermath] who were caught short at the wrong end of E = MC^2? How 'bout them angels? Whose game is this, anyway? And, for crying out loud, what is the point?
The way that I often push the envelope of immaterialism is to talk myself into a corner and then see if I can talk my way out again. Each instance affords a learning experience. This is my first foray, on this site, into thermonucleonics. This raises several issues. Did God have to create U235, and to what end? In the BPW, should we not have avoided U235? And speaking of thermonucleonics: is it physics or metaphysics, as asked by an occasional physicist?
It could be instructive to compare a thermonuclear event with Krakatoa, from a phenomenological, immaterialist perspective. These are events that fall well outside of anything that could be construed as cyclical. Only the phenomenology of the Sun could come close.
With Krakatoa, I believe that we are compelled to take a Gaian perspective. It is part of a natural cyclical process for Earth. In our distribution of spirit or intelligence, the Earth, along with atoms, is due her share. That the phenomenology of Gaia should dwarf that of humans is a given. We see it everytime there is severe weather. Krakatoa should fit into that mold. And by the way, volcanoes are the logical/natural result of U235's subterranean presence.
Do we then blame Eniwetok on Gaia? Yes, in part. It was a joint operation of Sol, Gaia, and Anthropos. The alchemy of mixing intelligences is a risky business. It is a business that we will have to master. It is exactly the business of eschatology. Hiroshima was a premature piece of the eschaton puzzle dropped on our heads for instructional purposes. We are still struggling with its catechism. Pakistan's nuclear entrepreneur, Abdul Khan, is just our latest reprise.
Even these 400,000 souls were a small fraction of the holocaust that was World War II. The suffering of that World War is very likely going to be dwarfed by the fall-out of the single AIDS virus. Our molecular threat overwhelms the atomic threat. U235 + HIV is a chemical cocktail made in Hell. And let us not forget that seemingly innocuous CO2. The integrity and coherence of our world are being sorely challenged by these forms of atomism that appear to have run amok.
If there is an atomic intelligence, it certainly has its dark side. And so does all intelligence, all spirit. The deepest shadows point to the brightest light. I just don't think that pantheism can account for the depth of the shadows obviously present in the world. The presence of superhuman evil is forcing us to realize our superhuman potential. But are we so benighted that we can only be instructed by holocausts? Whose creatures are we, anyway?
We are the seeds placed in the Gaian soil. God's plow furrows deeply. The magnitude and quality of the harvest is thereby determined. Who are we to second guess God's green thumb? Besides being the harvest, we are also God's ultimate plowshares. God has done the heavy lifting, it is time now for us to begin to pay attention to detail, to pick up every lost soul.
Yes, our blood is on God's hands. It is also on our own hands.
It is at the X2 event that the reins are finally handed over to us. And, ready or not, here it comes.
What I am struggling to say is that although a particular chair may be wooden, it is not accurate to say that the same chair is composed of wood. I'm just cribbing from Aristotle. The given chair is the product of material, efficient and final causes. It is not simply a physical object, and ultimately we cannot separate these causes. Chairs, like everything else, can exist only in the most robust possible relational context. The final context can be nothing less the the BPW. No other context is coherent. No other context coheres.
In a similar vein, it is not accurate to say that a block of wood is composed of atoms. The atoms actually disappear into the wood. The growing of the tree was a complex biological process which entailed atomic intelligence or logic. The atoms exist only as abstracted from that logic. There is no individuality to be ascribed to them, or to be had by them. The wood is strictly a herd phenomenon, and in this case the herd has ontological priority over the animals that are supposed to comprise it.
We, too, comprise a herd, of sorts. Although we may value our individual identity above all else, that identity is primarily an abstraction, like the identity of the atoms in the piece of wood. In our analytic passion we have come to fear our loss of individual identity above all else. It is with this very same passion and fear that we cling to the alleged reality of atoms, as tokens of our own reality. It is just this misguided passion that you and I must begin to overcome.
Am I simply suggesting a 'quantum' theory of society? Am I not then inflating the quantum beyond all reasonable bounds? Rather I am suggesting that the quantum of physics is the reductio ad absurdum of the coherence of the world. It is not the coherence that is absurd, but rather our reduction of it. Obviously I have some explaining to do.
It is not fair to say that the quantum is absurd. It does, however, remain a metaphysical enigma. Most scientists and philosophers are content to live with this enigma. Quantum physics is responsible for much of our modern technology. Others of us suspect that the quantum enigma is symptomatic of a deeper problem with scientific materialism. You'll just have to bear with me. The struggle continues.
Atoms per se are relatively unreal. What is more real is an atomic intelligence that is invoked mainly in metabolic processes. One might also think of it as a form of instinct. This instinct or intelligence goes well beyond the limits of physics in as much as it is robustly contextual, functional and teleological. It is a conspiracy between our Q, R & P archetypes, each of which are intelligences in their own right. What is difficult to comprehend is that this atomic intelligence does not reside in the atoms, rather the atoms reside in it. The same is true of us with respect to the Creative Intelligence. Intelligence is not bounded by space and time. With regard to true intelligence, the universe is Unobstructed. That the quantum easily defies spatio-temporal restrictions is a reflection of the derivative nature of space and time. Locality is just a figment of the Metanarrative. Non-locality rules. The eschaton is the breakdown of the illusory obstruction of space and time. Atoms disappear into the wood. We disappear into the high road of Creative Intelligence. From then on, our reappearances, like those of atoms, are strictly optional.
From the perspective of immaterialism, upward causation is not localizable. It is strongly contextual. Out of that context, it is possible to abstract or extract atoms, but only on a strongly ad hoc basis. Individual Xenon atoms may be cut out of the herd for an 'IBM' photo-op, but understand that this is all by way of contrivance. It is merely tautologous to say that technology is a contrivance. But I am saying more than that. I am saying that atomic ontology is derived from that contrivance. What is more natural is the atomic intelligence which provides the logic of metabolism. We must look at the world as a network of being and phenomena. My acquaintance with computer programming motivates me too see an analogy here with object-oriented programming. Lower level functions are derived from and more specialized than the more general or inclusive levels of abstraction. Atomic intelligence is an off-shoot of biological intelligence, which is a spin-off of cosmic intelligence.
What the Pythagorean physicists have brought to this table is their 'Theory of Everything'. There is a functional unity that ties together the atomic intelligences. This is the intelligence that we label as Q and P. In a similar and related manner, there is a creative cosmic unity which ties together the various species' intelligences. That the anthropic mind plays a special, or even central, role in this regard is a possibility that is not to be ignored. The unity at the bottom strongly suggests a unity at the top, and this is a suggestion with which pantheism is inherently unable to cope. The only thing saving pantheism at this point is the view that mathematics is something inorganic and mind independent, i.e. Platonism without the Goodness factor.
Another way to grapple with atomic ontology is to compare atoms with photons. A distinction is sometimes made between real and virtual photons. This, however, is purely a semantic distinction. I simply point out that the only real photon is a 'dead' photon, i.e. one that has been observed or absorbed and, so, no longer exists. Extant or 'live' photons, are, by definition, just virtual or potential beings. The same ontology may be applied to the reification of atoms in a cell. The atoms of a cell are pinned down only in the process of 'fixing' the cell, i.e. killing it. Yes, chemical processes may be studied in vivo, but that concerns only the functionality of the process. The teleological aspect and even identity of such processes is inescapable.
The same ontology can be applied to the cells in an organism, and then to organisms in an ecosystem, etc. 'But wait,' you say, 'aren't I real?' All knowledge is based on the Cogito: I think, therefore I am. But I am not the only one who begs to differ with Rene Descartes on this crucial point. Show me the aboriginal mind that has ever entertained such a thought, and I will show you a heavily redacted modern contrivance. I am not being an eliminativist when I point to the essential social dimension of mind. My response to Rene is to point to the frame problem. My claim is simply that any frame less comprehensive than the Metanarrative will ultimately prove incoherent. Language is ineluctably cosmological. In as much as cosmologies differ, communication breaks down. Just read the headlines of the morning paper. To believe in a coherent cosmology is tantamount to believing in our own survival. That the only coherent cosmology is eschatological, is ironic only in a superficial sense.
Next up is to give some account of the genesis of atomic intelligence. I don't expect there to be any single or simple answer. Atoms are part of the network of being, and so their existence and function will be determined by various aspects of the larger context. On the one hand, there are metabolic considerations, on the other hand there are logical and mathematical considerations. The relevant archetypes are Q, R & P. We may presume that the genesis of atoms is closely related to our own genesis. Without completely solving either problem, we may still progress in our understanding by letting one problem shed light on the other. Any aspect of the cosmic network that can be discerned will help in a holographic fashion with all the other aspects. We have to mind the whole picture while we investigate any part of it.
Permit me now to shift focus from atomic to species intelligence. In doing so, I revisit Jurassic Parc. Remind me to get a season pass. Admittedly, this ersatz Garden of Eden is a weak link in the cosmogonic scheme of the BPW. I would prefer a less ad hoc stratagem, and I will certainly be on the look out for one, but in the meantime JPc serves as a convenient half-way station for some still half-baked ideas. Hopefully the final Metanarrative will not have to resort to such clumsy devices.
Jurassic Parc is the playground or think-tank of the cosmic intelligences. This is especially true for the species intelligences. It is in this virtual world that the plant and animal intelligences thrash out and optimize their ecological strategies. It is our device for short-circuiting biological and geological evolution. It is a price that immaterialists should be more than willing to pay in order to forego Darwin and the Big Bang.
Atomic intelligence plays a crucial role in the optimizing of the various metabolic strategies. It is here that the reproductive strategies must be fine tuned. Darwin may be short-circuited, but Darwinism is very useful when it comes to maintaining biological coherence. The time dimension, however, is much more elastic than it is in our experience. In some sense we are dealing with a four-dimensional playing field. The genetic codings and linkages are worked out on-the-fly. The metabolic, cellular and organismic evolutions may be run in parallel fashion, facilitated with strong doses of teleology. The anthropic intelligence is crucial in this latter regard.
The point is that ecological and metabolic coherence can be achieved in a very efficient manner by exploiting the distributed intelligence and final causation that is naturally associated with the Matrix and the BPW schemes. The original zoomorphic/zodiacal network of intelligences is greatly ramified and differentiated in this virtual evolutionary process. This differentiation of the cosmic intelligence may usefully be compared with the embryonic cellular differentiation studied in developmental biology. In this context the Matrix acts as the stem cell. There is then a gradual process of differentiation mediated by the Telos or the X factor. This is then the blueprint of Creation. This map becomes the territory as it is stretched to its optimal limit which entails the greatest coherent phenomenological diversity.
Both theism and pantheism were developed back in the 'good ol' days' when life was nasty, brutish and short. There was plenty of blame to go around. The universal mythos was of a once pristinely bucolic world that had suffered mishaps as it had aged. Not unlike you and I. Besides, there were quarrels and treachery on Mt. Olympus, and, down below, human wickedness did nothing to improve the situation.
We could deal with this problem either individually or collectively, depending on how we viewed the nature of the problem. If the sorry state of the world was mainly the natural result of senescence, there was little to be done except to wait for its natural rebirth, or, more permanently, to simply remove ourselves back to the cosmic womb, the Matrix or nirvana.
On the other hand, if it was evil that was responsible for the degradation of the world, then there was the possibility of a collective intervention. The idea was to participate with the divine force of goodness in vanquishing the forces of evil.
Once the concept of good and evil comes to the fore, monotheism becomes logically inevitable. If not, pantheism is the result. The BPW follows neither path. Rather we follow Leibniz in his positing of metaphysical evil: evil is a necessary part of the best possible world. Evil is not natural as in pantheism, but it is logical and rationalizable. Evil is something to be overcome in the eschatological context. We become the primary instruments in the vanquishing of both moral and natural evil. It is this end that justifies our full participation in Creation. This is the hope that logically attaches to theism. Perhaps it is the moral dualism of monotheism that leads to the metaphysical dualism between the Creator and Creation.
On the pantheist view of the natural senescence of the world, there is no intrinsic value to our participation in that inevitable decline. We are part of the problem. There is no solution other than our opting out.
If we may presume the operation of a (downward) dialectic within the Matrix, then we may expect to see the natural differentiation and symmetry breaking of the primordial psyche or intelligence. To maintain coherence, there must be a Telos for this process. X, with help from Q & P, provides the Telos. The elements provide for the completion of the ouroboric circuit. Agape, or X factor, is the upward dialectic or synthesis of Creation. The resurrected X is the great attractor in the sky. It is the object of the Hierogamos.
Q & P both relate to the completion of the cosmic/anthropic circuit. There is the quantum projective logic on the one hand, and the elliptical 'squaring' or rationalization of the circle facilitated by pi and its attendant monster group. This completes the self-organizing, self-excited circuit that is our metanarrative.
The monster group is the limit of the possible symmetry breaking. It defines the structure of the micro and macro-cosms. It provides the grand unified theory of physics. Atoms are the phenomenal manifestation of the MG. What is still missing is the metanarrational biography of Q & P. As it stands, these archetypes drop out of the sky, fully formed. Their role is not unlike that of the genetic material of a stem cell, but there must be some logical precursor that connects them back to MDZXR, otherwise there will be a glaring gap in our story. The other intelligences have to mind their P's&Q's if they are to properly communicate on the microcosmic level. On the other hand, it is likely that Pi relates to the megalithic culture with its archeo-astronomical and geodesic inclinations.
Several times here Pi has been related to the logos, while Q may be related to the dialectic, yielding a variant on the trinity of MPQ. It may not be too great a stretch to say that we may end up having to derive atoms from the trinity. Certainly atoms have a lot to do with incarnation, i.e. the fleshing out of Pi, and that has to do with rationalizing the circle: removing it from the apeiron.
It would be nice to be able to pin atoms on the dia-logos. That need not be such a terribly big stretch. The MD-L trinity may be represented mathematically, as previously noted, by the ouroboric style coincidence of e^i*pi = -1. This coincidence is just the basis for quantum wave mechanics. We then have two cycles delimiting Creation: the zodiacal and atomic cycles. All the metabolic cycles operate between these limits. Also the analytical thrust of the dia-logos has to have a logical limit. That is just the traditional conception of the role of the atom. That limit must also serve as the medium of exchange for all the various metabolic processes.
When considering the provenance of atoms, it is assumed that a space-time background already exists. Such an assumption is highly problematic for the quantum gravity theorists who have come up with various schemes for implementing a 'pre-geometry'. From our more phenomenological perspective, there is much less need for such mathematical niceties. The space-time background for our metanarrative is just a concomitant of its basic phenomenology. What is of greater concern is the introduction of physics into that phenomenology.
The mechanical properties of atoms is based on their mass and solidity. These properties may be thought of as being inherited from the macroscopic forms of matter that may be gas, liquid or solid. Accounting for solidity is a problem for materialists and immaterialists alike. Materialists must resort to a microscopic explanation. I'm suggesting another route for the immaterialists.
Consider mechanical causality: Ben Johnson kicks a stone in his path. This alleged incident remains the paradigmatic refutation of immaterialism; however, the quantum physical explanation of this incident is highly convoluted and even problematic. I suggest that the only rational explanation is a relational explanation.
There mere kicking of a stone has virtually nothing to say about the nature of reality. What might be more revealing would be the disposition of the stone after the fact. A materialist could confidently expect to retrieve said stone afterwards. An immaterialist might have less confidence without, at least, some further reflection. How might this reflection proceed?
The immaterialist could easily imagine the stone to dematerialize in midair, a fate often suffered by castles in the air. What is to prevent a similar fate for most ordinary stones? Is it merely by social convention that stones do not usually behave in such manner?
We could simply say that stones are not in the habit of dematerializing. Admittedly, this is a quasi-animistic explanation, but animism is a logical concomitant of immaterialism. There is a distribution of intelligence. Such a distribution is implicit in the positing of internal relations. But then how are the relations distributed? Also involved here is a tension between the competing logics of upward and downward causation.
Most of the stone's properties and relations are dispositional, contingent or modal in nature. Modality is endemic to both materialism and immaterialism. Its problems that are implicit in materialism are being made explicit here. For the materialist, the modal properties inhere mainly to the atoms. The bulk properties of materials are less easily explained. Materials science remains largely phenomenological, as do chemistry and biology. Quantum physics is just the science of dispositions. This is where reductionism comes to a grinding halt. Dispositions are entirely relational and contextual. Where do the laws of physics and mathematics reside? Where do social norms reside? Merely in our heads? What about in the events that instantiate them? And what sort of reality do we ascribe to events?
One place that intelligence appears to be is in cycles, both organic and inorganic. Does it reside equally in the individual cycles? More likely is the prospect of identifying the relatively indistinguishable cycles. Instances need not always be individualized. We might profitably explore the consequences of a more general lack of individuality among phenomena.
We have previously posited the zodiacal archetype, Z, as the mother of all cycles. We may suppose that Z is self-exciting and self-differentiating. In 'object oriented' fashion, all its progeny inherit its most general characteristics. The problem we then have is to account for the interaction between cycles. Can this be explained in anything other than a mechanical fashion? We don't want to rule out mechanics, but we do want to be able to transcend it. Can we have the best of both worlds? We have not finished with Ben's stone. Previously I was a bit hasty. Consider where the shoe leather meets the wayward rock.
Walking down a path does not seem problematic for an immaterialist. This is an oft repeated cyclical motion. There is the habitual balance between the force of gravity and the solidity of the path. If the unwary pedestrian were to encounter a patch of quick-sand, the phenomenology would quickly change. How may we salvage this new appearance? Had there been a puddle in the path, there would be less of an issue. The water is disposed to splash. Can we identify the disparate splashes? Is the materialist demon not in the details? How may we exorcise this demon?
One problem with splashes is their chaotic nature. Perhaps we could make a direct appeal to a generically fractal solution without having to resort to atomic physics in each instance. If you've seen one splash, you've seen them all. Imagine dropping a glass of water on the floor. There might only ever be a single instance. The phenomenon would be grossly underdetermined. Is that not also a fact of quantum life? Think of all the wave functions that have to be collapsed, 24x7. We surely don't know how that happens?
Consider the plight of the animator. Yet, each year the end product seems a bit more 'realistic'. Could this trend have any bearing on the credibility of materialism? Where do we draw the line between creation and animation, or between animation and animism? How difficult would it be to program Ben Johnson splashing through a puddle? Would this effort have influenced our erstwhile materialist? Could the programming be done at the dispositional level?
Comparing the universe to a computer is hardly a novel idea (see 'information mechanics' and digital philosophy). Furthermore, it is an idea which immaterialists need to entertain. We are happy to make use of the canned routines, but spare us all the hardware. Objects then are coherent collections of dispositions which may be deployed in contextual fashion. The core dispositions are 'canned routines' from which particular phenomenal instances may be spun-off in an ad hoc manner. But ultimately we need to wean ourselves away from conceptual dependence on objects. Objects instantiate functionality in a teleological context. The Anthropic Principle can play a large role. Given incarnate psyches, the metabolic necessities and strategies will determine the environment, as much as the other way around.
Jurassic Parc may include a Garden of Eden. One advantage that Walt Disney has over us is that he does not have to feed his characters. It is not clear how best to jump start that process. The incarnation will require a concentrated use of imagination, until the individual psyches are gradually able to pick up the slack. There will be pump priming, but then habit and the Telos take over. The world will certainly start out in a dream-like state relative to both the Creator and creatures. The canned routines may be very coarse-grained at first. As the number of creatures multiplies and the survival instincts take over, the phenomenal resolution will naturally increase. This increase occurs as part of the ego-centralization. Also, at first, the sense of presence is quite diffuse, generally encompassing whole phenomenal cycles. Memory is cycle-bound. Creation then tends toward the holographic and analog, rather than the digital.
In this immaterial creation process, incarnation tends to work mainly from the inside out. It could even start out as a role playing game among our zodiacal set. As the players become more involved, their imagination becomes more proficient. The game takes over their psyches. The storyline may then evolve simultaneously on many levels and scales. Creation is simply a MUD with the rules made up on the fly. The time dimension, however, is mainly a construct that is internal to the game, unlike the MUDs hereabouts. So Creation is a MUD that took on a life of its own, as often happens down here. X is the MUD master. I apologize if I have been slow on this uptake. This is not rocket science, nor am I. It seems that I must have been blocking here. It would not be the first, nor likely the last.
That's nice, but next let me try to establish a context. We're dealing with a relational system. The relations are presumed to be of a mental variety. The relations may be conscious or not. The ones that are conscious would presumably be associated with proto-selves. These selves would primarily be conscious of their relations with other such selves. This would constitute the prototype of direct perception. The selves would necessarily be social in nature. Co-dependency is the name of the game. It is in this context that our primordial 'MUD' would arise. Could I fail to point out that X would then be the Wizard of Ooze? There need, however, be no single omniscience.
We then have the problem of separating fact and fiction. The zodiacal proto-selves are a mutual fiction supported by the matrix. To paraphrase Anton Wilson, reality is whatever the zodiacal entities can get away with. What is of particular interest here is the emergence of 'public spaces'. At what point does there exist something recognizable as an agora? Among the zodiac there would be the agoraphiles and the agoraphobes. One might imagine the Star Wars bar scene. Is there a deployment of 'avatars'? This is one recourse for a meeting of the minds. Would the avatars facilitate or inhibit the mind reading?
Yet another angle here is that of Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD/DID). This disorder typically arises in connection with childhood psychological trauma. In this case the personalities arise mainly to compartmentalize the painful memories. In such a system, mind reading may be possible only after lengthy therapy. We might wonder whether MPD would be conceivable, absent a larger social context.
Omniscience might be the most natural state of affairs. Concentration is unnatural. We think of omniscience as a passive state. An active state would involve concentration and communication. Communication would arise only in situations of relative ignorance. We're delving now into the origins of semiosis. Semiosis arises as direct perception breaks down, but signaling could also be used to attract or distract attention. Then we might ask how the distinction of self and non-self could arise. There don't seem to be any easy questions at this level. All of this to ascertain the provenance of atoms.
If one self can arise spontaneously, then others would as well. They could fall outside of any mutual purview. Or one could inhabit the unconscious of the other, as in MPD. In that case the hypothetical MUD master could take the role of therapist and attempt a meeting of the minds. Without such intervention would there have been multiple Creations? Is this disorder a reversion to a more primitive state? In some sense these MPD selves must be mutually orthogonal, and then we might wonder as to the relevant dimensionality of the mental space. It is not clear how the mechanics of codependency functions for the MPD experiencer. Relative to human existence, the dimensionality of the Matrix must be high. It is not clear if there are any intrinsic limitations of the Matrix in this regard, outside the limitations of the BPW.
Communication requires representation. Representation implies indirect perception. In a system of direct perception, there can be no communication. I'll have to think about that. How do I communicate with a mind reader? I would have to be able to point to particular thoughts, but pointing is a form of representation. Would there be any reason for mind readers to communicate? If I attend to my desire for water, would that not communicate my desire to my gifted interlocutor? That is a form of pointing.
Suppose I wish to read a book. Could I not just tap into the author's mind at the time of the creation of the story? How do I construct the correct sequence? This could be cumbersome. Can there be abstraction without language? Is language compatible with direct perception. Philosophers have often asked whether there must be or could be a private mental language. The issue remains controversial. Could a direct perceiver hope to do mathematics? Can we combine direct and indirect perception without incoherence? Is it possible that direct perception is impossible in any form? How then do we perceive our own thoughts? If there is a mental language, what does it represent? On the materialist view, there are no thoughts, only words. But how might our sensations of odors be cast into words? Then there is the question of the degree to which our sensation of odor is subjective or objective.
I can directly perceive my own thoughts but not yours. Yours have to be represented to me. I may then recreate your thoughts in my head to some degree. But recall that for the immaterialist there cannot be a strong distinction between telephony and telepathy. Information is a peculiar thing. Immaterialists have to be skeptical about it. As presented by the materialists, information is something magical, quite alchemical, even chimerical. The problem has to do with content, or lack thereof. If there is no content, there is no problem, but does that not leave us empty headed? When the materialists set out to prove that we are empty headed, they are p*ssing into a strong wind, otherwise known as the stream of consciousness. They might start out by explaining odor, but they just don't seem to have the heart for it. Mind is a gaping hole in the materialist enterprise. It shows no signs of being filled in, only being papered over, again and again. The rest of us grow weary just watching their Sisyphean labors.
In light of their abstracted nature, I have compared atoms with numbers. But in terms of their chemical properties we ought to compare them with words. A cell is a paragraph. An animal is a story. Atoms point to content and substance. They are abstracted essences. They connote as well as denote. They have intension as well as extension. If we could understand words, we could understand the agora or the plaza, if you will. As goes the plaza, so goes the world.
When offered a penny for our thoughts, we are seldom at a loss to coin a phrase. When the molecular biologist examines a cell, she is able to coin molecules. Atoms are a bit like cash relative to the monetary supply, which is the true economic substance. It may be convenient to have some in the pocket, but we immaterialists prefer plastic, thank you very much. Some writers are adept at cashing out their thoughts, just ask J.K. Rowling.
Our plaza and our world are constructed of atoms and words, so say the materialists. We immaterialists are hankering for a return to the gold standard, if only we could put our finger on it. The gold standard is telepathy over telephony. It is direct perception. It is the cure for the multiple personality disorder that we call the world. To get there we need only to recreate the primordial plaza. That is tantamount to recreating the first word. Was it the OM, the Zim-zum or maybe Pi? My hunch is the lattermost. It covers the territory. The plaza is the territorial imperative. It is the omphalos, the pyramid. The pyramid allegedly encoded pi and phi, and many other syzygys, zodiacal and otherwise. We grasp for the Cipher of Genesis. Somehow the content was trans-formed. There evidently needed to be some sort of anchor for this process, a stationary point, as the mathematicians would say, where the content is the form and the form is the content. Is Pi not the transcendental pi-vot between algebra and geometry? The Cipher has been right under our noses the whole time. Pi might conceivably serve as the tribal peace pipe for the primal zodiac. Our world is their pi~pe dream. Knowing Pi, it should be possible to derive the mass of the electron, don't you think? This is in the spirit of e^i*pi. Monstrous moonshine has more or less demonstrated that. I would like to think that we are about over the hump. It would be nice to be able to start coasting. We have come a long way to find the path home. Perhaps we will be seeing it for the first time.
Today, weather permitting, will be what has become my annual meeting with Ron. He has had some interesting connections in the government, and has, in the past, shown some interest in my activities and ideas. Also he has, on occasion, arranged meetings for me with people who might be sympathetic with some of the ideas expressed here. I'm thinking it would be neglectful for me not to request another such a meeting. There has not been one since I began working on this website. Permit me then to use this space to collect my thoughts regarding this possible request.
As I understand it, Ron's professional responsibilities at one time, anyway, included what he once referred to as 'phenomenology'. This label was apparently being used more in its scientific rather than in its philosophical sense, i.e. he was dealing with 'uncorrelated' phenomena. I realize that I am raising more questions than answering, but please bear with me. This is a murky area, at best. Let's explore a putative rationale.
The bottom line rationale is presumed to be national security. This is an open ended area of concern, and, to put it very succinctly, it would be Ron's responsibility to make sure that the concerns do, indeed, remain open ended. How so?
National security concerns itself with any threats not covered by domestic law enforcement. It might even be construed to cover natural threats such as global warming, for instance. Indeed, eschatology might well constitute an area of such concern, and if it does not already, perhaps it ought to. But right away, you may appreciate the problem of trying to be open ended relative to questions of security.
Here's a for instance. My first contact with Ron was in connection with my personal interest in the 'crop circle' phenomenon back in the early fall of 1991. It occurred to me that there ought to be some governmental concern about this peculiar phenomenon. It took very few phone calls for me to get through to our erstwhile phenomenologist. Part of his responsibility was to be open to outside information and ideas. I made known my eschatological interests from the start. He maintains that I was the first to use that word in his presence. What followed was a considerable amount of communication up to and including 9/11/01. Since then, contact has devolved to this annual custom. Those communications covered a wide spectrum of interests and activities, and have undoubtedly exerted a subsequent influence on me. Also I was not averse to broadcasting this connection, as you see here in retrospect, to the point that I was the de facto PR person for 'phenomenology'. My first weblog was more liberal in its discussion of this 'liaison', if you will.
With that background, it ought to be quite appropriate for me to press for a review of the BPW rubric, under the aegis of whatever might remain of the 'phenomenology network'. Of course, and as always, the mixing of eschatology and national security is likely to be a ticklish endeavor, from any PR perspective. My philosophy has been to grab this bull by the horns, and not worry too much about the bric-a-brac, but I am sure there are plenty of potential correspondents who would not be comfortable with such an MO.
At this point, though, I am not intent on making waves. My first concern is to find whoever might be the best person to critique the BPW hypothesis. I would hope to avail myself of that input for some reasonable period, before attempting to generate any wider interest. In that time frame, the web log would be focused on sharpening these idea and whipping them into a more presentable format. I might draw the line, however, at undertaking anything as potentially distracting as publishing a book, for instance. I would be happy to leave that chore to whomever, while I continue to keep my radar screen clear for all sundry of incoming, relevant thoughts. Disrupting that established MO might be counter productive. It is hard for me to imagine that in my not so many remaining years that the BPW hypothesis is likely to be other than a continuing work in progress. In as much as I attempt to synthesize these disparate ideas, and, yes, make them more coherent, it would probably have to be in close collaboration with a critic such as mentioned above. Well, wish me luck.
The first step in this new 'Aquarium' initiative would be for me to write up a two-page proposal, under Ron's implied imprimatur, that would be sent out to some specific individuals in his general orbit. It would be a request for suggested names of potential critics. Any such could remain anonymous to the rest of the world, but at least portions of our correspondence should be available for posting here, following past protocol. I would be happy to provide any ad hoc synopsis of these ideas as would facilitate this critique. These synopses should easily benefit the on-going presentation here. There could well be a sequence of BPW critics, with each new one having some responsibility toward a continuity of effort, up until a wider dissemination could either be effectively pursued or dismissed.
There is the old Aviary story of Ocelot & Co, periodically traveling to Los Alamos, perhaps to consult with a visitor, to determine if the time was right for whatever. Well, the sense I got yesterday was that we may be getting a green light. Many of us have been impatient for some action, but, once things start moving, most of us will be wishing it would slow down. We'll be pining for the good ol' days. We humans are hard to please.
[2/6/05 - Here are some Aviary sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.]
Timing is a big issue, and mostly outside of our purview. The Gregorian calendar was probably no accident. It does mark millennia for those of us who are into millennialism. And neither was 9/11 an accident. The aquarium was maintained in a ready response mode until about 1999. At that point things began to slack off. It was as if there were growing confidence in Plan A, including the WTC. Now that the dust has settled a bit, it seems timely to recommence where we left off. That is my interpretation. The aquarium agenda is to be readdressed. Yes, the R & D show may have to go back on the road. I spontaneously volunteered to make a proposal to pelican, humor us, concerning the above critiquing process. It would be duly considered. Permit me to elaborate on that. In the meantime I hope that we can maintain this open channel, but that will be possible only if it is not abused, and that means YOU, dear reader. Let us put aside our childish ways as we prepare to reenter the home stretch, only as the true children that we are. Once again, excuse my prose, and keep in mind that minimalism is supposed to be the order of the day. Obviously cryptography was never meant to be my strong suit.
I recognize that the BPW is not ready for prime time, but perhaps this is good enough for government work. My job is to be a pump primer. There may be just enough juice here to prime somebody's pump. Our real task is to locate that somebody. I'm asking pelican to assist in that task. Google and I cannot do it alone. Frankly we need some muscle. More than that we need a context, and lacking a context we need a pretext. If R cannot generate an adequate pretext, then I am sorely mistaken.
All I need is a final pitch. [a] [5/8 -- I'm still struggling to put together my 'two page synopsis' of the BPW hypothesis. I will be in the process of reworking this material on the following page.]
There are many who are reluctant to admit it, but it may well be that with respect to the mind, materialism has run into a brick wall. What then are our options? Whither modernity? The only thing for sure is that we cannot turn back the clock.
The Aquarium contingency is just to explore the possibility of immaterialism. To most people, particularly scientists, this might seem to be one of the least likely or least practical responses to the mind-body problem. Be that as it may, that is no excuse for all of us to ignore it. Every significant contingency must and will have its day in court. I maintain that this one has not. Not now and not up to now. Its time will come. I'm urging that there is no time like the present.
Yes, there are plenty of pantheistic immaterialists out there. There are even a few theistic ones. All that I am doing here is to take the best parts of both of those worlds in order to construct the Best Possible World. And then I maintain that this BPW is also, quite obviously, the only coherent world. This is the only place on Google that you will find a coherent cosmology that includes the mind. If you can find anything even approximating it, please let me know.
Have I carried coherence too far? That is the only relevant question. I have carried it to its logical conclusion. If someone thinks that coherence should be limited, they'll have to figure out how to do that in a way that is not totally arbitrary. Good luck! I have found no such way, and I have been working this territory for at least 25 years. But don't take my word for it. Appealing to coherence puts the ball back in the skeptic's court. To what context or authority can they appeal? Their final recourse is to appeal to our conservative instincts, hoping that coherence will just go away.
I am bookmarking this section of my weblog to send to R. We then have to figure who to approach and how. I will now start working up a longer summary, following this, that could later be tailored to the given individual's situation.
In the story of coherence there is an arch villain: Rene Descartes. He tried to put asunder that which God had joined, namely the mind and body. This is the Cartesian dichotomy that made scientific materialism conceptually possible. Now, three centuries later, we seem to be stuck with this legacy. The more we struggle with the mind-body problem the more insoluble it appears to be. I am not saying that we should stop struggling, but I am saying, that after three centuries, it is time for at least some of us to consider our alternatives. What are they?
I maintain that there is only one rational alternative to Descartes. Science has only ever had one strategy for dealing with the mind: eliminate it. Consciousness is just a subjective illusion. It is our final self-centered illusion that science must overcome, the way Copernicus overcame our geo-centric illusion. Unfortunately it is more than just consciousness that is to be put on the chopping block. Reason itself is up for grabs. How can science eliminate reason? Isn't science supposed to be based on reason? Well, that was yesterday, evidently tomorrow is going to be a brave new world.
Some of us are not convinced. Some of us are willing to wager that science has finally met its match. There is even a general agreement amongst those of us on this other side of the philosophical fence that defending the mind against the predatory attentions of science will have to be more than piecemeal. Anything piecemeal could only be a rearguard action. The only logical or coherent way to defend the mind is to turn its defense into a cosmic issue. If mind is not an accident of nature, if it is not a contingent fact about a material world, then it is scientific materialism that will have to be upset, even upended.
It is one thing to come to this conclusion, it is another thing to act upon it. At this juncture our ranks rapidly thin out, seemingly to the point of oblivion. Instead we have the spectacle of postmodernism. Rather than correcting Descartes, we ape him. We just proceed to carve the world into ever smaller, incommensurable sub-domains of self-limiting methodologies and discourse. Is this not the way the world is? Or is incoherence becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy? Coherence, if it ever existed, has taken a great fall. How do we put it back together? Certainly not one piece at a time.
Before Descartes there was just theism and pantheism. With theism, there was a more or less rational Creation. With pantheism, there was no rationale for the world. The lack of rationale was due mainly to our unwitting responsibility for its creation and recreation. In clinging to the world we were actually just clinging to our own illusions. As they say, East is East and West is West. Or are they? Is there really a disconnect here?
Why can't we have the best of both these worlds? We can and we do. That is the rationale for the Best Possible World. Should this have to be rocket science or brain surgery? I say not. With all the distractions of science and now of postmodernism, not to mention the acrimonious posturing by every brand of fundamentalism, we're left with nobody tending the cosmological store. There's nobody here but us chickens, and they don't call me Chicken Little for naught.
What is right with pantheism is the fundamental unity it ascribes to the world. It is all the manifestation of a single underlying reality. We are an intimate, integral part of all that is. With theism there is a rationale, but we are here only as the invited guests. Apart from our individual moral struggles, we are mere spectators when it comes to Creation. Separately, neither of these views is coherent. On the one hand we exist only by some unfathomable necessity, on the other hand we exist only by the mysterious grace of God. May these two separate mysteries be rendered mutually coherent? Yes.
Theists do admit that we are created in the image of God, but this is much too weak. Identifying with God, however, is quite another matter. You are welcome to attend your local cinema to witness what happened to one such heretic. The pantheists don't mind if we identify with God, as long as we realize that God is an illusion. How have we managed to take one simple idea and create two incoherent distortions of it?
Can we not have our cake and eat it, too? Isn't that what the Christians are supposed to be doing on any given Sunday? Why should communion be treated as such a mystery? Isn't it the most obvious statement in the world? Why can't we all be chips off the old block? We are, so we'd better get used to it.
Why in heaven's name would God not want to create the best possible world? No reason whatsoever. She did and it is. So, are the theists then saying that in the best possible world the creatures will never be allowed to reunite with their Creator? Show me the scripture which proscribes that most basic of all creaturely desires. How did we arrive at this incoherent notion of a metaphysical dichotomy? That is the only real mystery anywhere in this environs. Perhaps Descartes knows the answer.
But don't get me wrong. I am not complaining about our state of ignorance. Technosis could not have arisen were it not for our metaphysical agnosis. Without our extended sojourn into materialism, nay, into 'matter', would there have been any history at all? History is just the story of our emergence from ignorance. That there might be this final twist in the plot should only help us to better appreciate the dramaturgic skill behind Creation. If you think you could come up with a better story, please leave your idea in the suggestion box on the way out.
This is a nice story, but how could it ever be proven? That is not my job. My job is only to render it sufficiently plausible so that some small but adequate number of early adopters would feel empowered to move the story forward from the point at which I am able to turn it over to them. The proof will ultimately be in that pudding.
I was off-line for most of the day with a power outage. A small twister touched down at my in-laws last evening. They have the adjoining property. It traveled for about a mile uprooting trees but leaving no structural damage. We were watching '10.5' at the time.
OK, here is where things get a little sticky. In the best of all worlds, one might have thought that Google by itself could have led enough people to this BPW website so as to get the ball rolling toward this greater coherence for which the world seems to have so great a need. Well, when the website first showed up on Google a few months ago there were a few nibbles, and then nothing. It appears that I am being forced back into the Aquarium mode, a mode which seemed to have been foreclosed several years ago. So here I am, coming back to Pelican with hat in hand. Beggars can't be choosy.
This puts P back in a difficult spot. If he were to act upon my request, he would call up someone in his phenomenology network with academic connections and set up a meeting for me. So far, so good. This person would know the ropes and some of the Aviary history, but then what? What is this person going to say to one of his naive academic colleagues who has not had this exposure? There would be a lot of explaining to do. Perhaps too much. Most sane people would throw their hands in the air and walk away.
OK, Plan B2: P talks to Jack S., fringe physics type, and suggest that he get me plugged back into that network. Jack might balk, but would relent. That fringe network could then serve as a buffer between P and the real world: academic, religious or otherwise. This would probably be a more effective buffer than anything as serious or as official as the phenomenology network. It should make things easier for P. Hopefully this would be sufficient to prime the Internet pump. Should I be confident that this is not too much to ask? It depends on how much arm twisting would be necessary to get Jack & Co to take notice. Too much twisting might set off someone's alarm. Some of these folks might start overreacting. Well, better sooner than later. These folks have set themselves up to be guinea pigs for just this kind of eventuality. Were they not asking for it? Would this not be the best possible teapot for experimenting with tempest control? [5/7 - I would hold off on this scenario until there has been at least one preliminary critique. Jack tends to be a loose cannon.]
And even if Google alone had been sufficient, this ball would very quickly have come back to P's court anyway, just based on my public record. One might then ask, why the Aquarium in the first place? It was either a bureaucratic fluke, or it was something more serious and more cosmic. Maybe we'll begin to find out.
Like I say, the ball is in your court, Mr. P. Now where did he go?
Yes, we still have no response. Later today I go back to DC to see about arranging for a second picnic. I am reluctant to let this matter drop completely, once having had my chain pulled. It may be that this is all just another distraction, or it is a door that is meant to be difficult to open. In either case I have to be prepared to move on. It is not as if I do not have my work cut out for me here in this metaphysical salt mine. It would be nice to have a coworker or two, but that may not be in the cards. It is a very slow slog through this uncharted territory. It is about the cosmic psyche bootstrapping itself into the BPW. What is the path of least metaphysical resistance?
I remain convinced that there is potentially an issue here of global security. Most any thoughtful person would have to admit that there is a great uncertainty with regard to the universal validity of scientific materialism. There are very few who devote themselves to its global defense, and those few recognize they continue to have a decidedly uphill battle. Still, this would not be a crucial problem if we could be confident that some form of spirit-matter dualism prevailed. Modern secularism is well conditioned to continue to put the best face on that cosmic schism, on that otherwise disturbing piece of cosmic incoherence.
However, and this is a big however, reality may not necessarily respect the cultural preferences or conveniences of modern secularism. If modernity is vulnerable to being blindsided by a non-conforming reality, then we moderns are vulnerable indeed. If modernity is built upon a false premise, and that is the whole issue here, then we could be in for some nasty surprises.
It could well be that 9/11 is just one of those surprises. I'm not accusing our camel-driving Al Qaeda brothers and sisters of metaphysical sophistication, but I'm also not confident that 9/11 was just a cosmic accident. Certainly brother Ron, not to mention sister D., did his darndest to disabuse me of that comforting notion. Modernism is all about the avoidance of cosmic paranoia. The avoidance of paranoia is the prime component of our slumber of materialism. If 9/11 was not our millennial wake-up call, then let's just roll over and hit the ol' snooze button. Or not.
A democratic society will be compatible with a theocratic cosmos, only if the electorate is much better informed about the facts of life. If my hunch is correct, we are playing with very much less than a full deck in this game of life.
The Aquarium has been doing its best to represent our one and only metaphysically coherent alternative, namely the BPW hypothesis. This is the only hypothesis that stands a chance of appealing to humanity's sense of reason. Our powers of reason may not be all that we could desire, but they are the only thing standing between us and totalitarianism. There is a window of opportunity for exercising these powers in the service of something more than materialism. Once this window shuts, we could be in for a very long, very dark spell. Let us not render ourselves spell-bound.
Materialism alone, and faith alone are not going to extricate us from the predicaments of modernity. There is very good evidence that our mental powers transcend the material dimension. If we continue to keep our mental powers chained to the Procrustean bed that is scientific materialism, we will have no chance of coping with what is almost certainly a larger reality.
Perhaps the world is only partly coherent. Even if that were the case, that would not relieve us from the burden of pushing that envelope as far as our human powers allow. To not be true to ourselves cannot be acceptable on any premise. But as we better understand the nature of coherence, we will likely come to realize that being partially coherent is rather like being partially pregnant. It is simply not in the nature of that beast.
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