|Neo-Platonists hold to a cosmology that is only somewhat more positive than that of pantheism generally. Aquinas, however, stumbles on the dualism of both Plato and the Prophets. He failed to fully grasp that the medium was the message in the X-event. The Incarnation of God is the most radical act of monism that could be perpetrated. That this message must await the X2-event for its full explication is the hypothesis being explored here.
With a little help from the angelic doctor, I think we have a pretty good handle on the metaphysical triumvirate of theism, pantheism and materialism. All of our intellectual and spiritual history is the story of how we have mixed and matched these three primary colors into every combination except the right one. Saint Thomas Aquinas came about as close as anyone to getting the right combination. He was just about a dollar short and eight hundred years too early.
Thomas had a lot of help from Plato, Plotinus and Aristotle. Plotinus created the optimal blend of Platonism and pantheism, with his Chain of Being. Thomas came close to panentheism, but could not quite close the gap between Creator and Creation. He had everything else just about right. So near, yet so far. His should be an easy act to follow.
There was a very big historical and intellectual disconnect between theism and pantheism. There was a blind spot here, that I would have to say was deliberate. This no-man's-land was God's own little preserve, set aside for the appropriate time. If the appropriate time is not now, then I'll just have to eat my hat.
The Incarnation should have given away the whole show, but it was such a big deal that it has taken us fully two millennia to digest it, so to speak. How many of those crackers do we have to eat before we get the picture? Plato must still be spinning in his grave at the very thought that billions of people every week are eating his Good. This was not how he had envisioned it. Plato was four hundred years too early. What was Thomas' excuse? Some of the neo-Platonist gnostics must have gotten the picture about monism, but then they either got burned or they forgot the resurrection or both. Yes, that was the problem with monism back then. They got too impatient to wait for the resurrection. They wanted to have their cracker and eat it too.
Can we be more patient now? I truly believe so. This time we will be just a bit wiser. We have had a two thousand year education, we ought to be a little bit smarter. And, lest we forget, we also have the Internet. It was almost worth the wait. We have eaten our spinach and now it's time to get on with the show. It's time for us to put away our toys and take up the Kingdom. This is not intended to be a new burden. It is simply a matriculation.
Yes, even the polytheists were right about a lot of things, but they missed the idea of Creation. How could they? It has proven all too easy to take the world for granted. It has taken us three centuries of science to begin to appreciate the mystery of matter. Everybody except some of the Incarnationists saw matter as something dirty, if not downright evil. They just didn't take the time to look closely enough.
There were exceptions. Nay, evidently there was ever only one exception the filth theory of matter. It was the Greek exception. Gosh, is that true? We had better check. Were there no oriental elements? No Chinese atoms? Wu Xing:
Most traditional cosmologies speak of four or five fundamental Elements. [...]
Whereas Western thought developed the idea of elements as substances, and Indian thought as emanations, Chinese philosophy conceived of the five elements, or Wu Xing, as dynamic states of change.
It was Plato, allegedly, who took the critical next step. He associated each of the five elements with one of the regular polyhedra. This, however, was done in the spirit of Pythagoras who had lived nearly a hundred years before Plato. This hypothesis of perfectly formed atoms was also in line with the Aristotelian view of the immanence of the the forms, and, ironically, quite contrary to Plato's own dualist view in which the forms did not inhabit the phenomenal realm. Atomism was not a view that ever gained currency in pre-modern China. Atomistic speculation arose in India at about the same time as in Greece, but there were no other renditions of Plato or Pythagoras.
Scientific gnosis, if it came from anywhere, came from a melding of the Greek and prophetic traditions. With his hypothesis of the immanence of the forms in this world, it was almost as if Aristotle, possibly following Pythagoras, anticipated the Incarnation. If we could eat the mathematical forms, why should we not also eat the incarnation of the Platonic Good? The Athens-Jerusalem axis became the fulcrum of the future. It was a double singularity in world history.
Greek style cosmological speculation could never gain currency in the pantheist East. Yes, there were elaborate, even numerically based cosmologies arising in India; but there simply did not exist the Good. The most basic premise of the BPW was never formed or even framed under pantheism or polytheism. The Good could be nothing other than the universal Telos. The notion of universals and archetypes could not arise under pantheism. All was illusion.
It would seem, however, that I am threatening to take some dangerous steps back toward pantheism. This reversal makes sense, and is practicable, only in a postmodern context. I am simply going to put the logical finishing touches on Thomism. I intend only to render the good Doctor coherent. We can have immanence and transcendence without resorting to dualism. Is this not the best of all worlds? As we finally come under the aegis of the Telos, it will be management by objective, rather than management by prophetic directive. The dia-Logos will be fully realized.
The Telos is seen now not as an abstraction but as the Hierogamos. The ideal of romantic, chivalric love, as first embraced by the Cathari Troubadours, can hardly be, nor truly has been conceived in any lesser context. The Incarnation was unquestionably a package deal, the dimensions of which we have only begun to comprehend.
Back to those Platonic/Pythagorean atoms. No, not the formless abstractions of Democritus or Kanaada, but rather the specific geometrical solids proposed by Plato. But now I notice that the Britannica gives a more generous interpretation to Democritian atomism, while nowhere mentioning geometrical atoms.
Democritus had declared quantitative differences to be intelligible, because they were subject to mathematical reasoning. Precisely this relationship between quantitative differences and mathematics made it impossible for Descartes (17th century) to think along the atomistic lines of Democritus. If the only thing that is clearly understandable in matter is mathematical proportions, then matter and spatial extension are the same--a conclusion that Descartes did not hesitate to draw. Consequently, he rejected not only the idea of indivisible atoms but also that of the void. In his eyes the concept "void" is a contradiction in terms. Where there is space, there is by definition extension and, therefore, matter. (Britannica)
I'm amazed that the Britannica fails to mention Plato's 'Theory of Everything' as expounded in his Timaeus. Admittedly this falls outside the context of his usual dualism, but perhaps it manifests a later reconciliation with a Pythagorean style of teleological panentheism. Only much later would this development be codified into neo-Platonism. History might have been profoundly altered if this monistic side of Plato had been his dominant legacy.
What was still missing back then was the idea of progress. The irony is that when the idea of progress first became accepted it was seen mainly as an antidote to gnostic and millenarian enthusiasm. As the idea of progress devolved into amillennialism and was then confounded with Darwinism, it became the handmaiden of materialism; and, now without a Telos, it has simply become incoherent. Only with X2 may we recover the Telos. And only in a postmodern context can the notion of a participatory progress be compounded with a transcendental Telos, finally bringing the Telos within our grasp, if not yet within our comprehension. First, we now are given to comprehend the Incarnation. We could not have believed any earlier that the proffered salvation was intended to be participatory.
The choreography of the Metanarrative has not been easy. Our spiritual and intellectual guidance has, until now, been placed on separate tracks. The joining of these tracks in the context of X2 constitutes our dramatic inauguration of the Millennium. Only now are the separate revelations of Athens and Jerusalem fully joined. Only now can intellect and spirit finally be aligned. The coming together of these elements might well be compared with the mixing of the elements of a binary explosive. Only the Internet is designed to handle such a charge. The 'irrational exuberance' of the Internet 'bubble' will now be rationalized and realized. Forget 'new economy', we are now talking 'new world'. Y2K becomes Y2C, i.e. X2. Is this the dreaded New World Order, complete with Antichrist? It may well be dreaded by those ensnared in the old dualistic paradigm. This 'experiment' in spiritual alchemy will seem apocalyptic to those who fail to rise to the occasion. The irony is that the Christian fundamentalists whose beliefs incorporate more of the BPW than anyone else's, may receive the greatest shock and offer the most resistance, simply because they are so close to ground zero.
I champion the view that history is no accident in either a cosmological or local sense. There is a real history of ideas. Ideas matter. One idea leads to another in some rational sequence that remains largely enigmatic, but is ultimately teleological. Within this teleological frame, science and religion have interacted on many levels. Their superficial antagonism belies a much deeper symbiosis.
Fundamentalists can view science only with the darkest suspicion, if not in a outright conspiratorial light. Liberal theologians hew to the dictum that good fences make good neighbors. They leave the history of science to their secular colleagues who do not always return the favor. We are left with anecdotal accounts of the connections, of which this is just one.
We are left to compare and contrast the two poles of revelation: Athens and Jerusalem. The singularity of the later may be more readily rationalized than the former. One can almost sense the choreographic challenge being presented along this particular geographic and spiritual axis. It is also a fault line into which many good intentions have disappeared. I cannot fail to cast in my own lot.
Although thoroughly pantheist in nature, Greece did not follow the pantheism of the rest of the world. The term 'rational' is applied to ancient Greece as to no other culture. I try to pin this down. Plato stands out, of course, but there had to be many supporting actors. What is the source here? Delphi is practically synonymous with 'oracle', but what could those besotted priestesses have to do with reason? Nonetheless, no oracular site compares. Could the juxtaposition of Athens, Delphi and Jerusalem have been random? Were Apollo and Yahweh conspiring? Nowhere else in the world did the gnostic bug bite so effectively.
The Greeks had a unique grasp of the universals. Their tenacity distinguished them from all other pantheists. They had the Logos in everything but the flesh. Others might well point to Egypt with their hieroglyphs as the ultimate source of the Logos. Perhaps it was the Socratic dia-Logos which finally sets the Greeks apart. It was just the dia-Logos which gave the Greek logos its legs and its almost universal legacy. Was Delphi not the global center for divine interrogation?
And then there was the Good. My goodness? No, my Best, Plato's Good. This is the ultimate gnosis. It is only the Good which we dare to throw in the face of God. Do You measure up? We've got Your number. We interrogate You, then we measure You. On a stake? How better? ==>>> Delphi, Athens, Jerusalem. [6/18 - An 800 mile geodesic arc plotted from the Delphic Oracle to the Temple Mount falls 1.6 miles south of the Parthenon.]
Do we get the picture? Pantheism has its flavors: active and passive. Passivity now rules that roost. Evidently the Greeks caught the gnostic bug. By now the virus has spread though the world, despite all pantheism and despite all orthodoxy. We pose a question, we expect an answer. The Greeks posed many questions. Their answer finally arrived, just about eight hundred miles away, across the sea. Later the Good Doctor put two and two together and came up with three. We'll strive for four, at least.
Speaking of Athens and Jerusalem, two questions come to mind. What is Truth? What is Good? We can, of course, answer these questions by providing particular examples, but does this suffice? Hardly. Lately I have been at pains to distinguish theism from pantheism, but the Greeks seem to fall into that divide. Or, perhaps they attempt to bridge it with their Logos. If Plato could, dialectically, achieve a gnosis of the Good, then what need would he have of the God hypothesis? I am in a similar situation wrt the BPW hypothesis. God can hardly fail to serve the Logos. God cannot fail to create the best possible world. In fact, we are here to do most of that for her, using our Logos gnosis. So much for Athens. So much for the Good.
What is Truth? Pontius did not get an answer, but we know what it is. 'I am the way, the truth and the light.' Hold the phone. We've just crossed wires with Athens on the other line. This does not compute. This is where the Good Doctor adds two and two and comes up a dollar short. Plato could never have said or even imagined such a thing. Who does this guy think he is? Clearly we have come to a fork in the road. Now, two millennia after the fact, it may be time to recompute. Better place a call to Delphi.
I think the problem has to do with the dia-Logos. Did Hegel have the answer? He must have come pretty darn close. But right off the top, how can we get off with objectifying the Good, if that's what Plato was trying to do? For one thing, we come back to the problem of universals, which has bedeviled philosophy from the start.
The problem has a lot to do with Creation. The Greeks, in keeping with pantheism, were not creationists. The world was eternal, whether cyclically so or not. Plato's Good was quite apart from the world. It was never intended to incarnate. It would ever only be occasionally and ineffably glimpsed by the philosopher.
Then Thomas was confronted with an alleged incarnation. Using Plato and Aristotle he took its measure and came to virtually the same conclusion. The Good and God are ineffable. We were left with the Logos suspended in mid air. Yes, there was a Creation, but it too was suspended in air: it was ex nihilo.
Next it was Hegel's turn. He employed his own dialectic.
I'm going to have to be even more cursory than my usual. I'll be out of town for for ten days starting Thursday.
Hegel: so near yet so far. He became obsessive with his dialectic. There was a madness in his method. It became his own reductio. Besides, he was 200 years too early. With all his metaphysical expertise, it seems that he totally failed to grasp the significance of the X-event. Poor guy, Georg, without McCluhan how could he know that the medium was the message. I don't think he even understood the Resurrection. For Georg, the X-event was simply Ethics 101. That Jesus got crucified was just a spot of bad luck.
It becomes all too clear that Georg was a pantheist. Instead of the Christos, we are given the Dialectic. I have spoken of the triad of M, D and X, but D exists only in service to X and Creation. It is a means to an end, hardly an end in itself.
Speaking of ends, I have not seen an eschaton yet. Heck, I'm not even sure he has a creation. Except for the fact that his cosmos is anthropocentric, we don't see a cosmology. He is concerned only with the anthropology.
With the above considerations, should anyone have been surprised when Hegel's system was hijacked by the dialectical materialists? Was it not inevitable? That it also may have influenced the National Socialists is a whole other matter.
It just seems that Georg managed to mechanize the Spirit. In that sense his cosmos is deterministic in the manner of the Karma Machine we see in the East. For me, the Telos is the anti-mechanism. It is ultimately a spirit attractor. It is the big charism in the sky. Inevitability, yes. Determinism, no. And did God have a choice in creating the BPW? Yes, and we're it.
My whole style here could almost be characterized as anti-Hegelian. There need be nothing ponderous about the Rapture. The Spirit will never be routinized. There is nothing routine about the BPW. It is pure singularity.
The basic issue between theism and pantheism concerns the nature and provenance of the self. I am on the theistic side of the issue, but leaning toward pantheism with my invocation of the matrix and my radical relationalism.
X dialectically emerges from the Matrix. It is a proactive bootstrap process of which Creation is the prime component. In other words, X is not merely an emanation of M. X is latent in M, but must realize itself through the proactive process of Creation. The creatures more or less reflect X, with X being Creator and Anthropos. The individuality of the human souls is vouchsafed by their participation in the Metanarrative. The Metanarrative is co-authored. The process is also somewhat like a symphony with X as the conductor and principle composer. The individual souls are fully amalgamated into the Christos/Telos at the end of history. This is the Hierogamos. This is a far cry from pantheism and Hegelianism.
Where Hegel primarily departs from pantheism is in his progressive view of history. But this is mainly an anthropology and not totally a cosmology. The eschaton is muted. There is no Creator, and certainly not a personal deity. His absolute One is comparable to Brahman and the Matrix. Cosmic intelligence resides entirely in the collective intelligence of humanity. The role of teleology here is minimized. The dialectic of history may be seen as more of an efficient than final cause. There is virtually no sense of dramaturgy or even aesthetics of history itself. Both of these are stressed in the Metanarrative.
In pantheism the individuality of the souls is stressed. This is particularly true in the doctrine of karma and reincarnation. In orthodox theism, the locus of individuality is in the personal eschatology of heaven versus hell. As a universalist, I am not restricted in that regard. The goal of the pantheist is ultimately to be reabsorbed into the impersonal Brahman. In theism it is more like an 'amalgamation', a term that I using here for the first time. Of course, Brahman is frequently personified in the form of Vishnu, Shiva, etc., but that is strictly optional, as in the way I could refer to the Matrix, somewhat generically, as 'mother'.
The question of the soul arises mainly, if not entirely, for Humans. It has to do with personal identity, which is necessarily correlated with the possession of a personal long-term eidetic memory. It is the latter which distinguishes us from the rest of the creatures. Other creatures have mainly skill type memories that could be 'explained' organically, but not so eidetic memory. The easiest way to shoot down the whole BPW hypothesis would be to produce a material explanation for eidetic memory. Why am I not holding my breath?
The most pressing concern for many folks will be the canine soul. 'Will Rover greet me in heaven?' Yes, Virginia. However, the caveat is that the individuality of particular canine souls is strictly dependent on their particular relation with a particular person. It is a 'parasitic' existence. But by the same token, is not our existence parasitic upon the Christos? It's not what you know, it's who you know. The Christos is ultimately unavoidable. So let us not cast aspersions on our furry friends, but do take note that the issue of the feline soul is hardly ever so pressing. I'm only slightly biased here.
For a minute there I thought that Hegel might give the BPW a run for its money, but that is not to be, evidently. It is the Good Doctor who has come closest to this precinct. Thomism, however, was unable to sufficiently extricate itself from the ecclesiastical orthodoxy of dualism. It was never given the freedom to flirt with pantheism. Yes, it is a dangerous liaison, but ultimately it only requires the courage of one's convictions. Of course, not having the Inquisitor or the Monsignor at one's doorstep does wonders for one's courage. I only ever had that acronymous agency to play with.
Modern flirtation with pantheism occurs exclusively under the aegis of the scientific cosmos. Extricating ourselves from that orthodoxy is evidently more difficult than from its ecclesiastical cousin. This is not a measure of the relative degree of enforcement, but more a measure of the magnitude of the gestalt switch from materialism to immaterialism. Such is the price of coherence. Pantheism is oh so tolerant of incoherence. Is it not the Big Easy? Then we had better enjoy this Mardi Gras that some call postmodernism.
Although pantheism is usually regarded as a metaphysics of immanence, the monism that it offers is, certainly in practice, strictly transcendental. The monism of the BPW, by contrast, is immanent in the coherence and comprehensibility of the world. This is part of everyone's daily experience. That the coherence is not always obvious to us, however, does not argue for its absence. Coherence is is to be finally and fully realized in a total eschatological Presence. Nothing is left out of the eschaton. There is no remainder. This is just an aspect of universal redemption. Every bit of coherence is a portent of our resurrection.
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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.