|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.