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Johnboy musings part2 Johnboy musings part2 Document Transcript

  •    Click Here to Return to Johnboy’s Homepage  To Place This Project in Context A Quote from Walker Percy: Lost in the Cosmos: the Last Self-Help Book (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983), 201-202. This chapter, as well as other parts of the book, owes a good deal to Carl Sagans splendid picture book, Cosmos. I hope he will not take offense atsome fanciful extrapolations therefrom. Sagans book gave me much pleasure, a pleasure which was not diminished by Sagans unmalicious, eveninnocent, scientism, the likes of which I have not encountered since the standard bull sessions of high school and college—up to but not past thesophomore year. The argument could be resumed with Sagan, I suppose, but the issue would be as inconclusive as it was between sophomores. Forme it was more diverting than otherwise to see someone sketch the history of Western scientific thought and leave out Judaism and Christianity.Everything is downhill after the Ionians and until the rise of modern science. There is a huge gap between the destruction of the library at Alexandriaand the appearance of Copernicus and Galileo. So much for six thousand years of Judaism and fifteen hundred years of Christianity. So much for thelikes of Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Grosseteste. So much for the science historian A.C. Crombie, who wrote: "The naturalphilosophers of Latin Christendom in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries created the experimental science characteristic of modern times."So much, indeed, for the relationship between Christianity and science and the fact that, as Whitehead pointed out, it is no coincidence that sciencesprang, not from Ionian metaphysics, not from the Brahmin-Buddhist-Taoist East, not from he Egyptian-Mayan astrological South, but from the heartof the Christian West, that although Galileo fell out with the Church, he would hardly have taken so much trouble studying Jupiter and droppingobjects from towers if the reality and value and order of things had not first been conferred by belief in the Incarnation.Yet one is not offended by Sagan. There is too little malice and too much ignorance. It is enough to take pleasure in the pleasant style, the knack forpopularizing science, and the beautiful pictures of Saturn and the Ring nebula.Indeed, more often than not, I found myself on Sagans side, especially in his admiration for science and the scientific method, which is what he saysit is—a noble, elegant, and self-correcting method of attaining a kind of truth—and when he attacks the current superstitions, astrology, UFOs,parapsychology, and such, which seem to engage the Western mind now more than ever—more perhaps than either science or Christianity.What is to be deplored is not Sagans sophomoric scientism—which I think I like better than its counterpart, a sophomoric theism which attributesthe wonders of the Cosmos to a God who created it like a child with a cookie cutter—no, what is deplorable is that these serious issues involvingGod and the nature of man should be co-opted by these particular disputants, a popularizer like Sagan and fundamentalists who believeGod created the world six thousand years ago. Its enough to give both science and Christianity a bad name.Really, it is a case of an ancient and still honorable argument going to pot. Even arguments in a college dormitory are, or were, conducted at a higherlevel.It is for this very reason that we can enjoy Cosmos so much, for the frivolity of Sagans vulgar scientism and for the reason that science is, as Sagansays, self-correcting. One wonders, in fact, whether Sagan himself has not been corrected, e.g., by Hubbles discovery of the red shift and thepresent growing consensus of the Big Bang theory of the creation of the Cosmos, which surely comes closer than Sagan would like to the Genesisaccount of creatio ex nihilo.  An Emergentist Account of the Biosemiotic Categories of Religionfrom a panentheistic perspective    "Awakening to beauty, truth, and goodness is to waken to the unfoldment of Divine Life within us." -Thomas Keating     “In philosophy classes we were told that there were three things that especially opened us to the Transcendent:   the good, the true, and the beautiful.   Come join us  as we again put together what was never really apart!” – Richard Rohr     Prologue I never took a philosophy class, but something tells me Keating and Rohr are right. My lifelong project entails my defense of this perspective. Maritain said that we distinguish in order to unite. My Peircean heuristic draws distinctions between evaluative, normative, descriptive, interpretive
  • and prescriptive stances but eschews any dichotomization of these identifiable moments in the otherwise integral act of human value realization. Eachmoment, necessarily, presupposes each other moment, as we harvest truth, beauty, goodness and unity. Of course, my framing of this heuristic interms of value realization recognizes humanitys radical finitude. If we are in search of value, then this is a reflection of that inescapable reality of ourvast neediness, our utterly contingent nature. All that said, this is not to suggest that we, as humans, do not enjoy the first fruits of what, anagogically, we hope will be an eventual eschatologicalharvest of all value, that we have not received, through the Holy Spirit, an earnest, a down payment, a foretaste of value realization. My heuristic thus defines epistemic virtue in terms of such value realization and cashes out its own value in terms of the successful institutionalizationof this value realization whereby intellectual conversion harvests those contemplative moments we encounter as truth, affective conversion harveststhose encountered as beauty, moral conversion those of goodness and sociopolitical conversion those of unity. Thus all contemplation leads topolitics, which are most efficaciously articulated when we integrally tie all of these moments back together, religiously, transvaluing them throughongoing religious conversion. The aspect of institutionalization honors our biological, i.e. biosemiotic, heritage as radically social animals. The epistemic goal of human valuerealization is thus fostered in a community of inquiry writ large. It may have been Merton who recognized that truth often comes flying in on thewings of beauty. This is an implicit recognition, in my view, that, in our more robustly contemplative moments, we are likely to realize truth, beauty,goodness and unity together, and, also, that  our individual invocations of same grow out of our first being convoked as a community of valuerealization. In trying to draw out the implications of my heuristic for a theological anthropology, which I am framing in terms of value realization strategies, Icannot help thinking of Sartres description of the “universal human condition” as the reason for our shared values and sensibilities. Still, one mustsuspect that any such sharing of sensibilities and values is not rooted in the value realization moment we might call inference. Tom Short thuscontextualizes Peirce: "if the faculty of reasoning were of the first importance to success in life, then natural selection would [have] operate[d] tobreed the race for vigorous reasoning powers, whereas, comparatively few persons are originally possessed of any but the feeblest modicum ofthis talent." Instead, in Shorts words, drawing on Peirces distinction between theoretical and practical reasoning, "the one requires radical thinking and relianceon one’s own powers of ratiocination, the other best relies on instinct, sentiment, and tradition, or, in short, the accumulated experience ofcountless generations." In my own description of human biosemiotic heuristics, there emerges, through the putative coevolution of language and brain, a novel capacity forintersubjectivity, which corresponds to Joseph Campbells "transpersonal identity." We cannot help but recognize this emergent novelty in our speciesand it warrants a characterization of "exceptionality" vis a vis other biosemiotic other biosemiotic realities. One might ask whether such anexceptionality warrants further description in ontological terms and, given the received opinion of the philosophy of mind community, that answer mustbe an emphatic "Nyet!". For that matter, although most would consider the so-called hard problem of consciousness "epistemologically open," andwhile many nevertheless consider it "ontologically closed," still, even in that cohort that considers it "ontologically open," most of those philosophershold to naturalistic, even if not physicalistic, positions.  Biosemiotically, then, all life is apparently cut from the same fabric. Furthermore, and anyhow, the semiotic perspective does a conceptual end-around the classical realism-idealism conundrum and avoids thephilosophical cul-de-sac of the mutually unintelligible essentialism-nominalism dichotomy. It may be too strong a position to defend, to a prioricharacterize such paradoxes using Quines categories of veridical, falsidical and antinomial, but most of the synthetic and a posteriori money is on theantinomial view, which is to say that someone is asking the wrong questions of reality if they are still arguing within such Scholastic categories andcoming away confounded. The practical upshot of this is that, because of our intersubjective and transpersonal human evaluations, decisions and tendencies, our species isgifted with a heightened awareness, not only of our radical finitude and contingent nature, but also, of our unfathomable solidarity with one anotherand the cosmos. As I have always maintained, "when we awaken to our solidarity, compassion will ensue." And this orthopathos has evaluativerelevance and normative impetus and, hence, per my Peircean-derived heuristic, mediates between our ortho-communio (as a community of inquiry)and our ortho-doxy (value-realization paradigms) to effect ortho-praxis (our prudential judgments, both moral and practical). If orthopraxis thusauthenticates orthodoxy, then my hypothesis is that one will most assuredly find them flying in on the wings of orthopathos and orthocommunio. Ifthis has normative impetus, it precisely comes from its descriptive accuracy as a theological anthropology. I will discuss our epistemic, aesthetic andethical sensibilities in more detail, later, as they respectively inspire assent, awe and reverence for Reality. (If we have learned anything from theGodelian-like constraints on human ratiocinations, then it is that, with both Ignatius and the Psalmist, we are to "taste and see" the truth, beauty,goodness and unity of Reality, and, however necessary syllogisms are, they are not sufficient.) There is a certain resonance, then, between the Scotistic notion that the Incarnation was a cosmic inevitability (almost Teilhardian) and not ratheroccasioned by a felix culpa, and the approach of Irenaeus, who sees creation as a place for soul-making, which corresponds to Scott Pecks metaphorof "life as a cosmic boot camp." In classical terms, then, we might view reality moreso through Haughts aesthetic teleology, oriented toward thefuture, creation crossing a vast teleological expanse toward the Eschaton, and not so much as an ontological rupture located in the past. Whatevermetaphysical aspect of the nature of Jesus remains occulted, His moral nature is utterly transparent, eminently biosemiotic, setting always before usthe way, the truth and the life as, meanwhile, all creation groans, hopefully, in one great act of giving birth. Our theological anthropologies have practical implications for our meta-ethical enterprises, which is to say, considerable normative impetus for thepolitics that govern relations between societies. In an apparently pervasively semiotic ecology, we only distinguish between humankind and thecosmos in order to unite. As a Eucharistic community, how well we "bust that move" called  "The Dismissal," or Ite, missa est, will be revealed in ouraspirations to realize our evaluations by making decisions with a tendency we might call Transignification, which, with the Jesuits, sees God in allthings. There can be no dichotomizing, no compartmentalization, for our lives are a continuous extension of Eucharist in an ongoing hermeneuticalcycle of value realization, or, are going to be fragmented and in peril of an otherwise regnant practical nihilism, which isnt difficult to see, notrewarding at all to taste.   For those who do not buy into the notion of any so-called naturalistic fallacy, this theological anthropology of "who we are" will speak directly to thequestion of "what must we do," both morally and practically. If the Kantian interrogatories are irreducibly triadic in realizing values in terms of what wecan know, what we must do and what we can hope for, then the Peircean triadic semiotic is also irreducibly triadic in correspondingly recognizingthose tendencies that will most efficaciously mediate between our evaluations and decisions vis a vis society and the cosmos, which is to recognizethat it is incoherent to reductionistically turn such distinctions as individual human beings, society and the cosmos into dichotomies as if they did notnecessarily presuppose each other. Derivatively, it is also incoherent, then, to talk in terms of dominion and autonomy, for this is to take a de factoover against stance in relationship to our very selves. This is also to overemphasize the dialectical imagination and to explicitly disavow theimmanence of the deity, one of humankinds longest and strongest evaluative sensibilities. If we are to articulate a consilient and coherent ecotheology, we have to recover that "instinct, sentiment, and tradition, or, in short, theaccumulated experience of countless generations" that best preserved the seamless garment of human value realization, that best articulated theirreducible relationships between all (transkin) biosemiotic realities, that best articulated the eco-nomic or laws of eco-logical exchange, that bestarticulated the sociopolitical realization of reciprocal solidarity and compassion, and that best articulated such an Ens Necessarium as implicatelyorders all pansemiotic possibilities, actualities and probabilities and utterly unobtrusively, yet eminently efficaciously, coaxes them forward toward ........ .... .... That recovery effort, then, might best take us back to that hermeneutical place that some of humankind inhabited prior to infection by hellenisticrationalism and prior to the schizoid fractures brought on by cartesian dualisms. 
  • For Starters: What Do These Words Mean to me? Emergentist Account: In the great chain of being there are levels stretching from the quantum to the sociological. There are levels of being within levels of being. There aretheories that govern interactions within levels and sometimes between levels, sharing concepts. The concepts concern 1) parts and wholes; 2)properties and 3) natural laws. There are three ways to look at the possible relationships between these levels. If a lower level completely explains a higher level, then we havereductionism and the strongest relation possible. When speaking in terms of parts & wholes, properties & laws, it is possible that reductionism will notexplain a higher level, but we can still maintain supervenience, which is to say that any differences in parts, wholes, properties and laws at a higherlevel must have corresponding differences at the lower level (covariance without reduction). If a theory explaining higher level properties & laws is, inprinciple, unpredictable from a theory at a more fundamental level, then we have emergence, which is to say, novelty. Bio-semiotic: refers to life (bio) and significance or signs & symbols (semiotic). In humans, some biosemiotic capacities (the way we use informationone might say) are language-dependent and public (shared between people) and some are ineffable and private experiences (and language-independent). They might be thought of as propositional (dealing with propositions like the logical categories of deduction and induction andinference), in the first case, and phenomenal, in the latter (feelings and dispositions). The first category refers to capacities that are innate (hardwired into our brains) but which are very open-ended and flexible (some say plastic).These I call heuristics because a heuristic just provides general guidelines and leaves the thinker or experiencer with wide latitude in proposingsolutions and drawing conclusions. The second category is also innate but is fixed, inflexible, and so I call it algorithmic because there is no latitude asit drives human responses to "conclusions" and solutions quite directly (think of the immune system reacting to "information" automatically). One mightalso think in terms of fuzzy logic and formal logic for these categories. What is most important is that one understand that all animals are bio-semiotic,all life, in fact, but that only humans use such biosemiotic heuristics as would involve language. Categories of Religion: This involves a naturalistic account from an evolutionary perspective on the philosophical categories of most religious traditions. The four categoriesof religious practice that I will attempt to describe are Cult, Community, Creed and Code. Others might think of these in other terms such as Ritual orLiturgy, Fellowship or Church, Dogma or Doctrine, and Law or Rubrics. Religion: comes from root concepts that I interpret to mean "to tie lifes experiences back together" so as to heal us that we may survive and growus that we may thrive. It is about the actualization of the values to which we would aspire.  Panentheistic: can be interpreted two ways. Some speak of a panen-theism, where creation and God are conceived in such a relationship thatcreation is part of God but where God is the Whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is not my take. My take is pan-entheism, where Godand creation are in a very intimate relationship, God indwelling in creation, implicately ordering it and gently coaxing it forward. A Word About Categories I recall the old scholastic notations: im/possible, im/plausible, im/probable and un/certain. And I think, too, of the modal categories of possible, actual,probable and necessary.I want to draw a distinction between what we might call a positivist stance, or science, or the empirical, or the descriptive, on one hand, and, on theother hand, what we might call a paradigmatic stance, or metaphysics, or the analytical, or the interpretive.It seems to me that the positivist focus traffics in categories like im/plausible, im/probable, uncertain and also the possible, actual & probable. I like tocall these categories modal phenomenology. Science deals with these modes of reality. At least empirical observations, thus far, reveal realityspervasive contingency.It seems to me that the paradigmatic focus employs categories like im/possible, un/certain, and also the un/necessary. I like to call these categoriesmodal ontology.In my view, both modal phenomenology and modal ontology are legitimate enterprises. What would make them both viable is an approach thateschews a priori modal assumptions and embraces, instead, only fallibilist hypotheses, which are verifiable and/or falsifiable, a posteriori. It seemsthat we can ask different questions – normative, evaluative, descriptive, interpretive or prescriptive; or, put another way, philosophic, preferential,positivist, paradigmatic or prudential (moral/practical) - - - about the same reality and cannot a priori suggest that any given answer to any givenquestion will, so to speak, in principle and eventually, be un/answerable. Some additional comments re: modal phenomenology and modal ontology - - -Both often employ metaphors, analogies and models, not just pedagogically (as teaching tools) but epistemologically (in empirical methodology).Both propose hypotheses, some more highly speculative than others, some more readily falsifiable or verifiable than others.Both can involve naturalistic speculation about realitys givens in terms of space, time, matter and energy (primitives), forces (4 forces, so far) andaxioms (laws like thermodynamics and quantum mechanics); about the advent of consciousness, the origin of life and other apparently emergentrealities; about reductive and nonreductive physicalism; and such.Various Theories of Everything (TOEs) and various God Hypotheses are modal ontologies.It is difficult to draw a line of distinction between highly speculative cosmology and theoretical physics, on one hand, and what has traditionally beencalled metaphysics, on the other. However nuanced ones distinctions, those enterprises cannot really be facilely dichotomized. Some proposefalsifiability as a criterion to separate science and metaphysics, but propositions can be framed up that are falsifiable or verifiable, we might say,eschatologically. Others might suggest that any time we tweak, amend, addend or modify realitys givens, as presently received by most scientists,then we are going beyond physics to metaphysics. Maybe defining metaphysics is not as important or as meaningful as keeping track of our categoriesand their associated grammars and rubrics and looking over our shoulders at our various leaps of faith.Some thinkers, who have an apparent antipathy toward metaphysics, and a palpable animus toward theology, in their anxiety to annihilate thosespheres of human concern from the realm of the cognitively meaningful, end up, inadvertently, trashing the epistemological methods that humanityhas long employed at the frontiers of science (and those frontiers have of course changed greatly through time).Metaphysics, however broadly or narrowly conceived, is here to stay, and for at least as long as science and faith. It is an integral aspect of humanvalue realization and in a dynamical relationship with the positivist, and all other, horizons of human concern. Adjudicating Competing Tautologies (or how Christian Culture Helped Birth Science) In any my tautology is tauter than your tautology dispute, there must be a cashing out of epistemic value in one approach over against the other.
  • Why does this approach gift us with enhanced modeling power re: reality?If the topic under consideration could be adjudicated solely in terms of logical consistency, internal coherence, hypothetical consonance,interdisciplinary consilience, and conceptual consistency, then one interpretive framework would trump the other as it better interprets and predictscertain empirical observations or factual realities.Failing adjudication by those criteria and failing to provide a distinctly more robustly explanatory account in terms of predictability of phenomena,actionability of an ontology (albeit fallibilist), normative impetus (hopefully tentative), etc, then, with a more formally structured adjudication beyondour reach, we then fall back on such aesthetic criteria as elegance, parsimony, symmetry, facility of abduction and simplicity, and on such pragmaticcriteria as usefulness, e.g. hypothetical fecundity.RE: hypothetical fecundity, then, we might ask what happens to our research programs and what happens to falsifiable hypothesis-generation if oneadopts this tautology versus that? Restated, in addition to organizing existing knowledge, does this tautology generate new hypotheses? Might itcontribute to a new cognitive regime or paradigm shift or cast light on why this or that approach seems pregnant with paradox? Thus, once all otherepistemic virtues have been taken into consideration for an issue, that a significant part of the philosophical and/or scientific community considersunresolved, i.e. under-explained, there is a certain inefficacy in approaches that are ignostic, noncognitivist and eliminativist, that try to a priorireframe this or that problem as a pseudo-problem, insofar as they discourage research or support the illusion that it is unnecessary. There is a certainirony in that a priori claims to the occulted nature of a given reality, or mysterian-like positions, are similarly inefficacious.Assuming all other epistemic criteria are equal (just for arguments sake), we then ask, how does this versus that alternate view measure up vis a vishypothesis-generation? Epistemic Virtue One aspires to epistemic virtue insofar as one wants to be clear regarding what it is that one can reasonably say one knows. And, one wants to beclear in distinguishing belief from knowledge.At some level, one must wonder how this above-described epistemological exercise, itself, can be inherently normative insofar as one is going from anis, which is described as a distinction between knowledge and belief, to an ought, which one might prescribe (or proscribe ) as a prohibition againstany argument regarding norms for belief in relation to metaphysical concepts.In some sense, one will have already busted that move insofar as one has, albeit minimalistically, set forth a meta-ethic for arguments regardingmetaphysical concepts.How does one justify one’s belief in one’s own knowledge of the distinction between knowledge and belief?How does one justify one’s belief in realitys intelligibility (over against an unmitigated nihilism)?How does one justify one’s belief in such first principles as noncontradiction and excluded middle?How does one justify one’s belief in common sense notions of causality?How does one justify one’s belief in the existence of other minds (over against solipsism) such that one could argue with those minds regarding one’stheory of knowledge and refrain from arguing with them regarding their metaphysical beliefs?These foundational presuppositions are not really propositional are they? One thus believes in order to know. There are some beliefs that mustrequire no justification insofar as their negation would negate what we are calling knowledge, itself. Some beliefs demonstrably enhance our modelingpower of reality. We do not demonstrate them, however, through formal argumentation. They are otherwise warranted by practical judgment. And thisis why human knowledge is not strictly empirical in the first place; it has empirical, logical/rational and practical aspects, among others.If one accepts this approach, then, one might see fit to move beyond any agnosticism regarding some so-called metaphysical concepts and developsome epistemic criteria for when such beliefs are warranted. So, human knowledge is not strictly empirical, over against the radical empiricists and logical positivists; not strictly rational, over against therationalists; not strictly evaluative, over against the noncognitivists; not strictly practical, over against an unnuanced pragmatism. It derives fromaspects of value realization that are intellectually-related even though not robustly logically-related: normative, evaluative, descriptive, interpretiveand prescriptive. At the same time, these aspects of value-realization need not be thought of as some type of metaphysical transcendental imperatives: truth, beauty,goodness and unity, for example. Rather, they can be thought of as an ecological rationality for an animal trying to make it in a particular niche.Human knowledge and beliefs, taken together, and thus conceived through the perspective of an evolutionary psychology, is really just a set of fast& frugal heuristics that have tremendous adaptive significance and were gifted our species via the courtesy of natural selection. As such, we neednot hold, a priori, that these heuristics must obtain to transcendentals; rather, these fast and frugal heuristics can be thought of as existentialorientations of a bounded rationality that are satisficing and not maximizing, which is to say that they are good enough for this or that end. This may all beg the question of how we might do ethics and politics without coming to closure on an ontology. Perhaps our solution requires what we might call a minimalist de-ontology, where our ontology is not a full blown metaphysic that accounts for so-called transcendental imperatives, but is, instead, a modest account of distinctly human value-realization strategies. Such strategies, through natureand nurture, adapt us to reality with a good enough modeling power, which enables us to get along relatively well in the world, settling for optimalvalue realizations even as maximal realizations elude us. In this sense, then, we can maintain that epistemology models ontology (Polkinghorne)even as we have no need to a priori accept or reject the Kantian disjunction between phenomena and noumena. Then, we can still do politics even asthe philosophical onto-policy wonks continue to work their way, fallibly but inexorably, toward a (meta)physical consensus in our community of inquiry. To Do or Not To Do – Ontology I once looked at Peirces semiotic and tried to describe his different sign categories in psychological terms vis a vis the different ways that humansmight experience different modal realities. I made a matrix to ensure that I didnt inadvertently leave out any categories, but my matrix had morecategories than Peirce had signs. I proceeded with my exercise anyway and then examined my leftover categories. They included what,psychologically, we would call delusion, hallucination, psychosis, mistakes, misinterpretation, etcSuccessful reference and description of reality takes place through ongoing, even infinite, semiosis, as we progressively but fallibly tighten our graspon reality. And I have just described some of the reasons why we are fallible, why we need disambiguation and reinterpretation. Thus, anindispensable part of sign theory is the fact that we are error-prone at the same time that we are semiotic realists. So, in our attempts to modelreality with an ever enhanced modeling power, we can, semantically, deal with something analogous to what the Kantian disjunction is trying to dealwith in its distinction between phenomena and noumena.I say analogously because, in order to enhance our modeling power, semiotically, we do not need to a priori accept or reject the Kantian disjunction.We can, at the same time, then, affirm a theoretical role for ontology and be very circumspect in defining the conditions for when it can mostefficaciously contribute to our enhanced modeling power, while also recognizing that, from a practical perspective, when it is facilely applied and
  • casually employs such modal categories as certain, impossible and necessary, it most inefficaciously detracts from our modeling power and gets tiedup in essentialistic-nominalistic knots.If we stick to a description like epistemology models ontology, then maybe we better capture how tentative and provisional our ontological projectsare and how any ensuing normative impetus must be significantly curtailed, especially if our ontologies are not otherwise robustly actionable due tolimited predictive accuracy and hypothetical fecundity, or are otherwise deficient vis a vis some foundherentist (just for example) criteria of epistemicvirtue.As I see it, many metaphysicians have made their fallibilist move, which makes their ontologizing more benign and efficacious. And semioticians haveacknowledged a role for ontology, in theory. The divide that remains seems to then focus on our practical judgment regarding ontologizing and justhow practicable and actionable most ontological projects have been, are or will be. [I would have said that in E-prime, but, you know, for the sake ofconvention and the ease of use ... ...]  Note: This project is inherently difficult because I am trying to build an architectonic that includes physical and biological sciences, psychology, philosophy, religion and theology,each with its own jargon. The conceptual-bridging project gets even harder as one then tries to inhabit rather unique perspectives within those major disciplines, perspectiveswith their own specialized jargon, too. The Peircean perspective might have the most jargonistic stance one can possibly encounter in philosophy inasmuch as it is replete withCSPs own idiosyncratic neologisms. But I am trying to genericize it and make it more accessible. I hope any exchanges this project generates will make what I am proposingmore accessible to others and my heuristic a tad less dense. I am not married to the vocabulary as much as I am to the categories and their associated grammars. I wish thiscould be fleshed out with no jargon whatsoever, while not abandoning the nuances. Your questions, comments and critiques will greatly help this fleshing out. Thanks. A Brief Outline: The Hierarchy of Semiosis – It’s Levels What This Heuristic Ambitions and What It Does Not The Panentheistic Perspective - brief introduction Biosemiotic Categories of Religion Primary Level Experiences & Meta-Level Evaluations: 16 Philosophical Categories Heuristic Subroutines or Subdoxastic Routines What Else Is Going On in this Matrix of 16 Philosophical Categories Mapping My Tetradic Heuristic onto Ursula Goodenough’s Categories for Religious Naturalism & Daniel Helminiak’sLonerganian Approach The Grammar That Operates in This Peirceanesque Tetradic Heuristic Critique of Religious Naturalism Socially & Culturally, then - or secularly What about philosophy of mind? Abduction of the Reality of the Ens Necessarium & Its Modal Ontological Proof More About This Ens Necessarium A Trinitarian Theology of Nature: pansemio-entheistic Is Metaphysics Moonshine?   The Hierarchy of Semiosis What This Heuristic Ambitions and What It Does Not Lets begin with how physical causation operates in the natural world. From an emergentist perspective, as we observe emergent properties, the patternseems to be that they represent something more than their constituent parts but are clearly nothing but the combination of those parts. Hence, we haveUrsula Goodenoughs something more from nothing but, or some prefer something else from nothing but.Sometimes emergent realities present in a very straightforward manner and our reductionistic accounts are easy to come by. Sometimes they present in avery problematical manner and explanatory adequacy eludes us.We can acknowledge the centrality of emergence without claiming to have acquired full explanatory adequacy for the entire spectrum of emergentisticphenomena, including all that might be involved in human neurophysiology. Thusly, my emergentist account does not ambition explanatory adequacy and isonly a heuristic device.Accordingly,  while I prescind from an ontological perspective, bracketing metaphysics, I am not, a priori, suggesting that anyone should therefore jettisontheir metaphysic. I am simply suggesting that, if one keeps my Peircean categories and grammars in mind, then 1) their decision to do ontology or not, for thisaspect of reality or not, will be more coherent 2) their metaphysic, if pursued, will model reality with measurably enhanced modeling power. The pragmaticmaxim suggests that one must precisely demonstrate the enhancement of ones modeling power when one sees fit to multiply ontologies, cashing out thevalues of ones conceptions precisely in terms of such a significance as would be geared toward the realization of human values.Regarding the computational fallacy, I am simply saying that algorithmic or rule-governed computational accounts are necessary but not sufficient whenreferring to human cognition. Those biosemiotic algorithms are innate and hardwired, relatively closed-ended and inflexible, and language-independent. Theirlogic is, in a word, fixed. What I am calling biosemiotic heuristics are also innate and hardwired, but are open-ended and flexible, or plastic, and language-dependent. Their logic is, in a word, fuzzy.One can observe and successfully refer to these biosemiotic realities and make note of their emergent properties, without claiming to have, in the sameinstant, described same with any degree of explanatory adequacy. So, no, I am not describing any philosophical fallacies that arise from competing
  • ontological claims regarding human value-realizations.I would imagine that any number of ontological descriptions could fit quite comfortably underneath my heuristic umbrella. My emergentistic heuristic is notrobust enough to adjudicate between all of the really good hypotheses re: consciousness. It’s value is cashed out solely in terms of making successfulreferences to reality and not, yet, in terms of successful descriptions. Level 1 The probable mediates between the possible and the actual to effect the novel dissipative structures of nonequilibrium thermodynamics. The quasi-telic mediates between the quasi-epistemic and the quasi-ontic to effect the pan-semiotic. Quasi-telic because, while downward causation is clearly operative, violations of physical causal closure are not. Quasi-epistemic because only phenomenal experience isprocessed as knowledge. Quasi-ontic because emergent and novel, bounded and limited, autopoietic realities are dynamical and dissipative, probabilistic and modal.Pansemiotic because, in environments far from equilibrium, symmetries and other temporal patterns are preserved through successive bifurcations and permutations inincreasing levels of complexity, presenting as first and second order (Deacon) emergent properties. Level 2 The quasi-telic mediates between the quasi-epistemic and the quasi-ontic to effect the biosemiotic. Biosemiotic because emergent properties are somehow progressively encoded, constraining the temporal patterns of second order systems, novelty replaced by replication,presenting a dynamic of adaptive significance and selection pressure whenever novelty re-presents. Level 3 The quasi-telic mediates between the epistemic and the quasi-ontic to effect the biosemiotic. Epistemic because propositional knowledge interacts with phenomenal knowledge as symbols are added to icons and indexes, knowledge not only syntactic but semantic. Boundaries mediate between limits and the autopoietic (self-organizing) to effect freedom (open-ended processor). To contextualize the dynamic in Hefner’s lexicon. The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to effect the pragmatic. My articulation of the Peircean maxim that the normative sciences mediate between phenomenology and metaphysics. The necessary (Peirce’s ens necessarium) mediates between the probable and the actual to effect the pansemio-entheistic. My articulation of the argument in Peirce’s Neglected Argument for the Reality of God. The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the theistic to effect the theotic (Peirce’s pragmatic maxim). My articulation of Helminiak’s horizons of human concern, the theotic, in Peircean terms representing the cashing out of value of the meaning of the conception, ensnecessarium, as it must consist of the practical effects the conception would have on human behavior, orthopraxis authenticating orthodoxy.  The Pan-entheistic Perspective – brief introduction From a pan-entheistic perspective, the necessary mediates between the probable and the actual to effect Reality. The necessary entails the eminently telic,epistemic, ontic and semiotic. In observable reality, nowhere do we encounter such intentionality as would be eminently telic, which I’d define as acting onreality in violation of physical causal closure. Nowhere do we encounter the eminently epistemic, human knowledge being necessarily fallible. Neither does theeminently ontic present insofar as emergent realities are all contingent, bounded and limited, dynamical and ephemeral, modal but probabilistic and dissipativeeven if self-replicating. Finally, the eminently semiotic does not present in observable reality, the practical upshot of which is that metaphysics as a project isseriously constrained; we must frequently prescind from metaphysical hypotheses to ontological vagueness and semantical vagueness, employing thePeircean grammars of modal ontology and triadic semiotic logic, reassessing the epistemic vagueness that constrains us, sometimes, methodologically, andsometimes through that which may be naturally occulted as we near T = 0 approaching the Big Bang, or, perhaps, in the deepest structures of matter. Atbottom, nowhere in observable reality do we encounter the ens necessarium, although it is a valid philosophical inference. This is why many folks eschewmetaphysics and ontology altogether.  In what I am calling the pan-semio-entheistic heuristic, rather than reality presenting as three mutually interpenetrating fields of epistemic, quasi-ontic andsemiotic influence, which are irreducibly triadic, a fourth modal category is introduced, the necessary, with its telic influence, efficaciously and unobtrusivelycoaxing reality toward the attainment of the maximum aesthetic value (Haught’s aesthetical teleology). The four interpenetrating fields form a tetradic matrix,
  • which corresponds analogously, in very many ways, to the tetradic heuristic I describe below. The eminently epistemic and truly ontic axes representpanentheistic transcendence. The axis representing the necessary and telic represents the panentheistic field of influence that is immanent and telic,implicately ordering the semiotic field of influence, all fields still mutually interpenetrating, hence, pansemio-entheistic.  Even as I speak of “fields,” I only referto same as conceptual placeholders, as heuristic categories, and do not offer them as ontological realities, for example, some type of substance-processdynamic. What is important is THAT such categories seem to present, phenomenologically, even as HOW such categories might interact remains an openquestion for science. Science can offer us some compelling inferences and analogies though, for example, vis a vis downward causation. But let’s back up and unpack the concepts of this heuristic. Biosemiotic Categories of Religion #1Below, I venture a naturalistic account from an evolutionary perspective on the philosophical categories of most religious traditions. The four categories ofreligious practice that I will attempt to describe are Cult, Community, Creed and Code. Others might think of these in other terms such as Ritual or Liturgy,Fellowship or Church, Dogma or Doctrine, and Law or Rubrics.This account will be written from a biosemiotic and pragmatic perspective. I intend to describe the origin and development of religious categories in termsof doxastic practices. I will draw a distinction between propositional heuristics and phenomenal experience but will focus on the normative aspects of theformer. Insofar as religions attempt to model reality, I will describe their value-realization strategies in terms employed by traditional philosophicalperspectives. Simply put, I will ask what philosophy makes of beauty, unity, truth and goodness and suggest that religion does something similar. I willbriefly touch on what humans make of these values at the primary level of experience. I will describe the biosemiotic heuristic in some length and providean example.In a nutshell, we will travel from biology to religion at warp speed, but this is moreso a heuristic than an hypothesis. Some hypothetical implications will beclear. This isnt going to sound very religious but will have an epistemological slant. After all, Im sketching religions undergirdings from biology throughevolutionary psychology to philosophy. I wont discuss this in that order, though, because it would be more helpful, I think, to describe how propositionalheuristics work, starting in media res, where we find ourselves now.Biosemiotic Heuristics are characterized by simplicity & facility, are fast & frugal.Biosemiotic Heuristics include induction, abduction & inference to the best explanation.Biosemiotic Heuristics evaluate novelty, newly observed effects.Abduction reasons from a presently observed, novel effect to propose a set of probable causes.My hard drive won’t spin up. Either that outside transformer is still defective, lightning got me again or we need to put this outlet on a different amp fuse.Induction reasons from an actual cause present to propose a set of probable effects.This power strip is off. The computer, monitor and printer will not work.Induction immediately critiques abduction, and if the set of probable effects contains the presently observed effect, the cause associated with thatparticular inductive inference could be tested, possibly explaining the novel effect (and falsifying the abductive inferences), possibly falsifying the inductiveinference and possibly leaving the novel effect unexplained.The power strip is now on. The computer hard drive is spinning up.The power strip is now on, but this strip had other things plugged into it, not the PC.The power strip is now on and the monitor and printer are working but not the computer.  If the process continues, induction further critiques abduction, limiting the set of probable causes to the set of actual causes present.If the sets of probable and actual causes do not overlap, abduction continues, conjecturing more probable causes.There were thunderstorms; the power company replaced the transformer last week and there are no fuses because there’s a panel of circuit breakers, nonetripped. Let’s open the computer up and try a new power supply.If the sets of probable and actual causes do overlap, a search for more effects commences in order to further reduce this overlap, successive searchespossibly winnowing down such set overlap, eventually, to a set with a single cause.There were thunderstorms but there have been no brown outs, and circuit breakers are used, not fuses. Check the clock radio and TV.If the search for more effects introduces additional novel effects, the process of alternating conjecture and criticism could be either compounded orsimplified.The clock radio works but the TV doesn’t.Deduction is presupposed in the irreducibly triadic logic of inference. It determines the logical consequences of hypotheses (abductive inferences) as theyare tested inductively via actualities.The deductive inferences may be valid, only.There were storms? Lightning took out both the TV and computer.They may also be sound.Someone else unplugged the TV from its nearby outlet and unplugged the computer from the power strip, because a thunderstorm was on the way.The exhilaration one experiences from turning on the TV and computer (after having ever-s o-briefly imagined that they’d both been destroyed) uponhearing the whirr of the hard drive against the background of the Seinfeld theme “song,” is not part of the triadic inferential logic, and neither are thesounds of the whirring or the song. Those experiences are part of the Phenomenal Knowledge of Biosemiotic Algorithms, while the computertroubleshooting is part of the Propositional Knowledge of the Biosemiotic Heuristics. The latter depends on the former, but only the propositional islanguage-dependent. The analysis would be more complicated if, when the TV was turned on, we heard, instead, Becker yelling at Bob and Linda.(Actually, it is already WAY more complicated but just grasp that there are real distinctions.) Their innate neurophysiological processes are distinct, bothinnate but only the Biosemiotic Algorithms are hard-wired, accomplished in finite steps, even if repetitive, accomplishing some biological end. I use theword algorithm analogically, not because we’re talking math problems but because the system is inflexible while the Biosemiotic Heuristics are veryplastic, and open-ended. The recursive interplay, in Biosemiotic Heuristics, of abduction, retroduction, inference to the best explanation, induction,deduction and other layers of symbolism, is distinctly human. Primary Level Experiences & Meta-Level Evaluations #2Propositional Knowledge X (Environment X Phenomenal Knowledge) --> BehaviorHow does this correspond to my maxim that the philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to inform the practical?The philosophic gifts us with heuristics to guide our propositional applications of phenomenal knowledge.Our normative rationality, then, mediates between the analytical and empirical to inform the practical. Let me unpack this. It is clear enough, perhaps, howthe rational is associated with the philosophic and inferential and the empirical with phenomenal knowledge and our senses. The practical relates to ouractions, our behavior, ordered toward biological and socio-cultural imperatives of the species. The association between the environment and the analyticalhonors the fact that we are radically social animals and our environment is largely linguistic, comprised of other people and their propositional knowledge.Interestingly, that environment also includes our own internal milieu with its own propositional input and output. As we propositionally process our own
  • propositions, our abstractions progress to second and third orders and meta-levels. Thus, the environment corresponds to the paradigmatic (but is notexhausted by same).Starting at the primary level of experience:Our experiences of beauty (symmetry, elegance, simplicity, facility, novelty), at the primary level of experience, are linguistically, semantically andneurologically processed and meaning is imparted at this meta-level and corresponds to what we call our aesthetical values. Our primary experiences of  goodness (the practical fulfillment of biological and socio-cultural imperatives) thus become ethical and moral values. Our evaluations of the successes andfailures of our alternating conjectures and criticisms provide us the rubrics and formalization (to the limited extent our inferential facilities areformalizable) of our noetical values, the axioms of different abstract logics, again, at this meta-level. Our primary experiences of the social and communal,in terms of reinforcement or reward, are reflectively abstracted into unitive values.At the meta-level, then, the aesthetical, practical, noetical & unitive aspects of normative rationality mediate between the analytical and empirical toinform the practical. I said, previously, that the philosophic gifts us with heuristics to guide our propositional applications of phenomenal knowledge. So, Iam also saying that the philosophic resides at this meta-level, even comprises it. This philosophic perspective is not exactly the same as what we call thestudy of philosophy. Second order abstractions and propositions, as a meta-level structure, do not necessarily derive in full conscious awareness butare imparted through the acquisition of cultural symbolism (already layered) and through our own innate biosemiotic heuristic processes andneurocircuitry. These propositional facilities, albeit meta-level, because they are not fully conscious, might function as subdoxastic routines and consistof such as our foundational presuppositions and first principles. Most philosophical schools seem to address, in some way or another, what I am herecalling subdoxastic routines or heuristic subroutines. This is not to at all suggest that conceptual mapping across various philosophical hermeneutics canbe done facilely. Nevertheless, for example, we have Maritains connaturality, Polanyis tacit dimension, Newmans illative sense, Fries nonintuitiveimmediate knowledge and Peirces abduction. These are described, in my view, as innate existential orientations. Other subdoxastic routines aresmuggled in as implicit presuppositions of culturally imparted paradigms. Heuristic Subroutines or Subdoxastic Routines #3So, again, how might this correspond to the maxim that the philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to inform the practical? Inother words, what are some concrete examples of what might be considered subdoxastic routines or heuristic subroutines, which are not in fullconscious awareness, this notwithstanding they are clearly second order or meta-level structures? I will characterize them as beliefs, but they are usuallytacit or implicit beliefs.I label these beliefs as a literary device to lure people into awareness. How many of these heuristics do you accept without proof? Some of this isjargonistic but enough is accessible to gather my main thrust.Philosophic Horizon, Normative Sciences: a) belief in human intelligence over against radical skepticism; b) belief in other minds over against solipsism;c) belief in the recursive interplay of the inferences: deductive, inductive, abductive, retroductive, inference to the best explanation [IBE]; and in abstract,formal logic; d) belief in aesthetic-heuristic maxims of elegance, simplicity, parsimony, facility; e) belief in first principles: noncontradiction, excluded middle;f) belief in epistemic vagueness, how much ignorance is due to invincible methodological constraint versus ontological occulting; g) belief in fast and frugalheuristics of ecological rationality; h) Kungs fundamental trust in uncertain reality; i) eschewal of overworked distinctions (as if they were dichotomies),underworked dichotomies (as if they were mere distinctions), overworked analogies (where metaphors yield causal disjunctions) and traffic in trivialities,regressions, circularities & tautologies; j) embrace of distinction between necessary & sufficient; comprehensive & exhaustive; k) embrace distinction  between veridical, falsidical and antinomial paradox2) Positivistic Horizon, Empirical Science: a) belief in realitys intelligibility over against an unmitigated nihilism; b) belief in common sense notions ofcausality; c) belief in alternating conjecture & criticism, falsifiability3) Heuristic Horizon, Paradigms: a) belief in Godels Theorem; b) belief in modal ontology and ontological vagueness, the necessary and the probable; c)belief in semiotic realism and semantical vagueness, conditional use of noncontradiction and excluded middle; d) belief in renormalizability ofincommensurable systems; e) belief in emergentist heuristic of something more from nothing but (or something else)4) Pragmatic Horizon, Praxis: a) belief in pragmatic maxim; b) belief in cashing out ones paradigm in terms of what and how much difference they makeMost people seem unaware of these implicit presuppositions. When they become aware, they then struggle with justification. How do you justify any ofthese that you recognize as operative in your own hermeneutic? Doing philosophy; from subdoxastic to doxastic #4What happens when we consciously reflect on these subdoxastic routines and do philosophy?How might these heuristics correspond to various schools of thought?The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and paradigmatic to inform praxis.This tetradic heuristic unfolds into four value-realization holons whereby subjective, intersubjective, objective and interobjective horizons of humanconcern each realize aesthetical, unitive, noetical and ethical values.The aesthetical thus mediates between the unitive and noetical to inform the ethical. Or, why truth often comes flying in on the wings of beauty andgoodness.The subjective, intersubjective, objective and interobjective horizons correspond, respectively, to Jungian thinking, feeling (harmony between people),sensing and intuiting (harmony between ideas) functions, which further correspond, respectively, to left frontal, right posterior, left posterior and rightfrontal, cortical brain quadrants. Philosophically, these horizons generally correspond to rational, analytical, empirical and practical normative sciences.We approach aesthetical value realization 1) subjectively, through formalism or essentialism in art; 2) intersubjectively, through expressivism oremotionalism in art; 3) objectively, through mimesis and imitationalism in art; and 4) interobjectively, through art as instrumentalism.We approach unitive value realization 1) subjectively, through possibilities and objective (conceptual) reality; 2) intersubjectively, through probabilitiesand semiotic reality; 3) objectively, through actualities and physical reality; and 4) interobjectively, through ultimate (telic) reality.We approach noetical value realization 1) subjectively, through virtue epistemology; 2) intersubjectively, through a semiotic, community of inquiry; 3)objectively, through correspondence; and 4) interobjectively, through coherence.We approach ethical value realization 1) subjectively, through aretaic or virtue ethics; 2) intersubjectively, through contractarian ethics; 3) objectively,through deontological ethics; and 4) interobjectively, through teleological or consequentialistic ethics.If you ask me, folks that raise any of these elements to an exclusive perspective or school of thought are simply indulging an epistemic fetish (except forthe Peircean pragmatism). What Else Is Going On in this Matrix of 16 Philosophical Categories: My employment of the Peircean take on reality pretty much drove me directly to where Ursula Goodenough & Terry Deacon ended up in FromBiology to Consciousness to Morality. Now, take Morality, for example, it has always seemed to me that, when approached philosophically,philosophers have elaborated theories that I could taxonomically characterize under four major categories and that those categories could beassociated with the four major brain quadrants, which are variously dominant in different temperament types. And one could take Aesthetics andEpistemology and Social theories and see a similar type of association. That provided me 16 sets of jargon above, which I did not bother tounpack, YET, incorporating, as they do, the entire history of philosophy.Now, I am certain that one might recognize that our primary level encounters with reality generate different evaluative stances in terms of moral,aesthetic, epistemic and social sensibilities/inclinations. And one may be surprised to hear me assert that, for the most part, as human beings, weget along quite well in our encounters with reality, especially with one another, without bothering to elaborate major theories about these
  • sensibilities, at least not beyond our naturalistic accounts of their origins. And this is to say that not many of us take the concepts we employ,when we are sharing and exchanging such sensibilities with one another, and then manipulate them into second or even third order, meta-levelabstractions. So, this might also seem to suggest that, it is not the process of abstracting we must constrain as much as it is the process of,willy-nilly, drawing new inferences regarding those abstractions, so to speak, in a vacuum, isolated from sensible reality. The reason for constraintis that Peirces pragmatic maxim is in play for those abstractions that are both helpful and harmful because, as semiotic creatures, we WILL cashout the value of such conceptualizations, for better and worse, by putting them into practice one way or another, either to our everlasting gloryor by accelerating our inevitable demise.Nevertheless, all these caveats notwithstanding, humankind HAS elaborated such theories as have arisen from our moral, aesthetical, epistemicand social sensibilities and their meta-level, inferential structures. At one level, which appears to be mostly subconscious, these structures arehardwired, even if otherwise plastic and open-ended. They are not articulated beliefs but do comprise what most of us would recognize ascommon sense, and what the philosophers might call first principles, or unspoken presuppositions. This isnt to suggest that some culturaloverlays, nurture adding on to nature,  do not variously help or hinder common sense; it is only to recognize that, even when they do, they, too, remain rather tacit or implicit, most folks never bothering to articulate what, to some extent, must generally seem to be self-evident and thusrather trivial observations, which is to say, relevant but too much of a grasp of the obvious. The practical upshot is that I have taxonomically laidout 16 major philosophical approaches, which, in my view, can be characterized in association with brain quadrants, this notwithstanding thenotion that our symbolic-linguistic function is rather distributed. So, in a nutshell, I have naturalized philosophy, itself, much less religion. (And, Ido believe glucose metabolism in the brain can be measured to demonstrate what areas are "burning hotter" when - - - in relationship to Myers-Briggs temperament typologies.)Stepwise, then, as Goodenough and Deacon take us from biology to consciousness to morality, my departure point is to then take morality andfurther reduce it to four major approaches; and to then recognize that their account applies to other evaluative sensibilities, too, and to thenreduce them, each, to four major approaches. I do not see it as a facile mapping exercise.Now, the real shame is this. So many folks have, in their metalevel abstractions and inferences, moved from the realm of unconscious competenceto unconscious incompetence. By doing philosophy, they have made themselves STUPIDER. Forget Jupiter, in medieval times, when a rather sterilescholasticism began its reign: Boys went to college to get more stupider. It has been said that, using logic, one of humankinds most efficienttools, an intelligent person, with a false premise and/or ambiguous concepts, can get further from the truth, faster and more efficiently, than anyimbecile could ever aspire. And that is what goes on as folks inhabit their metalevel castles. It takes rigor and discipline and self-critique and self-reflexive awareness to "do metalevels" right. The cure for this is a move from unconscious competence to conscious competence, making what Icall our unconscious subdoxastic beliefs more robustly conscious doxastic beliefs. Most of the trouble ensues when folks get busy trying to justifythat which calls for no justification. One must not go overboard, though, throwing out the justification baby with the dirty metalevel bathwaterbecause 1) so much of reality still begs questions and 2) there is a right way to do metalevels, which I wont prescribe presently (except tosuggest that Peirce is our guide). I derived a heuristic from Peirce who said that the normative sciences mediate between phenomenology and metaphysics. This can be derived insimpler terms. We can say that probabilities mediate between possibilities and actualities. It may not be a stretch to even say that the aegis ofinitial conditions and boundary conditions and emergent hierarchies of biases mediate between possible novel emergent properties and actual emergent entities. This is a modal grammar. It has specific rules for how certain so-called first principles work in each category, but Ill desist fromdescribing those now. I wont unpack what Peirce means by normative sciences, phenomenology and metaphysics either except to say that, ifyou are one who suffers an immediate negative visceral reaction to the word, metaphysics, fret not. This aint what Peirce is doing. The simpleway to diagnose this supposed malady of the mind is to watch and see if one speaks in terms of possibilities, actualities and necessities - - - andnot rather probabilities. Mapping My Tetradic Heuristic onto Ursula Goodenough’s Categories for Religious Naturalism & Daniel Helminiak’s LonerganianApproach: Again, my heuristic is this: The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to effect the pragmatic. My mapping of this heuristic onto Goodenough’s project is this: The spiritual mediates between the emergentist perspective and the interpretiveto effect the moral. The philosophic describes our ethical, aesthetical and epistemic sensibilities and includes the concepts that we might symbolically abstract fromour primary level encounters with reality via our cognitive-affective juxtapositions. An inward personal response to 1) a deeply felt ethicalsensibility might be that of reverence; 2) an aesthetical sensibility might be that of awe; and 3) an epistemic sensibility might be that of assent.To be philosophic is not the same as to do philosophy.  Philosophy tries to change these sensibilities into standards and employs the language of norms.  If the philosophic describes our evaluative sensibilities, then philosophy describes standards (norms) to help us realize their corresponding values. The philosophic answers the question: "Whats it to ya?" and philosophy answers the question: "Where can I get some of that?" Thephilosophic is thus evaluative, while philosophy is normative. The philosophic is spiritual and thus deals with the prioritizing of values, describingnot only what it is we value but what it is we value most and the order in which we place our often-competing values (ordinacy).  I associate the normative with the Jungian category of Thinking, located in the left frontal cortex of the human brain, because our ethical, aesthetical and ethical sensibilities, here, give impetus to our rational attempts at normative justification. These rational attempts are meta-level processes thatconsciously reflect on the answers to the question "Where can I get some of that?" and then attempt to answer this question: "Why should Itrust your, my or anyone elses answer to that question?"  or, to use Kantian interrogatories, they attempt to navigate us, regulatively, tothe answers to: What can I know? What can I hope for? What must I do? The positivistic describes our scientific endeavors and answers the question: "Is that a fact?" and is thus descriptive  (associated with theJungian category of Sensing, located in the left posterior convexity of the human brain). It aspires to successful reference through heuristics andexplanatory adequacy through theory. It includes our emergentist perspective. Classically, it answers: “What can I know?”. The pragmatic and moral describe our prudential judgments, hence informing our outward communal responses, answering the question: "Whatmust I do?" and is thus prescriptive, aspiring to harmony between people (associated with the Jungian category of Feeling, located in the rightposterior convexity of the human brain). Pragmatically, the question is: “Is it useful?” Morally: “Is it good?” The paradigmatic describes our overall orientations, including our positivistic understandings of nature, our philosophic and spiritual evaluationsarising from the sensibilities that ensue from our primary level encounters of reality, and our pragmatic and moral responses to one another asradically social animals, as a symbolic species. The paradigmatic is interpretive, aspiring to harmony between ideas (associated with the Jungiancategory of Intuiting, located in the right frontal cortex of the human brain). It is an attempt to answer the question: “What’s it all about,Alfie?”  or put in more anagogical terms: “What can I hope for?”. How new is any of this? In some sense, I internalized these distinctions from patristic and medieval mystics, like Origen, pseudo-Dionysius and Duns Scotus. Origen‘s senses of scripture 1) moral 2) allegorical/spiritual 3) anagogical and 4) literal/historical,correspond to moral, spiritual, interpretive and positivistic understandings set forth above. The dionysian logic and predications,alternately analogical, anagogical, mystagogical, apophatic, kataphatic, univocal and equivocal are precisely what is at work in thesepresent considerations using different concepts. And Scotus and Peirce resonate semiotically (such as between the scotistic formaldistinction and the peircean distinction between objective and physical realities). References to brain quadrants are over-simplified but the functional categories of temperament type are meaningful. 
  • At this point, I have only mapped the categories of Religious Naturalism to my Peircean categories. I want to now describe the practicalimplications of my Peirceanesque tetradic heuristic: The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to effect thepragmatic. Daniel Helminiak, building on Lonergan, describes  four progressively expanding horizons of human concern, the determinations of each successive horizon constraining those of the previous horizons. He describes the 1) positivistic 2) philosophic 3) theistic and 4) theotic. These correspond tomy genericized categories of the 1) positivistic 2) philosophic 3) paradigmatic and 4) pragmatic. These correspond to the RN categories of 1)emergentist perspective 2) spiritual 3) interpretive and 4) moral. As Phil St. Romain interprets Helminiak: "Spirituality, as a uniquely humanphenomenon, is grounded in the philosophic level" and grounded in authenticity. Helminiak describes it thus: "For Lonergan, authenticity implies  on-going personal commitment to openness, questioning, honesty, and good will across the board. In this sense, commitment to authenticity isexactly what characterizes the philosophic viewpoint." Now, the most immediately obvious practical upshot of this heuristic is that, while one is entitled to ones own overall interpretive orientation, or paradigm,  one is not entitled to ones own positivistic determinations. I think it was Senator Moynihan who admonished:"One is entitled to ones own opinion, but one is NOT entitled to ones own facts. In fact, Helminiaks hierarchy of human foci of concern, placingthe philosophic between the positivistic and theistic, is an implicit recognition of my peirceanesque heuristic, which would treat his conceptsthusly: The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and theistic to inform the theotic, which is nothing less than the journey to authenticityvia intellectual, affective, moral, social and religious conversion (think: development e.g. Piaget, Erikson, Kohlberg, Fowler et al). How, then, might the philosophic or spiritual, constrained by the positivistic, then be considered to, in any way, constrain the paradigmatic?Helminiak might suggest that Lonergan has described such spiritual constraints in terms of an "on-going personal commitment to openness,questioning, honesty, and good will across the board." Religious Naturalism might amplify this with such epistemic values as humility and reverenceand assent toward reality. What anchors morality? How might we articulate a more compelling morality in a pluralistic society and on global venues? What we have just described, above, is human rationality. This rationality is emergent, bounded, autopoietic, normative, spiritual, positivistic and ecologicallyevaluative, the last criterion suggesting that, together in the same cosmic niche, our ethical, aesthetical and epistemic sensibilities will largelyconverge. The succinct way of putting this is that human prudential judgment, both moral and practical, is transparent to human reason. Thepractical upshot is that one is entitled to ones own interpretive paradigms and evaluative dispositions, but one is not entitled to ones own moralpositions, which must be reasoned out in the community of inquiry writ large. After all, to quote a wise friend: "Life is not about survival of thefittest; its about fitting in." Changing gears entirely. Heideggers question: "Why is there not rather nothing?" has been rendered a pseudo-question by those whod employ aneliminativist strategy of considering "nothing" a conceptual reification, accusing all, who take existence to be a predicate of being, of ameaningless tautology. Indeed, not even Aquinas thought that natural philosophy could determine, absent positive revelation, whether or notnature itself was eternal. The tautology may, nevertheless, be sound; it simply does not add new information to any of our systems. Heideggers existential question is better framed in terms of cosmological and ontological speculation: "Why is there not rather somethingelse?" The implicit answer, as if brute fact, might be proffered as "the aegis of initial conditions and boundary conditions." It is clearly not for everyone. The Grammar That Operates in This Peirceanesque Tetradic Heuristic If one buys into this mapping exercise whereby I have related my heuristic to that of Goodenough and Helminiak, then one may be interested inthe grammar that governs the interplay of these categories: The evaluative-normative mediates between the descriptive and interpretive toeffect the prudential (moral and practical). There is a modal logic of ontological vagueness that has us prescind from any scheme where the necessary mediates between the possible andthe actual. This is because we are immersed in contingency as dissipative structures and finite entities, alternately emerging and perishing. And,as a brief aside, this has everything to do with aesthetic sensibility. Beauty, itself, is being birthed as the greater the number of bifurcationsand permutations that are at play in the novel dissipative structures of reality, the greater the threat to system stability in terms of fragility andthe greater, most folks seem to report, the beauty. The aesthetical axiom seems to be: the more fragile, the more beautiful. What gives these categories the type of hierarchical relationship invoked by Peirce and described by Helminiak, captured in my own tetradicheuristic? It is the interplay of the first principles of noncontradiction (these cannot both be true) and excluded middle (either this or that istrue). Most people do not pay heed to first principles. Rather, we take them for granted as foundational presuppositions of common sense. It isthe interplay of noncontradiction and excluded middle that comprises the semantical vagueness that is an integral logic of this heuristic. In the category of the probable, including the evaluative-normative, noncontradiction holds but excluded middle folds. This is to say that ourconceptualizations must be conceptually compatible and their logic consistent. The concepts in play cannot negate each other and make anysense. They have a certain self-evident character. This is noncontradiction coming to bear. At the same time, we are in a probabilistic mode, soexcluded middle folds, which is to suggest that we cannot know, a priori, which of this range of conceptualizations (lets say, frequencies, typesand degrees of emergent properties) will present in reality. In the category of the actual, including the descriptive, both noncontradiction and excluded middle hold. This is the arena of reality where weencounter brute facts and the one most intuitive to most people, who have not, ordinarily, prescinded from the modal category of necessary toprobable. In the category of the possible, including the interpretive, noncontradiction folds but excluded middle holds. This is the arena of reality that liesa tad beyond our grasp and mutually exclusive propositions, which are conceptually incompatible and logically mutually exclusive, remain liveoptions. This is the folding of noncontradiction. At the same time, excluded middle holds as we know that one or the other paradigms must betrue; they cannot both be true. An aesthetic teleology, for example, such a paradigm as experiences reality as an arena of pervasiveintentionality, as takes an intentional stance writ large and not as a minimalist heuristic device (Dennett), is a live option, but it and a so-calledself-evident nihilism cannot both be true. One or the other may be falsified or verified, as Hick might say, eschatologically. What is operating beneath the surface of both our ontological and semantical vagueness is precisely the biosemiotic heuristic I have describedelsewhere, which can be thought of as the interplay between deduction (re: the probable and necessary), induction (re: the actual) andabduction (re: the possible). What undergirds our strategy of semantical vagueness is the triadic semiotic logic. It is a dynamical system. Implicitin the vagueness, both ontological and semantical, is the open-ended, plastic nature of our biosemiotic heuristics, which are easily contrastedwith our closed-ended, fixed, biosemiotic algorithms. Strict logic has yielded to fuzzy logic, the latter being adaptively significant for a symbolicspecies operating in an arena of pervasive contingency. Human knowledge thus advances inexorably but ever so fallibly. But there can be no question that our grasps of reality are getting tighter andtighter and that our competing tautologies are getting ever more taut as they alternate between conjecture and criticism through both self- andmutual critique. All of this is to suggest that epistemology is epistemology is epistemology and that the reason there is no regnant moral relativismis that, at some level, we are all reading off the same sheet of music even as we seem to be singing in different keys. Some choir voices, however different, sound harmonious, others rather discordant. Through time, though, humanity will get progressively more symphonic, or, will go
  • the way of the dinosaurs. Critique of Religious Naturalism (see Varieties of RN) In Goodenough’s Sacred Depths of Nature (2000 Oxford Univ Press), page xvi, concepts like a) culture-independent, globally accepted consensusand b) our scientific account, to me,  do not seem to refer. They sound more like legitimate aspirations than laudable achievements. Further, there is a mix of theoretical (evolution and Big Bang) and hypothetical (origin of life & advent of human consciousness) concepts that do refer but differ radically in their degrees of explanatory adequacy. We do not, therefore, in my view, seem to be to the point of attainment of the story,the one story, that could get us to a shared worldview with a global tradition. Even the emergentist perspective remains only a heuristic device, not robustly explanatory; it provides us with more successful referents, is how its value is cashed out, even as successful descriptions continue to elude us. Finally, MANY of us DO agree on the high probabilities of certain accounts (regarding both the origin of life and the advent of human consciousness) but are not otherwise in agreement, paradigmatically or interpretively, regarding realitys brute facts. The emergentist perspective, itself, does not refer to one set of brute facts versus another. In fact,it would seem to implicitly give one pause in any rush to closure regarding the nature of initial conditions and boundary conditions insofar as novelty abounds and even laws themselves seem to evolve making reductionistic accounts problematic, almost in principle, vis a vis emergentism.  Thus, we might bracket [initial] and characterize our references to same as provisional and contextual. For instance, one might say, as we nearT=0, or might say, in the deepest structures of matter, to distinguish between contexts. One might refer to the Copenhagen or Bohminterpretation to describe ones provisional closure. So, too, with philosophy of mind issues and approaches to the so-called hard problem. In many of their joint writings, Goodenough & Deacon consider the emergentist perspective and the shared moral sensibilities of humankind. Thatsa story outline we all can share even as many pages are left to be written. Those emergent sensibilities (aesthetical, ethical and epistemic) arenecessary for one to be fully human, whatever ones interpretive stance. As their associated cognitive-affective juxtapositions ripple over oursoma, flooding our synapses, the neurotransmitter fluid levels are sufficient to drown some in ecstasy. Emergentism thus describes what isnecessary for all, necessary and sufficient for a few, but doesnt quite get to sufficient for most, it seems. As we employ our strategies of ontological and semantical vagueness and triadic semiotic logic, inviting the robust interplay of abductive,inductive and deductive inference, accounting for the possible, actual and probable, we can aspire to consensus on the answer: "What must Ido?", but it is too early on humankinds journey to foreclose on the interpretive possibilities regarding the answer: "What can I hope for?". Formost, it is clear, that nature is not enough. And that is a descriptive not a prescriptive statement. There are competing accounts (variouslyconflicting and overlapping) that proffer an answer to "What can I hope for?" and they are variously compelling and have some probabilisticstatus. Reasonable people of large intelligence and profound goodwill can reasonably differ in their interpretations of reality. In this sense, then,the nontheistic cohort of religious naturalism would not be characterized by such as a militant atheism but would more resemble the reverentsilence of some types of Buddhism regarding certain aspects of reality and any theistic cohort would be characterized by more subtleconceptualizations of deity, for example, a highly nuanced and rigorously predicated panentheism, and not at all by the more fundamentalistic andfideistic approaches that are all too regnant in many parts of world (including the US).  Socially & Culturally, then - or secularlyOrthopraxis authenticates orthodoxy through the successful institutionalization of affective (beauty & aesthetical), sociopolitical (community & unitive),intellectual (truth and noetical), and moral (goodness and ethical) conversions (secular). People celebrate beauty through the arts and humanitiesendeavors, enjoy community through civic & social organizations and political & governmental institutions, articulate truth through academic institutionsand media communications and preserve goodness through legal & justice systems and military institutions.Religious Conversion - reality as an arena of pervasive intentionalityReligious conversion, another second/third order or meta-level evaluative heuristic, transvalues these secular conversions such that orthopathosmediates between orthocommunio and orthodoxy to inform orthopraxis. The great traditions reinforce and realize these values through cult,community, creed and code, which, respectively, celebrate beauty, enjoy unity, articulate truth and preserve goodness.Religious CritiqueSome nontheistic naturalists, called religious naturalists, affirm a deep overlap between their moral sensibilities and evaluative impulses and those ofexisting ethical and religious traditions (Ursula Goodenough). Some prefer an irenic engagement of liberal religion, while working actively againstfundamentalists (Michael Ruse). Others recognize the need for myth, aesthetically pleasing deceptions and noble lies to fend off a resurgent and self-evident nihilism (Loyal Rue). Some are active and outspoken against religion (Dawkins & Dennett). What about philosophy of mind? #5What about Philosophy of Mind? Preliminarily, my particular account, above, is somewhat derived from Terry Deacons work. Such hypotheses remain highly speculative and not at alluncontroversial. Phenomenologically, I think it is fair to suggest that we can refer to these distinct biosemiotic realities in terms of function but that ourunderstanding is woefully inadequate in terms of structure and evolution, too, especially once considering how distributed linguistic functions seem to bein the brain. We must not confuse successful referencing of these biosemiotic functions with successful description of their distributed structures andpretend that we have thereby attained explanatory adequacy for the hard problem.So, let me be very clear, my project of describing this biosemiotic heuristic is AGNOSTIC to philosophy of mind issues and neurophysiology, too, for thatmatter. My emergentist perspective and biosemiotic perspective and peircean perspective provide a combined heuristic that can help us keep ourcategories tidy and enhance our ability to make successful references to biosemiotic realities. This should enhance our modeling power for reality. It doesnot matter whether one otherwise prefers the approach of the Churchlands, Chalmers, Dennett, Deacon, Penrose, Ayn Rand, Searle or anyone else. I useDeacon to explicate my heuristic, not to propagandize my provisional closures re: philosophy of mind. Deacon impresses me greatly. So, what might be going on?This may be something of a peircean minding of matter and mattering of mind. As a heuristic, its somewhat agnostic to prevailing philosophy of mindperspectives. I enjoy reading some of that stuff but dont invest much in one view or the other, remaining mostly agnostic. If I had to offer my sneakingsuspicions, well ... lets see where that goes ...It is not always easy to specify the relationships between the concepts we employ to refer to our biosemiotic heuristic propositions and our biosemioticalgorithmic phenomena, the former being language-dependent and public, the latter referring to ineffable and private experiences. It is even difficult toclearly specify which of our heuristic practices, all propositional, are doxastic versus subdoxastic. There is something that phenomenal knowledge andsubdoxastic propositional knowledge have in common; where both are concerned: We know more than we can say. But they should not otherwise beconfused for one is highly symbolic and language-dependent and the other language-independent. The language-dependent, subdoxastic propositionalknowledge can come into conscious awareness and we can learn to speak about such and more clearly specify it.What type of mutation-generated changes in nondoxastic practices and structures, common to humans and animals, encountered what kind of selectionpressures to produce adaptively significant quasi-doxastic and subdoxastic and doxastic structures and practices unique to Homo sapiens? To the extentlanguage function is associated with anatomically new areas of the brain, phylogenetically speaking, we can implicate some brain structure changes(remembering that language function is distributed). What practices, like imitation or aping, for example, involving animal signals and communication, couldhave been available to selection pressures and both culturally and adaptively significant? By what quantum leap did evolution take the apes from thephenomenal to the propositional and inferential?Our inferential and propositional and symbolic biosemiotic heuristics allow us to model reality. We might look to those aspects of reality that we are
  • unable to model in terms of “knowing more than we can say,” which, as we noted, consists of both phenomenal knowledge and subdoxastic propositionalknowledge. We might ask how we make the leap between the subdoxastic and the doxastic, learning how to talk about what we previously experiencedin less than full conscious awareness, learning how to model at least one part of our internal milieu, which had previously eluded our symbolic grasp. I’dsuppose the simple answer is that we likely gather more symbols and learn from serious self-reflection and self-critique (employing our inferential triad)and from exposure to others’ ideas regarding same, whether in dialogue or through reading and study.But this does not speak at all to why it is we cannot seem to successfully model our phenomenal knowledge and cannot successfully communicate it toothers, language-independent as it is. We can make the analytical observation and voice the reason tautologically: We cannot talk about it because it islanguage-independent. We cannot model it because it is symbol-independent. But neuroscience can gift us with enough synthetic knowledge to infer thatthe more phylogenetically primitive brain areas are not involved in the distributive language function. That information is just not presented to ourpropositional biosemiotic heuristic.Still, what do the apes lack, even in part, regarding their internal and external milieus and what do we possess regarding our internal milieu, that allowsus to successfully relate our symbolic manipulations to one another through language, gifting one another with our inferential output, for better andworse, forming and deforming and reforming and transforming our paradigms, socially and culturally?Obviously, the apes must lack symbols for both their internal and external milieus. And, as we mentioned previously, they also lack our new brain areas.When it comes to that part of our own internal milieu that is language-independent, it seems that we lack more than symbols. We cannot model our ownnon-symbolic internal milieu because our model would lack the stomach that does the aching is all. We’d need to rig up another stomach in vitro andattach it to our brain stem in order to fully model a stomachache, even if we did have symbolic facilities and connections to and from our morephylogenetically primitive brain areas.The question still begs as to how selection pressures interacted with which specific behaviors, however rudimentary. We got something new,propositional, biosemiotic heuristics, from nothing but phenomenal, biosemiotic algorithms.  Maybe a Siamese Twinned ape developed two pairs of furrowed brows every time it got a stomach ache and two pairs of furrowed brows and a couple ofwinces every time it got constipated and symbolic communication was born as the two ape heads gazed knowingly into one another’s eyes, thus bridgingthe phenomenal-propositional chasm, crossing the epistemological Rubicon. And although this bridge was not subject to selection pressure regarding theinternal milieu of animals, the symbolic communication regarding the external milieu (re: each other’s facial expressions) was the rudimentary prototype ofinferential facility and, once it was aped throughout their society, language born as constipated apes not only furrowed their brows and winced, but alsolet out loud moans. [Im sorry. It is really late and this took me all day to write. But this should have heuristic value even if no humor.]In all seriousness, if brain structure differences (between us and higher primates, but see Caveat below) are pretty darned clear, how big a leap is it tothink behavioral differences (necessarily or probably) were not far behind, adaptively significant to this day, perhaps, assuming we don’t use thephylogenetically new-found facility toward the end of effecting a nuclear holocaust, prior to the near-inevitable ecological whimper. No need for ghosts. Notalk of machines. Google Terry Deacon and use Dennett as a foil to tease out the differences, mostly nuanced, between their accounts. Baldwinianevolution suggests an account where downward causation can be effective but without violating physical causal closure. I think the Peircean semioticrealism is a much more robust account and that nuance matters greatly.We have come, full circle:Biosemiotic heuristics X (Environment X Biosemiotic Algorithms) --> BehaviorPropositional Knowledge X (Environment X Phenomenal Knowledge) --> BehaviorThe philosophic mediates between the paradigmatic and positivistic to inform praxis.Some Caveats:Per Deacon: Surface morphology and underlying brain functions are not directly correlated in most cases. If we project at least minimal symbolic capacityback to more recent, phylogenetically-related primates, increased brain size and language acquisition may be as much effects of language-acquisition asits causes.Grene & Depew address the complex interaction and mutual feedback among a whole variety of factors in the relatively sudden emergence of language.Complexity is good to keep in mind re: genes, memes, symbols, language, coevolution. They must not be wrenched from their context in the whole andswollen to madness in their isolation (to reapply CS Lewis). Or, from Wittgenstein: One might almost say that these foundation-walls are carried by thewhole house. (So much for skyhooks. So much for cranes.)To equate cognition only with algorithmic or rule-governed computation is the computational fallacy. It is what it is in humans only in relationship topragmatic and semiotic realities.See: What Does Meaning Mean in PhilForumsSee: Skinnerian Neuromythology: Consciousness Explained in PhilForumsTo characterize genes as active agents or selfish or purposeful is an unhelpful shorthand. They gain their significance only in the context of the samedynamical semiotic and pragmatic realities. (Dawkins didn’t literally misconceive this, himself).To equate memes only with replicators, as if they were analogous to parasites, is to isolate them outside of the dynamical semiotic and pragmatic realitiesthat they should presuppose and is the memetic fallacy. (Dawkins did commit this fallacy.)See: The trouble with memes (and what to do about it) by DeaconThe same is true for human inferential heuristics. They are irreducibly triadic -- abduction, induction and deduction, each presupposing the other in theoverall context of the same dynamical semiotic and pragmatic realities.None of these considerations conclude anything “ontological” about “the mind.” However, the inference to the best explanation is probably naturalisticand wouldn’t require the introduction of new primitives to space, time, matter and energy (like consciousness, for instance). But I could be wrong. Andthat is okay. Im a fallibilist. Bias for Methodological Naturalism? We do well to look for our lost keys underneath the lamp post, for there is little hope of finding them in the dark. Forsome of us, that does not, at the same time, suggest that we have a priori decided where those keys may or may notbe. Abduction of the Reality of the Ens Necessarium & Its Modal Ontological Proof  Peirces rejection of the notion that firstness and secondness could robustly account for the world as we know it, in my view, marks his retreat into ontologicaland semantical vagueness. To describe reality in terms of alternating pattern and paradox, chance and necessity, order and chaos, random and systematic,does seem rather question begging. It is also true that, nowhere, do we observe necessity in reality; necessity everywhere eludes us. It is equally true that human kind cannot avoid the inferenceof the necessary; necessity everywhere suggests itself. Like Polanyis tacit dimension, necessity may be closer to us than we are to ourselves. It is at this juncture that humankinds Abduction of the Reality of the Ens Necessarium emerges and that the Peircean triadic semiotic straddles the
  • threshold of my tetradic heuristic. If this heuristic has as its goal, the successful referencing of a reality even as successful descriptions of same elude us, then, we know that our project, fromits outset, does not ambition a robust explanatory adequacy. In order to successfully refer to the modal category of the necessary, we must turn to modallogic, itself. As we turn to modal logic, we begin to straddle ontological vagueness and metaphysics, or ontology with a capital "O." Many caveats and qualifiers will thus pertain to the framing of the argument, taking the Peircean concept and abduction from argument into formalargumentation. As we straddle ontological vagueness and ontology, semantical vagueness will begin to give way to careful parsing and rigorousdisambiguation. Thus the argument must: 1)      employ suitable predication (equivocal, univocal or analogical); 2)      employ concepts that reflect the guaranteed conceptual compatibility of the different properties that they describe using only apophatic predication (increase of descriptive accuracy sought through negation, i.e. literally, what a reality is not like, analogically, or is NOT, literally); 3)      employ concepts that reflect the guaranteed conceptual compatibilities of different properties via the logical impossibility of their coinstantiation; 4)      employ a grammar of the modal category of the actual (where noncontradiction and excluded middle both must hold); and 5)      not lend itself to parody yielding the absurd. None of this is to suggest that that which has been essentially defined employing only negative properties would not also be compatible, accidentally,with some positive properties. It is to claim logical consistency for our essential definition/concept of a reality when that reality has been essentiallydefined using only negative properties, then meeting another criterion, which is that it is not logically impossible to coinstantiate these properties.Using this logic of positive and negative terms, it follows that our definition cannot entail any conceptually incompatible attributes. Such an argumentis not only valid but its reasoning is immune to parody using positive properties. Parody using additional negative properties can succeed but notagainst a concept with positive predicates that are analogical. Heideggers question: "Why is there not rather nothing?" has been rendered a pseudo-question by those whod employ an eliminativist strategy ofconsidering "nothing" a conceptual reification, accusing all, who take existence to be a predicate of being, of a meaningless tautology. Indeed, not evenAquinas thought that natural philosophy could determine, absent positive revelation, whether or not nature itself was eternal. The tautology may,nevertheless, be sound; it simply does not add new information to any of our systems.   Heideggers existential question is better framed in terms of cosmological and ontological speculation: "Why is there notrather something else?" In this sense, clearly the reframed question does not refer to emergent realities per se but what might be described, rather, as the aegis of their initialconditions and boundary conditions, which, derivatively, even if analytically and tautologically, ground all of the "something elses" that have emerged fromthese "nothing buts" of a primal aegis and its initial conditions, aegis and initial being rather loaded terms, at best, otherwise totally question begging, to saythe least. This Primal Nothing But, if taken as brute fact, has an occulted ad intra nature to it and is just a given. The initial conditions and boundary conditionsensuing under its aegis would have an ad extra nature discernible as the ensuing Something Else of emergent realities. Any such Ens Necessarium should, at a minimum, then, possess at least the following conceptually compatible properties (all meeting the above-listedcriteria). It should be non-contingent and non-dependent. The proof of a suitably predicated aegis with initial conditions and boundaries might be thus: 1) Either the putative reality of the modally necessary, i.e. thenon-contingent and non-dependent, is logically necessary or logically impossible. 2) It is not the case that this putative reality of the modally necessary, i.e.the non-contingent and non-dependent, is logically impossible. 3) The reality of a non-contingent and non-dependent aegis of initial conditions and boundaryconditions is logically necessary. Now, pursuant to this assertion: This Primal Nothing But, if taken as brute fact, has an occulted ad intra nature to it andis just a given. The initial conditions and boundary conditions ensuing under its aegis would have an ad extra naturediscernible as the ensuing Something Else of emergent realities. Given the Ens Necessarium, however occulted its inner nature of non-contingency and non-dependency, one might properly infer something of its ad extranature from its ensuing emergent realities. The properties of any such nature would have to be argued with the same modal logic and they must beguaranteed as conceptually compatible in the same way as those of the Ens Necessarium.  What has been proven, thus far, is the reality of a) a demiurge b)deism c) creatio continua d) a panentheism lacking nuance or some such reality with a capital “R.” To go beyond that, see Christopher McHughs modalontological formulation, which I relied on, above, at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/doug_krueger/krueger-mchugh/mchugh1.shtml Now, mind you, Peirce considers argumentation for God (such as my syllogism) a fetish and would have us desist from same, stopping with our abduction, ourargument (distinguished from argumentation per CSP). But, taking heart from both Godel and Hartshorne, and inspiration from Christopher McHugh, I simplycould not desist. Alas, my project is undertaken as poetry and not really prose. Who would write prose like this? No, what is going on, introspectively, is well characterized by Chris Southgate who writes: “David Daiches suggests five strategies for the religious poet.He/she may: address God, tell the reader about God, recount a visionary experience, find God through the workings of nature, or lastly agonize aboutGod’s existence. The Divina Commedia in his opinion alternates ‘in a most remarkable way between the visionary and the almost pedanticallyexplanatory’. And so too Four Quartets, though being written in the age of Russell and Wittgenstein rather than that of Aquinas, Eliot’s sequenceapproaches its religious task in a profoundly oblique way.” Somewhere in this maze of webpages, one will find all of that, I hope.  More About This Ens Necessarium Like Daniel Dennett, who wrote Consciousness Explained, but who, otherwise contrastingly, has a militantly atheistic stance, many unwittingly conflate ones ability to successfully refer to certain realities with ones ability to describe them (which requires a measurable degree of explanatoryadequacy). In a nutshell, then, one must avoid "proving too much." One diagnosis for this illicit move is this: In ones arguments, one will substitute"the necessary" in place of "the probable." And fallibility then gets sacrificed on the altar of epistemological hubris. One thing has been impressed upon me, lately, as I systematically work through the modal categories of possible, actual and probable with theirunderlying grammars; there can be no ontology with a capital "O" until we abduct the reality of the necessary. Without the modal category of thenecessary, our metaphysics cannot transcend mere phenomenology and our systems cannot transcend mere heuristic devices. There is an inescapably ineffable quality, though, to such a reality as would be necessary and it would have, in principle, an occulted ad intra nature(for nowhere in observable reality does the necessary present, insofar as all appears radically contingent). Its ad extra nature presents everywhere inobservable reality as the deepest and most persistent human abduction of the reality of the necessary, which grounds our common senseunderstandings of causation and all other (sub)doxastic realities, i.e. first principles and other unjustified foundational presuppositions. This abductionis the foundation of the pneumatological imagination and ones first encounter with the Creator Spirit. Properly formed and nurtured, well, lets justsay that, all manner of efficacious orthopraxis will ensue as reality is then perceived as an arena of pervasive intentionality. The economic Trinity is indeed the immanent Trinity. To do Ontology is to do Theology because there can be no successful reference to the reality ofthe necessary that is not predicated using the same modal ontological arguments as Godel, Hartshorne and Christopher McHugh. (And I see thisrealization dawning on Stephen Hawking in an inchoate fashion.) This is to maintain that, when scientists speak of initial conditions and boundaryconditions in terms of brute facts, they have implicitly argued for the modal category of the necessary, which is inescapably an argument for thereality of the Ens Necessarium, which can be predicated as, at least, nothing less than an un-nuanced deism, which prepares the philosophical soil forpositive theology. There can be no criticism of this minimalist theism from a systems perspective. Like radically deconstructive postmodernism, which was a critique butcould not comprise a system, the atheistic critique must either come from a practical nihilism, which is naught but a manner of living and whicharticulates no system, or from a systematic monism, whether materialist or idealist, which can only be atheistic or pantheistic. Such accounts,
  • however, in aspiring to system status, must abduct, at least implicitly, the reality of the necessary. This is required, even if only, to successfully refer to those systems boundary conditions, such as, for example, for an eternally oscillating multiverse. Otherwise, those accounts must flounder in incoherency. An oscillating multiverse, from a pantheistic perspective, cannot coherently be described solely in terms of probabilities and contingencies but must invoke the radically other, ens necessarium, if only to successfully refer to the reality asserted as "the oscillating." This is all to suggest that atheism and pantheism, as systems, are incoherent, or, at least, ignorant of their own implicit presuppositions. (They areunconsciously competent pan-en-theists.) Thus, there are only three options: 1) remain a respectful ontological silence like some Buddhists and inhabit merely phenomenological perspectivesemploying merely heuristic devices 2) abduct the reality of the ens necessarium like most major traditions or 3) live out the consequences of an unmitigated nihilism with Kungs nowhere anchored and paradoxical trust in uncertain reality, unequipped with a system (because a materialist monism,of any stripe, cannot coherently do ontology with a capital "O" without, in principle, expanding sciences modal categories of possible, actual and probable to include the necessary). There you go. I just "proved" God. Actually, I have just suggested that all coherent systematic accounts must be either deistic, theistic orpanentheistic. The other alternative is to bark at all metaphysical passersby and to nihilistically howl at the moon, resorting to epistemological and ontological realisms only when it is time for supper and one is looking for ones bowl. McHugh’s proof, cited above, is a grand exercise in apophatictheology and formal argument (even formal symbolic logic). It is compelling and succeeds for those who buy into modal logic and its grammars. Thereis a Supreme Reality, an intentional reality. But is my love for Her unrequited? Will He love me in return? Theodicy issues emerge (but do not perdure,philosophically or theologically, only existentially.) McHugh notes that “there are two ‘problems’ of evil: 1) There is the theological problem, which is ‘Why does a good God allow evil?’ 2) There is thephilosophical problem, which is ‘Can the existence of evil be used as evidence against the existence of a good God?’ ." One can look forward to this publication: Southgate, Christopher and Robinson, Andrew, 2007, forthcoming. ‘Varieties of Theodicy: AnExploration of Responses to the Problem of Evil based on a Typology of Good-Harm Analyses’ in Physics and Cosmology: ScientificPerspectives on the problem of evil in nature ed. Robert J. Russell, Nancey Murphy and William Stoeger SJ, (Berkeley, Ca. and Vatican City: CTNSand Vatican Observatory). I’d venture a guess that the executive summary of that book might read like Scott Peck’s assertion that - - - life is a cosmic boot camp where we arelearning how to love. Irenaeus, early church father, who saw the world as a soul-making place, would agree. Apparently, alternating consolation anddesolation help us navigate our way to character moreso than comfort. One is also earnestly directed to the resources made available by Philip Clayton, whose integrative approach is a paragon of theemergentist perspective. If one can at all buy into my distinctions between methodological and philosophical naturalisms and between epistemological and ontologicalemergentist stances, which may be either open or closed, then let me suggest a way forward. My own methodological naturalism and epistemologicalemergentism represent provisional closures toward such a metaphysical realism as can only be supported, via strict empirical observation, by such aphenomenological stance as is characterized by my heuristic of ontological, semantical and epistemic vagueness. I described ontological andsemantical vagueness hereinabove. Epistemic vagueness presents either through methodological constraints or through such a putative naturalocculting as might occur, for example, as we approach T=0 of the Big Bang or peer into the deepest structures of matter. Bias for Methodological Naturalism? We do well to look for our lost keys underneath the lamp post, for there is little hope of finding them in the dark. Forsome of us, that does not, at the same time, suggest that we have a priori decided where those keys may or may notbe.The required steps forward, from a metatechnica to metaphysics, in my view, would take one from phenomenology to ontology and from a heuristicdevice to a system. One way of making this move would be to adopt some type of root metaphor to describe reality. But there is an intermediate stepand it is not that complicated on paper. All one has to do is to change ones modal ontological categories from possible, actual and probable topossible, actual and necessary.Is such a move warranted? Nowhere do we observe necessity in reality; necessity everywhere eludes us (as contingency apparently rules observablereality). It is also true, however, that humankind cannot seem to avoid the inference of the necessary; necessity everywhere suggests itself.What about what some have referred to as the aegis of initial conditions and boundary conditions? Could these conditions, non-contingent and non-dependent, and by some taken to be brute facts, be logically necessary? What question might they answer?Heideggers question: "Why is there not rather nothing?" has been rendered a pseudo-question by those whod employ an eliminativist strategy ofconsidering "nothing" a conceptual reification, accusing all, who take existence to be a predicate of being, of a meaningless tautology. Indeed, noteven Aquinas thought that natural philosophy could determine, absent positive revelation, whether or not nature itself was eternal. The tautologymay, nevertheless, be sound; it simply does not add new information to any of our systems.Heideggers existential question is better framed in terms of cosmological and ontological speculation: "Why is there not rather something else?"And this is the question that, perhaps, begs for a modal ontological argument of the necessary, which would be non-contingent and non-dependent.Sound or not, the argument would, in my view, articulate a valid philosophical inference. One would not have a TOE, at this point. One would noteven have a strict ontology but would have the validation of metaphysics as a project, ontology as a respectable ambition. The modal category ofthe necessary would be logically necessary.This describes a move forward beyond the categories of the merely phenomenological and the merely heuristic to the more robustly ontological androbustly systematic. It affirms that there are many metaphysical blanks to be filled in. It acknowledges that many have already been filled in and thatthere is great promise for even more to be filled in. It also recognizes that many blanks remain blank and will likely remain so for quite some time.This rejects the excessive epistemological humility of a radically deconstructive postmodernism and the excessive epistemological hubris ofEnlightenment fundamentalism. It is a Goldilocks epistemology . It is a tentative and fallible metaphysical approach that doesnt prove too much anddoesnt exert unwarranted normative and prescriptive impetus on humankinds fallible but inexorable attempts to find its way forward. Now, mind you, we have not successfully described this putative reality, the necessary, but would only claim to have successfully referenced same.Analogically speaking, we might venture to say that it would in some ways be like our dictionary definition or be like our geometric concept, forexample. It might even be like Polanyis tacit dimension or Bohms implicate order or what have you. We might thus speak of this realitys intelligibilityeven as we acknowledge its regnant incomprehensibility.  A Trinitarian Theology of Nature: pansemio-entheistic  
  • Peirces rejection of the notion that firstness and secondness could robustly account for the world as we know it, in my view, marks his retreat into ontological and semantical vagueness. To describe reality in terms of alternating pattern and paradox, chance and necessity, order and chaos,random and systematic, does seem rather question begging. It is true that, nowhere, do we observe necessity in reality; necessity everywhere eludes us. It is equally true that human kind cannot avoid the inference of the necessary; necessity everywhere suggests itself. Like Polanyis tacitdimension, necessity may be closer to us than we are to ourselves. Here we may encounter that type of biosemiotic reality that informs what I callour subdoxastic routines, or our biosemiotic heuristic subroutines. Thus, I draw yet another distinction between biosemiotic heuristic dynamics: thesubdoxastic and doxastic. To some extent, they may be thought of in terms of unconscious competence and conscious competence, the firstcorresponding, somewhat, to common sense. In my schema, firstness corresponds to the epistemic field (where abduction has its moment); secondness corresponds to the ontic field (whereinduction has its moment) and thirdness corresponds to the semiotic field (all fields presupposing the others).  Following the Franciscan Duns Scotus, the Incarnation, in my view, was a semiotic inevitability, part and parcel of an aesthetic teleology (Jack Haught), and any experience of a rupturebetween our essentialistic idealizations and their existential realizations is not some ontological rupture located in the past, occasioning a felix culpaand atonement, but, rather, results from a teleological chasm that we are crossing and oriented toward a future, an eschaton. Jesus is theeminently ontic, then, mediating between the immanent and the transcendent. With respect to thirdness, morally, He is transparent, the Trinity’simmanent nature revealed in splendor; metaphysically, with respect to firstness, His nature is occulted, the Trinitys transcendent nature presentingto reality. Equivocally, He is True God and True Man. The Father, is eminently epistemic and utterly transcendent, characterized by the ungraspable,incomprehensible richness of the qualities of firstness. And so, the immanent Trinity mediates between the transcendent Trinity and theincarnational Trinity to effect the economic (semiotic and pragmatic)Trinity, which implies theosis. Again, where I wrote that: It is true that, nowhere, do we observe necessity in reality; necessity everywhere eludes us. It is equally true that humankind cannot avoid the inference of the necessary; necessity everywhere suggests itself. Like Polanyis tacit dimension, necessity may be closer to usthan we are to ourselves. Here we may encounter that type of biosemiotic reality that informs what I call our subdoxastic routines, or our biosemioticheuristic subroutines. And here we have the abduction of the ens necessarium, the robustly telic field of reality, which mutually interpenetrates theepistemic, ontic and semiotic fields of reality, and which, as the immanent Trinity, also mediates between the transcendent Trinity and incarnationalTrinity.  Analogous to Baldwinian evolution, which in the coevolution of language and brain, operates via downward causation without the violation of physical causal closure, the telic field of the immanent Trinity operates via omnidirectional causation, eminently semiotically, without any violation ofobservable physical causation. It is thus unobtrusively yet utterly efficacious. All may be well. (Dame Julian) Dont you know its gonna be alright.(John Lennon) The Holy Spirit is precisely how Id refer to the eminently telic and eminently semiotic Reality, which accomplishes theosis through Homo sapiens,biosemiotically mediated, and which accomplishes any other natural mediations through implicate ordering (so called upward causation, impellingemergent reality forward) or through downward, or even, omnidirectional causation, ordering and re-ordering pansemiotic fields. (As I see it, once weinvoke downward causation in reality via Baldwinian evolution, as possibly even through Bohms quantum interpretation and Sheldrakes morphicresonance, then, it is a valid move to infer a Trinitarian analogue, as long as our conception of same can cash out some value (pragmatic maxim) forhuman theosis and/or cosmic aesthetic teleology. I have wanted to preserved the patristic, dionysian logic in such a way that the medieval conceptions of the Scotistic univocity of being and theThomistic analogy of being can be reconciled by employing proper predication - equivocal, univocal and analogical. To wit: 1) to speak of Firstness,the Father, the transcendent Trinity, the eminently epistemic, one must employ an analogy of semiosis; 2) to speak of Secondness, the Son, theincarnational Trinity, the eminently ontic, one must employ equivocal predication, or equivocity of semiosis, such that morally, the Godhead is madetransparent, metaphysically, remains occulted; and 3) to speak of Thirdness, the Spirit, the immanent Trinity, the eminently telic, one must employunivocal predication, a univocity of semiosis. Thus, there is a place for ones dialectical imagination, ones analogical imagination and onespneumatological imagination (Yong), which I refer to in terms of one’s imaginative take on reality as an arena of pervasive intentionality via a webof infinite semiosis in the community of inquiry. Following the notion that whether or not creation is eternal, my treatment holds that this cannot be known from natural philosophy (and I understandthat the discussion is framed from a theology of nature instead). At any rate, if one does not take existence to be a predicate of being, renderingHeideggers "Why is there not rather nothing?" a reification of "nothing," then one still encounters a creatio continua, and the question then begs:"Why is there not rather something else?" and modal ontology pursues this with vigor, but so can the semiotic perspective. Rationalists attemptfail also because the metaphysical is a moving and sometimes hidden target. Process theologies (e.g. Whiteheadian projects) often fail because theyhave traded essentialism for nominalism, in abandoning their substantialism. Only the Peircean take maintains a robust epistemological realism (anddoes not justify, a priori, leaps to idealist and materialist conceptions of mind). Regarding Gregory Palamas and the Orthodox,  I appreciate their perspective and do not see it over against any part of my tetradic heuristic. It actually makes pretty good sense vis a vis my omnidirectional semiotic causation.  Their take on energies, however, may not be helpful other than to affirm some theotic epiphenomena, (such as John of the Cross, for instance, might have us ignore, anyway).  These thoughts were developed in dialogue with this publication: ROBINSON, Andrew J. (2004). Continuity, Naturalism and Contingency: ATheology of Evolution drawing on the Semiotics of C.S. Peirce and Trinitarian Thought. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 39 (1): 111-136Visit: http://www.andrew-robinson.info/ Is Metaphysics Moonshine?IntroductionLook at some of the words and phrases associated with studies of consciousness:... the explanatory gap, the hard and easy problems, functionalism, eliminativism, epiphenomenalism, interactionism, panpsychism, intrinsic monism, representationalism,nonreductive materialism, nonreductive physicalism, property dualism, substance dualism,dual aspect monism, cartesian dualism, eliminative materialism, mentalism, weaksupervenience, strong supervenience, logical supervenience, ontological supervenience, higher order theory, multiple drafts theory, neutral monism, aristotelianhylomorphism, quantum theory of consciousness ...And think about some of the ideas associated with theoretical physics:... indeterminacy, superluminality, nonlocality, superpositioning, complementarity ...It is enough to make anyone feel a little tipsy.Whether we are studying speculative cosmology or speculative cognitive science, from that end of the Great Chain of Being, where consciousness emerges, to that end nearthe earliest moments after the Big Bang, where we encounter the deepest structures of matter, ineluctable paradox confronts us.Despite the incredible complexity these realities present, our attempts to eliminate the paradoxes they generate are rather simple. They essentially boil down to four basiccategories: 1) revisions of our logic; 2) revisions of our descriptions of causality; 3) propositions of incompleteness or hidden variables; and 4) submission to reductioargumentsRevised Hermeneutics?Proposed revisions to our logic and our understanding of causality, respectively, deal with epistemology and ontology, while propositions regarding hidden variables involvecosmology. Whether we attempt to resolve paradox with epistemological, ontological or cosmological revisions, we soon learn that the descriptive problems we are faced withare intractable and that every time we open a new interpretive window, reality shuts another hermeneutical door. Often, our last resort is a reductio argument, demonstratingthe manifest absurdity of a given revision, but science, in its inexorable advance over the centuries, has justified the issuance of a caveat emptor on any casual rejection ofthe counterintuitive.
  • How, then, are we to revise our logic? What epistemological tool do we abandon first? Excluded middle? Noncontradiction? Bivalence?And what about causality? What ontological determinations are we to give up? the Real? the Possible? the Actual? the Necessary?Which of our cosmological descriptions should we change? the Primitives? the Axioms?Perhaps we should not only break with our bivalent logic constructions, epistemologically, but also our realist conception of inquiry, ontologically?ProblemsEpistemologically confronted by godelian incompleteness, ontologically faced with friesian undecidability and cosmologically challenged by peircean unlimited semeiosis, arewe the servants of our own formal symbol systems, unable to transcend them to see the reality that our language and thought are supposed to represent? Is there any way,rather, that language could be our servant, a calculus always subject to reinterpretation as we employ it in our progressive attempts to model reality? Whatever the case maybe, one thing is certain: a priorism is clearly untenable.Let’s back up. Does philosophy have to be confronted with the challenges of modern speculative cosmology and speculative cognitive science in order to recognize humancognitive limitations? And what precisely is at stake? The status of various truth propositions or merely the establishment of these limitations? Can we escape theepistemological, ontological, cosmological, and even axiological and teleological, cartesian dilemmas?SolutionsIt is my thesis that, prior to any confrontation by modern cosmology or cognitive science, we can prescind from our metaphysical perspectives to positions of both ontologicaland cosmological agnosticism, gaining virtual meta-ontological and meta-cosmological vantage points. Such a retreat might be energized by an essential pragmatism thatavails itself of both well-known human cognitive limitations as well as well-founded human cognitive aspirations.Truth be known, epistemologically, our logic does apparently need some tweaking but certainly not a major overhaul? Ontologically, navigating from the possible to the actual,even employing the rigors of scientific method, is very problematical using the necessary at either helm or stern, wheel or rudder. Cosmologically, our descriptions of realityin terms of givens (or primitives), such as space, time, mass and energy, and of axioms, such as of the various forces (weak, strong, electromagnetic and gravity) andphysical laws, are still incomplete, inviting propositions that consider manifold and multiform hidden variables.Epistemologically, then, we needn’t abandon noncontradiction or excluded middle, but we might retreat to a contrite fallibilism, which recognizes the frame-dependent andcontextual-relational aspect of our perspectives.Ontologically, we needn’t give up our conceptions of possible and actual, but we might retreat to a modal logic that nuances necessity as conditional, the necessary yielding,instead, to the probable.Cosmologically, faced with the eternal fugue of pattern and paradox, order and chaos, chance and necessity, the random and systematic, we might minimally opt for a primereality that is symmetric over against asymmetric, driven by the same exigencies that drove our modal logic revisions, compelled by humankind’s long successful experiencewith knowledge advances as invariably driven, historically, by our incessant search for symmetry, such a search as may yet introduce new primitives or propose new axioms.Are there efficacies to be realized as we thus prescind to the functional and phenomenal from the ontological and cosmological? Can this be done in the modern day scientificcultural milieu where ontologies wage a battle royale in the philosophy of mind interdisciplines, where cosmologies collide in their implications for both our origin and ourdestiny?EmergenceThere is one unifying metanarrative and that appears to be that of emergence.In the great chain of being there are levels stretching from the quantum to the sociological. There are levels of being within levels of being. There are theories that governinteractions within levels and sometimes between levels, sharing concepts. The concepts concern 1) parts and wholes; 2) properties and 3) natural laws.There are three ways to look at the possible relationships between these levels. If a lower level completely explains a higher level, then we have reductionism and thestrongest relation possible. When speaking in terms of parts & wholes, properties & laws, it is possible that reductionism will not explain a higher level, but we can still maintainsupervenience, which is to say that any differences in parts, wholes, properties and laws at a higher level must have corresponding differences at the lower level (covariancewithout reduction). If a theory explaining higher level properties & laws is, in principle, unpredictable from a theory at a more fundamental level, then we have emergence,which is to say, novelty.Emergence is sometimes considered to correlate with supervenience, such that strong supervenience correlates with weak emergence and weak supervenience with strongemergence. Systems have also been characterized as closed emergent and open emergent systems. Closed emergent systems are epistemologically closed insofar as all ofthe system parameters for parts & wholes, properties & laws, are known; as such, closed systems are relatively deterministic at their lowest levels, even if indeterministic attheir higher levels. Open emergent systems are epistemologically open, characterized by epistemic uncertainty. They may be either ontologically open or closed, which is tosay they may or may not require new physical laws in their naturalistic explanations.Basically, if our current understanding of an emergent system is lacking, it is epistemologically open and if new physical principles are invoked, it is ontologically open.These distinctions speak directly to our evolutionary psychology as we climb the phylogenetic ladder adding sensation, perception, emotion, motivation, computationalcognition, language, semiotics (syntactical & semantic) and nonalgorithmic cognition. I think the general consensus, among cognitive scientists, is that all of the systemparameters for the parts & wholes, properties & laws of human consciousness are not known. In fact, they are extremely overdetermined. Presently, then, any understandingof the emergent system of human consciousness is epistemologically open, marked by substantial epistemic uncertainty. Until there is a more robust understanding of theproperties and laws governing consciousness, we risk reification of both the structural and the functional concepts that describe our mental states and their interactivity withthe physical.The putatively ontologically open systems of human consciousness would include Avery’s dimensional structure of consciouness, Penrose’s new physical laws, Ayn Rand’sobjectivist epistemology and several other systems that amount to a naturalistic dualism, describing consciousness as primitive, as a fundamental property like space, time,mass or charge. Such systems are advanced by those who insist that the distinction between syntax and semantics in semiotic science are critical, that the distinction betweencomputational and nonalgorithmic cognition is pivotal. Those who propose ontologically closed systems include the psychoneural identity theorists and others with variousviews regarding the Turing Test, Artificial Intelligence, eliminativism, epiphenomenalism, functionalism and such as Dennett over against Chalmers on qualia.The categories that distinguish between the open and closed systems, epistemologically and ontologically, are philosophical categories. Discussions of supervenience andemergence in the study of human consciousness, such as I set forth above, for the reasons I set forth above, presently are moreso subsumed under the philosophy of mind,not so much the science of mind. This notwithstanding, there is nothing discussed above that is not naturalistic, though a few approaches were nonphysicalistic.Regarding the mind-body problem, William James wrote: ?We are thrown back therefore upon the crude evidences of introspection on the one hand, with all itsliabilities to deception, and, on the other hand, upon a priori postulates and probabilities. He who loves to balance nice doubts need be in no hurry todecide the point. Like Mephistopheles to Faust, he can say to himself, "dazu hast du noch eine lange Frist" [for that you?ve got a long wait], for fromgeneration to generation the reasons adduced on both sides will grow more voluminous, and the discussion more refined.?I?m more optimistic than James. Is the current explanatory gap epistemic? Perhaps we?ll eventually close it, but only asymptotically approaching godelian boundaries. Is itontological? Even then, I think our abductions will guide us toward an accumulation of indirect evidence, such evidence subjected to ever more rigorous statistical analysesand resulting in increasingly compelling inferences about the nature of consciousness, again constrained by godelian dynamics. As such, it will never be exhaustive of thecompeting ontological and cosmological approaches but will remain congruent with many of them through the highly refined nuancing suggested by James. Still, if we continueour search for the most comprehensive, and at the same time discriminating, synthesis of whatever is best in rival systems, then I think we?ll get closest to the truth.Semiotic EmergenceA very fruitful way of engaging a most comprehensive, yet very discriminating, perspective on emergence dynamics is through the hermeneutic of semiotic emergence. Fromthe purely phenomenal perspective, prior to describing reality, ontologically, in terms of absolute necessity, cosmologically, in terms of primitives and their attendant axioms,or epistemologically, in terms of absolute logic, we can more tentatively and fallibilistically approach reality using an interpretive scheme of semiotic emergence, with meaningessentially defined as the establishment of information loops.In semiotic emergence, from a: 1) meta-epistemological perspective, the establishment of meaning is frame-dependent, contextual-relational, the laws of logic still holding; 2)meta-ontological perspective, semiotic realities are designated as real per a modal logic designating ontological status as possible, actual or probable, rather than necessary;and 3) meta-cosmological perspective, semiotic realities transcend classical metaphysical descriptions of primitives and their governing axioms for the nature of the universe,such as in substance metaphysics with respect to being or materiality, such as in process metaphysics with respect to experience, or even such as in participative metaphysicswith respect to entities.In approaching a semiotic reality epistemologically, we have prescinded from such as the excluded middle, not to take permanent refuge from the bivalent in the multivalent,rather, only retreating to a contextual-relational vantage with the clear intent of returning to perform our conventional logical operations. In approaching a semiotic realityontologically, we have prescinded from such a modal logic as governed by necessity having observed in the crucible of experience that reality is apparently more so governed
  • by probability. In approaching a semiotic reality cosmologically, we have prescinded from such an account of the nature of the universe as a priori relies on an invariable setof primitives and governing axioms, while nevertheless holding to a meta-cosmological bias toward symmetry.As with our epistemological circumspection, we can then return to the ontologies and cosmologies of our Weltanschauung and, having viewed reality through the interpretivelens of semiotic emergence, can better avoid confusing our maps for our territories, earnestly critiquing them, whether substance, process, participative or some othervariety. (They will all, nevertheless, still be encumbered by this or that paradox of infinite regress, circular reasoning, ipse dixit, etc Oh, bother!)The semiotic emergence paradigm [SEP] can serve as an indispensable hermeneutical hygiene insofar as it clarifies our thinking about reality, enabling us to rise above theinsidious cartesian dualisms, which breed the mutually unintelligible distinctions such as between essentialism and nominalism, realism and idealism, empiricism andrationalism, reductionism and holism, phenomenal and noumenal, foundational and nonfoundational, correspondence and coherence, deontological and teleological ethics,contingency and teleology, etc This hermeneutic is no more immune to paradox than any other, suffering as it does from an infinite regress of semiotic realities, but that is asmall price to pay for the enhanced modeling power it provides us for reality, especially once considering the manifold and multiform efficacies than ensue from itstranscendence of cartesian spectres.Efficacies of the SEPWith respect to an anthropocentric, human exceptionalism, the SEP gives impetus to our attempts to jettison the cartesian baggage that weighs down our existential cargoholds and overloads our hermeneutical overhead bins. What baggage? The cartesian dualisms that prevent us from taking anthropological flight and attaining ecologicalaltitude insofar as we allow them to:a) estrange us from our cosmic origin and cosmic support as they are mediated by nos environs;b) uproot us from our epistemological ground as we get trapped in infinite loop errors inside our own heads;c) alienate us from our own bodies as a result of our narrowly conceived substance ontologies that pit mind against matter;d) conflict us through inadequate theodicies as we struggle with the polynomial and bivalent nature of our values, lost on the path from the given to the normative,axiologically blind to any oughts that might inhere in the is; ande) set us aimlessly adrift without the benefit of a coherent teleonomy and a morally compelling eschatological vision that teleologically connects to our present milieu givingimpetus to our interventions now, conveying a sense of urgency in our dire need to awaken to our solidarity that compassion might more quickly ensue, everything belonging(Rohr).The SEP counters any paradigm wherein biology is considered both necessary and sufficient in explaining human behavior. It also takes issue with any paradigm wherein thebiological continuum and human instinct are excessively downplayed with cultural conditioning otherwise considered both necessary and sufficient in describing humanbehavior.Elements of an SEPThere are many problems, solutions and efficacies addressed in the hereinabove-proposed hermeneutical revisions to classical metaphysics. What specific ingredients mightbest comprise an acceptable Semiotic Emergence Paradigm? My guess is a Polanyian-Peircean approach to biosemiotics, which incorporates the aristotelian insight: ?We have our virtues neither by nor contrary to our natures. We are fitted by our natures to receive them.?How does human nature stand out? ?If brains are amazing, the human brain is flat-out astonishing. .... No doubt about it: Our symbolic minds allow us toaccess mental experiences, like mathematics, aesthetics and spiritual intuitions, that we have every reason to believe are novel, unique to the human. ...But we suggest that it is also of utmost importance that we not lose track of our mental evolutionary antecedents. ... Any perspective on the humancondition that brushes this fact aside is an incomplete perspective, - -indeed, we would say that it is an impoverished perspective. ... Given that we haveevolved from an intensely social lineage, we are uniquely aware of what it feels like to be pro-social, and it is this awareness of what it feels like to bemoral - - this moral experience - - that undergirds and motivates the actions of a moral person.? [From Biology to Consciousness to Morality by UrsulaGoodenough and Terrence Deacon, Zygon D 03; 38(4): 801-819 ]Is metaphysics moonshine? People like Teilhard, Polanyi and Aurobindo have, in my view, thought deeply and in the right direction, but otherwise "prove too much" with theirmetaphysics. This is still far better than those who "prove too much" with their science and metaphysics in what seems to me to be the wrongdirection! That Fr. Bede and Merton and other spiritual technologists engaged the East seriously and recognized gifts for all of humankind in the Easterntraditions is important. It makes me want to pay attention, to take them seriously but not necessarily literally (speaking of such as Aurobindosevolutionary ideas). In other words, however much their spiritual practices are integrally related to their ontologies and doctrines, it is curious that wecan borrow their practices (again, for example, Aurobindos accounts of Yoga) and have them work very well for us even if we do not buy into theirontologies and doctrines. It is especially curious if one buys into the maxim - - - orthopraxis authenticates orthodoxy. Personally, I see all major traditions, not just Christianity, in search of a metaphysic. I think those (all) ontologies represent rather fallible andawkward attempts to articulate what humankind had ALREADY discovered to be the truth (or an approximation, at least) phenomenologically, which isto say that we know THAT such realities present themselves and THAT such practices work even as we do not always know HOW and WHY. This is tosuggest that folks like Aurobindo were paying incredible and excellent attention to reality, especially human reality (like the Sufi mystics and theEnneagram, for example). The same is true for kundalini, just for another example. That we experience this reality, phenomenally, is not in dispute forthose of us who have experienced such energies. The WHAT and HOW is of less importance. That we submit all to the guidance of the Holy Spirit andthe counsel and discernment of community is what we are called to do. If we dug into these seemingly disparate doctrines and ontologies (East vs West) and their attendant language games and cultural embeddedness,then we just might find, at least, some minimalistic grounds for a syncretistic approach that is not heterodox after all; a true mystical core shared bythe great traditions. (I think of John Hick, here.) My suspicion is that those grounds would be pneumatological, which is to suggest the involvement ofthe Holy Spirit. (I think of Amos Yong, here.) Interreligious dialogue could proceed with our [Christology] in brackets and the Spirit out front andcenter. I wonder if our perspectives diverge at the point where we either search or do not search for, and if we search, whether we find or do not find, whatsome refer to as foundations and justifications? Or, perhaps, following Hans Kung, whether or not we even care to explain such a fundamental trustin uncertain reality as it seems we must all share, in some degree, in order to have these discussions in the first place?Kung talks about a justified fundamental trust in uncertain reality, which is to say that some folks do bother to tell others why they trust uncertainreality. He also talks about a nowhere anchored and paradoxical trust in uncertain reality. However, might we not further distinguish between theprocess of dropping anchor and the actual realization of anchoring, which is to ask: How would we know we are not, rather, merely dragging anchor?I think it was Whitehead who suggested that all metaphysics are fatally flawed. Considering the source and knowing the value he invested in thatvery pursuit, perhaps hed suggest that we can cash out some value in our anchoring attempts and that this value would be denominated in terms ofrealizing the least morbid system, the one least infected with paradox - - - veridical, falsidical, antinomial, conditional, or the system that is mostconsistent while least incomplete (Godel). Perhaps dragging an anchor is better than being blown haphazardly and willy nilly about.Still, we can build systems (the great traditions and ideologies). We can remain a respectful silence re: systems (phenomenology and some Buddhistapproaches). We can gainsay and critique systems and need no system of our own in order to efficaciously do so (radically deconstructivepostmodernism and practical nihilism). None of these approaches requires Ontology, this notwithstanding the fact that many adherents of theseabove-listed stances have attempted such metaphysical articulations. I believe it was also Whitehead who said that Christianity was a religion insearch of a metaphysic; and he was exactly right; just look at the many different types of thomism, for example, including aristotelian, analytical,existential, transcendental and more.What I am suggesting is that, at some level, given where humankind is on its journey, that all of the above stances, which might be variouslycategorized re: their stance toward system building: system building affirmation/ontology, meta-system phenomenology, system agnosticism, and
  • nonsystematic gainsaying and critique ... that all of these stances are still what William James might call live options. And I suppose the best way toadjudicate between them, to cash out their value, is in terms of modeling power of reality and with such a "power" oriented toward human valuerealizations and the bolstering of authentic human aspirations. Somehow, true dialogue might require us to at least be able to stand in one anothersexistential moccasins and to get in touch with why our otherwise disparate hermeneutics might truly remain live options. And then we can get on withthe project of doing ethics, of seeking a more universally compelling morality and the articulation of a truly global ethic. And we had better not waitfor an ontological consensus. We dont have time. We must come to the dialogue table with our ontologies bracketed and build on the common groundwe already share vis a vis general precepts, human dignity, common good, universal declarations of human rights and so on and so forth with apremium placed on THAT we share them and a discount issued regarding WHY we share them (vis a vis our justification attempts). This is not tosuggest that, at the same time, we should not otherwise still be seeking the most nearly perfect articulation of truth, beauty, goodness and unityattainable (and then urging it on others only with a great deal of circumspection and good sense of propriety). The Mode of Discovery There are a lot of ways to define the different "modes" of discovery. I am sometimes tempted to suggest that there is only one mode of discovery.And I am tempted to then call what we most often consider to be modes, instead, something else. In fact I have called them aspects, or better yet,"moments" in the singular and integral act of knowing (or "the" mode of discovery). In this sense, philosophically, I would be saying thatepistemology is epistemology is epistemology. And these "moments" in the singular and integral act of knowing, then, precisely gain their sympatheticpotential from the fact that each moment actually presupposes the other moments, none getting the job of discovery done alone, all getting the jobof discovery done together. These moments are autonomous only in the sense that they are asking distinctly different questions of realityand cannot, therefore, conflict with one another, in principle. And this is why they are, necessarily, in some sense, mutually limiting. Thesemoments are otherwise, in a word, entangled (hierarchically-related perhaps being too strong a concept to defend). In the heuristic I have under consideration, we might think of these moments in terms of the interpretive, descriptive, prescriptive, normative andevaluative. Or, we might think in terms of the paradigmatic, positivistic, prudential and philosophic (all defined above in this essay). So, too, we mightthink in more classical terms like apophatic and kataphatic, like cognitive and affective. The history of philosophy is littered with systems thatwrenched some of these moments from their context in the whole of the integral act of knowing, or from their place in the singular mode of discovery,and then let them swell to madness in their isolation (to borrow phraseology from CS Lewis re: Scriptural exegesis). Without the mutual limitation of one moment versus another, and without the entanglement of these otherwise autonomous probes of reality, variousso-called modes of discovery, powered by all too vivid human imaginations, get, improperly and variously, overemphasized and/or underemphasized. To wit: An overemphasis of the kataphatic and cognitive = rationalism. An overemphasis of the kataphatic and the affective = pietism. An overemphasis of the apophatic and the cognitive = encratism. An overemphasis of the apophatic and affective = quietism. Various overemphases of the positivistic, descriptive and/or of science = positivism, empiricism and scientism. Various overemphases of the paradigmatic, interpretive and/or of theology (or even atheology) = fideism, on one hand, Enlightenmentfundamentalism, on the other, or dogmatism. An overemphasis of the prescriptive and normative, or on the law and code = legalism. An overemphasis on the evaluative = moral relativism and an embrace of the so-called fact-value dichotomy. And when combined with the rubricsof religion = ritualism. For a modern example, Ken Wilber claims an integral approach and an affirmation of the transrational. His approach is NOT integral just by the merefact that he claims to holistically embrace objective, subjective, interobjective and intersubjective "modes" of knowledge (and these roughlycorrespond to my positivistic, philosophic, paradigmatic and prudential spheres of concern). It is not the affirmation of all such "moments" that makesones approach integral; rather, it is the proper inter-relating of such moments that gifts them with their integral nature; it is their holonicinseparability that makes them holistic. What happens here? Ken allows unfettered reign (no mutual limitation) to the intersubjective and transrationalmoment of what should otherwise properly be considered but one moment, presupposing all the other moments, in an integrally related mode ofdiscovery. Mysticism, then, goes wherever it wants, probes reality, comes back with reports that are unassailable. What we end up with is anunmitigated 1) arational 2) gnostic 3) radical apophaticism. The remedy, again: the philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to effect the prudential. Or, put another way: thenormative and evaluative mediate between the descriptive (science) and the paradigmatic (theology) to effect the prudential (moral and practicaljudgment). Each moment presupposes the others. Each moment has its moment, whether implicitly or explicitly, in the integral act of knowing, thesingular mode of discovery. This is reinforced by Charles Sanders Peirces observation that the three forms of inference all presuppose the others;induction (reasoning from the specific to the general), deduction (reasoning from the general to the specific) and abduction (the act of spontaneouslyhypothesizing or quickly coming up with an If-Then statement) all presuppose the others, none even making sense without the others. Foundationalism Im a foundationalist and do not at all buy into the so-called naturalistic fallacy. At the same time, in my view, insofar as I believe that thepostmodern critique deserves a response, I would then nuance my approaches as weakly foundational and weakly de-ontological.What I have been calling my heuristic device is not wholly phenomenological but has many ontological presuppositions: semiotic realism, metaphysicalrealism, moral realism, scientific theories like evolution, quantum mechanics, thermodynamic laws and so on. It is an ontological presupposition toassert, as I do, that we can successfully reference many realities that we have not yet been able to fully describe with a robust explanatoryadequacy. So, insofar as I am doing meta-metaphysics, I am also being something of a crypto-metaphysician (and not so very crypto when you reallythink about it).The human epistemic activities of claiming foundations and employing justifications do have some epistemic virtue, if one subscribes to foundationalism(or foundherentism or such) presuppositionally. Such an epistemic move is necessary. In theory, though, we all know that busting that epistemicmove is not sufficient. If it was, why would we have so many otherwise disparate meta-ethical accounts that place most of humankind in great peril,one people against another, one religion against another, one ideology against another?Obviously, claiming foundations and employing justifications is necessary but not sufficient in attaining epistemic virtue. That is why, from a practicalperspective, when it comes to inter-religious, inter-ideological, politically pluralistic and globally diverse dialogues, it would seem most efficacious, inmy view, to have everyone place their ontologies in baskets by the door to be retrieved on the way out. This [bracketing], as I said before, is not thesame as jettisoning.The reason I recommend this strategy is very much related to my embrace of political realism, which takes into account what can reasonably beexpected to be accomplished in an arena requiring compromise and recognizing that not all people and peoples are at the same stages of cognitive,
  • affective, moral and socio-cultural development. Some approaches, then, are just not developmentally appropriate. All one has to do to recognize thistruth is to take an inventory of the manifold and multiform foundations and justifications that humankind claims and employs when prescribing curesfor what ails humankind in this situation or that.This might all then beg the question of how such diverse peoples ever came together to construct such instruments as the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights, or the US Declaration of Independence, or the Geneva Conventions, or why there is any consensus at all regarding human dignity andthe common good. It is not because they ostensibly shared the same foundations. That is self-evident. My thesis is that, at some level, much ofhumankind is unconsciously competent in their ethical machinations and moral justifications, and even with respect to common sense notions ofcausality and first principles, this notwithstanding their inability to coherently articulate this competence and their inability to systematize theirepistemic, aesthetical and ethical sensibilities in a more universally compelling manner.All that said, the systematization of such evaluative sensibilities might then better begin with an inventory of those normative outlooks we share andnot with why we share them. Normative science is transparent to human reason. So, it is my hope that at least a minimalist deontology, a sketchynatural law, can be devised and then be more robustly fleshed out through time. For gosh sakes, the legacy of the 20th Century and the early NewMillennium reveal how deep the interideological incommensurabilities are, and how wide the metaphysical chasms are, that must be navigated beforeattaining a Global Ethic.I do not know what this or that metaphysic will bring to humankinds table or why we would imagine it could be so very universally compelling andcommon sensically self-evident. At some level, we are in agreement about how common sensically self-evident a minimalist deontology and sketchynatural law might be. It already appears to be in operation, to a large extent, and I want to tap into that as a meta-ethical resource. But not all of usare in agreement on where to start (and maybe our positions are not mutually exclusive? We can all move full speed ahead.) It is just positivelyuncanny, though, at how widely divergent and even totally incommensurate the apologetics can be when it comes to describing the foundations andarticulating the justification of our meta-ethical approaches. Such faulty ontologies need to be subverted from within because we know that suchparadigm shifts, anthropologically, are not that easy to come by; at least we know this if we have any historical consciousness whatsoever.The Naturalistic Fallacy Perhaps, one day, I will explain how, once deciding that one can get from an is to an ought, I came to believe that one could also get from an oughtto an is, which is to say that I reject any a priori notion that such a meta-ethical journey necessarily takes place on a one-way street. In myheuristic, when it comes to value realization strategies, we can and often do begin in media res, especially as, once considering Sartre’s observationthat we share values because of the “universal human condition.” So, relative though our moral undergirdings may appear, absent clearly accessiblefoundations, for all practical purposes, we can still expect a great deal of consistency, even across otherwise widely disparate hermeneutics, whenwe sit down at the Global Ethic dialogue table to discuss moral objects in terms of act, intention and circumstances, when we probe fromdeontological, aretaic and consequentialistic or teleological perspectives. About [Bracketing] as opposed to “Jettisoning” Our Ontologies We cannot have authentic dialogue if people arrive at the table and "jettison" some of their core positions. The [bracketing] of certain positions isonly a dialogical tool (and not rather an epistemic maneuver) which challenges us to rearticulate our truth in a more universally compelling way that ismore transparent to human reason. For example and concretely, then, we cannot urge others in a pluralistic political forum to join our side on thebasis that the Bible or Koran "tells me so," even if, at bottom, that may be what formed our moral position. We must dig deeper and come to gripswith WHY the "Bible told me so" and then offer that explanation with the logic and reasoning tools all humans share. And this logic must be testedagainst reality, too, because, without this inductive, positivistic or scientific grounding, logic can take us further from the truth, and more quickly,too. Theism, Nontheism and Atheism and Agnosticism We can frame up this question regarding belief systems, or interpretive stances, in essentially pragmatic terms, such as with the thought of theAmerican pragmatists, i.e. Peirce and James, and also of Pascal.Peirce would distinguish between belief and knowledge. Sometimes a/gnosticism and a/theism refer, respectively, to totally different questions, on onehand, knowledge and description, on the other hand, belief and interpretation.The belief-knowledge distinction is not a dichotomy, however, as they are in a dynamical relationship insofar as humankinds knowledge advancesfallibly but inexorably, insofar as our different types of beliefs can, in fact, have a role in advancing knowledge (or thwarting it, for that matter).Peirce relates these approaches by saying that the normative sciences mediate between phenomenology and metaphysics. I employ a derived formulawhich suggests that our evaluative & normative stances mediate between our descriptive and interpretive stances to effect our prescriptive stances.Restated, our philosophic (spiritual) stance mediates between the positivistic (like science) and paradigmatic (like a/theology or a/gnosticism) stancesto effect the prudential (moral and practical) stances.Implicit in this approach, human knowledge enterprises are inextricably intertwined with human value realizations, which is to recognize that ourrationality is an ecological rationality (has adaptive significance). Also, we can see how these different stances are moreso intellectually related andnot strictly logically related, which is to recognize, for example, that nonformal and quasi-formal stances often have a role in navigating us, howeverfallibly, to the truth. I am talking, for example, about such epistemic criteria as coherence, symmetry, elegance, beauty, simplicity, Occams Razor,Pascals Wager and reductio arguments (from ignorance). This is to also recognize that human cognition is not merely computational or algorithmic orsyntactical but is also nonalgorithmic and semantical, again, dealing with meaning or value.And these stances resonate with William James criteria for the Will To Believe: a) live choice b) forced choice and c) momentous choice.G. K. Chesterton said that we do not know enough about reality to say that it is unknowable. And it does seem too early on humankinds journey tomake such a claim. Whitehead said that all metaphysics were fatally flawed but did not desist from the enterprise himself. When confronting theunknown, we cannot a priori know which of Quines paradoxes (veridical, falsidical or antinomial) afflict us, or which type of vagueness - - - epistemic,ontological or semantical - - - we are dealing with, respectively: 1) Are we methodologically constrained? 2) Is there some type of in-principle occultingdue to the emergentist nature of the reality in question? or due to its so-called "brute fact" status? 3) Does the problem stem from issues surroundingthe predication and, hence, disambiguation of our concepts, themselves?The theological  noncognitivism argument is interesting. Someone has paid close attention to the high nuance and rigorous predication of certain God-concepts insofar as they aspire to an increase in descriptive accuracy 1) thru negation, which is to say through the employment of negatively definedattributes (apophasis); and 2) thru affirmation, but only in a relational sense and only through the employment of analogical and metaphoricalstatements (kataphasis).There is a real problem, however, in that this noncognitivist critique, in its anxiety to an-nihilate (yes, the seemingly nihilistic choice) theology andmetaphysics, would also destroy speculative cosmology and theoretical physics, too (in other words, science). This problem stems mostly from thefailure to draw a distinction between the successful description of a reality and the successful reference of a reality, the latter not gifted with arobust explanatory adequacy, to be sure, but not at all necessarily devoid of this so-called "concrete meaning." This distinction has always been inplay at the frontiers of science, such as when modern genetics and natural selection were merging into our now received neodarwinianunderstandings, as our mostly phenomenological references to genes yielded to robust biochemical and biological descriptions, or such as in ourongoing attempts to merge quantum mechanics and gravity, where our theories and terms do not only not mutually describe but do not even mutuallyrefer.
  • Now, we do not, at the same time, therefore, countenance giving peoples imaginations free reign in hypothesizing, as if logical consistency anddeductive validity were the only criteria of epistemic virtue, for we also saddle them with the responsibility of articulating inductive inferences, whichis to require, empirical falsifiability. And because certain realities, by their very nature, tend to be only eschatologically falsifiable or verifiable, leavingus with a Scottish verdict (theism, atheism, nontheism), we are left adjudicating these competing claims with essentially pragmatic criteria andevaluative sensibilities. This, alone, does not make them noncognitive, unless ones apologetic is "grounded" fideistically or scientistically, which is tosay by an unjustified and a priori pre- or post-Enlightenment fundamentalism. The proper grounding is described, in part, above, in the heuristicsetting forth the interplay of our different stances toward reality, and, also, insofar as Peirces approach entails a theory of knowledge, whichpresupposes an ontology even as it employs a pragmatic maxim, which requires us to cash out our beliefs in terms of value realization.Finally, people provisionally close, all the time, on all things philosophic, positivistic, paradigmatic and prudential, without, at the same time,necessarily, laying claim to any apodictic certainty. And they do so with varying degrees of confident assurance in what they hope for, discerningbest they can what is possible, plausible, probable, certain, uncertain, improbable, implausible or impossible, variously well warranted or not.Therefore, agnosticism remains a live option. It is not a self-refuting belief - - - neither in science nor metaphysics nor speculative, theoreticala/theology. For most of us, though, theology is a practical science.And that is exactly why the faith-based outlook, the emergentist perspective, some Buddhist stances and agnosticism, writ large and sufficientlynuanced, can all be correct insofar as they suggest, regarding this or that aspect of reality, that, sometimes, the most appropriate response is areverent silence.Footnote Regarding PositivismProblems with ignosticism, such as theological noncognitivism, run much deeper than many recognize insofar as its core commitment to the principleof verification is the same employed by logical positivism, which is thoroughly undermined by its very own humean stance toward reality.Falsification has been extremely useful, but it is not, itself, falsifiable. Weve been in a post-positivist era for some time? Verificationism is a dead-end,incoherent. At best, we have heuristic devices in verification, falsification, parsimony and other criteria and not self-evident foundations or indubitablestarting-points for our otherwise commonly received methodological naturalism.Also, epistemology is inherently normative, so false dichotomies between cognitive and noncognitive aspects of the human intellect are not meaningfulin my theory of knowledge insofar as normative/evaluative, descriptive/referential, interpretive/paradigmatic and prescriptive/pragmatic modes ofvalue realization are intellectually related even if not logically related.However, even if one did not raise these objections of incoherence and igno-ignosticism and conceded a definition of so-called "concrete meaning,"which allows only positive definitions for primary characteristics before applying secondary attributes and relational attributes, such an approach canbe parodied to do away with science, itself. To wit:When we observe effects from unknown causes, sometimes, all we can do is to refer to those causes using models, analogies and metaphors, whichis to acknowledge that the primary attribute is defined negatively, in other words, as being not literally this or that, and the secondary attributesare defined as being like this or that. And the thing is also assigned a relative characteristic, which is to say, as a cause relative to an effect. Dowe really want to defend a definition of science that eschews analogies and models?Descriptive accuracy can be increased through either negation or affirmation. Why arbitrarily rule out negative definitions? Successful referencing isnot robustly explanatory, but why must meaning be limited to successful description? Some realities are not wholly comprehensible but are certainlypartly apprehensible, so, why limit ones definition of intelligibility and insight to full comprehensibility?When realitys givens are defined in terms of primitives like space, time, mass and energy, in other words, presupposing a space-time plenum, our useof terms like nonlocal, nonspatial and nontemporal are references to primary characteristics of putative realities as we near T=0. After all, time cameinto existence with the Big Bang. When describing the putative initial conditions and boundary conditions of the universe, or hypothesizingsingularities, why a priori eliminate the meaningfulness of imaginary numbers? Without the use of analogy, we would lose M-Theory, string theory,multiverses and parallel universes, many-worlds & Bohm & Copenhagen interpretations. Furthermore, quite often, our equations refer to our models andnot to nature, herself. And physical theories are mathematical models, which are subject to Godelian-like constraints, hence are intrinsicallyincomplete (or otherwise inconsistent). Here are some useful citations re: analogy & science. They provide more examples, from the history of science, than cited above re: speculativecosmology and theoretical physics (where we seem to encounter many problems with verifiability and falsifiability).1) Science makes extensive use of models, i.e. simplified or idealized representations of the systems found in the physical world. Models fall into atleast two categories: mathematical and physical models. In this paper, we focus attention mainly on the latter, trying to show that they are essentialtools not only of the scientific description of the world ‘out there’, but of man’s cognition of things, especially things not directly accessible to thesenses. The spring-and-ball (SB) model of chemistry is a most instructive example of a physical model. In other disciplines, from cosmology tophysiology, models are used that are of the same kind or play the same role. It is concluded that physical models are objects which belong to theworld accessible to man’s direct experience, often constructed ad hoc and possibly idealized. They serve as referents for analogies, which appearto be indispensable in most aspects of scientific theorizing, especially for the understanding of the submicroscopic levels of reality.Giuseppe Del Re, Models and analogies in science, International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 6, (2000), No. 1, pp. 5-15.2) Leslie Jill Atkins, Chapter 6: Analogies in the History of Science, ANALOGIES AS CATEGORIZATION PHENOMENA: STUDIES FROM SCIENTIFICDISCOURSE3) Bruce D. Despain, Section 1-2 HYPOTHESIS, A Paraphrastic Grammar of English Suggested ReadingClayton, Philip - Emergence, Supervenience, and Personal Knowledge, Tradition-and-Discovery. 2002-03; 29(3): 8-19Kroger, Joseph - Can Theology Be Tacit? A Review Essay on Personal Catholicism: The Theological Epistemologies of John Henry Newman and Michael Polanyi (Martin X.Moleski, Catholic University of America Press, 2000)Tradition-and-Discovery. 2001-2002; 28(1): 23-27Innis, Robert - Consciousness and the Play of Signs,Indiana-Univ-Pr : Bloomington, 1994Sanders, Andy - Tacit Knowledge-Between Modernism and Postmodernism, Tradition-and-Discovery. 1991-92; 18(2): 15-21Mullins, Phil - Peirces Abduction and Polanyis Tacit Knowing,Journal-of-Speculative-Philosophy. 2002; 16(3): 198-224Innis, Robert E. - Perception, Interpretation, and the Signs of Art, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 15.1 (2001) 20-32Innis, Robert E. - Homing in on the Range: Comments on Mark Johnsons "Cowboy Bill Rides Herd on the Range of Consciousness", The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 16.4(2002) 264-272p.s. Ursula likes to quote Jerry Fodor: Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like tohave the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. 
  • Christian Nonduality Musings with Peirce: How Real Are Modal Realisms?NEW: CathlimergentInternet Forum  The ChristianNonduality Blog  HomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,  Colorado Springs &the Kingdom The Methodological & Theoretical Distinction Wanted: Women On one hand, I am all for speculating boldly in such theoreticalWarriors matters, such as regarding the many worlds of QM or the multiverse ofMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen: speculative cosmology. On the other hand, I urge caution when sucharchetypes & models get invoked vis a vis anthropic principles.transformationEast Meets West My chief concern with such as Lewis modal realism is its temporality.Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & While he employs modal-tenseless language, being neutral to tense isKundalini not the same as atemporality, an implication we must deal with due toNo-Self & Nirvana quantum cosmology and which, in my view, implicitly critiques anyelucidated byDumoulin robustly conceived modal realisms.One: Essential Perhaps we best distinguish, then, between a modal realism that isWritings inNonduality - a review pragmatic and methodological and one that is theoretic andSimone Weil ontological. It seems that we have all we need in order to advance both practical and moral inquiry in a modal realism that we adoptJohn of the Cross presuppositionally and provisionally in order to advanceThomas Merton methodological inquiry. Beyond the needs of our prudential judgmentsThe True Self and normative heuristics, we might boldly speculate with Lewis andThe Passion Tegmark on a theoretic modal realism, but any adoption of a robustHermeneuticalEclecticism & ontology beyond a realist method for doing ontology would seem toInterreligious invoke an a priorism and apodicticity that it seems Peirce would notDialogue countenance given his emphases on the a posteriori and fallibilism.The Spirit Also, we should keep in mind that our modal realities could be very,Christian Nonduality very local. For example, many possibilities arise as novel dissipativemore on Nonduality structures in far from equilibrium thermodynamics, dynamics whichThe Contemplative certainly do not exhaust our account of reality.StanceHesychasm  Mysticism - properly The Strong Anthropic Principle considered
  • Karl Rahner An additional problem arises in any invocation of a strong anthropic principle. (The weak version is trivial.) The problem results, in part,Wounded Innocence from a need to clarify the conceptual confusion between coincidenceRogation Days and chance. Coincidence is something that pertains to the present orRadical Orthodoxy past. Chance has meaning only when information is lacking. So, wePresuppositionalismvs Nihilism? distinguish the two in temporal terms. If we are considering an event aScience priori, chance is in play. If we consider it a posteriori, we have coincidence (something which, however, over the course of a lifetime -Epistemic Virtue -- even of a multiverse --- might otherwise be considered likely). So,Pan-semio-entheism: a the concept of probability has no validity vis a vis a coincidence andpneumatological statistical science thus pertains to chance and not coincidence.theology of nature Probability deals with the epistemically-unavailable, is an empiricalArchitectonic notion subject to empirical methods and is assigned to arguments withAnglican - RomanDialogue premises and conclusions (and not rather to events, states or types of same). I suppose that if we knew enough about the universes initialThe Ethos of Eros conditions we could imaginatively (conceivably) walk ourselves back toMusings on Peirce T=0 and invoke chance, but we dont thus have such an informedEskimo Kiss Waltz grasp of what should or should not be expected of this reality.the Light Side ofDark Comedy Valid arguments can be constructed employing actual infinites. We justBlog Visits cannot a priori know whether infinites can be both abstract andOther Online concrete or not. We can work within this or that tautology and employResources certain terms/premises that presuppose the conclusion of ourAre YOU Going to arguments and thereby find our arguments compelling. However, to anScarborough Fair? unbiased observer, the argument remains unproven: Scottish verdict.Suggested Reading Not only can we not a priori and analytically demonstrate what isTim Kings PostChristian Blog metaphysically necessary, we can not even meaningfully discuss whatThe Dylan Mass is physically probable, as regarding such a probability as would pertain to the initial, boundary and limit conditions of the universe. Thus weIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual or have no baseline numbers to establish probabilistic theories for strongOtherwise anthropic principles. And the closer we get to T=0, the less we seem topending know, presently. I still have my hopes.The Great Traditionproperly conceived If Peirce is interpreted by scholars as going beyond the type ofPostmodern methodological realism I have herein described, then I consider thisConservative too strong a position for me to try to defend, positivistically andCatholic Pentecostal descriptively and normatively.   The Cosmological (descriptive & normative) and the Axiological (interpretive & evaluative) I would like to further develop some of my thoughts regarding a minimalist modal realism and a robust modal realism. In drawing the distinction between a methodological and theoretic modal realism (or, put another way, between a pragmatic and ontological modal realism), a similar distinction comes to mind. One might also think of the difference between a methodological naturalism and a philosophical naturalism, as I see the same dynamic in play. To some extent, in eschewing the theoretic-ontological-transcendent realism from a positivist perspective, we are merely claiming that our best descriptive and normative methodologies, cosmologically, can not get us there. But these are not our only starting points, because our interpretive and evaluative methodologies, axiologically, do get us there, if that is where we want to go, metaphysically, which assumes one does not at the outset consider metaphysics a category error. What is the practical upshot of this distinction? How can we tell that we have
  • a distinction that makes a difference?The most salient distinction between our descriptive-normativecosmology and our interpretive-evaluative axiology is the normativeimpetus our various concepts and arguments will enjoy because,employing our status-in-negotiation rubric to evaluate concepts, ourdescriptive and normative methodologies will traffic more heavily intheoretic and semiotic concepts, which have been negotiated by acommunity of inquiry or even considered non-negotiable, and ourinterpretive and evaluative methodologies will traffic more heavily inheuristic and dogmatic concepts, which either remain in negotiation orhave not yet been negotiated. Beyond this sociologic observation, thisstatus-in-negotiation rubric has normative impetus by virtue of the factthat a community has likely cashed-out significant practical (andethical) value through time for concepts it considers (fallibilistically)either non-negotiable or already negotiated. The implication is thatscientific and ethical inquiry will have more sway in the public squarethan our essentially interpretive inquiries, which neverthelesscondition our prioritizing of values and visions of ought-to-be’s.Another consequence of this approach is a theoretical metaphysicalagnosticism, which recognizes that its pragmatic, methodologicalrealism is a provisional presupposition, an epistemic stance of hopeordered toward the end of advancing meaningful inquiry. It is adoptedfor argument’s sake, for all practical purposes and not because wehave otherwise overcome some devastating Humean critique. To theextent we do not a priori know when it is that we are beingmethodologically thwarted (a condition we can overcome through timewith better instrumentation, for example) or ontologically occulted, inprinciple, (a condition that leaves us empty-handed epistemically) weassume, for the sake of inquiry, that we are being methodologicallythwarted because assuming an ontological occulting is an epistemic culde sac. This is to recognize that we look for our lost keys under thelamp post at night, not because we know they just simply cannot beelsewhere but because, if they are elsewhere, we have little hope offinding them anyway. Metaphysical Agnosticism - reminiscent of a FriesianOntological UndecidabilityNow, what is good for the realist goose is good for the nominalistgander, for this metaphysical agnosticism is a knife that cuts bothways. By that, I mean to recognize that, not only does any robust modalrealism fall to the agnostic axe, so does any philosophical naturalism.There is an old saying that just because you are paranoid does notmean that they are not out to get you. Well, in that same vein, justbecause we encounter paradox does not mean that our thinking is allwrong and our methods are just not well-conceived; maybe we havent(and even couldnt have) enumerated all of realitys givens andprimitives, including some whose tacit dimensionality effects an utterlyefficacious influence on reality in an otherwise ineluctably unobtrusiveway (weakly analogous to other downward causations, whichostensibly do not violate physical causal closure). This tacitdimensionality reflects, in part, Polanyis end-around nominalism. Methodological Incrementalism
  • As it is, I prefer the phrase methodological incrementalism in media resover methodological naturalism, precisely because I am agnostic aboutits implict metaphysic, which is to recognize that we simply start wherewe are in order to launch our next good inquiry without a prioripresupposing its outcome. So, we cannot really take an eliminativiststance toward the epistemic-ontic distinction vis a vis our methods andreality’s essential nature but must continually confront it anew. Whatwe accomplish with our pragmatic realism, in my view, is a bracketingof any robustly metaphysical assumptions with a prescinding to a moreepistemically indeterminate and/or ontologically vague perspective, orphenomenology, when necessary. We return, as we can, to theepistemically determinate and/or ontologically precise, hopefully witha chastised optimism and contrite fallibilism. And, we affirm successfulreferences to reality even when successful descriptions evade us.What separates Einstein as a highly speculative theoretical thinkerfrom many others is that he was able to translate his abstractions intofalsifiable hypotheses, subject them to empirical measurement andinductive testing, and then, soon enough, cash out the practical valueof his thoughts. His theoretical armchair was also a pragmaticwheelchair. Rather than a nonvirtuous cycle of abductivehypothesizing and deductive clarifying, his was interrupted withinductive testing. In Maritain’s terms, the dianoetic order ofmathematics and ananoetic order of metaphor and analogy met theperinoetic order of empirical science. As I recall, Tegmark maintainsthat we’ll indeed be able to indirectly test some of the inferences thatare consistent with his ensemble theory of everything.The enduring lesson is that we must keep 1ns, 2ns and 3ns happilyengaged in their Peircean menage a trois and not let any two of themrun off and jilt the other. In the case of naive realism, 2ns gets jilted. Inthe case of nominalism, 3ns gets jilted. In the case of 1ns, as long asthe other modalities are present, I’m not for jilting her either, for she’sfor real. However, if she runs off without them, she’s a harlot; let hergo.Lonergans work-around nominalism was to differentiate between ournaming exercise (nomenclature) vis a vis being intelligent and ourjudgment processes vis a vis being reasonable and then responsible.The nominalists conflate these. Lonergan critiqued this conflation,calling it conceptualism.Finally, in considering modal tenses, one thing that came to mind isHartshornes nonstrict identity, which invokes asymmetric temporalrelations, which is to suggest that a realitys essential nature includesits past but not its future. And what could be more temporallyasymmetric than atemporality? How might this be reconciled withdifferent modal realisms? The Problem of Induction - science as only a partialsolutionThis ongoing conversation has raised for me two related questionsregarding how inference is playing out in our thinking about reality.How does a very highly speculative theoretic science differ from theordinary course of science? How does science augment common
  • sense?In all instances, falsification issues seem to be in play, whether withravens or pharoes.For everyday common sense, we rely on the fast and frugal heuristicsthat have been gifted us by natural selection for our distinctly humanecology. As radically social animals, we are greatly protected by oneanother and our institutions vis a vis our vital or practical affairs. Thisallows us to rely with great confidence on inherited beliefs that, as faras their future efficacies may be concerned, are innocent until provenguilty. Our conclusions are drawn, then, based on the lack of contraryevidence. Humes problem of induction does not come to bear, for allpractical purposes, or so we might imagine.Practical problems do arise with lifes exigencies, technical and medicaland otherwise. Prior conclusions and their associated predictions failus. Our arguments ad ignorantium prove fallacious. We need moremethodological rigor. Science augments common sense.In our alternating conjectures and criticism, our abductions,inductions and deductions run through cycles. Much like the settingson our washing machines, which vary according to the prospectivedifficulty of a given wash job or the delicacy of the fabrics, ourinferential cycles thus vary given the nature of the investigativeproblem at hand, such as our confrontations with epistemicindeterminacy and ontological vagueness. Our Epistemic Wash CyclesEach epistemic wash cycle goes through 1) inductive data-gathering 2)abductive hypothetical explanation 3) deductive consequential analysis& prediction 4) experimental design & testing and 5) resultcorroboration.In the event of successful corroboration, future cycles of deduction-prediction and testing-corroboration proceed, repeating only the end-stages of the cycle. In the event of a corroborative failure, our dirtyexplanatory clothing needs to be thrown back in the next abductivecycle and re-washed, repeating the entire cycle.At the beginning of any wash cycle, we may want to separate the lightand dark clothes and even run repeated tests on different detergents.Through a repeated sampling, we might gain an ever-increasingconfidence about the efficacies of any given detergent to brighten ourwhite fabrics. This quantitative induction, where we generalize from asample to the whole, when repeated with enough success, makes ourgeneralizations more than hasty, approaching law-like.We might metaphorically conceive of our abductive explanatoryhypotheses in terms of a wash detergent that enjoys varying amountsof explanatory adequacy. There is another experimental testingapproach we can try. Rather than testing our detergent through arepeated sampling of one type of fabric, we could try testing ourdetergent on a variety of fabrics in a single wash cycle. This qualitativeinduction, where we test our abductive detergent on a range of otherfabrics, allows us to employ one sample in the testing of many differentpredictions, generalizing about an entire wardrobe of ideas: red shifts,white dwarfs, green curves, dark matter, black holes, blue stars andultraviolet radiation. Such generalizations are more than ad
  • ignorantium, more than hasty, and also begin to approach the law-like.Not every prediction that survives falsification in a qualitativeinduction will enjoy the same probative weight from investigator toinvestigator, but through time and an earnest community of inquirythe differential weighting of these matters sorts itself out.The more highly speculative theoretic science involves 1) inductivedata-gathering 2) abductive hypothetical explanation 3) deductiveconsequential analysis & prediction but, for one reason or another, canget thwarted in its attempts at successful 4) experimental design &testing and 5) result corroboration. Like ordinary scientific pursuits, itshares conceivable falsifiability even if only, shall we say,eschatologically. The trick, remains, getting to steps 4 & 5.What keeps all investigative inquiry very engaging for me is thenagging Humean problem of induction, notwithstanding our Peirceanend-arounds. Theres a lot more than Popperian falsification going onwith abduction, as I implied regarding our evolutionary inheritance offast and frugal heuristics, where we rather efficiently narrow downpossibilities, often reasoning from previously-known predicates tootherwise unknown subjects or their analogs, based on our encounterswith novel properties, for example. The beginning of our epistemicwash-cycles, where abduction and deduction predominate, areinescapably tautological, question begging, self-referential, withGodelian-like axioms that cannot be proven within their own systems.By successive repetitions of our epistemic cycles, both quantitativelyand qualitatively, our tautologies become more taut vis a vis theirmodeling power of reality.What keeps science so very exciting are the perduring possibilities, asrecognized in the provisionality of our ontological closures and theinherent fallibility of our epistemic methodologies, that not only willour knowledge advance due to painstaking experimentation but,sometimes, it will advance discontinuously through such Kuhnian-likeparadigm shifts as dissemble our very system axioms, renormalizingpreviously incommensurable approaches to reality. While it is true thatNewtonian physics works just fine, conventionally and locally, there isno doubt that the more universally-taut tautologies completelytranscend same, axiomatically, both qualitatively and quantitatively.The practical upshot of all of this is that different modal ontologies canvary in their being rather local and parochial versus more universal andtranscendent, or even timeless and atemporal. The thing aboutfashioning new tautologies is that, just because they are tautological, itdoes not mean that they are not true. It does mean, however, that wehave not added any NEW information to any system.I see the questions being raised in this discussion as transcendingformalisms and as illuminating common sense, which through science,sometimes gets applied in an uncommonly useful way is all. The veryinstance of the ongoing mutual critique of qualitative and quantitativeinduction is the proof in the epistemic pudding that there is more thanone way to axiomatize a system and make an investigative run atreality. These work-arounds of the Humean critique are theoreticallyweak but pragmatically worthy, which is to recognize, with allPeirceans, that our search for indubitable foundations is quixotic. Ithink we must also concede, as post-foundationalists, thatour efforts to distill degrees of inductive success, from crude
  • to refined, will inevitably reach a point of diminishingreturns, which is a systematic result of our non-system.Excerpts from CSP‘s "How to Make Our Ideas Clear"Peirce’s Pragmatic Maxim:It appears, then, that the rule for attaining the third grade of clearnessof apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, which mightconceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of ourconception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the wholeof our conception of the object.Peirce’s Example of the Untested Diamond:Let us illustrate this rule by some examples; and, to begin with thesimplest one possible, let us ask what we mean by calling a thing hard.Evidently that it will not be scratched by many other substances. Thewhole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceivedeffects. There is absolutely no difference between a hard thing and asoft thing so long as they are not brought to the test. Suppose, then,that a diamond could be crystallized in the midst of a cushion of softcotton, and should remain there until it was finally burned up. Wouldit be false to say that that diamond was soft? This seems a foolishquestion, and would be so, in fact, except in the realm of logic. Theresuch questions are often of the greatest utility as serving to bringlogical principles into sharper relief than real discussions ever could. Instudying logic we must not put them aside with hasty answers, butmust consider them with attentive care, in order to make out theprinciples involved.We may, in the present case, modify our question, and ask whatprevents us from saying that all hard bodies remain perfectly soft untilthey are touched, when their hardness increases with the pressureuntil they are scratched. Reflection will show that the reply is this:there would be no falsity in such modes of speech. They would involvea modification of our present usage of speech with regard to the wordshard and soft, but not of their meanings. For they represent no fact tobe different from what it is; only they involve arrangements of factswhich would be exceedingly maladroit. This leads us to remark that thequestion of what would occur under circumstances which do notactually arise is not a question of fact, but only of the most perspicuousarrangement of them.JB’s Comments:My initial approach is to ask: If the untested diamond passage is theanswer, then what is the question? That question seems to me to be:What are the criteria for good metaphysical speculation? (And not:What use is metaphysics?)I will start with my conclusions and then relate how I got there via theuntested diamond passage in conjunction with the pragmatic maximpassage.In answering this question, Peirce seems to be affirming ametaphysical realism, in general, but calling into question a prioristic,naive realisms. He also seems to be affirming the nominalist critiquethat nomenclature involves linguistic conventions, while maintainingthat meaning requires more than nomenclature. He seems to verymuch affirm the positivistic emphasis on inductive testing but does not
  • go so far as to say that the unfalsifiable is meaningless or, in otherwords, that metaphysical speculation is nonsensical, hence useless. Itseems that he is saying to the nominalists and positivists that linguisticconventions and inductive inferences (or perhaps, even, that firstnessand secondness) are necessary but not sufficient and to the naiverealists that abductive and deductive inference (or perhaps, even, thatfirstness and thirdness) are necessary but not sufficient.To wit:In the case of the untested diamond, the naive realist mightabductively enumerate its putative properties and deductively clarify itsdispositional functions without ever inductively testing oneshypotheses. The diamond that Peirce was talking about had never beenthus isolated as a fact, or "brought to the test," but was the epistemicequivalent of angels dancing on the head of a pin, "circumstanceswhich do not actually arise" and, hence, "not a question of fact."The nominalists might have considered the properties of hard and softas mere linguistic conventions, but Peirce critiques that notion byvirtue of his recognition that such properties are not thoroughgoingabstractions but have indeed been experienced in the past and could beencountered again, such as hard things that have not been "scratchedby many other substances." Further, the predicates that refer to thesequalities or properties do not function as concepts just because theyhave been actually instantiated, but derive their meaning from theirconceived effects, thus "attaining the third grade of clearness ofapprehension."Finally, as we consider "what effects, which might conceivably havepractical bearings," we move into the realm of metaphysicalspeculation in the form of valid hypotheses (perspicuousarrangements of circumstances yet to be proven sound), which appealto subjunctive conditionality? Im drawing a distinction betweenconceived and conceivable.So, I do not read this as a denial of metaphysics or embrace ofnominalism, but as an appeal for a metaphysical realism, properlyconceived, one that is neither a prioristic nor apodictic, one that gainstraction in terms of practical cash value, something we get at whenasking "Whats it to me?" as the normative sciences mediate betweenphenomenology and metaphysics to effect value-realizations.I dont see any nominalistic blunder.JB On Good MetaphysicsI am vitally interested in finding a "good epistemology of metaphysics"because all too often it seems to me that some are telling untellablestories about reality, proving too much, saying more than we presentlyknow. To the extent that epistemology is inherently normative, whenwe travel from the descriptive to the prescriptive, from the given to thenormative, from an is to an ought, it behooves us to get our meta-physic right if we want our meta-ethic to enjoy any normative impetusin a pluralistic society. In my view, metaphysics remains a great way toprobe reality but not a reliable way to prove reality. It follows, then,that our deontologies should be considered as tentative as ourontologies are speculative.How speculative is any given ontology? In moments of frustration, myflippant response is to say that I am looking for a root metaphor that is
  • robust enough to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics. In myconciliatory moments, I suggest that, while I would not ask anyone tobracket either ones metaphysic in ones conversations in the public square, one must translate ones moral and ethical beliefs whenengaging in public discourse.Specifically, one must tend to what I like to call a concepts negotiationstatus in any given community. Concepts that have, for the most part,already been negotiated by the community enjoy what I call theoreticstatus. Those still-in-negotiation, which act as placeholders, have aheuristic status. Certain concepts and propositions, which areindispensable to the establishment of meaning and which we mustadopt presuppositionally, even if only provisionally, have a semioticstatus, hence are non-negotiable. These are distinguished from thenon-negotiated dogmatic concepts that have not been negotiated inthe broader, pluralistic community. I first offer these as sociologicdistinctions and suggest that the more universally compelling moralarguments in any given public square will likely employ a lot moretheoretic and semiotic concepts and a lot fewer heuristic and dogmaticconcepts. I suppose I am offering a tautology that simply suggests thatone must negotiate ones ontology prior to urging and negotiatingones deontology.I do want to go beyond this descriptive sociologic exercise to suggestthat these distinctions have an inherently normative impetus. It seemsthat the way to do this is to recognize that a concepts negotiationstatus, in some measure, will reflect any given communitys abilitythrough time to have cashed-out of that concept some practical value.Further, I offer an exploratory heuristic, suggesting that the normativemediates between the descriptive and the interpretive to effect theevaluative in a hermeneutical circle where each of these value-realization strategies presupposes the others (being intellectually butnot strictly logically-related). This heuristic comprises a rubric for whatI consider to be a nonfoundational, axiological perspectivalism.I am suggesting, then, that thus it is that our tautologies getprogressively more taut and our root metaphors, collapsing insuccession, get progressively more robust. All of our normative,descriptive, interpretive and evaluative posits will variously employ amix of semiotic, theoretic, heuristic and dogmatic concepts. I hopesuch a perspectivalism in conjunction with the norms I have suggestedfor concepts (vis a vis their status-in-negotiation), suggests a wayforward toward a good epistemology of metaphysics. We can hold on tovarious epistemic filaments (informal arguments and noninferentialnormative criteria) of our epistemic cable without breaking them if weintertwine them together, perspectivally, and if we do not tug too hardon any given one, alone. Through this perspectivalism, we canhopefully cash-out and augment some real values through the properamplification/attenuation of our various epistemic risk-ventures.Regarding the epistemic-ontic alignment issue, the set that includesthe descriptive, interpretive, normative and evaluative refers tomethodologies. The set that includes the theoretic, heuristic, semioticand dogmatic refers to sociologic realities, which I believe have somefallibilistic normative impetus. Epistemology is modeling ontology, butwithout a divide.The descriptive methodology, which roughly corresponds to thepositivistic or scientific sphere of human concern, pursues answers to
  • the question: "Is that a fact?" and does so through empiricalmeasurements, Popperian falsification, hypothetico-deductive methodand so on. The normative methodology, which roughly corresponds tothe philosophic sphere, pursues answers to the question: "How can Ibest acquire (or avoid) that?" and does so through the normativesciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. The evaluative methodology,which corresponds to axiological concerns, asks the question "Whats itto me?" and draws distinctions between needs and wants, real andapparent goods, higher and lesser goods, inquiring as to whether or notthere are self-evident, or at least probable, prescriptive truths.Ours is an ecological rationality, then, in that we are radically finite andalways in pursuit of value to merely survive and hopefully thrive. Fromthis finitude, our fallible nature derives and the need for interpretation,hence an interpretive sphere of concern, which asks the question"How does all of this tie back together?" and requires a methodologicalapproach that I will address below.In my view, every human value-realization integrally relates thesemethodologies, each which presupposes all of the others. The set thatincludes the theoretic, heuristic, semiotic and dogmatic refers tosociologic realities vis a vis the negotiation of different concepts (andpropositions) in any given community of inquiry. Each of ourmethodologies will engage in discourse and argument employing all ofthese types of concepts. As one with Peircean sensibilities mightproperly intuit, it is no accident that our descriptive methods willlargely traffic in theoretic concepts, our interpretive methods inheuristic, our normative in semiotic and our evaluative in dogmatic, forsecondness is enjoying its moment of emphasis in our descriptiveendeavors, thirdness in our normative, and firstness in ourinterpretive. Our methodologies, then, reflect our epistemic realities(evolutionary epistemology) which model our provisional ontologies(emergentist heuristic).Our ever-enhanced modeling power of reality overcomes anyepistemic-ontic divide triadically through this hermeneutical circle,which effects every human value-realization. In some sense, while Irecognize an autonomy of the different methodologies vis a vis thequestions they ask of reality, and even recognize that each may enjoy acertain primacy depending on where it is in media res that anyonelaunches a given probe of reality, I am suggesting that we must draw adistinction between methodological autonomy and axiologicalautonomy. I further suggest that the former exists but not the latter,which is to say that no human value-realization proceeds without all ofthese integrally-related methods. I also recognize that these methodsare not related through any formal construction, as if human value-realization advanced through some closed formal symbol system withits Godelian constraints. Rather, I appeal to Peirces cable metaphorwhere we intertwine the individual filaments of our informalarguments, both our inferential and non-inferential posits, as weadvance slowly but inexorably in our knowledge of reality. We do notneed to proceed half-way through the Principia with Russell andWhitehead to assure ourselves of the axioms that prove that 1 + 1 = 2,but can "taste and see" the truths of such axioms.One practical upshot of all of this is that we cannot know a priori whenit is that we are being methodologically thwarted or ontologicallyocculted, but can see that there is nothing to be gained from ever
  • assuming the latter, which is an epistemic cul de sac. Another is that,for me, epistemology is epistemology is epistemology, such that therereally is no "good epistemology of metaphysics" versus epistemology ofscience. My nonfoundational axiological perspectivalism recognizesand affirms methodological autonomies but suggests that all of themethods are presupposed and integrally-involved in every humanvalue-realization. It so happens that our grasp of reality isproblematical and that we must grapple, from one moment to the next,with whether or not we enjoy epistemic determinacy and/or ontologicalspecificity or might otherwise be confronted with epistemicindeterminacy and/or ontological vagueness. We can then see thevirtue in such a modal ontology that prescinds from the categories ofpossible, actual and necessary to possible, actual and probable, and ina semantical vagueness that prescinds from the facile employments ofsuch First Principles as noncontradiction, excluded middle andidentity, such that these will alternately hold or fold from one modaldistinction to the next.So, the presuppositional include such as the First Principles, belief inrealitys intelligibility over against a practical nihilism, belief in otherminds over against a solipsism, belief in common sense notions ofcausality, and other such epistemic stances that cannot be empiricallymeasured or logically demonstrated but which must be adopted, atleast, provisionally, or for the sake of argument, or, over against Hume,for all practical purposes. There is a thirdness in play, of course, alongwith the other categories. The trick is not to wrench any of theseotherwise autonomous methodologies out of their context in theaxiological whole so as to avoid their swelling up into some type ofepistemic madness in their isolation. The lesson for our interpretivemethods is to employ a very favorable ratio of theoretic and semioticconcepts to heuristic and dogmatic concepts in order to ensure that ourspeculations do not too far outrun our other provisional closures inscience; otherwise, we suffer the nonvirtuous cycle of deductiveclarification and abductive hypothesizing without the benefit ofinductive testing.Metaphysics, per my exploratory heuristic, is an interpretive concern. Idefend it, in principle, and say let a thousand metaphysical blossomsbloom, and let us speculate boldly about theoretical matters. I alsosubscribe to the Peircean caveat to proceed more tentatively in ourvital, practical affairs. So, much of my interest has been directed at theintersection between meta-physical speculation and its meta-ethicalapplication.I am also sympathetic to Siders view in that most of our ethics havenot proceeded from foundations. Let me excerpt what I have writtenelsewhere: "Whatever metanarrative one employs, it would necessarilycontain within it, in the interest of descriptive accuracy, the manifoldand multiform shared values that emerge from our somewhatuniversal human condition. To the extent our evaluative posits areattributes of a universal human condition, then, even though they maybe relative, which one needn’t concede, still, they would avoid much ofthe difficulty normally associated with such relativity by virtue of beingremarkably consistent, despite their relativity. These posits thus wouldremain relative from a theoretic perspective but not so much so from apragmatic perspective. When you think about it, this, and not somefoundational, authoritative deontology, accounts for the resonance and
  • shared respect we do enjoy for such as the UN Declaration on HumanRights, the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence andsuch. Is it not evident that all of humankind does not share the samemetaphysical conceptions, that all foundationalists don’t appeal to thesame foundations, and that all authoritarians don’t point to the sameauthorities?"I suppose there are some who would to be altogether rid of classicalphilosophy with its nominalism and essentialism, and substantialistand process approaches, because these competing conceptions andarguments have led to so many self-subverting incommensurabilitiesand unintelligibilities, perhaps revealing of major category errors. Still,because we cannot a priori know when it is that we are beingmethodologically thwarted (epistemically) versus ontologicallyocculted, in principle (metaphysically), I resist any rush to closure thatit is our thinking that is all wrong when we encounter paradox. For itfollows that we cannot a priori know which competing concepts andarguments will eventually be resolved dialectically, which will bedissolved by a paradigm shift, which will be maintained,complementarily, in a creative tension, and which are essentiallyantinomial (versus, for example, veridical, falsidical and conditionalparadoxes). While I am tempted to agree with Haldane that reality isnot only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine, Itemper that with Chestertons observation that we do not yet knowenough about reality to say that it is unknowable.All that said, it is difficult for me to fight off the intuition that ourpresent quests for a compelling metaphysic are hopelessly quixotic orto disagree with the sentiment, I believe was expressed by Putnam, thata moratorium on metaphysics might even be helpful. I would like toargue this case in both directions. The Emergentist HeuristicI am deeply sympathetic with Terry Deacons emergentist heuristic,where he describes regularities in terms of 1) thermodynamics,spatially 2) morphodynamics, spatially thru time and 3) teleodynamics,spatio-temporally via information. For all we can presently tell, this 3rdorder emergence is the first appearance of telos in the universe. Now,one of the chief deficiencies of both the substance and processapproaches (and essentialism and nominalism) is their inability toaccount for novelty in reality. One of the things Deacon accounts for isprecisely novelty vis a vis emergent properties and laws, which in theirtranscendence of the laws of earlier orders of emergence do nototherwise violate, in a manner of speaking, physical causal closure.Thus we encounter, semiotically, both formal and final causations,minimalistically conceived, in addition to efficient causation.Nowhere is Deacon employing robustly descriptive root metaphors forthese dissipative emergent realities, such that he would be explicating,for example, the essential natures of the givens that are involved insuch as cosmogenesis, the origins of life or the emergence ofconsciousness. In other words, while it is clear enough that we areobserving new properties that require new predicates and sets ofpredicates, we are not otherwise specifying them, ontologically, interms of the primitives, forces and axioms presently accepted byscience. We are recognizing that new properties have emerged without
  • facilely suggesting how it is they emerged. It is not immediatelyapparent, then, when we can confidently speak univocally, equivocallyor analogically regarding other modal realities or dissipative structuresvis a vis their so-called essential natures. We have to pursue thosequestions through ongoing inquiry.Nowhere are we necessarily invoking supervenience, strong or weak, todescribe emergence, weak or strong, because such assertions seem tome to be trivial or redundant. We are properly making vague referencesand not robust descriptions. Questions will still beg, for example, as towhether or not Chalmers, the Churchlands, Penrose, Dennett, Searleor even Ayn Rand are correct, whether or not consciousness is aprimitive alongside space, time, mass and energy, is a hard problem, orsuch questions should be eliminated as nonsensical. I suppose if a gunwere put to my head, a nonreductive physicalism feels right to me, butI do not really have a horse in this race.So, I point to Deacon as a way to properly engage our interpretivemethods, which is to note the regularities that present but withoutsaying more than we really know. Deacons categories certainly leavesome questions begging for me, such as what proto-dynamics in termsof initial conditions, limit conditions and boundary conditions mighthave given rise to the thermodynamics, conditioning the reality weknow. They also raise a question about putative eschato-dynamics vis avis what properties might next emerge and what predicates andsets/classes of predicates well need to employ to successfully refer tothem even if we cannot successfully describe them.Problems for anyone whod ambition a metaphysic beyond Deaconsheuristic are HUGE. First of all, there is a problem withthermodynamic erasure, which is to recognize that when we encountera tepid cup of coffee on a kitchen counter, we have no way of knowingwhether it warmed to that temperature after removal from the fridge orcooled to that temperature after removal from the microwave.Extrapolate this problem to the deepest structures of matter and theearliest moments after the Big Bang. Also, there is the issue of theemergence of new laws governing novel properties, which is torecognize that the regularities we extrapolate to primitive metaphysicalaxioms might be as local, for all practical purposes, as the by-lawsgoverning our neighborhood Bridge Club.So, I receive Peirces grammar and categories as greatphenomenological methods and suspect that we both know more thanwe can say and say more than we can know. Because telos, for all weknow, only appeared in 3rd order emergence, we have little warrant, itseems, to claim, for example, that reality is pansemiotic. There is theproblem that not everyone shares either our intuitions or our heuristicdevices and concepts. Because we all begin our inquiries in media res,starting with one methodology or another, I would concede that thereis no fixed method even as I would suggest through mynonfoundational axiological perspectivalism that the normativesciences do gift us with best practices vis a vis human value-realizations. The Implications of a Semiotic TheologicalAnthropology for the Interaction Between Scienceand Religion
  •  Some Traditional Distinctions  The human mind has been described in many different ways over theyears by psychologists, philosophers, theologians and others. Inpsychology, it has been described in both structural and functionalterms, both by its parts and by their activities. Psychology courseworktypically combines sensation with perception, emotion withmotivation, learning with memory, personality with development.There are Jungian terms like sensing, intuiting, thinking, feeling,perceiving and judging and Freudian terms like ego, id and superego.Philosophers have drawn a distinction between the brain and the mind.Most recognize distinctions like conscious, subconscious andunconscious. Neuroscientists describe a neuronal network that isdistributed throughout the body. Theologians speak of memory,understanding and will. A host of other terms come to mind, likecognitive, affective, instinctual, inferential, noninferential, empirical,logical, practical and relational. One might also find the categoriesnormative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative helpful. In philosophy, there is a branch of study called epistemology, which isconcerned with how it is that we know what we know and just what it isthat we might know, when we say we know something. In theology,belief has been justified as evidential, when based on evidence,rational, when based on reason, presuppositional, when based oninescapable suppositions, and existential, when based on ultimateconcerns. In psychology, different developmental theorists havestudied human growth. The best known are probably Piaget(cognitive), Erikson (personality), Kohlberg (moral) and Fowler(faith). Lonergan, as a systematic theologian, described growth interms of intellectual, moral and religious conversions to which Gelpihas added affective and social conversions. Normatively, Lonergangave us the famous transcendental imperatives: Be attentive! Beintelligent! Be reasonable! Be responsible! Be in love! For every distinction listed above, there are further distinctions. Weneed not treat all of these nuances; however, just for example, let’sfurther examine human inference. Peirce, the founder of Americanpragmatism, described three types of inference, all which presupposethe others, from the strongest form to the weakest, as deductive,inductive and abductive inference. Generally speaking, one mightthink of deductive inference in association with formal logicalargumentation. Inductive inference is most often associated with thescientific method. Abductive inference might best be thought of ashypothesizing. Abduction is, then, informal argumentation and its“methods” are quite often what might otherwise be known as logicalfallacies in formal argumentation. This does not mean that it should bereadily dismissed for this is how we do most of our critical thinking,which is to say, fallibilistically. For example, so often, with only verylimited information, we necessarily find ourselves reasoningbackwards (retro-ductively) from known predicates (or properties) of areality to unknown subjects (of various classes, sets or subsets). We
  • find ourselves venturing guesses as to what reality or type of reality wemay have encountered and employing analogies in our references toand descriptions of such realities, when we otherwise cannotdetermine (epistemically) or specify (ontologically) this reality versusanother. Sometimes, we wonder if this or that reality is novel, even? Itis through such alternating conjecture and criticism, then, or whatPopper called falsification, that much of human knowledge hasadvanced. This is not to say that knowledge has not also advanced, onoccasion, through various leaps and bounds, or what Kuhn calledparadigm shifts. Another pivotal distinction is that between a theory of truth and a testof truth. For our purposes, a conventional understanding of truth willsuffice in place of any otherwise elaborately nuanced theory. A test oftruth is a process that helps us navigate toward the truth while nototherwise constituting the truth in and of itself. A truth-conduciveprocess, like deductive inference and formal argumentation, navigatesus more or less directly toward the truth. A truth-indicative process,like abductive inference, navigates us indirectly by, at least, raising theprobability that we are approaching the truth. As the weakest form ofinference, abduction needs to be bolstered by repeated testing, which isto say, inductively. Beyond these rather simple, straightforward rubricsfor human knowledge-advances, there are long histories and manycompeting schools in philosophy and theology and their interactionshave not always been dialogical and irenic. At the risk ofoversimplifying all things epistemological, we suggest that much of theconfusion has been rooted in dualistic thinking which has viewedreality rather facilely in either-or and all or nothing terms, too oftenviewing what are mere distinctions as full blown dichotomies, too oftenmistaking partial truths for the whole truth, and too often absolutizingperspectives that are indeed relative to one’s frame of reference. Intheology, there is a word for such thinking, heresy. In philosophy,there is an adjectival suffix, -istic. Some Additional Distinctions Sociologically and linguistically, we would like to introduce someadditional distinctions that are based on whether or not our conceptshave been negotiated (accepted into general use, more or less) by thewider pluralistic community. Those that have been thus negotiatedhave theoretic status. Those still-in-negotiation are heuristic devices orconceptual placeholders. Dogmatic concepts are employed withincommunities of belief but have not been negotiated by the widerpluralistic community, more broadly conceived. Semiotic concepts arethose presuppositional notions without which meaning andcommunication would not even be possible. Toward a Philosophical Anthropology Our purpose, thus far, has been to introduce enough categories anddistinctions to provide each different member of what might be a ratherdiverse audience some handles with which to grasp our meaning and
  • intent as it relates to our philosophical anthropology. Foundational to any theological proposal, one must have aphilosophical anthropology, a perspective on humankind’spsychological make-up that is grounded in good biological science andsound evolutionary epistemology. The history of philosophy has beencharacterized by one overemphasis after another, which is to say one –istic perspective after another, whether the empiricistic, rationalistic,positivistic, idealistic or pragmatistic. Its history might best be summedup as the struggle between the more static essentialistic andsubstantialistic approaches and the more dynamical nominalistic andprocess-like approaches, which are but the obverse sides of the samecoin of an otherwise epistemically and ontologically bankrupt dualisticrealm, which transacts in a philosophical currency that has no practicalcash value for most of us who get along quite well with good oldcommon sense. The history of theology, which takes philosophy as itshandmaiden, necessarily fares no better as its approaches canalternately be similarly described as evidentialistic, rationalistic,fideistic and pietistic. One might justifiably wonder if, down throughthe centuries, an epistemic fetish is all one could be expected to comeaway with after a formal academic engagement of these disciplines.Perhaps that’s what those in the modern scientistic cabal must think?No doubt, that’s what the radically deconstructive postmodernistsmust imagine with their nihilistic bent? Do the arationally gnosticmysterians have the only mindset that can transcend these otherwisemutually unintelligible epistemic stances and totally incommensurableontological approaches? Because of their overly facile dyadic approaches, neither anessentialism nor a nominalism, neither a substance nor a processapproach, can account for the novelty we encounter in reality. Ourknown categories of givens include the primitives (like space, time,mass & energy), forces (like electromagnetism, gravity, strong & weaknuclear) and axioms (like the laws of thermodynamics & quantummechanics). While it may be too early on humankind’s journey for usto epistemically determine with any ontological precision the exactnature of such novelty in terms of our known theoretic givens, ourinability to robustly describe this novelty does not mean that we cannot otherwise successfully refer to it with good heuristic devices. To beclear, the novelties we are dealing with include those involved in theBig Bang and its earliest moments, the origin of life and the dawn ofhuman consciousness. The question that should be begging for our readers, now, is just whatis the most successful way to refer to reality, phenomenologically, evenif we cannot otherwise robustly describe it, metaphysically? Whatconcepts and categories can we most profitably employ and whatrubrics for relating them would be most fruitful in their application?What can we reasonably aspire to say about reality without sayingmore than we know about such realities as the origins of life or humanconsciousness or even the cosmos, itself? 
  • It is beyond the scope of this consideration to set forth the details ofour own philosophical journeys through these questions to our presentprovisional closures, but with a great deal of enthusiasm we canrecommend the approach of the American pragmatist, Charles SandersPeirce, as it has been employed and articulated by the biologicalanthropologist, Terrence Deacon, and the systematic theologian,Donald Gelpi, S.J.. While we will not unfold the arguments of thesescholars in any detail, neither would we want our enthusiasm to bemistaken for an academic pretension to either a full understanding oftheir work or a comprehensive grasp of its implications. Deacon, for his part, employs an emergentist heuristic, which has alsobeen well articulated by, and on several occasions even co-authoredwith, Ursula Goodenough, a prominent cell biologist and popularauthor at the interface of science and religion. Deacon andGoodenough are very circumspect in not telling what are otherwiseuntellable tales, as they comprehensively refer to many differentnatural phenomena without exhaustively describing them. In theirpopular writings, they take one on a cosmic journey where properties,even reality’s laws, are seen to emerge, first thermodynamically, asmere shape interactions, then morphodynamically, as shapeinteractions playing out over time, and finally teleodynamically, as aconsequence of shape, time and information. These orders ofemergence refer to progressively higher orders of regularities, whichare causal configurations. For all science can tell, teleodynamics, or 3rdorder emergence, as Deacon and Goodenough say, define the onset oftelos on this planet and, for all we now know, the universe. They go onto develop a correspondence between the human virtues ofcompassion, fair-mindedness, care and reverence with the inheritedpro-social capacities of empathy, strategic reciprocity, nurturance andhierarchy, suggesting various symbolic accessions and syntheseswhereby our otherwise innate groundings are complexified andtransfigured into uniquely human capacities. In our view, this ishypothetically consonant with Gelpi’s Peircean-nuanced definitions ofselves as autonomous functioning tendencies (think higher orderregularities and telos) and of human persons as selves capable ofconversion (think of Gelpi’s Lonerganian account of conversion). In any case, the human capacities for virtue can be realized bothintuitively and imaginatively as well as rationally and inferentially.Because humans are finite and learn fallibilistically, each humanvalue-realization attempt leads to an uncertain outcome, which is torecognize that it requires a wager or risk. As such, the augmentation ofhuman value-realizations must be successfully managed throughvarious risk amplification and risk attenuation strategies, which is tofurther recognize that we must be able to cash out the practical value ofour concepts and risk amplification-attenuation strategies in what isour perennial pursuit of goodness, radically finite as we are. Thus it isthat many fallacies of formal argumentation are employed in everydaycommon sense leading us fallibly but probabilistically toward value-realizations. For example, if it is true, we believe that it is also beautifuland useful, leading us to various attraction or avoidance strategies inour value-realization pursuits. While the converse, if it is beautiful oruseful, then it is also true, is not necessarily true, still, we do raise the
  • probability of something being true in our recognition that it is eitherbeautiful or useful because if something is neither beautiful nor usefulthen the possibility of it being true is nil. Thus it is in science that weemploy Occam’s Razor and other truth-indicative criteria likesimplicity, elegance, parsimony and symmetry. Thus it is in theologythat orthopraxis grounds orthodoxy. Our existential orientationstoward truth, beauty and goodness, which are innately grounded in ourinherited pro-social capacities, get transfigured into the theologicalimperatives of faith, hope and love as a human value-augmentationstrategy requiring the amplification of the epistemic risks alreadyentailed in the normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. In ourreligious communities, truth is thus articulated in creed, beautycelebrated in cult or ritual, and goodness preserved in code. Such is thenature of the Kierkegaardian leap and of the Pascalian wager. Questions That Beg – Toward a TheologicalAnthropology Our emergentist account, appropriately modest in its description ofthermodynamics, morphodynamics and teleodynamics, leavesprofound existential questions begging, questions which leave all inwonder and awe, many in reverential silence, and many more musingimaginatively about what we would refer to as the proto-dynamics thatgave rise to and the eschato-dynamics that might ensue from thisemergent reality we have encountered. Some employ a root metaphor,like being or experience, to elaborate a speculative metaphysic. Othersdwell in analogical imaginations, inchoately relating to ultimate realitythrough robust metaphors and sweeping metanarratives. While ourown Peircean-informed sensibilities do not ambition a metaphysic(and we feel there is no attempt better than Gelpi’s own triadicconstruct of experience), they are suggestive of a pneumatologically-informed theology of nature, precisely derived from an analogy thatone might draw between the Peircean telos, as minimalisticallyconceived in Deacon’s teleodynamics, and the work of the Spirit, asbroadly conceived in all of humankind’s great traditions and mostnative religions, also. Our proposal is that what humankind relates to as an ineluctablyunobtrusive but utterly efficacious tacit dimension comprised of amatrix of dynamical formal causal relations would, from anhierarchical perspective, correspond to a divine telic dimension, muchlike the interpenetrating causative fields of John Haught’s processapproach and aesthetic teleology, much like Joseph Bracken’s DivineMatrix. We would point out that this conception is not an attempt tofacilely blend otherwise incommensurate approaches, for example theWhiteheadian process versus Gelpi’s Peircean account, and we dorecognize and endorse the efficacies of the triadic over the classicallydyadic (even di-polar) accounts. Rather, from a phenomenologicalperspective, we are invoking vaguely referential analogs as heuristicdevices or conceptual placeholders, recognizing that metaphors andanalogies are not, in and of themselves, system-bound. In other words,our robustly pneumatological imaginations are relating our triadic andsocial human experiences of phenomenal reality, with all of its many
  • different patterns and regularities, to what we consider putative divinesupremacies. We are not otherwise attempting, in the least, to accountfor manifold and multiform continuities and discontinuities betweendifferent orders of reality. We do believe that any who ambition ametaphysic must both account for divine alterity as well as differentiatethe moral status of the human from other selves and creatures. All ofthis is to suggest that, because of the pervasive ubiquity in the use ofthe concept of Spirit down through the ages and still across the face ofthe Earth, arguably it meets the criterion of enjoying theoretic statuscontrasted with the dogmatic status of so many other theologicalconcepts. In this regard, we might affirm with Radical Orthodoxy that,over against any notion that there exists a secular society writ large, asabstracted and reified by a militant but not truly regnant nihilism, ourplanet is inhabited, rather, by a pneumatologically-informed butbroadly pluralistic community. With the Reformed epistemologists, wemight affirm that being-in-love in the Spirit is a necessary andsufficient epistemic risk amplification for any who’d aspire to mostrobustly (superabundantly) augment human value-realizationsbeyond those inherited as pro-social biases and transfigured(abundantly, to be sure) into our authentically human moral virtues. A Theology of Nature - Pansemioentheism To the extent that we recognize, with science, that telos, as far as wenow know, first emerged at that juncture in cosmic evolution thatDeacon has described as 3rd order emergence or teleodynamics, and tothe extent we next venture forth with Haught, theologically, guided byhis aesthetic teleology, we are perhaps de facto suggesting that reality ispansemiotic. For those whose theological sensibilities do not resonatewith any pantheist perspective, as ours do not, it would follow that ourtheological vision might otherwise be considered a pansemioentheism.To be clear, we offer this as a vague reference and not a robustdescription, which is to say that we are suggesting this as an analog thatrecognizes and affirms the Peircean categories phenomenologicallywithout intending to imply any particular root metaphor, as wouldnecessarily be required in the articulation of either a speculativemetaphysic or a natural theology. This pansemioentheism is, instead,offered as a theology of nature, which originates not from naturalphilosophy but from our distinctly Christian perspective. While weaffirm, in principle, the possibility of a speculative metaphysic, and westrongly encourage the search for the next most taut metaphysicaltautology, which will employ the next most robust root metaphor forreality, we might, at the same time, recognize that humanity’smetaphysical quest remains somewhat quixotic. Should we not gaugethe practical efficacies of any of our root metaphors by attempting tocash out their value in such an exercise as, just for example, reconcilingand renormalizing gravity and quantum mechanics? The Relations of Science and Religion What are the implications of this theological anthropology for theinteraction between science and religion, viewing reality
  • pansemioentheistically, employing the epistemic categories of thenormative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative and characterizingour concepts as semiotic, theoretic, heuristic and dogmatic? To the extent that we map science as a descriptive enterprise andreligion as an interpretive enterprise and affirm them as autonomousmethodologies but still integrally-related in every human value-realization, there can be no talk of conflict, as reigns in the scientism ofthe Enlightenment fundamentalists and the literalism of the variousreligious fundamentalists. Our axiological perspectivalism with itsexplicit integralism speaks of a model of interaction that coincides withIan Barbour’s Integration, John Polkinghorne’s Assimilation, JohnHaught’s Confirmation and Ted Peter’s Hypothetical Consonance (andEthical Overlap). In some sense, the very basis of a semiotic approach is grounded in theneed for informational interpretation, a need that derives from theradical finitude of creatures, a need that plays out in our fallibilisticmethodologies and heavy reliance on the weaker forms of inference,both abduction and induction, such as in the back-door philosophy ofPopperian falsification and the informal argumentation thatpredominates, even mostly comprises, our common sense. Theimplication is, then, that absent this finitude and given a virtualomniscience, descriptively, and omnipotence, evaluatively, thenormative sciences would consist of only aesthetics and ethics, logicwould be obviated and the descriptive and interpretive would be adistinction without a difference, which might describe, in fact, anidealized eschatological epistemology whereby humankind as acommunity of inquiry has attained to the truth. At any rate, to be sure,that is manifestly not the case, presently. One practical upshot of this situation is that there need be no Two-Language Theory as discussed by Peters or Two-Language System asdescribed by Peacocke, at least from our idealized theoreticalperspective; however, from a practical perspective, science and religionwill seemingly traffic in two languages because, if for no other reason,the latter is dominated by dogmatic and heuristic conceptions, theformer by semiotic and theoretic conceptions. These need not beconceived as two languages, from a strictly linguistic perspective, butmight better be conceived as two vocabularies that are slowly merging.There is another reason for religion’s expanded vocabulary, though,but that derives from the fact that it has additional concerns (e.g.interpersonal) that are of no special interest to a purely scientific questor merely descriptive enterprise. It is in that vein that one might invokewhat Barbour and Polkinghorne have called Independence and Haughthas described as Contrast. Willem Drees has developed a schema thatmore explicitly recognizes that religion has additional elements thanthe merely cognitive-propositional as much of religion’s content restson both religious experience and tradition. At this point, one might recognize that the various categories that havebeen employed for the interaction between science and religion are not
  • all mutually exclusive. The categories we employ in our axiologicalperspectivalism are methodologically- autonomous but epistemically-related and this noetic reality is affirmed whenever a scientistnormatively invokes Occam’s Razor, parsimony, symmetry, elegance orother aesthetic criteria to adjudicate between competing hypotheses.Thus it is that, whenever any methodologically autonomous realms donot fully overlap, but only partially overlap, and are placed in whatHaught calls Contact, we would urge what Barbour and Polkinghornesuggest as Dialogue. AnticipationsFrom the standpoint of interreligious dialogue, this hermeneuticalcircle of the normative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative mightbe interpreted in terms of orthopathy, orthodoxy, orthopraxis,orthocommunio, each as an aspect of a religious interpretation whichpresupposes the other aspects.From a practical perspective, these distinctions are critical because theyimply, for example, that the orthopathic aspects of our spiritual“technologies” – by which we refer to the various spiritual disciplines,practices, asceticisms and devotions, for example – are not(necessarily) inextricably bound to any given doctrinal insights. Thuswe would expect continued fruitful interreligious engagements such ashave already been realized between Christianity and Zen, for example,and would encourage further orthopathic dialogue and exchange. Mosttheologians already recognize this dynamic, prudentially speaking, intheir willingness to abstract orthopraxes – or moral and practicalaspects – out of their doctrinal contexts in other traditions. Also,metaphorical and analogical language (ananoetic knowledge) is notsystem-bound, so our depth encounters of reality can be enriched byour interreligious ananoetic interchanges, which can provide commonground to explore together our theologies of nature, especially from apneumatological perspective. We believe this approach can helpprepare an ever more fertile ground for interreligious dialogue as ourorthopathic, orthopraxic and ananoetic exchanges prepare the way to amuch sought after unity even as we continue our search to discursivelyidentify the commonalities in our otherwise diverse and pluralisticbelief systems.Suggested ReadingLonergan, Bernard, Method in Theology (New York: Herder & Herder, 1972)Deacon, Terrence, ‘Emergence: The Hole at the Wheel’s Hub’ in The Re-Emergence ofEmergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion by Philip Clayton(Editor), Paul Davies (Editor) (Oxford University Press, 2006)Deacon, T. & Goodenough, U., ‘The Sacred Emergence of Nature’ in The Oxford Handbookof Religion and Science (Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology) by Philip Clayton(Editor), Zachary Simpson (Editor) , (Oxford University Press, USA, 2006)Gelpi, Donald L., Varieties of Transcendental Experience: A Study in ConstructivePostmodernism (Collegeville, Minn.:Liturgical press/Michael Glazier, 2000)Gelpi, Donald L. , The Gracing of Human Experience: Rethinking the Relationship betweenNature and Grace (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press/Michael Glazier, 2001)Haught, John, The Cosmic Adventure: Science, Religion and the Quest for Purpose (PaulistPress: 1984)
  • Bracken, Joseph, The Divine Matrix: Creativity as Link between East and West (Maryknoll:Orbis, 1995)For comprehensive discussions and bibliographical materials pertaining to the relationbetween science and religion, visit http://www.counterbalance.net/Barbour, I., When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? (HarperOne,2000) and Religion in an Age of Science: Gifford Lectures 1989-1991, Vol 1 (HarperOne,1990)Polkinghorne, J., Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion (YaleUniversity Press, 2007) and Science and Theology (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1998)Haught, J., Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation (Paulist Press, 1995) andThe Cosmic Adventure: Science, Religion and the Quest for Purpose (Paulist Press, 1984)Peters, T., Bridging Science and Religion (Theology and the Sciences) by Ted Peters(Editor), Gaymon Bennett (Editor) (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2003) and Evolutionfrom Creation to New Creation: Conflict, Conversation, and Convergence by Ted Petersand Martinez Hewlett (Abingdon Press, 2003)Peacocke, A., The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century (University of NotreDame Press, 1986) Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring(Oneworld Publications, 2001)Drees, W., Religion, Science and Naturalism (Cambridge University Press, 1996) andReligion and Science in Context: A Guide to the Debates (Routledge, coming in 2009) ______________________________________________These are the same thoughts expressed above butinclude, throughout, explicit references to implicationsfor both religious epistemology and theology. On one hand, I am all for speculating boldly in such theoreticalmatters, such as regarding the many worlds of QM or the multiverse ofspeculative cosmology. On the other hand, I urge caution when suchmodels get invoked in such practical affairs as religion or meta-ethics,even vis a vis divine providence and anthropic principles.My chief concern with such as Lewis modal realism is its temporality.While he employs modal-tenseless language, being neutral to tense isnot the same as atemporality. Wim Drees, the new editor of Zygon,critiques the approaches of Barbour, Peacocke and Polkinghorne in “ACase Against Temporal Critical Realism? Consequences of QuantumCosmology for Theology," which can be found here:http://www.counterbalance.org/ctns-vo/drees2-body.html and, in myview, Drees critique applies against any robustly conceived modalrealisms.Perhaps we best distinguish, then, between a modal realism that ispragmatic and methodological and one that is theoretic andontological. It seems that we have all we need in order to advance bothpractical and moral inquiry in a modal realism that we adoptpresuppositionally and provisionally in order to advancemethodological inquiry, employing what we might call a minimalisttranscendence. Beyond the needs of our prudential judgments andnormative heuristics, we might boldly speculate with Lewis andTegmark on a theoretic modal realism, but any adoption of a robustlytranscendental ontology beyond a transcendental method,
  • minimalistically conceived, for doing ontology would seem to invoke an a priorism and apodicticity that it seems Peirce would notcountenance given his emphases on the a posteriori and fallibilism.At the same time, I dont think that either Peirce or James would objectto what might otherwise be an essentially evaluative posit of a vaguelyconceived transcendent source of our axiological sensibilities, anexistential stance that signals both "the manner of our acceptance ofthe universe," in James words from Varieties of Religious Experience,as well as our epistemic outlook as it is nurtured by hope. I amsympathetic, then, to Drees view that axiology may be a more apt focusfor theology than cosmology.Further, our modal realities could be very, very local. For example,many possibilities arise as novel dissipative structures in far from equilibrium thermodynamics, dynamics which do not exhaust ouraccount of reality.An additional problem arises in any invocation of a strong anthropicprinciple. (The weak version is trivial.) The problem results, in part,from a need to clarify the conceptual confusion between coincidenceand chance. Coincidence is something that pertains to the present orpast. Chance has meaning only when information is lacking. So, wedistinguish the two in temporal terms. If we are considering an event apriori, chance is in play. If we consider it a posteriori, we havecoincidence (something which, however, over the course of a lifetime --- even of a multiverse --- might otherwise be considered likely). So,the concept of probability has no validity vis a vis a coincidence andstatistical science thus pertains to chance and not coincidence.Probability deals with the epistemically-unavailable, is an empiricalnotion subject to empirical methods and is assigned to arguments withpremises and conclusions (and not rather to events, states or types ofsame). I suppose that if we knew enough about the universes initialconditions we could imaginatively (conceivably) walk ourselves back toT=0 and invoke chance, but we dont thus have such an informedgrasp of what should or should not be expected of this reality.Valid arguments can be constructed employing actual infinites. We justcannot a priori know whether infinites can be both abstract andconcrete or not. We can work within this or that tautology and employcertain terms/premises that presuppose the conclusion of ourarguments and thereby find our arguments compelling. However, to anunbiased observer, the argument remains unproven: Scottish verdict.Not only can we not a priori and analytically demonstrate what ismetaphysically necessary, we can not even meaningfully discuss whatis physically probable, as regarding such a probability as would pertain to the initial, boundary and limit conditions of the universe. Thus wehave no baseline numbers to establish probabilistic theories for stronganthropic principles. And the closer we get to T=0, the less we seem toknow, presently. I still have my hopes.If Peirce is interpreted by scholars as going beyond the type of realism Ihave herein described, then I consider this too strong a position for meto try to defend, positivistically and descriptively and normatively. Itake a rather neo-platonic leap myself, existentially and evaluativelyand axiologically, but not without looking over my epistemic shouldersto take into account the nature of this leap. Truth be told, there aintthat much going on here, in this leap, that most people dont apply in 
  • good old-fashioned, ordinary common sense, which includes thetetradic fugue of epistemic methodologies (descriptive, normative,interpretive and evaluative) and the tetradic interplay of our fourconceptual ontic categories per our status-in-negotiation rubric(theoretic, semiotic, heuristic and dogmatic). I must acknowledge, ofcourse, some are more rigorous in their approaches to reality, but, eventhen, what they are applying is no special gnosiological legerdemain;instead, it is common sense uncommonly applied (over againstmore formalistic approaches).I would like to further develop some of my thoughts regarding aminimalist modal realism and a robust modal realism. In drawing thedistinction between a methodological and theoretic modal realism (or,put another way, between a pragmatic and ontological modal realism),where the latter instance would amount to a full blown transcendencerather than a minimalist transcendence, a similar distinction comes tomind. One might also think of the difference between a methodologicalnaturalism and a philosophical naturalism, as I see the same dynamicin play.To some extent, in eschewing the theoretic-ontological-transcendentrealism from a positivist perspective, we are merely claiming that ourbest descriptive and normative methodologies, cosmologically, can notget us there. But these are not our only starting points, because ourinterpretive and evaluative methodologies, axiologically, do get usthere, if that is where we want to go. For me, the destination would be atranscendental approach like neo-platonism, perhaps. Thiscosmological-axiological distinction is precisely how I see my andDrees’ approaches converging, theologically. It might be meaningful toothers, too, interpretively, whatever ones worldview. What is thepractical upshot of this distinction? How can we tell that we have adistinction that makes a difference?The most salient distinction between our descriptive-normativecosmology and our interpretive-evaluative axiology is the normativeimpetus our various concepts and arguments will enjoy because,employing our status-in-negotiation rubric to evaluate concepts, ourdescriptive and normative methodologies will traffic more heavily intheoretic and semiotic concepts, which have been negotiated by acommunity of inquiry or even considered non-negotiable, and ourinterpretive and evaluative methodologies will traffic more heavily inheuristic and dogmatic concepts, which either remain in negotiation orhave not yet been negotiated. Beyond this sociologic observation, thisstatus-in-negotiation rubric has normative impetus by virtue of the factthat a community has likely cashed-out significant practical (andethical) value through time for concepts it considers (fallibilistically)either non-negotiable or already negotiated. The implication is thatscientific and ethical inquiry will have more sway in the public squarethan our essentially religious inquiries, which nevertheless conditionour prioritizing of values and visions of ought-to-be’s.Another consequence of this approach is a theoretical metaphysicalagnosticism, which recognizes that its pragmatic, methodologicalrealism is a provisional presupposition, an epistemic stance of hopeordered toward the end of advancing meaningful inquiry. It is adoptedfor argument’s sake, for all practical purposes and not because wehave otherwise overcome some devastating Humean critique. To theextent we do not a priori know when it is that we are being
  • methodologically thwarted (a condition we can overcome through timewith better instrumentation, for example) or ontologically occulted, inprinciple, (a condition that leaves us empty-handed epistemically) weassume, for the sake of inquiry, that we are being methodologicallythwarted because assuming an ontological occulting is an epistemic culde sac. This is to recognize that we look for our lost keys under thelamp post at night, not because we know they just simply cannot beelsewhere but because, if they are elsewhere, we have little hope offinding them anyway.Now, what is good for the realist goose is good for the nominalistgander, for this metaphysical agnosticism is a knife that cuts bothways. By that, I mean to recognize that, not only does any robust modalrealism fall to the agnostic axe, so does any philosophical naturalism.There is an old saying that just because you are paranoid does notmean that they are not out to get you. Well, in that same vein, justbecause we encounter paradox does not mean that our thinking is allwrong and our methods are just not well-conceived; maybe we havent(and even couldnt have) enumerated all of realitys givens andprimitives, including some whose tacit dimensionality effects an utterlyefficacious influence on reality in an otherwise ineluctably unobtrusiveway (weakly analogous to other downward causations, whichostensibly do not violate physical causal closure).  This tacit dimensionality reflects, in part, Polanyis end-around nominalism.As it is, I prefer the phrase methodological incrementalism in media resover methodological naturalism, precisely because I am agnostic aboutthe dyad it (super/naturalism) implies, which is to recognize that wesimply start where we are in order to launch our next good inquirywithout a priori presupposing its outcome. So, we cannot really take aneliminativist stance toward the epistemic-ontic distinction vis a vis ourmethods and reality’s essential nature but must continually confront itanew. What we accomplish with our pragmatic realism, in my view, is abracketing of any robustly metaphysical assumptions with aprescinding to a more epistemically indeterminate and/or ontologicallyvague perspective, or phenomenology, when necessary. We return, aswe can, to the epistemically determinate and/or ontologically precise,hopefully with a chastised optimism and contrite fallibilism. And, weaffirm successful references to reality even when successfuldescriptions evade us.What separates Einstein as a highly speculative theoretical thinkerfrom many others is that he was able to translate his abstractions intofalsifiable hypotheses, subject them to empirical measurement andinductive testing, and then, soon enough, cash out the practical valueof his thoughts. His theoretical armchair was also a pragmaticwheelchair. Rather than a nonvirtuous cycle of abductivehypothesizing and deductive clarifying, his was interrupted withinductive testing. In Maritain’s terms, the dianoetic order ofmathematics and ananoetic order of metaphor and analogy met theperinoetic order of empirical science. As I recall, Tegmark maintainsthat we’ll indeed be able to indirectly test some of the inferences thatare consistent with his ensemble theory of everything.The enduring lesson is that we must keep 1ns, 2ns and 3ns happilyengaged in their Peircean menage a trois and not let any two of themrun off and jilt the other. In the case of naive realism, 2ns gets jilted. Inthe case of nominalism, 3ns gets jilted. In the case of 1ns, as long as
  • the other modalities are present, I’m not for jilting her either, for she’sfor real. However, if she runs off without them, she’s a harlot; let hergo.Lonergans work-around nominalism was to differentiate between ournaming exercise (nomenclature) vis a vis being intelligent and ourjudgment processes vis a vis being reasonable and then responsible.The nominalists conflate these.Finally, in considering modal tenses, one thing that came to mind isHartshornes nonstrict identity, which invokes asymmetric temporalrelations, which is to suggest that a realitys essential nature includesits past but not its future. How might this be reconciled with differentmodal realisms? This ongoing conversation has raised for me two related questionsregarding how inference is playing out in our thinking about reality.How does a very highly speculative theoretic science differ from theordinary course of science? How does science augment commonsense?In all instances, falsification issues seem to be in play, whether withravens or pharoes.For everyday common sense, we rely on the fast and frugal heuristicsthat have been gifted us by natural selection for our distinctly humanecology. As radically social animals, we are greatly protected by oneanother and our institutions vis a vis our vital or practical affairs. Thisallows us to rely with great confidence on inherited beliefs that, as faras their future efficacies may be concerned, are innocent until provenguilty. Our conclusions are drawn, then, based on the lack of contraryevidence. Humes problem of induction does not come to bear, for allpractical purposes, or so we might imagine.Practical problems do arise with lifes exigencies, technical and medicaland otherwise. Prior conclusions and their associated predictions failus. Our arguments ad ignorantium prove fallacious. We need moremethodological rigor. Science augments common sense.In our alternating conjectures and criticism, our abductions,inductions and deductions run through cycles. Much like the settingson our washing machines, which vary according to the prospectivedifficulty of a given wash job or the delicacy of the fabrics, our inferential cycles thus vary given the nature of the investigativeproblem at hand, such as our confrontations with epistemicindeterminacy and ontological vagueness.Each epistemic wash cycle goes through 1) inductive data-gathering 2)abductive hypothetical explanation 3) deductive consequential analysis& prediction 4) experimental design & testing and 5) resultcorroboration.In the event of successful corroboration, future cycles of deduction-prediction and testing-corroboration proceed, repeating only the end-stages of the cycle. In the event of a corroborative failure, our dirtyexplanatory clothing needs to be thrown back in the next abductivecycle and re-washed, repeating the entire cycle.At the beginning of any wash cycle, we may want to separate the light
  • and dark clothes and even run repeated tests on different detergents.Through a repeated sampling, we might gain an ever-increasingconfidence about the efficacies of any given detergent to brighten ourwhite fabrics. This quantitative induction, where we generalize from asample to the whole, when repeated with enough success, makes ourgeneralizations more than hasty, approaching law-like.We might metaphorically conceive of our abductive explanatoryhypotheses in terms of a wash detergent that enjoys varying amountsof explanatory adequacy. There is another experimental testingapproach we can try. Rather than testing our detergent through arepeated sampling of one type of fabric, we could try testing ourdetergent on a variety of fabrics in a single wash cycle. This qualitativeinduction, where we test our abductive detergent on a range of otherfabrics, allows us to employ one sample in the testing of many differentpredictions, generalizing about an entire wardrobe of ideas: red shifts,white dwarfs, green curves, dark matter, black holes, blue stars andultraviolet radiation. Such generalizations are more than adignorantium, more than hasty, and also begin to approach the law-like.Not every prediction that survives falsification in a qualitativeinduction will enjoy the same probabative weight from investigator toinvestigator, but through time and an earnest community of inquirythe differential weighting of these matters sorts itself out.The more highly speculative theoretic science involves 1) inductivedata-gathering 2) abductive hypothetical explanation 3) deductiveconsequential analysis & prediction but, for one reason or another, canget thwarted in its attempts at successful  4) experimental design & testing and 5) result corroboration. Like ordinary scientific pursuits, itshares conceivable falisfiability even if only, shall wesay, eschatologically. The trick, remains, getting to steps 4 & 5.What keeps all investigative inquiry very engaging for me is thenagging Humean problem of induction, notwithstanding our Peirceanend-arounds. Theres a lot more than Popperian falsification going onwith abduction, as I implied regarding our evolutionary inheritance offast and frugal heuristics, where we rather efficiently narrow downpossibilities, often reasoning from previously-known predicates tootherwise unknown subjects or their analogs, based on our encounterswith novel properties, for example. The beginning of our epistemicwash-cycles, where abduction and deduction predominate, areinescapably tautological, question begging, self-referential, withGodelian-like axioms that cannot be proven within their own systems.By successive repetitions of our epistemic cycles, both quantitively andqualitatively, our tautologies become more taut vis a vis their modelingpower of reality.What keeps science so very exciting are the perduring possibilities, asrecognized in the provisionality of our ontological closures and theinherent fallibility of our epistemic methodologies,  that not only will our knowledge advance due to painstaking experimentation but,sometimes, it will advance discontinuously through such Kuhnian-likeparadigm shifts as dissemble our very system axioms, renormalizingpreviously incommensurable approaches to reality. While it is true thatNewtonian physics works just fine, conventionally and locally, there isno doubt that the more universally-taut tautologies completelytranscend same, axiomatically, both qualitatively and quantitatively.The practical upshot of all of this is that different modal ontologies can
  • vary in their being rather local and parochial versus more universal andtranscendent, or even timeless and atemporal. The thing aboutfashioning new tautologies is that, just because they are tautological,it does not mean that they are not true. It does mean, however, that we have not added any NEW information to any system.I see the questions being raised in this discussion as transcendingformalisms and as illuminating common sense, which through science,sometimes gets applied in an uncommonly useful way is all. The veryinstance of the ongoing mutual critique of qualitative and quantitativeinduction is the proof in the epistemic pudding that there is more thanone way to axiomatize a system and make an investigative run atreality. These work-arounds of the Humean critique are theoreticallyweak but pragmatically worthy, which is to recognize, with allPeirceans, that our search for indubitable foundations is quixotic. Ithink we must also concede, as post-foundationalists, that our effortsto distill degrees of inductive success, from crude to refined, willinevitably reach a point of diminishing returns, which is a systematicresult of our non-system. Excerpts from CSP‘s "How to Make Our IdeasClear"Peirce’s Pragmatic Maxim:It appears, then, that the rule for attaining the third grade of clearnessof apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, which mightconceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of ourconception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the wholeof our conception of the object.Peirce’s Example of the Untested Diamond:Let us illustrate this rule by some examples; and, to begin with thesimplest one possible, let us ask what we mean by calling a thing hard.Evidently that it will not be scratched by many other substances. Thewhole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceivedeffects. There is absolutely no difference between a hard thing and asoft thing so long as they are not brought to the test. Suppose, then,that a diamond could be crystallized in the midst of a cushion of softcotton, and should remain there until it was finally burned up. Wouldit be false to say that that diamond was soft? This seems a foolishquestion, and would be so, in fact, except in the realm of logic. Theresuch questions are often of the greatest utility as serving to bringlogical principles into sharper relief than real discussions ever could. Instudying logic we must not put them aside with hasty answers, butmust consider them with attentive care, in order to make out theprinciples involved.We may, in the present case, modify our question, and ask whatprevents us from saying that all hard bodies remain perfectly soft untilthey are touched, when their hardness increases with the pressureuntil they are scratched. Reflection will show that the reply is this:there would be no falsity in such modes of speech. They would involvea modification of our present usage of speech with regard to the wordshard and soft, but not of their meanings. For they represent no fact tobe different from what it is; only they involve arrangements of facts
  • which would be exceedingly maladroit. This leads us to remark that thequestion of what would occur under circumstances which do notactually arise is not a question of fact, but only of the most perspicuousarrangement of them.JB’s Comments:My initial approach is to ask: If the untested diamond passage is theanswer, then what is the question? That question seems to me to be:What are the criteria for good metaphysical speculation? (And not:What use is metaphysics?)I will start with my conclusions and then relate how I got there via theuntested diamond passage in conjunction with the pragmatic maximpassage.In answering this question, Peirce seems to be affirming ametaphysical realism, in general, but calling into question a prioristic,naive realisms. He also seems to be affirming the nominalist critiquethat nomenclature involves linguistic conventions, while maintainingthat meaning requires more than nomenclature. He seems to verymuch affirm the positivistic emphasis on inductive testing but does notgo so far as to say that the unfalsifiable is meaningless or, in otherwords, that metaphysical speculation is nonsensical, hence useless. Itseems that he is saying to the nominalists and positivists that linguisticconventions and inductive inferences (or perhaps, even, that firstnessand secondness) are necessary but not sufficient and to the naiverealists that abductive and deductive inference (or perhaps, even, thatfirstness and thirdness) are necessary but not sufficient.To wit:In the case of the untested diamond, the naive realist mightabductively enumerate its putative properties and deductively clarify itsdispositional functions without ever inductively testing oneshypotheses. The diamond that Peirce was talking about had never beenthus isolated as a fact, or "brought to the test," but was the epistemicequivalent of angels dancing on the head of a pin, "circumstanceswhich do not actually arise" and, hence, "not a question of fact."The nominalists might have considered the properties of hard and softas mere linguistic conventions, but Peirce critiques that notion byvirtue of his recognition that such properties are not thoroughgoingabstractions but have indeed been experienced in the past and could beencountered again, such as hard things that have not been "scratchedby many other substances." Further, the predicates that refer to thesequalities or properties do not function as concepts just because theyhave been actually instantiated, but derive their meaning from theirconceived effects, thus "attaining the third grade of clearness ofapprehension."Finally, as we consider "what effects, which might conceivably havepractical bearings," we move into the realm of metaphysicalspeculation in the form of valid hypotheses (perspicuousarrangements of circumstances yet to be proven sound), which appealto subjunctive conditionality? Im drawing a distinction betweenconceived and conceivable.So, I do not read this as a denial of metaphysics or embrace ofnominalism, but as an appeal for a metaphysical realism, properlyconceived, one that is neither a prioristic nor apodictic, one that gains
  • traction in terms of practical cash value, something we get at whenasking "Whats it to me?" as the normative sciences mediate betweenphenomenology and metaphysics to effect value-realizations.I dont see any nominalistic blunder.JB On Good MetaphysicsI am vitally interested in finding a "good epistemology of metaphysics"because all too often it seems to me that some are telling untellablestories about reality, proving too much, saying more than we presentlyknow. To the extent that epistemology is inherently normative, whenwe travel from the descriptive to the prescriptive, from the given to thenormative, from an is to an ought, it behooves us to get our meta-physic right if we want our meta-ethic to enjoy any normative impetusin a pluralistic society. In my view, metaphysics remains a great way toprobe reality but not a reliable way to prove reality. It follows, then,that our deontologies should be considered as tentative as ourontologies are speculative. How speculative is any given ontology? In moments of frustration,most often with my coreligionists, my flippant response is to say that Iam looking for a root metaphor that is robust enough to reconcilegravity and quantum mechanics. In my conciliatory moments, Isuggest that, while I would not ask anyone to bracket either onesmetaphysic or religion in ones conversations in the public square, onemust translate ones moral and ethical beliefs when engaging in publicdiscourse. Specifically, one must tend to what I like to call a concepts negotiationstatus in any given community. Concepts that have, for the most part,already been negotiated by the community enjoy what I call theoreticstatus. Those still-in-negotiation, which act as placeholders, have aheuristic status. Certain concepts and propositions, which areindispensable to the establishment of meaning and which we mustadopt presuppositionally, even if only provisionally, have a semioticstatus, hence are non-negotiable. These are distinguished from thenon-negotiated dogmatic concepts that have not been negotiated inthe broader, pluralistic community. I first offer these as sociologicdistinctions and suggest that the more universally compelling moralarguments in any given public square will likely employ a lot moretheoretic and semiotic concepts and a lot fewer heuristic and dogmaticconcepts. I suppose I am offering a tautology that simply suggests thatone must negotiate ones ontology prior to urging and negotiatingones deontology. I do want to go beyond this descriptive sociologic exercise to suggestthat these distinctions have an inherently normative impetus. It seemsthat the way to do this is to recognize that a concepts negotiationstatus, in some measure, will reflect any given communitys ability through time to have cashed-out of that concept some practical value.  Further, I offer an exploratory heuristic, suggesting that the normativemediates between the descriptive and the interpretive to effect the
  • evaluative in a hermeneutical circle where each of these value-realization strategies presupposes the others (being intellectually butnot strictly logically-related). This heuristic comprises a rubric for whatI consider to be a nonfoundational, axiological perspectivalism.I am suggesting, then, that thus it is that our tautologies getprogressively more taut and our root metaphors, collapsing insuccession, get progressively more robust. All of our normative,descriptive, interpretive and evaluative posits will variously employ amix of semiotic, theoretic, heuristic and dogmatic concepts. I hopesuch a perspectivalism in conjunction with the norms I have suggestedfor concepts (vis a vis their status-in-negotiation), suggests a wayforward toward a good epistemology of metaphysics and religiousepistemology, too. For a concrete example, there is a rough correspondence to 1)evidentialism, in any overemphasis of the descriptive 2) rationalism, in any overemphasis of the interpretive 3) presuppositionalism, in anyoveremphasis of the normative and 4) existentialism, in anyoveremphasis of the evaluative. These various overemphases haveplayed out, it seems, in the history of Christian theology, in the morefundamentalistic cohorts of each tradition. To wit, the Arminians andevangelicals have emphasized the evidential; Catholicism, the rational;Calvinists and Reformed, the presuppositional; and Lutherans andneo-evangelicals, via their fideism, the existential. John Frame, aCalvinist theologian, has advocated a perspectivalism for Christianapologetics, but true to his traditions presuppositionalism, employsScripture as the normative element. This only roughly parallels what Ihave suggested for my hermeneutical circle, where the normativesciences, instead, provide our epistemic virtue. I like to distinguish between the more fundamentalistic cohorts withinthese traditions and those who subscribe, in one way or another, to acritical realism. I only drew this distinction implicitly but would like toamplify it explicitly. For example, the fundamentalism shows up, in myview, when some Protestants invoke sola scriptura, when some Catholics invoke solum magisterium, and when some Enlightenmentfundamentalists invoke scientism. So, it is in the pejorative sense that Idiscuss evidentialism, rationalism, presuppositionalism andexistentialism as they might manifest in the fundamentalistic cohortsof any given tradition. These epistemic vices, as I view them, take theirplace next to radical empiricism, logical positivism, radicalapophaticism and so on. And to be clear, I am discussing matterspertaining to apologetics as they would involve epistemic justificationand not addressing any essential beliefs. I happen to share many of theessential beliefs of all of these Christian traditions and of course thoseof science, also, even as I may differ with others regarding theiraccounts of epistemic warrants. I drew the implicit distinction between fundamentalism and criticalrealism by backing off from the word overemphasis to emphasis andfrom the various -ism formulations to the evidential, rational,presuppositional and existential, because I did not want to draw a facilecaricature of any of these traditions, where a lot of good work is being
  • done in the area of epistemology. Otherwise, where various emphasescome into play, these different traditions self-describe aspresuppositional or rational and so on. For example, the reformedepistemology takes the God-concept as properly basic; the Catholictradition emphasizes Fides et Ratio. In my view, our justifications, inreality, enjoy a much more informal tone and tenor, much like whathas been called a cumulative-case apologetic, which might find ananalog in Peirces metaphor involving cable strands and filaments. Isuppose I am suggesting that many people are epistemically competenteven if epistemologically wrong, which is to say that they are right andwithin their rights even if they cannot properly give an account for howthat might be so (ergo the distinction between conscious andunconscious competence). Otherwise, metaphysics and religious epistemology have suffered, inmy view, from too much of a nonvirtuous cycle of abductivehypothesizing and deductive clarifying with precious little inductivetesting. In moral theology, for example, this has led to a very sterilescholasticism where propagated norms end up having very littleexistential traction in the actual lived experiences of the faithful, such as in matters regarding life, sex and gender. Even in matters ofsystematic theology, my own exploratory heuristic would honorPeirces distinction between the argument and argumentationregarding the reality (not existence) of God, the latter being a metaphysical fetish. After the stronger forms of inference have failedus, or minimally have established a modicum of epistemic parity withcompeting meta-accounts of reality writ large, we will necessarily fallback on weaker forms of inference and other epistemic tie-breakers,like the aesthetical and practical. All we can establish is thereasonableness of our arguments. We cannot establish, throughargumentation, God-concepts, as if they could be empirically measuredor logically demonstrated. We can hold on to various epistemicfilaments (informal arguments and noninferential normative criteria)of our epistemic cable without breaking them if we intertwine themtogether, perspectivally, and if we do not tug too hard on any given one, alone. Through this perspectivalism, we can hopefully cash-out andaugment some real values through the properamplification/attenuation of our various epistemic risk-ventures. To the extent we are dealing with unresolved issues of ultimateconcern that are vital, forced and live options (Wm. James), perhapsthe spontaneous abduction of the reality of God is within our epistemicrights? To the extent that we are to speculate boldy on theoreticalmatters even as we move more tentatively on practical matters of vitalconcern, perhaps humankind as a community of inquiry will continueto wrestle with God-concepts, normatively, descriptively, interpretivelyand evaluatively, some of these concepts, like spirit, negotiated moreubiquitously than others? For my part, I prefer vague references torobust descriptions. Thanks for engaging my ideas. I do not claim to represent Peirces take.I have appropriated some of his thrust on my own terms. 
  •   Regarding the epistemic-ontic alignment issue, the set that includesthe descriptive, interpretive, normative and evaluative refersto methodologies. The set that includes the theoretic, heuristic, semiotic and dogmatic refers to sociologic realities, which I believehave some fallibilistic normative impetus. Epistemology is modelingontology, but without a divide. The descriptive methodology, which roughly corresponds to thepositivistic or scientific sphere of human concern, pursues answers tothe question: "Is that a fact?" and does so through empiricalmeasurements, Popperian falsification, hypothetico-deductive methodand so on. The normative methodology, which roughly corresponds tothe philosophic sphere, pursues answers to the question: "How can Ibest acquire (or avoid) that?" and does so through the normativesciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. The evaluative methodology,which corresponds to axiological concerns, asks the question "Whats itto me?" and draws distinctions between needs and wants, real andapparent goods, higher and lesser goods, inquiring as to whether or notthere are self-evident, or at least probable, prescriptive truths. Ours is an ecological rationality, then, in that we are radically finite andalways in pursuit of value to merely survive and hopefully thrive. Fromthis finitude, our fallible nature derives and the need for interpretation,hence an interpretive sphere of concern, which asks the question"How does all of this tie back together?" and requires a methodologicalapproach that I will address below. In my view, every human value-realization integrally relates thesemethodologies, each which presupposes all of the others. The set thatincludes the theoretic, heuristic, semiotic and dogmatic refers tosociologic realities vis a vis the negotiation of different concepts (andpropositions) in any given community of inquiry. Each of ourmethodologies will engage in discourse and argument employing all ofthese types of concepts. As one with Peircean sensibilities mightproperly intuit, it is no accident that our descriptive methods willlargely traffic in theoretic concepts, our interpretive methods inheuristic, our normative in semiotic and our evaluative in dogmatic, forsecondness is enjoying its moment of emphasis in our descriptiveendeavors, thirdness in our normative, and firstness in ourinterpretive. Our methodologies, then, reflect our epistemic realities(evolutionary epistemology) which model our provisional ontologies(emergentist heuristic). Our ever-enhanced modeling power of reality overcomes anyepistemic-ontic divide triadically through this hermeneutical circle,which effects every human value-realization. In some sense, while Irecognize an autonomy of the different methodologies vis a vis thequestions they ask of reality, and even recognize that each may enjoy acertain primacy depending on where it is in media res that anyone
  • launches a given probe of reality, I am suggesting that we must draw adistinction between methodological autonomy and axiologicalautonomy. I further suggest that the former exists but not the latter,which is to say that no human value-realization proceeds without all ofthese integrally-related methods. I also recognize that these methodsare not related through any formal construction, as if human value-realization advanced through some closed formal symbol system withits Godelian constraints. Rather, I appeal to Peirces cable metaphorwhere we intertwine the individual filaments of our informalarguments, both our inferential and non-inferential posits, as weadvance slowly but inexorably in our knowledge of reality. We do notneed to proceed half-way through the Principia with Russell andWhitehead to assure ourselves of the axioms that prove that 1 + 1 = 2,but can "taste and see" the truths of such axioms. One practical upshot of all of this is that we cannot know a priori whenit is that we are being methodologically thwarted or ontologicallyocculted, but can see that there is nothing to be gained from everassuming the latter, which is an epistemic cul de sac. Another is that,for me, epistemology is epistemology is epistemology, such that therereally is no religious epistemology or "good epistemology ofmetaphysics" or epistemology of science. My nonfoundationalaxiological perspectivalism recognizes and affirms methodologicalautonomies but suggests that all of the methods are presupposed andintegrally-involved in every human value-realization. It so happensthat our grasp of reality is problematical and that we must grapple,from one moment to the next, with whether or not we enjoy epistemic determinacy and/or ontological specificity or might otherwise beconfronted with epistemic indeterminacy and/or ontological vagueness. We can then see the virtue in such a modal ontology thatprescinds from the categories of possible, actual and necessary topossible, actual and probable, and in a semantical vagueness thatprescinds from the facile employments of such First Principles asnoncontradiction, excluded middle and identity, such that these willalternately hold or fold from one modal distinction to the next. So, the presuppositional include such as the First Principles, belief inrealitys intelligibility over against a practical nihilism, belief in otherminds over against a solipsism, belief in common sense notions ofcausality, and other such epistemic stances that cannot be empiricallymeasured or logically demonstrated but which must be adopted, atleast, provisionally, or for the sake of argument, or, over against Hume,for all practical purposes. There is a thirdness in play, of course, alongwith the other categories. The trick is not to wrench any of theseotherwise autonomous methodologies out of their context in theaxiological whole so as to avoid their swelling up into some type ofepistemic madness in their isolation. The lesson for our interpretivemethods is to employ a very favorable ratio of theoretic and semioticconcepts to heuristic and dogmatic concepts in order to ensure that ourspeculations do not too far outrun our other provisional closures inscience; otherwise, we suffer the nonvirtuous cycle of deductiveclarification and abductive hypothesizing without the benefit ofinductive testing. 
  • I know that there is a lot more rigor and hence, efficiency, to beenjoyed, perhaps, by my paying more attention to Peirces idiosyncraticconcepts and terms, but I have accepted a challenge to try to come upwith something accessible for my college-aged children, so I amproceeding slowly, hoping that if I can explain my epistemology tothem that it might mean that I have begun to understand it myself. Metaphysics, per my exploratory heuristic, is an interpretive concern. Idefend it, in principle, and say let a thousand metaphysical blossomsbloom, and let us speculate boldly about theoretical matters. I alsosubscribe to the Peircean caveat to proceed more tentatively in ourvital, practical affairs. So, much of my interest has been directed at theintersection between meta-physical speculation and its meta-ethicalapplication. I am also sympathetic to Siders view in that most of our ethics havenot proceeded from foundations. Let me excerpt what I have writtenelsewhere: "Whatever metanarrative one employs, it would necessarilycontain within it, in the interest of descriptive accuracy, the manifoldand multiform shared values that emerge from our somewhatuniversal human condition. To the extent our evaluative posits areattributes of a universal human condition, then, even though they maybe relative, which one needn’t concede, still, they would avoid much ofthe difficulty normally associated with such relativity by virtue of beingremarkably consistent, despite their relativity. These posits thus wouldremain relative from a theoretic perspective but not so much so from apragmatic perspective. When you think about it, this, and not somefoundational, authoritative deontology, accounts for the resonance andshared respect we do enjoy for such as the UN Declaration on HumanRights, the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence andsuch. Is it not evident that all of humankind does not share the samemetaphysical conceptions, that all foundationalists don’t appeal to thesame foundations, and that all authoritarians don’t point to the sameauthorities?" I suppose there are some who would to be altogether rid of classicalphilosophy with its nominalism and essentialism, and substantialistand process approaches, because these competing conceptions andarguments have led to so many self-subverting incommensurabilitiesand unintelligibilities, perhaps revealing of major category errors. Still,because we cannot a priori know when it is that we are beingmethodologically thwarted (epistemically) versus ontologicallyocculted, in principle (metaphysically), I resist any rush to closure thatit is our thinking that is all wrong when we encounter paradox. For itfollows that we cannot a priori know which competing concepts andarguments will eventually be resolved dialectically, which will bedissolved by a paradigm shift, which will be maintained,complementarily, in a creative tension, and which are essentiallyantinomial (versus, for example, veridical, falsidical and conditionalparadoxes). While I am tempted to agree with Haldane that reality isnot only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine, Itemper that with Chestertons observation that we do not yet knowenough about reality to say that it is unknowable.
  •  All that said, it is difficult for me to fight off the intuition that ourpresent quests for a compelling metaphysic are hopelessly quixotic orto disagree with the sentiment, I believe was expressed by Putnam, thata moratorium on metaphysics might even be helpful. I would like toargue this case in both directions. I am deeply sympathetic with Terry Deacons emergentist heuristic,where he describes regularities in terms of 1) thermodynamics,spatially 2) morphodynamics, spatially thru time and 3) teleodynamics,spatio-temporally via information. For all we can presently tell, this 3rdorder emergence is the first appearance of telos in the universe. Now,one of the chief deficiencies of both the substance and processapproaches (and essentialism and nominalism) is their inability toaccount for novelty in reality. One of the things Deacon accounts for isprecisely novelty vis a vis emergent properties and laws, which in theirtranscendence of the laws of earlier orders of emergence do nototherwise violate, in a manner of speaking, physical causal closure.Thus we encounter, semiotically, both formal and final causations,minimalistically conceived, in addition to efficient causation. Nowhere is Deacon employing robustly descriptive root metaphors forthese dissipative emergent realities, such that he would be explicating,for example, the essential natures of the givens that are involved insuch as cosmogenesis, the origins of life or the emergence ofconsciousness. In other words, while it is clear enough that we areobserving new properties that require new predicates and sets ofpredicates, we are not otherwise specifying them, ontologically, interms of the primitives, forces and axioms presently accepted byscience. We are recognizing that new properties have emerged withoutfacilely suggesting how it is they emerged. It is not immediatelyapparent, then, when we can confidently speak univocally, equivocally or analogically regarding other modal realities or dissipative structuresvis a vis their so-called essential natures. We have to pursue thosequestions through ongoing inquiry. Nowhere are we necessarily invoking supervenience, strong or weak, todescribe emergence, weak or strong, because such assertions seem tome to be trivial or redundant. We are properly making vague referencesand not robust descriptions. Questions will still beg, for example, as to whether or not Chalmers, the Churchlands, Penrose, Dennett, Searleor even Ayn Rand are correct, whether or not consciousness is aprimitive alongside space, time, mass and energy, is a hard problem, orsuch questions should be eliminated as nonsensical. I suppose if a gunwere put to my head, a nonreductive physicalism feels right to me, butI do not really have a horse in this race. So, I point to Deacon as a way to properly engage our interpretivemethods, which is to note the regularities that present but withoutsaying more than we really know. Deacons categories certainly leavesome questions begging for me, such as what proto-dynamics in terms
  • of initial conditions, limit conditions and boundary conditions mighthave given rise to the thermodynamics, conditioning the reality weknow. They also raise a question about putative eschato-dynamics vis avis what properties might next emerge and what predicates andsets/classes of predicates well need to employ to successfully refer tothem even if we cannot successfully describe them. Problems for anyone whod ambition a metaphysic beyond Deaconsheuristic are HUGE. First of all, there is a problem withthermodynamic erasure, which is to recognize that when we encountera tepid cup of coffee on a kitchen counter, we have no way of knowingwhether it warmed to that temperature after removal from the fridge orcooled to that temperature after removal from the microwave.Extrapolate this problem to the deepest structures of matter and theearliest moments after the Big Bang. Also, there is the issue of theemergence of new laws governing novel properties, which is torecognize that the regularities we extrapolate to primitive metaphysicalaxioms might be as local, for all practical purposes, as the by-lawsgoverning our neighborhood Bridge Club. So, I receive Peirces grammar and categories as greatphenomenological methods and suspect that we both know more thanwe can say and say more than we can know. Because telos, for all weknow, only appeared in 3rd order emergence, we have little warrant, itseems, to claim, for example, that reality is pansemiotic. At the sametime, when all other arguments for cosmogenesis are put on the table,all adjudicated with the same Scottish verdict of not proven, should ourabductive imaginations lead us to muse about some grand telicmetanarrative, they will be invoking an analog, however weak, that has some inductive warrant in reality. To the extent such musings involvevital and ultimate human concerns, and to the extent we interpretOccams Razor in terms of the facility of an abduction (not just thesimplicity of an ontology), humankind need not/should not readily discard its abduction of the Ens Necessarium. There is the problem that not everyone shares either our intuitions, asyou say, or our heuristic devices and concepts, as I noted. Because we all begin our inquiries in media res, starting with one methodology oranother, I would concede that there is no fixed method even as I wouldsuggest through my nonfoundational axiological perspectivalism thatthe normative sciences do gift us with best practices vis a vis humanvalue-realizations. As to non-volitional beliefs, I am not ready to concede that. It explainssome, maybe most. I do not have that sociologic datum. I can say that,some, rather self-critically and self-aware, take epistemic risks inpursuit of values. The proper amplification/attenuation of such riskscan augment our value-realizations. In the common parlance, suchvalues are truth, beauty and goodness. In philosophy, we take risks,such as in our presuppositions, to realize such values through logic,aesthetics and ethics. Some go further to wager with Pascal (and Imean that aesthetically NOT soteriologically) and leap with
  • Kierkegaard, not unflinchingly over the existential abyss, amplifyingthese epistemic risks through faith, hope and love in order to augmenttheir value-realizations of truth, beauty and goodness. We act as ifcertain beliefs are true, variously doubting, variously fixating on themthrough time and habit. For my part, I am proposing norms that I hopewill better ensure that such practices become the best they can be anddo not otherwise devolve into such crimes against humanity as havebeen visited on us by ... ... whomever, whenever.John Sobert Sylvest - June 2009Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality pendingNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality Blog In the New Testament, the Gospel, the Good News,Home Jesus revealed the aspirational aspects of humanRadical Emergence - transformation, a process that brings us into anNonduality & the intimate Daddy-like relationship with a tender,Emerging Church loving God. This differentiates the Gospel in theEmergence HappensWhen: marketplace, so the aspirational should be emphasized at least as much as the obligational.To Avow & Dis-avowan Axiological Maybe more?Vision of the WholeMontmarte, Right & wrong. Good & evil. Merits & demerits. Debits & credits.Colorado Springs & Reward & punishment. Responsibility & accountability. These are thethe Kingdom obligational aspects of human socialization, a process of formation &Wanted: WomenWarriors reformation that helps us function in society. Every society alreadyMaiden, Mother, "gets" this without the benefit of special revelation. The Old TestamentCrone & Queen: revealed that a personal, faithful God was active & involved witharchetypes &transformation humanity, establishing covenants, making promises.East Meets West In the New Testament, the Gospel, the Good News, Jesus revealed theKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini aspirational aspects of human transformation, a process that brings usNo-Self & Nirvana into an intimate Daddy-like relationship with a tender, loving God. Thiselucidated by differentiates the Gospel in the marketplace, so the aspirational shouldDumoulin be emphasized at least as much as the obligational. Maybe more?One: EssentialWritings inNonduality - a review So, the obligational aspect of our growth is about things likeSimone Weil enlightened self-interest, imperfect contrition (sorrow forJohn of the Cross consequences to ourselves), extrinsic rewards and eros (whats in it forThomas Merton me?). The aspirational is about the intrinsic rewards of truth, beauty,The True Self goodness & unity, the pursuit of which is its own reward. Its aboutThe Passion agape (whats... Read more in it for others) and perfect contritionHermeneutical (sorrow for consequences that others suffer). Its about growing inEclecticism &Interreligious intimacy. The Old Covenant still works and the meeting of our basicDialogue obligations is still sufficient to enter the Kingdom (& abundance). ItsThe Spirit just that, in the Gospel, the New Covenant, we are called to so muchChristian Nonduality more, to superabundance! God, like any good father or mother, wantsmore on Nonduality more for us than we want for ourselves. When we see anyone settle forThe Contemplative less, it is natural to grieve, but we should be gentle & accepting ofStance where they are & respectful of their choices.HesychasmMysticism - properlyconsidered John Morison, 1781
  • Karl Rahner Come, let us to the Lord our GodWounded Innocence with contrite hearts return;Rogation Days our God is gracious, nor will leave... Read moreRadical Orthodoxy the desolate to mourn.Presuppositionalismvs Nihilism?Science His voice commands the tempest forth and stills the stormy wave;Epistemic Virtue and though his arm be strong to smite,Pan-semio-entheism: a tis also strong to save.pneumatologicaltheology of nature Long hath the night of sorrow reigned,Architectonic the dawn shall bring us light;Anglican - RomanDialogue God shall appear, and we shall rise with gladness in his sight.The Ethos of ErosMusings on Peirce Our hearts, if God we seek to know,Eskimo Kiss Waltz shall know him, and rejoice;the Light Side ofDark Comedy his coming like the morn shall be,Blog Visits like morning songs his voice.Other OnlineResources As dew upon the tender herbAre YOU Going to diffusing fragrance round,Scarborough Fair? as showers that usher in the spring,Suggested Reading and cheer the thirsty ground.Tim Kings PostChristian Blog So shall his presence bless our souls,The Dylan Mass and shed a joyful light;If You Are In that hallowed morn shall chase awayDistress, Spiritual orOtherwise the sorrows of the night.pending  The Great Traditionproperly conceived I appreciate the insights that folks like Campbell & Jung brought toPostmodern anthropology. They are important & deserve serious considerationConservative from a scientific perspective. However, Im not among those whoCatholic Pentecostal consider them theologically competent. The problem of evil has been addressed by many defenses and theodicies down through the years and the best ones, characteristically, will retain an element of mystery. Many of those are wholly consonant w/my own panentheist perspective or other process approaches, for example. When subjected to the most rigorous philosophical analyses we have available, these approaches are considered as reasonable as any other explanations.   I am not buying into the fallacy of arguing against the proper use of Christian ideals & myths because of their misuse (or lack of use, cf. GKC) over the centuries in this culture or another. Now, as to which approach is finally adjudicated as the most compelling, we find ourselves moving past our evidential and rational arguments and turning to our existential stances & evaluative posits.   [redacted conversation]  
  • There has been no rejection of critical thinking here. There has been arejection of fallacies in your critical thinking. Your mythologicalapproach is a positivist, descriptive, scientific enterprise and it moves,quite correctly, from that into a meta-ethical, normative, philosophicenterprise, critiquing historical events and extant worldviews with areformative aim.For my part, then, I am critiquing your approach as positivistic,reductionistic & scientistic and suggesting that, as an invalid statementof what is it will necessarily lead to an improper ought. If you dont getthe given right, then you cant get the normative right either.Part of the problem lies in your lack of recognition of Tolkiensdefinition of True Myth, which means that we do not even share thesame categories and are doomed to talking past one another. For you,all religious myth is mythopoeia, Gods expressions thru the mindsof poets.For the Christian, the true myth of Christ is Gods expression ofHimself through, with & in Himself.For the Christian, for whom Gods moral nature was revealed in Christ,Gods essential nature remains an unfathomable mystery. We do NOT,however, say that God is inapprehensible (in part) even as we maintainthat God is wholly incomprehensible. We do not consider mystery to bewholly unintelligible even as Yahweh remains the UnNameable One.We do not say that anything is ONLY a metaphor, neither in physicsnor theology; we understand semiotic reality. IOW, we avoid a radicalapophaticism every bit as much as we eschew a kataphaticism. Ourreligion has some descriptive, some normative & some interpretivecontent even if, in the end, we must move beyond them (but not w/othem) to the evaluative stance. Our religion has evidential, rational &presuppositional elements, even if we must move beyond them (butnot w/o them) to an existential orientation.The Reality of God is wholly incomprehensible but this does not meanthat it is unintelligible or not partly apprehensible. And its intelligibilitygoes beyond mythopoeia to include not only the truth of fragmentedtruth, beauty, goodness & unity but also some very real historicalpersons, places & things, very tangible realities like a PeopleGathered, very evidential and rational and presuppositionalpropositions in addition to our otherwise participatory socialimaginations.An overemphasis on the kataphatic & speculative is rationalism. Anoveremphasis on the kataphatic & affective is pietism (& fideism). Anoveremphasis on the apophatic & speculative is encratism. Anoveremphasis on the apophatic and affective is quietism.This is all very highly nuanced and carefully developed and you haveengaged and dismissed, strawman style, but a caricature of it all. Andyou have done so with an overemphasis on the reductive (scientism)and on the paradoxical (radical apophaticism). 
  • Paradox, in my view, does not exhaust all meaningful & intelligibleapproaches to Primal Reality. It is necessary but not sufficient. Itseems more accurate to say that we are trapped in tautologies, somemore taut than others, and cannot prove the axioms of our tautologicalsystems within those systems, themselves. This is not to a priori ruleout the possibility that we might not be able to otherwise SEE the truthof such axioms. To equate accessing such truth with proof would beempiricistic and rationalistic, indeed. The difference between me and Hegel is that I do not aspire to acomplete system, only a consistent system (Godel). I believe that asystem is possible but do not a priori decide which part of it isinaccessible due to methodological thwarting, epistemically, or due toontological occulting, metaphysically. That is a mysterian cul de sac. re: to settle in the small town of the like-minded is in itself acommentary on "the faith," one which seems designed to escape thefaithful but not the intelligent ;)I am a great believer in common sense. To paraphrase the late, greatWmFBuckley:"Id rather entrust the religion of the UnitedStates to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephonedirectory than to the faculty of Harvard University." In otherwords, I believe that there is a GREAT deal of unconsciouscompetence, that most people GET reality and PRIMAL reality rightand are mostly responding appropriately even if fallibly as people oflarge intelligence (read = common sense not university learning) andprofound goodwill (read = good old middle American or Guatemalanvalues), even if they cannot articulate their epistemological stance inacademic jargon. The overemphasis on rationalistic approaches(critical thinking) is not mine, here. Instead, I applaud the socialimaginary that has formed most peoples. It all seems to boil down to your heterodox reading of Tolkien as ifwhat he was talking about was the idol of a Grand Metanarrative. Thereis all the difference in the world between a response to the postmoderncritique which concedes that our epistemic grasp is problematical andadopts a contrite fallibilism and one that capitulates to its morecorrosive extreme and eschews metaphysical & moral realisms, sawingoff the epistemological branch where ones ontological eggs are nested. It may be that our differences are thus naunced: I believe that there isOne Story and that all of the great traditions and indigenous religions,too, are in touch with it. At the same time, I believe we can reasonablyand good-heartedly seek the most nearly perfect articulation of itsTruth, celebration of its Beauty, preservation of its Goodness &enjoyment of its Unity and that, in these regards, all creeds, cults,codes and communities are not equal. Charles A. Coulombe http://bit.ly/35iixi 
  • "Its been said that the dominant note of the traditional Catholic liturgywas intense longing. This is also true of her art, her literature, herwhole life. It is a longing for things that cannot be in this world:unearthly truth, unearthly purity, unearthly justice, unearthly beauty.By all these earmarks, Lord of the Rings is indeed a Catholic work, asits author believed: But it is more. It is this ages great Catholic epic, fitto stand beside the Grail legends, Le Morte dArthur and TheCanterbury Tales. It is at once a great comfort to the individualCatholic, and a tribute to the enduring power and greatness of theCatholic tradition, that JRRT created this work. In an age which hasseen an almost total rejection of the faith on the part of the Civilizationshe created . . . Lord of the Rings assures us, both by its existence andits message, that the darkness cannot triumph forever." The darkness is NOT a Divine attribute in ourview!pending pendingChristian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Postmodern Conservative Catholic PentecostalNEW: CathlimergentInternet Forum  The ChristianNonduality BlogHome THE BOOK: An EmergingRadical Emergence -Nonduality & the Church Conversation with aEmerging ChurchEmergence Happens Postmodern ConservativeWhen:To Avow & Dis-avow Catholic Pentecostalan Axiological  Vision of the WholeMontmarte, PrefaceColorado Springs &the Kingdom  Wanted: WomenWarriors Radical Emergence – Pouring out a welter of confused thoughtsMaiden, Mother,  Crone & Queen:archetypes & Radical Emergence – Social Networks Can Be Thoreau’s Posttransformation OfficeEast Meets WestKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &  KundaliniNo-Self & Nirvana Cosmology of Emergenceelucidated byDumoulin  One: Essential IntroductionWritings inNonduality - a review  Simone Weil Radical Emergence – Science, Philosophy, Culture & ReligionJohn of the Cross  Thomas MertonThe True Self  The Passion Descriptive ScienceHermeneuticalEclecticism &  InterreligiousDialogue  The Spirit Radical Emergence – Intelligent Design – a poorly designedChristian Nonduality inferencemore on Nonduality  The ContemplativeStance The Philip Clayton - Daniel Dennett Mardi Gras 2010 DebateHesychasm  Mysticism - properlyconsidered Radical Emergence – The New Atheism, a wimpy caricature of theKarl Rahner oldWounded Innocence  Rogation Days  
  • Radical OrthodoxyPresuppositionalism Evaluative Culturevs Nihilism?  ScienceEpistemic Virtue Radical Emergence – Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the KingdomPan-semio-entheism: apneumatological  theology of nature Why I Love New Orleans: Iko Iko ah-nay Joc-a-mo-fee-no-ah-nah-Architectonic nay Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nayAnglican - RomanDialogue  The Ethos of Eros Normative PhilosophyMusings on Peirce  Eskimo Kiss Waltzthe Light Side of Radical Emergence – Why PostmodernISM & ModernISM areDark Comedy Both SillyBlog Visits  Other OnlineResources I’ve already got truth, beauty & goodness! Why bother with faith,Are YOU Going to hope & love?Scarborough Fair?  Suggested ReadingTim Kings Post some thoughts on EpistemologyChristian Blog  The Dylan MassIf You Are In some notes on EpistemologyDistress, Spiritual orOtherwise  pending SpiritualityThe Great Traditionproperly conceived  Postmodern Radical Emergence – to value our yearning, treasure our wantingConservativeCatholic Pentecostal & embrace our incompleteness   Radical Emergence – Simone Weil – unbaptized & outside the church   Radical Emergence – Simone Weil – the rest of the story   DOUBT: nagging late-night and early-dawn questions   Radical Emergence – Meaning in Life – abundance for believers & unbelievers   Theres Probably No God? Be Good for Goodness Sake!   Natural Theology This topic is incorporated throughout the other essays. It dosnt otherwise deserve more mention than that.   Axiology of Emergence
  •  Introduction - the Interpretive Axis of Religion 10 Emerging Church Questions: Discovering What You AlreadyKnow but maybe didn’t realize you knew it (Walker Percy-ism) Emerging Church: What’s This About Nurturing the CreativeTension of Paradox? Radical Emergence – The Fugue: truth, beauty, goodness & unity I view the emerging conversation as dialogue & prayer, the fruitsof which are quite unpredictable Theology of Nature Science vs Natural Theology vs Theology of Nature Pansemioentheism: An Emergentist Account of theBiosemiotic Categories of Religion from a panentheisticperspective Theology of RevelationNo need to elaborate on Catholic approach to Biblicalhermeneutics and exegesis. Pneumatology Radical Emergence – The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh Radical Emergence – Spirit Move When You Will, Where YouWill, How You Will Emerging Church & Pentecostalism: a creative tension Christology Radical Emergence – Desiring the Kingdom Radical Emergence – What differentiates the Gospel in themarketplace? Radical Emergence – There’s No Place Like Home – common
  • sense & simple faith Sartre, Camus, Huck Finn & Jesus Theological Anthropology Radical Emergence – Map-making & Story-telling – the twainshall meet Radical Emergence – God is not a syllogism, Love is not a formalargument Radical Emergence – Searching for Re-enchantment in all thewrong places Radical Emergence – From Mild Woman to Wild Woman (for thechurch, of course) Radical Emergence – Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes& transformation a theological anthropology as prologue Eschatology Radical Emergence – love eternal will not be denied Radical Emergence – the Oneness to which we can awaken Radical Emergence – Ecstatic, Enstatic & Epektasis – we bear thefuture Oneness now Soteriology Radical Emergence – Merton – the False Self (properlyunderstood) Radical Emergence – Merton – move into crisis to lose crisis Prayer, in the True Self, would be as quiet as a sewing machinebut as powerful as a cement truck 
  • Radical Emergence – Thomas Merton – contemplative prayer Radical Emergence – Merton – insoluble problems? Radical Emergence – Merton – It was Him! He done it! Radical Emergence – Merton – on the risk of stagnation,desolation, aridity Radical Emergence – Theodicy – love is all you need (Beatles) The Earthquake in Haiti & Theodicy  Ecclesiology of Emergence Introduction Radical Emergence: emerging church conversation: fugue-likeinterplay of boundary establishment, defense, negotiation &transcendence. The 6 Moments, Dynamics & Dialogues of the Emerging ChurchConversation Emergence Happens When … Radical Emergence – the Emerging Church Conversation asStrategic Planning Exercise The Dead Emerging Church? An Elvis Sighting! Thought’s on A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren (myWar & Peace edition) Thought’s on A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren (myAbridged edition) Creed Radical Emergence: about roots & shoots 
  • The emerging church conversation is less about positions andmore about dispositions Radical Emergence – Right questions can be more important thanright answers Radical Emergence – Fundamentalists versus Heretics? not really,not always What could one possibly mean by convergence in the emergingchurch conversation? Cult(ivation) Radical Emergence – we are liturgical animals, Homo liturgicus Radical Emergence – Liturgical Spirituality serves an erotic love Radical Emergence – Eucharist – sacrament of unity Radical Emergence – Merton- New Seeds of Contemplation Radical Emergence – Praying Our True Self Radical Emergence – About Hesychasm Radical Emergence – Nonduality & the Emerging Church Affirming an Ancient-Future Impulse but what about NorahJones? What’s All This Fuss About Nondual Awareness? some reflections on Merton Code Radical Emergence – Church & State – aspiration & coercion Community In Search of the Emerging Church? – look on the margins
  •  Radical Emergence – Angel, let me help you with your wings … Radical Emergence – Institutional Religion – what’s up with that? P2P Networking as Metaphor for Community  Global Dialogue Radical Emergence – East Meets West interreligiously – but how? One: Essential Writings in Nonduality – a review An elucidation of Buddhism by Dumoulin with assist from Peirce,Polanyi & Lonergan Radical Emergence – Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini (& Reiki) What do we mean by Convergence in the emerging churchconversation? Radical Emergence – It’s a small, small world – global dialogue Radical Emergence – Let There Be Peace on Earth – preambles todialogue Cathlimergent Catholics in the Emerging Church Conversation The Emergent Roaming Catholic – a pictorial autobiography Radical Emergence – What makes a Catholic, catholic? (nothingcultural, scientific, philosophical or metaphysical) We Are Church: Our local community is 200 years old but itsfoundation is 2000 years old  Epilogue: Rogation Days - this journey we call life 
  • References on Catholics in the Emerging Church Conversation: Andrew Jones asks: What do Catholics have to do with the emerging church? Alot, actually. Tall Skinny Kiwi: 3 Things the Emerging Church Took From the Catholics On the Web http://twitter.com/johnssylvest  personal tweets  http://christiannonduality.com/ the Nonduality Website  http://christiannonduality.com/blog/ the Nonduality Blog  http://cathlimergent.ning.com/  Cathlimergent SocialNetworking Site - Come Join Us!   http://twitter.com/Cathlimergent Cathlimergent on Twitter                 
  •                            Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism?  and Epistemic "Rights"NEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets West  Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini  No-Self & Nirvana There is a great deal of discontinuity in emergent reality, whichelucidated byDumoulin threatens what Wim Drees calls the hierarchical unity of the sciences.One: Essential In my view, we avoid this trap by remaining vaguely referential,Writings in phenomenologically, and not robustly specific, metaphysically, when Nonduality - a review talking about reality. In even simpler terms, because the PeirceanSimone Weil account recognizes that even the laws governing reality are dynamicalJohn of the Cross and emergent, we must remain aware, when analogically extrapolating,Thomas Merton that what we are extrapolating are very, very local regularities, which isThe True Self to say with tongue only partly in cheek, that what we extrapolate,The Passion sometimes,  just might be the gnosiological equivalent of a social clubs Hermeneutical by-laws rather than realitys primal axiological laws.Eclecticism &Interreligious Triadically, we overcome the epistemic-ontic divide with an axiologicalDialogue turn. What we have is axiology all the way up, all the way down, all theThe Spirit way across, coming and going and at rest, neoplatonically even.Christian Nonduality Pannenberg is in tune with this in his recognition that the infinite ismore on Nonduality not apposite to the finite but is of an entirely different order.The Contemplative Temporality and atemporality, also. The Design Inference is a greatStance intuition but not one that should be applied to a reality as "local" asHesychasm evolution, for example. Reality is WAY richer than that.Mysticism - properlyconsidered The Peircean Thirdness that we encounter as 3rd Order Emergence orKarl Rahner teleodynamics, for all science can discern, does not appear on theWounded Innocence cosmic scene "early," which is to acknowledge that there is no empiricalRogation Days evidence that reality is pansemiotic. It takes a Kierkegaardian Leap and 
  • Radical Orthodoxy a Pascalian Wager to see the world through pneumatological lenses and to evaluatively/axiologically posit a pansemioentheistic reality,Presuppositionalismvs Nihilism? which is but a vague reference to a putative primal reality whereinScience divine supremacies correspond to our own emergent virtues and evenEpistemic Virtue call them forth via Brackens Divine Matrix, via Pannenbergs creativePan-semio- field of force. So, we affirm common sense notions of casality andentheism: a acknowledge an interrelated matrix of causes and effects, even as wepneumatologicaltheology of nature remain immersed in deep paradox about just how this could be so. ButArchitectonic we do not need to resolve this modally only relationally, through mediation and participation -- the Spirit our medium, our normativeAnglican - RomanDialogue divine supremacy. Hence, Moltmanns tzitzum and Simone WeilsThe Ethos of Eros divine delimitation and the Kabbalistic shrinking of God.Musings on Peirce Creation is thus a dance of limits through the transformative advanceEskimo Kiss Waltz of the liminal and the formative "play" of the liminoid. The Holy Spiritthe Light Side of is thus the En-Courager of risk-amplification ordered toward value-Dark Comedy augmentation.Blog Visits Pannenberg is right in beginning with anthropology; I find itOther OnlineResources indispensable, too. And we must radicalize Christianity back to its rootsAre YOU Going to and away from a still regnant hellenistic, dualism. I am sympathetic, Scarborough Fair? then, with the platonizing and existentialist thrust of Radical Suggested Reading Orthodoxy from the perspective that, for any who want to liveTim Kings Post superabundantly, philosophy reduces to theology as a risk-Christian Blog amplification strategy ordered toward value-augmentation, which isThe Dylan Mass what the Spirit is about. This is the conscious-competence of explicitIf You Are In faith. I just reject any notion that any failure to thus reduce philosophyDistress, Spiritual orOtherwise (which means we, instead, recognize the normative sciences pending as autonomous methodologies) is a de facto nihilism; rather, one The Great Tradition merely lives abundantly (not superabundantly) with their unconsciousproperly conceived competence, still guided by the Spirit.PostmodernConservativeCatholic Pentecostal If I am reading the situation correctly, Radical Orthodoxy is on to something that is not unlike what Hans Kung was trying to convey, using nihilism as a foil, in drawing his distinction between a justified fundamental trust in uncertain reality (belief in God) and a nowhere anchored and paradoxical trust in uncertain reality (unbelief).  Until some grand eschatological illumination, we know empirically and a posteriori that humankind is advancing in knowledge inexorably but  falteringly --- not just adjudicating competing truth claims by cashing out their practical values, but  --- ever refining its competing definitions of truth as it enhances its modeling power of reality. What I want to suggest, then, is that, while Kung has done us a favor in his comprehensive and exhaustive surveys of humankinds philosophical sojourns, his use of nihilism as a foil to deepen our self- understanding as believers should not be misconstrued as a speculative epistemic dichotomy between nihilism and belief in God.  Kung was not in effect contrasting competing theories of truth but was, instead, juxtaposing the noetic significance of competing justifications  for practical existential responses, justifications that didnt differ so much in substance as in valence insofar as nihilism, as a purely practical "enterprise," does not proceed (or bother with) speculative justifications. I think one of the reasons that so many fundamentalists cannot wrap their minds around anything other than a
  • foundationalist approach to knowledge is because theymistakenly imagine, even if inchoately and somewhat unawares, that human knowledge advances through something akin to formal argumentation with indubitableFirst Principles and other indispensable, even if implicit and unspoken, presuppositions. Deny these preambles to reasonand lapse, practically, into an unmitigated nihilism and, speculatively, into an invincible incoherence. This reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of human evolutionaryepistemology. Instead, what in essence is going on with the ratheropen-ended processors we call our minds is that we are adopting suchpresuppositions axiomatically, as one might say, for arguments sake,and maybe more properly one might add, for all practical purposes. Itis not as if we can otherwise prove these systematic presuppositionswithin the thought systems they, themselves, axiomatize (cf. Godel).  So, we do not have a water-tight epistemological proof of God implicitin the very possibility of human knowledge itself, as some would seemto suggest. Neither do we have a formal refutation of a practicalnihilism, as some would like to imagine. What we do have is anevolutionary leap, an emergent quality of the human brain known asconsciousness that distinguishes us from others in our genus assapiens. Which axioms we choose in order to advance ourmathematics, physics or even worldviews are selected based oninformal arguments and weak abductive and retroductive inference (ina virtuous triadic spiral with induction and deduction), the value ofwhich gets cashed out in human value-realizations.It may well be that our processes of justification and the very nature ofthe types of axioms we select presuppositionally might reasonably raiseones sneaking suspicions about putative necessary realities, such as inour spontaneous abduction of the Ens Necessarium, but when wecompare different types of fundamental trust in uncertain reality andcontrast them as paradoxical versus justified, we must not imagine thatour processes of justification have banished all paradox and haveindubitably grounded all ultimate concerns. Rather, what we havegained though our justification processes is internal coherence, logicalconsistency, external congruence and some interdisciplinaryconsilience which are tests of (not criteria of) truth vis a vis ourenhanced modeling power of reality, but no philosophically rigorousanalysis will yield more than a Scottish verdict for any stronger claims,philosophical or theological.Our epistemic advances, then, are facilitated moreso by our hand over hand rope-climbing of a cable that has been constructed of many weakstrands of truth-indicative tests that gain their strength and efficacyfrom their cumulative intertwining and a lot less by any architecturalanalog like building foundations or stairways to heaven. Ours is aJacobs ladder made of rope and the epistemic journey is like using such a device to precariously and perilously crawl across a mountaingorge, which requires us to hold on loosely but not let go in order tomake our way across.This is all to suggest that human knowledge can indeed advancewithout a robustly defined and formal interpretive system (although,arguably, not superabundantly). It is also to recognize that suchsystems and arguments, such as various metaphysical proofs andnatural theologies, do contribute important strands to our epistemic
  • cables, none really helpful alone but, when taken together with manyother types of strands, quite indispensable as a group.This is all also to argue against any facile strategy of trying to rope inand strangle nihilism with individual evidential, rational andpresuppositional tree vines, all which individually would snap under itsexistential weight. We cannot juxtapose nihilism and belief, ornonfoundationalism and foundationalisms, and logically coerce ouraxioms on others because those individual axioms arent chosen byhuman beings via formal argumentation, alone (at least neither validly nor soundly). For me, good formal and informal argumentation,including "proofs" with Scottish verdicts that establish at least anepistemic parity, are necessary strands in any rope that Id climb. Iknow, however, that they are not sufficient. We need other strands likeelegance, beauty, parsimony, simplicity, goodness, usefulness andbeing-in-love. Which are necessary and how many are sufficient mightvery well vary from person to person, whose epistemic "rights," in thefinal analysis will be established on the other side of the gorge. Myadvice is to get yourself a good handful of many different strands!  We can discuss the philosophic focus of human concern in terms of thenormative sciences. These sciences, in their mediation of ourinterpretive and descriptive foci will, in the final analysis, always comeup short in rationally demonstrating and empirically proving ourcompeting worldviews and metaphysics. We do want to ensure,normatively, that any of our competing systems at leastminimalistically gift us with sufficient modeling power of reality suchthat we can establish an epistemic parity with other systems. Once wehave established a modicum of equiplausibility or equiprobability, wemight then invoke a type of equiplausibility principle to guide us in ourexistential choices. And such a principle can (should) adhere to normative guidelines for informal reasoning based on our abductiveand retroductive inferential modes, which are presupposed in ourtriadic inferential dynamism along with induction and deduction. Herewe reason from predicates and properties back to subjects and essences(nonstrict identities) in order to gain a probabilistic edge overotherwise arbitrary decision-making and prudential judgment. Thuswe invoke parsimony, simplicity, elegance, beauty, symmetry, utility,goodness and other aesthetical and ethical and logical existentialorientations, advancing notions like Pascals Wager, for example, andtaking courage to leap with Kierkegaard. And it is here that I wouldpropose that these philosophic norms transist into theological virtue,which I propose might be understood in terms of the amplification ofrisks toward the augmentation of value. As we gather from Haughts Cosmic Adventure and aesthetic teleology, the more fragile the morebeautiful. And, as we know from nonequilibrium thermodynamics, thegreater the number of bifurcations and permutations in a structurescomposition, the more fragile ---because it runs a greater risk ofdisintegration--- hence, the more beautiful. So, the leap, the wager,from a philosophic epistemic virtue to a theological virtue, from logicand aesthetics and ethics to faith and hope and love, is an amplificationof risk (kenosis as risk of disintegration) toward the augmentation ofvalue, an increase in truth, beauty and goodness, mediated by creed,cult and code in community, both a philosophical community ofinquiry and a theological community of lovers.
  • My affinity for Peirce comes from my appreciation of his pragmaticlogic and theory of meaning and affirmation of metaphysics as a validbut fallible enterprise. Beyond that, I otherwise sympathize with theanalytical approaches and the advocates of common sense and anyother approaches that incorporate some type of fallibilism or criticalrealism. And beyond that, I really am not looking for additionalepistemological or methodological rigor other than that practiced byconventional science and that enjoyed in colloquial usage (includingthe "leap" of faith) and subject to linguistic analysis.Some of my critics are absolutely right in that I am an inveterateeclectic, methodologically, and also in that I will not get down to brasstacks, systematically, either, in order to make any metaphysicalcommitments. I do not receive such charges as an indictment butrather as an exoneration and proof that, philosophically, I am fetishfree.It is my simple thesis that most people are competent in theirinteractions with reality because we have evolved that way. That is atautology, to be sure. But it is a taut one, empirically. Peirce is exactlyright in his use of the analogy of a cable with many strands or filamentsto explain human knowledge. The reason most people are competent isthat they have enough strands. We are also fallible, because no one hasthem all.Epistemology searches for an eschatological ideal that would accountfor every strand and epistemologists argue about the attributes ofdifferently-stranded cables. Good for them. But these arguments, inmy view, reach a point of diminishing returns where, for all practicalpurposes, the differences in their positions become so nuanced as notto be relevant to me vis a vis my value-realization pursuits.Ontologists, for their part, argue about how high they have rope-climbed these cables and what vista they have taken in, cosmologically,or how low they have descended into the deepest structures of matterto discern realitys microstructures. Their arguments, too, reach a pointof diminishing returns vis a vis my value-realizations.Although there is no theoretical constraint on how high or lowhumankind can travel, hoisting itself on its epistemic cables, for allpractical purposes, our radical finitude limits our horizons vis a vishumanitys ultimate concerns. And this, then, places me in deep sympathy with Wittgenstein, Pascal, James, Kierkegaard et al with myqualifying proviso being that faith takes us beyond but not withoutreason, which is to recognize that we do need different strands toconstruct our cables and that some cables are indeed better thanothers. Which strands are necessary and how many of them aresufficient is problematical. What would make for the ideal cable ishighly problematical. I think it is fair, then, to talk in terms ofadequacy, abundance and superabundance (or degrees ofparticipation, if you will) when it comes to epistemic cables vis a visvalue-realizations.Now, one of my central contentions is that a philosophicalanthropology that does not recognize and affirm a humanexceptionalism is not empirically demonstrable and therefore notphilosophically defensible. I further contend that such a philosophicalanthropology does not necessarily derive from a Peircean-informedperspective, neither from a religious nor a secular outlook. For
  • example, I largely resonate with Ursula Goodenough and TerryDeacon, who have set forth what I interpret as a naturalistic account of human exceptionalism and I also direct you tohttp://christiannonduality.com/other_online_resources where you can follow the link to: Pansemioentheism: An Emergentist Accountof the Biosemiotic Categories of Religion from a panentheisticperspective where I develop and defend this position myself.We might test the PaNSY heuristic for an axiological epistemologicalarchitectonic by parsing these epistemic dynamics with its categories:normative, descriptive, interpretive, evaluative, semiotic, theoretic,heuristic and dogmatic. The explanatory adequacy of the heuristic canbe tested by its ability to model and critique other approaches, whetherof theological apologetics (evidential, rational, presuppositional orexistential), spiritual dispositions (encratism, quietism, rationalism,pietism/fideism) or philosophical schools (Platonic, Aristotelian,Kantian, Humean, Existentialism, Phenomenological, Analytical,Pragmatism), as well as a host of other modern and postmodern -isms,like scientism, nihilism, gnosticism and various radical fundamentalisms, many which are more or less insidious.What are at issue, typically, are notions involving such matters asprivilege, primacy, autonomy, integrality, holism and holonism, all asmight be applied to various furnishings in our epistemic suite, whethercouched in terms of classical faculty psychology (both functional andstructural), classical spirituality (memory, understanding and will),evolutionary epistemology (ecological rationality of a distributedneuronal network), philosophical methodolgy (the categories ofLonergans philosophical anthropology, Peirces triadic semiotic,Nevilles axiological hypotheses, Gelpis conceptual and evaluativecontinua) or the more colloquial categories of empirical, logical,rational, positivist, practical, pragmatic, aesthetical, ethical, moral and inter-relational (personal and impersonal, subjective and objective).There are also critical distinctions that must be drawn, such as thatbetween a successful description and a successful reference, such asthat between epistemic indeterminacy and ontological and semanticalvagueness, such as that between theories of truth and justification,such as that between criteria of truth and tests for truth, the truth-conducive and the truth-indicative, epistemic warrant and epistemicparity, formal and informal argumentation, prudential andnonprudential, inferential and noninferential, cognitive and affective,conceptual and subliminal and instinctual, sensation & perception &emotion & motivation & intuition & learning & memory & linguistics,and scholastic notations (possible, plausible, probable, certain,uncertain, improbable, implausible, impossible).  Sometimes, this consideration all seems to boil down to two major distinctions, which is to suggest that most ofphilosophical anthropology rests on knowing when it is thatwe have a true dichotomy or a mere distinction andwhether or not the real nub is speculative or practical. Atbottom, a lot of philosophical conundra will resolve if werealize that, while the real nub, in the final analysis mightwell be speculative, for now, most matters must getadjudicated practically.Well continue our critiques of other schools and systems ... ... later,perhaps.
  • Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Christian NondualityNEW: CathlimergentInternet Forum CHRISTIAN NONDUALITYThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets WestKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini From Nicholas of Cusa:No-Self & Nirvana  elucidated byDumoulin "I have found the place where one can find Thee undisguised. It is surrounded by the coincidence of opposites. This is the wall of ParadiseOne: EssentialWritings in in which Thou dwellest. Its gate is guarded by the “highest spirit ofNonduality - a review reason”. Unless one overcomes it, the entrance will not open. On the other side of the wall of the coincidence of opposites one can see Thee,Simone Weil on this side never."John of the Cross  Thomas Merton The coincidence of opposites is a certain kind of unity perceived asThe True Self coincidence, a unity of contrarieties overcoming opposition byThe Passion convergence without destroying or merely blending the constituentHermeneutical elements. Although in once sense not obliterated, in another theEclecticism & constituent elements shed their multiple, differentiated status.Interreligious Examples would include the coincidence of rest and motion, past andDialogue future, diversity and identity, inequality and equality, and divisibilityThe Spirit and simplicity.Christian Nonduality  more on Nonduality ... coincidence does not really describe God. Rather it sets forth the wayThe ContemplativeStance God works, the order of things in relation to God and to each other, and the manner by which humans may approach and abide in God.Hesychasm God is beyond the realm of contradictories. God ... preceded opposites,Mysticism - properlyconsidered is undifferentiated, not other, incomparable, and without opposite,Karl Rahner precedes distinctions, opposition, contrariety, and contradiction.Wounded Innocence ____________________________________________________________Rogation Days  Radical Orthodoxy  
  • Presuppositionalismvs Nihilism? What Nicholas of Cusa describes regarding the coincidentiaScience oppositorum is very reminiscent of the type of nuance we find inEpistemic Virtue semiotic theory vis a vis the principles of excluded middle and noncontradiction and when they hold and when they fold. It is alsoPan-semio-entheism: a found in all approaches to the univocity and equivocity and analogy ofpneumatological being, whether of Scotus or Aquinas. It is found in early Dionysiantheology of nature logic, in Meister Eckhart and in the modern American Pragmatism ofArchitectonic Charles Sanders Peirce. I first learned of it from the teachings ofAnglican - RomanDialogue Richard Rohr. It resonates with my own Franciscan sensibilities,The Ethos of Eros incarnational imagination and appreciation for Scotus. I elaborate onMusings on Peirce all of this here at Johnboy’s Homepage.Eskimo Kiss Waltz  the Light Side of ____________________________________________________________Dark Comedy  Blog Visits I like what Fr. Rohr says here:Other OnlineResources quote:Are YOU Going toScarborough Fair? "The Secret" which is now gaining popularity in the USA, is probably aSuggested Reading classic example of something that is partially true, and even good, being made into the only lens through which you read reality, and thenTim Kings PostChristian Blog it becomes untrue. Heresy could be defined as when we absolutize a partial truth, and I believe that is what is happeningThe Dylan Mass here. But I would also love for Christians to learn the partialIf You Are In truth, and that is why we teach the contemplative mindDistress, Spiritual or here.Otherwisepending  The Great Traditionproperly conceived And he says this in the context of speaking against Gnosticism and forPostmodern Incarnationalism, which is our portal to the Divine via the particular,ConservativeCatholic Pentecostal the concrete, the physical ... even the sad and painful. Thats what wed expect from a good Franciscan, nest pas?   Fr. Rohr also wrote: quote: We are also preaching to a largely secular world, and must find a language that they can understand and draw from, as Paul did, and not insist that they learn our vocabulary before we can even talk to them or hear them. How else can we ever be “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22) or dare to think that we can “preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:16)? Center   I think he is right on in what he is saying here. At the same time, we must take great care, semiotically and semantically, to make sure that the terms, categories and logic employed by any vocabulary of choice in our dialogue are referencing and describing the same realities, hence my ongoing emphasis on the need for deliberate disambiguation, careful parsing, high nuance, rigorous definition and suitable logic or grammar. From THE PARADOX OF NON-DUALITY by Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO
  • quote:The state of non-duality is addressed in most of the advanced spiritualtraditionsof the world religions. It is sometimes referred to as No Self orEmptiness, as in Buddhism. It refers to the death of the false self or egoand the diminishment or extinction of the separate self sense, alongwith the abiding sense of unity with Ultimate Reality. My first reading of Keating was that he was facilely mapping one set ofexperiences over another without much rigor, disambiguation orparsing. Looking more closely, I feel safe in attributing an epistemicstance to him rather than an ontological perspective because I canglean that from within the context of other things he wrote in thatsame article and other things hes written over the years.It is not just a distinction between an epistemic stance andan ontological perspective, which is crucial, it is also amatter of distinguishing between states, structures andstages that, on one hand, ordinarily correlate (which I thinkit is fair to say) or, on the other hand, necessarily indicate(which would be patently absurd) one transformative orunitive level or another. I conceive of the False Self as the persona, which is a good andnecessary thing, just not a sufficient thing for completing thetransformative journey. We go beyond it but not without it. The NoSelf is not, then, the True Self that follows the development of thepersona on our journey of individuation and transformation. The NoSelf is, rather, an experience of nondual awareness, of absolute unitarybeing. It may be, though, that this No Self experience is correlated withthe journey to True Self. We find them together, often. quote:Non-duality is clearly a state beyond what is called in the Christiancontemplative tradition “Transforming Union.” The Cistercians,Franciscans, Carmelites, and other religious groups have described thisstate as “bridal mysticism.”  Nondual awareness is a metaphysical intuition, not a state of virtue orlevel of transformation. It is, rather, value-neutral, in fact. Now, again,it may be that it is well-correlated with this state of virtue. quote:The unifying force of divine love draws and unites the soul intoineffable experiences of union with the Beloved and forgetfulness ofself. They remain two however. This seems quite alright vis a vis a spousal or bridal mysticism, in andof itself, which should not otherwise be equated with nondual states ofawareness but might well be highly correlated with experiences ofsame. It is preferable to other formulations of No Self, which annihilatethe ego, self or even personhood. quote:St. John of the Cross in the “Living Flame of Love” hints at higher
  • states of union, but is not explicit. Some of the Beguines of the 12thand 13th centuries wrote explicitly of the Transforming Union asinitiating a further journey into states of unity consciousness thatparallel the descriptions of no self or enlightenment found inBuddhism, Advaitic Vedanta, or Sufi literature. Here there is no self atall. We must be clear as to whether or not we are talking about a fleetingepistemic experience or an ontological reality. Keating properly speaksin epistemic terms is my take. quote:Perhaps it might be useful to orient practitioners to the paradox ofliving a life that is neither dual nor non-dual, just as some spiritualtraditions affirm that the Absolute is not this, not that—or similar tothe statement, not one, not two. These paradoxes point tothe fact that God is beyond all that exists and beyond all categories ofbeing and non-being, as well as in all that exists. I rather like that.It seems clear that Fr. Keating talks in terms of awareness or a sense ofthis or that, which is to say in epistemic terms, but does not commit themetaphysical category errors of others who make sweeping ontological& metaphysical claims. He affirms the dialectic between apophatic andkataphatic, nondual and dual (and transdual).When I say tertradalectical, I mean to nurture the interplay, forexample, of sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling; or between theempirical, rational, practical and relational; or between the subjective,objective, intersubjective and interobjective; or between thedescriptive, prescriptive, interpretive and evaluative; or between thepositivist, philosophic, theistic and theotic; or between truth, beauty,goodness and unity; or between creed, cult, code and community andso on. These different approaches, faculties, sensibilities andmethodologies are not each holonic (the Wilber mistake that leads toarational gnosticism) but are tetradically holistic. That one correctionto Wilber cures a host of ills, I believe. At any rate, I sense that Keatingand Rohr definitely get this aspect right.Fr. Keating wrote:quote:Non-duality is clearly a state beyond what is called in the Christiancontemplative tradition “Transforming Union.” The Cistercians,Franciscans, Carmelites, and other religious groups have described thisstate as “bridal mysticism.” It involves the union of love with God inwhich the will and intellect are united to God, whether in interior trialssuch as the feeling of God’s absence or the delights of mature,apophatic contemplation. The unifying force of divine love draws andunites the soul into ineffable experiences of union with the Belovedand forgetfulness of self. Metaphorically, the way I have received this all is that, this nondualself-forgetfulness is an ecstatic journey on which we venture and from
  • which we return, again and again and again. This bridal mysticism isnothing less than Divine intercourse of those otherwise already joinedin Mystical Union. To be metaphorically explicit, it is the differencebetween Marriage and the Marriage Bed.Bernard of ClairvauxOn the Song of SongsBut notice that in spiritual marriage there are two kinds of birth, andthus two kinds of offspring, though not opposite. For spiritual persons,like holy mothers, may bring souls to birth by preaching, or may givebirth to spiritual insights by meditation. In this latter kind of birth thesoul leaves even its bodily senses and is separated from them, so thatin her awareness of the Word she is not aware of herself. This happenswhen the mind is enraptured by the unutterable sweetness of theWord, so that it withdraws, or rather is transported, and escapes fromitself to enjoy the Word. The soul is affected in one way when it is madefruitful by the Word, in another when it enjoys the Word: in the one itis considering the needs of its neighbor; in the other it is allured by thesweetness of the Word. A mother is happy in her child; a bride is evenhappier in her bridegrooms embrace. The children are dear, they arethe pledge of his love, but his kisses give her greater pleasure. It is goodto save many souls, but there is far more pleasure in going aside to bewith the Word. But when does this happen and for how long?It is sweet intercourse, but lasts a short time and isexperienced rarely! This is what I spoke of before, when Isaid that the final reason for the soul to seek the Word wasto enjoy him in bliss.See this story of one journeyer.As Fr. Keating once explained in response to a questionnaire:quote:There is no way to accurately judge when a person has moved fromCentering Prayer with its minimal effort towards consent andsurrender to Gods presence, to a state of infused contemplation wherethe Holy Spirit is fully directing the prayer or "praying us." There aresome signs, but no distinct states discernable to ordinary humandiscrimination. Those who are faithful to the practice of CPgradually give up the need to know "where they are" andlearn to surrender more and more to what God wants tohave happen. So, for all the talk of stages and levels and ways regarding thetransformative journey, it is good counsel to give up the need to knowwhere we are or where others are on this journey for there is no way toaccurately judge such things. It is important, in my view, to draw adistinction between phenomenal states and psychic structures, on onehand, and transformative stages and levels of virtue, on the otherhand. It is enough to know that they can often be highly correlated butimportant to know that they are not necessarily otherwise trulyindicative one of the other. Some are given glimpses. Some experiencesare fleeting and transitory. Others are more perduring. All is unmeritedand freely given by God for reasons known to Him alone.This is how I would conceive any state beyond transforming union.This is clearly, in St. Bernards view, a matter of experience, a type ofawareness, an affective moment, an epistemic value-realization and
  • not, rather, a perduring ontological reality.The following is an excerpt from an introduction to St. BernardsSermons on the Song of Songs by Prof. Katherine Gill for her coursesat Yale Divinity School and Boston College:quote:Sermon 52 illustrates Bernards conviction that contemplation is aforetaste of heaven and a mystical (bridal) sleep that vivifies themystical senses. But he also viewed it as a type of ecstatic dying tothe world and as an apophatic, imageless-therefore,"angelic"contemplation of God. For St. John of the Cross, bridal sleepis the most apostolic work a person can do for the Church, becausetherein a person does what he or she was created for: to love and to beloved.The selected text from Sermon 74 is one of the most stunningattempts in the entire Christian mystical tradition todescribe the mystical experience. When the Word invades thesoul, he cannot be perceived by the senses. However, the heart, or thepersons deepest center, suddenly becomes alive and its most secretfaults are disclosed. When the Word leaves, it is like a boilingpot removed from the stove. The Life of the souls life seemsto have disappeared.Sermons 83 and 85 describe spiritual marriage and spiritual fecundity.The Word actually takes the soul as his bride, and two become one inspirit, yet remain two. Spousal mysticism emphasizes adifferentiated unity. In other words, love actually makes twoone, but also enhances personal identity. Love makes the soulequal to God, God by participation, but not simply God. Also, Bernardemphasizes that bridal love loves God for his own sake. Although asbride, the soul desires the Bridegrooms embrace, as mother she lovesher children, that is, her neighbor. We must honor the distinction between a mystical experience, on onehand, and a level or degree or stage or state of sanctity or virtue orperfect charity, otoh. Sure, there are manifold and multiformphenomenal states, psychic phenomena or experiences that can becorrelated with whether or not one is on the purgative or illuminativeway, whether one is in this or that interior mansion, whether one is atbase camp or the summit of Mt. Carmel.When speaking epistemically, especially of nonduality, a state would betemporary, an epistemological structure, or if you prefer stage, wouldbe more permanent, which is to recognize a type of nondualconsciousness that is not so much an experience per se as it is, instead,a way of perceiving reality.Of course, there is another notion of nondual realization, not of anexperience or perception or type of awareness, in which case the stateof ones consciousness doesnt matter: nonduality is just there to see.And it does seem to me that a good panentheist might figure this outthrough philosophical contemplation, someone else through anintuition of being, still another through a kundalini experience, yetanother through enlightenment. If Keating indeed follows Wilberstake, this is all a nondual state entails.At any rate, there is more to this stage paradigm than just theexperiential aspect; when speaking of the transforming union we aretalking not just about phenomenal experiences but habitual virtue,increased charity & sanctifying grace, preservation from mortal sin andgeneral avoidance of venial sin and so on. Mystical ecstasy is a type of nonduality, but does not exhaust thatreality. Keating speaks of the transient nature of such ecstasy as is
  • associated with bridal mysticism. I do not interpret him to besuggesting that this is what becomes permanent. Rather, at this point,Id suspect he thinks in terms of nondual realization, anepistemological structure, whether one thinks of that in terms of aperduring unitive consciousness (or way of perceiving reality), or, asWilber would (and Keating leans on Wilber), nondual realization,which doesnt require any form of consciousness per se. quote:johnboy:... nonduality is just there to see. And it does seem to me thata good panentheist might figure this out throughphilosophical contemplation ...Now, this may seem to leave a question begging ... of why, when itcomes to nonduality, so many go the pantheistic route, or, worse, thematerialist monist route, or maybe not as bad, the idealist monistroute, rather than the panentheist route. And Im just going to leavethis here as a footnote. The reason is, in my view, that they have notseen the wisdom of Dionysian logic, as has a modern counterpart in thesemiotic approach of Charles Sanders Peirce; or they have not beenexposed to a dialogue between the univocity and analogy of being, ofDuns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas. Or, they just dont know how to getaround the seeming inviolability of the principle of noncontradiction.The answer lies in the coincidentia oppositorum of Nicholas ofCusa.The closest thing in Christianity to the way I usually hear "nondual"being used is "union," which presupposes an intimacy between two-in-love. Theres nothing in Christianity about the soul and God being oneand the same thing. Of course, it would take extensive dialogue toknow if thats what the Easterners intend to be saying, as, in sometraditions like Buddhism, the terms soul and God arent used (and its astrain to find conceptual equivalents). Hinduisms Atman andBrahman are closer, but, in the end, these turn out to be one and thesame. So, no -- Christianitys doctrine of creation is rather unique.We should note, here, that BR doesnt use the term "nondual" and itsnot what she means to be saying by no-self. For her, no-self signifiesthe extinguishing of human consciousness, which is a prelude to thediscovery of what lies beyond.  Posted by johnboy (Member # 31) on 03 July, 2008 10:00 PM:  quote:Originally posted by Phil:The closest thing in Christianity to the way I usually hear"nondual" being used is "union," which presupposes anintimacy between two-in-love. Theres nothing inChristianity about the soul and God being one and the samething. Of course, it would take extensive dialogue ...Defining everything that one might mean by nondual is like trying tonail jello to the wall.When it comes to a theism properly conceived, which excludesatheism, pantheism and other nontheistic traditions, I think the bigdivide, theologically, precisely has to do with defining our relationshipto ultimate reality.It has always seemed to me that, when talking about God, some people
  • equate our unitive striving in terms of a journey toward intimacy,or even more plainly put, as a transformation from what might startout as a merely functional relationship into a purely personalrelationship. It has to do, then, with getting closer.Others conceive of this unitive striving as a dance betweenrelationship and identity, as a journey from intersubjectivity intoabsolute subjectivity. Some affirm this intersubjectivity and then striveto transform it into absolute subjectivity; others see thisintersubjectivity as an illusion.There is nothing in the Christian tradition that corresponds to thissecond type of unitive striving. Anyone who suggests this isnt so muchbeing a heretic as they are just plain being silly.Now, it is possible to conceive of God, philosophically, as mostly in afunctional relationship with creation, so there are other ways to betheistic without relating to the Creator as Abba or as in bridalmysticism. This isnt an option for the Christian. If Jesus revealedanything, then He revealed an actively involved and deeply caring God,building on the Hebrew experience. (Of course, lets not forget theSong of Songs, either). Thus, He taught us to pray, Our Father ...Aside from these distinctly theological concerns, nondual has differentmeanings that pertain to 1) psychological states: altered states ofconsciousness, ecstasy 2) epistemological states and structures:nondiscursive, preconceptual and transconceptual awareness;avoidance of subject-object cleavage; epistemic vagueness;nominalism & essentialism 3) linguistic and semioticapproaches: Dionysian logic, semantical vagueness, triadic semioticgrammar; deconstruction strategies 4) metaphysical & ontologicaltheories: idealist and materialist monisms; aristotelianhylomorphism; ontological vagueness; modal ontology 5)philosophical: false dichotomies; binary logic; dualistic conceptions6) ascetical practices & spiritual disciplines of all sorts, what wemight call spiritual technologyIt is not important to understand what each item in the aboveinventory means. It should demonstrate the difficulty indisambiguating the term. Beside, I wanted to make a little inventorylike this for my own reference and your question evoked same.Finally, there is nothing distinctly nondual, from the standpoint ofnatural or revealed theology, in Christianity. From the standpoint ofascetical and mystical theology, and formative spirituality, "thenondual" can pop up in any number of places and be successfullyintegrated. It also presents itself in various scientific, metaphysical,psychological and anthropological considerations and can beappropriated that way, although as Phil pointed out earlier, ourtheological commitments do make certain claims on these other foci ofhuman concern, mostly at the axiomatic or presuppositional level.Wise men among us can say all of this so much more succinctly:quote:We cultivate the intuition of being by pursuing our deepest inneraspirations that transcend metaphysics itself. The more we situate Zenin this ascent, the better able we will be to let it inspire bothmetaphysics and Christian mysticism, and be inspired by them inturn. Each is enamored by existence in its own way. Themetaphysics of St. Thomas wants to understand it, and to do so, it usesconcepts and pushes them to their ultimate limits where they displaytheir innermost nature as reflections of existence. Zen wants to activelyembrace existence so it resolutely puts aside all concepts, and in thisemptiness finds the way to existence. Christian mysticism wants to beembraced by existence and see revealed in its depths its most intimateface, which is love. There is no reason except our own weaknessthat prevents all three from sharing with each other the
  • riches they have found in the service of this one Existence,or Nothingness.Chapter 8: Zen Catholicism? in _God, Zen and the Intuition of Being_by Jim ArrajOne might look at the nonduality inventory above and ask just howBRs accounts square with it? What categories do her teachingsattempt to address or otherwise ignore?In closing, it seems that, when people are speaking about the nondualin strictly natural theological terms, they are describing ultimate realityin terms of Oneness. When people are speaking about the nondual inthese other areas of human concern, nondual need not imply onenessor absoluteness or simplicity; rather, in overcoming two-ness orduality, other strategies present themselves. Think about what thesemight be before reading on. Use this as a Zen koan. Then, scroll down.............These other strategies include threeness, fourness, fiveness and so on.Mostly, though, we see people employing triadic and tetradic strategies.Charles Sanders Peirce built a whole philosophical method or grammaron the triadic, bordering on what some have called triadomania.Pseudo-Dionysius and other neo-platonic philosophers and mysticsused a triadic grammar, too. Psychology and spirituality is full oftetradic approaches, largely due to our brain quadrants, although ourbrain functions are much more distributed than many ever thoughtpossible.To be nondual in tiddly winks, all you have to do is to skiptwosies! ____________________________________________________________ When evaluating phenomenal states, psychic structures, psychologicalstages, Lonergans conversions and ontological and theological degreesof perfection, we must carefully define their essential nature, inventorythe graces that might accompany them and identify their fruits. Inother words, we need to draw distinctions, but as Maritain said, inorder to unite.Since grace can build on nature, any epistemic value-realization offers promise, including such as Zen andnondual realization, including such as natural science andnatural mysticism. It also offers perils and pitfalls, for, asRichard Rohr says, "something that is partially true, and
  • even good, [can be] made into the only lens through whichyou read reality, and then it becomes untrue. Heresy couldbe defined as when we absolutize a partial truth."Natural science is a partial truth. When it becomes "the only lensthrough which you read reality ... then it becomes untrue," or what wecall scientism.Natural mysticism is a partial truth, but, when it becomes "the onlylens through which you read reality, then it becomes untrue," or whatArraj has called "nondualist imperialism."Jim writes:quote:what does this kind of nondualist imperialism do to Christianity? Iteliminates its distinctive nature. Let me be clear about this. Used inthis way, Zen awakening, which could be a wonderful gift forChristians, becomes destructive to Christianity.  Addenda on Keating:JB, note the influence of BR on Keating in the quote below:quote:On the Christian path, God is known first as the personalGod, then as the transpersonal God, and finally as theUltimate Reality beyond all personal and impersonalcategories. Since Gods existence, knowledge and activity areone, Ultimate Reality is discovered to be That-which-is.- http://www.centeringprayer.com/Mystery/2easter07.htmYou buy?This is a prime example of our need to employ Dionysian logic, toembrace the coincidentia oppositorum.We must distinguish between univocal and equivocal predications ofGod. We generally cannot employ univocity when speaking of Godand creatures, which is to recognize that the words we use to describehumans, like person, for example, cannot be literally predicated ofGod. There is an equivocity in play in any words we use to describeboth God and humans. The way we bridge these distinct realities is toemploy, then, analogical predications, which is to affirm that theTrinity is in a relationship LIKE that enjoyed by us a persons.When we speak of the Mystical Body of Christ or the Cosmic Christ, wespeak of an eternal reality and employ such words as body and cosmic,not literally, but analogically. Even when we speak of Jesus in His lifeon earth, the precise nature of His humanity remains shrouded inmystery and these rules of predication would apply metaphysically.Revelation, though, has literal and historical dimensions (what can Iknow?), anagogical dimensions (what can I hope for? Last Things?),mystagogical dimensions (how does this all relate? and initiate intomystery), allegorical sense (how is this metaphor sustained?) and the
  • tropological sense (morally and theotically, what must I do?). So,while we cannot say literally and metaphysically how Jesus essentialnature was realized, we can say that spiritually and morally He revealedthe fullness of Gods Trinitarian Life to us, as well as how we are torespond and what is in store for us.I think it is fair enough to say that our relationship with God is, in somesense, undeniably personal. As we conceive of the Mystical Body ofChrist, there is obviously something transpersonal, that goes beyondour understanding of the personal, which is not employed univocally ofGod and creatures in the first place. And there is absolutely nothingwrong with also recognizing that the Reality of God cannot be robustlydescribed using any of our human categories for, apophatically, theonly literal descriptions we can predicate of God are those statementsof what God is not.What we have, then, in Dionysian logic, is a trialectical(tetradalectical?)interplay between the both/and ofapophatic/univocal predications and the kataphatic/equivocalpredications, as well as the neither/nor of the unitive subversionof binary logic, hence, dichotomous thinking. Temporally speaking,we also have a tension between what we can experience now vseschatologically versus proleptically (as though the future werepresent).Therefore, when we read this: On the Christian path, God isknown first as the personal God, then as the transpersonalGod, and finally as the Ultimate Reality beyond all personaland impersonal categories. Since Gods existence, knowledgeand activity are one, Ultimate Reality is discovered to beThat-which-is ...There is no reason to interpret this in terms of strict binary logic, aseither/or dichotomies. It is an initiation into the Dionysian logic ofthe both/and/neither/nor. All of these references to God are true. Wego beyond each but without none. At least, this is the case I made aslead counsel for Meister Eckhart in my prior reincarnation as a canonlawyer.Theologians distinguish between primary and secondary objects of ourbeatific vision, and also between essential (subjective and objective)and accidental beatitudes. Keating is describing the essential beatitude,which is God alone, as our primary object, the Divine Essence seen bydirect intuition. There are also secondary objects, comprised of allother things of interest to us, including all of the sacred mysteries weponder now, including the communion of saints, all realities we willencounter as blessings accidental to beatitude: the fulfillment ofnatural aspirations and the company of Jesus (yes, with memory,understanding and will plus) and one another (yes, with memory,understanding and will plus) all with glorified resurrected bodies, aswell as the company of angels and other persons.For me, self must be identifiable as a person, and thats why I referredto the old classical description of the rational soul by Augustine:memory, understanding & will.This human memory, understanding and will is analogous to theTrinity. Some metaphysical approaches conceive of a disembodied soul(maybe two-dimensional) and some reject that idea as philosophicallysuspect. From what I think we know and dont know, it is best, in myview, to remain agnostic on this matter.What seems obvious is that death terminates human life as we know it,to be clear, both our memory, understanding and will, as rational soul,as well as the rest of our body. Personal immortality is not ametaphysical necessity but our resurrection by God, whatever thatentails, is a central element of our belief.What is true, above, about us as humans, is also true about Jesus as ahuman. At death, His personal, human self was terminated, in a word,
  • lost. After all, Jesus is true man. The notion of deified self, where Jesusis concerned, doesnt make sense. He was like us in all things but sin,ergo, not in need of deification or theosis; not to mention, He is alsotrue God. Maybe, such a deified self is somehow related to how, as ahuman, He grew in age and grace, and the more human He became,the more He realized Himself? I dunno.As true God, a person of the Trinity, we will experience, through directintuition, as our primary object of beatific vision and essentialbeatitude, Jesus essence as God, something to which I can confidentlyrefer but not truly describe.As true man, we will enjoy as a secondary object of beatific vision andan accidental beatitude, the company of Jesus, in His human nature,with that rational souls faculties of memory, understanding and will,as a human person, as His self, resurrected by God.God resurrected that man, Jesus, and I have reason to hope, therefore,hell resurrect this man johnboy, who is human and a member of theMystical Body of Christ, also joined to Jesus and others througheucharist, and who is still busy about theosis or deification.Jesus has a human body, a resurrected body including a self (rationalsoul w/memory, understanding and will), a glorified body, a presencein the eucharist, a mystical body, a cosmic incarnational presence andis the 2nd Person of the Trinity. The human Jesus self was sacrificedon the cross. His human existence was terminated, lost. This sacrifice,this death, this termination, this loss, was not final. On the third day ...you know the rest of the story, the Greatest Story Ever Told.quote:"Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things andenter into his glory?"And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to themin all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24: 26-27quote:But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live withhim. Romans 6Obviously, we can lose our self through death. God can resurrect it. Hedid Jesus. Without knowing the specific substances or modalities, orprocesses or events, of resurrection, even without human subjectiveimmortality, which some would consider a dubious metaphysicalproposition, we have every reason to believe that God can mediate tohuman persons our memory, understanding and will from His ownongoing life.As for this:quote:Now it just so happens that what Keating saying about Jesus here isexactly what BR is saying about her journey -- that no-self is the loss ofpersonal self, then on we go on to resurrection, ascenscion, etc.without a self. I see Keating saying that we and Jesus lose this self. I dont hear himdenying that we and Jesus get it back. I do hear him affirming that weand Jesus must also go beyond this self, Jesus, for His part, returningto His essence in the Godhead, the primary object of our beatific visionand our essential beatitude; we, for our part, becoming members of theMystical Body; creation, for its part, the Cosmic Christ. Neither do I
  • hear Keating denying that, as an accidental beatitude, we encounterJesus full resurrected humanity as one of the secondary objects of ourbeatific vision. I do hear Keating emphasizing the primary andessential and not addressing the secondary and accidental but dontfind anything inherently wrong in that. That others are perhaps moreconcerned with that which is secondary and accidental isunderstandable, but that says more about others and nothing aboutKeating.I think everyone is throwing around the term No-self too loosely. Nowit has to do with physical death; next it has to do with advaita vedanta;then it has to do with mystical ecstasy; or else with self-forgetfulness;or it has to do with nondual realization or nondual perspective ornondual awareness or nondual enlightenment or temporary nondualphenomenal states or permanent nondual epistemic structures; andlets not forget, whatever it is that BR suggests it might also be.____________________________________________________________In some cases, though, it is not a choice between church teaching andalternate interpretations thats being presented, but, rather, variousaspects of a theological reality that are not really in competition, areonly in apparent contradiction, which is to recognize that there aredifferent types of paradox (veridical, falsidical, conditional, antinomial-- beyond our scope here).____________________________________________________________ To the extent we have been considering nondual realization, alongsideother epistemic faculties, properly considered, I have emphasized theirholistic relationship and have suggested that all of our epistemicfaculties must enjoy an integral interplay, each with the others in everyhuman value-realization (whether dialectical, trialectical,tetradalectical or what have you). Wilber, on the surface, appears toaffirm this integrality with his all quadrant, all level approach, but, withno logic or coherence or empirical observations, a priori concludes thatthe nondual state is "the highest estate imaginable," and, there youhave it, the fatal epistemological ailment Arraj calls "nondualistimperialism."I have no problem with correlating nondual realization with this or thatstage in this or that paradigm, based on some type of empiricalobservation and rational demonstration of when and why it shouldemerge now versus later on our journeys of individuation, conversionor perfection, for example. When it does emerge, however it emergesand for whatever reasons, ascetical or philosophical, it must, then,simply take its place as one furnishing among others in our epistemicsuite, enjoying an integral interplay in all of our human value-realization pursuits.If in appropriating Wilber, one finds the nondual realization conceptuseful as an epistemological structure, more or less permanent, andone buys into an integrally conceived all quadrant-all level epistemicoutlook, and one sees some value, even, in his rather emergentist takeon the great chain/nest of being, I see no problems, really, in using thisgift in our Christian imaginations and modeling attempts.If what Wilber means by the "highest estate imaginable" is the nondualstance toward reality not conceived as in my account above (andthroughout this thread), then we are precisely looking at a "nondualistimperialism." And Christianity cannot appropriate that, and notbecause it is bad theology. Before that, it is plain and simple badscience coming from an epistemologically bankrupt philosophy.Daniel Helminiak explicates this problem:http://www.visionsofdaniel.net/R&HSch4.htmquote:
  • More specifically, the flaw in Wilbers presentation is that, in hisproposed levels of interior development, he mixes together stagesof cognitive development and levels of meditative experience.In the process, he calls "knowledge" what is merelyexperience, that is, data that could be questioned in a process thatcould lead to understanding and knowledge but that in themselves arenot knowledge. This confounding allows him to place on a singlecontinuum matters that are really very different. In a line he lays outapples after oranges and claims that they belong together since they areall fruits. And, indeed, his levels all do have something or other to dowith consciousness. But apples are not a further expression of oranges,and levels of meditative experience are not further stages of cognitivedevelopment. As Kelly (1996, p. 20) expresses the matter, "Clearly, thetranspersonal levels as a whole are of a completely different orderthan the ones that precede them [in Wilbers hierarchy]."Precisely because he adds meditative levels to the list ofcognitive stages, Wilber--along with centuries of fuzzythinking about mysticism--is able to maintain thatmeditative experiences constitute knowledge. Moreover, sincethe wildly variably conceived post-formal operational thought marksthe passage between the two sets, the claim to knowledge in the laterlevels easily slips in. Then, in the supposed highest attainment, theNondual, all the known characteristics of knowledge disappear; allconcepts, distinctions, and propositions become irrelevant; but thisphenomenon is nonetheless presented as a kind of knowledge. Theimplication--and explicit claim--is that all distinctions are ultimatelyirrelevant. I criticized this matter above. My point here is that itcontinues to control Wilbers theorizing, and it discredits his theorizingfor anyone who believes that knowledge and science entail articulateexplanation.Note fr FB thread:Daniel Helminiak, protege of Lonergan, critiques Wilber here:http://bit.ly/okzCI In my view, Wilber seems to unjustifiablyconflate knowledge & experience and to confuse being integralwith being inclusive. It is necessary to address all known realitiesin order to be integral, but it is not sufficient; they must also beproperly interrelated. ... Read moreHelminiak explicates this.While the transrational indeed enjoys a certain primacy in some oflifes most significant value-realizations, it must not otherwise beconsidered autonomous from the other rationalities or we have, ineffect, an arational gnosticism. There is much to affirm in Wilbersoutlook and I have wondered if he and Helminiak could establishmore common ground via nuance. After all, Wilbers claim thatthese epistemic capacities are holonic would seem reconcilable w/a view that calls for integrality w/o autonomy. I agree thatWilbers approach would be improved by some apophatictempering.Later we might flesh out how Zen, properly appropriated, can be aboon rather than a bust for the Christian contemplative. I havedescribed the perils and pitfalls, but do not want to deny the promises,which every Merton student would affirm. ____________________________________________________________ Instead of self and no self, think, for a moment, in terms of noisy selfand quiet selfand think of noisy and quiet in terms of emotional energy.
  • Think of the different ways we grow in authenticity: intellectual,affective, moral, social and religious (Lonergans conversions) and howgrowth in one way does not necessarily accompany growthin other ways.Think of how we can gain clarity of insight about reality, intellectually,sometimes throughinexplicable aha moments of brilliant raw awareness, which bubbles upfrom our unconscious, sometimes through arduous intellectual andphilosophical exertion.Think of how we grow in emotional maturity and individuationprocesses, sometimes through gradual and healthy formativeupbringing, sometimes from growth brought on by crisis and oursuccessful transcendence of circumstances, suffering and pain .Think of how we grow in faith and hope and love, sometimes throughgradual conversion and formation, sometimes through profoundlymoving metanoia experiences, sometimes through liminal experiencesthat take us away from the ordinary and open us to new encounters .It seems to me that, while all of these growth processes can be placed inthe service of eachother process, our individual paths reveal them to be otherwise quitedistinct.It also seems to me that, once our egos are relieved of thedisquiet of emotional energy, our psychic resources are thenavailable to better grow our authenticity such that, for example,1) intellectually, insights come with greater spontaneous facility andthey can be deep and profound and almost otherworldly (novel as theycan be in their unconscious origin), gifting us even with enlightenmentand nondual intuitions of the unity of being;2) affectively, our responsivity is more free and spontaneous, lessreactionary, more existentially-oriented toward what is life-giving andrelationship-enhancing, less neurotically-driven toward what is life-destroying and relationship-detracting, as our unconscious energy isproperly ordered away from anger, fear and inordinate desires andtoward purified desires and healthy appetites;3) virtuously, neither hand knows what the other is doing in moreauthentic love, which flows from the wellsprings of an unconsciousthat is centered in the things of God, with God, with the love of self forsake of God and the love of God for sake of God, though not withoutthe love of God for sake of self and not without the love of self for sakeof self ---for the self is not metaphysically annihilated, justenergetically quieted, affectively speakingAs you know, growth in intellect has never implied, necessarily,emotional growth or other aspects of psychological individuation orhuman authenticity. And this is true whether our metaphysical
  • insights come through arduous philosophical labor or fromspontaneous experiences of unitary being. Neither does emotionalmaturity necessarily imply growth in theological virtues. And we knowfrom our studies of the saints that the greatest faith, hope and lovehave been gifted humankind by the simplest of children and the mosteccentric of adults.What will happen to this or that individual who undergoes a loss of theaffective ego, a quieting of the noisy self?We do not know.It depends on their formation. It depends on their mental health, bothdue to internal chemical milieu and external circumstantial milieu. Itdepends on their ascetic disciplines and prayer routines. It depends ontheir meditation forms and durations. It depends on the One Whoinfuses mystical contemplation. It depends on where they happen to beon the path of this or that development. This is all way overdetermined.We do know that psychic structures and phenomenal states aresometimes closely linked to developmental stages, both psychologicaland spiritual. Sometimes they are not. We do know that such stages,structures and states are often in the service of theological virtue butthat sometimes they are not. We do know that what Merton called thefalse self (or persona) does not disappear but that we learn to gobeyond it through transformation.We do know that our personhood is integral and valued by God anddestined for ongoing conversion and authenticity and resurrectionalong with the quiet self, which remains restless until it rests in Him,alone.NO SELF, then, is not a level.NO SELF is not an absorption or annihilation.The only I that has been removed is the one between the NO and theSElf in the word NOiSE.Events, as you say, that you encounter and that other peopleencounter might legitimately be interpreted differently from thestandpoint of each persons internal growth in human authenticity (theconversions: intellectual, affective, moral, social and religious). Suchevents cannot be legitimately interpreted from the standpoint ofdescribing external physical and metaphysical realities, drawingontological conclusions about creation and the Creator. Suchspeculation is the domain of the sciences: positivist, normative andpractical (including theological science), which are advanced by acommunity of inquiry according to specific norms.In a prior post, I mentioned that, due to our being fashioned in thelikeness of God, we, even as creatures, enjoy an unfathomable depthdimension, which is to affirm that we can swim in one anothers depthsforever, too! And, for this reason, the essence of love that we sharewith one another is also off-limits to our discursive faculties, too. I
  • cannot begin to offer a robust explanatory apologetic for the who, what,when, where, how and why of my love for my children and spouse andextended family and friends. This dimension of relationality transcendsanything that I could tender in empirical, rational or practical terms.This does not mean, however, that I have been absorbed into myspouse or children (although sometimes, let me tell you ...)In closing, you ask: this stated accomplishment of NO SELF is justanother trick of the ego?Why would anyone consider this an accomplishment? In and of itself,as an experience, its origins are manifold and varied. I realize that thereis talk in the literature on nonduality of levels and stages and such, butthe loss of the affective ego is a value-neutral phenomenon, sometimesindicating health, sometimes disease, sometimes in the service oftransformation, sometimes leading to utter confusion as we grapplewith various interpretations. As with any alternating consolations anddesolations, I think the time-honored spiritual direction is to let go ofthese things, to discern the movement of the Spirit, to desire andoccupy ourselves in prayer, not so much to gain consolations but so asto gain the strength to serve (Teresa).____________________________________________________________In spiritual direction, it can be a thorny task discerning togetherexistential versus psychological issues, or spiritualemergence/emergencies. In psychology, it can be difficult to diagnosedepression as organic or reactive. The point is that none of this lendsitself to a facile analysis.But, also, in spiritual direction, suppose, for example, that one goal isto see ourselves as God see us, to employ an Ignatian approach. Or,perhaps our director has us working through our different conceptionsof God, our different images of God. In either case, a properunderstanding of our self, our false self, our true self, or even our no-self, and a proper understanding of God, and a proper understanding ofwho we are called to be in relationship to the world, other people, theself, the devil and the Trinity --- will profoundly impact our life ofprayer, our worship, our ministry, our fellowship. If we misconceiveGod as a stern, unforgiving Father-figure, as an eternal policeman,then it will affect all of the above understandings and experiences ofself, other, world and God.If we misconceive the creature-Creator relationship when we come outof a nondual experience, or a no-self experience, then it, too, canprofoundly influence all of these other understanding and experiences.This is not just a danger for people immersed in apophatic experiences.We have always recognized that wrongful over- and under-emphaseson this or that epistemic capacity can lead to error. For example, anoveremphasis on the apophatic and affective can lead to quietism; onthe affective and speculative can lead to encratism; on the kataphaticand affective to fideism and pietism; on the kataphatic and speculativeto rationalism; and so on and so forth. These encounters are integrally-related. Wrenched out of their context in the whole, they get swollen tomadness in their isolation (to borrow a metaphor from CS Lewis).Quietism, arationalism, gnosticism and other insidious -isms are the"fruits" of a tree not planted near living water. But so are rationalism,
  • fideism, pietism, scientism and so on.____________________________________________________________It has been said that we know more than we can tell. And this is true inmany ways. Think of kinesthetic intelligence and athletic prowess.Some excellent musicians never learned music theory but can just play,often at very early ages. We can navigate our way around this town orthat, but couldnt give directions. There are multiple "intelligences."The same is true for our somatic experience; doctors and nurses use asimple number scale to try to crudely gauge our pain levels. CardinalNewman described what he called our illative sense. Jung and Maritainaddressed our intuitive knowledge. There are parts of our brain thatprocess our phenomenal experience that have few or no linkages withother parts that govern our linguistic faculties. And so on and so forth.The converse is also manifestly true: We can tell more than weknow.. And we see people do this in a thousand mundane ways.Sometimes tentatively. Sometimes dogmatically. And when they trafficin falsifiable claims, sometimes they get caught. But when they trafficin nonfalsifiable claims, often they get away with it.The only way we can attempt to adjudicate conflicting nonfalsifiableclaims is to evaluate them from a pragmatic perspective, cashing outtheir value in terms of practical significance: If I believe this and act onthis, what are the implications? If there are none, then such claims arelikely harmless and useless.Clearly, though, as we discussed previously, our images of God, ourbeliefs about the Father almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth,Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord, the Holy Spirit, the holy catholicchurch, and the communion of saints and forgiveness of sins and theresurrection of the body and life everlasting, the efficacy of sacraments,the exegetical approach to scripture, the contemplative tradition and onand on --- all have tremendous existential import and profoundpractical implications. How do we pray? To Whom can we go? Whatcan I know? What can I hope for? What must I do?Because we are dealing with deep mysteries, which we can penetratebut not grasp, which we can partially apprehend but never fullycomprehend, much of church dogma is articulated with clearreferences to but not robust descriptions of these sacredmysteries, which with Mary, we must ponder in our hearts,the essence of contemplation. Our descriptions necessarily remainvague. Earlier on our journeys, our faith is clear but tentative. Lateron our transformative paths, universally, the church doctors andmystics report that our faith becomes obscure but certain.So, we have two criteria for evaluating claims: 1) practical implicationsfor the life of faith and 2) proper articulation of sacred mysteries. Andthose, in a nutshell, describe what this thread has been about. We havediscussed theological claims against time-honored doctrine and relatedtraditions. We have discussed implications for the life of prayer and ourwalk with the Lord. And, yes, we have approached it with high-fallooting categories and terms, which is helpful in one way, butacknowledge, too, that good old common sense can be even morehelpful in many other ways.
  • This much I know to be true. There is SO much in physics that we havenot settled. There is WAY too much in philosophy of mind thatremains unanswered. How MUCH MORE, then, metaphysically,regarding consciousness and realitys other givens in terms ofprimitives, forces and boundaries we simply do not yet know! Ergo,HOW woefully ignorant we are regarding things theological, where ourlanguage of the realm is vaguely descriptive even if otherwise robustlyreferential and relational!!!!! Anyone who supposes they really haveconsciousness figured out, along with the Great Chain of Being, let meknow, and I will forward your theory to those who are busy trying toreconcile gravity and quantum mechanics!If you hear anyone telling this untellable story, then Isuggest you pay no heed. Jesus already issued this injunctiveregarding Last Days and such. Who needs mine?If anyone comes back from an ineffable encounter and effables inclearly descriptive terms, then, by definition, they are telling more thanthey can tell. Now, I am not saying that the cure for gnosticism isagnosticism. Neither is it the cure for dogmatism. The humanepistemic approach is, rather, fallibilist. We move forward in fits andstarts as a community of inquiry, a community of believers.There is no sense in doubting peoples experiences or in denying theirdescriptions of same. There is MUCH to be learned from this wheat ofour lives. This is the storytelling that we do at table, eucharistically,when we take and eat such wheat. There is so much that has beenadded to our fund of spiritual and psychological knowledge frommodern day contemplatives and practitioners of various asceticdisciplines.We simply must not confuse the wheat of these experiences from whatcan be the chaff of different interpretations of same. Thoseinterpretations are subject to critique. And people are entitled to theirown opinions but they are not entitled to their own facts -- notempirically, not scientifically, not normatively and philosophically, notmetaphysically and not theologically, this last category which mustappropriate its analogues and metaphors from the preceding ones. Andthere is another criterion: if you hear anyone speaking literally aboutthat which can only be referred to analogically, pay no heed. Literaldescriptions are logically invalid in orthodox God-talk, except whenpredicated negatively, which is the whole point of apophatic theology.Finally, the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Watch for thesecriteria.B. Roberts wrote:quote:If anyone wonders why John of the Cross and other mystics nevertalked about No-Self they need only read what Mr. Arraj thinks aboutNo-Self. John of the Cross would have been thrown to the Buddhists,labeled a “natural mystic”, denied God’s supernatural grace, in short,be regarded as un-Christian.
  •  No, no, no, not at all!Merton drew distinctions between East and West in terms of thenatural and supernatural, apophatic and kataphatic, existential andtheological, impersonal and personal, and immanent andtranscendent. As Maritain always said about distinctions, wedistinguish in order to unite!From an incarnational perspective, these distinctions are not to becashed out in terms of levels of virtue, especially once considering thatwe are talking about unmerited gifts, all which proceed from the sameGiver of all good gifts!Whether from East or West, as Arraj would put it, every person is inthe same existential context called to the same supernaturaldestiny, but responds to this call in and through theconcrete circumstances they find themselves in.Furthermore, whether from East or West, every contemplative attainsto God, whether through emptiness or through an experience of God’spresence!Finally, whether from East or West, every soul is already elevated bygrace, is supernatural and produces supernatural acts attaining to God,whether through apophasis or kataphasis. Arraj does not deny this!All Jim is doing is articulating an old Thomistic distinction betweensubstance and mode, which is to say that, when it comes to substance,my attainment of God through praying the Psalms and a Hinduexperiencing God as led through Kundalini are both supernaturalaccording to substance!Neither would necessarily be supernatural according to mode, which isonly to say they aren’t what we would call infused contemplation. Noone is suggesting that infused contemplation is denied anyone by Godfor reasons of virtue, necessarily; rather, it may not be suitable forreasons of temperament or vocation. That’s all!B. Roberts continued:quote:It seems any Christian who talks about man’s final estate entailing theloss of individuality is going to get thrown out, condemned, ormercifully ignored. Had John of the Cross and others talked about thiswe’d never have heard of them. Obviously, they knew when to quit. Butthis is exactly why you will not find No-Self (or what I mean by this) inthe works of Christian mystics. Indeed, had I written this book in theMonastery it would never have seen the light of day. For some peoplein the Church, like Mr. Arraj, No-Self upsets their theological apple-carts. Although No-Self neither contradicts nor changes a singleChristian dogma, there’s no denying it is not meant for publicconsumption. Although No-Self is more orthodox than the orthodox,all people really need know is that they will be transformed into Christ.This knowledge is both sufficient and the Truth. (When they get therethey’ll see how wondrously it all works). If such a loss of individuality is to be understood in terms of an ecstaticjourneying to and from self-forgetfulness, analogous to ecstasy as it isordinarily conceived and experienced, differing however in both qualityand orders of magnitude, then I could accommodate what might beentailed by this spousal mysticism, which goes beyond, but notwithout, the unitive state. This would be an epistemic interpretation.And it begins to even put certain numinous experiences of my own in
  • context, even if not perduring past a period of a few years, long agonow.If this is to be otherwise interpreted ontologically, then someone istelling an untellable story. In the first place, we do not have thescience of consciousness, the philosophy of mind or the metaphysics ofemergent reality worked out yet, and, even if we did, such atranscendent state could not be spoken of literally, only metaphoricallyand with weak metaphors at that.Another thing that I find interesting, or maybe moreso perplexing, ishow loose folks can be in their use of the word consciousness. Last Iheard, in the Philosophy of Mind, this was still being called the hardproblem, notwithstanding Dennetts Consciousness Explained.I mentioned in a prior post how we can successfully refer to realitiesthat we cannot otherwise successfully describe. And this was in atheological context re: God-talk. This is also true regarding certainphysical and metaphysical realities. Before we go too far in describingthis or that consciousness theologically, it seems to me that it isnecessary that we obtain better descriptions of consciousnessphilosophically. And those are not to be had just yet.Consciousness thus remains one of those realities, from both aphysical and metaphysical perspective, to which we can successfullyrefer but which we cannot otherwise robustly describe with anysatisfying degree of explanatory adequacy. Concretely, then, forexample, does it have some quantum dimension? is it physicalist butnonreductively so? is it epiphenomenal? is it another primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy?Our positivist God-talk, which inhabits the last drawer in thelast desk of all metaphysical inquiry, is necessarily vagueand analogical, such as in the panentheist take which I setforth in my nonduality thread. This panentheist perspectiveis not invested in, and in fact is pretty much agnostic andindifferent to, any given philosophy of mind approach. Itcan live with whatever the scientists and philosophers comeup with, eventually, and will simply have a more robust God-analogue when such dust settles, if it ever does.This is all to suggest that we can get along quite well,theologically, from a merely phenomenological perspective,metaphysically, even as we wait for more knowledge,scientifically. No future discoveries in philosophy of mindwill jeopardize our human dignity or the rich tapestry anddepthful experiences of our encounters with reality, withothers, our world and our God. They will make our God-analogs richer and our tautological arguments more taut visa vis our grasps of reality.So, all this talk of consciousness here and consciousness there seemsto me to be empirically falsifiable. And, to the extent that it ever is not,it is otherwise nothing but the inhabitation of elaborate tautologieswhose conclusions are already buried in the very terms and premises oftheir arguments, which offer no way to cash out any value in terms of
  • practical significance. Its just people moving abstractions andconstructs around in logical formulae that have little or nocorrespondence to external reality (at least as I have or can, presently,experience same).I think we can successfully refer to such as global consciousness, forexample, from a vague semiotic perspective vis a vis a community ofinquiry, but to pretend to have successfully described same in terms ofsome type of organic evolution or kosmic address specifications isfarfetched, like this Wilberian thought, for example: The integralmodel I am suggesting therefore explicitly includes a correspondingsubtle energy at every level of consciousness across the entire spectrum(gross to subtle to causal, or matter to body to mind to soul to spirit).As I have understood BR vis a vis consciousness, she precisely definesNO SELF as NO CONSCIOUSNESS. Paradoxically, investing, in theend, nothing in consciousness, this opens the backdoor to the arationalgnosticism dwelling, which Wilber entered through the frontdoor byinvesting, in the end, everything in consciousness? There is nocritiquing of gnostic knowledge, by definition, especially when it isarational and unmediated? except that, in the end, only orthopraxiswill authenticate orthodoxy; we can look for "true glory" and fruitsfrom "true practice," which is love. We certainly wouldnt expectadditions to Revelation, or departures from established dogma, bothwhich can be inventoried, such "inventories" requiring a great deal ofparsing, disambiguation and nuancing.I think once we clarify what we think may be going on propositionally,then, we can set all that aside and focus more on what she reportsexperientially. She has given us a great gift with the generosity of hersharing of these profoundly personal experiences.Apparently, her own interpretations of same have grown and changedthrough the years, as would be expected. Our interpretations of herexperiences can change, too, through dialogue with other traditionsand depthful consideration of our own, through feedback from her.We neednt make more of this nor less of this than it really is: onepilgrims story.I think it would be a mistake to interpret it normatively, as if it could inany way be a map for anyone else. That is not how spiritualautobiographies work. They merely provide hints and clues andtouchstones for the journey, letting us know, usually retrospectively,that, sometimes, we have been where others have trod, hence, have nofear. They really do not function to tell us, prospectively, where we arebeing led or which way to go in order to get there. We already haveScripture & Tradition and a Teaching Office to mediate that type ofrevelation to us.For those called by temperament or vocation to a particular life ofprayer, such depthful sharing as BRs, regarding some of the promisesand pitfalls of experiences such as her own, can provide valuableinsight, spiritually and psychologically. It doesnt provide metaphysicaland theological revelations, at least not of universal import (vis a visthe norms for interpreting private revelation).
  • ____________________________________________________________In a nutshell, what I think happens is that folks extrapolate nondualrealizations ontologically, which is not a wholly unwarranted move.One of the very first things a westerner might intuit from such arealization is perhaps how a radically reductionistic materialist monismis just untenable. It is, in fact, the atheist credo.Never mind that some of us realize this through either common senseor philosophical contemplation, because it has real problems withleaving questions of infinite regress begging, which is why science waslargely stillborn in such "cyclical" traditions. So, one can see where thisreincarnational intuition came from also.So, over against any modernist Enlightenment fundamentalism, withits hallmark ontology of materialist monism, some postmodernistfundamentalists assert what they conceive to be a more robustontology of idealist monism, which is, in fact, the pantheist credo.And some do this through philosophical musing and some throughexistential realizations. The problem is, however, that the infiniteregress question still begs.Furthermore, this tautology is not taut enough vis a vis our empiricalencounters of reality, which is to charge that it is a partial butincomplete truth and equally reductionistic. It does not square,empirically, with self-realization. Nondual realization is notuntrue, but is a partial truth. Same for self-realization. Howcan we marry them? is our charge.Look at this Wilberian rendition of nondual mind:quote:According to the nondual traditions, as this nondual Spirit or Mind"steps down" into the relative, manifest plane, each individual mind orsubject remains nonlocally and immediately in touch with other mindsor subjects (all the way down), which is why, among other things,knowledge of other minds is possible. Once on the manifest or relativedimension, then the relative forms of intersubjectivity arise (three ofwhich were outlined by de Quincey, and four or five of which Ioutlined). But all of them can exist primarily because of the nondualultimate nature of consciousness itself, which is "a singular the pluralof which is unknown." This is the final and radical meaning ofintersubjectivity (namely, grounded in nondual Spirit), and this islikewise the fourth and ultimate meaning of the mind-body problemand its "solution" (namely, awaking to the one Mind or nondual Spirit,which is "not-two, not-one"). My simple suggestion is that all four orfive of these meanings and their solutions ought charitably to be
  • Christian Nonduality Radical Emergence - Nonduality & the Emerging ChurchNEW: CathlimergentInternet Forum  The ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen: Richard Rohr speaks of the four pillars of the Emerging Church 1)archetypes &transformation honest Jesus scholarship 2) peace & social justice 3) contemplation &East Meets West nonduality and 4) noninstitutional vehicles.Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & I would like to unpack this a little because I think it speaks directly toKundalini his approach to apologetics, which is merely “doing it better,” this overNo-Self & Nirvanaelucidated by against any overt proselytizing or critiquing of others (putting themDumoulin down, maybe, to preserve our own sick identity structures). This fitsOne: Essential well with the approach to evangelism articulated by the founder ofWritings in Richard’s order, the little man from Assisi, whom I’ll roughlyNonduality - a review paraphrase: Take every opportunity to evangelize and, only ifSimone Weil absolutely necessary, use words!John of the CrossThomas Merton There is clearly a self-subversive reform underway in the EmergingThe True Self Church. The first pillar of honest Jesus scholarship, in its efforts to articulate the truth we have encountered, addresses an orthodoxy thatThe Passion eschews dogmatism . The second pillar of peace & social justice, in itsHermeneuticalEclecticism & efforts to preserve the goodness we have encountered, addresses anInterreligious orthopraxy that eschews legalism . The third pillar of contemplation &Dialogue nonduality, in its efforts to celebrate the beauty we have encountered,The Spirit addresses an orthopathos that eschews ritualism. The fourth pillar ofChristian Nonduality noninstitutional vehicles, in its efforts to enjoy the fellowship (unity)more on Nonduality we have encountered, addresses an orthocommunio that eschewsThe Contemplative institutionalism.StanceHesychasm So, in some sense, the great traditions have always been about theMysticism - properly articulation of truth in creed, preservation of goodness in code,considered celebration of beauty in cult (or ritual) and enjoyment of fellowship inKarl Rahner community.Wounded Innocence An authentically integralist approach, then, will recognize Wilber’sRogation Days quadrants such that the objective enjoys its moment of primacy in ourRadical Orthodoxy pursuit of truth, the interobjective in our pursuit of goodness, the
  • Presuppositionalism subjective in our pursuit of beauty and the intersubjective in ourvs Nihilism? pursuit of community. In what I have called 1) the descriptive focus ofScience human concern, we pursue truth in asking What is it? 2) the normativeEpistemic Virtue focus, we pursue goodness in asking How do I acquire/avoid it? 3) thePan-semio-entheism: a evaluative focus, we pursue beauty in asking What’s it to me? and 4)pneumatological interpretive focus, we pursue unity in asking How does all this tie-theology of nature together (re-ligate)?Architectonic Each focus is a distinctly different value-pursuit and entails distinctlyAnglican - RomanDialogue autonomous methodologies, which is only to recognize that science,The Ethos of Eros philosophy, culture and religion are, indeed, autonomous disciplines,Musings on Peirce methodologically. What relates them integrally is that they areEskimo Kiss Waltz anything but autonomous, axiologically, which is only to recognize that none of these value-pursuits, alone, can effect a value-realizationthe Light Side ofDark Comedy without some involvement of the other foci of human concern, eachBlog Visits which presupposes the others, each which nests within the others,Other Online holonically. We can say that they are intellectually-related but notResources logically-related; this is a vague heuristic and not some purely formalAre YOU Going to system.Scarborough Fair?Suggested Reading Where we are headed, ecclesiologically, in my view then, is toward aTim Kings Post model of church that, respectively, vis a vis Rohr’s pillars, is 1)Christian Blog pneumatological, which is to say that it will primarily engage inThe Dylan Mass interreligious dialogue from the perspective of the Spirit, this overIf You Are In against any ecclesiocentric approach and perhaps even bracketing ourDistress, Spiritual or various Christological approaches 2) servant, which is to activelyOtherwise grapple with the questions of social justice & peace 3) herald, which ispending to recognize the orthopathic efficacies of the contemplative, nondualThe Great Traditionproperly conceived stance, inviting others to transformation via a shared social imaginary as cultivated by authentically transformative liturgical approaches, thisPostmodernConservative participatory approach emphasized over against the sterile and staleCatholic Pentecostal propositional apologetics of yesteryear and 4) mystical body, a visible manifestation of an invisible reality, to be sure, but dropping our old and insidious overemphases on the manifold and varied institutional structures. (cf. Dulles’ models of church) Wim Drees defines theology as a cosmology plus an axiology. Drees notes that, and serious emergentists might pay special attention, the discontinuity in emergent reality threatens the unity of the sciences. Because laws, themselves, emerge, we are on thin theoretical ice when speculating metaphysically re: the nature of primal reality, causal joints for divine prerogatives, and so on. While cosmological and axiological approaches are integrally-related, they are methodologically autonomous. Cosmology answers the questions 1) Is that a fact? (descriptively) and 2) How do I best acquire/avoid that? (normatively). Daniel Helminiak, a Lonergan protege, would describe these as positivist and philosophic activities and rightly affirms, in my view, the philosophic as spiritual quest. Even if one concedes, for arguments sake, our ability to travel from the descriptive to the prescriptive, given to normative, is to ought (and Mortimer Adler well-demonstrates that we can get from an is to an ought) still, due to our universal human condition, wherein we are all, for the most part, similarly situated, even if our reasoning differs for certain precepts & would be theoretically relativistic, still, from a practical perspective our precepts are going to be remarkably consistent.
  • The practical upshot of all of this is that cosmology, thus narrowlyconceived, is truly Everybody’s Story, which is to say we reallyshouldn’t go around wily-nily just making this stuff up because it isn’treally negotiable but is given.Axiology answers the questions 3) What’s it to me? (evaluatively) and4) How’s all this tie-together? (interpretively). Here we are dealing withhuman value-realizations, their definitions and prioritization, and withreligion. The reason we even have such a category as interpretationresults from our radical human finitude. It is not that we don’t affirmsuch a metaphysical realism as recognizes the validity and soundnessof a putative best interpretative “vision of the whole,” but that, at thisstage of humankind’s journey, it is exceedingly problematical to falliblydiscern and adjudicate between competing interpretations, especiallyas they fit into elaborate tautologies, all which are variously taut intheir grasp of reality.In some sense, our cosmology comprises the propositional aspect ofour metanarratives (aspiring to successful and robust descriptions withindications of correspondence) and our axiology comprises thenarrative aspect (aspiring to vague but successful references withinvitations to particpate). The postmodern critique does not instillincredulity toward our metanarratives per se; rather, it takes note ofhow every narrative aspect of our metanarratives is rooted in myth(yes, including scientism no less than fideism).  Analogous to Gödelsincompleteness theorems, we cannot prove our systems axioms withinthe system (evidentially, rationally, presuppositionally orpropositionally), itself, but this does not mean that we cannot tasteand see (existentially, as recommended by Ignatius, the Psalmist &enlightened speculative cosmologists ...) the truth of those axioms,which we would necessarily express - not formally, but - throughnarrative, story, myth.This framework establishes a certain amount of epistemic paritybetween worldviews and religions, which then get authenticated byhow well they institutionalize conversions: intellectual, affective,moral, social and religious and adjudicated with an equiplausibilityprinciple, which looks for life-giving and relationship-enhancingcriteria when choosing between otherwise ambiguous courses ofaction. We can also remain on the lookout for Gospel norms like alanguage of descent or "downward mobility" and a prophetic element(self-criticism). So, we do draw distinctions between a theory of truthand a test of truth and we do recognize that some aspects of reality arebest grasped through correspondence while other aspects grasp usthrough participation.One lesson we take away is that our reliance on myth reveals thatreality overflows our ability to process it, that creation, Creator andpeople present unfathomable depth dimensions that no encounter cancapture or exhaust. If in our cosmologies, with their empirical, logicaland practical foci, it is very much our intent to get the right answers,when it comes to our axiologies, with their relational foci, then, ourquest is to get the right questions (Whom does the grail serve?).Our fundamental trust in uncertain reality requires no apologetic,then, and fashioning one is as futile as explaining why we love ourBeloved in empirical, logical and practical terms (as if only extrinsicallyrewarding). Embodiments of truth, beauty, goodness and unity aretheir own rewards (intrinsically); they grasp us and possess us as we
  • participate in these values with our existential orientations to thesetranscendental imperatives. As we distinguish between wants andneeds, real and acquired desires, lesser and higher goods, ouraxiologies orient and dispose us to the higher goods, which we canenjoy without measure, and properly dispose us to the created goodsthat we really need in moderation and not in a disordered (John of theCross) or inordinate (Ignatius) way.Our cosmology, which is scientific and philosophic, descriptive andnormative, also includes our essentially spiritual quest, which isshaped by the positivist and normative sciences and addresses theorthopraxes of our ethical and moral strivings as well as those asceticalpractices and disciplines that enhance awareness, including certainmeditative practices, many which come from the East and are notinextricably bound to any religion or worldview (hence some areindeed spiritual without being religious, explicitly anyway). In ourcosmology, we better come to grips with our empirical, logical andpractical foci of concern and foster intellectual, moral and socialconversions.Our axiology, which is interpretive and evaluative, goes beyond but notwithout our cosmology and is shaped by our religious myths andliturgical celebrations, which address the orthopathos of our prayerand worship, public and private, forming and reinforcing ouraspirations and hopes, answering the question "Whats it to me?" in amanner that is properly ordered, truly fitting and proper, which is tosay, Eucharistically. There is no worldview or metanarrative withouteither an implicit or explicit axiology that is integrally related to onescosmology (so wed best tend to an explicit axiology in a consciously-competent manner). In fact, in addition to their methodologicalautonomy, our axiologies enjoy a primacy in relation to ourcosmologies, although otherwise axiologically-integrated.  It is our orthopathos that mediates between our orthodoxy and orthopraxis toeffect an authentic orthocommunio. If our unitive strivings come upshort, whether geopolitically or in our primary communities andfamilies, we might look at our prayer lives for, if we invoke, it is onlybecause we have been convoked. In our axiology, we better come togrips with our relational foci of concern, where our value-realizationsare trust, assent, fidelity, loyalty, faith, hope, love, eros, philia, agapeand so on and we better foster affective and religious conversions.We do our best to discern where Lonergan’s conversions have beeninstitutionalized, looking to see which interpretive approach bestfosters ongoing intellectual, affective, moral and social growth anddevelopment, leading to human authenticity. But we’re clearly in morenegotiable territory here with discourse dominated more by dogmatic(non-negotiated) and heuristic (still-in-negotiation) concepts, thiscontrasted to cosmological discourse, which has more theoretic(negotiated in community) concepts and semiotic concepts (non-negotiable b/c meaning, itself, is invested in them).In defining what my own Radical Emergence approach would beabout, then, I see it as an axiological vision of the whole. In sucha metanarrative, cosmology is left to the positivist, empirical scientificmethodologies, and to the philosophic, normative sciences. Religion,an interpretive endeavor, is constrained by the positivist & normativesciences, and employs a different & autonomous methodology (mythand liturgy), even though integrally-related to the other methodologies
  • in every value-realization. To be clear, by "integrally-related," I amsuggesting that a cosmology presupposes an axiology and vice versa,that our descriptive, normative, interpretive and evaluative foci ofhuman concern presuppose each other.As an axiological endeavor, the Emerging Church would foster theintentional evolution of the interpretive and evaluative aspects ofhuman value-realizations, which would enhance (and transvalue),also, our cosmological modeling power without interfering with itsautonomous methodologies (faith illuminating understanding). Overagainst both scientism and fideism, the Emerging Church would notconflate or compromise the autonomous methodologies of science,philosophy and religion, of descriptive, normative and interpretiveendeavors, but would integrate them axiologically.What would intentional evolution address? Nothing less than creed,cult, code and community (institutionalized), which aredeconstructible, as semiotic realities ordered toward truth, beauty,goodness and unity, which are not deconstructible. How would itaddress them? Through the amplification of epistemic risks as orderedtoward the augmentation of human value-realizations.Less abstractly and more concretely, how does one amplify epistemicrisks? Understanding yields to faith, memory to hope, will to love andalienation to community.More programatically, what route do I advocate? A Radical Emergence,rooted in the orthopathos and orthodoxy of tradition, as articulatedand valued by some in the Radical Orthodoxy movement, and opento the orthopraxes and orthocommunio of the future, as articulatedand valued by some in the Emerging Church conversation.Specifically, one efficacious route to ecclesial and personaltransformation is the surrender to the contemplative stance, the 3rdEye seeing, of nonduality, which is whathttp://christiannonduality.com/ is all about.Update on 06 Sept 2009 -See Tom Roberts "In Search of the EmergingChurch" the contemplative tradition grounds emerging Christianity Emerging Church Pillars:I orthodoxy = honest Jesus scholarshipII orthopraxy = peace & social justiceIII orthopathy = contemplative tradition, nondualityIV orthocommunio = noninstitutional vehicles (complementary &happily on the side)There are rather clear archetypal themes playing out in ourcosmologies and axiologies, likely related to brain development andindividuation processes.A cosmology engages mostly our left-brain (thinking function of theleft frontal cortex & sensing function of the left posterior convexity) asthe normative and descriptive aspects of value-realization alternatelyestablish and defend boundaries; we encounter the King-Queen andWarrior-Maiden with their light and dark (shadow) attributes asexpressed in the journeys of the spirit and the body, primarily througha language of ascent.An axiology engages mostly our right-brain (intuiting function of the
  • right frontal cortex & feeling function of the right posterior convexity)as the interpretive and evaluative aspects of value-realizationalternately negotiate (e.g. reconciliation of opposites, harnessing thepower of paradox) and transcend boundaries; we encounter the Crone-Magician and Mother-Lover with their light and dark attributes asexpressed in the journeys of the soul and the other (Thou), primarilythrough a language of descent.Our propositional cosmologies and participatory axiologies seem tobest foster transformation when, beyond our passive reception of themas stories about others, we actively engage the archetypal energies oftheir mythic dimensions with a contemplation ordered toward action,and also, when in addition to our rather natural expectations, theyinclude 1) a priestly voice that sings of the intrinsic beauty to becelebrated  in seemingly repugnant realities 2) a prophetic voice that isrobustly self-critical when speaking the truth 3) a kingly voice thatarticulates a bias for the bottom, expressing both a privileging of themarginalized and a principle of subsidiarity when preserving goodness4) a motherly voice that, seeing and calling all as her children, drawsevery person into her circle of compassion and mercy with no trace ofexclusion, only a vision of unity. The following is excerpted from a conversation started by FrankSpencer athttp://forwardonline.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/holoptic-foresight-dynamics-part-2-the-evolutionary-path-toward-holoptic-environments-in-organizations-and-society/This discussion of mon- pan- & hol- evoked complexity theory in mymind, whereby in far from equilibrium thermodynamics the greater thenumber of permutations & bifurcations involved in a dissipativestructure or system, which runs the increasing risk of disintegration(e.g. de-institutionalized church), the greater the fragility. And themore fragile, the more beautiful (an aesthetic teleology). We draw aparallel to my semiotic account which suggests that we amplifyepistemic risks in order to augment value-realizations. For example,our logic opens to faith, our aesthetics open to hope and our ethicsopens to love in Kierkegaardian leaps and Pascalian wagers, riskswhich have returns in terms of enhanced modeling power of reality,which is to recognize that science, for example, was birthed in thecradle of Christendom but stillborn elsewhere. In the East however, wemust concede an enhanced modeling power of the human internalmilieu or human interiority, while the West better mastered ourexternal milieu. We have much to learn, one from the other, even yet.
  • Although the risks attendant to the intentional evolution of theemergent church model will result in unpredictable, novel semioticrealities, it is because of our rootedness (radicality) that we have aconfident assurance in things hoped for, a conviction of things unseen,as we often kedge forward over the epistemic horizon, because ourradical emergence has guaranteed (via first fruits already enjoyed viathe Spirit) our overall trajectory of memory to hope, understanding tofaith and will to love (Ignatius’ Take Lord Receive). IOW, PaschalMystery is in play whereby we do not know what or how of the mattereven as we are trusting in the THAT of it all (Jesus may have had noearthly idea of HOW the Father would raise him only THAT Hewould).This radical (rooted) emergentist account is a heuristic, a device, a setof placeholders, that does not aspire to a robust explanatory adequacy.Instead, we have a few touchstones or markers for the path. It thusrequires modesty, an epistemic holism that eschews either theepistemic hubris of modernism or radical deconstructionism’sexcessive epistemic humility, iow, a Goldilock’s epistemology. For theChurch, it marks an egalitarian thrust toward the mystical body model.Radical Emergence Relevant Tweets:   http://twitter.com/johnssylvest @frankspencer RT @transmillennial: help “new story” meme go viral: watch this vid http://bit.ly/6BVc8 & RT it.   Emerging Church Conference: http://cacradicalgrace.org/...   moving beyond either-or to both-and thinking is at the heart of all spiritual transformation http://tinyurl.com/Get-Nake...   NEW: Read an excerpt from James K. A. Smiths new book, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship,
  • Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Baker Academic).  Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Radical OrthodoxyNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets WestKi, Qi, Chi, Prana & I resonate with certain theological sensibilities of Radical OrthodoxyKundalini and share its:No-Self & Nirvanaelucidated by appreciation of the pre-modern teachings of the early Church FathersDumoulin and the relationship between nature and grace as articulated by HenriOne: EssentialWritings in duLubac and Jean Danielou; radix - our roots; methexis - participatoryNonduality - a review ontology (vaguely conceptualized) as might resemble the Neo-platonicSimone Weil perspective and even Hartshornes panentheism; pseudo-DionysiusJohn of the Cross and the Cloud of the Unknowing; axiological epistemology - followingThomas Merton Yong, Neville, Peirce and Augustines spirit of illumination;The True Self phenomenological turn guided by pragmatism and aesthetic teleology; optimistic theological anthropology that fits with my FranciscanThe Passion sensibilities; creational, pneumatological, incarnational andHermeneuticalEclecticism & sacramental realities; liturgical and ritual celebration; via negativa asInterreligious affirmation; orthopathos, beauty and aesthetic sensibilities & vonDialogue Balthasars theological aestheticsThe SpiritChristian Nonduality suspicion of either rationalism or voluntarism; rejection of falsemore on Nonduality dualisms, Enlightenment fundamentalism, purely secular discourseThe Contemplative Contra some R.O. perspectives, Scotus is a boon and not a bane. PleaseStance take a look at MARY BETH INGHAMs, RE-SITUATING SCOTISTHesychasm THOUGHT, Modern Theology 21:4 October 2005.Mysticism - properlyconsidered In my own epistemological architectonic, which draws distinctionsKarl Rahner between concepts that have been negotiated in a community of criticalWounded Innocence and earnest inquiry (such communities being variously constituted,Rogation Days more vs less broadly), even the more broadly and diversely constituted
  • Radical Orthodoxy communities would treat the concept of God as a theoretic concept, which has been negotiated, even if other more narrowly definedPresuppositionalismvs Nihilism? theological terms are moreso dogmatic, which is to say that they haveScience not been negotiated. Some Reformed epistemologists would evenEpistemic Virtue consider the concept of God to be semiotic, which is to recognize it asPan-semio- non-negotiable, as presuppositional, over against what wouldentheism: a otherwise be an unmitigated nihilism. There are many other conceptspneumatologicaltheology of nature and terms that refer to God that remain in negotiation, which meansArchitectonic they are heuristic devices. The pneumatological conceptions of God seem to have the broadest appeal of all and probably have been moreAnglican - RomanDialogue widely negotiated than any other, which means they likely enjoy aThe Ethos of Eros more robust theoretic status and usefulness, therefore, in inter-Musings on Peirce religious dialogue.Eskimo Kiss Waltzthe Light Side ofDark ComedyBlog VisitsOther OnlineResourcesAre YOU Going toScarborough Fair?Suggested ReadingTim Kings PostChristian BlogThe Dylan MassIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual orOtherwisependingThe Great Traditionproperly conceivedPostmodernConservativeCatholic Pentecostal Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Karl RahnerNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets West FROM KARL RAHNERKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini And now God says to us what God has already said to the earth as aNo-Self & Nirvana whole through his grace-filled birth: "Ielucidated byDumoulin am there. I am with you. I am your life. I am your time. I am the gloomOne: Essential of your daily routine. Why willWritings inNonduality - a review you not hear it?Simone Weil I weep your tears. Pour out yours to me, my child.John of the CrossThomas Merton I am your joy. Do not be afraid to be happy; ever since I wept, joy is the standard of living that is reallyThe True SelfThe Passion more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who think they haveHermeneutical no hope.Eclecticism &Interreligious I am the blind alley of all your paths for when you no longer know howDialogue to go any farther, then you haveThe Spirit reached me, foolish child, though you are not aware of it. I am in yourChristian Nonduality anxiety, for I have shared it bymore on NondualityThe Contemplative suffering it. And in so doing I wasnt even heroic according to theStance wisdom of the world.Hesychasm I am in the prison of your finiteness, for my love has made me yourMysticism - properlyconsidered prisoner.Karl Rahner When the total of your plans and of your lifes experiences does notWounded Innocence balance out evenly, I am the unsolvedRogation Days remainder. And know that this remainder, which makes you so frantic, is theRadical Orthodoxy reality of my love which you
  • Presuppositionalismvs Nihilism? do not yet understand.Science I am present in your needs. I have suffered them and they are nowEpistemic Virtue transformed but not obliterated from myPan-semio-entheism: a heart. This reality--incomprehensible wonder of my almighty love--Ipneumatological have sheltered safely and completelytheology of natureArchitectonic in the cold stable of your world. I am there. Even if you do not see me now, I am there.Anglican - RomanDialogue It is Christmas. Light the candles. They have more right to exist than allThe Ethos of Eros the darkness.Musings on Peirce It is Christmas.---Karl Rahner, SJEskimo Kiss Waltzthe Light Side of Thou shalt know Him when He comesDark Comedy Not by din of drums--Blog VisitsOther Online Nor the vantage of airs;Resources Nor by anything He wears.Are YOU Going toScarborough Fair? Neither by His crown, nor His gownSuggested Reading For His Presence known shall beTim Kings PostChristian Blog By the holy harmonyThe Dylan Mass That his coming makes in thee.---15th Century AnonymousIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual orOtherwisependingThe Great Traditionproperly conceivedPostmodernConservativeCatholic Pentecostal     Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Rogation DaysNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets West This week, I will visit my brother, Thomas, at the Benedictine abbey.Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini Although we live less than a mileNo-Self & Nirvana apart, our opportunities to visit in person are infrequent owing to hiselucidated byDumoulin orders rule and the nature of theOne: Essential contemplative lifestyle he has chosen. I say "nature," regarding hisWritings inNonduality - a review contemplative lifestyle, in recognitionSimone Weil of the variety of ways the contemplative life can be approached. SomeJohn of the Cross are priests, others brothers. SomeThomas Merton are monastic or cenobitic, spending most of their time in a community,The True Self others eremitic or hermits, livingThe Passion alone in different structures, some more primitive than others,HermeneuticalEclecticism & scattered throughout the property --- here aInterreligiousDialogue tiny A-frame, there a modest cabin with porch, mostly the former.The Spirit Clerical or religious, cenobitic orChristian Nonduality eremitic, the fellows who populate this two-thousand acre wood are amore on Nonduality motley group of personalities andThe ContemplativeStance temperaments, of talents and ministries, much like the woods and its other denizens. The abbeys acreage,HesychasmMysticism - properly you see, is similarly variegated inasmuch as it is crossed, unevenlyconsidered bisected, by a small river, whichKarl Rahner is bordered, in part, by a hardwood floodplain, and, to a much greaterWounded Innocence extent, by upland pines. Where theRogation DaysRadical Orthodoxy river, or creek Id call it, meets the lake, is an expansive marsh that
  • Presuppositionalism quickly gives way to small groves ofvs Nihilism? oaks and magnolias, which in turn give way to extensive stretches ofScience pines, mostly loblolly, shortleaf andEpistemic Virtue spruce, the virgin longleafs being confined to the immediate vicinity ofPan-semio-entheism: a the cathedral, seminary campus,pneumatologicaltheology of nature monastery and guesthouse as well as sometimes densely populatingArchitectonic the adjacent grounds of the farmAnglican - Roman buildings and pastures. These old pines surround all of these century-Dialogue old structures, swallowing them in aThe Ethos of ErosMusings on Peirce sea of green. These longleafs escaped the mid-century timber harvestEskimo Kiss Waltz only by virtue of being inextricablythe Light Side of interspersed throughout this complex of buildings, pasture lands andDark Comedy ponds, surviving the clear-cutting onlyBlog Visits by virtue of being well- segregated from the more remote andOther OnlineResources freestanding forested areas, which wereAre YOU Going to otherwise harvested. (Not speaking judgmentally, here, as monks haveScarborough Fair? bills to pay, too.) This monasticSuggested ReadingTim Kings Post complex is further landscaped with a tangle of both deciduous andChristian Blog evergreen shrubs and vines and withThe Dylan Mass rows and circles of camellias, azaleas, dogwoods, hollies, crape myrtles,If You Are InDistress, Spiritual or sweet olives, oleanders and otherOtherwise natives, all conspiring to provide spectacular splashes of color duringpending every season of the year, not toThe Great Traditionproperly conceived mention the contribution of Brother Jacobs many rose varieties. ThisPostmodern biodiversity of vegetation, coupledConservativeCatholic Pentecostal with the fact that many eastern animal and plant species meet the western limit of their range here, makes the abbey grounds a bountiful wildlife haven, perhaps a doubly sacred ground, supposing, I guess, that the sacred might admit of degrees. I live on the lakeshore by the river, at its mouth, across from the marshy, abbey-owned lands, which lie on the opposite and eastern bank. Upriver, the abbey lands mostly straddle the creek. I appreciate all of this biodiversity, too. At appropriate times during each calendar year, I thus feast on rabbit, squirrel or turtle sauce piquant, crab or shrimp or duck gumbos, braised woodcocks and wild herb-seasoned, roast turkeys. I catch bass, bream and sac-a-lait from the river and flounder, redfish and speckled trout from the lake. My brother supplies me with honey from the abbeys beekeepers and bread from its ovens. He leaves my weekly bread loaf, wrapped in brown paper, in the first pew of the cathedral after vespers every Thursday. Our growing season is too short for citrus but the Benedictines southshore enclave in the city, a monastic
  • community comprised primarily of teachers of the now co-ed highschool school-erstwhile preparatoryseminary school, provides lemons and satsumas in early winter inexchange for the abbeys tomatoes andbell peppers in the spring. I cannot begin to inventory the greatvarieties of other fruits and vegetables thatthe abbey lands produce, cultivated by these monks who are truckfarmers extraordinaire. And did Imention the blackberries, dewberries, blueberries, huckleberries andstrawberries? The southshore monkstrade their orange wine for our strawberry vintage. The northshoremonks brew a cold-filtered beer fromspring water and leave their southshore brethren to languish with theirJax, Dixie and Falstaff. I insinuatemyself into any bartering between monastic communities with mysteady supply of fish and game for themonks. Most of these commodity exchanges take place wordlesslywhen I drive by the service door of therefectory after an occasional weekday mass. My contact with Thomas,any given day, week or year, ismostly eye contact, whether during a weekday or daily mass, whetherduring lauds or vespers, in thecathedral church. I take my place in the pews and Thomas takes hisplace in the choir with his brothermonks, and we all chant the ancient, sometimes haunting, alwaysbeautiful, Gregorian hymns andpsalmody of the Divine Office. The Magnificat is my favorite. I wish itwere otherwise truly my song, asthey say, my story. Not all of the "hours" of the Liturgy of the Hoursare prayed publicly in the cathedral,only lauds and vespers and an occasional office of readings for certainfeasts and solemnities. I haveroutinely stayed in the abbey guesthouse one week each year, takingmy meals with Thomas in therefectory, however silently, but then enjoying lively conversation aftersupper those nights. In the past fiveyears, our visiting privileges have been extended, beyond our regular e-mails and my annual stay of aweek, to include one day each season, Advent, Christmas, Lent andEaster, again, following the pattern oftaking three meals together in the refectory and conversing aftersupper until night prayer. The Abbotgranted us this accommodation, Im told by Thomas, as a form ofconsolation to me after the tragic loss ofmy spouse of thirty years. She was a daily communicant at the noondayabbey mass and a volunteer cookin their Elderhostel and retreat house. Ive always been less regular but
  • make a mass or two a week and acouple of vespers or lauds, sometimes more, each week, but nevermissing Thursday vespers (and my breadloaf). All of these worship style issues notwithstanding, as a denizen ofthese same woods, wherein thespecific contemplative vocations of the abbey monastic community areas diverse as the above-describedflora and fauna, I, too, am a contemplative, albeit lay. Alas, we live inan age where contemplation has beendemocratized, the clergy has been laicized, the laity clericalized? Weenjoy a great diversity of ministry inour unity of mission, in our mission of unity.This week, the week of my annual stay, is the week of Rogation Days,days which are prior to theAscension, which of course rotates with the moon, the vernal equinoxand Easter. Each year, I adjust mycalendar, Easter variously early or late, to ensure my annual visitcoincides with these Rogation Days. Fordecades, living in such proximity to the abbey and sharing in thebounty of the land, river and sea, therichness of our grounds and forest, my wife and children and I havecelebrated this giftedness of naturewith the monks, annually partaking in the Rogation Days liturgies andrituals, prayers that literally markedthe boundaries of our lands, prayers that begged for our landsfruitfulness as well as for the fruits of theHoly Ghost in our lives. Writ large, these Rogation Days celebrationsare prayers of the harvests, of theearth and of our souls. The day they begin, after lauds, we gather outfront of the cathedral and face West,acknowledging its gifts of thunderstorms and darkness, praying forstrength and growth. We turn towardthe North, which gifts us with cold and waiting, praying for sustainedhope and proper longing --- desire,itself, our constant prayer. We then turn toward the East and its gifts ofLight and new beginnings and prayfor renewal and resurrection in every paschal moment of our lives.Finally, we face the South, and we baskin its gifts, a wind of warmth and a time of growth, begging for fertilityof the soils of our lands and oursouls. Rogation simply means "asking" and comes from the Latin verb,rogare, meaning "to ask." I think ofthe James Taylor lyrics: "Ive been walking my mind through an easytime, my back turned toward the sun.Lord knows, when a cold wind blows, itll turn your head around. Iveseen fire and Ive seen rain."
  • Ive seen fire and rain. Ive experienced Mertons crises of continuityand creativity. Ive been sucked intoFrankls existential vacuum and spit out as Walker Percys malaise. Iveknown the misery that precedes BillDubyas first step. Ive seen em pave Jonis paradise to put up aparking lot. Ive known my radical finitude.Thankfully, it revealed my radical giftedness. Blessed, indeed, are thepoor in Spirit, for they shall know ...... all they need to know.So much of my spiritual journey has been spent traveling the path tothe awareness that I am not God andthat I do not really even want Her job. Others report that they aredesperately trying to resign such a selfassumedposition, that theyve taken on that job and its responsibilities andbadly want out. Part of thejourney takes us to the recognition that only one human being everwas God and that He is not, temporallyspeaking, our contemporary; ergo, no one else is God either. Alas,spirituality is a funny thing, for asnecessary as it is to see the path, seeing is not sufficient. Many quit thejourney here, unfortunately. Clearly,we must go on. In the case at hand, after recognizing that Im not Godand youre not God and nobody elseis God, I must also get to the point where I can declare: "And Im okaywith that!"Im okay with that. It is well with my soul. All may be well, can be well,will be well ... is the prayer ofDame Julian. So you say.I once quizzed a good friend, asked her if she had any "nutshell"approach to spirituality. She paused andsaid, affirmatively: "Yes, if one can fill in the blank to the statement Illbe okay when ____, then one has aspiritual problem of some sort." Houston, WE have a problem.Recognizing our problem is a prerequisite to solving it, to finding asolution, to obtaining our healing.Whether it is a crisis of continuity (in other words, discontinuity, in stillother words, lets be candid, death)or of creativity (making a difference, being somebody), an existentialvacuum, a malaise, an addiction, aninordinate attachment, a disordered appetite, an alienation of affection,an estrangement from loved ones, arelationship breach ... ... whatever its nature or origin, it is real and,ultimately, spiritual. We are searchingfor, longing for, desiring of ... what it is we most value. We value unity,community, love, relationship,beauty, goodness, love, truth. We probe reality and employ manifold
  • and various methodologies inattempts to realize these values. We ask reality to yield these values.We cooperate with reality in growingthese realities. We work with reality to harvest these values. Asking.Harvesting. Frightened of the thunderand the darkness from the West, waiting and longing and gazingtoward the North, renewed andenlightened turning toward the East, warmed and grown by the South,we experience the lessons of ourdays of Rogation. What are our probes of reality, our questions, ourasking ... but inter-rogatories? What arethe methodologies we employ now in this probe with this interrogatoryand now with that ... but interrogations?In our radical finitude and importuning, what are we ... but inter-rogators? Thus ourinterrogatories delve into possibilities, our interrogations with theirmethodologies yield products known asactualities and we, as interrogators, discern probabilities. Ourinterrogatories thus comprise our categories,our architectonic of knowledge, our academic disciplines. Ourinterrogations consist of our methodologicalapproaches and their findings. As interrogators, we are organons ofknowledge, singular and integral. Ourrogation attempts are clearly discernible and are nothing less thanprobes of reality in an effort to harvestvalues, to realize beauty, truth, unity and love. Minimalistically,perhaps these are mere projections of fourbrain quadrants variously conceived in Jungian terms of sensing,thinking, intuiting and feeling, or asobjective, subjective, interobjective and intersubjective faculties givingrise to our different orientations -empirical, logical, practical and moral? Maybe these existentialorientations correspond, though, totranscendental imperatives?Whatever the case may be, it seems like the human being can beobserved in pursuit of aesthetical, noetical,unitive and ethical values --- corresponding, respectively, to beautyand the empirical, to truth and thelogical, to unity and the practical and to goodness and the moral ---and, holistically then, the human beingpursues these values 1) objectively through sensing, 2) subjectivelythrough thinking, 3) interobjectivelythrough intuiting and 4) intersubjectively through feeling, the leftbrain hemispheres dealing with syntheticand analytic thought, inductive and deductive inference, the rightdevoted to abductions and harmonies
  • between, on one hand, ideas, on the other, people. There is muchhemispheric redundancy and it is fair tosuggest, however facilely, that our aesthetical, noetical, unitive andethical value pursuits engage ourobjective, subjective, interobjective and intersubjective functions. Ifthese pursuits are possibilities or ourarchitectonic, and these functions are our organon, of knowledge, inother words, our interroga-tories andinterroga-tors, then we might look at the various methodologies orinterroga-tions as a product of thesepossibilities and probabilities as they yield various actualities. To wit,epistemologically:Objective (or Empirical) Function emphasizes a grammar of inductionand, for example, an historical senseof scriptureaesthetical pursuit - art as mimesis & imitationalismnoetical pursuit - virtue epistemologyunitive pursuit - cosmologicalethical pursuit - virtue or aretaic ethicsSubjective (or Logical) Function emphasizes a grammar of deductionand, for example, a creedal sense ofscriptureaesthetical pursuit - art as formalism & essentialismnoetical pursuit - correspondence theoryunitive pursuit - ontologicalethical pursuit - deontological ethicsInterobjective (or Practical) Function emphasizes a grammar ofabduction and, for example, an anagogicalsense of scriptureaesthetical pursuit - art as emotionalism & expressivismnoetical pursuit - coherence theoryunitive pursuit - teleologicalethical pursuit - teleological & consequentialistic ethicsIntersubjective (or Moral) Function emphasizes a grammar of assent &trust and, for example, a moralsense of scriptureaesthetical pursuit - art as moral agency & instrumentalismnoetical pursuit - community of inquiryunitive pursuit - axiologicalethical pursuit - contractarian ethicsAdd multi-factorals to these cortical functions for limbic (affective) andstriatal (instinctual) braindimensions. Also, there are Lonergan’s conversions (intellectual,affective, moral, social and religious) and
  • the psychology of development (Kohlberg, Piaget, Erikson, Fowler etc)to further complicate matters.There are descriptive, prescriptive and evaluative perspectives and anecological rationality to account foras well as evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. The human depthdimension is depthful, indeed, to awhole other order of being, qualitatively and not only quantitativelydistinct vis a vis other species, in needof triadic and not only dyadic explanation, semiotic and not onlyneuropsychological explication. With allof these angles contributing to our species exceptionality as thesymbolic species, one can perhaps easilyunderstand Walker Percys dismay with modern social andpsychological sciences and their sometimesfacile treatments. Weve got to get our anthropology right prior to allother endeavors in order to truly knowhow it is we know, in order to take our descriptive epistemology andmake it normative.Even if one doesnt understand the above-philosophical shorthand,that is, the jargon, the salient point isthat the table above represents Rogations, probes of reality by humanbeings in attempts to harvest valuesof beauty, truth, unity and goodness, values which we not only harvestbut which we can grow, valuesexpressed sometimes as nine fruits of the Spirit, sometimes disvaluedas nine capital sins, sometimesdescribed as pursued by Jungian functions or as thwarted byenneagram-described personality foibles(foibles often redeemed but too often deteriorating into intractablecharacter flaws). As with the senses ormeanings of scriptures, per the exegetical strategies of the early churchfathers, as scripture is multi-layeredin meaning, so, too, our Rogation Table reveals, all of our probes ofreality in the pursuit of values arelayered in meaning. What is as interesting as it is disheartening is ourrecognition that, all too often, thevarious methodologies that humankind has employed in the pursuit ofvalue realization have been elevatedto the status of epistemological systems, one can only imagine, dueperhaps to nothing more sophisticatedthan a given philosophers temperament or primary Jungian function,for example. Quite frankly, differentepistemological approaches have become nothing more than a crudefetish rather than a surgical method forprobing realitys innards. The excessive pejorative force employed byone school over another is perhaps
  • revealing of philosophers who, in their critiques, are not content tostand on the shoulders of theiracademic mothers and fathers of prior generations but rather on theirnecks! These same critics seem tooften forget that gainsaying is not a system, a critique does not make aschool. Thus it is that modernphilosophy has come full circle back to realism: critical, aesthetical,metaphysical and moral. Classicalscholastic realism, too often naive and hence sterile, has not beeneviscerated, only weakened. Fallibilismrules the day. Holism seems the most adequate description of howhuman knowledge advances and takeson normative force. Some probes of reality return more versus lessvalue and all who devise systematicapproaches encounter problems with their formulations, whether ofquestion begging, tautology, infiniteregress, causal disjunction, circular reference or other inconsistencies,incommensurabilities,unintelligibilities, incoherence, incongruence, lacking sometimeshypothetical consonance, sometimesinterdisciplinary consilience. "Sweet dreams and flying machines inpieces on the ground."I wonder, then, might we consider such as nominalism, essentialism,substantialism, idealism, realism,empiricism, rationalism, physicalism, reductionism, emergentism,apophaticism, kataphaticism, fideism,encratism, pietism, quietism, aristotelianism, kantianism, humeanism,platonicism, linguisticism,pragmatism, existentialism, phenomenologicalism, transcendentalism,pragmaticism, positivism and evenscientism and fundamentalism as probes, some more productive ofvalue than others, to be sure, allnecessary though in widely varying degrees, none sufficient, takenalone? These probes necessarilyrepresent only provisional closures to any consistent fallibilist,represent methods abstracted fromideologies, tools resisting the status of fetish. They represent, then,hypotheses, working hypotheses ---some working better than others, depending on the task at hand. It istoo early on humanitys journey torush to closure epistemologically, hence metaphysically. WithChesterton we must affirm that we do notknow enough about reality to say that it is unknowable, and Ill nuancethat - un/knowable. And we canqualify Haldanes observation that reality is not only stranger than weimagine but stranger than we canimagine with "for now." And if one is not comfortable taking existence
  • to be a predicate of being andrejects Heideggers "why is there something and not rather nothing?" -then we can still ask "Why is theresomething and not rather something else?" And we can changeWittgensteins assertion that "it is not howthings are but that things are which is the mystical" to "it is neither howthings are nor that things are butrather that "these" things are, which is the mystical." All of this is toask, if we have dispensed withmetaphysical necessities in response to the postmodern critique andprescinded to an ontologicalvagueness, still, whither such probabilities (code for Peirceanthirdness, perhaps)? What forces our retreatinto ontological vagueness? Perhaps epistemic vagueness insofar as weare not yet sure exactly how weknow what we know. And semantical vagueness to the extent that,even if we do know what we can notprove (per Godel), can see the truth of our axioms, still, we cannot fullyarticulate them and for sure cannotproperly and formally formulate them. We fallback on storytelling andnarrative it seems. When all is saidand done, some semiotic scientists will be scientistic (lets say,Chomsky) and some biologists andphilosophers will be, too (lets say, Dawkins and Dennett), and sometheologians fideistic and othersapophaticistic, and some process philosophers nominalistic, and somethomists substantialistic, and somearistotelians essentialistic, and others a tad positivistic and so forth andso on. Emergentism makes for greatplaceholders and supervenience, too, but we can get emergentistic if weelevate such a bridging conceptfrom a heuristic device to an explanatory fetish. However, let us lookbehind all of these istic fetishes,which turn isms into full-fledged ideologies (which is very unscientificand very poor methodology), andsee what values and insights can be mined from their isms as critiques,some more deserving of a responsethan others. Thus it is that I so much better appreciate Hans Kungsuse of nihilism as a foil for hispresentation of Christianity in "Does God Exist?" Rather than casuallyand cursorily dismissing nihilism aslogically incoherent, he took it on in all of its practical vitality ... foreven if it defies clear articulation andconsistent formulation, who among us has not witnessed its social andcultural reality in lives given over toa culture of death and self-destruction, in those consumed bymeaninglessness, by malaise, in an existential
  • vacuum ... seeking escape in addictions, both substance and process, indistractions, in all manner ofdisordered appetites and inordinate attachments? Conversely, even ifour great traditions defy unequivocaland unambiguous formulation, who can deny their efficacies whenproperly considered and consistentlylived with their own practical vitality?With so much epistemological parity to go around, so manymetaphysical possibilities still open, whateverones provisional closures, a question may arise regarding why thisversus that hermeneutic even matters?And the pragmatic cash value is to be found in the fact that ourhermeneutical frameworks and provisionalclosures will determine the prescriptions we devise for what ailshumanity and thwarts our journeys,individually and collectively, to authenticity via intellectual, affective,moral, social and religiousconversions. What might empirical, logical, practical and moralconversion look like? or aesthetical,noetical, unitive and ethical? The various interrogatories andinterrogations are but moments in the life ofeach interrogator, who must integrate her probes of reality and notonly harvest but also grow the valuessought after that our essentialistic ideals may be existentially realized.Let us face West and long for theBeauty that has faded over the horizon with the setting of every sunand then turn and face North with itscompass of Truth, which orients us til, facing East we are renewed bythe dawn of Unity, which beginswith the harmonies of our idealizations and conceptualizations andfinds its fullest realizations as we turnSouth, into the warmth of relationships with our people, with our God.And may our religions - in cult andritual, creed and dogma, community and compassion, code and law,celebrate the beauty we enjoy via cult,advance the truth we encounter via creed, enhance the solidarity weexperience via community andpreserve the goodness we have known via code. May our religionsmake us whole and authenticinterrogators, with methodologically sound interrogations of realityand interrogatories that are selectedfrom rogations on every compass point: beauty, truth, unity andgoodness.Such are the notes Ive prepared for discussion with Thomas during theupcoming days of Rogation. "Wontyou look down upon me, Jesus ... I wont make it any other way."
  •    Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  •   Click Here for An Emergentist Account of the Biosemiotic Categories of Religion from a panentheistic perspectiveClick Here for some notes on Epistemology Click Here for some thoughts on EpistemologyClick Here for some reflections on MertonClick Here for a theological anthropology as prologue The Journey We Call LifeWhat if life were a journey of conversion:IntellectualAffectiveMoralSociopoliticalReligiousWhat if "the" Church was:Some Mystical BodySome Incarnational RealityAnimated by the Holy SpiritEffecting these conversionsWhat if the Church was Sacramental:Conveying truth with creed and dogma via storytellingCelebrating beauty with ritual and liturgyPreserving goodness with various codes and lawsExperiencing unity via all manner of fellowshipWhat if the Churchs Sacramental celebrations:Effected precisely what they bring to mindBring to mind what has often already been effectedWhat if Universal Salvation or "apokatastasis" were trueHell moreso a theoretical necessityBut not really much of practical probabilityOnce considering the seductive wiles of our LoverWhod risk our rejection and grant our estrangementOnly if thats what we really, really, truly wantedWhat if this Church, however "instituted" by GodGot some of its work doneIn giving God the greatest possible gloryIn the visible institutional structureAnd some of AMDG doneIn the invisible Mystical BodyVia both explicit and implicit faithThen, I cannot doubt that, alreadyThe Laity has been clericalizedThe Clerical has been laicizedThe Magisterium has been democratizedProphets & Prophetesses share with us truthPriestesses & Priests celebrate with us beautyKings & Queens preserve for us goodnessFellowship establishes our unity in solidarity and compassionAnd the Kingdom is unfolding as it shouldDemocratization & empowerment already accomplished in the largest measureEven as we rightfully and necessarily continue to struggle to effect themIn their final, comprehensive and exhaustive measureIn the visible & explicit as it is in the invisible & implicit, all for AMDGAnd I am profoundly touched and deeply gratefulAs I encounter this incarnational and Eucharistic realityIn so many persons, places and things
  • And, of course, I hope and pray and work toward the dayWhen the visible institutional structureWill better conform to this Mystical BodyBut I dont for a Vatican City nanosecondOveridentify true glory and true powerNeither orthodoxy nor orthopraxisWith the visible over against the invisibleEven as I remain everLoyal toDeferential ofAnd in love withThem bothBut, truth be known, sorry-More the latter than the formerSometimes I wonder if the visible institution as we know it is in the process of self-destructing and the thought does make me sad, even mad, sometimes glad (youknow, like the Psalmists)-- but Id be a liar if I said that I lose too much sleep over it. The Gates of Hell wont prevail over "the" Church.AMDG,jbpriest, prophet & king without portfolio I recall listening to Jim Dolan, SJ on audiotape in my car many years ago. At one point, he said that if he had to summarize what Tony DeMello taught in three pointsit would be this ....Before I list those three points, let me tell you, Jim had so caught my attention with that prospective summarization that I almost pulled off the road to listen!Not necessary though.Jim was succinct and his recap of Tonys message was straightforward. Jim summarized Tonys overall thrust thusly:1) Leave other people alone.2) Be compassionate.3) Bend the rules.That first point, about leaving other folks alone, requires nuance. It got me to wondering and I still ponder its significance. The question it poses, for me, is:"When should we interdict other peoples behavior?"This question has come up over and over again in my life and Im beginning to notice a pattern that Id like to better clarify. This question has come up for me:1) in parenting2) as a workplace boss3) when pondering which church moral codifications should be made into civil law4) while performing my own just war calculus5) within 12 Step/Codependency deliberations6) as I occasionally pray the Serenity Prayer for this or that reason7) in discerning opportunities for evangelization (or the question even of denying someone the sacraments).The issues that arise over and over involve:a) the legitimacy of our authority, whether asparents or presidentsb) the viability of our consultative and discernment processes, whether as a parochial or international communityc) the gravity of the issue at handd) the imminence of the posed threat to persons and valuese) the questions of sovereignty and jurisdiction and other boundaries of human dignity (e.g. primacy of conscience), whether as individuals with their bodies ornation states with their bordersf) an assessment of the probability for success, including an analysis of factors militating against success, such as the law of unintended consequencesg) mitigation of harmful double-effects and collateral damageh) the proportionality of our response, whether to an offense committed by a small child or a large armyi) the quality of ones information and intelligence-gathering apparatus
  • j) the transparency of ones moral stance to human reasoning and the clarity of its articulation in a universally compelling moral argument to others of largeintelligence and profound goodwillk) is the injustice a pattern or an isolated anomaly?l) exhausting all other alternatives (e.g. nonviolent civil disobedience) prior to interdiction, honoring the ultimate benevolence of cosmic forces, Divine Providenceand the Spirits transformative efficacy as all things finally work together for our good.The inner lining of the Seamless Garment of Life is a presumption for Peace, entails Nonviolence as a Way of Life.The criteria that must be met before justifiably "violating" another are manifold and multiform, all necessary, none sufficient. How often have I met them?Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpaDeep peace.pax, amor et bonumjbp.s. I recall something Richard Rohr said. Before we even speak, we might ask: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it loving? 3) Is it necessary? Alas, I was headed somewhere with all this ... but thought best to dose it. It is true enough and sad enough that we can sometimes do violence to others when interdicting their behavior, albeit well-intended, but the problem doesnt stopthere. A lot of this madness is rooted in the violence we do to ourselves. Merton sometimes described our journey in three stages: humanization, socialization and transformation. In our earliest formative years, we are humanized, such thatwe less resemble little animals. (Primary school teachers report that parents have various levels of success here.) Thereafter, much of our formation, including oureducational, vocational and avocational pursuits, is ordered toward our socialization, whereby we learn to function in society. What has been called the false self or persona is developed during socialization. It is during this stage that our virtues and vices, our gifts and compulsions, reallytake hold, reinforced as they are through reward and punishment systems, both implicit and explicit, as administered by our families and society. Now, this thing called the false self is not inherently bad (although the terminology isnt the best). It is a necessary part of human development. What is bad is if weconfuse human socialization activities with human transformative dynamics, the latter also known as deification, theosis, spiritual pathways and such. I have heard itargued both ways, that as far as our false self is concerned, we should either dismantle it, so to speak, or we should continue to proactively seek characterdevelopment and psychological individuation, for instance, such as by tending to the directionality dynamics of the enneagram. In other words, some argue that weshould, on one hand, slay the dragon, while, on the other hand, others suggest we need only learn how to ride the dragon. I dont think there is a one-size fits allapproach here. I lean toward "riding the dragon" insofar as it helps me remember that Im not God now nor will ever be and, well, as for my proactive development,at some point, enough seems like enough. Let Someone else bother with my ongoing socialization!  The answer may lie in the prayer for humility, which ends with "thatI may become as holy as I should." So, whether one discerns that she should ride the dragon or that he should slay the dragon, continuing ones character development and psychological individuation isnot, in my view, in and of itself, a source of violence to ourselves. Real violence is done to our persons in the confusion between our ongoing socialization and ourongoing transformation, the former dealing with the false self, the latter with the true self. If our socialization involves our being good, being loving, being useful,being special, being right, being loyal, being joyful, being engaged, being peaceable and being holy --- as I inventoried in the 10 Ways Humans Approach Reality ---,then what does our transformation involve? It is not that we are to go without humanization and socialization, which are indispensable, but we must clearly goBEYOND them. To not go beyond them is a form of insanity and is to miss our highest calling of all. It is to do great violence to our inmost being. So, what DOES one DO? if it is not about being MORE good, MORE loving, MORE useful, MORE special, MORE right, MORE loyal, MORE joyful, MORE engaged,MORE peaceable or MORE holy? And this is not to suggest that, in fact, many of us may indeed be called to become MORE this or that; it is only to recognize thatthese socialization processes entail secular conversions and are thus necessary but not sufficient for religious conversion or transformation or authenticity. This is somewhat of a trick question because one cannot really DO anything to effect transformation. And it makes it very difficult to write anything about it(especially for enneagram 5s whove chosen to ride their dragons; I prefer "I fell off my dragon" to "I fell off the wagon."). It does involve notions like seeing andrealization and awakening. It does involve dynamics like becoming really involved in a good story or movie and then experiencing a new type of awareness quitespontaneously. It is kind of like a eureka or aha moment, but more of an existential "aha!" than a cognitive one. It might come over you on an Ignatian Retreat duringthe part where you are being led "to see yourself as God sees you." It might happen for you, in a few days or weeks or years, if you take a picture of yourself fromback when you were anywhere from 5 to 8 years old and you tape that picture to the mirror where you brush your teeth and, every time you brush, you tell yourselfthat this is the YOU that God ALWAYS sees when He looks at you! It might happen if you do something REALLY BAD one day and someone forgives you. It is morelike opening a present, or getting a massage. It may happen when a group of college kids on spring break rebuild your hurricane-demolished home. It may happenwhen, of a sudden, like Pip in Great Expectations, you feel led to start looking for your Benefactor. There are no gimmicks in True Self realization. And it is a lot easier to say what it is NOT --- all those activities that make us feel worthy and good and useful andeven holy --- than what it is. I do know that if we do this violence to ourselves ---in confusing transformation and socialization, then we are inevitably going to violateothers the same way. May you hear your name called today: BeLoved. Once you know your name, youll know EVERYBODYs name. And then going to church wont be obligational but rather aspirational. Youll wanna go where everybody
  • knows your name. Theology and Science - DisambiguationI like to be clear regarding this project or the other regarding whether or not one is doing science, philosophy or theology. And we mustnt forget, oh my gosh,religion. And if one is talking about ALL of these spheres of human concern, in which sphere do they begin their conversation, and, in which do they end up. Except for the classical "proofs" by Aquinas and Anselm, and CS Peirces "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," and the Modal Ontological Arguments ascrafted by Godel and Hartshorne and then, in my view, lately and greatly improved by Christopher McHugh, I dont consider much of what is going on, nowadays, tobe natural theology or a natural philosophy of God. There is just not THAT much that one can say, in my view,  about God, using philosophy as a starting point, atleast not when methodologically restricting ones musings to the rubrics of formal argumentation. The same is true for any notions regarding "ultimate" reality, usingeither philosophy or science as a starting point. All anyone thus establishes is a modicum of epistemological parity with alternate worldviews, i.e. elaboratetautologies. I do not dismiss these enterprises that demonstrate the reasonableness of faith, for some, like me, they have been indispensable parts of my journey. Formost, though, Ive been told they dont matter very much. And I trust what they report and am better and better coming to grasp why. Even then, Ive enjoyed many,many fruitful dialogues with many nonbelievers who do seek such apologetics and weve grown in mutual respect and understanding and self-understanding. Worldviews, thankfully, are not mere formal arguments. They represent deeply and profoundly experienced existential orientations and ultimate concerns. And, ifthey are authentically re-ligious, they "tie lifes experiences back together" and heal us that we may survive and grow us that we may thrive. If we are notexperiencing both healing and growth, both broadly conceived, well, thats what the Prophets are for! They remind us that we are to be about the actualization ofvalue. The interface between science and theology is not terribly interesting, philosophically, unless our project is to disambiguate their definitions. If it remainsinteresting, even early in the 21st century, it is only because so many scientistic and fideistic apologists are arguing past each other, precisely because theyveneglected the work of philosophical disambiguation. [Here I place a "rolling eyes" emoticon.] Unlike philosophy/natural theology and science, wherein we bracket, best we can, our theology, in a theology of nature we start with God and see His presence in allthings and hear Her siren song from all places. From a different explanatory stance, we break out in analogy and metaphor, poetry and song, allegory and parable,joke and koan, story and dance, ritual and sacrament. And we speak of trail dust and stardust, quarks and supernovae, maidens and sailors, the Cosmic Adventure andthe Divine Matrix, leaping whitetails and creeping lizards, bright indwelling presence and luminous dark nights, hope and love and faith ...Science Constrains Theology?This musing was evoked by some comments made re: the podcast by Fr. George Coyne, S.J. on Science, Faith and God but, below, I digress too far from theconversation over there and thought it best to keep my comment there, in that forum, short and more directly on message.Jack Haught does a good job of describing four prevailing approaches to the science and religion interface: conflict, contrast, contact, confirmation. DanielHelminiak describes a hierarchy of --- 1) positivistic 2) philosophic 3) theistic and 4) theotic --- human foci of concern, each presupposing and constraining the next.In this day and age, I am starting to prefer a metaphor of interpenetrating fields of epistemic influence, which are not necessarily hierarchical but which dorepresent integrally related hypothetical commitments, some central or core, some auxiliary or peripheral, each field indeed constrained by the others, noneautonomous. And I suspect they may be isomorphic, or corresponding, to other field-like realities. Such fields might be scientific, philosophical, theological, spiritual,moral, social, practical, aesthetical, ecological and such, representing all of the ways humans encounter reality, even nonrationally and pre-rationally.The axioms and concepts and values that each epistemic field aspires to actualize are so radically different that I find it difficult to defend such a relationshipbetween them as being in anyway necessarily linear or hierarchical. (They might be, but I do not want to try to prove too much.) Each epistemic field is oriented to avalue realization that is apparently governed by its own laws; hence, such fields are "polynomic."The effect each epistemic field has on the next or the next is variously stronger or weaker and we often struggle to come to grips with HOW and WHY such may beso even as we observe THAT it is so. For example, sometimes an aesthetical value purusit of beauty, in the form of symmetry, will aid the physicist in crafting abetter mathematical description of a certain natural phenomenon.Likely, the foci of human concern, or epistemic fields of value realization, are both autonomous (polynomic) and integrally related (mutually interpenetrating),because they are mirroring a human reality that is, at once, both autopoietic (self-organizing) and free, while also otherwise bounded (by other existant realities)and determined (via genetic limitation, for instance). Those are the attributes of Phil Hefners "created co-creators."I suppose this is why, when we look at Gelpis Lonerganian conversions --- intellectual, affective, moral, sociopolitical and religious --- the human spiritual growthtrajectory is typically assymetrical, which is to recognize, for instance, that our intellectual, emotional and moral developments reach different levels of attainmentat different times, quite often seemingly totally independent one of the other. (Some intellectual giants are emotional idiots and morally underdeveloped, too.)Each new horizon of each new field of value (epistemic and/or ontic) lifts our vision beyond this value to the next possible value realization, "transvaluing" ourvalues, and where openness to the Holy Spirit, implicitly or explicity, obtains, transforming our knowledge with faith, our memory with hope and our will with love.So, I offer this as one version of why so many category errors are committed between the value-realization field of science and that of theology. They influenceeach other and are integrally related even while they are otherwise autonomous. But how?I hesitate to suggest any unidirectionality of influences, such as hierarchical arrangements or even one-way constraint. Our theological core commitments DO,afterall, make some demands on our philosophical commitments, such as committing us to metaphysical realism, moral realism and such. Similarly, our philosophicalcore commitments DO have normative force on the epistemological rubrics of the scientific method and empirical observation.What seems to me to be going on is that these fields influence each others axiomatic aspects, which is to say, those apsects that we commit to as self-evident andnonpropositional, even if only provisionally. There is no "formal relationship" vis a vis logical argumentation at play in nonpropositional elements, which are oftenbeing implicitly presupposed. Often, our tendency to opt for one set of axioms versus another in this or that field of value realization seems to be governed, rather,by such as aesthetical inclinations, which are not formalizable, or by such as reductio ad absurdum arguments, which are flawed formal appeals from ignorance andmoreso essentially pragmatic in character.I am not disvaluing the aesthetic or pragmatic, just distinguishing them from logical and empirical inquiries and noting their role in the axioms that we choose to
  • govern our different spheres of human concern, our different fields of value realization.Once the axioms of our value-realization fields are in place, even if only provisionally, the influence of these fields might very well get unidirectional,propositionally speaking. This is to suggest that, for example, in the case at point, propositions of theology will most definitely be constrained by those of science.And theology will also further be constrained by the normative sciences, which is to say, by the philosophic. Finally, our theotic commitments, or how we viewhumanization-deification, or theosis, on our transformative journeys, will successively be constrained by our other horizons of human concern: theistic, philosophicand positivistic.Why are these different value-realization fields polynomic? Why dont the concepts they employ and the axioms that govern them not line up like pretty maids all in arow ... the empirical, logical, practical, moral, aesthetical? Or even in only the moral ... the aretaic (virtue ethics), deontological (natural law) and teleological(consequentialistic)?Heck if I know.Thats part of the theodicy problem.At some level, lets say, the beatific, I believe it all fits together, somehow. Thats my definition of the religious: tying it all together, advancing healing andgrowth/conversion. But it takes an unconditional commitment because, to all appearances, it doesnt really seem to work together that well. For now, we see through aglass, darkly ... As Frankl says, either we believe in God in the face of 6 million perishing in the Holocaust or our faith fails with the death of a single innocent.  Critique of the Postmodern Critique In our collective critique of Western modernism, informed by analytical and  linguistic approaches, open in various ways to wisdom traditions of the East, unlike theradically deconstructive postmodernists, all of us are speaking in terms of reconstruction. If what I am hearing is a critique of scientism and less so science, then I can abide with that. If we all agree that dogma has too much devolved into dogmatism, ritual into ritualism and law  into legalism, then the cure for such a retrograde evolution might very well require a retreat  back to the wellsprings of our mystical core where our primary encounters with truth, beauty andgoodness were enjoyed not just rationally and not just affectively but also with spontaneous  realizations of unitive consciousness and nondual awareness. Our roots are thus holistically sapiental, honoring the dignity of Homo "sapiens." Institutionalization, a necessary evil, inevitably results in the devolutions of science into  scientism, dogma into dogmatism, ritualinto ritualism, law into legalism, faith into fideism, and so on. I struggle to articulate the cure for what I think ails us. I think what has happened, in one  manner of speaking, is that we have quit dancing. Reality seems to present a dance between  pattern and paradox, order and chaos, chance and necessity, random and systematic, discursive and  nondiscursive, and all other manner of multivalent realities that are variously dyadic, monadic,  triadic and whatever string theory offers as of late, for example. And we want to collapse these  creative tensions rather than nurture them. And we want to rush to closure on all types of  judgment --- practical, moral, political, metaphysical, because we cannot tolerate ambiguity andmust positively banish uncertainty. We miss Watts "wisdom in uncertainty." There is a temptation, it seems to me, to return from nondual awareness and unitive consciousness  and to attempt to convey the experience discursively, or even to elaborate an ontology. But this  is to "effable" about the ineffable. Nondualism is not the opposite of dualism. It is moreso a  transdualism, a going beyond. The gift of unitive consciousness is a human birthright and theinheritance is a huge checking account already sitting in our transrational bank waiting to be  existentially cashed. The problem is that it has no currency in our dualistic mindsets and there  is no straightforward language to convey this truth. One would only look quizzically at you and  ask: Whats a check? Whats a bank? Who needs this thing you call money? So, it requires something much less like describing reality by teaching via lecture and much more  like telling someone a joke as an invitation to laugh. After all, if we want someone to laugh, we  tell them a joke; we do not order them to laugh. If we want to help someone awaken to the  realization of unitary being, we must give them a koan or tell them a story. Therein lies theefficacy of retelling Everybodys Story. Solidarity, at its deepest and most profound level, is not first a belief we come by via  catechesis or metaphysics, and it is not a situation we are trying to establish socially,  economoically or politically; rather, it is an already prevailing reality to which we can  spontaneously awaken like something funny that makes us laugh, like some Zen koan that helps us  "get it," like some story or movie or poem that makes us quit our job, move to another continent  or begin a search for our birthmother. And if this happens to us, ten wo/men from every nation  will come and take us by the sleeve and say "we would go with you for we have heard that God is  with you," something like happened to Thomas Merton, Tony deMello, Bede Griffiths, David  Steindl-Rast and countless of our moms, sisters and girlfriends. 
  • Many years ago, I enjoyed/suffered a kundalini crisis/energy upheaval that opened my eyes to ...  well ... not really sure ... but Im processing my lifes experience by hopefully teaching best  what I, myself, most desperately need to learn (which is to say that those ten people from every  nation havent come calling). I DO have a succinct message to the Seinfeld generation. If you like yada, yada, yada ... then  youre going to just love nada, nada, nada. From the perspective of natural philosophy and/or natural theology, this evolutionary paradigm,  or, as I prefer, emergentist perspective, is ONLY a heuristic device, which is to say that it  provides some useful placeholders for our concepts and helpful hatracks from which to string our  lakatosian cobwebs of peripheral and core commitments/hypotheses (positivistic, philosophic,theistic, theotic, etc). As a mere heuristic device, emergentism lacks the type of explanatory adequacy that would be  required to compel any of the extant worldviews to either fold their tents or to hoist theirvictory flags. As we have seen, it can be hypothetically consonant with such diverse tautologies  as darwinistic scientism, ID creationism, buddhist cosmology, the dionysian account of proodos,  mone & epistrophe, Western Big Bang cosmology cum creatio ex nihilo, and so on. HOW things are, whether physically or metaphysically, will not, then, be ultimately dispositive  of which tautology one chooses to inhabit, at least not at this very early stage of humankinds  journey to full realization of the transcendental values. If I keep urging a more  phenomenological approach, it is not that I regard it as having some a priori claim as a superiorepistemology, it is only that I escaped the postmodern critique with my naive realism suitably  chastized and any sterile, patriarchal scholasticism hopefully purged. The upshot is that, while  I desist from any attempts to successfully DESCRIBE "ultimate" reality, I do positively affirm  our collective capability to successfully REFER to Ultimate Reality. Whether in theoretical physics or speculative cosmology or natural theology, we can speak of  various causes as being proper to their effects, as we appropriately refer to those causes long  before we elaborate suitable description for same. Our experiences will, through time, allow our  meta-speak to get a progressively tighter grasp as our definitions get disambiguated, as our  predications become either more properly univocal and/or equivocal, as our tautologies get more  "taut" and talk "about" turns into knowledge "of," as the empirical, logical and practical are  eventually transcended by the more robustly relational. In my view, this very much entails a  progression from the objective, subjective and interobjective to the intersubjective, the latter  being manifestly transrational. This is not to say that any of these modes of encounter with reality  are autonomous and it is not to suggest that any necessarily enjoys primacy. I experience them  and view them integrally. Hence, no gnostic, pseudo-mystical, intersubjective transrationality;  rather, Ill stick with Ignatian and communal discernment, and with academic peer review and the  ongoing dialogue between the traditional consensus and liberal consensus, thank you very much. So, what DOES one do with NATURES EVOLUTIONARY PARADIGM? Well, Ive stated my case over against allowing it to run out too far in front of theoretical  science and contemporary speculative cosmology as any type of absolutist metaphysic, panpsychic  or otherwise. I just do not join those who endeavor to take the laws of thermodynamics, the novel  dissipative structures of nonequilibrium thermodynamics, quantum interpretations (Bohm,  Copenhagen or other), multiverse macro-theories and many worlds mini-theories, or any other  modern scientific paradigm or theory, and then attempt to use them to resolve the "hard problem"  of philosophy of mind, much less the harder problem of ... I forget ... what is THE problem. Oh  yeah, "what might be the essential nature of the ultimatest of the ultimate in reality?" Right now, all we can do is to look around and try to increase our descriptive accuracy of "that  than which nothing greater can be conceived," although I prefer the formulation "that than which  nothing else can convoke more love," by employing apophatic negation: A wind passes, the earth  quakes, the mountains on fire, my beloved, native city, New Orleans floods, but leaving Platos  cave with Elijah (mixing allegories), God is not earth, air, fire or water; neither is He  wave-particle duality, Heisenbergian uncertainty or the Superest Superstring. Ontologically,  epistemically and semantically, only vagueness can gift us with the proper predicates of such a  Cause as might be proper to all of these manifold and multiform effects, predicates that aid our  "references to" but in no way our "description of." Natural philosophy and theology, then, gift us with a modal ontology that proceeds only via  apophatic predication, at least when we are in the literal mode of communicating. When we do venture forth with an attempt to increase our descriptive accuracy of this Reality via  kataphatic predication via a language of affirmation, our finitude reduces us the weakest of the  analogical forms, metaphor. My love is LIKE a red, red rose. Now, one might then suppose that I am saying that, a priori, Gods essential nature, in  principle, forever  eludes us and necessarily dissolves in an impenetrable apophatic mist, dying  an inevitable Godelian death, a proposition whose axioms can never be proven through formal  argumentation. However, Godel well instructs us that often we can SEE the truth of our axioms  even when we cannot prove them. (A case in point is 2 + 2 = 4. I SEE that truth but could not  competently accompany Whitehead and Russell halfway thru their Principia Mathematica where it is  
  • eventually proven). So, humankind may very well trip over the axioms that are consistent with,  not only a successful reference to, but, also, a dang good description of, Ultimate Reality. In  that sense, I think any optimism in our approaches may very well be rewarded. And, I have every reason to suspect that, for MANY, it, in the largest measure even, already has  been! But this gets conveyed, one to the other, more by a twinkle in ones eye, the gait to ones  step, the love in ones heart and the embrace of ones Reality, where, as Rohr says, everything  belongs. Less so than via erudite argumentation. Taste and see, TASTE and SEE, the goodness of  the Lord, the goodness of creation. In some sense, then, the proper marriage of science and religion, I believe, will be through the  lingua franca of philosophy, good old linguistic disambiguation and analytical clarification and  the clarification of which distinction are also dichotomies and which are not. The Science and  Religion Dialogue is somewhat of a pseudo-problem. It is more of a Diatribe between Scientisticand Fideistic Militants. Dont get me wrong, HOW things are is critically important to our meta-ethics and deontologies.  Natural law approaches are great but the impetus behind their conclusions should soften in  proportion to the tentativeness that inescapably attends to their definitions, premises and  logical axioms. There is no fact-value dichotomy, in principle, but sometimes, for all practical  purposes, there can be, ignorant as we are. So, we do the best we can do in fashioning a moralconsensus and articulating a more compelling morality. General precepts are easier to come by and  seem to be held as self-evident in such as our UN Declaration of Human Rights, variously  supported by humanists, believing and nonbelieving. That we all agree with such inalienablerights as stated in our own Declaration of Independence (those of us from the US of A), even as  our philosophical justifications might vary greatly, to me testifies to a perennial philosophy,  precisely from our collective mystical core. My Religious Naturalist friends have their own  minimalist versions and deontologies but I wont be so arrogant as to call them anonymous  Christians, even behind their backs. So, I hear some crying Uncle, Uncle. What DO we do with our scientific advances if they have  little bearing on natural theology and even on the science and religion dialogue/diatribe? Well, we do not start, therefore, from nature and proceed to God-concepts. Things have NOT  changed that much regarding the seeming-ineradicable mystery we remain immersed in from the dawn  of human time. (Im NOT a godforsaken mysterian, just a realist.) Occams razor should not be  interpreted as an admonition against the unnecessary multiplication of ontologies or as an  imperative to stick with the simplest explanation from the standpoint of explanatory adequacy. Instead, what Occam suggests might better be interpreted as a gentle urging to go with our most facile  explanations, in other words, those abductions or hypotheses or explanations that arise most  easily and spontaneously to the human psyches rational and unitive consciousnesses. We are SOfearfully and wondrously made, we have demonstrated an uncanny ability to "get reality right"  (research of our ecological rationality supports this) and this is a major reason for humankinds  almost universal abduction of the Reality of God, which is grounded in what are often  unconsciously competent, common sense notions of causality and derived from time-honored but  usually unspoken nonpropositional, self-evident first principles. We can KNOW God, we just cannot PROVE Her. (Dont ask me to prove my wife, either. She is like  ... the wind, an earthquake, a fire, a flood. "And the riverbank talks of the waters of March;  its the promise of life; its the joy in your heart.") It is precisely this facility of the abduction of the Reality of God, and the facility of all of  our other abductions of the realities of the created order, that would recommend our dutiful  study of, and engagement with, the long-established religions of indigenous peoples, the great  traditions of the East and, yes, even those Abrahamic and New Age religions of the West. And weare looking, always, for those myths, which while not necessarily literally true, will evoke the  most appropriate response to ultimate reality. Our succesful references to Reality are essential  to our successful relationships with Reality even as our descriptions of Reality remain  rudimentary, not very successful at all. So, we turn our focus from description to reference. Our starting point is inverted. We dont  start all the time with our observations of nature and proceed toward God hypotheses, a  legitimate enterprise to be sure, just such a ploddingly and glacially slow enterprise (except  for the gnostic class). In other words, we dont take our modern science and do natural theology.  Thats esoteric stuff for theo-policy wonks. Rather, our more fruitful mission is to start with  our universal experience of God and proceed toward an interpretation of nature. And theinterpretations will go beyond our empirical, logical and practical encounters with nature but  not without the knowldege we have gained through them. Such is the difference between a natural  theology and a theology of nature. And the provenance of a theology of nature does not reside exclusively with the theologians of  academia, whether of the traditional or liberal consensus. A theology of nature is an enterprisefor us all. It is kataphatic and metaphorical. It is poetry. It is storytelling. It is liturgy. It is music. It is psalmody. It is chant, both Gregorian andNative American. It is joke-telling and koan-giving. It is the Book of Nature and the book called  
  • Genesis. It is not literal. It is analogical. It is not even a strong analogy, but a metaphor. It is not JUST a metaphor for there is nothing "mere" about metaphors. How silly to mistake the  finger for the moon, the map for the terrain, indeed. Sillier, still, would be any cursorily  dismissive characterization of humanitys religious map collections as "only" maps. They allow us  to feel "at home" and not rather "lost in the Cosmos." And this is how I would parse Thomas Berrys opus and the hermeneutic that I think would most  charitably and efficaciously articulate his ineffable love of Reality. When he suggests putting  the Bible on the shelf for twenty years and bemoans the scientistic and secularistic pollution of  the streams that flow from the wellsprings of our religions mystical core, what might at firstglance be considered as intemperate or even a joke just might be his hyperbolic attempt to awaken  us with a good laugh, to comfort us in our truly lamentable affliction, and a good cry, to  afflict us in our unjustifiable comfort. The prophets have always been radical and over against  the prevailing yada, yada, yada. So, God is LIKE an ontological gulf. God is LIKE a continuity to continue all continuities.  Pan-entheism is too vague to even affirm a creatio ex nihilo. Thats for the theologians of  special revelation. And it doesnt fully address ontological continuity and discontinuity and the  root metaphor dujour. What it does affirm, fer sure, is a creatio continua as we facilely (not a  pejorative in this context) and competently abduct (spontaneously hypothesize) and thus REFER to  an indescribable intimacy and indwelling presence that is present to every ongoing,  always-being-sustained reality in every emergent level of reality, closer to each bounded  existence than such existants are to themselves. There IS a Subject there and Berrys insistence  that we should refer to such always and everywhere is my insistence, too. I just positively  desist from over-describing same. Well, enough is enough. Namaste.jb  Prologue to the Above re: Thomas Berry Father Tom Berry is one of many voices of prophetic ecological protest. Humankinds relationship tothe environment deserves critique. No one can seriously question that this relationship is broken and in need of repair. Clearly, an indictment is warranted and aninvestigation is justified. Or, to change to a more apt metaphor, our ecological symptoms suggest dis-ease in our social, economic, political, cultural and religious institutions. It is criticallyimportant, therefore, that we properly diagnose the causes of any such diseases so we can best devise the most effective prescriptions for what ails us. Quoting Berry: "The enormous energies and corresponding organizational skills of thiscomplex [the 20th century industrial corporations of Western civilizations] have built an industrialworld with a withering influence on the life systems of the planet so devastating that our period is inthe midst of a mass extinction of species. So now the events of the twentiethcentury have terminated the Cenozoic era… " Berry and many others in the late-20th Century ecology movement have largely contributed to theworlds heightened awareness of the symptoms of this socio-economic-politico-cultural disease. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. That we suffer severe symptoms and that they indicate a serious disease, there can be no doubt. Thatour western traditions can learn from Eastern traditions and from the religious lives of variousindigenous peoples is also an important insight. These themes also resonate in the writings of Thomas Merton. Still, much of what has been so very well developed inthe East with its emphases on the immanent, impersonal, existential, natural and apophatic, as complementary to the transcendent, personal, theological, supernaturaland kataphatic, was already robustly developed in the patristic and medieval church and lives on in our cenobitic and contemplative spiritualities. The Franciscantradition via the little friar from Assisi, Bonaventure and Duns Scotus have long-offered enlightened alternatives in metaphysics, incarnational theology and creation-spirituality. All that said, at the same time, I think Berry is otherwise, at least partially, in error regarding bothhis disease diagnosis and, consequently, his prescribed cure. In a nutshell, in my view, following GKC, itis not so much that Christianity has been tried and found wanting as much as it has scarcely been triedat all.  Berry objects to "the casting of God in terms of a transcendent, personal, monotheistic creativedeity.[which] desacralizes the phenomenal world… those who gave him [God] this status had a certainabhorrence of the feminine Earth-dwelling deities of the Eastern Mediterranean [people]. We have lost the primary manifestation of the divine in its cosmologicalmanifestation." As I‛ve mentioned elsewhere, there is no need to jettison these above-listed attributes of God inorder to affirm other aspects, which are already long-recognized, by the way, in all suitably predicated God-concepts. The answer lies in a return to authenticorthodoxy and not the elaboration of a new heterodoxy. As regarding any notion that “Humans have arrogated to themselves a superiority over nature "as spiritual beings [detached] from the visible world." Or that “They(we) make the world ‘an external objective reality‛ that we treat as subservient because of our presumption of higher ‘spirituality for which all things exist‛.” ---What if humans simply better developed an enlightened self-interest vis a vis Creation and as Created Co-Creators (cf. Phil Hefner)? What if we adapted Bernardian
  • love of God to that of the cosmos? To wit: Love of self for sake of self. Love of cosmos for sake of self. Love of cosmos for sake of cosmos. Love of self for sake ofcosmos. Thus wed appreciate creation both for the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards it offers for our proper inter-relationship. Thus we neednt elaborate a newtheological anthropology that doesnt really square with what we know from science, in general, and evolution, in particular. For, the fact of the matter is that, in anemergentist creation, where something more comes from nothing but (cf. Ursula Goodenough), there is a certain degree of ontological discontinuity, a certainhierarchy that does place Homo sapiens in a unique relationship to the cosmos. Still, stewardship neednt necessarily entail arrogance. Whether one thinks of Original Sin as an ontological rupture located in the past or a teleological chasm oriented toward the future, or as a cosmological,epistemological or axiological gap, that there remains a gap in our essentialistic idealizations and their existential realizations cannot be seriouslychallenged. The Franciscan metaphysicians did not believe that the Incarnation was occasioned by anyFelix Culpa but, rather, that God so loved creation from the get-go that the Christ was coming nomatter what! Still, this musing comes from a theology of nature and not from a natural theology, whichis philosophy and not really theology. Natural philosophy can get us to a compelling form of deism,perhaps, but it takes more than natural revelation to speak to the issue of whether or not this God oreven this Cosmos is ... well ... even friendly versus unfriendly. It takes "special" revelation, i.e. GoodNews. That there was a Cartesian blunder ... well ... let me say this. Not even the classic view of an aristotelian thomism made that mistake, instead, viewing all humanattributes integrally. Philosophy of mind issues remain unresolved. How they eventually get resolved will be interesting but any such resolution will not be ultimatelydispositive of our theological anthropology. Phenomenologically, we already know what we experience and what we value. THAT we experience and THAT we value isessential. HOW this all comes about is accidental. It does not matter one whit, in my relationship with my God or with my spouse, whether consciousness is anotherprimitive alongside space, time, mass and energy, as folks like Berry and even Ayn Rand seem to suggest, or whether it is an emergent, semiotic reality, lets say,following Terry Deacon. Until neuroscience and philosophers of mind resolve these issues, Berry is saying WAY more than either science or philosophy warrants. It isalmost as if Berry and like-minded folks would to do away with any notions of ontological density as a master stratagem for leveling the ecological playing field, asif de-throning humanity was necessarily the cure-all for ecological sustainability. They also seem to downplay the eschatologically inevitable: If we do not end in anuclear bang, we certainly will end, at the very least, in an ecological whimper, as the helios burns itself out. It is pretty apparent we will need "outside" help, if youask me. In summary, Berry is right in that, ecologically, things are awry. I disagree, in part, with his account of WHY this is so and, consequently, with his prescribedCURES. One cannot cure the breach between science and religion by starting with Eastern and indigenous traditions, wherein, in fact, science, itself, was mostlystillborn. These traditions DO offer a critique of Western idolatries but Berrys theology of nature is little more than a natural mysticism and mysticism of nature.What we need, rather, is rigorous natural science, disciplined natural philosophy, and theological speculation that goes beyond both science and philosophy, in faith,but not without their empirical and logical insights. Berry unquestionably goes beyond both science and philosophy when he credits all aspects of creation with consciousness. This is not unlike a similar maneuver Iveseen others attempt by invoking infinite semeiosis. Even if we eventually prove that consciousness is a primitive, a given, its phenomenal presentation as humanconsciousness is a distinct and novel reality. Or is this not evident to anyone with common sense? There are those who believe that there is a mystical core to all organized religion. And this wouldinclude not only the great traditions of the East and West but also the manifold and multiformreligious experiences of indigenous peoples everywhere through all of time. Per this account, humansencounter a) truth and seek to share it in creed (dogma), b) beauty and celebrate it in cult (ritual) c)goodness and preserve it in code (law) and d) unity and enjoy it in community. Of course, we are fallible and make no exclusive a priori and apodictic claims to absolute truth, beauty, goodness or unity. Without denying the reality of suchabsolutes, we simply recognize that our access to same is somewhat problematical, finite as we are. Setting aside any controversial notions of what it might mean to be saved and discussions ofsoteriology and/or redemption, we might still affirm the efficacy of such as the Buddhas Four NobleTruths, the Buddhist Eightfold Path (including Right Speech), the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience, the Catholic approach ofScripture, Tradition, Magisterium & Reason (Fides et Ratio). What these rubrics reveal is that, when it comes to truth, beauty, goodness and unity, humankindeschews any 1) insidious indifferentism, as if anything goes 2) facile syncretism, as if our different traditions could be easily blended or 3) false irenicism, as ifour traditions were already at peace with one another. The whole premise of our own conversation is based on our own unspoken presupposition that, howeverotherwise problematical our access to these transcendental imperatives and/or divine attributes of truth, beauty, goodness and unity, still, we best honor ourexistential orientations toward same by seeking the most nearly perfect articulation of them as we can reasonably come by. It is my belief that, toward the above-listed ends, we have a Helper, the Holy Spirit. Further, it is mybelief that the most efficacious approach to interreligious dialogue in this day and age will, accordingly, be pneumatological. In such dialogue, as Catholics, we can[bracket] our inclusivistic Christocentrism. There is a difference, of course, between bracketing a concept and jettisoning it. I recommend Amos Yongs __Beyondthe Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions__. Continuing with your question about the Spirit self-revealing in and through nature, Catholics draw adistinction between general and special revelation, the former precisely entailing what can be inferredregarding God from our reasoning as it considers the natural, created order. Special revelation, in any tradition, would entail additional info about God that one would not otherwiseget just from looking around at ones environment and then just using ones noggin. Without fully explicating an epistemology, which for me entails our human pursuit(s) of values, oursearch for knowledge being inherently normative, let me suggest that, as radically social animals, human knowledge mostly advances via some type of earnest,community of inquiry. So, when it comes to such as right speech, right action, and other disciplines, or such as orthodoxy, orthopraxis and orthopathos, one is obligedto pay deference to various reliable, credible, trustworthy and authoritative communities, seeking the most optimal or nearly perfect articulations of truth, beauty,goodness and unity one can reasonably attain. Of course, we have scientific, philosophical, academic, religious, political and many other types of human communitieswith manifold and varied standards for what conventions are useful in promoting the values to which they most aspire per their given focus of human concern. As a Catholic, then, I refer and defer to Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium and Reason/Experience asthe primary resources for defining self and discerning my authentic path to orthodoxy, orthopraxis and orthopathos. The journey to authenticity is one of conversion:intellectual, affective, moral,sociopolitical and religious. My critique of church is focused on how well it institutionalizes andfacilitates all of these conversions. I remain in dialogue with other traditions and peoples, but if Ididnt believe and experience my catholicism as the best available (however imperfect and ever-pilgrim in status) articulation of and route to  truth, beauty, goodness
  • and unity, then Id try to associate with the best I could find elsewhere (without idolizing that community either). Berry uses various and sundry phrases like  a) "memetic" package of culture b) ambivalence ofideas and words c) "transcendent abstractions" (entes rationis) d) "transcendences" of culturalfixation. In one fell swoop of psycho-linguistic critique, Berry calls into question both the origins and the entiredevelopments of both Western science and religion? Well, from a practical perspective, I would have to agree that much of Western culture isimpoverished. And it could truly be enriched by a more mindful use of language, such as through a more robust engagement of our ancient Christian mysticisms,medieval scholasticisms and modernbiblical interpretations, all which recognize and employ hermeneutical methods and styles that morefully accommodate those nuances of language which better express our experiences of multivalentrealities. They might better employ the rich and depthful symbolic approaches of our liturgies andprayer life, discursive and nondiscursive, kataphatic and apophatic. They might better employ the use of storytelling and parable in conveying metanarratives. Theymight proactively seek and incorporate the time-honored spiritual technologies and ascetical insights of the East. [You see, I am advocating a RETURN because, in myview, we are ALREADY getting much of this right, at least in catholic Christianity - Anglican, Orthodox, Roman and liberal Protestantism.] To the extent that the East has gifted us with so many fruitful insights and approaches to a richhuman interiority, it can well-complement the Wests "mastery" of its external environment, and, yes,mitigate, ameliorate and re-direct this so-called mastery with a more holistic and self-enlightenedperspective that values the cosmos on many levels, for its intrinsic value as well as its extrinsic gifts. I have also seen the East as deserving of critique, as impoverished in its own way, especially vis a visits cosmology, which is why it failed to produce a self-sustaining scientific enterprise. In my view, it is not so much that Berry seems to be calling us to a post-Christian worldview as that,upon closer inspection, he seems to be beckoning us to a pre-Christian worldview. It is not that hemerely wants to refashion our language conventions and thereby reform our cultural metanarratives, ineffect he is adopting an idealist, panpsychic metaphysic, reverting to an ancient cosmology that betteraccommodates an idealist monism or pantheism or heterodox panen-theism. See Wikipedia for orthodox and fundamentalist parsings of panentheism. What I would instead prescribe is such a panentheism as remains more ontologically vague, reflectingthe truth of Godels Theorem that our formal accounts cannot be both consistent and complete,reflecting our need to also employ epistemic and semantical vagueness, as we prescind, at leastoccasionally, from our more robustly metaphysical accounts to a strictly phenomenological perspective.I do not suggest this a priori but only because, at this stage of humankinds journey, it is too early toover-commit to one metaphysic or another. To do so, and then to use it as a foundation for othernormative and epistemic "systems" is to "prove too much" and to assert more than we can possibly know, at this time. In these regards, Berry might best take a spoonful of his own medicine, which is to say that he shouldbe as fallibilistic and self-critical regarding his own cosmology as he is when critiquing that of theWest. Both are impoverished. It is not about dualism versus monism, essentialism versus nominalism,substantialism versus process/dynamism with all of their self-contradictions, conceptualincommensurabilities and mutual occlusivities. It is about being more modest, fallibilistic, tentativeover against infallibilistic, apodictic and a prioristic. Some have suggested a retreat into a semeiotichermeneutic and that provides a good grammar but not a system. I applaud such a retreat but agree we must, together, ambition a metaphysic. I just admantly objectto any notion that any of ourmetaphysical ventures are, as yet, so comprehensive and exhaustive, as to provide a sure foundation for our metaphysical and metaethical enterprises. I am not joining the chorus of radically deconstructive postmodernists who mistake a critique for asystem. Postmodernism left us with weakened foundations and weakened deontologies. It replacedepistemological hubris with epistemological holism but not with excessive epistemological humility as some would maintain, paradoxically, with great hubris. Besides,whatever the psycholinguists and postmoderns have to say about our conceptual reifications, one single thermonuclear explosion can still ruin ones whole afternoon! I want to attempt, here, to summarize what I think it is about in an effort to make sure I am activelylistening to our many dialogue partners. This is in the spirit of: "I think this is what you are saying. AmI really hearing you?" It seems to me that this discussion has to do with epistemology, in general. It considers, then, issuespertaining to how we know what it is we think we know. The discussion then focuses, in particular, on what that --- how we know what it is we think we know --- means for Western science and religion. It especiallyexplores the implications of certainepistemological perspectives for Christology, Christian theology, Christian ecclesiology, and, well, thewhole ball of Christian wax. It seems to me like the discussion mostly finds its genesis in various responses to the postmoderncritique. The responses, as I have interpreted them, all take the postmodern critique seriously. I do,too. The postmodern critique, when radically deconstructive, leads nowhere as far as a logically consistentand internally coherent theoretical philosophy might be concerned. If it has any normative impetus, then that can only be described as an anti-normative and practicalnihilism. The translation of thisphilosophical-speak is that one can live as if reality has no meaning. And that is the only waypostmodern deconstruction can remotely be considered any type of "system." However, a critique doesnot a system make. Those who take the critique seriously usually frame up their responses in terms of "foundationalism,"
  • such as foundational, nonfoundational, post-foundational, found-herentism and such, and use terms likecorrespondence theory and coherence theory. Simply put, these are architectural metaphors thatdescribe how it is we support or justify what it is that we think we know. And this includes what wethink we know about what it is we think we know. When we start getting "circular" like this, we arebeginning to go "meta," like meta-ethical, meta-physical, meta-narrative. At bottom, those who have contributed to this thread, directly via postings or even indirectly viacitations, are providing perspectives that are grounded in epistemological theories that have beenformulated as responses to the postmodern critique. What each contributor is saying, in effect, is: "Based on my beliefs regarding how it is we know what itis we think we know, the next good step for humankind, that we may survive and then thrive, is this ..." Humankinds steps are then framed in different combinations of orthodoxy or right belief, orthopraxis or right action, and orthopathos or right feelings. And werecognize these categories in relationship to the traditional normative sciences of philosophy in the triad of the noetical, ethical and aesthetical. In addition to logic,ethics and aesthetics, philosophy also deals with epistemology, as discussed above, and metaphysics, as has figured largely in this thread, particularly as ontology, asfolks have also presented different root metaphors for categorizing reality. This is what appears to me to be going on in this thread, in general. I will continue, later, with adiscussion of the particulars.  This best way for me to continue is to try to state affirmatively "what the postmodern critique meansto me." I took the critique seriously. It did not move me from foundationalism to nonfoundationalism. It didmake me question how infallible, how indubitable, how so-called self-evident, how propositional, howapodictic any of humankinds truth claims are. It did help me to better see that while one can apprehend reality, in part, one cannot comprehend reality as a whole. Ithelped me to see that my apprehension of reality was fallible and tentative even as humankinds knowledge has advanced slowly but inexorably. Postmodernism dispossessed me of any epistemological hubris but did not leave me with an excessiveepistemological humility. It did not remove my foundations but left me with weakened foundations. Any naive realism gave way to a critical realism. What I may have previously considered to be bedrock justifications for my true beliefs becamehypotheses, but not mere hypotheses, rather, good working hypotheses. I did not inhabit an ideal world wherein my empirical observations and logical machinationscould lead me to indubitably soundconclusions but needed to temper same with practical evaluations, too. I believe with Chesterton thathumankind does not know enough about reality yet to say that it is unknowable (and I would add,knowable). I appreciate Haldanes statement that reality is not only stranger than we imagine butstranger than we CAN imagine (but I would add, at least for now). All things considered, then, humankinds best efforts in elaborating a metanarrative, using ourobservations of the created order and our human reasoning capacities (the latter which I broadlyconceive as an ecological rationality, which includes empirical, logical, practical and relationalreasonings among others, including our nonrational and pre-rational faculties), at present, can only yield what are, in essence, elaborate tautologies. These tautologies all entail concepts & definitions, premises & logic, and abductive, inductive anddeductive inferences, in combination with all of the other ecological rationalities that furnish ourepistemic suites. And they do this  with ones epistemological, ontological, cosmological, axiological and teleological CONCLUSIONS already embedded in thedefinitions and premises, themselves. There is indeed a Wittgensteinian language game at play. But, with Wittgenstein, we might note that itis not HOW things are but THAT things are which is the mystical. For those who dont buy into takingexistence to be a predicate of being, we can consider, in a modal ontology, various "bounded" existences and still assert that, even if it is neither how nor that thingsare which is the mystical, still, that THESE THINGS are is the mystical. And I am talking about such as the weak anthropic principle. So, I still buy into weakfoundationalism, weak deontology, weak anthropocentrism. Back to the tautologies ... I am speaking of nothing less than the major worldviews, including the"great" traditions and others. These tautologies result from our human finitude. They result from theGodelian metamathematical reality of not being able to confect a formal argument that is both complete and consistent. They result from the circular reasoning Idescribed above but also from various causal disjunctions, when the metaphors in our analogies of being become too weak to be universally compelling, or fromvarious infinite regressions, when common sense notions of causality have to be sacrificed in our assertions of certain univocities of being. The competition between such tautologies becomes fierce when cast in terms of monism and dualism,which then multiply hydralike into various cosmologies like materialist and idealist monisms,epistemological and ontological dualisms, rationalism versus empiricism, idealism versus realism, humean versus kantian versus aristotelian versus platonism andneoplatonism. Some have noted that we cannot solve such problems with the same mindsets that created them. Thus, we might escape the monadic and dyadic,nondualist and dualist, conundrum by moving to a triadic semeiotic description of reality. Whatever! What I would maintain is that natural theology, and natural philosophy, and metaphysics, and evenadvanced theoretical physics are ALL viable enterprises. Further, just because they are tautologiesdoes not mean that they are necessarily wrong. It only means that they have not really added any newinformation to the system. What natural philosophy and theology contribute are tautologies but not alltautologies are equally "taut" in their grasp of reality. We can adjudicate between many of them basedon a host of epistemic criteria, including external congruence with reality, internal coherence, logicalconsistency, interdisciplinary consilience and hypothetical consonance. These epistemic criteria are allnecessary but none sufficient in guaranteeing a sound argument. What they gift us with is merely avalid argument. They tell us that our tautology is reasonable. That it is defensible. Natural theology, then, does not prove Gods existence in a universaly compelling arugument. Its job is to demonstrate that belief in God at least enjoys
  • epistemological parity with other belief systems. So it is with deism, atheism, nontheism, pantheism, panen-theism, pan-entheism, material or idealist monisms, and soon and so forth. MUCH LESS, does natural theology or philosophy gift us with self-evident knowledge regarding any of the divine attributes, for believers, or ofultimate reality, for anymetaphysician. Human belief systems are not merely cognitive, not only affective, and the tentative nature ofworldviews as I set forth above also makes both fideism and scientism untenable. William James iscorrect, in my view, in describing certain of our beliefs as forced, vital and momentous. Our beliefsystems are existential and involve our ultimate concerns. More than just the grammar of inference,they are relational and employ also the grammar of assent, of trust, of fidelity, of love. So, I would not want to ever employ or be perceived as employing too much pejorative force whenengaging my dialogue partners here or elsewhere. People of large intelligence and profound goodwill will often disagree and can with great honor and integrityrecommend different "next good steps" forhumanity, even if it involves the telling of a noble lie, the re-telling of everybodys story or thearticulation of a new inculturated theology for a time-honored and great tradition. We do need to getthis all as right as we possibly can and I share the sense of urgency and the great love of humankind and the cosmos that all of you have expressed. My beloved children,As you near that time in your lives when you will have children yourselves, I want to share some thoughts to help you on that part of lifesjourney. The first thought that comes to my mind is one given me by your one hundred year old great Aunt Dixie. In her 1982 Christmas card, she wrote ofthe special and great joy that one can only know from having had children. She wrote that shed not mentioned it to me before because I reallyneeded to have already had my own children to truly understand such profound joy. It does seem to me that anyone who has enjoyed youngersiblings, nieces and nephews, has already begun to taste such joy. Still, Aunt Dixie was right, of course, in that there is nothing quite like thefullness of the joy of birthing or adopting and then raising your very own children. What made her Christmas sentiment of 1982 so very poignantis the unspeakably sad reality that, not too many years before, she had lost her only daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters in a tragic caraccident. The second of the granddaughters was seven months in the womb on that fateful day. As I have slowly come to learn, one never getsover such events; rather, we learn to live with them. With much suffering. And with great joy. Also, with a strong will to go on living, learning andloving ... for even a century and beyond.So many in the world today (though clearly not all, not even most) are not confronted with the true scope of our human limitation, fragility andfinitude earlier on lifes journey. Oh, to be sure, as with joy, suffering is tasted, but not drunk deeply ... until ... until when? ... perhaps not evenuntil ones twilight years, when the autumn of life gives way to such a winter as then cruelly and more indiscriminately exposes human limitation,fragility and finitude in their naked and raw reality.I want to speak to you of our human limitations. And, I will cut to the chase. You are not God. Neither is anyone else. It is precisely that we arenot God that gives rise to this our "human estate" and that recommends we not "deem equality with God something to be grasped at." Now, thismay all seem to beg the question of why we must seemingly be SO limited, limitations admitting of degrees as they do. I can only say that,increasingly, I have come to appreciate that lifes biggest mysteries so often seem to conceal the HOW and WHY of things leaving us to grapplemostly with the THATs of reality. So, while I do have my own hypotheses regarding realitys hows and whys, below I will address mostly itsthats.It is because we are finite, fragile, limited, neither omniscient nor omnipotent, that we live always in pursuit of value. We need value not only towonderfully thrive but also to merely survive. Hence, in so many different ways, we pursuit truth, beauty, goodness and unity. Everything frombreakfast to supper, from soup to nuts, from conception to resurrection is thus ordered toward the human pursuit of value. Our existence is allabout value realization. There are many ways to describe these value pursuits, whether in terms of evolutionary psychology or sociobiology,whether as theoretical, heuristic or normative sciences, whether as philosophy or religion. And I have written of it all, variously, in most of theseterms. This has been my way of trying to understand reality.You will approach reality in your own way. We know this from the science of personality psychology and the many studies of human temperament.There is nothing occult or magic about any of this. There is no special, definitive numerological description. Who knows? Maybe because we havefour rather specialized brain quadrants and three rather clearly delineated brain layers we could devise twelve meaningful personalitydescriptions, twelve distinct approaches to human value realization (twelve apostles and tribes of Israel). Maybe there are not 144,000 that willbe saved but 144,000 ways to be saved? Maybe be could come up with sixteen types by squaring four (Myers-Briggs). Or, maybe because most ofus are, at best, able to use only three of the four quadrants in our lifetime, these three brain quadrants times the three brain layers yield ninetypes? most readily distinguishable by, on one hand, our resulting strengths, on the other, our crippling weaknesses? Like I said, though, this isnot going to be about the hows and whys, just the thats. For my purposes, I will use the Letterman approach. Below Ill set forth The Top TenWays Humans Approach Reality. Perhaps later Ill devise a 40 Day Lenten Journey by meditating on how these ten approaches each interact withtruth, beauty, goodness and unity, respectively, yielding forty distinct moments of human value realization. The Top Ten Ways Humans Approach Reality (in no particular order)1) Morally2) Socially3) Practically4) Spiritually5) Philosophically6) Institutionally7) Sensually8) Politically
  • 9) Peacefully10) Religiously For each of these approaches to reality, we can list both an existential style and a neurotic solution. The existential styles would describe ouruse of each approach on our journeys to authenticity and in ways that are life-giving and relationship-enhancing. The neurotic solutions woulddescribe our inauthenticity in ways that are life-destroying and relationship-detracting. Such neuroses are habitual and predictable patterns ofapproaching reality, so easily seen in other people, so often comprising our own blind spots, which can be embarrassing and humiliating oncediscovered. (To think we can get embarrassed about not being God, humiliated even.) The Top Ten Ways Humans Approach Reality - our Existential Styles, striving1) Morally, to be good2) Socially, to love3) Practically, to be useful4) Spiritually, to transcend5) Philosophically, to be right6) Institutionally, to be loyal7) Sensually, to be joyful8) Politically, to engage9) Peacefully, to be peaceful10) Religiously, to be holy The Top Ten Ways Humans Approach Reality - our Neurotic Solutions, needing1) Morally, to feel perfect2) Socially, to feel needed3) Practically, to feel successful4) Spiritually, to feel special5) Philosophically, to feel independent6) Institutionally, to feel guided7) Sensually, to feel good8) Politically, to feel in control9) Peacefully, to feel connected10) Religiously, to banish mystery In the next section, The Top Forty Ways Humans Approach Reality in Pursuit of Value, I use some technical jargon as shorthand, as mentalplaceholders, until I can come back and flesh out these approaches in a more accessible form. It is not so very important though that youunderstand the words as it is that you get a general idea of what is happening. In each of these approaches, below, the descriptions I haveprovided represent different philosophical schools, for example, such as in moral theory and art theory, such as in epistemology - which considershow we know what we know, and so on. Interestingly (and distressingly), to some extent these represent positions and schools that are oftenpresented over against the other, which is to say as dichotomies or either-or choices rather than as useful distinctions describing differentmoments in an otherwise integral act of approaching reality. Now, I am not advocating a wimpy relativism but only am pointing out how onestemperamental preferences might often get "elevated" to the status of fetishes in ones approach to reality in pursuit of value. The Top Forty Ways Humans Approach Reality in Pursuit of Value 1) Morally               a) truth - virtue or aretaic ethics               b) beauty - deontological ethics               c) goodness - contractarian ethics               d) unity - teleological or consequentialistic ethics 2) Socially               a) truth - academic               b) beauty - cultural               c) goodness - economic               d) unity – ideological 
  • 3) Practically               a) truth - deduction and objective reality               b) beauty - induction and physical reality               c) goodness - semiotic reality               d) unity - abduction and ultimate reality 4) Spiritually – what we do with our pain               a) truth - formalism or essentialism               b) beauty - art as mimesis or imitationalism               c) goodness - arts as expressivism or emotionalism               d) unity – instrumentalism 5) Philosophically – what we do empirically and rationally and normatively               a) truth - virtue epistemology               b) beauty - correspondence theory               c) goodness - community of inquiry               d) unity - coherence theory 6) Institutionally               a) truth -  metanarratives or unitive narratives               b) beauty - celebrations               c) goodness - rules               d) unity - gatherings              7) Sensually               a) truth - descriptive of axioms or laws               b) beauty - descriptive of primitives and forces               c) goodness - prescriptive               d) unity – evaluative 8) Politically               a) truth - personal responsibility               b) beauty - nonestablishment & free exercise               c) goodness - social responsibility               d) unity - subsidiarity & pluralism 9) Peacefully               a) truth - simple awareness               b) beauty - symmetry between objects               c) goodness - harmony between people               d) unity - harmony between ideas 10) Religiously               a) truth - creed or dogma               b) beauty - cult or ritual               c) goodness - code or law               d) unity - community or fellowship Now, truth be known, what I have listed above represents forty distinct opportunities for conversion, for human development and redemption.These have otherwise been characterized positively, such as by Lonergan revised by Gelpi to include 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4)sociopolitical and 5) religious conversions, such as by Enneagram practitioners to include their nine capital sins. The astute observer will noticethat my first nine categories correspond rather well (and in numerical order) to the nine enneatype "trances." This is perhaps most noticeable inmy inventory of "neurotic solutions." I am certain that for each of these forty ways of approaching reality --- and of growing and harvesting its values that it has in store for us ---
  • that there are many anecdotes, many psalms and prayers, many opportunities to religiously convert and many ways to psychologically individuate.Maybe Ill compile same for a Lenten journey some day. My counsel is to keep your mouth shut, your eyes open and your ears to the ground,always mindful that the above-described dynamic is always at work in yourself and others, always dedicated to ongoing individuation andconversion while touching every base, all 40 of them. Use this list, self-critically, to take a fearless self-inventory. Observe others and try to seeboth their strengths and foibles in yourself. Some offer you the gift of a cautionary tale. Others are exemplars. All are your teachers. Few willbe your students, at least eagerly and willingly. Youll be busy enough on self-improvement your whole life and, God-willing, with parenting. Leaveothers alone. Love them but dont endeavor to change them. Reality has an uncanny way of taking care of that, even if only in old age. So, I commend the work of Scott Peck, Richard Rohr, Thomas Merton, Charles Curran, Hans Kung and others whose works populate mybookshelves. I commend both Myers-Briggs and Enneagram works of Catholic authors. It isnt an occult science of New Age provenance. Its justgood old-fashioned, well-trained phenomenology, superb observation of the minutiae of human behavior well-describing the thats of humanbehavior long before the hows and whys of evolutionary psychology and modern neurology became known. The Enneagram is thus more than aparlor game, still moreso an art than a comprehensive science, ergo, dont make more of it in a casual application of it than is warranted withoutconsiderable attention to good neuroscience, however popularized such as by Andy Newberg, and modern psychology and psychiatry, such as byRohr and Peck (and read his works re: the Devil).Well, there you have it ... the outline for the book Ill most likely never write and for the thoughts that will thus only comprise my legacy in theway in which YOU will live and move and have your being ... in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, world without end. I‛m not working onmy legacy; YOU‛RE IT! Love forever, jb  SOURCES OF VALUE BEAUTY - cosmological TRUTH - ontological GOODNESS - axiological UNITY - teleological   Sensing Thinking Feeling Intuiting   objective subjective intersubjective interobjective MORAL deontological ethics aretaic or virtue ethics contractarian ethics teleological ethics SOCIAL pluralist & free exercise academic cultural economic PRACTICAL induction & physical reality deduction & objective reality semiotic reality abduction & ultimate reality SPIRITUAL art as expressivism or art as mimesis & imitational art as formalism or essentialism art as instrumentalism aesthetical emotionalism PHILOSOPHICAL correspondence theory & virtue epistemology & dianoetic community of inquiry & semiotic coherence theory & ananoetic epistemological perinoetic INSTITUTIONAL cult & ritual creed & dogma community & code metanarrative & anagogical e.g. ecclesial SENSUAL descriptive - primitives & forces descriptive - axioms & laws prescriptive evaluative POLITICAL secularist & nonestablishment personal responsibility social responsibility subsidiarity PEACEFUL simple awareness JOTS - jump outside the system harmony between people harmony beween ideas                     Neurotic Solution - the "Ergo   SOURCES OF VALUE Existential Style Sum"     MORAL to be good to feel perfect     SOCIAL to love to feel needed     PRACTICAL to be useful to feel successful     SPIRITUAL to transcend to feel special     PHILOSOPHICAL to be right to feel independent     INSTITUTIONAL to be loyal to feel guided     SENSUAL to be joyful to feel good     POLITICAL to engage to feel in control     PEACEFUL to be peaceful to feel connected               SOURCES OF VARIATION         the Wings         Subtypes - self, social & sexual       Stages & Sicknesses  and/or         Saints & Sinners       Security & Stress -   directionality         Social Positions      Notes on the charts above: Without being coy or esoteric, even if not otherwise explicit, I recently enjoyed combining my philosophical & epistemological insights with the moreartistic approach of the enneagram. See http://www.enneagramcentral.com/ for an excellent explication of same combined with great practical ideas. It has always seemed to methat various philosophical “schools” of thought (aesthetical and ethical theories, epistemological approaches, metaphysics, etc) were little more than epistemic fetishes expressedas elaborate tautologies. Of course, just because a system is tautological does not mean that it is not true, but clearly some such tautologies are more “taut” than others, betterengaging reality and reaping a richer harvest of transcendental values. Existential approaches are authentic, life-giving and relationship enhancing. Neurotic approaches areinauthentic, life-destroying and relationship-detracting. If, then, orthopraxis authenticates orthodoxy and yields “true glory” of our “true self,” we‛d all do well to JOTS – jumpoutside the systems we inhabit – and engage reality on all of the fronts it offers, discerning where our distinctions might best be maintained as both-and creative tensions, but alsowhere they must otherwise clearly resolve into either-or dichotomies. Such is the art of philosophy and of the enneagram: discerning which distinctions are or are not dichotomies. As I see it, empirical, logical, practical, moral and other reasoning(s) interrelate intellectually even if not logically (or formally). They work together, integrally andholistically, to guide our pursuits of values, even as they ask different questions and employ different types of inference. In my view, the art of philosophy guides these distinctions, questions and inferences, and this includes our prudential judgments (from our moral and practicalreasoning). Thus, it guides our empirical pursuits of symmetry between realitys givens (primitives, forces and laws). And it also guides our logical pursuits ofsymmetry in logical arguments and mathematical equations. Further, it guides our search for harmony between people and, finally, for harmony between ideas. The pursuit of harmony between ideas does not ask: 1) Is that a fact? 2) What can we know? 3) What must we do? 4) Is it useful?
  •  Rather, those answers derive from our empirical, epistemo-logical, moral, practical and other interrogations of reality (set forth above). The pursuit of harmony between ideas (concepts, distinctions, inferences, judgments) asks questions like: 1) How does all of this fit together? 2) What does all ofthis mean? 3) Whats it all about? I believe that our putative answers to these questions come from unitive narratives or what some call human "metanarratives." Worldviews, ideologies and religionsattempt to answer these questions. They will refer to empirical, logical, moral, practical and other determinations and incorporate them into their unitive narratives,but they clearly go beyond those empirical, normative, practical and other sciences. And, they typically carry profound existential import. I offer this description for two reasons: 1) to introduce my own "categories" and 2) to offer a prescriptive/proscriptive suggestion. Proscriptively, then, it has been said that one is entitled to ones own opinion but that one is not entitled to ones own facts. Similarly, I fervently urge that, inengaging a unitive narrative, one is entitled to ones own worldview but that one is not entitled to ones own empirical, logical, moral and practical determinations,which must all derive, rather, from the most efficacious reasoning of the human intellect, as engaged and expressed by an earnest community of inquiry. All that said, that leaves many tasks to be done in the service of humankind by the worlds ideologies and religions, which then can transvalue our other (i.e. secular)value pursuits.  Worldviews, generally speaking, as "narratives," will involve storytelling. In their realization of values, they will involve celebrations. They also, then, necessarilyinvolve gatherings, where people commune and fellowship. Finally, they will then articulate and codify some precepts to govern and provide continuity for theirstorytelling, celebrations and gatherings. Insofar as they will include the empirical, epistemo-logical, moral and practical determinations of humankinds empirical, normative and practical sciences, we mightrefer to this universal attribute of all worldviews as comprising, at least in part, "Everybodys Story." We might ask if this or that worldview does a good job of "tying it all together" and measure its success in terms of how well it fosters the intellectual, emotional,moral and sociopolitical development(s) of individuals and peoples. To the extent we measure such success, we would then also describe what could properly becalled "religious" development, from the etymological root of "religare," which means "to tie back." There are other rather universal elements to worldviews that address humankinds concerns and they, necessarily, tend to be expressed in more vague terms. Forexample, Julian of Norwich asserted that "all may be well, can be well, will be well, and you will know that all manner of things shall be well." John Lennon asked:"Dont you know its gonna be alright?"  Further considering this same example, all of the major traditions seem to share some type of sentiment of experiencing a"deep okayness" with reality. They typically will be vague, for example, insofar as they assert THAT things are okay without describing the particulars of HOW thatmay be so. This is not to suggest that they may not appear to be offering particulars, but only to note that such offerings are necessarily going to be largelyallegorical and often mythological. That quite naturally goes with the territory that they attempt to map, the reality that they attempt to model, which also requiresanalogical and metaphorical language. Above, I  set forth different categories of human inquiry and described humankinds different attempts to "tie them together" into a unitive narrative. I mostlydescribed what I think they have in common. One of the ways different metanarratives begin to differ, one from the next, is in their varying degrees of speculation, or, put another way, in their differingdegrees of explanatory ambition. Most succinctly put, perhaps, they differ in how much of reality they are trying to explain. When I read different metanarratives, I thus distinguish them as 1) highly speculative theoretical science 2) natural philosophy and/or 3) philosophies of nature. Philosophies of nature are the most speculative and ambitious. They begin with ones established worldview and attempt to describe reality from that perspective. Theoretical science and natural philosophy begin with nature and attempt to describe reality from that perspective. There is not always a sharp distinction betweentheoretical science and natural philosophy. However, natural philosophy typically employs more "givens" than theoretical science, which is to suggest that itsdefinitions and premises and arguments will employ additional concepts to those used in science. Specifically, natural philosophy goes beyond the known primitives(space, time, mass, energy), forces (strong, weak, EM, gravity) and laws (thermodynamics, QM, etc) in its speculative attempts to explain reality. Theoretical science and natural philosophies employ the grammars of inductive, deductive and abductive (hypothetical) inference, use mostly formal and quasi-formalconstruction and lend themselves, in theory, though perhaps not so readily in practice, to falsification. The degree of falsifiability can derive from methodologicalconstraints and/or how far out in front of "Everybodys Story" a philosophy runs. Philosophies of nature add a grammar of relationship and some nonformal and nonpropositional construction, thus introducing dynamics such as trust, assent, fidelity,belief, love, self-evident and so on. Theoretical science, natural philosophies and philosophies of nature all rely on the distinction between a successful description of reality and a successfulreference of reality. They all employ analogical and metaphorical language, some analogies stronger or weaker than others, some metaphors collapsing sooner or laterthan others, in their attempts to both describe and reference reality. Beyond these distinctions of 1)highly speculative theoretical science, 2) natural philosophy and 3) philosophy of nature, which I described above, further distinctionsmultiply at an accelerated pace and a thousand blossoms indeed bloom, both the wild and the garden variety. And it is quite the chore for the anthropologists,sociologists and sociobiologists, and other scientists and philosophers and theologians, to sort through it all --- the various naturalisms and theisms and other -isms. Itis still too early on humankinds journey through the cosmos to conclusively and definitely adjudicate between all of the competing claims andconcerns but many of us believe there is reason to hope and believe they are adjudicable. I have thus offered some pragmatic criteria for discerning which types ofclaims might already be determinable as better or worse than others in terms of fostering intellectual, emotional, moral, sociopolitical and religious development.   This week, I will visit my brother, Thomas, at the Benedictine abbey. Although we live less than a mile apart, our opportunities to visit in person are infrequent owingto his orders rule and the nature of the contemplative lifestyle he has chosen.  I say "nature," regarding his contemplative lifestyle, in recognition of the variety ofways the contemplative life can be approached. Some are priests, others brothers. Some are monastic or cenobitic, spending most of their time in a community, otherseremitic or hermits, living alone in different structures, some more primitive than others, scattered throughout the property --- here a tiny A-frame, there a modestcabin with porch, mostly the former. Clerical or religious, cenobitic or eremitic, the fellows who populate this two-thousand acre wood are a motley group ofpersonalities and temperaments, of talents and ministries, much like the woods and its other denizens. The abbeys acreage, you see, is similarly variegated inasmuch
  • as it is crossed, unevenly bisected, by a small river, which is bordered, in part, by a hardwood floodplain, and, to a much greater extent, by upland pines. Where theriver, or creek Id call it, meets the lake, is an expansive marsh that quickly gives way to small groves of oaks and magnolias, which in turn give way to extensivestretches of pines, mostly loblolly, shortleaf and spruce, the virgin longleafs being confined to the immediate vicinity of the cathedral, seminary campus, monasteryand guesthouse as well as sometimes densely populating the adjacent grounds of the farm buildings and pastures. These old pines surround all of these century-oldstructures, swallowing them in a sea of green. These longleafs escaped the mid-century timber harvest only by virtue of being inextricably interspersed throughoutthis complex of buildings, pasture lands and ponds, surviving the clear-cutting only by virtue of being well- segregated from the more remote and freestandingforested areas, which were otherwise harvested. (Not speaking judgmentally, here, as monks have bills to pay, too.) This monastic complex is further landscaped witha tangle of both deciduous and evergreen shrubs and vines and with rows and circles of camellias, azaleas, dogwoods, hollies, crape myrtles, sweet olives,oleanders and other natives, all conspiring to provide spectacular splashes of color during every season of the year, not to mention the contribution of BrotherJacobs many rose varieties. This biodiversity of vegetation, coupled with the fact that many eastern animal and plant species meet the western limit of their rangehere, makes the abbey grounds a bountiful wildlife haven, perhaps a doubly sacred ground, supposing, I guess, that the sacred might admit of degrees. I live on the lakeshore by the river, at its mouth, across from the marshy, abbey-owned lands, which lie on the opposite and eastern bank.  Upriver, the abbey landsmostly straddle the creek.  I appreciate all of this biodiversity, too. At appropriate times during each calendar year, I thus feast on rabbit, squirrel or turtle saucepiquant,  crab or shrimp or duck gumbos, braised woodcocks and wild herb-seasoned, roast turkeys.  I catch bass, bream and sac-a-lait from the river and flounder,redfish and speckled trout from the lake. My brother supplies me with honey from the abbeys beekeepers and bread from its ovens. He leaves my weekly bread loaf,wrapped in brown paper, in the first pew of the cathedral after vespers every Thursday. Our growing season is too short for citrus but the Benedictines southshoreenclave in the city, a monastic community comprised primarily of teachers of the now co-ed high school school-erstwhile preparatory seminary school, provides lemonsand satsumas in early winter in exchange for the abbeys tomatoes and bell peppers in the spring. I cannot begin to inventory the great varieties of other fruits andvegetables that the abbey lands produce, cultivated by these monks who are truck farmers extraordinaire. And did I mention the blackberries, dewberries,blueberries, huckleberries and strawberries? The southshore monks trade their orange wine for our strawberry vintage. The northshore monks brew a cold-filteredbeer from spring water and leave their southshore brethren to languish with their Jax, Dixie and Falstaff.  I insinuate myself into any bartering between monasticcommunities with my steady supply of fish and game for the monks.  Most of these commodity exchanges take place wordlessly when I drive by the service door ofthe refectory after an occasional weekday mass. My contact with Thomas, any given day, week or year, is mostly eye contact, whether during a weekday or dailymass, whether during lauds or vespers, in the cathedral church. I take my place in the pews and Thomas takes his place in the choir with his brother monks, and we allchant the ancient, sometimes haunting, always beautiful, Gregorian hymns and psalmody of the Divine Office. The Magnificat is my favorite. I wish it were otherwisetruly my song, as they say, my story. Not all of the "hours" of the Liturgy of the Hours are prayed publicly in the cathedral, only lauds and vespers and an occasionaloffice of readings for certain feasts and solemnities. I have routinely stayed in the abbey guesthouse one week each year, taking my meals with Thomas in therefectory, however silently, but then enjoying lively conversation after supper those nights. In the past five years, our visiting privileges have been extended, beyondour regular e-mails and my annual stay of a week, to include one day each season, Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, again, following the pattern of taking threemeals together in the refectory and conversing after supper until night prayer. The Abbot granted us this accommodation, Im told by Thomas, as a form ofconsolation to me after the tragic loss of my spouse of thirty years. She was a daily communicant at the noonday abbey mass and a volunteer cook in their Elderhosteland retreat house. Ive always been less regular but make a mass or two a week and a couple of vespers or lauds, sometimes more, each week, but never missingThursday vespers (and my bread loaf). All of these worship style issues notwithstanding, as a denizen of these same woods, wherein the specific contemplativevocations of the abbey monastic community are as diverse as the above-described flora and fauna, I, too, am a contemplative, albeit lay. Alas, we live in an age wherecontemplation has been democratized, the clergy has been laicized, the laity clericalized? We enjoy a great diversity of ministry in our unity of mission, in ourmission of unity.  This week, the week of my annual stay, is the week of Rogation Days, days which are prior to the Ascension, which of course rotates with the moon, the vernalequinox and Easter. Each year, I adjust my calendar, Easter variously early or late, to ensure my annual visit coincides with these Rogation Days. For decades, livingin such proximity to the abbey and sharing in the bounty of the land, river and sea, the richness of our grounds and forest, my wife and children and I havecelebrated this giftedness of nature with the monks, annually partaking in the Rogation Days liturgies and rituals, prayers that literally marked the boundaries of ourlands, prayers that begged for our lands fruitfulness as well as for the fruits of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Writ large, these Rogation Days celebrations areprayers of the harvests, of the earth and of our souls. The day they begin, after lauds, we gather out front of the cathedral and face West, acknowledging its giftsof thunderstorms and darkness, praying for strength and growth. We turn toward the North, which gifts us with cold and waiting, praying for sustained hope andproper longing --- desire, itself, our constant prayer. We then turn toward the East and its gifts of Light and new beginnings and pray for renewal and resurrectionin every paschal moment of our lives. Finally, we face the South, and we bask in its gifts, a wind of warmth and a time of growth, begging for fertility of the soils ofour lands and our souls. Rogation simply means "asking" and comes from the Latin verb, rogare, meaning "to ask." I think of the James Taylor lyrics: "Ive beenwalking my mind through an easy time, my back turned toward the sun. Lord knows, when a cold wind blows, itll turn your head around. Ive seen fire and Ive seenrain." Ive seen fire and rain. Ive experienced Mertons crises of continuity and creativity. Ive been sucked into Frankls existential vacuum and spit out as WalkerPercys malaise. Ive known the misery that precedes Bill Dubyas first step. Ive seen em pave Jonis paradise to put up a parking lot. Ive known my radicalfinitude. Thankfully, it revealed my radical giftedness. Blessed, indeed, are the poor in Spirit, for they shall know ... ... all they need to know. So much of my spiritual journey has been spent traveling the path to the awareness that I am not God and that I do not really even want Her job. Others report thatthey are desperately trying to resign such a self-assumed position, that theyve taken on that job and its responsibilities and badly want out. Part of the journeytakes us to the recognition that only one human being ever was God and that He is not, temporally speaking, our contemporary; ergo, no one else is God either. Alas,spirituality is a funny thing, for as necessary as it is to see the path, seeing is not sufficient. Many quit the journey here, unfortunately. Clearly, we must go on. Inthe case at hand, after recognizing that Im not God and youre not God and nobody else is God, I must also get to the point where I can declare: "And Im okay withthat!" Im okay with that. It is well with my soul. All may be well, can be well, will be well ... is the prayer of Dame Julian. So you say. I once quizzed a good friend, asked her if she had any "nutshell" approach to spirituality. She paused and said, affirmatively: "Yes, if one can fill in the blank to thestatement Ill be okay when ____, then one has a spiritual problem of some sort." Houston, WE have a problem. Recognizing our problem is a prerequisite to solving it, to finding a solution, to obtaining our healing. Whether it is a crisis of continuity (in other words,discontinuity, in still other words, lets be candid, death) or of creativity (making a difference, being somebody), an existential vacuum, a malaise, an addiction, aninordinate attachment, a disordered appetite, an alienation of affection, an estrangement from loved ones, a relationship breach ... ... whatever its nature or origin, itis real and, ultimately, spiritual. We are searching for, longing for, desiring of ... what it is we most value. We value unity, community, love, relationship, beauty,goodness, love, truth. We probe reality and employ manifold and various methodologies in attempts to realize these values. We ask reality to yield these values. Wecooperate with reality in growing these realities. We work with reality to harvest these values. Asking. Harvesting. Frightened of the thunder and the darkness fromthe West, waiting and longing and gazing toward the North, renewed and enlightened turning toward the East, warmed and grown by the South, we experience thelessons of our days of Rogation. What are our probes of reality, our questions, our asking ... but inter-rogatories? What are the methodologies we employ now in thisprobe with this interrogatory and now with that ... but inter-rogations? In our radical finitude and importuning, what are we ... but inter-rogators? Thus ourinterrogatories delve into possibilities, our interrogations with their methodologies yield products known as actualities and we, as interrogators, discernprobabilities. Our interrogatories thus comprise our categories, our architectonic of knowledge, our academic disciplines. Our interrogations consist of ourmethodological approaches and their findings. As interrogators, we are organons of knowledge, singular and integral. Our rogation attempts are clearly discernibleand are nothing less than probes of reality in an effort to harvest values, to realize beauty, truth, unity and love. Minimalistically, perhaps these are mere projections
  • of four brain quadrants variously conceived in Jungian terms of sensing, thinking, intuiting and feeling, or as objective, subjective, interobjective andintersubjective faculties giving rise to our different orientations - empirical, logical, practical and moral? Maybe these existential orientations correspond, though,to transcendental imperatives? Whatever the case may be, it seems like the human being can be observed in pursuit of aesthetical, noetical, unitive and ethical values --- corresponding,respectively, to beauty and the empirical, to truth and the logical, to unity and the practical and to goodness and the moral --- and, holistically then, the human beingpursues these values 1) objectively through sensing, 2) subjectively through thinking, 3) interobjectively through intuiting and 4) intersubjectively through feeling,the left brain hemispheres dealing with synthetic and analytic thought, inductive and deductive inference, the right devoted to abductions and harmonies between, onone hand, ideas, on the other, people. There is much hemispheric redundancy and it is fair to suggest, however facilely, that our aesthetical, noetical, unitive andethical value pursuits engage our objective, subjective, interobjective and intersubjective functions. If these pursuits are possibilities or our architectonic, and thesefunctions are our organon, of knowledge, in other words, our interroga-tories and interroga-tors, then we might look at the various methodologies or interroga-tionsas a product of these possibilities and probabilities as they yield various actualities. To wit, epistemologically: Objective (or Empirical) Function emphasizes a grammar of induction and, for example, an historical sense of scripture aesthetical pursuit - art as mimesis & imitationalism noetical pursuit - virtue epistemology unitive pursuit - cosmological ethical pursuit - virtue or aretaic ethics Subjective (or Logical) Function emphasizes a grammar of deduction and, for example, a creedal sense of scripture aesthetical pursuit - art as formalism & essentialism noetical pursuit - correspondence theory unitive pursuit - ontological ethical pursuit - deontological ethics Interobjective  (or Practical) Function emphasizes a grammar of abduction and, for example, an anagogical sense of scripture aesthetical pursuit - art as emotionalism & expressivism noetical pursuit - coherence theory unitive pursuit - teleological ethical pursuit - teleological & consequentialistic ethics Intersubjective (or Moral) Function emphasizes a grammar of assent & trust and, for example, a moral sense of scripture aesthetical pursuit - art as moral agency & instrumentalism noetical pursuit - community of inquiry unitive pursuit - axiological ethical pursuit - contractarian ethics Add multi-factorals to these cortical functions for limbic (affective) and striatal (instinctual) brain dimensions. Also, there are Lonergan‛s conversions (intellectual,affective, moral, social and religious) and the psychology of development (Kohlberg, Piaget, Erikson, Fowler etc) to further complicate matters. There aredescriptive, prescriptive and evaluative perspectives and an ecological rationality to account for as well as evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. The humandepth dimension is depthful, indeed, to a whole other order of being, qualitatively and not only quantitatively distinct vis a vis other species, in need of triadic andnot only dyadic explanation, semiotic and not only neuropsychological explication. With all of these angles contributing to our species exceptionality as the symbolicspecies, one can perhaps easily understand Walker Percys dismay with modern social and psychological sciences and their sometimes facile treatments. Weve got toget our anthropology right prior to all other endeavors in order to truly know how it is we know, in order to take our descriptive epistemology and make it normative. Even if one doesnt understand the above-philosophical shorthand, that is, the jargon, the salient point is that the table above represents Rogations, probes of realityby human beings in attempts to harvest values of beauty, truth, unity and goodness, values which we not only harvest but which we can grow, values expressedsometimes as nine fruits of the Spirit, sometimes disvalued as nine capital sins, sometimes described as pursued by Jungian functions or as thwarted by enneagram-described personality foibles (foibles often redeemed but too often deteriorating into intractable character flaws).  As with the senses or meanings of scriptures,per the exegetical strategies of the early church fathers, as scripture is multi-layered in meaning, so, too, our Rogation Table reveals, all of our probes of reality inthe pursuit of values are layered in meaning. What is as interesting as it is disheartening is our recognition that, all too often, the various methodologies thathumankind has employed in the pursuit of value realization have been elevated to the status of epistemological systems, one can only imagine, due perhaps to nothingmore sophisticated than a given philosophers temperament or primary Jungian function, for example. Quite frankly, different epistemological approaches havebecome nothing more than a crude fetish rather than a surgical method for probing realitys innards. The excessive pejorative force employed by one school overanother is perhaps revealing of philosophers who, in their critiques, are not content to stand on the shoulders of their academic mothers and fathers of priorgenerations but rather on their necks! These same critics seem to often forget that gainsaying is not a system, a critique does not make a school. Thus it is thatmodern philosophy has come full circle back to realism: critical, aesthetical, metaphysical and moral. Classical scholastic realism, too often naive and hence sterile,has not been eviscerated, only weakened. Fallibilism rules the day. Holism seems the most adequate description of how human knowledge advances and takes onnormative force. Some probes of reality return more versus less value and all who devise systematic approaches encounter problems with their formulations, whetherof question begging, tautology, infinite regress, causal disjunction, circular reference or other inconsistencies, incommensurabilities, unintelligibilities, incoherence,incongruence, lacking sometimes hypothetical consonance, sometimes interdisciplinary consilience. "Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground." I wonder, then, might we consider such as nominalism, essentialism, substantialism, idealism, realism, empiricism, rationalism, physicalism, reductionism, emergentism,apophaticism, kataphaticism, fideism, encratism, pietism, quietism, aristotelianism, kantianism, humeanism, platonicism, linguisticism, pragmatism, existentialism,phenomenologicalism, transcendentalism, pragmaticism, positivism and even scientism and fundamentalism as probes, some more productive of value than others, to besure, all necessary though in widely varying degrees, none sufficient, taken alone? These probes necessarily represent only provisional closures to any consistentfallibilist, represent methods abstracted from ideologies, tools resisting the status of fetish. They represent, then, hypotheses, working hypotheses --- some workingbetter than others, depending on the task at hand. It is too early on humanitys journey to rush to closure epistemologically, hence metaphysically. With Chesterton wemust affirm that we do not know enough about reality to say that it is unknowable, and Ill nuance that - un/knowable. And we can qualify Haldanes observationthat reality is not only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine with "for now." And if one is not comfortable taking existence to be a predicate ofbeing and rejects Heideggers "why is there something and not rather nothing?" - then we can still ask "Why is there something and not rather something else?" Andwe can change Wittgensteins assertion that "it is not how things are but that things are which is the mystical" to "it is neither how things are nor that things are butrather that "these" things are, which is the mystical." All of this is to ask, if we have dispensed with metaphysical necessities in response to the postmodern critiqueand prescinded to an ontological vagueness, still, whither such probabilities (code for Peircean thirdness, perhaps)? What forces our retreat into ontologicalvagueness? Perhaps epistemic vagueness insofar as we are not yet sure exactly how we know what we know. And semantical vagueness to the extent that, even if wedo know what we can not prove (per Godel), can see the truth of our axioms, still, we cannot fully articulate them and for sure cannot properly and formallyformulate them. We fallback on storytelling and narrative it seems. When all is said and done, some semiotic scientists will be scientistic (lets say, Chomsky) andsome biologists and philosophers will be, too (lets say, Dawkins and Dennett), and some theologians fideistic and others apophaticistic, and some processphilosophers nominalistic, and some thomists substantialistic, and some aristotelians essentialistic, and others a tad positivistic and so forth and so on. Emergentismmakes for great placeholders and supervenience, too, but we can get emergentistic if we elevate such a bridging concept from a heuristic device to an explanatory
  • fetish. However, let us look behind all of these istic fetishes, which turn isms into full-fledged ideologies (which is very unscientific and very poor methodology), andsee what values and insights can be mined from their isms as critiques, some more deserving of a response than others. Thus it is that I so much better appreciateHans Kungs use of nihilism as a foil for his presentation of Christianity in "Does God Exist?" Rather than casually and cursorily dismissing nihilism as logicallyincoherent, he took it on in all of its practical vitality ... for even if it defies clear articulation and consistent formulation, who among us has not witnessed its socialand cultural reality in lives given over to a culture of death and self-destruction, in those consumed by meaninglessness, by malaise, in an existential vacuum ...seeking escape in addictions, both substance and process, in distractions, in all manner of disordered appetites and inordinate attachments? Conversely, even if ourgreat traditions defy unequivocal and unambiguous formulation, who can deny their efficacies when properly considered and consistently lived with their ownpractical vitality? With so much epistemological parity to go around, so many metaphysical possibilities still open, whatever ones provisional closures, a question may arise regardingwhy this versus that hermeneutic even matters? And the pragmatic cash value is to be found in the fact that our hermeneutical frameworks and provisional closureswill determine the prescriptions we devise for what ails humanity and thwarts our journeys, individually and collectively, to authenticity via intellectual, affective,moral, social and religious conversions. What might empirical, logical, practical and moral conversion look like? or aesthetical, noetical, unitive and ethical? Thevarious interrogatories and interrogations are but moments in the life of each interrogator, who must integrate her probes of reality and not only harvest but alsogrow the values sought after that our essentialistic ideals may be existentially realized. Let us face West and long for the Beauty that has faded over the horizonwith the setting of every sun and then turn and face North with its compass of Truth, which orients us til, facing East we are renewed by the dawn of Unity, whichbegins with the harmonies of our idealizations and conceptualizations and finds its fullest realizations as we turn South, into the warmth of relationships with ourpeople, with our God. And may our religions - in cult and ritual, creed and dogma, community and compassion, code and law, celebrate the beauty we enjoy via cult,advance the truth we encounter via creed, enhance the solidarity we experience via community and preserve the goodness we have known via code. May our religionsmake us whole and authentic interrogators, with methodologically sound interrogations of reality and interrogatories that are selected from rogations on everycompass point: beauty, truth, unity and goodness. Such are the notes Ive prepared for discussion with Thomas during the upcoming days of Rogation. "Wont you look down upon me, Jesus ... I wont make it anyother way."      deduction objective reality ultimate reality abduction objective dianoetic ananoetic interobjective RATIONAL thinking intuiting PRACTICAL         correspondence ontological coherence theory teleological theory art as formalism & teleological & art as emotionalsim & deontological ethics essentialism consequentialistic ethics expressionism truth creedal & sacramental allegorical & anagogical unity WHAT CAN WE KNOW? noetical unitive WHAT CAN WE HOPE FOR? IS THAT A FACT? aesthetical ethical WHAT MUST WE DO? and TO WHOM CAN WE GO? beauty historical & ritual communal & moral goodness art as mimesis & art as moral agency & virtue or aretaic ethics contractarian ethics imitationalism instrumentalism community of cosmological virtue epistemology axiological inquiry         EMPIRICAL sensing feeling MORAL subjective perinoetic transnoetic intersubjective induction physical reality semiotic reality transduction 
  • A recent exchange at NCRCafe re: relative *harshness* in church teachings brings to mind one of my own "issues"with certain church moral teachings. There is a philosophical concept called "parvity of matter" that deals with howserious, how grave, how weighty this or that sin or dis-order, moral or pre-moral, may be.Even if the churchs natural law interpretations were not too biologistic and physicalistic, which they are, and even ifthe church properly and more broadly conceived the procreative and unitive values of sex, which it does not, still, aproblem would persist in that the church does not recognize a parvity of matter regarding sex. All sexual sins areequally grave, serious, weighty, or, in a word, mortal.How did the church ever come to equate contracepting couples, masturbating adolescents and homosexual eroticismwith such a grave immoral action such as murder? Essentially, the churchs stance toward our human generativefaculties is that we have NO dominion of such biological functions. This differs from its its stance of LIMITED dominionin the art and science of medicine. Supposedly, this differs because our generative faculties involve sacred humanlife, itself. At least this is a reasonable inference from Paul VIs interpretation of Pope Johns encyclical Mater etMagistra. Bernard Haring countered this reasoning because it employed unequal members in comparison of theabsolute sacredness of human life with a supposed absolute sacredness of biological laws and rhythms.Richard McBrien describes the natural law theory of those who support the traditional teaching: "It is a concept ofnature as something so mysterious and sacred, they maintain, that any human intervention tends to destroy ratherthan to perfect this very nature. Because of this mentality, many advances in medical science were prohibited for atime, and the same was true for other areas of scientific experimentation."The majority theologians on the papal commission would thus counter this: "The dignity of the human person consistin this, that God wished man to SHARE in His dominion ... ... In the course of his life man must attain his perfection indifficult and adverse conditions, he must accept the consequences of his responsibility, etc Therefore, the dominion ofGod is exercised through man, who can use nature for his own perfection according to the dictates of right reason."Finally, even if the churchs narrow conceptualizations of procreative and unitive values were correct, even if its lack ofparvity of matter for sex was correct, and even if its "no dominion " approach to generative biological functions wascorrect, still, following its own doctrine of original sin, it could properly exercise a great deal more compassion andpastoral sensitivity by applying its traditional realist approach to the human condition over against any overemphasis ofessentialistic moral idealizations at the expense of our ever-faltering and always-feeble existential realizations of suchvalues.In other words, there are a LOT of ways to justify a much more loving embrace of our homosexual sisters andbrothers and, yes, even those who are "practicing."Here are some thoughts of real theologians in case, as a lowly layman, I am perceived as too far out of my league:1) Nowadays, however, the spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.She considers that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather thanby condemnations.Pope John XXIII, from his Opening Address of Vatican II2) But it is in fact also part of the tragic and impenetrable historicity of the Church that in practice and theory itdefended moral precepts with bad arguments, based on problematic, historically conditioned preconceptions,"prejudgments," which it did not itself abandon but which other historical causes eliminated; only then did the Churchfinally find the new conviction obvious and (unfortunately) proceeded to act is if the newglobal conviction was obvious and the Church had never had any doubts about it.Karl Rahner, S.J. "On Bad Arguments in Moral Theology,"Theological Investigations XVIII, 1984. p. 79.3) The specific role of the theologians calls them to explore the implications of Church teaching, to investigate it, torefine it, to probe it, to push back its horizons. If not all Church teaching is guaranteed to be infallible, then some of itcould be fallible, reformable, conceivably even incorrect. It is part of the theologians responsibility to speak to Churchteaching which he or she conscientiously believes to be inexact or erroneous.Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk (former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) in his Pastoral Letter onDissent to the Cincinnati Archdiocese, 6 June 1986. Reported in Origins 16:9 (31 July 1986), p. 177.4) The magisterium of the Church, cannot propose moral norms until it is certain of interpreting the will of God. And toreach this certainty the Church is not dispensed from research and from examining the many questions proposed forher consideration from every part of the world. This is at times a long and not an easy task.Pope Paul VI AAS 58 [1966]: 219.5) Opposition is not inconsistent with solidarity. The one who voices his opposition to the general or particular rules orregulations of the community does not thereby reject his membership; he does not withdraw his readiness to act andto work for the common good.Karol Cardinal Wojtyla [John Paul II], The Acting Person[Osoba i Czyn] (1969).And, perhaps my favorite pertinent quote:6) In the process of assimilating what is really rational and rejecting what only seems to be rational, the whole Churchhas to play a part. This process cannot be carried out in every detail by an isolated Magisterium, with oracularinfallibility. The life and suffering of Christians who profess their faith in the midst of their times has just as important apart to play as the thinking and questioning of the learned, which would have a very hollow ring without the backing of
  • Christian existence, which learns to discern spirits in the travail of everyday life. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. "Magisterium of the Church, Faith, Morality." In Curran and McCormick. Readings in Moral Theology, No. 2., p.186.RE: moral religious issues, for example, homosexuality and abortion There are a lot of different values at stake in such questions. And it because we care so deeply and want to actualize them all that we anguish over them. Lets first prayerfully focus on that anguish for it can be a "way to own and claim love as your identity," and I am paraphrasing Gerald May liberally here and here: Ifyou are willing to feel affection for your anguish and longing, to value your yearning, to treasure your wanting, to embrace your incompleteness, to be overwhelmed bythe beauty of your need, then you might very well have fallen in love with love itself. It is because we are radically finite and incomplete that we will necessarily fall short in actualizing all of the values to which we aspire. And there we locate our true felixculpa, for these stumbling blocks can become our stepping stones to God, Who is the realization of all value. The values at stake include such as:1) human life2) human generative functions, biological & physicalistic3) procreative, broadly conceived4) unitive, broadly conceived5) co-creative, including stewardship & limited dominion6) deontological, from which a "no dominion" moral aspect often derives7) pastoral sensitivity & compassion8) formative spirituality, including aretaic or virtue ethical approaches9) teleological & consequentialistic aspects of a moral object10) parvity of matter, or assigning weight to competing values11) practical concerns, insofar as our essentialistic ideals cannot always be existentially realized12) political realism & federalism, such as guidelines for when a moral law, much less an ecclesial, should become a civil law in a plualistic society & at which level ofgovernment13) positivistic insights, which impact metaphysical conceptualizations & natural law interpretations14) human dignity, which not only includes the entire seamless garment of life issues but also includes respect for human remains, human tissue, human stem cells(embryonic or other)15) human solidarity & the common good, including subsidiarity16) obsequim fidei, assent to essentials of faith17) obsequium religiosum, deference to our Magisterium (broadly conceived)18) probabilism and the "duty" of loyal dissent, as well as the "right"19) primacy of conscience, including the duty to seek an informed, upright and mature conscience20) prayerful discernment, word & worship & sacrament and serenity, courage & wisdom I have already addressed the issue of homosexuality here at http://ncrcafe.org/node/1043#comment-15060 and I find good reasoning in Daniel Helminiaks book, _What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality_: http://www.visionsofdaniel.net/bookWBRS.htmand also in some of what Matthew Fox has to say:http://www.matthewfox.org/sys-tmpl/htmlpage6/ I know this discussion addresses only the issue of homosexuality in the light of biblical exegesis. I wont address that argument.I do want to point out that that is not Helminiaks only argument against church teaching regarding homosexuality. He summarizes others here.I would agree that biblical teachings on justice and charity offer some hope for the acceptance of homosexuals in the form of pastoral sensitivty,even within an anthropological framework that employs classicism, natural law and legalism.Interestingly, Helminiak cites the questionable distinction, as drawn in church teaching, between artificial contraception and the rhythm method, asevidence against any interpretation that the churchs true position considers the procreative aspect indispensable to sexual acts. In my view,Helminiak is correct in that such a distinction is questionable; that distinction is incoherent, indeed. However, there is no question, in my mind, thatthe church still considers the procreative aspect essential to sexual acts, even as it has now better recognized the unitive aspect, too. The rhythmmethod, I would think, represents an accommodation derived from pastoral sensitivity (read compassion) and not from revised formulations of naturallaw. An analogous response might hold some promise for our homosexual sisters and brothers.There is yet more hope for all of us (well, maybe our great grandchildren) insofar as Catholic social teaching has experienced three rather seismicshifts in methodology. In Catholic social teaching, Charles Curran describes three methodological shifts in emphasis from: 1) classicism to historicalconsciousness 2) natural law to personalism and 3) legalism to relationality-responsibility. I will consider Catholic sexual teaching much more credibleand eminently more transparent to human reason when its methodologies are similarly revised. Such a revision would offer even more hope foracceptance of homosexuals . A lot turns, too, on how broadly or narrowly one conceives of such realities as complementarity, procreativity and generativity. Also, when definingnorms, questions arise regarding: necessary? sufficient? absolute? conditional? continuum? degrees? adequate? less adequate? less than adequate?ideal? less than ideal? optimal? suboptimal? serious? grave? venial? more or less relevant? negative? positive? comparative? superlative? ontic orpremoral or moral? pastorally acceptable?As a moral object, homoerotic behavior seems to be a very sticky ethical widget. The discussion gets more (for some) or less (for others)problematical when it expands beyond such analyses of whether or not it is intrinsically disordered and/or what pastoral responses are called for, toissues like parenting and marriage.The way I read Helminiaks argument, he objects to the narrowness of the churchs conception of complementarity. He is saying it is, on its face, toostrictly biologistic or physicalistic. If complementarity is so narrowly defined, then ones logical argument ends up being circular and question begging,hence, incoherent. In this sense, then, he is not so much saying that gender differences are irrelevant as he is saying that other more psychologicalcharacteristics are also relevant. He is implicitly suggesting, then, as I interpret him, that the church should just drop the term/criterion ofcomplementarity and just say what it means, which is that homosexual behavior is wrong because it is not heterosexual. And this, of course, is notexplanatory. 
  • Catholics look for guidance in their value-realization strategies (those values being truth/creed, beauty/cult, goodness/code and unity/community;those human spheres of concern corresponding to Lonergans intellectual, affective, moral and social conversions) in the light of scripture, tradition,magisterium-sensus fidelium, reason (e.g. philosophy) and experience (e.g. biological & behavioral sciences, individual testimonies).When it comes to moral concerns, I receive from scripture the imperative of a Spirit-inspired Christ-centering in all that we are and all that we do,along with the most grand moral precepts and the most general of norms. Otherwise, especially when it comes to morality, for specific and concreteguidance, reason and experience, in my view, have more relevance, a LOT more. As for the most important moral precepts and the most generalnorms, those have sources other than scripture, anyway. Thus the battle of proof-texts hasnt been very high on my ethical radar screen. RE: the issue of abortion, I just listed 20, sometimes competing, values off the top of my head. Each of these values, as well as others I did not list, deserve prayerfuland serious deliberation, if one is to be true to faith and reason. My gift to you is to present you with more questions, more angles, or, in other words, with a more robust deliberative PROCESS. That is a far better gift, in my view,than providing you with the PRODUCT of my own engagement of that process of analyzing that particular moral object. As for moral propositions, they first arise on the philosophic horizon of human concern, which is the domain of the normative sciences. Our theological reflection, withits distinctively anagogical character, which informs our hopes and aspirations, then transvalues our philosophical moral propositions by imparting to them newSIGNificance, more meaning. Less abstractly, theological reflection does not so much change the logical calculus of the normative sciences, vis a vis aretaic,deontological and teleological analyses of moral objects, as it proposes ordinacy. Ordinacy has to do with what comes first, second, third and thus helps us set priorities; it helps set aright what is in-ordinate or dis-ordered (think of the sanjuanist takeon disordered appetites, the ignatian treatment of inordinate desires). With a eucharistic hermeneutic of everything as gift, we then see the created order as profoundlyincarnational and with an analogical, not dialectical, imagination. (The dialectical IS useful, however, in apophatic theology.) Everything is gift and good but, first thingsfirst; or Seek ye first the Kingdom; or no idolatry. Concretely, then, one might look at the twenty competing values I listed above re: abortion, and ask themselves how those might be reordered (transvalued) for acatholic Christian. How might they be prioritized for different types of nonbelivers? The normative science does not change; where we, first and foremost, turn ourattention is what changes. We do believe, after all, that all people can live the good and moral life and that morality is transparent to human reason. From the conclusion of The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus : quote: All this, however, does not and cannot compel us to believe any more than the seeing of Jesus during his life compelled people to believe in him. What we have done, hopefully, is to clear away the obstacles to our consideration of the invitation of faith.Neither those believers, who primarily quest after the "historical" Jesus, nor those nonbelievers, whod like to deconstruct Christianitys foundationsaltogether, get this.Apparently, they think that our faith in God and belief in Jesus primarily derive from 1) empirical evidence for the resurrection, 2) eyewitness accounts3) empty tombs and 4) Gospel miracle stories. Of course, these angles need to be properly considered, but one must go beyond the empirical,exegetical and historical to an encounter that is also eschatological and experiential.And this is where both the so-called "liberal consensus" (within the Church) and the nihilistic voices of disbelief (outside the Church) miss the boat.Thus it is that they ignore some of the Churchs central claims, failing to address some of its essential core convictions about our God-encounters.Our [1] God-encounters are deeply intimate and profoundly personal [2], very much human, very much divine [3], and ultimately & powerfullyefficacious in being utterly transformative [4]. Thus it is that the Holy Spirit, then and now, communicates life in our personal experiences of just sucha transcendent energy. The Holy Spirit is why anyone, then or now, would say Jesus is Lord.All of this entails, in a Word, theosis, other aspects of the Christian faith remaining necessary but not sufficient without it. In other words, theResurrection Event is an inference that springs from a LOT more experiences, both then and now and yet to come, than many "historical Jesusquestors" seem willing and/or able to take into account.pax,jb[1] Mystical Body[2] Abba[3] Jesus[4] Holy Spirit 
  • Christian Nonduality Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair?NEW: CathlimergentInternet Forum  The ChristianNonduality Blog  HomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets WestKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini Pascal went to the county fair with the Buddha & Descartes and theyNo-Self & Nirvana came upon a Lucky Dog vendor, whereupon Pascal asked the others ifelucidated by theyd like a hotdog. Descartes replied:"I dont think so," andDumoulin immediately disappeared. The Buddha said: "Make me one withOne: EssentialWritings in everything," and also disappeared. This is not what Pascal wouldveNonduality - a review wagered.Simone WeilJohn of the CrossThomas MertonThe True SelfThe PassionHermeneuticalEclecticism &InterreligiousDialogueThe SpiritChristian Nondualitymore on NondualityThe Contemplative Disappointed at the loss of his companions, as the seasons passed andStance Louisianas Fall Festivals returned with the autumnal equinox, PascalHesychasm sent out invitations to everyone he knew, inquiring after their interestMysticism - properlyconsidered in going to Scarborough Fair. As fast as pigeons can fly, responsesKarl Rahner came in from across the globe, verily, verily faster than even Facebook or Twitter operate on occasion.Wounded InnocenceRogation DaysRadical Orthodoxy
  • Presuppositionalismvs Nihilism?ScienceEpistemic VirtuePan-semio-entheism: apneumatologicaltheology of natureArchitectonicAnglican - RomanDialogueThe Ethos of ErosMusings on PeirceEskimo Kiss Waltzthe Light Side ofDark Comedy Pavlov said he was drooling at the thought.Blog Visits Einstein thought it would be relatively easy to attend.Other OnlineResourcesAre YOU Going to Volta was positively electrified.Scarborough Fair?Suggested Reading Ampere was worried he wasnt up on current research.Tim Kings PostChristian Blog Ohm resisted the idea at first.The Dylan MassIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual orOtherwisependingThe Great Traditionproperly conceivedPostmodernConservativeCatholic Pentecostal Pierre and Marie Curie were radiating enthusiasm. Boyle said he was under too much pressure. Edison thought it would be an illuminating experience. Watt reckoned it would be a good way to let off steam. Stephenson thought the whole idea was loco.
  • Heisenberg was uncertain if he could make it.Hertz said he planned the future to attend with greater frequency.Hawking said hed try to string enough time together to make a spacein his schedule.Schrodinger had to take his cat to the vet, or did he?Frank Davis from WWL replied: Thats Naturally NAwlins!Glenn Beck: You talking bout Joe Scarborough?Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, OReilly & other FauxNews Allstars started a chain-passenger-pigeon message calling for aboycott of this obvious left-wing conspiracy. After millions of round-trips from Dixieland to the Governors mansion in Alaska, thePassenger Pigeon became extinct, even as the neanderthinks stillthrive.Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Nancy Pelosi, the New York Times& Washington Post RSVPd regrets, lamenting and editorializing thegrowing disparity between those who had access to Lucky Dogs andthose who subsisted, instead, on parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme(and possibly cannabis).
  • Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchensand Sam Harris all had a schedule conflict because they would be goingback to school to take Philosophy for Dummies, where they wouldlearn the difference between science and scientism, reason andrationalism, logic and positivism, a descriptive empirical inquiry and aninterpretive social imaginary, cosmological speculations and axiologicalaspirations, and the descriptive/normative and theinterpretive/evaluative stances toward reality.Simon asked: Are you goin to scarborough fair? Remember me to onewho lives there.Garfunkel replied: Tell her to find me an acre of land, Between the saltwater and the sea strand.Kevin Beck: Coffee?!? You can sleep all you want when youre dead!!!Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality ScienceNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets West Theology and Science - DisambiguationKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini I like to be clear regarding this project or the other regarding whetherNo-Self & Nirvana or not one is doing science,elucidated byDumoulin philosophy or theology. And we mustnt forget, oh my gosh, religion.One: Essential And if one is talking about ALL ofWritings inNonduality - a review these spheres of human concern, in which sphere do they begin theirSimone Weil conversation, and, in which do theyJohn of the Cross end up.Thomas Merton Except for the classical "proofs" by Aquinas and Anselm, and CSThe True Self Peirces "Neglected Argument for theThe PassionHermeneutical Reality of God," and the Modal Ontological Arguments as crafted byEclecticism & Godel and Hartshorne and then, inInterreligiousDialogue my view, lately and greatly improved by Christopher McHugh, I dontThe Spirit consider much of what is going on,Christian Nonduality nowadays, to be natural theology or a natural philosophy of God. Theremore on Nonduality is just not THAT much that oneThe ContemplativeStance can say, in my view, about God, using philosophy as a starting point, atHesychasm least not when methodologicallyMysticism - properlyconsidered restricting ones musings to the rubrics of formal argumentation. The same is true for any notions regardingKarl RahnerWounded Innocence "ultimate" reality, using either philosophy or science as a starting point.Rogation Days All anyone thus establishes is aRadical Orthodoxy modicum of epistemological parity with alternate worldviews, i.e.
  • Presuppositionalism elaborate tautologies. I do not dismissvs Nihilism?Science these enterprises that demonstrate the reasonableness of faith, forEpistemic Virtue some, like me, they have beenPan-semio- indispensable parts of my journey. For most, though, Ive been toldentheism: apneumatological they dont matter very much. And I trusttheology of nature what they report and am better and better coming to grasp why. EvenArchitectonic then, Ive enjoyed many, manyAnglican - RomanDialogue fruitful dialogues with many nonbelievers who do seek suchThe Ethos of Eros apologetics and weve grown in mutual respectMusings on Peirce and understanding and self-understanding.Eskimo Kiss Waltz Worldviews, thankfully, are not mere formal arguments. Theythe Light Side ofDark Comedy represent deeply and profoundly experiencedBlog Visits existential orientations and ultimate concerns. And, if they areOther Online authentically re-ligious, they "tie lifesResourcesAre YOU Going to experiences back together" and heal us that we may survive and growScarborough Fair? us that we may thrive. If we are notSuggested Reading experiencing both healing and growth, both broadly conceived, well,Tim Kings Post thats what the Prophets are for! TheyChristian BlogThe Dylan Mass remind us that we are to be about the actualization of value.If You Are In The interface between science and theology is not terribly interesting,Distress, Spiritual orOtherwise philosophically, unless our project ispending to disambiguate their definitions. If it remains interesting, even early inThe Great Tradition the 21st century, it is only becauseproperly conceivedPostmodern so many scientistic and fideistic apologists are arguing past each other,Conservative precisely because theyve neglectedCatholic Pentecostal the work of philosophical disambiguation. [Here I place a "rolling eyes" emoticon.] Unlike philosophy/natural theology and science, wherein we bracket, best we can, our theology, in a theology of nature we start with God and see His presence in all things and hear Her siren song from all places. From a different explanatory stance, we break out in analogy and metaphor, poetry and song, allegory and parable, joke and koan, story and dance, ritual and sacrament. And we speak of trail dust and stardust, quarks and supernovae, maidens and sailors, the Cosmic Adventure and the Divine Matrix, leaping whitetails and creeping lizards, bright indwelling presence and luminous dark nights, hope and love and faith ... Science Constrains Theology? This musing was evoked by some comments made re: the podcast by Fr. George Coyne, S.J. on Science, Faith and God but, below, I digress too far from the conversation over there and thought it best to keep my comment there, in that forum, short and more directly on message.
  • Jack Haught does a good job of describing four prevailing approachesto the science and religion interface:conflict, contrast, contact, confirmation. Daniel Helminiak describes ahierarchy of --- 1) positivistic 2)philosophic 3) theistic and 4) theotic --- human foci of concern, eachpresupposing and constraining thenext.In this day and age, I am starting to prefer a metaphor ofinterpenetrating fields of epistemic influence,which are not necessarily hierarchical but which do represent integrallyrelated hypothetical commitments,some central or core, some auxiliary or peripheral, each field indeedconstrained by the others, noneautonomous. And I suspect they may be isomorphic, or corresponding,to other field-like realities. Suchfields might be scientific, philosophical, theological, spiritual, moral,social, practical, aesthetical,ecological and such, representing all of the ways humans encounterreality, even nonrationally and prerationally.The axioms and concepts and values that each epistemic field aspires toactualize are so radically differentthat I find it difficult to defend such a relationship between them asbeing in anyway necessarily linear orhierarchical. (They might be, but I do not want to try to prove toomuch.) Each epistemic field is oriented toa value realization that is apparently governed by its own laws; hence,such fields are "polynomic."The effect each epistemic field has on the next or the next is variouslystronger or weaker and we oftenstruggle to come to grips with HOW and WHY such may be so even aswe observe THAT it is so. Forexample, sometimes an aesthetical value purusit of beauty, in the formof symmetry, will aid the physicistin crafting a better mathematical description of a certain naturalphenomenon.Likely, the foci of human concern, or epistemic fields of valuerealization, are both autonomous(polynomic) and integrally related (mutually interpenetrating),because they are mirroring a human realitythat is, at once, both autopoietic (self-organizing) and free, while alsootherwise bounded (by other existantrealities) and determined (via genetic limitation, for instance). Thoseare the attributes of Phil Hefners"created co-creators."I suppose this is why, when we look at Gelpis Lonerganianconversions --- intellectual, affective, moral,
  • sociopolitical and religious --- the human spiritual growth trajectory istypically assymetrical, which is torecognize, for instance, that our intellectual, emotional and moraldevelopments reach different levels ofattainment at different times, quite often seemingly totallyindependent one of the other. (Some intellectualgiants are emotional idiots and morally underdeveloped, too.)Each new horizon of each new field of value (epistemic and/or ontic)lifts our vision beyond this value tothe next possible value realization, "transvaluing" our values, andwhere openness to the Holy Spirit,implicitly or explicity, obtains, transforming our knowledge with faith,our memory with hope and our willwith love.So, I offer this as one version of why so many category errors arecommitted between the value-realizationfield of science and that of theology. They influence each other and areintegrally related even while theyare otherwise autonomous. But how?I hesitate to suggest any unidirectionality of influences, such ashierarchical arrangements or even one-wayconstraint. Our theological core commitments DO, afterall, make somedemands on our philosophicalcommitments, such as committing us to metaphysical realism, moralrealism and such. Similarly, ourphilosophical core commitments DO have normative force on theepistemological rubrics of the scientificmethod and empirical observation.What seems to me to be going on is that these fields influence eachothers axiomatic aspects, which is tosay, those apsects that we commit to as self-evident andnonpropositional, even if only provisionally. Thereis no "formal relationship" vis a vis logical argumentation at play innonpropositional elements, which areoften being implicitly presupposed. Often, our tendency to opt for oneset of axioms versus another in thisor that field of value realization seems to be governed, rather, by suchas aesthetical inclinations, which arenot formalizable, or by such as reductio ad absurdum arguments,which are flawed formal appeals fromignorance and moreso essentially pragmatic in character.I am not disvaluing the aesthetic or pragmatic, just distinguishing themfrom logical and empirical inquiriesand noting their role in the axioms that we choose to govern ourdifferent spheres of human concern, ourdifferent fields of value realization.
  • Once the axioms of our value-realization fields are in place, even if onlyprovisionally, the influence ofthese fields might very well get unidirectional, propositionallyspeaking. This is to suggest that, forexample, in the case at point, propositions of theology will mostdefinitely be constrained by those ofscience. And theology will also further be constrained by the normativesciences, which is to say, by thephilosophic. Finally, our theotic commitments, or how we viewhumanization-deification, or theosis, on ourtransformative journeys, will successively be constrained by our otherhorizons of human concern: theistic,philosophic and positivistic.Why are these different value-realization fields polynomic? Why dontthe concepts they employ and theaxioms that govern them not line up like pretty maids all in a row ... theempirical, logical, practical, moral,aesthetical? Or even in only the moral ... the aretaic (virtue ethics),deontological (natural law) andteleological (consequentialistic)?Heck if I know.Thats part of the theodicy problem.At some level, lets say, the beatific, I believe it all fits together,somehow. Thats my definition of thereligious: tying it all together, advancing healing andgrowth/conversion. But it takes an unconditionalcommitment because, to all appearances, it doesnt really seem to worktogether that well. For now, we seethrough a glass, darkly ... As Frankl says, either we believe in God inthe face of 6 million perishing in theHolocaust or our faith fails with the death of a single innocent.We maintain that all successful descriptions of God, if literal, arenecessarily apophatic, which is to saythat we thus gain descriptive accuracy through negation, while we gainpositive descriptive accuracy ofGod, kataphatically speaking, necessarily, only through analogy.Many people look at this grammar of description and see a paradox.They suggest that if God is literallyno-thing in sensible reality as could be successfully described other thanthrough negation or analogy, thenwhy does this seeming radical discontinuity not, therefore, entail acomplete causal disjunction betweenCreator and creature? This is to say that they feel like there is a causaljoint question still begging,somehow. How can this Creator, if wholly distinct ontologically fromcreation, thereby exert any effects,
  • whatsoever, on the created order?There is another grammar, however, which is the grammar ofreference. And this grammar suggests that wecan, in principle, successfully reference realities we are otherwise unableto successfully describe. Andwe have always routinely employed these distinctions (betweendescription and reference) as weveadvanced in our knowledge of science and metaphysics, retreating intorather vague heuristic referenceswhile awaiting more robust theoretic descriptions for unknown causesproper to known effects.Meta-metaphysically, then, God is the answer to our limit questions,primally asking: Who, What,When,Where, How and Why?And while we may indeed claim that we successfully refer to thisineluctably unobtrusive Reality as theAnswer to these ultimate questions, at the same time, we are by nomeans suggesting that this Reality is notalso utterly efficacious causally. Analogically, we may think of Haughtsdiscussion of Polanyis tacitdimension, of Arrajs discussion of nonlocality and superluminality, orof formal and final causation ---evenas minimalistically conceived--- in Peirces triadic semiotic science.In her paper, A God Adequate for Primate Culture, Nancy R. Howell ofthe Saint Paul School of Theologywrites about John Haughts evolution-informed approach,http://moses.creighton.edu/jrs/2001/2001-4.html :quote:God, in a theology of evolution, must permit "genuine independence"in creation. Haughts rationale forsuch a God rests in divine kenotic love. Love by its very nature cannotcompel, and so any God whose veryessence is love should not be expected to overwhelm the world eitherwith a coercively directive "power"or an annihilating "presence." Indeed, an infinite love must in somesense "absent" or "restrain itself,"precisely in order to give the world the "space" in which to becomesomething distinct from the creativelove that constitutes it as "other." We should anticipate, therefore, thatany universe rooted in an unboundedlove would have some features that appear to us as random orundirected.There is a tension, then, between our conceptions of some type ofcausal continuity or interactivity and anontological discontinuity between Creator and created. This should notsurprise us, however, for
  • analogously, we encounter discontinuities even within the created orderbetween otherwise distinct levelsof emergent reality even without the violation of known causal closuredynamics.As science advances and our metaphysical tautologies gain ever moretaut grasps of reality, our kataphaticGod-analogues will become more robustly descriptive and so will ourapophatic negations (as we add toour positivist inventory of not-God-realities). Our references to Godcan become ever more successful, too,especially once considering that our God-encounters engage all of ourintentional fields (Haught,Lonergan), our entire person integrally and unfathomably, in arelationship of love, precisely through suchdivine kenosis as we have explicated above. The efficacy of this relationshipderives from our being Godlikeand necessarily precludes, in principle, our being, essentially, God.Thomas Merton speaks of the confessional aspects of the Psalms, onewhich was: "It wasnt me! It wasHim, Who did this!"This kenosis, this divine self-emptying, condescends through theIncarnation (and all the attendantMysteries that we celebrate) to gift us with a correspondence --- not anidentity --- with God. Thiscorrespondence fosters communication (think Logos, think semeioticeven) most unitively!Raw awareness of this correspondence is ineffable, nondiscursive, immanent,impersonal, existential andapophatic. Reflective experience is liturgical, discursive, transcendent,personal, theological andkataphatic. They can nurture each other in a virtuous cycle. Neither theawareness nor the experience yieldsontological descriptions, but the reflective experience refers to the WhollyOther and is, in that sense,vaguely ontological, in maintaining the discontinuity.When we say that we can describe nothing of God literally, except indenying what God is not, and that allof our positive descriptions are merely analogical ...But that we can still successfully refer to God ...What are the implications for the relationship between Creator andcreated? What bridges the ontologicaldiscontinuity in this relationship? What gets us past mere analogy?I seem to recall a discussion by Arraj of deep and dynamic formal fields.And this is from a Thomisticperspective. There is also the panentheistic, neo-Whiteheadian
  • perspective of Fr. Joe Bracken, who speaksof the Divine Matrix. It is beyond my competence to reconcile theseapproaches with one another, muchless with my own semiotic approach. And since my own grasp is ratherinchoate it makes it difficult totranslate my intuitions into an accessible form. But Im going to tryanyway.I do not see anything wrong with viewing creation and creatures asquasi-autonomous realities that existin God with both the Creator and the created order operating in andthrough a Divine matrix of interrelatedcauses and effects. This could only be accommodated by a Thomisticview that reconceives its ontologicalcategories more dynamically and not in static, essentialistic identities,for example, seeing theWhiteheadian concept of creativity in the Thomistic act of being.quote:Creativity is thus to be understood as immanent within creatures,rather than transcending them and ‘mayaptly be described as “the divine matrix” within which the three divinepersons and all their creatures existin dynamic interrelation. See this link .This all seems to resonate with Phil Hefners description of humanbeings as created co-creators.Reconceiving this relationship between God and creatures hasimplications for how we view original sinand for theodicy and such. I wont go there for now.The bottomline is that we experience enough autonomy to be in anauthentic (in radical freedom) loverelationship with God and others and enough causalinterconnectedness to know that we will subsist,forever, through, with and in this Divine Matrix.It may be that a natural mysticism corresponds to a raw awareness ofthis ineluctably unobtrusive tacitdimension or matrix. It is with the benefit of special revelation that ourcontemplation experiences it asDivine. Our contemplation reflects on our autonomy. Enlightenmentqualifies it as quasi.re: Our contemplation reflects on our autonomy. Enlightenmentqualifies it as quasi.Just to be clear, those aspects of contemplation and enlightenment, ofcourse, do not exhaust those richhuman realities.re: I do not see anything wrong with viewing creation and creatures asquasi-autonomous realities that exist
  • in God with both the Creator and the created order operating in andthrough a Divine matrix of interrelatedcauses and effects.To amplify a bit, I have recently been contemplating this panentheistapproach with an aim towardreconciling it with that of Gregory Palamas and the hesychasts. It doesnot seem to me to be a majorstumbling block for Christian unity, no more than the filioque?bout Hesychasmquote:In the Byzantine East, the hesychast tradition had a tremendousinfluence, and found a powerfulinterpreter in Gregory Palamas in the 14th century. Palamas, the mostinfluential Greek Orthodoxtheologian of the Middle Ages, taught that the most effective way toincrease our awareness, integrate bodyand soul, and open ourselves to God is to attend to our breathing.In The Triads in Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, Gregory describedthe process of pure prayer beyondwords or thoughts or concepts and advised his students what to expect.The first step is to enter into our own body, not to flee from it. Whilethis is very difficult at the beginning,with repeated effort in time attention to breathing gathers together themind that has been dissipated andproduces inner detachment and freedom.For Palamas, this activity is not itself grace, but he tells us that Godworks in and through the body and soultogether to communicate supernatural gifts. As long as we have notexperienced this transformation, webelieve that the body is always driven by corporeal and materialpassions.In language that is at times similar to the Buddhist tradition, Palamastells us that theoretical knowledgecannot grasp this transformation. Only experience can convince aperson that another form of life, freefrom the incessant domination of desire, is possible. Apatheia, thefruit of prayer, is not the deadening offeeling, but that stillness and openness that frees us from self-concernand allows us to redirect ournatural energies toward serving others.Through prayer and the grace of God, every aspect of ourselves istransformed and crowned with virtue.http://monasticdialog.com/a.php?id=771quote:In solitude and retirement the Hesychast repeats the Jesus Prayer,
  • "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, havemercy on me, a sinner." The Hesychast prays the Jesus Prayer with theheart—with meaning, with intent,for real (see ontic). He never treats the Jesus Prayer as a string ofsyllables whose surface or overt verbalmeaning is secondary or unimportant. He considers bare repetition ofthe Jesus Prayer as a mere string ofsyllables, perhaps with a mystical inner meaning beyond the overtverbal meaning, to be worthless or evendangerous. This emphasis on the actual, real invocation of Jesus Christmarks a divergence from Easternforms of meditation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesychastquote:Orthodox Tradition warns against seeking ecstasy as an end in itself.Hesychasm is a traditional complex ofascetical practices embedded in the doctrine and practice of theOrthodox Church and intended to purify themember of the Orthodox Church and to make him ready for anencounter with God that comes to him whenand if God wants, through Gods Grace. The goal is to acquire,through purification and Grace, theHoly Spirit and salvation. Any ecstatic states or other unusual phenomenawhich may occur in the courseof Hesychast practice are considered secondary and unimportant, evenquite dangerous. Moreover, seekingafter unusual spiritual experiences can itself cause great harm,ruining the soul and the mind of the seeker.Such a seeking after spiritual experiences can lead to spiritualdelusion (Ru. prelest, Gr. plani)—theantonym of sobrietyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HesychastSo, the emphasis here is on experience of God, a knowledge that goesbeyond the propositional. There isan emphasis on freedom here, on increasing freedom, and therebylove. This is very Buddhist in some waysbut differs in being very relational and personal and not, rather, empty.Now, read here about the distinction between Gods essence andenergies, and our experience of Godsuncreated energies.quote:Abiding In The Indwelling Trinity by George A. MaloneyExcerpt - on Page 3: " ... Their loving presence as personalized relationsof uncreated energies of lovesurrounds us, permeates us, bathes us constantly in their great loving
  • communication ... "Mystical Theology: The Science of Love byWilliam JohnstonExcerpt - on Page 61: " ... distinction between the divine essence andthe divine energies. This is closelyrelated to his theology of light; for the uncreated energies are energiesof light and of love. ... "InWhomWe Live and Move and Have Our Being: PanentheisticReflections on Gods Presence in aScientificWorld by Philip ClaytonExcerpt - " ... to the uncreated energies of God, as well as trinitarianinterpretations and the whole project ofprocess theology. ... "The Foundations of Christian Bioethics by H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr.Excerpt - " ... is solved and the door found in the horizon ofimmanence: Christianitys disclosure of animmediate experi- ence of the uncreated energies of a radicallytranscendent, personal God. Here philosophicalsolutions and theological truth coincide: the truth is a Who. Such ... "Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Simone WeilNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets West THE TRINITYKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini If we think in terms of modal ontology, we might be able to imagineNo-Self & Nirvana how the possible, actual, probable andelucidated byDumoulin necessary correspond to a grammar of the Trinity. I will not explicate it,One: Essential but will leave this as poetry.Writings inNonduality - a review I got this intuition meditating on the Trinity with the "grammar" ofSimone Weil Julian ofJohn of the Cross Norwich. First I thought of the psychologists and theologians whoThomas Merton speak of ourThe True Self *desire*, our *intention* and *action*. Then I thought of how JulianThe Passion restatedHermeneuticalEclecticism & that all *may* be well, all *can* be well, all *will* be well, all manner ofInterreligiousDialogue things *shall* be well, and you will know that all manner of things willThe Spirit be well.Christian Nonduality Next I thought of the Fathers *permissive will* who designed thingsmore on Nonduality such thatThe ContemplativeStance all *may* be well and this was His *intention*. And it followed that theHesychasm SonsMysticism - properlyconsidered *efficacious will* was such that all *can* be well and this required HisKarl Rahner *action*. The Spirits *desiring will* which says "I will, I would" that allWounded Innocence things *will* be well corresponds to *desire*.
  • Rogation Days Now these Persons being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent,Radical Orthodoxy omnibenevolent ...Presuppositionalismvs Nihilism? when They conspire with perfectly aligned permissive, efficacious andScience desiringEpistemic Virtue wills ... a *mandatory will* of the Holy Trinity proclaims that allPan-semio-entheism: a manner ofpneumatologicaltheology of nature things *shall* be well.Architectonic In the Holy Trinity thus resides *Desire* and *Intention* andAnglican - Roman *Action*.DialogueThe Ethos of Eros And we, made in Gods image and likeness, recognize these faculties in ourselves !Musings on PeirceEskimo Kiss Waltz And what do we find in ourselves but DESIRE, longing, yearning !the Light Side of And here is the Grace, the Holy Spirit which animates us and draws us,Dark Comedy thisBlog VisitsOther Online *desire* precedes our assent and helps preserve it through theResources indwellingAre YOU Going toScarborough Fair? promptings of the Spirit.Suggested Reading Through our free cooperation with grace, our will is transformed suchTim Kings Post that weChristian BlogThe Dylan Mass share, increasingly, the *intentions* of Our Father (Thy will be done) and ourIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual orOtherwise *actions* progressively conform to those of the Son. And, if like Mary, wependingThe Great Tradition ponder these things in our hearts, we will know that all manner ofproperly conceived things will be well.PostmodernConservative And I take heart and carry on because I have heard that others haveCatholic Pentecostal been *gifted* with the same heartrending, soul-searching journey of both incredulity and desire, for as GeraldMay says: We are conscious not just because our hearts are beating but because they are yearning (1). The only way to own and claim love as our identity is: to fall in love with love itself, to feel affection for our longing, to value our yearning, treasure our wanting, embrace our incompleteness, be overwhelmed by the beauty of our need (2). Love is present in any desire ... in all feelings of attraction, in all caring and connectedness. It embraces us in precious moments of immediate presence. It is also present when we experience loneliness, loss, grief and rejection. We may say such feelings come from the absence of love, but in fact they are signs of our loving; they express how much we care. We grieve according to how
  • much of ourselves we have alreadygiven; we yearn according to how much we would give, if only we could(3).And I would add that we desire to desire, yearn to yearn and long tolong.If you feel attracted to the good just because, to the truth just because,to justice just because, to beauty justbecause, to love just because... you know they are their own reward ...and you may be poised on the horizon of loving, God just because.We dialogue with Other and others *just because* they are endssufficient unto themselves.In closing, a word from Thomas Merton: "And so, manycontemplativesnever become great saints, never enter into close friendship with God,never find a deep participation in His immense joys, because they clingto the miserable little consolations that are given to beginners in thecontemplative way."gulp! oh well. Therese of Lisieux and Simone Weil, pray for me.SIMONE WEILin her Spiritual Autobiography, Simone wrote:"As soon as I reachedadolescence I saw the problem of Godas a problem of which the data could not be obtained here below, and Idecided that the only way of beingsure not to reach a wrong solution, which seemed to me the greatestpossible evil, was to leave it alone So Ileft it alone.""The very name of God had no part in my thoughts."In those days I had not read the Gospel.""I had never read any mystical works because I had never felt any callto read them.""I had never prayed. I was afraid of the power of suggestion that is inprayer."one day, however, Simone was reciting a poem, by George Herbert(1592-1633), entitled Love . it was apoem she had learned by heart and had repeated often. she reports thatshe was concentrating all myattention upon it and clinging with all my soul to the tenderness itenshrines."it was during this particular recitation, she claims: Christ himselfcame down and took possession of me....In this sudden possession of me by Christ, neither my senses nor myimagination had any part; I only felt inthe midst of my suffering the presence of a love, like that which onecan read in the smile on a beloved
  • face.***********************************************************************LoveLove bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,Guiltie of dust and sinne.But quick-eyd Love, observing me grow slackFrom my first entrance in,Drew near to me, sweetly questioningIf I lackd any thing."A guest," I answerd, worthy to be here"." Love said, "You shall be he.""I, the unkinde, ungrateful!? Ah my deare, I cannot look on thee.Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,Who made the eves but I ?"Truth Lord, But I have marrd them: let my shamego where it doth deserve."And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame ?""My deare, then I will serve.""You must sit down, sayes Love," and taste my meat."" So I did sit and eat."***********************************************************************Simone continues:" In my arguments about the insolubility of theproblem of God I had never foreseen thepossibility of that, of a real contact, person to person, here below,between a human being and God. I hadvaguely heard tell of things of this kind, but I had never believed inthem.... God in his mercy hadprevented me from reading the mystics, so that it should be evident tome that I had not invented thisabsolutely unexpected contact.even as she rested firm in her new found certitude, she vividly recallsthe Dark Night and the followingDawn:"Affliction makes God appear to be absent for a time, moreabsent than a dead man, more absentthan light in the utter darkness of a cell. A kind of horror submergesthe soul. During this absence there isnothing to love. What is terrible is that if, in this darkness where thereis nothing to love, the soul ceases tolove, Gods absence becomes final. The soul has to go on loving in theemptiness, or at least to go onwanting to love, though it may only be with an infinitesimal part ofitself. Then, one day, God will come toshow himself to this soul and to reveal the beauty of the world to it, as
  • in the case of Job. But if the soulstops loving it falls, even in this life, into something almost equivalentto hell."despite her implicit Catholic faith, Simone chose to remain unbaptizedand outside the Church: "You cantake my word for it too that Greece, Egypt, ancient India and ancientChina, the beauty of the world, thepure and authentic reflections of this beauty in art and science, what Ihave seen of the inner recesses ofhuman hearts where religious belief is unknown, all these things havedone as much as the visible christianones to deliver me into Christs hands as his captive. I think I mighteven say more. The love of those thingswhich are outside visible christianity keeps me outside the Church."Simone argued, not for any syncretism or radical pluralism, but forrecognition of the implicit faith of otherpeoples. This was an inclusivistic Christocentrism, that, many yearslater, would become prominent inVatican II and, most recently, has been even more clearly articulated byJohn Paul II in his encylcical"Fides et Ratio" (faith and reason). According to Simone: So manythings are outside the ChristianChurch, so many things that I love and do not want to give up, so manythings that God loves, otherwisethey would not be in existence. All the immense stretches of pastcenturies except the last twenty areamong them; all the countries inhabited by coloured races; all secularlife in the white peoples countries; inthe history of these countries, all the traditions banned as heretical,those of the Manicheans, andAlbigenses for instance; all those things resulting from theRenaissance, too often degraded but not quitewithout value."Simone is not objecting to Church dogmas, rituals or moralcodifications. she was, in fact, attracted to theliturgy, to Eucharistic adoration, to hymns and rituals and even heldChurch doctrine as true. rather, shewas a voice of prophetic protest against exclusivisticecclesiocentrism:I am kept outside the Church ....not by the mysteries themselves but the specifications with which theChurch has thought good to surroundthem in the course of centuries.one thinks here of the "mystical core of organized religion" asexplicated by Stendl-Rast and of thedeterioration of dogma, ritual and moral codes into dogmatism,ritualism and legalism. whatever the
  • authentic Church teaching at the time, i can personally attest to the factthat, before Vatican II, at a grassroots level, the faithful had clearly received the message that non-Catholic religions had no salvificefficacy.Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or OtherwiseNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &  transformation Because of the nature of this website, I often getting inquiriesEast Meets West from people suffering from spiritual emergence issues, realKi, Qi, Chi, Prana & spiritual emergencies, as well as those who have sufferedKundalini from a variety of debilitating emotional and mental illnesses,No-Self & Nirvana including depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.elucidated byDumoulin Because I am not a trained spiritual director, social worker or psychological counselor, I cannot (should not) presume to be ofOne: EssentialWritings in much help to these people, but I have fashioned something of aNonduality - a review boilerplate response below. I have kept all of you in earnestSimone Weil prayer and close to my heart.John of the Cross  Thomas Merton How Wide Is Your Moat? - our holisticThe True Self moatThe PassionHermeneutical The mutual fund industry has popularized the moat metaphor, a moatEclecticism &Interreligious being that deep and wide trench around the rampart of a castle , that isDialogue usually filled with water. There are even pinball games, like MedievalThe Spirit Madness , in which players use different strategies to breach theChristian Nonduality castle’s defenses, such as the moat, the drawbridge, the gate, the wall.more on Nonduality Sometimes the madness is not so medieval but very muchThe Contemplative contemporary, within our own psychological castle walls.StanceHesychasm I have often thought of the analogy of the moat in other than economicMysticism - properly terms. It might also be a useful image in considering a person’s generalconsidered well being , notwithstanding your 401K might now look more like aKarl Rahner 201K.Wounded InnocenceRogation Days Like a castle with its multiple layers of defenses, one’s general wellRadical Orthodoxy being is also bolstered by its own moats and walls and gatekeepers and
  • Presuppositionalism can be breached by many different types of attacks.vs Nihilism?Science There are times in our lives when we know our well being will have toEpistemic Virtue do battle, when we need to both widen and deepen our psychologicalPan-semio- moats and pull up the drawbridges of our physical ramparts. The size ofentheism: apneumatological such bulwarks must be determined by many factors.theology of natureArchitectonic Let’s consider some examples of the types of battles we must all fightAnglican - Roman and of the kinds of defenses we might need to put in place to fortify ourDialogue general well being.The Ethos of ErosMusings on PeirceEskimo Kiss Waltzthe Light Side ofDark ComedyBlog VisitsOther OnlineResourcesAre YOU Going toScarborough Fair?Suggested ReadingTim Kings PostChristian BlogThe Dylan MassIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual orOtherwisependingThe Great Traditionproperly conceivedPostmodernConservativeCatholic Pentecostal When we are healthy, physically, emotionally and mentally, and under no significant stress, in other words are not under attack physically or psychologically, the size of our holistic moat doesn’t matter much, seemingly. I’m going to call this moat the holistic moat because its depth and width is determined by many factors which, I will argue, all need to be considered as a whole. Ignore any given factor and our defenses will be breached , which is to suggest that sometimes we don’t have a very wide margin of error to work with because our moat is both shallow and narrow. What are some of the things that fill up our moat and seriously jeopardize our castle of well being? Well, certainly anything which can affect us emotionally, such as trauma due to grief, terror or physical injury, such as chronic or acute illness, addictions, broken relationships, financial difficulty, employment and career setbacks, academic and professional failure, damage to one’s reputation whether unjust or from a personal failure, and so forth. The effects of aging or of a chronic debilitating illness, the propensity toward chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters, and other insults to our general well being, all of these things and more, can lower our defenses and increase our vulnerabilities to where we spiral down into near or total dysfunction and immobilization. The return to any normalcy and full functionality can be difficult, near
  • impossible. In such desperation, we can approach the point where weeven lose the will to go on, despite our loved ones, and, assuredly,when the blessings of those relationships no longer weigh heavilyenough in the balance against the pain of a truly tormented existence,the castle has been most seriously breached; our physical well beingdrawbridge is down; our emotional gate has been battered; our mentalgatekeeper defeated. Our spirit has thus retreated to the most innerrecesses of our being and, though still sharing immanently with itsBeloved in these innermost chambers, there is no felt sense ofcommunion, neither with God nor with the castle cohort, thatindwelling and abiding relating to family and friends, and mostdefinitely not with the outer world of strangers.What are some of the kinds of defenses we might need to put in placeto fortify our general well being?When our moat is narrowed and shallowed by any of the insults to ourwell being we have considered, we have no room to maneuver and havelittle margin of error. We cannot afford any mistakes and must moveaggressively on all fronts. If one’s castle is especially vulnerable, eitherchronically or acutely, one cannot take a casual approach to defendingthe castle. One must proactively work to widen the moat! Like theCorps of Engineers on the Mississippi River, one must continuouslydredge because the silt is being deposited 24/365 when we suffer fromchemical imbalances or are otherwise in the midst of trauma, grief,anxiety or depression.Physically, we cannot afford to miss out on proper diet, sufficient restand good exercise. Our diet must be substantial and routine and notmade up of the four mainstays of the 4 Cajun Foodgroups , which aresugar, salt, fat and alcohol . Rest and exercise are essential, too, formanifold reasons documented elsewhere. Medically , we must seek outpharmaceutical aids to help us through the acute phase of anysubstantial psychological crises with antidepressants or antianxietyprescriptions and maybe even sleep-aids. Emotionally , we must forceourselves to interact with family and friends, with outdoors and nature,acting ourselves into a new way of thinking , unable to think ourselevesinto a new way of acting. Mentally , we may need ongoing psychologicalcounseling and, perhaps, even that in combination with specializedtrauma counseling or social welfare assistance and counseling.Specialized support groups can be most efficacious in assisting andadvising on all of the fronts under consideration here and can be anemotional lifeline. They can also make us feel a little less alone bybeing in the empathetic company of others who don’t know and willnever know your tears but who have cried tears for similar reasons. Weshould seek to stimulate and enrich our minds with good readingmaterials, uplifting movies and music, and engaging hobbies.Spiritually , we may need spiritual direction, either formally orinformally, with a director-directee relationship, or in a spiritualcompanioning mode with a fellow pilgrim with whom we may share aspecial spiritual kinship. The life of prayer, no matter how arid ordesolate, must be maintained with perseverance and discipline,privately and communally, perhaps augmented by small groupparticipation but most definitely sharing as well in at-large communityworship services.
  • Ideally, one can likely not implement the entire holistic regimenbecause the very exigencies and contingencies of life, which press in onus and lower our defenses, such as employment and parentingresponsibilities, such as financial and physical constraints, also get inour way during the rebuilding efforts. However, one must aggressivelyand vigilantly attend to all of the factors within one’s means and to thefullest extent possible, notwithstanding constraints on ones time andresources, and make these efforts a priority, because spiralling down tothe lowest ebb of life will most assuredly defeat everything else one istrying to accomplish and deprive one of the vibrancy in onesrelationships, with God and others, that makes anything elseworthwhile.Our road to healing must be holistic and I emphasize this multifacetedapproach because I have seen healing stratgeies sabotaged byapproaches that don’t take the whole castle into account. What good isit to deepen or widen a moat if one leaves the drawbridge down?The attempt to make it through significant crises only pharmaceuticallycan backfire and bring on even more substance abuse. The temptationto self-medicate with over the counter stimulants or sedatives cansimiarly cause problems. To take pills but not eat and rest properly isself-defeating. Confusing psychological counseling and spiritualdirection can be a problem; they are distinctly different enterprises,however related. If one’s castle is especially vulnerable, eitherchronically or acutely, one cannot take a casual approach to defendingthe castle. One must proactively widen the moat!Neglect of one’s spiritual life, in my opinion, represents the firstshallowing of the holistic moat because the spiritual life, a life ofprayer, is the climbing into the watchtower of our castle, lifting ourhearts and minds to God, aligning our wills with His, and, wherebythrough ongoing self-examen and discernment, we can vigilantly gazeout over all of our defenses and remain on guard for those attacks thatno castle avoids. All of this we do as we await that Kingdom which is tocome while living as safely as we can within that one which is alreadywithin us but constantly under siege.It may be, that what I have outlined above can be viewed not merely asa defensive maneuver against life, but rather as ones offensive strategyfor looking to make ones mark on the world. These are the very samethings Id suggest as New Years Resolutions, to anyone serious aboutdeepening their relationship with God or their relationships with lovedones, to anyone interested in advancing on ones academic or careerpath, etc There is a great unity of purpose in the spiritual life, to aholistically informed lifestyle. When God is first in our lives, everythingelse falls into place and we will be about the same tasks in life whetherour castle is under siege or not. Mark my words, however, it is best notto wait.ON YOUR SIDEOngoing therapyNeed to DREAM, everyday, about the future 
  • Your family & friendsOngoing medicationUnderstand your symptoms & side-effectsRemember to help someone else today SleepInclude God in your lifeDietExercise   http://twitter.com/johnssylvestChristian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality The PassionNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets West The Passion of Jesus & Mary & JosephKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &Kundalini And of John the Baptist & ElizabethNo-Self & Nirvanaelucidated by Narrator: I asked them of their hopes and dreamsDumoulin Of how it seemed to themOne: EssentialWritings in On a road that led to CalvaryNonduality - a reviewSimone Weil That began in BethlehemJohn of the Cross Mary answered first: "My hopes and dreams,Thomas Merton Every single part of me,The True SelfThe Passion Awaited my Messiah,Hermeneutical With Him I longed to be."Eclecticism &Interreligious Joseph looked at her and nodded:DialogueThe Spirit "What you just said is true ...Christian Nonduality But as for me, my hopes and dreams:more on Nonduality My every thought was you.The ContemplativeStance "At the time of our betrothal,Hesychasm The fulfillment of my lifeMysticism - properlyconsidered Was to take your hand in marriage,Karl Rahner To take you as my wife."Wounded Innocence "I was first the handmaid of the Lord,"Rogation DaysRadical Orthodoxy SaidMary as she smiled,
  • Presuppositionalism "But what devastation you enduredvs Nihilism?Science When you found I was with child."Epistemic Virtue Joseph said: "My heart was broken;Pan-semio-entheism: a How bitterly I wept;pneumatologicaltheology of nature Exhausted in my pain and grief,Architectonic How wearily I slept."Anglican - RomanDialogue Mary smiled: "The angel in your dreamThe Ethos of Eros Your every doubt erased;Musings on Peirce Then the baby leapt within my wombEskimo Kiss Waltzthe Light Side of When warmly we embraced !"Dark Comedy Joseph: Our road would wind, go up then down,Blog Visits His way seemed hard to learn.Other OnlineResources Mary: But angels came in Josephs dreamsAre YOU Going toScarborough Fair? At every single turn.Suggested Reading Joseph: Like the time we went to EgyptTim Kings PostChristian Blog Where we stayed till Herod died.The Dylan Mass Mary: Or when we came back to IsraelIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual or And youd thought the angeld lied.Otherwise Mary: (You see Herods son took Herods placependingThe Great Tradition So, again, wed have to flee).properly conceived Joseph: And warned, again, within a dream,PostmodernConservative We left for Galilee.Catholic Pentecostal Mary: So, too, on your road with Jesus, You may find your plans and schemes Will be readily displaced there By our Fathers hopes and dreams. Joseph: Therell be times your heart is broken. Therell be times your dreams are dashed, When you dwell in desolation, See no sun, just smoke and ash. Mary: All will share His Passion and His Death From the time of their conception; Those who take lifes road with us Will share His Resurrection. Mary: Our road began with theWord of God, Where a witness, Elizabeths son, In a town in the hills of Judah, Spoke of Jesus, the Chosen One. Elizabeth: Little boys we carried in our wombs Knew one another, even there !
  • And were destined, both, for early tombs,Any mothers worst nightmare.Mary: My son was killed by Pilate,With indignity and disgrace.Elizabeth: My John was brutally murdered,Beheaded at Herods place.Narrator: I asked of Mary: "What of Pilate ?""What of Herod ?" of Elizabeth."Of the people who rejected themEven in Nazareth ?"They both were silent, for a whileThen each, in their own turn,Spoke openly and lovinglyOf the lessons they had learned.Mary: Like my Joseph, through King Davids line,Did my baby, Jesus, comeA Savior given unto usEach and every one.Elizabeth: Yes, adulterers and murderersLike Herod (King David, too)Were the reason that Our Lord was bornMary: And also me and you.Elizabeth: No its not for us to understand.Its not for us to see:What of David ? Pilate ? Herod ?Mary:What of them or you or me ?Mary: Like the criminals murdered with HimOn His left and on His rightTil ones dying breath Hell save youBathe you in Eternal Light.Narrator: Elizabeth stood, took Marys arms.They embraced with loving tears.Then as at The VisitationJohn and Jesus then appeared !I watched in silence and in aweWith love and peace and joy,As with such warmth and tendernessEach mother hugged her boy.They were little kids like yours and mine !With faces oh so fair !
  • Their mommies kissed their little headsRan fingers through their hair.They pinched their cheeks, held little facesIn between each hand,Looked proudly down into their eyesEach mothers little man.There they saw the face of God and livedAs the prophet said theyd see.They all stared in little Jesus faceThen turned and said to me:All: Well have all been there ten thousand yearsBright shining as the sunEach generations moms and dadsEach daughter and each son;The loves well have shared continuing on,The pains well have shared forgotten,With the God well have known from ages henceFromMarys womb begotten.For nothing can quench the love of GodNot anguish nor distressPersecution, famine nor the swordPeril nor nakedness.Neither death nor life nor angelsNot any principalityCould stifle the love of these mothers boysFrom here to Eternity.I then said: "Lord, take and receive,Take all of my liberty,My memory and understanding,Like The Baptist I want to be ...For youll increase as we decreaseIn answer to our prayerTil it almost becomes a challenge hereTo know who is standing there...For Ive entertained angels unawareIn your poor its plain to seeLifes purpose is found as we get confusedTween them and you and me.No the heart of man has not conceivedNo eye could ever see
  • The things the Father has preparedFor The Baptist, you and me !Narrator: What pains in life, dear Jesus,Caused your greatest agony ?What of the blood, the sweat, the tearsThat blessed Gethsemane ?Jesus: He heaved a sigh: "Ill tell you now,The worst of pains, my brother,Came from the swords that pierced the HeartOf my dearest, sweetest Mother.""The first sword ? In the temple,Among the doctors of the law,What a joy-filled, happy moment,When my mothers face I saw !Mary: Have you ever lost a child ?Known the tears, the fear, the dread ?Have you ever feared your little oneTo be given up for dead ?Jesus:Well, her look that day was haunting,T was a look of total loss.I was to see it yet againAs I hung there on the Cross.Narrator: What of the Chief Priests and the EldersOr the Scribes and Pharisees ?Of the ridicule you suffered thereAs they tortured, spat and teased ?Jesus: Jesus sighed again and said: "You know,On my mother, that was tough;It was watching her in agonyThat, for me, was really rough."As for Caiaphas and Annas,The men with clubs and swords,Those who called out: Play the Prophet !Or who mocked me with their words ...Id grown use to that in childhood,Never really did fit in,Not with neighbors, not with townsfolkNot even with my kin.You as parents are familiarWith these feelings from such pain
  • When your children dont fit inWith the others who are playinOn the playground, in the school yard,Out about the neighborhood.How my mom and step-dad sufferedCause they knew I never would.Narrator: Jesus, what of the SanhedrinAnd the lying witnesses ?Or the soldiers there who stripped youSpat or hit you with their fists ?When the crowd called out: "Barabbas !"Scourged and crowned you with the thorns ?What terror gripped your heart there ?Were you specially then forlorn ?Jesus: No, not the passers-by that jeered meOr who gave me wine with gallNor the ones who drove the nailsPierced my side, cast lots and allNot even when they lifted meDid it torture me the most;It was that one last look in mommas eyesThat gave Daddy up my ghost.Aside from the pain this caused my mom,What still truly hurts the mostAre things that are done by the ones that I loveIn whom dwell the Holy Ghost.With sacraments of initiation receivedAlong with such loving formationFor the life of Me, brother, I dont understand whyThey abandon theWay of salvation.The Sanhedrin, the High Priests and EldersWho hit me and spat in my faceDid not cause my Heart near the confusionAs those who abandoned the placeFor after saying theyd never disown meThe moment the Shepherd was struckThe sheep of my flock were soon scatteredCause their Master was down on His Luck.You, too, have seen transfigurations;You know you have had your good days
  • But still like my beloved apostlesDont you go your own separate ways ?Like Zebedees sons on the road thereDoes your selfishness cause any fights ?In your own ways you press one anotherFor seats on my left and my right.No, I tell you Id rather be spat at and jeeredEven scourged and then nailed to a crossBy the people who never have known meAs opposed to somebody Ive lostLike you whom Ive known since your childhoodBaptized as an infant and thenHave countless times known me in EucharistWhos always considered my friendCant you see what youve doneTo a world dire in needAnytime when, like Peter, you fall ?The scandal ensuesA soul bout to chooseChance misses hearing my call.Next time you pray into my PassionAnd gaze up at your Friend on the Cross,Im not there cause of people Ive never knownIts those, maybe you ? that Ive lost.Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvest
  • Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality The SpiritNEW: CathlimergentInternet ForumThe ChristianNonduality BlogHomeRadical Emergence -Nonduality & theEmerging ChurchEmergence HappensWhen:To Avow & Dis-avowan AxiologicalVision of the WholeMontmarte,Colorado Springs &the KingdomWanted: WomenWarriorsMaiden, Mother,Crone & Queen:archetypes &transformationEast Meets WestKi, Qi, Chi, Prana &  The Holy Spirit is so ineluctably unobtrusive while so utterlyKundalini efficacious, a tacit telic dimension of a panentheistic matrix ofNo-Self & Nirvanaelucidated by interrelated causes and effects, a pansemiotic Peircean thirdnessDumoulin breathing fire into Stephen Hawkings equations, a sacred reality weOne: Essential relate to impersonally until we awaken to the absolutely personalWritings in and intimate calling of all of creation forth to participate together in theNonduality - a review eternal movement of divine kenotic delimitation in a community ofSimone Weil ever-creative love. This divine urge is so tangibly present, soJohn of the Cross palpably real, so amenable to our successful references whileThomas Merton ever-elusive to any successful descriptions.The True SelfThe Passion The Spirit, active in all of the great traditions, in all humanHermeneutical endeavor, thus has many names and many analogs and it is not always Eclecticism &Interreligious clear when it is we are relating to the Spirit modally, which is to sayDialogue literally, or when it is we are invoking the Spirit analogically. Surely,The Spirit not all of our God-talk need be, in principle, merely apophatic orChristian Nonduality metaphorical? Still, this is not to say that whatever it is that could bemore on Nonduality univocally predicated of both creature and Creator is yet conceivable byThe Contemplative humankind, even as a root metaphor. If we have come close, then myStance guess is that we share a creative, self-emptying love.HesychasmMysticism - properly In addition to many ontological and metaphysical considerations, weconsidered have also described an axiological epistemological outlook, aKarl Rahner value-driven, fallibilistic perspectivalism. All things being equal,Wounded Innocence this perspectivalism honors the positivist agenda that definesRogation Days epistemic virtue in terms of empirical rigor and logical consistencyRadical Orthodoxy but takes heed of our radical finitude, which requires us to look
  • Presuppositionalism beyond such truth-conducive virtue, when it yields only equiplausiblevs Nihilism? accounts of reality, to pay heed to the normative guidance available inScience the truth-indicative virtues of aesthetics, ethics and pragmatics.Epistemic Virtue This is not to say that we do not aspire to the epistemic warrant butPan-semio-entheism: a only to recognize that, sometimes, all we can attain is epistemic parity.pneumatological This is not to privilege the truth-indicative over the truth-conducive,theology of nature for this perspectivalism is holistic and not holonic, which is to say thatArchitectonic all of the integrally-related epistemic perspectives are necessary in eachAnglican - RomanDialogue human value-realization, none sufficient. Thus we avoidThe Ethos of Eros epistemological vices like positivism, rationalism, empiricism, fideism,Musings on Peirce arationalism, gnosticism, pietism, encratism and other insidious -isms that comprise a long litany of epistemic pejoratives that haveEskimo Kiss Waltz historically been tossed back and forth between competingthe Light Side ofDark Comedy philosophical schools.Blog VisitsOther Online For all practical purposes, then, when it comes to humankinds mostResources insistent longings and most passionate urges, we necessarily lookAre YOU Going to beyond the mere evidential, rational and presuppositional to theScarborough Fair? existential and we recognize that the descriptive and interpretiveSuggested Reading perspectives would form an identity but for the fact of our radicalTim Kings Post finitude, which is to recognize our profound value-neediness. If theChristian Blog normative must then mediate between the descriptive and interpretiveThe Dylan Mass to effect the evaluative, then we can face this human condition inIf You Are InDistress, Spiritual or either existential despair and epistemic resignation or we can, instead,Otherwise embrace our situation in recognition of the radicalpending plenitude that putatively corresponds to our radical finitude. And weThe Great Tradition can be on the lookout for this abundance precisely because creationproperly conceived has gifted us with a down payment, an earnest, a guarantee, or,Postmodern in other words, first fruits.ConservativeCatholic Pentecostal We can take the mere fact of existence as brute and to be expected or we can remain ever-surprised and forever-befuddled by a glory that is surely not merely contingent. Realitys contingencies and possibilities indeed seem to be poised precariously between the random and systematic, between chance and necessity, between order and chaos, between pattern and paradox, but only to a mind immersed in modernist dualisms that are resolved by many postmodernists into different nihilistic urges, by many foundationalists into philosophical certitudes, whether the positivistic or fideistic variety, respectively, of Enlightenment or religious fundamentalism. If realitys possibilities and actualities do not point solely to chance, chaos, and randomness, neither can we discern sheer necessity and clear order. Reality is, rather, probabilistic, which is to recognize that possibilities and actualities are mediated by probabilities.  The practical  upshot of this reality is that our value-realizations cannot be guided solely by mathematical certainties and empirical verities but are also normed by beauty and goodness. That humankind must fallback on resources like beauty and love, otherwise lacking omniscience and omnipotence, one might receive as either poignantly glorious or positively scandalous, which is to recognize that we can rebel against our human condition and assert either our foundational, fundamentalistic certitudes or express our nihilistic despair, or we can embrace this cross, not taking equality with God as something at which we would grasp.
  • We have moved swiftly and cursorily through the philosophical,epistemological, ontological and metaphysical considerations, whichwe have treated elsewhere at length, to arrive at a more theoreticaltheological perspective and a more practical spiritual outlook. Whatwe wish to affirm is a radically incarnational perspective, whichimplies a moderately optimistic theological anthropology that affirmsthe Spirits role in every trace of human goodness, at every point inhuman formation, reformation and transformation, in all humanconversions (Gelpis Lonerganian inventory), in both Mertonshumanization and socialization and both his false self and True Self, inthe gentle telic invitations of every unfoldment of the Cosmos. We canaffirm a sacramental economy that consciously and efficaciouslyeffects, explicitly, what it liturgically and ritualistically brings to mindtogether with an incarnational economy of the Spirit that effects thevery same value-realizations albeit unconsciously and implicitly in allpeople of goodwill, who cooperate with the Spirits creative urgeswhether knowingly or unknowingly. In our every encounter of truth,beauty, goodness and unity, we cooperate with Grace.Let us consider imperfections, whether embodied in our humanity, inparticular, or playing out in creation, in general. Might we not takethese imperfections and receive them with gratitude as icons of theOne, Who alone, is perfect, as constant reminders lifting our heartsand minds in praise? At what level of imperfection would we otherwisebe more or less satisfied with our "distance" from God, such that ourlack of so much omniscience and omnipotence would ameliorate ourmisery and fulfill our incessant desire? Could creation have been moreperfect, just a little less uncomfortable? Need we really account forsome Fall, some felix culpa, to apologize for our finitude? Might we notrather recognize that we have been gifted, already, beyond any accountof merit or demerit, with more than we could have ever imagined orconceived, just to have opened our eyes on the sky even if only tosuddenly perish? Yet so many human lives are further gifted withmany more days, even years.That we should exist at all is incredible. That we should then everexperience more than a rock might experience is not just brute fact butincredibly miraculous. How are we all not rather stuck at the fact ofexistence? struck by the glory of it all even as we are immersed in suchfinitude, some assuredly more painfully than others?Human imperfection, beyond the mere physical, shows forth in allmanner of idiosyncrasies and personality foibles, less often ascharacter flaws, rooted in who knows what vis a vis deformativeinfluences, illness or failures to otherwise cooperate with grace.Although we can easily enough recognize failures to cooperate withgrace, to walk in the Spirit, it is not our privilege to ever knowwhich such failures result from willful rejections (sin) and whichcome from lack of formation or deformative influences, fromdifferently-abledness or illness,  or, even, plain and simple, humanmistakes. Interestingly, there is a poignant beauty in so many humanfoibles and idiosyncrasies, even those that most often "get on ournerves." Older people know, from a longer experience and manyfuneral eulogies, that a loving gaze on our imperfect humanness turnsthese peccadilloes into endearments, into unique signatures of aglorious existence that, in the end, seems all too ephemeral. How we
  • would long to be graced by such faultiness, finitude and fussbudgetsagain? Why did we not better recognize the beauty and the goodnessand the glory in this imago Dei, whose presence we would so willinglynow suffer, whose imperfections wed so easily look past, if only wecould hear their silliness, see their struggles, and hold them closeagain?Such longsuffering and forbearance does not just apply to our lovedones but should be extended to all humans, whom we tend toalternately deify or demonize based on our wholly unrealisticexpectations of them, along with our typically dualistic all or nothingand either/or perspectives of reality, in general, other people, inparticular. That our world leaders, national politicians and religiousleaders, among others, are less than perfect, should come less as asurprise and more as par for the course. There is a lot less room forcriticism of those who hold different views when we realize withMerton that we are so often morally fantasizing in a vacuum, which isto recognize that the world is a lot more complex socially, politically,economically and culturally than our facile political and moralprescriptions admit. In fact, too often, practical differences in problemsolving get mischaracterized as moral differences in problem solvers,in a cyncial effort to manipulate the passions of the electorate. There isa lot less room for incivil discourse and the invocations of moralsuperiority than most political and religious "dialogue" would seem todisplay. All people deserve our compassion and our benefit of thedoubt, even those whose behavior we must otherwise interdict, fromtime to time.Humanity, in our brokenness, is a wonder to behold, is made to beheld, in solidarity and compassion. These are phenomenal truths thattranscend our categories like natural and supernatural, nature andgrace, physical and metaphysical. If creative advance, as perWhitehead, indeed takes place only on the borders of chaos, mightthis not be true both epistemologically and ontologically? Mightcreation not have advanced by divine self-delimitation? Might our owncooperation with grace as created co-creators (Phil Hefner) follow thispattern of kenotic self-emptying, as all creation yet groans in one act ofgiving birth? Is a world --- where all knowing and all-power eludes usthus requiring us to yield, normatively, tobeauty, goodness and love in order to realize its values --- reallysomehow less perfect than some reality we otherwise imagine in ourfacile theodicies? Or is a reality wherein the more we need God andrecognize our radical neediness the more we will see of Him, as perthe universal testimony of the mystics, "good enough"?This is the poverty of St. Francis, the perfect joy, and not someotherwise misguided severe asceticism. This is the preferential optionfor the poor and marginalized, whom we eventually recognize, ingenuine humility, as our very selves in full communion with all otherswhove been cast out of some idol-festooned eden.Our leprosy is okay.We are all lepers; this much is certain.Those of us who truly "know" this will not be scandalized but will go, inour radical nakedness, to be bathed, as a prelude to then being wed bythe Beauty, Who sees our beauty, the Goodness, Who knows ourgoodness, the Love, Who desires our love.
  • Christian Nondualityhttp://twitter.com/johnssylvestBird Photos by David Joseph Sylvestjohnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • The normatives sciences mediate between phenomenology and metaphysics, in Peircean Pragmatics. Philosophy mediates between phenomenology and paradigms, which inform practices.The prescriptive mediates between the descriptive and the evaluative, which guides the practical.The normative mediates between the positivistic and the heuristic, which guides behavior.Judgment mediates between sensation and abstraction leading to action. [my rubric re: Lonergan]The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the theistic, which informs the theotic. [my rubric re: Helminiak]Beauty mediates between Unity and Truth yeilding Goodness. [my rubric for an Aesthetic Teleology, John Haught]Orthopathos mediates between orthocommunio and orthodoxy, all coming together in orthopraxis.Orthopraxis authenticates orthodoxy, which is mediated by orthopathos in relationship to orthocommunio.Orthopraxis ensues from the proper mediation of a community and its beliefs by liturgy.Cult mediates between Community and Creed, in living the Code.Worship mediates between "the We" and "the Witness," as we walk "the Walk."   Theological Anthropology as a Prologue to Developing a Pedagogy of Conversion As I would interpret our tradition in terms of the positivistic, philosophic, theistic (creatio continua) and theotic (via transformativa), while theotic propositions both presuppose and are constrained by those of the theistic, and the theistic both presupposes and is constrained by the philosophic and positivistic, and the philosophicboth presupposes and is constrained by the positivistic, the theotic hermeneutic does make a claim on the nonpropositional axioms of the theistic, which in turn makes asimilar claim on the philosophic, which finally makes a claim on the positivistic. Propositionally, once the nonpropositional axioms are in place, each of these spheres ofhuman concern are autonomous inasmuch as they are polynomic, representing radically different commitments to distinct values. Nonpropositionally, these spheres ofhuman concern are mutually interpenetrating, informing each others axioms, and thus integrally related. Helminiak explicates the hierarchical nature of the propositionalaspect of these spheres or foci of human concern, which I prefer to call epistemic fields of value actualization (precisely to recognize their bidirectional influence on eachother, but also to correspond to the ontic and cosmic fields of my own triadic, but still vague, metaphysic). What is going on, then, when these epistemic fields of value actualization "inform each others axioms?" When we commit, anagogically, through orthopathos via authentic worship, and we commence our journey of Lonerganian authenticity via conversion, we are buying into a theotic hermeneutic. Theologically, our existential orientation toward the realization of the transcendental imperatives of truth, beauty, goodness and unity has,then, committed us to theosis, to humanization via divinization, to divinization via humanization. This journey, soteriologically, neednt be cast in a traditional redemptive sense vis a vis overcoming some type of ontological rupture in the past (the felix culpa oforiginal sin), but could be viewed in terms of teleological realization (for instance, Jack Haughts aesthetic teleology). Whether one measures the distance to be traveledin the transformative journey in terms of ontological, teleological, axiological, cosmological or epistemological distances, that there is a gap, a rupture, a goal or whathave you, cannot be denied. Common sense tells us that suffering is not a delusion and our radical finitude is undeniable. This theotic commitment thus means that atheism and nontheism are out. And it also means that pantheism and panen-theism are out, at least such a panentheism asconsiders nature as an extension of God with God merely being That which is greater than the sum of Its parts. With no distance to travel between nature and God,theosis makes no sense. A pedagogy of conversion is, then, incoherent. At the same time, a suitably predicated pan-entheism, perhaps, may not necessarily require anaxiomatic and theoretical commitment to any type of ontological gulf. It may entertain a certain ontological undecidability or ontological vagueness, emphasizing asuccessful reference to, and not rather a successful description of, the Reality of God. At the same time, it emphasizes the Creatio Continua of Gods omnipresent,indwelling presence, inviting an abiding awareness of the Intimacy of all intimacies and the Relatedness of all relating. Solidarity implies relationship, not completeidentity. Relationship invites compassion, not quietism. Relationship inspires orthopathos, hope and worship. [This is, of course, an over against any heterodox parsingsof panentheism, which is articulated in some creation spiritualities.] Thus it is that our interpretation of Via Creativa, in light of our Via Transformativa hermeneutic, makes us Hefners created-cocreators. Our commitment to orthopathosthen informs the axioms of our orthodoxy and our theistic hermeneutic as we affirm the Creatio Continua. Here, our articulations employ such as the dionysian logic ofboth/and & neither/nor, apophatic, kataphatic and unitive predications, Origens senses of Scripture and so on and so forth, including binary logic when appropriate.Our semantical vagueness companions our ontological vagueness and provides an ongoing subversion of the otherwise inescapable fossilization of the institutionalchurch as it can tend toward pseudo- and quasi-tautologies and away from the authentic tautology of that metanarrative which gifts us with orthopathos, orthodoxy andorthopraxis. Thus it is that our theotic and theistic hermeneutics support the nonpropositional axioms of an aesthetic realism (via an aesthetic teleology) and a critical realism (via thevehicle of semantic vagueness, which is implicit in the different logics, predications and layers of meaning above-referenced). Taken together, then, these inform thenonpropositional axioms of our philosophic focus of concern, or the epistemic fields of our normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics, as well as ourmetaphysical outlook. The theotic and theistic thus make a claim on our philosophic axioms by way of a commitment to both metaphysical realism and moral realism. By the time we have arrived at our positivistic hermeneutic, we already have many of our hermeneutical bags packed with  1) aesthetical realism, teleologically 2)critical realism, epistemologically 3) metaphysical realism, ontologically and 4) moral realism, axiologically, whose integral and mutually interpenetrating relationships imply 5) semiotic realism, cosmologically (signs & symbols & icons, etc). The positivistic sphere of human concern is thus inherently normative and its nonpropositional axioms reflect our commitment to the epistemological rubrics of both the scientific method and empirical observation. Because of our ontological vagueness, and commitment to Mystery, our metanarrative is then incomplete but still consistent. We have articulated a justification for ourfundamental trust in Uncertain Reality. Not only does Kungs nihilistic foil reveal an unjustified and, hence, paradoxical trust in uncertain reality, its philosophicalnaturalist cohort, which ambitions a materialist monist metaphysic, offers a complete but inconsistent metanarrative, okay via Godelian parameters, but sacrificingcommon sense notions of causality in a question begging infinite regress of causations. As it is, most folks do not reflect on these nonpropositional axiomatic elements of their hermeneutics, just as they are unaware of human tacit dimensionality, connaturality, illative sense, nonintuitive immediate awareness and abductive inference as viable and efficacious epistemic fields. When awareness of these facultiesdawns and one begins to articulate what is going on in some disquisition such as this, one typically begins in media res, which is to suggest that orthopathos, orthodoxy,orthopraxis and orthocommunio all mutually interpenetrate and contain one another as we, then, consciously and competently, learn how to 1) Worship 2) Witness 3) Walk and 4) We. Unconscious competence aint too shabby either! More on a Pedagogy of Conversion
  •  Quote from Bertrand Russell: "The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical thatno one will believe it."  Russells quote, applied to pedagogy and conversion, in my analogical imagination, speaks to several dynamisms. It speaks to the developmental aspect of formativespirituality (think pistic, charismatic & mystic, or purgative, illuminative and unitive, or other growth paradigms for the Lonerganian conversions). It speaks to thehermeneutical layers of meaning (e.g. think senses of Scripture), which correspond to the plurality of values to be actualized (think truth, beauty, goodness and unity). And it speaks to how formation and transformation are precisely ordered toward mining these strata of meaning in a progressive augmentation of valueactualization. Toward orthopathos, we learn how to Worship and how to mine meaning from beauty, such as from the anagogical sense of Scripture and sacramental and liturgicaltheology. I think of affective conversion. Toward orthodoxy, we learn how to Witness (talk the talk) and how to mine meaning from truth, such as from both the literal & historical, as well as the creedal &allegorical, senses of Scripture and systematic theology. I think of intellectual conversion. Toward orthopraxis, we learn how to Walk (walk the walk) and how to mine meaning from goodness, such as through the moral sense of Scripture and moraltheology. I think of moral and sociopolitical conversion. Toward orthocommunio, we learn how to be a We, having thus mined unity through beauty, truth and goodness, such as through cult, creed & code and ascetical &mystical theology. I think of religious conversion. Orthopraxis will authenticate orthodoxy when orthopathos progresses through lectio tacita & aperta, oratio, collatio, operatio and contemplatio. Notice that, per ourprayer ladder, we listen to the Word, speak the Word, speak the Word together, act on the Word and then wait in expectation on the Word. The Worship, Witnessand Walk gift us with the We. The augmentation of value realizations thus derives from the progressive amplification of value pursuits that are facilitated via ongoing formative development andconversion. All of these values are being realized in some measure at every stage of human development. Each epistemic field of value actualization mutually interpenetrates the others, axiomatically or nonpropositionally, but remains otherwise autonomous and polynomic,propositionally. Poetically, truth comes flying in on the wings of beauty and goodness; beauty on the wings of truth and goodness; goodness on the wings of truth andbeauty. Each of these fields of value presuppose the others. The epistemic fields of value objectification (possibilities) and the ontic fields of value  actualization (actualities) are mediated by the cosmic field of value realization (probabilities). Inchoately, I sense a relationship between such concepts as Polanyis tacit dimension, Newmans illative sense, Fries nonintuitive immediate knowldge, Maritainsconnaturality and Peirces abduction. They seem to represent an unobstrusive nexus between our epistemic fields of need and their corresponding ontic fields offulfillment, such a nexus as suggests some type of implicate ordering by a cosmic field, which provides the matrices connecting them all and accounts for an  isomorphicity implied by an emergentist perspective and co-evolutionary dynamics. Each of these philosophers speak of an epistemic faculty that, as I see it, furnishesthat part of the human epistemic suite that is axiomatic and nonpropositional, ordered toward aesthetic inclinations, first principles, common sense notions of causality,instinctual pragmatic orientations, all unspoken presuppositions, or, in other words, our innate existential orientations toward the transcendentalimperatives of truth, beauty, goodness and unity. This is the part of our epistemic suite where all unconscious competence resides and where the facility of abduction originates. These are the epistemic furnishings that make human ecological rationality so impressive and which account forhuman exceptionality among other species. Ive gone to some length to describe this part of human rationality because this is where I locate the infrastructure that supports our tautologies and which is first-impacted by our metanarratives. This has implications for our pedagogy of conversion because it reveals that our worldviews are foremost a way of SEEING andEXPERIENCING reality and only, derivatively, a way of THINKING ABOUT reality. Deconstruction, then, is not about changing our conceptual furniture or evenremoving our epistemological walls, ontological ceilings, and/or cosmological roofs. Deconstruction involves replacing those BUT ALSO our axiological studs, joistsand rafters, while not sacrificing our teleological foundations. And these foundations form an aesthetic teleology, a cosmos striving toward beauty, for that is whatcomos means. Value-actualizers that we are, and finite, too, human hope enjoys a certain primacy and the anagogical approach, orthopathos, is the first element of ametanarrative that will impact the axiomatic aspect of the human epistemic suite. Our first request: "Teach us how to pray ..." So, when unity arrives on the wings of truth and goodness, look for beauty in the engine, for worship as the fuel. Thus, when formation does not lead to transformation,reformation must begin with a return to authentic worship. Formation, of course, begins with worship, too. "What can we hope for?" precedes both "What can weknow?" and "What must we do?" and thus it is that cult facilitates creed and code in forming community, even as they all, fractal-like, contain the others, presupposingthe others. Institutional decay of dogma into dogmatism, ritual into ritualism and law into legalism is pretty much inevitable and renewal is thus always to be in play. Failures ofcreed, code and community originate in failures of cult, both communal and private worship. The experience of a community-wide trapping in a tautology results from afailure to facilitate such a formative development as optimally mines the strata of meaning, optimally realizing the plurality of values. The early churchhad a dionysian logic of both/and & neither/nor, alternating between the apophatic and kataphatic and unitive; it also employed Origens "senses of Scripture." Thistradition has repeatedly been subverted by dichotomous thinking, either-or dynamics and binary logic. Meister Eckharts via Positiva, via Negativa, via Creativa, andvia Transformativa is NOT such a subversion; rather, the approach of the Inquisition was. So, too, has been the approach of various Enlightenmentfundamentalists and of their polar-opposites, the fideists. When I first came across Derridas desconstructive strategy, his logic of supplementarity, honestly, it didntseem very new to me. Derridas approach is not to step outside ones metanarrative, as if most people could, but, instead, to "subvert" it from within via critical thinking.I think pseudo-Dionysius, Origen and Eckhart would agree. It is when we embrace epistemic, ontological and semantical vagueness that we revert to our authentic tradition and subvert our pseudo- and quasi-tautologies. Atautology is not intrinsically wrong-headed. We are, after all, continually searching for the most taut of all tautologies, not looking to PROVE its axioms but rather toSEE whatever truth, beauty, goodness and unity they reveal. What happens, though, if we do not subvert the faulty logic of our pseudo- and quasi-  tautologies to reinhabit our authentic tautology? 
  • Pseudo-tautologies leads to pseudo-religion and the consciousness of the individual is exulted. Quasi-tautologies lead to the quasi-religious and a Godless, collectiveconsciousness is exulted. An authentic tautology will robustly employ both/and, neither/nor and either/or logic in an epistemic dance that honors the multivalent onticrealities presented us in this divinely-gifted cosmic matrix. Hopefully, then, God is exulted. Both pseudo- and quasi- tautologies morph into raw, human power plays. But it is no game. It if life-destroying and relationship-destroying. They employ a hermeneuticof suspicion and an epistemology of control. They produce repression and oppression, within and between people, and manifest all manner of alterity and exclusion atall strata in the social sphere.  Now, as far as people seeing or inhabiting radically different perspectives, few enough folks are enlightened with regard to personality and temperament differences,such as through personality typologies like the MBTI and Enneagram. Fewer still would be interested in interreligious dialogue. Of those who have been involved ininterreligious dialogue, I think the prevailing consensus is that only in very rare circumstances should people forsake their traditions, culturally embedded as they are,tautology-inhabiting as they are. Ive seen a lot more folks in a reactionary mode who can articulate a critique or fashion a deconstruction. Fewer still accomplish areconstruction without TOTALLY missing the boat regarding their so-called new vision. So many jump out of a dualistic mindset and think that some type of monism isthe answer, either idealist or, worse, materialist. They do not realize that the point of nondualism is not, necessarily, monism. So, they get over against their originaltautology at a superficial level and still have not forsaken their original categories. It is about a power struggle. They are playing the SAME game as when they werepreviously victimized, staying enslaved themselves, hauling off to yet another tautological prison.  Science & Religion – a post-postmodern critique Theology and Science – Disambiguation I like to be clear regarding this project or the other regarding whether or not one is doing science, philosophy or theology. And we mustnt forget, oh my gosh, religion.And if one is talking about ALL of these spheres of human concern, in which sphere do they begin their conversation, and, in which do they end up. Except for the classical "proofs" by Aquinas and Anselm, and CS Peirces "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," and the Modal Ontological Arguments ascrafted by Godel and Hartshorne, lately and greatly improved by Christopher McHugh, I dont consider much of what is going on, nowadays, to be natural theology ora natural philosophy of God. There is just not THAT much that one can say, in my view,  about God, using philosophy as a starting point, at least not whenmethodologically restricting ones musings to the rubrics of formal argumentation. The same is true for any notions regarding "ultimate" reality, using either philosophy orscience as a starting point. All anyone thus establishes is a modicum of epistemological parity with alternate worldviews, i.e. elaborate tautologies. I do not dismiss theseenterprises that demonstrate the reasonableness of faith because, for some, like me, they have been indispensable parts of the journey. For most, though, Ive been toldthey dont matter very much. And I trust what they report and am better and better coming to grasp why. Even then, Ive enjoyed many, many fruitful dialogues withmany nonbelievers who do seek such apologetics and weve grown in mutual respect, understanding and self-understanding. Worldviews, thankfully, are not mere formal arguments. They represent deeply and profoundly experienced existential orientations and ultimate concerns. And, if theyare authentically religious, they "tie lifes experiences back together" and heal us that we may survive and grow us that we may thrive. If we are not experiencing bothhealing and growth, both broadly conceived, well, thats what the Prophets are for! They remind us that we are to be about the actualization of value. The interface between science and theology is not terribly interesting, philosophically, unless our project is to disambiguate their definitions. If it remains interesting, evenearly in the 21st century, it is only because so many scientistic and fideistic apologists are arguing past each other, precisely because theyve neglected the work ofphilosophical disambiguation. Oh, well. Unlike philosophy/natural theology and science, wherein we bracket, best we can, our theology, in a theology of nature, we start with God and see His presence in allthings and hear Her siren song from all places. From a different explanatory stance, we break out in analogy and metaphor, poetry and song, allegory and parable, jokeand koan, story and dance, ritual and sacrament. And we speak of trail dust and stardust, quarks and supernovae, maidens and sailors, the Cosmic Adventure and theDivine Matrix, leaping whitetails and creeping lizards, bright indwelling presence and luminous dark nights, hope and love and faith ...Science Constrains Theology?This musing was evoked by some comments made regarding an NCR podcast by Fr. George Coyne, S.J. on Science, Faith and God.Jack Haught does a good job of describing four prevailing approaches to the science and religion interface: conflict, contrast, contact, confirmation. Daniel Helminiakdescribes a hierarchy of --- 1) positivistic 2) philosophic 3) theistic and 4) theotic --- human foci of concern, each presupposing and constraining the next.In this day and age, I am starting to prefer a metaphor of interpenetrating fields of epistemic influence, which are not necessarily hierarchical but which do representintegrally related hypothetical commitments, some central or core, some auxiliary or peripheral, each field indeed constrained by the others, none autonomous. And Isuspect they may be isomorphic, or corresponding, to other field-like realities. Such fields might be scientific, philosophical, theological, spiritual, moral, social,practical, aesthetical, ecological and such, representing all of the ways humans encounter reality, even nonrationally and pre-rationally.The axioms and concepts and values that each epistemic field aspires to actualize are so radically different that I find it difficult to defend such a relationship betweenthem as being in anyway necessarily linear or hierarchical. (They might be, but I do not want to try to prove too much.) Each epistemic field is oriented to a valuerealization that is apparently governed by its own laws; hence, such fields are "polynomic."The effect each epistemic field has on the next or the next is variously stronger or weaker and we often struggle to come to grips with HOW and WHY such may be soeven as we observe THAT it is so. For example, sometimes an aesthetical value pursuit of beauty, in the form of symmetry, will aid the physicist in crafting a bettermathematical description of a certain natural phenomenon.Likely, the foci of human concern, or epistemic fields of value realization, are both autonomous (polynomic) and integrally related (mutually interpenetrating), becausethey are mirroring a human reality that is, at once, both autopoietic (self-organizing) and free, while also otherwise bounded (by other extant realities) and determined(via genetic limitation, for instance). Those are the attributes of Phil Hefners "created co-creators."I suppose this is why, when we look at Gelpis Lonerganian conversions --- intellectual, affective, moral, sociopolitical and religious --- the human spiritual growth
  • trajectory is typically asymmetrical, which is to recognize, for instance, that our intellectual, emotional and moral developments reach different levels of attainment atdifferent times, quite often seemingly totally independent one of the other. (Some intellectual giants are emotional idiots and morally underdeveloped, too.)Each new horizon of each new field of value (epistemic and/or ontic) lifts our vision beyond this value to the next possible value realization, "transvaluing" our values,and where openness to the Holy Spirit, implicitly or explicitly, obtains, transforming our knowledge with faith, our memory with hope and our will with love.So, I offer this as one version of why so many category errors are committed between the value-realization field of science and that of theology. They influence eachother and are integrally related even while they are otherwise autonomous. But how?I hesitate to suggest any unidirectionality of influences, such as hierarchical arrangements or even one-way constraint. Our theological core commitments DO, after all,make some demands on our philosophical commitments, such as committing us to metaphysical realism, moral realism and such. Similarly, our philosophical corecommitments DO have normative force on the epistemological rubrics of the scientific method and empirical observation.What seems to me to be going on is that these fields influence each others axiomatic aspects, which is to say, those aspects that we commit to as self-evident andnonpropositional, even if only provisionally. There is no "formal relationship" vis a vis logical argumentation at play in nonpropositional elements, which are often beingimplicitly presupposed. Often, our tendency to opt for one set of axioms versus another in this or that field of value realization seems to be governed, rather, by such asaesthetical inclinations, which are not formalizable, or by such as reductio ad absurdum arguments, which are flawed formal appeals from ignorance and moresoessentially pragmatic in character.I am not disvaluing the aesthetic or pragmatic, just distinguishing them from logical and empirical inquiries and noting their role in the axioms that we choose to governour different spheres of human concern, our different fields of value realization.Once the axioms of our value-realization fields are in place, even if only provisionally, the influence of these fields might very well get unidirectional, propositionallyspeaking. This is to suggest that, for example, in the case at point, propositions of theology will most definitely be constrained by those of science. And theology willalso further be constrained by the normative sciences, which is to say, by the philosophic. Finally, our theotic commitments, or how we view humanization-deification,or theosis, on our transformative journeys, will successively be constrained by our other horizons of human concern: theistic, philosophic and positivistic.Why are these different value-realization fields polynomic? Why dont the concepts they employ and the axioms that govern them not line up like pretty maids all in arow ... the empirical, logical, practical, moral, aesthetical? Or even in only the moral ... the aretaic (virtue ethics), deontological (natural law) and teleological(consequentialistic)?Heck if I know.Thats part of the theodicy problem.At some level, lets say, the beatific, I believe it all fits together, somehow. Thats my definition of the religious: tying it all together, advancing healing andgrowth/conversion. But it takes an unconditional commitment because, to all appearances, it doesnt really seem to work together that well. For now, we see through aglass, darkly ... As Frankl says, either we believe in God in the face of 6 million perishing in the Holocaust or our faith fails with the death of a single innocent. An Holistic Epistemology Our discussion of an holistic epistemology focuses, in particular, on what that --- how we know what it is we think we know --- means for Western science andreligion. It especially explores the implications of certain epistemological perspectives for Christology, Christian theology, Christian ecclesiology, and, well, the wholeball of Christian wax. It seems to me like the discussion mostly finds its genesis in various responses to the postmodern critique. The responses, as I have interpreted them, all take thepostmodern critique seriously. I do, too. The postmodern critique, when radically deconstructive, leads nowhere as far as a logically consistent and internally coherent theoretical philosophy might beconcerned. If it has any normative impetus, then that can only be described as an anti-normative and practical nihilism. The translation of this philosophical-speak is thatone can live as if reality has no meaning. And that is the only way postmodern deconstruction can remotely be considered any type of "system." However, a critiquedoes not a system make. Those who take the critique seriously usually frame up their responses in terms of "foundationalism," such as foundational, nonfoundational, post-foundational, found-herentism and such, and use terms like correspondence theory and coherence theory. Simply put, these are architectural metaphors that describe how it is we supportor justify what it is that we think we know. And this includes what we think we know about what it is we think we know. When we start getting "circular" like this, weare beginning to go "meta," like meta-ethical, meta-physical, meta-narrative.  What responders to the postmodern critique are saying, in effect, is: "Based on my beliefs regarding how it is we know what it is we think we know, the next good stepfor humankind, that we may survive and then thrive, is this ..." Humankinds steps are then framed in different combinations of orthodoxy or right belief, orthopraxis or right action, and orthopathos or right feelings. And werecognize these categories in relationship to the traditional normative sciences of philosophy in the triad of the noetical, ethical and aesthetical. In addition to logic, ethicsand aesthetics, philosophy also deals with epistemology, as discussed above, and metaphysics, as has figured largely in this thread, particularly as ontology, as folkshave also presented different root metaphors for categorizing reality.  Critiquing the Postmodern Critique  This best way for me to continue is to try to state affirmatively "what the postmodern critique means to me." I took the critique seriously. It did not move me from foundationalism to nonfoundationalism. It did make me question how infallible, how indubitable, how so-calledself-evident, how propositional, how apodictic any of humankinds truth claims are. It did help me to better see that while one can apprehend reality, in part, one cannot
  • comprehend reality as a whole. It helped me to see that my apprehension of reality was fallible and tentative even as humankinds knowledge has advanced slowly butinexorably. Postmodernism dispossessed me of any epistemological hubris but did not leave me with an excessive epistemological humility. It did not remove my foundations butleft me with weakened foundations. Any naive realism gave way to a critical realism. What I may have previously considered to be bedrock justifications for my true beliefs became hypotheses, but not mere hypotheses, rather, good working hypotheses.I did not inhabit an ideal world wherein my empirical observations and logical machinations could lead me to indubitably sound conclusions but needed to temper samewith practical evaluations, too. I believe with Chesterton that humankind does not know enough about reality yet to say that it is unknowable (and I would add,knowable). I appreciate Haldanes statement that reality is not only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we CAN imagine (but I would add, at least for now). All things considered, then, humankinds best efforts in elaborating a metanarrative, using our observations of the created order and our human reasoning capacities (thelatter which I broadly conceive as an ecological rationality, which includes empirical, logical, practical and relational reasonings among others, including our nonrationaland pre-rational faculties), at present, can only yield what are, in essence, elaborate tautologies. These tautologies all entail concepts & definitions, premises & logic, and abductive, inductive and deductive inferences, in combination with all of the other ecologicalrationalities that furnish our epistemic suites. And they do this  with ones epistemological, ontological, cosmological, axiological and teleological CONCLUSIONSalready embedded in the definitions and premises, themselves. There is indeed a Wittgensteinian language game at play. But, with Wittgenstein, we might note that it is not HOW things are but THAT things are which is the mystical.For those who dont buy into taking existence to be a predicate of being, we can consider, in a modal ontology, various "bounded" existences and still assert that, evenif it is neither how nor that things are which is the mystical, still, that THESE THINGS are is the mystical. And I am talking about such as the weak anthropic principle.So, I still buy into weak foundationalism, weak deontology, weak anthropocentrism. Back to the tautologies ... I am speaking of nothing less than the major worldviews, including the "great" traditions and others. These tautologies result from our humanfinitude. They result from the Godelian metamathematical reality of not being able to confect a formal argument that is both complete and consistent. They result fromthe circular reasoning I described above but also from various causal disjunctions, when the metaphors in our analogies of being become too weak to be universallycompelling, or from various infinite regressions, when common sense notions of causality have to be sacrificed in our assertions of certain univocities of being. The competition between such tautologies becomes fierce when cast in terms of monism and dualism, which then multiply hydra-like into various cosmologies likematerialist and idealist monisms, epistemological and ontological dualisms, rationalism versus empiricism, idealism versus realism, humean versus kantian versusaristotelian versus platonism and neoplatonism. Some have noted that we cannot solve such problems with the same mindsets that created them. Thus, we might escapethe monadic and dyadic, nondualist and dualist, conundrum by moving to a triadic semeiotic description of reality. Whatever! What I would maintain is that natural theology, and natural philosophy, and metaphysics, and even advanced theoretical physics are ALL viable enterprises. Further,just because they are tautologies does not mean that they are necessarily wrong. It only means that they have not really added any new information to the system. Whatnatural philosophy and theology contribute are tautologies but not all tautologies are equally "taut" in their grasp of reality. We can adjudicate between many of thembased on a host of epistemic criteria, including external congruence with reality, internal coherence, logical consistency, interdisciplinary consilience and hypotheticalconsonance. These epistemic criteria are all necessary but none sufficient in guaranteeing a sound argument. What they gift us with is merely a valid argument. They tellus that our tautology is reasonable. That it is defensible. Natural theology, then, does not prove Gods existence in a universally compelling argument. Its job is to demonstrate that belief in God at least enjoys epistemologicalparity with other belief systems. So it is with deism, atheism, nontheism, pantheism, panen-theism, pan-entheism, material or idealist monisms, and so on and so forth.MUCH LESS, does natural theology or philosophy gift us with self-evident knowledge regarding any of the divine attributes, for believers, or of ultimate reality, for anymetaphysician. Human belief systems are not merely cognitive, not only affective, and the tentative nature of worldviews as I set forth above also makes both fideism and scientismuntenable. William James is correct, in my view, in describing certain of our beliefs as forced, vital and momentous. Our belief systems are existential and involve ourultimate concerns. More than just the grammar of inference, they are relational and employ also the grammar of assent, of trust, of fidelity, of love. So, I would not want to ever employ or be perceived as employing too much pejorative force when engaging my dialogue partners here or elsewhere. People of largeintelligence and profound goodwill will often disagree and can with great honor and integrity recommend different "next good steps" for humanity, even if it involves thetelling of a noble lie, the re-telling of everybodys story or the articulation of a new inculturated theology for a time-honored and great tradition. We do need to get thisall as right as we possibly can and I share the sense of urgency and the great love of humankind and the cosmos that all of you have expressed. The Postmodern Critique and Christianity In our collective critique of Western modernism, informed by analytical and  linguistic approaches, open in various ways to wisdom traditions of the East, unlike theradically deconstructive postmodernists, many of us are speaking in terms of reconstruction. If what I am hearing is a critique of scientism and less so science, then I can abide with that. If we all agree that dogma has too much devolved into dogmatism, ritual into ritualism and law  into legalism, then the cure for such a retrograde evolution might verywell require a retreat  back to the wellsprings of our mystical core where our primary encounters with truth, beauty and goodness were enjoyed not just rationally andnot just affectively but also with spontaneous  realizations of unitive consciousness and nondual awareness. Our roots are thus holistically sapient, honoring the dignity of Homo "sapiens." Institutionalization, a necessary evil, inevitably results in the devolutions of science into  scientism, dogma into dogmatism, ritual into ritualism, law into legalism, faith into fideism, and so on. I struggle to articulate the cure for what I think ails us. I think what has happened, in one  manner of speaking, is that we have quit dancing. Reality seems to present a dance between  pattern and paradox, order and chaos, chance and necessity, random andsystematic, discursive and  nondiscursive, and all other manner of multivalent realities that are variously dyadic, monadic,  triadic and whatever string theory offers as of
  • late, for example. And we want to collapse these  creative tensions rather than nurture them. And we want to rush to closure on all types of  judgment --- practical,moral, political, metaphysical, because we cannot tolerate ambiguity and must positively banish uncertainty. We miss Watts "wisdom in uncertainty." There is a temptation, it seems to me, to return from nondual awareness and unitive consciousness  and to attempt to convey the experience discursively, or even toelaborate an ontology. But this  is to "effable" about the ineffable. Nondualism is not the opposite of dualism. It is moreso a  transdualism, a going beyond. The gift ofunitive consciousness is a human birthright and the inheritance is a huge checking account already sitting in our transrational bank waiting to be  existentially cashed. Theproblem is that it has no currency in our dualistic mindsets and there  is no straightforward language to convey this truth. One would only look quizzically at you and  ask: Whats a check? Whats a bank? Who needs this thing you call money? So, it requires something much less like describing reality by teaching via lecture and much more  like telling someone a joke as an invitation to laugh. After all, if wewant someone to laugh, we  tell them a joke; we do not order them to laugh. If we want to help someone awaken to the  realization of unitary being, we must give thema koan or tell them a story. Therein lies the efficacy of retelling Everybodys Story. Solidarity, at its deepest and most profound level, is not first a belief we come by via  catechesis or metaphysics, and it is not a situation we are trying to establish socially,  economoically or politically; rather, it is an already prevailing reality to which we can  spontaneously awaken like something funny that makes us laugh, like some Zen koan that helps us  "get it," like some story or movie or poem that makes us quit ourjob, move to another continent  or begin a search for our birthmother. And if this happens to us, ten wo/men from every nation  will come and take us by the sleeve andsay "we would go with you for we have heard that God is  with you," something like happened to Thomas Merton, Tony deMello, Bede Griffiths, David  Steindl-Rastand countless of our moms, sisters and girlfriends. Many years ago, I enjoyed/suffered a kundalini crisis/energy upheaval that opened my eyes to ...  well ... not really sure ... but Im processing my lifes experience byhopefully teaching best  what I, myself, most desperately need to learn (which is to say that those ten people from every  nation havent come calling). I DO have a succinct message to the Seinfeld generation. If you like yada, yada, yada ... then  youre going to just love nada, nada, nada. From the perspective of natural philosophy and/or natural theology, this evolutionary paradigm,  or, as I prefer, emergentist perspective, is ONLY a heuristic device,which is to say that it  provides some useful placeholders for our concepts and helpful hatracks from which to string our  lakatosian cobwebs of peripheral and corecommitments/hypotheses (positivistic, philosophic, theistic, theotic, etc). As a mere heuristic device, emergentism lacks the type of explanatory adequacy that would be  required to compel any of the extant worldviews to either fold theirtents or to hoist their victory flags. As we have seen, it can be hypothetically consonant with such diverse tautologies  as darwinistic scientism, ID creationism, buddhistcosmology, the dionysian account of proodos,  mone & epistrophe, Western Big Bang cosmology cum creatio ex nihilo, and so on. HOW things are, whether physically or metaphysically, will not, then, be ultimately dispositive  of which tautology one chooses to inhabit, at least not at this very earlystage of humankinds  journey to full realization of the transcendental values. If I keep urging a more  phenomenological approach, it is not that I regard it as havingsome a priori claim as a superior epistemology, it is only that I escaped the postmodern critique with my naive realism suitably  chastised and any sterile, patriarchalscholasticism hopefully purged. The upshot is that, while  I desist from any attempts to successfully DESCRIBE "ultimate" reality, I do positively affirm  our collectivecapability to successfully REFER to Ultimate Reality. Whether in theoretical physics or speculative cosmology or natural theology, we can speak of  various causes as being proper to their effects, as we appropriately referto those causes long  before we elaborate suitable description for same. Our experiences will, through time, allow our  meta-speak to get a progressively tighter graspas our definitions get disambiguated, as our  predications become either more properly univocal and/or equivocal, as our tautologies get more  "taut" and talk "about"turns into knowledge "of," as the empirical, logical and practical are  eventually transcended by the more robustly relational. In my view, this very much entails a progression from the objective, subjective and interobjective to the intersubjective, the latter  being manifestly transrational. This is not to say that any of these modesof encounter with reality  are autonomous and it is not to suggest that any necessarily enjoys primacy. I experience them  and view them integrally. Hence, no gnostic, pseudo-mystical,intersubjective transrationality;  rather, Ill stick with Ignatian and communal discernment, and with academic peer review and the  ongoing dialogue between thetraditional consensus and liberal consensus, thank you very much. So, what DOES one do with NATURES EVOLUTIONARY PARADIGM? Well, Ive stated my case over against allowing it to run out too far in front of theoretical  science and contemporary speculative cosmology as any type of absolutist metaphysic, panpsychic  or otherwise. I just do not join those who endeavor to take thelaws of thermodynamics, the novel  dissipative structures of nonequilibrium thermodynamics, quantum interpretations (Bohm,  Copenhagen or other), multiverse macro-theories and many worlds mini-theories, or any other  modern scientific paradigm or theory, and then attempt to use them to resolve the "hard problem"  of philosophyof mind, much less the harder problem of ... I forget ... what is THE problem. Oh  yeah, "what might be the essential nature of the ultimatest of the ultimate in reality?" Right now, all we can do is to look around and try to increase our descriptive accuracy of "that  than which nothing greater can be conceived," although I prefer theformulation "that than which  nothing else can convoke more love," by employing apophatic negation: A wind passes, the earth  quakes, the mountains on fire, mybeloved, native city, New Orleans floods, but leaving Platos  cave with Elijah (mixing allegories), God is not earth, air, fire or water; neither is He  wave-particleduality, Heisenbergian uncertainty or the Superest Superstring. Ontologically,  epistemically and semantically, only vagueness can gift us with the proper predicates ofsuch a  Cause as might be proper to all of these manifold and multiform effects, predicates that aid our  "references to" but in no way our "description of." Natural philosophy and theology, then, gift us with a modal ontology that proceeds only via  apophatic predication, at least when we are in the literal mode ofcommunicating. When we do venture forth with an attempt to increase our descriptive accuracy of this Reality via  kataphatic predication via a language of affirmation, our finitudereduces us the weakest of the  analogical forms, metaphor. My love is LIKE a red, red rose. Now, one might then suppose that I am saying that, a priori, Gods essential nature, in  principle, forever  eludes us and necessarily dissolves in an impenetrable apophatic mist, dying  an inevitable Godelian death, a proposition whose axioms can never beproven through formal  argumentation. However, Godel well instructs us that often we can SEE the truth of our axioms  even when we cannot prove them. (A case inpoint is 2 + 2 = 4. I SEE that truth but could not  competently accompany Whitehead and Russell halfway thru their Principia Mathematica where it is  eventuallyproven). So, humankind may very well trip over the axioms that are consistent with,  not only a successful reference to, but, also, a dang good description of, UltimateReality. In  that sense, I think any optimism in our approaches may very well be rewarded.
  •  And, I have every reason to suspect that, for MANY, it, in the largest measure even, already has  been! But this gets conveyed, one to the other, more by a twinkle inones eye, the gait to ones  step, the love in ones heart and the embrace of ones Reality, where, as Rohr says, everything  belongs. Less so than via eruditeargumentation. Taste and see, TASTE and SEE, the goodness of  the Lord, the goodness of creation. In some sense, then, the proper marriage of science and religion, I believe, will be through the  lingua franca of philosophy, good old linguistic disambiguation andanalytical clarification and  the clarification of which distinction are also dichotomies and which are not. The Science and  Religion Dialogue is somewhat of a pseudo-problem. It is more often something of a Diatribe between Scientistic and Fideistic Militants. Dont get me wrong, HOW things are is critically important to our meta-ethics and deontologies.  Natural law approaches are great but the impetus behind theirconclusions should soften in  proportion to the tentativeness that inescapably attends to their definitions, premises and  logical axioms. There is no fact-value dichotomy,in principle, but sometimes, for all practical  purposes, there can be, ignorant as we are. So, we do the best we can do in fashioning a moral consensus and articulating amore compelling morality. General precepts are easier to come by and  seem to be held as self-evident in such as our UN Declaration of Human Rights, variously supported by humanists, believing and nonbelieving. That we all agree with such inalienablerights as stated in our own Declaration of Independence (those of us fromthe US of A), even as  our philosophical justifications might vary greatly, to me testifies to a perennial philosophy,  precisely from our collective mystical core. My Religious Naturalist friends have their own  minimalist versions and deontologies but I wont be so arrogant as to callthem anonymous  Christians, even behind their backs. So, I hear some crying Uncle, Uncle. What DO we do with our scientific advances if they have  little bearing on natural theology and even on the science and religiondialogue/diatribe? Well, we do not start, therefore, from nature and proceed to God-concepts. Things have NOT  changed that much regarding the seeming-ineradicable mystery weremain immersed in from the dawn  of human time. (Im NOT a godforsaken mysterian, just a realist.) Occams razor should not be  interpreted as an admonitionagainst the unnecessary multiplication of ontologies or as an  imperative to stick with the simplest explanation from the standpoint of explanatory adequacy. Instead, what Occam suggests might better be interpreted as a gentle urging to go with our most facile  explanations, in other words, those abductions or hypotheses orexplanations that arise most  easily and spontaneously to the human psyches rational and unitive consciousnesses. We are SO fearfully and wondrously made, we havedemonstrated an uncanny ability to "get reality right"  (research of our ecological rationality supports this) and this is a major reason for humankinds  almost universalabduction of the Reality of God, which is grounded in what are often  unconsciously competent, common sense notions of causality and derived from time-honored but usually unspoken nonpropositional, self-evident first principles. We can KNOW God, we just cannot PROVE Her. (Dont ask me to prove my wife, either. She is like  ... the wind, an earthquake, a fire, a flood. "And the riverbanktalks of the waters of March;  its the promise of life; its the joy in your heart.") It is precisely this facility of the abduction of the Reality of God, and the facility of all ofour other abductions of the realities of the created order, that would recommend our dutiful  study of, and engagement with, the long-established religions of indigenouspeoples, the great  traditions of the East and, yes, even those Abrahamic and New Age religions of the West. And we are looking, always, for those myths, which whilenot necessarily literally true, will evoke the  most appropriate response to ultimate reality. Our successful references to Reality are essential  to our successful relationships with Reality even as our descriptions of Reality remain  rudimentary, not verysuccessful at all. So, we turn our focus from description to reference. Our starting point is inverted. We dont  start all the time with our observations of nature and proceed toward Godhypotheses, a  legitimate enterprise to be sure, just such a ploddingly and glacially slow enterprise (except  for the gnostic class). In other words, we dont take ourmodern science and do natural theology.  Thats esoteric stuff for theo-policy wonks. Rather, our more fruitful mission is to start with  our universal experience of Godand proceed toward an interpretation of nature. And the interpretations will go beyond our empirical, logical and practical encounters with nature but  not without theknowledge we have gained through them. Such is the difference between a natural  theology and a theology of nature. And the provenance of a theology of nature does not reside exclusively with the theologians of  academia, whether of the traditional or liberal consensus. A theology ofnature is an enterprise for us all. It is kataphatic and metaphorical. It is poetry. It is storytelling. It is liturgy. It is music. It is psalmody. It is chant, both Gregorian andNative American. It is joke-telling and koan-giving. It is the Book of Nature and the book called  Genesis. It is not literal. It is analogical. It is not even a stronganalogy, but a metaphor. It is not JUST a metaphor for there is nothing "mere" about metaphors. How silly to mistake the  finger for the moon, the map for the terrain, indeed. Sillier, still, wouldbe any cursorily  dismissive characterization of humanitys religious map collections as "only" maps. They allow us  to feel "at home" and not rather "lost in the Cosmos." And this is how I would parse Thomas Berrys opus and the hermeneutic that I think would most  charitably and efficaciously articulate his ineffable love of Reality.When he suggests putting  the Bible on the shelf for twenty years and bemoans the scientistic and secularistic pollution of  the streams that flow from the wellsprings ofour religions mystical core, what might at first glance be considered as intemperate or even a joke just might be his hyperbolic attempt to awaken  us with a good laugh,to comfort us in our truly lamentable affliction, and a good cry, to  afflict us in our unjustifiable comfort. The prophets have always been radical and over against  theprevailing yada, yada, yada. So, regarding pan-entheism, God is LIKE an ontological gulf. God is LIKE a continuity to continue all continuities.  Pan-entheism is too vague to even affirm a creatioex nihilo. Thats for the theologians of  special revelation. And it doesnt fully address ontological continuity and discontinuity and the  root metaphor dujour. What itdoes affirm, fer sure, is a creatio continua as we facilely (not a  pejorative in this context) and competently abduct (spontaneously hypothesize) and thus REFER to  anindescribable intimacy and indwelling presence that is present to every ongoing,  always-being-sustained reality in every emergent level of reality, closer to eachbounded  existence than such existents are to themselves. There IS a Subject there and Berrys insistence  that we should refer to such always and everywhere is myinsistence, too. I just positively  desist from over-describing same. More on Epistemology However one might conceive of the structures, functions and mechanics of human discovery, lets use a computer metaphor and call these manifold and multiformaspects of discovery "processors." As I read Ken Wilber, he views these different processors as "parallel" processors, each autonomously yielding an authentic encounter with reality.
  •  Daniel Helminiak seems to view these as "serial" processors, which are not only lined up sequentially and hierarchically, but, which function unidirectionally, scienceconstraining philosophy, which then further constrains theology. My own take is that these are bidirectional serial processors, whereby each mode of discovery, or encounter with reality, exerts a normative force on the other modes,which, when all taken together, then yield authentic encounters with reality, albeit some more fallible than the next. Hence, I actually agree that "this transvaluative character does, indeed, ...have normative force on the epistemological rubrics of the scientific method and empirical observation." And, I agree with Helminiak, too, to the extent that he is only talking about the descriptive propositions of falsification and/or formal argumentation; thoseare, after all, logically sequential, progressively broadening foci of concern, necessarily unidirectional. Human discovery, of course, goes beyond formal arguments, empirical observations and descriptive propositions and proceeds prescriptively and evaluatively, too,augmenting our otherwise unidirectional serial descriptive processors with a bidirectional normative feedback loop. Now, the axioms I am discussing comprise the very foundations of common sense and are not treated as propositions. These axioms are first principles and cannot beproven. They include such as noncontradiction, common sense notions of causality and belief in the existence of other minds. These are the types of"nonpropositions" that, if questioned in a propositional manner, would have us sawing off the epistemological branches in which our own ontological eggs are nested.This includes at least an inchoate belief in God without which, as Kung well illustrates, our trust in uncertain reality is ultimately paradoxical, nowhere anchored andunjustified (at least when it comes to formal arguments that aspire to account for either a) Why is there not rather nothing? or b) Why is there not rather somethingelse?). That most people unreflectively take such things for granted has good and bad sides. On one hand, they avoid arrogant and silly sophistries, like solipsism and nihilism,but, otoh, they live this part of their life unexamined (but it can be, relatively speaking, a pretty small part when you think about it). Then, again, it is where unhelpfultautologies :( take root (although they branch out on a different plane of rationality) As for the discarded the notion of "objective" science, science being as socially-embedded as all other fields of inquiry? True, but it is one thing to note this realitydescriptively and another to prescribe it normatively. There is a LOT of bad morality and bad science in the world today precisely because of inefficacious culturalmilieus and especially of the theocratic variety. Also, we dont want to critique science so severely that we get in a Freudian or Feuerbachian mode that ends upcannibalizing the very human knowledge employed to make the critique in the first place. To the extent one relates these "fields of inquiry" in a serial manner and not asparallel processors, then it is not like we are trying to invoke epistemological parity between them vis a vis the authenticity of their encounters with reality. What we get,rather, is an epistemological chain with a bunch of weak epistemic links. This is why naive realism had to give way to critical realism. Well, there are books and academic journals devoted to this controversial issue of the theology and science interface.  Another way to look at these different "processors" in a serial  mode is to ask: "What does each processor bring to humanitys table of discovery that is a unique or distinctive or novel contribution?"  And this contribution can be descriptive, prescriptive, evaluative, propositional, nonpropositional, or any other type of value. And, in this vein, what theology brings to the table is anagogical and deals with What can we hope for? now? proleptically? eschatologically? Whats the Good News? Now, this adds meaning and significance to all of our other discoveries but it does not otherwise bring anything new, for example, like morality, which is already onhumanitys table, philosophically, or like evolution, which is already on humanitys table, positivistically. It does bring a lot of hermeneutical baggage to our philosophicand positivistic axioms, like a critical realism, metaphysical realism, moral realism, aesthetic realism and semiotic realism -- all of these fallibilist and not naive realisms(no gnosticisms). Morality is something we need to work out as transparent to human reason with no hegemonistic influences from theology. Otherwise, were going to have planes full ofpeople flying into skyscrapers full of people. Were going to have pervasive homophobia and all manner of sexual neuroses. Were going to have natural lawdeontologies used to justify imperialistic patriarchal institutions, both ecclesial and civil. And the same is true for the positivistic sphere where well haveevolution taught alongside intelligent design theory. Any conflation of these different modes of discovery must be carefully disambiguated such that we recognize animportant but still minimalist intrusion of theology on the usually unspoken axioms of philosophy and science but an otherwise indispensable propositional autonomy foreach mode. This is not to deny that some metanarratives yield tautologies with a more taut grasp of reality as measured in terms of modeling power for reality and thefostering of Lonerganian conversions. It is to suggest that we discover such a posteriori and through trial and error with practical criteria and not otherwise a prioriand purely theoretical criteria. I suppose if I got to pick and choose the theologians whose imaginations Id turn loose to discover new things in science and philosophy,Id feel less strongly about my rubrics of limitation. ;) However, judging from the dearth of orthopraxis on this planet, Im not too sure how muchorthodoxy can be authenticated toward the end of aspiring to such an ortho-doxology, true glory, as I know most of my co-religionists subscribe.  Ecological Protests Father Tom Berry is one of many voices of prophetic ecological protest. Humankinds relationship to the environment deserves critique. No one can seriously questionthat this relationship is broken and in need of repair. Clearly, an indictment is warranted and an investigation is justified. Or, to change to a more apt metaphor, our ecological symptoms suggest dis-ease in our social, economic, political, cultural and religious institutions. It is criticallyimportant, therefore, that we properly diagnose the causes of any such diseases so we can best devise the most effective prescriptions for what ails us. Quoting Berry: "The enormous energies and corresponding organizational skills of thiscomplex [the 20th century industrial corporations of Western civilizations] have built an industrial world with a withering influence on the life systems of the planet sodevastating that our period is in the midst of a mass extinction of species. So now the events of the twentieth century have terminated the Cenozoic era… " Berry and many others in the late-20th Century ecology movement have largely contributed to the worlds heightened awareness of the symptoms of this socio-economic-politico-cultural disease. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. That we suffer severe symptoms and that they indicate a serious disease, there can be no doubt. That our western traditions can learn from Eastern traditions and fromthe religious lives of various indigenous peoples is also an important insight. These themes also resonate in the writings of Thomas Merton. Still, much of what has beenso very well developed in the East with its emphases on the immanent, impersonal, existential, natural and apophatic, as complementary to the transcendent, personal,
  • theological, supernatural and kataphatic, was already robustly developed in the patristic and medieval church and lives on in our cenobitic and contemplativespiritualities. The Franciscan tradition via the little friar from Assisi, Bonaventure and Duns Scotus have long-offered enlightened alternatives in metaphysics,incarnational theology and creation-spirituality. All that said, at the same time, I think Berry is otherwise, at least partially, in error regarding both his disease diagnosis and, consequently, his prescribed cure. In anutshell, in my view, following GKC, it is not so much that Christianity has been tried and found wanting as much as it has scarcely been tried at all.  Berry objects to "the casting of God in terms of a transcendent, personal, monotheistic creative deity.[which] desacralizes the phenomenal world… those who gavehim [God] this status had a certain abhorrence of the feminine Earth-dwelling deities of the Eastern Mediterranean [people]. We have lost the primary manifestation ofthe divine in its cosmological manifestation." As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there is no need to jettison these above-listed attributes of God in order to affirm other aspects, which are already long-recognized, bythe way, in all suitably predicated God-concepts. The answer lies in a return to authentic orthodoxy and not the elaboration of a new heterodoxy. As regarding any notion that “Humans have arrogated to themselves a superiority over nature "as spiritual beings [detached] from the visible world." Or that “They (we)make the world ‘an external objective reality’ that we treat as subservient because of our presumption of higher ‘spirituality for which all things exist’.” --- What ifhumans simply better developed an enlightened self-interest vis a vis Creation and as Created Co-Creators (cf. Phil Hefner)? What if we adapted Bernardian love ofGod to that of the cosmos? To wit: Love of self for sake of self. Love of cosmos for sake of self. Love of cosmos for sake of cosmos. Love of self for sake of cosmos.Thus wed appreciate creation both for the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards it offers for our proper inter-relationship. Thus we neednt elaborate a new theologicalanthropology that doesnt really square with what we know from science, in general, and evolution, in particular. For, the fact of the matter is that, in an emergentisticcreation, where something more comes from nothing but (cf. Ursula Goodenough), there is a certain degree of ontological discontinuity, a certain hierarchy that doesplace Homo sapiens in a unique relationship to the cosmos. Still, stewardship neednt necessarily entail arrogance. Whether one thinks of Original Sin as an ontological rupture located in the past or a teleological chasm oriented toward the future, or as a cosmological, epistemologicalor axiological gap, that there remains a gap in our essentialistic idealizations and their existential realizations cannot be seriously challenged. The Franciscanmetaphysicians did not believe that the Incarnation was occasioned by any Felix Culpa but, rather, that God so loved creation from the get-go that the Christ wascoming no matter what! Still, this musing comes from a theology of nature and not from a natural theology, which is philosophy and not really theology. Naturalphilosophy can get us to a compelling form of deism, perhaps, but it takes more than natural revelation to speak to the issue of whether or not this God or even thisCosmos is ... well ... even friendly versus unfriendly. It takes "special" revelation, i.e. Good News. That there was a Cartesian blunder ... well ... let me say this. Not even the classic view of an aristotelian thomism made that mistake, instead, viewing all humanattributes integrally. Philosophy of mind issues remain unresolved. How they eventually get resolved will be interesting but any such resolution will not be ultimatelydispositive of our theological anthropology. Phenomenologically, we already know what we experience and what we value. THAT we experience and THAT we valueis essential. HOW this all comes about is accidental. It does not matter one whit, in my relationship with my God or with my spouse, whether consciousness is anotherprimitive alongside space, time, mass and energy, as folks like Berry and even Ayn Rand seem to suggest, or whether it is an emergent, semiotic reality, lets say,following Terry Deacon. Until neuroscience and philosophers of mind resolve these issues, Berry is saying WAY more than either science or philosophy warrants. It is almost as if Berry andlike-minded folks would to do away with any notions of ontological density as a master stratagem for leveling the ecological playing field, as if de-throning humanity wasnecessarily the cure-all for ecological sustainability. They also seem to downplay the eschatologically inevitable: If we do not end in a nuclear bang, we certainly willend, at the very least, in an ecological whimper, as the helios burns itself out. It is pretty apparent we will need "outside" help, if you ask me. In summary, Berry is right in that, ecologically, things are awry. I disagree, in part, with his account of WHY this is so and, consequently, with his prescribed CURES.One cannot cure the breach between science and religion by starting with Eastern and indigenous traditions, wherein, in fact, science, itself, was mostly stillborn. Thesetraditions DO offer a critique of Western idolatries but Berrys theology of nature is little more than a natural mysticism and mysticism of nature. What we need, rather,is rigorous natural science, disciplined natural philosophy, and theological speculation that goes beyond both science and philosophy, in faith, but not without theirempirical and logical insights. Berry unquestionably goes beyond both science and philosophy when he credits all aspects of creation with consciousness. This is not unlike a similar maneuver Iveseen others attempt by invoking infinite semeiosis. Even if we eventually prove that consciousness is a primitive, a given, its phenomenal presentation as humanconsciousness is a distinct and novel reality. Or is this not evident to anyone with common sense? There are those who believe that there is a mystical core to all organized religion. And this would include not only the great traditions of the East and West but also themanifold and multiform religious experiences of indigenous peoples everywhere through all of time. Per this account, humans encounter a) truth and seek to share it increed (dogma), b) beauty and celebrate it in cult (ritual) c) goodness and preserve it in code (law) and d) unity and enjoy it in community. Of course, we are fallible and make no exclusive a priori and apodictic claims to absolute truth, beauty, goodness or unity. Without denying the reality of suchabsolutes, we simply recognize that our access to same is somewhat problematical, finite as we are. Setting aside any controversial notions of what it might mean to be saved and discussions of soteriology and/or redemption, we might still affirm the efficacy of such asthe Buddhas Four Noble Truths, the Buddhist Eightfold Path (including Right Speech), the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience, theCatholic approach of Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium & Reason (Fides et Ratio). What these rubrics reveal is that, when it comes to truth, beauty, goodness andunity, humankind eschews any 1) insidious indifferentism, as if anything goes 2) facile syncretism, as if our different traditions could be easily blended or 3) falseirenicism, as if our traditions were already at peace with one another. The whole premise of our own conversation is based on our own unspoken presupposition that,however otherwise problematical our access to these transcendental imperatives and/or divine attributes of truth, beauty, goodness and unity, still, we best honor ourexistential orientations toward same by seeking the most nearly perfect articulation of them as we can reasonably come by. It is my belief that, toward the above-listed ends, we have a Helper, the Holy Spirit. Further, it is my belief that the most efficacious approach to interreligious dialoguein this day and age will, accordingly, be pneumatological. In such dialogue, as Catholics, we can [bracket] our inclusivistic Christocentrism. There is a difference, ofcourse, between bracketing a concept and jettisoning it. I recommend Amos Yongs __Beyond the Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions__. Continuing with the question about the Spirit self-revealing in and through nature, Catholics draw a distinction between general and special revelation, the formerprecisely entailing what can be inferred regarding God from our reasoning as it considers the natural, created order. Special revelation, in any tradition, would entail additional info about God that one would not otherwise get just from looking around at ones environment and then just
  • using ones noggin. Without fully explicating an epistemology, which for me entails our human pursuit(s) of values, our search for knowledge being inherently normative, let me suggest that,as radically social animals, human knowledge mostly advances via some type of earnest, community of inquiry. So, when it comes to such as right speech, right action,and other disciplines, or such as orthodoxy, orthopraxis and orthopathos, one is obliged to pay deference to various reliable, credible, trustworthy and authoritativecommunities, seeking the most optimal or nearly perfect articulations of truth, beauty, goodness and unity one can reasonably attain. Of course, we have scientific,philosophical, academic, religious, political and many other types of human communities with manifold and varied standards for what conventions are useful inpromoting the values to which they most aspire per their given focus of human concern. As a Catholic, then, I refer and defer to Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium and Reason/Experience as the primary resources for defining self and discerning my authenticpath to orthodoxy, orthopraxis and orthopathos. The journey to authenticity is one of conversion: intellectual, affective, moral, sociopolitical and religious. My critique ofchurch is focused on how well it institutionalizes and facilitates all of these conversions. I remain in dialogue with other traditions and peoples, but if I didnt believe andexperience my catholicism as the best available (however imperfect and ever-pilgrim in status) articulation of and route to  truth, beauty, goodness and unity, then Id tryto associate with the best I could find elsewhere (without idolizing that community either). Berry uses various and sundry phrases like  a) "memetic" package of culture b) ambivalence of ideas and words c) "transcendent abstractions" (entes rationis) d)"transcendences" of cultural fixation. In one fell swoop of psycho-linguistic critique, Berry calls into question both the origins and the entire developments of both Western science and religion? Well, from a practical perspective, I would have to agree that much of Western culture isimpoverished. And it could truly be enriched by a more mindful use of language, such as through a more robust engagement of our ancient Christian mysticisms,medieval scholasticisms and modern biblical interpretations, all which recognize and employ hermeneutical methods and styles that more fully accommodate thosenuances of language which better express our experiences of multivalent realities. They might better employ the rich and depthful symbolic approaches of our liturgiesand prayer life, discursive and nondiscursive, kataphatic and apophatic. They might better employ the use of storytelling and parable in conveying metanarratives. Theymight proactively seek and incorporate the time-honored spiritual technologies and ascetical insights of the East. [You see, I am advocating a RETURN because, in myview, we are ALREADY getting much of this right, at least in catholic Christianity - Anglican, Orthodox, Roman and liberal Protestantism.] To the extent that the East has gifted us with so many fruitful insights and approaches to a rich human interiority, it can well-complement the Wests "mastery" of itsexternal environment, and, yes, mitigate, ameliorate and re-direct this so-called mastery with a more holistic and self-enlightened perspective that values the cosmos onmany levels, for its intrinsic value as well as its extrinsic gifts. I have also seen the East as deserving of critique, as impoverished in its own way, especially vis a vis its cosmology, which is why it failed to produce a self-sustainingscientific enterprise. In my view, it is not so much that Berry seems to be calling us to a post-Christian worldview as that, upon closer inspection, he seems to be beckoning us to a pre-Christian worldview. It is not that he merely wants to refashion our language conventions and thereby reform our cultural metanarratives, in effect he is adopting anidealist, panpsychic metaphysic, reverting to an ancient cosmology that better accommodates an idealist monism or pantheism or heterodox panen-theism. SeeWikipedia for orthodox and fundamentalist parsings of panentheism. What I would instead prescribe is such a panentheism as remains more ontologically vague, reflecting the truth of Godels Theorem that our formal accounts cannot beboth consistent and complete, reflecting our need to also employ epistemic and semantical vagueness, as we prescind, at least occasionally, from our more robustlymetaphysical accounts to a strictly phenomenological perspective. I do not suggest this a priori but only because, at this stage of humankinds journey, it is too early toover-commit to one metaphysic or another. To do so, and then to use it as a foundation for other normative and epistemic "systems" is to "prove too much" and toassert more than we can possibly know, at this time. In these regards, Berry might best take a spoonful of his own medicine, which is to say that he should be as fallibilistic and self-critical regarding his own cosmology ashe is when critiquing that of the West. Both are impoverished. It is not about dualism versus monism, essentialism versus nominalism, substantialism versusprocess/dynamism with all of their self-contradictions, conceptual incommensurabilities and mutual occlusivities. It is about being more modest, fallibilistic, tentative overagainst infallibilistic, apodictic and a prioristic. Some have suggested a retreat into a semeiotic hermeneutic and that provides a good grammar but not a system. Iapplaud such a retreat but agree we must, together, ambition a metaphysic. I just admantly object to any notion that any of our metaphysical ventures are, as yet, socomprehensive and exhaustive, as to provide a sure foundation for our metaphysical and metaethical enterprises. I am not joining the chorus of radically deconstructive postmodernists who mistake a critique for a system. Postmodernism left us with weakened foundations andweakened deontologies. It replaced epistemological hubris with epistemological holism but not with excessive epistemological humility as some would maintain,paradoxically, with great hubris. Besides, whatever the psycholinguists and postmoderns have to say about our conceptual reifications, one single thermonuclearexplosion can still ruin ones whole afternoon! http://bellsouthpwp.net/p/e/per-ardua-ad-astra/rogation/Rogation%20Days.htm Footnote: Subvert THAT Tautology What I am attempting, above, is the articulation of a theological anthropology using awkward philosophical constructs, which dont capture the texture of our rich human experience verywell. In so many words, I am recognizing that our tautological constructs are on a different plane of rationality, are discursive and even ideological. But I am suggesting that, in describingtheir foundations, we must prescind from the more explicitly philosophical, at least the logical and moral, or the descriptive and prescriptive, to emphasize the aesthetical andnonpropositional, or the evaluative. It is here that I locate our hidden tautological foundations, which support the tautological "construction" that takes place on top of them. Those hiddenfoundations are thus aesthetical, nonpropositional and/or evaluative and do not lend themselves, in principle, to formal construction and argumentation. Lets consider tautologies, in general. By way of example, lets say we start positivistically with our observation of the speed of light in a vacuum, just a simple empirical observation. We areALREADY, even if unconsciously, inhabiting atautology when this measurement is made. Did we measure the speed using Euclidean Geometry (a metamathematical tautology of quite arbitrary axioms) or NonEuclidean Geometry (adifferent tautology)? It probably wouldnt matter much on a small scale, but we would discover that, on immense scales, that NonEuclidean geometry gifts us with better predictions. Bothgeometries are logically consistent, but only one is more externally congruent with reality. I like to say "more taut." As far as major worldviews go, however, things are NOT as simple as inthe example above. It is simply too early on humankinds journey to adjudicate between them all. We have not been able to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics yet because thesetheories were formed in two different tautological schemes with different axioms, concepts and logic and no one has been able to "renormalize" them into a Grand Unified Theory. What I am try to do below is to articulate an intellectual defense of the importance of praxis and pathos and how folks need to look over their shoulders at these types of nonpropositionalcommitments and Kierkegaardian leaps in order to "escape" or, better said, criticize and subvert their tautologies. I am dealing in abstractions without fleshing out my lived experiences. Very briefly, those experiences involve such as nondual awareness, kundalini arousal/awakening and nondiscursive
  • prayer, all which  had to be reconciled to my Catholic roots. I came to see that folks like Ken Wilber, Bernadette Roberts, Matthew Fox, Thomas Berry and others were not best articulatingMY lived experience but that Thomas Merton, pseudo-Dionysius, Meister Eckhart, Duns Scotus, St. Francis and John of the Cross, for example, were. I often prescind from lived experienceto the structured philosophical and metaphysical speheres because they provide a lingua franca and a rigor to evaluate others hermeneutics and to then deepen my own self-understandingthru dialogue, while using others perspectives as a foil, and, very often, as even a gift and invitation to change and grow. A LOT of folks are taking nondual awareness and elaboratingheterodox ontologies that PRECISELY have profound implications for praxis, especially PRAYER.  re: certain erroneous theological extrapolations More precisely, theological TRESPASSING. The theological horizon of human concern does not even ask such questions as science does and does not traffic in the falsifiable propositions of the positivistic realm.Theological propositions are not falsifiable, except, perhaps, eschatologically. When a theology of nature does look at nature, it is primarily eucharistically, with thanksgiving.And it breaks out in psalm and song using allegory and metaphor. It does NOT venture forth with falsifiable propositions of its own. When so-called theologians do this,then, they are not doing bad theology, just bad science. As for moral propositions, they first arise on the philosophic horizon of human concern, which is the domain of the normative sciences. Our theological reflection, with itsdistinctively anagogical character, which informs our hopes and aspirations, then transvalues our philosophical moral propositions by imparting to them new SIGNificance,more meaning. Less abstractly, theological reflection does not so much change the logical calculus of the normative sciences, vis a vis aretaic, deontological and teleologicalanalyses of moral objects, as it proposes ordinacy. Ordinacy has to do with what comes first, second, third and thus helps us set priorities; it helps set aright what is in-ordinate or dis-ordered (think of the sanjuanist take ondisordered appetites, the ignatian treatment of inordinate desires). With a eucharistic hermeneutic of everything as gift, we then see the created order as profoundlyincarnational and with an analogical, not dialectical, imagination. (The dialectical IS useful, however, in apophatic theology.) Everything is gift and good but, first things first;or Seek ye first the Kingdom; or no idolatry. Concretely, then, one might look at the twenty competing values I listed elsewhere, re: abortion, and ask themselves how those might be reordered (transvalued) for acatholic Christian. How might they be prioritized for different types of nonbelivers? The normative science does not change; where we, first and foremost, turn ourattention is what changes. We do believe, after all, that all people can live the good and moral life and that morality is transparent to human reason. If I am strident in my efforts to disambiguate definitions, parse concepts and phrases, from a philosophical perspective, it is only because such distinctions and clarificationsare what is missing when we see good scientists doing bad theology and good ministers doing bad science. What they have in common, then, is bad philosophy. Thus, we are not looking "beyond" a "problem" as much as we are looking "at" a "pseudo-problem." MYTH? Not everyone employs the word MYTH in the same way? I think of a TRUE MYTH as that which, while not literally true, nevertheless, evokes an appropriate response toultimate reality. Of course, one thing, among others, that sets Christianity apart from other myths is that its God was a real person. Theology is a practical science and not a speculative science. It transvalues our philosophic and positivistic horizons of human concern, anagogically, by speaking to whatwe can hope for and to what we can aspire. Thus it has a normative impetus and deals with the quid JURI and does not otherwise initiate fact-based, falsifiable knowledgepropositions, or the quid FACTI. Thus it is that, to the extent the word edify conventionally means "to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge," both which deal with the quid juriand not the quid facti, it is a theological anthropology that uplifts and enlightens us, not some merely positivistic, emergentistic, physicalistic, biologistic account, which, takenalone, without the benefit of divine revelation, leads one just as quickly to nihilism, agnosticism or atheism as it does to a theistic hermeneutic. Natural philosophy (theology)establishes epistemological parity between most of these worldviews but does not anoint any a clear winner, positivistically. However, as a practical science, theology does indeed, in my view, help us discern the hermeneutical winners from the losers, as orthopraxis does help authenticateorthodoxy. One cannot idly speculate and be a believer, cognitively, without also walking the walk, trying a religion on existentially.  I have wondered if one strategy of panentheism, within the context of the classical "proofs," is to address the causal disjunction problem that attends totranscendence claims at the same time one addresses the infinite regress problem that attends to claims of immanence. In other words, if God is totallytranscendent, then the only strategy for increasing descriptive accuracy through affirmations (kataphasis) is the use of analogy, and the weakest form ofanalogy at that, metaphor. This strategy leaves the question begging as to how such a reality could meaningfully interact with the givens with which weremost familiar (primitives, forces & laws of nature, for example), hence, causal disjunction. If, on the other hand, God is totally immanent, it seems that we mustsacrifice our common sense notions of causality to abide with a question begging dismissal of infinite regress. Panentheism seems to at least acknowledgethese issues.I think the commonly held view is that creatio ex nihilo is not a belief to be derived from natural theology. Rather, it is a product of revelation. In other words,the creation could be eternal, itself. What natural theology would seem to support vis a vis a sufficiently nuanced panenthe