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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 Sagan's splendid picture book, Cosmos. I hope he will not take offense at some fanciful extrapolations therefrom. Sagan's book gave me much pleasure, a pleasure which was not diminished by Sagan's unmalicious, even innocent, scientism, the likes of which I have not encountered since the standard bull sessions of high school and college—up to but not past the sophomore year. The argument could be resumed with Sagan, I suppose, but the issue would be as inconclusive as it was between sophomores. For me 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 Alexandria and the appearance of Copernicus and Galileo. So much for six thousand years of Judaism and fifteen hundred years of Christianity. So much for the likes of Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Grosseteste. So much for the science historian A.C. Crombie, who wrote: "The natural philosophers 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 science sprang, not from Ionian metaphysics, not from the Brahmin-Buddhist-Taoist East, not from he Egyptian-Mayan astrological South, but from the heart of the Christian West, that although Galileo fell out with the Church, he would hardly have taken so much trouble studying Jupiter and dropping objects 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 for popularizing science, and the beautiful pictures of Saturn and the Ring nebula. Indeed, more often than not, I found myself on Sagan's side, especially in his admiration for science and the scientific method, which is what he says it 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 Sagan's sophomoric scientism—which I think I like better than its counterpart, a sophomoric theism which attributes the 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 involving God and the nature of man should be co-opted by these particular disputants, a popularizer like Sagan and fundamentalists who believe God created the world six thousand years ago. It's 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 higher level. It is for this very reason that we can enjoy Cosmos so much, for the frivolity of Sagan's vulgar scientism and for the reason that science is, as Sagan says, self-correcting. One wonders, in fact, whether Sagan himself has not been corrected, e.g., by Hubble's discovery of the red shift and the present growing consensus of the Big Bang theory of the creation of the Cosmos, which surely comes closer than Sagan would like to the Genesis account of creatio ex nihilo.     An Emergentist Account of the Biosemiotic Categories of Religion from 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. Each moment, necessarily, presupposes each other moment, as we harvest truth, beauty, goodness and unity. Of course, my framing of this heuristic in terms of value realization recognizes humanity's radical finitude. If we are in search of value, then this is a reflection of that inescapable reality of our vast 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 eschatological harvest 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 institutionalization of this value realization whereby intellectual conversion harvests those contemplative moments we encounter as truth, affective conversion harvests those encountered as beauty, moral conversion those of goodness and sociopolitical conversion those of unity. Thus all contemplation leads to politics, which are most efficaciously articulated when we integrally tie all of these moments back together, religiously, transvaluing them through ongoing religious conversion.   The aspect of institutionalization honors our biological, i.e. biosemiotic, heritage as radically social animals. The epistemic goal of human value realization is thus fostered in a community of inquiry writ large. It may have been Merton who recognized that truth often comes flying in on the wings 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 value realization.   In trying to draw out the implications of my heuristic for a theological anthropology, which I am framing in terms of value realization strategies, I cannot help thinking of Sartre's description of the “universal human condition” as the reason for our shared values and sensibilities. Still, one must suspect that any such sharing of sensibilities and values is not rooted in the value realization moment we might call inference. Tom Short thus contextualizes Peirce: "if 'the faculty of reasoning' were 'of the first importance to success in life,' then 'natural selection would [have] operate[d] to breed the race for vigorous reasoning powers,' whereas, 'comparatively few persons are originally possessed of any but the feeblest modicum of this talent'."   Instead, in Short's words, drawing on Peirce's distinction between theoretical and practical reasoning, "the one requires radical thinking and reliance on one’s own powers of ratiocination, the other best relies on instinct, sentiment, and tradition, or, in short, the accumulated experience of countless generations."   In my own description of human biosemiotic heuristics, there emerges, through the putative coevolution of language and brain, a novel capacity for intersubjectivity, which corresponds to Joseph Campbell's "transpersonal identity." We cannot help but recognize this emergent novelty in our species and it warrants a characterization of "exceptionality" vis a vis other biosemiotic other biosemiotic realities. One might ask whether such an exceptionality warrants further description in ontological terms and, given the received opinion of the philosophy of mind community, that answer must be an emphatic "Nyet!". For that matter, although most would consider the so-called hard problem of consciousness "epistemologically open," and while many nevertheless consider it "ontologically closed," still, even in that cohort that considers it "ontologically open," most of those philosophers hold 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 the philosophical cul-de-sac of the mutually unintelligible essentialism-nominalism dichotomy. It may be too strong a position to defend, to a priori characterize such paradoxes using Quine's categories of veridical, falsidical and antinomial, but most of the synthetic and a posteriori money is on the antinomial view, which is to say that someone is asking the wrong questions of reality if they are still arguing within such Scholastic categories and coming away confounded.   The practical upshot of this is that, because of our intersubjective and transpersonal human evaluations, decisions and tendencies, our species is gifted with a heightened awareness, not only of our radical finitude and contingent nature, but also, of our unfathomable solidarity with one another and the cosmos. As I have always maintained, "when we awaken to our solidarity, compassion will ensue." And this orthopathos has evaluative relevance 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 thus authenticates orthodoxy, then my hypothesis is that one will most assuredly find them flying in on the wings of orthopathos and orthocommunio. If this has normative impetus, it precisely comes from its descriptive accuracy as a theological anthropology. I will discuss our epistemic, aesthetic and ethical sensibilities in more detail, later, as they respectively inspire assent, awe and reverence for Reality. (If we have learned anything from the Godelian-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 rather occasioned by a felix culpa, and the approach of Irenaeus, who sees creation as a place for soul-making, which corresponds to Scott Peck's metaphor of "life as a cosmic boot camp." In classical terms, then, we might view reality moreso through Haught's aesthetic teleology, oriented toward the future, creation crossing a vast teleological expanse toward the Eschaton, and not so much as an ontological rupture located in the past. Whatever metaphysical aspect of the nature of Jesus remains occulted, His moral nature is utterly transparent, eminently biosemiotic, setting always before us the 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 the politics that govern relations between societies. In an apparently pervasively semiotic ecology, we only distinguish between humankind and the cosmos 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 our aspirations to realize our evaluations by making decisions with a tendency we might call Transignification, which, with the Jesuits, sees God in all things. There can be no dichotomizing, no compartmentalization, for our lives are a continuous extension of Eucharist in an ongoing hermeneutical cycle of value realization, or, are going to be fragmented and in peril of an otherwise regnant practical nihilism, which isn't difficult to see, not rewarding 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 the question of "what must we do," both morally and practically. If the Kantian interrogatories are irreducibly triadic in realizing values in terms of what we can know, what we must do and what we can hope for, then the Peircean triadic semiotic is also irreducibly triadic in correspondingly recognizing those tendencies that will most efficaciously mediate between our evaluations and decisions vis a vis society and the cosmos, which is to recognize that it is incoherent to reductionistically turn such distinctions as individual human beings, society and the cosmos into dichotomies as if they did not necessarily presuppose each other. Derivatively, it is also incoherent, then, to talk in terms of dominion and autonomy, for this is to take a de facto over against stance in relationship to our very selves. This is also to overemphasize the dialectical imagination and to explicitly disavow the immanence of the deity, one of humankind's 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, the accumulated experience of countless generations" that best preserved the seamless garment of human value realization, that best articulated the irreducible relationships between all (transkin) biosemiotic realities, that best articulated the eco-nomic or laws of eco-logical exchange, that best articulated the sociopolitical realization of reciprocal solidarity and compassion, and that best articulated such an Ens Necessarium as implicately orders 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 hellenistic rationalism 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 are theories 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 have reductionism and the strongest 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 maintain supervenience, 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 (covariance without 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.   Bio-semiotic: refers to life (bio) and significance or signs & symbols (semiotic). In humans, some biosemiotic capacities (the way we use information one might say) are language-dependent and public (shared between people) and some are ineffable and private experiences (and languageindependent). They might be thought of as propositional (dealing with propositions like the logical categories of deduction and induction and inference), 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 proposing solutions and drawing conclusions. The second category is also innate but is fixed, inflexible, and so I call it algorithmic because there is no latitude as it drives human responses to "conclusions" and solutions quite directly (think of the immune system reacting to "information" automatically). One might also 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 categories of 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 or Liturgy, Fellowship or Church, Dogma or Doctrine, and Law or Rubrics.   Religion: comes from root concepts that I interpret to mean "to tie life's experiences back together" so as to heal us that we may survive and grow us 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 that creation 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 God and 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 the other 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 to call these categories modal phenomenology. Science deals with these modes of reality. At least empirical observations, thus far, reveal reality's pervasive 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 categories modal ontology. In my view, both modal phenomenology and modal ontology are legitimate enterprises. What would make them both viable is an approach that eschews a priori modal assumptions and embraces, instead, only fallibilist hypotheses, which are verifiable and/or falsifiable, a posteriori. It seems that 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 given question 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 reality's givens in terms of space, time, matter and energy (primitives), forces (4 forces, so far) and axioms (laws like thermodynamics and quantum mechanics); about the advent of consciousness, the origin of life and other apparently emergent realities; about reductive and nonreductive physicalism; and such. Various Theories of Everything (TOE's) 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 been called metaphysics, on the other. However nuanced one's distinctions, those enterprises cannot really be facilely dichotomized. Some propose falsifiability 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 reality's 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 categories and 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 those spheres of human concern from the realm of the cognitively meaningful, end up, inadvertently, trashing the epistemological methods that humanity has 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 human value 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 predicts certain 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 beyond our reach, we then fall back on such aesthetic criteria as elegance, parsimony, symmetry, facility of abduction and simplicity, and on such pragmatic criteria 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 one adopts this tautology versus that? Restated, in addition to organizing existing knowledge, does this tautology generate new hypotheses? Might it contribute to a new cognitive regime or paradigm shift or cast light on why this or that approach seems pregnant with paradox? Thus, once all other epistemic virtues have been taken into consideration for an issue, that a significant part of the philosophical and/or scientific community considers unresolved, i.e. under-explained, there is a certain inefficacy in approaches that are ignostic, noncognitivist and eliminativist, that try to a priori reframe this or that problem as a pseudo-problem, insofar as they discourage research or support the illusion that it is unnecessary. There is a certain irony 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 argument's sake), we then ask, how does this versus that alternate view measure up vis a vis hypothesis-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 be clear 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 an is, which is described as a distinction between knowledge and belief, to an ought, which one might prescribe (or proscribe ) as a prohibition against any 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 regarding metaphysical 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 reality's 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’s theory 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 must require no justification insofar as their negation would negate what we are calling knowledge, itself. Some beliefs demonstrably enhance our modeling power of reality. We do not demonstrate them, however, through formal argumentation. They are otherwise warranted by practical judgment. And this is 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 develop some 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 the rationalists; not strictly evaluative, over against the noncognitivists; not strictly practical, over against an unnuanced pragmatism. It derives from aspects of value realization that are intellectually-related even though not robustly logically-related: normative, evaluative, descriptive, interpretive and 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 need not hold, a priori, that these heuristics must obtain to transcendentals; rather, these fast and frugal heuristics can be thought of as existential orientations 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 socalled transcendental imperatives, but is, instead, a modest account of distinctly human value-realization strategies. Such strategies, through nature and nurture, adapt us to reality with a good enough modeling power, which enables us to get along relatively well in the world, settling for optimal value 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 as the 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 Peirce's semiotic and tried to describe his different sign categories in psychological terms vis a vis the different ways that humans might experience different modal realities. I made a matrix to ensure that I didn't inadvertently leave out any categories, but my matrix had more categories 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, etc Successful reference and description of reality takes place through ongoing, even infinite, semiosis, as we progressively but fallibly tighten our grasp on reality. And I have just described some of the reasons why we are fallible, why we need disambiguation and reinterpretation. Thus, an indispensable 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 model reality with an ever enhanced modeling power, we can, semantically, deal with something analogous to what the Kantian disjunction is trying to deal with 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 most efficaciously 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 tied up 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 projects are and how any ensuing normative impetus must be significantly curtailed, especially if our ontologies are not otherwise robustly actionable due to limited predictive accuracy and hypothetical fecundity, or are otherwise deficient vis a vis some foundherentist (just for example) criteria of epistemic virtue. As I see it, many metaphysicians have made their fallibilist move, which makes their ontologizing more benign and efficacious. And semioticians have acknowledged a role for ontology, in theory. The divide that remains seems to then focus on our practical judgment regarding ontologizing and just how 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 of convention 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, perspectives with 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 with CSP's 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 proposing more 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 this could 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’s Lonerganian 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   Let's begin with how physical causation operates in the natural world. From an emergentist perspective, as we observe emergent properties, the pattern seems to be that they represent something more than their constituent parts but are clearly nothing but the combination of those parts. Hence, we have Ursula Goodenough's 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 a very 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 emergentistic phenomena, including all that might be involved in human neurophysiology. Thusly, my emergentist account does not ambition explanatory adequacy and is only a heuristic device. Accordingly,  while I prescind from an ontological perspective, bracketing metaphysics, I am not, a priori, suggesting that anyone should therefore jettison their 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 this aspect of reality or not, will be more coherent 2) their metaphysic, if pursued, will model reality with measurably enhanced modeling power. The pragmatic maxim suggests that one must precisely demonstrate the enhancement of one's modeling power when one sees fit to multiply ontologies, cashing out the values of one's 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 when referring to human cognition. Those biosemiotic algorithms are innate and hardwired, relatively closed-ended and inflexible, and language-independent. Their logic 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 languagedependent. 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 same instant, 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 not robust enough to adjudicate between all of the really good hypotheses re: consciousness. It’s value is cashed out solely in terms of making successful references 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 is processed 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 in increasing 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, ens necessarium, 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 on reality in violation of physical causal closure. Nowhere do we encounter the eminently epistemic, human knowledge being necessarily fallible. Neither does the eminently ontic present insofar as emergent realities are all contingent, bounded and limited, dynamical and ephemeral, modal but probabilistic and dissipative even if self-replicating. Finally, the eminently semiotic does not present in observable reality, the practical upshot of which is that metaphysics as a project is seriously constrained; we must frequently prescind from metaphysical hypotheses to ontological vagueness and semantical vagueness, employing the Peircean grammars of modal ontology and triadic semiotic logic, reassessing the epistemic vagueness that constrains us, sometimes, methodologically, and sometimes through that which may be naturally occulted as we near T = 0 approaching the Big Bang, or, perhaps, in the deepest structures of matter. At bottom, nowhere in observable reality do we encounter the ens necessarium, although it is a valid philosophical inference. This is why many folks eschew metaphysics 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 and semiotic influence, which are irreducibly triadic, a fourth modal category is introduced, the necessary, with its telic influence, efficaciously and unobtrusively coaxing 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 represent panentheistic 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 refer to same as conceptual placeholders, as heuristic categories, and do not offer them as ontological realities, for example, some type of substance-process dynamic. What is important is THAT such categories seem to present, phenomenologically, even as HOW such categories might interact remains an open question 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 #1 Below, I venture a naturalistic account from an evolutionary perspective on the philosophical categories of most religious traditions. The four categories of 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 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 terms of doxastic practices. I will draw a distinction between propositional heuristics and phenomenal experience but will focus on the normative aspects of the former. Insofar as religions attempt to model reality, I will describe their value-realization strategies in terms employed by traditional philosophical perspectives. Simply put, I will ask what philosophy makes of beauty, unity, truth and goodness and suggest that religion does something similar. I will briefly touch on what humans make of these values at the primary level of experience. I will describe the biosemiotic heuristic in some length and provide an 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 be clear. This isn't going to sound very religious but will have an epistemological slant. After all, I'm sketching religion's undergirdings from biology through evolutionary psychology to philosophy. I won't discuss this in that order, though, because it would be more helpful, I think, to describe how propositional heuristics 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 that particular inductive inference could be tested, possibly explaining the novel effect (and falsifying the abductive inferences), possibly falsifying the inductive inference 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, none tripped. 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 searches possibly 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 or simplified. 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 they are 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) upon hearing 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 the sounds of the whirring or the song. Those experiences are part of the Phenomenal Knowledge of Biosemiotic Algorithms, while the computer troubleshooting is part of the Propositional Knowledge of the Biosemiotic Heuristics. The latter depends on the former, but only the propositional is language-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, both innate but only the Biosemiotic Algorithms are hard-wired, accomplished in finite steps, even if repetitive, accomplishing some biological end. I use the word algorithm analogically, not because we’re talking math problems but because the system is inflexible while the Biosemiotic Heuristics are very plastic, 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 Propositional Knowledge X (Environment X Phenomenal Knowledge) --> Behavior How 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, how the rational is associated with the philosophic and inferential and the empirical with phenomenal knowledge and our senses. The practical relates to our actions, our behavior, ordered toward biological and socio-cultural imperatives of the species. The association between the environment and the analytical honors 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 #2
  • propositions, our abstractions progress to second and third orders and meta-levels. Thus, the environment corresponds to the paradigmatic (but is not exhausted 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 and neurologically 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 and failures of our alternating conjectures and criticisms provide us the rubrics and formalization (to the limited extent our inferential facilities are formalizable) 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 to inform the practical. I said, previously, that the philosophic gifts us with heuristics to guide our propositional applications of phenomenal knowledge. So, I am 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 the study of philosophy. Second order abstractions and propositions, as a meta-level structure, do not necessarily derive in full conscious awareness but are imparted through the acquisition of cultural symbolism (already layered) and through our own innate biosemiotic heuristic processes and neurocircuitry. These propositional facilities, albeit meta-level, because they are not fully conscious, might function as subdoxastic routines and consist of such as our foundational presuppositions and first principles. Most philosophical schools seem to address, in some way or another, what I am here calling subdoxastic routines or heuristic subroutines. This is not to at all suggest that conceptual mapping across various philosophical hermeneutics can be done facilely. Nevertheless, for example, we have Maritain's connaturality, Polanyi's tacit dimension, Newman's illative sense, Fries' nonintuitive immediate knowledge and Peirce's abduction. These are described, in my view, as innate existential orientations. Other subdoxastic routines are smuggled in as implicit presuppositions of culturally imparted paradigms.   Heuristic Subroutines or Subdoxastic Routines #3 So, again, how might this correspond to the maxim that the philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to inform the practical? In other words, what are some concrete examples of what might be considered subdoxastic routines or heuristic subroutines, which are not in full conscious awareness, this notwithstanding they are clearly second order or meta-level structures? I will characterize them as beliefs, but they are usually tacit 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 is jargonistic 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 frugal heuristics of ecological rationality; h) Kung's 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 paradox   2) Positivistic Horizon, Empirical Science: a) belief in reality's intelligibility over against an unmitigated nihilism; b) belief in common sense notions of causality; c) belief in alternating conjecture & criticism, falsifiability 3) Heuristic Horizon, Paradigms: a) belief in Godel's 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 of incommensurable 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 one's paradigm in terms of what and how much difference they make Most people seem unaware of these implicit presuppositions. When they become aware, they then struggle with justification. How do you justify any of these that you recognize as operative in your own hermeneutic?   Doing philosophy; from subdoxastic to doxastic What 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 human concern 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 and goodness. 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 right frontal, 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 or emotionalism 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 probabilities and 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 for the 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 From Biology 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 be associated with the four major brain quadrants, which are variously dominant in different temperament types. And one could take Aesthetics and Epistemology and Social theories and see a similar type of association. That provided me 16 sets of jargon above, which I did not bother to unpack, 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, we get along quite well in our encounters with reality, especially with one another, without bothering to elaborate major theories about these #4
  • 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-level abstractions. 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 constraint is that Peirce's pragmatic maxim is in play for those abstractions that are both helpful and harmful because, as semiotic creatures, we WILL cash out the value of such conceptualizations, for better and worse, by putting them into practice one way or another, either to our everlasting glory or by accelerating our inevitable demise. Nevertheless, all these caveats notwithstanding, humankind HAS elaborated such theories as have arisen from our moral, aesthetical, epistemic and social sensibilities and their meta-level, inferential structures. At one level, which appears to be mostly subconscious, these structures are hardwired, even if otherwise plastic and open-ended. They are not articulated beliefs but do comprise what most of us would recognize as common sense, and what the philosophers might call first principles, or unspoken presuppositions. This isn't to suggest that some cultural overlays, 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 thus rather trivial observations, which is to say, relevant but too much of a grasp of the obvious. The practical upshot is that I have taxonomically laid out 16 major philosophical approaches, which, in my view, can be characterized in association with brain quadrants, this notwithstanding the notion that our symbolic-linguistic function is rather distributed. So, in a nutshell, I have naturalized philosophy, itself, much less religion. (And, I do believe glucose metabolism in the brain can be measured to demonstrate what areas are "burning hotter" when - - - in relationship to MyersBriggs temperament typologies.) Stepwise, then, as Goodenough and Deacon take us from biology to consciousness to morality, my departure point is to then take morality and further reduce it to four major approaches; and to then recognize that their account applies to other evaluative sensibilities, too, and to then reduce 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 competence to unconscious incompetence. By doing philosophy, they have made themselves STUPIDER. Forget Jupiter, in medieval times, when a rather sterile scholasticism began its reign: Boys went to college to get more stupider. It has been said that, using logic, one of humankind's most efficient tools, an intelligent person, with a false premise and/or ambiguous concepts, can get further from the truth, faster and more efficiently, than any imbecile could ever aspire. And that is what goes on as folks inhabit their metalevel castles. It takes rigor and discipline and self-critique and selfreflexive awareness to "do metalevels" right. The cure for this is a move from unconscious competence to conscious competence, making what I call our unconscious subdoxastic beliefs more robustly conscious doxastic beliefs. Most of the trouble ensues when folks get busy trying to justify that which calls for no justification. One must not go overboard, though, throwing out the justification baby with the dirty metalevel bathwater because 1) so much of reality still begs questions and 2) there is a right way to do metalevels, which I won't prescribe presently (except to suggest 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 in simpler terms. We can say that probabilities mediate between possibilities and actualities. It may not be a stretch to even say that the aegis of initial 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 I'll desist from describing those now. I won't unpack what Peirce means by normative sciences, phenomenology and metaphysics either except to say that, if you are one who suffers an immediate negative visceral reaction to the word, metaphysics, fret not. This ain't what Peirce is doing. The simple way to diagnose this supposed malady of the mind is to watch and see if one speaks in terms of possibilities, actualities and necessities - - - and not rather probabilities.   Mapping My Tetradic Heuristic onto Ursula Goodenough’s Categories for Religious Naturalism & Daniel Helminiak’s Lonerganian Approach:   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 interpretive to effect the moral.   The philosophic describes our ethical, aesthetical and epistemic sensibilities and includes the concepts that we might symbolically abstract from our primary level encounters with reality via our cognitive-affective juxtapositions. An inward personal response to 1) a deeply felt ethical sensibility 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: "What's it to ya?" and philosophy answers the question: "Where can I get some of that?" The philosophic is thus evaluative, while philosophy is normative. The philosophic is spiritual and thus deals with the prioritizing of values, describing not 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 that consciously reflect on the answers to the question "Where can I get some of that?" and then attempt to answer this question: "Why should I trust your, my or anyone else's answer to that question?"  or, to use Kantian interrogatories, they attempt to navigate us, regulatively, to the 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 the Jungian category of Sensing, located in the left posterior convexity of the human brain). It aspires to successful reference through heuristics and explanatory 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: "What must I do?" and is thus prescriptive, aspiring to harmony between people (associated with the Jungian category of Feeling, located in the right posterior 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 evaluations arising from the sensibilities that ensue from our primary level encounters of reality, and our pragmatic and moral responses to one another as radically social animals, as a symbolic species. The paradigmatic is interpretive, aspiring to harmony between ideas (associated with the Jungian category 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, pseudoDionysius 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 these present considerations using different concepts. And Scotus and Peirce resonate semiotically (such as between the scotistic formal distinction 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 practical implications of my Peirceanesque tetradic heuristic: The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and the paradigmatic to effect the pragmatic.   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 to my 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 human phenomenon, 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 is exactly what characterizes the philosophic viewpoint."   Now, the most immediately obvious practical upshot of this heuristic is that, while one is entitled to one's own overall interpretive  orientation, or paradigm,  one is not entitled to one's own positivistic determinations. I think it was Senator Moynihan who admonished: "One is entitled to one's own opinion, but one is NOT entitled to one's own facts. In fact, Helminiak's hierarchy of human foci of concern, placing the philosophic between the positivistic and theistic, is an implicit recognition of my peirceanesque heuristic, which would treat his concepts thusly: The philosophic mediates between the positivistic and theistic to inform the theotic, which is nothing less than the journey to authenticity via 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 reverence and 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 ecologically evaluative, the last criterion suggesting that, together in the same cosmic niche, our ethical, aesthetical and epistemic sensibilities will largely converge. The succinct way of putting this is that human prudential judgment, both moral and practical, is transparent to human reason. The practical upshot is that one is entitled to one's own interpretive paradigms and evaluative dispositions, but one is not entitled to one's own moral positions, 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 the fittest; it's about fitting in."   Changing gears entirely. Heidegger's question: "Why is there not rather nothing?" has been rendered a pseudo-question by those who'd employ an eliminativist strategy of considering "nothing" a conceptual reification, accusing all, who take existence to be a predicate of being, of a meaningless tautology. Indeed, not even Aquinas 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.   Heidegger's existential question is better framed in terms of cosmological and ontological speculation: "Why is there not rather something else?"   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 in the grammar that governs the interplay of these categories: The evaluative-normative mediates between the descriptive and interpretive to effect 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 and the 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 bifurcations and permutations that are at play in the novel dissipative structures of reality, the greater the threat to system stability in terms of fragility and the 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 tetradic heuristic? It is the interplay of the first principles of noncontradiction (these cannot both be true) and excluded middle (either this or that is true). Most people do not pay heed to first principles. Rather, we take them for granted as foundational presuppositions of common sense. It is the 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 our conceptualizations must be conceptually compatible and their logic consistent. The concepts in play cannot negate each other and make any sense. They have a certain self-evident character. This is noncontradiction coming to bear. At the same time, we are in a probabilistic mode, so excluded middle folds, which is to suggest that we cannot know, a priori, which of this range of conceptualizations (let's say, frequencies, types and 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 we encounter brute facts and the one most intuitive to most people, who have not, ordinarily, prescinded from the modal category of necessary to probable.   In the category of the possible, including the interpretive, noncontradiction folds but excluded middle holds. This is the arena of reality that lies a tad beyond our grasp and mutually exclusive propositions, which are conceptually incompatible and logically mutually exclusive, remain live options. This is the folding of noncontradiction. At the same time, excluded middle holds as we know that one or the other paradigms must be true; they cannot both be true. An aesthetic teleology, for example, such a paradigm as experiences reality as an arena of pervasive intentionality, as takes an intentional stance writ large and not as a minimalist heuristic device (Dennett), is a live option, but it and a so-called self-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 described elsewhere, which can be thought of as the interplay between deduction (re: the probable and necessary), induction (re: the actual) and abduction (re: the possible). What undergirds our strategy of semantical vagueness is the triadic semiotic logic. It is a dynamical system. Implicit in the vagueness, both ontological and semantical, is the open-ended, plastic nature of our biosemiotic heuristics, which are easily contrasted with our closed-ended, fixed, biosemiotic algorithms. Strict logic has yielded to fuzzy logic, the latter being adaptively significant for a symbolic species 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 and tighter and that our competing tautologies are getting ever more taut as they alternate between conjecture and criticism through both self- and mutual critique. All of this is to suggest that epistemology is epistemology is epistemology and that the reason there is no regnant moral relativism is 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 consensus and 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  it's 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 reality's 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 near T=0, or might say, in the deepest structures of matter, to distinguish between contexts. One might refer to the Copenhagen or Bohm interpretation to describe one's 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. That's a story outline we all can share even as many pages are left to be written. Those emergent sensibilities (aesthetical, ethical and epistemic) are necessary for one to be fully human, whatever one's interpretive stance. As their associated cognitive-affective juxtapositions ripple over our soma, flooding our synapses, the neurotransmitter fluid levels are sufficient to drown some in ecstasy. Emergentism thus describes what is necessary for all, necessary and sufficient for a few, but doesn't 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 I do?", but it is too early on humankind's journey to foreclose on the interpretive possibilities regarding the answer: "What can I hope for?". For most, it is clear, that nature is not enough. And that is a descriptive not a prescriptive statement. There are competing accounts (variously conflicting and overlapping) that proffer an answer to "What can I hope for?" and they are variously compelling and have some probabilistic status. 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 reverent silence of some types of Buddhism regarding certain aspects of reality and any theistic cohort would be characterized by more subtle conceptualizations of deity, for example, a highly nuanced and rigorously predicated panentheism, and not at all by the more fundamentalistic and fideistic approaches that are all too regnant in many parts of world (including the US).     Socially & Culturally, then - or secularly Orthopraxis 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 humanities endeavors, enjoy community through civic & social organizations and political & governmental institutions, articulate truth through academic institutions and media communications and preserve goodness through legal & justice systems and military institutions. Religious Conversion - reality as an arena of pervasive intentionality Religious conversion, another second/third order or meta-level evaluative heuristic, transvalues these secular conversions such that orthopathos mediates 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 Critique Some nontheistic naturalists, called religious naturalists, affirm a deep overlap between their moral sensibilities and evaluative impulses and those of existing ethical and religious traditions (Ursula Goodenough). Some prefer an irenic engagement of liberal religion, while working actively against fundamentalists (Michael Ruse). Others recognize the need for myth, aesthetically pleasing deceptions and noble lies to fend off a resurgent and selfevident nihilism (Loyal Rue). Some are active and outspoken against religion (Dawkins & Dennett).   What about philosophy of mind? What about Philosophy of Mind?   Preliminarily, my particular account, above, is somewhat derived from Terry Deacon's work. Such hypotheses remain highly speculative and not at all uncontroversial. Phenomenologically, I think it is fair to suggest that we can refer to these distinct biosemiotic realities in terms of function but that our understanding is woefully inadequate in terms of structure and evolution, too, especially once considering how distributed linguistic functions seem to be in the brain. We must not confuse successful referencing of these biosemiotic functions with successful description of their distributed structures and pretend 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 that matter. My emergentist perspective and biosemiotic perspective and peircean perspective provide a combined heuristic that can help us keep our categories tidy and enhance our ability to make successful references to biosemiotic realities. This should enhance our modeling power for reality. It does not matter whether one otherwise prefers the approach of the Churchlands, Chalmers, Dennett, Deacon, Penrose, Ayn Rand, Searle or anyone else. I use Deacon 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, it's somewhat agnostic to prevailing philosophy of mind perspectives. I enjoy reading some of that stuff but don't invest much in one view or the other, remaining mostly agnostic. If I had to offer my sneaking suspicions, well ... let's 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 biosemiotic algorithmic phenomena, the former being language-dependent and public, the latter referring to ineffable and private experiences. It is even difficult to clearly specify which of our heuristic practices, all propositional, are doxastic versus subdoxastic. There is something that phenomenal knowledge and subdoxastic propositional knowledge have in common; where both are concerned: We know more than we can say. But they should not otherwise be confused for one is highly symbolic and language-dependent and the other language-independent. The language-dependent, subdoxastic propositional knowledge 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 selection pressures to produce adaptively significant quasi-doxastic and subdoxastic and doxastic structures and practices unique to Homo sapiens? To the extent language 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, could have been available to selection pressures and both culturally and adaptively significant? By what quantum leap did evolution take the apes from the phenomenal 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 #5
  • unable to model in terms of “knowing more than we can say,” which, as we noted, consists of both phenomenal knowledge and subdoxastic propositional knowledge. We might ask how we make the leap between the subdoxastic and the doxastic, learning how to talk about what we previously experienced in 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’d suppose 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 to others, language-independent as it is. We can make the analytical observation and voice the reason tautologically: We cannot talk about it because it is language-independent. We cannot model it because it is symbol-independent. But neuroscience can gift us with enough synthetic knowledge to infer that the more phylogenetically primitive brain areas are not involved in the distributive language function. That information is just not presented to our propositional 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 allows us to successfully relate our symbolic manipulations to one another through language, gifting one another with our inferential output, for better and worse, 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 own non-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 and attach 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 more phylogenetically 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 of winces every time it got constipated and symbolic communication was born as the two ape heads gazed knowingly into one another’s eyes, thus bridging the phenomenal-propositional chasm, crossing the epistemological Rubicon. And although this bridge was not subject to selection pressure regarding the internal milieu of animals, the symbolic communication regarding the external milieu (re: each other’s facial expressions) was the rudimentary prototype of inferential facility and, once it was aped throughout their society, language born as constipated apes not only furrowed their brows and winced, but also let out loud moans. [I'm 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 to think behavioral differences (necessarily or probably) were not far behind, adaptively significant to this day, perhaps, assuming we don’t use the phylogenetically new-found facility toward the end of effecting a nuclear holocaust, prior to the near-inevitable ecological whimper. No need for ghosts. No talk of machines. Google Terry Deacon and use Dennett as a foil to tease out the differences, mostly nuanced, between their accounts. Baldwinian evolution suggests an account where downward causation can be effective but without violating physical causal closure. I think the Peircean semiotic realism is a much more robust account and that nuance matters greatly. We have come, full circle: Biosemiotic heuristics X (Environment X Biosemiotic Algorithms) --> Behavior Propositional Knowledge X (Environment X Phenomenal Knowledge) --> Behavior The 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 capacity back to more recent, phylogenetically-related primates, increased brain size and language acquisition may be as much effects of language-acquisition as its 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 and swollen to madness in their isolation (to reapply CS Lewis). Or, from Wittgenstein: One might almost say that these foundation-walls are carried by the whole 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 to pragmatic and semiotic realities. See: What Does Meaning Mean in PhilForums See: Skinnerian Neuromythology: Consciousness Explained in PhilForums To characterize genes as active agents or selfish or purposeful is an unhelpful shorthand. They gain their significance only in the context of the same dynamical 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 realities that 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 Deacon The same is true for human inferential heuristics. They are irreducibly triadic -- abduction, induction and deduction, each presupposing the other in the overall 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 naturalistic and wouldn’t require the introduction of new primitives to space, time, matter and energy (like consciousness, for instance). But I could be wrong. And that is okay. I'm 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. For some of us, that does not, at the same time, suggest that we have a priori decided where those keys may or may not be.   Abduction of the Reality of the Ens Necessarium & Its Modal Ontological Proof     Peirce's 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 also 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 Polanyi's tacit dimension, necessity may be closer to us than we are to ourselves.   It is at this juncture that humankind's 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, from it's outset, does not ambition a robust explanatory adequacy. In order to successfully refer to the modal category of the necessary, we must turn to modal logic, 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 formal argumentation. As we straddle ontological vagueness and ontology, semantical vagueness will begin to give way to careful parsing and rigorous disambiguation.   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 essentially defined 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 argument is not only valid but its reasoning is immune to parody using positive properties. Parody using additional negative properties can succeed but not against a concept with positive predicates that are analogical.   Heidegger's question: "Why is there not rather nothing?" has been rendered a pseudo-question by those who'd employ an eliminativist strategy of considering "nothing" a conceptual reification, accusing all, who take existence to be a predicate of being, of a meaningless tautology. Indeed, not even Aquinas 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.     Heidegger's existential question is better framed in terms of cosmological and ontological speculation: "Why is there not rather 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 initial conditions and boundary conditions, which, derivatively, even if analytically and tautologically, ground all of the "something elses" that have emerged from these "nothing buts" of a primal aegis and its initial conditions, aegis and initial being rather loaded terms, at best, otherwise totally question begging, to say the 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 conditions ensuing 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-listed criteria). 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. the non-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 boundary conditions 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 and is just a given. The initial conditions and boundary conditions ensuing under its aegis would have an ad extra nature discernible 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 extra nature from its ensuing emergent realities. The properties of any such nature would have to be argued with the same modal logic and they must be guaranteed 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 McHugh's modal ontological 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, our argument (distinguished from argumentation per CSP). But, taking heart from both Godel and Hartshorne, and inspiration from Christopher McHugh, I simply could 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 about God’s existence. The Divina Commedia in his opinion alternates ‘in a most remarkable way between the visionary and the almost pedantically explanatory’. And so too Four Quartets, though being written in the age of Russell and Wittgenstein rather than that of Aquinas, Eliot’s sequence approaches 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 one's ability to successfully refer to certain realities with one's ability to describe them (which requires a measurable degree of explanatory adequacy). In a nutshell, then, one must avoid "proving too much." One diagnosis for this illicit move is this: In one's 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 their underlying grammars; there can be no ontology with a capital "O" until we abduct the reality of the necessary. Without the modal category of the necessary, 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). It's ad extra nature presents everywhere in observable reality as the deepest and most persistent human abduction of the reality of the necessary, which grounds our common sense understandings of causation and all other (sub)doxastic realities, i.e. first principles and other unjustified foundational presuppositions. This abduction is the foundation of the pneumatological imagination and one's first encounter with the Creator Spirit. Properly formed and nurtured, well, let's just say 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 of the necessary that is not predicated using the same modal ontological arguments as Godel, Hartshorne and Christopher McHugh. (And I see this realization dawning on Stephen Hawking in an inchoate fashion.) This is to maintain that, when scientists speak of initial conditions and boundary conditions in terms of brute facts, they have implicitly argued for the modal category of the necessary, which is inescapably an argument for the reality of the Ens Necessarium, which can be predicated as, at least, nothing less than an un-nuanced deism, which prepares the philosophical soil for positive theology.   There can be no criticism of this minimalist theism from a systems perspective. Like radically deconstructive postmodernism, which was a critique but could not comprise a system, the atheistic critique must either come from a practical nihilism, which is naught but a manner of living and which articulates 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 are unconsciously competent pan-en-theists.)   Thus, there are only three options: 1) remain a respectful ontological silence like some Buddhists and inhabit merely phenomenological perspectives employing 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 Kung's 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 science's 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 or panentheistic. 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 one's bowl. McHugh’s proof, cited above, is a grand exercise in apophatic theology and formal argument (even formal symbolic logic). It is compelling and succeeds for those who buy into modal logic and its grammars. There is 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 the philosophical 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: An Exploration of Responses to the Problem of Evil based on a Typology of Good-Harm Analyses’ in Physics and Cosmology: Scientific Perspectives on the problem of evil in nature ed. Robert J. Russell, Nancey Murphy and William Stoeger SJ, (Berkeley, Ca. and Vatican City: CTNS and 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 are learning how to love. Irenaeus, early church father, who saw the world as a soul-making place, would agree. Apparently, alternating consolation and desolation 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 the emergentist perspective.   If one can at all buy into my distinctions between methodological and philosophical naturalisms and between epistemological and ontological emergentist stances, which may be either open or closed, then let me suggest a way forward. My own methodological naturalism and epistemological emergentism represent provisional closures toward such a metaphysical realism as can only be supported, via strict empirical observation, by such a phenomenological stance as is characterized by my heuristic of ontological, semantical and epistemic vagueness. I described ontological and semantical vagueness hereinabove. Epistemic vagueness presents either through methodological constraints or through such a putative natural occulting 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. For some of us, that does not, at the same time, suggest that we have a priori decided where those keys may or may not be. The required steps forward, from a metatechnica to metaphysics, in my view, would take one from phenomenology to ontology and from a heuristic device 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 step and it is not that complicated on paper. All one has to do is to change one's modal ontological categories from possible, actual and probable to possible, actual and necessary. Is such a move warranted? Nowhere do we observe necessity in reality; necessity everywhere eludes us (as contingency apparently rules observable reality). 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 nondependent, and by some taken to be brute facts, be logically necessary? What question might they answer? Heidegger's question: "Why is there not rather nothing?" has been rendered a pseudo-question by those who'd employ an eliminativist strategy of considering "nothing" a conceptual reification, accusing all, who take existence to be a predicate of being, of a meaningless tautology. Indeed, not even Aquinas 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. Heidegger's 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 not even have a strict ontology but would have the validation of metaphysics as a project, ontology as a respectable ambition. The modal category of the 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 and robustly systematic. It affirms that there are many metaphysical blanks to be filled in. It acknowledges that many have already been filled in and that there 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 of Enlightenment fundamentalism. It is a Goldilocks epistemology . It is a tentative and fallible metaphysical approach that doesn't prove too much and doesn't exert unwarranted normative and prescriptive impetus on humankind's 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, for example. It might even be like Polanyi's tacit dimension or Bohm's implicate order or what have you. We might thus speak of this reality's intelligibility even as we acknowledge it's regnant incomprehensibility.    A Trinitarian Theology of Nature: pansemio-entheistic    
  • Peirce's 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 Polanyi's tacit dimension, necessity may be closer to us than we are to ourselves. Here we may encounter that type of biosemiotic reality that informs what I call our subdoxastic routines, or our biosemiotic heuristic subroutines. Thus, I draw yet another distinction between biosemiotic heuristic dynamics: the subdoxastic and doxastic. To some extent, they may be thought of in terms of unconscious competence and conscious competence, the first corresponding, somewhat, to common sense.   In my schema, firstness corresponds to the epistemic field (where abduction has its moment); secondness corresponds to the ontic field (where induction 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 rupture between our essentialistic idealizations and their existential realizations is not some ontological rupture located in the past, occasioning a felix culpa and atonement, but, rather, results from a teleological chasm that we are crossing and oriented toward a future, an eschaton. Jesus is the eminently ontic, then, mediating between the immanent and the transcendent. With respect to thirdness, morally, He is transparent, the Trinity’s immanent nature revealed in splendor; metaphysically, with respect to firstness, His nature is occulted, the Trinity's transcendent nature presenting to 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 the incarnational 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 human kind cannot avoid the inference of the necessary; necessity everywhere suggests itself. Like Polanyi's tacit dimension, necessity may be closer to us than we are to ourselves. Here we may encounter that type of biosemiotic reality that informs what I call our subdoxastic routines, or our biosemiotic heuristic subroutines. And here we have the abduction of the ens necessarium, the robustly telic field of reality, which mutually interpenetrates the epistemic, ontic and semiotic fields of reality, and which, as the immanent Trinity, also mediates between the transcendent Trinity and incarnational Trinity.  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 of observable physical causation. It is thus unobtrusively yet utterly efficacious. All may be well. (Dame Julian) Don't you know it's gonna be alright. (John Lennon)   The Holy Spirit is precisely how I'd 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, impelling emergent reality forward) or through downward, or even, omnidirectional causation, ordering and re-ordering pansemiotic fields. (As I see it, once we invoke downward causation in reality via Baldwinian evolution, as possibly even through Bohm's quantum interpretation and Sheldrake's morphic resonance, 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) for human 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 the Thomistic 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, the incarnational Trinity, the eminently ontic, one must employ equivocal predication, or equivocity of semiosis, such that morally, the Godhead is made transparent, metaphysically, remains occulted; and 3) to speak of Thirdness, the Spirit, the immanent Trinity, the eminently telic, one must employ univocal predication, a univocity of semiosis. Thus, there is a place for one's dialectical imagination, one's analogical imagination and one's pneumatological imagination (Yong), which I refer to in terms of one’s imaginative take on reality as an arena of pervasive intentionality via a web of 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 understand that 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, rendering Heidegger's "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 attempt fail also because the metaphysical is a moving and sometimes hidden target. Process theologies (e.g. Whiteheadian projects) often fail because they have traded essentialism for nominalism, in abandoning their substantialism. Only the Peircean take maintains a robust epistemological realism (and does 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: A Theology of Evolution drawing on the Semiotics of C.S. Peirce and Trinitarian Thought. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 39 (1): 111-136 Visit: http://www.andrew-robinson.info/   Is Metaphysics Moonshine? Introduction Look 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, weak supervenience, strong supervenience, logical supervenience, ontological supervenience, higher order theory, multiple drafts theory, neutral monism, aristotelian hylomorphism, 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 near the 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 basic categories: 1) revisions of our logic; 2) revisions of our descriptions of causality; 3) propositions of incompleteness or hidden variables; and 4) submission to reductio arguments Revised Hermeneutics? Proposed revisions to our logic and our understanding of causality, respectively, deal with epistemology and ontology, while propositions regarding hidden variables involve cosmology. Whether we attempt to resolve paradox with epistemological, ontological or cosmological revisions, we soon learn that the descriptive problems we are faced with are intractable and that every time we open a new interpretive window, reality shuts another hermeneutical door. Often, our last resort is a reductio argument, demonstrating the 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 of the 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? Problems Epistemologically confronted by godelian incompleteness, ontologically faced with friesian undecidability and cosmologically challenged by peircean unlimited semeiosis, are we 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 may be, 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 human cognitive limitations? And what precisely is at stake? The status of various truth propositions or merely the establishment of these limitations? Can we escape the epistemological, ontological, cosmological, and even axiological and teleological, cartesian dilemmas? Solutions It 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 ontological and cosmological agnosticism, gaining virtual meta-ontological and meta-cosmological vantage points. Such a retreat might be energized by an essential pragmatism that avails 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 reality in 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) and physical 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 and contextual-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 prime reality that is symmetric over against asymmetric, driven by the same exigencies that drove our modal logic revisions, compelled by humankind’s long successful experience with 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 scientific cultural milieu where ontologies wage a battle royale in the philosophy of mind interdisciplines, where cosmologies collide in their implications for both our origin and our destiny? Emergence There 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 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 have reductionism and the strongest 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 maintain supervenience, 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 (covariance without 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 strong emergence. Systems have also been characterized as closed emergent and open emergent systems. Closed emergent systems are epistemologically closed insofar as all of the system parameters for parts & wholes, properties & laws, are known; as such, closed systems are relatively deterministic at their lowest levels, even if indeterministic at their higher levels. Open emergent systems are epistemologically open, characterized by epistemic uncertainty. They may be either ontologically open or closed, which is to say 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, computational cognition, language, semiotics (syntactical & semantic) and nonalgorithmic cognition. I think the general consensus, among cognitive scientists, is that all of the system parameters for the parts & wholes, properties & laws of human consciousness are not known. In fact, they are extremely overdetermined. Presently, then, any understanding of the emergent system of human consciousness is epistemologically open, marked by substantial epistemic uncertainty. Until there is a more robust understanding of the properties and laws governing consciousness, we risk reification of both the structural and the functional concepts that describe our mental states and their interactivity with the physical. The putatively ontologically open systems of human consciousness would include Avery’s dimensional structure of consciouness, Penrose’s new physical laws, Ayn Rand’s objectivist 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 between computational and nonalgorithmic cognition is pivotal. Those who propose ontologically closed systems include the psychoneural identity theorists and others with various views 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 and emergence 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 its liabilities 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 to decide 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 from generation 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 it ontological? Even then, I think our abductions will guide us toward an accumulation of indirect evidence, such evidence subjected to ever more rigorous statistical analyses and resulting in increasingly compelling inferences about the nature of consciousness, again constrained by godelian dynamics. As such, it will never be exhaustive of the competing ontological and cosmological approaches but will remain congruent with many of them through the highly refined nuancing suggested by James. Still, if we continue our 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 Emergence A very fruitful way of engaging a most comprehensive, yet very discriminating, perspective on emergence dynamics is through the hermeneutic of semiotic emergence. From the 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 meaning essentially 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 metaphysics with 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 reality ontologically, 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 set of 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 interpretive lens of semiotic emergence, can better avoid confusing our maps for our territories, earnestly critiquing them, whether substance, process, participative or some other variety. (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 the insidious cartesian dualisms, which breed the mutually unintelligible distinctions such as between essentialism and nominalism, realism and idealism, empiricism and rationalism, 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 a small price to pay for the enhanced modeling power it provides us for reality, especially once considering the manifold and multiform efficacies than ensue from its transcendence of cartesian spectres. Efficacies of the SEP With respect to an anthropocentric, human exceptionalism, the SEP gives impetus to our attempts to jettison the cartesian baggage that weighs down our existential cargo holds and overloads our hermeneutical overhead bins. What baggage? The cartesian dualisms that prevent us from taking anthropological flight and attaining ecological altitude 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; and e) set us aimlessly adrift without the benefit of a coherent teleonomy and a morally compelling eschatological vision that teleologically connects to our present milieu giving impetus 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 the biological continuum and human instinct are excessively downplayed with cultural conditioning otherwise considered both necessary and sufficient in describing human behavior. Elements of an SEP There are many problems, solutions and efficacies addressed in the hereinabove-proposed hermeneutical revisions to classical metaphysics. What specific ingredients might best 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 to access 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 human condition that brushes this fact aside is an incomplete perspective, - -indeed, we would say that it is an impoverished perspective. ... Given that we have evolved 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 be moral - - this moral experience - - that undergirds and motivates the actions of a moral person.? [From Biology to Consciousness to Morality by Ursula Goodenough 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 their metaphysics. This is still far better than those who "prove too much" with their science and metaphysics in what seems to me to be the wrong direction!   That Fr. Bede and Merton and other spiritual technologists engaged the East seriously and recognized gifts for all of humankind in the Eastern traditions is important. It makes me want to pay attention, to take them seriously but not necessarily literally (speaking of such as Aurobindo's evolutionary ideas). In other words, however much their spiritual practices are integrally related to their ontologies and doctrines, it is curious that we can borrow their practices (again, for example, Aurobindo's accounts of Yoga) and have them work very well for us even if we do not buy into their ontologies 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 and awkward attempts to articulate what humankind had ALREADY discovered to be the truth (or an approximation, at least) phenomenologically, which is to 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 to suggest that folks like Aurobindo were paying incredible and excellent attention to reality, especially human reality (like the Sufi mystics and the Enneagram, for example). The same is true for kundalini, just for another example. That we experience this reality, phenomenally, is not in dispute for those 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 and the 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 by the great traditions. (I think of John Hick, here.) My suspicion is that those grounds would be pneumatological, which is to suggest the involvement of the Holy Spirit. (I think of Amos Yong, here.) Interreligious dialogue could proceed with our [Christology] in brackets and the Spirit out front and center.   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, what some refer to as foundations and justifications? Or, perhaps, following Hans Kung, whether or not we even care to explain such a fundamental trust in 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 uncertain reality. He also talks about a nowhere anchored and paradoxical trust in uncertain reality. However, might we not further distinguish between the process 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 that very pursuit, perhaps he'd suggest that we can cash out some value in our anchoring attempts and that this value would be denominated in terms of realizing the least morbid system, the one least infected with paradox - - - veridical, falsidical, antinomial, conditional, or the system that is most consistent 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 Buddhist approaches). We can gainsay and critique systems and need no system of our own in order to efficaciously do so (radically deconstructive postmodernism and practical nihilism). None of these approaches requires Ontology, this notwithstanding the fact that many adherents of these above-listed stances have attempted such metaphysical articulations. I believe it was also Whitehead who said that Christianity was a religion in search 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 variously categorized 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 to adjudicate between them, to cash out their value, is in terms of modeling power of reality and with such a "power" oriented toward human value realizations and the bolstering of authentic human aspirations. Somehow, true dialogue might require us to at least be able to stand in one another's existential moccasins and to get in touch with why our otherwise disparate hermeneutics might truly remain live options. And then we can get on with the project of doing ethics, of seeking a more universally compelling morality and the articulation of a truly global ethic. And we had better not wait for an ontological consensus. We don't have time. We must come to the dialogue table with our ontologies bracketed and build on the common ground we already share vis a vis general precepts, human dignity, common good, universal declarations of human rights and so on and so forth with a premium placed on THAT we share them and a discount issued regarding WHY we share them (vis a vis our justification attempts). This is not to suggest that, at the same time, we should not otherwise still be seeking the most nearly perfect articulation of truth, beauty, goodness and unity attainable (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 that epistemology is epistemology is epistemology. And these "moments" in the singular and integral act of knowing, then, precisely gain their sympathetic potential from the fact that each moment actually presupposes the other moments, none getting the job of discovery done alone, all getting the job of discovery done together. These moments are autonomous only in the sense that they are asking distinctly different questions of reality and cannot, therefore, conflict with one another, in principle. And this is why they are, necessarily, in some sense, mutually limiting. These moments 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 and evaluative. Or, we might think in terms of the paradigmatic, positivistic, prudential and philosophic (all defined above in this essay). So, too, we might think in more classical terms like apophatic and kataphatic, like cognitive and affective. The history of philosophy is littered with systems that wrenched 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, various so-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, Enlightenment fundamentalism, 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 rubrics of 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 mere fact that he claims to holistically embrace objective, subjective, interobjective and intersubjective "modes" of knowledge (and these roughly correspond to my positivistic, philosophic, paradigmatic and prudential spheres of concern). It is not the affirmation of all such "moments" that makes one's approach integral; rather, it is the proper inter-relating of such moments that gifts them with their integral nature; it is their holonic inseparability that makes them holistic. What happens here? Ken allows unfettered reign (no mutual limitation) to the intersubjective and transrational moment of what should otherwise properly be considered but one moment, presupposing all the other moments, in an integrally related mode of discovery. Mysticism, then, goes wherever it wants, probes reality, comes back with reports that are unassailable. What we end up with is an unmitigated 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: the normative and evaluative mediate between the descriptive (science) and the paradigmatic (theology) to effect the prudential (moral and practical judgment). Each moment presupposes the others. Each moment has its moment, whether implicitly or explicitly, in the integral act of knowing, the singular mode of discovery. This is reinforced by Charles Sanders Peirce's 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 spontaneously hypothesizing or quickly coming up with an If-Then statement) all presuppose the others, none even making sense without the others.   Foundationalism   I'm 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 the postmodern 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, metaphysical realism, moral realism, scientific theories like evolution, quantum mechanics, thermodynamic laws and so on. It is an ontological presupposition to assert, as I do, that we can successfully reference many realities that we have not yet been able to fully describe with a robust explanatory adequacy. So, insofar as I am doing meta-metaphysics, I am also being something of a crypto-metaphysician (and not so very crypto when you really think 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 epistemic move 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 practical perspective, when it comes to inter-religious, inter-ideological, politically pluralistic and globally diverse dialogues, it would seem most efficacious, in my 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 the same 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 be expected 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 this truth is to take an inventory of the manifold and multiform foundations and justifications that humankind claims and employs when prescribing cures for 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 of Human Rights, or the US Declaration of Independence, or the Geneva Conventions, or why there is any consensus at all regarding human dignity and the common good. It is not because they ostensibly shared the same foundations. That is self-evident. My thesis is that, at some level, much of humankind is unconsciously competent in their ethical machinations and moral justifications, and even with respect to common sense notions of causality and first principles, this notwithstanding their inability to coherently articulate this competence and their inability to systematize their epistemic, 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 and not with why we share them. Normative science is transparent to human reason. So, it is my hope that at least a minimalist deontology, a sketchy natural 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 New Millennium reveal how deep the interideological incommensurabilities are, and how wide the metaphysical chasms are, that must be navigated before attaining a Global Ethic. I do not know what this or that metaphysic will bring to humankind's table or why we would imagine it could be so very universally compelling and common sensically self-evident. At some level, we are in agreement about how common sensically self-evident a minimalist deontology and sketchy natural 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 us are in agreement on where to start (and maybe our positions are not mutually exclusive? We can all move full speed ahead.) It is just positively uncanny, though, at how widely divergent and even totally incommensurate the apologetics can be when it comes to describing the foundations and articulating the justification of our meta-ethical approaches. Such faulty ontologies need to be subverted from within because we know that such paradigm 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 ought to 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 my heuristic, when it comes to value realization strategies, we can and often do begin in media res, especially as, once considering Sartre’s observation that we share values because of the “universal human condition.” So, relative though our moral undergirdings may appear, absent clearly accessible foundations, for all practical purposes, we can still expect a great deal of consistency, even across otherwise widely disparate hermeneutics, when we sit down at the Global Ethic dialogue table to discuss moral objects in terms of act, intention and circumstances, when we probe from deontological, 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 is only a dialogical tool (and not rather an epistemic maneuver) which challenges us to rearticulate our truth in a more universally compelling way that is more transparent to human reason. For example and concretely, then, we cannot urge others in a pluralistic political forum to join our side on the basis 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 grips with 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 tested against 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 the American 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 one hand, 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 humankind's knowledge advances fallibly 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 formula which 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) stances to 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 our rationality is an ecological rationality (has adaptive significance). Also, we can see how these different stances are moreso intellectually related and not strictly logically related, which is to recognize, for example, that nonformal and quasi-formal stances often have a role in navigating us, however fallibly, to the truth. I am talking, for example, about such epistemic criteria as coherence, symmetry, elegance, beauty, simplicity, Occam's Razor, Pascal's Wager and reductio arguments (from ignorance). This is to also recognize that human cognition is not merely computational or algorithmic or syntactical 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 humankind's journey to make such a claim. Whitehead said that all metaphysics were fatally flawed but did not desist from the enterprise himself. When confronting the unknown, we cannot a priori know which of Quine's 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 occulting due 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 surrounding the 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 Godconcepts insofar as they aspire to an increase in descriptive accuracy 1) thru negation, which is to say through the employment of negatively defined attributes (apophasis); and 2) thru affirmation, but only in a relational sense and only through the employment of analogical and metaphorical statements (kataphasis). There is a real problem, however, in that this noncognitivist critique, in its anxiety to an-nihilate (yes, the seemingly nihilistic choice) theology and metaphysics, would also destroy speculative cosmology and theoretical physics, too (in other words, science). This problem stems mostly from the failure to draw a distinction between the successful description of a reality and the successful reference of a reality, the latter not gifted with a robust explanatory adequacy, to be sure, but not at all necessarily devoid of this so-called "concrete meaning." This distinction has always been in play at the frontiers of science, such as when modern genetics and natural selection were merging into our now received neodarwinian understandings, as our mostly phenomenological references to genes yielded to robust biochemical and biological descriptions, or such as in our ongoing attempts to merge quantum mechanics and gravity, where our theories and terms do not only not mutually describe but do not even mutually refer.
  • Now, we do not, at the same time, therefore, countenance giving people's imaginations free reign in hypothesizing, as if logical consistency and deductive validity were the only criteria of epistemic virtue, for we also saddle them with the responsibility of articulating inductive inferences, which is to require, empirical falsifiability. And because certain realities, by their very nature, tend to be only eschatologically falsifiable or verifiable, leaving us with a Scottish verdict (theism, atheism, nontheism), we are left adjudicating these competing claims with essentially pragmatic criteria and evaluative sensibilities. This, alone, does not make them noncognitive, unless one's apologetic is "grounded" fideistically or scientistically, which is to say by an unjustified and a priori pre- or post-Enlightenment fundamentalism. The proper grounding is described, in part, above, in the heuristic setting forth the interplay of our different stances toward reality, and, also, insofar as Peirce's approach entails a theory of knowledge, which presupposes 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, discerning best 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, theoretical a/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 sufficiently nuanced, can all be correct insofar as they suggest, regarding this or that aspect of reality, that, sometimes, the most appropriate response is a reverent silence. Footnote Regarding Positivism Problems with ignosticism, such as theological noncognitivism, run much deeper than many recognize insofar as its core commitment to the principle of 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. We've 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 indubitable starting-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 meaningful in my theory of knowledge insofar as normative/evaluative, descriptive/referential, interpretive/paradigmatic and prescriptive/pragmatic modes of value 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 can be 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, which is to acknowledge that the primary attribute is defined negatively, in other words, as being not literally this or that, and the secondary attributes are 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. Do we 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 is not robustly explanatory, but why must meaning be limited to successful description? Some realities are not wholly comprehensible but are certainly partly apprehensible, so, why limit one's definition of intelligibility and insight to full comprehensibility? When reality's givens are defined in terms of primitives like space, time, mass and energy, in other words, presupposing a space-time plenum, our use of terms like nonlocal, nonspatial and nontemporal are references to primary characteristics of putative realities as we near T=0. After all, time came into existence with the Big Bang. When describing the putative initial conditions and boundary conditions of the universe, or hypothesizing singularities, 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 and not to nature, herself. And physical theories are mathematical models, which are subject to Godelian-like constraints, hence are intrinsically incomplete (or otherwise inconsistent).   Here are some useful citations re: analogy & science. They provide more examples, from the history of science, than cited above re: speculative cosmology 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 at least two categories: mathematical and physical models. In this paper, we focus attention mainly on the latter, trying to show that they are essential tools not only of the scientific description of the world ‘out there’, but of man’s cognition of things, especially things not directly accessible to the senses. The spring-and-ball (SB) model of chemistry is a most instructive example of a physical model. In other disciplines, from cosmology to physiology, 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 the world accessible to man’s direct experience, often constructed ad hoc and possibly idealized. They serve as referents for analogies, which appear to 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 SCIENTIFIC DISCOURSE 3) Bruce D. Despain, Section 1-2 HYPOTHESIS, A Paraphrastic Grammar of English   Suggested Reading Clayton, Philip - Emergence, Supervenience, and Personal Knowledge, Tradition-and-Discovery. 2002-03; 29(3): 8-19 Kroger, 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): 23-27 Innis, Robert - Consciousness and the Play of Signs,Indiana-Univ-Pr : Bloomington, 1994 Sanders, Andy - Tacit Knowledge-Between Modernism and Postmodernism, Tradition-and-Discovery. 1991-92; 18(2): 15-21 Mullins, Phil - Peirce's Abduction and Polanyi's Tacit Knowing,Journal-of-Speculative-Philosophy. 2002; 16(3): 198-224 Innis, Robert E. - Perception, Interpretation, and the Signs of Art, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 15.1 (2001) 20-32 Innis, Robert E. - Homing in on the Range: Comments on Mark Johnson's "Cowboy Bill Rides Herd on the Range of Consciousness", The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 16.4 (2002) 264-272 p.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 to have the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious.  
  • Christian Nonduality Musings with Peirce: How Real Are Modal Realisms? NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog     Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom   Wanted: Women Warriors On one hand, I am all for speculating boldly in such theoretical matters, such as regarding the many worlds of QM or the multiverse of speculative cosmology. On the other hand, I urge caution when such models get invoked vis a vis anthropic principles. Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered The Methodological & Theoretical Distinction  My chief concern with such as Lewis' modal realism is its temporality. While he employs modal-tenseless language, being neutral to tense is not the same as atemporality, an implication we must deal with due to quantum cosmology and which, in my view, implicitly critiques any robustly conceived modal realisms. Perhaps we best distinguish, then, between a modal realism that is pragmatic and methodological and one that is theoretic and ontological. It seems that we have all we need in order to advance both practical and moral inquiry in a modal realism that we adopt presuppositionally and provisionally in order to advance methodological inquiry. Beyond the needs of our prudential judgments and normative heuristics, we might boldly speculate with Lewis and Tegmark on a theoretic modal realism, but any adoption of a robust ontology beyond a realist method for doing ontology would seem to invoke an a priorism and apodicticity that it seems Peirce would not countenance given his emphases on the a posteriori and fallibilism. Also, we should keep in mind that our modal realities could be very, very local. For example, many possibilities arise as novel dissipative structures in far from equilibrium thermodynamics, dynamics which certainly do not exhaust our account of reality.   The Strong Anthropic Principle 
  • Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal An additional problem arises in any invocation of a strong anthropic principle. (The weak version is trivial.) The problem results, in part, from a need to clarify the conceptual confusion between coincidence and chance. Coincidence is something that pertains to the present or past. Chance has meaning only when information is lacking. So, we distinguish the two in temporal terms. If we are considering an event a priori, chance is in play. If we consider it a posteriori, we have coincidence (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 and statistical science thus pertains to chance and not coincidence. Probability deals with the epistemically-unavailable, is an empirical notion subject to empirical methods and is assigned to arguments with premises and conclusions (and not rather to events, states or types of same). I suppose that if we knew enough about the universe's initial conditions we could imaginatively (conceivably) walk ourselves back to T=0 and invoke chance, but we don't thus have such an informed grasp of what should or should not be expected of this reality. Valid arguments can be constructed employing actual infinites. We just cannot a priori know whether infinites can be both abstract and concrete or not. We can work within this or that tautology and employ certain terms/premises that presuppose the conclusion of our arguments and thereby find our arguments compelling. However, to an unbiased observer, the argument remains unproven: Scottish verdict. Not only can we not a priori and analytically demonstrate what is metaphysically necessary, we can not even meaningfully discuss what is physically probable, as regarding such a probability as would pertain to the initial, boundary and limit conditions of the universe. Thus we have no baseline numbers to establish probabilistic theories for strong anthropic principles. And the closer we get to T=0, the less we seem to know, presently. I still have my hopes. If Peirce is interpreted by scholars as going beyond the type of methodological realism I have herein described, then I consider this too strong a position for me to try to defend, positivistically and 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-normative cosmology and our interpretive-evaluative axiology is the normative impetus our various concepts and arguments will enjoy because, employing our status-in-negotiation rubric to evaluate concepts, our descriptive and normative methodologies will traffic more heavily in theoretic and semiotic concepts, which have been negotiated by a community of inquiry or even considered non-negotiable, and our interpretive and evaluative methodologies will traffic more heavily in heuristic and dogmatic concepts, which either remain in negotiation or have not yet been negotiated. Beyond this sociologic observation, this status-in-negotiation rubric has normative impetus by virtue of the fact that a community has likely cashed-out significant practical (and ethical) value through time for concepts it considers (fallibilistically) either non-negotiable or already negotiated. The implication is that scientific and ethical inquiry will have more sway in the public square than our essentially interpretive inquiries, which nevertheless condition our prioritizing of values and visions of ought-to-be’s. Another consequence of this approach is a theoretical metaphysical agnosticism, which recognizes that its pragmatic, methodological realism is a provisional presupposition, an epistemic stance of hope ordered toward the end of advancing meaningful inquiry. It is adopted for argument’s sake, for all practical purposes and not because we have otherwise overcome some devastating Humean critique. To the extent we do not a priori know when it is that we are being methodologically thwarted (a condition we can overcome through time with better instrumentation, for example) or ontologically occulted, in principle, (a condition that leaves us empty-handed epistemically) we assume, for the sake of inquiry, that we are being methodologically thwarted because assuming an ontological occulting is an epistemic cul de sac. This is to recognize that we look for our lost keys under the lamp post at night, not because we know they just simply cannot be elsewhere but because, if they are elsewhere, we have little hope of finding them anyway.   Metaphysical Agnosticism - reminiscent of a Friesian Ontological Undecidability Now, what is good for the realist goose is good for the nominalist gander, for this metaphysical agnosticism is a knife that cuts both ways. By that, I mean to recognize that, not only does any robust modal realism fall to the agnostic axe, so does any philosophical naturalism. There is an old saying that just because you are paranoid does not mean that they are not out to get you. Well, in that same vein, just because we encounter paradox does not mean that our thinking is all wrong and our methods are just not well-conceived; maybe we haven't (and even couldn't have) enumerated all of reality's givens and primitives, including some whose tacit dimensionality effects an utterly efficacious influence on reality in an otherwise ineluctably unobtrusive way (weakly analogous to other downward causations, which ostensibly do not violate physical causal closure). This tacit dimensionality reflects, in part, Polanyi's end-around nominalism.   Methodological Incrementalism
  • As it is, I prefer the phrase methodological incrementalism in media res over methodological naturalism, precisely because I am agnostic about its implict metaphysic, which is to recognize that we simply start where we are in order to launch our next good inquiry without a priori presupposing its outcome. So, we cannot really take an eliminativist stance toward the epistemic-ontic distinction vis a vis our methods and reality’s essential nature but must continually confront it anew. What we accomplish with our pragmatic realism, in my view, is a bracketing of any robustly metaphysical assumptions with a prescinding to a more epistemically indeterminate and/or ontologically vague perspective, or phenomenology, when necessary. We return, as we can, to the epistemically determinate and/or ontologically precise, hopefully with a chastised optimism and contrite fallibilism. And, we affirm successful references to reality even when successful descriptions evade us. What separates Einstein as a highly speculative theoretical thinker from many others is that he was able to translate his abstractions into falsifiable hypotheses, subject them to empirical measurement and inductive testing, and then, soon enough, cash out the practical value of his thoughts. His theoretical armchair was also a pragmatic wheelchair. Rather than a nonvirtuous cycle of abductive hypothesizing and deductive clarifying, his was interrupted with inductive testing. In Maritain’s terms, the dianoetic order of mathematics and ananoetic order of metaphor and analogy met the perinoetic order of empirical science. As I recall, Tegmark maintains that we’ll indeed be able to indirectly test some of the inferences that are consistent with his ensemble theory of everything. The enduring lesson is that we must keep 1ns, 2ns and 3ns happily engaged in their Peircean menage a trois and not let any two of them run off and jilt the other. In the case of naive realism, 2ns gets jilted. In the 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’s for real. However, if she runs off without them, she’s a harlot; let her go. Lonergan's work-around nominalism was to differentiate between our naming exercise (nomenclature) vis a vis being intelligent and our judgment 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 is Hartshorne's nonstrict identity, which invokes asymmetric temporal relations, which is to suggest that a reality's essential nature includes its past but not its future. And what could be more temporally asymmetric than atemporality? How might this be reconciled with different modal realisms?   The Problem of Induction - science as only a partial solution This ongoing conversation has raised for me two related questions regarding how inference is playing out in our thinking about reality. How does a very highly speculative theoretic science differ from the ordinary course of science? How does science augment common
  • sense? In all instances, falsification issues seem to be in play, whether with ravens or pharoes. For everyday common sense, we rely on the fast and frugal heuristics that have been gifted us by natural selection for our distinctly human ecology. As radically social animals, we are greatly protected by one another and our institutions vis a vis our vital or practical affairs. This allows us to rely with great confidence on inherited beliefs that, as far as their future efficacies may be concerned, are innocent until proven guilty. Our conclusions are drawn, then, based on the lack of contrary evidence. Hume's problem of induction does not come to bear, for all practical purposes, or so we might imagine. Practical problems do arise with life's exigencies, technical and medical and otherwise. Prior conclusions and their associated predictions fail us. Our arguments ad ignorantium prove fallacious. We need more methodological rigor. Science augments common sense. In our alternating conjectures and criticism, our abductions, inductions and deductions run through cycles. Much like the settings on our washing machines, which vary according to the prospective difficulty of a given wash job or the delicacy of the fabrics, our inferential cycles thus vary given the nature of the investigative problem at hand, such as our confrontations with epistemic indeterminacy and ontological vagueness.   Our Epistemic Wash Cycles 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) result corroboration. In the event of successful corroboration, future cycles of deductionprediction and testing-corroboration proceed, repeating only the endstages of the cycle. In the event of a corroborative failure, our dirty explanatory clothing needs to be thrown back in the next abductive cycle 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-increasing confidence about the efficacies of any given detergent to brighten our white fabrics. This quantitative induction, where we generalize from a sample to the whole, when repeated with enough success, makes our generalizations more than hasty, approaching law-like. We might metaphorically conceive of our abductive explanatory hypotheses in terms of a wash detergent that enjoys varying amounts of explanatory adequacy. There is another experimental testing approach we can try. Rather than testing our detergent through a repeated sampling of one type of fabric, we could try testing our detergent on a variety of fabrics in a single wash cycle. This qualitative induction, where we test our abductive detergent on a range of other fabrics, allows us to employ one sample in the testing of many different predictions, generalizing about an entire wardrobe of ideas: red shifts, white dwarfs, green curves, dark matter, black holes, blue stars and ultraviolet 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 qualitative induction will enjoy the same probative weight from investigator to investigator, but through time and an earnest community of inquiry the differential weighting of these matters sorts itself out. The more highly speculative theoretic science involves 1) inductive data-gathering 2) abductive hypothetical explanation 3) deductive consequential analysis & prediction but, for one reason or another, can get thwarted in its attempts at successful 4) experimental design & testing and 5) result corroboration. Like ordinary scientific pursuits, it shares 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 the nagging Humean problem of induction, notwithstanding our Peircean end-arounds. There's a lot more than Popperian falsification going on with abduction, as I implied regarding our evolutionary inheritance of fast and frugal heuristics, where we rather efficiently narrow down possibilities, often reasoning from previously-known predicates to otherwise unknown subjects or their analogs, based on our encounters with novel properties, for example. The beginning of our epistemic wash-cycles, where abduction and deduction predominate, are inescapably tautological, question begging, self-referential, with Godelian-like axioms that cannot be proven within their own systems. By successive repetitions of our epistemic cycles, both quantitatively and qualitatively, our tautologies become more taut vis a vis their modeling power of reality. What keeps science so very exciting are the perduring possibilities, as recognized in the provisionality of our ontological closures and the inherent 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-like paradigm shifts as dissemble our very system axioms, renormalizing previously incommensurable approaches to reality. While it is true that Newtonian physics works just fine, conventionally and locally, there is no doubt that the more universally-taut tautologies completely transcend 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 and transcendent, or even timeless and atemporal. The thing about fashioning 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 transcending formalisms and as illuminating common sense, which through science, sometimes gets applied in an uncommonly useful way is all. The very instance of the ongoing mutual critique of qualitative and quantitative induction is the proof in the epistemic pudding that there is more than one way to axiomatize a system and make an investigative run at reality. These work-arounds of the Humean critique are theoretically weak but pragmatically worthy, which is to recognize, with all Peirceans, that our search for indubitable foundations is quixotic. I think we must also concede, as post-foundationalists, that our efforts to distill degrees of inductive success, from crude
  • to refined, will inevitably reach a point of diminishing returns, 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 clearness of apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object. Peirce’s Example of the Untested Diamond: Let us illustrate this rule by some examples; and, to begin with the simplest one possible, let us ask what we mean by calling a thing hard. Evidently that it will not be scratched by many other substances. The whole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceived effects. There is absolutely no difference between a hard thing and a soft 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 soft cotton, and should remain there until it was finally burned up. Would it be false to say that that diamond was soft? This seems a foolish question, and would be so, in fact, except in the realm of logic. There such questions are often of the greatest utility as serving to bring logical principles into sharper relief than real discussions ever could. In studying logic we must not put them aside with hasty answers, but must consider them with attentive care, in order to make out the principles involved. We may, in the present case, modify our question, and ask what prevents us from saying that all hard bodies remain perfectly soft until they are touched, when their hardness increases with the pressure until they are scratched. Reflection will show that the reply is this: there would be no falsity in such modes of speech. They would involve a modification of our present usage of speech with regard to the words hard and soft, but not of their meanings. For they represent no fact to be different from what it is; only they involve arrangements of facts which would be exceedingly maladroit. This leads us to remark that the question of what would occur under circumstances which do not actually arise is not a question of fact, but only of the most perspicuous arrangement of them. JB’s Comments: My initial approach is to ask: If the untested diamond passage is the answer, 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 the untested diamond passage in conjunction with the pragmatic maxim passage. In answering this question, Peirce seems to be affirming a metaphysical realism, in general, but calling into question a prioristic, naive realisms. He also seems to be affirming the nominalist critique that nomenclature involves linguistic conventions, while maintaining that meaning requires more than nomenclature. He seems to very much affirm the positivistic emphasis on inductive testing but does not
  • go so far as to say that the unfalsifiable is meaningless or, in other words, that metaphysical speculation is nonsensical, hence useless. It seems that he is saying to the nominalists and positivists that linguistic conventions and inductive inferences (or perhaps, even, that firstness and secondness) are necessary but not sufficient and to the naive realists that abductive and deductive inference (or perhaps, even, that firstness and thirdness) are necessary but not sufficient. To wit: In the case of the untested diamond, the naive realist might abductively enumerate its putative properties and deductively clarify its dispositional functions without ever inductively testing one's hypotheses. The diamond that Peirce was talking about had never been thus isolated as a fact, or "brought to the test," but was the epistemic equivalent of angels dancing on the head of a pin, "circumstances which do not actually arise" and, hence, "not a question of fact." The nominalists might have considered the properties of hard and soft as mere linguistic conventions, but Peirce critiques that notion by virtue of his recognition that such properties are not thoroughgoing abstractions but have indeed been experienced in the past and could be encountered again, such as hard things that have not been "scratched by many other substances." Further, the predicates that refer to these qualities or properties do not function as concepts just because they have been actually instantiated, but derive their meaning from their conceived effects, thus "attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension." Finally, as we consider "what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings," we move into the realm of metaphysical speculation in the form of valid hypotheses (perspicuous arrangements of circumstances yet to be proven sound), which appeal to subjunctive conditionality? I'm drawing a distinction between conceived and conceivable. So, I do not read this as a denial of metaphysics or embrace of nominalism, but as an appeal for a metaphysical realism, properly conceived, one that is neither a prioristic nor apodictic, one that gains traction in terms of practical cash value, something we get at when asking "What's it to me?" as the normative sciences mediate between phenomenology and metaphysics to effect value-realizations. I don't see any nominalistic blunder. JB On Good Metaphysics I am vitally interested in finding a "good epistemology of metaphysics" because all too often it seems to me that some are telling untellable stories about reality, proving too much, saying more than we presently know. To the extent that epistemology is inherently normative, when we travel from the descriptive to the prescriptive, from the given to the normative, from an is to an ought, it behooves us to get our metaphysic right if we want our meta-ethic to enjoy any normative impetus in a pluralistic society. In my view, metaphysics remains a great way to probe reality but not a reliable way to prove reality. It follows, then, that our deontologies should be considered as tentative as our ontologies are speculative. How speculative is any given ontology? In moments of frustration, my flippant response is to say that I am looking for a root metaphor that is
  • robust enough to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics. In my conciliatory moments, I suggest that, while I would not ask anyone to bracket either one's metaphysic in one's conversations in the public  square, one must translate one's moral and ethical beliefs when engaging in public discourse. Specifically, one must tend to what I like to call a concept's negotiation status in any given community. Concepts that have, for the most part, already been negotiated by the community enjoy what I call theoretic status. Those still-in-negotiation, which act as placeholders, have a heuristic status. Certain concepts and propositions, which are indispensable to the establishment of meaning and which we must adopt presuppositionally, even if only provisionally, have a semiotic status, hence are non-negotiable. These are distinguished from the non-negotiated dogmatic concepts that have not been negotiated in the broader, pluralistic community. I first offer these as sociologic distinctions and suggest that the more universally compelling moral arguments in any given public square will likely employ a lot more theoretic and semiotic concepts and a lot fewer heuristic and dogmatic concepts. I suppose I am offering a tautology that simply suggests that one must negotiate one's ontology prior to urging and negotiating one's deontology. I do want to go beyond this descriptive sociologic exercise to suggest that these distinctions have an inherently normative impetus. It seems that the way to do this is to recognize that a concept's negotiation status, in some measure, will reflect any given community's ability through time to have cashed-out of that concept some practical value. Further, I offer an exploratory heuristic, suggesting that the normative mediates between the descriptive and the interpretive to effect the evaluative in a hermeneutical circle where each of these valuerealization strategies presupposes the others (being intellectually but not strictly logically-related). This heuristic comprises a rubric for what I consider to be a nonfoundational, axiological perspectivalism. I am suggesting, then, that thus it is that our tautologies get progressively more taut and our root metaphors, collapsing in succession, get progressively more robust. All of our normative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative posits will variously employ a mix of semiotic, theoretic, heuristic and dogmatic concepts. I hope such a perspectivalism in conjunction with the norms I have suggested for concepts (vis a vis their status-in-negotiation), suggests a way forward toward a good epistemology of metaphysics. We can hold on to various epistemic filaments (informal arguments and noninferential normative criteria) of our epistemic cable without breaking them if we intertwine them together, perspectivally, and if we do not tug too hard on any given one, alone. Through this perspectivalism, we can hopefully cash-out and augment some real values through the proper amplification/attenuation of our various epistemic risk-ventures. Regarding the epistemic-ontic alignment issue, the set that includes the descriptive, interpretive, normative and evaluative refers to methodologies. The set that includes the theoretic, heuristic, semiotic and dogmatic refers to sociologic realities, which I believe have some fallibilistic normative impetus. Epistemology is modeling ontology, but without a divide. The descriptive methodology, which roughly corresponds to the positivistic or scientific sphere of human concern, pursues answers to
  • the question: "Is that a fact?" and does so through empirical measurements, Popperian falsification, hypothetico-deductive method and so on. The normative methodology, which roughly corresponds to the philosophic sphere, pursues answers to the question: "How can I best acquire (or avoid) that?" and does so through the normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. The evaluative methodology, which corresponds to axiological concerns, asks the question "What's it to me?" and draws distinctions between needs and wants, real and apparent goods, higher and lesser goods, inquiring as to whether or not there are self-evident, or at least probable, prescriptive truths. Ours is an ecological rationality, then, in that we are radically finite and always in pursuit of value to merely survive and hopefully thrive. From this 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 methodological approach that I will address below. In my view, every human value-realization integrally relates these methodologies, each which presupposes all of the others. The set that includes the theoretic, heuristic, semiotic and dogmatic refers to sociologic realities vis a vis the negotiation of different concepts (and propositions) in any given community of inquiry. Each of our methodologies will engage in discourse and argument employing all of these types of concepts. As one with Peircean sensibilities might properly intuit, it is no accident that our descriptive methods will largely traffic in theoretic concepts, our interpretive methods in heuristic, our normative in semiotic and our evaluative in dogmatic, for secondness is enjoying its moment of emphasis in our descriptive endeavors, thirdness in our normative, and firstness in our interpretive. Our methodologies, then, reflect our epistemic realities (evolutionary epistemology) which model our provisional ontologies (emergentist heuristic). Our ever-enhanced modeling power of reality overcomes any epistemic-ontic divide triadically through this hermeneutical circle, which effects every human value-realization. In some sense, while I recognize an autonomy of the different methodologies vis a vis the questions they ask of reality, and even recognize that each may enjoy a certain primacy depending on where it is in media res that anyone launches a given probe of reality, I am suggesting that we must draw a distinction between methodological autonomy and axiological autonomy. I further suggest that the former exists but not the latter, which is to say that no human value-realization proceeds without all of these integrally-related methods. I also recognize that these methods are not related through any formal construction, as if human valuerealization advanced through some closed formal symbol system with its Godelian constraints. Rather, I appeal to Peirce's cable metaphor where we intertwine the individual filaments of our informal arguments, both our inferential and non-inferential posits, as we advance slowly but inexorably in our knowledge of reality. We do not need to proceed half-way through the Principia with Russell and Whitehead 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 when it is that we are being methodologically thwarted or ontologically occulted, 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 there really is no "good epistemology of metaphysics" versus epistemology of science. My nonfoundational axiological perspectivalism recognizes and affirms methodological autonomies but suggests that all of the methods are presupposed and integrally-involved in every human value-realization. It so happens that 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 be confronted with epistemic indeterminacy and/or ontological vagueness. We can then see the virtue in such a modal ontology that prescinds from the categories of possible, actual and necessary to possible, actual and probable, and in a semantical vagueness that prescinds from the facile employments of such First Principles as noncontradiction, excluded middle and identity, such that these will alternately hold or fold from one modal distinction to the next. So, the presuppositional include such as the First Principles, belief in reality's intelligibility over against a practical nihilism, belief in other minds over against a solipsism, belief in common sense notions of causality, and other such epistemic stances that cannot be empirically measured or logically demonstrated but which must be adopted, at least, provisionally, or for the sake of argument, or, over against Hume, for all practical purposes. There is a thirdness in play, of course, along with the other categories. The trick is not to wrench any of these otherwise autonomous methodologies out of their context in the axiological whole so as to avoid their swelling up into some type of epistemic madness in their isolation. The lesson for our interpretive methods is to employ a very favorable ratio of theoretic and semiotic concepts to heuristic and dogmatic concepts in order to ensure that our speculations do not too far outrun our other provisional closures in science; otherwise, we suffer the nonvirtuous cycle of deductive clarification and abductive hypothesizing without the benefit of inductive testing. Metaphysics, per my exploratory heuristic, is an interpretive concern. I defend it, in principle, and say let a thousand metaphysical blossoms bloom, and let us speculate boldly about theoretical matters. I also subscribe to the Peircean caveat to proceed more tentatively in our vital, practical affairs. So, much of my interest has been directed at the intersection between meta-physical speculation and its meta-ethical application. I am also sympathetic to Sider's view in that most of our ethics have not proceeded from foundations. Let me excerpt what I have written elsewhere: "Whatever metanarrative one employs, it would necessarily contain within it, in the interest of descriptive accuracy, the manifold and multiform shared values that emerge from our somewhat universal human condition. To the extent our evaluative posits are attributes of a universal human condition, then, even though they may be relative, which one needn’t concede, still, they would avoid much of the difficulty normally associated with such relativity by virtue of being remarkably consistent, despite their relativity. These posits thus would remain relative from a theoretic perspective but not so much so from a pragmatic perspective. When you think about it, this, and not some foundational, authoritative deontology, accounts for the resonance and
  • shared respect we do enjoy for such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights, the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and such. Is it not evident that all of humankind does not share the same metaphysical conceptions, that all foundationalists don’t appeal to the same foundations, and that all authoritarians don’t point to the same authorities?" I suppose there are some who would to be altogether rid of classical philosophy with its nominalism and essentialism, and substantialist and process approaches, because these competing conceptions and arguments have led to so many self-subverting incommensurabilities and unintelligibilities, perhaps revealing of major category errors. Still, because we cannot a priori know when it is that we are being methodologically thwarted (epistemically) versus ontologically occulted, in principle (metaphysically), I resist any rush to closure that it is our thinking that is all wrong when we encounter paradox. For it follows that we cannot a priori know which competing concepts and arguments will eventually be resolved dialectically, which will be dissolved by a paradigm shift, which will be maintained, complementarily, in a creative tension, and which are essentially antinomial (versus, for example, veridical, falsidical and conditional paradoxes). While I am tempted to agree with Haldane that reality is not only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine, I temper that with Chesterton's observation that we do not yet know enough about reality to say that it is unknowable. All that said, it is difficult for me to fight off the intuition that our present quests for a compelling metaphysic are hopelessly quixotic or to disagree with the sentiment, I believe was expressed by Putnam, that a moratorium on metaphysics might even be helpful. I would like to argue this case in both directions.   The Emergentist Heuristic I am deeply sympathetic with Terry Deacon's 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 3rd order emergence is the first appearance of telos in the universe. Now, one of the chief deficiencies of both the substance and process approaches (and essentialism and nominalism) is their inability to account for novelty in reality. One of the things Deacon accounts for is precisely novelty vis a vis emergent properties and laws, which in their transcendence of the laws of earlier orders of emergence do not otherwise 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 for these dissipative emergent realities, such that he would be explicating, for example, the essential natures of the givens that are involved in such as cosmogenesis, the origins of life or the emergence of consciousness. In other words, while it is clear enough that we are observing new properties that require new predicates and sets of predicates, we are not otherwise specifying them, ontologically, in terms of the primitives, forces and axioms presently accepted by science. We are recognizing that new properties have emerged without
  • facilely suggesting how it is they emerged. It is not immediately apparent, then, when we can confidently speak univocally, equivocally or analogically regarding other modal realities or dissipative structures vis a vis their so-called essential natures. We have to pursue those questions through ongoing inquiry. Nowhere are we necessarily invoking supervenience, strong or weak, to describe emergence, weak or strong, because such assertions seem to me to be trivial or redundant. We are properly making vague references and not robust descriptions. Questions will still beg, for example, as to whether or not Chalmers, the Churchlands, Penrose, Dennett, Searle or even Ayn Rand are correct, whether or not consciousness is a primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy, is a hard problem, or such questions should be eliminated as nonsensical. I suppose if a gun were put to my head, a nonreductive physicalism feels right to me, but I do not really have a horse in this race. So, I point to Deacon as a way to properly engage our interpretive methods, which is to note the regularities that present but without saying more than we really know. Deacon's categories certainly leave some questions begging for me, such as what proto-dynamics in terms of initial conditions, limit conditions and boundary conditions might have given rise to the thermodynamics, conditioning the reality we know. They also raise a question about putative eschato-dynamics vis a vis what properties might next emerge and what predicates and sets/classes of predicates we'll need to employ to successfully refer to them even if we cannot successfully describe them. Problems for anyone who'd ambition a metaphysic beyond Deacon's heuristic are HUGE. First of all, there is a problem with thermodynamic erasure, which is to recognize that when we encounter a tepid cup of coffee on a kitchen counter, we have no way of knowing whether it warmed to that temperature after removal from the fridge or cooled to that temperature after removal from the microwave. Extrapolate this problem to the deepest structures of matter and the earliest moments after the Big Bang. Also, there is the issue of the emergence of new laws governing novel properties, which is to recognize that the regularities we extrapolate to primitive metaphysical axioms might be as local, for all practical purposes, as the by-laws governing our neighborhood Bridge Club. So, I receive Peirce's grammar and categories as great phenomenological methods and suspect that we both know more than we can say and say more than we can know. Because telos, for all we know, only appeared in 3rd order emergence, we have little warrant, it seems, to claim, for example, that reality is pansemiotic. There is the problem that not everyone shares either our intuitions or our heuristic devices and concepts. Because we all begin our inquiries in media res, starting with one methodology or another, I would concede that there is no fixed method even as I would suggest through my nonfoundational axiological perspectivalism that the normative sciences do gift us with best practices vis a vis human valuerealizations.   The Implications of a Semiotic Theological Anthropology for the Interaction Between Science and Religion
  •   Some Traditional Distinctions     The human mind has been described in many different ways over the years by psychologists, philosophers, theologians and others. In psychology, it has been described in both structural and functional terms, both by its parts and by their activities. Psychology coursework typically combines sensation with perception, emotion with motivation, 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 and unconscious. Neuroscientists describe a neuronal network that is distributed throughout the body. Theologians speak of memory, understanding and will. A host of other terms come to mind, like cognitive, affective, instinctual, inferential, noninferential, empirical, logical, practical and relational. One might also find the categories normative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative helpful.   In philosophy, there is a branch of study called epistemology, which is concerned with how it is that we know what we know and just what it is that 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 on inescapable suppositions, and existential, when based on ultimate concerns. In psychology, different developmental theorists have studied human growth. The best known are probably Piaget (cognitive), Erikson (personality), Kohlberg (moral) and Fowler (faith). Lonergan, as a systematic theologian, described growth in terms of intellectual, moral and religious conversions to which Gelpi has added affective and social conversions. Normatively, Lonergan gave us the famous transcendental imperatives: Be attentive! Be intelligent! Be reasonable! Be responsible! Be in love!   For every distinction listed above, there are further distinctions. We need not treat all of these nuances; however, just for example, let’s further examine human inference. Peirce, the founder of American pragmatism, described three types of inference, all which presuppose the others, from the strongest form to the weakest, as deductive, inductive and abductive inference. Generally speaking, one might think of deductive inference in association with formal logical argumentation. Inductive inference is most often associated with the scientific method. Abductive inference might best be thought of as hypothesizing. Abduction is, then, informal argumentation and its “methods” are quite often what might otherwise be known as logical fallacies in formal argumentation. This does not mean that it should be readily dismissed for this is how we do most of our critical thinking, which is to say, fallibilistically. For example, so often, with only very limited information, we necessarily find ourselves reasoning backwards (retro-ductively) from known predicates (or properties) of a reality to unknown subjects (of various classes, sets or subsets). We
  • find ourselves venturing guesses as to what reality or type of reality we may have encountered and employing analogies in our references to and descriptions of such realities, when we otherwise cannot determine (epistemically) or specify (ontologically) this reality versus another. Sometimes, we wonder if this or that reality is novel, even? It is through such alternating conjecture and criticism, then, or what Popper called falsification, that much of human knowledge has advanced. This is not to say that knowledge has not also advanced, on occasion, through various leaps and bounds, or what Kuhn called paradigm shifts.   Another pivotal distinction is that between a theory of truth and a test of truth. For our purposes, a conventional understanding of truth will suffice in place of any otherwise elaborately nuanced theory. A test of truth is a process that helps us navigate toward the truth while not otherwise constituting the truth in and of itself. A truth-conducive process, like deductive inference and formal argumentation, navigates us more or less directly toward the truth. A truth-indicative process, like abductive inference, navigates us indirectly by, at least, raising the probability that we are approaching the truth. As the weakest form of inference, abduction needs to be bolstered by repeated testing, which is to say, inductively. Beyond these rather simple, straightforward rubrics for human knowledge-advances, there are long histories and many competing schools in philosophy and theology and their interactions have not always been dialogical and irenic. At the risk of oversimplifying all things epistemological, we suggest that much of the confusion has been rooted in dualistic thinking which has viewed reality rather facilely in either-or and all or nothing terms, too often viewing what are mere distinctions as full blown dichotomies, too often mistaking partial truths for the whole truth, and too often absolutizing perspectives that are indeed relative to one’s frame of reference. In theology, 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 some additional distinctions that are based on whether or not our concepts have been negotiated (accepted into general use, more or less) by the wider pluralistic community. Those that have been thus negotiated have theoretic status. Those still-in-negotiation are heuristic devices or conceptual placeholders. Dogmatic concepts are employed within communities of belief but have not been negotiated by the wider pluralistic community, more broadly conceived. Semiotic concepts are those presuppositional notions without which meaning and communication would not even be possible.   Toward a Philosophical Anthropology   Our purpose, thus far, has been to introduce enough categories and distinctions to provide each different member of what might be a rather diverse 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 a philosophical anthropology, a perspective on humankind’s psychological make-up that is grounded in good biological science and sound evolutionary epistemology. The history of philosophy has been characterized 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 summed up as the struggle between the more static essentialistic and substantialistic approaches and the more dynamical nominalistic and process-like approaches, which are but the obverse sides of the same coin of an otherwise epistemically and ontologically bankrupt dualistic realm, which transacts in a philosophical currency that has no practical cash value for most of us who get along quite well with good old common sense. The history of theology, which takes philosophy as its handmaiden, necessarily fares no better as its approaches can alternately be similarly described as evidentialistic, rationalistic, fideistic and pietistic. One might justifiably wonder if, down through the centuries, an epistemic fetish is all one could be expected to come away 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 postmodernists must imagine with their nihilistic bent? Do the arationally gnostic mysterians have the only mindset that can transcend these otherwise mutually unintelligible epistemic stances and totally incommensurable ontological approaches?   Because of their overly facile dyadic approaches, neither an essentialism nor a nominalism, neither a substance nor a process approach, can account for the novelty we encounter in reality. Our known categories of givens include the primitives (like space, time, mass & energy), forces (like electromagnetism, gravity, strong & weak nuclear) and axioms (like the laws of thermodynamics & quantum mechanics). While it may be too early on humankind’s journey for us to epistemically determine with any ontological precision the exact nature of such novelty in terms of our known theoretic givens, our inability to robustly describe this novelty does not mean that we can not otherwise successfully refer to it with good heuristic devices. To be clear, the novelties we are dealing with include those involved in the Big Bang and its earliest moments, the origin of life and the dawn of human consciousness.   The question that should be begging for our readers, now, is just what is the most successful way to refer to reality, phenomenologically, even if we cannot otherwise robustly describe it, metaphysically? What concepts and categories can we most profitably employ and what rubrics for relating them would be most fruitful in their application? What can we reasonably aspire to say about reality without saying more than we know about such realities as the origins of life or human consciousness or even the cosmos, itself?  
  • It is beyond the scope of this consideration to set forth the details of our own philosophical journeys through these questions to our present provisional closures, but with a great deal of enthusiasm we can recommend the approach of the American pragmatist, Charles Sanders Peirce, as it has been employed and articulated by the biological anthropologist, Terrence Deacon, and the systematic theologian, Donald Gelpi, S.J.. While we will not unfold the arguments of these scholars in any detail, neither would we want our enthusiasm to be mistaken for an academic pretension to either a full understanding of their work or a comprehensive grasp of its implications.   Deacon, for his part, employs an emergentist heuristic, which has also been well articulated by, and on several occasions even co-authored with, Ursula Goodenough, a prominent cell biologist and popular author at the interface of science and religion. Deacon and Goodenough are very circumspect in not telling what are otherwise untellable tales, as they comprehensively refer to many different natural phenomena without exhaustively describing them. In their popular writings, they take one on a cosmic journey where properties, even reality’s laws, are seen to emerge, first thermodynamically, as mere shape interactions, then morphodynamically, as shape interactions playing out over time, and finally teleodynamically, as a consequence of shape, time and information. These orders of emergence refer to progressively higher orders of regularities, which are causal configurations. For all science can tell, teleodynamics, or 3rd order emergence, as Deacon and Goodenough say, define the onset of telos on this planet and, for all we now know, the universe. They go on to develop a correspondence between the human virtues of compassion, fair-mindedness, care and reverence with the inherited pro-social capacities of empathy, strategic reciprocity, nurturance and hierarchy, suggesting various symbolic accessions and syntheses whereby our otherwise innate groundings are complexified and transfigured into uniquely human capacities. In our view, this is hypothetically consonant with Gelpi’s Peircean-nuanced definitions of selves as autonomous functioning tendencies (think higher order regularities and telos) and of human persons as selves capable of conversion (think of Gelpi’s Lonerganian account of conversion).   In any case, the human capacities for virtue can be realized both intuitively and imaginatively as well as rationally and inferentially. Because humans are finite and learn fallibilistically, each human value-realization attempt leads to an uncertain outcome, which is to recognize that it requires a wager or risk. As such, the augmentation of human value-realizations must be successfully managed through various risk amplification and risk attenuation strategies, which is to further recognize that we must be able to cash out the practical value of our concepts and risk amplification-attenuation strategies in what is our perennial pursuit of goodness, radically finite as we are. Thus it is that many fallacies of formal argumentation are employed in everyday common sense leading us fallibly but probabilistically toward valuerealizations. For example, if it is true, we believe that it is also beautiful and useful, leading us to various attraction or avoidance strategies in our value-realization pursuits. While the converse, if it is beautiful or useful, 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 either beautiful or useful because if something is neither beautiful nor useful then the possibility of it being true is nil. Thus it is in science that we employ Occam’s Razor and other truth-indicative criteria like simplicity, elegance, parsimony and symmetry. Thus it is in theology that orthopraxis grounds orthodoxy. Our existential orientations toward truth, beauty and goodness, which are innately grounded in our inherited pro-social capacities, get transfigured into the theological imperatives of faith, hope and love as a human value-augmentation strategy requiring the amplification of the epistemic risks already entailed in the normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. In our religious communities, truth is thus articulated in creed, beauty celebrated in cult or ritual, and goodness preserved in code. Such is the nature of the Kierkegaardian leap and of the Pascalian wager.   Questions That Beg – Toward a Theological Anthropology   Our emergentist account, appropriately modest in its description of thermodynamics, morphodynamics and teleodynamics, leaves profound existential questions begging, questions which leave all in wonder and awe, many in reverential silence, and many more musing imaginatively about what we would refer to as the proto-dynamics that gave rise to and the eschato-dynamics that might ensue from this emergent reality we have encountered. Some employ a root metaphor, like being or experience, to elaborate a speculative metaphysic. Others dwell in analogical imaginations, inchoately relating to ultimate reality through robust metaphors and sweeping metanarratives. While our own Peircean-informed sensibilities do not ambition a metaphysic (and we feel there is no attempt better than Gelpi’s own triadic construct of experience), they are suggestive of a pneumatologicallyinformed theology of nature, precisely derived from an analogy that one might draw between the Peircean telos, as minimalistically conceived in Deacon’s teleodynamics, and the work of the Spirit, as broadly conceived in all of humankind’s great traditions and most native religions, also.   Our proposal is that what humankind relates to as an ineluctably unobtrusive but utterly efficacious tacit dimension comprised of a matrix of dynamical formal causal relations would, from an hierarchical perspective, correspond to a divine telic dimension, much like the interpenetrating causative fields of John Haught’s process approach and aesthetic teleology, much like Joseph Bracken’s Divine Matrix. We would point out that this conception is not an attempt to facilely blend otherwise incommensurate approaches, for example the Whiteheadian process versus Gelpi’s Peircean account, and we do recognize and endorse the efficacies of the triadic over the classically dyadic (even di-polar) accounts. Rather, from a phenomenological perspective, we are invoking vaguely referential analogs as heuristic devices or conceptual placeholders, recognizing that metaphors and analogies are not, in and of themselves, system-bound. In other words, our robustly pneumatological imaginations are relating our triadic and social human experiences of phenomenal reality, with all of its many
  • different patterns and regularities, to what we consider putative divine supremacies. We are not otherwise attempting, in the least, to account for manifold and multiform continuities and discontinuities between different orders of reality. We do believe that any who ambition a metaphysic must both account for divine alterity as well as differentiate the moral status of the human from other selves and creatures. All of this is to suggest that, because of the pervasive ubiquity in the use of the concept of Spirit down through the ages and still across the face of the Earth, arguably it meets the criterion of enjoying theoretic status contrasted with the dogmatic status of so many other theological concepts. In this regard, we might affirm with Radical Orthodoxy that, over against any notion that there exists a secular society writ large, as abstracted and reified by a militant but not truly regnant nihilism, our planet is inhabited, rather, by a pneumatologically-informed but broadly pluralistic community. With the Reformed epistemologists, we might affirm that being-in-love in the Spirit is a necessary and sufficient epistemic risk amplification for any who’d aspire to most robustly (superabundantly) augment human value-realizations beyond 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 we now know, first emerged at that juncture in cosmic evolution that Deacon has described as 3rd order emergence or teleodynamics, and to the extent we next venture forth with Haught, theologically, guided by his aesthetic teleology, we are perhaps de facto suggesting that reality is pansemiotic. For those whose theological sensibilities do not resonate with any pantheist perspective, as ours do not, it would follow that our theological vision might otherwise be considered a pansemioentheism. To be clear, we offer this as a vague reference and not a robust description, which is to say that we are suggesting this as an analog that recognizes and affirms the Peircean categories phenomenologically without intending to imply any particular root metaphor, as would necessarily be required in the articulation of either a speculative metaphysic or a natural theology. This pansemioentheism is, instead, offered as a theology of nature, which originates not from natural philosophy but from our distinctly Christian perspective. While we affirm, in principle, the possibility of a speculative metaphysic, and we strongly encourage the search for the next most taut metaphysical tautology, which will employ the next most robust root metaphor for reality, we might, at the same time, recognize that humanity’s metaphysical quest remains somewhat quixotic. Should we not gauge the practical efficacies of any of our root metaphors by attempting to cash out their value in such an exercise as, just for example, reconciling and renormalizing gravity and quantum mechanics?   The Relations of Science and Religion   What are the implications of this theological anthropology for the interaction between science and religion, viewing reality
  • pansemioentheistically, employing the epistemic categories of the normative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative and characterizing our concepts as semiotic, theoretic, heuristic and dogmatic?   To the extent that we map science as a descriptive enterprise and religion as an interpretive enterprise and affirm them as autonomous methodologies but still integrally-related in every human valuerealization, there can be no talk of conflict, as reigns in the scientism of the Enlightenment fundamentalists and the literalism of the various religious fundamentalists. Our axiological perspectivalism with its explicit integralism speaks of a model of interaction that coincides with Ian Barbour’s Integration, John Polkinghorne’s Assimilation, John Haught’s Confirmation and Ted Peter’s Hypothetical Consonance (and Ethical Overlap).   In some sense, the very basis of a semiotic approach is grounded in the need for informational interpretation, a need that derives from the radical finitude of creatures, a need that plays out in our fallibilistic methodologies and heavy reliance on the weaker forms of inference, both abduction and induction, such as in the back-door philosophy of Popperian falsification and the informal argumentation that predominates, even mostly comprises, our common sense. The implication is, then, that absent this finitude and given a virtual omniscience, descriptively, and omnipotence, evaluatively, the normative sciences would consist of only aesthetics and ethics, logic would be obviated and the descriptive and interpretive would be a distinction without a difference, which might describe, in fact, an idealized eschatological epistemology whereby humankind as a community 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 TwoLanguage Theory as discussed by Peters or Two-Language System as described by Peacocke, at least from our idealized theoretical perspective; however, from a practical perspective, science and religion will seemingly traffic in two languages because, if for no other reason, the latter is dominated by dogmatic and heuristic conceptions, the former by semiotic and theoretic conceptions. These need not be conceived as two languages, from a strictly linguistic perspective, but might 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 quest or merely descriptive enterprise. It is in that vein that one might invoke what Barbour and Polkinghorne have called Independence and Haught has described as Contrast. Willem Drees has developed a schema that more explicitly recognizes that religion has additional elements than the merely cognitive-propositional as much of religion’s content rests on both religious experience and tradition.   At this point, one might recognize that the various categories that have been employed for the interaction between science and religion are not
  • all mutually exclusive. The categories we employ in our axiological perspectivalism are methodologically- autonomous but epistemicallyrelated and this noetic reality is affirmed whenever a scientist normatively invokes Occam’s Razor, parsimony, symmetry, elegance or other aesthetic criteria to adjudicate between competing hypotheses. Thus it is that, whenever any methodologically autonomous realms do not fully overlap, but only partially overlap, and are placed in what Haught calls Contact, we would urge what Barbour and Polkinghorne suggest as Dialogue.   Anticipations From the standpoint of interreligious dialogue, this hermeneutical circle of the normative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative might be interpreted in terms of orthopathy, orthodoxy, orthopraxis, orthocommunio, each as an aspect of a religious interpretation which presupposes the other aspects. From a practical perspective, these distinctions are critical because they imply, 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. Thus we would expect continued fruitful interreligious engagements such as have already been realized between Christianity and Zen, for example, and would encourage further orthopathic dialogue and exchange. Most theologians already recognize this dynamic, prudentially speaking, in their willingness to abstract orthopraxes – or moral and practical aspects – out of their doctrinal contexts in other traditions. Also, metaphorical and analogical language (ananoetic knowledge) is not system-bound, so our depth encounters of reality can be enriched by our interreligious ananoetic interchanges, which can provide common ground to explore together our theologies of nature, especially from a pneumatological perspective. We believe this approach can help prepare an ever more fertile ground for interreligious dialogue as our orthopathic, orthopraxic and ananoetic exchanges prepare the way to a much sought after unity even as we continue our search to discursively identify the commonalities in our otherwise diverse and pluralistic belief systems. Suggested Reading Lonergan, Bernard, Method in Theology (New York: Herder & Herder, 1972) Deacon, Terrence, ‘Emergence: The Hole at the Wheel’s Hub’ in The Re-Emergence of Emergence: 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 Handbook of 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 Constructive Postmodernism (Collegeville, Minn.:Liturgical press/Michael Glazier, 2000) Gelpi, Donald L. , The Gracing of Human Experience: Rethinking the Relationship between Nature and Grace (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press/Michael Glazier, 2001) Haught, John, The Cosmic Adventure: Science, Religion and the Quest for Purpose (Paulist Press: 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 relation between 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 (Yale University Press, 2007) and Science and Theology (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1998) Haught, J., Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation (Paulist Press, 1995) and The 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 Evolution from Creation to New Creation: Conflict, Conversation, and Convergence by Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlett (Abingdon Press, 2003) Peacocke, A., The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century (University of Notre Dame 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) and Religion and Science in Context: A Guide to the Debates (Routledge, coming in 2009)   ______________________________________________ These are the same thoughts expressed above but include, throughout, explicit references to implications for both religious epistemology and theology.   On one hand, I am all for speculating boldly in such theoretical matters, such as regarding the many worlds of QM or the multiverse of speculative cosmology. On the other hand, I urge caution when such models 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 is not the same as atemporality. Wim Drees, the new editor of Zygon, critiques the approaches of Barbour, Peacocke and Polkinghorne in “A Case Against Temporal Critical Realism? Consequences of Quantum Cosmology for Theology," which can be found here: http://www.counterbalance.org/ctns-vo/drees2-body.html and, in my view, Drees' critique applies against any robustly conceived modal realisms. Perhaps we best distinguish, then, between a modal realism that is pragmatic and methodological and one that is theoretic and ontological. It seems that we have all we need in order to advance both practical and moral inquiry in a modal realism that we adopt presuppositionally and provisionally in order to advance methodological inquiry, employing what we might call a minimalist transcendence. Beyond the needs of our prudential judgments and normative heuristics, we might boldly speculate with Lewis and Tegmark on a theoretic modal realism, but any adoption of a robustly transcendental ontology beyond a transcendental method,
  • minimalistically conceived, for doing ontology would seem to invoke  an a priorism and apodicticity that it seems Peirce would not countenance given his emphases on the a posteriori and fallibilism. At the same time, I don't think that either Peirce or James would object to what might otherwise be an essentially evaluative posit of a vaguely conceived transcendent source of our axiological sensibilities, an existential stance that signals both "the manner of our acceptance of the universe," in James' words from Varieties of Religious Experience, as well as our epistemic outlook as it is nurtured by hope. I am sympathetic, then, to Drees' view that axiology may be a more apt focus for 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 our account of reality. An additional problem arises in any invocation of a strong anthropic principle. (The weak version is trivial.) The problem results, in part, from a need to clarify the conceptual confusion between coincidence and chance. Coincidence is something that pertains to the present or past. Chance has meaning only when information is lacking. So, we distinguish the two in temporal terms. If we are considering an event a priori, chance is in play. If we consider it a posteriori, we have coincidence (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 and statistical science thus pertains to chance and not coincidence. Probability deals with the epistemically-unavailable, is an empirical notion subject to empirical methods and is assigned to arguments with premises and conclusions (and not rather to events, states or types of same). I suppose that if we knew enough about the universe's initial conditions we could imaginatively (conceivably) walk ourselves back to T=0 and invoke chance, but we don't thus have such an informed grasp of what should or should not be expected of this reality. Valid arguments can be constructed employing actual infinites. We just cannot a priori know whether infinites can be both abstract and concrete or not. We can work within this or that tautology and employ certain terms/premises that presuppose the conclusion of our arguments and thereby find our arguments compelling. However, to an unbiased observer, the argument remains unproven: Scottish verdict. Not only can we not a priori and analytically demonstrate what is metaphysically necessary, we can not even meaningfully discuss what is physically probable, as regarding such a probability as would pertain  to the initial, boundary and limit conditions of the universe. Thus we have no baseline numbers to establish probabilistic theories for strong anthropic principles. And the closer we get to T=0, the less we seem to know, presently. I still have my hopes. If Peirce is interpreted by scholars as going beyond the type of realism I have herein described, then I consider this too strong a position for me to try to defend, positivistically and descriptively and normatively. I take a rather neo-platonic leap myself, existentially and evaluatively and axiologically, but not without looking over my epistemic shoulders to take into account the nature of this leap. Truth be told, there ain't that much going on here, in this leap, that most people don't apply in 
  • good old-fashioned, ordinary common sense, which includes the tetradic fugue of epistemic methodologies (descriptive, normative, interpretive and evaluative) and the tetradic interplay of our four conceptual ontic categories per our status-in-negotiation rubric (theoretic, semiotic, heuristic and dogmatic). I must acknowledge, of course, some are more rigorous in their approaches to reality, but, even then, what they are applying is no special gnosiological legerdemain; instead, it is common sense uncommonly applied (over against more formalistic approaches). 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), where the latter instance would amount to a full blown transcendence rather than a minimalist transcendence, 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. For me, the destination would be a transcendental approach like neo-platonism, perhaps. This cosmological-axiological distinction is precisely how I see my and Drees’ approaches converging, theologically. It might be meaningful to others, too, interpretively, whatever one's worldview. 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-normative cosmology and our interpretive-evaluative axiology is the normative impetus our various concepts and arguments will enjoy because, employing our status-in-negotiation rubric to evaluate concepts, our descriptive and normative methodologies will traffic more heavily in theoretic and semiotic concepts, which have been negotiated by a community of inquiry or even considered non-negotiable, and our interpretive and evaluative methodologies will traffic more heavily in heuristic and dogmatic concepts, which either remain in negotiation or have not yet been negotiated. Beyond this sociologic observation, this status-in-negotiation rubric has normative impetus by virtue of the fact that a community has likely cashed-out significant practical (and ethical) value through time for concepts it considers (fallibilistically) either non-negotiable or already negotiated. The implication is that scientific and ethical inquiry will have more sway in the public square than our essentially religious inquiries, which nevertheless condition our prioritizing of values and visions of ought-to-be’s. Another consequence of this approach is a theoretical metaphysical agnosticism, which recognizes that its pragmatic, methodological realism is a provisional presupposition, an epistemic stance of hope ordered toward the end of advancing meaningful inquiry. It is adopted for argument’s sake, for all practical purposes and not because we have otherwise overcome some devastating Humean critique. To the extent we do not a priori know when it is that we are being
  • methodologically thwarted (a condition we can overcome through time with better instrumentation, for example) or ontologically occulted, in principle, (a condition that leaves us empty-handed epistemically) we assume, for the sake of inquiry, that we are being methodologically thwarted because assuming an ontological occulting is an epistemic cul de sac. This is to recognize that we look for our lost keys under the lamp post at night, not because we know they just simply cannot be elsewhere but because, if they are elsewhere, we have little hope of finding them anyway. Now, what is good for the realist goose is good for the nominalist gander, for this metaphysical agnosticism is a knife that cuts both ways. By that, I mean to recognize that, not only does any robust modal realism fall to the agnostic axe, so does any philosophical naturalism. There is an old saying that just because you are paranoid does not mean that they are not out to get you. Well, in that same vein, just because we encounter paradox does not mean that our thinking is all wrong and our methods are just not well-conceived; maybe we haven't (and even couldn't have) enumerated all of reality's givens and primitives, including some whose tacit dimensionality effects an utterly efficacious influence on reality in an otherwise ineluctably unobtrusive way (weakly analogous to other downward causations, which ostensibly do not violate physical causal closure).  This tacit  dimensionality reflects, in part, Polanyi's end-around nominalism. As it is, I prefer the phrase methodological incrementalism in media res over methodological naturalism, precisely because I am agnostic about the dyad it (super/naturalism) implies, which is to recognize that we simply start where we are in order to launch our next good inquiry without a priori presupposing its outcome. So, we cannot really take an eliminativist stance toward the epistemic-ontic distinction vis a vis our methods and reality’s essential nature but must continually confront it anew. What we accomplish with our pragmatic realism, in my view, is a bracketing of any robustly metaphysical assumptions with a prescinding to a more epistemically indeterminate and/or ontologically vague perspective, or phenomenology, when necessary. We return, as we can, to the epistemically determinate and/or ontologically precise, hopefully with a chastised optimism and contrite fallibilism. And, we affirm successful references to reality even when successful descriptions evade us. What separates Einstein as a highly speculative theoretical thinker from many others is that he was able to translate his abstractions into falsifiable hypotheses, subject them to empirical measurement and inductive testing, and then, soon enough, cash out the practical value of his thoughts. His theoretical armchair was also a pragmatic wheelchair. Rather than a nonvirtuous cycle of abductive hypothesizing and deductive clarifying, his was interrupted with inductive testing. In Maritain’s terms, the dianoetic order of mathematics and ananoetic order of metaphor and analogy met the perinoetic order of empirical science. As I recall, Tegmark maintains that we’ll indeed be able to indirectly test some of the inferences that are consistent with his ensemble theory of everything. The enduring lesson is that we must keep 1ns, 2ns and 3ns happily engaged in their Peircean menage a trois and not let any two of them run off and jilt the other. In the case of naive realism, 2ns gets jilted. In the 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’s for real. However, if she runs off without them, she’s a harlot; let her go. Lonergan's work-around nominalism was to differentiate between our naming exercise (nomenclature) vis a vis being intelligent and our judgment processes vis a vis being reasonable and then responsible. The nominalists conflate these. Finally, in considering modal tenses, one thing that came to mind is Hartshorne's nonstrict identity, which invokes asymmetric temporal relations, which is to suggest that a reality's essential nature includes its past but not its future. How might this be reconciled with different modal realisms?   This ongoing conversation has raised for me two related questions regarding how inference is playing out in our thinking about reality. How does a very highly speculative theoretic science differ from the ordinary course of science? How does science augment common sense? In all instances, falsification issues seem to be in play, whether with ravens or pharoes. For everyday common sense, we rely on the fast and frugal heuristics that have been gifted us by natural selection for our distinctly human ecology. As radically social animals, we are greatly protected by one another and our institutions vis a vis our vital or practical affairs. This allows us to rely with great confidence on inherited beliefs that, as far as their future efficacies may be concerned, are innocent until proven guilty. Our conclusions are drawn, then, based on the lack of contrary evidence. Hume's problem of induction does not come to bear, for all practical purposes, or so we might imagine. Practical problems do arise with life's exigencies, technical and medical and otherwise. Prior conclusions and their associated predictions fail us. Our arguments ad ignorantium prove fallacious. We need more methodological rigor. Science augments common sense. In our alternating conjectures and criticism, our abductions, inductions and deductions run through cycles. Much like the settings on our washing machines, which vary according to the prospective difficulty of a given wash job or the delicacy of the fabrics, our  inferential cycles thus vary given the nature of the investigative problem at hand, such as our confrontations with epistemic indeterminacy 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) result corroboration. In the event of successful corroboration, future cycles of deductionprediction and testing-corroboration proceed, repeating only the endstages of the cycle. In the event of a corroborative failure, our dirty explanatory clothing needs to be thrown back in the next abductive cycle 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-increasing confidence about the efficacies of any given detergent to brighten our white fabrics. This quantitative induction, where we generalize from a sample to the whole, when repeated with enough success, makes our generalizations more than hasty, approaching law-like. We might metaphorically conceive of our abductive explanatory hypotheses in terms of a wash detergent that enjoys varying amounts of explanatory adequacy. There is another experimental testing approach we can try. Rather than testing our detergent through a repeated sampling of one type of fabric, we could try testing our detergent on a variety of fabrics in a single wash cycle. This qualitative induction, where we test our abductive detergent on a range of other fabrics, allows us to employ one sample in the testing of many different predictions, generalizing about an entire wardrobe of ideas: red shifts, white dwarfs, green curves, dark matter, black holes, blue stars and ultraviolet 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 qualitative induction will enjoy the same probabative weight from investigator to investigator, but through time and an earnest community of inquiry the differential weighting of these matters sorts itself out. The more highly speculative theoretic science involves 1) inductive data-gathering 2) abductive hypothetical explanation 3) deductive consequential analysis & prediction but, for one reason or another, can get thwarted in its attempts at successful  4) experimental design &  testing and 5) result corroboration. Like ordinary scientific pursuits, it shares conceivable falisfiability 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 the nagging Humean problem of induction, notwithstanding our Peircean end-arounds. There's a lot more than Popperian falsification going on with abduction, as I implied regarding our evolutionary inheritance of fast and frugal heuristics, where we rather efficiently narrow down possibilities, often reasoning from previously-known predicates to otherwise unknown subjects or their analogs, based on our encounters with novel properties, for example. The beginning of our epistemic wash-cycles, where abduction and deduction predominate, are inescapably tautological, question begging, self-referential, with Godelian-like axioms that cannot be proven within their own systems. By successive repetitions of our epistemic cycles, both quantitively and qualitatively, our tautologies become more taut vis a vis their modeling power of reality. What keeps science so very exciting are the perduring possibilities, as recognized in the provisionality of our ontological closures and the inherent 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-like paradigm shifts as dissemble our very system axioms, renormalizing previously incommensurable approaches to reality. While it is true that Newtonian physics works just fine, conventionally and locally, there is no doubt that the more universally-taut tautologies completely transcend 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 and transcendent, or even timeless and atemporal. The thing about fashioning 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 transcending formalisms and as illuminating common sense, which through science, sometimes gets applied in an uncommonly useful way is all. The very instance of the ongoing mutual critique of qualitative and quantitative induction is the proof in the epistemic pudding that there is more than one way to axiomatize a system and make an investigative run at reality. These work-arounds of the Humean critique are theoretically weak but pragmatically worthy, which is to recognize, with all Peirceans, that our search for indubitable foundations is quixotic. I think we must also concede, as post-foundationalists, that our efforts to distill degrees of inductive success, from crude to refined, will inevitably reach a point of diminishing returns, 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 clearness of apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object. Peirce’s Example of the Untested Diamond: Let us illustrate this rule by some examples; and, to begin with the simplest one possible, let us ask what we mean by calling a thing hard. Evidently that it will not be scratched by many other substances. The whole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceived effects. There is absolutely no difference between a hard thing and a soft 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 soft cotton, and should remain there until it was finally burned up. Would it be false to say that that diamond was soft? This seems a foolish question, and would be so, in fact, except in the realm of logic. There such questions are often of the greatest utility as serving to bring logical principles into sharper relief than real discussions ever could. In studying logic we must not put them aside with hasty answers, but must consider them with attentive care, in order to make out the principles involved. We may, in the present case, modify our question, and ask what prevents us from saying that all hard bodies remain perfectly soft until they are touched, when their hardness increases with the pressure until they are scratched. Reflection will show that the reply is this: there would be no falsity in such modes of speech. They would involve a modification of our present usage of speech with regard to the words hard and soft, but not of their meanings. For they represent no fact to be different from what it is; only they involve arrangements of facts
  • which would be exceedingly maladroit. This leads us to remark that the question of what would occur under circumstances which do not actually arise is not a question of fact, but only of the most perspicuous arrangement of them. JB’s Comments: My initial approach is to ask: If the untested diamond passage is the answer, 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 the untested diamond passage in conjunction with the pragmatic maxim passage. In answering this question, Peirce seems to be affirming a metaphysical realism, in general, but calling into question a prioristic, naive realisms. He also seems to be affirming the nominalist critique that nomenclature involves linguistic conventions, while maintaining that meaning requires more than nomenclature. He seems to very much affirm the positivistic emphasis on inductive testing but does not go so far as to say that the unfalsifiable is meaningless or, in other words, that metaphysical speculation is nonsensical, hence useless. It seems that he is saying to the nominalists and positivists that linguistic conventions and inductive inferences (or perhaps, even, that firstness and secondness) are necessary but not sufficient and to the naive realists that abductive and deductive inference (or perhaps, even, that firstness and thirdness) are necessary but not sufficient. To wit: In the case of the untested diamond, the naive realist might abductively enumerate its putative properties and deductively clarify its dispositional functions without ever inductively testing one's hypotheses. The diamond that Peirce was talking about had never been thus isolated as a fact, or "brought to the test," but was the epistemic equivalent of angels dancing on the head of a pin, "circumstances which do not actually arise" and, hence, "not a question of fact." The nominalists might have considered the properties of hard and soft as mere linguistic conventions, but Peirce critiques that notion by virtue of his recognition that such properties are not thoroughgoing abstractions but have indeed been experienced in the past and could be encountered again, such as hard things that have not been "scratched by many other substances." Further, the predicates that refer to these qualities or properties do not function as concepts just because they have been actually instantiated, but derive their meaning from their conceived effects, thus "attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension." Finally, as we consider "what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings," we move into the realm of metaphysical speculation in the form of valid hypotheses (perspicuous arrangements of circumstances yet to be proven sound), which appeal to subjunctive conditionality? I'm drawing a distinction between conceived and conceivable. So, I do not read this as a denial of metaphysics or embrace of nominalism, but as an appeal for a metaphysical realism, properly conceived, one that is neither a prioristic nor apodictic, one that gains
  • traction in terms of practical cash value, something we get at when asking "What's it to me?" as the normative sciences mediate between phenomenology and metaphysics to effect value-realizations. I don't see any nominalistic blunder. JB On Good Metaphysics I am vitally interested in finding a "good epistemology of metaphysics" because all too often it seems to me that some are telling untellable stories about reality, proving too much, saying more than we presently know. To the extent that epistemology is inherently normative, when we travel from the descriptive to the prescriptive, from the given to the normative, from an is to an ought, it behooves us to get our metaphysic right if we want our meta-ethic to enjoy any normative impetus in a pluralistic society. In my view, metaphysics remains a great way to probe reality but not a reliable way to prove reality. It follows, then, that our deontologies should be considered as tentative as our ontologies are speculative.   How speculative is any given ontology? In moments of frustration, most often with my coreligionists, my flippant response is to say that I am looking for a root metaphor that is robust enough to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics. In my conciliatory moments, I suggest that, while I would not ask anyone to bracket either one's metaphysic or religion in one's conversations in the public square, one must translate one's moral and ethical beliefs when engaging in public discourse.   Specifically, one must tend to what I like to call a concept's negotiation status in any given community. Concepts that have, for the most part, already been negotiated by the community enjoy what I call theoretic status. Those still-in-negotiation, which act as placeholders, have a heuristic status. Certain concepts and propositions, which are indispensable to the establishment of meaning and which we must adopt presuppositionally, even if only provisionally, have a semiotic status, hence are non-negotiable. These are distinguished from the non-negotiated dogmatic concepts that have not been negotiated in the broader, pluralistic community. I first offer these as sociologic distinctions and suggest that the more universally compelling moral arguments in any given public square will likely employ a lot more theoretic and semiotic concepts and a lot fewer heuristic and dogmatic concepts. I suppose I am offering a tautology that simply suggests that one must negotiate one's ontology prior to urging and negotiating one's deontology.   I do want to go beyond this descriptive sociologic exercise to suggest that these distinctions have an inherently normative impetus. It seems that the way to do this is to recognize that a concept's negotiation status, in some measure, will reflect any given community's ability  through time to have cashed-out of that concept some practical value.    Further, I offer an exploratory heuristic, suggesting that the normative mediates between the descriptive and the interpretive to effect the
  • evaluative in a hermeneutical circle where each of these valuerealization strategies presupposes the others (being intellectually but not strictly logically-related). This heuristic comprises a rubric for what I consider to be a nonfoundational, axiological perspectivalism. I am suggesting, then, that thus it is that our tautologies get progressively more taut and our root metaphors, collapsing in succession, get progressively more robust. All of our normative, descriptive, interpretive and evaluative posits will variously employ a mix of semiotic, theoretic, heuristic and dogmatic concepts. I hope such a perspectivalism in conjunction with the norms I have suggested for concepts (vis a vis their status-in-negotiation), suggests a way forward toward a good epistemology of metaphysics and religious epistemology, 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 any overemphasis of the normative and 4) existentialism, in any overemphasis of the evaluative. These various overemphases have played out, it seems, in the history of Christian theology, in the more fundamentalistic cohorts of each tradition. To wit, the Arminians and evangelicals have emphasized the evidential; Catholicism, the rational; Calvinists and Reformed, the presuppositional; and Lutherans and neo-evangelicals, via their fideism, the existential. John Frame, a Calvinist theologian, has advocated a perspectivalism for Christian apologetics, but true to his tradition's presuppositionalism, employs Scripture as the normative element. This only roughly parallels what I have suggested for my hermeneutical circle, where the normative sciences, instead, provide our epistemic virtue.   I like to distinguish between the more fundamentalistic cohorts within these traditions and those who subscribe, in one way or another, to a critical realism. I only drew this distinction implicitly but would like to amplify it explicitly. For example, the fundamentalism shows up, in my view, when some Protestants invoke sola scriptura, when some  Catholics invoke solum magisterium, and when some Enlightenment fundamentalists invoke scientism. So, it is in the pejorative sense that I discuss evidentialism, rationalism, presuppositionalism and existentialism as they might manifest in the fundamentalistic cohorts of any given tradition. These epistemic vices, as I view them, take their place next to radical empiricism, logical positivism, radical apophaticism and so on. And to be clear, I am discussing matters pertaining to apologetics as they would involve epistemic justification and not addressing any essential beliefs. I happen to share many of the essential beliefs of all of these Christian traditions and of course those of science, also, even as I may differ with others regarding their accounts of epistemic warrants.   I drew the implicit distinction between fundamentalism and critical realism by backing off from the word overemphasis to emphasis and from the various -ism formulations to the evidential, rational, presuppositional and existential, because I did not want to draw a facile caricature of any of these traditions, where a lot of good work is being
  • done in the area of epistemology. Otherwise, where various emphases come into play, these different traditions self-describe as presuppositional or rational and so on. For example, the reformed epistemology takes the God-concept as properly basic; the Catholic tradition emphasizes Fides et Ratio. In my view, our justifications, in reality, enjoy a much more informal tone and tenor, much like what has been called a cumulative-case apologetic, which might find an analog in Peirce's metaphor involving cable strands and filaments. I suppose I am suggesting that many people are epistemically competent even if epistemologically wrong, which is to say that they are right and within their rights even if they cannot properly give an account for how that might be so (ergo the distinction between conscious and unconscious competence).   Otherwise, metaphysics and religious epistemology have suffered, in my view, from too much of a nonvirtuous cycle of abductive hypothesizing and deductive clarifying with precious little inductive testing. In moral theology, for example, this has led to a very sterile scholasticism where propagated norms end up having very little existential traction in the actual lived experiences of the faithful, such  as in matters regarding life, sex and gender. Even in matters of systematic theology, my own exploratory heuristic would honor Peirce's distinction between the argument and argumentation regarding the reality (not existence) of God, the latter being a  metaphysical fetish. After the stronger forms of inference have failed us, or minimally have established a modicum of epistemic parity with competing meta-accounts of reality writ large, we will necessarily fall back on weaker forms of inference and other epistemic tie-breakers, like the aesthetical and practical. All we can establish is the reasonableness of our arguments. We cannot establish, through argumentation, God-concepts, as if they could be empirically measured or logically demonstrated. We can hold on to various epistemic filaments (informal arguments and noninferential normative criteria) of our epistemic cable without breaking them if we intertwine them together, perspectivally, and if we do not tug too hard on any given one,  alone. Through this perspectivalism, we can hopefully cash-out and augment some real values through the proper amplification/attenuation of our various epistemic risk-ventures.   To the extent we are dealing with unresolved issues of ultimate concern that are vital, forced and live options (Wm. James), perhaps the spontaneous abduction of the reality of God is within our epistemic rights? To the extent that we are to speculate boldy on theoretical matters even as we move more tentatively on practical matters of vital concern, perhaps humankind as a community of inquiry will continue to wrestle with God-concepts, normatively, descriptively, interpretively and evaluatively, some of these concepts, like spirit, negotiated more ubiquitously than others? For my part, I prefer vague references to robust descriptions.   Thanks for engaging my ideas. I do not claim to represent Peirce's take. I have appropriated some of his thrust on my own terms.  
  •     Regarding the epistemic-ontic alignment issue, the set that includes the descriptive, interpretive, normative and evaluative refers to methodologies. The set that includes the theoretic, heuristic,  semiotic and dogmatic refers to sociologic realities, which I believe have some fallibilistic normative impetus. Epistemology is modeling ontology, but without a divide.   The descriptive methodology, which roughly corresponds to the positivistic or scientific sphere of human concern, pursues answers to the question: "Is that a fact?" and does so through empirical measurements, Popperian falsification, hypothetico-deductive method and so on. The normative methodology, which roughly corresponds to the philosophic sphere, pursues answers to the question: "How can I best acquire (or avoid) that?" and does so through the normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. The evaluative methodology, which corresponds to axiological concerns, asks the question "What's it to me?" and draws distinctions between needs and wants, real and apparent goods, higher and lesser goods, inquiring as to whether or not there are self-evident, or at least probable, prescriptive truths.   Ours is an ecological rationality, then, in that we are radically finite and always in pursuit of value to merely survive and hopefully thrive. From this 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 methodological approach that I will address below.   In my view, every human value-realization integrally relates these methodologies, each which presupposes all of the others. The set that includes the theoretic, heuristic, semiotic and dogmatic refers to sociologic realities vis a vis the negotiation of different concepts (and propositions) in any given community of inquiry. Each of our methodologies will engage in discourse and argument employing all of these types of concepts. As one with Peircean sensibilities might properly intuit, it is no accident that our descriptive methods will largely traffic in theoretic concepts, our interpretive methods in heuristic, our normative in semiotic and our evaluative in dogmatic, for secondness is enjoying its moment of emphasis in our descriptive endeavors, thirdness in our normative, and firstness in our interpretive. Our methodologies, then, reflect our epistemic realities (evolutionary epistemology) which model our provisional ontologies (emergentist heuristic).   Our ever-enhanced modeling power of reality overcomes any epistemic-ontic divide triadically through this hermeneutical circle, which effects every human value-realization. In some sense, while I recognize an autonomy of the different methodologies vis a vis the questions they ask of reality, and even recognize that each may enjoy a certain primacy depending on where it is in media res that anyone
  • launches a given probe of reality, I am suggesting that we must draw a distinction between methodological autonomy and axiological autonomy. I further suggest that the former exists but not the latter, which is to say that no human value-realization proceeds without all of these integrally-related methods. I also recognize that these methods are not related through any formal construction, as if human valuerealization advanced through some closed formal symbol system with its Godelian constraints. Rather, I appeal to Peirce's cable metaphor where we intertwine the individual filaments of our informal arguments, both our inferential and non-inferential posits, as we advance slowly but inexorably in our knowledge of reality. We do not need to proceed half-way through the Principia with Russell and Whitehead 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 when it is that we are being methodologically thwarted or ontologically occulted, 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 there really is no religious epistemology or "good epistemology of metaphysics" or epistemology of science. My nonfoundational axiological perspectivalism recognizes and affirms methodological autonomies but suggests that all of the methods are presupposed and integrally-involved in every human value-realization. It so happens that 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 be confronted with epistemic indeterminacy and/or ontological  vagueness. We can then see the virtue in such a modal ontology that prescinds from the categories of possible, actual and necessary to possible, actual and probable, and in a semantical vagueness that prescinds from the facile employments of such First Principles as noncontradiction, excluded middle and identity, such that these will alternately hold or fold from one modal distinction to the next.   So, the presuppositional include such as the First Principles, belief in reality's intelligibility over against a practical nihilism, belief in other minds over against a solipsism, belief in common sense notions of causality, and other such epistemic stances that cannot be empirically measured or logically demonstrated but which must be adopted, at least, provisionally, or for the sake of argument, or, over against Hume, for all practical purposes. There is a thirdness in play, of course, along with the other categories. The trick is not to wrench any of these otherwise autonomous methodologies out of their context in the axiological whole so as to avoid their swelling up into some type of epistemic madness in their isolation. The lesson for our interpretive methods is to employ a very favorable ratio of theoretic and semiotic concepts to heuristic and dogmatic concepts in order to ensure that our speculations do not too far outrun our other provisional closures in science; otherwise, we suffer the nonvirtuous cycle of deductive clarification and abductive hypothesizing without the benefit of inductive testing.  
  • I know that there is a lot more rigor and hence, efficiency, to be enjoyed, perhaps, by my paying more attention to Peirce's idiosyncratic concepts and terms, but I have accepted a challenge to try to come up with something accessible for my college-aged children, so I am proceeding slowly, hoping that if I can explain my epistemology to them that it might mean that I have begun to understand it myself.   Metaphysics, per my exploratory heuristic, is an interpretive concern. I defend it, in principle, and say let a thousand metaphysical blossoms bloom, and let us speculate boldly about theoretical matters. I also subscribe to the Peircean caveat to proceed more tentatively in our vital, practical affairs. So, much of my interest has been directed at the intersection between meta-physical speculation and its meta-ethical application.   I am also sympathetic to Sider's view in that most of our ethics have not proceeded from foundations. Let me excerpt what I have written elsewhere: "Whatever metanarrative one employs, it would necessarily contain within it, in the interest of descriptive accuracy, the manifold and multiform shared values that emerge from our somewhat universal human condition. To the extent our evaluative posits are attributes of a universal human condition, then, even though they may be relative, which one needn’t concede, still, they would avoid much of the difficulty normally associated with such relativity by virtue of being remarkably consistent, despite their relativity. These posits thus would remain relative from a theoretic perspective but not so much so from a pragmatic perspective. When you think about it, this, and not some foundational, authoritative deontology, accounts for the resonance and shared respect we do enjoy for such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights, the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and such. Is it not evident that all of humankind does not share the same metaphysical conceptions, that all foundationalists don’t appeal to the same foundations, and that all authoritarians don’t point to the same authorities?"   I suppose there are some who would to be altogether rid of classical philosophy with its nominalism and essentialism, and substantialist and process approaches, because these competing conceptions and arguments have led to so many self-subverting incommensurabilities and unintelligibilities, perhaps revealing of major category errors. Still, because we cannot a priori know when it is that we are being methodologically thwarted (epistemically) versus ontologically occulted, in principle (metaphysically), I resist any rush to closure that it is our thinking that is all wrong when we encounter paradox. For it follows that we cannot a priori know which competing concepts and arguments will eventually be resolved dialectically, which will be dissolved by a paradigm shift, which will be maintained, complementarily, in a creative tension, and which are essentially antinomial (versus, for example, veridical, falsidical and conditional paradoxes). While I am tempted to agree with Haldane that reality is not only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine, I temper that with Chesterton's observation that we do not yet know enough about reality to say that it is unknowable.
  •   All that said, it is difficult for me to fight off the intuition that our present quests for a compelling metaphysic are hopelessly quixotic or to disagree with the sentiment, I believe was expressed by Putnam, that a moratorium on metaphysics might even be helpful. I would like to argue this case in both directions.   I am deeply sympathetic with Terry Deacon's 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 3rd order emergence is the first appearance of telos in the universe. Now, one of the chief deficiencies of both the substance and process approaches (and essentialism and nominalism) is their inability to account for novelty in reality. One of the things Deacon accounts for is precisely novelty vis a vis emergent properties and laws, which in their transcendence of the laws of earlier orders of emergence do not otherwise 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 for these dissipative emergent realities, such that he would be explicating, for example, the essential natures of the givens that are involved in such as cosmogenesis, the origins of life or the emergence of consciousness. In other words, while it is clear enough that we are observing new properties that require new predicates and sets of predicates, we are not otherwise specifying them, ontologically, in terms of the primitives, forces and axioms presently accepted by science. We are recognizing that new properties have emerged without facilely suggesting how it is they emerged. It is not immediately apparent, then, when we can confidently speak univocally, equivocally  or analogically regarding other modal realities or dissipative structures vis a vis their so-called essential natures. We have to pursue those questions through ongoing inquiry.   Nowhere are we necessarily invoking supervenience, strong or weak, to describe emergence, weak or strong, because such assertions seem to me to be trivial or redundant. We are properly making vague references and not robust descriptions. Questions will still beg, for example, as to  whether or not Chalmers, the Churchlands, Penrose, Dennett, Searle or even Ayn Rand are correct, whether or not consciousness is a primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy, is a hard problem, or such questions should be eliminated as nonsensical. I suppose if a gun were put to my head, a nonreductive physicalism feels right to me, but I do not really have a horse in this race.   So, I point to Deacon as a way to properly engage our interpretive methods, which is to note the regularities that present but without saying more than we really know. Deacon's categories certainly leave some questions begging for me, such as what proto-dynamics in terms
  • of initial conditions, limit conditions and boundary conditions might have given rise to the thermodynamics, conditioning the reality we know. They also raise a question about putative eschato-dynamics vis a vis what properties might next emerge and what predicates and sets/classes of predicates we'll need to employ to successfully refer to them even if we cannot successfully describe them.   Problems for anyone who'd ambition a metaphysic beyond Deacon's heuristic are HUGE. First of all, there is a problem with thermodynamic erasure, which is to recognize that when we encounter a tepid cup of coffee on a kitchen counter, we have no way of knowing whether it warmed to that temperature after removal from the fridge or cooled to that temperature after removal from the microwave. Extrapolate this problem to the deepest structures of matter and the earliest moments after the Big Bang. Also, there is the issue of the emergence of new laws governing novel properties, which is to recognize that the regularities we extrapolate to primitive metaphysical axioms might be as local, for all practical purposes, as the by-laws governing our neighborhood Bridge Club.   So, I receive Peirce's grammar and categories as great phenomenological methods and suspect that we both know more than we can say and say more than we can know. Because telos, for all we know, only appeared in 3rd order emergence, we have little warrant, it seems, to claim, for example, that reality is pansemiotic. At the same time, when all other arguments for cosmogenesis are put on the table, all adjudicated with the same Scottish verdict of not proven, should our abductive imaginations lead us to muse about some grand telic metanarrative, they will be invoking an analog, however weak, that has  some inductive warrant in reality. To the extent such musings involve vital and ultimate human concerns, and to the extent we interpret Occam's Razor in terms of the facility of an abduction (not just the simplicity 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, as you say, or our heuristic devices and concepts, as I noted. Because we  all begin our inquiries in media res, starting with one methodology or another, I would concede that there is no fixed method even as I would suggest through my nonfoundational axiological perspectivalism that the normative sciences do gift us with best practices vis a vis human value-realizations.   As to non-volitional beliefs, I am not ready to concede that. It explains some, maybe most. I do not have that sociologic datum. I can say that, some, rather self-critically and self-aware, take epistemic risks in pursuit of values. The proper amplification/attenuation of such risks can augment our value-realizations. In the common parlance, such values 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 I mean that aesthetically NOT soteriologically) and leap with
  • Kierkegaard, not unflinchingly over the existential abyss, amplifying these epistemic risks through faith, hope and love in order to augment their value-realizations of truth, beauty and goodness. We act as if certain beliefs are true, variously doubting, variously fixating on them through time and habit. For my part, I am proposing norms that I hope will better ensure that such practices become the best they can be and do not otherwise devolve into such crimes against humanity as have been visited on us by ... ... whomever, whenever. John Sobert Sylvest - June 2009 Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality pending NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation In the New Testament, the Gospel, the Good News, Jesus revealed the aspirational aspects of human transformation, a process that brings us into an intimate Daddy-like relationship with a tender, loving God. This differentiates the Gospel in the marketplace, so the aspirational should be emphasized at least as much as the obligational. Maybe more? Right & wrong. Good & evil. Merits & demerits. Debits & credits. Reward & punishment. Responsibility & accountability. These are the obligational aspects of human socialization, a process of formation & reformation that helps us function in society. Every society already "gets" this without the benefit of special revelation. The Old Testament revealed that a personal, faithful God was active & involved with humanity, establishing covenants, making promises. East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance In the New Testament, the Gospel, the Good News, Jesus revealed the aspirational aspects of human transformation, a process that brings us into an intimate Daddy-like relationship with a tender, loving God. This differentiates the Gospel in the marketplace, so the aspirational should be emphasized at least as much as the obligational. Maybe more? So, the obligational aspect of our growth is about things like enlightened self-interest, imperfect contrition (sorrow for consequences to ourselves), extrinsic rewards and eros (what's in it for me?). The aspirational is about the intrinsic rewards of truth, beauty, goodness & unity, the pursuit of which is its own reward. It's about agape (what's... Read more in it for others) and perfect contrition (sorrow for consequences that others suffer). It's about growing in intimacy. The Old Covenant still works and the meeting of our basic obligations is still sufficient to enter the Kingdom (& abundance). It's just that, in the Gospel, the New Covenant, we are called to so much more, to superabundance! God, like any good father or mother, wants more for us than we want for ourselves. When we see anyone settle for less, it is natural to grieve, but we should be gentle & accepting of where they are & respectful of their choices. Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered John Morison, 1781
  • Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy Come, let us to the Lord our God with contrite hearts return; our God is gracious, nor will leave... Read more the desolate to mourn. Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal His voice commands the tempest forth and stills the stormy wave; and though his arm be strong to smite, 'tis also strong to save. Long hath the night of sorrow reigned, the dawn shall bring us light; God shall appear, and we shall rise with gladness in his sight. Our hearts, if God we seek to know, shall know him, and rejoice; his coming like the morn shall be, like morning songs his voice. As dew upon the tender herb diffusing fragrance round, as showers that usher in the spring, and cheer the thirsty ground. So shall his presence bless our souls, and shed a joyful light; that hallowed morn shall chase away the sorrows of the night.   I appreciate the insights that folks like Campbell & Jung brought to anthropology. They are important & deserve serious consideration from a scientific perspective. However, I'm not among those who 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 a rejection of fallacies in your critical thinking. Your mythological approach is a positivist, descriptive, scientific enterprise and it moves, quite correctly, from that into a meta-ethical, normative, philosophic enterprise, critiquing historical events and extant worldviews with a reformative aim. For my part, then, I am critiquing your approach as positivistic, reductionistic & scientistic and suggesting that, as an invalid statement of what is it will necessarily lead to an improper ought. If you don't get the given right, then you can't get the normative right either. Part of the problem lies in your lack of recognition of Tolkien's definition of True Myth, which means that we do not even share the same categories and are doomed to talking past one another. For you, all religious myth is mythopoeia, God's expressions thru the minds of poets. For the Christian, the true myth of Christ is God's expression of Himself through, with & in Himself. For the Christian, for whom God's moral nature was revealed in Christ, God's essential nature remains an unfathomable mystery. We do NOT, however, say that God is inapprehensible (in part) even as we maintain that God is wholly incomprehensible. We do not consider mystery to be wholly unintelligible even as Yahweh remains the UnNameable One. We do not say that anything is ONLY a metaphor, neither in physics nor theology; we understand semiotic reality. IOW, we avoid a radical apophaticism every bit as much as we eschew a kataphaticism. Our religion has some descriptive, some normative & some interpretive content even if, in the end, we must move beyond them (but not w/o them) to the evaluative stance. Our religion has evidential, rational & presuppositional elements, even if we must move beyond them (but not w/o them) to an existential orientation. The Reality of God is wholly incomprehensible but this does not mean that it is unintelligible or not partly apprehensible. And its intelligibility goes beyond mythopoeia to include not only the truth of fragmented truth, beauty, goodness & unity but also some very real historical persons, places & things, very tangible realities like a People Gathered, very evidential and rational and presuppositional propositions in addition to our otherwise participatory social imaginations. An overemphasis on the kataphatic & speculative is rationalism. An overemphasis on the kataphatic & affective is pietism (& fideism). An overemphasis on the apophatic & speculative is encratism. An overemphasis on the apophatic and affective is quietism. This is all very highly nuanced and carefully developed and you have engaged and dismissed, strawman style, but a caricature of it all. And you 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 & intelligible approaches to Primal Reality. It is necessary but not sufficient. It seems more accurate to say that we are trapped in tautologies, some more taut than others, and cannot prove the axioms of our tautological systems within those systems, themselves. This is not to a priori rule out the possibility that we might not be able to otherwise SEE the truth of such axioms. To equate accessing such truth with proof would be empiricistic and rationalistic, indeed.   The difference between me and Hegel is that I do not aspire to a complete system, only a consistent system (Godel). I believe that a system is possible but do not a priori decide which part of it is inaccessible due to methodological thwarting, epistemically, or due to ontological occulting, metaphysically. That is a mysterian cul de sac.   re: to settle in the small town of the like-minded is in itself a commentary on "the faith," one which seems designed to escape the faithful but not the intelligent ;) I am a great believer in common sense. To paraphrase the late, great WmFBuckley:"I'd rather entrust the religion of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." In other words, I believe that there is a GREAT deal of unconscious competence, that most people GET reality and PRIMAL reality right and are mostly responding appropriately even if fallibly as people of large intelligence (read = common sense not university learning) and profound goodwill (read = good old middle American or Guatemalan values), even if they cannot articulate their epistemological stance in academic jargon. The overemphasis on rationalistic approaches (critical thinking) is not mine, here. Instead, I applaud the social imaginary that has formed most peoples.   It all seems to boil down to your heterodox reading of Tolkien as if what he was talking about was the idol of a Grand Metanarrative. There is all the difference in the world between a response to the postmodern critique which concedes that our epistemic grasp is problematical and adopts a contrite fallibilism and one that capitulates to its more corrosive extreme and eschews metaphysical & moral realisms, sawing off the epistemological branch where one's ontological eggs are nested.   It may be that our differences are thus naunced: I believe that there is One 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 reasonably and good-heartedly seek the most nearly perfect articulation of its Truth, 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  
  • "It's been said that the dominant note of the traditional Catholic liturgy was intense longing. This is also true of her art, her literature, her whole 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, as its author believed: But it is more. It is this age's great Catholic epic, fit to stand beside the Grail legends, Le Morte d'Arthur and The Canterbury Tales. It is at once a great comfort to the individual Catholic, and a tribute to the enduring power and greatness of the Catholic tradition, that JRRT created this work. In an age which has seen an almost total rejection of the faith on the part of the Civilization she created . . . Lord of the Rings assures us, both by its existence and its message, that the darkness cannot triumph forever."   The darkness is NOT a Divine attribute in our view! pending Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com pending
  • Christian Nonduality Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin   THE BOOK: An Emerging Church Conversation with a Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal   Preface   Radical Emergence – Pouring out a welter of confused thoughts   Radical Emergence – Social Networks Can Be Thoreau’s Post Office   Cosmology of Emergence   One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Introduction Simone Weil Radical Emergence – Science, Philosophy, Culture & Religion John of the Cross Thomas Merton     The True Self   The Passion Descriptive Science Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue   The Spirit Radical Emergence – Intelligent Design – a poorly designed inference Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered     The Philip Clayton - Daniel Dennett Mardi Gras 2010 Debate   Karl Rahner Radical Emergence – The New Atheism, a wimpy caricature of the old Wounded Innocence   Rogation Days  
  • Radical Orthodoxy Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Evaluative Culture   Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Radical Emergence – Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom   Architectonic Why I Love New Orleans: Iko Iko ah-nay Joc-a-mo-fee-no-ah-nahnay Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay Anglican - Roman Dialogue   The Ethos of Eros Normative Philosophy Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass   Radical Emergence – Why PostmodernISM & ModernISM are Both Silly   I’ve already got truth, beauty & goodness! Why bother with faith, hope & love?   some thoughts on Epistemology   If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise some notes on Epistemology pending Spirituality The Great Tradition properly conceived   Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal Radical Emergence – to value our yearning, treasure our wanting & 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   There's Probably No God? Be Good for Goodness Sake!   Natural Theology This topic is incorporated throughout the other essays. It dosn't otherwise deserve more mention than that.   Axiology of Emergence
  •   Introduction - the Interpretive Axis of Religion   10 Emerging Church Questions: Discovering What You Already Know but maybe didn’t realize you knew it (Walker Percy-ism)   Emerging Church: What’s This About Nurturing the Creative Tension of Paradox?   Radical Emergence – The Fugue: truth, beauty, goodness & unity   I view the emerging conversation as dialogue & prayer, the fruits of which are quite unpredictable   Theology of Nature   Science vs Natural Theology vs Theology of Nature   Pansemioentheism: An Emergentist Account of the Biosemiotic Categories of Religion from a panentheistic perspective   Theology of Revelation No need to elaborate on Catholic approach to Biblical hermeneutics and exegesis.   Pneumatology   Radical Emergence – The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh   Radical Emergence – Spirit Move When You Will, Where You Will, How You Will   Emerging Church & Pentecostalism: a creative tension   Christology   Radical Emergence – Desiring the Kingdom   Radical Emergence – What differentiates the Gospel in the marketplace?   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 twain shall meet   Radical Emergence – God is not a syllogism, Love is not a formal argument   Radical Emergence – Searching for Re-enchantment in all the wrong places   Radical Emergence – From Mild Woman to Wild Woman (for the church, 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 the future Oneness now   Soteriology   Radical Emergence – Merton – the False Self (properly understood)   Radical Emergence – Merton – move into crisis to lose crisis   Prayer, in the True Self, would be as quiet as a sewing machine but 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-like interplay of boundary establishment, defense, negotiation & transcendence.   The 6 Moments, Dynamics & Dialogues of the Emerging Church Conversation   Emergence Happens When …   Radical Emergence – the Emerging Church Conversation as Strategic Planning Exercise   The Dead Emerging Church? An Elvis Sighting!   Thought’s on A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren (my War & Peace edition)   Thought’s on A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren (my Abridged edition)   Creed   Radical Emergence: about roots & shoots  
  • The emerging church conversation is less about positions and more about dispositions   Radical Emergence – Right questions can be more important than right answers   Radical Emergence – Fundamentalists versus Heretics? not really, not always   What could one possibly mean by convergence in the emerging church 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 Norah Jones?   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 church conversation?   Radical Emergence – It’s a small, small world – global dialogue   Radical Emergence – Let There Be Peace on Earth – preambles to dialogue   Cathlimergent   Catholics in the Emerging Church Conversation   The Emergent Roaming Catholic – a pictorial autobiography   Radical Emergence – What makes a Catholic, catholic? (nothing cultural, scientific, philosophical or metaphysical)   We Are Church: Our local community is 200 years old but its foundation 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? A lot, 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 Social Networking Site - Come Join Us!       http://twitter.com/Cathlimergent Cathlimergent on Twitter                                  
  •                                                       Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism?  and Epistemic "Rights" NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West   Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini   No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days There is a great deal of discontinuity in emergent reality, which threatens what Wim Drees calls the hierarchical unity of the sciences. In my view, we avoid this trap by remaining vaguely referential, phenomenologically, and not robustly specific, metaphysically, when  talking about reality. In even simpler terms, because the Peircean account recognizes that even the laws governing reality are dynamical and emergent, we must remain aware, when analogically extrapolating, that what we are extrapolating are very, very local regularities, which is to say with tongue only partly in cheek, that what we extrapolate, sometimes,  just might be the gnosiological equivalent of a social club's  by-laws rather than reality's primal axiological laws. Triadically, we overcome the epistemic-ontic divide with an axiological turn. What we have is axiology all the way up, all the way down, all the way across, coming and going and at rest, neoplatonically even. Pannenberg is in tune with this in his recognition that the infinite is not apposite to the finite but is of an entirely different order. Temporality and atemporality, also. The Design Inference is a great intuition but not one that should be applied to a reality as "local" as evolution, for example. Reality is WAY richer than that. The Peircean Thirdness that we encounter as 3rd Order Emergence or teleodynamics, for all science can discern, does not appear on the cosmic scene "early," which is to acknowledge that there is no empirical evidence that reality is pansemiotic. It takes a Kierkegaardian Leap and 
  • Radical Orthodoxy Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy a Pascalian Wager to see the world through pneumatological lenses and to evaluatively/axiologically posit a pansemioentheistic reality, which is but a vague reference to a putative primal reality wherein divine supremacies correspond to our own emergent virtues and even call them forth via Bracken's Divine Matrix, via Pannenberg's creative field of force. So, we affirm common sense notions of casality and acknowledge an interrelated matrix of causes and effects, even as we remain immersed in deep paradox about just how this could be so. But we do not need to resolve this modally only relationally, through mediation and participation -- the Spirit our medium, our normative divine supremacy. Hence, Moltmann's tzitzum and Simone Weil's divine delimitation and the Kabbalistic shrinking of God. Creation is thus a dance of limits through the transformative advance of the liminal and the formative "play" of the liminoid. The Holy Spirit is thus the En-Courager of risk-amplification ordered toward valueaugmentation. Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal Pannenberg is right in beginning with anthropology; I find it indispensable, too. And we must radicalize Christianity back to its roots and away from a still regnant hellenistic, dualism. I am sympathetic,  then, with the platonizing and existentialist thrust of Radical  Orthodoxy from the perspective that, for any who want to live superabundantly, philosophy reduces to theology as a riskamplification strategy ordered toward value-augmentation, which is what the Spirit is about. This is the conscious-competence of explicit faith. I just reject any notion that any failure to thus reduce philosophy (which means we, instead, recognize the normative sciences  as autonomous methodologies) is a de facto nihilism; rather, one  merely lives abundantly (not superabundantly) with their unconscious competence, still guided by the Spirit. 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 humankind's philosophical sojourns, his use of nihilism as a foil to deepen our selfunderstanding 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 didn't 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 they mistakenly imagine, even if inchoately and somewhat  unawares, that human knowledge advances through  something akin to formal argumentation with indubitable First Principles and other indispensable, even if implicit and  unspoken, presuppositions. Deny these preambles to reason and lapse, practically, into an unmitigated nihilism and,  speculatively, into an invincible incoherence.  This reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of human evolutionary epistemology. Instead, what in essence is going on with the rather open-ended processors we call our minds is that we are adopting such presuppositions axiomatically, as one might say, for argument's sake, and maybe more properly one might add, for all practical purposes. It is not as if we can otherwise prove these systematic presuppositions within the thought systems they, themselves, axiomatize (cf. Godel).   So, we do not have a water-tight epistemological proof of God implicit in the very possibility of human knowledge itself, as some would seem to suggest. Neither do we have a formal refutation of a practical nihilism, as some would like to imagine. What we do have is an evolutionary leap, an emergent quality of the human brain known as consciousness that distinguishes us from others in our genus as sapiens. Which axioms we choose in order to advance our mathematics, physics or even worldviews are selected based on informal arguments and weak abductive and retroductive inference (in a virtuous triadic spiral with induction and deduction), the value of which gets cashed out in human value-realizations. It may well be that our processes of justification and the very nature of the types of axioms we select presuppositionally might reasonably raise one's sneaking suspicions about putative necessary realities, such as in our spontaneous abduction of the Ens Necessarium, but when we compare different types of fundamental trust in uncertain reality and contrast them as paradoxical versus justified, we must not imagine that our processes of justification have banished all paradox and have indubitably grounded all ultimate concerns. Rather, what we have gained though our justification processes is internal coherence, logical consistency, external congruence and some interdisciplinary consilience which are tests of (not criteria of) truth vis a vis our enhanced modeling power of reality, but no philosophically rigorous analysis 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 weak strands of truth-indicative tests that gain their strength and efficacy from their cumulative intertwining and a lot less by any architectural analog like building foundations or stairways to heaven. Ours is a Jacob's ladder made of rope and the epistemic journey is like using  such a device to precariously and perilously crawl across a mountain gorge, which requires us to hold on loosely but not let go in order to make our way across. This is all to suggest that human knowledge can indeed advance without a robustly defined and formal interpretive system (although, arguably, not superabundantly). It is also to recognize that such systems and arguments, such as various metaphysical proofs and natural theologies, do contribute important strands to our epistemic
  • cables, none really helpful alone but, when taken together with many other types of strands, quite indispensable as a group. This is all also to argue against any facile strategy of trying to rope in and strangle nihilism with individual evidential, rational and presuppositional tree vines, all which individually would snap under its existential weight. We cannot juxtapose nihilism and belief, or nonfoundationalism and foundationalisms, and logically coerce our axioms on others because those individual axioms aren't chosen by human 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 an epistemic parity, are necessary strands in any rope that I'd climb. I know, however, that they are not sufficient. We need other strands like elegance, beauty, parsimony, simplicity, goodness, usefulness and being-in-love. Which are necessary and how many are sufficient might very well vary from person to person, whose epistemic "rights," in the final analysis will be established on the other side of the gorge. My advice is to get yourself a good handful of many different strands!    We can discuss the philosophic focus of human concern in terms of the normative sciences. These sciences, in their mediation of our interpretive and descriptive foci will, in the final analysis, always come up short in rationally demonstrating and empirically proving our competing worldviews and metaphysics. We do want to ensure, normatively, that any of our competing systems at least minimalistically gift us with sufficient modeling power of reality such that we can establish an epistemic parity with other systems. Once we have established a modicum of equiplausibility or equiprobability, we might then invoke a type of equiplausibility principle to guide us in our existential choices. And such a principle can (should) adhere to  normative guidelines for informal reasoning based on our abductive and retroductive inferential modes, which are presupposed in our triadic inferential dynamism along with induction and deduction. Here we reason from predicates and properties back to subjects and essences (nonstrict identities) in order to gain a probabilistic edge over otherwise arbitrary decision-making and prudential judgment. Thus we invoke parsimony, simplicity, elegance, beauty, symmetry, utility, goodness and other aesthetical and ethical and logical existential orientations, advancing notions like Pascal's Wager, for example, and taking courage to leap with Kierkegaard. And it is here that I would propose that these philosophic norms transist into theological virtue, which I propose might be understood in terms of the amplification of risks toward the augmentation of value. As we gather from Haught's  Cosmic Adventure and aesthetic teleology, the more fragile the more beautiful. And, as we know from nonequilibrium thermodynamics, the greater the number of bifurcations and permutations in a structure's composition, the more fragile ---because it runs a greater risk of disintegration--- hence, the more beautiful. So, the leap, the wager, from a philosophic epistemic virtue to a theological virtue, from logic and aesthetics and ethics to faith and hope and love, is an amplification of risk (kenosis as risk of disintegration) toward the augmentation of value, an increase in truth, beauty and goodness, mediated by creed, cult and code in community, both a philosophical community of inquiry and a theological community of lovers.
  • My affinity for Peirce comes from my appreciation of his pragmatic logic and theory of meaning and affirmation of metaphysics as a valid but fallible enterprise. Beyond that, I otherwise sympathize with the analytical approaches and the advocates of common sense and any other approaches that incorporate some type of fallibilism or critical realism. And beyond that, I really am not looking for additional epistemological or methodological rigor other than that practiced by conventional science and that enjoyed in colloquial usage (including the "leap" of faith) and subject to linguistic analysis. Some of my critics are absolutely right in that I am an inveterate eclectic, methodologically, and also in that I will not get down to brass tacks, systematically, either, in order to make any metaphysical commitments. I do not receive such charges as an indictment but rather as an exoneration and proof that, philosophically, I am fetish free. It is my simple thesis that most people are competent in their interactions with reality because we have evolved that way. That is a tautology, to be sure. But it is a taut one, empirically. Peirce is exactly right in his use of the analogy of a cable with many strands or filaments to explain human knowledge. The reason most people are competent is that they have enough strands. We are also fallible, because no one has them all. Epistemology searches for an eschatological ideal that would account for every strand and epistemologists argue about the attributes of differently-stranded cables. Good for them. But these arguments, in my view, reach a point of diminishing returns where, for all practical purposes, the differences in their positions become so nuanced as not to be relevant to me vis a vis my value-realization pursuits. Ontologists, for their part, argue about how high they have ropeclimbed these cables and what vista they have taken in, cosmologically, or how low they have descended into the deepest structures of matter to discern reality's microstructures. Their arguments, too, reach a point of diminishing returns vis a vis my value-realizations. Although there is no theoretical constraint on how high or low humankind can travel, hoisting itself on its epistemic cables, for all practical purposes, our radical finitude limits our horizons vis a vis humanity's ultimate concerns. And this, then, places me in deep  sympathy with Wittgenstein, Pascal, James, Kierkegaard et al with my qualifying proviso being that faith takes us beyond but not without reason, which is to recognize that we do need different strands to construct our cables and that some cables are indeed better than others. Which strands are necessary and how many of them are sufficient is problematical. What would make for the ideal cable is highly problematical. I think it is fair, then, to talk in terms of adequacy, abundance and superabundance (or degrees of participation, if you will) when it comes to epistemic cables vis a vis value-realizations. Now, one of my central contentions is that a philosophical anthropology that does not recognize and affirm a human exceptionalism is not empirically demonstrable and therefore not philosophically defensible. I further contend that such a philosophical anthropology does not necessarily derive from a Peircean-informed perspective, neither from a religious nor a secular outlook. For
  • example, I largely resonate with Ursula Goodenough and Terry Deacon, who have set forth what I interpret as a naturalistic account of  human exceptionalism and I also direct you to http://christiannonduality.com/other_online_resources where you  can follow the link to: Pansemioentheism: An Emergentist Account of the Biosemiotic Categories of Religion from a panentheistic perspective where I develop and defend this position myself. We might test the PaNSY heuristic for an axiological epistemological architectonic by parsing these epistemic dynamics with its categories: normative, descriptive, interpretive, evaluative, semiotic, theoretic, heuristic and dogmatic. The explanatory adequacy of the heuristic can be tested by its ability to model and critique other approaches, whether of theological apologetics (evidential, rational, presuppositional or existential), 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 as privilege, primacy, autonomy, integrality, holism and holonism, all as might be applied to various furnishings in our epistemic suite, whether couched in terms of classical faculty psychology (both functional and structural), classical spirituality (memory, understanding and will), evolutionary epistemology (ecological rationality of a distributed neuronal network), philosophical methodolgy (the categories of Lonergan's philosophical anthropology, Peirce's triadic semiotic, Neville's axiological hypotheses, Gelpi's conceptual and evaluative continua) 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 that between a successful description and a successful reference, such as that between epistemic indeterminacy and ontological and semantical vagueness, such as that between theories of truth and justification, such as that between criteria of truth and tests for truth, the truthconducive and the truth-indicative, epistemic warrant and epistemic parity, formal and informal argumentation, prudential and nonprudential, 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 of philosophical anthropology rests on knowing when it is that we have a true dichotomy or a mere distinction and whether or not the real nub is speculative or practical. At bottom, a lot of philosophical conundra will resolve if we realize that, while the real nub, in the final analysis might well be speculative, for now, most matters must get adjudicated practically. We'll continue our critiques of other schools and systems ... ... later, perhaps.
  • Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Christian Nonduality NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum CHRISTIAN NONDUALITY The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton From Nicholas of Cusa:   "I have found the place where one can find Thee undisguised. It is surrounded by the coincidence of opposites. This is the wall of Paradise in which Thou dwellest. Its gate is guarded by the “highest spirit of 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, on this side never."   The Spirit The coincidence of opposites is a certain kind of unity perceived as coincidence, a unity of contrarieties overcoming opposition by convergence without destroying or merely blending the constituent elements. Although in once sense not obliterated, in another the constituent elements shed their multiple, differentiated status. Examples would include the coincidence of rest and motion, past and future, diversity and identity, inequality and equality, and divisibility and simplicity. Christian Nonduality   The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue more on Nonduality Karl Rahner ... coincidence does not really describe God. Rather it sets forth the way 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. God is beyond the realm of contradictories. God ... preceded opposites, is undifferentiated, not other, incomparable, and without opposite, precedes distinctions, opposition, contrariety, and contradiction. Wounded Innocence ____________________________________________________________ Rogation Days   Radical Orthodoxy   The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal What Nicholas of Cusa describes regarding the coincidentia oppositorum is very reminiscent of the type of nuance we find in semiotic theory vis a vis the principles of excluded middle and noncontradiction and when they hold and when they fold. It is also found in all approaches to the univocity and equivocity and analogy of being, whether of Scotus or Aquinas. It is found in early Dionysian logic, in Meister Eckhart and in the modern American Pragmatism of Charles Sanders Peirce. I first learned of it from the teachings of Richard Rohr. It resonates with my own Franciscan sensibilities, incarnational imagination and appreciation for Scotus. I elaborate on all of this here at Johnboy’s Homepage.   ____________________________________________________________   I like what Fr. Rohr says here: quote: "The Secret" which is now gaining popularity in the USA, is probably a classic example of something that is partially true, and even good, being made into the only lens through which you read reality, and then it becomes untrue. Heresy could be defined as when we absolutize a partial truth, and I believe that is what is happening here. But I would also love for Christians to learn the partial truth, and that is why we teach the contemplative mind here.   And he says this in the context of speaking against Gnosticism and for Incarnationalism, which is our portal to the Divine via the particular, the concrete, the physical ... even the sad and painful. That's what we'd expect from a good Franciscan, n'est 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 spiritual traditions of the world religions. It is sometimes referred to as No Self or Emptiness, as in Buddhism. It refers to the death of the false self or ego and the diminishment or extinction of the separate self sense, along with the abiding sense of unity with Ultimate Reality.   My first reading of Keating was that he was facilely mapping one set of experiences over another without much rigor, disambiguation or parsing. Looking more closely, I feel safe in attributing an epistemic stance to him rather than an ontological perspective because I can glean that from within the context of other things he wrote in that same article and other things he's written over the years. It is not just a distinction between an epistemic stance and an ontological perspective, which is crucial, it is also a matter of distinguishing between states, structures and stages that, on one hand, ordinarily correlate (which I think it is fair to say) or, on the other hand, necessarily indicate (which would be patently absurd) one transformative or unitive level or another.   I conceive of the False Self as the persona, which is a good and necessary thing, just not a sufficient thing for completing the transformative journey. We go beyond it but not without it. The No Self is not, then, the True Self that follows the development of the persona on our journey of individuation and transformation. The No Self is, rather, an experience of nondual awareness, of absolute unitary being. It may be, though, that this No Self experience is correlated with the journey to True Self. We find them together, often.   quote: Non-duality is clearly a state beyond what is called in the Christian contemplative tradition “Transforming Union.” The Cistercians, Franciscans, Carmelites, and other religious groups have described this state as “bridal mysticism.”    Nondual awareness is a metaphysical intuition, not a state of virtue or level 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 into ineffable experiences of union with the Beloved and forgetfulness of self. They remain two however.   This seems quite alright vis a vis a spousal or bridal mysticism, in and of itself, which should not otherwise be equated with nondual states of awareness but might well be highly correlated with experiences of same. It is preferable to other formulations of No Self, which annihilate the 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 12th and 13th centuries wrote explicitly of the Transforming Union as initiating a further journey into states of unity consciousness that parallel the descriptions of no self or enlightenment found in Buddhism, Advaitic Vedanta, or Sufi literature. Here there is no self at all.   We must be clear as to whether or not we are talking about a fleeting epistemic experience or an ontological reality. Keating properly speaks in epistemic terms is my take.   quote: Perhaps it might be useful to orient practitioners to the paradox of living a life that is neither dual nor non-dual, just as some spiritual traditions affirm that the Absolute is not this, not that—or similar to the statement, not one, not two. These paradoxes point to the fact that God is beyond all that exists and beyond all categories of being 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 of this or that, which is to say in epistemic terms, but does not commit the metaphysical category errors of others who make sweeping ontological & metaphysical claims. He affirms the dialectic between apophatic and kataphatic, nondual and dual (and transdual). When I say tertradalectical, I mean to nurture the interplay, for example, of sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling; or between the empirical, rational, practical and relational; or between the subjective, objective, intersubjective and interobjective; or between the descriptive, prescriptive, interpretive and evaluative; or between the positivist, philosophic, theistic and theotic; or between truth, beauty, goodness and unity; or between creed, cult, code and community and so on. These different approaches, faculties, sensibilities and methodologies are not each holonic (the Wilber mistake that leads to arational gnosticism) but are tetradically holistic. That one correction to Wilber cures a host of ills, I believe. At any rate, I sense that Keating and Rohr definitely get this aspect right. Fr. Keating wrote: quote: Non-duality is clearly a state beyond what is called in the Christian contemplative tradition “Transforming Union.” The Cistercians, Franciscans, Carmelites, and other religious groups have described this state as “bridal mysticism.” It involves the union of love with God in which the will and intellect are united to God, whether in interior trials such as the feeling of God’s absence or the delights of mature, apophatic contemplation. The unifying force of divine love draws and unites the soul into ineffable experiences of union with the Beloved and forgetfulness of self.   Metaphorically, the way I have received this all is that, this nondual self-forgetfulness is an ecstatic journey on which we venture and from
  • which we return, again and again and again. This bridal mysticism is nothing less than Divine intercourse of those otherwise already joined in Mystical Union. To be metaphorically explicit, it is the difference between Marriage and the Marriage Bed. Bernard of Clairvaux On the Song of Songs But notice that in spiritual marriage there are two kinds of birth, and thus two kinds of offspring, though not opposite. For spiritual persons, like holy mothers, may bring souls to birth by preaching, or may give birth to spiritual insights by meditation. In this latter kind of birth the soul leaves even its bodily senses and is separated from them, so that in her awareness of the Word she is not aware of herself. This happens when the mind is enraptured by the unutterable sweetness of the Word, so that it withdraws, or rather is transported, and escapes from itself to enjoy the Word. The soul is affected in one way when it is made fruitful by the Word, in another when it enjoys the Word: in the one it is considering the needs of its neighbor; in the other it is allured by the sweetness of the Word. A mother is happy in her child; a bride is even happier in her bridegroom's embrace. The children are dear, they are the pledge of his love, but his kisses give her greater pleasure. It is good to save many souls, but there is far more pleasure in going aside to be with the Word. But when does this happen and for how long? It is sweet intercourse, but lasts a short time and is experienced rarely! This is what I spoke of before, when I said that the final reason for the soul to seek the Word was to 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 from Centering Prayer with its minimal effort towards consent and surrender to God's presence, to a state of infused contemplation where the Holy Spirit is fully directing the prayer or "praying us." There are some signs, but no distinct states discernable to ordinary human discrimination. Those who are faithful to the practice of CP gradually give up the need to know "where they are" and learn to surrender more and more to what God wants to have happen.   So, for all the talk of stages and levels and ways regarding the transformative journey, it is good counsel to give up the need to know where we are or where others are on this journey for there is no way to accurately judge such things. It is important, in my view, to draw a distinction between phenomenal states and psychic structures, on one hand, and transformative stages and levels of virtue, on the other hand. It is enough to know that they can often be highly correlated but important to know that they are not necessarily otherwise truly indicative one of the other. Some are given glimpses. Some experiences are fleeting and transitory. Others are more perduring. All is unmerited and 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. Bernard's view, a matter of experience, a type of awareness, an affective moment, an epistemic value-realization and
  • not, rather, a perduring ontological reality. The following is an excerpt from an introduction to St. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs by Prof. Katherine Gill for her courses at Yale Divinity School and Boston College: quote: Sermon 52 illustrates Bernard's conviction that contemplation is a foretaste of heaven and a mystical (bridal) sleep that vivifies the mystical senses. But he also viewed it as a type of ecstatic dying to the world and as an apophatic, imageless-therefore, "angelic"contemplation of God. For St. John of the Cross, bridal sleep is the most apostolic work a person can do for the Church, because therein a person does what he or she was created for: to love and to be loved. The selected text from Sermon 74 is one of the most stunning attempts in the entire Christian mystical tradition to describe the mystical experience. When the Word invades the soul, he cannot be perceived by the senses. However, the heart, or the person's deepest center, suddenly becomes alive and its most secret faults are disclosed. When the Word leaves, it is like a boiling pot removed from the stove. The Life of the soul's life seems to 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 in spirit, yet remain two. Spousal mysticism emphasizes a differentiated unity. In other words, love actually makes two one, but also enhances personal identity. Love makes the soul equal to God, God by participation, but not simply God. Also, Bernard emphasizes that bridal love loves God for his own sake. Although as bride, the soul desires the Bridegroom's embrace, as mother she loves her children, that is, her neighbor.   We must honor the distinction between a mystical experience, on one hand, and a level or degree or stage or state of sanctity or virtue or perfect charity, otoh. Sure, there are manifold and multiform phenomenal states, psychic phenomena or experiences that can be correlated with whether or not one is on the purgative or illuminative way, whether one is in this or that interior mansion, whether one is at base camp or the summit of Mt. Carmel. When speaking epistemically, especially of nonduality, a state would be temporary, an epistemological structure, or if you prefer stage, would be more permanent, which is to recognize a type of nondual consciousness 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 an experience or perception or type of awareness, in which case the state of one's consciousness doesn't matter: nonduality is just there to see. And it does seem to me that a good panentheist might figure this out through philosophical contemplation, someone else through an intuition of being, still another through a kundalini experience, yet another through enlightenment. If Keating indeed follows Wilber's take, this is all a nondual state entails. At any rate, there is more to this stage paradigm than just the experiential aspect; when speaking of the transforming union we are talking not just about phenomenal experiences but habitual virtue, increased charity & sanctifying grace, preservation from mortal sin and general avoidance of venial sin and so on.   Mystical ecstasy is a type of nonduality, but does not exhaust that reality. Keating speaks of the transient nature of such ecstasy as is
  • associated with bridal mysticism. I do not interpret him to be suggesting that this is what becomes permanent. Rather, at this point, I'd suspect he thinks in terms of nondual realization, an epistemological structure, whether one thinks of that in terms of a perduring unitive consciousness (or way of perceiving reality), or, as Wilber would (and Keating leans on Wilber), nondual realization, which doesn't require any form of consciousness per se.   quote: johnboy: ... nonduality is just there to see. And it does seem to me that a good panentheist might figure this out through philosophical contemplation ... Now, this may seem to leave a question begging ... of why, when it comes to nonduality, so many go the pantheistic route, or, worse, the materialist monist route, or maybe not as bad, the idealist monist route, rather than the panentheist route. And I'm just going to leave this here as a footnote. The reason is, in my view, that they have not seen the wisdom of Dionysian logic, as has a modern counterpart in the semiotic approach of Charles Sanders Peirce; or they have not been exposed to a dialogue between the univocity and analogy of being, of Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas. Or, they just don't know how to get around the seeming inviolability of the principle of noncontradiction. The answer lies in the coincidentia oppositorum of Nicholas of Cusa. The closest thing in Christianity to the way I usually hear "nondual" being used is "union," which presupposes an intimacy between two-inlove. There's nothing in Christianity about the soul and God being one and the same thing. Of course, it would take extensive dialogue to know if that's what the Easterners intend to be saying, as, in some traditions like Buddhism, the terms soul and God aren't used (and it's a strain to find conceptual equivalents). Hinduism's Atman and Brahman are closer, but, in the end, these turn out to be one and the same. So, no -- Christianity's doctrine of creation is rather unique. We should note, here, that BR doesn't use the term "nondual" and it's not what she means to be saying by no-self. For her, no-self signifies the extinguishing of human consciousness, which is a prelude to the discovery 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 an intimacy between two-in-love. There's nothing in Christianity about the soul and God being one and the same thing. Of course, it would take extensive dialogue ... Defining everything that one might mean by nondual is like trying to nail jello to the wall. When it comes to a theism properly conceived, which excludes atheism, pantheism and other nontheistic traditions, I think the big divide, theologically, precisely has to do with defining our relationship to 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 start out as a merely functional relationship into a purely personal relationship. It has to do, then, with getting closer. Others conceive of this unitive striving as a dance between relationship and identity, as a journey from intersubjectivity into absolute subjectivity. Some affirm this intersubjectivity and then strive to transform it into absolute subjectivity; others see this intersubjectivity as an illusion. There is nothing in the Christian tradition that corresponds to this second type of unitive striving. Anyone who suggests this isn't so much being a heretic as they are just plain being silly. Now, it is possible to conceive of God, philosophically, as mostly in a functional relationship with creation, so there are other ways to be theistic without relating to the Creator as Abba or as in bridal mysticism. This isn't an option for the Christian. If Jesus revealed anything, then He revealed an actively involved and deeply caring God, building on the Hebrew experience. (Of course, let's not forget the Song of Songs, either). Thus, He taught us to pray, Our Father ... Aside from these distinctly theological concerns, nondual has different meanings that pertain to 1) psychological states: altered states of consciousness, ecstasy 2) epistemological states and structures: nondiscursive, preconceptual and transconceptual awareness; avoidance of subject-object cleavage; epistemic vagueness; nominalism & essentialism 3) linguistic and semiotic approaches: Dionysian logic, semantical vagueness, triadic semiotic grammar; deconstruction strategies 4) metaphysical & ontological theories: idealist and materialist monisms; aristotelian hylomorphism; ontological vagueness; modal ontology 5) philosophical: false dichotomies; binary logic; dualistic conceptions 6) ascetical practices & spiritual disciplines of all sorts, what we might call spiritual technology It is not important to understand what each item in the above inventory means. It should demonstrate the difficulty in disambiguating the term. Beside, I wanted to make a little inventory like this for my own reference and your question evoked same. Finally, there is nothing distinctly nondual, from the standpoint of natural or revealed theology, in Christianity. From the standpoint of ascetical and mystical theology, and formative spirituality, "the nondual" can pop up in any number of places and be successfully integrated. It also presents itself in various scientific, metaphysical, psychological and anthropological considerations and can be appropriated that way, although as Phil pointed out earlier, our theological commitments do make certain claims on these other foci of human 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 inner aspirations that transcend metaphysics itself. The more we situate Zen in this ascent, the better able we will be to let it inspire both metaphysics and Christian mysticism, and be inspired by them in turn. Each is enamored by existence in its own way. The metaphysics of St. Thomas wants to understand it, and to do so, it uses concepts and pushes them to their ultimate limits where they display their innermost nature as reflections of existence. Zen wants to actively embrace existence so it resolutely puts aside all concepts, and in this emptiness finds the way to existence. Christian mysticism wants to be embraced by existence and see revealed in its depths its most intimate face, which is love. There is no reason except our own weakness that 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 Arraj One might look at the nonduality inventory above and ask just how BR's accounts square with it? What categories do her teachings attempt to address or otherwise ignore? In closing, it seems that, when people are speaking about the nondual in strictly natural theological terms, they are describing ultimate reality in terms of Oneness. When people are speaking about the nondual in these other areas of human concern, nondual need not imply oneness or absoluteness or simplicity; rather, in overcoming two-ness or duality, other strategies present themselves. Think about what these might 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 grammar on the triadic, bordering on what some have called triadomania. Pseudo-Dionysius and other neo-platonic philosophers and mystics used a triadic grammar, too. Psychology and spirituality is full of tetradic approaches, largely due to our brain quadrants, although our brain functions are much more distributed than many ever thought possible. To be nondual in tiddly winks, all you have to do is to skip twosies!   ____________________________________________________________   When evaluating phenomenal states, psychic structures, psychological stages, Lonergan's conversions and ontological and theological degrees of perfection, we must carefully define their essential nature, inventory the graces that might accompany them and identify their fruits. In other words, we need to draw distinctions, but as Maritain said, in order to unite. Since grace can build on nature, any epistemic valuerealization offers promise, including such as Zen and nondual realization, including such as natural science and natural mysticism. It also offers perils and pitfalls, for, as Richard Rohr says, "something that is partially true, and
  • even good, [can be] made into the only lens through which you read reality, and then it becomes untrue. Heresy could be defined as when we absolutize a partial truth." Natural science is a partial truth. When it becomes "the only lens through which you read reality ... then it becomes untrue," or what we call scientism. Natural mysticism is a partial truth, but, when it becomes "the only lens through which you read reality, then it becomes untrue," or what Arraj has called "nondualist imperialism." Jim writes: quote: what does this kind of nondualist imperialism do to Christianity? It eliminates its distinctive nature. Let me be clear about this. Used in this way, Zen awakening, which could be a wonderful gift for Christians, 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 personal God, then as the transpersonal God, and finally as the Ultimate Reality beyond all personal and impersonal categories. Since God's existence, knowledge and activity are one, Ultimate Reality is discovered to be That-which-is. - http://www.centeringprayer.com/Mystery/2easter07.htm You buy? This is a prime example of our need to employ Dionysian logic, to embrace the coincidentia oppositorum. We must distinguish between univocal and equivocal predications of God. We generally cannot employ univocity when speaking of God and creatures, which is to recognize that the words we use to describe humans, like person, for example, cannot be literally predicated of God. There is an equivocity in play in any words we use to describe both God and humans. The way we bridge these distinct realities is to employ, then, analogical predications, which is to affirm that the Trinity is in a relationship LIKE that enjoyed by us a persons. When we speak of the Mystical Body of Christ or the Cosmic Christ, we speak of an eternal reality and employ such words as body and cosmic, not literally, but analogically. Even when we speak of Jesus in His life on earth, the precise nature of His humanity remains shrouded in mystery and these rules of predication would apply metaphysically. Revelation, though, has literal and historical dimensions (what can I know?), anagogical dimensions (what can I hope for? Last Things?), mystagogical dimensions (how does this all relate? and initiate into mystery), 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' essential nature was realized, we can say that spiritually and morally He revealed the fullness of God's Trinitarian Life to us, as well as how we are to respond and what is in store for us. I think it is fair enough to say that our relationship with God is, in some sense, undeniably personal. As we conceive of the Mystical Body of Christ, there is obviously something transpersonal, that goes beyond our understanding of the personal, which is not employed univocally of God and creatures in the first place. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with also recognizing that the Reality of God cannot be robustly described using any of our human categories for, apophatically, the only literal descriptions we can predicate of God are those statements of what God is not. What we have, then, in Dionysian logic, is a trialectical (tetradalectical?)interplay between the both/and of apophatic/univocal predications and the kataphatic/equivocal predications, as well as the neither/nor of the unitive subversion of binary logic, hence, dichotomous thinking. Temporally speaking, we also have a tension between what we can experience now vs eschatologically versus proleptically (as though the future were present). Therefore, when we read this: On the Christian path, God is known first as the personal God, then as the transpersonal God, and finally as the Ultimate Reality beyond all personal and impersonal categories. Since God's existence, knowledge and activity are one, Ultimate Reality is discovered to be That-which-is ... There is no reason to interpret this in terms of strict binary logic, as either/or dichotomies. It is an initiation into the Dionysian logic of the both/and/neither/nor. All of these references to God are true. We go beyond each but without none. At least, this is the case I made as lead counsel for Meister Eckhart in my prior reincarnation as a canon lawyer. Theologians distinguish between primary and secondary objects of our beatific 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 by direct intuition. There are also secondary objects, comprised of all other things of interest to us, including all of the sacred mysteries we ponder now, including the communion of saints, all realities we will encounter as blessings accidental to beatitude: the fulfillment of natural 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, as well as the company of angels and other persons. For me, self must be identifiable as a person, and that's why I referred to the old classical description of the rational soul by Augustine: memory, understanding & will. This human memory, understanding and will is analogous to the Trinity. Some metaphysical approaches conceive of a disembodied soul (maybe two-dimensional) and some reject that idea as philosophically suspect. From what I think we know and don't know, it is best, in my view, 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 a metaphysical necessity but our resurrection by God, whatever that entails, is a central element of our belief. What is true, above, about us as humans, is also true about Jesus as a human. At death, His personal, human self was terminated, in a word,
  • lost. After all, Jesus is true man. The notion of deified self, where Jesus is concerned, doesn't make sense. He was like us in all things but sin, ergo, not in need of deification or theosis; not to mention, He is also true God. Maybe, such a deified self is somehow related to how, as a human, 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 direct intuition, as our primary object of beatific vision and essential beatitude, Jesus' essence as God, something to which I can confidently refer but not truly describe. As true man, we will enjoy as a secondary object of beatific vision and an accidental beatitude, the company of Jesus, in His human nature, with that rational soul's 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, he'll resurrect this man johnboy, who is human and a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, also joined to Jesus and others through eucharist, and who is still busy about theosis or deification. Jesus has a human body, a resurrected body including a self (rational soul w/memory, understanding and will), a glorified body, a presence in the eucharist, a mystical body, a cosmic incarnational presence and is the 2nd Person of the Trinity. The human Jesus' self was sacrificed on 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 and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24: 26-27 quote: But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Romans 6 Obviously, we can lose our self through death. God can resurrect it. He did Jesus. Without knowing the specific substances or modalities, or processes or events, of resurrection, even without human subjective immortality, which some would consider a dubious metaphysical proposition, we have every reason to believe that God can mediate to human persons our memory, understanding and will from His own ongoing life. As for this: quote: Now it just so happens that what Keating saying about Jesus here is exactly what BR is saying about her journey -- that no-self is the loss of personal 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 don't hear him denying that we and Jesus get it back. I do hear him affirming that we and Jesus must also go beyond this self, Jesus, for His part, returning to His essence in the Godhead, the primary object of our beatific vision and our essential beatitude; we, for our part, becoming members of the Mystical Body; creation, for its part, the Cosmic Christ. Neither do I
  • hear Keating denying that, as an accidental beatitude, we encounter Jesus' full resurrected humanity as one of the secondary objects of our beatific vision. I do hear Keating emphasizing the primary and essential and not addressing the secondary and accidental but don't find anything inherently wrong in that. That others are perhaps more concerned with that which is secondary and accidental is understandable, but that says more about others and nothing about Keating. I think everyone is throwing around the term No-self too loosely. Now it 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 or nondual awareness or nondual enlightenment or temporary nondual phenomenal states or permanent nondual epistemic structures; and let's not forget, whatever it is that BR suggests it might also be. ____________________________________________________________ In some cases, though, it is not a choice between church teaching and alternate interpretations that's being presented, but, rather, various aspects of a theological reality that are not really in competition, are only in apparent contradiction, which is to recognize that there are different types of paradox (veridical, falsidical, conditional, antinomial -- beyond our scope here). ____________________________________________________________   To the extent we have been considering nondual realization, alongside other epistemic faculties, properly considered, I have emphasized their holistic relationship and have suggested that all of our epistemic faculties must enjoy an integral interplay, each with the others in every human value-realization (whether dialectical, trialectical, tetradalectical or what have you). Wilber, on the surface, appears to affirm this integrality with his all quadrant, all level approach, but, with no logic or coherence or empirical observations, a priori concludes that the nondual state is "the highest estate imaginable," and, there you have it, the fatal epistemological ailment Arraj calls "nondualist imperialism." I have no problem with correlating nondual realization with this or that stage in this or that paradigm, based on some type of empirical observation and rational demonstration of when and why it should emerge now versus later on our journeys of individuation, conversion or perfection, for example. When it does emerge, however it emerges and for whatever reasons, ascetical or philosophical, it must, then, simply take its place as one furnishing among others in our epistemic suite, enjoying an integral interplay in all of our human valuerealization pursuits. If in appropriating Wilber, one finds the nondual realization concept useful as an epistemological structure, more or less permanent, and one buys into an integrally conceived all quadrant-all level epistemic outlook, and one sees some value, even, in his rather emergentist take on the great chain/nest of being, I see no problems, really, in using this gift in our Christian imaginations and modeling attempts. If what Wilber means by the "highest estate imaginable" is the nondual stance toward reality not conceived as in my account above (and throughout this thread), then we are precisely looking at a "nondualist imperialism." And Christianity cannot appropriate that, and not because it is bad theology. Before that, it is plain and simple bad science coming from an epistemologically bankrupt philosophy. Daniel Helminiak explicates this problem: http://www.visionsofdaniel.net/R&HSch4.htm quote:
  • More specifically, the flaw in Wilber's presentation is that, in his proposed levels of interior development, he mixes together stages of cognitive development and levels of meditative experience. In the process, he calls "knowledge" what is merely experience, that is, data that could be questioned in a process that could lead to understanding and knowledge but that in themselves are not knowledge. This confounding allows him to place on a single continuum matters that are really very different. In a line he lays out apples after oranges and claims that they belong together since they are all fruits. And, indeed, his levels all do have something or other to do with consciousness. But apples are not a further expression of oranges, and levels of meditative experience are not further stages of cognitive development. As Kelly (1996, p. 20) expresses the matter, "Clearly, the transpersonal 'levels' as a whole are of a completely different order than the ones that 'precede' them [in Wilber's hierarchy]." Precisely because he adds meditative levels to the list of cognitive stages, Wilber--along with centuries of fuzzy thinking about mysticism--is able to maintain that meditative experiences constitute knowledge. Moreover, since the wildly variably conceived post-formal operational thought marks the passage between the two sets, the claim to knowledge in the later levels easily slips in. Then, in the supposed highest attainment, the Nondual, all the known characteristics of knowledge disappear; all concepts, distinctions, and propositions become irrelevant; but this phenomenon is nonetheless presented as a kind of knowledge. The implication--and explicit claim--is that all distinctions are ultimately irrelevant. I criticized this matter above. My point here is that it continues to control Wilber's theorizing, and it discredits his theorizing for anyone who believes that knowledge and science entail articulate explanation. Note fr FB thread: Daniel Helminiak, protege' of Lonergan, critiques Wilber here: http://bit.ly/okzCI In my view, Wilber seems to unjustifiably conflate knowledge & experience and to confuse being integral with being inclusive. It is necessary to address all known realities in order to be integral, but it is not sufficient; they must also be properly interrelated. ... Read moreHelminiak explicates this. While the transrational indeed enjoys a certain primacy in some of life's most significant value-realizations, it must not otherwise be considered autonomous from the other rationalities or we have, in effect, an arational gnosticism. There is much to affirm in Wilber's outlook and I have wondered if he and Helminiak could establish more common ground via nuance. After all, Wilber's claim that these epistemic capacities are holonic would seem reconcilable w/ a view that calls for integrality w/o autonomy. I agree that Wilber's approach would be improved by some apophatic tempering. Later we might flesh out how Zen, properly appropriated, can be a boon rather than a bust for the Christian contemplative. I have described 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 self and quiet self and 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 (Lonergan's conversions) and how growth in one way does not necessarily accompany growth in other ways. Think of how we can gain clarity of insight about reality, intellectually, sometimes through inexplicable aha moments of brilliant raw awareness, which bubbles up from our unconscious, sometimes through arduous intellectual and philosophical exertion. Think of how we grow in emotional maturity and individuation processes, sometimes through gradual and healthy formative upbringing, sometimes from growth brought on by crisis and our successful transcendence of circumstances, suffering and pain . Think of how we grow in faith and hope and love, sometimes through gradual conversion and formation, sometimes through profoundly moving metanoia experiences, sometimes through liminal experiences that 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 in the service of each other process, our individual paths reveal them to be otherwise quite distinct. It also seems to me that, once our egos are relieved of the disquiet of emotional energy, our psychic resources are then available to better grow our authenticity such that, for example, 1) intellectually, insights come with greater spontaneous facility and they can be deep and profound and almost otherworldly (novel as they can be in their unconscious origin), gifting us even with enlightenment and nondual intuitions of the unity of being; 2) affectively, our responsivity is more free and spontaneous, less reactionary, more existentially-oriented toward what is life-giving and relationship-enhancing, less neurotically-driven toward what is lifedestroying and relationship-detracting, as our unconscious energy is properly ordered away from anger, fear and inordinate desires and toward purified desires and healthy appetites; 3) virtuously, neither hand knows what the other is doing in more authentic love, which flows from the wellsprings of an unconscious that is centered in the things of God, with God, with the love of self for sake of God and the love of God for sake of God, though not without the love of God for sake of self and not without the love of self for sake of self --for the self is not metaphysically annihilated, just energetically quieted, affectively speaking As you know, growth in intellect has never implied, necessarily, emotional growth or other aspects of psychological individuation or human authenticity. And this is true whether our metaphysical
  • insights come through arduous philosophical labor or from spontaneous experiences of unitary being. Neither does emotional maturity necessarily imply growth in theological virtues. And we know from our studies of the saints that the greatest faith, hope and love have been gifted humankind by the simplest of children and the most eccentric of adults. What will happen to this or that individual who undergoes a loss of the affective ego, a quieting of the noisy self? We do not know. It depends on their formation. It depends on their mental health, both due to internal chemical milieu and external circumstantial milieu. It depends on their ascetic disciplines and prayer routines. It depends on their meditation forms and durations. It depends on the One Who infuses mystical contemplation. It depends on where they happen to be on the path of this or that development. This is all way overdetermined. We do know that psychic structures and phenomenal states are sometimes closely linked to developmental stages, both psychological and spiritual. Sometimes they are not. We do know that such stages, structures and states are often in the service of theological virtue but that sometimes they are not. We do know that what Merton called the false self (or persona) does not disappear but that we learn to go beyond it through transformation. We do know that our personhood is integral and valued by God and destined for ongoing conversion and authenticity and resurrection along 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 the SElf in the word NOiSE. Events, as you say, that you encounter and that other people encounter might legitimately be interpreted differently from the standpoint of each person's internal growth in human authenticity (the conversions: intellectual, affective, moral, social and religious). Such events cannot be legitimately interpreted from the standpoint of describing external physical and metaphysical realities, drawing ontological conclusions about creation and the Creator. Such speculation is the domain of the sciences: positivist, normative and practical (including theological science), which are advanced by a community of inquiry according to specific norms. In a prior post, I mentioned that, due to our being fashioned in the likeness of God, we, even as creatures, enjoy an unfathomable depth dimension, which is to affirm that we can swim in one another's depths forever, too! And, for this reason, the essence of love that we share with 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 and extended family and friends. This dimension of relationality transcends anything that I could tender in empirical, rational or practical terms. This does not mean, however, that I have been absorbed into my spouse or children (although sometimes, let me tell you ...) In closing, you ask: this stated accomplishment of NO SELF is just another 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 there is talk in the literature on nonduality of levels and stages and such, but the loss of the affective ego is a value-neutral phenomenon, sometimes indicating health, sometimes disease, sometimes in the service of transformation, sometimes leading to utter confusion as we grapple with various interpretations. As with any alternating consolations and desolations, I think the time-honored spiritual direction is to let go of these things, to discern the movement of the Spirit, to desire and occupy ourselves in prayer, not so much to gain consolations but so as to gain the strength to serve (Teresa). ____________________________________________________________ In spiritual direction, it can be a thorny task discerning together existential versus psychological issues, or spiritual emergence/emergencies. In psychology, it can be difficult to diagnose depression as organic or reactive. The point is that none of this lends itself to a facile analysis. But, also, in spiritual direction, suppose, for example, that one goal is to see ourselves as God see us, to employ an Ignatian approach. Or, perhaps our director has us working through our different conceptions of God, our different images of God. In either case, a proper understanding of our self, our false self, our true self, or even our noself, and a proper understanding of God, and a proper understanding of who we are called to be in relationship to the world, other people, the self, the devil and the Trinity --- will profoundly impact our life of prayer, our worship, our ministry, our fellowship. If we misconceive God as a stern, unforgiving Father-figure, as an eternal policeman, then it will affect all of the above understandings and experiences of self, other, world and God. If we misconceive the creature-Creator relationship when we come out of a nondual experience, or a no-self experience, then it, too, can profoundly 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-emphases on this or that epistemic capacity can lead to error. For example, an overemphasis on the apophatic and affective can lead to quietism; on the affective and speculative can lead to encratism; on the kataphatic and affective to fideism and pietism; on the kataphatic and speculative to rationalism; and so on and so forth. These encounters are integrallyrelated. Wrenched out of their context in the whole, they get swollen to madness 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 in many 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 or that, but couldn't give directions. There are multiple "intelligences." The same is true for our somatic experience; doctors and nurses use a simple number scale to try to crudely gauge our pain levels. Cardinal Newman described what he called our illative sense. Jung and Maritain addressed our intuitive knowledge. There are parts of our brain that process our phenomenal experience that have few or no linkages with other parts that govern our linguistic faculties. And so on and so forth. The converse is also manifestly true: We can tell more than we know.. And we see people do this in a thousand mundane ways. Sometimes tentatively. Sometimes dogmatically. And when they traffic in falsifiable claims, sometimes they get caught. But when they traffic in nonfalsifiable claims, often they get away with it. The only way we can attempt to adjudicate conflicting nonfalsifiable claims is to evaluate them from a pragmatic perspective, cashing out their value in terms of practical significance: If I believe this and act on this, what are the implications? If there are none, then such claims are likely harmless and useless. Clearly, though, as we discussed previously, our images of God, our beliefs about the Father almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord, the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, and the communion of saints and forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body and life everlasting, the efficacy of sacraments, the exegetical approach to scripture, the contemplative tradition and on and on --- all have tremendous existential import and profound practical implications. How do we pray? To Whom can we go? What can I know? What can I hope for? What must I do? Because we are dealing with deep mysteries, which we can penetrate but not grasp, which we can partially apprehend but never fully comprehend, much of church dogma is articulated with clear references to but not robust descriptions of these sacred mysteries, which with Mary, we must ponder in our hearts, the essence of contemplation. Our descriptions necessarily remain vague. Earlier on our journeys, our faith is clear but tentative. Later on our transformative paths, universally, the church doctors and mystics report that our faith becomes obscure but certain. So, we have two criteria for evaluating claims: 1) practical implications for the life of faith and 2) proper articulation of sacred mysteries. And those, in a nutshell, describe what this thread has been about. We have discussed theological claims against time-honored doctrine and related traditions. We have discussed implications for the life of prayer and our walk with the Lord. And, yes, we have approached it with highfallooting categories and terms, which is helpful in one way, but acknowledge, too, that good old common sense can be even more helpful in many other ways.
  • This much I know to be true. There is SO much in physics that we have not settled. There is WAY too much in philosophy of mind that remains unanswered. How MUCH MORE, then, metaphysically, regarding consciousness and reality's other givens in terms of primitives, forces and boundaries we simply do not yet know! Ergo, HOW woefully ignorant we are regarding things theological, where our language of the realm is vaguely descriptive even if otherwise robustly referential and relational!!!!! Anyone who supposes they really have consciousness figured out, along with the Great Chain of Being, let me know, and I will forward your theory to those who are busy trying to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics! If you hear anyone telling this untellable story, then I suggest you pay no heed. Jesus already issued this injunctive regarding Last Days and such. Who needs mine? If anyone comes back from an ineffable encounter and effables in clearly descriptive terms, then, by definition, they are telling more than they can tell. Now, I am not saying that the cure for gnosticism is agnosticism. Neither is it the cure for dogmatism. The human epistemic approach is, rather, fallibilist. We move forward in fits and starts as a community of inquiry, a community of believers. There is no sense in doubting people's experiences or in denying their descriptions of same. There is MUCH to be learned from this wheat of our lives. This is the storytelling that we do at table, eucharistically, when we take and eat such wheat. There is so much that has been added to our fund of spiritual and psychological knowledge from modern day contemplatives and practitioners of various ascetic disciplines. We simply must not confuse the wheat of these experiences from what can be the chaff of different interpretations of same. Those interpretations are subject to critique. And people are entitled to their own opinions but they are not entitled to their own facts -- not empirically, not scientifically, not normatively and philosophically, not metaphysically and not theologically, this last category which must appropriate its analogues and metaphors from the preceding ones. And there is another criterion: if you hear anyone speaking literally about that which can only be referred to analogically, pay no heed. Literal descriptions are logically invalid in orthodox God-talk, except when predicated 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 these criteria. B. Roberts wrote: quote: If anyone wonders why John of the Cross and other mystics never talked about No-Self they need only read what Mr. Arraj thinks about No-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 the natural and supernatural, apophatic and kataphatic, existential and theological, impersonal and personal, and immanent and transcendent. As Maritain always said about distinctions, we distinguish in order to unite! From an incarnational perspective, these distinctions are not to be cashed out in terms of levels of virtue, especially once considering that we are talking about unmerited gifts, all which proceed from the same Giver of all good gifts! Whether from East or West, as Arraj would put it, every person is in the same existential context called to the same supernatural destiny, but responds to this call in and through the concrete circumstances they find themselves in. Furthermore, whether from East or West, every contemplative attains to God, whether through emptiness or through an experience of God’s presence! Finally, whether from East or West, every soul is already elevated by grace, 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 between substance and mode, which is to say that, when it comes to substance, my attainment of God through praying the Psalms and a Hindu experiencing God as led through Kundalini are both supernatural according to substance! Neither would necessarily be supernatural according to mode, which is only to say they aren’t what we would call infused contemplation. No one is suggesting that infused contemplation is denied anyone by God for reasons of virtue, necessarily; rather, it may not be suitable for reasons of temperament or vocation. That’s all! B. Roberts continued: quote: It seems any Christian who talks about man’s final estate entailing the loss of individuality is going to get thrown out, condemned, or mercifully ignored. Had John of the Cross and others talked about this we’d never have heard of them. Obviously, they knew when to quit. But this is exactly why you will not find No-Self (or what I mean by this) in the works of Christian mystics. Indeed, had I written this book in the Monastery it would never have seen the light of day. For some people in the Church, like Mr. Arraj, No-Self upsets their theological applecarts. Although No-Self neither contradicts nor changes a single Christian dogma, there’s no denying it is not meant for public consumption. 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 there they’ll see how wondrously it all works).   If such a loss of individuality is to be understood in terms of an ecstatic journeying to and from self-forgetfulness, analogous to ecstasy as it is ordinarily conceived and experienced, differing however in both quality and orders of magnitude, then I could accommodate what might be entailed by this spousal mysticism, which goes beyond, but not without, 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 ago now. If this is to be otherwise interpreted ontologically, then someone is telling an untellable story. In the first place, we do not have the science of consciousness, the philosophy of mind or the metaphysics of emergent reality worked out yet, and, even if we did, such a transcendent state could not be spoken of literally, only metaphorically and with weak metaphors at that. Another thing that I find interesting, or maybe moreso perplexing, is how loose folks can be in their use of the word consciousness. Last I heard, in the Philosophy of Mind, this was still being called the hard problem, notwithstanding Dennett's Consciousness Explained. I mentioned in a prior post how we can successfully refer to realities that we cannot otherwise successfully describe. And this was in a theological context re: God-talk. This is also true regarding certain physical and metaphysical realities. Before we go too far in describing this or that consciousness theologically, it seems to me that it is necessary that we obtain better descriptions of consciousness philosophically. And those are not to be had just yet. Consciousness thus remains one of those realities, from both a physical and metaphysical perspective, to which we can successfully refer but which we cannot otherwise robustly describe with any satisfying degree of explanatory adequacy. Concretely, then, for example, does it have some quantum dimension? is it physicalist but nonreductively so? is it epiphenomenal? is it another primitive along side space, time, mass and energy? Our positivist God-talk, which inhabits the last drawer in the last desk of all metaphysical inquiry, is necessarily vague and analogical, such as in the panentheist take which I set forth in my nonduality thread. This panentheist perspective is not invested in, and in fact is pretty much agnostic and indifferent to, any given philosophy of mind approach. It can live with whatever the scientists and philosophers come up with, eventually, and will simply have a more robust Godanalogue 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 mind will jeopardize our human dignity or the rich tapestry and depthful experiences of our encounters with reality, with others, our world and our God. They will make our Godanalogs richer and our tautological arguments more taut vis a vis our grasps of reality. So, all this talk of consciousness here and consciousness there seems to me to be empirically falsifiable. And, to the extent that it ever is not, it is otherwise nothing but the inhabitation of elaborate tautologies whose conclusions are already buried in the very terms and premises of their arguments, which offer no way to cash out any value in terms of
  • practical significance. It's just people moving abstractions and constructs around in logical formulae that have little or no correspondence to external reality (at least as I have or can, presently, experience same). I think we can successfully refer to such as global consciousness, for example, from a vague semiotic perspective vis a vis a community of inquiry, but to pretend to have successfully described same in terms of some type of organic evolution or kosmic address specifications is farfetched, like this Wilberian thought, for example: The integral model I am suggesting therefore explicitly includes a corresponding subtle 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 defines NO SELF as NO CONSCIOUSNESS. Paradoxically, investing, in the end, nothing in consciousness, this opens the backdoor to the arational gnosticism dwelling, which Wilber entered through the frontdoor by investing, in the end, everything in consciousness? There is no critiquing of gnostic knowledge, by definition, especially when it is arational and unmediated? except that, in the end, only orthopraxis will authenticate orthodoxy; we can look for "true glory" and fruits from "true practice," which is love. We certainly wouldn't expect additions to Revelation, or departures from established dogma, both which can be inventoried, such "inventories" requiring a great deal of parsing, 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 reports experientially. She has given us a great gift with the generosity of her sharing of these profoundly personal experiences. Apparently, her own interpretations of same have grown and changed through the years, as would be expected. Our interpretations of her experiences can change, too, through dialogue with other traditions and depthful consideration of our own, through feedback from her. We needn't make more of this nor less of this than it really is: one pilgrim's story. I think it would be a mistake to interpret it normatively, as if it could in any way be a map for anyone else. That is not how spiritual autobiographies work. They merely provide hints and clues and touchstones for the journey, letting us know, usually retrospectively, that, sometimes, we have been where others have trod, hence, have no fear. They really do not function to tell us, prospectively, where we are being led or which way to go in order to get there. We already have Scripture & Tradition and a Teaching Office to mediate that type of revelation to us. For those called by temperament or vocation to a particular life of prayer, such depthful sharing as BR's, regarding some of the promises and pitfalls of experiences such as her own, can provide valuable insight, spiritually and psychologically. It doesn't provide metaphysical and theological revelations, at least not of universal import (vis a vis the norms for interpreting private revelation).
  • ____________________________________________________________ In a nutshell, what I think happens is that folks extrapolate nondual realizations ontologically, which is not a wholly unwarranted move. One of the very first things a westerner might intuit from such a realization is perhaps how a radically reductionistic materialist monism is just untenable. It is, in fact, the atheist credo. Never mind that some of us realize this through either common sense or philosophical contemplation, because it has real problems with leaving questions of infinite regress begging, which is why science was largely stillborn in such "cyclical" traditions. So, one can see where this reincarnational intuition came from also. So, over against any modernist Enlightenment fundamentalism, with its hallmark ontology of materialist monism, some postmodernist fundamentalists assert what they conceive to be a more robust ontology of idealist monism, which is, in fact, the pantheist credo. And some do this through philosophical musing and some through existential realizations. The problem is, however, that the infinite regress question still begs. Furthermore, this tautology is not taut enough vis a vis our empirical encounters of reality, which is to charge that it is a partial but incomplete truth and equally reductionistic. It does not square, empirically, with self-realization. Nondual realization is not untrue, but is a partial truth. Same for self-realization. How can 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 or subject remains nonlocally and immediately in touch with other minds or subjects (all the way down), which is why, among other things, knowledge of other minds is possible. Once on the manifest or relative dimension, then the relative forms of intersubjectivity arise (three of which were outlined by de Quincey, and four or five of which I outlined). But all of them can exist primarily because of the nondual ultimate nature of consciousness itself, which is "a singular the plural of which is unknown." This is the final and radical meaning of intersubjectivity (namely, grounded in nondual Spirit), and this is likewise the fourth and ultimate meaning of the mind-body problem and its "solution" (namely, awaking to the one Mind or nondual Spirit, which is "not-two, not-one"). My simple suggestion is that all four or five of these meanings and their solutions ought charitably to be
  • Christian Nonduality Radical Emergence - Nonduality & the Emerging Church NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog   Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy Richard Rohr speaks of the four pillars of the Emerging Church 1) honest Jesus scholarship 2) peace & social justice 3) contemplation & nonduality and 4) noninstitutional vehicles. I would like to unpack this a little because I think it speaks directly to his approach to apologetics, which is merely “doing it better,” this over against any overt proselytizing or critiquing of others (putting them down, maybe, to preserve our own sick identity structures). This fits well with the approach to evangelism articulated by the founder of Richard’s order, the little man from Assisi, whom I’ll roughly paraphrase: Take every opportunity to evangelize and, only if absolutely necessary, use words! There is clearly a self-subversive reform underway in the Emerging Church. The first pillar of honest Jesus scholarship, in its efforts to articulate the truth we have encountered, addresses an orthodoxy that eschews dogmatism . The second pillar of peace & social justice, in its efforts to preserve the goodness we have encountered, addresses an orthopraxy that eschews legalism . The third pillar of contemplation & nonduality, in its efforts to celebrate the beauty we have encountered, addresses an orthopathos that eschews ritualism. The fourth pillar of noninstitutional vehicles, in its efforts to enjoy the fellowship (unity) we have encountered, addresses an orthocommunio that eschews institutionalism. So, in some sense, the great traditions have always been about the articulation of truth in creed, preservation of goodness in code, celebration of beauty in cult (or ritual) and enjoyment of fellowship in community. An authentically integralist approach, then, will recognize Wilber’s quadrants such that the objective enjoys its moment of primacy in our pursuit of truth, the interobjective in our pursuit of goodness, the
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature subjective in our pursuit of beauty and the intersubjective in our pursuit of community. In what I have called 1) the descriptive focus of human concern, we pursue truth in asking What is it? 2) the normative focus, we pursue goodness in asking How do I acquire/avoid it? 3) the evaluative focus, we pursue beauty in asking What’s it to me? and 4) interpretive focus, we pursue unity in asking How does all this tietogether (re-ligate)? Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal Each focus is a distinctly different value-pursuit and entails distinctly autonomous methodologies, which is only to recognize that science, philosophy, culture and religion are, indeed, autonomous disciplines, methodologically. What relates them integrally is that they are anything but autonomous, axiologically, which is only to recognize that none of these value-pursuits, alone, can effect a value-realization without some involvement of the other foci of human concern, each which presupposes the others, each which nests within the others, holonically. We can say that they are intellectually-related but not logically-related; this is a vague heuristic and not some purely formal system. Where we are headed, ecclesiologically, in my view then, is toward a model of church that, respectively, vis a vis Rohr’s pillars, is 1) pneumatological, which is to say that it will primarily engage in interreligious dialogue from the perspective of the Spirit, this over against any ecclesiocentric approach and perhaps even bracketing our various Christological approaches 2) servant, which is to actively grapple with the questions of social justice & peace 3) herald, which is to recognize the orthopathic efficacies of the contemplative, nondual stance, inviting others to transformation via a shared social imaginary as cultivated by authentically transformative liturgical approaches, this participatory approach emphasized over against the sterile and stale 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 argument's 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 narrowly conceived, is truly Everybody’s Story, which is to say we really shouldn’t go around wily-nily just making this stuff up because it isn’t really negotiable but is given. Axiology answers the questions 3) What’s it to me? (evaluatively) and 4) How’s all this tie-together? (interpretively). Here we are dealing with human value-realizations, their definitions and prioritization, and with religion. The reason we even have such a category as interpretation results from our radical human finitude. It is not that we don’t affirm such a metaphysical realism as recognizes the validity and soundness of a putative best interpretative “vision of the whole,” but that, at this stage of humankind’s journey, it is exceedingly problematical to fallibly discern and adjudicate between competing interpretations, especially as they fit into elaborate tautologies, all which are variously taut in their grasp of reality. In some sense, our cosmology comprises the propositional aspect of our metanarratives (aspiring to successful and robust descriptions with indications of correspondence) and our axiology comprises the narrative aspect (aspiring to vague but successful references with invitations to particpate). The postmodern critique does not instill incredulity toward our metanarratives per se; rather, it takes note of how every narrative aspect of our metanarratives is rooted in myth (yes, including scientism no less than fideism).  Analogous to Gödel's incompleteness theorems, we cannot prove our system's axioms within the system (evidentially, rationally, presuppositionally or propositionally), itself, but this does not mean that we cannot taste and see (existentially, as recommended by Ignatius, the Psalmist & enlightened speculative cosmologists ...) the truth of those axioms, which we would necessarily express - not formally, but - through narrative, story, myth. This framework establishes a certain amount of epistemic parity between worldviews and religions, which then get authenticated by how well they institutionalize conversions: intellectual, affective, moral, social and religious and adjudicated with an equiplausibility principle, which looks for life-giving and relationship-enhancing criteria when choosing between otherwise ambiguous courses of action. We can also remain on the lookout for Gospel norms like a language of descent or "downward mobility" and a prophetic element (self-criticism). So, we do draw distinctions between a theory of truth and a test of truth and we do recognize that some aspects of reality are best grasped through correspondence while other aspects grasp us through participation. One lesson we take away is that our reliance on myth reveals that reality overflows our ability to process it, that creation, Creator and people present unfathomable depth dimensions that no encounter can capture or exhaust. If in our cosmologies, with their empirical, logical and practical foci, it is very much our intent to get the right answers, when it comes to our axiologies, with their relational foci, then, our quest 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 our Beloved in empirical, logical and practical terms (as if only extrinsically rewarding). Embodiments of truth, beauty, goodness and unity are their own rewards (intrinsically); they grasp us and possess us as we
  • participate in these values with our existential orientations to these transcendental imperatives. As we distinguish between wants and needs, real and acquired desires, lesser and higher goods, our axiologies orient and dispose us to the higher goods, which we can enjoy without measure, and properly dispose us to the created goods that we really need in moderation and not in a disordered (John of the Cross) or inordinate (Ignatius) way. Our cosmology, which is scientific and philosophic, descriptive and normative, also includes our essentially spiritual quest, which is shaped by the positivist and normative sciences and addresses the orthopraxes of our ethical and moral strivings as well as those ascetical practices and disciplines that enhance awareness, including certain meditative practices, many which come from the East and are not inextricably bound to any religion or worldview (hence some are indeed spiritual without being religious, explicitly anyway). In our cosmology, we better come to grips with our empirical, logical and practical foci of concern and foster intellectual, moral and social conversions. Our axiology, which is interpretive and evaluative, goes beyond but not without our cosmology and is shaped by our religious myths and liturgical celebrations, which address the orthopathos of our prayer and worship, public and private, forming and reinforcing our aspirations and hopes, answering the question "What's it to me?" in a manner that is properly ordered, truly fitting and proper, which is to say, Eucharistically. There is no worldview or metanarrative without either an implicit or explicit axiology that is integrally related to one's cosmology (so we'd best tend to an explicit axiology in a consciouslycompetent manner). In fact, in addition to their methodological autonomy, our axiologies enjoy a primacy in relation to our cosmologies, although otherwise axiologically-integrated.  It is our  orthopathos that mediates between our orthodoxy and orthopraxis to effect an authentic orthocommunio. If our unitive strivings come up short, whether geopolitically or in our primary communities and families, we might look at our prayer lives for, if we invoke, it is only because we have been convoked. In our axiology, we better come to grips with our relational foci of concern, where our value-realizations are trust, assent, fidelity, loyalty, faith, hope, love, eros, philia, agape and so on and we better foster affective and religious conversions. We do our best to discern where Lonergan’s conversions have been institutionalized, looking to see which interpretive approach best fosters ongoing intellectual, affective, moral and social growth and development, leading to human authenticity. But we’re clearly in more negotiable territory here with discourse dominated more by dogmatic (non-negotiated) and heuristic (still-in-negotiation) concepts, this contrasted to cosmological discourse, which has more theoretic (negotiated in community) concepts and semiotic concepts (nonnegotiable b/c meaning, itself, is invested in them). In defining what my own Radical Emergence approach would be about, then, I see it as an axiological vision of the whole. In such a metanarrative, cosmology is left to the positivist, empirical scientific methodologies, and to the philosophic, normative sciences. Religion, an interpretive endeavor, is constrained by the positivist & normative sciences, and employs a different & autonomous methodology (myth and liturgy), even though integrally-related to the other methodologies
  • in every value-realization. To be clear, by "integrally-related," I am suggesting that a cosmology presupposes an axiology and vice versa, that our descriptive, normative, interpretive and evaluative foci of human concern presuppose each other. As an axiological endeavor, the Emerging Church would foster the intentional evolution of the interpretive and evaluative aspects of human value-realizations, which would enhance (and transvalue), also, our cosmological modeling power without interfering with its autonomous methodologies (faith illuminating understanding). Over against both scientism and fideism, the Emerging Church would not conflate or compromise the autonomous methodologies of science, philosophy and religion, of descriptive, normative and interpretive endeavors, but would integrate them axiologically. What would intentional evolution address? Nothing less than creed, cult, code and community (institutionalized), which are deconstructible, as semiotic realities ordered toward truth, beauty, goodness and unity, which are not deconstructible. How would it address them? Through the amplification of epistemic risks as ordered toward the augmentation of human value-realizations. Less abstractly and more concretely, how does one amplify epistemic risks? Understanding yields to faith, memory to hope, will to love and alienation to community. More programatically, what route do I advocate? A Radical Emergence, rooted in the orthopathos and orthodoxy of tradition, as articulated and valued by some in the Radical Orthodoxy movement, and open to the orthopraxes and orthocommunio of the future, as articulated and valued by some in the Emerging Church conversation. Specifically, one efficacious route to ecclesial and personal transformation is the surrender to the contemplative stance, the 3rd Eye seeing, of nonduality, which is what http://christiannonduality.com/ is all about. Update on 06 Sept 2009 -See Tom Roberts "In Search of the Emerging Church" the contemplative tradition grounds emerging Christianity  Emerging Church Pillars: I orthodoxy = honest Jesus scholarship II orthopraxy = peace & social justice III orthopathy = contemplative tradition, nonduality IV orthocommunio = noninstitutional vehicles (complementary & happily on the side) There are rather clear archetypal themes playing out in our cosmologies and axiologies, likely related to brain development and individuation processes. A cosmology engages mostly our left-brain (thinking function of the left frontal cortex & sensing function of the left posterior convexity) as the normative and descriptive aspects of value-realization alternately establish and defend boundaries; we encounter the King-Queen and Warrior-Maiden with their light and dark (shadow) attributes as expressed in the journeys of the spirit and the body, primarily through a 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-realization alternately negotiate (e.g. reconciliation of opposites, harnessing the power of paradox) and transcend boundaries; we encounter the CroneMagician and Mother-Lover with their light and dark attributes as expressed in the journeys of the soul and the other (Thou), primarily through a language of descent. Our propositional cosmologies and participatory axiologies seem to best foster transformation when, beyond our passive reception of them as stories about others, we actively engage the archetypal energies of their mythic dimensions with a contemplation ordered toward action, and also, when in addition to our rather natural expectations, they include 1) a priestly voice that sings of the intrinsic beauty to be celebrated  in seemingly repugnant realities 2) a prophetic voice that is robustly self-critical when speaking the truth 3) a kingly voice that articulates a bias for the bottom, expressing both a privileging of the marginalized and a principle of subsidiarity when preserving goodness 4) a motherly voice that, seeing and calling all as her children, draws every person into her circle of compassion and mercy with no trace of exclusion, only a vision of unity.   The following is excerpted from a conversation started by Frank Spencer at http://forwardonline.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/holoptic-foresightdynamics-part-2-the-evolutionary-path-toward-holopticenvironments-in-organizations-and-society/ This discussion of mon- pan- & hol- evoked complexity theory in my mind, whereby in far from equilibrium thermodynamics the greater the number of permutations & bifurcations involved in a dissipative structure or system, which runs the increasing risk of disintegration (e.g. de-institutionalized church), the greater the fragility. And the more fragile, the more beautiful (an aesthetic teleology). We draw a parallel to my semiotic account which suggests that we amplify epistemic risks in order to augment value-realizations. For example, our logic opens to faith, our aesthetics open to hope and our ethics opens to love in Kierkegaardian leaps and Pascalian wagers, risks which have returns in terms of enhanced modeling power of reality, which is to recognize that science, for example, was birthed in the cradle of Christendom but stillborn elsewhere. In the East however, we must concede an enhanced modeling power of the human internal milieu or human interiority, while the West better mastered our external milieu. We have much to learn, one from the other, even yet.
  • Although the risks attendant to the intentional evolution of the emergent church model will result in unpredictable, novel semiotic realities, it is because of our rootedness (radicality) that we have a confident assurance in things hoped for, a conviction of things unseen, as we often kedge forward over the epistemic horizon, because our radical emergence has guaranteed (via first fruits already enjoyed via the Spirit) our overall trajectory of memory to hope, understanding to faith and will to love (Ignatius’ Take Lord Receive). IOW, Paschal Mystery is in play whereby we do not know what or how of the matter even as we are trusting in the THAT of it all (Jesus may have had no earthly idea of HOW the Father would raise him only THAT He would). This radical (rooted) emergentist account is a heuristic, a device, a set of placeholders, that does not aspire to a robust explanatory adequacy. Instead, we have a few touchstones or markers for the path. It thus requires modesty, an epistemic holism that eschews either the epistemic hubris of modernism or radical deconstructionism’s excessive epistemic humility, iow, a Goldilock’s epistemology. For the Church, 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. Smith's new book, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship,
  • Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Baker Academic).     Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Radical Orthodoxy NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days I resonate with certain theological sensibilities of Radical Orthodoxy and share it's: appreciation of the pre-modern teachings of the early Church Fathers and the relationship between nature and grace as articulated by Henri duLubac and Jean Danielou; radix - our roots; methexis - participatory ontology (vaguely conceptualized) as might resemble the Neo-platonic perspective and even Hartshorne's panentheism; pseudo-Dionysius and the Cloud of the Unknowing; axiological epistemology - following Yong, Neville, Peirce and Augustine's spirit of illumination; phenomenological turn guided by pragmatism and aesthetic teleology; optimistic theological anthropology that fits with my Franciscan sensibilities; creational, pneumatological, incarnational and sacramental realities; liturgical and ritual celebration; via negativa as affirmation; orthopathos, beauty and aesthetic sensibilities & von Balthasar's theological aesthetics suspicion of either rationalism or voluntarism; rejection of false dualisms, Enlightenment fundamentalism, purely secular discourse Contra some R.O. perspectives, Scotus is a boon and not a bane. Please take a look at MARY BETH INGHAM's, RE-SITUATING SCOTIST THOUGHT, Modern Theology 21:4 October 2005. In my own epistemological architectonic, which draws distinctions between concepts that have been negotiated in a community of critical and earnest inquiry (such communities being variously constituted, more vs less broadly), even the more broadly and diversely constituted
  • Radical Orthodoxy Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce communities would treat the concept of God as a theoretic concept, which has been negotiated, even if other more narrowly defined theological terms are moreso dogmatic, which is to say that they have not been negotiated. Some Reformed epistemologists would even consider the concept of God to be semiotic, which is to recognize it as non-negotiable, as presuppositional, over against what would otherwise be an unmitigated nihilism. There are many other concepts and terms that refer to God that remain in negotiation, which means they are heuristic devices. The pneumatological conceptions of God seem to have the broadest appeal of all and probably have been more widely negotiated than any other, which means they likely enjoy a more robust theoretic status and usefulness, therefore, in interreligious dialogue. Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Karl Rahner NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil FROM KARL RAHNER And now God says to us what God has already said to the earth as a whole through his grace-filled birth: "I am there. I am with you. I am your life. I am your time. I am the gloom of your daily routine. Why will you not hear it? I weep your tears. Pour out yours to me, my child. John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered I am your joy. Do not be afraid to be happy; ever since I wept, joy is the standard of living that is really more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who think they have no hope. I am the blind alley of all your paths for when you no longer know how to go any farther, then you have reached me, foolish child, though you are not aware of it. I am in your anxiety, for I have shared it by suffering it. And in so doing I wasn't even heroic according to the wisdom of the world. I am in the prison of your finiteness, for my love has made me your prisoner. Wounded Innocence When the total of your plans and of your life's experiences does not balance out evenly, I am the unsolved Rogation Days remainder. And know that this remainder, which makes you so frantic, is the Radical Orthodoxy reality of my love which you Karl Rahner
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue do not yet understand. I am present in your needs. I have suffered them and they are now transformed but not obliterated from my Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature heart. This reality--incomprehensible wonder of my almighty love--I have sheltered safely and completely Architectonic in the cold stable of your world. I am there. Even if you do not see me now, I am there. Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass It is Christmas. Light the candles. They have more right to exist than all the darkness. It is Christmas.---Karl Rahner, SJ Thou shalt know Him when He comes Not by din of drums-Nor the vantage of airs; Nor by anything He wears. Neither by His crown, nor His gown For His Presence known shall be By the holy harmony That his coming makes in thee.---15th Century Anonymous If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal   Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com  
  • Christian Nonduality Rogation Days NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini This week, I will visit my brother, Thomas, at the Benedictine abbey. Although we live less than a mile No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin apart, our opportunities to visit in person are infrequent owing to his order's rule and the nature of the One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review contemplative lifestyle he has chosen. I say "nature," regarding his contemplative lifestyle, in recognition Simone Weil of the variety of ways the contemplative life can be approached. Some are priests, others brothers. Some John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy are monastic or cenobitic, spending most of their time in a community, others eremitic or hermits, living alone in different structures, some more primitive than others, scattered throughout the property --- here a tiny A-frame, there a modest cabin with porch, mostly the former. Clerical or religious, cenobitic or eremitic, the fellows who populate this two-thousand acre wood are a motley group of personalities and temperaments, of talents and ministries, much like the woods and its other denizens. The abbey's 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 the river, or creek I'd call it, meets the lake, is an expansive marsh that
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science quickly gives way to small groves of oaks and magnolias, which in turn give way to extensive stretches of pines, mostly loblolly, shortleaf and Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy spruce, the virgin longleafs being confined to the immediate vicinity of the cathedral, seminary campus, monastery and guesthouse as well as sometimes densely populating the adjacent grounds of the farm buildings and pastures. These old pines surround all of these centuryold structures, swallowing them in a sea of green. These longleafs escaped the mid-century timber harvest only by virtue of being inextricably interspersed throughout this complex of buildings, pasture lands and ponds, surviving the clear-cutting only Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal by virtue of being well- segregated from the more remote and freestanding forested areas, which were otherwise harvested. (Not speaking judgmentally, here, as monks have bills to pay, too.) This monastic complex is further landscaped with a 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 Brother Jacob's many rose varieties. This biodiversity of vegetation, coupled 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 abbey's 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 Benedictine's southshore enclave in the city, a monastic
  • community comprised primarily of teachers of the now co-ed high school school-erstwhile preparatory seminary school, provides lemons and satsumas in early winter in exchange for the abbey's tomatoes and bell peppers in the spring. I cannot begin to inventory the great varieties of other fruits and vegetables 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-filtered beer from spring water and leave their southshore brethren to languish with their Jax, Dixie and Falstaff. I insinuate myself into any bartering between monastic communities 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 of the 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 daily mass, 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 all chant the ancient, sometimes haunting, always beautiful, Gregorian hymns and psalmody of the Divine Office. The Magnificat is my favorite. I wish it were otherwise truly 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 occasional office 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 the refectory, however silently, but then enjoying lively conversation after supper those nights. In the past five years, our visiting privileges have been extended, beyond our regular emails and my annual stay of a week, to include one day each season, Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, again, following the pattern of taking three meals together in the refectory and conversing after supper until night prayer. The Abbot granted us this accommodation, I'm told by Thomas, as a form of consolation 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 Elderhostel and retreat house. I've 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 missing Thursday vespers (and my bread loaf). All of these worship style issues notwithstanding, as a denizen of these same woods, wherein the specific contemplative vocations 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 where contemplation has been democratized, the clergy has been laicized, the laity clericalized? We enjoy a great diversity of ministry in our 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 the Ascension, which of course rotates with the moon, the vernal equinox 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, living in 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 have celebrated this giftedness of nature with the monks, annually partaking in the Rogation Days liturgies and rituals, prayers that literally marked the boundaries of our lands, prayers that begged for our land's fruitfulness as well as for the fruits of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Writ large, these Rogation Days celebrations are prayers 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 gifts of thunderstorms and darkness, praying for strength and growth. We turn toward the North, which gifts us with cold and waiting, praying for sustained hope and proper 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 resurrection in 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 of our 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: "I've been walking my mind through an easy time, my back turned toward the sun. Lord knows, when a cold wind blows, it'll turn your head around. I've seen fire and I've seen rain."
  • I've seen fire and rain. I've experienced Merton's crises of continuity and creativity. I've been sucked into Frankl's existential vacuum and spit out as Walker Percy's malaise. I've known the misery that precedes Bill Dubya's first step. I've seen 'em pave Joni's paradise to put up a parking lot. I've known my radical finitude. 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 that they are desperately trying to resign such a selfassumed position, that they've taken on that job and its responsibilities and badly want out. Part of the journey takes 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. In the case at hand, after recognizing that I'm not God and you're not God and nobody else is God, I must also get to the point where I can declare: "And I'm okay with that!" I'm 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 the statement 'I'll 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, let's be candid, death) or of creativity (making a difference, being somebody), an existential vacuum, a malaise, an addiction, an inordinate attachment, a disordered appetite, an alienation of affection, an estrangement from loved ones, a relationship breach ... ... whatever its nature or origin, it is 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. We cooperate with reality in growing these realities. We work with reality to harvest these values. Asking. Harvesting. Frightened of the thunder and the darkness from the West, waiting and longing and gazing toward the North, renewed and enlightened turning toward the East, warmed and grown by the South, we experience the lessons 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 this probe with this interrogatory and now with that ... but interrogations? In our radical finitude and importuning, what are we ... but interrogators? Thus our interrogatories delve into possibilities, our interrogations with their methodologies yield products known as actualities and we, as interrogators, discern probabilities. Our interrogatories thus comprise our categories, our architectonic of knowledge, our academic disciplines. Our interrogations consist of our methodological approaches and their findings. As interrogators, we are organons of knowledge, singular and integral. Our rogation attempts are clearly discernible and 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 and intersubjective 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 being pursues 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, on one hand, ideas, on the other, people. There is much hemispheric redundancy and it is fair to suggest, however facilely, that our aesthetical, noetical, unitive and ethical value pursuits engage our objective, subjective, interobjective and intersubjective functions. If these pursuits are possibilities or our architectonic, and these functions are our organon, of knowledge, in other words, our interroga-tories and interroga-tors, then we might look at the various methodologies or interroga-tions as 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 are descriptive, prescriptive and evaluative perspectives and an ecological rationality to account for as well as evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. The human depth 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 and not only dyadic explanation, semiotic and not only neuropsychological explication. With all of these angles contributing to our species' exceptionality as the symbolic species, one can perhaps easily understand Walker Percy's dismay with modern social and psychological sciences and their sometimes facile treatments. We've got to get 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 doesn't understand the above-philosophical shorthand, that is, the jargon, the salient point is that the table above represents Rogations, probes of reality by 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 expressed sometimes 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 in the 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 that humankind has employed in the pursuit of value realization have been elevated to the status of epistemological systems, one can only imagine, due perhaps to nothing more sophisticated than a given philosopher's temperament or primary Jungian function, for example. Quite frankly, different epistemological approaches have become nothing more than a crude fetish rather than a surgical method for probing reality's innards. The excessive pejorative force employed by one school over another is perhaps
  • revealing of philosophers who, in their critiques, are not content to stand on the shoulders of their academic mothers and fathers of prior generations 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 that modern 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 on normative force. Some probes of reality return more versus less value and all who devise systematic approaches encounter problems with their formulations, whether of 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 be sure, all necessary though in widely varying degrees, none sufficient, taken alone? These probes necessarily represent only provisional closures to any consistent fallibilist, represent methods abstracted from ideologies, tools resisting the status of fetish. They represent, then, hypotheses, working hypotheses --some working better than others, depending on the task at hand. It is too early on humanity's journey to rush to closure epistemologically, hence metaphysically. With Chesterton we must affirm that we do not know enough about reality to say that it is unknowable, and I'll nuance that - un/knowable. And we can qualify Haldane's observation that 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 of being and rejects Heidegger's "why is there something and not rather nothing?" then we can still ask "Why is there something and not rather something else?" And we can change Wittgenstein's 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 but rather 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 critique and prescinded to an ontological vagueness, still, whither such probabilities (code for Peircean thirdness, perhaps)? What forces our retreat into ontological vagueness? 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 we do 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 formally formulate them. We fallback on storytelling and narrative it seems. When all is said and done, some semiotic scientists will be scientistic (let's say, Chomsky) and some biologists and philosophers will be, too (let's say, Dawkins and Dennett), and some theologians fideistic and others apophaticistic, and some process philosophers nominalistic, and some thomists substantialistic, and some aristotelians essentialistic, and others a tad positivistic and so forth and so on. Emergentism makes 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), and see 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 appreciate Hans Kung's use of nihilism as a foil for his presentation of Christianity in "Does God Exist?" Rather than casually and cursorily dismissing nihilism as logically incoherent, 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 social and 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 our great traditions defy unequivocal and unambiguous formulation, who can deny their efficacies when properly considered and consistently lived with their own practical vitality? With so much epistemological parity to go around, so many metaphysical possibilities still open, whatever one's provisional closures, a question may arise regarding why this versus that hermeneutic even matters? And the pragmatic cash value is to be found in the fact that our hermeneutical frameworks and provisional closures will 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? The various interrogatories and interrogations are but moments in the life of each interrogator, who must integrate her probes of reality and not only harvest but also grow 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 horizon with 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, which begins with the harmonies of our idealizations and conceptualizations and finds its fullest realizations as we turn South, into the warmth of relationships with our people, 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 religions make us whole and authentic interrogators, with methodologically sound interrogations of reality and interrogatories that are selected from rogations on every compass point: beauty, truth, unity and goodness. Such are the notes I've prepared for discussion with Thomas during the upcoming days of Rogation. "Won't you look down upon me, Jesus ... I won't make it any other way."
  •   Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com  
  •     Click Here for An Emergentist Account of the Biosemiotic Categories of Religion from a panentheistic perspective Click Here for some notes on Epistemology   Click Here for some thoughts on Epistemology Click Here for some reflections on Merton Click Here for a theological anthropology as prologue   The Journey We Call Life What if life were a journey of conversion: Intellectual Affective Moral Sociopolitical Religious What if "the" Church was: Some Mystical Body Some Incarnational Reality Animated by the Holy Spirit Effecting these conversions What if the Church was Sacramental: Conveying truth with creed and dogma via storytelling Celebrating beauty with ritual and liturgy Preserving goodness with various codes and laws Experiencing unity via all manner of fellowship What if the Church's Sacramental celebrations: Effected precisely what they bring to mind Bring to mind what has often already been effected What if Universal Salvation or "apokatastasis" were true Hell moreso a theoretical necessity But not really much of practical probability Once considering the seductive wiles of our Lover Who'd risk our rejection and grant our estrangement Only if that's what we really, really, truly wanted What if this Church, however "instituted" by God Got some of its work done In giving God the greatest possible glory In the visible institutional structure And some of AMDG done In the invisible Mystical Body Via both explicit and implicit faith Then, I cannot doubt that, already The Laity has been clericalized The Clerical has been laicized The Magisterium has been democratized Prophets & Prophetesses share with us truth Priestesses & Priests celebrate with us beauty Kings & Queens preserve for us goodness Fellowship establishes our unity in solidarity and compassion And the Kingdom is unfolding as it should Democratization & empowerment already accomplished in the largest measure Even as we rightfully and necessarily continue to struggle to effect them In their final, comprehensive and exhaustive measure In the visible & explicit as it is in the invisible & implicit, all for AMDG And I am profoundly touched and deeply grateful As I encounter this incarnational and Eucharistic reality In so many persons, places and things
  • And, of course, I hope and pray and work toward the day When the visible institutional structure Will better conform to this Mystical Body But I don't for a Vatican City nanosecond Overidentify true glory and true power Neither orthodoxy nor orthopraxis With the visible over against the invisible Even as I remain ever Loyal to Deferential of And in love with Them both But, truth be known, sorryMore the latter than the former Sometimes 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 (you know, like the Psalmists)-- but I'd be a liar if I said that I lose too much sleep over it. The Gates of Hell won't prevail over "the" Church. AMDG, jb priest, 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 points it 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 Tony's message was straightforward. Jim summarized Tony's 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 people's behavior?" This question has come up over and over again in my life and I'm beginning to notice a pattern that I'd like to better clarify. This question has come up for me: 1) in parenting 2) as a workplace boss 3) when pondering which church moral codifications should be made into civil law 4) while performing my own just war calculus 5) within 12 Step/Codependency deliberations 6) as I occasionally pray the Serenity Prayer for this or that reason 7) 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 as parents or presidents b) the viability of our consultative and discernment processes, whether as a parochial or international community c) the gravity of the issue at hand d) the imminence of the posed threat to persons and values e) the questions of sovereignty and jurisdiction and other boundaries of human dignity (e.g. primacy of conscience), whether as individuals with their bodies or nation states with their borders f) an assessment of the probability for success, including an analysis of factors militating against success, such as the law of unintended consequences g) mitigation of harmful double-effects and collateral damage h) the proportionality of our response, whether to an offense committed by a small child or a large army i) the quality of one's information and intelligence-gathering apparatus
  • j) the transparency of one's moral stance to human reasoning and the clarity of its articulation in a universally compelling moral argument to others of large intelligence and profound goodwill k) 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 Providence and the Spirit's 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 culpa Deep peace. pax, amor et bonum jb p.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 doesn't stop there. 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 that we less resemble little animals. (Primary school teachers report that parents have various levels of success here.) Thereafter, much of our formation, including our educational, 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, really take 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 isn't the best). It is a necessary part of human development. What is bad is if we confuse human socialization activities with human transformative dynamics, the latter also known as deification, theosis, spiritual pathways and such. I have heard it argued 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 character development and psychological individuation, for instance, such as by tending to the directionality dynamics of the enneagram. In other words, some argue that we should, on one hand, slay the dragon, while, on the other hand, others suggest we need only learn how to ride the dragon. I don't think there is a one-size fits all approach here. I lean toward "riding the dragon" insofar as it helps me remember that I'm 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 "that I 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 one's character development and psychological individuation is not, 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 our ongoing 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 go BEYOND 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 that these 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 5's who've chosen to ride their dragons; I prefer "I fell off my dragon" to "I fell off the wagon."). It does involve notions like seeing and realization and awakening. It does involve dynamics like becoming really involved in a good story or movie and then experiencing a new type of awareness quite spontaneously. 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 during the 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 from back 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 yourself that 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 more like 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 happen when, 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 and even 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 violate others the same way.   May you hear your name called today: BeLoved.   Once you know your name, you'll know EVERYBODY's name. And then going to church won't be obligational but rather aspirational. You'll wanna go where everybody
  • knows your name.   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 mustn't 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 Peirce's "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," and the Modal Ontological Arguments as crafted by Godel and Hartshorne and then, in my view, lately and greatly improved by Christopher McHugh, I don't consider much of what is going on, nowadays, to be 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, at least not when methodologically restricting one's musings to the rubrics of formal argumentation. The same is true for any notions regarding "ultimate" reality, using either philosophy or science 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 these enterprises that demonstrate the reasonableness of faith, for some, like me, they have been indispensable parts of my journey. For most, though, I've been told they don't matter very much. And I trust what they report and am better and better coming to grasp why. Even then, I've enjoyed many, many fruitful dialogues with many nonbelievers who do seek such apologetics and we've 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, if they are authentically re-ligious, they "tie life's experiences back together" and heal us that we may survive and grow us that we may thrive. If we are not experiencing both healing and growth, both broadly conceived, well, that's 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, even early in the 21st century, it is only because so many scientistic and fideistic apologists are arguing past each other, precisely because they've neglected 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 approaches to the science and religion interface: conflict, contrast, contact, confirmation. Daniel Helminiak 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 do represent integrally related hypothetical commitments, some central or core, some auxiliary or peripheral, each field indeed constrained by the others, none autonomous. 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 relationship between 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 a 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 variously stronger or weaker and we often struggle to come to grips with HOW and WHY such may be so 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 a better 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 Hefner's "created co-creators." I suppose this is why, when we look at Gelpi's Lonerganian conversions --- intellectual, affective, moral, sociopolitical and religious --- the human spiritual growth trajectory is typically assymetrical, which is to recognize, for instance, that our intellectual, emotional and moral developments reach different levels of attainment at 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" our values, 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 influence each 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 philosophical core 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 other's axiomatic aspects, which is to say, those apsects that we commit to as self-evident and nonpropositional, even if only provisionally. There is no "formal relationship" vis a vis logical argumentation at play in nonpropositional elements, which are often being 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 and moreso 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 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 don't the concepts they employ and the axioms that govern them not line up like pretty maids all in a row ... 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. That's part of the theodicy problem. At some level, let's say, the beatific, I believe it all fits together, somehow. That's my definition of the religious: tying it all together, advancing healing and growth/conversion. But it takes an unconditional commitment because, to all appearances, it doesn't really seem to work together that well. For now, we see through a glass, 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 the radically 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 and goodness 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, 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 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 and must positively banish uncertainty. We miss Watt's "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 the inheritance 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: What's a check? What's 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 the efficacy of retelling Everybody's 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 I'm processing my life's experience by hopefully teaching best   what I, myself, most desperately need to learn (which is to say that those ten people from every   nation haven't come calling).     I DO have a succinct message to the Seinfeld generation. If you like yada, yada, yada ... then you're 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 their victory 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 humankind's   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 superior epistemology, 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, I'll 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 NATURE'S EVOLUTIONARY PARADIGM?   Well, I've 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 mountain's on fire, my beloved, native city, New Orleans floods, but leaving Plato's   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, God's 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 one's eye, the gait to one's   step, the love in one's heart and the embrace of one's 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 Scientistic and Fideistic Militants.   Don't 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 moral consensus 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 inalienable rights 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 won't 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. (I'm NOT a godforsaken mysterian, just a realist.) Occam's 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 psyche's rational and unitive consciousnesses. We are SO fearfully 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 humankind's   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. (Don't 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;   it's the promise of life; it's 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 we are 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 don't   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 don't take our modern science and do natural theology.   That's 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 the interpretations 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 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 and Native 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 humanity's 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 Berry's 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 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   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. That's for the theologians of   special revelation. And it doesn't 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 Berry's 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. Humankind's relationship to the environment deserves critique. No one can seriously question that 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 critically important, 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 this complex [the 20th century industrial corporations of Western civilizations] have built an industrial world with a withering influence on the life systems of the planet so devastating 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 world's 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 from the 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 been so 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 contemplative spiritualities. The Franciscan tradition via the little friar from Assisi, Bonaventure and Duns Scotus have long-offered enlightened alternatives in metaphysics, incarnational theology and creationspirituality.   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 a nutshell, 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 gave him [God] this status had a certain abhorrence of the feminine Earth-dwelling deities of the Eastern Mediterranean [people]. We have lost the primary manifestation of the 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, by the 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 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 of cosmos. Thus we'd appreciate creation both for the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards it offers for our proper inter-relationship. Thus we needn't elaborate a new theological anthropology that doesn't really square with what we know from science, in general, and evolution, in particular. For, the fact of the matter is that, in an emergentist creation, where something more comes from nothing but (cf. Ursula Goodenough), there is a certain degree of ontological discontinuity, a certain hierarchy that does place Homo sapiens in a unique relationship to the cosmos. Still, stewardship needn't 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 seriously challenged. The Franciscan metaphysicians 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 was coming 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. 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 or even this Cosmos 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 human attributes integrally. Philosophy of mind issues remain unresolved. How they eventually get resolved will be interesting but any such resolution will not be ultimately dispositive of our theological anthropology. Phenomenologically, we already know what we experience and what we value. THAT we experience and THAT we value is 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 another primitive 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, let's 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 and like-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 was necessarily 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 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 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. These traditions DO offer a critique of Western idolatries but Berry's 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 I've seen others attempt by invoking infinite semeiosis. Even if we eventually prove that consciousness is a primitive, a given, its phenomenal presentation as human consciousness 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 the manifold and multiform religious experiences of indigenous peoples everywhere through all of time. Per this account, humans encounter 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 such absolutes, 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 as the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, the Buddhist Eightfold Path (including Right Speech), the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience, the Catholic approach of Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium & Reason (Fides et Ratio). What these rubrics reveal is that, when it comes to truth, beauty, goodness and unity, humankind eschews 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 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 our existential 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 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 Yong's __Beyond the Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions__.   Continuing with your question about the Spirit self-revealing in and through nature, Catholics draw a distinction between general and special revelation, the former precisely 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 one's environment and then just using one's 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 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 communities with 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 as the 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 and facilitates all of these conversions. I remain in dialogue with other traditions and peoples, but if I didn't 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 I'd 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 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 is impoverished. 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 those nuances of language which better express our experiences of multivalent realities. They might better employ the rich and depthful symbolic approaches of our liturgies and prayer life, discursive and nondiscursive, kataphatic and apophatic. They might better employ the use of storytelling and parable in conveying metanarratives. They might proactively seek and incorporate the time-honored spiritual technologies and ascetical insights of the East. [You see, I am advocating a RETURN because, in my view, 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 West's "mastery" of its external environment, and, yes, mitigate, ameliorate and re-direct this so-called mastery with a more holistic and self-enlightened perspective 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 vis its 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 he merely wants to refashion our language conventions and thereby reform our cultural metanarratives, in effect he is adopting an idealist, panpsychic metaphysic, reverting to an ancient cosmology that better accommodates 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, reflecting the truth of Godel's 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 least occasionally, 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 humankind's journey, it is too early to over-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 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 should be as fallibilistic and self-critical regarding his own cosmology as he is when critiquing that of the West. Both are impoverished. It is not about dualism versus monism, essentialism versus nominalism, substantialism versus process/dynamism with all of their self-contradictions, conceptual incommensurabilities and mutual occlusivities. It is about being more modest, fallibilistic, tentative over against infallibilistic, apodictic and a prioristic. Some have suggested a retreat into a semeiotic hermeneutic 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 object to any notion that any of our metaphysical 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 a system. Postmodernism left us with weakened foundations and weakened 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 thermonuclear explosion can still ruin one's whole afternoon!   I want to attempt, here, to summarize what I think it is about in an effort to make sure I am actively listening to our many dialogue partners. This is in the spirit of: "I think this is what you are saying. Am I really hearing you?"   It seems to me that this discussion has to do with epistemology, in general. It considers, then, issues pertaining 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 especially explores the implications of certain epistemological perspectives for Christology, Christian theology, Christian ecclesiology, and, well, the whole ball 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 the postmodern 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 be concerned. 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 that one 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 critique does 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 support or 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, we are beginning 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 via citations, are providing perspectives that are grounded in epistemological theories that have been formulated 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 it is we think we know, the next good step for humankind, that we may survive and then thrive, is this ..."   Humankind's steps are then framed in different combinations of orthodoxy or right belief, orthopraxis or right action, and orthopathos or right feelings. And we recognize 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, as folks 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 a discussion of the particulars.     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-called self-evident, how propositional, how apodictic any of humankind's 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 humankind's knowledge has advanced slowly but inexorably.   Postmodernism dispossessed me of any epistemological hubris but did not leave me with an excessive epistemological 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 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 same with 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 Haldane's 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, humankind's best efforts in elaborating a metanarrative, using our observations of the created order and our human reasoning capacities (the latter which I broadly conceive as an ecological rationality, which includes empirical, logical, practical and relational reasonings 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 and deductive inferences, in combination with all of the other ecological rationalities that furnish our epistemic suites. And they do this  with one's epistemological, ontological, cosmological, axiological and teleological CONCLUSIONS already 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 don't buy into taking existence 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 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 human finitude. They result from the Godelian metamathematical reality of not being able to confect a formal argument that is both complete and consistent. They result from the circular reasoning I described above but also from various causal disjunctions, when the metaphors in our analogies of being become too weak to be universally compelling, 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 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 and neoplatonism. 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 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. What natural philosophy and theology contribute are tautologies but not all tautologies are equally "taut" in their grasp of reality. We can adjudicate between many of them based on a host of epistemic criteria, including external congruence with reality, internal coherence, logical consistency, interdisciplinary consilience and hypothetical consonance. 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 tell us that our tautology is reasonable. That it is defensible.   Natural theology, then, does not prove God's existence in a universaly compelling arugument. It's 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 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 any metaphysician.   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 scientism untenable. 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 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 when engaging my dialogue partners here or elsewhere. People of large intelligence and profound goodwill will often disagree and can with great honor and integrity recommend different "next good steps" for humanity, even if it involves the telling of a noble lie, the re-telling of everybody's story or the articulation of a new inculturated theology for a time-honored and great tradition. We do need to get this 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 life's journey.   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 of the special and great joy that one can only know from having had children. She wrote that she'd not mentioned it to me before because I really needed to have already had my own children to truly understand such profound joy. It does seem to me that anyone who has enjoyed younger siblings, nieces and nephews, has already begun to taste such joy. Still, Aunt Dixie was right, of course, in that there is nothing quite like the fullness of the joy of birthing or adopting and then raising your very own children. What made her Christmas sentiment of 1982 so very poignant is 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 car accident. The second of the granddaughters was seven months in the womb on that fateful day. As I have slowly come to learn, one never gets over 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 and loving ... 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 and finitude earlier on life's journey. Oh, to be sure, as with joy, suffering is tasted, but not drunk deeply ... until ... until when? ... perhaps not even until one's 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 are not God that gives rise to this our "human estate" and that recommends we not "deem equality with God something to be grasped at." Now, this may 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 life's biggest mysteries so often seem to conceal the HOW and WHY of things leaving us to grapple mostly with the THATs of reality. So, while I do have my own hypotheses regarding reality's hows and whys, below I will address mostly it's thats. 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 to wonderfully thrive but also to merely survive. Hence, in so many different ways, we pursuit truth, beauty, goodness and unity. Everything from breakfast to supper, from soup to nuts, from conception to resurrection is thus ordered toward the human pursuit of value. Our existence is all about 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 these terms. 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 have four rather specialized brain quadrants and three rather clearly delineated brain layers we could devise twelve meaningful personality descriptions, twelve distinct approaches to human value realization (twelve apostles and tribes of Israel). Maybe there are not 144,000 that will be 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 of us 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 nine types? most readily distinguishable by, on one hand, our resulting strengths, on the other, our crippling weaknesses? Like I said, though, this is not going to be about the hows and whys, just the thats. For my purposes, I will use the Letterman approach. Below I'll set forth The Top Ten Ways Humans Approach Reality. Perhaps later I'll devise a 40 Day Lenten Journey by meditating on how these ten approaches each interact with truth, 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) Morally 2) Socially 3) Practically 4) Spiritually 5) Philosophically 6) Institutionally 7) Sensually 8) Politically
  • 9) Peacefully 10) Religiously   For each of these approaches to reality, we can list both an existential style and a neurotic solution. The existential styles would describe our use of each approach on our journeys to authenticity and in ways that are life-giving and relationship-enhancing. The neurotic solutions would describe our inauthenticity in ways that are life-destroying and relationship-detracting. Such neuroses are habitual and predictable patterns of approaching reality, so easily seen in other people, so often comprising our own blind spots, which can be embarrassing and humiliating once discovered. (To think we can get embarrassed about not being God, humiliated even.)   The Top Ten Ways Humans Approach Reality - our Existential Styles, striving 1) Morally, to be good 2) Socially, to love 3) Practically, to be useful 4) Spiritually, to transcend 5) Philosophically, to be right 6) Institutionally, to be loyal 7) Sensually, to be joyful 8) Politically, to engage 9) Peacefully, to be peaceful 10) Religiously, to be holy   The Top Ten Ways Humans Approach Reality - our Neurotic Solutions, needing 1) Morally, to feel perfect 2) Socially, to feel needed 3) Practically, to feel successful 4) Spiritually, to feel special 5) Philosophically, to feel independent 6) Institutionally, to feel guided 7) Sensually, to feel good 8) Politically, to feel in control 9) Peacefully, to feel connected 10) 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 mental placeholders, until I can come back and flesh out these approaches in a more accessible form. It is not so very important though that you understand the words as it is that you get a general idea of what is happening. In each of these approaches, below, the descriptions I have provided represent different philosophical schools, for example, such as in moral theory and art theory, such as in epistemology - which considers how we know what we know, and so on. Interestingly (and distressingly), to some extent these represent positions and schools that are often presented over against the other, which is to say as dichotomies or either-or choices rather than as useful distinctions describing different moments in an otherwise integral act of approaching reality. Now, I am not advocating a wimpy relativism but only am pointing out how one's temperamental preferences might often get "elevated" to the status of fetishes in one's 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 notice that my first nine categories correspond rather well (and in numerical order) to the nine enneatype "trances." This is perhaps most noticeable in my 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 I'll 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 and conversion while touching every base, all 40 of them. Use this list, self-critically, to take a fearless self-inventory. Observe others and try to see both their strengths and foibles in yourself. Some offer you the gift of a cautionary tale. Others are exemplars. All are your teachers. Few will be your students, at least eagerly and willingly. You'll be busy enough on self-improvement your whole life and, God-willing, with parenting. Leave others alone. Love them but don't 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 my bookshelves. I commend both Myers-Briggs and Enneagram works of Catholic authors. It isn't an occult science of New Age provenance. It's just good old-fashioned, well-trained phenomenology, superb observation of the minutiae of human behavior well-describing the thats of human behavior long before the hows and whys of evolutionary psychology and modern neurology became known. The Enneagram is thus more than a parlor game, still moreso an art than a comprehensive science, ergo, don't make more of it in a casual application of it than is warranted without considerable attention to good neuroscience, however popularized such as by Andy Newberg, and modern psychology and psychiatry, such as by Rohr and Peck (and read his works re: the Devil). Well, there you have it ... the outline for the book I'll most likely never write and for the thoughts that will thus only comprise my legacy in the way 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 on my legacy; YOU‛RE IT!   Love forever,  jb   SOURCES OF VALUE BEAUTY - cosmological Sensing     TRUTH - ontological Thinking GOODNESS - axiological Feeling UNITY - teleological Intuiting objective subjective intersubjective interobjective MORAL SOCIAL PRACTICAL deontological ethics pluralist & free exercise induction & physical reality aretaic or virtue ethics academic deduction & objective reality teleological ethics economic abduction & ultimate reality SPIRITUAL aesthetical art as mimesis & imitational art as formalism or essentialism contractarian ethics cultural semiotic reality art as expressivism or emotionalism correspondence theory & perinoetic virtue epistemology & dianoetic community of inquiry & semiotic coherence theory & ananoetic PHILOSOPHICAL epistemological INSTITUTIONAL e.g. ecclesial SENSUAL POLITICAL PEACEFUL                                       art as instrumentalism cult & ritual creed & dogma community & code metanarrative & anagogical descriptive - primitives & forces secularist & nonestablishment simple awareness descriptive - axioms & laws personal responsibility JOTS - jump outside the system prescriptive social responsibility harmony between people evaluative subsidiarity harmony beween ideas                 SOURCES OF VALUE Existential Style MORAL to be good Neurotic Solution - the "Ergo Sum" to feel perfect SOCIAL to love to feel needed to be useful to feel successful PRACTICAL SPIRITUAL to transcend to feel independent to be loyal INSTITUTIONAL                   to feel special to be right PHILOSOPHICAL   to feel guided SENSUAL to be joyful to feel good POLITICAL to engage to feel in control PEACEFUL   SOURCES OF VARIATION the Wings Subtypes - self, social & sexual Stages & Sicknesses  and/or       Saints & Sinners Security & Stress directionality Social Positions to be peaceful to feel connected                                           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 more artistic 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 me that various philosophical “schools” of thought (aesthetical and ethical theories, epistemological approaches, metaphysics, etc) were little more than epistemic fetishes expressed as 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, better engaging reality and reaping a richer harvest of transcendental values. Existential approaches are authentic, life-giving and relationship enhancing. Neurotic approaches are inauthentic, 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 – jump outside 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 also where 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 and holistically, 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 practical reasoning). Thus, it guides our empirical pursuits of symmetry between reality's givens (primitives, forces and laws). And it also guides our logical pursuits of symmetry 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 of this mean? 3) What's 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 religions attempt 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 one's own opinion but that one is not entitled to one's own facts. Similarly, I fervently urge that, in engaging a unitive narrative, one is entitled to one's own worldview but that one is not entitled to one's 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 world's 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, necessarily involve gatherings, where people commune and fellowship. Finally, they will then articulate and codify some precepts to govern and provide continuity for their storytelling, celebrations and gatherings.   Insofar as they will include the empirical, epistemo-logical, moral and practical determinations of humankind's empirical, normative and practical sciences, we might refer to this universal attribute of all worldviews as comprising, at least in part, "Everybody's 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 be called "religious" development, from the etymological root of "religare," which means "to tie back."   There are other rather universal elements to worldviews that address humankind's concerns and they, necessarily, tend to be expressed in more vague terms. For example, 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: "Don't you know it's 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 that may 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 largely allegorical and often mythological. That quite naturally goes with the territory that they attempt to map, the reality that they attempt to model, which also requires analogical and metaphorical language.   Above, I  set forth different categories of human inquiry and described humankind's different attempts to "tie them together" into a unitive narrative. I mostly described 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 differing degrees 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 one's 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 between theoretical science and natural philosophy. However, natural philosophy typically employs more "givens" than theoretical science, which is to suggest that its definitions 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-formal construction and lend themselves, in theory, though perhaps not so readily in practice, to falsification. The degree of falsifiability can derive from methodological constraints and/or how far out in front of "Everybody's 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 successful reference of reality. They all employ analogical and metaphorical language, some analogies stronger or weaker than others, some metaphors collapsing sooner or later than 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 distinctions multiply 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. It is still too early on humankind's journey through the cosmos to conclusively and definitely adjudicate between all of the competing claims and concerns 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 of claims 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 owing to his order's rule and the nature of the contemplative lifestyle he has chosen.  I say "nature," regarding his contemplative lifestyle, in recognition of the variety of ways the contemplative life can be approached. Some are priests, others brothers. Some are monastic or cenobitic, spending most of their time in a community, others eremitic or hermits, living alone in different structures, some more primitive than others, scattered throughout the property --- here a tiny A-frame, there a modest cabin with porch, mostly the former. Clerical or religious, cenobitic or eremitic, the fellows who populate this two-thousand acre wood are a motley group of personalities and temperaments, of talents and ministries, much like the woods and its other denizens. The abbey's 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 the river, or creek I'd 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 extensive stretches of pines, mostly loblolly, shortleaf and spruce, the virgin longleafs being confined to the immediate vicinity of the cathedral, seminary campus, monastery and guesthouse as well as sometimes densely populating the adjacent grounds of the farm buildings and pastures. These old pines surround all of these century-old structures, swallowing them in a sea of green. These longleafs escaped the mid-century timber harvest only by virtue of being inextricably interspersed throughout this complex of buildings, pasture lands and ponds, surviving the clear-cutting only by virtue of being well- segregated from the more remote and freestanding forested areas, which were otherwise harvested. (Not speaking judgmentally, here, as monks have bills to pay, too.) This monastic complex is further landscaped with a 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 Brother Jacob's many rose varieties. This biodiversity of vegetation, coupled 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 abbey's 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 Benedictine's southshore enclave in the city, a monastic community comprised primarily of teachers of the now co-ed high school school-erstwhile preparatory seminary school, provides lemons and satsumas in early winter in exchange for the abbey's tomatoes and bell peppers in the spring. I cannot begin to inventory the great varieties of other fruits and vegetables 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-filtered beer from spring water and leave their southshore brethren to languish with their Jax, Dixie and Falstaff.  I insinuate myself into any bartering between monastic communities 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 of the 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 daily mass, 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 all chant the ancient, sometimes haunting, always beautiful, Gregorian hymns and psalmody of the Divine Office. The Magnificat is my favorite. I wish it were otherwise truly 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 occasional office 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 the refectory, however silently, but then enjoying lively conversation after supper those nights. In the past five years, our visiting privileges have been extended, beyond our 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 three meals together in the refectory and conversing after supper until night prayer. The Abbot granted us this accommodation, I'm told by Thomas, as a form of consolation 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 Elderhostel and retreat house. I've 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 missing Thursday vespers (and my bread loaf). All of these worship style issues notwithstanding, as a denizen of these same woods, wherein the specific contemplative vocations 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 where contemplation has been democratized, the clergy has been laicized, the laity clericalized? We enjoy a great diversity of ministry in our 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 the Ascension, which of course rotates with the moon, the vernal equinox 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, living in 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 have celebrated this giftedness of nature with the monks, annually partaking in the Rogation Days liturgies and rituals, prayers that literally marked the boundaries of our lands, prayers that begged for our land's fruitfulness as well as for the fruits of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Writ large, these Rogation Days celebrations are prayers 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 gifts of thunderstorms and darkness, praying for strength and growth. We turn toward the North, which gifts us with cold and waiting, praying for sustained hope and proper 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 resurrection in 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 of our 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: "I've been walking my mind through an easy time, my back turned toward the sun. Lord knows, when a cold wind blows, it'll turn your head around. I've seen fire and I've seen rain."   I've seen fire and rain. I've experienced Merton's crises of continuity and creativity. I've been sucked into Frankl's existential vacuum and spit out as Walker Percy's malaise. I've known the misery that precedes Bill Dubya's first step. I've seen 'em pave Joni's paradise to put up a parking lot. I've known my radical finitude. 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 that they are desperately trying to resign such a self-assumed position, that they've taken on that job and its responsibilities and badly want out. Part of the journey takes 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. In the case at hand, after recognizing that I'm not God and you're not God and nobody else is God, I must also get to the point where I can declare: "And I'm okay with that!"   I'm 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 the statement 'I'll 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, let's be candid, death) or of creativity (making a difference, being somebody), an existential vacuum, a malaise, an addiction, an inordinate attachment, a disordered appetite, an alienation of affection, an estrangement from loved ones, a relationship breach ... ... whatever its nature or origin, it is 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. We cooperate with reality in growing these realities. We work with reality to harvest these values. Asking. Harvesting. Frightened of the thunder and the darkness from the West, waiting and longing and gazing toward the North, renewed and enlightened turning toward the East, warmed and grown by the South, we experience the lessons 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 this probe with this interrogatory and now with that ... but inter-rogations? In our radical finitude and importuning, what are we ... but inter-rogators? Thus our interrogatories delve into possibilities, our interrogations with their methodologies yield products known as actualities and we, as interrogators, discern probabilities. Our interrogatories thus comprise our categories, our architectonic of knowledge, our academic disciplines. Our interrogations consist of our methodological approaches and their findings. As interrogators, we are organons of knowledge, singular and integral. Our rogation attempts are clearly discernible and 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 and intersubjective 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 being pursues 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, on one hand, ideas, on the other, people. There is much hemispheric redundancy and it is fair to suggest, however facilely, that our aesthetical, noetical, unitive and ethical value pursuits engage our objective, subjective, interobjective and intersubjective functions. If these pursuits are possibilities or our architectonic, and these functions are our organon, of knowledge, in other words, our interroga-tories and interroga-tors, then we might look at the various methodologies or interroga-tions as 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 are descriptive, prescriptive and evaluative perspectives and an ecological rationality to account for as well as evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. The human depth 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 and not only dyadic explanation, semiotic and not only neuropsychological explication. With all of these angles contributing to our species' exceptionality as the symbolic species, one can perhaps easily understand Walker Percy's dismay with modern social and psychological sciences and their sometimes facile treatments. We've got to get 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 doesn't understand the above-philosophical shorthand, that is, the jargon, the salient point is that the table above represents Rogations, probes of reality by 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 expressed sometimes as nine fruits of the Spirit, sometimes disvalued as nine capital sins, sometimes described as pursued by Jungian functions or as thwarted by enneagramdescribed 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 in the 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 that humankind has employed in the pursuit of value realization have been elevated to the status of epistemological systems, one can only imagine, due perhaps to nothing more sophisticated than a given philosopher's temperament or primary Jungian function, for example. Quite frankly, different epistemological approaches have become nothing more than a crude fetish rather than a surgical method for probing reality's innards. The excessive pejorative force employed by one school over another is perhaps revealing of philosophers who, in their critiques, are not content to stand on the shoulders of their academic mothers and fathers of prior generations 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 that modern 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 on normative force. Some probes of reality return more versus less value and all who devise systematic approaches encounter problems with their formulations, whether of 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 be sure, all necessary though in widely varying degrees, none sufficient, taken alone? These probes necessarily represent only provisional closures to any consistent fallibilist, represent methods abstracted from ideologies, tools resisting the status of fetish. They represent, then, hypotheses, working hypotheses --- some working better than others, depending on the task at hand. It is too early on humanity's journey to rush to closure epistemologically, hence metaphysically. With Chesterton we must affirm that we do not know enough about reality to say that it is unknowable, and I'll nuance that - un/knowable. And we can qualify Haldane's observation that 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 of being and rejects Heidegger's "why is there something and not rather nothing?" - then we can still ask "Why is there something and not rather something else?" And we can change Wittgenstein's 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 but rather 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 critique and prescinded to an ontological vagueness, still, whither such probabilities (code for Peircean thirdness, perhaps)? What forces our retreat into ontological vagueness? 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 we do 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 formally formulate them. We fallback on storytelling and narrative it seems. When all is said and done, some semiotic scientists will be scientistic (let's say, Chomsky) and some biologists and philosophers will be, too (let's say, Dawkins and Dennett), and some theologians fideistic and others apophaticistic, and some process philosophers nominalistic, and some thomists substantialistic, and some aristotelians essentialistic, and others a tad positivistic and so forth and so on. Emergentism makes 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), and see 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 appreciate Hans Kung's use of nihilism as a foil for his presentation of Christianity in "Does God Exist?" Rather than casually and cursorily dismissing nihilism as logically incoherent, 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 social and 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 our great traditions defy unequivocal and unambiguous formulation, who can deny their efficacies when properly considered and consistently lived with their own practical vitality?   With so much epistemological parity to go around, so many metaphysical possibilities still open, whatever one's provisional closures, a question may arise regarding why this versus that hermeneutic even matters? And the pragmatic cash value is to be found in the fact that our hermeneutical frameworks and provisional closures will 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? The various interrogatories and interrogations are but moments in the life of each interrogator, who must integrate her probes of reality and not only harvest but also grow 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 horizon with 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, which begins with the harmonies of our idealizations and conceptualizations and finds its fullest realizations as we turn South, into the warmth of relationships with our people, 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 religions make us whole and authentic interrogators, with methodologically sound interrogations of reality and interrogatories that are selected from rogations on every compass point: beauty, truth, unity and goodness.   Such are the notes I've prepared for discussion with Thomas during the upcoming days of Rogation. "Won't you look down upon me, Jesus ... I won't make it any other way."       deduction objective reality ultimate reality abduction objective dianoetic ananoetic interobjective RATIONAL thinking intuiting PRACTICAL         ontological correspondence theory coherence theory teleological art as formalism & essentialism deontological ethics teleological & consequentialistic ethics art as emotionalsim & 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 & imitationalism virtue or aretaic ethics contractarian ethics art as moral agency & instrumentalism cosmological virtue epistemology community of inquiry axiological         EMPIRICAL feeling MORAL subjective perinoetic transnoetic intersubjective induction   sensing 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 how serious, how grave, how weighty this or that sin or dis-order, moral or pre-moral, may be. Even if the church's natural law interpretations were not too biologistic and physicalistic, which they are, and even if the church properly and more broadly conceived the procreative and unitive values of sex, which it does not, still, a problem would persist in that the church does not recognize a parvity of matter regarding sex. All sexual sins are equally grave, serious, weighty, or, in a word, mortal. How did the church ever come to equate contracepting couples, masturbating adolescents and homosexual eroticism with such a grave immoral action such as murder? Essentially, the church's stance toward our human generative faculties is that we have NO dominion of such biological functions. This differs from its its stance of LIMITED dominion in the art and science of medicine. Supposedly, this differs because our generative faculties involve sacred human life, itself. At least this is a reasonable inference from Paul VI's interpretation of Pope John's encyclical Mater et Magistra. Bernard Haring countered this reasoning because it employed unequal members in comparison of the absolute 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 of nature as something so mysterious and sacred, they maintain, that any human intervention tends to destroy rather than to perfect this very nature. Because of this mentality, many advances in medical science were prohibited for a time, 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 consist in this, that God wished man to SHARE in His dominion ... ... In the course of his life man must attain his perfection in difficult and adverse conditions, he must accept the consequences of his responsibility, etc Therefore, the dominion of God is exercised through man, who can use nature for his own perfection according to the dictates of right reason." Finally, even if the church's narrow conceptualizations of procreative and unitive values were correct, even if its lack of parvity of matter for sex was correct, and even if its "no dominion " approach to generative biological functions was correct, still, following its own doctrine of original sin, it could properly exercise a great deal more compassion and pastoral sensitivity by applying its traditional realist approach to the human condition over against any overemphasis of essentialistic moral idealizations at the expense of our ever-faltering and always-feeble existential realizations of such values. In other words, there are a LOT of ways to justify a much more loving embrace of our homosexual sisters and brothers 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 than by condemnations. Pope John XXIII, from his Opening Address of Vatican II 2) But it is in fact also part of the tragic and impenetrable historicity of the Church that in practice and theory it defended 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 Church finally find the new conviction obvious and (unfortunately) proceeded to act is if the new global 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, to refine it, to probe it, to push back its horizons. If not all Church teaching is guaranteed to be infallible, then some of it could be fallible, reformable, conceivably even incorrect. It is part of the theologian's responsibility to speak to Church teaching 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 on Dissent 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 to reach this certainty the Church is not dispensed from research and from examining the many questions proposed for her 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 or regulations of the community does not thereby reject his membership; he does not withdraw his readiness to act and to 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 Church has to play a part. This process cannot be carried out in every detail by an isolated Magisterium, with oracular infallibility. The life and suffering of Christians who profess their faith in the midst of their times has just as important a part 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.   Let's 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: If you 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 by the 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 felix culpa, 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 life 2) human generative functions, biological & physicalistic 3) procreative, broadly conceived 4) unitive, broadly conceived 5) co-creative, including stewardship & limited dominion 6) deontological, from which a "no dominion" moral aspect often derives 7) pastoral sensitivity & compassion 8) formative spirituality, including aretaic or virtue ethical approaches 9) teleological & consequentialistic aspects of a moral object 10) parvity of matter, or assigning weight to competing values 11) practical concerns, insofar as our essentialistic ideals cannot always be existentially realized 12) 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 of government 13) positivistic insights, which impact metaphysical conceptualizations & natural law interpretations 14) 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 subsidiarity 16) obsequim fidei, assent to essentials of faith 17) 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 conscience 20) 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 Helminiak's book, _What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality_: http://www.visionsofdaniel.net/bookWBRS.htm and 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 won't address that argument. I do want to point out that that is not Helminiak's 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, as evidence against any interpretation that the church's 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, that the church still considers the procreative aspect essential to sexual acts, even as it has now better recognized the unitive aspect, too. The rhythm method, I would think, represents an accommodation derived from pastoral sensitivity (read compassion) and not from revised formulations of natural law. 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 seismic shifts in methodology. In Catholic social teaching, Charles Curran describes three methodological shifts in emphasis from: 1) classicism to historical consciousness 2) natural law to personalism and 3) legalism to relationality-responsibility. I will consider Catholic sexual teaching much more credible and eminently more transparent to human reason when its methodologies are similarly revised. Such a revision would offer even more hope for acceptance of homosexuals .   A lot turns, too, on how broadly or narrowly one conceives of such realities as complementarity, procreativity and generativity. Also, when defining norms, 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 or premoral 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, to issues like parenting and marriage. The way I read Helminiak's argument, he objects to the narrowness of the church's conception of complementarity. He is saying it is, on its face, too strictly biologistic or physicalistic. If complementarity is so narrowly defined, then one's 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 psychological characteristics are also relevant. He is implicitly suggesting, then, as I interpret him, that the church should just drop the term/criterion of complementarity and just say what it means, which is that homosexual behavior is wrong because it is not heterosexual. And this, of course, is not explanatory.  
  • 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 Lonergan's 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 concrete guidance, reason and experience, in my view, have more relevance, a LOT more. As for the most important moral precepts and the most general norms, those have sources other than scripture, anyway. Thus the battle of proof-texts hasn't 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 prayerful and 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, with its distinctively 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 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 take on disordered appetites, the ignatian treatment of inordinate desires). With a eucharistic hermeneutic of everything as gift, we then see the created order as profoundly incarnational 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 above re: abortion, and ask themselves how those might be reordered (transvalued) for a catholic Christian. How might they be prioritized for different types of nonbelivers? The normative science does not change; where we, first and foremost, turn our attention 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, who'd like to deconstruct Christianity's foundations altogether, 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 accounts 3) 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 Church's 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 & powerfully efficacious in being utterly transformative [4]. Thus it is that the Holy Spirit, then and now, communicates life in our personal experiences of just such a 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, the Resurrection Event is an inference that springs from a LOT more experiences, both then and now and yet to come, than many "historical Jesus questors" seem willing and/or able to take into account. pax, jb [1] [2] [3] [4]   Mystical Body Abba Jesus Holy Spirit
  • Christian Nonduality Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog     Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Pascal went to the county fair with the Buddha & Descartes and they came upon a Lucky Dog vendor, whereupon Pascal asked the others if they'd like a hotdog. Descartes replied:"I don't think so," and immediately disappeared. The Buddha said: "Make me one with everything," and also disappeared. This is not what Pascal would've wagered. Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy Disappointed at the loss of his companions, as the seasons passed and Louisiana's Fall Festivals returned with the autumnal equinox, Pascal sent out invitations to everyone he knew, inquiring after their interest in going to Scarborough Fair. As fast as pigeons can fly, responses came in from across the globe, verily, verily faster than even Facebook or Twitter operate on occasion.
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Pavlov said he was drooling at the thought. Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog Einstein thought it would be relatively easy to attend. Volta was positively electrified. Ampere was worried he wasn't up on current research. Ohm resisted the idea at first. The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic 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 he'd try to string enough time together to make a space in his schedule. Schrodinger had to take his cat to the vet, or did he? Frank Davis from WWL replied: That's Naturally N'Awlins! Glenn Beck: You talking 'bout Joe Scarborough? Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, O'Reilly & other Faux News Allstars started a chain-passenger-pigeon message calling for a boycott of this obvious left-wing conspiracy. After millions of roundtrips from Dixieland to the Governor's mansion in Alaska, the Passenger Pigeon became extinct, even as the neanderthinks still thrive. Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Nancy Pelosi, the New York Times & Washington Post RSVP'd regrets, lamenting and editorializing the growing disparity between those who had access to Lucky Dogs and those who subsisted, instead, on parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (and possibly cannabis).
  • Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris all had a schedule conflict because they would be going back to school to take Philosophy for Dummies, where they would learn the difference between science and scientism, reason and rationalism, logic and positivism, a descriptive empirical inquiry and an interpretive social imaginary, cosmological speculations and axiological aspirations, and the descriptive/normative and the interpretive/evaluative stances toward reality. Simon asked: Are you goin to scarborough fair? Remember me to one who lives there. Garfunkel replied: Tell her to find me an acre of land, Between the salt water and the sea strand. Kevin Beck: Coffee?!? You can sleep all you want when you're dead!!! Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Science NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross 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 mustn't 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. Thomas Merton The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Except for the classical "proofs" by Aquinas and Anselm, and CS Peirce's "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," and the Modal Ontological Arguments as crafted by Godel and Hartshorne and then, in my view, lately and greatly improved by Christopher McHugh, I don't consider much of what is going on, nowadays, to be 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, at least not when methodologically restricting one's musings to the rubrics of formal argumentation. The same is true for any notions regarding Rogation Days "ultimate" reality, using either philosophy or science as a starting point. All anyone thus establishes is a Radical Orthodoxy modicum of epistemological parity with alternate worldviews, i.e. Wounded Innocence
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue elaborate tautologies. I do not dismiss these enterprises that demonstrate the reasonableness of faith, for some, like me, they have been indispensable parts of my journey. For most, though, I've been told they don't matter very much. And I trust what they report and am better and better coming to grasp why. Even then, I've enjoyed many, many The Ethos of Eros fruitful dialogues with many nonbelievers who do seek such apologetics and we've grown in mutual respect Musings on Peirce and understanding and self-understanding. Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog Worldviews, thankfully, are not mere formal arguments. They represent deeply and profoundly experienced existential orientations and ultimate concerns. And, if they are authentically re-ligious, they "tie life's experiences back together" and heal us that we may survive and grow us that we may thrive. If we are not experiencing both healing and growth, both broadly conceived, well, that's what the Prophets are for! They The Dylan Mass remind us that we are to be about the actualization of value. If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise The interface between science and theology is not terribly interesting, philosophically, unless our project is pending to disambiguate their definitions. If it remains interesting, even early in the 21st century, it is only because The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal so many scientistic and fideistic apologists are arguing past each other, precisely because they've neglected 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 approaches to the science and religion interface: conflict, contrast, contact, confirmation. Daniel Helminiak 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 do represent integrally related hypothetical commitments, some central or core, some auxiliary or peripheral, each field indeed constrained by the others, none autonomous. 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 prerationally. 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 between 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 a 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 variously stronger or weaker and we often struggle to come to grips with HOW and WHY such may be so 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 a better 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 Hefner's "created co-creators." I suppose this is why, when we look at Gelpi's Lonerganian conversions --- intellectual, affective, moral,
  • sociopolitical and religious --- the human spiritual growth trajectory is typically assymetrical, which is to recognize, for instance, that our intellectual, emotional and moral developments reach different levels of attainment at 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" our values, 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 influence each 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 philosophical core 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 other's axiomatic aspects, which is to say, those apsects that we commit to as self-evident and nonpropositional, even if only provisionally. There is no "formal relationship" vis a vis logical argumentation at play in nonpropositional elements, which are often being 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 and moreso 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 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 don't the concepts they employ and the axioms that govern them not line up like pretty maids all in a row ... 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. That's part of the theodicy problem. At some level, let's say, the beatific, I believe it all fits together, somehow. That's my definition of the religious: tying it all together, advancing healing and growth/conversion. But it takes an unconditional commitment because, to all appearances, it doesn't really seem to work together that well. For now, we see through a glass, 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. We maintain that all successful descriptions of God, if literal, are necessarily apophatic, which is to say that we thus gain descriptive accuracy through negation, while we gain positive descriptive accuracy of God, kataphatically speaking, necessarily, only through analogy. Many people look at this grammar of description and see a paradox. They suggest that if God is literally no-thing in sensible reality as could be successfully described other than through negation or analogy, then why does this seeming radical discontinuity not, therefore, entail a complete causal disjunction between Creator and creature? This is to say that they feel like there is a causal joint question still begging, somehow. How can this Creator, if wholly distinct ontologically from creation, thereby exert any effects,
  • whatsoever, on the created order? There is another grammar, however, which is the grammar of reference. And this grammar suggests that we can, in principle, successfully reference realities we are otherwise unable to successfully describe. And we have always routinely employed these distinctions (between description and reference) as we've advanced in our knowledge of science and metaphysics, retreating into rather vague heuristic references while awaiting more robust theoretic descriptions for unknown causes proper 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 this ineluctably unobtrusive Reality as the Answer to these ultimate questions, at the same time, we are by no means suggesting that this Reality is not also utterly efficacious causally. Analogically, we may think of Haught's discussion of Polanyi's tacit dimension, of Arraj's discussion of nonlocality and superluminality, or of formal and final causation ---even as minimalistically conceived--- in Peirce's triadic semiotic science. In her paper, A God Adequate for Primate Culture, Nancy R. Howell of the Saint Paul School of Theology writes about John Haught's 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. Haught's rationale for such a God rests in divine kenotic love. Love by its very nature cannot compel, and so any God whose very essence is love should not be expected to overwhelm the world either with a coercively directive "power" or an annihilating "presence." Indeed, an infinite love must in some sense "absent" or "restrain itself," precisely in order to give the world the "space" in which to become something distinct from the creative love that constitutes it as "other." We should anticipate, therefore, that any universe rooted in an unbounded love would have some features that appear to us as random or undirected. There is a tension, then, between our conceptions of some type of causal continuity or interactivity and an ontological discontinuity between Creator and created. This should not surprise us, however, for
  • analogously, we encounter discontinuities even within the created order between otherwise distinct levels of emergent reality even without the violation of known causal closure dynamics. As science advances and our metaphysical tautologies gain ever more taut grasps of reality, our kataphatic God-analogues will become more robustly descriptive and so will our apophatic negations (as we add to our positivist inventory of not-God-realities). Our references to God can become ever more successful, too, especially once considering that our God-encounters engage all of our intentional fields (Haught, Lonergan), our entire person integrally and unfathomably, in a relationship of love, precisely through such divine kenosis as we have explicated above. The efficacy of this relationship derives from our being Godlike and necessarily precludes, in principle, our being, essentially, God. Thomas Merton speaks of the confessional aspects of the Psalms, one which was: "It wasn't me! It was Him, Who did this!" This kenosis, this divine self-emptying, condescends through the Incarnation (and all the attendant Mysteries that we celebrate) to gift us with a correspondence --- not an identity --- with God. This correspondence fosters communication (think Logos, think semeiotic even) most unitively! Raw awareness of this correspondence is ineffable, nondiscursive, immanent, impersonal, existential and apophatic. Reflective experience is liturgical, discursive, transcendent, personal, theological and kataphatic. They can nurture each other in a virtuous cycle. Neither the awareness nor the experience yields ontological descriptions, but the reflective experience refers to the Wholly Other and is, in that sense, vaguely ontological, in maintaining the discontinuity. When we say that we can describe nothing of God literally, except in denying what God is not, and that all of our positive descriptions are merely analogical ... But that we can still successfully refer to God ... What are the implications for the relationship between Creator and created? What bridges the ontological discontinuity 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 Thomistic perspective. There is also the panentheistic, neo-Whiteheadian
  • perspective of Fr. Joe Bracken, who speaks of the Divine Matrix. It is beyond my competence to reconcile these approaches with one another, much less with my own semiotic approach. And since my own grasp is rather inchoate it makes it difficult to translate my intuitions into an accessible form. But I'm going to try anyway. I do not see anything wrong with viewing creation and creatures as quasi-autonomous realities that exist in God with both the Creator and the created order operating in and through a Divine matrix of interrelated causes and effects. This could only be accommodated by a Thomistic view that reconceives its ontological categories more dynamically and not in static, essentialistic identities, for example, seeing the Whiteheadian 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 ‘may aptly be described as “the divine matrix” within which the three divine persons and all their creatures exist in dynamic interrelation. See this link . This all seems to resonate with Phil Hefner's description of human beings as created co-creators. Reconceiving this relationship between God and creatures has implications for how we view original sin and for theodicy and such. I won't go there for now. The bottomline is that we experience enough autonomy to be in an authentic (in radical freedom) love relationship with God and others and enough causal interconnectedness 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 of this ineluctably unobtrusive tacit dimension or matrix. It is with the benefit of special revelation that our contemplation experiences it as Divine. Our contemplation reflects on our autonomy. Enlightenment qualifies it as quasi. re: Our contemplation reflects on our autonomy. Enlightenment qualifies it as quasi. Just to be clear, those aspects of contemplation and enlightenment, of course, do not exhaust those rich human realities. re: I do not see anything wrong with viewing creation and creatures as quasi-autonomous realities that exist
  • in God with both the Creator and the created order operating in and through a Divine matrix of interrelated causes and effects. To amplify a bit, I have recently been contemplating this panentheist approach with an aim toward reconciling it with that of Gregory Palamas and the hesychasts. It does not seem to me to be a major stumbling block for Christian unity, no more than the filioque? bout Hesychasm quote: In the Byzantine East, the hesychast tradition had a tremendous influence, and found a powerful interpreter in Gregory Palamas in the 14th century. Palamas, the most influential Greek Orthodox theologian of the Middle Ages, taught that the most effective way to increase our awareness, integrate body and soul, and open ourselves to God is to attend to our breathing. In The Triads in Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, Gregory described the process of pure prayer beyond words 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. While this is very difficult at the beginning, with repeated effort in time attention to breathing gathers together the mind that has been dissipated and produces inner detachment and freedom. For Palamas, this activity is not itself grace, but he tells us that God works in and through the body and soul together to communicate supernatural gifts. As long as we have not experienced this transformation, we believe that the body is always driven by corporeal and material passions. In language that is at times similar to the Buddhist tradition, Palamas tells us that theoretical knowledge cannot grasp this transformation. Only experience can convince a person that another form of life, free from the incessant domination of desire, is possible. Apatheia, the fruit of prayer, is not the deadening of feeling, but that stillness and openness that frees us from self-concern and allows us to redirect our natural energies toward serving others. Through prayer and the grace of God, every aspect of ourselves is transformed and crowned with virtue. http://monasticdialog.com/a.php?id=771 quote: In solitude and retirement the Hesychast repeats the Jesus Prayer,
  • "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." The Hesychast prays the Jesus Prayer 'with the heart'—with meaning, with intent, 'for real' (see ontic). He never treats the Jesus Prayer as a string of syllables whose 'surface' or overt verbal meaning is secondary or unimportant. He considers bare repetition of the Jesus Prayer as a mere string of syllables, perhaps with a 'mystical' inner meaning beyond the overt verbal meaning, to be worthless or even dangerous. This emphasis on the actual, real invocation of Jesus Christ marks a divergence from Eastern forms of meditation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesychast quote: Orthodox Tradition warns against seeking ecstasy as an end in itself. Hesychasm is a traditional complex of ascetical practices embedded in the doctrine and practice of the Orthodox Church and intended to purify the member of the Orthodox Church and to make him ready for an encounter with God that comes to him when and if God wants, through God's Grace. The goal is to acquire, through purification and Grace, the Holy Spirit and salvation. Any ecstatic states or other unusual phenomena which may occur in the course of Hesychast practice are considered secondary and unimportant, even quite dangerous. Moreover, seeking after 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 spiritual delusion (Ru. prelest, Gr. plani)—the antonym of sobriety http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesychast So, the emphasis here is on experience of God, a knowledge that goes beyond the propositional. There is an emphasis on freedom here, on increasing freedom, and thereby love. This is very Buddhist in some ways but differs in being very relational and personal and not, rather, empty. Now, read here about the distinction between God's essence and energies, and our experience of God's uncreated energies. quote: Abiding In The Indwelling Trinity by George A. Maloney Excerpt - on Page 3: " ... Their loving presence as personalized relations of uncreated energies of love surrounds us, permeates us, bathes us constantly in their great loving
  • communication ... " Mystical Theology: The Science of Love byWilliam Johnston Excerpt - on Page 61: " ... distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies. This is closely related to his theology of light; for the uncreated energies are energies of light and of love. ... " InWhomWe Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God's Presence in a ScientificWorld by Philip Clayton Excerpt - " ... to the uncreated energies of God, as well as trinitarian interpretations and the whole project of process theology. ... " The Foundations of Christian Bioethics by H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr. Excerpt - " ... is solved and the door found in the horizon of immanence: Christianity's disclosure of an immediate experi- ence of the uncreated energies of a radically transcendent, personal God. Here philosophical solutions and theological truth coincide: the truth is a Who. Such ... " Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality Simone Weil NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton THE TRINITY If we think in terms of modal ontology, we might be able to imagine how the possible, actual, probable and necessary correspond to a grammar of the Trinity. I will not explicate it, but will leave this as poetry. I got this intuition meditating on the Trinity with the "grammar" of Julian of Norwich. First I thought of the psychologists and theologians who speak of our The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm *desire*, our *intention* and *action*. Then I thought of how Julian restated that all *may* be well, all *can* be well, all *will* be well, all manner of things *shall* be well, and you will know that all manner of things will be well. Next I thought of the Father's *permissive will* who designed things such that all *may* be well and this was His *intention*. And it followed that the Son's Mysticism - properly considered *efficacious will* was such that all *can* be well and this required His Karl Rahner *action*. The Spirit's *desiring will* which says "I will, I would" that all Wounded Innocence things *will* be well corresponds to *desire*.
  • Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Now these Persons being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent ... when They conspire with perfectly aligned permissive, efficacious and desiring wills ... a *mandatory will* of the Holy Trinity proclaims that all manner of things *shall* be well. In the Holy Trinity thus resides *Desire* and *Intention* and *Action*. And we, made in God's image and likeness, recognize these faculties in ourselves ! Eskimo Kiss Waltz And what do we find in ourselves but DESIRE, longing, yearning ! the Light Side of Dark Comedy And here is the Grace, the Holy Spirit which animates us and draws us, this Blog Visits Other Online Resources *desire* precedes our assent and helps preserve it through the indwelling Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? promptings of the Spirit. Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending Through our free cooperation with grace, our will is transformed such that we share, increasingly, the *intentions* of Our Father (Thy will be done) and our *actions* progressively conform to those of the Son. And, if like Mary, we The Great Tradition properly conceived ponder these things in our hearts, we will know that all manner of things will be well. Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal And I take heart and carry on because I have heard that others have 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 already given; 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 to long. If you feel attracted to the good just because, to the truth just because, to justice just because, to beauty just because, 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 ends sufficient unto themselves. In closing, a word from Thomas Merton: "And so, many contemplatives never become great saints, never enter into close friendship with God, never find a deep participation in His immense joys, because they cling to the miserable little consolations that are given to beginners in the contemplative way." gulp! oh well. Therese of Lisieux and Simone Weil, pray for me. SIMONE WEIL in her Spiritual Autobiography, Simone wrote:"As soon as I reached adolescence I saw the problem of God as a problem of which the data could not be obtained here below, and I decided that the only way of being sure not to reach a wrong solution, which seemed to me the greatest possible evil, was to leave it alone So I left 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 call to read them." "I had never prayed. I was afraid of the power of suggestion that is in prayer." one day, however, Simone was reciting a poem, by George Herbert (1592-1633), entitled 'Love' . it was a poem she had learned by heart and had repeated often. she reports that she was ''concentrating all my attention upon it and clinging with all my soul to the tenderness it enshrines." it was during this particular recitation, she claims: ''Christ himself came down and took possession of me.... In this sudden possession of me by Christ, neither my senses nor my imagination had any part; I only felt in the midst of my suffering the presence of a love, like that which one can read in the smile on a beloved
  • face.'' *********************************************************************** Love Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back, Guiltie of dust and sinne. But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack From my first entrance in, Drew near to me, sweetly questioning If I lack'd any thing. "A guest," I answer'd, ''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 marr'd them: let my shame go 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 the problem of God I had never foreseen the possibility of that, of a real contact, person to person, here below, between a human being and God. I had vaguely heard tell of things of this kind, but I had never believed in them.... God in his mercy had prevented me from reading the mystics, so that it should be evident to me that I had not invented this absolutely unexpected contact.'' even as she rested firm in her new found certitude, she vividly recalls the Dark Night and the following Dawn:"Affliction makes God appear to be absent for a time, more absent than a dead man, more absent than light in the utter darkness of a cell. A kind of horror submerges the soul. During this absence there is nothing to love. What is terrible is that if, in this darkness where there is nothing to love, the soul ceases to love, God's absence becomes final. The soul has to go on loving in the emptiness, or at least to go on wanting to love, though it may only be with an infinitesimal part of itself. Then, one day, God will come to show himself to this soul and to reveal the beauty of the world to it, as
  • in the case of Job. But if the soul stops loving it falls, even in this life, into something almost equivalent to hell." despite her implicit Catholic faith, Simone chose to remain unbaptized and outside the Church: "You can take my word for it too that Greece, Egypt, ancient India and ancient China, the beauty of the world, the pure and authentic reflections of this beauty in art and science, what I have seen of the inner recesses of human hearts where religious belief is unknown, all these things have done as much as the visible christian ones to deliver me into Christ's hands as his captive. I think I might even say more. The love of those things which are outside visible christianity keeps me outside the Church." Simone argued, not for any syncretism or radical pluralism, but for recognition of the implicit faith of other peoples. This was an inclusivistic Christocentrism, that, many years later, would become prominent in Vatican II and, most recently, has been even more clearly articulated by John Paul II in his encylcical "Fides et Ratio" (faith and reason). According to Simone: ''So many things are outside the Christian Church, so many things that I love and do not want to give up, so many things that God loves, otherwise they would not be in existence. All the immense stretches of past centuries except the last twenty are among them; all the countries inhabited by coloured races; all secular life in the white peoples' countries; in the history of these countries, all the traditions banned as heretical, those of the Manicheans, and Albigenses for instance; all those things resulting from the Renaissance, too often degraded but not quite without value." Simone is not objecting to Church dogmas, rituals or moral codifications. she was, in fact, attracted to the liturgy, to Eucharistic adoration, to hymns and rituals and even held Church doctrine as true. rather, she was a voice of prophetic protest against exclusivistic ecclesiocentrism:''I am kept outside the Church .... not by the mysteries themselves but the specifications with which the Church has thought good to surround them in the course of centuries.'' one thinks here of the "mystical core of organized religion" as explicated by Stendl-Rast and of the deterioration 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 fact that, before Vatican II, at a grass roots level, the faithful had clearly received the message that nonCatholic religions had no salvific efficacy. Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation   Simone Weil Because of the nature of this website, I often getting inquiries from people suffering from spiritual emergence issues, real spiritual emergencies, as well as those who have suffered from a variety of debilitating emotional and mental illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Because I am not a trained spiritual director, social worker or psychological counselor, I cannot (should not) presume to be of much help to these people, but I have fashioned something of a boilerplate response below. I have kept all of you in earnest prayer and close to my heart. John of the Cross   Thomas Merton How Wide Is Your Moat? - our holistic moat East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner The mutual fund industry has popularized the moat metaphor, a moat being that deep and wide trench around the rampart of a castle , that is usually filled with water. There are even pinball games, like Medieval Madness , in which players use different strategies to breach the castle’s defenses, such as the moat, the drawbridge, the gate, the wall. Sometimes the madness is not so medieval but very much contemporary, within our own psychological castle walls. I have often thought of the analogy of the moat in other than economic terms. It might also be a useful image in considering a person’s general well being , notwithstanding your 401K might now look more like a 201K. Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy Like a castle with its multiple layers of defenses, one’s general well being is also bolstered by its own moats and walls and gatekeepers and
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? can be breached by many different types of attacks. Science There are times in our lives when we know our well being will have to do battle, when we need to both widen and deepen our psychological moats and pull up the drawbridges of our physical ramparts. The size of such bulwarks must be determined by many factors. Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue Let’s consider some examples of the types of battles we must all fight and of the kinds of defenses we might need to put in place to fortify our general well being. The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic 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 we even lose the will to go on, despite our loved ones, and, assuredly, when the blessings of those relationships no longer weigh heavily enough in the balance against the pain of a truly tormented existence, the castle has been most seriously breached; our physical well being drawbridge is down; our emotional gate has been battered; our mental gatekeeper defeated. Our spirit has thus retreated to the most inner recesses of our being and, though still sharing immanently with its Beloved in these innermost chambers, there is no felt sense of communion, neither with God nor with the castle cohort, that indwelling and abiding relating to family and friends, and most definitely not with the outer world of strangers. What are some of the kinds of defenses we might need to put in place to fortify our general well being? When our moat is narrowed and shallowed by any of the insults to our well being we have considered, we have no room to maneuver and have little margin of error. We cannot afford any mistakes and must move aggressively on all fronts. If one’s castle is especially vulnerable, either chronically or acutely, one cannot take a casual approach to defending the castle. One must proactively work to widen the moat! Like the Corps of Engineers on the Mississippi River, one must continuously dredge because the silt is being deposited 24/365 when we suffer from chemical imbalances or are otherwise in the midst of trauma, grief, anxiety or depression. Physically, we cannot afford to miss out on proper diet, sufficient rest and good exercise. Our diet must be substantial and routine and not made up of the four mainstays of the 4 Cajun Foodgroups , which are sugar, salt, fat and alcohol . Rest and exercise are essential, too, for manifold reasons documented elsewhere. Medically , we must seek out pharmaceutical aids to help us through the acute phase of any substantial psychological crises with antidepressants or antianxiety prescriptions and maybe even sleep-aids. Emotionally , we must force ourselves to interact with family and friends, with outdoors and nature, acting ourselves into a new way of thinking , unable to think ourseleves into a new way of acting. Mentally , we may need ongoing psychological counseling and, perhaps, even that in combination with specialized trauma counseling or social welfare assistance and counseling. Specialized support groups can be most efficacious in assisting and advising on all of the fronts under consideration here and can be an emotional lifeline. They can also make us feel a little less alone by being in the empathetic company of others who don’t know and will never know your tears but who have cried tears for similar reasons. We should seek to stimulate and enrich our minds with good reading materials, uplifting movies and music, and engaging hobbies. Spiritually , we may need spiritual direction, either formally or informally, with a director-directee relationship, or in a spiritual companioning mode with a fellow pilgrim with whom we may share a special spiritual kinship. The life of prayer, no matter how arid or desolate, must be maintained with perseverance and discipline, privately and communally, perhaps augmented by small group participation but most definitely sharing as well in at-large community worship services.
  • Ideally, one can likely not implement the entire holistic regimen because the very exigencies and contingencies of life, which press in on us and lower our defenses, such as employment and parenting responsibilities, such as financial and physical constraints, also get in our way during the rebuilding efforts. However, one must aggressively and vigilantly attend to all of the factors within one’s means and to the fullest extent possible, notwithstanding constraints on one's time and resources, and make these efforts a priority, because spiralling down to the lowest ebb of life will most assuredly defeat everything else one is trying to accomplish and deprive one of the vibrancy in one's relationships, with God and others, that makes anything else worthwhile. Our road to healing must be holistic and I emphasize this multifaceted approach because I have seen healing stratgeies sabotaged by approaches that don’t take the whole castle into account. What good is it to deepen or widen a moat if one leaves the drawbridge down? The attempt to make it through significant crises only pharmaceutically can backfire and bring on even more substance abuse. The temptation to self-medicate with over the counter stimulants or sedatives can simiarly cause problems. To take pills but not eat and rest properly is self-defeating. Confusing psychological counseling and spiritual direction can be a problem; they are distinctly different enterprises, however related. If one’s castle is especially vulnerable, either chronically or acutely, one cannot take a casual approach to defending the castle. One must proactively widen the moat! Neglect of one’s spiritual life, in my opinion, represents the first shallowing of the holistic moat because the spiritual life, a life of prayer, is the climbing into the watchtower of our castle, lifting our hearts and minds to God, aligning our wills with His, and, whereby through ongoing self-examen and discernment, we can vigilantly gaze out over all of our defenses and remain on guard for those attacks that no castle avoids. All of this we do as we await that Kingdom which is to come while living as safely as we can within that one which is already within us but constantly under siege. It may be, that what I have outlined above can be viewed not merely as a defensive maneuver against life, but rather as one's offensive strategy for looking to make one's mark on the world. These are the very same things I'd suggest as New Year's Resolutions, to anyone serious about deepening their relationship with God or their relationships with loved ones, to anyone interested in advancing on one's academic or career path, etc There is a great unity of purpose in the spiritual life, to a holistically informed lifestyle. When God is first in our lives, everything else falls into place and we will be about the same tasks in life whether our castle is under siege or not. Mark my words, however, it is best not to wait. ON YOUR SIDE Ongoing therapy Need to DREAM, everyday, about the future  
  • Your family & friends Ongoing medication Understand your symptoms & side-effects Remember to help someone else today   Sleep Include God in your life Diet Exercise     http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality The Passion NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini The Passion of Jesus & Mary & Joseph And of John the Baptist & Elizabeth No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin Narrator: I asked them of their hopes and dreams One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review On a road that led to Calvary Of how it seemed to them Simone Weil That began in Bethlehem John of the Cross Mary answered first: "My hopes and dreams, Thomas Merton Every single part of me, The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue Awaited my Messiah, With Him I longed to be." Joseph looked at her and nodded: The 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 Contemplative Stance Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy "At the time of our betrothal, The fulfillment of my life Was to take your hand in marriage, To take you as my wife." "I was first the handmaid of the Lord," SaidMary as she smiled,
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? "But what devastation you endured Science When you found I was with child." Epistemic Virtue Joseph said: "My heart was broken; Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature How bitterly I wept; Exhausted in my pain and grief, Architectonic How wearily I slept." Anglican - Roman Dialogue Mary smiled: "The angel in your dream The Ethos of Eros Your every doubt erased; Musings on Peirce Then the baby leapt within my womb Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy When warmly we embraced !" Joseph: Our road would wind, go up then down, Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? His way seemed hard to learn. Mary: But angels came in Joseph's dreams At every single turn. Suggested Reading Joseph: Like the time we went to Egypt Tim King's Post Christian Blog Where we stayed 'till Herod died. The Dylan Mass Mary: Or when we came back to Israel If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise And you'd thought the angel'd lied. pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal Mary: (You see Herod's son took Herod's place So, again, we'd have to flee). Joseph: And warned, again, within a dream, We left for Galilee. Mary: So, too, on your road with Jesus, You may find your plans and schemes Will be readily displaced there By our Father's hopes and dreams. Joseph: There'll be times your heart is broken. There'll 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 life's road with us Will share His Resurrection. Mary: Our road began with theWord of God, Where a witness, Elizabeth's 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 mother's worst nightmare. Mary: My son was killed by Pilate, With indignity and disgrace. Elizabeth: My John was brutally murdered, Beheaded at Herod's place. Narrator: I asked of Mary: "What of Pilate ?" "What of Herod ?" of Elizabeth. "Of the people who rejected them Even in Nazareth ?" They both were silent, for a while Then each, in their own turn, Spoke openly and lovingly Of the lessons they had learned. Mary: Like my Joseph, through King David's line, Did my baby, Jesus, come A Savior given unto us Each and every one. Elizabeth: Yes, adulterers and murderers Like Herod (King David, too) Were the reason that Our Lord was born Mary: And also me and you. Elizabeth: No it's not for us to understand. It's not for us to see: What of David ? Pilate ? Herod ? Mary:What of them or you or me ? Mary: Like the criminals murdered with Him On His left and on His right 'Til one's dying breath He'll save you Bathe you in Eternal Light. Narrator: Elizabeth stood, took Mary's arms. They embraced with loving tears. Then as at The Visitation John and Jesus then appeared ! I watched in silence and in awe With love and peace and joy, As with such warmth and tenderness Each mother hugged her boy. They were little kids like yours and mine ! With faces oh so fair !
  • Their mommies kissed their little heads Ran fingers through their hair. They pinched their cheeks, held little faces In between each hand, Looked proudly down into their eyes Each mother's little man. There they saw the face of God and lived As the prophet said they'd see. They all stared in little Jesus' face Then turned and said to me: All: We'll have all been there ten thousand years Bright shining as the sun Each generation's moms and dads Each daughter and each son; The loves we'll have shared continuing on, The pains we'll have shared forgotten, With the God we'll have known from ages hence FromMary's womb begotten. For nothing can quench the love of God Not anguish nor distress Persecution, famine nor the sword Peril nor nakedness. Neither death nor life nor angels Not any principality Could stifle the love of these mothers' boys From 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 you'll increase as we decrease In answer to our prayer 'Til it almost becomes a challenge here To know who is standing there... For I've entertained angels unaware In your poor it's plain to see Life's purpose is found as we get confused 'Tween them and you and me. No the heart of man has not conceived No eye could ever see
  • The things the Father has prepared For The Baptist, you and me ! Narrator: What pains in life, dear Jesus, Caused your greatest agony ? What of the blood, the sweat, the tears That blessed Gethsemane ? Jesus: He heaved a sigh: "I'll tell you now, The worst of pains, my brother, Came from the swords that pierced the Heart Of my dearest, sweetest Mother." "The first sword ? In the temple, Among the doctors of the law, What a joy-filled, happy moment, When my mother's face I saw ! Mary: Have you ever lost a child ? Known the tears, the fear, the dread ? Have you ever feared your little one To 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 again As I hung there on the Cross. Narrator: What of the Chief Priests and the Elders Or the Scribes and Pharisees ? Of the ridicule you suffered there As they tortured, spat and teased ? Jesus: Jesus sighed again and said: "You know, On my mother, that was tough; It was watching her in agony That, 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 ... I'd grown use to that in childhood, Never really did fit in, Not with neighbors, not with townsfolk Not even with my kin. You as parents are familiar With these feelings from such pain
  • When your children don't fit in With the others who are playin' On the playground, in the school yard, Out about the neighborhood. How my mom and step-dad suffered Cause they knew I never would. Narrator: Jesus, what of the Sanhedrin And the lying witnesses ? Or the soldiers there who stripped you Spat 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 me Or who gave me wine with gall Nor the ones who drove the nails Pierced my side, cast lots and all Not even when they lifted me Did it torture me the most; It was that one last look in momma's eyes That gave Daddy up my ghost. Aside from the pain this caused my mom, What still truly hurts the most Are things that are done by the ones that I love In whom dwell the Holy Ghost. With sacraments of initiation received Along with such loving formation For the life of Me, brother, I don't understand why They abandon theWay of salvation. The Sanhedrin, the High Priests and Elders Who hit me and spat in my face Did not cause my Heart near the confusion As those who abandoned the place For after saying they'd never disown me The moment the Shepherd was struck The sheep of my flock were soon scattered 'Cause 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 apostles Don't you go your own separate ways ? Like Zebedee's sons on the road there Does your selfishness cause any fights ? In your own ways you press one another For seats on my left and my right. No, I tell you I'd rather be spat at and jeered Even scourged and then nailed to a cross By the people who never have known me As opposed to somebody I've lost Like you whom I've known since your childhood Baptized as an infant and then Have countless times known me in Eucharist Who's always considered my friend Can't you see what you've done To a world dire in need Anytime when, like Peter, you fall ? The scandal ensues A soul 'bout to choose Chance misses hearing my call. Next time you pray into my Passion And gaze up at your Friend on the Cross, I'm not there cause of people I've never known It's those, maybe you ? that I've lost. Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest
  • Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@christiannonduality.com
  • Christian Nonduality The Spirit NEW: Cathlimergent Internet Forum The Christian Nonduality Blog Home Radical Emergence Nonduality & the Emerging Church Emergence Happens When: To Avow & Dis-avow an Axiological Vision of the Whole Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the Kingdom Wanted: Women Warriors Maiden, Mother, Crone & Queen: archetypes & transformation East Meets West Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana & Kundalini No-Self & Nirvana elucidated by Dumoulin One: Essential Writings in Nonduality - a review Simone Weil John of the Cross Thomas Merton  The Holy Spirit is so ineluctably unobtrusive while so utterly efficacious, a tacit telic dimension of a panentheistic matrix of interrelated causes and effects, a pansemiotic Peircean thirdness breathing fire into Stephen Hawking's equations, a sacred reality we relate to impersonally until we awaken to the absolutely personal and intimate calling of all of creation forth to participate together in the eternal movement of divine kenotic delimitation in a community of ever-creative love. This divine urge is so tangibly present, so palpably real, so amenable to our successful references while ever-elusive to any successful descriptions. The True Self The Passion Hermeneutical Eclecticism & Interreligious Dialogue The Spirit Christian Nonduality more on Nonduality The Contemplative Stance The Spirit, active in all of the great traditions, in all human endeavor, thus has many names and many analogs and it is not always  clear when it is we are relating to the Spirit modally, which is to say literally, or when it is we are invoking the Spirit analogically. Surely, not all of our God-talk need be, in principle, merely apophatic or metaphorical? Still, this is not to say that whatever it is that could be univocally predicated of both creature and Creator is yet conceivable by humankind, even as a root metaphor. If we have come close, then my guess is that we share a creative, self-emptying love. Hesychasm Mysticism - properly considered Karl Rahner Wounded Innocence Rogation Days Radical Orthodoxy In addition to many ontological and metaphysical considerations, we have also described an axiological epistemological outlook, a value-driven, fallibilistic perspectivalism. All things being equal, this perspectivalism honors the positivist agenda that defines epistemic virtue in terms of empirical rigor and logical consistency but takes heed of our radical finitude, which requires us to look
  • Presuppositionalism vs Nihilism? Science beyond such truth-conducive virtue, when it yields only equiplausible accounts of reality, to pay heed to the normative guidance available in the truth-indicative virtues of aesthetics, ethics and pragmatics. Epistemic Virtue Pan-semioentheism: a pneumatological theology of nature Architectonic Anglican - Roman Dialogue The Ethos of Eros Musings on Peirce Eskimo Kiss Waltz the Light Side of Dark Comedy This is not to say that we do not aspire to the epistemic warrant but only to recognize that, sometimes, all we can attain is epistemic parity. This is not to privilege the truth-indicative over the truth-conducive, for this perspectivalism is holistic and not holonic, which is to say that all of the integrally-related epistemic perspectives are necessary in each human value-realization, none sufficient. Thus we avoid epistemological vices like positivism, rationalism, empiricism, fideism, arationalism, gnosticism, pietism, encratism and other insidious -isms that comprise a long litany of epistemic pejoratives that have historically been tossed back and forth between competing philosophical schools. Blog Visits Other Online Resources Are YOU Going to Scarborough Fair? Suggested Reading Tim King's Post Christian Blog The Dylan Mass If You Are In Distress, Spiritual or Otherwise pending The Great Tradition properly conceived Postmodern Conservative Catholic Pentecostal For all practical purposes, then, when it comes to humankind's most insistent longings and most passionate urges, we necessarily look beyond the mere evidential, rational and presuppositional to the existential and we recognize that the descriptive and interpretive perspectives would form an identity but for the fact of our radical finitude, which is to recognize our profound value-neediness. If the normative must then mediate between the descriptive and interpretive to effect the evaluative, then we can face this human condition in either existential despair and epistemic resignation or we can, instead, embrace our situation in recognition of the radical plenitude that putatively corresponds to our radical finitude. And we can be on the lookout for this abundance precisely because creation has gifted us with a down payment, an earnest, a guarantee, or, in other words, first fruits. 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. Reality's 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 reality's 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, which we have treated elsewhere at length, to arrive at a more theoretical theological perspective and a more practical spiritual outlook. What we wish to affirm is a radically incarnational perspective, which implies a moderately optimistic theological anthropology that affirms the Spirit's role in every trace of human goodness, at every point in human formation, reformation and transformation, in all human conversions (Gelpi's Lonerganian inventory), in both Merton's humanization and socialization and both his false self and True Self, in the gentle telic invitations of every unfoldment of the Cosmos. We can affirm a sacramental economy that consciously and efficaciously effects, explicitly, what it liturgically and ritualistically brings to mind together with an incarnational economy of the Spirit that effects the very same value-realizations albeit unconsciously and implicitly in all people of goodwill, who cooperate with the Spirit's creative urges whether 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, in particular, or playing out in creation, in general. Might we not take these imperfections and receive them with gratitude as icons of the One, Who alone, is perfect, as constant reminders lifting our hearts and minds in praise? At what level of imperfection would we otherwise be more or less satisfied with our "distance" from God, such that our lack of so much omniscience and omnipotence would ameliorate our misery and fulfill our incessant desire? Could creation have been more perfect, just a little less uncomfortable? Need we really account for some Fall, some felix culpa, to apologize for our finitude? Might we not rather recognize that we have been gifted, already, beyond any account of merit or demerit, with more than we could have ever imagined or conceived, just to have opened our eyes on the sky even if only to suddenly perish? Yet so many human lives are further gifted with many more days, even years. That we should exist at all is incredible. That we should then ever experience more than a rock might experience is not just brute fact but incredibly miraculous. How are we all not rather stuck at the fact of existence? struck by the glory of it all even as we are immersed in such finitude, some assuredly more painfully than others? Human imperfection, beyond the mere physical, shows forth in all manner of idiosyncrasies and personality foibles, less often as character flaws, rooted in who knows what vis a vis deformative influences, illness or failures to otherwise cooperate with grace. Although we can easily enough recognize failures to cooperate with grace, to walk in the Spirit, it is not our privilege to ever know which such failures result from willful rejections (sin) and which come from lack of formation or deformative influences, from differently-abledness or illness,  or, even, plain and simple, human mistakes. Interestingly, there is a poignant beauty in so many human foibles and idiosyncrasies, even those that most often "get on our nerves." Older people know, from a longer experience and many funeral eulogies, that a loving gaze on our imperfect humanness turns these peccadilloes into endearments, into unique signatures of a glorious existence that, in the end, seems all too ephemeral. How we
  • would long to be graced by such faultiness, finitude and fussbudgets again? Why did we not better recognize the beauty and the goodness and the glory in this imago Dei, whose presence we would so willingly now suffer, whose imperfections we'd so easily look past, if only we could hear their silliness, see their struggles, and hold them close again? Such longsuffering and forbearance does not just apply to our loved ones but should be extended to all humans, whom we tend to alternately deify or demonize based on our wholly unrealistic expectations of them, along with our typically dualistic all or nothing and either/or perspectives of reality, in general, other people, in particular. That our world leaders, national politicians and religious leaders, among others, are less than perfect, should come less as a surprise and more as par for the course. There is a lot less room for criticism of those who hold different views when we realize with Merton that we are so often morally fantasizing in a vacuum, which is to recognize that the world is a lot more complex socially, politically, economically and culturally than our facile political and moral prescriptions admit. In fact, too often, practical differences in problem solving get mischaracterized as moral differences in problem solvers, in a cyncial effort to manipulate the passions of the electorate. There is a lot less room for incivil discourse and the invocations of moral superiority than most political and religious "dialogue" would seem to display. All people deserve our compassion and our benefit of the doubt, even those whose behavior we must otherwise interdict, from time to time. Humanity, in our brokenness, is a wonder to behold, is made to be held, in solidarity and compassion. These are phenomenal truths that transcend our categories like natural and supernatural, nature and grace, physical and metaphysical. If creative advance, as per Whitehead, indeed takes place only on the borders of chaos, might this not be true both epistemologically and ontologically? Might creation not have advanced by divine self-delimitation? Might our own cooperation with grace as created co-creators (Phil Hefner) follow this pattern of kenotic self-emptying, as all creation yet groans in one act of giving birth? Is a world --- where all knowing and all-power eludes us thus requiring us to yield, normatively, to beauty, goodness and love in order to realize its values --- really somehow less perfect than some reality we otherwise imagine in our facile theodicies? Or is a reality wherein the more we need God and recognize our radical neediness the more we will see of Him, as per the universal testimony of the mystics, "good enough"? This is the poverty of St. Francis, the perfect joy, and not some otherwise misguided severe asceticism. This is the preferential option for the poor and marginalized, whom we eventually recognize, in genuine humility, as our very selves in full communion with all others who've 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, in our radical nakedness, to be bathed, as a prelude to then being wed by the Beauty, Who sees our beauty, the Goodness, Who knows our goodness, the Love, Who desires our love.
  • Christian Nonduality http://twitter.com/johnssylvest Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest johnboy@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 philosophic both 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 a similar claim on the philosophic, which finally makes a claim on the positivistic. Propositionally, once the nonpropositional axioms are in place, each of these spheres of human concern are autonomous inasmuch as they are polynomic, representing radically different commitments to distinct values. Nonpropositionally, these spheres of human concern are mutually interpenetrating, informing each others' axioms, and thus integrally related. Helminiak explicates the hierarchical nature of the propositional aspect 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 each other, 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, needn't be cast in a traditional redemptive sense vis a vis overcoming some type of ontological rupture in the past (the felix culpa of original sin), but could be viewed in terms of teleological realization (for instance, Jack Haught's aesthetic teleology). Whether one measures the distance to be traveled in the transformative journey in terms of ontological, teleological, axiological, cosmological or epistemological distances, that there is a gap, a rupture, a goal or what have 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 as considers 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 an axiomatic and theoretical commitment to any type of ontological gulf. It may entertain a certain ontological undecidability or ontological vagueness, emphasizing a successful reference to, and not rather a successful description of, the Reality of God. At the same time, it emphasizes the Creatio Continua of God's omnipresent, indwelling presence, inviting an abiding awareness of the Intimacy of all intimacies and the Relatedness of all relating. Solidarity implies relationship, not complete identity. Relationship invites compassion, not quietism. Relationship inspires orthopathos, hope and worship. [This is, of course, an over against any heterodox parsings of 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 Hefner's created-cocreators. Our commitment to orthopathos then 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 of both/and & neither/nor, apophatic, kataphatic and unitive predications, Origen's 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 institutional church as it can tend toward pseudo- and quasi-tautologies and away from the authentic tautology of that metanarrative which gifts us with orthopathos, orthodoxy and orthopraxis.   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 the vehicle of semantic vagueness, which is implicit in the different logics, predications and layers of meaning above-referenced). Taken together, then, these inform the nonpropositional axioms of our philosophic focus of concern, or the epistemic fields of our normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics, as well as our metaphysical 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 our fundamental trust in Uncertain Reality. Not only does Kung's nihilistic foil reveal an unjustified and, hence, paradoxical trust in uncertain reality, its philosophical naturalist cohort, which ambitions a materialist monist metaphysic, offers a complete but inconsistent metanarrative, okay via Godelian parameters, but sacrificing common 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 faculties dawns 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 ain't 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 that no one will believe it."     Russell's quote, applied to pedagogy and conversion, in my analogical imagination, speaks to several dynamisms. It speaks to the developmental aspect of formative spirituality (think pistic, charismatic & mystic, or purgative, illuminative and unitive, or other growth paradigms for the Lonerganian conversions). It speaks to the hermeneutical 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 value actualization.   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 liturgical theology. 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 moral theology. 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 our prayer 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, Witness and 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 and conversion. 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 and beauty. 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 Polanyi's tacit dimension, Newman's illative sense, Fries nonintuitive immediate knowldge, Maritain's connaturality and Peirce's abduction. They seem to represent an unobstrusive nexus between our epistemic fields of need and their corresponding ontic fields of fulfillment, 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, furnishes that 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 transcendental imperatives 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 for human exceptionality among other species.   I've 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 firstimpacted by our metanarratives. This has implications for our pedagogy of conversion because it reveals that our worldviews are foremost a way of SEEING and EXPERIENCING reality and only, derivatively, a way of THINKING ABOUT reality. Deconstruction, then, is not about changing our conceptual furniture or even removing our epistemological walls, ontological ceilings, and/or cosmological roofs. Deconstruction involves replacing those BUT ALSO our axiological studs, joists and rafters, while not sacrificing our teleological foundations. And these foundations form an aesthetic teleology, a cosmos striving toward beauty, for that is what comos 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 a metanarrative 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 we know?" 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, presupposing the 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 of creed, 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 a failure to facilitate such a formative development as optimally mines the strata of meaning, optimally realizing the plurality of values. The early church had a dionysian logic of both/and & neither/nor, alternating between the apophatic and kataphatic and unitive; it also employed Origen's "senses of Scripture." This tradition has repeatedly been subverted by dichotomous thinking, either-or dynamics and binary logic. Meister Eckhart's via Positiva, via Negativa, via Creativa, and via Transformativa is NOT such a subversion; rather, the approach of the Inquisition was. So, too, has been the approach of various Enlightenment fundamentalists and of their polar-opposites, the fideists. When I first came across Derrida's desconstructive strategy, his logic of supplementarity, honestly, it didn't seem very new to me. Derrida's approach is not to step outside one's 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. A tautology 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 to SEE 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, collective consciousness is exulted. An authentic tautology will robustly employ both/and, neither/nor and either/or logic in an epistemic dance that honors the multivalent ontic realities 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 hermeneutic of suspicion and an epistemology of control. They produce repression and oppression, within and between people, and manifest all manner of alterity and exclusion at all 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 in interreligious 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. I've seen a lot more folks in a reactionary mode who can articulate a critique or fashion a deconstruction. Fewer still accomplish a reconstruction 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 is the 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 original tautology 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 were previously 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 mustn't 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 Peirce's "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," and the Modal Ontological Arguments as crafted by Godel and Hartshorne, lately and greatly improved by Christopher McHugh, I don't consider much of what is going on, nowadays, to be 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, at least not when methodologically restricting one's musings to the rubrics of formal argumentation. The same is true for any notions regarding "ultimate" reality, using either philosophy or science 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 these enterprises that demonstrate the reasonableness of faith because, for some, like me, they have been indispensable parts of the journey. For most, though, I've been told they don't matter very much. And I trust what they report and am better and better coming to grasp why. Even then, I've enjoyed many, many fruitful dialogues with many nonbelievers who do seek such apologetics and we've 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 they are authentically religious, they "tie life's experiences back together" and heal us that we may survive and grow us that we may thrive. If we are not experiencing both healing and growth, both broadly conceived, well, that's 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, even early in the 21st century, it is only because so many scientistic and fideistic apologists are arguing past each other, precisely because they've neglected the work of philosophical 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 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 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 Helminiak 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 do represent integrally related hypothetical commitments, some central or core, some auxiliary or peripheral, each field indeed constrained by the others, none autonomous. 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 relationship between 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 a 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 variously stronger or weaker and we often struggle to come to grips with HOW and WHY such may be so even 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 better 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 extant realities) and determined (via genetic limitation, for instance). Those are the attributes of Phil Hefner's "created co-creators." I suppose this is why, when we look at Gelpi's 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 at 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" 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 each 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, after all, make some demands on our philosophical commitments, such as committing us to metaphysical realism, moral realism and such. Similarly, our philosophical core 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 other's axiomatic aspects, which is to say, those aspects that we commit to as self-evident and nonpropositional, even if only provisionally. There is no "formal relationship" vis a vis logical argumentation at play in nonpropositional elements, which are often being 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 and moreso 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 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 don't the concepts they employ and the axioms that govern them not line up like pretty maids all in a row ... 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. That's part of the theodicy problem. At some level, let's say, the beatific, I believe it all fits together, somehow. That's my definition of the religious: tying it all together, advancing healing and growth/conversion. But it takes an unconditional commitment because, to all appearances, it doesn't really seem to work together that well. For now, we see through a glass, 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 and religion. It especially explores the implications of certain epistemological perspectives for Christology, Christian theology, Christian ecclesiology, and, well, the whole ball 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 the postmodern 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 be concerned. 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 that one 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 critique does 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, foundherentism and such, and use terms like correspondence theory and coherence theory. Simply put, these are architectural metaphors that describe how it is we support or 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, we are 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 step for humankind, that we may survive and then thrive, is this ..."   Humankind's steps are then framed in different combinations of orthodoxy or right belief, orthopraxis or right action, and orthopathos or right feelings. And we recognize 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, as folks have 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-called self-evident, how propositional, how apodictic any of humankind's 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 humankind's knowledge has advanced slowly but inexorably.   Postmodernism dispossessed me of any epistemological hubris but did not leave me with an excessive epistemological 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 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 same with 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 Haldane's 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, humankind's best efforts in elaborating a metanarrative, using our observations of the created order and our human reasoning capacities (the latter which I broadly conceive as an ecological rationality, which includes empirical, logical, practical and relational reasonings 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 and deductive inferences, in combination with all of the other ecological rationalities that furnish our epistemic suites. And they do this  with one's epistemological, ontological, cosmological, axiological and teleological CONCLUSIONS already 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 don't buy into taking existence 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 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 human finitude. They result from the Godelian metamathematical reality of not being able to confect a formal argument that is both complete and consistent. They result from the circular reasoning I described above but also from various causal disjunctions, when the metaphors in our analogies of being become too weak to be universally compelling, 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 like materialist and idealist monisms, epistemological and ontological dualisms, rationalism versus empiricism, idealism versus realism, humean versus kantian versus aristotelian versus platonism and neoplatonism. 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 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. What natural philosophy and theology contribute are tautologies but not all tautologies are equally "taut" in their grasp of reality. We can adjudicate between many of them based on a host of epistemic criteria, including external congruence with reality, internal coherence, logical consistency, interdisciplinary consilience and hypothetical consonance. 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 tell us that our tautology is reasonable. That it is defensible.   Natural theology, then, does not prove God's existence in a universally compelling argument. It's 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 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 any metaphysician.   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 scientism untenable. 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 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 when engaging my dialogue partners here or elsewhere. People of large intelligence and profound goodwill will often disagree and can with great honor and integrity recommend different "next good steps" for humanity, even if it involves the telling of a noble lie, the re-telling of everybody's story or the articulation of a new inculturated theology for a time-honored and great tradition. We do need to get this 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.   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 the radically 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 very well 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 and not 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 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 and must positively banish uncertainty. We miss Watt's "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 the inheritance 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: What's a check? What's 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 the efficacy of retelling Everybody's 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 I'm processing my life's experience by hopefully teaching best  what I, myself, most desperately need to learn (which is to say that those ten people from every  nation haven't come calling).   I DO have a succinct message to the Seinfeld generation. If you like yada, yada, yada ... then  you're 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 their victory 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 humankind's  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 superior epistemology, it is only that I escaped the postmodern critique with my naive realism suitably  chastised 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, I'll 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 NATURE'S EVOLUTIONARY PARADIGM?   Well, I've 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 macrotheories 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 mountain's on fire, my beloved, native city, New Orleans floods, but leaving Plato's  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, God's 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 one's eye, the gait to one's  step, the love in one's heart and the embrace of one's 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 pseudoproblem. It is more often something of a Diatribe between Scientistic and Fideistic Militants.   Don't 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 moral consensus 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 won't 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. (I'm NOT a godforsaken mysterian, just a realist.) Occam's 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 psyche's rational and unitive consciousnesses. We are SO fearfully 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 humankind's  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. (Don't 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;  it's the promise of life; it's 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 we are looking, always, for those myths, which while not 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 very successful at all.   So, we turn our focus from description to reference. Our starting point is inverted. We don't  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 don't take our modern science and do natural theology.  That's 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 the interpretations will go beyond our empirical, logical and practical encounters with nature but  not without the knowledge 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 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 and Native 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 humanity's 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 Berry's 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 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  the prevailing 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 creatio ex nihilo. That's for the theologians of  special revelation. And it doesn't 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 existents are to themselves. There IS a Subject there and Berry's insistence  that we should refer to such always and everywhere is my insistence, 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, let's use a computer metaphor and call these manifold and multiform aspects 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, science constraining 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; those are, 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 be proven. 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 and unjustified (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 something else?).   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 unhelpful tautologies :( 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 reality descriptively and another to prescribe it normatively. There is a LOT of bad morality and bad science in the world today precisely because of inefficacious cultural milieus and especially of the theocratic variety. Also, we don't want to critique science so severely that we get in a Freudian or Feuerbachian mode that ends up cannibalizing 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 as parallel 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 humanity's 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? What's 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 on humanity's table, philosophically, or like evolution, which is already on humanity's table, positivistically. It does bring a lot of hermeneutical baggage to our philosophic and 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, we're going to have planes full of people flying into skyscrapers full of people. We're going to have pervasive homophobia and all manner of sexual neuroses. We're going to have natural law deontologies used to justify imperialistic patriarchal institutions, both ecclesial and civil. And the same is true for the positivistic sphere where we'll have evolution taught alongside intelligent design theory. Any conflation of these different modes of discovery must be carefully disambiguated such that we recognize an important but still minimalist intrusion of theology on the usually unspoken axioms of philosophy and science but an otherwise indispensable propositional autonomy for each 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 the fostering 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 priori and purely theoretical criteria. I suppose if I got to pick and choose the theologians whose imaginations I'd turn loose to discover new things in science and philosophy, I'd feel less strongly about my rubrics of limitation. ;) However, judging from the dearth of orthopraxis on this planet, I'm not too sure how much orthodoxy 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. Humankind's relationship to the environment deserves critique. No one can seriously question that 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 critically important, 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 this complex [the 20th century industrial corporations of Western civilizations] have built an industrial world with a withering influence on the life systems of the planet so devastating 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 world's heightened awareness of the symptoms of this socioeconomic-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 from the 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 been so 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 contemplative spiritualities. 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 a nutshell, 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 gave him [God] this status had a certain abhorrence of the feminine Earth-dwelling deities of the Eastern Mediterranean [people]. We have lost the primary manifestation of the 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, by the 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 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 of cosmos. Thus we'd appreciate creation both for the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards it offers for our proper inter-relationship. Thus we needn't elaborate a new theological anthropology that doesn't really square with what we know from science, in general, and evolution, in particular. For, the fact of the matter is that, in an emergentistic creation, where something more comes from nothing but (cf. Ursula Goodenough), there is a certain degree of ontological discontinuity, a certain hierarchy that does place Homo sapiens in a unique relationship to the cosmos. Still, stewardship needn't 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 seriously challenged. The Franciscan metaphysicians 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 was coming 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. 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 or even this Cosmos 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 human attributes integrally. Philosophy of mind issues remain unresolved. How they eventually get resolved will be interesting but any such resolution will not be ultimately dispositive of our theological anthropology. Phenomenologically, we already know what we experience and what we value. THAT we experience and THAT we value is 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 another primitive 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, let's 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 and like-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 was necessarily 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 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 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. These traditions DO offer a critique of Western idolatries but Berry's 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 I've seen others attempt by invoking infinite semeiosis. Even if we eventually prove that consciousness is a primitive, a given, its phenomenal presentation as human consciousness 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 the manifold and multiform religious experiences of indigenous peoples everywhere through all of time. Per this account, humans encounter 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 such absolutes, 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 as the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, the Buddhist Eightfold Path (including Right Speech), the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience, the Catholic approach of Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium & Reason (Fides et Ratio). What these rubrics reveal is that, when it comes to truth, beauty, goodness and unity, humankind eschews 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 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 our existential 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 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 Yong's __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 former precisely 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 one's environment and then just
  • using one's 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 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 communities with 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 as the 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 and facilitates all of these conversions. I remain in dialogue with other traditions and peoples, but if I didn't 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 I'd 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 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 is impoverished. 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 those nuances of language which better express our experiences of multivalent realities. They might better employ the rich and depthful symbolic approaches of our liturgies and prayer life, discursive and nondiscursive, kataphatic and apophatic. They might better employ the use of storytelling and parable in conveying metanarratives. They might proactively seek and incorporate the time-honored spiritual technologies and ascetical insights of the East. [You see, I am advocating a RETURN because, in my view, 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 West's "mastery" of its external environment, and, yes, mitigate, ameliorate and re-direct this so-called mastery with a more holistic and self-enlightened perspective 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 vis its 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 preChristian worldview. It is not that he merely wants to refashion our language conventions and thereby reform our cultural metanarratives, in effect he is adopting an idealist, panpsychic metaphysic, reverting to an ancient cosmology that better accommodates 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, reflecting the truth of Godel's 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 least occasionally, 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 humankind's journey, it is too early to over-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 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 should be as fallibilistic and self-critical regarding his own cosmology as he is when critiquing that of the West. Both are impoverished. It is not about dualism versus monism, essentialism versus nominalism, substantialism versus process/dynamism with all of their self-contradictions, conceptual incommensurabilities and mutual occlusivities. It is about being more modest, fallibilistic, tentative over against infallibilistic, apodictic and a prioristic. Some have suggested a retreat into a semeiotic hermeneutic 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 object to any notion that any of our metaphysical 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 a system. Postmodernism left us with weakened foundations and weakened 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 thermonuclear explosion can still ruin one's 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 don't capture the texture of our rich human experience very well. 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 describing their foundations, we must prescind from the more explicitly philosophical, at least the logical and moral, or the descriptive and prescriptive, to emphasize the aesthetical and nonpropositional, 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 hidden foundations are thus aesthetical, nonpropositional and/or evaluative and do not lend themselves, in principle, to formal construction and argumentation.   Let's consider tautologies, in general. By way of example, let's say we start positivistically with our observation of the speed of light in a vacuum, just a simple empirical observation. We are ALREADY, even if unconsciously, inhabiting a tautology when this measurement is made. Did we measure the speed using Euclidean Geometry (a metamathematical tautology of quite arbitrary axioms) or NonEuclidean Geometry (a different tautology)? It probably wouldn't matter much on a small scale, but we would discover that, on immense scales, that NonEuclidean geometry gifts us with better predictions. Both geometries 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 in the example above. It is simply too early on humankind's journey to adjudicate between them all. We have not been able to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics yet because these theories 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 nonpropositional commitments 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 articulating MY 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 experience to the structured philosophical and metaphysical speheres because they provide a lingua franca and a rigor to evaluate other's hermeneutics and to then deepen my own self-understanding thru 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 elaborating heterodox 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 its distinctively 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 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 take on disordered appetites, the ignatian treatment of inordinate desires). With a eucharistic hermeneutic of everything as gift, we then see the created order as profoundly incarnational 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 a catholic Christian. How might they be prioritized for different types of nonbelivers? The normative science does not change; where we, first and foremost, turn our attention 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 clarifications are 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 to ultimate 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 what we 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 knowledge propositions, 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 juri and not the quid facti, it is a theological anthropology that uplifts and enlightens us, not some merely positivistic, emergentistic, physicalistic, biologistic account, which, taken alone, 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 authenticate orthodoxy. 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 to transcendence claims at the same time one addresses the infinite regress problem that attends to claims of immanence. In other words, if God is totally transcendent, then the only strategy for increasing descriptive accuracy through affirmations (kataphasis) is the use of analogy, and the weakest form of analogy at that, metaphor. This strategy leaves the question begging as to how such a reality could meaningfully interact with the givens with which we're most familiar (primitives, forces & laws of nature, for example), hence, causal disjunction. If, on the other hand, God is totally immanent, it seems that we must sacrifice our common sense notions of causality to abide with a question begging dismissal of infinite regress. Panentheism seems to at least acknowledge these 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 panentheism is the notion of a creatio continua. In that context, let me introduce (from Wikipedia) two separate parsings of panentheism: a fundamentalist take, panen-theism, which sees God as part of all things but more than the sum of all things; an orthodox parsing, pan-entheism, which sees God indwelling in all things (and which could square with that Whiteheadian-Hartshornean process approach). In my view, the best popularized accounts of the process view have been authored by Jack Haught of Georgetown. You might Google the syntax: +Haught +panentheism Another thing that comes to mind is the idea of kenosis, a Christian article of faith, to be sure, but, in this context, I am thinking of some classic Jewish thought vis a vis creatio ex nihilo where they held that, God, being utter fullness, had to shrink in order to make room for creation. Now, this shrinkage might be broadly construed along the lines of your concern re: omnipotence. At any rate, Jack Haught addresses your concerns directly in what he considers to be an aesthetic teleology, a cosmos striving for beauty. In that approach, one would not view the gap between our essentialistic idealizations and their existential realizations in terms of an ontological rupture located in the past (felix culpa-like, evoking thoughts of atonement) but rather as a teleological striving oriented toward the future. God may be saying: Be patient, I ain't finished with Myself yet. Let me suggest another angle. Because of God's transcendent nature, because it is not always immediately obvious when it is appropriate to speak equivocally or univocally of God and creation, and because our kataphatic affirmations in this or that metaphor are not the only strategy for increasing descriptive accuracy, apophatic negations must be used to further increase descriptive accuracy and they are voiced in the literal sense regarding what God is NOT. Specifically, then, God, analogically and metaphorically, is LIKE what we might conceive to be an omnipotent reality, but God is NOT omnipotent in the same way any creature could be. Rather, in all of God's attributes, S/He is eminently whatever. This dinoysian-like logic dates back to the early Church Fathers. This is highly nuanced but the practical upshot is that the problem you see with any conceptual inconsistencies, in essence, goes away. Yes, this means that when anyone asserts that God is true, good, beautiful, personal, or what have you, that, at bottom, one is using the weakest of metaphors and, in some sense, has only a very meager idea of what one is talking about, effabling, as we are, about the ineffable. I suppose the consolation is that the Reality of which one speaks is so LARGE (ahem, figuratively speaking) that even a meager notion of It's attributes is terribly significant for those who've got a profound existential stake in same. This is not quite as problematical, I suppose, for those of Christian faith, who hold that God's moral nature was revealed in Jesus, Whose metaphysical nature remains, shall we say, rather obscure. Interestingly, folks like Godel and Hartshorne advanced modal ontological arguments. A big problem, as you know, is achieving some type of conceptual compatibility with the God-concepts and attributes that are employed in formal argumentation. When it comes to the logic of properties, in my view, Richard
  • Gale recommends the best strategy, which is to employ only negative terms. (Actually, I first encountered this in pseudo-Dionysius, Origen and the patristic gang.) Hence, when formulating a modal argument, one must employ negative properties for God, what I earlier called apophatic predications. You can see this argument in action here (at infidels.org). The resulting mystical idea of God is precisely the God of the orthodox view, despite protests to the contrary. It may not square up with fundamentalist approaches but I wouldn't bother to defend their notions anyway. As to God as a Ground of Being, I'll toss out another perspective. C.S. Peirce suggested that most argumentation re: God's existence had the status of a fetish. He did not endorse argumentation but distinguished it from argument, which had to do with abduction, or hypothesizing, itself. So, he eschewed argumentation and talk of God's existence and ideas associated like Being. He, instead, preferred to speak of the Reality of God and offered what he called The Neglected Argument for the Reality of God. Peirce had an interesting interpretation of Ockham's Razor. Rather than seeking simplicity, such as parsimony, or some injunctive not to multiply ontologies, he sought the facile. This is not the facile one associates with the simple, but that which one would associate with facility or ease. In this case, a great believer in the adaptive significance of the human abductive faculty, which got so much so right so often, Peirce took great interest in those human hypotheses, which seemed to most easily and spontaneously arise to humankind.   What mostly caught my eye in the OP was: 8. Infinite substance could not have come from nothing, because nothing does not have infinitude. Why reify nothing? Why, implicitly or explicitly, take existence to be a predicate of being? Do tautologies like "Being Exists" add new information to our systems? What if we employ a modal ontology? Well, when true, I think our tautologies can provide heuristic value, acting as meaningful placeholders and bridging concepts for our models of reality. A metaphysic should cash out its value in terms of enhanced modeling power for reality. A metaphysic should pay attention to the givens of reality: primitives (like space, time, mass, energy); forces (the 4); axioms (laws like gravity, thermodynamics, etc). A metaphysic will necessarily "tweak" (add, subtract, blend, amend) these givens even if only by way of suggesting a root metaphor to better relate them. Finding a suitable root metaphor seems very problematical insofar as some prevailing theories remain mutually incommensurable and employ mutually unintelligible concepts. Seems to me that a robust metaphysic would help us to renormalize, oh, for example, quantum mechanics and gravity. One would frame a metaphysic as a falsifiable hypothesis and would hold to it tentatively and fallibilistically. One would be modest in one's application of such a metaphysic, especially when invoking its alleged normative force. The further out in front of theoretical physics a metaphysic runs, the more modest should be its claims and applications. Unfortunately, I have not described the history of metaphysics above. Rather, history reveals a sterile scholasticism, a prioristic syllogisms, essentialism, nominalism, substantialism, logical positivism, radical empiricism, rationalism, idealism, naive realism, causal disjunctions, infinite regressions, circular references, dualisms and other -isms ad nauseum with their mutual occlusivities and much epistemological hubris. I sense a lot of anxiety in some quarters about humankind's ability to ground its moral aspirations absent foundations, absent ontologies, absent a shared metaethic. But think about it. What good are foundations, in and of themselves, in suggesting a more compelling morality, especially given so many conflicting claims by so many different foundationalists? And, even if one believes in absolutes, might one not admit that grasping them is somewhat problematical? that humankind's inexorable march toward THE truth is nonetheless fallible? The practical upshot of this is that, most often, in a pluralistic society, or a globalized setting, we all end up [bracketing] our metaphysics to some extent, prescinding to more of a phenomenological view, agreeing THAT certain (moral and other) realities present while remaining officially agnostic on just exactly how and why they present (not confusing a successful reference for a successful description). And we, nevertheless, reach broad consensus on certain socalled self-evident principles and encode them in such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights or the Declaration of Independence. No one pretends that we have grounded those moral objects in some foundational metaethic prior to codifying them into civil law. Some proceed from deeply felt moral sensibilities and some proceed from what they hold to be absolute pre/proscriptions, but we do proceed, not without rancor and difficulty. And we do, inevitably, talk past one another precisely because our alternate worldviews are sometimes radically incommensurable ("grounded" though they may be). I think we SHOULD ambition a metaphysic (properly conceived, suitably predicated). But I don't wonder why Hilary Putnam suggested a moratorium on same (I forget for how long).   Most atheists have no philosophical comprehension of inductive inference? As a proposition, I'll leave that broadside ad hominem for the social psychologists to sort out. My initial visceral reaction is that it sounds wrongheaded and uncharitable. It does not square with my personal experience, but maybe I've only met the black swans. If there is any virtue to be found in epistemology, and I take it to be inherently normative, myself, then grounding the hermeneutic of a widely held worldview mostly in terms of discomfort seems rather disingenuous and, again, ad hominem. It reminds me of the old Freudian critique with its conclusions embedded in its premises. As I see it, atheism is a critique of theism, broadly conceived. But a critique does not a system make. Alternate worldviews can be defined and described in their own terms without any over against references to one another. In fact, that's one of the most salient observations of the Kuhnian take. This sometimes renders worldviews conceptually incompatible and theoretically incommensurable as competing meta-paradigms. At this point in humankind's journey, we do not know enough about reality to be able to adjudicate between these paradigms via empirical and rational means, via deductive and inductive inference. If sound deductive proof is the gold standard, epistemologically, and inductive inference and its related tools (and falsification is only one of many) is the silver, then I don't propose abandoning them just because our probes of reality remain problematical. Rather, we simply evaluate the major paradigms, reach the Scottish verdict (not proven) for even the best of them, and then must fall back on the bronze coins of our epistemological currency, which include a) the weak inferential step-sister, abduction, b) quasi-inferential arguments from ignorance like reductios, c) aesthetic sensibilities like parsimony and d) many other epistemic coins like external congruence, internal coherence, logical consistency, hypothetical consonance, interdisciplinary consilience, pascalian wagers, manifold pragmatic criteria and, to be sure, psychological temperaments and dispositions, too, insofar as these choices are laden with profound existential import for many. This is all just to say that things are a tad more complicated than proposed in the OP.   I do think that any candidate, in order to be elected, would have to pay some lip service to Faith because it is, to use your words, so entrenched. It seems to me that the manner in which the Enlightenment took hold in the USA actually served to strengthen the influence of religion in the public square. I think this is so because the secularization process resulted in both nonestablishment and free exercise clauses in our 1st Amendment. The Continental Enlightenment experience was not one of mere secularization but was more radically secularistic and tended to, instead, marginalize religion entirely. In my view, the so-called Religious Right has a much greater tendency to religious fundamentalism and many of its members do not seem to fully grasp how the separation of church and state is supposed to work as conceived by our Founders. Given the opportunity, they'd establish their own brand of Christian theocracy if they could. They'd teach creationism in our schools and would use the Bible as the sole moral authority when legislating. Contrastingly, the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's was clearly "Gospel-informed," as was much of the anti-War movement, but these movements weren't tainted by as much fundamentalism and weren't driven by right wing conservative elements. This is just to suggest that there is a right way to be religious and political and, at least that time, the Left got it right. Most Americans, seems to me, pretty much agree on how religion and politics are to relate to each other in a pluralistic society. I think it was Senator Moynihan who said that one is entitled to one's own opinion but not one's own facts. Well, in my view, one is entitled to one's own worldview but not one's own empirical, rational, practical and moral determinations. Those are transparent to human reason, fallible though it is. We need to work those out in an earnest community of inquiry. For various reasons, the Religious Right will have far less influence in the 2008 cycle than in recent history. I hope the role of faith returns to "just right," Goldilocks style, like the Founders intended. What's even more confounding, nowadays, is the lack of philosophical consistency among the different parties and factions, especially their different outlooks on where and when government should be BIG versus small, unleashed versus constrained vis a vis the principle of subsidiarity.   In my view, the problem Hume had with induction was that it was not deduction. Not to be totally glib, what Hume needed to do was to get over it. Induction and abduction are justified pragmatically, not logically. They are intellectually-related strategies to mine certain values from reality, not logically-related strategies; not logical, rather, psycho-logical and eco-logical. Falsification is a psychological event, not a logical event (to summarize Popper's move). This is all to suggest that the POI was once a problem for philosophy but never for science. The philosophical resolution was: Oops! Category error! This would only seem to be a problem for the rationalistic mindset. Some of the dynamics of abduction and induction lend themselves to probability and set theory and Venn diagrams, but those types of inference are even moreso, in my view, the proper subject matter of evolutionary psychology, specifically ecological rationality. These weak forms of inference might be considered among other "fast & frugal heuristics" that impart survival value to the species. While their adaptive significance is undeniable, these hard-wired heuristics of our human open-ended processor-like brains, only provide useful placeholders and hatracks. As such they lend us some descriptive accuracy but only limited predictive accuracy, hence, limited explanatory adequacy. The other difficulty I have in your framing of this issue is that I cannot stipulate to a notion of faith formation/deformation, belief /disbelief, that seems to imply
  • that faith in God and belief in Jesus, either originally or primarily, derive from 1) empirical evidence for the resurrection, 2) eyewitness accounts 3) 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. Further more, items 1-4, comprise a dataset WIDE-open to alternate interpretations, (even by folks sans any pathology or epistemic vice per some accounts like these: Skeptical Investigators).   Below, I listed what I was calling subroutines for the categories of my tetradic heuristic. Some may be cryptic, my mnemonic shorthand, which I can translate later, if you have a question. Most of them are plain enough. Most of the beliefs below that support my heuristics are not justified but are taken, rather, to be basic, which is to say that we cannot prove them, in principle. This is a constellation of beliefs that is intellectually related but not logically related as we navigate our way to value realizations triangulating between their normative, positivistic, paradigmatic and pragmatic positions and dispositions and moderating same through recursive feedback/interplay. Even if we buy into Hans Kung's notions that at least believers can say why it is that they fundamentally trust uncertain reality even as the nihilist cohort has a nowhere anchored and paradoxical fundamental trust in uncertain reality, many counter that believers must fallback on eschatological verification and/or falsification of their various God hypotheses. Not much cash value there. Others yet maintain that orthopraxis authenticates orthodoxy in this temporal realm in terms of successful institutionalization of Lonergan's conversions and that dynamic is theoretically open to falsifiability for all hermeneutics. (Those "conversions" involve intellectual, affective, moral, sociopolitical and religious growth, each independent but all transvaluing the others.) This brings us full circle back to inductive inference and it's recursive interplay with other inferential dynamics. At best, one const