The good order of the soul with which we are concerned here is not simply an ethical or moral perfection. St. John of the Cross is not considering merely
the level of perfection on which men refrain from cheating each other in business, go to Mass on Sundays, give alms now and then to the poor, and lend
their lawnmower to the people next door without even cursing under their breath. pg. 163
But the very fact that all conversions do not have this experiential element and that, indeed, many conversions are hardheaded and "cold," lends weight to the thomistic
argument which distinguishes bare faith from faith illumined by the Gifts. And I may add, parenthetically, that the convert whose faith is emotionally "cold" and is not
inflamed with an element of quasi-mystical experience is not therefore less virtuous or less pleasing in the sight of God. It may, in fact, require great charity to allow
oneself to be led, in spite of temperamental or hereditary disinclination, by force of rational demonstration alone, to an unemotional acceptance of the
faith. pg. 212
13) If we do not try to be perfect in what we write, perhaps it is because we are not writing for God after all. In any case it is depressing that those who serve God and
love him sometimes write so badly, when those who do not believe in Him take pains to write so well. I am not talking about grammar and syntax, but about having
something to say and saying it in sentences that are not half dead. St. Paul and St. Ignatius Martyr did not bother about grammar but they certainly knew how to write.
Imperfection is the penalty of rushing into print. And people who rush into print do so not because they really have anything to say, but because they think it is important
for something by them to be in print. The fact that your subject may be very important in itself does not necessarily mean that what you have written about it is
important. A bad book about the love of God remains a bad book ... [another statement re: johnboy? ouch!]
Thomas Merton, __The Sign of Jonas__, pg. 59
14) In the last book to come to us from the hand of Raissa Maritain, her commentary on the Lord's Prayer, we read the following passage, concerning those who
barely obtain their daily bread, and are deprived of most of the advantages of a decent life on earth by the injustice and thoughtlessness of the privileged: "If there were
fewer wars, less thirst to dominate and exploit others, less national egoism, less egoism of class and caste, if man were more concerned for his brother, and really
wanted to collect together, for the good of the human race, all the resources which science places at his disposal especially today, there would be on earth fewer
populations deprived of their necessary sustenance, there would be fewer children who die or are incurably weakened by undernourishment." ... ... She goes on to ask
what obstacles man has placed in the way of the Gospel that this should be so. It is unfortunately true that those who have complacently imagined themselves blessed
by God have in fact done more than others to frustrate his will.
Thomas Merton, __Contemplative Prayer, pg. 113
Humans journey through life in pursuit of truth, beauty, goodness and unity. We realize these values through ongoing conversions, respectively,
intellectual, affective, moral and social (Cf. Lonergan's thought). Our churches institutionalize these values, respectively, through, creed, cult, code and
As Catholics, we look for guidance in our value-realization strategies in the light of scripture, tradition, magisterium-sensus fidelium, reason (e.g.
philosophy) and experience (e.g. biological & behavioral sciences, individual testimonies).
In the old days, both our social justice and sexual morality teachings relied on approaches based in classicism, natural law and legalism. Nowadays, our
social justice theory employs three new methodologies, respectively, historical consciousness, personalism and relationality-responsibility (Cf. Curran's
thought). Modern Catholic social justice teachings enjoy widespread credibility due to these updated methodologies, which are eminently transparent to
human reason. There is, however, no such thing as modern Catholic teaching in sexual morality. Neither are there any such things as credibility and
transparency regarding same, neither among the faithful nor in secular society.
On the surface, there are value-realization strategies available under the old methodologies that could impart hope to all on many diverse issues
pertaining both to gender and to sexual behaviors. For starters, we could more broadly conceive the definitions of such values as procreativity and
complementarity, such that they are not so physicalistic, realizing that there are manifold other ways to celebrate being created co-creators and to
realize unitive values. We could draw a distinction between generative functions and life issues (Cf. Haring's thought) and then establish a parvity of
value for sexual moral objects, such that masturbation would not be as serious as murder, for example. We could draw a distinction between our
essentialistic idealizations and their very problematical existential realizations and thus cut homosexuals some "pastoral sensitivity slack" as was done
with married couples vis a vis the rhythm method.
The problem is, however, that there needs to be a wholesale paradigm shift from the old methodologies to the new, wherein some old terms and
definitions and logics will receive new vitality while others will be revealed as meaningless, incommensurable and incoherent. (It is beyond my present
scope to suggest which terms and logics will suffer or enjoy which fate, but I have my sneaking suspicions regarding “intrinsic disorder.”)
Accordingly, as we look for guidance in our value-realization strategies pertaining to gender and sexual behavior, employing a much more robust
historical consciousness, personalism and relationality-responsibility model, I want to know why anyone should turn solely (or even first and foremost) to
scripture, tradition and the magisterium?
Especially regarding moral realities, then, which are transparent to human reason, we must also turn to that aspect of the teaching office known as the
sensus fidelium, and also must turn to reason (e.g. philosophy) and to experience (e.g. biological & behavioral sciences, individual testimonies). If we fail
to make these moves and take these turns, we are failing to be either catholic or Catholic. Also, our arguments will lack normative impetus in the Public
Square, where we need more than “the Bible tells me so” or the Koran, as the case may be, to urge legislative remedies on the body politic.
Discipline, Doctrine or Dogma? the Roman-Anglican CATHOLIC Dialogue
I like to think of liberal and conservative, progressive and traditionalist, in terms of charisms, something analogous to pilgrims and settlers. And there is
room for the via media, the middle path, something analogous to bridge-builders, which might be the loneliest and most difficult for, as Richard Rohr
observes, they get walked on by folks coming from both directions.
Unfortunately, too much of what we see is nowadays is better described in terms of maximalism, minimalism and a/historicism. I'll unpack those terms
below. Too many so-called progressives consider essential and core teachings as accidental and peripheral; too many so-called traditionalists consider
accidental and peripheral teachings as essential and core. In essentials, unity; in accidentals, diversity; in all things, charity. (attributed to Augustine)
Ormond Rush writes, in Determining Catholic Orthodoxy: Monologue or Dialogue (PACIFICA 12 (JUNE 1999): "The patristic scholar Rowan Williams
speaks of 'orthodoxy as always lying in the future'".
(see http://tinyurl.com/2p5q7w for the article)
Rush continues: Mathematicians talk of an asymptotic line that continually approaches a given curve but does not meet it at a finite distance. Somewhat
like those two lines, ressourcement and aggiornamento never meet; the meeting point always lies ahead of the church as it moves forward in history.
Orthodoxy, in that sense, lies always in the future. Christian truth is eschatological truth. The church must continually wait on the Holy Spirit to lead it to
the fullness of truth. Ressourcement and aggiornamento will only finally meet at that point when history ends at the fullness of time. “For now we see in a
mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12)
To unpack this meaning further, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ressourcement
In that Pacifica article, Rush draws distinctions between: 1) revelation as propositional, where faith is primarily assent and revelation as personalist,
where faith is the response of the whole person in loving self-surrender to God; 2) verbal orthodoxy and lived orthopraxy; 3) the Christological and
pneumatological; 4) hierarchical ecclesiology and communio ecclesiology; and 5) monologic notion of authority evoking passive obedience and dialogic
notion of authority evoking active obedience.
Rush then describes the extremes of on one hand,
1) dogmatic maximalism, where all beliefs are given equal weight;
2) magisterial maximalism, where the ecclesial magisterium, alone, has access to the Holy Spirit;
3) dogmatic ahistoricism, where God's meaning and will are fixed and clear to be seen;
and, on the other hand,
1) dogmatic minimalism, where all dogmatic statements are equally unimportant;
2) magisterial minimalism, where communal guidance in interpretation is superfluous;
3) dogmatic historicism, with an unmitigated relativist position regarding human knowledge.
Rush finally describes and commends a VIA MEDIA between the positions.
He notes that the church does not call the faithful that we may believe in dogma, doctrine and disciplines but, rather, to belief in God.
He describes how statements vary in relationship to the foundation of faith vis a vis a Hierarchy of Truth and thus have different weight:
to be believed as divinely revealed;
to be held as definitively proposed;
or as nondefinitively taught and requiring obsequium religiosum (see discussion below re: obsequium).
The faithful reception of revelation requires interplay between the different "witnesses" of revelation: scripture, tradition, magisterium, sensus fidelium,
theological scholarship, including reason (philosophy) and experience (biological & behavioral sciences, personal testimonies, etc).
Rush thus asks: "How does the Holy Spirit guarantee orthodox traditioning of the Gospel? According to Dei Verbum, 'the help of the Holy Spirit' is
manifested in the activity of three distinguishable yet overlapping groups of witnesses to the Gospel: the magisterium, the whole people of God, and
theologians. The Holy Spirit guides each group of witnesses in different ways and to different degrees; but no one alone has possession of the Spirit of
Rush further asks: "The determination of orthodoxy needs to address questions concerning the issue of consensus in each of these three authorities.
What constitutes a consensus among theologians and how is it to be ascertained? What constitutes a consensus among the one billion Catholics
throughout the world and how is it to be ascertained? What constitutes a collegial consensus among the bishops of the world with the pope, and how is
that consensus to be ascertained?"
As for obsequium religiosum, from http://www.womenpriests.org/teaching/orsy3_2.asp
where it is written:
"Accordingly, the duty to offer obsequium may bind to respect, or to submission—or to any other attitude between the two."
"When the council spoke of religious obsequium it meant an attitude toward the church which is rooted in the virtue of religion, the love of God and the
love of his church. This attitude in every concrete case will be in need of further specification, which could be 'respect', or could be 'submission,'
depending on the progress the church has made in clarifying its own beliefs. ... [W]e can speak of obsequium fidei (one with the believing church holding
firm to a doctrine) ... [or] an obsequium religiosum (one with the searching church, working for clarification)."
Thus, on matters of dogma, I give obsequium fidei, and unqualified assent (or submission); this includes the creeds, the sacraments, the approach to
scripture. On matters of moral doctrine and church discipline, I give my deference (or respect), even as I dissent, out of loyalty, on many issues: married
priests, women's ordination, eucharistic sharing, obligatory confession, various moral teachings re: so-called gravely, intrinsic disorders of human
sexuality; artificial contraception, etc.
Discipline, Doctrine & Dogma
I once strongly considered converting from Roman to Anglican Catholic, likely agonizing as much as Newman, who converted in the opposite direction. How
many times have progressive Roman Catholics been sarcastically urged to go ahead and convert by various fundamentalistic traditionalists since our
beliefs were "not in keeping with the faith?"
After all, while there has never been an infallible papal pronouncement to which I could not give my wholehearted assent, I otherwise do adamantly disagree
with many hierarchical positions such as regarding a married priesthood, women priests, obligatory confession, eucharistic sharing, divorce and
remarriage, artificial contraception, various so-called grave & intrinsic moral disorders of human sexuality or any indubitable and a priori definitions
employed vis a vis human personhood and theological anthropology.
At times, I truly have wondered if I belonged to Rome or Canterbury, and I suspect many of you have, too, and, perhaps, still do? My short answer is: You're
already home; take a look around ...
In other words, for example, take a look, below, at some excerpts from the September 2007 report of the International Anglican - Roman Catholic
Commission for Unity and Mission: Growing Together in Unity and Mission: Building on 40 years of Anglican - Roman Catholic Dialogue.
Does anyone see any differences in essential dogma? Are some of you not rather surprised at the extent of agreement, especially given the nature of
Are our differences not rather located in such accidentals as matters of church discipline or in such moral teachings where Catholics can exercise
legitimate choices in their moral decision-making? (To be sure, there
has been a creeping infallibility in such differences but there have never been infallible pronouncements regarding same.)
"As we shall see, reputable theologians defend positions on moral issues contrary to the official teaching of the Roman magisterium. If Catholics have the
right to follow such options, they must have the right to know that the options exist. It is wrong to attempt to conceal such knowledge from Catholics. It is
wrong to present the official teachings, in Rahner's words, as though there were no doubt whatever about their definitive correctness
and as though further discussion about the matter by Catholic theologians would be inappropriate....To deprive Catholics of the knowledge of legitimate
choices in their moral decision-making, to insist that moral issues are closed when actually they are still open, is itself immoral." See: “Probabilism: The
Right to Know of Moral Options”, which is the third chapter of __Why You Can Disagree and Remain a Faithful Catholic__ and available online at
For those who have neither the time nor inclination for a long post, you can safely consider the above as an executive summary. My conclusion is that we
belong neither to Rome nor Canterbury, but to the Perfector and Finisher of our faith. And I'm going to submit to
ever-ongoing finishing by blooming where I was planted among my family, friends and co-religionists, enjoying the very special communion between our
Anglican, Roman and Orthodox traditions, the special fellowship of all my Christian sisters and brothers, and the general fellowship of all persons of
I gathered these excerpts together to highlight and summarize the report but recognize these affirmations should not be taken out of context. So, I made this
url where the entire document can be accessed: http://tinyurl.com/35p69h
to foster the wide study of these agreed statements.
Below is my heavily redacted summary.
In reflecting on our faith together it is vital that all bishops ensure that the Agreed Statements of ARCIC are widely studied in both Communions.
The constitutive elements of ecclesial communion include: one faith, one baptism, the one Eucharist, acceptance of basic moral values, a ministry of
oversight entrusted to the episcopate with collegial and primatial dimensions, and the episcopal ministry of a universal primate as the visible focus of unity.
God desires the visible unity of all Christian people and that such unity is itself part of our witness.
Through this theological dialogue over forty years Anglicans and Roman Catholics have grown closer together and have come to see that what they hold in
common is far greater than those things in which they differ.
In liturgical celebrations, we regularly make the same trinitarian profession of faith in the form of the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene-Constantinopolitan
In approaching Scripture, the Christian faithful draw upon the rich diversity of methods of reading and interpretation used throughout the Church’s history
(e.g. historical-critical, exegetical, typological, spiritual, sociological, canonical). These methods, which all have
value, have been developed in many different contexts of the Church’s life, which need to be recalled and respected.
The Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church recognise the baptism each confers.
Anglicans and Catholics agree that the full participation in the Eucharist, together with Baptism and Confirmation, completes the sacramental process of
We agree that the Eucharist is the memorial (anamnesis) of the crucified and risen Christ, of the entire work of reconciliation God has accomplished in him.
Anglicans and Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
While Christ is present and active in a variety of ways in the entire eucharistic celebration, so that his presence is not limited to the consecrated elements,
the bread and wine are not empty signs: Christ’s body and blood become really present and are really given in these
We agree that the Eucharist is the “meal of the Kingdom”, in which the Church gives thanks for all the signs of the coming Kingdom.
We agree that those who are ordained have responsibility for the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Roman Catholics and Anglicans share this agreement concerning the ministry of the whole people of God, the distinctive ministry of the ordained, the
threefold ordering of the ministry, its apostolic origins, character and succession, and the ministry of oversight.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics agree that councils can be recognised as authoritative when they express the common faith and mind of the Church,
consonant with Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition.
Primacy and collegiality are complementary dimensions of episcope, exercised within the life of the whole Church. (Anglicans recognise the ministry of the
Archbishop of Canterbury in precisely this way.)
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the ministry of the Bishop of Rome as universal primate is in accordance with Christ’s will for the Church and an
essential element for maintaining it in unity and truth. Anglicans rejected the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome as universal primate in the sixteenth century.
Today, however, some Anglicans are beginning to see the potential value of a ministry of universal primacy, which would be exercised by the Bishop of
Rome, as a sign and focus of unity within a re-united Church.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics both believe in the indefectibility of the Church, that the Holy Spirit leads the Church into all truth.
Both Anglicans and Catholics acknowledge that private confession before a priest is a means of grace and an effective declaration of the forgiveness of
Christ in response to repentance.
Throughout its history the Church has sought to be faithful in following Christ’s command to heal, and this has inspired countless acts of ministry in medical
and hospital care. Alongside this physical ministry, both traditions have continued to exercise the sacramental ministry of anointing.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics share similar ways of moral reasoning.
Both Communions speak of marriage as a covenant and a vocation to holiness and see it in the order of creation as both sign and reality of God’s faithful
All generations of Anglicans and Roman Catholics have called the Virgin Mary ‘blessed’.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics agree that it is impossible to be faithful to Scripture without giving due attention to the person of Mary.
Genuine faith is more than assent: it is expressed in action.
Given our mutual recognition of one another’s baptism, a number of practical initiatives are possible. Local churches may consider developing joint
programmes for the formation of families when they present children for baptism, as well as preparing common catechetical resources for use in baptismal
and confirmation preparation and in Sunday Schools.
Given the significant extent of our common understanding of the Eucharist, and the central importance of the Eucharist to our faith, we encourage
attendance at each other’s Eucharists, respecting the different disciplines of our churches.
We also encourage more frequent joint non-eucharistic worship, including celebrations of faith, pilgrimages, processions of witness (e.g. on Good Friday),
and shared public liturgies on significant occasions. We encourage those who pray the daily office to explore how celebrating daily prayer together can
reinforce their common mission.
We welcome the growing Anglican custom of including in the prayers of the faithful a prayer for the Pope, and we invite Roman Catholics to pray regularly in
public for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leaders of the Anglican Communion.
We note the close similarities of Anglican and Roman Catholic lectionaries which make it possible to foster joint bible study groups based upon the Sunday
There are numerous theological resources that can be shared, including professional staff, libraries, and formation and study programmes for clergy and
Wherever possible, ordained and lay observers can be invited to attend each other’s synodical and collegial gatherings and conferences.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics share a rich heritage regarding the place of religious orders in ecclesial life. There are religious communities in both of our
Communions that trace their origins to the same founders (e.g. Benedictines and Franciscans). We encourage the
continuation and strengthening of relations between Anglican and Catholic religious orders, and acknowledge the particular witness of monastic
communities with an ecumenical vocation.
There are many areas where pastoral and spiritual care can be shared. We acknowledge the benefit derived from many instances of spiritual direction
given and received by Anglicans to Catholics and Catholics to Anglicans.
We recommend joint training where possible for lay ministries (e.g. catechists, lectors, readers, teachers, evangelists). We commend the sharing of the
talents and resources of lay ministers, particularly between local Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes. We note the
potential for music ministries to enrich our relations and to strengthen the Church’s outreach to the wider society, especially young people.
We encourage joint participation in evangelism, developing specific strategies to engage with those who have yet to hear and respond to the Gospel.
We invite our churches to consider the development of joint Anglican/Roman Catholic church schools, shared teacher training programmes and
contemporary religious education curricula for use in our schools.
END OF EXCERPTS regarding stated agreements
Below are excerpts recognizing DIVERGENCES regarding: 1) papal and teaching authority 2) the recognition and validity of Anglican Orders and ministries
3) ordination of women 4) eucharistic sharing 5) obligatory confession 6) divorce and remarriage 7) the precise moment a human person is formed 8)
methods of birth control 9) homosexual activity and 10) human sexuality.
BEGIN EXCERPTS regarding stated disagreements:
While already we can affirm together that universal primacy, as a visible focus of unity, is “a gift to be shared”, able to be “offered and received even before
our Churches are in full communion”, nevertheless serious questions remain for Anglicans regarding the nature and
jurisdictional consequences of universal primacy.
There are further divergences in the way in which teaching authority in the life of the Church is exercised and the authentic tradition is discerned.
In his Apostolic Letter on Anglican Orders, Apostolicae Curae (1896), Pope Leo XIII ruled against the validity of Anglican Orders. The question of validity
remains a fundamental obstacle to the recognition of Anglican ministries by the Catholic Church. In the light of the
agreements on the Eucharist and ministry set out both in the ARCIC statements and in the official responses of both Communions, there is evidence that
we have a common intention in ordination and in the celebration of the Eucharist. This awareness would have to be part of any fresh evaluation of Anglican
Anglicans and Roman Catholics hold that there is an inextricable link between Eucharist and Ministry. Without recognition and reconciliation of ministries,
therefore, it is not possible to realise the full impact of our common understanding of the Eucharist.
The twentieth century saw much discussion across the whole Christian family on the question of the ordination of women. The Roman Catholic Church
points to the unbroken tradition of the Church in not ordaining women. Indeed, Pope John Paul II expressed the conviction that “the Church has no authority
whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women”. After careful reflection and debate, a growing number of Anglican Churches have
proceeded to ordain women to the presbyterate and some also to the episcopate.
Churches of the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church therefore have different disciplines for eucharistic sharing. The Catholic Church
does not permit the Catholic faithful to receive the Eucharist from, nor Catholic clergy to concelebrate with, those whose
ministry has not been officially recognised by the Catholic Church. Anglican provinces regularly admit to communion baptised believers who are
communicant members from other Christian communities.
Despite our common moral foundations, serious disagreements on specific issues exist, some of which have emerged in the long period of our separation.
Anglicans and Catholics have a different practice in respect of private confession. “The Reformers’ emphasis on the direct access of the sinner to the
forgiving and sustaining Word of God led Anglicans to reject the view that private confession before a priest was obligatory, although they continued to
maintain that it was a wholesome means of grace, and made provision for it in the Book of Common Prayer for those with an unquiet and sorely troubled
conscience.” Anglicans express this discipline in the short formula ‘all may, none must, some should’.
Whilst both Communions recognise that marriage is for life, both have also had to recognise the failure of many marriages in reality. For Roman Catholics,
it is not possible however to dissolve the marriage bond once sacramentally constituted because of its indissoluble
character, as it signifies the covenantal relationship of Christ with the Church. On certain grounds, however, the Catholic Church recognises that a true
marriage was never contracted and a declaration of nullity may be granted by the proper authorities. Anglicans have been willing to recognise divorce
following the breakdown of a marriage, and in recent years, some Anglican Churches have set forth circumstances in which they are prepared to allow
partners from an earlier marriage to enter into another marriage.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics share the same fundamental teaching concerning the mystery of human life and the sanctity of the human person, but they
differ in the way in which they develop and apply this fundamental moral teaching. Anglicans have no agreed teaching concerning the precise moment from
which the new human life developing in the womb is to be given the full protection due to a human person. Roman Catholic teaching is that the human
embryo must be treated as a human person from the moment of conception and rejects all direct abortion.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics agree that there are situations when a couple would be morally justified in avoiding bringing children into being. They are
not agreed on the method by which the responsibility of parents is exercised.
Catholic teaching holds that homosexual activity is intrinsically disordered and always objectively wrong. Strong tensions have surfaced within the Anglican
Communion because of serious challenges from within some Provinces to the traditional teaching on human
sexuality which was expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
In the discussions on human sexuality within the Anglican Communion, and between it and the Catholic Church, stand anthropological and biblical
hermeneutical questions which need to be addressed.
END OF EXCERPTS regarding stated disagreements, some of which seem rather incoherent once considering certain of the agreements (for example,
not recognizing Anglican Orders and ministries! Gimme a break!!!).
So, with the above caveats in mind, practically speaking, below are some criteria I have gathered for a fallibilistic attempt at a Theory of Everything:
1) Looking for an explanation in common sensical terms of causation is not unreasonable.
2) Looking around at the whole of reality and wondering who, what, when, where, how and why re: any given part of it or re: reality as a whole is a
3) Almost everyone comes up with an abduction of God (or per CSP, an argument, by which he simply means a god hypothesis) or some other-named primal
cause of it all.
4) Some use a substance approach, describing all of reality in those thomistic-aristotelian terms like form, substance, esse, essence and with nuances like
analogy of being. It doesn't have explanatory adequacy in terms of leading to a universally compelling proof through formal argument in tandem with
empirical experience because, by the time we have suitably predicated a god-concept, the dissimilarities and discontinuities between God and creature so far
outnumber the similarities that a causal disjunction paradox is introduced. How can a Cause so unrelated to other causes and not at all explicable in
intelligible terms vis a vis other causes really, effectively, efficaciously truly effect anything. Also, substance approaches are too essentialistic, as they were
classically conceived, iow, too static. This has been addressed with substance-process approaches but these still suffer the causal disjunct.
5) Some describe reality dynamically interms of process and fall into nominalism, violating our common sense experience of reality as truly representative of
real meaning. They account for process and dynamics but do not account for content that is communicated. These explanations, especially if materialist or
idealist monisms also tend to fall into an infinte regress of causes. The only way to stop them is with some type of ontological discontinuity, which introduces
the old causal disjunct.
6) Some, seeing this conundrum, with the causal disjuncts and essentialisms of substance approaches and the infinite regressions and nominalism of process
approaches, and with the a prioristic context in which they are grounded, prescind from such metaphysics or ontologies to a semiotic approach which then
avoids nominalism by providing both a dynamic process and content (meaning) and which avoids essentialism by being dynamic. It also avoids a causal
disjunction since all of reality is not framed up in terms of substance and being but rather in semiotic and modal terms, such as sign, interpreter, syntax,
symbol, such as possible, actual, necessary and probable. To prescind from these other metaphysical perspectives does solve a host of problems and does
eliminate many mutual occlusivities and unintelligibilities and paradoxes, but it still levaes the question begging as to the origin of things like chance,
probability, necessity. IOW, one inescapably must get ontological again to satisfy the human curiosity, not wrongheaded, imo, with respect to causal
inferences that naturally arise and which, in fact, ground our scientific method and epistemologies. Why? Well, because causes must be proportionate and
whatever or whomever or however the Cause of causes, of chances, of probabilities is --- is then like the semiotic process and modal realities we can
describe in many ways but necessarily unlike them in many more ways.
7) Still, Peirce may be right insofar as he suggests that going beyond this simple abduction to a more exhuastive description of the putative deity is a fetish
(we can't help ourselves), there is a great deal of useful info (pragmatic maxim or cash-value) to be gathered from the analogies we might then draw from the
semiotic and modal similarities that do exist. God is thus intelligible, not to be confused with comprehensible.
8) So, my thoughts are that we cannot get away from a) some type of substance approach, from ontology, from being, from esse ... if we are to address the
paradox of infinite regress b) some type of process approach, if we are to avoid essentialism and causal disjunctions and c) some type of semiotic approach, if
we are to avoid nominalism and account for meaning and communicative content and d) some type of theistic approach, if we are to avoid leaving the
questions of origin begging and if we are going to preserve our common sensical notions of classical causality, upon which much of our community of inquiry
depends, such as re: scientific method.
9) This does not mean we can syncretistically and facilely combine these above approaches into some master paradigm of semitoic-substance-process
panentheism. There is a problem of renormalization, which is to say that they often employ mutually incompatible and contradictory terms and approaches,
analogously speaking, sometimes using noneuclidean geometry, sometimes base 2, sometimes spatialized time, sometimes temporalized space, sometimes
imaginary numbers. It is analogous to the same project that would try to combine quantum mechanics with general and special relativity to describe quantum
gravity. It is not just analogous to this renormalization in physics required before a TOE is contrived, the normalization of physical theories would itself be part
of the TOE we are working on!
10) What happens then is that by the time we finish renormalizing all of our theories, predicating and defining and nuancing and disambiguating all of our
concepts, we will have effectively generated a novel language with its own grammar, its own terms ... and it will be so arcane and esoteric and
inaccessible ... it would be like reading something that fellow johnboy wrote, when he was relating his latest interpretation of Thomas Merton as seen
through a kurt-vonnegutian hermeneutic.
11) All of the above notwithstanding, this TOE project is fun and we can glimpse enough insight from it to inform our theological anthropologies and formative
All I have done thus far hereinabove is to get us to some metaphysical deity. What might be Her attributes?
1) To describe Reality, devise an Architectonic/Organon of Human Knowledge of Environing Realities, which would include ourselves.
2) To describe ourselves, devise such an account as would include the Human Knowledge Manifold as an Environed Reality, which would include both
evaluative and rational continuua.
3) When devising a model of epistemic virtue (values), avoid the usual (and many) overworked distinctions and employ the very real but often under-
4) In our modal arguments for this or that reality, we must rigorously define and disambiguate our terms. Employ such criteria that, if met, will guarantee
the conceptual compatibility of any attributes we employ in our conceptualizations of this or that reality. In order to be conceptually compatible, while, at the
same time, avoiding any absurdities of parodied logic, attributes must not be logically impossible to coinstantiate in our arguments and they must also be
described in terms that define a reality's negative properties. For an example, see: http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=47897 and use your
edit/find browser facility to scroll down quickly to the first occurrence of the word “negativity” and then also for the name of philosopher “Richard Gale”
5) In defining such attributes as will describe the various aspects of this or that reality, we must draw the proper distinctions between those aspects that
are predicated a) univocally b) equivocally or c) relationally vis a vis other realities. Univocal is defined as having one meaning only. Equivocal means subject
to two or more interpretations. These accounts necessarily utilize some terms univocally and others equivocally. The equivocal can be either simply equivocal
or analogical. The analogical can be attributive (if real causes and effects are invoked) or proportional (if we are invoking similarities in the relationships
between two different pairs of terms). If such an similarity is essential to those terms we have a proper proportionality but if it is accidental we have an
improper proportionality, a metaphor. And we use a lot of metaphors, even in physics, and they all eventually collapse.
6) In our attempts to increase our descriptive accuracy of this or that reality, we must be clear whether we are proceeding through a) affirmation
[kataphatically, the via positiva] b) negation [apophatically, the via negativa] or c) eminence [unitively, neither kataphatically nor apophatically but, rather,
equivocally]. We must be clear whether we are proceeding a) metaphorically b) literally or c) analogically [affirming the metaphorical while invoking further
dissimilarities].The best examples can be found in the book described at this url = http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/0-271-01937-9.html , Reality and
Mystical Experience by F. Samuel Brainard.
7) We must be clear regarding our use of First Principles: a) noncontradiction b) excluded middle c) identity d) reality's intelligibility e) human
intelligence f) the existence of other minds and such. See Robert Lane’s discussion: http://www.digitalpeirce.fee.unicamp.br/lane/p-prilan.htm
8) We must be mindful of godelian (and godelian-like) constraints on our argumentation: a) complete accounts in formal systems are necessarily
inconsistent b) consistent accounts in formal systems are necessarily incomplete and c) we can model the rules but cannot explain them within their own
formal symbol system [must re-axiomatize, which is to say prove them in yet another system, at the same time, suggesting we can, indeed, see the truth of
certain propositions that we cannot otherwise prove]. We thus distinguish between local and global explanatory attempts, models of partial vs total reality.See
9) We must employ semantical [epistemological] vagueness, such that for attributes a) univocally predicated, excluded middle holds and
noncontradiction folds b) equivocally predicated, both excluded middle and noncontradiction hold and c) relationally predicated, noncontradiction holds and
excluded middle folds. Ergo, re: First Principles, you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run. See
Robert Lane’s discussion: http://www.digitalpeirce.fee.unicamp.br/lane/p-prilan.htm
10) We must understand and appreciate the integral nature of the humanknowledge manifold (with evaluative and rational continuua) and Lonergan's
sensation, abstraction & judgment: sensation & perception, emotion & motivation, learning & memory, intuition & cognition, non- & pre-inferential, abductive
inference, inductive inference, deductive inference and deliberation.
11) We must appreciate and understand the true efficacy of: abduction, fast & frugal decision-making, ecological rationality, evolutionary rationality,
pragmatic rationality, bounded rationality, common sense; also of both propositional and doxastic justification, and affective judgment: both aesthetic and
prudential, the latter including both pragmatic and moral affective judgment. See http://www.free-definition.com/Abduction-(logic).html
12) We must draw the distinction between peircean argument (abduction, hypothesis generation) and argumentation (inductive & deductive
13) We must draw a distinction between partial apprehension of a reality and total comprehension of a reality.
14) We must employ dialectical analysis, properly discerning where our different accounts of this or that reality a) agree b) converge c) complement or d)
dialectically reverse. We must distinguish between this dialectic and hegelian synthesis and resist false irenicism, facile syncretism and insidious
indifferentism, while exercising due care in our attempts to map conceptualizations from one account onto another. Also, we should employ our scholastic
distinctions: im/possible, im/plausible, im/probable and un/certain.
15) We must distinguish between the different types of paradox encountered in our various attempts to describe this or that reality a) veridical b)
falsidical c) conditional and d) antinomial. We must recognize that all metaphysics are fatally flawed and that their root metaphors will eventually collapse in
true antinomial paradox of a) infinite regress b) causal disjunction or c) circular referentiality [ipse dixit - stipulated beginning or petitio - question
begging]. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox
16) As part and parcel of the isomorphicity implied in our epistemological vagueness, we must employ ontological vagueness, which is to say that we
must prescind from the necessary to the probable in our modal logic. This applies to the dance between chance & necessity, pattern & paradox, random &
systematic, order & chaos.See http://uhavax.hartford.edu/moen/PeirceRev2.html and the distinctions between necessary and non-necessary reasonings and
also probable deductions.
17) We must properly integrate our classical causal distinctions such that the axiological/teleological [instrumental & formal] mediates between the
epistemological [formal] and cosmological/ontological [efficient/material]. These comprise a process and not rather discrete events.This follows the grammar
that the normative sciences mediate between our phenomenology and our metaphysics. See
18) We must recognize the idea of emergence is mostly a heuristic device inasmuch as it has some descriptive accuracy but only limited predictive,
hence, explanatory adequacy. It predicts novelty but cannot specify its nature. Supervenience is even more problematical, trivial when described as weak
(and usually associated with strong emergence), question begging re: reducibility when described as strong (and usually associated with weak
19) We must avoid all manner of dualisms, essentialism, nominalism and a priorism as they give rise to mutual occlusivities and mutual unintelligibilities
in our arguments and argumentations. The analogia relata (of process-experience approaches, such as the peircean and neoplatonic triadic relational) that is
implicit in the triadic grammar of all of the above-described distinctions and rubrics can mediate between the analogia antis (of linguistic approaches, such as
the scotistic univocity of being) and the analogia entis (of substance approaches, such as the thomistic analogy of being). This includes such triads as
proodos (proceeding), mone (resting) and epistrophe (return) of neoplatonic dionysian mysticism. It anticipates such distinctions as a) the peircean distinction
between objective reality and physical reality b) the scotistic formal distinction c) the thomistic distinction between material and immaterial substance, all of
which imply nonphysical causation without violating physical causal closure, all proleptical, in a sense, to such concepts as memes, Baldwinian evolution,
biosemiotics, etc See http://consc.net/biblio/3.html
20) We must avoid the genetic and memetic fallacies of Dawkins and Dennett and the computational fallacies of other cognitive scientists, all as
described by Deacon.See http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/epc/srb/srb/10-3edit.html
21) We must denominate the "cash value" of getting our metaphysics correct in terms of the accuracy of our anthropologies and psychologies because
getting our descriptive and normative accounts correct is preliminary to properly conducting our evaluative attempts, which will then inform the prescriptions
we devise for an ailing humanity and cosmos, rendering such prescriptions efficacious, inefficacious, and even harmful. This signals the importance of the
dialogues between science, religion, philosophy and the arts. Further regarding “cash value” and the “pragmatic maxim” and all it might entail, asking what
difference this or that metaphysical, epistemological or scientific supposition might make, if it were true or not, can clarify our thinking, such as better
enabling us to discern the circular referentiality of a tautology, e.g. taking existence as a predicate of being (rather than employing a concept such as
22) We must carefully nuance the parsimony we seek from Occam's Razor moreso in terms of the facility and resiliency of abduction and not
necessarily in terms of complexity, honoring what we know from evolutionary psychology about human abductive and preinferential process.See
http://www.digitalpeirce.fee.unicamp.br/p-scifor.htm See http://kybele.psych.cornell.edu/~edelman/Psych-214-Fall-2000/w7-3-outline.text
23) At wits end, confronted with ineluctable paradox, in choosing the most compelling metaphysic, there is always the reductio ad absurdum. And
remember, whatever is going on in analytical philosophy, semeiotics and linguistics, you can know thus much is true: A single, even small, thermonuclear
explosion can ruin your whole day.
24) Regarding multiverse accounts, Polkinghorne rejects any notion that science can say anything about same if science is careful and scrupulous
about what science can actually say, and this may be true, but it does seem that such an explanatory attempt can be indirectly determined at least
consonant with what we are able to directly observe and/or indirectly measure (thinking of Max Tegmark's ideas). It is plausible, for example, insofar as it is
an attempt to explain the apparent anthropic fine-tuning.
25) Importantly, not all human knowledge is formal, which is what so much of the above has been about!
26) The major philosophical traditions can be described and distinguished by their postures toward idealism & realism, rationalism & empiricism, which
are related to their various essentialisms and nominalisms, which can all be more particularly described in terms of what they do with the PEM (excluded
middle) and PNC (noncontradiction) as they consider peircean 1ns, 2ns and 3ns, variously holding or folding these First Principles as they move from univocal
to equivocal and relational predications.
27) With the peircean perspective taken as normative, PEM holds for 1ns and 2ns and PNC holds for 2ns and 3ns (hence, PNC folds for 1ns and PEM
folds for 3ns).
28) In a nominalistic perspective, PNC folds for 3ns and classical notions of causality and continuity are incoherent.
29) In an essentialistic perspective, PNC properly holds for 3ns but PEM is erroneously held for 3ns, suggesting that modal logic drives algorithmically
toward the necessary and not, rather, the probable.
30) The nominalist’s objection to essentialism’s modal logic of the necessary in 3ns is warranted but folding PNC in 3ns is the wrong response,
rendering all notions of causality incoherent.. The essentialist’s objection to nominalism’s denial of any modal logic in 3ns is warranted but holding PEM in
3ns is the wrong response, investing reality with an unwarranted determinacy. The peircean affirmation of PNC in 3ns and denial of PEM in 3ns resolves such
incoherency with a modal logic of probability and draws the proper distinctions between the univocal, equivocal and relational predications, the univocal folding
PNC in 1ns, the equivocal folding PEM in 3ns and the relational holding PNC and PEM in 2ns.
31) The platonic rationalist-realist perspective is impaired by essentialism. The kantian rationalist-idealist perspective is impaired by both essentialism
and nominalism. The humean empiricist idealist perspective is impaired by nominalism. The aristotelian empiricist realist perspective, with a nuanced
hylomorphism, is not impaired by essentialism or nominalism but suffers from substantialism due to its atomicity, which impairs relationality. Finally, even a
process-relational-substantial approach must make the scotistic/peircean formal distinction between objective reality and physical reality. Radically
deconstructive, analytical, and even pragmatist, approaches seize upon the folding of PNC in 1ns and then run amok in denying PNC in 3ns and sometimes
even 2ns. Phenomenologists bracket these metaphysical considerations. Existentialists argue over what precedes what, existence vs essence, losing sight
of their necessary coinstantiation in 2ns in physical reality and failing to draw the proper distinction between the objective reality of an attribute (its abstraction
& objectification) and the physical reality where it is integrally instantiated. Neither essence nor existence precedes the other in physical reality; they always
arrive at the scene together and inextricably intertwined.
32) The peircean grammar draws necessary distinctions between univocal, equivocal and relational predications of different aspects of reality but, in so
doing, is a heuristic that does not otherwise predict the precise nature or degree of univocity, equivocity or relationality between those aspects. In that sense,
it is like emergentism, which predicts novelty but does not describe its nature or degree. To that extent, it no more resolves philosophy of mind questions, in
particular, than it does metaphysical questions, in general. What it does is help us to think more clearly about such issues placing different perspectives in
dialogue, revealing where it is they agree, converge, complement and disagree. Further, it helps us better discern the nature of the paradoxes that our
different systems encounter: veridical, falsidical, conditional and antinomial, and why it is our various root metaphors variously extend or collapse in
describing different aspects of reality. It doesn’t predict or describe the precise nature of reality’s givens in terms of primitives, forces and axioms but does
help us locate how and where univocal, equivocal and relational predications are to be applied to such givens by acting as a philosophical lingua franca
between different perspectives and accounts. Where are reality’s continuities and discontinuities in terms of givens? The peircean grammar speaks to how
they are related in terms of 1ns, 2ns and 3ns but not with respect to nature or origin or to what extent or degree (if for no other reason that not all phenomena
are equally probable, in terms of 3ns). Is consciousness a primitive along with space, time, mass and charge? Is it emergent? epiphenomenal? explained by
Dennett? described by Penrose? a hard problem as per Chalmers or Searle? an eliminated problem as per the Churchlands? an intractable problem as per
William James? Each of these positions can be described in peircean terms and they can be compared and contrasted in a dialogue that reveals where they
agree, disagree, converge and complement. They cannot be a priori arbitrated by the peircean perspective; rather, they can only be consistently articulated
and framed up hypothetically on the same terms, which is to say, in such a manner that hypothetico-deductive and scientific-inductive methods can be
applied to them and such that a posteriori experience can reveal their internal coherence/incoherence, logical consistency/inconsistency, external
congruence/incongruence, hypothetical consonance/dissonance and interdisciplinary consilience/inconsilience.
33) Do our various metaphysics collapse because of an encounter with paradox that is generated by a) the nature of the environing realities, which are
being explained? b) the exigencies of the environed reality, which is explaining? or c) some combination of these? Is the paradox encountered veridical,
falsidical, conditional or antinomial? Did we introduce the paradox ourselves or did an environing reality reveal its intrinsic paradoxical nature? We can
describe reality’s categories (such as w/ CSP’s phaneroscopy), a logic for those categories (such as CSP’s semeiotic logic) and an organon that relates
these categories and logic (such as CSP’s metaphysical architectonic) and then employ such a heuristic in any given metaphysic using any given root
metaphor. When we do, at some point, we will encounter an infinite regress, a causal disjunction or circular referentiality (petitio principii, ipse dixit, etc), and
we might, therefore, at some level, have reason to suspect that those are the species of ineluctable paradox that even the most accurate metaphysics will
inevitably encounter. If circular referentiality is avoidable, still, infinite regress and causal disjunction are not and our metaphysics will succumb to one or the
other, possibly because these alternate accounts present complementary perspectives of reality and the nature of its apparent continuities and
discontinuities (as measured in degrees of probability or as reflected in the dissimilarities between various givens and their natures and origins, some
belonging to this singularity, some to another, this or another realm of reality variously pluralistic or not).
34) What it all seems to boil down to is this: Different schools of philosophy and metaphysics are mostly disagreeing regarding the nature and degree,
the origin and extent, of continuities and discontinuities in reality, some even claiming to transcend this debate by using a continuum of probability. The
manifold and multiform assertions and/or denials of continuity and discontinuity in reality play out in the different conclusions of modal logic with respect to
what is possible versus actual versus necessary regarding the nature of reality (usually in terms of givens, i.e. primitives, forces and axioms), some even
claiming to transcend this modal logic by substituting probable for necessary. Even then, one is not so much transcending the fray as avoiding the fray if one
does not venture to guess at the nature and degree, origin and extent, of reality’s probabilities, necessities, continuities and discontinuities. Sure, the
essentialists and substantialists overemphasize discontinuities and the nominalists overemphasize continuities and the dualists introduce some false
dichotomies, but anyone who claims to be above this metaphysical fray has not so much transcended these issues with a new and improved metaphysics as
they have desisted from even doing metaphysics, opting instead for a meta-metaphysical heuristic device, at the same time, sacrificing explanatory
adequacy. This is what happens with the emergentistic something more from nothing but and also what happens in semeiotic logic (for infinite regress is just
as fatal, metaphysically, as causal disjunction and circular referentiality).
35) Evaluating Hypotheses:Does it beg questions?Does it traffic in trivialities? Does it overwork analogies?Does it overwork distinctions? Does it
underwork dichotomies?Does it eliminate infinite regress?
36) Not to worry, this is to be expected at this stage of humankind’s journey of knowledge. However, if the answer to any of these questions is
affirmative, then one’s hypothesis probably doesn’t belong in a science textbook for now. At any rate, given our inescapable fallibility, we best proceed in a
community of inquiry as we pursue our practical and heuristic (both normative and speculative) sciences.
37) Couching this or that debate in the philosophy of science in terms of dis/honesty may very well address one aspect of any given controversy. I have
often wondered whether or not some disagreements are rooted in disparate approaches to epistemic values, epistemic goods, epistemic virtues, epistemic
goals, epistemic success, epistemic competence or whatever is truly at issue. I don't know who is being dishonest or not, aware or unawares, but I think one
can perhaps discern in/authenticity in a variety of ways.
38) In trying to sort through and inventory such matters, through time, I have come to more broadly conceive the terms of such controversies, not only
beyond the notions of epistemic disvalue, epistemic non-virtue and epistemic incompetence, but, beyond the epistemic, itself. Taking a cue from Lonergan's
inventory of conversions, which include the cognitive, affective, moral, social and religious, one might identify manifold other ways to frustrate the diverse (but
unitively-oriented) goals of human authenticity, whether through disvalue, non-virtue or incompetence.
39) Our approach to and grasp of reality, through both the heuristic sciences (normative and theoretical) and practical sciences, in my view, is quite often
frustrated by the overworking of certain distinctions and the underworking of certain dichotomies, by our projection of discontinuities onto continuities and vice
versa. And this goes beyond the issue of the One and the Many, the universal and the particular, the local and the global, beyond the disambiguation and
predication of our terms, beyond the setting forth of our primitives, forces and axioms, beyond the truth of our premises and the validity of our logic, beyond
noetical, aesthetical and ethical norms, beyond our normative/prescriptive, speculative/descriptive and pragmatic/practical enterprises, beyond all this to living
life, itself, and to our celebration of the arts.
40) In this vein, one failure in human authenticity that seems to too often afflict humankind is the overworking of the otherwise valid distinctions between
our truly novel biosemiotic capacities and those of our phylogenetic ancestry and kin, invoking such a human exceptionalism (x-factor) as divorces us from
nature of which we're undeniably a part. Another (and related) failure, in my view, is the overworking of distinctions between the different capacities that
comprise the human evaluative continuum, denying the integral roles played by its nonrational, prerational and rational aspects, by its ecological, pragmatic,
inferential and deliberative rationalities, by its abductive, inductive and deductive inferential aspects, by its noetical, aesthetical and ethical aspects. These
otherwise distinct aspects of human knowledge that derive from our interfacing as an environed reality with our total environing reality (environed vs environing
realities not lending themselves to sharp distinctions either?) are of a piece, form a holistic fabric of knowledge, mirrored by reality, which is also of a piece,
not lending itself fully to any privileged aspect of the human evaluative continuum, not lending itself to arbitrary dices and slices based upon any human-
contrived architectonic or organon of knowledge, for instance, as might be reflected in our academic disciplines or curricula.
41) So, perhaps it is too facile to say religion asks certain questions and employs certain aspects of the human evaluative continuum, while philosophy
asks others, science yet others? Maybe it is enough to maintain that science does not attempt to halt infinite regress because humankind has discovered, a
posteriori, that such attempts invariably involve trafficking in question begging (ipse dixit, petitio principii, tautologies, etc) or trivialities or overworked
analogies, often employ overworked distinctions or underworked dichotomies, often lack explanatory adequacy, pragmatic cash value and/or the
authentication of orthodoxy by orthopraxis? Maybe it is enough to maintain that science does not attempt to halt infinite regress because humankind now
maintains, a priori, with Godel, that complete accounts are inconsistent, consistent accounts, incomplete? Maybe it is enough to maintain that science
traffics in formalizable proofs and measurable results from hypotheses that are testable within realistic time constraints (iow, not eschatological)?
42) Or, maybe we needn't maintain even these distinctions but can say an hypothesis is an hypothesis is an hypothesis, whether theological or
geological, whether eliminating or tolerating the paradox of infinity, and that the human evaluative continuum, if optimally (integrally and holistically) deployed,
can aspire to test these hypotheses, however directly or indirectly, letting reality reveal or conceal itself at its pleasure --- but --- those hypotheses that are
intractably question begging or tautological, that overwork analogies and distinctions and underwork dichotomies, that lack explanatory adequacy and
pragmatic cash value --- are, at least for now, bad science, bad philosophy, bad theology, bad hypotheses? They are not authentic questions? Pursue them if
you must. Back-burner them by all means, ready to come to the fore at a more opportune time. But don't publish them in textbooks or foist them on the
general public or body politic; rather, keep them in the esoteric journals with a suitable fog index to match their explanatory opacity.
43) In the above consideration, it was not my aim to resolve any controversies in the philosophy of science, in particular, or to arbitrate between the great
schools of philosophy, in general. I did want to offer some criteria for more rigorously framing up the debates that we might avoid talking past one another. It
does seem that certain extreme positions can be contrasted in sharper relief in terms of alternating assertions of radical dis/continuities, wherein some
distinctions are overworked into false dichotomies and some real dichotomies are ignored or denied.
44) Thus it is that the different “turns” have been made in the history of philosophy (to experience, to the subject, linguistic, hermeneutical, pragmatic,
etc). Thus it is that nominalism, essentialism and substantialism critique each other. Thus it is that fact-value, is-ought, given-normative, descriptive-
prescriptive distinctions warrant dichotomizing or not. Thus it is that the One and the Many, the universal and particular, the global and local, the whole and
the part invite differing perspectives or not. Thus it is that different aspects of the human evaluative continuum get singularly privileged without warrant such as
in fideism and rationalism or that different aspects of the human architectonic of knowledge get over- or under-emphasized such as in radical fundamentalism
45) Thus it is that certain of our heuristic devices get overworked beyond their minimalist explanatory attempts such as when emergence is described as
weakly supervenient, which is rather question-begging, or as strongly supervenient, which is rather trivial. And yet one might be able to affirm some utility in
making such distinctions as a weak deontology or weak teleology, or between the strongly and weakly anthropic?
46) Thus it is that idealism and realism, rationalism and empiricism, fight a hermeneutical tug of war between kantian, humean, aristotelian and platonic
perspectives, transcended, in part, even complemented by, the analytical, phenomenological and pragmatic approaches. Thus it is that various metaphysics
must remain modest in their heuristic claims of explanatory power as we witness the ongoing blending and nuancing of substance, process, participative and
semiotic approaches. Thus it is that our glorious -ologies get transmuted into insidious –isms.
47) Thus it is that all of these approaches, whether broadly conceived as theoretical, practical and normative sciences (including natural sciences,
applied sciences, theological sciences and the sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics), or more narrowly conceived as the more strictly empirical sciences,
offer their hypotheses for critique by an authentic community of inquiry --- neither falling prey to the soporific consensus gentium (bandwagon fallacy) and
irrelevant argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority) nor arrogating to one’s own hermeneutic some type of archimedean buoyancy for all sure
knowledge, as if inescapable leaps of faith weren’t required to get past unmitigated nihilism and solipsism, as if excluded middle, noncontradiction and other
first principles could be apodictically maintained or logically demonstrated, as if knowledge and proof were indistinct, as if all human knowledge was
algorithmic and could be formalized.
48) Miscellany: In the peircean cohort of the American pragmatist tradition, one would say that the normative sciences mediate between phenomenology
and metaphysics, which could reasonably be translated into philosophy mediates between our scientific methodologies and our cosmologies/ontologies.So,
there is a proper distinction to be made between our normative and theoretical sciences, both which can be considered heuristic sciences, and yet another
distinction to be made between them and what we would call our practical sciences.
49) I think it would be fair to say that we can bracket our [metaphysics] and our [cosmologies & ontologies] when doing empirical science but, at the
same time, we do not bracket those aspects of philosophy that comprise our normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics, which contribute integrally
and holistically to all scientific endeavors and human knowledge pursuits. At least for my God-concept, properly conceived, suitably employed, sufficiently
nuanced, carefully disambiguated, precisely defined, rigorously predicated --- to talk of empirical measurement would be nonsensical.
50) I more broadly conceive knowledge & "knowing" and my conceptualization turns on the distinction between knowing and proving, the latter consisting
of formal proofs. Since a God-concept would comprise a Theory of Everything and we know, a priori, from Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, that we cannot
prove such employing any closed formal symbol system, a "proof" of God is out of the question.
51) Charles Sanders Peirce offers another useful distinction, which turns on his observations regarding inferential knowledge, which includes abduction,
induction and deduction. Abductive inference is, in a nutshell, the generation of an hypothesis. The peircean distinction is that between an argument and
argumentation. Peirce offers, then, what he calls the "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," which amounts to an abduction of God, distinguishing
same from the myriad other attempts to prove God's existence, whether inductively or deductively through argumentation. Even the scholastic and thomistic
"proofs" realize their efficacy by demonstrating only the reasonableness of certain beliefs, not otherwise aspiring to apodictic claims or logically conclusive
demonstrations. Peirce made another crucial distinction between the "reality" of God and the "existence" of God, considering all talk of God's existence to
derive from pure fetishism, affirming in his own way, I suppose, an analogy of being rather than a univocity.
52) Given all this, one may find it somewhat of a curiosity that Godel, himself, attempted his own modal ontological argument. Anselm's argument, likely
considered the weakest of all the classical "proofs" of God, was first called the "ontological" argument by Kant and was more recently given impetus by
Hartshorne's modal formulation. I think these arguments by Godel and Hartshorne would be more compelling if the modal category of necessary was changed
to probable and if the conceptual compatibility of putative divine attributes was guaranteed by employing only negative properties for such terms. At any rate,
that Godel distinguished "formal proof" from "knowing" is instructive, I think, and his attempt at a modal ontological argument is also revealing, suggesting,
perhaps, that one needn't make their way through half of Whitehead and Russell’s Principia in order to "know" that 2 + 2 = 4, but, rather, that would be
necessary only to "prove" same.
53) I would agree that the statement, God cannot be measured, is true for science as narrowly conceived as natural science. More broadly conceived,
science includes theology as a discipline and many typologies of the science-religion interface would, for instance, affirm the notion of hypothetical
consonance between the disciplines. Much of Hans Kung's work entailed an elaborate formulation of the God hypothesis, not empirically testable by any
means, but, which uses nihilism as a foil to proceed reductio ad absurdum toward what Kung calls a fundamental trust in uncertain reality that, given a
suitable and "working" God-hypothesis, is not otherwise nowhere anchored and paradoxical. Another focus of theology as a scientific discipline is that of
practical theology where orthopraxis might be considered to authenticate orthodoxy.
54) Strong cases have been made by historians of science that sustainable scientific progress was birthed in the womb of a belief in creatio ex nihilo, in
other words, a belief in the contingent nature of reality, which, when combined with the Greek belief in reality's rationality, provided the cultural matrix for
science's explosive growth in the Christian West.
55) I suppose there is an element of the aesthetic that guides one toward such an interpretation as Bohm's rather than Bohr's, Chalmers, Searle or
Penrose rather than Dennett, the Churchlands or Crick, Pascal rather than Nietzsche --- but something else is going on, and it is not time-honored, when
anyone chooses info to fit an interpretation, which is a different enterprise from the formulation of alternative interpretations that are hypothetically consonant
with whatever info is available at the time.
56) To say more succinctly what I elaborate below: Approaching facts is one matter, rules another, and facts about rules, yet another. There's no
explaining or justifying rules within their own systems and one hops onto an epistemological pogo stick, incessantly jumping to yet another system with such
explanatory/justificatory attempts (cf. Godel). Thankfully, Popperian falsification short circuits rule justification in our pursuit of facts and the reductio ad
absurdum (with some caveats) short circuits formal philosophy in our pursuit of rule justification, which is otherwise, inescapably, going to be question
begging, rendering our metasystems, in principle, tautological. An example of a caveat there is that one overworks the humean dictum re: existence as a
predicate of being when asserting that existence cannot be taken as a predicate of being -- because it certainly can. One underappreciates the humean
perspective when one forgets that taking existence as a predicate of being is a tautology. But so are all metaphysics, which are all fatally flawed. None of this
is about escaping all antinomial paradox but, rather, finding the metasystem least susceptible to multiple births of paradox, least pregnant with paradox --- or,
finding that metasystem which, however fatally flawed, is least morbid.
57) In dealing with metasystem formulations, inevitably, we must confront the time-honored question: random or systematic? chance or necessity? order
or chaos? pattern or paradox? At least, for me, this seems to capture the conundrum at issue.This conundrum is ubiquitous and presents itself not only in
metaphysics but in physics, not only in speculative cosmology and the quantum realm but also in speculative cognitive science and the realm of
consciousness. This is reminiscent of the dynamic in the TV gameshow, Jeopardy, for these dyads --- of random, chance, chaos, paradox vis a vis
systematic, necessity, order, pattern --- offer themselves as answers to a larger question posed in a bigger framework. That question might be framed as:
What is it that mediates between the possible and the actual?
58) My brain loves that question and pondering the implications of those dyads seems to help keep my neurotransmitters in balance, quite often firing off
enough extra endorphins to help me pedal my bike an extra mile or two, any given day. That question presents when we consider reality both locally and
globally, particularly or universally, in part or as a whole. I have pondered such extensively as set forth here: http://bellsouthpwp.net/p/e/per-ardua-ad-
astra/epistemic.htm and elsewhere http://bellsouthpwp.net/p/e/per-ardua-ad-astra/merton.htm [links at the top of this page] and one day I may take on the
task of making such musings more accessible. For now, it seems that I have practiced the Franciscan virtue of seeking to understand rather than to be
understood and turned it into a vice, practicing it to a fault.
59) I will say this: Science is a human convention, an agreement entered into by an earnest community of inquiry. It seems to operate on a consensus
regarding 1) primitives (space, time, mass and energy/charge) 2) forces (strong and weak, electromagnetic and gravity) and 3) axioms (laws of
thermodynamics and so forth) and the relationships they reveal as this community proceeds via 4) popperian falsification, which, as Popper properly
understood and many others do not, is not, itself, falsifiable. There are no strict lines between physics and metaphysics inasmuch as any tweaking of these
categories by theoretical scientists is meta-physical, for instance, such as by those who'd add consciousness as a primitive, quantum gravity as a force and
statistical quantum law as an axiom. The crossing-over from philosophy to science and from metaphysics to physics by this or that notion is not so much
determined a priori as based on any given attributes of a particular idea regarding primitives, forces and axioms but, rather, takes place when such can be
framed up in such a manner as it can be empirically falsified. We know this from the history of philosophy, science and metaphysics -- although the pace of
cross-over has slowed a tad.
60) Framing up reality in falsifiable bits and pieces is no simple matter to one who agrees with Haldane that reality is not only stranger than we imagine
but stranger than we can imagine. Still, as is born into our very nature as epistemological optimists, we might temper this view by taking Chesterton's
counsel that we do not know enough about reality, yet, to say that it is unknowable. We just do not know, a priori, either where we will hit an explanatory wall
or where we will break through same, this notwithstanding such as G. E. Pugh's remark to the effect that if the brain were simple enough for us to understand
it, we would be so simple that we couldn't.
61) What we do know, a priori, are our own rules and conventions and we can predict whether or not an explanatory wall will either be hit or penetrated ---
but only if we narrowly conceive of that wall as being built with the bricks of empirical evidence and the mortar of formal proofs. An explanatory wall thus
conceived is indeed subject to godelian constraints, which allow us to model rules that we are otherwise precluded from explaining. In reality, though, one
would commit the equivalent of an epistemological Maginot Line blunder if one built her explanatory wall exclusively of such materials, for, as we know, a
large portion of human knowledge lies outside of any such a narrowly conceived epistemic structure. Indeed, we know far more than we can ever prove (or
62) Now, to be sure, we must remain well aware that we are freely choosing our axioms and first principles and that, consistent with godelian and
popperian constraints, they can neither be logically demonstrated, a priori, nor scientifically falsified, a posteriori. We should keep an eye open, too, to the
critiques of Descartes, Hume and Kant, insofar as they seem to have anticipated, in many ways, these godelian and popperian formalizations, as well as
some of the dynamics explored by the analytical cohort. What I personally cannot countenance, however, is any epistemological caving in to such
constraints and critiques (cartesian, kantian and humean); the proper response, if the normative sciences are to retain any sway whatsoever, would seem,
rather, to be a trading in of any naive realism for a critical realism (staying mostly aristotelian cum neoplatonic?). So, too, the humean fact-value distinction,
worth considering, should not be overworked into a false dichotomy?
63) If, in our inescapable fallibility, we have been dispossessed of any apodictic claims to necessity and logical demonstrations of our first principles,
still, we do have at our disposal the judicious use of the reductio ad absurdum as our backdoor philosophy. True enough, the counterintuitive is not, in and of
itself, an infallible beacon of truth, for science has demonstrated many counterintuitive notions to be true, given certain axioms. Nonetheless, absent any
demonstration to the contrary and guided by an earnest community of inquiry, would we not do best to reject such as solipsism and radical nihilism, and to
embrace noncontradiction and excluded middle (within the norms suggested by both epistemological and ontological vagueness, which is another exhuastive
64) So, yes, in freely choosing such axioms as we might employ in our attempt to answer the question --- What mediates between the possible and the
actual? --- we are free to opt for chance or necessity, for order or chaos, for pattern or paradox, for the random or systematic, and we are free to apply such
an option locally and/or globally, particularly or universally, to the whole of reality or to any part, and no one can dispossess us, through formal proof or with
empirical evidence, of our chosen axioms. And, yes, once we have chosen such axioms, such meta-systems, we must recognize that, fundamentally, they
are clearly tautological by design and in principle, and that any apologetic for same will be rather question begging. [Every time we open an ontological
window, reality closes an epistemological door, I like to say.] The only recourse we have that seems to be at all compelling is the old reductio ad absurdum,
taking this or that set of axioms, applying them to reality as best we have come to grasp same, and, after extrapolating it all to some putative logical
conclusion, then testing it all for congruence with reality (and with whatever else happens to be in that suite of epistemological criteria as might comprise this
or that community of inquiry's epistemic desiderata).
65) As a relevant aside, I have found that we best modify our modal ontological logic of possible, actual and necessary to possible, actual and probable,
which allows one to prescind from the dyads of chance/necessity, order/chaos, pattern/paradox, random/systematic --- as these more and more seem to
describe distinctions that should not be overworked into dichotomies, not that I am an inveterate peircean triadimaniac -- for I am, rather, a pan-entheistic
tetradimaniac (seems to me to be the least pregnant, anyway).
66) What mediates between the possible and the actual? Probably, the probable. [And that may be the window Reality opened for Hefner's co-creators
as God shrunk from the necessary? And that may be the future-oriented rupture between our essential possibilities and their existential realizations in
Haught's teleological account of original sin?]
67) When the Beatles were with the Maharishi in India, at the end of one session, he offered anyone who was interested a ride back to the compound
with him on his helicopter. John volunteered. When later queried about why he decided to go, John quipped: "Because I thought he'd slip me the answer." jb
is going to slip you the answer.Ever heard of the pragmatic maxim?In my words, jb's maxim, it translates into What would you do differently if you had the
answer? [And it doesn't matter what the question is or that it necessarily be THE question, whatever that is.] Now, if Lonergan's conversions --- cognitive,
moral, affective, sociopolitical and religious --- were all fully effected in a human being and that person were truly authentic in lonerganian terms, mostly
transformed in terms of classical theosis, then how would an authentic/transformed human answer the question: What would you do differently if you had the
answer?S/he would answer thusly: Nothing.
68) That's what I really like most about lovers. I've seen them struggle with all these questions and have even seen them afflicted by these questions to
an extent, but lovers are clearly among those for whom I know the answer to the above-question is: Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.That's the epitome of unconditional
love and that's the essence of the Imago Dei.And that is a small comfort ... so, it's a good thing that comfort is not what it's all about, Alfie. Carry on. Do carry
69) In another vein, all of philosophy seems to turn on those three big questions of Kant: What can I know? What can I hope for? What must I do?The
astute observer might recognize that these questions correspond to truth, beauty and goodness and have been answered by philosophers in terms of logic,
aesthetics and ethics and by religions in terms of creed, cult and code. They also correspond to the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love and to our
psychological faculties of the cognitive, affective and moral (again, think Lonergan). At some point on my journey, I rested and answered these questions
thusly: I don't know and I don't need to know. I don't feel and I don't need to feel. I love and I need to forgive.All of a sudden --- I kid ya not --- all manner of
truth, beauty and goodness started chasing me rather than vice versa! If we frame the issue in terms of foci of concern, then the scientific focus will be more
narrowly defined than the theological. The first is positivistic, the latter, philosophic.
70) The scientific focus looks at facts through the lens of popperian falsification. It structures its arguments formally and thus employs mathematics and
other closed, formal symbol systems through which it can establish correspondence between those parts of reality we agree to call givens: primitives (space,
time, mass/charge, energy), forces (weak, strong, electromagnetic, gravity) and axioms (conservation, thermodynamics). It seeks to provide descriptive
accounts of these parts of reality and deals in proofs.
71) The philosophic focus is a wider perspective, which is to say it embraces additional concerns by looking through the lenses of the normative
sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. It looks at rules. Its arguments are not formally constructed but it does try to establish coherence in its accounts of
reality. It seeks to provide evaluative accounts of reality as a whole and deals in justifications.
72) Lonergan scholar, Daniel Helminiak, defines two additional foci of concern, which are progressively wider perspectives, the theistic and theotic, the
latter having to do with human transformation in relation to God (and which might represent one of many perspectives presented at Star).
73) Broader perspectives, wider foci of concern, do not invalidate the narrower foci, if for no other reason, then, because they are focusing on different
aspects of reality, in fact, additional aspects.
74) In Jeff's frontier town, out on the working edge of science, any novel concepts being introduced must indeed be precisely specified in the language of
science, which is to say one must introduce a novel primitive, force or axiom, or a novel interaction between existing givens, into a closed, formal symbol
system like mathematics. This novelty can then be tested for correspondence with reality, in other words, factuality, through popperian falisfication (which is
not itself falsifiable).
75) As for unfortunate trends among scientists, philosophers and theologians, descriptively, in terms of blurred focus, these are manifold and varied with
no monopolies on same? I am time-constrained, wrote this hurriedly and must run. My next consideration was going to be Theories of Everything and how
they should be categorized and why? Any ideas?
76) Obviously, I could not elaborate a comprehensive organon/architectonic of human knowledge categories in only four paragraphs and thus did not
draw out such distinctions as, for instance, the very living of life, itself, from the arts, the practical sciences, the heuristic sciences, the theoretical sciences,
the normative sciences and so on. The particular point I was making, however, more particularly turned on the distinction between those matters in life which
we prove versus those which we otherwise justify. As a retired bank chairman/president, I must say that it would have pleased me very much, too, to have
seen the justice system derive more of its rules from logic. Note, also, the operative word, derive, and you'll have some sense of how my elaboration will
77) Because one of the manifold criteria for good hypotheses vis a vis the scientific method is the making of measurable predictions in the context of
hypothetico-deductive and inductive reasoning, we might properly talk about proof as being more broadly conceived, our descriptive accounts lending
themselves to measurements (and hypothetical fecundity). Of course, induction, itself, is not formal logic, anyway
78) Those trends that frighten me the most are the different fundamentalisms (including both the religious fundamentalisms and enlightenment
fundamentalism or scientism).
79) By Theory of Everything (TOE). I mean such as M-theory, superstrings, quantum gravity, unified field theory, etc in the realm of theoretical physics.
I believe there are metamathematical problems that inhere in such a TOE as set forth in Godel's incompleteness theorems. This is not to suggest a TOE
could not be mathematically formulated but only to say it could not, in principle, be proven. Neither is this to suggest that, because it couldn't be formally
demonstrated, we wouldn't otherwise know we'd discovered same.
80) A long time ago, my graduate research was in neuroendocrinology Also, the emergentist heuristic of something more from nothing but may have
implications for some of the difficulties that remain in our understanding of consciousness? As far as philosophic accounts of same, my overall theological
perspective doesn't turn on whether or not Dennett, Searle, Chalmers, Penrose, Ayn Rand or the Churchlands are correct (vis a vis the positivistic elements of
their accounts), although, presently, I'm leaning toward Deacon's rather peircean biosemiotic perspective.
81) For me to have written this: "Neither is this to suggest that, because it couldn't be formally demonstrated, we wouldn't otherwise know we'd
discovered same," maybe I was talking about both? I purposefully left the categorization of any TOE open to tease out different perspectives. My take, to
avoid being too coy, is that a TOE requires more than a positivistic focus. It necessarily involves a broadening of our scientific focus to embrace the additional
concerns of the philosophic. Some folks go further.
82) It's my guess that Baldwinian evolution captures many imaginations because it employs the notion of downward causation. Furthermore, if one
frames up the problem of consciousness biosemiotically, in some sense one recovers the classic aristotelian notions of material, formal and final causality.
Exciting? Yes. But ...
83) However, one doesn't need to a priori dismiss cartesian dualism and neither does one need to a priori embrace a fully reductionistic philosophy of
mind (including the physical causal closure of the universe) to, at the same time, recognize that such biosemiotic accounts do not, necessarily, violate
known physical laws or the idea of physical causal closure. In other words, there can be strong and weak versions of downward causation, both being both
nonphysical and nonreductive, and the emergentistic, biosemiotic account of evolving complexity utilizes the weak version. This does involve a work-around of
frameworks that employ strictly efficient causation.
84) What might some of us do with our imaginations? Well, we might invoke various analogies from different physical and/or semiotic accounts to our
philosophic, metaphysical and even theological accounts. And, sometimes, we might lose sight of how progressively weak these analogies can become.
85) I suppose I could at least be pleased that Dawkins did not consider mystics and obscurantists to be a redundancy? My charitable interpretation