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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 language-
independent). 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 so-
called 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 language-
dependent. Their logic is, in a word, fuzzy.

One can observe and successfully refer to these biosemiotic realities and make note of their emergent properties, without claiming to have, in the 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                                                                                                                   #2
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
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                                                                                                                          #4
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
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 Myers-
Briggs temperament typologies.)

Stepwise, then, as Goodenough and Deacon take us from biology to consciousness to morality, my departure point is to then take morality 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 self-
reflexive 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, pseudo-
Dionysius and Duns Scotus. Origen‘s senses of scripture 1) moral 2) allegorical/spiritual 3) anagogical and 4) literal/historical,
correspond to moral, spiritual, interpretive and positivistic understandings set forth above. The dionysian logic and predications,
alternately analogical, anagogical, mystagogical, apophatic, kataphatic, univocal and equivocal are precisely what is at work in 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 self-
evident nihilism (Loyal Rue). Some are active and outspoken against religion (Dawkins & Dennett).
 
What about philosophy of mind?                                                                                                                                   #5
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
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 non-
dependent, 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 God-
concepts 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.
 
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                                         Musings with Peirce: How Real Are Modal Realisms?
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                        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
Maiden, Mother,
Crone & Queen:          speculative cosmology. On the other hand, I urge caution when such
archetypes &
                        models get invoked vis a vis anthropic principles.
transformation

East Meets West         My chief concern with such as Lewis' modal realism is its temporality.
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &    While he employs modal-tenseless language, being neutral to tense is
Kundalini               not the same as atemporality, an implication we must deal with due to
No-Self & Nirvana       quantum cosmology and which, in my view, implicitly critiques any
elucidated by
Dumoulin                robustly conceived modal realisms.
One: Essential          Perhaps we best distinguish, then, between a modal realism that is
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   pragmatic and methodological and one that is theoretic and
Simone Weil             ontological. It seems that we have all we need in order to advance both
John of the Cross
                        practical and moral inquiry in a modal realism that we adopt
                        presuppositionally and provisionally in order to advance
Thomas Merton
                        methodological inquiry. Beyond the needs of our prudential judgments
The True Self
                        and normative heuristics, we might boldly speculate with Lewis and
The Passion
                        Tegmark on a theoretic modal realism, but any adoption of a robust
Hermeneutical
Eclecticism &
                        ontology beyond a realist method for doing ontology would seem to
Interreligious          invoke an a priorism and apodicticity that it seems Peirce would not
Dialogue
                        countenance given his emphases on the a posteriori and fallibilism.
The Spirit
                        Also, we should keep in mind that our modal realities could be very,
Christian Nonduality    very local. For example, many possibilities arise as novel dissipative
more on Nonduality      structures in far from equilibrium thermodynamics, dynamics which
The Contemplative       certainly do not exhaust our account of reality.
Stance
Hesychasm                
Mysticism - properly    The Strong Anthropic Principle 
considered
Karl Rahner
                         An additional problem arises in any invocation of a strong anthropic
                         principle. (The weak version is trivial.) The problem results, in part,
Wounded Innocence
                         from a need to clarify the conceptual confusion between coincidence
Rogation Days
                         and chance. Coincidence is something that pertains to the present or
Radical Orthodoxy
                         past. Chance has meaning only when information is lacking. So, we
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             distinguish the two in temporal terms. If we are considering an event a
Science
                         priori, chance is in play. If we consider it a posteriori, we have
                         coincidence (something which, however, over the course of a lifetime -
Epistemic Virtue
                         -- even of a multiverse --- might otherwise be considered likely). So,
Pan-semio-
entheism: a              the concept of probability has no validity vis a vis a coincidence and
pneumatological          statistical science thus pertains to chance and not coincidence.
theology of nature
                         Probability deals with the epistemically-unavailable, is an empirical
Architectonic
                         notion subject to empirical methods and is assigned to arguments with
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 premises and conclusions (and not rather to events, states or types of
The Ethos of Eros
                         same). I suppose that if we knew enough about the universe's initial
                         conditions we could imaginatively (conceivably) walk ourselves back to
Musings on Peirce
                         T=0 and invoke chance, but we don't thus have such an informed
Eskimo Kiss Waltz
                         grasp of what should or should not be expected of this reality.
the Light Side of
Dark Comedy              Valid arguments can be constructed employing actual infinites. We just
Blog Visits              cannot a priori know whether infinites can be both abstract and
Other Online             concrete or not. We can work within this or that tautology and employ
Resources
                         certain terms/premises that presuppose the conclusion of our
Are YOU Going to         arguments and thereby find our arguments compelling. However, to an
Scarborough Fair?
                         unbiased observer, the argument remains unproven: Scottish verdict.
Suggested Reading
                         Not only can we not a priori and analytically demonstrate what is
Tim King's Post
Christian Blog           metaphysically necessary, we can not even meaningfully discuss what
The Dylan Mass
                         is physically probable, as regarding such a probability as would pertain
If You Are In
                         to the initial, boundary and limit conditions of the universe. Thus we
Distress, Spiritual or   have no baseline numbers to establish probabilistic theories for strong
Otherwise
                         anthropic principles. And the closer we get to T=0, the less we seem to
pending                  know, presently. I still have my hopes.
The Great Tradition
properly conceived       If Peirce is interpreted by scholars as going beyond the type of
Postmodern               methodological realism I have herein described, then I consider this
Conservative             too strong a position for me to try to defend, positivistically and
Catholic Pentecostal
                         descriptively and normatively.
                          

                         The Cosmological (descriptive & normative) and the
                         Axiological (interpretive & evaluative)
                         I would like to further develop some of my thoughts regarding a
                         minimalist modal realism and a robust modal realism. In drawing the
                         distinction between a methodological and theoretic modal realism (or,
                         put another way, between a pragmatic and ontological modal realism),
                         a similar distinction comes to mind. One might also think of the
                         difference between a methodological naturalism and a philosophical
                         naturalism, as I see the same dynamic in play.
                         To some extent, in eschewing the theoretic-ontological-transcendent
                         realism from a positivist perspective, we are merely claiming that our
                         best descriptive and normative methodologies, cosmologically, can not
                         get us there. But these are not our only starting points, because our
                         interpretive and evaluative methodologies, axiologically, do get us
                         there, if that is where we want to go, metaphysically, which assumes
                         one does not at the outset consider metaphysics a category error. What
                         is the practical upshot of this distinction? How can we tell that we have
a distinction that makes a difference?

The most salient distinction between our descriptive-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 deduction-
prediction and testing-corroboration proceed, repeating only the end-
stages 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 meta-
physic 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 value-
realization 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 value-
realization 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 value-
realizations.

 

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 value-
realizations. 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 pneumatologically-
informed 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 value-
realization, 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 Two-
Language 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 epistemically-
related 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 deduction-
prediction and testing-corroboration proceed, repeating only the end-
stages 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 meta-
physic 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 value-
realization 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 value-
realization 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
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johnboy@christiannonduality.com
                             Christian Nonduality


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Catholic Pentecostal
                         consider them theologically competent.

                         The problem of evil has been addressed by many defenses and
                         theodicies down through the years and the best ones, characteristically,
                         will retain an element of mystery. Many of those are wholly consonant
                         w/my own panentheist perspective or other process approaches, for
                         example. When subjected to the most rigorous philosophical analyses
                         we have available, these approaches are considered as reasonable as
                         any other explanations.
                          

                         I am not buying into the fallacy of arguing against the proper use of
                         Christian ideals & myths because of their misuse (or lack of use, cf.
                         GKC) over the centuries in this culture or another. Now, as to which
                         approach is finally adjudicated as the most compelling, we find
                         ourselves moving past our evidential and rational arguments and
                         turning to our existential stances & evaluative posits.
                          

                         [redacted conversation]

                          
There has been no rejection of critical thinking here. There has been 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                                  pending




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Maiden, Mother,          
Crone & Queen:
archetypes &
                        Radical Emergence – Social Networks Can Be Thoreau’s Post
transformation
                        Office
East Meets West

Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &     
Kundalini
No-Self & Nirvana
                        Cosmology of Emergence
elucidated by
Dumoulin                 
One: Essential          Introduction
Writings in
Nonduality - a review    
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
Christian Nonduality    inference
more on Nonduality
                         
The Contemplative
Stance                  The Philip Clayton - Daniel Dennett Mardi Gras 2010 Debate
Hesychasm
                         
Mysticism - properly
considered              Radical Emergence – The New Atheism, a wimpy caricature of the
Karl Rahner             old
Wounded Innocence        
Rogation Days
                         
Radical Orthodoxy

Presuppositionalism
                         Evaluative Culture
vs Nihilism?
                          
Science

Epistemic Virtue
                         Radical Emergence – Montmarte, Colorado Springs & the
                         Kingdom
Pan-semio-
entheism: a
pneumatological
                          
theology of nature
                         Why I Love New Orleans: Iko Iko ah-nay Joc-a-mo-fee-no-ah-nah-
Architectonic
                         nay Joc-a-mo-fee-nah-nay
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                  
The Ethos of Eros        Normative Philosophy
Musings on Peirce
                          
Eskimo Kiss Waltz

the Light Side of        Radical Emergence – Why PostmodernISM & ModernISM are
Dark Comedy              Both Silly
Blog Visits
                          
Other Online
Resources                I’ve already got truth, beauty & goodness! Why bother with faith,
Are YOU Going to         hope & love?
Scarborough Fair?
Suggested Reading
                          

Tim King's Post          some thoughts on Epistemology
Christian Blog
                          
The Dylan Mass

If You Are In            some notes on Epistemology
Distress, Spiritual or
Otherwise                 
pending
                         Spirituality
The Great Tradition
properly conceived        
Postmodern
                         Radical Emergence – to value our yearning, treasure our wanting
Conservative
Catholic Pentecostal     & embrace our incompleteness
                          

                         Radical Emergence – Simone Weil – unbaptized & outside the
                         church
                          

                         Radical Emergence – Simone Weil – the rest of the story
                          

                         DOUBT: nagging late-night and early-dawn questions
                          

                         Radical Emergence – Meaning in Life – abundance for believers &
                         unbelievers
                          
                         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


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Montmarte,
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the Kingdom

Wanted: Women
Warriors

Maiden, Mother,
Crone & Queen:
archetypes &
transformation
East Meets West          
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini                
No-Self & Nirvana       There is a great deal of discontinuity in emergent reality, which
elucidated by
Dumoulin                threatens what Wim Drees calls the hierarchical unity of the sciences.
One: Essential
                        In my view, we avoid this trap by remaining vaguely referential,
Writings in             phenomenologically, and not robustly specific, metaphysically, when 
Nonduality - a review
                        talking about reality. In even simpler terms, because the Peircean
Simone Weil
                        account recognizes that even the laws governing reality are dynamical
John of the Cross       and emergent, we must remain aware, when analogically extrapolating,
Thomas Merton           that what we are extrapolating are very, very local regularities, which is
The True Self           to say with tongue only partly in cheek, that what we extrapolate,
The Passion             sometimes,  just might be the gnosiological equivalent of a social club's 
Hermeneutical           by-laws rather than reality's primal axiological laws.
Eclecticism &
Interreligious          Triadically, we overcome the epistemic-ontic divide with an axiological
Dialogue
                        turn. What we have is axiology all the way up, all the way down, all the
The Spirit
                        way across, coming and going and at rest, neoplatonically even.
Christian Nonduality    Pannenberg is in tune with this in his recognition that the infinite is
more on Nonduality      not apposite to the finite but is of an entirely different order.
The Contemplative       Temporality and atemporality, also. The Design Inference is a great
Stance
                        intuition but not one that should be applied to a reality as "local" as
Hesychasm
                        evolution, for example. Reality is WAY richer than that.
Mysticism - properly
considered              The Peircean Thirdness that we encounter as 3rd Order Emergence or
Karl Rahner             teleodynamics, for all science can discern, does not appear on the
Wounded Innocence       cosmic scene "early," which is to acknowledge that there is no empirical
Rogation Days           evidence that reality is pansemiotic. It takes a Kierkegaardian Leap and 
Radical Orthodoxy
                         a Pascalian Wager to see the world through pneumatological lenses
                         and to evaluatively/axiologically posit a pansemioentheistic reality,
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             which is but a vague reference to a putative primal reality wherein
Science                  divine supremacies correspond to our own emergent virtues and even
Epistemic Virtue         call them forth via Bracken's Divine Matrix, via Pannenberg's creative
Pan-semio-               field of force. So, we affirm common sense notions of casality and
entheism: a              acknowledge an interrelated matrix of causes and effects, even as we
pneumatological
theology of nature       remain immersed in deep paradox about just how this could be so. But
Architectonic
                         we do not need to resolve this modally only relationally, through
                         mediation and participation -- the Spirit our medium, our normative
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 divine supremacy. Hence, Moltmann's tzitzum and Simone Weil's
The Ethos of Eros        divine delimitation and the Kabbalistic shrinking of God.
Musings on Peirce        Creation is thus a dance of limits through the transformative advance
Eskimo Kiss Waltz        of the liminal and the formative "play" of the liminoid. The Holy Spirit
the Light Side of        is thus the En-Courager of risk-amplification ordered toward value-
Dark Comedy
                         augmentation.
Blog Visits
                         Pannenberg is right in beginning with anthropology; I find it
Other Online
Resources                indispensable, too. And we must radicalize Christianity back to its roots
Are YOU Going to         and away from a still regnant hellenistic, dualism. I am sympathetic, 
Scarborough Fair?        then, with the platonizing and existentialist thrust of Radical 
Suggested Reading        Orthodoxy from the perspective that, for any who want to live
Tim King's Post          superabundantly, philosophy reduces to theology as a risk-
Christian Blog
                         amplification strategy ordered toward value-augmentation, which is
The Dylan Mass
                         what the Spirit is about. This is the conscious-competence of explicit
If You Are In
                         faith. I just reject any notion that any failure to thus reduce philosophy
Distress, Spiritual or
Otherwise                (which means we, instead, recognize the normative sciences 
pending                  as autonomous methodologies) is a de facto nihilism; rather, one 
The Great Tradition      merely lives abundantly (not superabundantly) with their unconscious
properly conceived       competence, still guided by the Spirit.
Postmodern
Conservative
Catholic Pentecostal     If I am reading the situation correctly, Radical Orthodoxy is on to
                         something that is not unlike what Hans Kung was trying to convey,
                         using nihilism as a foil, in drawing his distinction between a justified
                         fundamental trust in uncertain reality (belief in God) and a nowhere
                         anchored and paradoxical trust in uncertain reality (unbelief). 

                         Until some grand eschatological illumination, we know empirically and
                         a posteriori that humankind is advancing in knowledge inexorably but 
                         falteringly --- not just adjudicating competing truth claims by cashing
                         out their practical values, but  --- ever refining its competing
                         definitions of truth as it enhances its modeling power of reality.

                         What I want to suggest, then, is that, while Kung has done us a favor in
                         his comprehensive and exhaustive surveys of humankind's
                         philosophical sojourns, his use of nihilism as a foil to deepen our self-
                         understanding as believers should not be misconstrued as a
                         speculative epistemic dichotomy between nihilism and belief in God. 
                         Kung was not in effect contrasting competing theories of truth but was,
                         instead, juxtaposing the noetic significance of competing justifications 
                         for practical existential responses, justifications that 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 rope-
climbed 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 truth-
conducive 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


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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               From Nicholas of Cusa:
No-Self & Nirvana        
elucidated by
Dumoulin                "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
One: Essential
Writings in             in which Thou dwellest. Its gate is guarded by the “highest spirit of
Nonduality - a review   reason”. Unless one overcomes it, the entrance will not open. On the
Simone Weil
                        other side of the wall of the coincidence of opposites one can see Thee,
                        on this side never."
John of the Cross
                         
Thomas Merton
                        The coincidence of opposites is a certain kind of unity perceived as
The True Self
                        coincidence, a unity of contrarieties overcoming opposition by
The Passion             convergence without destroying or merely blending the constituent
Hermeneutical           elements. Although in once sense not obliterated, in another the
Eclecticism &           constituent elements shed their multiple, differentiated status.
Interreligious          Examples would include the coincidence of rest and motion, past and
Dialogue
                        future, diversity and identity, inequality and equality, and divisibility
The Spirit              and simplicity.
Christian Nonduality     
more on Nonduality
                        ... coincidence does not really describe God. Rather it sets forth the way
The Contemplative
Stance
                        God works, the order of things in relation to God and to each other,
                        and the manner by which humans may approach and abide in God.
Hesychasm
                        God is beyond the realm of contradictories. God ... preceded opposites,
Mysticism - properly
considered              is undifferentiated, not other, incomparable, and without opposite,
Karl Rahner             precedes distinctions, opposition, contrariety, and contradiction.
Wounded Innocence       ____________________________________________________________
Rogation Days            
Radical Orthodoxy        
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             What Nicholas of Cusa describes regarding the coincidentia
Science                  oppositorum is very reminiscent of the type of nuance we find in
Epistemic Virtue
                         semiotic theory vis a vis the principles of excluded middle and
                         noncontradiction and when they hold and when they fold. It is also
Pan-semio-
entheism: a              found in all approaches to the univocity and equivocity and analogy of
pneumatological
                         being, whether of Scotus or Aquinas. It is found in early Dionysian
theology of nature
                         logic, in Meister Eckhart and in the modern American Pragmatism of
Architectonic
                         Charles Sanders Peirce. I first learned of it from the teachings of
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 Richard Rohr. It resonates with my own Franciscan sensibilities,
The Ethos of Eros        incarnational imagination and appreciation for Scotus. I elaborate on
Musings on Peirce
                         all of this here at Johnboy’s Homepage.

Eskimo Kiss Waltz         
the Light Side of        ____________________________________________________________
Dark Comedy
                          
Blog Visits
                         I like what Fr. Rohr says here:
Other Online
Resources                quote:
Are YOU Going to
Scarborough Fair?        "The Secret" which is now gaining popularity in the USA, is probably a
Suggested Reading        classic example of something that is partially true, and even good,
                         being made into the only lens through which you read reality, and then
Tim King's Post
Christian Blog           it becomes untrue. Heresy could be defined as when we
                         absolutize a partial truth, and I believe that is what is happening
The Dylan Mass
                         here. But I would also love for Christians to learn the partial
If You Are In            truth, and that is why we teach the contemplative mind
Distress, Spiritual or   here.
Otherwise

pending
                          
The Great Tradition
properly conceived       And he says this in the context of speaking against Gnosticism and for
Postmodern               Incarnationalism, which is our portal to the Divine via the particular,
Conservative
Catholic Pentecostal
                         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-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 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 value-
realization 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 value-
realization 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 life-
destroying 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 no-
self, 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 integrally-
related. 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 high-
fallooting 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 apple-
carts. 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 God-
analogue when such dust settles, if it ever does.

This is all to suggest that we can get along quite well,
theologically, from a merely phenomenological perspective,
metaphysically, even as we wait for more knowledge,
scientifically. No future discoveries in philosophy of 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 God-
analogs 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
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The Christian
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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:          Richard Rohr speaks of the four pillars of the Emerging Church 1)
archetypes &
transformation          honest Jesus scholarship 2) peace & social justice 3) contemplation &
East Meets West
                        nonduality and 4) noninstitutional vehicles.
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &    I would like to unpack this a little because I think it speaks directly to
Kundalini
                        his approach to apologetics, which is merely “doing it better,” this over
No-Self & Nirvana
                        against any overt proselytizing or critiquing of others (putting them
elucidated by
Dumoulin                down, maybe, to preserve our own sick identity structures). This fits
One: Essential          well with the approach to evangelism articulated by the founder of
Writings in
                        Richard’s order, the little man from Assisi, whom I’ll roughly
Nonduality - a review
                        paraphrase: Take every opportunity to evangelize and, only if
Simone Weil
                        absolutely necessary, use words!
John of the Cross

Thomas Merton           There is clearly a self-subversive reform underway in the Emerging
The True Self
                        Church. The first pillar of honest Jesus scholarship, in its efforts to
                        articulate the truth we have encountered, addresses an orthodoxy that
The Passion
                        eschews dogmatism . The second pillar of peace & social justice, in its
Hermeneutical
Eclecticism &           efforts to preserve the goodness we have encountered, addresses an
Interreligious          orthopraxy that eschews legalism . The third pillar of contemplation &
Dialogue
                        nonduality, in its efforts to celebrate the beauty we have encountered,
The Spirit
                        addresses an orthopathos that eschews ritualism. The fourth pillar of
Christian Nonduality
                        noninstitutional vehicles, in its efforts to enjoy the fellowship (unity)
more on Nonduality
                        we have encountered, addresses an orthocommunio that eschews
The Contemplative
                        institutionalism.
Stance

Hesychasm               So, in some sense, the great traditions have always been about the
Mysticism - properly    articulation of truth in creed, preservation of goodness in code,
considered              celebration of beauty in cult (or ritual) and enjoyment of fellowship in
Karl Rahner             community.
Wounded Innocence
                        An authentically integralist approach, then, will recognize Wilber’s
Rogation Days
                        quadrants such that the objective enjoys its moment of primacy in our
Radical Orthodoxy
                        pursuit of truth, the interobjective in our pursuit of goodness, the
Presuppositionalism      subjective in our pursuit of beauty and the intersubjective in our
vs Nihilism?
                         pursuit of community. In what I have called 1) the descriptive focus of
Science
                         human concern, we pursue truth in asking What is it? 2) the normative
Epistemic Virtue
                         focus, we pursue goodness in asking How do I acquire/avoid it? 3) the
Pan-semio-
entheism: a
                         evaluative focus, we pursue beauty in asking What’s it to me? and 4)
pneumatological          interpretive focus, we pursue unity in asking How does all this tie-
theology of nature
                         together (re-ligate)?
Architectonic
                         Each focus is a distinctly different value-pursuit and entails distinctly
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 autonomous methodologies, which is only to recognize that science,
The Ethos of Eros        philosophy, culture and religion are, indeed, autonomous disciplines,
Musings on Peirce        methodologically. What relates them integrally is that they are
Eskimo Kiss Waltz
                         anything but autonomous, axiologically, which is only to recognize
                         that none of these value-pursuits, alone, can effect a value-realization
the Light Side of
Dark Comedy              without some involvement of the other foci of human concern, each
Blog Visits              which presupposes the others, each which nests within the others,
Other Online             holonically. We can say that they are intellectually-related but not
Resources                logically-related; this is a vague heuristic and not some purely formal
Are YOU Going to         system.
Scarborough Fair?

Suggested Reading
                         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)
Tim King's Post
Christian Blog           pneumatological, which is to say that it will primarily engage in
The Dylan Mass           interreligious dialogue from the perspective of the Spirit, this over
If You Are In            against any ecclesiocentric approach and perhaps even bracketing our
Distress, Spiritual or   various Christological approaches 2) servant, which is to actively
Otherwise
                         grapple with the questions of social justice & peace 3) herald, which is
pending
                         to recognize the orthopathic efficacies of the contemplative, nondual
The Great Tradition
properly conceived
                         stance, inviting others to transformation via a shared social imaginary
                         as cultivated by authentically transformative liturgical approaches, this
Postmodern
Conservative             participatory approach emphasized over against the sterile and stale
Catholic Pentecostal
                         propositional apologetics of yesteryear and 4) mystical body, a visible
                         manifestation of an invisible reality, to be sure, but dropping our old
                         and insidious overemphases on the manifold and varied institutional
                         structures. (cf. Dulles’ models of church)

                         Wim Drees defines theology as a cosmology plus an axiology. Drees
                         notes that, and serious emergentists might pay special attention, the
                         discontinuity in emergent reality threatens the unity of the sciences.
                         Because laws, themselves, emerge, we are on thin theoretical ice when
                         speculating metaphysically re: the nature of primal reality, causal joints
                         for divine prerogatives, and so on.

                         While cosmological and axiological approaches are integrally-related,
                         they are methodologically autonomous. Cosmology answers the
                         questions 1) Is that a fact? (descriptively) and 2) How do I best
                         acquire/avoid that? (normatively). Daniel Helminiak, a Lonergan
                         protege, would describe these as positivist and philosophic activities
                         and rightly affirms, in my view, the philosophic as spiritual quest.
                         Even if one concedes, for 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 consciously-
competent 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 (non-
negotiable 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 Crone-
Magician 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-foresight-
dynamics-part-2-the-evolutionary-path-toward-holoptic-
environments-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 &    I resonate with certain theological sensibilities of Radical Orthodoxy
Kundalini
                        and share it's:
No-Self & Nirvana
elucidated by           appreciation of the pre-modern teachings of the early Church Fathers
Dumoulin
                        and the relationship between nature and grace as articulated by Henri
One: Essential
Writings in
                        duLubac and Jean Danielou; radix - our roots; methexis - participatory
Nonduality - a review   ontology (vaguely conceptualized) as might resemble the Neo-platonic
Simone Weil             perspective and even Hartshorne's panentheism; pseudo-Dionysius
John of the Cross       and the Cloud of the Unknowing; axiological epistemology - following
Thomas Merton           Yong, Neville, Peirce and Augustine's spirit of illumination;
The True Self
                        phenomenological turn guided by pragmatism and aesthetic teleology;
                        optimistic theological anthropology that fits with my Franciscan
The Passion
                        sensibilities; creational, pneumatological, incarnational and
Hermeneutical
Eclecticism &           sacramental realities; liturgical and ritual celebration; via negativa as
Interreligious
                        affirmation; orthopathos, beauty and aesthetic sensibilities & von
Dialogue
                        Balthasar's theological aesthetics
The Spirit

Christian Nonduality    suspicion of either rationalism or voluntarism; rejection of false
more on Nonduality      dualisms, Enlightenment fundamentalism, purely secular discourse
The Contemplative       Contra some R.O. perspectives, Scotus is a boon and not a bane. Please
Stance
                        take a look at MARY BETH INGHAM's, RE-SITUATING SCOTIST
Hesychasm
                        THOUGHT, Modern Theology 21:4 October 2005.
Mysticism - properly
considered              In my own epistemological architectonic, which draws distinctions
Karl Rahner             between concepts that have been negotiated in a community of critical
Wounded Innocence       and earnest inquiry (such communities being variously constituted,
Rogation Days           more vs less broadly), even the more broadly and diversely constituted
Radical Orthodoxy
                         communities would treat the concept of God as a theoretic concept,
                         which has been negotiated, even if other more narrowly defined
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             theological terms are moreso dogmatic, which is to say that they have
Science                  not been negotiated. Some Reformed epistemologists would even
Epistemic Virtue         consider the concept of God to be semiotic, which is to recognize it as
Pan-semio-
                         non-negotiable, as presuppositional, over against what would
entheism: a              otherwise be an unmitigated nihilism. There are many other concepts
pneumatological
theology of nature       and terms that refer to God that remain in negotiation, which means
Architectonic
                         they are heuristic devices. The pneumatological conceptions of God
                         seem to have the broadest appeal of all and probably have been more
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 widely negotiated than any other, which means they likely enjoy a
The Ethos of Eros        more robust theoretic status and usefulness, therefore, in inter-
Musings on Peirce        religious 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
                        FROM KARL RAHNER
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               And now God says to us what God has already said to the earth as a
No-Self & Nirvana       whole through his grace-filled birth: "I
elucidated by
Dumoulin                am there. I am with you. I am your life. I am your time. I am the gloom
One: Essential          of your daily routine. Why will
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   you not hear it?
Simone Weil
                        I weep your tears. Pour out yours to me, my child.
John of the Cross

Thomas Merton
                        I am your joy. Do not be afraid to be happy; ever since I wept, joy is the
                        standard of living that is really
The True Self

The Passion             more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who think they have
Hermeneutical           no hope.
Eclecticism &
Interreligious          I am the blind alley of all your paths for when you no longer know how
Dialogue
                        to go any farther, then you have
The Spirit
                        reached me, foolish child, though you are not aware of it. I am in your
Christian Nonduality
                        anxiety, for I have shared it by
more on Nonduality

The Contemplative       suffering it. And in so doing I wasn't even heroic according to the
Stance                  wisdom of the world.
Hesychasm
                        I am in the prison of your finiteness, for my love has made me your
Mysticism - properly
considered
                        prisoner.

Karl Rahner             When the total of your plans and of your life's experiences does not
Wounded Innocence       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
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             do not yet understand.
Science                  I am present in your needs. I have suffered them and they are now
Epistemic Virtue         transformed but not obliterated from my
Pan-semio-
entheism: a
                         heart. This reality--incomprehensible wonder of my almighty love--I
pneumatological          have sheltered safely and completely
theology of nature

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
                         It is Christmas. Light the candles. They have more right to exist than all
The Ethos of Eros
                         the darkness.
Musings on Peirce
                         It is Christmas.---Karl Rahner, SJ
Eskimo Kiss Waltz

the Light Side of        Thou shalt know Him when He comes
Dark Comedy
                         Not by din of drums--
Blog Visits

Other Online             Nor the vantage of airs;
Resources
                         Nor by anything He wears.
Are YOU Going to
Scarborough Fair?        Neither by His crown, nor His gown
Suggested Reading
                         For His Presence known shall be
Tim King's Post
Christian Blog           By the holy harmony
The Dylan Mass
                         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
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                             Christian Nonduality


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East Meets West
                        This week, I will visit my brother, Thomas, at the Benedictine abbey.
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               Although we live less than a mile
No-Self & Nirvana       apart, our opportunities to visit in person are infrequent owing to his
elucidated by
Dumoulin                order's rule and the nature of the
One: Essential          contemplative lifestyle he has chosen. I say "nature," regarding his
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   contemplative lifestyle, in recognition
Simone Weil             of the variety of ways the contemplative life can be approached. Some
John of the Cross       are priests, others brothers. Some
Thomas Merton
                        are monastic or cenobitic, spending most of their time in a community,
The True Self
                        others eremitic or hermits, living
The Passion
                        alone in different structures, some more primitive than others,
Hermeneutical
Eclecticism &           scattered throughout the property --- here a
Interreligious
Dialogue                tiny A-frame, there a modest cabin with porch, mostly the former.
The Spirit              Clerical or religious, cenobitic or
Christian Nonduality    eremitic, the fellows who populate this two-thousand acre wood are a
more on Nonduality      motley group of personalities and
The Contemplative
Stance
                        temperaments, of talents and ministries, much like the woods and its
Hesychasm
                        other denizens. The abbey's acreage,

Mysticism - properly    you see, is similarly variegated inasmuch as it is crossed, unevenly
considered
                        bisected, by a small river, which
Karl Rahner
                        is bordered, in part, by a hardwood floodplain, and, to a much greater
Wounded Innocence
                        extent, by upland pines. Where the
Rogation Days

Radical Orthodoxy       river, or creek I'd call it, meets the lake, is an expansive marsh that
Presuppositionalism
                         quickly gives way to small groves of
vs Nihilism?
                         oaks and magnolias, which in turn give way to extensive stretches of
Science
                         pines, mostly loblolly, shortleaf and
Epistemic Virtue
                         spruce, the virgin longleafs being confined to the immediate vicinity of
Pan-semio-
entheism: a              the cathedral, seminary campus,
pneumatological
theology of nature       monastery and guesthouse as well as sometimes densely populating
Architectonic            the adjacent grounds of the farm
Anglican - Roman         buildings and pastures. These old pines surround all of these century-
Dialogue
                         old structures, swallowing them in a
The Ethos of Eros
Musings on Peirce        sea of green. These longleafs escaped the mid-century timber harvest
Eskimo Kiss Waltz
                         only by virtue of being inextricably
the Light Side of        interspersed throughout this complex of buildings, pasture lands and
Dark Comedy
                         ponds, surviving the clear-cutting only
Blog Visits
                         by virtue of being well- segregated from the more remote and
Other Online
Resources                freestanding forested areas, which were
Are YOU Going to
                         otherwise harvested. (Not speaking judgmentally, here, as monks have
Scarborough Fair?
                         bills to pay, too.) This monastic
Suggested Reading
Tim King's Post          complex is further landscaped with a tangle of both deciduous and
Christian Blog           evergreen shrubs and vines and with
The Dylan Mass
                         rows and circles of camellias, azaleas, dogwoods, hollies, crape myrtles,
If You Are In
Distress, Spiritual or   sweet olives, oleanders and other
Otherwise
                         natives, all conspiring to provide spectacular splashes of color during
pending
                         every season of the year, not to
The Great Tradition
properly conceived       mention the contribution of Brother Jacob's many rose varieties. This
Postmodern               biodiversity of vegetation, coupled
Conservative
Catholic Pentecostal     with the fact that many eastern animal and plant species meet the
                         western limit of their range here, makes

                         the abbey grounds a bountiful wildlife haven, perhaps a doubly sacred
                         ground, supposing, I guess, that the

                         sacred might admit of degrees.

                         I live on the lakeshore by the river, at its mouth, across from the
                         marshy, abbey-owned lands, which lie on

                         the opposite and eastern bank. Upriver, the abbey lands mostly
                         straddle the creek. I appreciate all of this
                         biodiversity, too. At appropriate times during each calendar year, I thus
                         feast on rabbit, squirrel or turtle

                         sauce piquant, crab or shrimp or duck gumbos, braised woodcocks and
                         wild herb-seasoned, roast turkeys.

                         I catch bass, bream and sac-a-lait from the river and flounder, redfish
                         and speckled trout from the lake. My

                         brother supplies me with honey from the 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 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 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
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, sorry-
More 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 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
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                    TRUTH - ontological               GOODNESS - axiological                  UNITY - teleological
                                             Sensing                                Thinking                            Feeling                               Intuiting
                                               objective                              subjective                      intersubjective                         interobjective
                MORAL                      deontological ethics                aretaic or virtue ethics             contractarian ethics                   teleological ethics
               SOCIAL                   pluralist & free exercise                      academic                           cultural                              economic
              PRACTICAL               induction & physical reality           deduction & objective reality            semiotic reality                 abduction & ultimate reality
             SPIRITUAL                                                                                             art as expressivism or
                                      art as mimesis & imitational       art as formalism or essentialism                                                 art as instrumentalism
              aesthetical                                                                                               emotionalism
           PHILOSOPHICAL               correspondence theory &
                                                                         virtue epistemology & dianoetic      community of inquiry & semiotic          coherence theory & ananoetic
            epistemological                   perinoetic
          INSTITUTIONAL
                                              cult & ritual                         creed & dogma                    community & code                   metanarrative & anagogical
             e.g. ecclesial
               SENSUAL            descriptive - primitives & forces        descriptive - axioms & laws                  prescriptive                           evaluative
              POLITICAL            secularist & nonestablishment             personal responsibility                social responsibility                     subsidiarity
              PEACEFUL                    simple awareness               JOTS - jump outside the system            harmony between people                 harmony beween ideas
                                                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                               Neurotic Solution - the "Ergo
                                        SOURCES OF VALUE                          Existential Style
                                                                                                                           Sum"
                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                MORAL                                 to be good                      to feel perfect                                
                                                SOCIAL                                  to love                        to feel needed                                
                                              PRACTICAL                              to be useful                    to feel successful                              
                                            SPIRITUAL                                to transcend                      to feel special                               
                                          PHILOSOPHICAL                               to be right                    to feel independent                             
                                         INSTITUTIONAL                                to be loyal                      to feel guided                                
                                               SENSUAL                               to be joyful                       to feel good                                 
                                              POLITICAL                               to engage                      to feel in control                              
                                              PEACEFUL                              to be peaceful                   to feel connected                               
                                                                                                                                                    
                                      SOURCES OF VARIATION                                                                                          
                                  the Wings                                                                                                         
                                  Subtypes - self, social & sexual                                                                                  
                                  Stages & Sicknesses  and/or      
                                  Saints & Sinners                                                                                                  
                                  Security & Stress -
                                  directionality                                                                                                    
                                  Social Positions                                                                                                  
Notes on the charts above: Without being coy or esoteric, even if not otherwise explicit, I recently enjoyed combining my philosophical & epistemological insights with the 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 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."
 
                                                                                            
                                                                                            


                          deduction                        objective reality               ultimate reality                abduction
                             objective                     dianoetic                      ananoetic                          interobjective


                          RATIONAL                               thinking                       intuiting                  PRACTICAL
                                                                                                                       

                                                            correspondence
                             ontological                                                  coherence theory                     teleological
                                                                theory


                          art as formalism &                                               teleological &                  art as emotionalsim &
                                                           deontological ethics
                             essentialism                                             consequentialistic ethics                expressionism



                           truth                      creedal & sacramental               allegorical & anagogical
                                                                                                                              unity
                          WHAT CAN WE KNOW?
                                                             noetical                        unitive                      WHAT CAN WE HOPE FOR?




                            IS THAT A FACT?
                                                       aesthetical                           ethical                      WHAT MUST WE DO? and TO
                                                                                                                            WHOM CAN WE GO?




                          beauty                           historical & ritual            communal & moral            goodness
                           art as mimesis &                                                                                art as moral agency &
                                                          virtue or aretaic ethics        contractarian ethics
                            imitationalism                                                                                    instrumentalism


                                                                                            community of
                            cosmological                  virtue epistemology                                                  axiological
                                                                                               inquiry


                                                                                                                       


                          EMPIRICAL                              sensing                         feeling                       MORAL

                             subjective                   perinoetic                  transnoetic                           intersubjective


                          induction                         physical reality               semiotic reality           transduction
 
A recent exchange at NCRCafe re: relative *harshness* in church teachings brings to mind one of my own "issues"
with certain church moral teachings. There is a philosophical concept called "parvity of matter" that deals with 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]   Mystical Body
[2]   Abba
[3]   Jesus
[4]   Holy Spirit
 
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                        Louisiana's Fall Festivals returned with the autumnal equinox, Pascal
Hesychasm
                        sent out invitations to everyone he knew, inquiring after their interest
Mysticism - properly
considered              in going to Scarborough Fair. As fast as pigeons can fly, responses
Karl Rahner
                        came in from across the globe, verily, verily faster than even Facebook
                        or Twitter operate on occasion.
Wounded Innocence

Rogation Days
Radical Orthodoxy
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?
Science

Epistemic Virtue
Pan-semio-
entheism: 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
                         Einstein thought it would be relatively easy to attend.
Other Online
Resources

Are YOU Going to         Volta was positively electrified.
Scarborough Fair?

Suggested Reading        Ampere was worried he wasn't up on current research.
Tim King's Post
Christian Blog
                         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 round-
trips 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
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Nonduality Blog
Home
Radical Emergence -
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When:
To Avow & Dis-avow
an Axiological
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Montmarte,
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the Kingdom
Wanted: Women
Warriors
Maiden, Mother,
Crone & Queen:
archetypes &
transformation
East Meets West
                        Theology and Science - Disambiguation
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               I like to be clear regarding this project or the other regarding whether
No-Self & Nirvana       or not one is doing science,
elucidated by
Dumoulin                philosophy or theology. And we mustn't forget, oh my gosh, religion.
One: Essential          And if one is talking about ALL of
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   these spheres of human concern, in which sphere do they begin their
Simone Weil             conversation, and, in which do they
John of the Cross
                        end up.
Thomas Merton
The True Self
                        Except for the classical "proofs" by Aquinas and Anselm, and CS
                        Peirce's "Neglected Argument for the
The Passion
Hermeneutical           Reality of God," and the Modal Ontological Arguments as crafted by
Eclecticism &           Godel and Hartshorne and then, in
Interreligious
Dialogue
                        my view, lately and greatly improved by Christopher McHugh, I don't
The Spirit              consider much of what is going on,
Christian Nonduality
                        nowadays, to be natural theology or a natural philosophy of God. There
more on Nonduality
                        is just not THAT much that one
The Contemplative
Stance                  can say, in my view, about God, using philosophy as a starting point, at
Hesychasm               least not when methodologically
Mysticism - properly
considered
                        restricting one's musings to the rubrics of formal argumentation. The
                        same is true for any notions regarding
Karl Rahner

Wounded Innocence       "ultimate" reality, using either philosophy or science as a starting point.
Rogation Days           All anyone thus establishes is a
Radical Orthodoxy       modicum of epistemological parity with alternate worldviews, i.e.
Presuppositionalism      elaborate tautologies. I do not dismiss
vs Nihilism?
Science                  these enterprises that demonstrate the reasonableness of faith, for
Epistemic Virtue
                         some, like me, they have been

Pan-semio-               indispensable parts of my journey. For most, though, I've been told
entheism: a
                         they don't matter very much. And I trust
pneumatological
theology of nature
                         what they report and am better and better coming to grasp why. Even
Architectonic
                         then, I've enjoyed many, many
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 fruitful dialogues with many nonbelievers who do seek such
The Ethos of Eros        apologetics and we've grown in mutual respect
Musings on Peirce        and understanding and self-understanding.
Eskimo Kiss Waltz
                         Worldviews, thankfully, are not mere formal arguments. They
the Light Side of
Dark Comedy              represent deeply and profoundly experienced
Blog Visits              existential orientations and ultimate concerns. And, if they are
Other Online             authentically re-ligious, they "tie life's
Resources
                         experiences back together" and heal us that we may survive and grow
Are YOU Going to
Scarborough Fair?        us that we may thrive. If we are not
Suggested Reading
                         experiencing both healing and growth, both broadly conceived, well,
Tim King's Post          that's what the Prophets are for! They
Christian Blog

The Dylan Mass           remind us that we are to be about the actualization of value.
If You Are In            The interface between science and theology is not terribly interesting,
Distress, Spiritual or
Otherwise                philosophically, unless our project is
pending                  to disambiguate their definitions. If it remains interesting, even early in
The Great Tradition      the 21st century, it is only because
properly conceived
Postmodern               so many scientistic and fideistic apologists are arguing past each other,
Conservative             precisely because they've neglected
Catholic Pentecostal
                         the work of philosophical disambiguation. [Here I place a "rolling eyes"
                         emoticon.]

                         Unlike philosophy/natural theology and science, wherein we bracket,
                         best we can, our theology, in a

                         theology of nature we start with God and see His presence in all things
                         and hear Her siren song from all
                         places. From a different explanatory stance, we break out in analogy
                         and metaphor, poetry and song,

                         allegory and parable, joke and koan, story and dance, ritual and
                         sacrament. And we speak of trail dust and

                         stardust, quarks and supernovae, maidens and sailors, the Cosmic
                         Adventure and the Divine Matrix,

                         leaping whitetails and creeping lizards, bright indwelling presence and
                         luminous dark nights, hope and love

                         and faith ...
                         Science Constrains Theology?

                         This musing was evoked by some comments made re: the podcast by
                         Fr. George Coyne, S.J. on Science,

                         Faith and God but, below, I digress too far from the conversation over
                         there and thought it best to keep my

                         comment there, in that forum, short and more directly on message.
Jack Haught does a good job of describing four prevailing 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
                        THE TRINITY
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               If we think in terms of modal ontology, we might be able to imagine
No-Self & Nirvana       how the possible, actual, probable and
elucidated by
Dumoulin                necessary correspond to a grammar of the Trinity. I will not explicate it,
One: Essential          but will leave this as poetry.
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   I got this intuition meditating on the Trinity with the "grammar" of
Simone Weil             Julian of
John of the Cross
                        Norwich. First I thought of the psychologists and theologians who
Thomas Merton
                        speak of our
The True Self
                        *desire*, our *intention* and *action*. Then I thought of how Julian
The Passion
                        restated
Hermeneutical
Eclecticism &           that all *may* be well, all *can* be well, all *will* be well, all manner of
Interreligious
Dialogue
                        things *shall* be well, and you will know that all manner of things will
The Spirit              be well.
Christian Nonduality
                        Next I thought of the Father's *permissive will* who designed things
more on Nonduality
                        such that
The Contemplative
Stance                  all *may* be well and this was His *intention*. And it followed that the
Hesychasm               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
                         Now these Persons being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent,
Radical Orthodoxy
                         omnibenevolent ...
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             when They conspire with perfectly aligned permissive, efficacious and
Science                  desiring
Epistemic Virtue
                         wills ... a *mandatory will* of the Holy Trinity proclaims that all
Pan-semio-
entheism: a
                         manner of
pneumatological
theology of nature       things *shall* be well.
Architectonic            In the Holy Trinity thus resides *Desire* and *Intention* and
Anglican - Roman         *Action*.
Dialogue
                         And we, made in God's image and likeness, recognize these faculties in
The Ethos of Eros
                         ourselves !
Musings on Peirce
Eskimo Kiss Waltz        And what do we find in ourselves but DESIRE, longing, yearning !
the Light Side of        And here is the Grace, the Holy Spirit which animates us and draws us,
Dark Comedy
                         this
Blog Visits

Other Online             *desire* precedes our assent and helps preserve it through the
Resources                indwelling
Are YOU Going to
Scarborough Fair?        promptings of the Spirit.
Suggested Reading        Through our free cooperation with grace, our will is transformed such
Tim King's Post          that we
Christian Blog
                         share, increasingly, the *intentions* of Our Father (Thy will be done)
The Dylan Mass
                         and our
If You Are In
Distress, Spiritual or
                         *actions* progressively conform to those of the Son. And, if like Mary,
Otherwise
                         we
pending
The Great Tradition      ponder these things in our hearts, we will know that all manner of
properly conceived       things will be well.
Postmodern
Conservative             And I take heart and carry on because I have heard that others have
Catholic Pentecostal     been *gifted* with the same heartrending,
                         soul-searching journey of both incredulity and desire, for as
                         GeraldMay says:

                         We are conscious not just because our hearts are beating but because
                         they are yearning (1).
                         The only way to own and claim love as our identity is:

                         to fall in love with love itself,

                         to feel affection for our longing,
                         to value our yearning,

                         treasure our wanting,

                         embrace our incompleteness,
                         be overwhelmed by the beauty of our need (2).

                         Love is present in any desire ... in all feelings of attraction, in all caring
                         and connectedness. It embraces us
                         in precious moments of immediate presence. It is also present when we
                         experience loneliness, loss, grief

                         and rejection. We may say such feelings come from the absence of
                         love, but in fact they are signs of our

                         loving; they express how much we care. We grieve according to how
much of ourselves we have 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 non-
Catholic religions had no salvific
efficacy.




Christian Nonduality
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                             Christian Nonduality


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Wanted: Women
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Maiden, Mother,
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archetypes &             
transformation
                        Because of the nature of this website, I often getting inquiries
East Meets West
                        from people suffering from spiritual emergence issues, real
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &    spiritual emergencies, as well as those who have suffered
Kundalini
                        from a variety of debilitating emotional and mental illnesses,
No-Self & Nirvana       including depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
elucidated by
Dumoulin                Because I am not a trained spiritual director, social worker or
                        psychological counselor, I cannot (should not) presume to be of
One: Essential
Writings in             much help to these people, but I have fashioned something of a
Nonduality - a review   boilerplate response below. I have kept all of you in earnest
Simone Weil             prayer and close to my heart.
John of the Cross        
Thomas Merton
                        How Wide Is Your Moat? - our holistic
The True Self
                        moat
The Passion
Hermeneutical           The mutual fund industry has popularized the moat metaphor, a moat
Eclecticism &
Interreligious          being that deep and wide trench around the rampart of a castle , that is
Dialogue                usually filled with water. There are even pinball games, like Medieval
The Spirit              Madness , in which players use different strategies to breach the
Christian Nonduality    castle’s defenses, such as the moat, the drawbridge, the gate, the wall.
more on Nonduality      Sometimes the madness is not so medieval but very much
The Contemplative       contemporary, within our own psychological castle walls.
Stance

Hesychasm               I have often thought of the analogy of the moat in other than economic
Mysticism - properly    terms. It might also be a useful image in considering a person’s general
considered
                        well being , notwithstanding your 401K might now look more like a
Karl Rahner
                        201K.
Wounded Innocence

Rogation Days           Like a castle with its multiple layers of defenses, one’s general well
Radical Orthodoxy       being is also bolstered by its own moats and walls and gatekeepers and
Presuppositionalism      can be breached by many different types of attacks.
vs Nihilism?
Science
                         There are times in our lives when we know our well being will have to
Epistemic Virtue         do battle, when we need to both widen and deepen our psychological
Pan-semio-               moats and pull up the drawbridges of our physical ramparts. The size of
entheism: a
pneumatological          such bulwarks must be determined by many factors.
theology of nature

Architectonic            Let’s consider some examples of the types of battles we must all fight
Anglican - Roman         and of the kinds of defenses we might need to put in place to fortify our
Dialogue
                         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
                        The Passion of Jesus & Mary & Joseph
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               And of John the Baptist & Elizabeth
No-Self & Nirvana
elucidated by           Narrator: I asked them of their hopes and dreams
Dumoulin
                        Of how it seemed to them
One: Essential
Writings in             On a road that led to Calvary
Nonduality - a review

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
                        Awaited my Messiah,
Hermeneutical           With Him I longed to be."
Eclecticism &
Interreligious          Joseph looked at her and nodded:
Dialogue

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                  "At the time of our betrothal,
Hesychasm
                        The fulfillment of my life
Mysticism - properly
considered              Was to take your hand in marriage,
Karl Rahner
                        To take you as my wife."
Wounded Innocence
                        "I was first the handmaid of the Lord,"
Rogation Days

Radical Orthodoxy       SaidMary as she smiled,
Presuppositionalism      "But what devastation you endured
vs Nihilism?

Science                  When you found I was with child."
Epistemic Virtue         Joseph said: "My heart was broken;
Pan-semio-
entheism: a              How bitterly I wept;
pneumatological
theology of nature       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
                         When warmly we embraced !"
the Light Side of
Dark Comedy
                         Joseph: Our road would wind, go up then down,
Blog Visits
                         His way seemed hard to learn.
Other Online
Resources
                         Mary: But angels came in Joseph's dreams
Are YOU Going to
Scarborough Fair?        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   And you'd thought the angel'd lied.
Otherwise
                         Mary: (You see Herod's son took Herod's place
pending

The Great Tradition      So, again, we'd have to flee).
properly conceived
                         Joseph: And warned, again, within a dream,
Postmodern
Conservative
                         We left for Galilee.
Catholic Pentecostal
                         Mary: So, too, on your road with Jesus,

                         You may find your plans and schemes

                         Will be readily displaced there
                         By our 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
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Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &     The Holy Spirit is so ineluctably unobtrusive while so utterly
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                        efficacious, a tacit telic dimension of a panentheistic matrix of
No-Self & Nirvana
elucidated by
                        interrelated causes and effects, a pansemiotic Peircean thirdness
Dumoulin                breathing fire into Stephen Hawking's equations, a sacred reality we
One: Essential          relate to impersonally until we awaken to the absolutely personal
Writings in
Nonduality - a review
                        and intimate calling of all of creation forth to participate together in the
                        eternal movement of divine kenotic delimitation in a community of
Simone Weil
                        ever-creative love. This divine urge is so tangibly present, so
John of the Cross
                        palpably real, so amenable to our successful references while
Thomas Merton
                        ever-elusive to any successful descriptions.
The True Self

The Passion             The Spirit, active in all of the great traditions, in all human
Hermeneutical           endeavor, thus has many names and many analogs and it is not always 
Eclecticism &
Interreligious          clear when it is we are relating to the Spirit modally, which is to say
Dialogue                literally, or when it is we are invoking the Spirit analogically. Surely,
The Spirit              not all of our God-talk need be, in principle, merely apophatic or
Christian Nonduality    metaphorical? Still, this is not to say that whatever it is that could be
more on Nonduality      univocally predicated of both creature and Creator is yet conceivable by
The Contemplative       humankind, even as a root metaphor. If we have come close, then my
Stance                  guess is that we share a creative, self-emptying love.
Hesychasm

Mysticism - properly    In addition to many ontological and metaphysical considerations, we
considered
                        have also described an axiological epistemological outlook, a
Karl Rahner
                        value-driven, fallibilistic perspectivalism. All things being equal,
Wounded Innocence
                        this perspectivalism honors the positivist agenda that defines
Rogation Days           epistemic virtue in terms of empirical rigor and logical consistency
Radical Orthodoxy       but takes heed of our radical finitude, which requires us to look
Presuppositionalism      beyond such truth-conducive virtue, when it yields only equiplausible
vs Nihilism?
                         accounts of reality, to pay heed to the normative guidance available in
Science
                         the truth-indicative virtues of aesthetics, ethics and pragmatics.
Epistemic Virtue
                         This is not to say that we do not aspire to the epistemic warrant but
Pan-semio-
entheism: a              only to recognize that, sometimes, all we can attain is epistemic parity.
pneumatological          This is not to privilege the truth-indicative over the truth-conducive,
theology of nature
                         for this perspectivalism is holistic and not holonic, which is to say that
Architectonic
                         all of the integrally-related epistemic perspectives are necessary in each
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 human value-realization, none sufficient. Thus we avoid
The Ethos of Eros        epistemological vices like positivism, rationalism, empiricism, fideism,
                         arationalism, gnosticism, pietism, encratism and other insidious -isms
Musings on Peirce
                         that comprise a long litany of epistemic pejoratives that have
Eskimo Kiss Waltz
                         historically been tossed back and forth between competing
the Light Side of
Dark Comedy              philosophical schools.
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                         For all practical purposes, then, when it comes to humankind's most
Resources                insistent longings and most passionate urges, we necessarily look
Are YOU Going to         beyond the mere evidential, rational and presuppositional to the
Scarborough Fair?
                         existential and we recognize that the descriptive and interpretive
Suggested Reading        perspectives would form an identity but for the fact of our radical
Tim King's Post          finitude, which is to recognize our profound value-neediness. If the
Christian Blog
                         normative must then mediate between the descriptive and interpretive
The Dylan Mass
                         to effect the evaluative, then we can face this human condition in
If You Are In
Distress, Spiritual or
                         either existential despair and epistemic resignation or we can, instead,
Otherwise                embrace our situation in recognition of the radical
pending                  plenitude that putatively corresponds to our radical finitude. And we
The Great Tradition      can be on the lookout for this abundance precisely because creation
properly conceived       has gifted us with a down payment, an earnest, a guarantee, or,
Postmodern               in other words, first fruits.
Conservative
Catholic Pentecostal     We can take the mere fact of existence as brute and to be expected or
                         we can remain ever-surprised and forever-befuddled by a glory that is
                         surely not merely contingent. 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 first-
impacted by our metanarratives. This has implications for our pedagogy of conversion because it reveals that our worldviews are foremost a way of SEEING 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, 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.
 
 
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 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 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 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 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 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!
 
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 so-
called 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 constructs an hypothesis that foundations indeed exist but their precise locations are problematical. And the dynamics of designating their
locations are arbitrary at worse, probabilistic at best. Coherence fares no better, probabilistically. Foundherentism may be stronger, but again, probabilistically.


The executive summary for why we have all of these beliefs and can use them to guide us slowly, inexorably, but always fallibly and probabilistically, toward
some meta-paradigm? They tend to work. That's all. Construct a formal argument for THAT. [I really should mention a Mortimer Adler strategy for closing the
s o-called fact-value dichotomy and that is to couple a self-evident prescriptive premise to a descriptive premise and then to reason one's way to a conclusion.
And Hilary Putnam, too, who'd maintain that epistemology is inherently normative. That's a valuable fact.]

How are we, then, to navigate to a TOE when the very tools we employ are an epistemological Rube Goldberg apparatus? Almost the whole dang toolbox?




    a) philosophy mediates between phenomenology and paradigms, which inform practices; b) the normatives sciences mediate between phenomenology and
    metaphysics, in Peircean Pragmatics; c) the normative mediates between the positivistic and the heuristic, which guides behavior; d) judgment mediates
    between sensation and abstraction leading to action.

 




1) 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 (quotes by Haldane, Pugh and
Chesterton); 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




And yet, I'm an epistemological optimist. As Chesterton said: We do not know enough about reality to say that it is unknowable. And, even though Haldane
said that reality is not only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine, I must amend that with: for now. Even Godel drew a distinction
between formal proof and knowing, allowing as how we can sometimes see the truth of our axioms even as we cannot prove them. In my view, just because
something is tautological does not mean that it is not true. It only means we have not added any new information to our system. And, as heuristic devices, not
all tautologies are equally taut. We can adjudicate such pragmatically.

So, Simple Occam, my metaphysical imperative is to ambition (you like that?) a metaphysic and to construct it, contra Godel's theorem, as both complete and
consistent, which will make it rather tautological and circular (but will cause your spreadsheet program to halt). Or, construct one with some unproven axioms
that just seem rather useful. Who knows? We may see a truth so good and beautiful and unitive that the axioms won't even be interesting (like Principia).
And, who knows, maybe, just maybe, it will be like Godel said, something, the truth of which, one can taste and see even without proof, you know, kind of like
2 + 2 = 4. Supposedly, one would have to journey with Russell and Whitehead halfway thru the Principia before the axioms supporting that equation are
proven. Not me buddy! Does that make me credulous and keep me from joining The Brights? Oh well.

Another way to do an end around consistency without completeness, formally, is to put it in narrative form: The Tautest Tautology Ever Taught; The Most
Probable Paradigm Ever Proposed; The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Merry Christmas in July.
 
For the most, as I see it, no such thing as "believing in" any of these heuristic subroutines normally takes place. Most could be characterized as alleged
foundational presuppositions. They thus function as subdoxastic routines. As radically social animals, we are formatively "gifted" with these, begging the
question of just how responsible anyone is for their doxastic practices.

In my tetradic heuristic, using the sensation, abstraction, judgment and action rubric, I would locate these subdoxastic routines between sensation and
abstraction as perceptions. They there constitute, not what we see and experience, but instead, the way in which we see and experience reality. To confound
this dynamic further, these routines seem to staddle a threshold, where our nondoxastic and subdoxastic routines seem to blend. One can only suppose that
these "beliefs in" perdure through time because they have not been rebutted or undermined, but this is not to a priori suggest that they cannot be overridden
in principle. There is a recursive interplay between the nondoxastic, subdoxastic and doxastic that, in fact, presumes their mutability.

I suppose I have tried to explain and justify why I would respond to your questions, more succinctly, as follows: 1) Formatively, we do not choose to adopt
these practices; 2) Reformatively and transformatively, we can choose to reject them, under certain circumstances.

I am vitally interested in these questions insofar as they bear directly on how we might most efficaciously bring about social and political change. For instance,
does the human heart, universally, long for freedom above all else, such that democratization of tribalistic cultures should be an aim of foreign policy?

Most philosophical schools seem to address what I am calling heuristic subroutines or subdoxastic practices or foundational presuppositions. This is not to at
all suggest that conceptual mapping across various philosophical hermeneutics can be done facilely. 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. By the time they get abstracted (again, going from sensation & perception, emotion & motivation, learning & memory to
conceptualization & cognition), we have paradigmatic accounts of alleged transcendental imperatives. And this transcendence can be minimalistically conceived
as sociobiological (I prefer biosemiotic) traits with adaptive significance, which were hardwired as our brains and language coevolved. It can also be conceived
as transcendence writ large, which goes beyond the scope of this particular reponse but not beyond the scope of this thread.

This all speaks to a problem that I call the community-wide trapping in a tautology, which calls for a solution in terms of a deconstructive strategy that, seems
to me, requires a subversion of the tautology from within a metanarrative via critical thinking and not, rather, from outside, which inevitably results in our
talking past each other (e.g. social conservatives vs liberal feminists; wahabbi sunnis vs republican neocons). What the world needs now, is love, sweet love,
but it is not the only thing that there is just too little of. Critical thinking is the commodity that is more precious than fossil fuels.

And so it seems rightheaded to me that we not focus on converting community's to our tautological paradigms, or even having a utopian goal of syncretistically
blending these tautologies into some worship-worthy meta-tautology. Rather than conversion, I would settle for a reversion to the authentic core of each
major tradition or ideology where truth, beauty, goodness and unity have undeniably been articulated, celebrated, preserved and experienced, at least by
their saving remnants, by their leavening ingredients, as salt for the earth, as cities on a hill, as lights in darkness. To not be so poetic and cryptic, I am talking
about various leaders and saints from such traditions. Their heroines and heroes, mythic or literal.

Institutional decay of certain universally-held core values is inevitable and the institutions become corrupted and their missions perverted into raw human
power plays of repression and oppression. We need to support prophetic voices of protest from within traditions that they may be re-newed. As they tend to
their roots, with a certain measure of unconscious competence vis a vis these subdoxastic practices, which we've had under consideration, we need to invite
them into authentic dialogue and initiate them into a more conscious competence and a more robust self-critique. I've met critical thinkers from all over the
world from every major religious and ideological persuasion and NONE of them scare me. In fact, they all give me hope. It's always the True Believers that
scare the crap out of me.

So, by couching these subdoxastic practices in terms of belief in, I suppose I am just trying to parody certain other unreflective doxastic practices, and maybe,
as the Turks say: Those who know the road will not join the caravan.

Reflection on the subdoxastic might invite reflection on the doxastic. So, to be really successful in my endeavor, I would need to re-package my message in the
form of koans, poems or stories, or even jokes. To get a person to laugh, we do not order them to laugh; rather, we tell them a joke. It is more about gifting
others with a new way of seeing and experiencing reality that I am after moreso than a new way of believing. At least, the new way of seeing reality lies as a
huge bottle neck in the road to new, more authentic beliefs. This road? The critical path (ambiguity intended).
 
So, let's say that we all pretty much agree that ontology is a valid theoretical discipline. With that stipulation, we might better locate our precise divergences.

I'll try to better articulate my own “ontology.” In classical terms, what we are talking about, from my panentheistic paradigm, is natural philosophy, which in my
tradition, was called natural theology. I DO take some comfort in demonstrating, through ontological speculation, that my meta-paradigmatic heuristic is
logically valid, eschatologically falsifiable, somewhat temporally falsifiable in terms of Lonerganian authenticity (those conversions I described vis a vis
orthopraxis authenticating orthodoxy), internally coherent, externally congruent with and constrained by the positivistic and philosophic sciences, and so on.
In other words, I want my positions and dispositions to be reasonable and I want to provide justification, however weak my foundations, however fallible my
realism.

Now, in a pluralist society and globalized setting, let's say we gather in some forum with the common goal of articulating a more compelling morality. How
much normative impetus a) does or b) should my particular heuristic bring to the discussion table? At the present time on humankind's journey, I would tend to
bracket my heuristic or paradigm or ontology (all considered writ large) and would ask other participants to similarly prescind to the realm of transparent
human reason. There we can humbly explore our moral sensibilities and our analysis of moral objects in ideas and terms that transcend our diversity in our
search for peace and unity. It is also my belief that human and cosmic solidarity is not something we need to establish algorithmically or demonstrate logically,
but rather is a reality we awaken to ... after which, compassion naturally ensues. Waking up to such an awareness is also like "getting" a joke or koan. When
we awaken to our solidarity, compassion will ensue. We'll go out with a nuclear bang or an ecological whimper if we wait around for a compelling TOE. In the
end, truth, beauty, goodness and unity ... love ... are their own rewards.
 
 
 Philosophy mediates between phenomenology and paradigms to inform practices.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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 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.
 
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 self-evident nihilism (Loyal Rue). Some are active and outspoken
against religion (Dawkins &  Dennett).
 
 
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elucidated by
Dumoulin                of science, between the poet and the physicist, the priest and the depth
One: Essential          psychologist, the monk and
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   the politician." Merton
Simone Weil
                        While Merton affirms that our symbols can bring us into closer contact
John of the Cross
                        with reality, he cautions against
Thomas Merton
The True Self
                        identifying them with reality. In a sense, he was saying, with Ralph
                        Waldo Emerson : "Heartily know.
The Passion

Hermeneutical           When half-gods go, The gods arrive.".
Eclecticism &
Interreligious          "What is this (contemplative prayer) in relation to action? Simply this.
Dialogue
                        He (and she) who attempts to act
The Spirit
                        and do things for others or for the world without this deepening of his
Christian Nonduality
                        own self-understanding, freedom,
more on Nonduality

The Contemplative       integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. He
Stance                  will communicate to them nothing
Hesychasm
                        but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his
Mysticism - properly
considered
                        egocentered ambitions, his delusions about

Karl Rahner             ends and means, his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas." Thomas
Wounded Innocence       Merton," The Climate of Monastic Prayer"
Rogation Days           To the extent that natural mysticism and enlightenment seem to gift
Radical Orthodoxy       humans with what I think are authentic
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             insights and intuitions about cosmotheandric unity and human
Science
                         solidarity and Divine immanence, then I
Epistemic Virtue         truly believe they foster human authenticity in the fullest lonerganian
Pan-semio-               sense. They contribute, in my view,
entheism: a
pneumatological          to Lonergan's secular conversions: intellectually, affectively, morally
theology of nature
                         and socially. So it is with anything
Architectonic
                         that truly humanizes a human being: good diet, good hygiene, good
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue                 discipline, good awareness, good
The Ethos of Eros
                         asceticism, good habits, etc Even the construction of the false self, the
Musings on Peirce        social persona, is part of the
Eskimo Kiss Waltz
                         humanization process of this animal, Homo sapiens. So, this drives at
the Light Side of
Dark Comedy              the question of whether or not
Blog Visits              humanization and divinization are the same thing, perhaps. And I
Other Online             think we can answer in the affirmative.
Resources
                         However, complete humanization, into the Imago Dei, seems to
Are YOU Going to
Scarborough Fair?        require the Lonerganian religious
Suggested Reading
                         conversion, too, and seems to require Helminiak's theotic focus or
Tim King's Post          realm of concern. Humanization and
Christian Blog
The Dylan Mass           divinization go hand in hand but the process can be frustrated before
If You Are In            one undergoes religious conversion
Distress, Spiritual or
Otherwise                and before one's realm of concern opens up beyond the positivistic,
pending                  philosophic and theistic into the theotic.
The Great Tradition      So, I think, yes, there is something dynamically ordered about Zen and
properly conceived
                         TM and natural mysticism, that
Postmodern
Conservative             moves one toward humanization and authenticity and which can
Catholic Pentecostal
                         improve on human nature in such a way

                         that grace can build on a better foundation. That is what the Holy Spirit
                         does n'est pas? Grace builds on

                         nature. So, anything that helps us more fully realize our humanity and
                         authentic human nature can help

                         dispose us to gifts of the Spirit, among which is infused contemplation.
                         [Especially since enlightenment
                         seems to gift one with docility, openness, quietness, stillness, solitude,
                         solidarity, compassion, good

                         asceticisms and habits that transmute into true virtue, all related to the
                         life of love and prayer that help

                         properly dispose others to infused contemplation etc?] The Spirit,
                         however, as with anyone who progresses

                         in the prayer life on through advanced stages of meditation to the
                         simplest forms of active prayer, remains

                         sovereignly in control, in my view, of contemplative grace.

                         Further, it does seem that one must have habitually nurtured
                         kataphatic devotion and loving intentionality

                         in a fully relational approach, in addition to any apophatic experience
                         of nonduality or void, if one is to

                         then expand their focus of concern to include the theotic, if one is to
have their secular conversions

transvalued by a distinctly religious conversion, which is clearly explicit
and kataphatic, devotional and

intentional and relational. In other words, for example, ditching one's
mythic-membership consciousness
(credally) is NOT the way to go, for that is a negation of a stage and not
rather a transvaluation.

Merton has touched upon a dynamic, when he speaks of existential
crisis, which is very much related to the

Cross for Christians although it happens with all people, even in
science. The dynamic, more specifically,

involves our confrontation with a problem. We initially perceive the
problem as soluble and we work

mightily to solve it. It matters not whether it is a philosophical
conundrum or some scientific hypothesis or

some existential crisis/spiritual emergency. We exhaust all of our
resources and then arrive at the point

where we pretty much conclude that this particular issue is insoluble.
At this point, we resolve to leave it

alone, give it a rest, to forget about it altogether. So, we do. Then, when
you least expect it, whether in a

dream or while playing or working or chopping wood and carrying
water, the solution comes to us in a

flash, totally gratuitously and unmerited as pure grace, so to speak.
Now, this dynamic is very natural and

involves the workings of the human mind at a subconscious level,
intuitions bubbling up to the surface, to

be sure, not unaided by the Holy Spirit.

Another distinction from Merton.

Merton discusses two of the types of confessio, of confession, but I
don't recall the latin terms for both. One

was laude or praise. The other was re: the more familiar "It was me. I
done it." that we know from the Rite

of Reconciliation and from police shakedowns, or parental busts re:
hands in cookie jars.

This distinction makes for rich reflection and meditation but I'll try to
control my imagination and focus on

the transformative process.

The confession of praise is the converse: "It was God. He done it."

The psalms are about 50:50 penitential supplication taking the form of
"I done it" and of praise taking the
form of adoration of "He done it."

Now, there comes a point where we pass through existential crisis or a
series of crises and recognize that

there is little meritorious effort on our behalf other than cooperation
with grace and that all else is pure
unmerited Grace. This is part of recognizing our radical dependence on
God, Whom we can trust because,

well, look around at What He Done!

My point pertaining to this thread, however, is that, prior to getting to
that place of praise and He Done It,

we must get both to the place of I Done It re: our abject sinfulness as
well as It Isn't/Wasn't Me! re: our

manifold blessings and very existence.

Part of the nondual experience, then, is the existential realization of It
Isn't Me --- not this creation, not

these feelings, not these thoughts, not any rule-following or goodness,
iow, It Isn't Me cognitively,
affectively or morally, that's responsible for starting all of this, holding
it all together and taking it

anywhere.

This can be quite liberating.

The famous singer-songwriter, James Taylor, once made a wisecrack
about AA, saying that half of the

people that are in it are trying to come to the realization that they are
not God, while the other half had the

job once and are desperately busy trying to tender their resignation.

Well, it isn't enough to stop with It Isn't Me, and that, I believe, is
where an existential experience of the

no-self can leave us. But this apophatic realization must be dialectically
related to HE DID IT! IT'S HER!

and this is the positive, kataphatic content that is truly fitting and
proper, coming from a tongue that cannot

confess same without the initiative of the Spirit's prompting.
So, the loss of the affective ego can occur, in any of the many ways we
have conceived it and experienced

it, I think, and particularly in a manner that Merton wisely discerned
was apophatic, natural, impersonal,

existential, but needing completion in the kataphatic, supernatural,
personal and theological, these

processes nurturing and mutually enriching and entailing one another.
This is where Tony deMello went

awry to some extent in some of his later work and it is where
Bernadette likely errs, too.

Point is, the confession of It's Not Me is necessary but not sufficient.

What comes to mind with respect to adulterers and murderers like
both King Herod and King David, is

what, ultimately, makes the difference between our going Herod's
route or that of David?

To a certain extent, all that society asks by way of reformation is that
we be rehabilitated into a good social
persona, that we function well in our interpersonal dealings --
politically, economically, socially and
culturally. IOW, society asks that we follow the rules, that we obey the
law. Adherence to the Law is what

was required of these Old Testament persons, in accordance with the
Old Covenant. David became a good

man and a great king by meeting these standards. He became his true
self, the psalmist, when he went

deeper in his relationship to God.

So, in its very essence, the Old Covenant very much corresponds to
that second level of development, that

which pertains to our socialization, and, although there were certain
prophecies and foreshadowings, the

crosses borne by these peoples were not the same as THE CROSS.
Certainly, there must have always been

some opportunity for humans on earth to partake of the
transformative process effected by Jesus for once

and for all through his birth, life, passion, death and resurrection.
Indeed, many did undergo such radical

transformation, especially, one might suspect, someone like David, the
Psalmist, who points the way to
Jesus, to the Father, in the Spirit.

At the same time, the explicit announcement of the New Testament,
the proclamation of the Good News,

the living out of the Gospel, of the Kerygma, through the Cross,
marked an existential crisis at a global

level for ALL PEOPLES, and played itself out as, not a total
renunciation but, as a total surpassing of the

old way. This is directly analogous to the death to self that is called for
on the journey of each individual

but involved a type of death for the People of God as a whole, who were
being called to a new level of

intimacy.

Again, we invoke, as individuals, because we have been convoked, as
an entire People of God. We are

called as a People and respond, radically alone (in many respects), as
individuals.

Another lesson that is taught about David by Louis Evely (whom Phil
will fondly recalled) is That Man Is
You , which is to say: what is wrong with the world is ME.

What happens as we make the turn and drop the persona, which,
again, was formatively necessary, is that

we seek enlightenment out of compassion for the world, which
constantly suffers our unenlightened selves.

No longer are we in search of consolation or sensible positive affect
because Perfect Love is its own
reward, is totally unconditional, entirely kenotic.

We lay down our false selves, not for our own benefit, not because we
are tired of the pain it causes us, but

because of the pain we are transmitting to our loved ones, to the world.
Any pain that is not thusly
transformed, however neurotic or psychotic or emotional or idiopathic,
we transmit to others. We seek to be

rid of this pain that we may desist from transmitting it to others.
Perfect Love and Perfect Contrition are

inextricably bound up. It is suffcient to enter the Kingdom, through the
law, through the old gate, of

following the rules and being sorry for the consequences to ourselves
when we don't. That was the old way

and it still works.
BUT, if we take up our cross, go through the existential crisis, and
come to that breakthrough where we are

moreso sorry for our sin because of the consequences to others and to
God, then we crucify the Old Man

and rise as a New Creation, seeking the contemplative gaze, as Teresa
says, not so much for the

consolations but, rather, in order to gain the strength to serve. We
become Christs. We allow God to be

God-in-us, our truest selves. This isn't a requirement, but it is an
invitation. The most important one that
any of us will RSVP or not.

Let me insert this here. Losing something like fear does not mean that
we have come to any pollyannish

conclusion that all of the bad things that could happen to us are not
going to happen --- rather, it means that,

we know full well they are even likely to happen but are nothing,
ultimately, to fear. So, too, with guilt,

anger ... We give up the neurotic version in exchange for the existential
version, which is quite THE
CROSS to arrive at the resurrected version, which is ALL IS WELL.

This, too, is dialectical, like the Kingdom. It is on its way. It has already
arrived. Paradise is ours to inherit.

It is already in our hearts. All is decidely NOT well, temporally, in this
earthly tent wherein we dwell,

BUT, in reality, ours is a robe of resplendent glory and, eternally (not at
the end of time or for a long time,

but outside of time where we have both origin and destiny), ALL is,
indeed, well.
I cannot report a loss of affect as much as I can discern, rather, a
tendency for feelings to follow me into

action rather than leading me into action.

St. Thomas described how our love of God increases in proportion to
our knowledge of God. And this is

true.

St. Bernard described how our knowledge of God increases in
proportion to our love of God. This, too, is
true.

The knowledge of God that St. Bernard describes, however, surpasses
that which St. Thomas was speaking

and writing about. St. Thomas was talking about that knowledge of God
that comes from both natural and

supernatural revelation, a discursive knowing that increases through
our study of philosophy, metaphysics,

theology and such, such a knowing as could never attain to God's
essential nature even as it might infinitely
advance toward same.

The love of which both Thomas and Bernard spoke of, however, can
indeed communicate with God's

essential nature, leading one to a mysterious type of knowledge that
certainly informs our normative

sciences (of logic, aesthetics and ethics) and descriptive sciences (for
instance, natural science) but which

also far surpasses them, a knowledge difficult to describe or articulate.
Such a love, I believe, is
experienced on the threshold of contemplation.

Such is the love which casts out all fear. And here is the link to the loss
of the affective ego that I'd like to

explore. The perfect love that casts out all fear is a love that has grown
in dependency on God, has learned

to trust God, that knows that, however bad the situation or dire the
circumstances, in the final analysis, all

will be well. It is the mystical love of Julian that sings all may, can, will
and shall be well and is the
realization of the promise that you will know that all manner of things will
be well. Here, then, is the

distinction we draw between existential fear and neurotic fear,
existential guilt and neurotic guilt,

existential anger and neurotic anger, the existential always in service of
life and love and relationship, the

neurotic invariably life-detracting, love-detracting, relationship-
destroying. We are not dealing only with

neuroses that are overcome in the process of individuation but also
those sinful resistances to conversion
that are overcome on our journey of transformation, distinct but
intertwined realities.

So, I would describe the loss of the affective ego as an energy inversion
whereby the emotions and feelings

and affective life don't so much energize our behaviors by initiating
them but rather energize our behaviors

by reinforcing them. It seems that this state could be effected all of a
sudden through some precipitating

event or could arise through time and a habit of virtue.
I will stop here as my thoughts are fogging up, but there is a dynamic of
love and surrender that seems to be

involved and either a sudden metanoia or a force of habit where this
dynamic is concerned?

Love, eminently reasonable, needs no reason, inasmuch as it is
sufficient unto itself. Happiness, finally,

cannot be pursued but must ensue. So, too, with good feelings. They
aren't needed but will often ensue,

which is to say, follow, love.
Merton noted that often, when we are in pain and conflict and
contradiction, we incorrectly associate same

with old wounds, with old injuries that truly have been resolved and
healed already. During such times,

Merton encourages us to consider the very real possibility that we are,
rather, being invited to open

ourselves to a new level of being through such pain and conflict and
contradiction. In other words, if we are

not properly attentive, then we run the risk of stagnation, desolation
and aridity, sometimes for months or
years, dwelling on the wrong integrative and transformative issues,
missing the invitation to move to

another level, a level that could be attained in a day even.

One of the chief obstacles to advancing in the spiritual life, then, is to
gain a certain clarity of vision

regarding the route to sanctity or to psychological integration (routes
that are much intertwined) and then

acting as if the vision itself is the attainment when, in fact, it is not the
mapping of the journey that marks
our growth but the walking of the road, which is to say that, if you are
on the illuminative or unitive way,

then get on with it, and so on. Further, the mapping never involves the
entire journey but entails, rather, our

next good step, a step which is the spiritual equivalent of taking the
entire journey Thus it is that the entire

road is traversed, one step at a time in faith with the trust that that step
is truly what is required for now, for

today. We can get caught up with seeing the road and then fail to walk
it, is our constant peril.
Two lessons here: Sometimes one has to quit beating one's head
against the wall just because it feels good

when you stop. Sometimes one has to quit circling the same
developmental block on the journey just
because some of the signs look the same, which is to say that
emotional memories can get in the way by

misleading us into thinking that our pain is rooted in old unresolved
issues when it is moreso about leading
us in a new direction entirely (with a genesis in new issues), inviting us
to another level entirely. Then,

once we see this new direction, it is of the essence to WALK it and not
merely content ourselves in the

consolation of SEEING it!

Well, this is a very loose rendering of the meaning I gathered from
Merton and any misconstructions are

my own. I will leave it to the forum to sort through how the
integration/transformation of the affective ego
fits in, for that may be a better way of describing what I think is going
on in what is being called the loss of

the affective ego. Point is that old emotional memories can get
improperly associated with new spiritual

emergence issues and that we can misdiagnose the reason for our
present pain, conflict and contradiction.

I believe it was in that very same lecture that Merton noted that the
spiritual path and the path of scientific

breakthroughs is analogous. Specifically, the steps are: 1) We find an
issue, sort through it and set about to
solve it. 2) We grapple and grapple with it until we realize that it is
virtually irresolute, unsolvable, beyond

us, too difficult. 3) We let go and move on. 4) Sometimes, years later,
the solution comes to us in an

instant, in a flash.

Nothing very profound here.We've all used this approach in balancing
our checkbooks, eh? But the point is

that that is how our human natures are constructed and that that is
how our unconscious and conscious
minds and spirits seem to interface.

Seeing after not before is axiomatic for the spiritual mapping of the
journey. Others' journeys, even those of

the great mystical doctors, let's say the Carmelites like John of the
Cross and Teresa of Jesus, can give us

touchpoints for the journey, indications that we are on the road, but
they have no predictive value. The

same is true with Ignatian and sanjuanian discernment such as re:
consolation and desolation, maybe even
such as regarding loss of affect, depression, acedia, beginnings of
contemplation -- where we are moreso

discerning retrospectively and not so much being guided prospectively.

Finally, BINGO re: this wisdom as not being a property of the mind
even though it works very much in
concert with the mind. The contemplative gaze in love transcends our
cognitive and discursive faculties and

penetrates through to the Divine Essence, actually communicating and
relating to God's essential nature, a
nature that is, in principle, incomprehensible.

We must be careful, however, in confusing incomprehensible with
unintelligible. If these experiences were

unintelligible and God was unintelligible, this forum wouldn't be
possible, huh?

Another Mertonesque thought: We are moving toward an existential
realization of how critical to our

spiritual survival prayer really is. This realization is attained when we
feel our need for prayer as acutely as
we would feel the need for a breath when underwater.

That is my crude rendering from memory. I think this has something
to say to us all whether we are called

to discursive mediation, lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio,
operatio or what have ya. Whatever our

prayer gift as led by the Spirit, it is to be engaged with the sense of
critical and acute and urgent need that

affirms our radical dependence and perennial state of existential crisis.
Now, don't get Merton wrong. This is all dialectical. One moves into
crisis to lose crisis. One loses self to

gain self. First, there is a mountain. Then, there is no mountain. Then,
there is. One recognzies one's radical

dependency to move to place of radical trust. One experiences one's
emptiness and abject poverty to realize

one's utter fullness. One moves into paradox and pain and
contradiction to realize that, whatdaya know, all

is well.
This is something re: the loss of self that is affirmed by the Sufi
(Islamic)and the Hasidic (Jewish) mystics

and that Merton, building on Buber as well as the Sufis, so well
understood.

So, too, with human affects and desires. John of the Cross speaks of
disordered appetites and Ignatius

speaks of inordinate desires. It is not the appetite or desire we seek to
eradicate, ultimately, but through

proper ascticism and renunciation, we lose our emotional energy that
intitiates so many of our behaviors
(both virtue and vice) only to regain it to reinforce our virtues. Think of
Ignatian discernment re:

consolation and desolation, for example, and of how the different
spirits console or afflict us, variously, as

we either cooperate with Grace or backslide.

This dialectic is working, I believe, with the affective ego. Now, there
may be something very deeply
analogous going on with spiritual consolations and desolations and
psychological affects that is not

completely identical. This could account for how psychologically
developmentally deformative influences
might intefere/interact with spiritually transformative processes. This
is no easy nut to crack and might

profoundly influence with what facility one moves through an
existential crisis to the experience of nocrisis-

after-all. IOW, a spiritual emergence issue that gets foisted upon
someone may not achieve its
dialectical goal of teaching one to breathe underwater but could, for all
practical purposes, drown a person.

When He knew for certain only drowning men could see Him, He said
all men shall be sailors, then, until
the sea shall free them.

Merton speaks of a Sufi scholar, who draws many parallels to
psychoanalysis, which is to say who sees the

therapy process as analogous to the spiritual journey.
If in therapy our primary concern is the resolution of unresolved
subconscious conflicts, then Sufism might

be thought of in the same way, only on a deeper level.
In therapy and normal individuation, we are resolving certain conflicts,
the resolutions of which 1) take us

from an infantile level, take us from the merely instinctual animal to a
human type of being where our

cognitive and affective development is concerned 2) then further take
us and adapt us to successful social
and cultural beings.

Many struggle at the first level, such as with an Oedipus complex, by
way of example, staying Momma's
boys their entire life, but most get through it to the second level of
struggle, some falling prey to escapes

from the difficult realities of social-cultural life. AA is an example of a
good way to deal with such

evasions, helping primarily by providing motives to change, wise to the
fact that one has to want to change
in order to change and no one can do it for us. This is pretty much
where conventional therapy stops,

helping one deal with one's neurotic evasions of social responsibility.
This, however, is insufficient for bringing about the general honesty
required to go deeper and to become

an authentic human who has faced life's fundamental challenges, life's
BIGGER problems, gaining life's

existential awareness.
What are these BIG PROBLEMS? 1) continuity vs discontinuity - death
2) creativity - having a life that is

meaningful, a presence that makes a difference.

What are the mistakes that even analysts/therapists make here? What
mistakes are made by us as

individuals at this level? We treat these issues as if they were problems
of social adaptation (that second

level we talked about). IOW, if you are esteemed by your society or in a
particular cultural milieu, then
you've conquered these problems, your presence not only has made a
difference but lives on, in a manner of

speaking. WRONG! This "solution" leads people into a further evasion
from a truly meaningful life. This
blueprint is wrong and must be torn up and thrown away. [Think here
of our affective reward system and

not only what vices are reinforced by certain emotions but also by what
so-called virtues are being

reinforced by our range of emotions. There needs to be a rewiring.]
What is called for, rather, is a BREAKTHROUGH into existential
awareness. IOW, we recognize that this

social esteem and instinctual control we have gained is
MEANINGLESS, not meaningless, to be sure, for
our functioning in ordinary life, but certainly in terms of life's ultimate
meaning. {Here Merton

recommends Viktor Frankl.]

So, from this deeper level, our social success is meaningless. On one
hand, though, it is great and
necessary, but, otoh, it is TOTALLY NUTS!

How do we get in touch with what is needed on the deeper level?
Through the Psalmist is one way, for the
deeper level whether praying the mad, glad or sad psalms is always
GOD.

The CROSS is the demonstration of this struggle, the realization of this
conflict in Jesus, a conflict between

the establishment of the religion, such as in society, on one hand, and
the realization of authentic religion,
such as in one's heart, otoh. It REJECTS the silly notion of "Keep the
rules and there you've got all the

answers," which Merton calls a wooden nickel. It similarly rejects:
"Don't keep the rules," which is a stupid
form of the same silly game.

The ultimate solution to our biggest subconscious unresolved conflicts,
our existential questions, is

experiencing our rootedness in God, God in our very hearts. Death
loses its significance as an end because
we are already finalities, already ends unto ourselves because of our
being-in-God, being-in-love, which is

sufficient unto itself with no further reason or justification. Our
creativity is found in our issuing forth from
the Creator and not in anything we do to gain social approval or
cultural amenities. The obligational has

become aspirational. One then studies and prays, fastening and
binding one's spirit to God, clinging to God,

after the manner I wrote about previously, needing prayer as badly as
one who is under water needs a
breath. Then, in all we see and experience, God is present, and we don't
at all take seriously the self we

have to be to operate in society, the role playing, the best things in life
not being demanded by us but
received a pure gift from God FOR ME, who lets God be Himself in me,
when my false self has vanished.

The old emotional programming, that was even formative and not
deformative, must be re-wired, in order

to move on to the deeper level of a human being-in-love-with-God.
Hence the dark Nights. Hence, the
transformation of the affective ego as we move from a false to a true
self.
Hence, what Merton is describing is our social persona, which must
die. True enough, our formation from

the animal-instinctual to the social-cultural self is required, is
necessary for the journey. In fact, we cannot
surrender this self to the Cross, which is to say, to the existential crisis,
until we have fully come into
possession of same.
The existential crisis, then, involves a confrontation of the I with the
not I , of the true self with the false

self, and, when it is upon us, everything we see and observe and relate
to in our existence is then seen

through the lens of this crisis, of this Cross.
For society-at-large, then, the Gospel is this lens. The problem is that
we have talked about the Cross so
much, about the Gospel so much, that we have, in some sense,
trivialized it and robbed it of its profound
and radical significance for our individual lives and our lives in
community. While in this crisis, however,
we come to realize that the reason the world has so many huge
problems -- socially, culturally, politically,

economically -- is because of people, people like me who are living on a
phony, superficial level of
existence, out of contact with our true source, Who is God, alone.
The ultimate idolatry, then, is our self. So, we take this socially-formed
self and crucify it and it is not like
going to a movie or coming into an Internet discussion forum but is,
rather, much more like walking into a
fire.

The reward system, the reinforcement mechanisms, the old emotional
programs, which worked so well for
those of us who made it through our formative years with more
formation, reformation and information
than deformation, must be transformed. This mirrors, in fact, how our
loving knowledge of God no longer
comes through our senses, no longer is accompanied by sensible
consolations, but is a direct
communication with the Divine Essence that is beyond our discursive
faculties. All of this is a massive

upheaval of the way things have been for us --- cognitively, affectively,
morally even, for it is no longer a
mere following of the rules that brings one closer to God, although that
part of our formation was
absolutely necessary. This is a huge project and undertaking,
multilayered and multitextured and quite
unique for each individual, although we have discussed the
touchpoints and the mapping of this journey.
The soul now approaches the God, Who needn't approach, Who dwells
within, and the heart remains
restless that has not made God its all. Rooted in God in radical trust
and surrender, a new reward and

reinforcement system gets set in place, where Love of self for sake of
self has been transcended by love of
God for sake of self, which has been transcended by love of God for
sake of God, 'til, finally, our true self
emerges and we love that self for the sake of God. The dialectic takes us
back into self-possession,
paradoxically, by self-surrender. This has cognitive, affective and moral
aspects.

This is why we are here.
The care and nurturance of a soul is a most awesome task! You will
appreciate this from C.S. Lewis:

"It is a serious thing, to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses,
to remember that the dullest and
most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature
which, if you saw it now, you would be
strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as
you now meet, if at all, only in a

nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to
one or other of these destinations. It
is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and
the circumspection proper to them,
that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all
friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations
-- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is
immortals whome we joke with,

work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting
splendours. This does not mean that

we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment
must be of that kind (and it is, in fact,
the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the
outset, taken each other seriously -- no
flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a
real and costly love, with deep feeling
for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner -- no mere tolerance or
indulgence which parodies love as
flippancy parodies merriment." From __The Weight of Glory__




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                        TRUE SELF – FALSE SELF
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               Below is a sidebar conversation I was having with someone else re: the
No-Self & Nirvana       Rohr-Keating retreat, where the
elucidated by
Dumoulin                subject of the true-false self terminology came up. I thought I'd tack it
One: Essential          on here:
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   It turns me off in this sense. It is bad terminology. Unfortunate use of
Simone Weil             words. But we work with them
John of the Cross
                        because of their heritage in our tradition.
Thomas Merton
The True Self
                        Why unfortunate? Because of what you said: False self is not bad.

The Passion             I prefer to use: early on our journey and later on our journey, thus and such
Hermeneutical           happens. [This is not to deny
Eclecticism &
Interreligious          that many unduly put off the journey to such things as transformation
Dialogue
                        and even adulthood.] The early stages
The Spirit
                        of formation and transformation are good. So are the later. And
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The Contemplative       journey is abandoned. The false self represents our socialization,
Stance                  moving from little animals to humans. It
Hesychasm
                        represents our humanization. And our humanization and divinization
Mysticism - properly
considered
                        are inextricably intertwined, not really

Karl Rahner             distinguishable really. The more fully human we become, the more we
Wounded Innocence       reflect the Divine Image, the imago
Rogation Days           Dei. So, we don't abandon the false self. Not at all. Rather, we take full
Radical Orthodoxy       possession of it in order to
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?             surrender it to crucifixion. [And one cannot surrender what one does
Science
                         not form and possess.] We give it up
Epistemic Virtue         in order to be radically saved (from sin and death); it is no mere pious
Pan-semio-               gesture. Thus the seed falls to the
entheism: a
pneumatological          ground and dies ... Thus every other metaphor for the Paschal
theology of nature
                         Mystery ...
Architectonic
                         This is my False Self.
Anglican - Roman
Dialogue
                         I give it up for you.
The Ethos of Eros
                         We awaken to the True Self when, like Ignatius, we see ourselves as
Musings on Peirce
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Tim King's Post
Christian Blog
                         Subject: True Self/False Self and Merton
The Dylan Mass
                         Below are some of my notes and ideas on Merton
If You Are In
Distress, Spiritual or
Otherwise
                         as they pertain to the True Self. I will mark in bold type those that you

pending                  may want to scroll down and read first, in order to get his main thrust.
The Great Tradition      One
properly conceived
                         thing I would emphasize is that, in one manner of speaking, we must
Postmodern
Conservative             build a
Catholic Pentecostal
                         false self at early stages of human development. That false self is what
                         we

                         acquire as our parents and teachers work to transform us from animal
                         beings

                         to social beings. If you talk to teachers nowadays, you might get the

                         impression that we are not very successful at even that!

                         In other words, this false self is what results from our socialization. We

                         take on a social persona. This is an indisepensable step in human

                         development, in my view. If I am hearing Merton right, we do want to
                         help

                         people form these social personae, which are part of what our false self
                         is

                         all about. So, to some extent, our pedagogy and catechesis is not
                         incorrect,

                         when dealing with young folks in a developmentally appropriate way.
                         The
                         chief problem, which I think is what you have really caught onto, is
                         that

                         socialization is but one part of transformation and humanization. We,
                         as a

                         Church, need to teach people how to come into full possession of this
false-self/social persona in order to surrender it!

But, life is a better teacher, here, has been my experience.

[Or as Rohr points out, there are two paths to the realization of the true
self:

mysticism and suffering.]

Most people do not surrender their false self or social persona without
first passing

through an existential crisis.What the Church must do, perhaps, is to
stand

ready with a special program or pedagogy or catechesis for those who
have
recently experienced an existential crisis, such as with spiritual
direction

and grief counseling and other specialized small groups. To some
extent,

this is the strength of AA, Al Anon and other such support groups. As I

write, below: The ultimate idolatry, then, is our self. So, we take this

socially-formed self and crucify it and it is not like going to a movie or

coming into an Internet discussion forum but is, rather, much more
like

walking into a fire. All of this is a massive upheaval of the way things

have been for us --- cognitively, affectively, morally even, for it is no

longer a mere following of the rules that brings one closer to God,
although

that part of our formation was absolutely necessary. The soul now
approaches

the God, Who needn't approach, Who dwells within, and the heart
remains
restless that has not made God its all. Rooted in God in radical trust
and

surrender, a new reward and reinforcement system gets set in place,
where

Love of self for sake of self has been transcended by love of God for
sake

of self, which has been transcended by love of God for sake of God, 'til,

finally, our true self emerges and we love that self for the sake of God.

The dialectic takes us back into self-possession, paradoxically, by

self-surrender.

What happens as we make the turn and drop the persona, which,
again, was

formatively necessary, is that we seek enlightenment out of
compassion for

the world, which constantly suffers our unenlightened selves. No
longer are
we in search of consolation or sensible positive affect because Perfect
Love

is its own reward, is totally unconditional, entirely kenotic.

We lay down our false selves, not for our own benefit, not because we
are

tired of the pain it causes us, but because of the pain we are
transmitting

to our loved ones, to the world. Any pain that is not thusly
transformed,

however neurotic or psychotic or emotional or idiopathic, we transmit
to

others.We seek to be rid of this pain that we may desist from
transmitting

it to others. Let me insert this here. Losing something like fear does
not

mean that we have come to any pollyannish conclusion that all of the
bad

things that could happen to us are not going to happen --- rather, it
means
that, we know full well they are even likely to happen but are nothing,

ultimately, to fear.

Part of the nondual experience, then, is the existential realization of It

Isn't Me --- not this creation, not these feelings, not these thoughts,
not

any rule-following or goodness, iow, It Isn't Me cognitively, affectively
or

morally, that's responsible for starting all of this, holding it all

together and taking it anywhere.

One of the richest reflections on this I have ever come across is in
Merton's __New Seeds of

Contemplation__, especially in the preface and first three chapters,
which reflect on what contemplation is

and is not and what the true self and false self are. The most concise
summary I could come up with would
be that, 1)for our true self, our joy is found in God's glory; 2) our will is
oriented to God's love; 3)the work

of our journey is to co-create with God our identity through and with
and in God; 4) that we may become

wholly in His image, holy in His image; 5) when we do have our
memory, understanding and will

integrated and holistically operative, we experience our true self but 6)
this co-creation of our identity and

this surrender of our memory, understanding and will to faith, hope
and love are effected through

theological virtue gifted by the Spirit by an elevation of nature through
grace and transmutation of
experience through grace and not by a perfection of the natural order
by our natural efforts, which is to say

7) we are in need of salvation to overcome both death and sin and the
most fundamental vocational call we

answer is 8) to be saved and then 9) transformed. In other words, we
don't enter the monastery or undertake

a life of prayer to make us better human beings -- rather, we urgently
and in crisis and seriously and
radically place the utter dependency and abject poverty of our selves
(which are nevertheless good) at

God's disposal in order to be dramatically rescued.

Teresa of Avila did say that we must desire and occupy ourselves in
prayer not so much

so as to receive consolations but so as to gain the strength to serve.
Still, a careful reading

and parsing will note that she didn't negate or eliminate our desire
for consolations

but only added to them. I like the simple distinction between eros or what's
in it for me?

and agape or what's in it for God & others?

Agape, however, does not extinguish or negate eros, but, rather,
transvalues it and

recontextualizes it. Thus we do not let go of what's in it for me? even as
we strive to

transcend it with agapic love.
Merton teaches on Bernardian Love: 1) Love of self for sake of self; 2)
love of God for

sake of self; 3) love of God for sake of God; 4) love of self for sake of
God (and I like to

add for sake of God and others, including the cosmos).

None of these transcendent movements is intended to negate the
earlier movements but,

rather, transvlaue and perfect and recontextualize them.

In other words, the Old Covenant still works. Imperfect contrition is all
that is needed to

enter the Kingdom, which is to say, I detest all my sins because of thy
just punishment

(consequences to me). The New Covenant transvalues the Old, moving
beyond what we

might call a) imperfect contrition, b) eros, what's in it for me? and c)
enlightened self

interest (love of God for sake of self) and inviting us to a) perfect
contrition (but most of
all because I have offended you my God, and my people, and the
cosmos), b) agape,

what's in it for all beside me? and c) true enlightenment, which results
from a compassion

that ensues from our awakening to our utter solidarity. Thus you take
care of yourself and

desire consolations to strengthen yourself to serve God and the people
you so very much

love (love of self for sake of God and others). We seek consolations so
we can empty

ourselves of them in service and love.

When they don't come ... perhaps ... we are being told to ... Give it a
rest ... (or to quit

backsliding, it depends) and we are being reminded that Someone else
is in charge. And

when we persist in loving service even in utter desolation, our
consolation comes from

conforming ourselves to our Redeemer, Who did not deem equality
with God something
to be grasped at but emptied Himself ... and loved unconditionally (but
conditions are

okay in our finitude and human condition).

I suppose I am suggesting that purity can and even should very much
involve something

in return; God would have us be on the lookout for His blessings -- our
Dayenu -- at

every turn. Or maybe I am saying impurity, of a sort, is okay. But our
intention is indeed

impure/suboptimal if it does not seek the greatest glory of God (ad
majorem Dei gloriam,

AMDG). Even if apokatastasis were true, universal salvation, which is
to suggest that

Christ's sacrifice was so efficacious all will be saved, eventually -- the
true Lover would

not rest or be content or indifferent -- but would always be seeking
Ignatius' degrees of
humility 1) not to commit mortal sin 2) not to commit venial sin 3) not
to offend God in

the least but to in fact imitate Him in His passion, seeking not only His
Glory but His

Greatest Possible Glory!

Like a parent ... as a Parent ... I think God wants us to know and seek
what's in it for me

when we visit. His refrigerator, cookie jar and pantry and playroom and
television are

ours for the asking. I know He'd have us leave refreshed and to go
forth and serve others,

too --- and has suitable chastisements in store when we don't. But
more than anything
else --- God wants us to know the joy of being parents, which, in my
experience, will

very much include the willingness to be taken for granted.

Curiously, I believe He leaves us in desolation sometimes --- maybe ---
for the purpose of
allowing us to love Him and others unconditionally, being taken for
granted by others

and even taken for granted by God! And thus we get to imitate Him
perfectly as we are

conformed to His likeness in unconditional love.

There is a paradox here: Lord, make me holy, but only as holy as you
want me to be.

Lord, let me imitate You, but only as much as You want me to!

After a time, I have been less and less able to discern the difference,
emotionally,

between desolation and consolation. I think I just surrendered and quit
caring and

worrying about it. When I run out of steam, I stop. When my batteries
are recharged, I go.

I desire to do His will and do not know if I am or not but I do not worry
about that either

-- for I know that my desire pleases Him if nothing else (Merton).

This is not wholly unrelated. There is a fallacy in any stage theories and
developmental theories that takes

the form of negating lower stages rather than integrally transvaluing
them. My whole discussion above can

apply to the kataphatic and apophatic devotions, too. Although there
are prayer movements and practices

that now emphasize sensation and perception, now emotion and
motivation, now discursive and now

nondiscursive approaches -- an integral approach implies the whole
human knowledge manifold or

evaluative continuum is placed at the Spirit's disposal for God do to
what She will when praying in us, for

no prayer is initiated other than by the Spirit -- not kataphatic, not
apophatic. Our entire being-in-love is

placed at God's disposal. Apophasis and kataphasis are held in creative
tension whereby kataphasis glories

in God's intelligibility through metaphor and apophasis glories in God's
impenetrable mystery and

incomprehensibility as we acknowledge our metaphor is but a weak
analogy. We hold on loosely but don't
let go, as the song says.

The analogy would be -- when I speak metaphorically and analogically,
you and i both know it without me

having to explicitly point it out, usually. Conceptually, when I am
having a kataphatic experience, it is
simultaneously being apophatically qualified, especially when we are
speaking cognitively. The point of

clarification might moreso surround the affective aspect. No need to
reinvent that wheel insofar as both the

sanjuanian and ignatian discussions of consolation and desolation and
discernment treat this robustly?

Which would be to suggest that -- how one responds to distractions, to
desolation, to consolation -- in

prayer and living --- cannot be captured in a one-size fits all
prescription? Sometimes they should be
ignored and sometimes embraced and often times even shunned -- it
depends.

now pertaining to how good we are and are not:

One thing about Benedict that differs from JPII is his augustinian
versus thomistic thought. This makes for

a distinctively different theological anthropology, among other things,
one that is moreso pessimistic vs

thomism's optimism and much more pessimistic than the
transcendental thomism of Rahner and Lonergan
(which WAS too optimistic). This has practical implications for any
theories of how grace builds on nature

insofar as it describes, in terms of goodness, how much nature brings
to the table before grace does its

thing, how much humankind can accomplish, for instance, in
discerning natural law, before being apprised

of divine revelation.

One thing of immediate interest to me is Pope Benedict's augustinian
rather than thomistic perspective,
which has large implications for our theological anthropologies. To
keep it simple, I would just say that

Pope Benedict's perspective on human nature is more pessimistic than
JPII's.

One major issue such a perspective will address, for example, is what
human nature is capable of without

the benefit of Divine revelation. Another issue would be to ask just how
depraved we are vs how good we

are (on a continuum, of course), before grace builds on nature, which
is to ask, perhaps, what type of

foundation does human nature afford the Spirit as each soul begins its
journey of transformation?

Pope Benedict, in relying so much on Augustine, will be very aware of
the very best that Luther had to

offer by way of critique and is in a very authoritative position,
theologically, to advance ecumenical

dialogue with Protestantism. This would make for a great papal legacy
and great strides have already been
made, for example, regarding the joint accord between Catholics and
Lutherans on the doctrine of

justification. [Much credit is due Hans Kung, too, whose role has,
regrettably, been largely

unacknowledged.]

Benedict will also be in a position to point out what he would perceive
as Luther's shortcomings insofar as

he informs his augustinianism with the Catholic analogical
imagination over against the Protestant
dialectical imagination. See this from The White Robed Monks of St.
Benedict.

So, when it comes to human nature, it is essential that we flesh out our
presuppositions regarding our

theological anthropologies. The most pessimistic versions would be
any like a radical, augustinian

Protestantism and the most optimistic would be any like a
transcendental thomism (of Rahner and

Lonergan).
JPII and Benedict's perspectives would fall in between, JPII more
optimistic than Benedict but less than the

transcendental thomists, Benedict more optimistic than Luther but
less than JPII.

This not only has important implications for theosis, for spiritual
transformation, but also for our

ecclesiology, how we conceive church. The more pessimistic view is
going to give impetus to a more

centralized governance, for example, reserving more teaching authority
for the magisterium and imputing
less docility to the Holy Spirit to us anawim? This view is surely
tempered though by our incarnational

approach, which sees God's grace and the Spirit's indwelling in all
creation, in every creature, particularly

the human being, who is made in the very image and likeness of God!

One of the better balancing acts regarding theological anthropology
and optimism-pessimism is that of

Jesuit theologian Donald Gelpi, who tells us that the truth about
human nature lies somewhere between the
belief that we all long spontaneously for the beatific vision and the
belief that creation and humanity are

totally depraved and devoid of goodness due to God's radical absence
and rare disclosure. Gelpi employs a

foundational theology of conversion and I think this is right-headed ---
because how the institutionalized

church (sacramentally and otherwise) facilitates conversion is the
ultimate measure of doctrinal orthodoxy.
It is important to recognize that, whatever their theological
anthropologies, Benedict and JPII and Paul VI
and John XXIII and Rahner and Lonergan and, to some extent, even
Luther, were in unity regarding

essentials of our faith and what we are deliberating will invite a
plurality and diversity of perspectives

regarding various accidentals.

With Augustine, then, and Benedict, in essentials, may we celebrate
our unity; in accidentals, our diversity;

and in all things, charity. [And this is not to deny that there is some
disagreement on what exactly is
essential and what accidental.]

So, that's an intro of where I will be coming from: listening to the
disparate voices and praying for our

discernment for our next good steps as individuals in response to these
considerations.

Reflecting on the augustinian perspective reminded me of its account
of the Trinity, which, analogously,

exhibits faculties of memory, understanding and will, which is reflected
in humanity. These faculties are
fully and perfectly integrated in the Trinity but humankind experiences
them as sometimes attempting to

operate autonomously or, as I would say, in a dis-integrated manner,
which is to say, not holistically. Now,

to the extent these comprise, in part, the human evaluative continuum
or knowledge manifold, perhaps it

would be fair to say that they try to operate autonomously and
disintegratedly in our false self but then,

through ongoing transformation into the imago Dei, are re-integrated
and begin to more often operate
holistically and in a more fully integrated fashion, like the Trinity, in
our True Self. What would be the

implications for prayer?

Prayer, in the false self, would be as noisy as a churning cement truck
but as powerful (transformatively

efficacious) as a sewing machine.

Prayer, in the True Self, would be as quiet as a sewing machine but as
powerful (transformatively
efficacious) as a cement truck (or Sherman Tank, choose your own
metaphor).

In the false self, prayer would variously employ this or that aspect of
the human evaluative continuum

willy-nilly and based on temperament and human biases, such
continuum not holistically engaged, not fully

integrated.

In the True Self, prayer would employ such a human evaluative
continuum as mirrors the fully integrated
memory, understanding and will of the Trinity and, as such, it would be
holistic and, hence, simplified.

Here we are talking about simplicity in its most superlative sense. It
means the whole person is pray-ing

and at the disposal of the sovereign Spirit, Who will guide it in all
manner of consolation, desolation and

therapy, all such movements to be interpreted through traditional
discernment exercises and helping to

direct our next good step.
[The next paragraph is my embellishment of what I heard Fr. Rohr
saying.]

So, we pray in that manner that best silences the false self, quieting it
and its faculties, however discursive

or nondiscursive, and this manner may be for some the rosary, for
others the Eucharist, for others walking

meditation or this or that practice coupled with this or that discipline.
And we thus pray in a manner that

most fully engages the True Self, allowing it to commune with God in
utter simplicity and most holistically
and integratively --- as quietly as a sewing machine but as powerfully
as a cement truck.

Being quiet and simple and powerful results from being holistic, single-
minded and whole-hearted -

praying the True Self.

Being noisy and complex and inefficacious results from being
disintegrated, monkey-minded and divided

in one's affections - praying the false self.
It is not so much what temperament or which faculties we bring to
prayer or not but, rather, which s/Self.

Now, some have called any prayer from the True Self contemplation.
Others more narrowly conceive it,

differentiating contemplation from other prayer in many different ways
(such as charisms differentiated

from infused gifts of the Spirit, etc). Those conceptualizations and
usages are not my concern here.

As we consider prayer from lectio, oratio, meditatio, contemplatio,
operatio, glossolalia and so on, I would
suggest that it is not any of these formulae that we'd prescribe as
generally normative --- for these will vary

per temperament and charism and/or gift from a sovereign Spirit, Who
initiates all such promptings.

What is a norm to which we should all aspire is prayer from the True
Self, which knows gentleness and

compassion for the false self, one's own and others'. And these false
selves are good and necessary selves
for us to function in the human condition in this world but are still
otherwise suboptimal for communing
with God and realizing solidarity with others.

Thus it is that all prayer lives are oriented through time toward
increasing simplicity --- not so much from

alternating and purposeful engagements and disengagements of
various aspects of the human evaluative

continuum as from the purposeful engagement of the True Self and
disengagement of the false self; hence,

the quieting disciplines and silencing practices are directed at our false
self but not really at the human
evalutive continuum as constituted in the True Self.

Now, it just so happens that the human evaluative continuum of the
True Self is quieter and simpler --- but

this moreso results from its efficient integration and powerful holistic
deployment (and does not require any

particular, narrowly defined practice or privileged asceticism).

This is a personal clarification. It is my view that Fathers Keating and
Rohr have substantively and not
superficially engaged The Cloud and other Classics in our Tradition
and that they have depthfully and not

facilely employed the many elements of the contemplative tradition in
their approach to CP, which is to say

that I do not resonate with any notion that there are fallacies in their
logic and I would not want to

caricaturize their approach and thereby dismiss strawmen.

What is at issue for me is not the validity of their logic (these folks are
excellent critical thinkers) but
perhaps the soundness of certain conclusions regarding what exactly
takes place in this or that practitioner

of CP. Discerning the soundness of these conclusions is something
that can only be done in the crucible of

experience and this process of discernment must avoid its own set of
fallacies, one of which is that the

abuse of something is no argument against the use of something. To
properly get at the soundness of their

conclusions, the discerning community will have to go beyond
personal anecdotes to sociological and
psychological studies to measure the effects of this or that practice on
intellectual, affective, moral,

sociopolitical and religious conversions.

What most seems to be at issue, as best I can discern, can be
illuminated by distinctions drawn by Maritain
and byMerton. Maritain distinguishes between philosophical
contemplation, intuition of being, natural

mysticism and mystical contemplation. Merton distinguished between
apophatic/kataphatic,

immanent/transcendent, natural/supernatural and
existential/theological. There are all sorts of other
distinctons that come into play, too, such as between passive and active
meditation, open and closed,

receptive and concentrative, attentional and intentional and relational.
There are the distinctions between
active and passive and infused contemplation, between charisms and
gifts of the Spirit, and an

acknowledgment of the Spirit's sovereign action on the soul,
notwithstanding our efforts. There are

manifold psychological considerations that come into play also as we
integrally and holistically conceive
the human. Clearly, we must concede a depthful knowledge of these
distinctions to all of the participants in

this dialogue.
The distillation of the concerns is this: There are manifold and varied
asceticisms and disciplines and

practices in our contemplative traditions, all of which can serve to
dispose one to receive the gift of

contemplation, all of which can facilitate our cooperation with grace as
it builds on nature. Which of these
practices should be pursued only with the guidance of a prudent,
learned and experienced spiritual director,

following certain caveats, for instance, because they facilitate
receptivity/docility to the Spirit with a
greater tendency to facilitate concommitant experiences of natural
mysticism, enlightenment, kundalini

arousal/awakening and such (which can be most efficacious but also,
in many ways and in a word, unruly)?

And if things do get unruly, have we provided resources for dealing
with same? Is the jury still out on this?

Has enough evidence come in? I dunno. I am not competent to answer
that. The issues raised are important.

And I am confident that the major players involved with them are
prudent, learned and experienced, folks
of large intelligence and profound goodwill.

I will close with Thomas Merton:

quote:
What one of you can enter into himself and find the God that utters
him?

Finding God means much more than just abandoning all things that
are not God and
emptying oneself of images and desires. If you succeed in emptying
your mind of every

thought and every desire you may indeed withdraw into the center of
yourself and

concentrate everything within you upon the imaginary point where
your life springs out
of God; yet, you will not really find God. No natural exercise can bring
you into vital

contact with Him. Unless He utters Himself in you and speaks His own
name in the
center of your soul, you will no more know Him than a stone knows
the ground upon

which it rests in its inertia.

And what Merton says is true. Nothing we can do other than to dispose
our self to receive the gift of

contemplation. Like the stone, we exist because God sees us. We are
good because God loves us. Unlike

the stone, and Merton doesn't say this here but he wouldn't deny it, we
can through natural exercises
experience a natural mysticism, an intuition that we are receiving our
being as we stand on the face of

being looking in. This opens us to immanent being and an existential
awareness and initiates us in
apophasis and, if pursued further, can even give a metaphysical hint at
creatio ex nihilo and creatio

continua (for pantheism and even panen-theism are too riddled with
incoherence). And one would have to

believe that, pursued even further, some of the great nonChristian
mystics moved even past deism to a
relational encounter, which begins to properly nuance a pan-entheism
and an indwelling of Being in being,

standing, then, on the face of being looking out.
But, there is more and, even though, anticipating the teilhardian
perspective, Duns Scotus metaphysically

suggested the Incarnation was foreordained from all eternity and not
occasioned by any felix culpa, who

woulda thunk it that the Logos would be uttered in Mary's womb, born
in a manger, nailed to a cross and
then raised to glory? Even thought this was all foretold in the OT, still,
nobody thunk it! If anyone had gone

beyond the attentional to the intentional to the relational, still, they
had not conceived of the intensely
personal. [And, it seems to me, that anyone formed in a Gospel tradition is
going to ultimately arrive here

and have their kataphatic devotion even more robustly experienced
through moderate apophasis.]

Merton:
quote:

Our inner self awakes when we say yes to the indwelling Divine
Persons.
We only really know ourselves when we completely consent to receive
the glory of God

into ourselves.

Mary went first. May we follow like her.
On the one hand, the emphasis on nondiscursive method coupled with
the use of a mantra would seem to

moreso expose the average CP practitioner to experiences of natural
mysticism, enlightenment and such

with their concomitant energy upheavals and psychological by-
products. This is one way of judging the

practice, as you say, given its methodology.

On the other hand, given what is actually taught and emphasized about
CP within the context of a life of
prayer that is otherwise kataphatic (reception of Eucharist, sacraments,
lectio divina and such), one would
not expect the average CP practitioner to experience natural mysticism
or enlightenment, should such
occur, in exactly the same way as one who is practicing TM or Zen,
especially given where CP seems to
aim, which is an intimate and affectionate and illuminating loving,
personal relationship with God.
So, what we have is CP's claim that it is not Zen or TM even as it
employs a very Zen-like methodology

coupled with CP's claim not to be a technique or method but, rather, a
relational communing. What we also

have is some evidence, no too few anecdotes, that many CP
practitioners have experienced unruly energy
upheavals.
So, I am suggesting that, to get to the bottom of what is going on, we
really need some sociological surveys
to discern what mostly goes on with CP practitioners, what seldom goes
on, what often goes on and such ---

because the practice, its aims, its methodologies, it teachings and its
emphases have some built-in

ambiguities [not necessarily bad] due to its innovative blending of
contemplative traditions.
And we must carefully probe to discern how faithfully practitioners
have practiced and how frequently and
intensely and such. Some energy upheavals and psychological
perturbations could occur with any practice
or formulae engaged with great frequency and intensity. To this day, I
attribute my own kundalini-like
symptoms to glossolalia, but it could have happened with the Rosary,
even, prayed somewhat

nondiscursively. Of course, all prayer has a tendency to move toward
simplicity in the life of an earnest
pray-er. And should have some integrally transformative efficacies. If
there are inefficacies, we need to see
precisely where they lie: in the practice or the practitioner. You and
others have raised important questions.
We'll one day have the answers, sooner than later, I believe.
Meanwhile, people should proceed with some
caution and with spiritual direction should certain perturbations
present or unruly disturbances manifest.
To some extent, it is the very nature of apophasis to invite us beyond
image, beyond affect, beyond concept

... ergo, what is taking place during the apophatic experience is
necessarily not going to be explicitly
Christian or anything else for that matter, except for the remnant of
relational intentionality that the
Christian pray-er brings to the moment of prayer as a pray-er at the
outset. This is all very dialectical and
not in the hegelian sense of synthesis but in the catholic approach of
both/and/neither.
The connection to the goal of our spiritual tradition is, in my view, to
reinforce the Dionysian mystical

logic of 1) God is | x | and 2) God is | not x | and 3) God is neither | x |
nor | not x |, which ties into our

theologies of the univocity and analogy of being, where our statements
about God are acknowledged not

only as metaphorical but as very weak analogues, where no univocal
predications can be made between
God and creatures but only equivocal predications. The roles of
kataphatic affirmation and apophatic

negation and eminent predication (e.g. God is beautiful but not
beautiful like us or creation but Beautiful

most pre-eminently) are complementary and not over against each
other. They offer perspectives and
cannot be blended or intertwined (again, no synthesis) without
violating the integrity of each of these

moments or movements. It is the preservation of this integral nature of
apophasis and kataphasis that

Keating attempts to maintain by distinguishing between the practice of
lectio divina and CP, affirming both
movements but advising against their facile combination.

So, the bigger concern for me is not at all theological but that which I
expressed re: energy upheavals and
psychological perturbations, like the examples you provided (and like
your and my own!). I am wondering

how much this is happening and exactly why, although I think we have
more than a clue as to why. At the
same time, my upheavals were rather orderly, still ... there has got to be
a better caveat emptor.
In my opinion there isn't enough apophasis in our tradition and this
leads to a bad malady all its own ...

radical fundamentalism(s). At the same time, I agree that the jury is
out on whether or not CP is one of the
cures for this, among the others that already exist in the normal
flowering of a prayer life, in the ordinary
journey of the soul awakening to the true self, in the conversions
facilitated by the institutional church and

its sacraments and sacramentals and manifold and multiform
liturgical/spiritual exercises.




                                        




Christian Nonduality
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                         Epistemology studies how we name, claim and aim our various
                         epistemic leaps. There is a lot of agreement between different
                         perspectives regarding the number, size and nature of these leaps.
                         There are important disagreements, too. Which leaps are necessary
                         and how many are sufficient in order to enjoy many of life's lesser
                         goods? or in order to better realize life's greater goods, such values as
                         truth, beauty, goodness and unity?

                         I will say this much. A credible epistemology will recognize the reality
                         of these leaps and will not downplay the significance of these leaps
                         (both cognitive and existential).

                          

                         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 value-
realizations. 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 pneumatologically-
informed 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 value-
realization, 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 Two-
Language 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 epistemically-
related 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)

 
______________________________________________

AFTERWORD

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.
I am not, in any manner, suggesting that I believe that this is what many, or
even most, people are doing consciously. This is how I conceive the underlying
dynamism for common sense as practiced by humanity, whether consciously or
not, competently or not.

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 rope-
climbed 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.  We might think, for example, of Lonergan's 
transcendental imperatives: Be attentive, empirically. Be intelligent,
semantically, such as in our naming exercises, critically examining our
referents, concepts and terms as they variously describe or refer to
realities. Be reasonable, logically, whether in formal or informal
argumentation, especially employing common sense. Be responsible,
prudentially, in our practical and moral deliberations and
judgments and in our analyses of actionable norms, guided by 
equiplausibility principles. Be in love, affectively, relationally
interacting with reality guided, orthopathically, by authentic aesthetic 
sensibilities and a grammar of trust, proper assent, dutiful fidelity, a
felt sense of solidarity expressed in compassion and by being-in-love
(storge, philia, eros and agape).
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.
However one defines the epistemic filaments that comprise the human 
cable of knowledge per the Peircean metaphor, epistemology is the
study of which of the filaments are necessary and how many of them
are sufficient. Beyond the necessary and sufficient, epistemologists
also want to know what mix might be epistemically optimal. 
Presumably, because of our finitude, we are all operating suboptimally,
some merely satisficing, minimalistically, others variously enjoying
epistemic abundance and superabundance.  

One doesn't have to be a self-aware, consciously-competent
epistemologist to realize human values because human common sense
evolved as fast and frugal heuristics that probabilistically guide us
toward knowledge, sometimes unawares. People with the requisite
common sense are enjoying epistemic efficacies from these
probabilistic heuristics. The normative and evaluative mediation of
human knowledge-advances and value-realizations are grounded in
these probabilistic heuristics and can be rendered, in fact, in terms of
informal argumentation based on retroductive abductions that reason 
(backwards) from predicates to subjects, or, we might say, from
various properties to various modal realities. (If it is elegant, it is true.
If it is useful, it is true.) That is why Occam's Razor works, sometimes.
That's how and why parsimony, symmetry, elegance, simplicity and
utility work, sometimes.  

The epistemic efficacies, or gnosiological significance, of the logical and
aesthetical and ethical sciences, or of truth and beauty and goodness,
derive from the fast and frugal heuristics of an ecological rationality
gifted by natural selection. When these heuristics are modeled like
informal arguments, their fallibile and probabilistic nature is plain to
see. Because we are fallible, our value-realizations involve risk-
ventures. Risk ventures involve risk-management. The
amplification of risks, within reasonable norms, augments
human value-realizations. Like all other epistemic risk-taking,
risk-amplification toward the end of value-augmentation is normed
probabilistically and can be guided by equiplausibility (or even
equiprobability) principles, which might suggest, for example, that one 
is acting within one's epistemic rights, only when one's risk-
ventures are life-giving and relationship-enhancing.

The concepts and terms employed in our various belief systems can be
categorized as semiotic (if nonnegotiable, cross-culturally), theoretic
(if negotiated), heuristic (if still-in-negotiation) and dogmatic (if
non-negotiated). One's belief system, even when articulated with
dogmatic and heuristic concepts and terms (in addition to the requisite
semiotic and theoretic ones), enjoys epistemic parity with
competing perspectives as long as one is acting within one's epistemic
rights as guided by the actionable norms derived from acceptable 
equiplausibility principles, which have been established in a, more or 
less, pluralistic community. One's beliefs enjoy epistemic warrant
in a community of value-realizers when one establishes epistemic 
parity with competing systems, acts within one's epistemic rights and
articulates those beliefs using only semiotic and theoretic concepts and 
terms. A community's acceptance of actionable norms and
establishment of semiotic and theoretic terms and concepts is, itself, a
truth-indicative, probabilitistic (hence, still fallible) guide to optimal
value-realization.

The creeds, cults and codes of religious communities thus represent
existential risk-ventures, Pascalian wagers and Kierkegaardian leaps,
that go beyond (but certainly must not go without) the philosophic
risk-taking of the normative sciences of the wider pluralistic
community in a risk-amplification ordered toward optimal
augmentation of human value-realizations of truth, beauty, goodness
and unity. Which communities enjoy epistemic parity with competing
interpretive systems and meet the criteria of acting within their 
epistemic rights? Which do not? Those are sociologic transactions, the
currency of which is the pragmatic cashing out of values, not as a
theory of truth (truth-conducively, as they say) per se but as a darned
good test of truth (truth-indicatively).

recent (04/30/09) addendum:

I consider myself a minimalist realist, a fallibilist. I draw my inspiration
from Peirce's pragmatism (or pragmaticism). Theologically, then, the
only thing we need in our epistemic suite to do the God-encounter is
our common sense and a receptive heart. The existentialists
and reformed epistemologists think all we need is that receptive heart. 
The classical rationalists think all we need is deductive inference. The 
presuppositionalists think the God-idea is axiomatic, as indispensable
as other unprovable notions like belief in other minds, first principles
and the intelligibility of reality. The evidentialists think all we need is
inductive inference. The cumulative case folks think all we need is
abductive inference.

Peirce teaches us that inferential thought is irreducibly triadic and each
inferential process presupposes the others and that, when our
inferential processes end in a stalemate or Scottish verdict, we then
necessarily fallback on our noninferential approaches to reality, like
our receptive hearts, in order to adjudicate between competing 
actionable norms. So, as in theology, it is my view that in epistemology,
heresy consists of our making a partial truth into an absolute. So, just
like in theological apologetics, some folks adopt a perspectivalism that
gives each of our epistemic witnesses to revelation a voice, my
appropriation of the Peircean triadic logic is a nonfoundational
perspectivalism that is holistic. Unlike those theological
perspectivalists, however, who turn to Scripture as the normative
perspective, I have somewhat of a positivist bent, which is to say that,
for epistemology, broadly conceived,  I do not consciously get into 
fallback mode noninferentially until the stronger types of inference
have failed me, which they necessarily will vis a vis our ultimate
concerns. Even then, where the heart comes in -- whether via beauty
or goodness, I interpret as a type of informal reasoning, a probabilistic,
truth-indicative sign.
This is synthetic thinking, not systematic (which is for philosophers
and theologians). This site sets forth an exploratory heuristic as a
meta-critique of religious epistemologies and theologies of nature,
hence, a nonfoundational perspectivalism normed by common sense
and a receptive heart (inspired by Peirce's pragmatic logic) and a 
pneumatological theology of nature, a pansemioentheism, suggested
by vague analogical references but not otherwise aspiring to robustly
systematic descriptions.

PRECIS
In terms of Lonergan's imperatives, the descriptive is a focus of
concern that requires the epistemic virtue of being attentive. The 
normative requires being reasonable and being responsible. The
interpretive requires being intelligent in our naming exercises. The
evaluative requires being-in-love, broadly conceived.
Peirce's pragmatic logic guides us in properly relating these epistemic
foci and virtues such that our existential orientations correspond to
transcendental imperatives. My distinctions between the dogmatic,
heuristic, theoretic and semiotic draw inspiration from and are a
concrete application of the pragmatic maxim coupled with Peirce's
eschatological definition of truth and is also an affirmation of
pneumatological realities that are at play in the sensus fidelium and
consensus gentium.
My nonfoundational perspectivalism is very much like John Frame's
perspectivalism (his religious epistemology) which integrally relates
the evidential, rational, presuppositional and existential methods of
apologetics, except for the fact that his normative perspective is
Biblical, while mine is Peircean vis a vis the normative sciences. While
I deeply sympathize with the existentialist, fideist, presuppositionalist 
and reformed epistemologies, it is my rather mundane contention that
beauty and usefulness guide us to truth and goodness because they are
retroductive abductions with probabilistic significance that gift us,
truth-indicatively, with a higher probability of realizing the truth 
than other more arbitrary criteria based on chance, alone. The same is 
true for the truth-indicative criterion of community consensus. Beauty,
pragmatic utility and community consensus are informal arguments
but fallacies of formal logic; when intertwined together as individual 
filaments in our epistemic cables they gain epistemic strength, even if
fallibilistically. I am not wholly disagreeing with other epistemologies
in the belief THAT orthopathic and orthopraxic dynamisms are 
efficacious but offering my philosophic defense of HOW and WHY
they work, as well as suggesting that while they may even enjoy a
certain methodological primacy and even autonomy in matters of
ultimate concern, this is true only after they have established epistemic
parity with competing worldviews and only when operating within
their epistemic rights vis a vis equiplausibility principles (life-giving
and relationship-enhancing). They are not otherwise autonomous
systematically vis a vis the other perspectives required for all human
value-realizations.
Using a paradigm of risk-amplification/attentuation for value-
augmentation, I appropriate Haught's aesthetic teleology,
ontologically, and I relate the theological virtues to other epistemic
virtues, epistemologically. Normatively, the implications are that, in
our search for a root metaphor to articulate a speculative metaphysics,
we must employ an emergentist heuristic in order to robustly account
for the novelty that we will encounter in reality, a novelty that
corresponds, hypothetically, to various degrees of participation in the
divine matrix, ergo, also accounting for meaningful differences in the
moral status of emergent modal realities, meta-ethically, and affirming
a divine alterity, theologically.
Beyond these minimalist formulations of theological virtue --
-
It may be that Spirit, broadly conceived, is a theoretic concept, cross-
culturally? It may be that this is an empirically defensible sociologic
datum? This would be consistent with the suggestion that the term
secular society is a reification, that our world community is, rather, a
pneumatologically-informed pluralistic community and
overwhelmingly so, demographically. Radical Orthodoxy may thus
have some valid points regarding same?
It may be, too, that, all things otherwise being equal theoretically and
essentially vis a vis humanity's ultimate concerns, belief in Spirit is
indeed epistemically warranted (beyond mere epistemic parity)
practically and existentially, consistent with the Reformed
perspective?
Even if the Spirit is not nonnegotiable for human values, broadly
conceived, it might certainly approach nonnegotiability for any who'd
choose the path of normative risk-amplification in pursuit of such
value-augmentations as would be fueled by humanity's ultimate
concerns? So,  to the extent that humanity's existential orientations to 
ultimate concerns are in play (and in whom are they not?) and to the
extent that the Spirit would thereby be a semiotic concept, then this
would be consistent with the presuppositionalist perspective?
These are stronger positions to defend philosophically than what I
have argued within these pages, but it is my belief that my exploratory
heuristic provides the categories and the empirical thrust by which
these epistemic hypotheses can be evaluated as sociologic data. It may
be that narrowly conceived dogmatic formulations of religion, as
strawgods, are deservedly in retreat, but belief in Pneuma writ large
remains compelling and vital in our new age and, arguably, as
indispensable as ever to any truly robust augmentations of human
value-realizations.
Let the half-gods depart that God may appear (borrowing phraseology
from Emerson)!
 




Christian Nonduality
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                               Christian Nonduality


                                                                                 Other Online Resources
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                        Other Relevant                                  Recommended Reading
The Christian
Nonduality Blog         Websites                                         

                         
Home                                                                    the books, chapters and
Radical Emergence -
                        Brother David Steindl-Rast                      journal articles of  Professor 
Nonduality & the                                                        Amos Yong
Emerging Church         Center for Action and Contemplation              
Emergence Happens        
When:                                                                   the essays and musings of  
                        Contemplative Outreach
To Avow & Dis-avow
                                                                        Professor Joseph S. O'Leary
                         
an Axiological                                                           
Vision of the Whole     Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault

                         
                                                                        the blog and papers of Cynthia
Montmarte,
Colorado Springs &                                                      K. Nielsen: Per Caritatem
                        East-West Contemplative Dialogue
the Kingdom                                                              
                         
Wanted: Women
                        Ecumene.org - A Meeting Place for the World's
Warriors
                        Religions and Ideologies
Maiden, Mother,          
Crone & Queen:
archetypes &            Francis X. Clooney
transformation           

East Meets West         Global Dialogue Institute

Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               inStitute on Religion in an Age of science
                         
No-Self & Nirvana
                        Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
elucidated by
Dumoulin
                        Metanexus: a global interdisciplinary
One: Essential          institute  
Writings in
                         
Nonduality - a review
                        Shalom Place: An Online Christian
Simone Weil             Spirituality Center

John of the Cross        

Thomas Merton            Thomas Merton Internet Bibliography

The True Self
                        Zygon Center for Religion and Science
The Passion              
Hermeneutical
Eclecticism &
Interreligious
Dialogue
The Spirit

Christian Nonduality

more on Nonduality

The Contemplative
Stance

Hesychasm

Mysticism - properly
considered              Some of my Earlier Musings
Karl Rahner              
Wounded Innocence
                        Pansemioentheism: An Emergentist Account of the Biosemiotic
Rogation Days           Categories of Religion from a panentheistic perspective
Radical Orthodoxy        
Presuppositionalism      some notes on Epistemology
vs Nihilism?
                          
Science
Epistemic Virtue
                         some thoughts on Epistemology
                          
Pan-semio-
entheism: a              a theological anthropology as prologue
pneumatological
theology of nature        

Architectonic            some reflections on Merton
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


                         Christian Nonduality
                         http://twitter.com/johnssylvest
                         Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest

                         johnboy@christiannonduality.com
                             Christian Nonduality


                                                                      Wanted: Women Warriors
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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             I want to challenge, now, the notion that THE trajectory of the spiritual
Nonduality - a review
                        journey is the language of descent. This is certainly how one would
Simone Weil
                        view it thru the lens of a patriarchal bias, which is suggesting that, early
John of the Cross       on our journeys, MEN are quite naturally to be about the business of
Thomas Merton           Kings and Warriors, busy w/boundary establishment & defense, while
The True Self           later on the journey, with a move from animus to anima, they are
The Passion             initiated as Wizards and Lovers. Men begin life as Sky & Spirit and are
Hermeneutical           later brought down to Earth & Soul. Men start off in their heads and
Eclecticism &           move, if they're lucky, into their hearts.
Interreligious
Dialogue

The Spirit              Women, for their part, begin as Earth & Soul, birthing and nurturing,
Christian Nonduality    quite naturally negotiating and transcending boundaries as Alchemists
more on Nonduality
                        and Mothers, speaking the language of descent, experiencing in their
                        bones the bottom, marginalization, the power of paradox and the
The Contemplative
Stance                  mysterious strength of powerlessness. What for a man is an eventual
Hesychasm               destiny on his transformative journey, for a woman is her natural born
Mysticism - properly    inheritance as Gaia, who plucks the parsley, drinks the dew and hugs
considered              the oak, wondering if she could ever be the oak. Our natural tendency is
Karl Rahner             to see women as if they have already arrived since their native dwelling
Wounded Innocence       place is the destiny of men.
Rogation Days

Radical Orthodoxy       This is beautiful and poetic but it also seems to me to be a little wrong-
Presuppositionalism      headed. If Initiation is about 1) separation 2) liminal space and 3)
vs Nihilism?             reintegration, then women have a journey of transformation to
Science                  embark on, also. It is a journey from the earth, the dew and the oak's
Epistemic Virtue         roots to the oak's upward reaching branches, the rain clouds and the
Pan-semio-               sky. It is a journey from the heart to the head, from descending soul to
entheism: a              ascending spirit, from boundary negotiation & transcendence,
pneumatological
theology of nature       sometimes perversely manifested as boundary-less-ness, to boundary
Architectonic            establishment and defense. We've got enough Matrons and Crones but
Anglican - Roman         need more Warriors & Queens! (Actually, one may not be called to any
Dialogue                 of these themes, in particular, but one would want to, generally
The Ethos of Eros        speaking, "get in touch" with these inner dynamisms, which reside in
Musings on Peirce        all of us.)
Eskimo Kiss Waltz

the Light Side of        For example, one practical upshot of all of this is that, if you wonder
Dark Comedy              why our culture is overrun with so many male alcoholics, then, it is
Blog Visits              because so many of our women are natural born codependents.
Other Online             Humility is not about meekness; it's about knowing who you really are!
Resources
                         Jesus was not all anima and no animus! Jesus threw the
Are YOU Going to         moneychangers out the temple and He spent most of His time
Scarborough Fair?
                         questioning "authorities" and challenging the established order by
Suggested Reading
                         establishing new boundaries for the Kingdom! It is true that His
Tim King's Post
Christian Blog           boundary defense was nonviolent but His approach was wholly
The Dylan Mass
                         subversive, submitting to no will but His Father's and taking no cue
                         but His Mother's. There are nonviolent, but wholly efficacious, ways,
If You Are In
Distress, Spiritual or   to subvert, re-establish and defend the Kingdom of God, on Earth as it
Otherwise
                         is in Heaven, especially if we are as wise as serpents (yes, women
pending
                         theologians) when gentle as doves. I wonder if we need to re-conceive
The Great Tradition      the journey of transformation for our women? The archetypes and
properly conceived
                         symbols and sacraments belong to everyone and they will usher in the
Postmodern
Conservative             realities that they bring to heart AND MIND, soul AND SPIRIT, lover
Catholic Pentecostal     AND WARRIOR.

                         I have one daughter and my message to her is PLEASE establish and
                         defend some boundaries. Not just your happiness but your
                         transformation into a fully individuated person and TRUE SELF
                         depend on it.
                         Clearly, both the languages of ascent & descent have their place.
                         Boundary establishment, defense, negotiation and transcendence are
                         an integral dynamism, wherein each aspect presupposes each other
                         aspect in an ongoing cycle of renewal and transformation for each of us
                         as persons and for all of us as church in ecclesia semper reformada est.
                         Hence, where we begin should determine where we end up on
                         the spiritual journey and this applies not only to gender issues but also
                         to personality and temperament as well (Enneagram, Myers-Briggs
                         and so on). There are general patterns but each journey is incredibly
                         unique.

                         Ed Murray, SM said the 8th sacrament was ignorance. While it is true
                         that most of us are not ever going to lead a life that is optimally
                         enlightened, fully individuated, completely transformed or utterly holy,
                         and while it is also true that this is because we will somehow fail to
                         cooperate with grace, we must distinguish between those failures to
                         cooperate that result from refusal (sin) and those that come from
                         ignorance (mistakes). Most such failures come from ignorance and  
                         from not having drunk deeply from the cup of transformative suffering
                         or from not having enjoyed the opportunity to have been formed in the
way of contemplative prayer. Most such ignorance comes from the
quite obvious fact that we are simply finite. So, if others do suffer more
of our unenlightened, codependent, addicted, pain-transmitting, false
selves and less of our True Selves, it seems very likely it may be
because we have become as holy as God desires and, if so, there is
certainly no sense in beating ourselves and others up over this. I'm
totally with Teresa of Avila on this: If God has so few really close
friends, well, just look at the way He treats them! As the Desiderata
says, beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. Folks
who are hard on others, you can bet, are equally harsh with themselves
and this ain't nothing but a false self run amok with pride. Easy does
it ...
______________________________________________
Afterward:

 
As one might imagine, many of these musings come from the concrete situations
of my own daily life, such as Veronica and I discuss on our daily walk. Today, she
asked me what "women's work" would look like as compared to the men's work
& initiation rites made familiar to us by Richard Rohr. I told her that I wasn't
really sure about the answers to the questions I was raising but was still at the
stage of figuring out if my questions were even right. As all know, we teach best
what we need to learn the most.

I responded to Veronica, though, that if Rohr's workshop was called (and I
dunno, just guessing) "Wild Man to Wise Man," then I would call women's work
"Mild Woman to Wild Woman." Well, she reflexively recoiled from that
but then we broke open the meaning of the word "wild" as more broadly
conceived with all of its positive connotations. So, we went on to identify certain
tasks: 1) finding one's voice and using it 2) actively demanding & "taking" one's
place at the table of dialogue in any arena where one's destiny is being worked
out 3) empowerment thru exercising power directly & not just indirectly 4)
cultivating an interest in ideas and not just in persons & events 5) making
choices & accepting consequences.

So, the theme was an outward directing of energy rather than an inner
repression & suppression, but in a constructive & reconstructive manner not
destructive. Before reconstructive work can begin we must do our painful de-
constructive work, for we cannot solve a problem using the same consciousness
that created the problem (Rohr quoting Einstein).

We discussed distractions in prayer (when meditative, not contemplative) and I
told Veronica that I use a stream. Across the stream is a grotto with a cross and
I keep refixing my heart on that image letting each distraction float
downstream. Some distractions are cares placed by the Spirit in our hearts but
even those are candles I light and let float down the stream w/no concern of
whether they are blown out by a breeze and w/every confidence that, if they
are meant to burn, the forest fire of the Spirit will reignite it in due time at the
proper place. More than anything else, though, whenever we get too attached to
outcomes, we can be sure that we are AT WORK on our own agenda and not,
rather, AT PLAY in the fields of the Lord.

To the extent we feel resistance to lowering our expectations, I counsel folks to
hold fast their higher expectations re: their deepest aspirations but to be willing
to DEFER seeing them fulfilled, for, what no eye has seen nor ear heard, such
are the things prepared for us. In the mean time, life is an admixture of joy and
suffering as we live in a Cosmic Boot Camp where we are learning how to love
(Scott Peck).




Christian Nonduality
http://twitter.com/johnssylvest
Bird Photos by David Joseph Sylvest

johnboy@christiannonduality.com
                             Christian Nonduality


                                                                            Wounded Innocence
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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
                        Arguments or apologetics for a Theory of Everything, whether by
Ki, Qi, Chi, Prana &
Kundalini               Hawking or
No-Self & Nirvana       Dawkins, Moses or Reverend Moon, tend to have several, sometimes
elucidated by
Dumoulin                all, of the
One: Essential          following characteristics, which are both descriptive and prescriptive in
Writings in
Nonduality - a review   connotation:
Simone Weil
                        deal with reality taken as a whole
John of the Cross

Thomas Merton
                        not formally constructed - not completely formal or formulaic or
The True Self           mathematical
The Passion
                        allegorical - use of metanarrative, myth, analogy and/or metaphor to
Hermeneutical           evoke
Eclecticism &
Interreligious
Dialogue
                        an otherwise appropriate response to ultimate reality

The Spirit              anagogical - express elements of hope or desired outcomes
Christian Nonduality
                        moral - make appeals to virtue, whether epistemological, anagogical,
more on Nonduality      moral,
The Contemplative
Stance                  socio-political or religious
Hesychasm               literal - include some literal-historical facts
Mysticism - properly
considered              super-reasonable or supra-rational - consistent with logic and reason
Karl Rahner             while
Wounded Innocence       going beyond them
Rogation Days
                        nonrational and transrational - include aesthetic elements, affective
Radical Orthodoxy
                         appeals, pragmatic criteria and supra-rational axioms
Presuppositionalism
vs Nihilism?
                         employ unproven axioms
Science
                         appeal to self-evident truth
Epistemic Virtue
Pan-semio-               incomplete - lack comprehensive explanatory adequacy; remain
entheism: a              somewhat
pneumatological
theology of nature
                         question begging
Architectonic
                         inconsistent - have embedded par