Missing Link In Mother Nature, b~b~bb Structure—The Back Story

Earth- The Blue Marble


On my other blog (bwinwnbwi), I discovered an untitled post (see below). That post was part of the prospectus that I wrote to describe/justify my M.A. Thesis: Prejudice: Empirical Data Beckoning Toward A Theory Of Self, Ambivalence, And Tolerance. It, that post, became the “roadmap” that eventually led to the discovery of b~b~bb structure: the structure that builds civilizations and asks questions like: how, why, when, and where did human consciousness/freedom come from, i.e., the  structure that identifies the knower in the knower-known relationship that can never be fully known because it exists “as affirmative ideal”, the same “affirmative ideal” that reflects both the backside of God (the time of not being) and the face of God (our emotional experience of beliefs, concerns, intentions, and deeds). Absent the “face of God” knowledge—language with its lexical, syntactical, and contextual designations, science, ethical behavior, existential meaning, and religion(s) —would not/could not exist. That which connects/embeds everything to everything else—first through the history of universe/Earth (~~b), second through the liberation of life/consciousness (~bb), and third through the liberation of the participatory moment of a conscious self (b~b~bb), bridges the gap that separates science from philosophy/religion.
The Defining Condition Of Ambivalence/Self—A Neither This Nor That Circumstance

If the genesis of ambivalence can be located in the differentiating space [to paraphrase Thom’s (1983, p.187) description of Simmel’s concept of a person], arising between what is simultaneously social and individual, social, in the form of the product of sociological categories, and individual, as the stranger existing outside of sociological categories, then the defining condition of ambivalence/self becomes identified with a “neither this nor that” circumstance. It is for this reason that ambivalence, in its most primitive form, becomes objectified as a “flight from ambivalence.” This “flight from ambivalence,” in turn, may be understood to be a powerful contributing factor to both the closing of the mind of the bigot, and, the modern penchant for division, domination, order, and technology.

In modern society’s matter-centered universe a human being’s “so-called” value and worth is never far removed from some objective measure that claims to be able to scientifically predict and explain human behavior. In this research project I propose to challenge this idea by putting forth a theory of self that recognizes ambivalence to be the locus of self where cognitive objects acquire salience. In this way I hope to show that science, or, as F. S. Northrop defines it (1946, p. 301), “the hypothetically proposed, apriori, theoretical component indirectly confirmed through its deductive consequences,” is merely one of the many expressive possibilities of a creative self and should, therefore, be judged accordingly.

In this research project, I will identify the locus of convergence of three relatively unrelated research areas – prejudice, ambivalence, and self-theory. Since the scope of this project is large, my survey of the literature has been more selective than comprehensive, so, in the interest of brevity and coherence, I will describe this literature from its convergent theoretical perspective. Therefore, the next section of this prospectus combines my survey of literature with my theoretical perspective. I will argue how ambivalence, in its most elemental form, and self (as defined by a three-term relationship) are reflections of one another.

Survey of Literature and Theoretical Foundation

There will be a brief overview of theories concerning prejudice. My focus will be on prejudice as way to harden cognitive boundaries. In this respect, prejudice and fear will be connected. Sartre (1965) and Held (1980) will be quoted in support of this connection. I will continue to explore prejudice by citing Aboud’s (1988, p.4) definition: “Prejudice refers to an organized predisposition to respond in an unfavorable manner toward people from an ethnic group because of their ethnic affiliation.” I will briefly discuss Allport’s (1958) reflective theory of prejudice, that is, the idea that prejudice is a product of an environment where power, status and competition are reflected in the attitudes of the people who compete for power and status; and then I will turn to Adorno’s (et al., 1950) view of prejudice as it may be understood as a result of a child’s inner conflict with his/her authoritarian parents. The cognitive developmental theory of prejudice will also be mentioned (Piaget and Weil, 1951), as will a number of studies linking prejudice, or, attitudes toward marginal groups, with ambivalence (Myrdal, 1944; Katz, 1981; Katz and Hass, 1988; Hass, Katz, Rizzo, Bailey, and Eisenstadt, 1991; and Hass, Katz, Rizzo, Bailey and Moore, 1992).

At this point I will turn my attention to the literature of ambivalence beginning with Merton’s (1976) use of Bleuler’s (1910) coinage of the word. Bleuler identified three types of ambivalence which, according to Robert Merton (1976, p.3), may be characterized as: “the emotional (or affective) type in which the same object arouses both positive and negative feelings, as in parent-child relations; the voluntary (or conative) type in which conflicting wishes make it difficult or impossible to decide how to act; and the intellectual (or cognitive) type, in which men hold contradictory ideas.” Ever since Bleuler, ambivalence has been an object for investigation by psychologists and sociologists alike.

I will briefly discuss the basis of ambivalence as it is presented by Freud (1939) and further interpreted by Thom (1983). I will then take a much closer look at how ambivalence, as a motivating factor, plays itself out in Adorno’s (et al., 1950) Authoritarian Personality. Using quotations from Billig (1982) and Gregg (1991), I will argue that an ambivalence grounded self is perpetually looking for an escape from ambivalence. Both of these authors have argued in a similar fashion and a good example of what this means for the individual is readily expressed in the following quote from Billig. Although ambivalence may generate negative as well as positive affects, this particular quote is an example of a positive affect. According to Billig’s (1982, p. 147) reading of Rosenberg and Abelson’s Congruity Model of cognitive consistency, ambivalence may be defined in the following way:

“Ambivalence refers to ‘the simultaneous presence of positive and negative affect in reaction to a cognized object’. Ambivalences are forms of inconsistency or incongruity, and as such they are ‘tension-arousing’ – ‘they set in motion processes directed toward their removal’, because ‘if the ambivalences are not removed, they continue to be unpleasant, even painful, to the subject so long as he continues to think about the concepts at issue’. Thus there is an implication that the authoritarian personality, whose basic motivation, according to the theory of Adorno et al., is an intolerance of ambiguity, is someone who has been able to remove inconsistencies; it is the so-called democratic personality who is saddled with painful ambivalences.”

Focusing on Thom’s (1984, p.xi) treatment of self as “the overcoming of the primitive ambivalence or opposition between the modes of difference and no difference…. (and,) as some combination of difference and equality, dividing and making equal or identical,” I will begin to argue how ambivalence and self are intrinsically connected. Continuing this line of reasoning, I will discuss Simmel’s (Levine, 1971) concept of man as both the fixing of boundaries and the reaching out across these boundaries, and, Billig’s (1987,p.5) presentation of the categorization/particularization interdependence that characterizes the “inner deliberations [or] silent arguments conducted within a single self,” I will then proceed to argue how ambivalence, in its most elemental form, and self (as defined by a three-term relationship) are reflections of one another.

This argument will begin with a description of Descartes’ cogito (Flew, 1979), giving specific attention to the “identity” inference implied by this cogito. This inference is described by Anscombe (Ed. Cassam,1994, p152) as: “The thinking that thinks this thought–that is what is guaranteed by cogito”. I will then describe how the self, when the self is understood in terms of a triadic relationship, – “me-self,” the negation of the “me-self,” and, the “I-self,” – offers a different conceptual basis from which to derive the “identity inference” without attaching itself to Descartes’ excess baggage, or, as this baggage is described by Hermans, et al., (1993, p. 39), “the existence of a unitary, closed, highly centralized subject or self, as an entity in itself, having an existence ‘above’ or ‘outside’ the social environment.”

With the triadic self-concept in place, I will then proceed to describe why “a relativity to a basis,” according to Evans (Ed. Cassam, 1994, p. 196), “becomes a conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates,” and, why acquiring knowledge (accessing the truth or falsity of knowledge) invokes an act of self-reference where the subject is required to reflect on the credibility, or basis, of the knowledge in question.

From this model of a triadic concept of self I will be able to forcefully argue that much of what Mead (1934) and James (1890) described as the socially generated component parts of self is, in fact, an accurate description of self. However, I will also argue that, as a consequence of the conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates, a second, inner component of self is at work. It is this inner component of self that generates the salience of cognitive objects, and, in so far as this inner-self is capable of instantiating inner directed values, e.g., numbers, sets, multi-valued logics, this inner-self makes possible the hypothetical-deductive method of scientific explanation and prediction. It is relevant that the source of these inner values can be traced to the space that differentiates the self into a “neither this” (social), “nor that” (individual), circumstance, as opposed to Descartes’ “clear and distinct ideas” that, since the time of Descartes, have been identified as the source of these values. My discussion of science as a type of self-investigation of informational states should make this idea more clear. In lieu of this discussion I will cite literature on negation as it pertains to differentiation and affirmation (Billig, 1982; Blanco, 1975, Thoms, 1962, Gale, 1976).

After citing some friendly theoretical perspectives (Angyal, 1941; Jung, 1969; Billig, 1987 & 1982; Gregg, 1991; Hermans & Kempen 1993), that I believe are sympathetically disposed to my own position, – that of an ambivalence shunning, salience generating triadic self concept, – I will turn my attention to the literature of Self-Cognizing Research and the literature of Self-Inference Process and Motivation. In this literature clarifying insights and supportive empirical data will be cited.

Bottom Line

Structurely, b~b~bb allows for the confirmation/rejection of scientific hypothesizes while it also separates scientific knowledge from caring aesthetic values, i.e., the reduction of goodness, love, and beauty to stimulus/response mechanisms. Thus, the strength and resolve necessary to create a better world is not found in analysis and calculation; rather, it is found in the empowering emotion that calls us to love, beauty, and truth—the aesthetic component of our experience (the b~b of b~b~bb structure—which, in you and me, is the divine made manifest!)  Scientific hypotheses are confirmable because the evolution of the universe takes place in the space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the space of logical implication—and that is why science will never be able to solve the riddle of consciousness. Evolution is not just associated with biology and physics; it is associated also with structure. Our aesthetic experience (sensory/emotional) and our theoretic experience (language, number, logic, identity) are implied in the b~b~bb structure (b~b/aesthetic experience and ~bb/theoretic experience). Where physical reality exists in several states at once, where the quantum property that links two or more quantum systems across long spatial distances exists, we also find the b~b~bb structure—the structure that permits the existence of both “mind” and “science”.


Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Found—Missing Link In Mother Nature—Structure/Affirmative Ideal/Divinity Loop



          The subject of freedom is a major theme in my writing. Depending on its context, freedom means many things to many people. Operationally speaking, we first encounter freedom as the freedom to act. Satisfying our biological needs frames this freedom. I associate Aristotle with this freedom because he was the first to recognize, as far as I can tell, the importance of the sensation/understanding connection. Freedom is not just a sensation, however. The freedom to pursue the pleasant while avoiding the unpleasant creates an environment out of which all other freedoms become actualized.

          On another level, a higher level, phenomenological freedom expresses the question that theoretical freedom answers (the freedom to be logically consistent). This answer, scientifically speaking, is verified through its reliable predictions as they relate to our aesthetic experience (sense experience). This answer, sociologically speaking, allows for behavioral change and emotional growth. In other words, freedom (or lack there of) is continually being discovered in the “universal limiting space that defines it (structure).” As knowledge accumulates, life’s expectations and goals may change. The value and meaning of relationships may change. Something that had been sought for pleasure and comfort may, with increased understanding, become unpleasant, and so on and so forth.

          The Psychologist, Jean Piaget, put the origin of structure and the symbolic content that it generates, in an organisms capacity for action. For Piaget, the knowledge of our objective and subjective experience begins in the recognition and coordination of sensorimotor activity. By locating the source of cognitive structure in the sensorimotor activity of babies, Piaget opened up the possibility that “structure” was grounded in nature– not in mind. Through his investigations, he was able to show how the subject and object poles of experience are products of experience. In fact, what we typically call normal cognitive skills, for Piaget, is a product of necessary developmental stages, i.e., sensorimotor, representational, and formal operative. Only after the individual passes through theses stages does one acquire “normal cognitive skills.” The subject pole and object pole of a child’s experience remains undissociated early in the sensorimotor stage, but after passing through the stage of formal operations the child (8-12 year old), in his/her capacity to invoke reasoned judgments and deductive reasoning, is then able to conceptualize what is not perceived (e.g., principles of conservation, reversibility, transitivity, etc.). For Piaget then, cognitive-awareness is not something we are born with; rather it is the product of an ongoing developmental process. This is important because it tells us that logic stems from a sort of spontaneous organization of activity; that the pre-condition for knowledge is an assimilation of a “given external” into the structures of the subject and out of these subjective structures arise, phoenix like, the genesis of self-awareness. Thus, not only do we discover the relationship of context/form interdependence in the ongoing activity of our accommodation/assimilation of environment, we also discover the relationship that binds natural structure to cognitive structure. For instance, our “self experience” of today is different from the “self experience” of archaic humans. The evolution of mind then, in addition to evolving structurally in time, also evolves linearly, across time.

          So again, I say freedoms (and self) mean different things to different people. But there is another kind of freedom, one that escapes categorizations. This is Buddhist freedom–-a freedom we cannot sense, a freedom that is by definition indeterminate. Even so, paradoxically, much has been said and written about this freedom. Fortunately, the Japanese sage, and student of Zen Buddhism, Nishida Kitaro, has discussed Buddhist freedom without venturing outside the “limiting framework of freedom.” Nishida went looking for pure experience and found it in the “absolute free will” emerging from and returning to absolute nothingness. Nishida, in order to communicate this realization, created his own logic, the logic of basho. Nishida believed the only way to communicate ultimate reality was through a rational methodology. To be fair, I think his logic referenced existence more than analysis, but when you need to communicate the reality at the center of the creative world, where “absolute free will” lives in the “eternal now,” analysis by itself just can’t do the job. Anyway, three categories distinguished Nishida’s logic: basho of being, basho of relative nothingness, and basho of absolute nothingness. (Most of my information on Nishida comes from the book, Great Thinkers Of The Eastern World, Ian P. McGreal, Editor, p. 384-5) Basho logic describes three different levels of interconnectivity—the interconnectivity of three different “pulses of freedom.” The basho of “being” becomes the limiting space of existence while the basho of relative nothingness becomes the defining characteristic of that limitation. The basho of absolute nothingness, on the other hand, becomes the connectivity that grounds/connects all levels of freedom i.e., the basho that both supports and restricts all existence/freedom.

          The fact that language will not (can not) permit a description of “fully enlightened beings,” is what inspired Nishida to create his basho logic. Was he successful? I cannot say, but I’m glad he tried because the second major theme in my writing is my search for a language rich enough to express all of freedom’s ramifications. Like Nishida, I believe that a sufficiently strong freedom language will incorporate logic (albeit a logic referencing existence and analysis) and the concepts of interconnectivity, interpenetration, transformation, reciprocity and content/form interdependence—content/form interdependence that moves through various transformations of itself while conserving meaning. The conservation of meaning is not unlike what we experience in simple arithmetic. In the same way that 1+1=2 and 177-175 also equals 2 etc., so to in content/form interdependence the content may change but the structure remains unchanged. Transformations like these are not limited to analysis. For instance, perhaps self-awareness is more than a product of mind/brain? Perhaps self-awareness is a product of structure? Indeed, perhaps without this structure there would be no mind/brain!

          We are born into a world of knowledge and knowing, but the throttle of this knowing–the actualization of what is unique in human freedom, lies in our capacity to actualize our own non-being. Simply put, every time we ask a question we actualize our own non-being. Whether we like it or not knowledge expands, but when we ask questions, we accelerate this expansion by detaching ourselves from being in our capacity as non-being in order to more fully appropriate/appreciate the world around us. Our passive experience of time does not produce a great deal of knowledge, but because we bring the logical relationships implicit in the Affirmative Ideal to bear on an event, we are free to create judgments concerning the significance and probable cause of an event. Judgments concerning the nature of  events, are determined valid across a continuum that ranges from sensation divorced from theory, at one end, to sensation reinforced by the most advanced and respected scientific theories available.”

           Where do we (you and me) access our own non-being? We access it through the ~bb part of the b~b~bb structure (in our transcending For-itself consciousness—see paragraph below) which, in turn, is embedded in the other half of this structure, the b~b part of b~b~bb structure, or the part which goes by name—Mother Nature! It is in the b~b (continuity occurring in discontinuity, life/death) of the b~b~bb structure where scientific hypothesizes are confirmed or rejected. It is also in the b~b part of b~b~bb structure where we experience the immediately grasped, emotionally moving ground out of which all things arise which, of course, includes the emotions that drive our  beliefs, concerns, intentions and deeds.

           Evolution is not just associated with biology; it is associated also with structure. After a sufficient level of evolution/liberation is achieved, the ~~b structure per-mutates into the life/death structure of biological life—the ~bb structure, and, after more consciousness/freedom liberation, the ~bb structure per-mutates into b~b~bb—the structure that builds civilizations and asks questions like: how, why, when, and where did human consciousness come from?  Our aesthetic experience (sensory/emotional) and our theoretic experience (language, number, logic, identity) are joined in the experience of b~b~bb. Probably the most difficult (and uncomfortable) thing to apprehend is that all reality/existence includes the non-being of God—the affirmed/logically implied existence of God not not being God (For that story see my blog posts describing the ~~b structure). That which connects/embeds everything to everything else—first through the history of universe/Earth (~~b), second through the liberation of life/consciousness (~bb), and third through the liberation of the participatory moment of a conscious self (b~b~bb), bridges the gap that separates science from religion.

          Identifying Jean Paul Sartre’s philosophy as structuralism is, I am aware, pushing the envelope. However, an authority on structuralism has proposed this option (without, I might add, elaborating on it.) “One might go as far as to say…that structuralism is analogous to Sartre’s view of consciousness — it is what it is not, and it is not what it is.” [Jean-Marie Benoist, A Structural Revolution, p. 1] In Sartre’s book Being And Nothingness, his chapter on Being-For-Itself is subtitled “Immediate Structures of the For-Itself.” [Jean-Paul Sartre, Being And Nothingness, p. 119] Structure is not hidden in Sartre as he defines the consciousness of the transcending For-itself (our self-space) as: “Consciousness is a being such that in its being, its being is in question in so far as this being implies a being other than itself.” (Ibid. p. 801) In an extrapolation on Sartre’s definition of consciousness, Benoist describes the relationship inherent in consciousness as: “it is what it is not, and it is not what it is.” My own reading of this relationship is: being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. In either case, however, we end up with a description of content/form interdependence.

         In so far as we find ”nothingness” at the center of Cogito, consciousness per se must be understood to be set apart from itself, therefore, Sartre’s pre-reflective Cogito will always form one pole of our conscious experience while the “objects” of consciousness will take their place at the other pole of conscious experience. Depending on where “you” focus your concern, the content of consciousness is either pushed to the front of consciousness (the unreflective consciousness), or, the object of consciousness is pushed into the background, as the “negation of consciousness” is brought into the foreground (the reflected upon object of consciousness). Together, our pre-reflective Cogito and the object of consciousness form our conscious experience of the knower-known dyad– content/form interdependence. In so far as this double movement turns on the pivot point of pure negation, the known exists for the knower, but the knower can never be fully known. As self-consciousness rises in consciousness, it is denied the possibility of becoming fully self-aware. This result, the incompleteness of self, brings us back to Sartre’s original definition of consciousness, or, “consciousness is such that in its being its being is in question in so far as this being implies a being other than itself.” This center of functional activity, this content/form interdependence that makes thinking possible, this symbol-generating movement of free thought that emancipates language, myth, science, and morality, pushes and pulls self-awareness down the road that hopefully leads to a more civilized society. In the absence of this center of functional activity, “thinking” is restricted to the manipulation of signs—mere sensual indicators, minus the symbols that carry the significance of those same indicators. In other words, in the absence of this center of functional activity, language becomes severely limited, if not impossible.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Meditation On Divinity

100_0939Paradoxes like “how does oneness make room for otherness” are neutralized when existence, in general, and identity, in particular, are understood as a consequence of the logic of God not being God’s own non-being, i.e., the b~b~bb structure. The idea that God is free to not be God is unusual but not unique. In the journal, Deconstruction and Theology (1982, p. 89-90), Robert P. Scharlemann, in the article, The Being of God When God is Not Being God, adds some commentary to this idea when he says:

“The thesis I should like to propound here is that, in the theological tradition, the otherness of God has remained unthought and conceptually forgotten in exactly the same manner as has the question of the meaning of being. …What cannot be thought, in the tradition of this picture (the concept of finite being as ens creatum) is that the world is itself a moment in the being of God; what cannot be thought is that the world is the being of God when God is not being deity, or the being of God in the time of not being.”

I realize that many people find elitist the notion that humans are a unique class of animal, but when considered from the point of view of this meditation it is not that humans are superior, rather, it is that we are born into a much larger and richer reservoir of potential freedom! In this privileged space (if indeed privilege is the right word) advantage and responsibility are joined; to quote Ian Barbour: “In the capacity for abstract thought and symbolic language there is a radical distinction between man and animal. Self-conscious awareness, critical self reflection, and creative imagination are found nowhere else in nature. In memory of the past, anticipation of the future, and envisagement of ideal potentialities, he transcends his immediate environment. He is unique in his search for truth, concern for moral values, and acknowledgement of universal obligation –and above all, in his relationship to God.” (Ian Barbour, Issues in Science and Religion 1966, p.29.)

Life, in a supportive environment, propagates and grows more complex; the same holds true for our knowledge environment. In this higher dimension, i.e., the ~bb of b~b~bb structure, knowledge, in it’s propositional and signifier sense, propagates and grows more complex. Analytically speaking, this condition births the principle of logical contradiction as it also denotes the original precondition for the development of language, mathematics, etc… . Rene Descartes was, as far as I can tell, the first to isolate the experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity (the ~bb of b~b~bb structure). Descartes’ methodological doubting brought him to conclude, “I think therefore I am.” Descartes’ cogito, however, was/is only half of the story because knowledge also occurs within one’s emotional environment—(the b~b of b~b~bb structure). It is through/within our emotional life that, ultimately, we determine a life “well lived” or not!

Human history—cultural evolution (to paraphrase Ernst Cassirer) — may be traced back to that point in time where man/woman ceased to passively accept their physical environment, and, in setting themselves in opposition to it, began to create and form it. This act, the transformation of mere impressions into pure expression, began the human psyche’s progress, via the development of myth, ritual, art, language, music, science, etc. into what today we call civilization. Ernst Cassirer, in his three volume work, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1957), suggests that as we interact with our environment through desires, emotions and work, we acquire the capacity, via symbolic representation, to objectify nature – the nature of our inner and outer reality. Objectification here is not meant as a thing to be apprehended but rather as a movement toward constancy, endurance and certainty.

We are born into a world of knowledge and knowing, but the throttle of this knowing–the actualization of what is unique in human freedom, lies in our capacity to actualize our own non-being. Simply put, every time we ask a question we actualize our own non-being. Whether we like it or not knowledge expands, but when we ask questions, we accelerate that expansion by detaching ourselves from being in our capacity as non-being in order to more fully appropriate/appreciate the world around us. Our passive experience of time does not produce a great deal of knowledge, but because we bring the logical relationships implicit in God’s freedom to bear on an event (divinity/freedom= b~b~bb, the permutation of ~bb life/death, which, in turn, is the permutation of ~~b, see below) we are free to create judgments concerning the significance and probable cause of an event. These judgments, concerning the nature of an event, are determined valid across a continuum that ranges from sensation divorced from theory, at one end, to sensation reinforced by the most advanced and respected scientific theory available.

[Evolution, in addition to evolving content, also evolves “form.” A change in form is not necessarily a change in meaning, e.g., two means 2, 1+1 means 2, 4-2 means 2. In the same way that the meaning of the number 2 is conserved in the subtraction of 120 from 122, so to the meaning of consciousness is conserved the b~b~bb structure—a permutation of ~bb which, in turn, is a permutation of ~~b.]

The same logic/structure (b~b~bb) that separates/connects the person I am to the person I become, also separates/connects particles to waves (~~b). In terms of metaphor, the logic that separates/connects reaches around (the double slit experiment in QM) and bites its own “tail”—the Wholeness of the Cosmos! Scientific hypotheses are confirm-able because the evolution of the universe takes place in the space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the space of logical implication, i.e., by virtue of being not, not God (~~b) God becomes, in a verb sense, “free to be,” while also, in a noun sense, free to be the “God of all creation,” i.e., the implied God of all creation.

There are no guarantees that the answers we propose in response to our questions will match up with corresponding events, yet scientists have a pretty good track record when it comes to the discovery and confirmation of these answers. In experience that is not accountable to scientific confirmation, however, we determine, via our judgments and emotions, appropriate behavior. It is at this level of preferred behavior, the level of “willed consciousness participation” (as it is called by Owen Barfield), that we encounter freedom of the highest order!

When God’s freedom becomes aware of itself (b~b~bb), something very remarkable happens. From our point of view, we see our past, present, and “future possibilities,” thus we work toward the actualization of those possibilities. But, from a divine point of view, it’s all “awareness of presence.” For me, this is an emotionally charged consequence since it brings home the notion that God is, in a very real sense, all-knowing and all-present. But even more astonishing is that, via our intentions and concerns, we are responsible for the content of this “divine presence.” Here I am reminded of the words of Walt Whitman, where in his poem “Song To Myself,” he wrote: “Whoever degrades another degrades me. And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.” It follows that if just one person recognizes an act of injustice and becomes outraged, God becomes outraged also!

We begin our conduct with the recognition of desirable behavior, but putting this awareness into action takes on special significance. Just as the validity of a scientific hypothesis becomes authenticated upon confirmation—via positive experimental results, so too, one’s personal behavior becomes authenticated when it is made to conform to behavior that has previously been judged appropriate by the individual. Simply put, behavior is a measure and a product of freedom. Herein we may appreciate the significance of those teachers and teachings that encourage students to think for themselves while stressing heightened awareness and social responsibility; and, since freedom is actualized at different levels by different people, it follows that, whenever possible, a responsible person will posture herself/himself as a student or a teacher whenever the opportunity arises. Recognizing the appropriate occasion to accommodate these postures comes with experience. Ultimately, religion, science, law, art …all of civilization, must be understood as the expression of the freedom of God that works toward this transformation.

Certain aspects of the world cannot be changed, however. Our mortality, for instance, is a condition of God’s freedom (the condition of not, not being God) and therefore must be experienced and endured. Yet it is in our mortality that we may come to discover an incredible comfort and release. Many of our desires are automatically fulfilled in the realization that we are one with God’s presence in the here and now. With this understanding we arrive at the heart of the experience that is poetically described by mystics and other spiritually evolved individuals (these few, off the top of my head, have found a place in my blog—Jesus, Eckhart, Aquinas, Buddha, Nishida, Nishitani, Shankara, Krishna, Buber, etc.).

All of intuitive sensitivity flows from this “oneness” that embraces nature, nature’s creatures, and humanity until it finally becomes manifest in love, caring, happiness, and reverence—for the God that makes it All possible. The “I” of God and the “I” of you and me are, indeed, one and the same—however, when divinity truly speaks it speaks through the language of LOVE.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

One God Many Religions

‘“In your nothingness I hope to find everything,” said Faust to Mephistopheles, and so it was; after the Mothers, Faust became free to follow his own instincts.”

I owe so much to the teachings of Goethe’s Faust!

In The Beginning was the paradox: How can God/perfection and creation/imperfection coexist? Paraphrasing Robert P. Scharlemann, “what cannot be thought is that the world is the being of God when God is not being deity; the world is, in the time of not being, a moment in the being of God. (p. 89-90, 1982).

Short answer to the paradox above: One God, many religions, why— because God backs into existence; that is, by virtue of being not-God in the form of “being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is” God becomes, in the verb sense, “free to be,” and, by implication, in the noun sense, free to be the “God of all creation,” i.e., the logically implied God of creation. This state of affairs suggests to me the original significance of John Paul Sartre’s definition of pre-reflective Cogito (the double movement of conscious reflection). But, of course, in Sartre’s Cogito there was no God. As Sartre says: the transcending For-itself …”is a being such that in its being, its being is in question in so far as this being implies a being other than itself.” (Being And Nothingness p.801) Yet, in so far as Sartre’s pre-reflective Cogito is a product of freedom, i.e., a product of universe, life, and the symbol-generating movement of free thought, it reflects both the backside of God (the time of not being) and the “face of God” (implied self-Logos). Absent the “face of God” knowledge—language with its lexical, syntactical, and contextual designations, science, ethical behavior, existential meaning, and religion(s) —could not exist.

The above realization—that I am both D.H. and divine—was a very emotional event. Eventually, I came off of that high, but there was no going back after that. Put another way: God resides in my temporal present as an “all knowing awareness,” but I do not (usually) experience awareness that way. Instead, I experience my own beliefs, concerns, intentions, and deeds. God (implied God), however, resides in my temporal present in the same way that images reside in figure/ground Gestalt representations, e.g., whether you see two faces or a vase depends on which part of the drawing you see as figure and which part as background. This figure/ground relationship is what lies behind my personal relationship with God! bwinwnbwi

For more see: http://bwinwnbwi2.wordpress.com/page/19/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Structure Time Logos


A couple days ago (I think it was Valentines Day) I went to my blog to see if I had any visits. My history was blocked (maybe it was a Valentines Day thing), but on the history page I found a request to for three blogs, the first tagged: logic, structure, time, second: logic divinity, worldview, science divinity connection and third: God, physics, freedom, worldview, reverence, justice. This request was probably computer generated, but that doesn’t matter; what matters is I thought okay (I had/have given up posting—old age, depression, etc. etc.). Anyway, after checking to see how much I could throw together from previous posts, I have decided to oblige; so here are three more posts (probably my last three, but I’ve learned to never say never).


A long time ago, I wrote a paper on Structuralism where I began: We must first look at the various structural models that have been described in linguistics (Saussure and Chomsky), anthropology (Levi-Strauss), psychology (Piaget) and philosophy (Foucault). It was a long paper (back then I had no simple answers). Later, I stumbled upon a simple answer. After reading the book, Order Out Of Chaos by the Nobel laureate, Ilya Prigogine, I ran across the following quote:

“Whatever we call reality, it is revealed to us only through the active construction in which we participate.” Ilya Prigogine

In language study the concept of “irreducibility” is a universal concern of structuralist thought. For Saussure, this desire becomes fulfilled in his systematic and holistic interpretation of language. It started with language but Saussure’s idea that language can be understood synchronically, frozen in time, has inspired many structural investigations into the “hidden code” that other proponents of structuralism believe lies at the heart of myths, literature, and history.

Ernst Cassirer, Herbert Mead, and Jean Piaget, the three who, in different fields, ran with this approach all responded to the synchronic/diachronic approach to human experience. The conclusions of all three men, in the end, converged (Cassirer/epistemology, Mead/sociology, and Piaget/psychology). Whereas Cassirer found the origin and evolution of symbolic meaning to reside in the “work of man,” Piaget, in a like manner, put the origin of structure and the symbolic content that it generates, in the “organisms capacity for action.” (Mead did something very similar). However, let Howard Gardner’s description of Piaget’s psychology speak for all three here:

“Piaget reached a crucial insight: the activity of an organism can be described or treated logically, and logic itself stems from a sort of spontaneous organization of activity. At this time he also formulated the notion that all organisms consist of structures–of parts related within a whole–and that all knowledge is an assimilation of a given external into the structures of the subject.” [Howard Gardner, The Quest for Mind, Piaget, Levi-Strauss, and the Structuralist Movement, 1973, p.54]


“Time flies!” or “Where did the time go?” are not just mere expressions, rather, they are actual descriptions of the “time of mind” experience. “Time of mind” really does go faster as we get older. Here’s why: The structure ~bb (discontinuity occurring in continuity) implies the mind-space where “identity/affirmation” occurs. What this means is that while we live, we accumulate, process, and store information. Accumulated meaningful associations (over time) speed up this processing. In other words (all other things being equal) the mind of the forty-year-old processes more information and uses that information more efficiently than a thirty-year-old (quantitatively, time flies). Or, even more to the point, think of how long it took to get through your summer vacation between your third and forth grade school year and compare that memory with the way you experience time today!

What is time? Jean Paul Sartre (Being And Nothingness) and Martin Heidegger (Being And Time) wrote chapters on the time of mind experience, i.e., produced existential (ontological} explanations of time, but explanations of time go beyond philosophy. Science also has trouble dealing with of the time of mind concept; so again, I ask what is time?

In addition to the economic value of time (time is money) and the personal value of time—life spans, time is also considered to be a measurable structure of the universe, a dimension (four-dimensional space-time continuum) where events occur. This is the realist’s view. Periodic events and periodic motion have long served as standards for units of time. Examples are the apparent motion of the sun across the sky, the phases of the moon, the swing of a pendulum, heartbeats, etc. Currently, the unit of time interval (the second) is defined as a certain number of hyperfine transitions in Cesium atoms.

Science deals with time on three levels. There is the time, which following from Newton’s laws of motion, is used to predict the future of moving objects. It terms of our solar system, this is the time that allows for space travel. Reflecting on this time, the French mathematician Laplace declared that the existence of God was an unnecessary hypothesis. He realized that the initial conditions at the birth of the universe predetermined everything, thus everything becomes predictable, — both backwards and forwards. There is also the time encountered in thermodynamics and in the biological sciences—a unidirectional arrow of time. According to the second law of thermodynamics energy dissipates while entropy (disorder) increases, or, in other words, things decay. A third level of time is found in Relativity and in quantum mechanics. This time gets measured by the t-coordinate in an undifferentiated continuum, and, according to Denbigh, “if this coordinate is ‘taken for real’ as has been the tendency among many scientists and philosophers, the familiar distinction between past, present and future, so important in human affairs, comes to be regarded as a mere peculiarity of consciousness” (Kenneth Denbigh, Three Concepts of Time, 1981, p. 4).

Another view is that time is part of the fundamental human intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which we sequence events, quantify the duration of events (the intervals between them) and compare motions of objects. In this view, time does not refer to any kind of entity that “flows” or to “a container of events.” This view is in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant and, as it is unique to human consciousness, it permits the “act of becoming” that is lost in other time-concepts, “acts of becoming” that almost always get taken for granted, i.e., free will.


What separates humans from other animals (some animals can be taught, on a remedial level, to express meaningful symbols) is the experience of number, identity, language, etc., in a word, symbols. As has been pointed out by Piaget, the symbol is a product of cognitive structure, which, in turn, is a product of natural structure. The spatial and temporal structure of events is, according to Piaget, also the result of all this structure.

The cognitive structure of discontinuity occurring in continuity, identifies the source of conceptual representation–symbolic meaning, it also explains why our thoughts should be able to represent the world outside our mind, especially when it comes to the application of mathematics to physical theories. Both the world and our ideas are created from the logic of existence, the logic of natural structure. In other words, there is a necessary correspondence between mind and world. The laws reflected in nature correspond to the laws of mathematics reflected in our mind since both are based on the more fundamental law of the logic of existence, the logic that creates the temporal structure of mental events. Thus, predictions concerning the external world of events are possible because the evolution of the universe takes place in this space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication,” the space that scientists, mathematicians, and logicians use to quantify truth from not truth.

When non-being occurs in being, self-consciousness is produced and becomes, by implication, conscious of itself. Analytically speaking, this condition identifies the source of logical contradiction which, in turn, denotes the original precondition for the evolutionary development of language and mathematics. We are born into a world of knowledge and knowing with the ability to individually accelerate this knowing process by asking “questions” –the highest form of human freedom. No one can steal this God given gift from us. This divine gift not only moves us toward the truth that:

“Whoever degrades another degrades me. And whatever is done or said returns at last to me” (Song To Myself, Walt Whitman)

it also leads us to the ultimate realization–that we are one with God’s presence in the here and now.

Pictures always help simplify what is difficult to comprehend, so with simplification in mind, I will attempt to describe how an increase in freedom (the synchronic axis of freedom) liberates the conscious experience of a physical event. To begin: Let the V shape represent the image of freedom. Let the left side of the V represent the empirical world (the negative pole of freedom’s axis) and the right side represent the liberation pole (also negative). At the V vertex the empirical and liberation poles meet. Where the two negative poles meet Affirmation is implied. This, to be sure, is a very constrained state of existence, but still, it is open enough to allow for the expansion of freedom. Now label the vertex, the V bottom, as ~~b (not, not being). “Negations negating negations,” on this level, define the entire V structure. Thus, it is on the back of negation that new levels of freedom arise–are liberated.

The first thing to notice about the V is its openness. This openness moves the content of existence forward; in fact, one is tempted to say that “to be free” is why existence exists. Science does a good job explaining the content of existence, but it is severely challenged when it comes to explaining the “otherness of existence,” or the liberating process that structures existence. As existence and liberation move up the V, freedom expands. Freedom expands diachronically at each level of structure (think evolution here), but, over time, lower level structure becomes “content” for higher level structure. At each “step up” freedom yields a new synchronic (frozen in time) structure, one that, although different from the lower structure, still preserves the integrity of the lower structure while structuring a whole new dimension of freedom. This process continues until it reaches the level of freedom that occurs among symbol generating, language speaking life forms. Yes, that be “us.” So let’s take a look at this process that moves existence forward and expands freedom in a little more detail.

Let the V image represent the liberation of the “otherness of existence.” Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (not, not-being). The “double negative” characterizes the entire V, and implies that which exists outside the V– the Affirmative Ideal, or, more to the point, an affirmation of the Affirmative Ideal. In other words, the V and all that it represents/manifests, via the “double negative,” connects/embeds everything to everything else, first through the empirical world and second through the Affirmative Ideal. In terms of “quantum strangeness” this state of affairs is revealing. But, this is only the first structural level; the second level occurs somewhere above the V vertex.

On the next freedom level, on the empirical side, let ~b represent the opposite of life. Life is a temporary condition, interrupted, eventually, by decay and death (the necessity of death, however, represents the conservation of the integrity of the Affirmative Ideal vis-à-vis the space that separates, embeds, and connects). Across from ~b (death), let b, the reciprocal counterpart to ~b, on the freedom side of the V, represent life, or, more specifically, life’s journey toward more evolved life forms. Life, through adaptation and diversity, expands and becomes more complex. Freedom, now on two different levels, continues to evolve until another level of freedom is liberated.

Let b~b~bb represent this highly evolved form of structured existence. We are familiar with this structure because it represents the participatory moment of a conscious self (its counterpart, on the empirical side of the V, or the b~b of b~b~bb) becomes the physical embodiment—brain—of this self-conscious. With the liberation of freedom, at this level, we experience the participatory moment of “time of mind.” On this structural level, a new freedom is produced, the freedom to freely participate in freedom. In other words, out of the embedded experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity emerges the subjective aim of a conscious self—the source of all identities, the source of symbolic representation. Freedom not only increases at the level of self-consciousness, the level where civilization begins, it mushrooms–and the V shape grows larger (and wider). This new freedom erupts into the historical/cultural environment of social interaction and social organization, which, over time, produces modernity (and the negative effects of modernity). All this too, is part of the liberation process as self-consciousness continually seeks more freedom.

In a nutshell, freedom and logical form demonstrate a co-dependent relationship; that is, freedom and logical form develop together. When freedom and logical form merge in the participatory moment of a conscious self, identity (eventually full blown self-consciousness) is the result, and, in the wake of identity, imagination follows. More specifically, the possibilities contained in the participatory moment of a conscious self are immense, but the immediate consequence is that identity is preserved in the midst of constant change.

To get an even better picture (three posts) of the implications of Logos:


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Science Divinity Connection

Science Divinity Connection, Worldview, Logic

We must shift gears here and think of the universe not as something that consciousness defines, but, rather, as something that defines consciousness. The idea that consciousness pervades the universe is not new. The Greek philosopher, Heraclites, believed that a non-human intelligence or the Logos ordered everything. For Heraclites, all the discrete elements of the world were organized into a coherent whole. The Stoics, using this idea, turned the Logos into God—the God that is the source of all rationality. But, those ideas were developed some 2400 years ago. Can the Logos be equated with the universe and all its elements today? When the noted logician, Alburey Castell, was confronted with a similar question, he responded:

“Suppose the sciences divided into four major groups: the mathematical, the physical, the biological, and social. Suppose the philosophical disciplines also divided into four major groups: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics. Where among these does logic belong? Is it a fifth in either group? Or a subdivision of some one of the eight divisions? It seems to me to be neither of these, but somehow common to all divisions. The nerve of every science and every discipline is inference, or argument. In every science and every discipline two questions are always being asked and their answers sought: If these facts are granted, what follows? From what prior facts do these follow? That is If P, then what? And, Upon what does P rest?” (A College Logic, 329)

Before I begin to answer the question –Upon what does P rest? I want to give a little background information on the law of logical contradiction.

“The laws of logic,” says the Dictionary of Philosophy, “are regulative principles governing the pursuit of knowledge and the construction of scientific theories. Seen in this way, logic is the most general of all sciences… To assert a contradiction would be to depict things as being one way and yet at the same time not that way. But nothing can be p and not-p at the same time. To believe a contradiction is thus to hold as true something that is necessarily false” (Antony Flew, p.210).

What the rule of non-contradiction means in practical terms is that if a contradiction is found in a work of reasoning then that work is of little or no value. On the other hand, if a reasoned work identifies the condition for the possibility of any contradiction whatsoever, then that work would be valuable indeed!

Oh, by the way, freedom’s dialectic (the V structure) is the answer to the question –Upon what does P rest? This experience (the most free level of the V structure) opened the door to meaningful symbol creation, the door that swings forward into the creation of language, myth, religion, art, and theoretical knowledge…and into the creation of the civilizing processes that we call “civilization”. But, not to forget, all of this rests on the pre-existing liberating processes of liberation that have come together in human consciousness, and, ultimately, rest on the ground condition of the Affirmation Ideal, i.e., affirmed indeterminate Divinity. Freedom’s dialectic is at once bond and liberation, bond as Divine Affirmation and liberation as “the otherness of existence progressively becomes freer!”

What God’s freedom is defining here is God as Immanent (the phenomenal world) and God as Transcendent (the God of all religions). All we can know about Transcendent God is that God exists. The space of logical implication tells us that much. On the other hand, we can know a great deal about God’s Immanence because that’s what we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Everyday, as a self-conscious being, we participate in inquiry, analysis, conscience, and imagination. Now, let’s take a closer look at what the form of ~bb, of b~b~bb entails (self-consciousness expressed freedom).

What separates the second from the third level of existence/freedom is the experience of number, identity, language, etc., i.e., the potential to create and communicate through symbols. In so far as the human animal is defined by God’s non-being, humans become aware of non-being, and out of this awareness, by implication, arises the “mental given.” This “mental given” is experienced as the object pole of consciousness while “not being this mental given” allows for conscious reflection on the content of consciousness. Functionally, ~bb, or the cognitive experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity, is very close to, if not identical with, both Sartre’s pre-reflective Cogito and Piaget’s center of functional activity. Discontinuity occurring in continuity, or ~bb, not only identifies the source of conceptual representation– symbolic meaning, it also explains why our thoughts should be able to represent the world outside our mind, especially when it comes to the application of mathematics to physical theories. Since both the world and our ideas are a product of the logic that structures all existence, there is a necessary correspondence between mind and world. The laws of mathematics, physics, and nature are all grounded in the same structure, the structure that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication, connects to the liberation of God in the here and now. Probably the most difficult (and uncomfortable) thing to apprehend here is that all reality/existence is an aspect of the non-being of God,—the “otherness of God.” I didn’t invent this idea; there is a literature devoted to it. Unfortunately, I have not read much of it. Actually, maybe I did invent this idea, since I came upon the literature only after I had developed my argument for the structure of existence. Anyway, Robert P. Scharlemann, edited a journal devoted to this topic. Below is a quote from that journal:

The idea that God is free to not be God is unusual, but not unique. In the journal, Deconstruction and Theology (1982, p. 89-90), Robert P. Scharlemann, in the article The Being of God When God is Not Being God, adds some commentary to this idea when he says: “The thesis I should like to propound here is that, in the theological tradition of this picture (the concept of finite being as ens creatum) is that the world is itself a moment in the being of God; what cannot be thought is that the world is the being of God when God is not being deity, or the being of God in the time of not being.”

It follows from this view that an infinite amount of diversity is both permitted and discovered in God’s freedom not to be, a diversity that, ultimately, is at one with God. What makes this possible (and logically consistent) is the fact that all existence is grounded in one structure, the structure that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the space of logical implication, connects to the liberation of God’s non-being in the here and now. Another way to state this state of affairs is: all existence exists as being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. This “way of being,” in addition to characterizing God’s freedom, also characterizes the liberation process that evolves God’s freedom (God becomes more free as freedom evolves) and this freedom, ultimately, achieves consciousness of physical, biological, and psychological events.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

God Physics Freedom Worldview Reverence Justice


      I’d like to say a few words concerning God, and then let a dialogue that I wrote a while back say the rest. The dialogue is something I had hoped would happen (no such luck) between Mike (an old schoolyard friend of mine) and I when we were bicycling the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The Affirmative Ideal is what allows people to believe in God; that is, they believe because they can! God certainly exists in affirmation, but God also exists in the flesh, yours, mine, and all the rest of humanity. God exists in all the rest of nature too, but God is made self-aware in self-consciousness. Think about that; the more you do the more the barriers between God and You (self-consciousness) fall away— it’s not an unpleasant experience.In Every Human Being God Pulses–The Depth And Center Of All There Is 

“Okay,” I said, “but what I’m about to say is not exactly user friendly. It’s about a different kind of God, one that, as far as I can tell, nobody is familiar with.”

“Well, does God have foreknowledge or not?” Mike responded.

“He knows everything that is known,” I said. “It’s hard to describe, but He knows it all without foreknowledge.”

“You’ve got my attention now,” Mike replied, “How exactly does He pull that off?”

“It’s in his freedom,” I said. “In nature, life, and culture we find God’s ‘self-expression’, and that–is an affirmation of God and God’s freedom.”

“Oh, this ought to be good,” replied Mike, “what kind of image is that? Is He still the old man on high, divine worker of miracles, dispenser of rewards and punishments, or am I missing something?”

“That image is a bit outdated, wouldn’t you say?” I said.

“Well is He limited by time or not? replied Mike.”

“No,” I said.

“Is He omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient?”

“Yes to all three,” I replied.

“Well, I rest my case. It’s the same-o, same-o,” Mike responded. “We humans are bound by law and limited by death. We don’t like it, so we imagine a God without limits. We get sick, but God does not. We are caught in space and time—not God. We face horrendous hardships and suffering—not God. Both Freud, and Feuerbach before him, had it right; god is a product of our own desires because, as cripples, we need a crutch. We need god, but he remains forever out of reach. Religion was born out of that need. God is our security blanket. In reality God is based in false hopes and promises, and exists only in our dreams.”

“There’s more to the story than that,” I responded. “The theologian, Paul Tillich, had a different idea. In fact, he believed the image of a superhuman God should be replaced by a more internalized ‘depth image.’ Instead of believing in an external God, he chose to believe in a God that was the ground of all that is. God, for him, became ‘infinite center,’ a ‘presence,’ a feeling, a reality, an opening to all sacredness and divinity. That’s kind of what I’m talking about when I talk about God, but I came to that image in my own way. And, by the way, as far as gender is concerned, God doesn’t have any.”

“That sound’s a bit pantheistic to me,” Mike responded. “So who or what is this god?”

“Pantheism is part of it, but there’s more,” I said. “I have always been attracted to those images of deity that identify God with nature. Spinoza, Lao Tsu, Whitman, Black Elk, all those guys believed nature to be sacred. God is nature, but nature is also an expression of God’s freedom, and further, God’s freedom is something ‘other’ than God. It is God when God is ‘not being God’–God’s own non-being. I know that sounds strange, but I can’t help it. That’s the way it is.”

“Sure,” Mike responded, “cut to the chase why don’t you, and we’ll see just how strange that idea really is.”

“I’m getting there,” I said. “All nature is a ‘way’ of non-being. And, this non-being is peculiar in that it is not a singular thing. It is dualistic in character, and takes the form of a double negation. In this double negative we find God as affirmation. We find God as freedom, and we find God as environment. Just as a receptacle is defined by empty space, non-being defines God. God, in the form of the ‘other’, is both God and freedom, and through reasoned analysis we can derive the meaning and significance of God. In fact, both freedom and reason, on some level, are present in all non-being, all nature.”

“That’s the chase,” Mike replied. “That’s it?”

“I told you, my god is not user friendly,” I said. “Freedom exists at every level of nature. It also goes through changes, and these changes represent freedom at more complex levels. After a sufficient level of complexity, freedom becomes less restricted. When it experiences its own double-negatives in the space of higher negation, it becomes alive. In that sense, freedom is always ‘stretching itself’ and ‘reaching out’ for more freedom. At a sufficient level of complexity, inorganic nature becomes organic, and freedom becomes freer. At death, nature’s double negation must be conserved, so higher expressions of freedom dissolve into less free states, and, ultimately, into God because God is affirmed in double negation—in being non-being. This is my religion. This is what I believe. God is not separate from nature, life, and/or culture. That’s how I understand the meaning and significance of God.”

“What has culture to do with anything?” Mike said. “Its just part of life. Hell, social insects have culture!”

“True,” I replied, “but they do not bring self-consciousness to culture; consequently, they are not free to expand that culture into self-determined orders of complexity. Only humans can do that. Humans are free in a way other animals are not.”

“That’s bullshit,” Mike said. “Culture keeps us alive. It’s the same with insects. It’s a matter of degree, not kind, and the same goes for what you call freedom.”

“Suit yourself,” I replied, “but at least hear me out. According to the way I perceive God, human culture is a product of God’s freedom. In culture, God acts out the self-aware expression of freedom. This higher-level experience is two levels removed from God’s least free expression. This freedom brings with it an ‘empty box,’ a box of negation—a box attached to consciousness. Other animals are boxless. Consciousnesses–self-consciousness—uses this box to see what’s not, and ask ‘why?’ With the good comes the bad, however. This box also permits ruthless people to value greed over knowledge, violence over peace, and vengeance over beauty. Without this box, though, agreements for the purpose of securing peace and preserving beauty would not be possible. Judgments would not be possible. Self-expression would not be possible. The history of civilization would not be possible. In fact, the history of civilization is the history of this box, the history that records the struggles for liberty and the freedom to overcome that which prohibits liberty. When we seek the origin of freedom, we end up in religion.”

“You think religion can save the world!” responded Mike. You think if only people believed as you do, they would act differently? How ignorant! How pretentious! Who is shortsighted and stubborn now?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Actually, I try not to think of it in those terms. It’s too scary. After searching all these years, it’s enough for me to have a security blanket that works for me.”

“You deserve an ‘at-a-boy’ for that,” Mike replied. “Everybody’s entitled to their beliefs; that is, as long their beliefs do not deny the beliefs of others. Even if you wanted to change the world, in my opinion, you couldn’t, not with what I just heard. The truth is I don’t understand a thing you just said. But, if it’s any consolation, I did enjoy hearing it. I don’t know why. How about another beer?”

“Sounds like a winner,” I replied, “but indulge me for just a little bit longer. I will be specific.”

“If you must,” Mike replied, “Waitress, two more beers pa’ lease.”

“First, God is the inescapable depth and center of all there is. The immanence of God is what I call freedom and this immanence is present as nature. When freedom achieves self-consciousness it is able to name and create truth and beauty. In fact, it calls us forward into life, love, and wholeness. The biblical Jesus was, most likely, so completely transformed by his awareness of the divine that his thoughts, words, and deeds were recognized as divine. Not surprisingly, the gospel writers saw him as the Son of God, and translated his story into the Passion Play that it was, — it is. My religion has nothing to do with ‘revealed truths,’ and it is not about heavenly rewards or punishments. Rather, it is simply a way to perceive and process the God experience, the experience that pulses in every human being. As far as proselytizing goes, all I want to do is open people’s minds to the idea that ‘terra firma’ is hallowed ground. I mean that both literally and figuratively. In our relationship with others we share that ground, and that ground becomes sacred or profane depending on how it is shared. That is what I believe, and that is really the end. Now I’m finished.”

God And Love

Since the Enlightenment, minds at the cutting edge of intellectual development worship at the logic and reason alter. Emotional disturbances are either irrelevant to intellectual progress or worse– prohibit it. Our emotional nature, particularly in this Age of Reason, has been relegated to the irrational part of the animal brain. But not here—not in God’s love attribute!

For me, affirming God is easy, however, getting to know the meaning of the relationships behind that affirmation is the all-important next step. Fortunately, Martin Buber was there first, so I’ll let him do most of the talking here. Affirming God, for Buber, is no more difficult than affirming the ground out of which duality arises, and Buber understood this. In his book, I And Thou, he alludes to the spiritual significance of this affirmation when he says:

“Dimly we apprehend this double movement –that turning away from the primal ground by virtue of which the universe preserves itself in its becoming, and that turning toward the primal ground by virtue of which the universe redeems itself in being –as the metacosmic primal form of duality that inheres in the world as a whole in its relation to that which is not world, and whose human form is the duality of attitudes, of basic words, and of the two aspects of the world. Both movements are unfolded fatefully in time and enclosed, as by grace, in the timeless creation that, incomprehensibly, is at once release and preservation, at once bond and liberation. Our knowledge of duality is reduced to silence by the paradox of the primal mystery” (1970, p. 149).

In freedom’s dialectic, double negation, life, and the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self may be thought of as representing Buber’s turning away from the primal ground, while double negation, death, and the physical event may be thought of as turning toward the primal ground that conserves and redeems being. Affirming a transcendent God then becomes no more difficult than affirming the ground out of which duality arises, but in doing so, one is also affirming God’s immanence—God’s thou-ness.

In the human being the I-thou, I-it, aspects of the world arise. It is in “presence,” a presence other then I-it, that the eternal You achieves the power of articulation—the God-presence that occurs in and through human relationships. In, I And Thou, Buber illustrates this point often and with elegance:

“…in every You we address the eternal You, in every sphere according to its manner. All spheres are included in it, while it is included in none.” (p. 150)

“Of course, God is ‘the wholly other’; but he is also the wholly same: the wholly present. Of course, he is the mysterium tremendum that appears and overwhelms; but he is also the mystery of the obvious that is closer to me than my own I.” (p. 127)

“…in truth, there is no God-seeking because there is nothing where one could not find him. How foolish and hopeless must one be to leave one’s way of life to seek God: even if one gained all the wisdom of solitude and all the power of concentration, one would miss him.” (p. 128)

“The word of revelation is: I am there as whoever I am there. That which reveals is that which reveals. That which has being is there, nothing more. The eternal source of strength flows, the eternal touch is waiting, the eternal voice sounds, nothing more.” (p. 160)

“The encounter with God does not come to man in order that he may henceforth attend to God, but in order that he may prove its meaning in action in the world. All revelation is a calling and a mission.” (p. 164)

“God embraces but is not the universe; just so, God embraces but is not my self. On account of this which cannot be spoken about, I can say in my language, as all can say in theirs: You. For the sake of this there are I and You, there is dialogue, there is language, and spirit whose primal deed language is, and there is, in eternity, the word.” (p. 143)

Bottom line here is that communication occurs between God and the infinite regress of Being. God is there in my relationship with nature and God is there in my relationship with human beings, but the highest order of that communication resides in the I-thou relationship. That said, one question remains: If we are already in a God relationship then why all this fuss concerning communication?

The Passionate Need To Express And Understand Life’s Meaning Drives (For Some) Their Mental Life

For me, the God qua God idea is barely comprehensible. Emotion is another thing all together, though. Without emotions consciousness would not exist. Thinking and feeling, are so entwined in consciousness (see footnote below) that some have argued language development follows from the human need to express complex emotions. William James held that “stream of consciousness” is comprised of both thinking and feeling elements. Feeling, for James, participates in knowledge and understanding. Echoing this sentiment, in his article, Reason and Feeling, Professor Creighton explains:

“In the development of mind, feeling does not remain a static element, constant in form and content at all levels, but…is transformed and disciplined through its interplay with other aspects of experience…Indeed, the character of the feeling in any experience may be taken as an index of the mind’s grasp of its object; at the lower levels of experience, where the mind is only partially or superficially involved, feeling appears as something isolated and opaque, as the passive accompaniment of mere bodily sensations…In the higher experiences, the feelings assume an entirely different character, just as do the sensations and other contents of mind.”
(Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy In A New Key, p. 100)

Of course, there will remain an inefficacy concerning emotion and language. Language is after all a poor medium for expressing one’s emotional nature. But, when looked at holistically, it is certainly possible that myth, ritual, art, language, and the abstract logical necessities encountered in mathematics and science are products of one’s passionate need to express and expand meanings. One might even go as far as to say that the passionate need to express and understand life’s meaning drives one’s mental life.

Staring into the heart of the Milky Way galaxy on a warm summer’s night, it is impossible not to feel the emotion. Or, again, picture yourself perched on a mountain peak, the setting sun’s soft yellow rays illuminating the range of peaks before you. In very special moments like these something happens, something sublime! What could possibly be more sublime? Perhaps sharing the sublime with others! It is, I believe, the need to share the sublime that answers the question Why Exist? But even on this mountaintop Buber was first:

“That you need God more than anything,” says Buber, “you know at all times in your heart. But don’t you know also that God needs you–in the fullness of his eternity, you? How would man exist if God did not need him, and how would you exist? You need God in order to be, and God needs you for that which is the meaning of your life.” (1970, p. 130)

In freedom’s dialectic, where self-consciousness, life, and duality—the affirming structures of God—become transparent to mind, divine love emerges. Love is, according to the great mystic sage from India, Aurobindo (1892-1950), “a union of self with self, soul with soul, and spirit with spirit.”


Footnote:  F.S. Northrop has this to say about the aesthetic continuum/the b~b of (b~b~bb):  “Now it is precisely this ineffable, emotional, moving quale that constitutes what is meant by spirit and the spiritual. Thus in order to do justice to the spiritual nature of human beings and of all things it is not necessary to have recourse to idle speculations, by means of which one tries to pierce through the glass beyond which we now see darkly, to supposedly unaesthetic material substances behind, or into some unreachable and unknowable realm where mental substances are supposed to be. On the contrary, the spiritual, the ineffable, the emotionally moving, the aesthetically vivid — the stuff that dreams and sunsets and the fragrance of flowers are made of — is the immediate, purely factual portion of human nature and the nature of all things. This is the portion of human knowledge that can be known without recourse to inference and speculative hypotheses and deductive logic, and epistemic correlations and rigorously controlled experiments. This we have and are in ourselves and in all things, prior to all theory, before all speculation, with immediacy and hence with absolute certainty.” [F.S.. C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West, p.462]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments