Aquinas' Ways, PSR, Tetralemmic Polarity...

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Feser's Fifth: Why his up-to-date version of Aquinas' Fifth Way fails as a proof, and how to make it work

Vincent Torley


Quote:In the Executive Summary above, I sketched an outline of how an alternative version of the teleological argument for God's existence might work. It went as follows:

1. All natural objects - and their parts - exhibit certain built-in, fixed tendencies, which can be said to characterize these objects and circumscribe the ways in which they are capable of acting.
(Note: Although this premise refers to objects and their tendencies and activities, it refrains from saying anything about substance vs. accidents, matter vs. form, or essence vs. existence.)

2. In order to properly ground scientific inferences and everyday inductive knowledge, the tendencies exhibited by natural objects must be construed not merely as properties which describe these objects, but as properties which prescribe the behavior of those objects: in other words, they are rules, which define the natures of those objects. What's more, the rules go all the way down: they are not superimposed on pre-existing objects, but actually constitute those objects, in their very being.

3. By definition, rules presuppose a rule-maker. Thus the existence of rules in the natural world can only be explained by an intelligent being or beings who has defined those rules. Hence the rule-governed behavior of natural objects presupposes the existence of an intelligent being or beings who has defined their natures - and hence their very being.

4. Only an actually existing being can explain an actual state of affairs; hence only an actually existing intelligent being or beings can explain the ongoing rule-governed behavior of natural objects, which defines their very natures and which constitutes them as beings. (Hence, this intelligent being or beings cannot be merely a watchmaker or absentee landlord. Rather, the intelligent being or beings must actually exist, and must continually conserve natural objects in being.)

5. An infinite regress of explanations is impossible; all explanations must come to an end somewhere. Hence the intelligent being (or beings) who defines the rules which govern the behavior of natural objects and their parts, must not exhibit any built-in, fixed tendencies, which constrain its mode of acting. Additionally, this intelligent being (or beings) must not be composed of any parts exhibiting such fixed tendencies. We are left, then, with an intelligent being (or beings), whose mode of acting is totally unconstrained by any fixed tendencies of its own, or of any underlying parts.

6. Beings are distinguished from one another according to their different modes of acting. Hence there can only be one intelligent being whose nature is totally unconstrained. Moreover, such a being must be supernatural, for all natural objects have a constrained mode of acting. Finally, such a being must be infinite, as nothing constrains its mode of acting. Thus we arrive an an Intelligent Author of Nature, Who is one, simple, supernatural and infinite.



Quote:How Intelligent Design complements Aquinas' arguments
The beauty of Intelligent Design, in my opinion, is that it complements Aquinas' arguments, by appealing to empirical phenomena which can only be produced by being specified in some sort of language. If each cell in an organism can be accurately described as running a set of programs, written in various programming languages, then since language is a "signature trait" of intelligent beings, it follows that these phenomena obviously require an Intelligent Being to produce them.
This is the strong version of Intelligent Design espoused by Dr. Don Johnson, who has both a Ph.D. in chemistry and a Ph.D. in computer and information sciences. On April 8, 2010, Dr. Johnson gave a presentation entitled Bioinformatics: The Information in Life for the University of North Carolina Wilmington chapter of the Association for Computer Machinery. Dr. Johnson's presentation is now on-line here. Both the talk and accompanying handout notes can be accessed from Dr. Johnson's Web page. Dr. Johnson spent 20 years teaching in universities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Europe. Here's an excerpt from his presentation blurb:

Quote:Each cell of an organism has millions of interacting computers reading and processing digital information using algorithmic digital programs and digital codes to communicate and translate information.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2020-12-08, 07:19 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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Egnor also writes about Aquinas' 5th Way:


Quote:A car accident may be by chance, but it necessarily occurs in a matrix of purpose and teleology — the cars move in accordance with laws of physics, the road was constructed according to plans, the cars are driven purposefully by drivers, etc. There can be no chance unless there is a system of regularity in which chance can occur. Chance by itself can’t happen — it is, by definition, the accidental conjunction of teleological processes. Both “chance” and “necessity” point to God. Pure chance, without a framework of regularity, is unintelligible. 

From the perspective of the Fifth Way, necessity permeates nature. But it is specification, rather than the complexity, that characterizes necessity and points to God’s existence. The specification need not be complex. The simplest motion of an inanimate object — a raindrop falling to the ground — is proof of God’s existence. 

No Mere Watchmaker

Teleology is foresight, the ability of a natural process to proceed to an end not yet realized. Yet the end must be realized, in some real sense, for final cause to be a cause. The foresight inherent in teleology is in God’s Mind, and it is via His manifest foresight in teleology that we see Him at work all around us.
This rules out the God of deism. The God of the Fifth Way is no watchmaker who winds up the world and walks away. He is at work ceaselessly and everywhere. The evidence for a Designer is as clear in the most simple inanimate process as it is in the most complex living organism. The elegant intricate complexity of cellular metabolism is certainly a manifestation of God’s glory — the beauty of biological processes is breath-taking. But the proof of His existence is in every movement in nature — in every detail of cellular metabolism, of course, but also in every raindrop and in every blown grain of dust.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


Eeehhh I dunno if I'm buying it or not. Maybe it's the atheist in me but still seems a bit Christiany and left field. What if it's like Buddhism, with god like beings trapped in a cycle? Or a pantheism? Reckon nowdays it's good to look outside the box, especially for god.
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(2020-11-30, 07:05 AM)Smaw Wrote: Eeehhh I dunno if I'm buying it or not. Maybe it's the atheist in me but still seems a bit Christiany and left field. What if it's like Buddhism, with god like beings trapped in a cycle? Or a pantheism? Reckon nowdays it's good to look outside the box, especially for god.

Well the point of Aquinas' 5th Way - correct or not - is an attempt to show, like Nondualist/Idealist arguments, that there's a "God" which serves as the Ground of Being by necessity.

So not god as in a being who is the "best" being, but a God who has to exist and govern the harmony of the Real. This may or may not rule out Pantheism, though Nondualists/Idealists do have their own arguments. Personally I think Panentheism, which kind of combines the top-down God idea and the Pantheist idea, is the best conception of "God" from a philosophical stance.

Of course Plotinus believed in such a ground of being, called it the One, but said worshiping It was a waste of time though the we the Many born of the One's emanations should strive to reunify with the It.

That said, yeah I don't think even Torley's or Engor's versions have absolutely shown the necessity of a God. Torley does a good job to note that Feser's version requires so many prior metaphysical assumptions - like the distinction between existence and essence - that can be hard to swallow. And his succinct version makes it easier to understand the gist of the argument.

But while it is arguably unintelligible it is at least imaginable that causal relations are "random" in the sense of being arbitrary. This is the idea behind "hyper chaos" - that what holds the Real together is just a set of disparate brute facts, which could change at anytime for no reason at all. This is sort of like the idea of an "adequate" determinism at the classical level underpinned by quantum randomness, though even if there's some hidden variable superdeterminism underlying the quantum the brute facts there could change since nothing holds the relations in place.

Though if one is a "realist" about math & logic being Universal Truths, it would be impossible I think to accept the idea that rational arguments are as valueless of truth content as Noam Chomsky's "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" sentence. Yet if "hyper chaos" is true then what would ground the truth of logic, rather than our feeling of something being a rational argument arising just from chance and the "unreasonable efficacy" of Math, as per Wigner, also just being chance?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2020-11-30, 10:18 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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More 5th way stuff

(there's an old thread for this article specifically)

Quote:When a natural body is moved by its “natural appetite” to a certain end, the end may be conceived as anything broadly in keeping with the activities of that agent’s nature. A rock rolling down a hill might be thought to fulfill its end merely by reaching any lower level. But, following Maritain’s reasoning, it is not just some “broadly conceived end” that constitutes the pre-known terminus. Rather, it must be the “exact end as actually achieved” that is pre-known, since that unique reality is one of the two terms involved in the action.

As Maritain observes, “For a relation or ordination to exist between two terms both terms must exist.”16 But the agent’s action or effect does not exist in some “broad way,” since what actually comes to be cannot be a “generalized” end, but some real entity, complete down to its least unique existential content.

Again, the sufficient reason for a given end being reached cannot be merely a reason for some abstract, broadly-defined terminus ad quem. Rather, it must be a unique reason for the concrete existential conditions of what actually comes to be. Just as when one aims to graduate from college, he does not achieve this end abstractly, but rather with a concrete, unique set of courses and grades. So, too, the end “foreknown” by the intelligent director of non-knowing agents must be foreknown in its unique existential details, not merely as some “broadly conceived end.”

This comes down to this question of whether an explanation for why something happens must include why all the other possibilities don't happen. I believe this to be the case, as such I affirm the Principle of Sufficient Reason...my reason being that if this isn't true it is really hard to see how the math/logic Universals can be, as I hold, contextless/eternal truths.

However, there is an issue I think with trying to figure out how this "God", who governs all causal relations, can be distinct from Its creation. Similarly if the Universals are also held in the Mind of God, and are immaterial, how does a human brain even grasp them? We could say by its own immaterial soul but this leads to all the standard questions of why the mind/brain relation is so much more like salt and water than a kid playing with a radio controlled toy car.

It makes way more sense to say the immaterial aspect of thought means "matter" and "mind" are not distinct. And similarly, God and creation are also not distinct which solves both the question of how God can govern causality including the causality by which we reason. God is thus the concurrent cause because we're in God's body, but because God is more than Creation (how else can It be the concurrent cause) we have to shift from pantheism/pandeism to panentheism.

But then we are all aspects of God, as Plotinus' One and Many...which leads to the question of whether the One is actually distinct from Us to a degree that there is a "God" in the usual sense...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(2020-11-30, 07:05 AM)Smaw Wrote: Eeehhh I dunno if I'm buying it or not. Maybe it's the atheist in me but still seems a bit Christiany and left field. What if it's like Buddhism, with god like beings trapped in a cycle? Or a pantheism? Reckon nowdays it's good to look outside the box, especially for god.

I agree personally, but that's my beliefs talking. I used to say when I was younger that I was purely agnostic. Now I 'identify' as loads of things, leaning towards Omnistic and Pantheistic views I guess. I remember talking with one of my RE and Philosophy/Ethics teachers about my anxieties and being made to feel ashamed for my beliefs online, and I mentioned how we evaluated some of Aquinas' 'ways' and how she doesn't find them convincing either. She told me she finds personal experiences to be underrated these days, and that especially today, there are more people than we realise who question or doubt their own experiences, or have attempted to rationalize them, or are content to simply say 'I don't know' or 'maybe'.
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I know the physicist Henry Stapp has invoked the Principle of Sufficient Reason with regards to "chance" in QM, but I believe he takes a more Whiteheadian panpsychic approach.

I do think it is very hard to imagine something happening without reason, and what is usually contended is what this means. Some naturalists sometimes point to this as a way of holding out for a deterministic underbelly to the seeming quantum indeterminism.

But I - and I guess a good many theistic philosophers - see QM as revealing a larger, more general problem. Even if every prior state S1 of Universe U leads to only a single new state S2, this predictability is not giving any actual reason for why S2 should be the subsequent state rather than some other state (S3, S4, S5).

We can invoke terms like energy and force, but as Feynman noted "force" leads to a circularity of definition. Namely we measure changes and from them derive the idea of "forces", but then use this "force" to explain the measurements. Or, to put it in a modern way, all this talk of force and energy would be rendered fictional if we're in a Simulation. What drives change then is a series of programmed conditionals.

In any case, "force" and "energy" at best explain what drives change, not what constrains it. You need something else to explain why, of everything can could happen, only a particular outcome does happen. Or you accept that there is absolutely no reason for anything happening, since physical laws are not adequate constraints.


Quote:The conviction that laws somehow give us a full accounting of events seems often to be based on the idea that they govern the world's substance or matter from outside, "making" things happen. If this is the case, however, then we must provide some way for matter to recognize and then obey these external laws. But, plainly, whatever supports this capacity for recognition and obedience cannot itself be the mere obedience. Anything capable of obeying wholly external laws is not only its obedience but also its capability, and this capability remains unexplained by the laws...

...It is, in other words, impossible to imagine matter that does not have some character of its own. To begin with, it must exist. But if it exists, it must do so in some particular manner, according to its own way of being. Even if we were to say, absurdly, that its only character is to obey external laws, this "law of obedience" itself could not be just another one of the external laws being obeyed. Something will be "going on" that could not be understood as obedience to law, and this something would be an essential expression of what matter was. To apprehend the world we would need to understand this expressive character in its own right, and we could never gain such an understanding solely through a consideration of external laws.

So we can hardly find coherence in the rather dualistic notion that physical laws reside, ghost-like, in some detached, abstract realm from which they impinge upon matter. But if, contrary to our initial assumption, we take laws to be in one way or another bound up with the world's substance — if we take them to be at least in part an expression of this substance — then the difficulty in the conventional view of law becomes even more intense. Surely it makes no sense to say that the world's material phenomena are the result — the wholly explained result — of matter obeying laws which it is itself busy expressing. In whatever manner we prefer to understand the material expression of the laws, this expression cannot be a matter of obedience to the laws being expressed! If whatever is there as the substance of the world at least in part determines the laws, then the laws cannot be said to determine what is there.

One can accept the laws are just observations of the motions within the Universe, which themselves have no Ground. But the price of [no reason for anything happening] is saying there's no inherent truth content, only the perception of such. And while someone can imagine it - since anything is imaginable in the loose sense, even 2+2 = 5 - I would argue it is very hard to say Pythagoras' Theorem has the same truth content as "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously".

[While Talbott noting the Laws aren't enough] partially supports Torley's version of the 5th Way it also undermines it by noting that there is more to any "thing" than its obedience to rules, that within itself must be an aspect/character/property that acquiesces to rules. Torley, however, was arguing something exists because of the rules it follows ->

"A hard-nosed skeptic might object that even if the behavior of things can only be described by us in terms of rules (e.g. recipes), it doesn't follow that things in themselves are essentially characterized by rules. Rules might be an anthropomorphic projection that we impose on things. We can now see that this objection misses the point, as it presupposes that there are things for rules to be "imposed on" in the first place – in other words, that a thing possesses some underlying essence which is independent of any rules we might impose upon it. But as we've seen, it's "rules all the way down." There is not one positive characteristic that can be meaningfully ascribed to a natural object, which does not make reference to some rule, since all of a natural object’s essential characteristics are prescriptive."

Why it might help to think of "God" and Creation as unified by the One/Many relationship, as then every "thing" is also a part of the One. You see something like this in Scott Robert's discussion of Tetralemmic Polarity if we think of rules as "Form":

Quote:One gets a tetralemmic polarity when one of the poles is not an object. By "object" I mean whatever can be observed or thought about. So a tree, a hallucination, a concept, a process are all objects. All objects have form. A form is a set of distinctions that allows one to identify an object as a particular object, distinct from all other objects. However, this raises the question of whether an object is a form, or is it that it has a form, and its form is not all there is to it. If the latter, then that "extra" must be formless. I will argue that formlessness is indeed a reality in all objects, and that formlessness and form are a tetralemmic polarity.

Let us go through the tetralemma, considering the possibilities:

1) There is ultimately only formlessness (and form is somehow derived from formlessness).
2) There is ultimately only form (and formlessness is just vacuous word-mongering).
3) There is ultimately both form and formlessness.
4) The ultimate is neither form nor formlessness.

Quote:The other tetralemmic polarity is that between the Absolute and the contingent, specifically between God and individual human beings. The reason it is not just a renaming of formlessness and form is that the formlessness/form polarity exists both in God and in the individual. The individual is not just a form, but itself a creator of form, and so must itself have the creative power, which is formless. Since there is only one formlessness, we are, then, God. However, we are restricted in our ability to create. What restricts our power are the forms within which our thinking is constrained. At present those are highly constrictive. One can imagine, though, that full autonomy might mean that we can choose our constraints, perhaps design our own, and in so doing create our own universe. What makes it tetralemmic? Well, one can't just say we are God, nor that we are not God, nor that we and God are separate, nor that there is some prior reality to both God and us.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2020-12-05, 04:20 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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Quote:Now a question suggested by our discussion of the argument from motion in chapter 3 is whether our wills can in fact be free. For if God is the first mover underlying all the motion or change that takes place in the world, that would have to include the motion or change that results from our voluntary actions, in which case God must be the ultimate cause of those actions. But in that case, how can they be free actions? Aquinas considers this question himself (QDM 6; cf. ST I.83.1). His answer is that though God does move the will, “since he moves every kind of thing according to the nature of the moveable thing … he also moves the will according to its condition, as indeterminately disposed to many things, not in a necessary way” (QDM 6). That is to say, the nature of the will is to be open to various possible intellectually apprehended ends, while something unfree, like an impersonal physical object or process, is naturally determined to its ends in an unthinking, necessary way. When you choose to have coffee rather than tea, you could have done otherwise, whereas when the coffee maker heated your coffee, it could not have done otherwise. This is so because your will was the cause of your having coffee, while something outside the coffee machine – your having keyed certain instructions into it the night before, say, together with the electrical current passing into it from the wall socket, the laws of physics, and so forth – was the cause of its behavior. But God causes both events in a manner consistent with all of this, insofar as in causing your free choice he causes something that operates independently of what happens in the world around you, while in causing the coffee machine to heat the coffee he causes something that operates only in virtue of what is happening in the world around it (the electricity, laws of physics, etc.). In this way God causes each thing to act in accordance with its nature. Aquinas summarizes his position as follows:

Quote:Free-will is the cause of its own movement, because by his free-will man moves himself to act. But it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither for one thing to be cause of another need it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes he does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature. (ST I.83.1)

 -- Fdward Feser. Aquinas . Oneworld Publications (academic). Kindle Edition.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(2020-12-06, 07:44 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: ....
..........
 -- Fdward Feser. Aquinas . Oneworld Publications (academic). Kindle Edition.

Some more on this from Bonnette on Strange Notions ->

Quote:Metaphysically, the problem with free will is that the will must first be open to its choice, and then, must give to itself that which it does not initially possess, namely, a dominating inclination to one good rather than another. Nothing can give to itself what it does not have, and hence, free will is impossible. Even if God sustains the person and his will, together with all conditions attendant to the will’s act, some final inclination must come-to-be which was not there before. Since nothing can give to itself what it lacks, that new and final inclination must not come from the person choosing, but from something else. That something else must be some internal precondition or external agent. Either way, free will appears to be a chimera...

...Still, the free act itself must be carefully analyzed – to see whether genuine freedom truly violates basic metaphysical principles.

Quote:...The metaphysical principle of sufficient reason not violated. The choice itself has a sufficient reason in that it is determined by the free will. The various components of the free will in its exercise never violate this principle either. The reason the will is moved to choose and to choose freely is God who sustains its nature and moves it to choose without necessitation by presenting it with intellectually apprehended finite goods.7

But it is precisely because there is no efficacious secondary cause whatever that moves the intellect to prefer one finite good to another that there is no sufficient reason forcing the will to choose one way or another....

Quote:...Finally, some may foolishly argue that -- lacking any sufficient reason as to why a given option is chosen -- free choice is merely a matter of pure chance! But, this is absurd, since the hallmark of chance is that it lacks all intentionality. To the contrary, free choice is fully intentional in that it is based on clearly understood motivations provided by the various reasons the intellect considers as it ponders various possible courses of action.

To the objection that “you cannot get being from non-being, that is, a new specification of the will from a will previously not so specified,” the answer lies in the fact that the will gets its specification from the intellect...

So this excerpt is really just trying to capture the gist at best, one has to read the essay.

That said, I think Thomists speaking about God as Changeless Pure Act are talking about something that seems difficult to imagine...if not impossible. I get "actuality" in the sense of only a real fire is going to move actual ice cubes to actualize their potential to be water...but this "actuality" seems to be a description of extant entities/things rather than something in itself.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(2020-12-06, 09:49 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: That said, I think Thomists speaking about God as Changeless Pure Act are talking about something that seems difficult to imagine...if not impossible. I get "actuality" in the sense of only a real fire is going to move actual ice cubes to actualize their potential to be water...but this "actuality" seems to be a description of extant entities/things rather than something in itself.

Perhaps a better way is to go back to the Nondualist Tetralemmic Polarity ->

Divine and Local Simplicity, and the Question of Will

Scott Roberts

Quote:...The capital letters used in the preceding paragraph are a traditional means of warning the reader that, for example, the Intellect that is God can only be understood as analogical to human intellect. However, I shall argue that the difference between our intellect and God as Intellect is not analogical, rather it is the same, but in our case in various ways extremely limited. The argument is straightforward. For God, a thought is an act of will is a feeling etc. All things (including ourselves) are thoughts of God, maintained in existence by God continuing to think them (a standard claim of classical theism as well). There is no point where a thought of God can somehow split into separate ontological categories, like a faculty of thinking separate from a faculty of willing. Rather, throughout reality, a thought is a feeling is an act of will. It is only our limitations that have caused us to have separate words. In semantic parlance, the three words (thinking, feeling, and willing) have different connotations but identical denotation. How this came about is an interesting question, but one I'm not ready to tackle right now.

What this means is that local consciousness (like mine or yours) is just as "simple" as divine Consciousness. Or rather, it is ontologically simple, but made enormously complex by being local, or limited. Take the question of will. (Note: I consider the phrase "free will" to be redundant -- if it is not free it is not will. And while I'm at it, I consider the phrase "blind will" to be oxymoronic. Since it is Consciousness that is Will, there is no "unseen" act of will.) To will is to think, and to think is to will. Since we think, we obviously have will. But not so fast. Can we truly say that it is me that thinks? Given the large quantity of uncontrolled thinking we experience (what Buddhists call "monkey mind") it is not obvious that this is me thinking. On the other hand, there seems to be controlled thinking as well. If nothing else, there is the control exercised by being able to stop, at least momentarily, monkey mind. But there is more, with the clearest example being mathematical thinking...

Quote:A more complicated response covers the more general topic of whether it makes sense to speak of a 'self' at all. I hold that it does, but only when using the logic of tetralemmic polarity. I won't do it here, but basically it amounts to showing why one cannot say -- given a specific localization of consciousness -- that it is a self, that it is not a self, that it is both a self and not a self, nor that it is neither a self nor not a self. In sum, the question of "Do I will" is a variation on the question "am I God", with the answer "I am in a tetralemmically polar relation with God".

This seems to align with parapsychology results, and the One <=> Many relationship proposed by Plotinus, the writer(s?) Thrice-Great Hermes, varied Hindu/Buddhist traditions, Taoism, and so on....

That said, it is hard to imagine exactly what it means to have a self and not-self....this TASTE post originally posted by Nbtruthman on Psience Quest might provide potential insight ->

THE DARKNESS OF GOD: A Personal Report on Consciousness Transformation Through an Encounter with Death (at http://www.issc-taste.org/arc/dbo.cgi?se...00051&ss=1 ):

John Wren-Lewis


Quote:...The physical world to which I "came back" was in no sense narrow-it was glorious beyond belief, and to be manifest seemed merely another mode, as it were, of the blissful dark. I resonate to those wonderful words attributed to God in the Book of Job: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together and all the songs of God shouted for joy?" I feel I know exactly why the Bible says that God looked upon the creation and saw that it was good. But before my experience, the idea of God creating the world always conjured up images of a superpotter or builder at work, whereas the "feel" of my experience of creation was nothing like that. It was more like Aristotle's idea of created things being drawn into existence by the sheer radiance of divine beauty; the bud that was me opened out, as it were, in response to that black sun that was also, in some utterly paradoxical way, my-Self. I was alpha and omega, the beginning and end of the creation-process.

I have put all this in the past tense, a description of something that happened to me in Thailand, but that leaves out the most astonishing thing about it, namely that it is all still here, both the shining dark void and the experience of myself coming into being out of, yet somehow in response to, that radiant darkness. My whole consciousness of myself and everything else has changed. I feel as if the back of my head has been sawn off so that it is no longer the 60-year-old John who looks out at the world, but the shining dark infinite void that in some extraordinary way is also "I."...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2020-12-06, 11:53 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)

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