Saturday, 18 December 2010

Interior and Exterior

I have long looked for a God who is 'out there', and speculated (when I believed in God at all) that God 'dwelt' in some dimension encompassing or at least adjacent to, the physical universe even as while i accepted that God was supposedly omnipresent. Bececause presumably even a personal God has to have some 'head quarters' for if God was equally omnipresenteverywhere in the sense he is omnipresent in say this room in which I am sitting there would never 'see' God at all. I suppose I had held to the half-notion that there was some 'spot' in the universe where God was concentrated and a more dilute solution of Godness was present everywhere else as a subtle ether. Even if Omnipresence doesn't mean 'all pervasive' but is used in the sense that God is not limited by spatial bounds, then surely, a personal God had to be 'somewhere' able to intervene everywhere. But then long ago I read some classical theology and it was apparent God was conceived of as a being without spatial dimensions. I didn't think too much about this at the time, though the consequences are 'startling' to say the least. God is literally 'nowhere' if God is also 'everywhere'. I had generally conceived of God as 'separate' from physical creation in effectively a spatial sense. In many years I never thought to revise this very primitive idea, though many theological statements from learned persons and divines suggested my notion was wrong.

In the last few years I found I was unable to believe at all in a supernatural 'Self' and 'Mind' that directed or controlled the universe entire (which is surely a good as any definition of God in monotheism). The principle problem for me was the question of 'evil' or more particularly, why the divine would not intervene to prevent innocent suffering. Also though there was the nagging problem that surely a divinity that really existed would be patently and obviously knowable 'out there', something to be discovered by science if they kept searching hard and long enough.

As my religious beliefs have collapsed into a default naturalistic spirituality albeit with the tormenting doubt that there might, after all, be a God, I did at least come to value the physical aspect of nature more. Not that nature can be idealised - it is ridden with pain and competition for scare resources, 'red in tooth and claw' indeed. However nature became the focus of my spiritual contemplations and latterly my notion of 'transcendence' disintegrated. The notion of 'God' as at least a 'Ground of Being' and 'Absolute Spirit' has crept back into my naturalism. I find I am unable to swallow materalistic monism, prefering always a 'neutral monism'. Then this philosophical view, together with my new found 'immanentist' spirituality, and also combined with my preexisting animistic tendencies started to make me realise that I'd been looking for 'God' in the wrong place. The realisation dawned when I was reading something on the internet about 'consciousness' and mind-body relations (the latter have long been used by panentheists as an analogy of God-Cosmos relations, as the see it). If one could view the Cosmos from 'outside', then God would be nowhere to be seen. God would be utterly hidden, as God would represent the depths of being, not the surface.

I have also long used the analogy of waves on the surface of a vast ocean, to picture the physical world in process - constantly becoming and ceasing to be' - while the being itself is undisturbed. It has recently occurred to me that the analogy is somewhat question begging, in that while waves are part of the water, they are also a boundary layer for the ocean. But what is the 'other' which meets the ocean water at the surface. In other words, what 'existed' beyond the boundary. In a real ocean, the answer of course is air, the atmosphere. It occurred to me that in my metaphysical analogy, the space above 'my' ocean really denoted in my schema 'non being'. It then dawned on me that when we look at the physical world, in sum, we see the metaphysical boundary between being and 'non being'. Of course 'non being' is not a 'thing' that exists, even as a 'void' of absolute nothingness. However non-being is certainly a 'limit' on being, while 'limit' is necessary to give anything 'form' and indeed is necessary before there can be any 'plurality'. One puzzling question is how there can be any 'non being' if the ultimate is infinite being? We have necessary imported a metaphysical dualism of 'being versus non being' which it would seem, would have to be an 'eternal' state of affairs and rivalry. However perhaps I defined my terms wrongly - there is a duality at the heart of all reality, but the fundamental 'boundary' causing condition (which creates distinction) in conscious awareness and language is the 'Subject' and 'Object'. Implicit in all manifest existence is ability to distinguish between 'this' and 'that'. All human conception requires distinctions about the relations between distinct beings. But can this kind of duality be from all eternity while somehow retaining a fundamental unity? Well, perhaps if the 'subject' is ultimately conscious awareness and the 'object' the contents of that consciousness? or the subject-object distinction is analogous to a 'mind' and 'body' distinction or then again, what if the subject-object distinction is the distinction between 'will' and 'power'?. This seems to be the first and fundamental boundary. The distinction is not artificial and would seem to be what generate all other distinctions. For human beings, we have the very basic conscious awareness of an interior world (our mind) and an exterior world (the actions of the self in the world, our 'environment' and anything external to our mind that seems to impinge upon us). We might even say that our whole lives are lived in the form of a constant mediation between between that internal world and the external world. The 'self' only owns the interior world but does not control the exterior world - in relation to the latter the self comes up against limits. So do all other selves and all other objects.

[ More clearly we might also say the physical world is highly 'granualised' being, subject to separateness and distinction, so that A is not Not-A. There is multiplicity in the world because being consists of many many discrete bounded realities, and generally those realities are spatial (having extention) and temporal (existing for a discrete period of time). Thus my body exists in defined space A and time line B-C, but not in space B or presumably before B or after C (physical death)]

more another time....

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