Autogenic Disease (II)

This post is the second half of “Autogenic disease” (the first part can be found directly below this).  The first part ended with this statement“Superfluous — unnecessary, wasteful, destructive — consumption becomes a value we are encouraged to live for, as the conspicuous symbol of one’s ‘achieve­ment’ as a superior being edging ever closer to the ultimate control of everything material through cerebrally devised technology — the new paradise.”

 energy and entropy: LIFE and death

“Ultimate control” ultimately implies, of course, the conquest of death.  It has been the West’s holy grail since ancient times, and Christianity, once our program of choice to win this victory, has been abandoned by the dominant culture and its quest taken up by technology.  Through the marvels of medical science today we are experiencing the postponement of death to a degree that we never have before; it seduces us into thinking success is just around the corner.  But death at some point, even for those who have unlimited access to the technology of postponement, must be embraced.  We are material organisms in a material universe.  Death comes with the kind of existence we enjoy.  It is not an alien intrusion or a punishment for “sin,” much less an unfortunate anachronism come too early for the predicted conquest by technology.  Matter is what we are, and this is what matter does.  We need to know why that is.

Understanding what matter is helps us understand why it behaves the way it does.  Matter is not a “thing” it is energy.  “Energy” is another word for disequilibrium.  Energy refers to a state of tension that results from things not being where they should be … and which are therefore driven … pulled, drawn, impelled … to traverse the distance that separates them from the place where they belong.  Energy is not a fixed and stable quantum. It is the manifestation of an instability under pressure to do whatever it takes to rectify imbalance and achieve stasis.  The resulting potential-for-movement is the energy LIFE uses for its purposes.

All energy sources are examples of the same fundamental instability.  A gently meandering river becomes a violent torrent when a precipitous drop over a cliff creates a huge disequilibrium in the water’s mass and hurls it through space at speeds exponentially accelerated by gravity.  The energy in a waterfall is the force generated in the water in the effort to restore gravitational equilibrium.  When that force is exploited to accomplish work, it is called power.  In another example, the way batteries work is that electrons are forcibly stripped from the atoms of a particular substance, like lead, in one location and forcibly introduced and held in another.  The artificially displaced electrons are under tremendous pressure to return to the atoms from which they were taken — atoms that are now highly charged because their protons are bereft and “hungry” for their electrons.  When a pathway — a circuit — is created allowing those electrons to return and restore the equilibrium that was lost in the transfer, their compulsive motion in traveling “back home” can be exploited to do work, much as falling water can be used to drive machinery.  This is how we harness power: we interrupt and exploit matter’s attempt to restore equilibrium and stasis.

The very nature of energy is disequilibrium; it is not a thing but a “need” to restore stability.  It only lasts as long as the need lasts; once balance is achieved, the energy disappears.  The dissipation of energy in the effort to restore equilibrium is called entropy.  The very nature, therefore, of material energy is entropic.  It tends, of its very nature, to seek equilibrium, to dissipate itself and disappear.  This even happens to the more fundamental particles which are composites of even smaller energy packets.  Protons, for example, are composed of quarks held together by gluons, the “strong force.”  But even that force is not eternal and someday the quarks will return whence they came, the proton will succumb to entropy; it will disintegrate and its energy disappear.

We call the disappearance of energy, death.  A biological organism dies when the various components at all levels of composition — bio-chemical, molecular and atomic — which had been gathered out of various locations, assembled and held together “unnaturally” (i.e., it is something they would not do on their own) under the forcible drive and direction of a zygote’s DNA to form a living individual, can no longer hold together and they return to their former states.  The “particles” remain, their individual energies now determined by their own entropy.  Nothing ever disappears except the energy gradients involved.

That is how LIFE lives: it appropriates the force of entropy and diverts it to its own ends.  LIFE is anti-entropic.  The living energy available to an organism during life is the expropriated tension-toward-equilibrium (= dissipation and death) of its gathered components.   It is precisely its “being-toward-death” that provides the organism the energy — the ability to do work — like a battery whose artificially skewed electron-to-proton ratio creates the energy we call voltage.  The irresistible “gravitational pull” — like falling water — to restore equilibrium is the energy utilized by LIFE, and which we exploit for our identities and our endeavors, just as we exploit the movement of electrons to start our cars and power our cell phones.  So the very LIFE we cherish so much is really the appropriation of our components’ “desire” to abandon their unnatural conjunction as us and return to their former state … i.e., to dieTo dissipate energy — to die — is the energy source tapped by LIFE.

If somehow you were able to do away with “death,” therefore, you would also eliminate the very well-spring of living motion: entropy.  Death in a universe of matter, I submit, is intrinsic to LIFE.

Sex and evolution

All biological organisms are manifestations of matter’s conversion of its ultimate weakness — entropy, death — into the energy of LIFE.   Matter does what it does because it evolved that way over eons of geologic time; its “limitations” are an intrinsic part of its development, the accompaniment and by-product of the process by which organisms adapted themselves to their environment and survived.  In our case human weaknesses like our strengths emerged organically from the process of surviving under environmental conditions that obtained over very long periods of time … and they persist because those conditions have not changed.  What evolved is now internal to us and binds us with an unbreakable valence to the environment that elicited that evolution.  There is no “essence of humanity” independent of that particular process.  We humans are-here … and we are what we are … because of it, and for no other reason.

One of matter’s more creative achievements was to use reproduction to bypass the natural entropy of all living matter.  But there was a twist.  We have to remind ourselves that at the dawn of life simple cell division — cloning the same individual — was superseded two thousand million years ago by the counter-intuitive innovation of coupling two distinct individual organisms producing a third independent of each; sexual reproduction was invented by eukaryote single-celled animals and it allowed for the production of genetically superior cells with a far greater range of capabilities.  We are the beneficiaries of those seminal discoveries; they determined the basic structure of the bodies and behavior of everything that came afterward.  It happened before the Cambrian explosion, and those advances made possible the emergence of all complex multi-celled organisms in existence, including us.  The sex-based relationships that are so fundamental to our personal identities and our social lives originated in that epic achievement.

Sexual reproduction outflanks death but it does not overcome it.  This was the “immortality” devised by matter’s living energy, and it was obtained at the cost of the reproducing organism which dies.  Individual organismic death was integrated into matter’s energy transcending itself and evolving.  Nature’s concern is not the individual, it is something else … .

“Matter” evolves by working with and within itself.  It’s a very slow process of random interactions that may (or may not) finally yield a viable result — a result that can “live” within the whole.  Matter is one thing and one thing only — material energy — homogeneous, universal, invariable.  Because it is the one and only thing there is, every new form that its internal intra-actions take can survive only if it continues to “fit” within the ultimate sea of homogeneity of which it is a part.  There is no other option.  Matter has to work this way because there is no “existence” apart from this ocean of being.  The metaphor of rockets that break free of earth’s grip and reach into “outer” space doesn’t work here.  There is no escape velocity to take us outside matter’s “gravitational field” because outside matter there is nothing.  Material energy, such as it is, is the absolute condition of anything being-here at all, and entropy — the process of reducing all energy to a lifeless equilibrium — is the source that LIFE mines for its energy.

I am convinced that very few people realize this and there are even scientists and technicians that work with matter’s properties everyday among them.  I vigorously contend that this view is difficult for people to understand, not because of the complexity or abstractness of the ideas but because we have been programmed to think of things in the opposite direction.  We reject matter’s existential universality and ascribe LIFE to an outside “spiritual” source that — no matter how it is contradicted by what we see with our own eyes — we cling to as our escape vehicle from a material world that we have been taught is alien and hostile to our destiny as human individuals.  The inability to understand that we are matter is the source of our disrespect for matter and disdain for its ways.  We have been telling ourselves another story for so long … and we have developed so much of what we think and do around that other story … that we spontaneously project that matter is inferior to “mind” and supine before the “will” of our rational intelligence, as if they were two different things and our brains weren’t themselves organic matter.  Matter to western culture is alien, and at best a slave to kick around, not the sacred matrix which spawned us and in which we remain always immersed like a sponge in the sea, the root and ground of our intelligence itself.  We behave as if there were nothing in mat­ter we need to listen to … to learn from … to be patient and deferential toward, to collabor­ate with, to embrace, to serve … nothing sacred.  We think of ourselves as “spirits,” cerebral “gods,” all-powerful bodiless brains, whose destiny it is to mold a lifeless profane matter to suit our individual desires — to remake the world in the image and likeness of our personal illusions.  And we have been encouraged in our self-exalting hubris by our mother culture’s various epiphanies through the millennia — the principal one of which for us has been mediaeval Catholicism and its “reformed” Protestant progeny — and the legacy they passed on to our modern culture of finding ways to escape from embracing our reality as biological organisms in a material universe.

I do not reject technology.  I propose we use it to deepen our contentment with what we are — individuals within a material totality — not to run from it into a world of illusion.  Part of contentment, of course, is the commitment to equality among us for access to the goods of the earth.  Knowing who we are and how we are related to our source and sustainer is what I mean by religion.  I believe such a radical reformation of religion would transform the way we organize our life on this earth — an earth which gave birth to us and to whose limits we remain forever bound.

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10 comments on “Autogenic Disease (II)

  1. Brian Coyne says:

    Tony, brilliant. Thank you. If you have not seen it also read Dr Peter Vardy’s article on the philosopher Peter Singer in Eureka Street [“Theologians should face Peter Singer’s challenge” LINK1 below] that James drew attention to on Catholica a short while before your post [LINK2 below].

    What worries me is, as you wrote, “I am convinced that very few people realize this [the argument you are making about our inherent ‘material’ nature and incapacity to avoid death] and there are even scientists and technicians that work with matter’s properties everyday among them.” As a website publisher, I find myself torn constantly to try and attract a wider readership — where a lot of this philosophical talk flies right over the heads of the many — and what I see as the critical importance of these sort of discussions for our collective future.

    Is the critical function of religion to “protect the faith of these little people against the power of intellectuals” — as suggested by Benedict Ratzinger [LINK3 below] — or is its critical function in society to push back the boundaries in understanding where we came from; where we are going to; and what it all means? Is religion, or spirituality, primarily some emotional activity we humans engage in to feel nice or comfortable about ourselves, or is it a quest ultimately for knowledge — an understanding about ourselves and our world — and through that we ultimately learn to find comfort or live at peace with ourselves, and with our neighbours and the world about us? To borrow another great phrase from James, the “John Howards in frocks” [LINK4 below] might suggest that it is not the role of “the many” to think, that’s what the “men in frocks” are paid to do. The role of “the many” is to be entertained like small children and to simply obey their betters.

    Personally, I am far from convinced that there is no Creator-God — some intelligence that thought this whole thing called “life, the universe and everything” up, including the Laws of Science, Nature and Fundamental Physics. But I am coming to the conclusion that we have invested far too much energy in only thinking of the Divine or the Spiritual in that form. The “God”, or “Spirit”, that increasingly matters to me, is located constantly in front of us rather than way back in the ancient past. I ponder if “the God or Spirit” that really matters is some manifestation or concept of the aspiration or hope we collectively all harbour in our hearts and minds for some perfection of our being and some perfection of our world, and the sort of society we’d like to inhabit or build? And saying that I can already hear “the men in frocks” proclaiming “your problem, Coyne, is that you think too much. You’re dangerous, just like that Equale bloke is dangerous for the souls of the little ones.”

    Might I also draw attention to the quite extensive discussion on Catholica that Part 1 of your essay generated: http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?mode=thread&id=158906#p158886

    LINK1: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=41716#.U90jKGPzm60

    LINK2: http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=159157

    LINK3: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=eR8weSA-f9gC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=%22The+Christian+believer+is+a+simple+person%22&source=bl&ots=swvsRoUILs&sig=asQn9aB16WNDPFaYh86NEL3n0Hc&hl=en&ei=WIK6Se-sApDe6QPb5f3eBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=9&ct=result#v=onepage&q=%22The%20Christian%20believer%20is%20a%20simple%20person%22&f=false

    LINK4: http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=1591

    • tonyequale says:

      Thank you, Brian. I wanted to post part 2 before commenting.
      It would seem that learning to be grateful for what we have been given — whatever that may be — is the essence of eucharisti’a. We hardly have a choice. But that’s the way of peace.

      Tony

  2. John Capillo says:

    Tony,

    These last two posts are right in the area in which I have been wallowing for the past few months. In Buber’s humanistic terminology, there is the I and the Thou and the I-Thou; and the I-Thou is different that its individual components. The I-Thou is the energy between the I and the Thou; the field in which the individual components swim, float, breathe, grow (as in trees); pick your metaphor.
    The difficulty that I have been having is putting that metaphor in your broader context- in the context of the force field of energy as talked about in the new physics. How to conceive, conceptualize, envision, understand that, in your terms, all matter is energy, that matter is fluid, dynamic, entropic, a disequilibrium impelled to stasis/equilibrium. The water falls, gathering energy/power as gravity pulls it toward ground/rest (at least relative rest – there are still molecules and atoms and quarks and glutons in disequilibrium). Again in human terms conception, growth, birth, growth, ageing, death parallel the molecule of water falling off the edge, gathering energy, achieving rest in ground. Or the electricity example. Amazing, and well said.
    Even for those centered in the anthropos, the implications are mind-boggling. Love has a whole new suit of clothes.

    And that is from the anthropocentric point of view. The new clothes fit the ecological point of view also, in my opinion. The gaia talk, the mother earth/father sky talk, the ecological systems stuff – all are dressed differently in this light. We leave behind the dominion and stewardship stuff and are into the great turning talk: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, carbon to carbon. We ask the buffalo to give its life so that we can eat; we in turn offer our lives so that the life force is returned. Indeed, a new way of organizing life on this earth. The question is not how to control or be over and against the material mother; but how to be in the flow of the energy that is coursing through the gaia as well as through us. All life is moving toward entropy and expanding out of stasis. In a spiral dynamic? A double helix?

    If that is an apt “grock” of where you are going, which is indeed “a radical transformation of the way we organize life on this earth”, I eagerly await further developments.
    By the way, I am reading Martin Prechtel, “The unlikely peace at Cuchumaquic“ on the one hand, and Taggert, “The force field” on the other. I think that both are playing in the same sand pile.
    Carry on, compa.

    • tonyequale says:

      John, yes, I agree. It changes everything. But it’s not new. It returns us to the cyclical … what archaic man knew instinctively, but our tradition displaced with its linear history. Even Teilhard, the hymnologist of matter, is focused linearly on Omega. Is that what reconciles it all? Or is it really none of our business? Do we need it to be able to say “yes” … or does it sap its purity? Can we say “yes,” humanly, in a vacuum? … These questions are not rhetorical.

  3. theotheri says:

    Tony – To my surprise I find myself dissatisfied with some of your most energetic thoughts expressed in this post. I am not a physicist, as you know, but I think your presentation of the relationship between matter and energy is more simplified than recent discoveries suggest is the case. Einstein’s E=mc2 was ultimately sufficient for me to abandon belief in the existence of Plato’s dualism, but an equation, brilliant as it is, is not an explanation. Nor does it fully describe the nature of energy, which, as Indigo suggested in an earlier comment, is still fraught with apparent contradiction, both on the scientific and philosophical levels.

    In terms of energy and life, for instance, many scientists do not appreciate this, but we have absolutely no theory (or even equation) to explain how life, and specifically how something as seemingly ethereal as consciousness, arises out of a purely material system like our bodies.

    So in a way we are still grappling with Plato’s problem. We have merely rejected his solution. I’m particularly unhappy with the concept of stasis as a substitute. To me it sounds eerily like Plato’s spiritual world of perfection which Christianity has adopted as a haven for the survival of the self, but at the same time totally eliminated the need for any of the joys of human existence. Everything is already perfect or already static. The joy of creativity on any level is obliterated. Nothing ever changes.

    The problems with stasis are also scientific. There isn’t enough of it, for starters, to meet the demands of our present day theories. (Just as we can’t find enough dark energy, dark matter or anti-matter, and now there is even a light deficit.) There seems to be some direction (I am deliberately not using the word “purpose”) in the increasing complexity of the evolving universe. Things are not returning to stasis at the speed or in the way our theories predict. In other words, the nature of our world of energy & matter is still a great mystery.

    My second concern is with your basic hypothesis that we are today trying to use technology in the place of Christianity to escape the reality of death. On the other hand, you posit the drive for survival as the very essence of life as it has ultimately emerged from the explosion of energy beginning with the Big Bang. Is not the drive to survive, to expand life at the very core of what we are?

    Death, it seems to me, is a great mystery. We don’t know what it is. Personally, I believe it is another stage in the process of universal becoming. But that doesn’t answer a lot of our questions, does it? In any case, I am not convinced that death is universally met with fear or an attempt to escape it. That doesn’t always happen. I have seen both humans and non-humans accept that it is time to move on, to move onto the Happy Hunting Ground, as it were, and do so with a kind of transcendent peace. I suspect you have seen this as well. I have on occasion even had a glimpse (albeit a fleeting one) of this in myself. A time will come when I will know it is time to let go.

    In this context, a recent study of wishes expressed by the terminally ill at a hospital in Boston is interesting. Researchers found that people with deep religious convictions most often express the wish that everything be done to prolong their lives, including resuscitation even in the face of terminal illness, etc, while people without religious affiliation more often express just the opposite preference.

    Enough of my version of what I don’t know. Thank you again for your stimulating posts.

    • tonyequale says:

      Terry,

      Thanks for your challenge. I will try to respond to it.

      There are levels of abstraction in our understanding of cause and effect. The attempt to explain all energy as a function of entropy/equilibrium is abstract, because while we have plenty of empirical evidence for examples of it as in the battery and the waterfall, we are extrapolating when we use the concept for an ultimate explanation of all energy. Scientists say that the proton has a half-life of 56 million years; I suspect they have good reasons for saying that, some maybe the results of CERN experiments. Protons will ultimately decay; the “strong force” will eventually lose its strength; the mighty proton will disintegrate into its components. Why? Right now the only explanation is a negative one, entropy. There is nothing positively active that “destroys” the proton, it simply can no longer hold together components that apparently had been held together “unnaturally,” “against their will.” Whatever relative equilibrium the proton enjoys vis-à-vis its being used as a component in other composites, is apparently not the ultimate equilibrium in the universe. Do the quarks into which the proton decays have the ultimate stasis … or do they still “need” to find peace, perhaps by being resolved into “strings”?

      While none of this is beyond considerable dispute, an understanding of reality that tries to be consistent with the discoveries of science should jibe with the fundamental laws of thermodynamics. This understanding of the fundamental dynamics behind energy at least does that, whatever else it does not do.

      One of the things it does not do is provide an explanation for LIFE, which is anti-entropic. LIFE is not reducible to entropy. LIFE seems to be a repetition of whatever strategy we saw functioning one second after the “big-bang” when quarks coalesced into protons: all complexification starting at the most fundamental seems to be a function of the aggregation and integration of elements into composites that have properties and “abilities” for interaction with their environment that transcend those of the components. The “big-bang” itself has no explanation. Why should there have been a moment when entropy was reduced to zero and a disequilibrium created that would produce this universe of near infinite magnitudes in time, space and complexity … which is ultimately destined to be reduced once again to ashes?

      All we can do is describe what we see and go from there. Matter’s energy is intrinsically entropic … and apparently simultaneously intrinsically anti-entropic. Neither one seems reducible to the other. Using human analogies, one might say matter is passively entropic, the way we know our bodies are destined to decompose while at the same time matter is actively anti-entropic because, like we who are driven to avoid death with our every breath, everything matter does is calculated to avoid, bypass, outflank and defeat entropy. Is it entirely implausible to think that these two things, which are obviously intimately connected as phenomena are also intimately connected causally? By that I really mean to suggest that they are perhaps simply aspects of one and the same thing which appear to be “different” to our apparatus of perception? Perhaps their intimate connection helps explain why at some point, after a lifetime battling death, we accede to “go quietly into that dark night” with joy and a sense of ultimate peace.

      Or perhaps we are just mixing our metaphors … trying to find analogies between physics and spirituality that simply will not compute … like the proverbial apples and oranges. At the end of the day I find it difficult to imagine that LIFE would find free energy available — whatever its source, even its own material entropy — and not use it to LIVE. We who kill and eat plants and animals for food — expropriating their energy — understand this. It’s a paradox we experience in the depths of our own organismic existence. As I see it, it is no surprise. After all, we are material organisms in a material universe.

      • theotheri says:

        Thank you, Tony. I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my comment. It’s much clearer from your comment now that you know as well as I do that all our theories are incomplete,and even fraught with contradiction. But being the kind of organisms we are, we continue to try to make sense of it all.

        Yes, perhaps, as you say, we are mixing our metaphors. But like you, I find LIFE the great incredible, joyous, energizing mystery which, in spite of all the limitations and seeming failures and betrayals and dead ends, gives me hope.

        I\’s ironic, do\’t you think, that in this period of our evolution when we seem to understand more than we ever did that we also have more questions and more uncertainty than we ever have had. I sometimes marvel at the implication of the fact that for at least 200,000 years of our species’ existence, we had incontrovertible evidence that the world was flat. And now we are convinced that it is round. I wonder what convictions we hold today may disappear, perhaps even in the short time of life we each have left to us.

        As I say in one of my posts on my The Big Bang to Now blog – if you want reasonable conclusions, science is often the best approach. But if you want absolute certainty, don’t go to science. What we think of as hard proven “fact” change far more often than most of us suspect. We’ve just been told, for instance, that eating fat isn’t bad for us after all. And less than three hundred years ago, even scientists thought the world might not be much older than four thousand years. By the same token, I think climate change is real and that for our own good we should take it seriously. But it is only a very reasonable conclusion that it would be responsible to do something about it. Rather like it might be reasonable not to jump out a window from the 5th floor. It might not seriously injure of even kill you, but the probability is that it will.

  4. Mick Daly says:

    Tony,

    I wanted to share reaction earlier, was anticipating somewhat of a long reply. But, I lucked out. The exchanges between you and Terry readily absorbed my critical wonderings: His criticism about oversimplification respecting distinction between matter and energy related to my concern about language and term definition, and perhaps some equivocation in some of your examples, responding to his comments. Your responses all indicating a shared, open search.

    And, in Terry’s marvelously apposite usage, in the end I find that my version of what I don’t know parallels both of yours very well. Meanwhile, I appreciated your reference to Chardin as hymnologist of matter, agree with your criticism about his linearity regarding evolution toward Omega point. Subsequent scholarship and analysis among his commentators, however, indicates he may well have changed his thinking given the chance to continue researching. As I’m writing this, a quote, which I think belongs to him, brings me back to point, viz., “..spirit is merely matter slowing (slowed?) down.”

    For a very long time, as I’ve increasingly wondered and dipped and delved into the connected questions at hand, my own mind keeps returning to the notions of space, place, and time, the incompleteness of their “definitions” and the equivocation in the use of subsets of terms used to express them in discourse. E.g., just what is a long time? A proton’s half life of 50 million years, as you cite? And, really what does “far” actually mean respecting either the term place or the term, space, other than the way we’ve become accustomed to speak adaptively or semi-metaphorically?
    They’re exchanges, going back and forth from trying to use quantitatively precise language to elucidate research discoveries and demonstrable inferences to the unfolding narratives of changing awareness within each of us. The usage becomes a bit incestuous, for want of a better term here, and the offspring terminology often seems as Platonic as it does “scientific”.

    I’m learning much along the way here, especially thanks to these most recent blogs and comments. Terry’s comments about sharing Plato’s search relate, I think. Heisenberg as well. The former I recall much bit better than I understand the latter. But the ground you’re ploughing I suspect is every bit as significant, currently sadly not anywhere nearly enough attended. As I mentioned earlier, the inferences defy description. They’re also immeasurably more significant than anything I’ve ever thought about before.

    • tonyequale says:

      Mick,

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      I just have a quick observation, not necessarily about your perspective but about all of us who have been dualists from birth: it is very difficult not to slip back into it.

      Chardin serves as a good (bad) example: he is a dualist under the surface. His imagery about the “interiority of matter” is really “spirit” by another name. For it is this “interiority” that ultimately guides and energizes the direction in which matter evolves. It’s good to remind ourselves that Chardin did his formative thinking in the first quarter of the 20th century when Henri Bergson was very popular and had an immense following. It’s hard to imagine this young French evolutionist not absorbing, even if only by osmosis, the mindset of the man who wrote Creative Evolution. The connection is salient because Bergson was a stone dualist. “Matter’s” obtuse resistance provided “spirit” with an obstacle to overcome and thus display its “transcendence.” Evolution for Bergson was a work of the spirit, as it was for Chardin. That Teilhard did not acknowledge his discipleship, I believe, was part of his institutional identity as a Catholic priest. Bergson, after all, was not only not Thomist, he was also Jewish.

      In Religion in a Material Universe, pp. 244-246 I focus on this crypto dualism as it manifests itself in the theology of John Haught. It’s fundamentally the same phenomenon and in Haught’s case he explicitly cites de Chardin as his inspiration. I bring it up because the separate words “matter” and “energy” in a similar way tend to evoke separate images … and separate images evoke separate substances. Given our tradition the minute you separate the two, you are already sliding back into dualism. “Matter” and “spirit” are words that are each utterly meaningless — completely worthless — at this point in time. Neither term should ever be used again, because there is only one thing out there, and what it does is determined by its own material drive to survive … its insistence on existence … the very source of its presence to our senses. There are not “two” of anything … neither aspects, nor dimensions, nor domains … there is only one thing that does reality, and that reality does … and in order to do what it does — exist — it evolves.

      Tony

      • Mick Daly says:

        Tony..

        I appreciated much your comments on my response, and gratified you realize that I’m in line behind you, trying to invent a new meaning for the term, metaphysics. You’d described to me before your Haught critique; I’ve yet to get to your book, but have it. I think, for the blog at least, you’ve reached what surely will be the most demanding section, finding language for description and analysis of the “…only one thing out there”, as you posit.

        We’ve both alluded earlier to the intuitional nature of art respecting the “language” for this understanding. The following is a quote of Leonard Bernstein’s. I read it this morning…

        He also wrote a book called The Joy of Music (1959), a collection of essays and conversations about music.

        In it, he wrote, “Music, of all the arts, stands in a special region, unlit by any star but its own, and utterly without meaning … except its own.”

        Kinda fits. …Mick

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