'Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.'
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|Subject: Eriugena Sun Dec 11, 2011 11:27 am
I have been undertaking an extensive study of the philosopher Eriugena for my own project. He may be of significant import for value-ontology as well.
Some notes I have made about him:
Why was it bad for man to eat the fruit? Was the fruit itself bad? How could it be, if it came from God? Eriugena said that the form which the fruit assumed was good, but that only man's reaction to it was bad. Like a drug. The drug in itself, in what it promised, in its beauty, was good... But when man consumes it, it disorders him, puts him out of joint with his own essence... intoxicates him. What was one, in man, the soul, is disintegrated, made dual, and turned into parts, under the intoxicating influence of the tree of knowledge. This is the origin of his disunion within himself, which Pascal speaks of most eloquently, the abyss which is pregnant with good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil is not contained in the fruit, it is the consequence of the fruit. In God all is united, God's knowledge is not particular, God bears knowledge without losing sight of the totality. But when man takes the fruit, it breaks down his soul into particular passions and pieces of knowledge.
... This dis-organization of his original nature is the intoxication, the corruption, evil. Man comes to see the world no longer as a totality and unity, but as broken and fragmented, in time.
The fruit of knowledge can by eaten angels and Gods, for everything is united in them. But when man consumes it it decomposes his unified nature into a series of particular things, introduces the order of time into nature, and dis-integrates reality into the fleeting parade of individual moments and things we live in now. In this sense "evil" is not real, it is only an effect, in man. Thus Eriugena makes the strange claim that man's expulsion from paradise was an expulsion from human nature itself.
... Eriugena shared a conception of God with Spinoza, God as a primordial substance with infinite attributes. For Eriugena this implied that anything that could be said about God was true, considered from different modes in which these attributes might be said to be or not be. The very fact that an idea can be clearly articulated indicates its truth. Again, only the individuating and decomposing force of the human intellect is responsible for see things in a negative designation, as non-entity, non-existence. Here we have the first glimmering of a speculative ethics. He says that the amount of interpretations of the bible is like the innumerable colors in a peacock's tail, that knowledge is infinite, and he delights in this idea. This perspective also contains the richest conception of the the inner disunion within the self, the "inner wound" within it that divides it into an ego and non-ego, a particular individual personality and the world. Eriugena transfers this disuinion of individual existence to the divine substance itself, dividing that substance into natura, through the categories of being and non-being, analgous to the finite and infinite which express themselves through man's inherent disuinion, constituting the four divisions of nature. Body and mind are not united, nor opposed, for him.... bodily existence and passion is one mode of the infinte substance, thought is another, their relation expressing at first the metaxy within the individual between the finite and infinite, mortal and immortal soul, and then the one in which the substance is expressed as natura, as nobeing and being, perishable world and imperishable God.
... For Eriugena, a passion is the finite and mutable revelation of the eternal aspect of a thought, a thought is the infinite and immutable revelation of the finite aspect of a passion. That is his concept of theophany. Goodness consists in following through the series of theophanies to the final mode of being, in completely realizing the eternal thought in the passions and the finite passion in thought, in other words, it consists in philosophy.
He seems to think that... anything we could possibly say about "God" is true, given what mode we conceive of it in, ie. any piece of knowledge we venture about the divine nature is true either as the finite aspect of a passion in the infinite and eternal mirror of some thought, or it is the eternal and infinite aspect of some thought "shown in a glass darkly" in the seductive semblance of some human passion. .... Ethics becomes the soverign philosophy, the science of articulating ideas. The ontology [study of being] of ideas, moral and philosophical.
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|Subject: Re: Eriugena Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:03 am
This idea of everything about God being true intrigues me and relates to some thoughts I have had recently. I was thinking that perhaps everything is the case, all things are, everything is... but that things are the way they are because it is as if only certain things remain functioning. For example I was imagining the scenario in which it was both the case that reality was a place where anything can happen and nothing can happen... the 'world' of 'nothing can happen' is self defeating... existent yet not there technically...thus we don't know it... then we have that in the world where anything happen you can have a world where only specific things can happen (where there are laws) and a world where things can happen that can't happen... in the world where things can happen that can't happen there can happen a world such that when that world exists it is a world where only limited things can happen or in respect to certain laws but no other world can exist outside of it...thus the nature of the world where things that can't happen can happen, it nature self defeats, and thus we have a world of limitations to be known... though we technically have both... i might imagine this line of thinking can relate to the idea of anything being true about god. one can say god is good and god is bad... or give to contradicting natures... and perhaps one could logicate some thought that shows that one is self defeating when it is the case or it is such that while both are true it is basically that only the one is functionally true...
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|Subject: Re: Eriugena Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:46 pm
The idea of disunion as human nature, consequent of the 'sin' of the knowledge of good and evil, or the cultivating/impelling/necessitating from the "divine essence" or hyperousia of ousia, essence and its subsequent splitting into all the various physical expressions and oppositions ("substances"); then (re-)union within the experience (the idea) of God, through contemplation. This last is especially interesting, as you say this is a prelude to a speculative ethics. These species of theological philosophers had that distinct idea that only the philosopher attained truly to God upon death ["No one can enter heaven except by philosophy!"], but that the non-philosopher can at least "prepare himself" for participation in that "divine state of happiness and rest"... funny that union with God upon bodily death is experienced to the degree that one was a philosopher, that one attained a higher state of contemplation of the divine. Situating religion within philosophy in this manner is a half-step toward acknowledging that religion is that particular sub-species of philosophy; God a sub-species of the idea, of thought.
I thought this by Eriugena was interesting:
- Quote :
- In him, namely in man, all visible and invisible creatures were constituted. Therefore he is called "that in which all things were fabricated," for all that was posterior to God is contained in man. For that reason he is also referred to as a mediator, for composed as he is of body and soul, he holds in himself widely divergent extremes, namely the spiritual and the corporeal, and gives them unity. Therefore the divine history [Genesis] introduces him at the very close of the fashioning of all things, signifying by this that in him is contained all that has been made so far. Therefore it is from the division of man into the aforesaid two sexes that the ascent and reunion begins.
First there is a reversal of human nature, when the body is dissolved and summoned [in death] to return to the four elements of the sensible world from which it was called . . . Then the whole of sensible creation's reuinion and transmutation into what is intelligible takes place, so that every creature will become intelligible. Afterwards the whole creation will be united with the Creator and it will be one in him and with him. And this represents the destiny or goal of all things visible and invisible, because all things visible are transformed into intelligibles and the intelligibles into God by a marvelous and ineffable union, but not--as we have frequently insisted --by a confusion or annihilation of their essences or substances. Then God will be all in all, when there is nothing but God. Not that we are trying to say that the substance of things will perish, but that they will return through the aforementioned stages to become something better. And how can anything perish when it turns into something better? Hence the change of human nature into God should not be thought of as a destruction of its substance, but as a wonderful and ineffable return to that pristine state it lost through sin. For if everything which understands in a pure fashion becomes one with that which it understands, is it surprising that when our nature comes to contemplate God face-to-face in the person of those individuals who have been found worthy, that nature should become one with him and in him to the extent that, having been elevated to the vision of God, it is privileged to contemplate him? [On the Division of Nature]
This idea, similar as you say to Spinoza, or Leibniz, that within man lies all things, that man contains and is constituted by all of creation, "in the image of God"; man as a microcosm. Eruigena seems to be conceptualizing the division of the "perfect state of knowledge/grace" firstly by means of differentiating into the two sexes. This seems to then be followed by all manner of physical divisions into the various "essences and substances", all that is mutable (which, interestingly, does not, according to Eruigena, come "from God" ["Only metaphorically has creation issued from God"] but rather comes from the nature of mutable creation itself, which is the opposition of the divine union or perfection of the uncaused/uncausing).
This, "divergent extremes, namely the spiritual and the corporeal, and gives them unity" certainly speaks to the daemonic; and this, "For if everything which understands in a pure fashion becomes one with that which it understands" seems to hint at your speculative-ethical principle of transcendental goods.
|Subject: Re: Eriugena