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6087Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Relativity and Neoplatonism (Mether vs. Chase, III)

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  • Thomas Mether
    Oct 27, 2013
      PS, Planck described the incommensurability between past and future as a shock that made the present also in reference to Boehme's idea of the present as shocking spark (see the contemporary quantum mechanics physicist and Boehme student, Professor Basarab Nicolescu's book on Boehme and Quantum Mechanics, formerly of the National Research Centers in Paris and now in Bucharest, Romania). Anyway, the past is the causal unfolding determination of the developmental trends of the past into the present. But neither the present nor the future is just a continuation of those past developmental trends. So, past and present is not Totality (contra Hegel as per Kierkegaard, Levinas) or eternal return (contra Eliade) . Rather, the future is infinite possibilities which contain some not pre-determined by the developmental trends of the past. Thus, future is an excessive infinity in clash with a finite determinating past. This is why Heisenberg said quantum mechanics turned medieval notions of substance imperfectly "sideways" where determining form was the past and indeterminate potency is the future giving substance to the present. It is imperfect, he claimed, because medieval potency was perfectly and fully adapted to its formal cause but quantum future partially undermines full determination by the past - hence, indeterminacy and new novelty in the present as a present of genuine options. Thus, currently, physical laws are actually approximations of the mean statistical populations and stats are an objective feature of the world, not a reflection of our ignorance or experimental error. Thomas

      On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 10:31 PM, Thomas Mether <thomas.r.mether@...> wrote:

      I was a student of Eliade. Eliade's "myth of eternal return" motif does not neatly fit all religions. Please see Cohn's Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Roots of Apocalyptic Faith or the somewhat cheesy but intuitively correct Thomas J.J. Altizer Mircea Eliade and the Dialectic of the Sacred (a friend and the radical Blakean "Death of God" theologian in the 60s along with Hamilton and Vahanian). Read these in terms of the contrast between Hegel (myth of eternal return) and Kierkegaard (apocalyptic shock between the incommensurate past and future that is the present -- also see Max Planck's citation of Kierkegaard's view of time as apocalyptic as the theological interpretation of his quantum mechanical constant in his Scientific Autobiography and Einstein's refusal to accept Planck's Kierkegaardian time which led to Bell's Inequality Theorem that led to the Aspect experiments conclusively showing Einstein wrong and Planck right). The same contrast, from a Jewish phenomenological perspective, is made by Emmanuel Levinas in Totality (i.e., Myth of Eternal Return) and Infinity (i.e., apocalyptic unpredictability).

      But the deeper issues go deeper into what a superior intelligence has to have as conditions to know at least what we know, A mere timeless knowledge of succession fails. How would it know the difference between cardinal and ordinal? Or, whether is any succession did, is or will be actually happening? Did it, is it now, or will it happen such timeless knowledge can't answer. Even supposing such a timeless knowledge of succession is a knowledge of historical events, a mere knowledge of the what happened before, and then, and then, and then from the beginning of a history to the end does not know if it occurred or if actually occurring, where in that time-line is the now, the present moment. If it knows Alexander the Great comes before Julius Caesar who comes before Augustus Caesar who comes before the Renaissance which comes before Descartes, which comes before Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, world-war one, world-war two, and collapse of the USSR, timelessly it cannot know if this sequence happened or if it happened, what is "now" in terms of the sequence whether "now" is middle of it or "now" is before it happens or "now" is after it happened. If some superior intelligence is not embodied in time itself, has some kind participation in temporal finitude or finite location (it is "now" between that before and this coming after), it is less intelligent than us - a retarded entity.

      This is a standard criticism of Indian philosophies and Zoroastrianism of Greek metaphysics. It defines the ultimate divine as timeless, successionless, and thus, in their view (I say rightly) makes the Neoplatonic divine dumb. Zoroastrianism and Indian philosophies make a point that their more adequate concept of the divine makes time a sadguna (essential property) of the divine as everlasting time and that Persia was the frontier between errant and correct views of the divine and time.


      On Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 9:09 PM, gregshaw58 <gregshaw58@...> wrote:

      I recently paid attention to the lively exchanges between M. Chase and T. Mether, and I was reminded of the joke about the Irishman in a bar when a fight breaks out. He asks: "Is this a private fight or can anyone join in?" So, at risk of jumping in uninvited I had an observation about only the last exchange and would pose it this way:

      M. Chase, characterizing the view of Eliade, writes: We can, however, re-actualize our participation in eternity by our participation in rituals and myth, *precisely because they abolish profane, everyday time* (Eliade, op. cit, p. 71). The importance of re-actualizing myth and ritual is also a key notion for Corbin: cf *En Islam iranien, index s.v. *hikâyat*, vol. 4 p. 495.

      T. Mether had written: Some philosophical and religious traditions claim that, as well as scholars such as Eliade, Corbin,..., that myth as "hierophantic ontophany" (a sacred revealing of the nature of real Being - used by both Eliade and Corbin) means drama, the dramatic has deep ontological weight (and thus, myth as story with a temporally unfolding plot, and thus, time itself).

      Chase right points out that Eliade argues that "traditional/archaic" societies perform rituals precisely to escape from profane time and not to valorize it. They rejoin the primordial through myth and ritual.

      As I read the entire exchange I was hard-pressed to see the difference between entering primordial time through ritual/myth and revealing primal reality through drama. It seems to me that "entering" primordial time through ritual is another way of describing how it becomes manifest/accessible (ontophanic in Mether's terms) in drama. Surely the disagreement, then, is not over the meaning of drama and ritual. Rather I suspect it stems from Mether's use of "temporally unfolding plot, and thus, time itself" to describe the play of this ritual/drama. The question, then, seems to focus on what happens to profane time when those in it perform a rite that transforms it. When M says "time itself…has a deep ontological weight" does he mean time made cyclical through ritual or linear/historical time? Eliade invites us into the imagination of archaic people who enter the primordial through rituals that, in some sense, transform mundane objects into hierophanic portals to that Reality. The question, it seems to me, is how much—if at all—can historical time be similarly transformed.

      I enjoy immensely the contributions of Chase and Mether to this site and am, frankly, blown away by their erudition and breadth of knowledge. But on this issue, at least, they seem not to be in as much disagreement as might appear. The question they entertain—from different approaches—is whether our temporal realm (the pale shadow/ the profane) can be transparent to that "fundamental reality." And if so, how do we imagine it?

      Of course (pace Mr. Skene) I write this as someone who has a high regard for dowsers and others who practice forms of divination. But then, isn't divination a practice of making fundamental reality accessible by allowing it to penetrate our linear, progressive, temporal realm?

      And gentlemen, please do not interrupt your exchange. Carry on!

      All the best,

      Greg Shaw

      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Bradley Skene <anebo10@...> wrote:
      > As you suspect, you're on the wrong track with using the indices. To find
      > the information that Merther is citing, you need to use a dowsing rod.
      > Cheers,
      > Bradley A. Skene
      > On Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Goya <goya@...> wrote:
      > > **
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Here is episode three of the Thomas & Mike show:
      > >
      > > T.M.: What Mr Chase seems to either miss or evade in the "discussion" (if
      > > you can his participation that) is a very simple question.
      > >
      > > M.C. What follows doesn't seem all that simple to me, but perhaps that's
      > > because I'm not very bright.
      > >
      > > T.M.: Some philosophical and religious traditions claim that, as well as
      > > scholars such as Eliade, Corbin,..., that myth as "hierophantic ontophany"
      > > (a sacred revealing of the nature of real Being - used by both Eliade and
      > > Corbin) means drama, the dramatic has deep ontological weight (and thus,
      > > myth as story with a temporally unfolding plot, and thus, time itself).
      > >
      > > M.C.: This sounds genuinely very interesting. I wish, however, that Thomas
      > > would practice what he preaches and supply precise references: since I'm a
      > > big fan of both Corbin and Eliade, I've read most of their books and have
      > > them at arm's reach, but I can't for the life of me recall any discussions
      > > of drama or "hierophantic ontophany" in either of them. The word
      > > "ontophanie", for instance, is lacking from the index to Corbin's
      > > four-volume work *En islam iranien*, from the index to *Avicenne et le
      > > récit visionnaire*, and I suspect the same would be true if I had the
      > > patience and leisure to consult all Corbin's books. Likewise, neither
      > > "drame" nor "ontophanie" appears in the indices to the three volumes of
      > > Eliade's *Histoire des croyances et des idées religieuses*.
      > >
      > > Indices can, of course, be deceptive. But if the notions of drama and
      > > ontophany were central to Eliade's thought, one would expect them to
      > > appear in, for instance, an essay like "Le temps sacré et les mythes",
      > > published in his *Le sacré et le profane*, Paris: Gallimard 1965 (first
      > > written in 1956).
      > >
      > > But one finds nothing of the sort. What one finds instead is an eloquent
      > > exposition of one of Eliade's favorite themes: how people of ancient or
      > > traditional societies perform rituals in order to return to the mythical
      > > times of the origins. In other words, there are, for Eliade, two kinds of
      > > time: profane time, in which we live every day, and sacred time, which is
      > > the time of the origins of the world and of the mythical Ancestors. Now,
      > > far from valorizing profane or historical time, the goal of pre-modern
      > > rituals *is to abolish profane time*, i.e., linear, historical,
      > > progressive time.
      > >
      > > Eliade could not be more explicit on this point. Sacred time -
      > > reiintegrating which, we should not forget, is the goal of all archaic
      > > rituals - is "toujours le même...une suite d'éternités" (p. 79). By
      > > participating in ritual and reactualizing myth, ancient peoples "sortent
      > > de leur temps historique - c'est-à-dire du Temps constitué par la somme
      > > des événements profanes, personnels et inter-personnels - et rejoignent le
      > > Temps primordial, qui est toujours le même, qui appartient à l'Éternité.
      > > L'homme religieux débouche périodiquement dans le Temps mythique et sacré,
      > > retrouve le Temps de l'origine, celui qui «ne coule pas» parce qu'il ne
      > > participe pas à la durée temporelle profane, est constitué par un éternel
      > > présent indéfiniment récupérable" (ibid).
      > >
      > > It's hard to imagine a more perfect agreement with Neoplatonic theories of
      > > time, right down to the notion of a higher Time that does not flow (see,
      > > for instance, Chase, "Damascius and Whitehead on time",
      > >
      > > http://cnrs.academia.edu/MichaelChase/Papers/313401/Damascius_and_Whitehead_on_Time
      > > )
      > > and also with at least some aspects of Einsteinian/Minkowskian relativity.
      > > Genuine reality is an eternal present, whereas the time we experience in
      > > our everyday lives - linear, progressive, historical - is merely a pale
      > > shadow of that fundamental reality. We can, however, re-actualize our
      > > participation in eternity by our participation in rituals and myth,
      > > *precisely because they abolish profane, everyday time* (Eliade, op. cit,
      > > p. 71). The importance of re-actualizing myth and ritual is also a key
      > > notion for Corbin: cf *En Islam iranien, index s.v. *hikâyat*, vol. 4 p.
      > > 495.
      > >
      > > T.M.: Both these scholars said (perhaps in reference to Tillich's
      > > distinction of symbol and sign with allegory falling into the later
      > > category but Tillich gets it from Schelling who claims his notion of
      > > symbol came from the Neoplatonists) there is a "reductionism" present in
      > > any tradition that somehow construes dramatic myth as somehow manifesting,
      > > presenting, symbolizing, or whatever a nondramatic reality.
      > >
      > > M.C. Once again, I would love to learn precisely where either Corbin or
      > > Eliade say this. Let me put this more strongly: I think it is highly
      > > likely that neither Corbin nor Eliade ever say any such thing, because
      > > such views are the *exact* opposite of what they explicitly state.
      > >
      > > But I'd be delighted to be proved wrong (by means of specific citations,
      > > rather than vague hand-waving).
      > >
      > > T,M. The issue is whether or not drama has ontological weight enough that
      > > it is not a mere epiphenomenon of an essentially nondramatic reality.
      > > Speaking of time "The challenge for Platonism is posed in terms of the
      > > reality of drama." (A.E. Taylor, no doubt a questionable source in Mr.
      > > Chase's estimation)
      > >
      > > M.C. All sources or authorities are questionable in Mr. Chase's
      > > estimation, including Mr. Chase.
      > >
      > > Michael Chase
      > > CNRS UPR 76
      > > Paris-Villejuif
      > > France
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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