“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Sunday Speculations

Some thoughts while riding on the subway into the city to dialogue with Rupert Sheldrake:

Anyone who is versed in Hegelian philosophy or who has a deeper than normal appreciation for Plato’s chosen dialogical medium of philosophizing–really anyone who understands the dialectical basis of reason and rational discourse–will agree that materialism and idealism as polemical positions are themselves misunderstandings of or partial perspectives on a more complex truth. Truth cannot be limited to this or that perspective. Truth is not a perspective. Truth is aperspectival. Any time we find ourselves locked in polemical disputations, we can be sure both of us are missing something important. 

A few speculations on the dialectical entanglement of matter and the Idea:

Materialism is limited because it puts deterministic objects first. 

Idealism is limited because it puts free subjects first. 

The true Prius, the truly Absolute and unlimited is not simply subject or object, free or determined. 

The a priori or transcendental ground of all subjective and objective things is not a ground at all, but an unprethinkable abyss, an unfathomable darkness. From out of this dark abyss, subject and object are eternally emerging to meet one another in apparent opposition. “Before” they emerge into phenomenal time and space, this eternal and absolute origin is groundless, abyssal. Only after subject and object have appeared does this abyss become a divine ground making possible the physical and psychological consequences of the subject-object polarity. In theological terms, it is only after the birth of the Son that the Father becomes the Godhead and the Mother becomes the Spirit. Before the Child there are no Parents, there is only a chaotic abyss of creative potential. 
Given this line of speculation, some further questions arise: 

What is the character of Intelligence/Nous? Is it some kind of rational mind, that is, a rule following logician? Are its operations clear and distinct, perfect in their plan and execution? Is the Intellect pure light? Does it lack all ambiguity and obscurity? Or is there a certain madness at the core of the Intellect, something unruly, chaotic, creative (in the sense that it is constantly engaged in the construction of new rules)? Does Nous precede materiality (ie, does order precede chaos)? Or is matter/Chora the ocean from out of which all things are born and into which all things die? 







10 responses to “Sunday Speculations”

  1. donsalmon Avatar

    HI Matt:

    Nice speculations. What do you think of the mystics’ (East, West, North and South) “view” (well, aperspectival view if you wish:>)) of the possibility of being “united” (or more correctly, recognizing one’s already-united Reality) with the Absolute, the Transcendental “underlying’ both subject and object?

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      I don’t doubt the validity of mystical experiences of unity. I tend to emphasize the plurality of reality, but that is not to say all its parts aren’t interconnected each and all. It’s just that I think this “unity” is (as William James said) of the “strung along” type rather than a total merge or night of black cows. So everything is connected, but often only in a round-about way, through 2nd- or 3rd-hand links.

  2. Jacki Avatar

    When it comes to the subject meeting the object it is of course at first a shocking surprise, but the subject is aware that it is a product of some sort of study, which, because they do not come forth limits the subject from some closure and further understanding on both sides. The subject brought in to contact is the begining of divine action, as well as its unfolding to be recognized. Thus the study miss’s much data as does the subject. Both are limited

  3. Phumudzo Avatar

    I like the view that there is no separation between Idealism and materialism , all are in an ultimate ground of reality , to separate this is like separating the human soul from the body ,the is no human without a soul /body the two combine to make up a human, conversely the is no reality without ideals/material .

  4. PeterJ Avatar

    Hi Matt – “I don’t doubt the validity of mystical experiences of unity. I tend to emphasize the plurality of reality, but that is not to say all its parts aren’t interconnected each and all.”

    Unity would imply no connections but, rather, identity. Identical things cannot be connected. Overcoming dualism would mean abandoning the idea of two things that can be connected. A unity or true continuum has no parts so cannot be extended in time or space and is ‘ad-vaita’, so has no inner connections. Only at the level of created things or emergent ‘epiphenomena’ could thing/events be connected.

    So, I think the choice is between unity and identity, of the one hand, and on the other separateness and connectedness. Or, these would be two levels of analysis, one conventional and other ultimate or metaphysical.

    We see this in Kant, who ultimately denies the categories of thought for a fundamental state that is ‘not an instance of a category’. No categories means no connections. The connections could appear only as symmetries are broken, creating seemingly distinct things that can be connected.

    I hope this makes some sense.

  5. John Bryant Avatar
    John Bryant

    After reading Sheldrake’s wiki page I’m wondering if he found or prescribed practical experiments or applications for his “Morphic Resonance” theory. :-/

  6. […] 2 Plato Sunday Speculations – Some thoughts while riding on the subway into the city to dialogue with Rupert Sheldrake: […]

  7. Rupert Sheldrake | Earthpages.ca Avatar

    […] Sunday Speculations […]

  8. Jacki Avatar

    I have to apologize first as i am not a person educated with philosophic knowledge. I am simply a person whom God brought me to a place that was obviously set up for my experience. Obviously, by the artwork and connections with them to my experiances, the life patterns found which were shocking but still obviously prearranged, yet the foreknowledge of them and wonder how far in advance that they had awaited me seems so mystical.
    There is so much i would like to understand about these works. I do not know for sure the group behind them. And the theatrical boast of the times were extremely overdone. (if i put that right) Commercialized.
    Anyone out there feel up to the task?

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