Ep. 50 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Tillich and Barfield

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topic

discussion

my notes

Tillich

  • Tillich: deeply aware of the symbol in the imaginal
  • Takes the meaning crisis seriously: The Courage to Be
  • Critical of literalism and fundamentalism as forms of idolatry: having mode not becoming
  • Main response to meaning crisis
  • Tillich resisted the Nazis -> courage
  • En-couragement - not just bravery or fortitude - there is wisdom in courage, central feature of wisdom seeing through illusion into reality - the courageous person sees through the illusion and distortion of fear or distress to what is truly good and acts accordingly
  • Seeing to the depths: faith
  • Faith for Tillich:
    • Hearkening back to ancient israelites notion of da-ath (sp?)
    • Add that participatory knowing in a course of being is an aspirational process
    • Faith as ultimate concern - that which concerns us ultimately
    • Idolatry: to treat something that could be a symbolic icon through which you expect and develop your ultimate concern, transform into an idol, an object, to have and possess, control and manipulate. Should be machinery for ultimate concern but using it for something not ultimate
    • When concerned about something care about it, coping with it, committed to it, involved in it , encompasses you in an through it. Deeply perspectival and participatory
    • open-ended points at the inexhaustibless of being
  • Tillich’s notion of God
    • Transgressive of classical theism, though not atheism
    • God understood as an icon, an imaginal symbol for the ground of being
    • God is no kind of being, no-thingness to God
    • Any attempt to see God as a thing is a form of idolatry
    • Meaning <-> reality - God grounds all of that
  • If we participate in an aspirational trajectory motivated by ultimate concern, puts us into a resonant relationship - Tillich’s method of correlation
  • Method of correlation - always this tonos (polar tension) between existential questioning/questing and revelation (the way the depths of reality reveal themselves)
  • Ongoing mutual fitting togetherness
  • Method been misunderstood as propositional theology, propositional proposals, get propositions from sacred texts, but propositions theology to concord with sacred texts
  • Different way of understanding that picks up on the Tonos takes us towards God as the ground of being.
  • Depth of reason - platonic notion, that which makes reasoning possible, relevance realization machinery (V argues), recursive machinery of rationality, aspirational rationality,
  • Tillich: ecstatic relationship with grounded depths of our rationality
  • The symbol to the depths of reality
  • In the psyche the depths of reason are experienced as extasis - self transcendence, moving beyond myself
  • Depths of reality: miracle and mystery
  • Miracle as the shinning, mystery as the withdrawal into the moreness, combinationarial explosive depths of reality - interaffording
  • Method of correlation the anagoge of the extasis as we resonate with the depths, the grounding, formative depths of reason are resonating with the depths, grounding of reality and anagogically cycling together

(what does this mean???)

  • For Tillich symbol much more than a sign. Particpatory, opens up levels of reality otherwise closed to us. Opens levels of ourselves otherwise closed to us - mutually affording, resonant fashion
  • Symbols not made by us - self-organizing - grow out of the unconscious in us and the unconscious without us

(huh? Does it mean they must be identified? Resonate with us but we can’t make them do that?)

  • Symbols have a life, they can die, can be born.

  • Tillich worries that symbols of Christianity dying, fundamentalism and literalism inappropriate way of keeping them alive

  • Should afford the newbirth of a new symbol that brings back the resonant relationship that the old symbol possessed

  • Symbols: surplus of meaning, if not rosnating with moreness they aren’t symbols

  • Symbols are deeply transformative

  • This is why correlation not just propositional theology, if not undergoing a profound transformation you’re not doing tillich’s method

  • How is it realized by you?

    • Taken into your frame, actualized into reality
    • Relationship between the existential self and the essential self -> relationship of the current self to the sacred second self
    • The essential self is the self in the fulness of being - capable of recognizing through conformity with the world
    • Relationship is aspiration
    • Essential self is ahead - normatively ahead
    • Constantly tempting the existential self to a better way of being
    • For Tillich, bound up with Paul - when I was a kid acted like a kid
    • Aspirational journey of encouragement gets us to confront seriously meaninglessness
    • Meaninglessness confronted within ourselves as guilt in protestant reformation
    • Now experiencing it as despair - existentialism (50s), we can talk about postmodernism
    • Trajectory leads to a position response to faith (da-ath)
    • The no-thingness of God coming to really encounter it is central, the no-thingness of God takes into the nothingness of meaninglessness and overcomes it
    • Aspect identity shift - come to see the no-thingness of God as the inexhaustible creation of meaning, an inexhaustible fount of meaning cultivation
    • Ground of meaning, intelligibility, and the relationship between them
    • Ground is an inexhaustible source of meaning cultivation that cannot be drained dry by our despair
    • When stop trying to push away the nothingness, but have an imaginal relationship to it and move through it, anagogically, in an iimaginal fashion with the nothingness of God then we overcome meaninglessness

(this seems to almost mean something, but it’s just beyond my grasp. I can’t tell. Also, where is the scientific backing for this? Maybe I get it, he’s already explained the science he’s trying to match up his view of the science with these guys non-scientific proposals- that’s the dialogue)

  • If you stare long enough into the abyss it begins to stare back into you
  • Fundamental aspect shift in which nothingness of despair is transformed into the revelation of no-thingness as inexhaustible being, meaning
  • Mystical tradition: notion of epic-tasis - idea teleological model of salvation where I’m moving towards the promised land in which I’ll see God and rest in the promised land, realized goal, ended. Gregory of nissa - Epictasis: not trying to rest in God, no resting, constant disclosure of the inexhaustibleness of the ground of being
  • Tillich argues the symbol joins together the subjective and the objective
  • One of the ways in which Tillich different than Jung: sees the process of individuation, similar to Jung, but always puts that into creative tension with participation, participation in being
  • Theonomous: ongoing epictasis of the inexhaustible, ongoing transframing
  • Transjectivity, sacred second self, anagogic descent joining reason and revelation together, fundamental aspect shift, criticism fundamentalism and literalism - something deeply about gnosis
  • Connection to gnosticism explicit in Tillich
  • Tillich qualifies the whole process as a realization of the God beyond the God of Theism - sees God as that which is the demiurge entrapping us within existential entrapment of the meaning crisis

Non-theism

  • Non-theism of Tillich - position that tries to transcend theism and atheism
  • Non-theism correct way to talk about religions like Buddhism and Daoism
  • 4 shared presuppositions between classical theist and the atheist
    • God is the Supreme Being - Both accept that as the proposition they are debating about. Non-theist rejects that.
    • God is accessed primarily/solely by belief: both agree they just disagree as to whether there is access to be found. Non-theist rejects both
    • Thelogy/anti-theology do not require transformative anagoge - all need to have is possession of the proposition and be able to infer the correct implications, thereby losing everything we’ve been talking about last 4 episodes. They agree on that, the non-theist rejects it
    • Sacrednesss is personal or impersonal, theist/atheist disagrees as to which to pick, non-theist rejects that Rather, argues sacredness transjective, partcipatory, aspirational
  • V’s main critique of Tillich, while more practical than Heidegger, doesn’t offer practices of transformation, Jung created active imagination, to allow images to self-oragnize in auto-poetic manner
  • Tillich gives a way to live, courage/faith deeply reinterpreted but no processes
  • Notion of deep symbolic particpation that’s translated into practices found in Owen Barfield’s work

Barfield

  • Inklings: Part of the ongoing discussion and fellowship between Tolken and CS Lewis
  • The Fellowship: literary lives of the inklings. Owen Barfield: philosophy poetry
  • Barfierld influenced by Gnosticism, neoplatonism
  • Early romantics emphasized the infinity of reality - non-finiteness, of reality, this is the inexhaustible moreness is that which continually draws us, affords us into self-transcendence
  • Schlegel: the finite longing for the infinite
  • Eduction - to draw out (became education) that discloses or reveals the sacredness
  • Our always finite, framed, longing for transframing that discloses but not completely the combinatorially explosive more-ness of reality and simultaneously discloses the ongoing capacity of relevance realization to adapt to that in a coupled manner
  • We experience and participate this in creativity - in flow state
  • This isn’t to find the contact and realness in some irrational locus in the psyche, but instead to find sacredness in the flow of self-transcendence within creativity - poesis
  • Barfied: picks up on poiesis: transformative experience, felt change in consciousness, self after both continuous and discontinuous from the self before
  • Extasis in creativity found within poetry and the poetical aspects of everyday language that can reawaken us to this kind of connectedness, to the inexhaustibleness connected to sacredness
  • Barfield looks at the etymology of words:
    • Peuma - spiritus - can mean both wind or spirit, the self-moving aspects of the psyche
    • Divide it into spirit/wind, division replicates the objective world of wind and the subjective of psyche
    • When go back, the terms are used and treated as if have an identity - non-logical identity, interpenetrate and afford each other even though anti-thetical and disjunctive - form of participation,
    • V argues these people have a more transjective anagogic resonance with reality so that the wind is imaginal to them, discloses the self-moving aspects of reality and themselves in a highly resonant fashion
    • Not quite sure about Barfield’s evolutionary hypothesis.
    • We use language in this fashion, in way that is pervasive in our cognition and speech, words have dual meaning.
      • Ex: attack: mean physical destruction, also mean critical argumentation
      • We don’t feel that they are identical but don’t feel them as radically disjunctive from each other
      • Ex: See: visual experience, or to understand, to stand under or conceptual understanding, weird synonomy between understand and see
      • Something pervasive in our culture now, doesn’t point to the evolution across generations but to the psychological development of individuals. Start with motor seeing, moves too conceptual
    • V argues that the model too simplistic, there should be a top-down aspect not just bottom up, stuff coming up from sensory, abstract and sensory meet in the imaginal
    • I see what you’re saying that’s imaginal bringing of abstract not yet speakable sense of understanding
    • Can evoke balance to talk about justice, imaginal statue of lady justice, using the phsycial balance machinery and using that machinery to give a structural functional organization to this ineffable sense of justice, recycling that whole process, introducing new function. Poesis in deepest sense
    • Translucency of the symbol
    • We can forget justice and focus just on having balance, only look at the concrete
  • Barfield: talks about original participation: what we need to do is move towards final participation: recovery of participation, integrated within the gains of the rational sciences.
  • Recovery of the perspectival and participatory. V: also means a science of meaning cultivation how does that participatory perspectival participation fit into our scientific processes
  • Both sides have to be involved in this marriage or it will fail.
  • That’s what he’s tried to do with relevance realization theory and then put it into discourse with spirituality, symbolism, sacredness
  • Barfield’s followers, needs to be more understanding of sacredness of poiesis participation of the inexhaustible. Can’t just import him into classical theism.
  • Notion from Eckart: Galesnheit: let it be, Heidegger responds by complete passivity, let it be, very lutheran, something deeply right about that aspect, but forgets breakthrough- about attentional framing, breaking through the old frame making the new frame
  • His notion of creativity as participatory is not to be passively receptive
  • Poiesis is synergistic - God plays the leading role, but we contribute, we participate in history, working with God in its making.
  • Is Barfied a non-theist? I don’t know. Can’t make the argument the same as for Heidegger, Jung, Corbin, Tillich
  • What have I tried to show: tried to show you that the vocabulary, grammar, the framework of relevance realization and how it can be developed to talk about spirituality and sacredness can be put into deep dialogue with Heidegger, Corbin, Jung, Tillich, Barfield and afford deep dialogue between them afford synoptic integration
  • All of this is what V means by awakening from the meaning crisis