Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

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AshvinP
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

Post by AshvinP »

Simon Adams wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:36 am
ScottRoberts wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 12:20 am I don't know which it is more like, perhaps the latter. I see it as just a statement of idealism: that all that exists is being thought into existence.
Maybe I’ll ask the question a different way, what do you see as the difference between the unicorn I’m thinking of, and the cat I’m looking at? From a thomist perspective, there is this correspondence to truth which he calls “being”. Is this what you call “inflated by god”?

I’m still not quite sure how Bernardo addresses this. I guess he is not a realist in one sense, and yet I feel he would accept that the cat is significantly different to the unicorn. If only phenomenal experience is ultimately real, and there is nothing more primitive (such as being), then that seems to have oversimplified.
I would offer that there is no ontological difference. For ex., it is possible, perhaps even likely, that our ancestors perceived "dragons" as imagistic representations of a lizard-cat-bird-predator category related to an autonomous entity which exists in reality. In modern times, we have become mostly unconscious of this process of "primary imagination" (Coleridge), yet we can consciously reconstruct and reshape perceptions with our "secondary imagination". We feel that the perception of a cat is an 'outer' reality while the thought of a unicorn is an 'inner' reality, but that division does not ontically exist. Our 'inner' thoughts can influence our emotions, perceptions, behavior and even our 'physical' body just as much as our 'outer' perceptions.
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

Post by Simon Adams »

Yes I think there is definitely something in that. The unicorn idea probably comes from a rhino, maybe as some kind of unconscious cultural ‘memory’. However the cat has it own experience, and there is also something to it which is consistent to everyone else.

I can picture in my head an alien with three legs, five arms and two heads. Surely this doesn’t exist in the same way the cat does? From the Aristotle/Aquinas perspective (in my limited understanding of it), the alien is just potential, and whilst I find an idealist view more useful as comparison with materialism, it feels like there is something missing in terms of ‘actual’ existence, or being.
Ideas are certain original forms of things, their archetypes, permanent and incommunicable, which are contained in the Divine intelligence. And though they neither begin to be nor cease, yet upon them are patterned the manifold things of the world that come into being and pass away.
St Augustine
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AshvinP
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

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Simon Adams wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 5:30 pm Yes I think there is definitely something in that. The unicorn idea probably comes from a rhino, maybe as some kind of unconscious cultural ‘memory’. However the cat has it own experience, and there is also something to it which is consistent to everyone else.

I can picture in my head an alien with three legs, five arms and two heads. Surely this doesn’t exist in the same way the cat does? From the Aristotle/Aquinas perspective (in my limited understanding of it), the alien is just potential, and whilst I find an idealist view more useful as comparison with materialism, it feels like there is something missing in terms of ‘actual’ existence, or being.
This is where Barfield's critique of "common sense" comes in. We hold axiomatically (i.e. unconsciously) that the category of "cat" is more real than the category of "cat-snake-bird" or what have you, although there was a time when the latter was perceived with images and more useful for our survival (and perhaps still is or will become again). Jung also joins this critique, in so far as he believed the archetypes of the 'collective unconscious' were autonomous immaterial entities which use human beings as their vehicles of expression. (he liked the word "individual" because it stressed the "not divisible" aspect of our relation to the world we experience).

In that sense, the archetypes are more real than the limited expressions of their existence, at least when conceived in those limited terms. Clearly there is a useful distinction to be made between immaterial-material and potential-actual. We may say potentialities are those thoughts which are striving for actualization but have not yet been actualized. In our current time, though, I would make the following challenge to you - try to imagine something which could not be actualized by modern science and technology in some form or fashion, if not today than within the next 50 or 100 years (which is really the blink of an eye on the grand 'timeline' of humanity).
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

Post by ScottRoberts »

Simon Adams wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:36 am
Maybe I’ll ask the question a different way, what do you see as the difference between the unicorn I’m thinking of, and the cat I’m looking at? From a thomist perspective, there is this correspondence to truth which he calls “being”. Is this what you call “inflated by god”?
As Ashvin said, there is no ontological difference, that is, these are both cases of thinking thoughts into existence. What makes the difference, as I see it, is degree of power required to think it. Let me elaborate, with more examples:

You thinking of a three-legged, etc. alien -- very little power.
You thinking of a unicorn -- A little more power because others have thought it as well, but not remotely enough to actualize a physical unicorn.
You looking at a cat -- quite a lot of power, but this power is working in your subconscious ("primary imagination").
The existence of a cat: Power so far beyond anything we are capable of we have trouble even imagining it.

As I see it, your thought of the alien has just as much "being" as a cat. The difference is that the thought that creates a cat includes the thinking into existence every molecule and cell of the cat, which the thought of the alien lacks. Put another way, you impart being to the thought of the alien, while it requires God-like power to impart being to a cat.
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

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ScottRoberts wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:14 pm
Simon Adams wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:36 am
Maybe I’ll ask the question a different way, what do you see as the difference between the unicorn I’m thinking of, and the cat I’m looking at? From a thomist perspective, there is this correspondence to truth which he calls “being”. Is this what you call “inflated by god”?
As Ashvin said, there is no ontological difference, that is, these are both cases of thinking thoughts into existence. What makes the difference, as I see it, is degree of power required to think it. Let me elaborate, with more examples:

You thinking of a three-legged, etc. alien -- very little power.
You thinking of a unicorn -- A little more power because others have thought it as well, but not remotely enough to actualize a physical unicorn.
You looking at a cat -- quite a lot of power, but this power is working in your subconscious ("primary imagination").
The existence of a cat: Power so far beyond anything we are capable of we have trouble even imagining it.

As I see it, your thought of the alien has just as much "being" as a cat. The difference is that the thought that creates a cat includes the thinking into existence every molecule and cell of the cat, which the thought of the alien lacks. Put another way, you impart being to the thought of the alien, while it requires God-like power to impart being to a cat.
Brilliant. This way of putting it also lines up with Jung's view that the contents of the 'collective unconscious' which make it to our field of consciousness are those which are sufficiently emotionally valenced i.e. charged or powered.
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

Post by Simon Adams »

Thanks both. Very clear answers even if they still don't fully resonate with me. There is plenty of time for me to tidy up my conceptual framework so it resonates with my intuition.... even if its just to remain agnostic on some of these details.
I would make the following challenge to you - try to imagine something which could not be actualized by modern science and technology in some form or fashion, if not today than within the next 50 or 100 years (which is really the blink of an eye on the grand 'timeline' of humanity).
A Dyson sphere ? :)
Ideas are certain original forms of things, their archetypes, permanent and incommunicable, which are contained in the Divine intelligence. And though they neither begin to be nor cease, yet upon them are patterned the manifold things of the world that come into being and pass away.
St Augustine
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AshvinP
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

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Image

We'll have that in 50 years for sure... easy peezy.
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Re: Idealism of the Eastern Fathers

Post by Brad Walker »

Dyson spheres are illegal.
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