• Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    I had started reading Przywara's Analogia Entis and figured this would be an interesting work to summarize and discuss, given that, aside from being very influential, it also contains an intriguing synthesis of Aristotle, St. Aquinas, Kant, phenomenology, Heidegger, the analytics, and other modern thinkers (a little something for everyone!).

    Since Przywara is engaged in a systematic rethinking of metaphysics, it makes the most sense just to jump in where he begins in Part I: Metaphysics as Such.

    §1 Meta-Noetics and Meta-Ontics

    The First Problem

    The first problem Przywara identifies is determining if metaphysics must begin with the properties of being itself (the metaontic), or rather with the properties of the mind that knows being—the "act of knowing" itself (the metanoetic). This is the question at the heart of Kant's critical philosophy, and it has defined metaphysics since (although it is also picked up earlier).

    Neither seems to have priority. The metanoetic suggests itself in that we always begin from subjectivity, and because knowledge for us is always our knowledge. As St. Thomas says: "quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur—" "everything is received in the manner of the receiver." If knowledge is, in a way, "the mind becoming like the things known" (Aristotle), then all being, as known, is filtered through the knowing mind,
    and so the mind must have priority in metaphysics. We can also consider here Kant's arguments against being able to speak about what lies "beyond the possibility of human experience," and the charges of dogmatism against those who would assume that the "correlation" (a term Przywara frequently employs) between the mind and being does not need to be addressed critically.


    Yet the metanoetic starting point has seemingly insurmountable difficulties as well. For, the very idea of an "act of the mind" (our starting point) includes the metaontic concept of "act." Distinctions between reality and appearances as well, and the very idea of "what is," presuppose ontic concepts, which must be addressed before the "act of the mind," can be analyzed.

    I would add here that person who wants to say that there is a noumena, but that it is not in any way possible to speak of it or to know it, runs square into Parmenides' problematic re "speaking what is not." Already, by even positing this noumena, and by saying things about it, one has implicitly claimed that it is not totally unrelated to (known) being and possesses intelligibility. For if the noumena, or being qua being, lacked all intelligibility, nothing could be said of it. This realization is what leads to Parmenides' pronouncement that: "the same is for thinking as for being," which, ironically, sets very similar limits on metaphysics to Kant (and I would tend to agree with Perl that this thread in Parmenides runs through to Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, and on into St. Aquinas).

    The result of these problems is that neither the metaontic nor the metanoetic is a pure or absolute starting point, either from the perspective of theory or method. Both contain within themselves the problems of the other, and collapse into the other upon close inspection. Indeed, this collapse is inevitable in any critical method.

    The epistemological instability highlighted here "manifests itself in the ineluctable back-and-forth between a meta-ontics and a meta-noetics," which is "ultimately a reflection, at the level of method, of the inherent instability of creaturely being as such."

    What is "creaturely being" exactly? This brings us to the second part of the first section, addressed in the next post.

    ---

    But first we might consider, is this really the first, most formal problem of metaphysics? It certainly seems dominant.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    Creaturely Being and Essence-In-And-Beyond Existence

    Edit: to be clear, "creatures" as those things requiring creation lack self-subsistence. For example, knowing everything about what the Earth is and has been does not tell you that it is, that it is in actuality. Its existence is distinct from its essence. Other baggage associated with the term may be added but it's important to note that the concept, developed in St. Thomas through Plotinus via Dionysius does not have explicitly theological baggage in its pure form but refers to contingency and the need for something that lies outside a thing to explain its actuality (creation).

    To quote Przywara on the inherit epistemic instability represented by his first problem:

    "What we have here, however, is the most formal foundation of a “creaturely metaphysics.” It is creaturely according to its most formal object: because it concerns the suspended tension⁹ between consciousness and being (and not the absoluteness of the self-identity of either consciousness or being).It is creaturely, moreover and more decisively, according to its most formal method: because it proceeds according to the in fieri—becoming¹⁰—of a back-and-forth relation (and not by way of a discrimination between self-sufficient unities)."



    What "creaturely being" refers to is just this: as our "epistemology is without any firm footing, so too is the creature’s fundamental being, since unlike God, whose essence is to exist, the essence of the creature is precisely not identical to its existence." We can consider St. Thomas here. A complete description of what a creature is does not include that it is. Creatures are contingent beings and thus a full explanation of them depends on that which lies outside "what they are," outside essence.

    "Rather, essence and existence are related in the creature in such a way that the essence of the creature is never fully given, i.e., never identical or reducible to its existence, but is always on the horizon of its existence as something to be attained. "

    Consider the relation of this finding to freedom and self-determination here. We are not self-moving. What we are does not declare thatwe are. What we are likewise does not contain what we will become, our ends. And what we become is tied up in the rest of the world, and so all other created essences. For creatures, what something is must be determined relationally, which seems to suggest a certain lack of freedom. But we can consider here how for Plato, the classical tradition, Hegel, and even to some degree Kant, how knowledge of the transcendent, "the true infinite" or "the good will that wills itself" is essential to freedom. To be fully real is to reach outwards to that which lies beyond the limits of creaturely essence.

    "To be sure, the essence of the creature informs the fact of the creature’s existence, making it what it is; therein lies the “in” of “essence in-and-beyond existence.” Radically speaking, however, the creature is never fully there, since its essence is at the same time always that to which it is underway." That is, what we become lies outside us, and that we are lies outside all created, non-subsistent being (for the very relations that lie outside creatures and yet define them are themselves not subsistent, i.e., necessary, either).

    Thus, metaphysics must acknowledge and build upon this constant passing back and forth between the metaontic and metanoetic, which itself is a reflection of creaturely, non-subsistent being.

    ---

    I think this is interesting. Things really heat up in the next two sections where the targets of practical reason (the Good), theoretical reason (Truth, the primary object of metaphysics) and aesthetic reason (the Beautiful) are examined in the context of both continental and analytic thought. And then in Section 3 we get a look at the analytic preference for the a priori and the problems of an overwrought historicism and the dialectical between them. But it will take me a bit to get to a summary of them.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    Place holder for an introduction to the Transcendentals.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    Placeholder for Section 2 on the targets of reason and accounting for them, as well as how the Transcedentals of Unum (Unity) introduced the problem of The Many and the One, and the drive towards certainty and the mathematization of metaphysics.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    (Reading along vaguely - I have not visited Przywara's text in some time)
  • Bodhy
    4
    I read it years ago, it was so dense and rich I said I would need another re-read at a later time. Going to follow this thread. I'm particularly interested in how it intersects with phenomenology and defeating the reality/appearance dichotomy, and in turn the dichotomy between ontology and epistemology.

    FYI, I think Frederick Wilhelmsen's work would be a good primer to get up to speed with the kind of Existentialist metaphysics here. Getting the Essence-Existence distinction down would be necessary before even attempting this.
  • Philosophim
    2.5k
    To sum it up more simply, we have a mind that interprets reality, and we know there is a reality because when a rock hurtles through the air and smashes into our shoulder, our bones break no matter how we try to interpret it. Reality is simple. It is what will happen no matter what you think or believe. We know that reality happens many times despite what we think or believe.

    As for "creaturely" it seems to be describing the interplay between physical display and consciousness. Thus I can say, "That is a dog," but I can't experience what it is to be that dog.

    What we are likewise does not contain what we will become, our ends. And what we become is tied up in the rest of the world, and so all other created essences. For creatures, what something is must be determined relationally, which seems to suggest a certain lack of freedom.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Isn't this everything though? Rocks will slowly erode as the years pass. The ocean is in constant flux. Living things fall into the trap of thinking that they're somehow not made of the same stuff as everything around us. We are. We just happen to align in such a way that we become aware in a way that water along cannot. Its poetic, but not special to creaturely beings specifically. I think his analysis of metaphysics is a much better analysis of reality then this section.

    But of course I'm just reading your summary. :) Let me know if I'm on or off base.
  • J
    236
    But first we might consider, is this really the first, most formal problem of metaphysics? It certainly seems dominant.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Thanks for starting this thread. I will follow it with interest. But just to be clear, could you state what "this" refers to, in the quoted sentence? Is the "first, most formal" problem the difficulty of saying whether the first problem is metaontic or metanoetic? If so, is that question metaontic or metanoetic?
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    I took it that the "formal question" is about where any methodology must begin re metaphysics. Are we to begin our investigation with being or the mind? - essentially. Basically, we can't start saying things about being until we first resolve what we need to start investigating first.




    As for "creaturely" it seems to be describing the interplay between physical display and consciousness. Thus I can say, "That is a dog," but I can't experience what it is to be that dog.

    Just thinking of how St. Thomas frames it, I think the bigger distinction would be that knowing everything about a dog would only tell you what it is, not that it is. The dog's essence does not account for its own being. We can't say, "ah, of course, it has black fur, thus it must necessarily exist." Any creaturely (and thus contingent) entity needs something outside of itself to explain its existence. Only in God is existence explained by essence, since God is being itself (Ipsum Esse Subsitens). Another way of putting this is that creatures are not subsistent. Their essence does not account for their existence.

    (If you're familiar with Aristotlean logic you might consider the three acts of the mind: 1. Simple Apprehension, "What is it?" (produces terms - deals with essence), 2. Judging, "Is it?" (produces propositions - deals with existence) 3. Reasoning, "Why is it?" (produces arguments - deals with cause) - essence, grasp of the thing, doesn't get us to its existence or cause, which lays outside it (for creatures anyhow))

    As for the second question, I'll return to that when I have a bit more time. I think Plato, others in the classical tradition, and Hegel, have some good reasons for thinking that it is access to the (true) infinite/Good that allows us to become relatively more or less self-determining and free, despite our always being conditioned by our environment. Even Kant's conception of the "good will willing itself" stretches out in this direction, although in a more truncated way. But the short version would be that the transcendence of reason allows the thinking being to go beyond current belief and desire, and it does this by looking for the "truly good," (the target of the "appetite" of Plato's "rational part of the soul").

    I will allow though that such a short summary version is probably very unconvincing though. Robert M. Wallace's work on Plato and Hegel is great at articulating the relationship between the Good (Plato) and True Infinite (Hegel) and freedom, so I'll hunt for a good quote.
  • J
    236
    I took it that the "formal question" is about where any methodology must begin re metaphysics. Are we to begin our investigation with being or the mind? - essentially. Basically, we can't start saying things about being until we first resolve what we need to start investigating first.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Yes, good. My concern is with the further, reflexive problem: Is that question (“Are we to begin our investigation with being or mind?”) a metaontic one – that is, is it a question about being? Or is it metanoetic, a question about knowing? (I think it would be too simple, though tempting, to say: Neither one, it’s about methodology. At this extremely abstract meta-level, I don’t think we can introduce a third category called “methodology.”)

    The reasons I think this is an important puzzle are, first, that it immediately points us toward a praxis, under the rubric of “methodology,” and second, it shows how quickly the issue of the identity of thinking and being becomes crucial. Can we raise the question of methodology without positing certain things in common between thinking and being?
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    (I think it would be too simple, though tempting, to say: Neither one, it’s about methodology. At this extremely abstract meta-level, I don’t think we can introduce a third category called “methodology.”)J

    See for example:

    The epistemological instability highlighted here "manifests itself in the ineluctable back-and-forth between a meta-ontics and a meta-noetics," which is "ultimately a reflection, at the level of method, of the inherent instability of creaturely being as such."Count Timothy von Icarus

    On my lights, ultimately for Przywara neither one will end up being primary. He will basically propose a kind of suspension of the intention to commit ourselves to either one or the other. This form of abeyance is not merely methodological, but in fact reflects our creaturely state of being, which finds itself in a similar instability. For Przywara it is not permissible to embrace one at the exclusion of the other, even as a starting point. What this means, I think, is that we can ask real questions that belong to neither realm.

    But your question is kind of getting ahead of Przywara, as is my answer. His book is the answer to your question. It can't be sorted out beforehand.
  • Leontiskos
    2k


    What's interesting is that this thread is almost certainly an offspring of your thread on quantifier variance. This is because in that thread a "univocity of being" position developed very quickly with Banno's posts and especially with the paper he offered straightaway (Srap took up a position in the same ballpark later in the thread). That univocalist position opposed both quantifier variance as well as Sider’s position (which seemed to me the much better and more nuanced opposition to QV). The idea for the univocalist there was something like <Being is univocal; therefore that which captures being, namely quantifiers, are univocal; therefore quantifier variance is not even prima facie possible>.

    If you search my posts or Timothy’s posts in that thread for the word “analogy” or “analogical” you will get a number of hits, and Timothy picked this up towards the end of the thread. What is the position which is classically opposed to the univocity of being? It is the analogy of being, ergo: analogia entis. The idea is in no way limited to Przywara, but his work is the most direct and full treatment of the subject to date. Also, it should go without saying that Przywara is not offering a polemic against the univocalists. Instead he is trying to illumine the analogical position.

    If the univocalist has a flat ontology with everything being captured by the exact same univocal concept of being, the analogical thinker has an ontology with a depth dimension, where there is a kind of “depth of field” qua being. To carry the metaphor, that “depth relation” is the analogical relation of being between different beings. This is similar to Plato’s idea that all the variegated beings have a unification within the Form of the Good (i.e. a participatory notion rather than a notion of formal logic). For Przywara the meta-ontic and the meta-noetic are not ruled by some third measure which imparts commensurability to them both, and this dyad is but one form in which the analogia entis is found.

    Przywara and von Balthasar are fond of musical comparisons, and perhaps you could think about the way that harmony and melody relate, without either one being more primary or reducible to the other. There is no third thing which imposes a rule upon them both. It is a dance of two. A reductionist approach to that dance is an affront to being itself, as the reduction is not capable of encompassing the full reality at stake. The idea of analogy relates them without reducing them.
  • J
    236
    Yes, some fascinating connections here. I want to hold off and continue following this thread so I can learn more about Przywara, whom I haven’t read. And some day I may be bold enough to try an OP on Kimhi’s Thinking and Being, which is square in the middle of this discussion (and very difficult).
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    If the univocalist has a flat ontology with everything being captured by the exact same univocal concept of being, the analogical thinker has an ontology with a depth dimension, where there is a kind of “depth of field” qua being.Leontiskos

    The qualitative dimension, right? The axis against which a ‘higher good’ is meaningful?
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    - Yes, something like that.

    - Sounds good. I will have to look into Kimhi.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    Kimhi’s Thinking and BeingJ

    Relatedly, Gyula Klima is someone who has done a lot of work in bringing Medieval Scholasticism to bear on modern and contemporary logic and metaphysics (faculty page; academia page).
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    Well, I've been a bit busy so Chapter II might be a bit. I wanted to have at least some brief intro to the Transcedentals since the book simply assumes you have some knowledge of them.



    Interesting, I will have to check that out. I've sort of come to the opinion that a lot of interesting work in information theory and the philosophy of information (heavily analytic for the most part), the use of IT and complexity studies to unify the sciences (including the social sciences), and the popularity of pancomputationalism in the physics community (and biology to some extent) in many ways represent a vindication of a lot of important ideas in scholastic thought and Hegel (a relational view of ontology in particular). I'm always looking for more ammo.

    I have not been able to find anyone making this connection though. In part, I think it's hindred by the fact that Catholic philosophy, which does the most to update scholasticism (rather than just sticking to historical analysis) tends to be somewhat estranged from analytic and heavily science focused philosophy (at least in comparison to Continental thought).
  • alan1000
    195
    Forgive me folks, but the title of the post reminds me of an old, old joke: a Polish person goes for an eye test. The optometrist says, can you read this chart? And the patient says, "Read it? I know the man!"
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    Been slow on this but I will get around to parts two and three, which I've already finished.

    But I just read a suggestive quote in St. Maximus:

    The logoi of all things known by God before their creation are securely fixed in God. They are in him who is the truth of all things. Yet all these things, things present and things to come, have not been brought into being contemporaneously with their being known by God; rather each was created in an appropriate way according to its logos at the proper time according to the wisdom of the maker, and each acquired concrete actual existence in itself. For the maker is always existent Being, but they exist in potentiality before they exist in actuality It is impossible for the infinite to exist on the same level of being as finite things, and no argument will ever be capable of demonstrating that being and what is beyond being are the same, nor that the measured and immeasurable can be put in the same class, nor that the absolute can be ranked with that which exists in relation to other things, nor that that which has nothing predicated of it and that which is constituted by predication belong together. For all created things are defined, in their essence and in their way of developing, by their own logoi and by the logoi of the beings that provide their external context. Through these logoi they find their defining limits.

    - Ambiguum 7


    'All beings, by the logos by which they were brought to being and exist, are perfectly firm and immovable; by the logos of things seen as related to them, by which the ordering (otKovoµia) of this universe is clearly held together and conducted, all things move and admit of instability.

    -Ambiguum 15

    From "The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ" translation (selected works).

    Note though that subsistent relations would only be said to exist in the Trinity (existence coming from without in every other case).

    This relationality is one of the great differences when it comes to created things, even in their universal form. We might say that the sum total of what a finite thing does is expressed in all the ways it interacts with everything else—all the possible "things it can do" in any context. A context, is of course, just being placed in relation to other essences/forms, with existence being determined from outside essence.

    Or as John of St. Thomas puts it, "even substance is determined by its relationships to substance," or as Norris Clarke puts it while commenting on Aquinas: "It is through action, and only through action, that real beings manifest or “unveil” their being... [they] actively present themselves to others and vice versa by interacting with each other."

    Not only do I think this point is important in the context of Pryzwara's project, but I think the triumph of information theory and the computation-based view of complexity studies across the sciences is a great vindication of this scholastic insight. I really do think modern philosophy made a major wrong turn with its focus on "primary properties" and "things-in-themselves" with Bacon, Locke, etc. and continuing into Kant. So many problems stem from the desire to reduce things down to fundemental building blocks, or to have thing's properties arise from "what they are made of." Even as this view has been undermined in physics, it still seems to remain dominant in the sciences and philosophy writ large.

    :rofl:
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