Tuesday 25 January 2022

How does creation work? Hierarchies of agents

All things which aren't chaos are Beings or Parts Of Beings

We Men are each Beings, and each cell of our body is also a Being - but some categories of bodies are 'parts of Beings' such as 'bits-of-my-body-coloured-a-particular-shade-of-light-brown... That category is not A Being - but instead various parts of various Beings.  

So, with some Beings inside - and making components of, Beings; we seem to arrive at hierarchies of Beings as the way Creation (as a whole) is organized, and created. 

The level above - e.g. my whole organism - organizing ('creating') the level below - e.g. my cells. So, each cell is a Being, with its own life, consciousness - and agency (a degree of free will). 

But each cell is also (maybe unknown to itself?) a part of my body; which is continually monitoring and controlling it, by means of rewarding incentives and aversive punishments.  

And sometimes cells escape this organizing influence - and this can lead to cancer, uncontrolled growth; when the cell (in effect) acts independently of the needs of the body. 

Presumably - something like this is analogous to what God does in creating all of the other Beings, as well as with Men

The analogy would be that God is to Men, somewhat like each Man is to the cells of his organism - with one big difference of God being eternal while mortal Men are temporary. 

God's creation can be pictured as a continuously organizing and purpose-directing of a multitude of hierarchically-organized Beings - each with agency. 

God is the apex of the hierarchy of Beings; and origin of the purpose of creation-as-a-whole. 

In other words, it is God that organizes pre-existent Beings into coherence, and with direction. 

...Or; God provides a purpose for Beings, and is continually working to enable cooperation of Beings towards that purpose. 

Such a way of thinking about creation solves some of the traditional deep problems that beset Christian theology - such as how free will is possible, and the origins of evil. 

I think this way of conceptualizing also points towards a way of understanding genuine creativity of Beings, and how individual Beings (including, but not restricted to, Men) can potentially contribute to the work of creation. 

Note: Relevant to this are recent posts by WmJas Tychonievich and Francis Berger.


Skarphedin said...

Yes. I think this is exactly correct. And what I understand to be Anselm's conception.

I'd only add that the Hierarchies are fractal and that there is a fullness (lack of dicontinuity) both horizontally and vertically in the Hierarchy.

Georg Cantor was open about his theory of the transfinite coming from Anselm.

Likewise the Integral in Newton's Calculus is the same process Anselm's quo majus inspires in one who ponders it. Imagining perpetually *greater* beings is filling in the area under the curve (the contents) of the Hierarchy of Being.

Most people fail to grasp that thoughts also have Being. They exist as Anselm says *in conceptu*. They have less Being than reality or *existence in re*, but they do have Being.

I believe the shape of the Hierarchy of Being (with respect to number) is a funnel with the point (Theos) at the top and the sides described by a hyperbola rotated 360deg.

The shape as regards amount of being is the opposite/inverse of course.

We see this in the architectural depictions of Hell and Heaven in Dante's great work.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sk - You are trying to translate my 'animistic' metaphysics of Beings and relationships, back into the abstract symbolism from which it is intended to escape! Of course, that is your privilege for yourself - but it is the opposite of what I am trying to do!

Skarphedin said...

Yes. I suppose I did. I dislike debate and find pointing out common ground more productive in the end. I guess I was so excited by all the common ground that I just ignored the difference. Which is real. And also caused me to put my foot in it again unintentionally.

*pre-existent Beings* would obviously violate the *quo majus* as a Theos who was his-own-self the source of Being would clearly be *better* than one who was not. I am here equating being with existence. I wouldn't know what it means to do other wise but it would resolve the opposition. And that may very well be what the creation stories are getting at with the Chaos/Waters...

Pletho's Ghost said...

God bless you, Dr. Charlton! I pray that the Lord helps you, blesses you, has mercy on you and that He keeps you healthy and safe.

Your essays help me to articulate my own understanding of things, which usually arise as intuitive insights of the heart. I then have to bring them down to earth and put them into words. You remind me of my Yorkshire born grandfather and I think you're brilliant.

I'll keep praying for you!