More on GNON

Kaiter Enless of the stylish new reactionary blog Logos Club has kindly taken notice of On GNON, posted here at the Orthosphere last March. While nowise adversarial, his treatment of my statements about GNON – which he takes to be authoritative regarding the ontology entertained by those who hold to the notion – is nevertheless a bit mistaken; and on the basis of those mistakes, he has disagreed.

The nice thing about this situation is that clearing up those errors – which I shall now do – will end not only in the discovery that there is in fact no basis for disagreement between us, nor therefore in fact any such disagreement, but rather in a comfortable unanimity. I.e., it will show that, insofar as I may indeed be taken as a legitimate interpreter of GNON for those who take that notion to be utile, Mr. Enless has no true quarrel with GNON. It will end then in an affirmation of his basic project.

Quoting Mr. Enless in pertinent part:

The very excellent and incisive Kristor of the Orthosphere remarks:

Nature is nothing without her God. By herself, she is no more than a series of adventitious events, not as a whole ordered to any purpose transcendent to herself – which is to say, not ordered. Except insofar as they are grounded in Eternity and ordered under his Law, events are just stuff happening for no reason, and cannot therefore by themselves sway us authoritatively.

The summation seems a popular one in reactionary circles, but I find, here and there, faults with the reasoning. First and foremost is that, regardless of whether or not there is [an] intelligent ordering to the cosmos, there are inexorable laws, and there is [an] order to things, or rather, discernible patterns that brook no argumentation; laws which remain consistent and potent regardless of their ultimate derivation. For instance, it matters not, as regards the effecting of Man, whether or not some being causes the seas to churn or the wind to blow, they churn and blow all the same and Man is similarly [affected].

There is to be sure an inexorable Order to things. No argument there. The question then is whether the Order of things we find operating in Nature – by which, and in virtue of which, i.e., we find Nature operating – is ultimately grounded, or not. Is that Order necessary, or could it have been otherwise? If the former, then it does not need to be explained, and indeed cannot be. It grounds itself. If the latter, then it stands in need of some explanation in terms of an ultimate ground. Otherwise, it will be when all is said and done fundamentally inexplicable, even in principle; ergo, unintelligible, in principle, by any rational intelligence whatever; ergo, no order at all, properly so called.

The Order of Nature does not seem to be necessary. It seems as though it might be otherwise than it is. The values of the various physical constants, for example, don’t seem to be necessarily what they are.

Since the Order of Nature is not necessary, it must be explained. And for an explanation to be complete, it must terminate upon factors that are themselves necessary. Otherwise, it will not have terminated at all, but rather ended with explanatory entities that stand themselves in need of some reasonable explanation.

Explanations must terminate upon ultimate factors if they are ultimately to explain. No termination upon ultimacy, no explanation whatever.

What then is the ultimate basis or origin of the Order of Nature that, as necessary, need not and indeed cannot be itself explained? If there is no such basis, then what seems to us to be an Order of things is not really an order at all, but rather only the way that things have happened to turn out, for no reason (NB: by the Principle of Sufficient Reason, an insufficient reason – incompleteness being a sort of insufficiency – is tantamount to no reason at all).

But what is no order at all is just chaos. And things don’t look chaotic. So, not that.

Mr. Enless continues:

Also, he remarks that without a “transcendent purpose” the whole of Nature is “not ordered.” This I suppose is true in that for something to be “ordered” a conscious agent must do the ordering. But it seems to me that he is referring to consistency of structure rather than agency – if this is the case then one might simply posit that there is no reason to suppose that Eternal Laws require conscious writ.

A transcendent purpose does not quite get us to a conscious agent whose purpose it is. We’ll get there in a moment, but for now, it will do to emphasize that “transcendent purpose” is just another way of saying “transcendent final cause.”

The final cause of a thing – which is to say, the sort of thing toward which it tends – is an aspect of its formal cause (and vice versa; formal and final causes are convertible, each in terms of the other). A mature oak tree is a final cause of an acorn; this is a way of saying that a tendency to oak trees is a formal property of acorns.

All things whatever that have actual being somehow act. They somehow affect other things. So they all lead to something or other. They all have final causes, or teloi, that they tend or seek to realize (whether consciously or not); their formal order tends to certain definite ends.

Notice then therefore that if we have specified the form of a thing exhaustively except with respect to its teloi, we have not completely or sufficiently specified it. If you leave out the oak tree, you have not told the full story of the acorn; leave out the chicken, and the egg makes no sense at all; and vice versa, whether for tree or fowl. The formal specification of any thing then, must include a specification of its teloi if it is to be complete.

So, if Nature as a whole and in all her parts is not ordered to teloi, then she is not completely specified, or therefore completely specific, or therefore fully definite. And a thing that is not fully definite – that is not fully and precisely what it is, rather than something else – is not any particular thing. I.e., it simply is not, at all (for only particular things are concretely actual). If then we want to say that Nature as a whole or in any of her parts is truly ordered, we must admit that she and her parts are all ordered to some teloi (even if we are unclear on what those teloi might be).

And the teloi of Nature as a whole must be transcendent to her. She must tend toward an end other than herself, if she is to be completely specific in what she is – if, that is to say, she is definitely to happen, as a whole or therefore in any of her parts. A telos within Nature cannot be the telos of Nature as such.

Excursus: To take an example: pins are the teloi of pin factories, but they do not furnish the telos of the whole system of pin and pin factory. To understand the pin and the pin factory, one must understand the telos of pins. And that telos of pins is transcendent – and basic – to the whole economy of pins and their factories. Without that telos of pins, there would be no pins, nor any pin factories.

Excursus: There might of course in that case be still such things as pens, and feathers.

If Nature is to exist definitely, then, she must be ordered to teloi transcendent to herself.

How then do we get as promised to the conscious agent who is the source and end of Nature? Nihil dat quod non habet: a thing cannot cause what is nowise present in itself. This is easy to demonstrate: you can’t get hydrogen from a state of affairs in which hydrogen is not already potentially present. You can get it, in other words, only from a state of affairs that is potent to generate hydrogen.

Another way of saying nihil dat quod non habet is to say, “you can’t get x from an absolute nothingness of x.”

So, whatever we find in Nature must first have been present at least potentially in Nature’s cause. Consciousness is a feature of Nature. It must therefore be a feature of Nature’s cause. Ditto for volition, and agency. So we get to the conscious agent who willed our system of Nature, in virtue of whose agency, consciousness and volition all these properties are present actually in Nature.

Mr. Enless continues:

Additionally, such a universal ordering would deprive Man of the ability to direct the nature of the Cosmos insofar as he was able, such a venture would be heretical and roundly scorned as hubristic insanity – “How dare you play God!” One might well remark, “To the man that wishes for the grandest possible game, what else is there to play?”

Not quite. On the contrary, in fact. How could universal order deprive us of the ability to act? The ability to act is the sine qua non of being, for to be *just is* to act; it cannot therefore be the case that the Order of being forecloses being per se; so it does not foreclose our acts.

Universal order is a forecondition of coherently ordered acts. No order, then no possibility of action aptly coordinate thereto.

Traditional religions have never suggested that man is incompetent to direct Nature, or that he ought to be. It’s just the opposite. Adam was given nomological power over all other creatures. And traditional religions all aim man at the highest conceivable achievement: familiar intimacy with the Ultimate.

They also, of course, abjure violation of God’s laws – moral, natural, spiritual. But this is only common sense. It’s a Really Bad Idea to disregard such laws. They will come back to bite you every single time. Anyone who wants to disregard them is a bit of a fool.

Ultimately, GNON is simply [an] esoteric stepping stone that the orthodox-faithful Christians utilize in a veiled attempt to convert the questioning and open minded.

It’s rather the opposite, as my post On GNON makes clear. GNON is a way to table the religious questions for a nonce, so that atheist and theist reactionaries can get on together without further ado to the practical near term business of overthrowing modernity and reviving tradition – which is to say, among other things (and despite the disinclination thereto of the atheists, notwithstanding their preponderant avowed recognition of its importance): traditional religious orthodoxy.

Mr. Enless worries that GNON is anthropomorphic, like God, so that in effect GNON is tantamount to God. So he is, in the eyes of theist traditionalists. But the whole point of GNON is to relieve atheist traditionalists of their discomfiture at any anthropomorphic construction of the Logos of Nature – for a while, at least. Were it otherwise, we’d all, simply, refer to GNON as God.

22 thoughts on “More on GNON

  1. Pingback: More on GNON | @the_arv

  2. Quite thorough going work which to your good credit will exposes some of my admittedly poor articulation (I’m working on prt 3 at the moment which will clarify much of what you touched upon). Though I must also add that you are under a few misapprehensions (though that is likely due to a bit of linguistic imprecision in my piece). For instance, when I say that:

    [“-such a universal ordering would deprive Man of the ability to direct the nature of the Cosmos insofar as he was able, such a venture would be heretical and roundly scorned as hubristic insanity – “How dare you play God!”]

    I was not referring to cosmological constraints of Natural Law (Man cannot do X) but rather the “psychic” pressure of groups (namely Christians) and the tendency of that kind of thought (which I extended to Greenpeace). The perceived “perversion” of nature (regardless or whether the “perversion” was actual or imagined) from such individuals tends to lead to the suppression of great works (one might here be reminded of Giordano Bruno who was declared a heretic by Pope Clement VIII for his cosmological beliefs and summarily executed by the Inquisition). It is this that I was primarily taking issue with, not you or “traditional religion” as such, but rather, certain aspects thereof.

    Also, as pertains to what you wrote here:
    [-which is to say, among other things (and despite the disinclination thereto of the atheists, notwithstanding their preponderant avowed recognition of its importance): traditional religious orthodoxy.]

    I must say that is not a project that I’m engaged in. I certainly hope I didn’t give off that impression.

    Lastly,

    [“But the whole point of GNON is to relieve atheist traditionalists of their discomfiture at any anthropomorphic construction of the Logos of Nature – for a while, at least.”]

    The “for a while, at least,” was rather ominous – ha.

    Sincere regards,
    K.E.

    • Theism is ominous only to those who as yet misunderstand it. Discomfiture at some notion is the beginning of that deliberation upon it which leads eventually to comfiture under a new synthetic dispensation.

      The notion that Christianity is antiscientific is ahistorical. Science is a creature of Christendom, and may not outlast it. Bruno, NB, was not executed by the Inquisition, but by the civil authorities. He was excommunicated (by the Catholics, the Calvinists, and the Lutherans, all (nor was he much welcome among the Anglicans)) not for his cosmological beliefs, but for his heretical theology, which asserted that Christ was no more than a human magician. This was an effectual repudiation of the whole Christian civilization, which therefore (quite naturally) spewed him forth. We delude ourselves to think it is otherwise today; all cultures kill or banish or ostracize those who contravene their basic dogma.

      You write:

      I must say that is not a project that I’m engaged in. I certainly hope I didn’t give off that impression.

      I take it that you mean the renovation of traditional religious orthodoxy is not an aspect of your project, so far as you now understand your project (and traditional religious orthodoxy). That’s how I took you; not as inimical to religious orthodoxy, but rather as not much concerned with it one way or another. Well and good, so far as it goes; but restoration of man and his culture, properly construed, involves restoration of his proper cult, willy nilly. Thus whether or not the restoration of traditional orthodoxy is of any interest to you, it is going to happen. Or else, man will stop happening.

      • [“I take it that you mean the renovation of traditional religious orthodoxy is not an aspect of your project, so far as you now understand your project (and traditional religious orthodoxy).”]

        Correct.

        [“Thus whether or not the restoration of traditional orthodoxy is of any interest to you, it is going to happen. Or else, man will stop happening.”]

        This seems a completely unfalsifiable notion and thus not very persuasive. As I wrote about in my Anthropomorphization series I’d certainly acknowledge that religion is important and unlikely to vanish altogether (given that it seems to be a by-product of predatory detection “software” in the human brain). But one can not say with any certainty how humans will evolve in the future. If sufficient conditions are met it does not strike me as impossible that in the far-flung future this instinct may no longer remain yet man, quite manifestly would.

      • The basic idea is that a cult of some sort – construed as a set of dogmas about the ultimate nature of reality – is an indispensable element of culture. If a people disagree on the First Things, they can hardly reach agreement on any others, or therefore any perdurant concord or coordination toward a good they can all agree is really good.

        Viz., our current situation.

        So if man were to evolve out from under any concern for the rational coherence of his acts, then yes, religion might be superseded. But social coordination – a rather fundamental aspect of humanity – would be superseded right along with it. Whether man would be man without society is doubtful. He’d be some other sort of animal, it would seem.

      • Yes. Beast or Overman… or both? One cannot say. At any rate, I certainly don’t disagree about a set of “first principals” being necessary for civilization. That much is quite obvious. I think it would be more beneficial (specifically over era-long timescales) to attempt to orient these First Principals around those things that are empirically verifiable elseways it strikes me as likely that what happened to Christianity – that is, falling on the Sword of Truth, a weapon the religion chiefly forged (as Nietzsche well noted) – will simply happen again should any Christian revivalist effort (or similar monotheistic religious project) be successful. This is my chief concern surrounding the question – history (likely) doomed to repeat itself.

      • Any time I encounter a proposal for an essential transformative improvement of man, my hackles rise as my metabolism girds me for combat. Such projects of engendering some sort of New Man always end in genocide, and then disaster. How not? For, they are all projects of the Old Man, and as such defective in virtue of his characteristic defect. Like all the vainglorious idolatries that have beset our vitiated minds since their first and archetypal iteration with our sin in Eden, they are kicks at the pricks of Man’s essential nature – i.e., they are arguments with the Laws of Nature, with GNON. And that never, ever ends well. It *always* fails.

        I’m much happier with the humbler project of working to be good at being the sort of animal we now are. Let evolution of some other species take care of itself, as it ever has. Why go for some sort of New Man when there is so much scope for creative elaboration within the constraints of our current essential human configuration?

        As for the Sword of Truth: it is at the moment gutting materialism, determinism, and egalitarianism. Nominalism and relativism meanwhile gut themselves. So Jacobinism, Marxism, and modernism are at an end. These are all dead men walking; and their adherents are not reproducing.

        Is monotheism empirically falsified? No. It is metaphysically demonstrable, and metaphysical demonstration is the ultimate empirical test of a proposition; so every empirical datum whatsoever must somehow agree with monotheism.

        A careful examination of Christian doctrine – of what the Church actually teaches, rather than some absurd caricature thereof – reveals that it nowise contradicts empirical evidence, or the Laws of Nature. Such care is indeed rare, to be sure, especially since the advent of nominalism (which implicitly casts intellectual care to the winds). What this means is that Christianity has over the last 500 years been weakened in the West, not because it has been shown to be false, but because its careless critics have found favor, due mostly to the delicious loosening of moral constraints that ever follows a rejection of moral truth. If God is dead, then all is permitted; so atheism is morally alluring, as a way out of shame and guilt and pain, not by the difficulties of moral correction, repentance, and mortification of sinful desires, but rather by easy self-indulgence, vice, indiscipline, weakness, and porneia.

        Atheism then survives, not because it is empirically demonstrable – there is no possible empirical finding that there is no God – but because it seems more fun.

      • I said nothing about my opinion on the project of a “New Man,” other than that is was possible. I gird myself, like as you, when such issues are breezily raised. As for,

        “Is monotheism empirically falsified? No.”

        I did not say it was falsified. The problem is that it is empirically unfalsifiable.

        Lastly,

        “If God is dead, then all is permitted; so atheism is morally alluring, as a way out of shame and guilt and pain, not by the difficulties of moral correction, repentance, and mortification of sinful desires, but rather by easy self-indulgence, vice, indiscipline, weakness, and porneia.
        Atheism then survives, not because it is empirically demonstrable – there is no possible empirical finding that there is no God – but because it seems more fun.

        Firstly, I am glad you agree with me that, “-there is no possible empirical finding that there is no God-” Secondly, this notion that without deity ALL is permitted is clearly untrue. Moral truth well attests itself by the fact of certain commonalities of human behavior which have their roots in the structure of the human brain. Here, it is clear to me that collective society can arrive at objective moral principality without obeisance to some divine law, for whatever facts that can be known about the processes that give rise to the states of consciousness commensurate with ideas about morality, are themselves facts that can be known about morality.

        Here our disagreement seems largely to be upon the credence given over to methodology – I privileging empiricism, you, metaphysics. At any rate, I do not wish to quibble, but rather find common cause in pursuit of those First Principals we spoke of before.

      • Amen to that.

        I take metaphysics to be the most robust sort of empiricism. If I demonstrate the truth of monotheism metaphysically, I have demonstrated it empirically in the strongest possible way. If we show that P is necessarily true, we have shown that it cannot possibly be falsified, by any conceivable test. But this by no means implies that it is defective, qua theory. On the contrary.

        Popper’s falsifiability criterion pertains to contingently true propositions, not to necessarily true propositions.

        I did not say [monotheism] was falsified.

        Sorry; I thought that’s what you meant when you wrote that Christianity had fallen upon its own Sword of Truth.

        The problem is that [monotheism] is empirically unfalsifiable.

        But that monotheism cannot be disproven by any conceivable empirical test is not a problem with monotheism. It is a problem with any contradiction of monotheism. Monotheism can’t possibly be empirically falsified because it is necessarily true. And the only way that a logically coherent proposition cannot possibly be empirically falsified is if it is necessarily true.

        I covered the question of whether morality properly so called can be said to have evolved in 2012, in Evolution is not a Reason:

        But note that to say “X came about because of evolution” is only to say, “X came about because X came about.” “Evolution” in that sentence is not an explanation of what came about: it just is what came about, period full stop. Nor is the process of evolution capable of explaining anything; for “the process of evolution” is just another way of saying, “the way things happen.” It tells us nothing about why things happen, or happened. I.e., it doesn’t tell us the reasons that things happen, or happened; doesn’t tell us the logic that informs what happens. To say that X happened because of evolution is just to say that X happened because X happened. It’s obtuse.

        This does not at all mean that the research programs of evolutionary psychology and sociobiology are bootless. On the contrary: if there are certain things that seem to go along with the practice of being human, or of being human in society, that should indicate to us not that such practices are meaningless and unfounded, but precisely the contrary. If iterated natural selection is anything other than chaotic noise, it is a way of fitting humanity to the world by a procedure of trial and error. It is a method of learning; and learning is always about something, so that if natural selection is producing an actual order in humanity, that order addresses and responds appropriately to – i.e., is proper to – the nature of reality. When, e.g., evolutionary psychology tells us that women generally prefer to mate with men who show a good likelihood of being able to provide for them and defend them, we may infer that it is objectively better for men to support and protect their wives, than not; i.e., that the preference that men should be providers and defenders is built into the world.

        And also, recently, in Righteousness is Adaptive Because the Cosmos is Just:

        If the cosmos were not just, then righteous conduct could not be well fitted to reality, and would not therefore have proven to be adaptive. There could not then be such a category as righteousness. You can’t behave rightly if there’s no such thing as a right way to behave.

        The fact that evolution has generated codes of righteous conduct – of formalized moral laws – does not then indicate that morality is nothing more than a happenstantial product of iterated memetic variation under selection pressures. On the contrary, it indicates that morality is an aspect of the cosmic landscape that is prior to biological evolution, and pervasively conditions it, *so that* iterated rounds of selection by the morally ordered cosmic landscape on memetic variations can occur in the first place, and proceed to generate in organisms moral sentiments that are more or less well-fitted to their world.

        No cosmic order, then no selector, and no selection.

        Note that these two quotes do not disagree with your gist. The full form of the argument is as follows:

        1. ¬ God → (all is permitted). [This is Dostoevsky’s premise.]
        2. ¬ (all is permitted). [This is your point: things *just are* such that not all is permitted; i.e., GNON.]
        3. ¬¬ God.
        4. God.

        I don’t think we really disagree. It’s just that I have found by some hard noodling that there can be no such thing as the Nature in the disjunction denoted by GNON if there is no God of Nature. No Principal of selection, then no principle of selection but rather merely “whatever happens, happens;” so, no selection at all, but just stuff happening for no sufficient reason, which cannot therefore sway us morally.

      • “I think it would be more beneficial (specifically over era-long timescales) to attempt to orient these First Principals around those things that are empirically verifiable…”

        But First Principles don’t work like that, otherwise they would not be First Principles. Take a simple example. Sometimes, when they can’t find something, one hears people say, “It can’t have simply vanished.” It is something they take for granted – a First Principle, if you will.

        But how do they know this? It is not a logical impossibility that things should simply vanish; we can quite easily imagine something just disappearing and re-appearing, like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.

        This suggests “things don’t simply vanish” is an empirical or scientific proposition, an hypothesis that needs to be tested. But there is an obvious difficulty here; accepting even the possibility of things “simply vanishing” has all sorts of implications for what would count as testing, proving, how we interpret evidence and our whole system of verification.

        The solution is simple enough: “things don’t simply vanish” is a rule, a practice, a regulative principle for the way we judge and act, from the most rigorous scientific enquires to the most ordinary everyday activities.

        This does not make it, as the Post-Modernist sceptic claims, a groundless assertion. As Wittgenstein explains, “Regarding such statements as absolutely solid is part of our METHOD of doubt and enquiry.” (Emphasis in original) He adds that “I do not explicitly learn the propositions that stand fast for me. I can DISCOVER them subsequently like the axis around which a body rotates. This axis is not fixed in the sense that anything holds it fast, but the movement around it determines its immobility.” (Emphasis in original)

      • We get a glimpse (not of course a complete picture) of what sort of animal man would become under those circumstances within the hard core criminal elements among us. Our penal institutions (particularly the “Super Max” prisons) give us a window through which to peer at mankind devoid of social graces.

  3. Bergson has na interesting take on the order of nature.

    We take the ceaseless, living flow of which the universe is composed and make cuts across it, inserting artificial stops or gaps in what is really a continuous and indivisible process. The effect of these stops or gaps is to produce the impression of a world of apparently solid objects, rather like stills from a motion picture. These have no existence as separate objects in reality; they are, as it were, the design or pattern which our intellects have impressed on reality to serve our purposes.

    This is rather similar to Dedekind’s concept of the “cut,” where he creates a new irrational number at every gap in the continuous number line at which there is no existing real number.

    We see this in the relation of geometry to physics. The mathematician has in his repertoire a whole range of geometries, analytical, projective, Euclidian, non-Euclidian; the physicist may select one of them as most useful to organize and map his data, sometimes fairly accurately, sometimes very roughly, as Newton did with Euclid’s geometry and Einstein did with Riemann’s.

    • Sometimes we cut nature at the joints, and sometimes we don’t.

      Bergson’s central metaphysical insight is that reality is a composition of moments, each of which in itself is an atomic composition of all prior moments: uncut, integral, and not possibly disintegrable, except in imagination. His term for the atom of being is la durée; Whitehead called it the actual entity; I have lately taken to calling it nunc. Bergson observed that within each nunc, there is qualitative multiplicity: in each, many different qualia are bound together and cohere uniquely (so that each moment is different, ergo disparate) and indisintegrably; the many data of experience are unified in an integral one. The many are made one, and are thereby increased by one.

      Whitehead called the process of that integration in a novel one “concrescence,” so that each nunc is a concrescence. But “flux” works just as well: each nunc is an occasion of flow, and a subject of influence, and influences its successors – informs and so flows into them. The extensive continuum that then integrates these nodes of becoming is effectuated by such influence.

      So you get the Tao; you get reality.

      Concrete disparity of the atoms of being and flux do not then conflict with each other; on the contrary, each requires the other.

      It more and more seems to me that the enaction of a cosmic history that is a coinherence of durations composing an extensive continuum cannot be completed (for any such moment) except in virtue of a prior moment that understands all moments. The motion of any bit of the universe seems impossible except insofar as it finds prior integration in the completion of the motion of the whole universe (and by extension, of all universes whatever). Achilles can’t reach the turtle until he has reached the turtle; by the same token, he cannot live his whole life until he has lived his whole life. The small then (the moment when Achilles passes the tree on his way to the turtle) supervenes upon the large (the whole journey to the turtle), and each large supervenes upon some larger; so that all largeness supervenes upon that than which no larger can be conceived.

      No Tao, then no thing whatever. Put more traditionally: in the Tao the 10K Things live, move, and have their being.

  4. Pingback: More on GNON | Reaction Times

  5. Kristor, you are a true philosopher. Help me with this:

    “So, whatever we find in Nature must first have been present at least potentially in Nature’s cause. Consciousness is a feature of Nature. It must therefore be a feature of Nature’s cause.”

    a) Extension is present in Nature, therefore it must be present at least potentially in Nature’s cause. Is extension present potentially in God? Why only potentially?

    b) Similarly, why is consciousness actually present in Nature’s cause, and not merely potentially?

    • Extension is present in Nature, therefore it must be present at least potentially in Nature’s cause. Is extension present potentially in God? Why only potentially?

      Extension is an internal feature of causal orders – of, i.e., worlds. Worlds are all created (this is to say no more than to say that they are causal). Their creator has the power – the potency – to create them. Their extension then is present in him as an aspect of his creative power. As the creation of worlds is potential to God, so is their extension potential to him.

      God can’t make himself extensive – he cannot make himself other than God, so he can’t make himself a world. Nor can he limit himself to the causal influence of one world; he cannot limit his life to the limits of one world, no matter how spacious it is. If he were to do so, he’d stop being God and instead become a creature. And that is not possible to him.

      As himself uncaused, God is nowise environed. He is rather the environment of all other things.

      Creatureliness turns out to feature extension essentially. All creatures are caused, and affect other creatures; this is to say that they are all in and limited by some worlds (at least one world).

      Note that insofar as God has actualized himself as a thing within some world – as he did in Jesus – he has actual extension in that world (and in all the worlds to which that world is supervenient).

      But then, as having caused every creature whatever, God is involved with each of them as their cause; they stand in causal relation to him. So his influence extends throughout all worlds.

      From within any world, then, God is ubiquitous, and his actual extent over all the worlds is infinite.

      He is not located in any particular place; rather, all particular places are located in him. So from the perspective of every particular place, he is everywhere to be seen.

      Similarly, why is consciousness actually present in Nature’s cause, and not merely potentially?

      If God did not know that a proposition P is true, P would not be true. There are true propositions. So God knows.

      • Thank you. I think I see the distinction between extension and knowledge:

        Something that is in Nature cannot be in God actually if it’s being so would limit God. All such features of Nature are therefore in God potentially. Extension just is one of those features of Nature, the actual presence of which in God would limit God.

        I wasn’t thinking of the Incarnation when I raised the question of extension, but now that you have mentioned it, I’m curious how the Incarnation doesn’t limit God in the same way. God can surely act in the world without limiting himself, but how can he get Himself “inside” a person? I can imagine Him having a human sock puppet, but how can he actualize Himself as a thing in a world? How can Jesus contain the fullness of God? Does he?

        That is a digression, though. You don’t have to follow it, because I need more help on the initial question. Continuing on…

        Knowledge is different from extension. The one who knows is not limited in the same way by the known, so it is not impossible for knowledge to belong actually to God.

        That said, this just gets me to seeing how it does not contradict God’s nature for him to actually, and not just potentially, know. From there it strikes me as easier to reason like this: since God is pure Act, anything that can belong to Him actually does belong to him actually, else he would have some unactualized potential. And an unactualized potential would imply something outside of God that could actualize that potential, which would mean God is not God.

        But you took a very direct approach that I don’t follow:

        “If God did not know that a proposition P is true, P would not be true. There are true propositions. So God knows.”

        The logic is sound, but I can’t find a way to interpret the first sentence that doesn’t beg the question.

      • I would qualify your statement thus:

        Something that is in Nature cannot be in God actually if [that] would limit God so as to vitiate his ultimacy.

        I believe your questions about the Incarnation are all answered in The Incarnation: A Simple Explanation for Children. Let me know, if not; I’m happy to try to clear things up, to the limit of my ability.

        … since God is pure Act, anything that can belong to Him actually does belong to him actually, else he would have some unactualized potential. And an unactualized potential would imply something outside of God that could actualize that potential, which would mean God is not God.

        Excellent. Nice work. You’ve demonstrated omniscience.

        If God did not know that a proposition P is true, P would not be true. There are true propositions. So God knows.

        The logic is sound, but I can’t find a way to interpret the first sentence that doesn’t beg the question.

        Knowledge is a condition of some actual mind. And the truth of P consists entirely in the knowledge of some actual mind that P. In order for P to be true, some mind must know that P. P is not true on its own, all by itself. Some mind must see the truth value of P, or else there is no P to begin with.

        Likewise for the falsehood of P. It is a condition of some actual mind, and without some such mind to know about it, P does not exist qua proposition, whether as true or false. Either P is a condition of some actual mind, or there is no such thing as P, at all.

        Put another way: propositions are mental operations. They have no independent existence.

        Put yet another way: if no actual mind knows P, then there is no such thing as P.

        Some actual sapient mind then is a forecondition of any P whatsoever.

        I believe that gets us to the first sentence of my syllogism.

        Notice then that some propositions are necessarily true; are therefore eternally true. But they could nowise exist at all except as conditions of some actual sapient mind. So there is an actual sapient mind, that is eternal and necessary.

      • Sal…

        If there is metaphysical Perfection then there shall be empirical perfection. So there is a continuum absent any redundancy.

      • Maybe I should be more clear…

        Where metaphysical Perfection becomes empirical perfection there is no limitation proper. It is literally inconceivable to tease out a “limitation” in the Incarnation. Go ahead and try it? Likewise, empirical perfection will, in no manner whatsoever, suggest a limitation on metaphysical Perfection. It is impossible.

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