Ep. 48 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Corbin and the Divine Double | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 48 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Corbin and the Divine Double".
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Welcome back to Awakening for the Meaning Crisis. So last time we were pursuing in depth trying to understand Heidegger's work as a profit and the Old Testament sense of the Meaning Crisis. We took a look at this notion of the thing beyond itself and realness as simultaneously the shining into our framing and the withdrawing beyond our framing in a deeply inter-forwarding, penetrating manner. We took a look at this deeper notion of truth, not truth as correctness, but truth as allofia, that which grounds the agent arena relationship in attunement and allows us the potential to remember being by getting into an attunement with its simultaneous disclosure and withdrawal. But we can forget that. We can get into a profound kind of modal confusion and this is the history of metaphysics as the emergence of nihilism. We can forget the being mode. We can get trapped into the having mode in which the metaphysics is a, you know, a propositional project of trying to just use truth as correctness. And we misunderstand being as a particular being. We try to capture the unlimitedness, right, aspect of being, but we only do it at the limit, which Heidegger is deeply critical of. And so we understand being in terms of a supreme being, a being at the limit and beyond the limit. This is onto theology. We understand God as the supreme being. And this is deeply enmeshed for Heidegger with nihilism because this onto theology, this theological way, at least a version of theology from classical traditional theism, right, this way of understanding being gets us into the deep forgetfulness and modal confusion that is the hallmark of nihilism. But of course, we could perhaps remember the being mode and this is what Corbin following Heidegger talks about as gnocists. We can understand what this gnocists is, what does it look like, what would it be like to remember from the being mode through allathea being. So I want to pick up on this idea of gnocists' serious play in a particular piece of work by Heidegger. And this Avon's discusses this in his book and Caputo also discusses this hit. It in his excellent book, The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought. So both Avon's and Caputo talk about this. Heidegger's commentary on the poetry of Angelus Solusius. Angelus Solusius was a poet who was basically trying to put into poetry. We can sort of think of, or at least foresee, some things Barfield's going to say. He's trying to put into poetry the work of Maester Eckhart, who was one of the great Neoplatonic mystics within the Rhineland mystics that I talked about so long ago. Now it's important of course for Maester Eckhart and this discussion of gnocists as the remembering through allathea of the being mode that alleviates the forgetfulness, alleviates nihilism. Heidegger is also experiencing this as a form of sacredness, as something that is appropriate to a religious context. So we also noted in conjunction with that that Tullic is going to be deeply influenced by Heidegger's critique of ontotheology, but he's also going to situate it within, although he's going to radically revise what this means, a traditional religious term, which is idolatry. Now let's think about Heidegger's commentary on this poem. So what's the poem? What's in translation? So unfortunately you lose some of the poetry. The rose is without why. It blooms because it blooms. It cares not for itself, asks not if it is seen. So it's interesting that when Heidegger is doing this, he's actually talking about this word, fusus, the Greek word, which of course is the core of the word physics, which again, right, he's trying to get back to a re-experience of the physical as the important way of remembering the being mode. This is a kind why I think many people misunderstand, and I've argued this elsewhere and I'm going to keep coming back to it, their response to the meaning crisis is somehow a rejection of physicalism and the physical. Heidegger's instead trying to show you how it can more deeply be remembered. Now he's picking up on the Greek for this term. So again, he's doing some etymological work here. Fusus means blossoming forth from itself, springing forth from itself, very much like the rose is being described. And think about what this means, this is what Heidegger says. The blossoming of the rose is grounded in itself, has its ground in itself. The blossoming is a pure emerging out of itself, pure shining.
Ernst Corbin'S Philosophical Interpretations And The Imaginal World
Eckharts quote (06:39)
Now what's going on there? Now of course Heidegger will never talk just about the shining. Even though he doesn't explicitly mention it here, it's implied, and we should therefore remember it in the phrase emerging out of itself, that the shining is simultaneously withdrawing. We get a sense of the depth of the rose in its fuses, because as it shines, it shines in a way that's showing that it's shining out of itself, shining out of its depth, shining out of that into which it withdraws. As it presents itself to our phenomenological experience. So here Heidegger is picking up on one of Eckhart's maxims. This is what Eckhart said, "Live without why." Or you could also translate it as "live without a why." Now that sounds to some people like, that sounds like a meaningless existence. There's no why, there's no purpose, there's no grand unifying purpose. Think about it a little bit more carefully, right? Is that quest for the grand culminating purpose? Is that maybe perhaps coming from the having mode and not from the being mode? Eckhart is not proposing meaninglessness, he's actually proposing a non-teliological way of being, a non-teliological way of being. It's to move beyond, there's no narrative to the rose. The rose is, it's sort of lacking, it's above and beyond the narrative. So a way of thinking about this, and I promise to come back to this earlier in the series and I'll come back to it now, right? That's right. And we talked about this in a couple places, we talked about it back with the Stoics, and we talked about when I was talking about, perhaps we can't get back to a narrative in the sense of a teleological aspect to fusus, to the physical universe.
The universe is like the rose (08:47)
Maybe the universe as a whole is like the rose. Maybe it's blooming from itself, grounded in itself, blossoming, shining from itself while always, always with throng. And think about how that, well that actually comports with the physics of an ever expanding universe coming out of the big bang, but grounded in the quantum, like is that so foreign a way of talking about the universe? That it's very much like the rose and we get better at being connected to its fusus. If we drop the axial age requirement that there be a teleological narrative to it all. This horizontal narrative, it's important, the narrative gives us practice in something. It gives us important practice in something. We're going to come back to this. The thing about narrative is narrative gives you deep practice, cognitive existential practice in non-logical identity. We talked about this and the relationship, right? It has to the symbol. So let's talk about it first of all in the symbol. Remember, here's a framing and then you trans frame and then there's a non-logical identity between the world inside the frame and the world outside the frame and a non-logical identity between you here and you there. Remember this, this non-logical identity between who you are inside this frame and who you are after a trans framing. Remember that when we talk about aspiration, when we talk about aspiration, remember that. The thing about narrative is that narrative is a way of representing through time, symbolically, we can often, sometimes we're just talking about a kind of transformation through time, but one of the things that narrative does is through time, it represents how you have a non-logical identity to yourself. Look, I was born in Hamilton in 1961. I'm not in Hamilton now. I'm not, you know, nine pounds. I'm 190 pounds. That kid that was born in Hamilton can't speak English, couldn't walk, couldn't move around, certainly couldn't teach. That kid is in so many ways different, non-identical from me, but in another sense it's me.
Non-L dreolos (11:38)
And on him, right? Narrative is a way of tracing out and training us in, being able to work with non-logical identity, to work with this kind of fundamental transformation. But what we can do, what I think Eckhart is pointing to, is we can exact that ability for non-logical identity. We can exact that symbolic identity and instead of thinking of it as unfolding narratively across time, remember how the Stoics criticizes this. Stop pursuing fame and glory and wealth and power. Instead of the horizontal narrative, we can do the vertical ontology. We can do the vertical ontology in which we are connecting the depths of ourselves to the depths of being in a non-tereological being mode. This is, I think, what Heidegger is pointing to and what Eckhart is pointing to. So, as I mentioned, the pure shining, let's put this on here. Here's the pure shining, the way the rose shines, phenomenon, experience, right? I think that's shining. I think we can talk about it as relevance realization, the salience landscaping into intelligibility. Salience landscaping into intelligibility. What about the pure withdrawal? This is the independent inexhaustiveness of a combinatorial explosive reality, right? Independent because it is inexhaustible. We cannot drink it dry. The tau tae chen, right? And the tau is a way of understanding fuses the way Heidegger is talking about, right? Look at the book Heidegger and Asian Thought, or Heidegger's Secret Sources, where it talks about the connection to Taoism. He might have been directly influenced by it. And the tau tae chen talks about how the tau is a well that is never used up. It is inexhaustible mother, right? So, the independent inexhaustiveness. Of a combinatorially explosive reality. The things, the thing, and the things beyond themselves. I think we can draw these two together, as I've already argued, into this. I want to say this very carefully, right? We can see this, right? We can experience this from within the being mode in the following way. A trajectory, a trajectory of transframing, that is always closing upon the relevant, while always opening to the morness. It's a trajectory of transframing that is always closing upon the relevant, as it is simultaneously always opening to the morness. When we recognize that, Alathea, remember it from within the being mode, so that we can accentuate it and celebrate it. That's what I've argued sacredness is. And it seems to line up very well with what Eckhart is saying. One of the things I have about Heidegger is he's reticent to talk about this in terms of sacredness. Atelik is it? Heidegger is, and that's part of why I think he goes astray in certain ways. So, we can think of realness as atonos, this creative tension. Something that Barfield brings out tremendously and clearly in his work. We can think of realness as a toenos, as a creative polar tension between, you know, the other word, confirmation, coherence, right? And morness. And remember you need both. If the virtual reality just has the confirmation and the coherence, it falls flat. If it can't provoke a sense of opening and wonder, if there's no element of surprise, if it's all assimilation and no accommodation, if it's all right, assimilation and no accommodation, a member accommodation is experienced as all in wonder, if it's all of that, if it's just assimilation, sorry, and not accommodation, if it's just the foreclosure and never also the opening, if it's just the homing and never the newmaness, see these themes, then it's not real. It's not experienced as real. And that, being able to attune, and this is why the daoism is such a powerful symbolism, right? You have the yin, which is the confirming, right? Drawing down, right? And the yang is the opening up. And both of those interpenetrate, think of the classic tao symbol within the white is the black dot, within the black is the white dot, and they're sinuous because they're interpenetrating, interleaved together. And all of that is the disclosure of the inexhaustableness of the dao. I'm trying to make a convergent argument here. Daoism is all about the serious play, the serious play with the serious play of being. And that's how Corbin describes it, right? When he's talking about narcissism, he talks about the play of being. So does Avon's when he's talking about Corbin. So I'd like to pass now explicitly leaving Heidegger behind now and moving into Corbin. I've already noted how deeply Corbin was influenced by Heidegger. But he's also, he's deeply influenced by Platonism.
How central is Persian is to the (18:58)
And that leads him into probably his deepest influence. So all of these things are important to Corbin. Heidegger, the Neoplatonic tradition. But most especially, Neoplatanism within Persian Sufism. So Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam. And Corbin is particularly focused on Persian Sufism. And I think that's very, something important that we should pause to note. One of the gifts of Corbin's work is to help us remember, and thereby overcome our ethnocentrism. How central. And I use that term decidedly. How central Persian philosophy is to the history of philosophy in the world. Persia plays a pivotal role. And I don't mean it as a neglected middle. Well, it is by us, but it shouldn't be a neglected middle. Persia plays a central role between, for example, between the Arab world, the European world, and the world of India and China, the Asiatic world. And what's really important about Persian Sufism, and I can't, the history of Persia is a fraught one. We sort of think of now, and this is because of the history since the 70s, we think of Iran as sort of rapidly Muslim and something like that. And that's played up by propaganda. It is not to deny that there is an Islamic fundamentalist totalitarian regime in control in Iran. But what I'm trying to do is challenge that as a monolithic representation of all of Persia and all of Persian culture. Instead, you have to remember that Persia was made Muslim via an Arab invasion that was nothing less than a genocide. And I know Persians, they remember this deeply to this day. So the attitude towards the Arab overlords is something that has become deeply woven into Persian culture. Why am I saying that? Because that means that the Persians were especially attracted to, at least for huge periods, Rumi and others, right? They are deeply attracted to Sufism. They're attracted to a mystical interpretation of Islam, precisely because they are trying to find a form of liberation from an oppressive Arab, right, empire. So that means that it's important that it is Persian Sufism, and this deeply has an impact on Corbyn. He's really taken up by this and how that Persian Sufism has a much more... I'm trying not to be dismissive here. It has a much more flexible relationship to Islam than you might think of when you think of Iran today in the world. And so, like reading the poetry of ancient Persia, well not even ancient Persia, the poetry from Persia since the Arab invasion and genocide, I think is an important thing to do, to re-remember these aspects. Now, Corbyn did all of that. He read this stuff deeply, profoundly, repeatedly, extensively. Now, there's ways in which he suffers, there's ways in which, as a Frenchman, he will fundamentally misunderstand some of this literature. And I'm not going to say that he is a perfect interpreter, but I will say he is an insightful and important interpreter. So he draws all this in. He's drawing in the Heidegger and the Neoplatonism, and this is something you have to... And the Persian Sufism, notice the deep influence of Neoplatonism on Sufism. So there's Neoplatonism, then there is a mystical form of Islam, deeply influenced by Neoplatonism, and then Corbyn is bringing that into understanding Heidegger. And then he's bringing all of that as a way of trying to explain this Gnosis and how this Gnosis can ultimately be Selvic and redemptive in the face of the meaning crisis. Remember, he talked about Gnosis as transformative, Selvic, participatory knowing, a deep at one mint, attunement at one mint. See how all these things are resonating with each other. Now what does Corbyn bring to this that we don't have in Heidegger? And here's where I think you can see the influence of Sufism and the rich world of Persian poetry upon him. And I think this is an important thing. Corbyn sees there an argues for. Reading Corbyn is very different than reading. It's like Heidegger in the sense that it's difficult, because he's trying again to break out of the cognitive and cultural grammar. But it's very lyrical, it's very beautiful. But sometimes you pick up the beauty, and that's again the influence of the Persian poetry on him. You pick up the beauty without, and then you should pause and say, "Yeah, but did I really understand what he just said?" So you have to read, you almost have to recite Corbyn and repeat Corbyn. Now, he uses that kind of argumentation to make a claim that the recovery of Gnosis is bound up with imagination in an important way. And you may think, "Oh no, John is just going to jump off into some decadent form of romanticism." No. Corbyn is doing something very interesting about this. I recommend the Lachmann book that I've recommended for Corbyn. See also, Avon's book, the new Gnosis that I've just mentioned. See all of Chetham's work. The world turned inside out, "Imaginal Love." The third one was, I think it was the angelic nature of being. I can't remember the third title. Anyways, we'll put all the panels up. Chetham's work on Corbyn is, in fact, I recommend reading Avon's and reading Chetham before you read Corbyn. So if you take a look, Corbyn is doing something very important with this. He's not using this word in the way we typically use it. And in order to bring that out, he actually makes a distinction. A distinction that's going to be important, especially when we turn to talk about young. He makes a distinction between the imaginary and what he calls the "Imaginal." And it's the "Imaginal" that is bound up with Gnosis.
Modality and the imaginal (26:43)
So, "Imaginary," the imaginary is what we typically mean when we invoke the word "Imagination." We mean the purely subjective experience of generating inner mental imagery, which we know is not real, and that it's completely in our control, and we can play with it as we wish. That is explicitly, clearly, definitively not what Corbyn is talking about. Corbyn is talking about the "Imaginal." And to try and convey the "Imaginal," I'm going to try and schematically represent it to you. Because if you don't get the "Imaginal," you don't get what Corbyn is talking about. I also would say you ultimately do not get what Jung is talking about when he's talking about active imagination, because you'll just misunderstand active imagination as a purely imaginary experience, as opposed to "Imaginal" experience. And as I'll point out later, Corbyn and Jung are deeply influential of each other. Corbyn is much more open about that relationship. So, Jung talks about it in Vork's Jung often critically, but at least clearly and explicitly, and with credit, way more often than I see Jung talking about Corbyn, which I think is a criticism I have of Jung. So, let's try and represent this. One is through abstract representations, abstract, the abstract intelligible world, the world that you get through your intellect, so you grasp reality as a mathematical formula, or something like that, or you grasp reality as a purely formal entity. And then in contrast, there is, of course, the concrete, and of course, concrete and abstract are always relative terms, they're not absolute terms, the concrete sensible world. At the bottom here. So, one thing the imaginal does is it actually mediates between these two. It bridges between them. It allows them to come together in meaningfully structured experience, because in my phenomenological experience, of course, there's both an intelligible order, but that I can abstract intellectually, but that intelligible order also affects the world. It affects the way I come into sensual contact concretely with things. The imaginal mediates between these. The abstract, the abstract, and the concrete sensible is the world of pure matter. This is the Cartesian division. And what Corbin is arguing is, we've lost the imaginal that bridges between those two worlds between the mind and the material. Now, of course, Descartes split things in another way, and the imaginal mediates between those. And these, of course, they're not the same, that's why I represent them with different axes, but they're not independent. That's why I'm putting them together within the schema. The imaginal also bridges between the purely subjective and the purely objective. So, to use the term I've been trying to develop with you, and we saw it all through Heidegger, the imaginal is deeply transjective in nature. So, it mediates, and it's transjective. And then, what you have to do is you have to see this whole thing sort of in motion, which I can't draw for you, right?
The imaginal as a kite (31:24)
Because the imaginal isn't a static relation. It's also a constant transformative trans framing. There's a movement to the imaginal. It is vibrant and vital in that way. There's a movement to it. Okay?
Imaginal thinking (31:52)
So, this is what Corbin means by the imaginal. It's a use of images, but not using them subjectively, using them transjectively. We'll try to come back to that, right? In a way that mediates bridges, right? Integrates the abstract, intelligible world and the concrete, sensible world together. But again, not just statically, but in this ongoing transjective, sorry, in this ongoing transformative trans framing. So, because of the centrality of the imaginal to Corbin, and he explicitly understood himself as doing this and stated this, right? He was deeply opposed to fundamentalism.
Ernst Corbins Philosophy of the Imagination, the Self, and the Highest Existence (32:41)
And here you can, of course, see the connection to the Persian history I was relating to. He's deeply opposed to fundamentalism and literalism. Why? Because fundamentalism and literalism, right? First of all, they reify this. They make it static, right? And they put things into, right, either the abstract, intelligible world or the concrete, sensible world or just into subjectivity or just into objectivity. They freeze this and then they fracture it. And thereby they completely lose the nexus of the imaginal. And for Corbin, right, if you lose the imaginal, you lose the capacity for gnosis. And then if you lose the capacity for gnosis, you lose the capacity for waking up within the being mode through alathea to be it, and the ground of being in sacredness. This is going to be something we're going to keep seeing. And again, something that Heidegger doesn't make explicit, but it's exlocated in Corbin. The deep, ongoing criticism to fundamentalism and literalism. It's a deep component of Jung as well, right? Jung sees fundamentalism and literalism as the antithetical movement of thought and being in the world to everything he is trying to promote as a response to the meaning crisis. It is also deeply antagonistic to what Barfield is talking about when he's talking about poetic participation.
Meaning-Making in Corbins Phenomenology (34:30)
So we're seeing, again, a potential way in which we can understand Heidegger's critique of ontotheology. Because there is a tendency, right, and all of these thinkers keep pointing to it, if we get into the having mode and we get into ontotheology and we have the supreme being, and we have our propositions about this ultimate being, right, that we can think that the way in which we should be is to have these propositions in a fundamentalist, literalist fashion. And we lose all of this. And what you'll hear, right, is you'll hear the invocation of the symbolic as a dismissive term. Yes, oh, yes, yes, yes. You can read this symbolically, but, you know, it's just symbolic meaning. It has no real relevance or importance to you. Corbin is trying to argue exactly the opposite. If you have an attitude towards the symbolic that is dismissive, then, of course, you have lost the capacity for noces, which means you have lost the capacity to remember the forget, like, to overcome in allathea, the forgetfulness of being, to come out of the deepest kind of modal confusion. I see somebody as exemplifying this, although I don't think he's directly influenced by Corbin. I see Jonathan Pajoe is trying to bring us back to this noces of the symbol and how we should not be dismissive of it. We should not try and slide it into either a conceptual world or a sensual world. We should not interpret it as merely subjective or rejected because we can't make it clearly objective for us. Look at all the objecting going on, subject, reject. Okay? So, now, to try and bring out the imaginal in a way that connects to dazin, your being in the world, because remember your self-knowledge and your participatory knowing of being are interpenetrating and knowing together. I have to bring out something of Corbin that if you read it and you haven't done all of this work, you, I guarantee, will misread it and misunderstand it. And it's a part that's difficult for me because it pushes my buttons in ways that I don't like, which is where I keep reading this stuff, right? Because I have a tremendous sense that it's pushing my buttons in a way that they need to be pushed so that I could perhaps wear free from them, at least to some degree. And here's where Corbin is different from Heidegger, where he really does pick up on the sense of sacredness that is going on within the imaginal. Okay, let's talk about how Corbin understands the symbol, the imaginal understanding of the symbol, as opposed to the imaginary understanding, the dismissive understanding of the symbol. Okay, so what are these features?
Corbin and the Concept of the Imaginal World (37:32)
The feature that was brought up when Chris and I had that excellent discussion, the translucency of a symbol. You look at it, but you look through it in both meanings of the word, by means of it and beyond it, like the way I'm looking through my glasses. The symbol is translucent. I can look at it, but I can also simultaneously look through it. And I can put those two into an important dialogue. Why do I want a dialogue between looking at it and looking through it? Why is it so important to have those in dialogue with each other? Because that is how the symbol can help you to capture the non-logical identity between your agent arena now in this frame and the agent arena in a more comprehensive encompassing frame. So symbols are translucent. As I've already argued, they're transjective. Trying to make them either subjective or objective is aligned with a having mode dismissal of how the symbol is trying to challenge you to transcendence. If you are not transcending in response to a symbol, you really haven't understood a symbol. If you just treat it as an allegory that you can replace with other literal terms, then you haven't really remembered through the symbol. There has been no allythia. In your pursuit of the correctness of truth, you have forgotten the allythia of the symbol. This is why I'm so critical of people who are so dismissive of symbolism. The symbol is not only transjective, it's tragicive. It's putting you on a trajectory of transformation, as I was just articulating. The symbol is transformative. Remember, the transformative of the inner man, it's transformative of you at a fundamental level. The symbol is ultimately trans-temporal, trans-spatial because it has to do with this movement between worlds, which really isn't a narrative temporal spatial movement. It's an ontological movement between a smaller frame and a larger frame. I represent it with an arrow, but it isn't movement through space and time. It isn't a narrative change. It's an ontological shift. So I'm trying to pick all of these up. The translucency of the symbol, it's transjective, it's tragicive, it's transformative, and it's trans-temporal spatial. Allythia through the symbol. That's how you do gnosis. Now let's give the troubling example that is central to Corbin. I found it disturbing in ways, and some of you will too. I hope so. What I ask for right now is be patient because I want to unpack this. I don't want to try and be dismissive, but I want to show you that Corbin is not using this notion in a way you standardly will. Like I say, hesitate to do this. The most important symbol of this for Corbin is what he calls the angel. That's why Chatham puts it in the title of his book, and Avon puts it in the subtitle of his book on the new gnosis. As soon as I put that up there, many of you are now rolling your eyes as I did. There's a part of me that I can feel there's tension behind my eyes wanting to roll them.
Gnosticism, Angels, and The Divine Double (41:27)
Oh no, angels, silly superstitious idea, cherubs, only new age people that swing crystals and angels and all that stuff. It's like, oh no, what a disaster. I deeply appreciate that. I'm not being dismissive of that. I would say that that's an imaginary understanding of angels. One that Corbin himself repeatedly and deeply rejects. What's he talking about, and why is he using this term? He's using it because it's a term that fills some of the literature of the Persian Sufism that he reads. I want to propose to you an alternative way of understanding this to what are sort of cultural, imaginary way of understanding this. Let me go back in our history first to try and get a different way of leading into this notion and then take it into some current cutting edge analytic philosophy, believe it or not, and show how that fits well and comports well with the cognitive science we have been doing throughout this response to the for-profits of the meaning crisis. Okay, so this is now making use of the seminal work of Stang. Stang wrote a book called The Divine Double, which is a follow-up to a book he wrote on pseudodinesis, and he's written some brilliant articles on pseudodinesis that brings all this out. Now, so the book is called The Divine Double, and he's pointed to a particular motif that was prevalent in the Mediterranean world during, and remember we talked about the Hellenistic dominant side and they're after, and you have the rise of Gnosticism and the early Christianity. So during this period, and across many different groups, you see it within Gnosticism, he makes a clear case, and again, some people are going to know that he makes a clear case for this motif showing up within early Christianity. You can see it in Vaticanism, you can see it clearly in Neoplatonism and Plotinus. This notion of the Divine Double. I'm spending time on this because you won't understand Jung also if you don't understand this Divine Double. Okay, so what's the notion of the Divine Double? It becomes prevalent through the Mediterranean spirituality of the Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic period, and I didn't talk about it that much when I talked about the Gnostics and the Neoplatonists because I wanted to talk about it here, because here is what I think it belongs. This was the idea, and again, part of this is how this is so antithetical to our way of thinking, especially our decadent romantic way of thinking. So the decadent romantic way of thinking that sort of goes back to Rousseau is you're born with your true self, and you have to be true to your true self, and you have to express it, and that's what it is to be authentic. So, and so this has become pervasive in our culture, right? In this Mediterranean spirituality, the motif is very different. It's this idea that here, I'm here and I have a self right now, or they might say a sukkai, a spirit, or a soul. I have myself right now, but it is bound to the Divine Double. There's a double of me, right? That is archetypically more important than me, and that what I am doing, my true self is actually this Divine Double, and my spiritual path is to reunite this self with that Divine Double, and to bring it, right, bring the two together. And that realization of their interdependence culminates in a kind of mystical union between them. Now this is still all very fuzzy language, I'll grant you that. But first of all, notice how this is very interesting. Step aside from the mythos for a minute, and think about the concept. See, see how this is gnostic, not in the sense of Gnosticism, but a little bit in the sense of Gnosticism, because there's this transgressive. It's trying to break grammar. It's trying to break the grammar of thinking of your true self as something you have, your identity is something you have, that you're born with it.
The Process of Transformation (46:25)
It's in you, and what you have to do is express it authentically, and that grammar is being subverted and transgressed by the idea that your true self is beyond you, and you have to aspire to it. And you see there's a bit of this aocratic element there, right? That your true self is something you aspire to, rather than something you have. The true self is something realized through the being mode of self-transcendence, not through the having mode of inner possession. And so the divine double, right, is pervasive, is a pervasive mythos. And what I'm, first of all, I want to recommend is, and I think this is a very fair recommendation, you understand Corbin's use of the angel as a symbolic way of talking about the divine double. And you may say, "Okay, that's great. I see why it challenges the grammar, but I don't care about this because, all right, I didn't believe in angels, and I don't believe in divine doubles." So telling me about angels in terms of divine doubles, what does that game mean? That games me nothing. Well, I want you to be very, I want to be very careful here. I want to start a problem. I want to start a deep analysis of this, right? Let's put aside the mythos. Let's put aside the metaphysical claims, right? And let's focus in on this very process of aspiration towards a better self, towards a more angelic self, right? Because it goes back to the Socratic project, but you can also see it in the depths of, right, our current, sorry, not, that's too broad, sorry. You can see it, you know, this process of aspiration towards a greater, better, fuller self is, of course, all the way through Maslow, it's all the way through Jung, right? This aspirational process is central to a lot of the mythos that we have about talking about, right, how we are going to normatively improve, not our situation, but ourself. So, is the divine double a crazy idea? Well, in one sense it is. Again, if you just sort of literalize the mythos into some sort of axial, two-world mythology, right, metaphysics, sure. But maybe it's not a crazy idea if we go back and try to ask this question, instead of asking the question, look, and this one ain't meant about real dialogue. "File sofia, not file no kia." Instead of asking the question, should I believe that, first ask yourself the question, why did so many different groups of people in that world believe it? What was going on there? What was it doing?
The Concept Of Aspiration
The Importance of Aspiration (49:29)
And here is where I think I can immediately invoke the important work which I've discussed repeatedly throughout this entire argument of this entire series, the important work of L.A. Paul and transformative experience, and that was bound up with the way we talk about gnosis. Now, I alluded to somebody else's work, work that was influenced from the same sort of, I don't know what to call it, school as L.A. Paul's work, and this is the really important work of Agnes Collard, and her book is entitled "Aspiration." And she's arguing for a neglected form of rationality that is best understood through aspiration. And rationality, what? Remember, I don't use rationality to mean management of the just, the logical management of argumentation. Rationality means any systematically reliable internalized psychotechnology that reliably and systematically affords you overcoming self-deception and affords you cultivating enhanced connectedness, enhanced meaning in life. That's why the notion of rationality I've argued for is bound up with the right, it can culminate, it can point towards the cultivation of wisdom. So, let's talk about yourself before the transformation or before you launch into the aspirational process and the self afterwards, S1 and S2. Now, L.A. Paul tends to represent this as a much more sort of rapid transition, and I think there's important truth in that, the insight, whereas Collard is representing it much more, not incrementally, that's not the right word, but much more developmentally, having a much more extended developmental trajectory. And you can reconcile those, I think, quite readily by seeing qualitative development as a sequence of insightful transformations. So, I don't think there's any deep inconsistency here. Okay, so, what's the problem here? Well, as I've already pointed out with any genuine quantitative, sorry, I used exactly the wrong word, I apologize. Because I've pointed out with any genuine qualitative development, quantitative de joule elements, you just get sort of more things, more beliefs, more experiences.
L.A. Paul on positive illusions (51:58)
Qualitative development is why I am so different in kind from that kid that was born in Hamilton. It's a fundamental difference of competence, of what I can know and what I can do and what I can be, rather than just how much. So, I've already pointed out that you have an issue here of non-logical identity. Okay, so this is not an identity relation that can be captured by the fundamental identity theorem in logic, that A is identical to A, meaning that they share all the same properties. We do not, John in Hamilton and John in Toronto, John in Hamilton then and John in Toronto now, we are not this. Right, we have a non-logical identity and I've brought that out and how much Gnosis is about the difficulties, trying to overcome the difficulties that this poses. Because of this non-logical identity, and I'm not going to repeat these arguments, go back and look at them. When I talk about Gnosis, we cannot reason our way through this, we cannot infer our way through this. And colored is the, colored is the deeply in agreement with this aspect. You cannot deliberate your way through it, you cannot decide your way through it. Right. So, what is the nature of the relation, right? Well, colored thinks it's aspirational, it involves what she calls aspiration. But she's at pains to point something out that L.A. Paul doesn't, which I think is very important. Right. You can't, if you don't include this process as part of what you mean by this term, you're going to get into a deeply self-refuting position. Because my relationship to rationality and my relationship to wisdom are aspirational. I am aspiring to become rational precisely because I am not currently that rational. And if the aspiration to rationality is not part of rationality, you're getting into a weird kind of self-refutation. The aspiration of rationality is constitutive of the ongoing process of being rational. And therefore, it must be included in your notion of rationality. And notice how we're getting back towards the platonic idea of the deep interpenetration of love and reason. It took a long time, eh? It took a long time to circle around back to love. Right? Of course, this is also the case for wisdom. It's also, think about this way. One of the things I need to do to become rational is to become more educated. But color argues explicitly, right? A genuine education, well, there's different meanings to that word now. One is just the accumulation of facts and skills and stuff like that. But for many, and this was supposed to be, maybe it still is, the defining feature of a liberal education. Liberal, liberal, to liberate you, nocis, to save you, to liberate you from existential entrapment. A liberal education is designed to make you into a better self, a better person, which is why it seems so useless to people who want to manipulate and control you. Think about that.
The Liberal Arts Aspiration (56:02)
When you side with, oh, liberal education, hahaha, silly, you're a bottom, you're side, I think you're getting on the wrong side. Because we're losing something there. Right? So a liberal education, and this is what it classically meant when you go back into the Middle Ages, is nocis. It's aspirational, it's, and you don't know what it's going to be like. Remember all that stuff about L.A. Paul. So let me just leave you with the example from Kellard, and then we'll come back and talk about this in the next episode and expand this whole. What am I leading you towards? I'm leading you towards that this is the relationship between the existing self and the divine double. Or another way perhaps of putting it, the divine double is a symbol in Corbin sense that allows you to move from yourself now to yourself then, to the better self. One of the examples that Kellard gives in aspiration is, and think about how this fits in with a liberal arts education. Somebody who wants to come to appreciate music, and notice how that word appreciation means both understanding and a gratitude. It has a connotive, emotional aspect, and has a denotive, conceptual aspect. Cognitive aspect I should say. I will understand music. So I want to, let's say, I don't currently get classical music, but I have an inkling. It's really important that I think that Charles Williams and Barfield and Tolkien and C.S. Lewis called themselves the inklings. I have an inkling that there's a self and a world there. Remember we talked about the person trapped in this world, but a sense that there might be a better self and a better world over there? I have an inkling that I should like classical music, but I don't currently like classical music. I have to come to be the kind of being that appreciates classical music. How do I do that? How do I bridge from me now not appreciating, not getting, not liking, not enjoying classical music, to somebody who can sincerely say, "I love classical music. I really get it now." How can I, we use this phrase in it, it's, notice how it's so rich and resonant with, you know, contact epistemology, right? Now I have a taste for music. I've had a quiet taste for it. Let's get behind the metaphor. How is it? And notice when you taste something, you're putting it into your, you're putting it into your being. It's not only contact, right? It's even consumption, not in the having mode sense, but taking it deeply in.
The Angel (58:56)
Right? What is it to move that way? What I'm trying to show you is that Corbin's talk about the angel is a way of him invoking and bringing into activity all of this stuff about symbolism that we're talking about and integrate it with this process of aspirational rationality that is so central to self-transcendence. And so central to us becoming more rational and more wise. Thank you very much for your time and attention.