The infinitely actualizing

It doesn’t take much imagination to see the infinity of mind: if my dad got a too good to refuse job in Paris before I was born, I’d think in French; if he’d have been killed in a car accident and we moved to his relatives in Mexico, I’d speak Spanish, etc. With speech would come any number of customs different from the ones we have now; a set of social concerns that we do not now have; etc. These were all potencies that could have been actualized and were not. The same infinity is clear from the subjects of fiction, the variety of art, the ease we speak of  “all possible worlds”, etc.

As we presently exist, however, we see no actualizing object that corresponds to this infinity of potency latent in the mind. The mind is therefore existentially restless. Cognitive objects parade before it like the animals paraded in front of Adam. We certainly cannot know all of them, and we can barely know one well, but we do know that none of them can exhaust the potentiality of the human mind, and in being known it would leave some potentiality unrealized.

Because mind gives rise to desire, this evaluation of objects recurs on the level of what is desirable or lovable, which is perhaps the more disturbing point. We could tolerate the idea that no known object could exhaust the potentiality of the mind, but it follows from this as an immediate corollary that we know no object that could satisfy the will. We can know only the unsatisfying and imperfectly lovable.  This was the actual point of the parade of the animals before Adam, and giving him the woman was a more perfect but still imperfect remedy.

Though mind and will, a human being is proportioned only to what is infinitely actualizing; a being which he cannot now see as an object. Such an object is an inference to the unseen. We know it as that which is simply knowable and thus lovable with no qualification whatsoever. It’s what we’ve always meant by lovable or knowable, even though everyone agrees it cannot be the first thing we name “knowable” or “lovable”.

To see the infinitely actualizing would be to see the last thing we could see, since in the face of it he could no longer find a motive to look at something else. There simply would be no other ends to attain or even entertain. There would be nothing else to love. If man were in the presence of the infinitely actualizing, he would know that there were things other than what he looked at but he would be  unable to see them as goals or ends or sources of knowledge.

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1 Comment

  1. Dmitry Chernikov said,

    April 29, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Hey James, I’m citing you in my book as the author of the idea that perfection of the universe can be interpreted as its having “all grades of being.” You know, from insects to angels, from prime matter to God.

    This is also a reason to believe that this is the only creation or that he entire created world interconnects somewhere, in heaven perhaps. Because if God were to create another universe fully separated and unreachable from this one, then He would still not be able to top Himself in terms of artistic creativity; He’d be merely repeating what He’s already done here.

    Now do you think this is a reason to worry about “biodiversity”? If species go extinct, won’t this diminish the number of essences of different perfections and therefore the completeness and perfection of the whole?


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