12-15-18

Nagel’s objection to theism is that it displaces the search for intelligibility outside the universe, and so seems to violate a version of the PSR.

But intelligibility is whatever allows us to understand things as they are, so if the existence of something is greater or less its intelligibility will be also. In the sense of “existence” that is the same as the actual we get just these different degrees of existence since some things are actual but not essentially (contingent substances) other things are essentially actual but contingent in their mode or operation (conserved quantities, basic particles, the universe, finite spirits) there’s another that is essentially actual in both substance and operation (members of the Trinity). On this account, relating the intelligibility of the contingent to the necessary and the necessary to the divine is not to abandon intelligibility but to account for it precisely as intelligibility.


Theists and Naturalists agree that explanations have to come to an end somewhere and so that an explanatory regress is impossible. That said, there seems to be an assumption that the place where explanations bottom out is an assumption or fact while the point of classical theism is that it is axiomatic or self-evident in itself. The confusion makes sense in light of the character of the self-evident, which is not the obvious or intuitive but any statement with a per se predicate. In this sense of per se, an extremely complex and very difficult definition of snow, intelligible to only a few physicists of crystals, would still be more self-evident than the claim that snow is white. In the same way, the claim that God exists is more self-evident than that the universe exists, even if we happen to be much more certain of the latter than the former.


The intelligibility of the universe is complete in itself in the same way that the intelligibility of anything is complete in itself: it is what it is and nothing more. But what is a cosmos?

The cosmos has gradually developed life, consciousness and openness to mind and so has gradually awoken to itself. It is cosmos-humanity, which is a sort of empty-angel that, due to his emptiness, needed to draw intelligible forms from outside of itself. Cosmos-humanity is a sort of symbiosis where cosmos opens to humanity in order to be known and humanity opens to cosmos as a source of forms.

The angel does not need the universe as a source of intelligible forms and so is epistemically a sort of universe-in-himself. All that he needs to understand this universe, himself, or any other angel is already innate to him. The angel is thus monadic, needing no windows to peer out in order to have his own perfect operation. For us, the monad is cosmos-humanity.

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