The measures of being

0.1) Every mul­titude in some way participates in The One. Whatever exists belongs to some order, and the maximal in any order is both (a) most simple and (b) the measure of all else in that order. So the maximal in any order deserves the name The One. 

0.2) Where an order has more and less, it has a maximal described above.

0.3) Measure reduces the indeterminacy of some manifold to the certainty of something known in itself. When the room is measured in inches the inch, qua standard of length, is known entirely in itself and has no standard of length.

0.4) Only quantity is measured, but quantity is either predicamental or transcendental. Quantity limited to the category studied by mathematics is predicamental and the transcendental is anything else, like things that are more or less white, black, smooth, alive, formal, dignified, true, etc.

1.1) The maximally simple measure of predicamental quantity is the number one, measuring both by multiplication and division of itself (the way a meter stands to both kilometers and millimeters). The totality of all these multiplications and divisions is equal to the number of possible equations, i.e. the ways in which we can express unity in quantity.

1.2) Taken solely as a physical modification of an organ, the sensible world is purely quantitative, comprised of what the Medievals called common sensibles and Locke called primary sensibles. So taken, nature’s rationality is a pure participation in the simplicity of the one, and the possibilities of nature might be as extensive as possible equations, i.e. expressions of unity in quantity. The stable relationships between the numbers so generated are physical laws.

1.3) Among measures, quantitative measure is most intelligible to us and is therefore least intelligible in itself, i.e. measure makes the physical world more rational in to us but accepts a certain irrationality in doing do so. First, physical laws are pure abstractions from the qualitative world even while they can only be verified through the very qualities we abstract from. Second, the very measure itself is only rational in the lowest possible way. True, “The One” to which we reduce the manifold is simple and known in itself, but this arises largely from fiat, in the way that standards have no length qua standards. Third, and most of all, there is no definite answer to whether the quantitatively abstracted is real. It is a melange of the real and mental fiat which cannot even be understood as approaching some definite real term.

2.1) The intelligible indeterminacy of the world is more perfectly reduced to that which is known in itself though the natural generation of the human person within the cosmos. The person is known in himself not by stipulation or fiat but instrinsically and by nature. Notwithstanding Protagoras’s very different understanding of his axiom, man is literally the measure of all things.

2.2) The human person measures all things first by his rational nature, comprised of both (a) a rational part and (b) a part that is not rational but can obey reason. The first is an illumination of and receptivity to the real as such and so can have no definite physical structure; the second is nature’s own participation in rational life, and so is the totality of nature so far as it is a cause of human life. The most obvious expression of (b) is in the human central nervous system or, more generally, the human body.

2.3) While on one axis our clearest knowledge of nature is through quantitative correlations, of itself nature is interiority of action which, from the point of view of the one in the habit of seeking quantitative correlations, is entirely irrational. Nature in this sense is understood more intimately by gardening than by biology; by myth than by measurement; by poetry and landscape painting than by experiments. These oppositions can never be absolute, however, since they are all different noetic dimensions of one and the same human life, and distortions or privations of one dimension will affect the others.

2.4) Part (b) of the person is sexually dimorphous. Dimorphism was long understood to reduce to a supposedly simpler and more perfect masculine principle, but the incoherencies in this theory, always present, have become unavoidable. While we have no widely accepted theory to replace male supremacy, any possible theory must explain how the human person measures all things in an essentially sexually dimorphous manner.

2.5) Minimally, the perfection of the universe requires at least one man and one woman entirely without defect, and this pair together would be the intra-cosmic measure of all things absolutely. The Apostolic Church has a very ancient theory of this sort, and among these the theory that the feminine measure was never with defect is the more coherent with the line of thought developed here.

3.1) The measure of being must be purely simple and known in itself, but nothing intra-cosmic can be this absolutely. Pure simplicity in the intelligible order is an essence both knowing itself and identical to its essence, which the Apostolic Church has always understood as the angelic order. Much more needs to be said about the angels as measures of being.

4.1) The simplicity of the divine nature is not just on the intelligible level but even in the principle of the intelligible, i.e. not just the order of essentia but the order of esse. 

 

%d bloggers like this: