terça-feira, abril 15, 2008

Smile when you say that!

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(this is a theological rumination, which may not be immediately obvious :-)

"The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: 'When you call me that, Smile.' And he looked at Trampas across the table."

The Virginian:
1902 Novel by Owen Wister.
1914 Film (silent) by Cecil B. DeMille, with Dustin Farnum.
1923 Film by Tom Forman with Kenneth Harlan and Florence Vidor.
1929 Film (sound) by Victor Fleming with Gary Cooper & Walter Huston.
1946 Film by Stuart Gilmore with Joel McCrea and Brian Donlevy.
1962-71 TV Series by NBC/John Brahm with James Drury and Doug McClure.
2000 TV movie by Bill Pullman with Bill Pullman, Colm Feore.

Got distracted there; actually read The Virginian in highschool, saw most of these movies, and so forth ... easy to get distracted in this Internet thang.

Immanent / Transcendent; this distinction central to Taylor and his book A Secular Age which I have just finished. Except that I choked repeatedly since both of these notions are positive for me. Particularly choking on the alignment of immanence with materialism. All of this for personal reasons of course, personal histories, meanings in their depths as they come to adhere, rightly or wrongly, to certain words.

Indeed there does seem to be a wrinkle in the definitions from the OED below, a shift in emphasis between their vernacular and philosopical/theological/scholarly uses.

I will try to clarify and expand this thinking as time permits over the next few days.

immanence: The fact or condition of being immanent; indwelling. Also attributively as immanence philosophy, a theory evolved in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century that reality exists only through being immanent in conscious minds.

"If we suppose that the absence of spatial profiles could be a sufficient condition for immanence, then it would seem that we should have to consider mathematical entities and axioms as immanent objects."

immanent: 1. Indwelling, inherent; actually present or abiding in; remaining within. In recent philosophy applied to the Deity regarded as permanently pervading and sustaining the universe, as distinguished from the notion of an external transcendent creator or ruler. Kant: immanent principle - a principle limited to the realm of experience: opposed to transcendental principle.

2. immanent act (action): an act which is performed entirely within the mind of the subject, and produces no external effect; opposed to a transient or transitive act. Now rare, this distinction, formulated in Scholastic philosophy, is the connexion in which the word most frequently occurred during the 17th and 18th centuries.

transcendence: 1. The action or fact of transcending, surmounting, or rising above; ascent, elevation; excelling, surpassing; also, the condition or quality of being transcendent, of surpassing eminence or excellence. Of the Deity: The attribute of being above and independent of the universe; distinguished from immanence.

"We expect to see Divine action manifested through the operation of general laws, and not through their occasional transcendence."

"That Deistic theory of Transcendence, which supposes that the qualities of matter having been bestowed upon it by its Maker, everything has been left to go on by the impulse which was originally bestowed."

"We have been accustomed to believe that nature reveals God in his immanence, but that Christ reveals God in his transcendence."

"Divine immanence and divine transcendence are not mutually exclusive, but essentially correlative conceptions."

2. Elevation or extension beyond ordinary limits; exaggeration, hyperbole. Obsolete. rare.

3. Mathematics. The fact of being transcendental: Not capable of being produced by (a finite number of) the ordinary algebraical operations of addition, multiplication, involution, or their inverse operations; expressible in terms of the variable only in the form of an infinite series. The typical transcendental functions are sin x, ex, log x, pi.

transcendent: A1. Surpassing or excelling others of its kind; going beyond the ordinary limits; pre-eminent; superior or supreme; extraordinary. Also, loosely, Eminently great, greatly superior to, or good; cf. ‘excellent’.

A2. Of language: Elevated above ordinary language, lofty.

A3. Of an idea or conception: Transcending comprehension; hence, obscure or abstruse.

"I confesse, this Divinitie is so transcendent and Metaphysicall, that it exceeds my capacitie."

A4. Philosophical. a. Applied by the Schoolmen to predicates which by their universal application were considered to transcend the Aristotelian categories or predicaments. b. By Kant applied to that which transcends his own list of categories (explained as a priori conceptions of the understanding, which it necessarily employs in ordering its experience, but which have no validity outside of experience); hence, transcending or altogether outside experience; not an object of possible experience; unrealizable in human experience. Distinguished by him from transcendental. 2b.)

"Those flights of lawless speculation, which, abandoned by all distinct consciousness, because transgressing the bounds and purposes of our intellectual faculties, are justly condemned, as transcendent."

"Transendental, Kant draws a distinction between the transcendental and the transcendent. The transcendent is that which regards those principles as objectively real to which Kant assigns only a subjective or formal reality, and consequently is by him regarded as beyond the limits of human reason altogether."

" For any question or theorem which might pass beyond possible experience, Kant reserved the term transcendent."

A5. Theological. Of the Deity: In His being, exalted above and distinct from the universe; having transcendence. Distinguished from immanent. Originally often connoting the denial of Divine action or interference in mundane affairs.

A6. Mathematical (as above).

B1. Philosophical. A predicate that transcends, or cannot be classed under, any of the Aristotelian categories or predicaments. A person or thing that transcends classification. According to the Kantian philosophy: That which is altogether beyond the bounds of human cognition and thought.

Aristotle taught that being and unity were neither categories, nor fell under any one category, but could be predicated in all the categories; he also says the like of goodness. Such predicates came to be called by the Schoolmen transcendentia, ‘transcendents’, as transcending the limits of the categories. Their enumeration as six, Being, Thing, Something, One, True, Good was in regular use down to the time of Kant.

"All Relative and Adventive condicions and Characters of Essences, which we have named Transcendents; as Multitude, Paucity, Identity, Diversity, Possible, Impossible, and such like."

"God is a transcendent, and is not under, nor yet within, the predicament of any part of the whole order of nature."

"Transcendents, as, Being, Thing, One, True, Good, which by their Community exceed all the degrees of Categories."

"Hope is a Transcendent, and will not easily be imprisoned, or impounded in any Predicament of auncient or moderne Perfection."

"The term transcendent, Kant applied to all pretended knowledge that transcended experience, and was not given in an original principle of the mind."

B2. One who or that which transcends or rises high above the ordinary rank of persons or things; a person or thing of great eminence.

B3. That which transcends, surpasses, or excels something else, or things generally.

B4. A 2- or 3-line capital letter such as those put at the beginning of books or chapters. Obsolete & rare.

B5. the transcendent: the ascendancy, the superiority; = accendant

B6. Mathematics. A transcendental expression or function; a non-algebraical function; e.g. log x, sin x, ax.

'Indwelling' is central to all of this it seems to me; for example:

God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.