Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Interpretation is already an abstraction

Indistinct Union: Christianity, Integral Philosophy, and Politics Exploration of Unity Consciousness, Christian Life, Integral Thought, and the Future of Politics in a Post-Postmodern World Friday, July 13, 2007 integral biblical theology Chris Dierkes
Started some background work and thinking on how to apply some of the post-metaphysical questions to Biblical studies.--One strain that comes out strongly (surprised me actually) is how strongly this dovetails with the notion of Nonduality Christian "Kabbalah" as it were, that the mystical theology laid out. Namely, a perspectival account forces us to deal inherently with the relation of God-Creation and humans to each other before anything else. This quotation is particularly central to what I'm pursuing (from Wilber's Excerpt C):
On the other hand, if we do try to say that the world is composed of feelings, or awareness, or prehension, or dynamic webs of mutual interaction, or consciousness, dharmas, things, events, processes, and so on—as if those existed apart from the relations of sentient beings—then that is already a series of low-order abstractions that violate the richness of indigenous perspectives and, having abstracted away from their embodied being, flatten the Kosmos into the cosmos, a pervasive series of low-order abstractions which are then subconsciously mistaken for pregiven realities.
(Even the postmodernists are caught in this prior low-order abstraction that hands them a violated cosmos that they then attempt to repair with an emphasis on pluralism and interpretation, which only further hides, and exacerbates, the prior problem. Postmodernism emphasizes that perceptions are always interpreted, but both perceptions and interpretations are actually perspectives before any of that happens. Postmodernism has caught only a glimmer of a much deeper secret. That is, even postmodernism is caught in low-order metaphysics, a metaphysics that it has otherwise labored nobly to move beyond, as we saw in Excerpt C. The "crime" of metaphysics is not that it postulates non-material levels of reality, which may or may not exist, but that it postulates levels that are not always already perspectives, and thus are abstract in all the wrong ways.)
The key phrase there (for me) is relation of sentient beings. For example postmodern biblical studies (liberation, feminist, reader-response, 3rd world theologies, deconstructive & Foucaultian readings, etc.) all acknowledge how important interpretation is to the Biblical text. They have moved away from a notion held by say strict Biblicists that the Bible is truth as some object from without, some standard given from above against which all else is judged.
But what they miss is that, as Wilber says, interpretation is already an abstraction. Method, praxis, community of reading practices, political consequences of any set of Biblical readings (the readings themselves and/or current readings of those texts) those are prior to their content, relations of sentient beings. Perspectives in short. Choices as I like to say--whether conscious or otherwise.
The content of any of those are not covered by perspectives. That doesn't mean the world is some solipsism of your own creation/manipulation, but it is a philosophical vision that foregrounds "relationship". This to me is the fit with the notion of the Biblical narrative: God calls Abraham to journey to another land and the two become bonded. And something happens between them that is not reducible to the sum of the two individual parts.
The journey (from the Nondual pov) is the journey of Godhead through the forms of God, humanity, and creation, and the Divinely Revealed Text. And that following the Hebrew tradition is not simply lila or play. But rather exile and the desire for the liberation of all beings, all forms, and all of Creation itself. The Divine is in Exile.
God calls us into Exile like Abraham, like the Jews in the Wilderness, like Jesus into death and hell. That is where we must go to seek the Divine. Exile from this fallen nature. Only to realize through the search, that the search as such was unnecessary (sahaj, eyes open samadhi) but the journey for the purpose of Creation.
Just as Wilber talks about post-metaphysical Kosmic picture as akin to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity when applied to flat space-time curvature giving Newtonian physics, so I think minus the built-in messed up ontologies of previous Biblical critical schools/modes, I think the same basic pattern could be articulated:
Namely when the coordinates/parameters are set, we see the rise of say a liberation reading of a text. Or the fundamentalist mode of thinking and its use of its own "logic" concerning harmonizing apparent differences in key Biblical texts. All of those can be generated and one can see how they arise, without having to buy into them, to put it crudely.
The Bible therefore does not exist separately from perspectives. From the perspectives of humans throughout time and space. It is a phenomenology of this relationship: Eros and Agape (Human and Divine, Free Will and Grace) that is what I am after.
In the process, again following in a basic thread of Wilber's, there is a reverse engineering of the structure of the Kosmos/Created Matrix (such as can be reconstructed by humans as it is and for humans that is) that allows all these different readings, practices, communities, and schools to come into being in the first place. posted by CJ Smith @ 2:01 PM 0 comments Post a Comment <<> About Me Name: Chris Dierkes View my complete profile Previous Posts Century of the Self Cohen on Spiritual Inquiry

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