Monday, April 20, 2015

The Dilemma of Causation

I immediately regretted posting my last piece, "Creation without Causality." Part of my dilemma is that I found myself playing in metaphysical categories I simply dislike, either because I lack the depth of understanding necessary to navigate them or because they are simply and inherently unnavigable from my seat on the postmodern bark. Perhaps the problem is that I've overtaxed the quantum trope, and I find myself trapped in language.

Do we really need to recover the angelic doctor when speaking of causality? Can we speak of causality with a relative casualness unthinkable within classical metaphysics? In my attempt to interrogate the relationality that inheres in creatio ex nihilo I tried to sidestep the little storm brewed in Robert Barron's recent lecture, the rogue waves of Thomistic causal series per se and per accidens (with their unspoken attendant bugaboos of instrumentality and simultaneity, in light of causes in esse and causes in fieri). I simply wanted to focus on a pure intellect, a pure will, a pure act---God---and how a relation can come to be without God entering the cosmic order that comes about in the relation of the beginning: reshith

The issue of relationality struck me as essential to the discussion of creation and the 'creative causality.' What if the creation is a single unified act of God from which conservation and concurrence cannot be dissected out and dogmatized? An utterly simple God would seem to create in such a way: by loving the other into existence from no thing, in such a way that no causal nexus plays a role. The quantum trope opens the apophatic place for such a serene creatio ex nihilo: creation by the instantaneous unity of thought at the very ground of being with its object appearing in the horizon of being. The relationality that begets beings (creatures) is of the continuity of the entanglement between being and its ground. Quantum simultaneity is not quite identical with metaphysical simultaneity. Creation then is not merely the bringing into being of a thought but of an eternal grounding 
(and this notion includes conserving and concurring) of everything brought into existence by fiat, by which we mean the analogical saying of the word: the entangled turn from the Real to the Symbolic and Imaginary registers of reality (for those of a more Lacanian stripe). 

 The idea of a creation without causality subverts Thomistic metaphysics as it attempts to free God from any occasion of entering any series of causality. Because we (post)moderns tend not to think of causality systematically at all, we miss out on the beautiful and treacherous formal and final causes that flesh out a robust Aristotelian/Thomistic theory of reality. To some thinkers this is a tragedy that explains an impoverishment of modern intellectual endeavors; to others it frees up scientific method to make progress without getting bogged down in pursuits it can barely conceive and can simply not gain access. Science is far less concerned with purposes and the conditions of intelligibility than it is with the concrete objects of purposeful investigation. As such, it would seem that the delimited metaphysics that currently rules scientific views of the world forecloses on a reality that is far more robust than they can comfortably accommodate.

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