HOW THE WORLD WORKS
The world consists entirely of events.
Events have elements but not parts: they are indivisible because they are self-reflective and recursive.
Every event is its own subject and its own object. Therefore, it is irreducible.
There are two types of events: temporal events and eternal events.
Temporal events consist of both temporal and eternal elements; eternal events consist only of eternal elements.
Temporal elements define where an event is; eternal elements define what an event is. Therefore, there can be no event consisting only of temporal elements. Such an ‘event’ would be literally nothing.
Every temporal event arises out of a unique ‘actual world’. That actual world defines its place in the scheme of things. No two events share the same actual world.
This is what we mean by here and now and this ‘here and now’ is what we mean by the ‘Present’.
Every temporal event is a unique ‘here and now’ with respect to an equally unique ‘there and then’.
Every event is also self-creative. It functions by reducing the plethora of possible events consistent with its actual world to a single actual event that in turn becomes part of the actual worlds of other events.
The temporal elements of an event concern its relation to the temporal events in its actual world. Events relate to other events according to vicinity, sequence and influences exerted by various ‘forces’ (e.g. gravity, momentum, electromagnetism).
We know from General Relativity that space & time and energy & mass are inseparable pairs. We also know from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Relations that momentum & position and time & energy are inseparable pairs. Therefore, these 4 temporal elements of an event are really just aspects (or manifestations) of a single element which Heidegger and Sartre described as the event’s “facticity”.
The eternal elements of an event consist of qualities and patterns of qualities. Every event, in the process of coming to be, chooses the complex of qualities that will constitute it.
There are different types of qualities. There are physical qualities (e.g. color); moral qualities (e.g. kindness); mental qualities (e.g. awareness), etc… There are qualities of gradation (e.g. intensity) and even negation.
We call these qualities “primary qualities”.
Primary qualities very roughly correspond to what in modern languages are known as adjectives and adverbs.
Every event combines selected primary qualities, commonly available to all events, into a single pattern that is unique to that event. The selection and patterning of those qualities constitutes what that event ‘is’.
Example: every painting combines commonly available qualities like color, shade, shape, line and texture into a unique pattern that IS that painting. There is nothing besides.
No two paintings are identical; no two events are the same.
It is the definition of an ‘event’ that it combines a selection of primary qualities and/or patterns of primary qualities into a unique overall pattern. That selection and patterning is what an event is.
All events draw from the same larder of primary qualities, but no two events combine those qualities in the very same way; if they did, they would simply be one and the same event because there is nothing more to an event than its pattern of qualities.
So every temporal event is unique in two ways:
It arises in response to a unique actual world.
It selects and patterns qualities in a unique way.
The patterns of primary qualities that constitute all real events exhibit qualities of their own. We call qualities that apply to patterns of primary qualities “secondary qualities”.
Secondary qualities include beauty, truth, justice, etc…
All secondary qualities are context specific manifestations of the one ultimate secondary quality which we call the “Good”.
Beauty is good, truth is good, justice is good, etc… Denotatively, all of these secondary qualities simply refer to The Good made manifest.
Connotatively, however, each secondary quality expresses a particular aspect of The Good in a way that is appropriate to particular contexts. Normally, for example, we would not describe a painting as ‘true’, or a law as ‘beautiful’, or a proposition as ‘just’. Denotatively, beauty, truth and justice are synonymous; but they are most meaningful when applied in their appropriate contexts.
The Good is unique but its manifestations are innumerable. There is one Beauty but innumerable beautiful things; there is one Truth but innumerable true propositions; there is one Justice but innumerable just social arrangements.
Being and Love are also synonymous with Good (and with each other). ‘Being’ expresses Good in structural terms; ‘Love’ expresses it in processional terms. Love is Being in process. Being is Love at rest. Both are Good.
How is it that temporal events come to be? Each is a judgment on its unique actual world.
By definition, all events begin as the primal pursuit of Good, however dimly glimpsed.
Events are never ‘caused’ by other events, i.e. by their actual worlds. They are responses to those actual worlds.
Events are ‘caused’ by the secondary values they strive to realize.
Events are not pushed; they push off of their actual worlds.
Events are not pulled; they pull themselves toward Good.
What about eternal events? We said before that there can be no temporal event without eternal elements. From that we might suppose that there can be no eternal event without a temporal element. But such a supposition would be mistaken.
A temporal event inherits its temporal elements from its unique actual world. An eternal (universal) event cannot have a unique actual world. It must be compatible with all actual worlds, real or potential. Therefore, there can be one and only one purely eternal event.
Events acquire their temporal element from other temporal events. Events acquire their eternal element from an eternal event.
As we shall see shortly, that one eternal event has three aspects. First of all, it is an event that orders all of the primary qualities and manifests all of the secondary qualities so that all primary and secondary qualities are available to all other events, equally and on an unfettered basis.
This unique eternal event is what we mean when we talk about “God”.
The first aspect (above) of this event is akin to what British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead called the “Primordial Nature of God”; likewise, it is akin what Revelation refers to as “the Alpha”.
The temporal element is subject to mortality. Ultimately, time will erase the temporal element from every temporal event, leaving only the eternal elements intact.
What are those eternal elements? They are the primary qualities themselves, the patterns formed by those primary qualities and the secondary qualities that characterize those patterns.
A primary quality is inert; it bears no imprint of the myriad events it characterizes. It is always the same, unchanged, never changing. Patterns formed by primary qualities, however, are event specific and unique. They absolutely bear the imprint of the events that generate them. Those patterns, unique to each event, are also eternal…to the extent that those patterns are characterized by secondary qualities.
The patterns of primary qualities that constitute real events are created by those events themselves as they pursue The Good. With the exception of the one purely eternal event, all events include a temporal element in their genesis. Therefore, patterns of primary qualities reflect a contribution from the temporal element as well as a contribution from eternal elements. The temporal nature of an event is never entirely lost. It remains encoded in the pattern of primary qualities. If the pattern is ontology’s ‘figure’, the temporal element is its ‘ground’, its template. Think of the temporal element as a mold that is removed before the carefully crafted dessert is served.
This feature re-appears in theology as the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body.
As noted above, the primary qualities include not just objective qualities like color. They also include subjective qualities like awareness, memory and consciousness. Therefore, to the extent that a pattern of primary qualities includes subjective qualities and to the extent that that pattern manifests secondary qualities, that pattern retains its subjective elements (as well as its objective elements) and those subjective elements participate in its eternal reality.
This is what is meant by ‘personal salvation’.
Earlier we said that the temporal element determines the relationship of each event to every other event. Since the temporal element is inherently self-erasing (‘mortal’), we might conclude that events in their eternal aspect are not related to one another in any way. But that would be a mistake!
Events not only relate to one another in temporal terms (space and time, mass and energy), they are also embedded in one another.
Example: I spent today in New York and while there I visited the zoo.
Example: I have isolated an oxygen molecule which includes oxygen atoms which in turn include various sub-atomic particles…
As temporal entities, events relate to each other primarily through the medium of space-time; as eternal entities, events relate to each other exclusively through the phenomenon of embedding.
When the eternal elements of an event are embedded in another event, the pattern of primary qualities in the embedded event becomes part of the pattern that constitutes the embedding event.
The eternal elements of an embedded event are eternal (1) to the extent that that event’s own pattern of primary qualities manifests secondary qualities and/or (2) to the extent that that event’s primary qualities contribute to an embedding event’s pattern of qualities which manifests secondary qualities.
In essence, events gets a double shot at the brass ring. What they cannot achieve on their own may be achieved for them through the embedding process. For example, the defining pattern of an event might include discordant elements incompatible with the secondary qualities toward which that event has aimed. However, those discords might be resolved into contrasts and ultimately into harmony in the context of a broader embedding event.
This is what we mean by “redemption”: the embedding event ‘redeems’ the discordant elements, and hence the embedded event itself.
These alternate paths to salvation (personal and social) are suggestive of the twin concepts of Right (righteousness) and Just (justice) so often mentioned together in the Old Testament…and in the Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Catholic Mass.
Nor should we imagine that this is a static or passive phenomenon! Embedding events necessarily take account of embedded events as they create their patterns. Likewise, embedding events represent to embedded events the one eternal event in unique aspects that may help to shape those embedded events.
We should not suppose here that embedded events precede embedding events according to some temporal order. Embedding-embedded is a process but that process takes place entirely outside of time.
There is no theoretical limit to the process of embedding. Therefore, there must ultimately be an eternal event that embeds all other eternal events. This ultimate embedding event is variously known as The Kingdom of Heaven, The Kingdom of God, The Second Coming of Christ. It is akin to what Whitehead called the “Consequent Nature of God” and Revelation refers to as the Omega.
However, there can only be one eternal event and we already saw that the first aspect of such an event is the ordering of primary qualities. Now we see that the second aspect of this event is the ordering of patterns of primary qualities. The ultimate eternal event includes not only every primary and secondary quality but every actually realized pattern of primary qualities to the extent that those patterns manifest secondary qualities or are included in embedding events that manifest secondary qualities.
Time and subjectivity are encoded in the ultimate eternal event but they are entirely absent from the primordial eternal event.
The ultimate eternal event is the product of incessant change; the primal eternal event is the product of pure stasis.
The primordial eternal event and the ultimate eternal event seem very different from one another…and they are. The only thing they share is the common set of primary and secondary qualities. Yet we know from our earlier demonstration that there can only be one eternal event. Therefore, the primordial eternal event and the ultimate eternal event must be aspects of a single event.
This realization is expressed in many theological, philosophical and spiritual traditions: “as above, so below”. “on earth as it is in heaven”, the ultimate union of the ajna cakra with the muladhara cakra in Tantric yoga.
The incessant and irrepressible process of patterning primary qualities and patterns of primary qualities, the process that links the primal event and the ultimate event, is the third aspect of this same event.
This is the aspect of the one eternal event that we refer to when we speak of the Holy Spirit.
When we talk about the one eternal event and its three aspects, we are talking about Trinity. One God = Three Persons! Three aspects = One event!
We associate the primal event with God the Father (“maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible”).
We associate the ultimate event with God the Son (“though him all things were made”).
We associate the process of patterning, the process that links the primal and the ultimate, with God the Spirit (“the giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son”).