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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Self-Recognition (Revised)
"... and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."
-- Exodus 33:23
Henceforth, we shall consider the Anthropic Principle as the axiomatic basis of our journey to the metaphysics of self-empowerment: "The universe must have properties that allow life to develop because it was designed to generate observers."  As an axiom, this statement is not provable, but it is demonstrable.  If observation supports it, then it is assumed to be valid.
If the universe requires an observer, then does that imply that the universe, in some sense, has a purpose?  Purpose implies intelligence.  Does this imply that some aspect of the universe is intelligent?  If this is true, does it then mean we have a rudimentary concept of something that could be called "God"?
In "The Guide for the Perplexed", Maimonides defined the essential attributes of God.  God exists, is one, ls incorporeal, is intelligent, creates and governs.  Parallels to this can also be found in St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologiae".
The existence of God, like the Anthropic Principle, is axiomatic.  An axiom is similar to a statement of faith.  In both cases, you assert the truth of something based on observation.  Then you apply the statement to other observations.  If the other observations consistently support the statement, then the axiom can be considered to be true.  We now have two complementary axioms, one scientific and the other metaphysical.  Both assert the need for an intelligent observer.  Then, if we are to acquire knowledge of God, what are we to observe?  The quote from Exodus 33:23 can provide an answer.  It can mean that you cannot see me directly, but you can find me in the results of my presence, that is, my creation.  Both Maimonides and St. Thomas Aquinas assert that, because God is incorporeal, the only way to acquire knowledge of God is through the study of God's creation.  Then, a metaphysical Anthropic Principle might assert that God and the universe require an observer.  The task is made more difficult because the observer is also part of the observed.  We are part of God's creation.

According to Kabbalistic thinking, the first step to self-empowerment is self-recognition.  The term self-recognition definitely does not imply narcissism, megalomania or self-indulgence.  To the contrary, it requires a balance between the "inner self" (observer) and the "outer self" (observed).

Self-empowerment is achieved through the acquisition of knowledge of God.  This is an awesome and challenging task.  In a previous post (11/4/12), we found that if you see yourself as a "grasshopper" you are unable to meet the challenges presented by God.  Numbers 13 asserts that even the greatest power in the universe cannot empower people unless they choose to empower themselves.  And this starts with self-recognition.
The basis of this self-recognition lies in the realization that we were intended to have a special purpose in creation.  Knowledge itself is not a sufficient purpose.  Knowledge must be applied to become purposeful.  We, the acquirers, must become the appliers.  In this way, we become participants in the continuing process of creation.
Is this what prompted the psalmist to declare:
"8:5. What is man, that you are mindful of him? And the son of man, that you visit him?
6. For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor.
7. You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet;"

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