Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The three big mysteries of the concrete world

There are three big mysterious aspects of the concrete world around us:

  • the causal

  • the mental

  • the normative.

The three mysteries are interwoven. Teleology is the domain of the interplay of the causal and the normative. And the mental always comes along with the normative, and often with the causal.

There is no hope of reducing the normative or the mental to the causal. Some have tried to reduce the normative to the mental, either via relativism (reducing to the finite mental) or Plantingan proper functionalism (reducing to the divine mental), neither of which appears particularly appealing in the end. I’ve toyed with reducing the mental to the normative, but while there is some hope of making progress on intentionality in this way, I doubt that there is a solution to the problem of consciousness in this direction.

Theism provides an elegant non-reductive story on which the three mysterious aspects of concrete reality are all found interwoven in one perfect being, and indeed follow from the perfection of that perfect being.

I wonder, too, if there is some way of seeing the three mysteries as reflective of the persons of the Trinity. Maybe the Father, the ultimate source of the other persons, is reflected in causality. The Son, the Logos, in the mental. And the Spirit, the loving concord of the Father and the Son may be reflected in the normative. But such analogies can be drawn in many ways, and I wouldn’t be very confident of them.

1 comment:

Walter Van den Acker said...


Nothing can be 'interwoven' in a simple being.