Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Like and Unlike

[PHL 211, Metaphysics]

This is truly something random which struck me...in fact, it struck me in the middle of class. The professor was explaining the concept of univocity, which is one way in which a quality relates to two different things. In univocity, the two things are seen to possess the same quality in the same way. For instance, one may look at Mount Everest, and Mount Kilamanjaro, and see that they both are mountains, in the exact same way. One is not "more mountain" than the other. So, mountain is to Everest as mountain is to Kilamanjaro: the relationship is exactly the same.

And this got me thinking, and eventually manifested itself into a two-liner which I may or may not steal for a book or movie or something...

"I have nothing in common with him. We are two completely different people."

"That is true, but the fact remains, you both are people."

When I wrote this, I was envisioning a protagonist, ready to take a complete course of devastation and vengeance against his enemy, justifying it through the defense of non-affinity. He has nothing in common with the other person, and so it doesn't matter to him what becomes of his enemy. His mentor is correcting him, reminding him that there is indeed an affinity that binds them together: the basic affinity of humanity. And here is where my thoughts take a complete left turn, and totally derail from what we were discussing in class.

I find that very thing to be an interesting concept, that even those who are so different from you, so hostile to you, can be so similar to you, in that one crucial point. In fact, the only reason that you can be so different is because you share a common ground, the ground of humanity. This is the source from which differences can be derived. So thinking upon this, it's a reminder that all of us, no matter where we have ended up, came from the exact same origin, and that one of the most fundamental ways to learn how to accept another person is to bring oneself back to that origin, to remember the common denominator that binds us all together.

Now, within a Christian framework, we can take this one step farther, combining this concept with what we know from Divine Revelation. What exactly does it mean to be a person? As a Christian, one can recognize that this means one is not only created in the image and likeness of God, but is also endowed with the spark of Grace given to us by Christ's death on the Cross. Because of this, each human is created to imitate Christ, and to follow in His footsteps. This also means that every human, regardless of where they have come, how far they have stepped, can always step back and return. So when we look at a person, we can remind ourselves of that crucial fact, that primordial truth, the principle thing beyond all things, that they were created from Love, to love.

Ultimately, this is what can bind humanity as a whole together, when for a brief moment, we also take into account that those who are most different from us are also like us, in a very important way.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Andy, it's really weird that you should be talking about this right now. Because like, literally yesterday we were discussing Anselm, and one of the questions at hand was, what is it that makes God one? How can he be one when he is three? And I put forward that according to the Baltimore Catechism, God is three persons, but one nature. So it's his nature that makes him one, the one nature.

    But then I was like, ooh, double take. Don't we as humans share a nature, the human nature? But, say, you and I are not two persons, one nature the way God is. So I was like, do we each have separate natures then? Is there a human nature? Or maybe, there's an Andy nature. And a Lindsay nature. But human nature, like, how can that be dismissed? So what is it about the Father, Son, and Spirit having one nature that's different?

    And then Megan pointed out that, the nature of God is the Supreme Being, and that, by definition, there can't be more than one Supreme Being, so the nature of God is one by definition. And that made sense to me, and I think it's a satisfactory answer.

    But then it was like, whoa, dude, when I came on here and you were like, "you are both -people-."

    Yay for crazy philosophical coincidences.