Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The polarity of love and agency

Christianity is based upon love and agency (that is, autonomy of free will); yet these concepts are often understood superficially. In fact, they are deep, metaphysical principles: they are, indeed, a polarity - which means that we can distinguish between love and agency, yet they cannot be divided (the one requires the other).

And this is important because love and agency are both active processes, and it is the interaction of these active processes of love and agency that we can call creation - which is what leads to more love, and more agency.

The importance of love to Christianity scarcely needs emphasis; but it is neglected that love entails agency. Love is not a state of being, rather love is a thing that happens (a process) between agents, and by choice of these agents.

Love can only be a product of free will, and if there is no choice there is no love. One thing cannot love itself, two things cannot love unless that is chosen - a coerced love is not love. So for Christians, for this reason alone as well as other reasons, agency is a necessity.

I think this is fairly clear; but the fact of agency being dependent on love is less clear; because we have tendency to emphasise that agency is not predictable from the causes impinging on an entity (agency entails an uncaused cause, an unmoved mover); and then this truth is misunderstood to mean that agency is arbitrary and 'random'. Then agency gets confused with the models of unpredictable randomness form science - such as quantum theory.

But agency is not randomness; agency comes from the self, it is an 'expression' of the self - indeed agency is when the self is active (not merely responsive). (We are not always agent; but it is only when we are agent that we are as we are ourselves.)

Indeed, agency comes-from the already-existing state of love - which is what binds the universe of agents.

Agency alone (a situation which is impossible) would indeed be randomness (indistinguishable from randomness) - it would be multiple selves simply doing unpredictable things for no reason comprehensible to anything else.

But agency is in a pre-existent situation of love - agency operates from a universe which coheres because of love; therefore agency is expressed from a background in love.

Love is what makes agency agent and purposive; without love there would not be agency but only unpredictability and meaninglessness.

We can indeed see that meaning and purpose are themselves dependent on the continued reality and interaction of love and agency - agency is what divides things so they can be in relation to one another (rather than just being the same thing) while love is what maintains these divided things into a cohesion which is not unity; agency points the direction while love makes coherent that which goes in any direction.

My impression is that most Christians acknowledge the reality of agency, but in a falsely superficial way; they see agency as a gift bestowed y God upon an already-existing situation; they regard agency rather as if it were an 'optional extra' for Man. Yet, if agency is understood as polar with love, then agency is built into the fundamental nature of reality - it is part of the basic design of the universe of creation.

Just as love without agency is not merely flawed but incoherent - not love at all! So agency without love is not merely flawed, but ceases to be agency.

Those (many) people and religions which tend to deny the one (whether it be love or agency) will find that they are gravitationally impelled towards denying the other; because that is the direction which explanation pushes them.

...Love and agency need to be held together in the imagination as a dynamic dyad - distinguishable, but indivisible.