Incarnational Process Philosophy

(The following was excerpted from the dissertation of Matt Segall at Footnotes to Plato, with a few additions and edits for continuity)

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:22)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galations 2:20)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge… (2 Peter 1:3)

Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me—or at least believe because of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:11)


The Christian phenomenon, founded upon the birth, death, and resurrection of God on Earth, depends upon the possibility of transcendence becoming immanent itself. The Christian thinker becomes inhabited by a living thinking, generating an image of a worldly advocate whose persuasive love replaces the coercive power of a transcendent dictator. In this regard, Plato’s intellectual innovation is exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ, culminating in its metaphysical interpretation over the course of the next millennia, in which this divine persuasion ultimately achieves a supreme victory by producing a modicrum of harmony amid the forces of Chaos.


Philosophy without initiatory experience quickly becomes increasingly irrelevant to actual life: a philosopher’s concepts cannot catch fire and acquire the persuasive agency of divine personality. The philosopher’s desire to incarnate divine Ideas is therefore a creative act, allowing for the ingression of common appearance as physically instantiated symbols. That is, after the Christian-Platonic initiation, the philosopher’s world is transfigured into a problematic network of occult icons whose meaning is uncovered intuitively through talismanic thinking.

To think talismanically, to create sensible concepts that vibrate into the world, enacting new erotic bonds and fields of feeling, is to think pragmatically. Ideas are ingressed into appearances, becoming symbols, moments of discontinuity in extensive physical space-time out of which the intensive oddity of self-reference emerges. We become like God, poets of the world—not without terror, as such incarnational thinking is an ecstatic, even violent act, always killing the neurons which support it, “making the brain a set of little deaths that puts constant death within us.”


In so far as we might partake of this creative process do we then partake of the divine, of God, and that participation is his immortality, reducing the question of whether individuality survives death to irrelevancy. Dragging the “Godhead” down to what is lower, producing a guiding concretization, through which the godhead is able to act in nature, becomes for us a kind of theurgy, in which we strive to narrate a universal process in which divinity becomes birthed in the human soul, humanity generating cosmic nature as the cosmos generates human nature, moving toward a wiser and more loving experience of creation.

The capacity for conscious devotion to divine ideals like truth, freedom, beauty, love, and wisdom is, then, the ongoing work of the divine to realize these ideals in the world, accomplished through us only if we are willing to participate in the resurrection of loving persuasion, a God we are asked to imagine as unfolding in and through the world in our own flesh hospitable to the indeterminate emergence of finite bodies with creativities all their own.  It could be that the growth of this new God in conscious human hearts is granting us the eyes to see the whole creation, not as dead or dying, but as groaning and suffering the pains of childbirth together with us.


“This integration is properly called philosophy and not just theology, for it is about the world and about being as being. We do not leave our faculties behind, but allow the powers of our body, mind, and soul to be transfigured. This knowing is beyond the reach of the intelligence, but is essentially intelligent; it moves beyond reason, without despising reason. Intellect and love must both be transformed, they must both yield, and in yielding find themselves caught up into a current the end of which is nothing less than divinization. This is, indeed, still philosophy, the sort of Philosophy (with a capital P) that figures like Justin and Clement first learned from Plato and that we , in the West, have continually returned to and may be in the process of recovering again today.

“One might also call it theology, as the later fathers did, if by theology one means the task of speaking about all things in their relation to God. But if it is theology, it is theology of a very difficult kind—the kind that requires both thought and prayer.” (Partakers of the Divine, by Jacob Sherman Pg. 254)


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