Mediated and Immediate Sublations

The following thought falls under metaphysical musings.

About 14 years ago, I had written a paper for the late Fr. Stephen Happell dealing with the landscape of consciousness and the different regions and mountains where insights, judgments, and decisions take place within science and the imagination. At least that was the metaphor that came to mind in describing the layout of how various insights, judgments, and decisions relate to each other. One of the insights that had come to me at that point and has continued to grow whenever I think of higher and lower levels is how the higher directly informs a particular range of the lower, then through that directly sublated lower level, it can mediate other regions of the lower levels.

There are many examples that each of us should be able to recognize in ourselves. The farmer has insights and makes decisions immediately in relationship to certain sensate patterns, which in turn take place immediately within certain neural patterns, which in turn take place within certain biochemical and biophysical schemes. However, through the neural, biochemical, and biophysical schemes, the farmer can move muscles and turn his body, look in another direction, walk toward the barn, start the farm equipment. Within his body, these movements are mediate with respect to the conscious acts themselves. The muscle itself was not immediately part of the conscious activities. Hence, it comes to be “informed” by the consciousness in a mediated fashion.

To put this a bit more technically, Lonergan defines mediation in his essay entitled “The Mediation of Christ in Prayer” as a relationship between a property, characteristic, aspect, or feature that is immediate in one term, and mediated to another. Hence, in the case of a watch, the energy is immediate in the spring, but in the moving hands of the clock, it is mediate. Likewise in conscious things, the conscious activities are immediate in certain neural patterns, and then the features of consciousness (insights, judgments, decisions), become mediated within other parts of the body. Only mediately does my hand comes to be sublated within my conscious decision to type, but the neurons involved in this conscious decision are sublated immediately.

This is not much different than how through the immediate power and movement of the muscles in the legs, movement of the whole body takes place, hence movement is mediated in the rest of the body. However, in this case, I am simply focusing on how a lower level can become either immediately or mediately sublated into higher levels. This all takes place within a single unity-identity-whole.

Hence our entire biochemical, cellular, neural being becomes sublated into conscious life, but it does so either immediately or mediately. And there are other parallels in all living beings (beings that possess various types of self-mediating capacities).