Essay: Omnipotence, and the logic of power
The three realms of proof are these: power, logic, and love. A strong man may be dull, a sharp man may be weak, and the very best man was crucified by the other two.
It seems to me that the Jewish practice of discouraging Gentiles from converting to Judaism is born of a pre- or extra-legal appreciation of the intersection between two things: One, none of us has perfect understanding of God’s actions and words; Two, none of us has perfect understanding of how others may be effected by our attempts to communicate what we think and know of what God has done and said. In other words, I think that the traditionally anti-Judaism-evangelism comport of Jews is born of an effort to avoid unwittingly engendering a more-or-less mindless kind of ‘humility’ in would-be-converts to Judaism, or, worse, engendering in them a more-or-less arrogantly rule-bound pre-occupation both with being approved by authority figures and with disapproving others who ‘do not practice all the authoritative rules’.
In a less-than-Edenic world, and in which wisdom does not grow on trees, people easily are egotistical and otherwise narrow-minded. So, the truth can be controversial. Nevertheless, over eighty-five percent of Truth is in how people treat each other, including what they think of each other. Without the truth of common grace and uncommon love, the remainder of Truth can easily be as much as minus 100%. God's own nation-among-nations, Israel, was never commanded to conquer the world, but to bless the world. In fact, no individual, group, or nation, is held to any other standard. Be ever careful not to mistake words for truth, verbatim for meaning, the cover of social reaction for the book inside. Truth will not abide being used for anyone's imagined superiority in the pecking order. The Lamb, The Prince of Peace---not the Prince of War---is called the King of Kings
- "I’ve found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something...unpredictable." -------MacGyver, The Heist, Season1 Episode6
- Symbolic logic---and natural language used more-or-less as if it were such logic---is the resort of minds that struggle to attain and maintain a basic sense of things. In other words, our fallen minds ride logic and language like a fool rides a motorcycle: sensing the power, but insensible to some of the risk.
Prior to any act, divine omnipotence is perceived as coherent with itself. In other words, omnipotence, as a concept, is immediately coherent.
The perception that omnipotence is immediately coherent is based partly on the fact that we presuppose that everything that exists is necessarily an agent; that there is no such thing as something which is not an agent.
The immediate coherence of the concept of omnipotence is how we even can get the sense that omnipotence is paradoxical: it's immediate coherence is (mis)interpreted as a limitation upon it. Only by allowing that it may apply its own agency upon itself, and, thus, upon the fact that things can be identified, is this supposed limitation remedied. Know-ability is a function of the fact that there is a connection, or correspondence, between the knower and the knowable. But, the position that the immediate coherence of omnipotence is a limitation upon omnipotence is tantamount to the position that the possibility of knowledge constitutes an agent which is distinct from, and superior to, an omnipotent agent. In other words, this position is equivalent to the statement: "rationality is not co-extensive with omnipotence, despite that omnipotence is known immediately to be coherent".
Omnipotence itself is simple. The complexity involved in rightly understanding it---contra all the logic of misunderstanding it---is a function of the fact that omnipotence, like infinity, is perceived at all by contrasting reference to those complex and variable things which it is not. Omnipotence is identified to begin with by exemption from all the kinds of logical possibilities which only limited powers may have in terms of themselves, including multiple instantiation/synthesis/reproduction, complete and semi capitulation, concrete incoherence, and logical duplicity.
The 'omni' in 'omnipotence' is properly in reference to all other agents. This implies that an omnipotent agent is inexhaustibly powerful in its activities with regard to those agents. The common error in thinking about what it must mean for an agent to be omnipotent is in putting omnipotence in adverse relation to all sense, to all identity, such that the 'omni' is seen as being in reference not only to all actual limited agents, but to all agents whatever, and to all sense whatever.
Most acts which seem not to abide the initial concept of omnipotence are actually precluded by the concept. For example, the act of killing oneself actually is not applicable to an omnipotent being, since, despite that such an act does involve some power, it also involves a lack of power. Other acts simply are difficult to rightly understand, for our failure to observe our own abstraction processes of the things which present the difficulty. So, in posing action questions on omnipotence, we easily fail to consciously apprehend the familiar simplicities by which we abstract the concept in the first place.
Like most questions ever asked of divine omnipotence, the question, "Can an omnipotent being create a rock that’s too heavy for that being to lift?" presses the concept of omnipotence in terms of action rather than in terms of concept. Action questions skip the initial concept, and so tend to obscure our most tacit knowledge both of the concept and of the things from we draw such questions. Attention should be directed to the concept and its main origins, and then to the things from which particular action questions are drawn. Only if these questions are thereby found to be legitimate should they be pressed as necessarily informative of the concept.
If action questions on omnipotence are favored over questions as to the logical origins of the concept, then, in the best case, this leads to fallacious, perplexing perceptions. In the worst case, it is a presumption of an omnipotence-disfavorable conclusion which the action questions are designed to confirm.
In this worst case, the person asking the question is like an arrogant prosecuting attorney who, when presented with a complete stranger who is wrongly accused of beating his wife, feels that this stranger is guilty, and so ‘gets right to the point’ by asking him whether he has stopped beating his wife. He doesn’t yet know whether the stranger even has a wife, or any sort of female companion, much less whether he has ever beaten his wife in the first place. So, the attorney’s question is formulated by his greed to obtain the stranger’s confession of guilt. After all, a charge has already been made, so someone must be guilty of something.
But, in so far as the attorney rejects, out-of-hand, any thought or discussion on the stranger’s behalf, when the stranger answers with a shouted "No!" to the question, the attorney misunderstands this answer either as the confession which he is hoping to obtain, or, if he likes this stranger, is hoping not to hear.
Either way, the attorney is ‘out for blood’, and he is so determined to get it that he foolishly takes too for granted that none of that blood can possibly end up being his own. He is like the waking astronaut who finds what seems, at first, to be a foreign hand floating in front of his face. Or, he is like the spoiled auto enthusiast of olden days who, upon first sign of engine trouble, assumes faulty craftsmanship rather than his own failure to gently break in the engine as instructed. For the attorney, the engine is his own mind, and, like the astronaut, he doesn’t recognize it as his own.
What all this means is that, in a world in which we already experience frustrating-but-promising struggles against our adversaries, questions on omnipotence that seem to compel the conclusion that "omnipotence is not omnipotent" can paint illusory mental pictures. In the interests of our own desperate wish for more power, we easily push our initial, naive conception of omnipotence to irrational ‘logical’ extremes, and thereby redefine and contradict our own initial conception of it.
So, despite appearances, simple action questions on omnipotence are not particularly revealing about the nature of power, of logic, or of the relationship between the two. In other words, such questions are not explicitly instructive as to all that which is included either in logic or in power. Furthermore, in so far as we use such questions as attempts to ‘press the limits’ of omnipotence rather than to understand how we arrive at the concept to in the first place, these questions tend to obscure what we most deeply know both of logic and of power. The stranger looks well enough to us, until we’re taken either with how he might be guilty despite our wish that he be innocent, or with demonstrating once-and-for-all our supposedly immutable, ‘objective’ dissatisfaction with him.
Again, the fact is that action questions on omnipotence cannot even be asked without presupposing that omnipotence is coherent with itself prior to any act. In other words, the concept initially and most intuitively obtains to our mind ‘inactively’ as irrevocably peerless power, and only on that basis is it then pitted even against the logic of itself as irrevocably peerless power.
In his scholastic discussion on omnipotence, Thomas Aquinas’ objection to this pitting of power against logic amounted tacitly to the fact that what we usually refer to as ‘logic’ is actually and concretely no more a thing unto itself than are any of the subcategories of this ‘logic’, including presence, existence, entity, necessity, etc.. Aquinas’ objection was founded on the fact that Aquinas practised his appreciation for the human ability to mentally identify distinctions between various abstractions of power and logic. In other words, he saw that such distinctions did not in any way represent the reality either of power or of logic. So, his scholastic objection was merely the prerequisite for taking the initial, naive concept of omnipotence and developing it toward its fullest, rationally relational conception: what it does, and what it can do, in regard to things which concretely are not coextensive with itself. Aquinas asserted, in so many words, that the correspondence between logic and divine omnipotence depends on the logic---the identity---of the concrete things at issue.
Within the scholastic purview, if omnipotence and logic can meaningfully be pitted against one another in some kind of contest, then so can any limited power and logic meaningfully be pitted against one another. For example, the power of a bird to pick worms out of things can meaningfully be pitted against, say, the equation of 2+2=4. But, in either contest, the only possibility of determining the winner is if a neutral standard, or a common denominator, is used to judge the contest. There is no such standard, there is no such common denominator. In fact, since the logic of essential power is none other than that power itself (while an abstraction of either is just a shadow, at best, of the reality), the ‘logical’ "Law of Identity" is nothing more than the mental act of recognition, of appreciating a correspondence between one actual thing and another.
Aquinas understood that the catch-all abstraction we call ‘logic’ does not in the least constitute any sort of Platonic "glue" which ‘binds things to be what they are’. He understood that such 'logic' merely is the act of the mind looking in the mirror of itself and either recognizing, or more-or-less failing to recognize, one’s own reflection. The fact that a second mirror may be contrived so as to reflect the image reflected by the first mirror may seem to make the original failure of self-recognition the more difficult to prove. But, in simple reality, the only thing that such a double- failure does is to make itself the more absurd to deny.
Motive, language, and abstraction
Simple agency, as the generalization of power, is not informative of the nature of agents or of their relations, so it is not informative of the concept of an omnipotent agent.
Never mind omnipotence for a moment. Just ask yourself what you know of the "concept", or "definition", of "power". What do you mean by power? And, how do you know that that meaning is the most basic, much less the most informative, meaning of the term?
The dictionary defines power as agency: the ability to bring about a particular state of affairs.
But, a dictionary is just an introductory guide to the ideational purposes of general speech behaviors (diction). It is not an authority on the epistemology and ontology of its terms, including the term ‘power’.
In fact, agency is just a generalization from actual kinds of powers. We abstract agency similar to how we abstract generalizations in math. Whether we add two pair of shoes, or one pair of shoes and one of socks, there is a particular sense that stays the same: four objects. Similarly, whether we observe a hammer as it strikes a nail, or the nail as it goes into wood, the most singular sense is always the same: something brings something about: simple agency.
But, simple agency is not informative of the nature of agents or of their relations. So, it is not informative of the concept of an omnipotent agent. To say that simple agency is the ‘essence’, or the most meaningful definition, of power doesn't say anything that we don't already know. For example, it can’t tell us that a bird cannot pick worms out of incorrect math equations, or that tornados cannot blow 2+2 up into 5. Simple agency even says much less than we already know if we think that it amounts to what power most concretely is. Because, power is not an act, power is a thing. Power is an agent. And, the kind of agent that a particular agent is is what determines what that agent can do in regard to the same or different agents.
The face-value of any natural expression, say, ‘birds can pick worms out of things’, is a limited, or non-exhaustive, expression about the various objects and relations represented (actual birds, actual worms, and the abstractions of ‘things’, ‘pick’, ‘out’, ‘of’, and ‘can’). So, only by lacking, or failing to apply, a deeper, or more meaningful, knowledge of the objects naturally intended can a person actually think that that statement is meant to allowing the syllogism that...
- ‘A bird can pick worms out of things; Math equations are things; Therefore, a bird can pick worms out of math equations.’
So, one cannot build the meaning of the statement about birds from the most trivial, generic, or meaningless usages of the words involved. Such a method of building meaning is called a ‘bottom, up’ effort, which corresponds to the ‘bottom, up’ view of the statement---a view which results in seeming to allow the silly syllogism above. Another possible term for this trivially ‘bottom, up’ method is ‘trivial synthetic reasoning’.
Human practical and intellectual abilities are in regard to the synthetic physical world, and to the finite practical tasks regarding that world. Human thinking appears capable easily of understanding only that over which humans most naturally have power. So, human thinking naturally is of a dissociative/synthetic analytic type: ‘from the bottom, up’ as it were. This method of thinking is very good at invoking parsimony. But, even minor auto diagnostics presupposes an entire, holistic, functioning automobile. So, though the living creature generally functions from a ‘bottom-up’ point of view, it is the greedy creature who, for a drunken superstition in favor of the power of that point of view over adversaries, rejects that something exists which functions from ‘the top, down’. Such ‘parsimony’ is what happens in analyzing a state in natural language under the assumption that it is a product of its explicit parts.
So, the natural usage of words in any statement in natural language makes the statement ambiguous. When we have need of effective thinking in the face of philosophical adversaries, the ambiguity of language easily falls to serving our greed in the formation of erroneous ideas as to what constitutes, and thus as to what is allowed by, our adversary’s statements.
So, to say that simple agency is the ‘essence’, or the most meaningful definition, of power doesn't say anything that we don't already know. In fact, it says much less so long as we think that it amounts to what power most concretely is. This is because the statement, "power is defined as the ability to bring about a particular state of affairs" is a tautology. So, if we take such a statement as the basis for constructing a definition of actual kinds of powers, or of the nature of relations between actual powers, or even of the total set of kinds of powers, then we simply are constructing a second abstraction upon the first. Worse, if we think that logically impossible "states of affairs", such as that 2+2=5, are intellectually valid when applied to omnipotence, then we’ve taken the term, state of affairs, to absurd, logical extremes, like thinking that an "empty bowl of soup" is legitimately thought to have soup in it by virtue of the words themselves, even when we know that it is just an empty bowl in which soup normally is found. Imagine the following funny story.
A man sits down in an all-you-can-eat, all-soup restaurant and orders an 'An empty bowl of soup.'
Waitress: 'Sir, do you want that without the soup, then?'
Man: 'No, I want that with the soup.'
Waitress: 'So, you want a bowl of soup, then?'
Man: 'No, I want an empty bowl of soup.'
Waitress: 'An empty bowl?'
Man: 'No, an empty bowl of soup.'
Waitress: 'I'm sorry sir, I'm not sure I understand. Do you want a bowl with soup in it, or a bowl without the soup'
Man: 'No. I want a bowl of soup, but I want the bowl to be empty.'
Waitress: 'Then, how do you want the soup? In a cup, perhaps?'
Man: 'No, I don't want any soup. Just an empty bowl of soup.'
Waitress: 'I can give you an empty bowl, if you like.'
Man: 'No, thanks.'
Waitress: 'Sir, our bowls start out empty, and then we put soup in them. We could pour out the soup after putting soup in one, and give you the bowl?'
The waitress is thinking to herself, Either this man is simply playing a game of semantics, or he is maybe trying to prove that we don’t actually serve soup here. Or, maybe he’s sending a clever message that he doesn’t like our soup. Or, maybe he’s an idiot-savant who has too little sense of how natural language works and is trying to figure out how to communicate that he wants soup in a bowl but wants to be sure that it is empty and clean before we put soup in it.
But, as it happens, this man is none other than the ‘Soup Nazi’ from the TV sitcom, Seinfeld, and is making every effort to prove that what this all-you-can-eat soup restaurant calls soup is not his soup and therefore is not worthy to be called ‘soup’, much less served to anyone.
This humorous story illustrates that motives are essential components of reasoning processes, and that flawed reasoning always involves some flawed motives, however obscuringly eclipsed by the arrogant ends sought.
In the minds of many (but by no means all) New Atheists, divine omnipotence is comparable to an ‘empty bowl of soup’, and one way they think to prove this is by using the generalized abstraction of power (simple agency) to define the greatest quality and quantity of power which it is possible to imagine inheres in a single agent.
Naturally, such a definition produces a paradoxical definition of such an agent. In other words, to formulate omnipotence on the basis of simple agency tends to produce the sense that omnipotence, in order to be powerful in terms of genuinely all entities, must be power which most essentially is in adverse relationship to all entities (able to change 2+2=4 into 2+2=explosion, able to change love into hate, able to change power into nothing). Such is an irrationally pure agency: absent any genuine correspondence to any entity, to any state in which entities may be said to inhere, or even to all negations of such entities and states (the raw concept of all-inclusiveness, the concrete bases for the ideas of stasis, change, quantity, quality, ideational polarity, and ontological immediacy, or, indeed, to the very ideas of ‘idea’ 'absence-of-any-genuine-correspondence’ and 'pure adversarial-ity').
So, to use the generalized idea of simple agency as the means to formulate omnipotence is comparable to how a senseless computer, a senselessly aggressive attorney, or a senseless thinker, would take a person’s sensible meaning in stating that he ‘hates all persons’: he is a person, so he is misconstrued to mean that he hates even himself. An even simpler comparison would be to the statement, ‘I am a liar’, which, when misconstrued in terms of an overly-narrow and, thus, viciously circular ‘literalism’, results in the view that that statement is self-contradictory: if it is true, then it cannot be true, since, if it is true, then it is not lying; and, if it is false, then it is true. This is similar to what a simple-minded grammarian gets when he misconstrues someone’s redundant emphasis of a negative (‘I don’t have no money’) as a negative-of-a-negative (Hank’s dusty truck/’notepad’ in Corner Gas being written with the words, ‘Don’t Don’t wash me’ in response to Hank's addition of the first 'Don't' to the original 'Wash me' written into its dusty surface by some anonymous neat freak).
Such narrowly ‘careful’ analyses of words and statements often are an attempt to prove that these words and statements are erroneous and ill-founded, by supposedly ‘discovering’ that their ‘common epistemological denominator is circularity’. Such an attempt is essentially what the presumptuous attorney, in the Introduction, did to the stranger by ‘getting right to the point’ in asking him whether he had stopped beating his wife.
But, the knife of such a narrow-mindedly presumptuous skepticism about omnipotence can be turned to face that very skepticism: If simple agency were the essence of power, then any agent, even a bird, would have irrationally ‘pure agency’. Or, if all we really could know about power was that it was simple agency, then we could never be certain that a bird cannot pick worms out of math equations.
Now, recall the stranger, in the Introduction, who is wrongly accused of beating his wife. If, in the stress of being 'questioned' by the presumptious prosecuting attorney, this stranger's conscious-active knowledge of himself is reduced to an ambiguity, then he’ll soon feel a deep cognitive dissonance at his own word-of-objection to the prosecutor’s presumptuous 'to-the-point’ question. He may even become so afflicted by the pressure of the presumptuous question that he loses entirely too much of his basic sense as to the distinction between language and fact, resulting in a genuine lack of confidence in his own identity in face of the prosecutor’s question, such that this will make the presumptuous prosecutor feel that his question is, indeed, warranted. And, so, there is created a dynamic of mutual reflection of both men in each other’s eyes, which, like a cruel and increasing echo, reinforces not only the initial presumption on the part of the prosecutor, but the ill-confidence of the stranger in his ability to identify his own innocence as such.
So, while the nature of presumption and identity-crises is based on ambiguity, ambiguity itself consists in a sense of a deeper knowledge in regard to the actual objects represented than what one’s mind finds to be ‘unambiguously’ contained in the form being used as the representative.
The problem of power
There are two ways we normally abstract the concept of power. The first way is by our direct knowledge of the mechanical powers of familiar physical objects and forces. The second way is by our need, in a world of toil and trouble, to master the mechanical powers of other objects.
In a world of familiar physical objects and forces, we think of these objects and forces as ‘having’ power in the sense that they are observed to be subject to lose, or to fail in regard to, their powers in the face of other powers. When some object ‘loses’ its power, that power does not go someplace else, much less simply disappear. Rather, its power is its structural integrity: when that power fails, it is in the sense of a loss of that object’s structural integrity. For example, a wooden two-by-four ‘has the power’ to hold up for so-long-until-it-breaks in the face of a certain constant weight or a certain set of impacts. Up until it breaks, that two-by-four has the power to accomplish something, specifically something it cannot accomplish in its broken state. So, in breaking, it loses that power.
Gravity is another power which, though seeming to lack any structure subject to being broken, exerts only so much force on a given object relative to that object’s proximity to another object. In other words, gravity most easily is observed to act on a structure in relation that structure’s total mass, the particular organization of that mass, and the proximity of that mass to another mass. For example, a man jumping out of an airplane at twenty-thousand feet is moved by gravity toward Earth only so fast in the face of air resistance; and, if the man has neither air-assistive or padding devices to allow him a tolerable landing, then the Earth-normative structure of his body is going to suffer damage on impact with the relatively solid structures on the ground.
Besides thinking of power as mechanical potential, we tend---in a world of toil, disease, death, mutually disharmonious needs, and theft---to think of power as something that can fix the problems in our lives. The tire on our car goes flat, and we wish to be like superman so that we don’t need to bother either with a jack or a lug wrench. The leaves in our yard are piling up and smothering the lawn, so we wish to have the power to snap our fingers and, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, make them magically put themselves in the mulch bin. Our timid son is getting beat up in school, complete with bruises, so we think of buying a karate bag and training him to punch, duck, and parry. Our morning paper is missing from the porch, and, since we already saw our rude neighbor’s kid steal yesterday’s paper, we feel like stomping up his parent’s porch and forcing him, out of our sheer anger, to admit that he stole this morning’s paper as well. We struggle to complete this year’s tax form, so we daydream fantastically of uploading our smart phone’s math app into our brain, or of making two-plus-two equal any amount we want.
So, to us, in the familiar physical, and troublesome, worlds, the idea of power most easily suggests things like brute force, magic, martial prowess, commandeering, programming, and even simple illogic. So, power rarely suggests to us anything even somewhat more personable, subtle, or mundane. We never think of knowledge as a power to invent a leaf blower; We never think of rest and nutrition as powers to sharpen our wits; We never think of love and its wisdom as a power that can change a bully’s heart.
So, when we think of what omnipotence must mean, we easily are tripped up into thinking that omnipotence cannot genuinely be exhaustively all power unless it has power against every last meaningful thing which we might ever find, or even most fantastically misconstrue as, personally inconvenient. So, we easily don’t notice that the idea of ‘all power’ can genuinely be exhaustive without it being in adverse relationship even to that which we hold to be irreducibly---if abstractly---meaningful. The basic question is, what is the most meaningful, and most concrete, thing, and what sorts of agency does it possess? Is it an agent unto itself, or is it caused but some other, more basic, agent?
But, in our 'rational' haste, our attempt to formulate the extent of omnipotence becomes like trying to formulate ‘what an elephant is’ while disliking any individual feature of an elephant, and yet, perhaps, while nevertheless adoring the ‘idea’ of an elephant:
We notice the huge flappy ears, but, since huge flappy ears are not, in themselves, an elephant, we think that the ears have nothing to do with an elephant. We next notice the trunk, but we think the same of it. And, so on, until we’ve eliminated every possibility of identifying what an elephant is. Needless to say, if that’s really how we thought that an elephant must be identified, then we naturally would intuit either there is no such thing as an elephant, or that an elephant, by its very nature, lacks any of the kinds of features which correspond in any way with anything that we do know.
This example of an absurd 'intuition' as to how to 'identify' something shows that any initially positive concept which incorporates the notion of inexhaustibility can be formally misconstrued as being identifiable principally by a process of elimination or negation, provided that thing is something which we easily can misconstrue principally as being in contrast to anything meaningful. Omnipotence, when thus misconstrued, can be termed ‘negative omnipotence’. This is a term which is in reference to the algebraic logic of set theory, similar to the concept of ‘negative number’. So, an irrational misformulation of omnipotence is nothing more than a rational equivalent to a 'circular firing squad'. Only by the most basically incoherent way of viewing power can one 'intuit' that this is what omnipotence is; and, that, only by a most greedily superstitious way of viewing power can one presume that such an omnipotence exists: the ultimate Santa Claus who may or may not opt to give you anything good.
As far as not seeming to give to any creature all which that creature needs, omnipotence not only can be misconstrued as irrelvant, it can be misconstrued as the ultimate carnivore: There once was a Faithful Hunter out to prove that a certain large carnivorous animal did not exist. He was very pragmatic and clever, this hunter was. So, just in case the animal really existed, he wore fake ‘large carnivore’ feet over his boots that made huge, clawed tracks like he was convinced the animal makes. This would prevent the animal, in case it existed, from detecting him by his own boot tracks and, in its noticing his boot tracks, either catch and eat him, or try to thwart his attempts to find it. So, off he went, looking for signs of the animal, with these fake clawed animal feet over his boots. Soon, he saw his own fake ‘large carnivore’ tracks, but mistook them for those of the animal. But, so mistaking them, he was not about to admit that they proved that the animal existed, because he was well aware that he had been walking in the same circle as the animal. So, in founding that the tracks led to nowhere-but-round-and-round, he concluded that the animal did not exist. Yet, he was convinced by these very tracks that he knew what sort of tracks the animal made, and thus, which its huge claws, that it was a carnivore. In fact, he was so proud of his accomplishment that he brought other Faithful Hunters to see the tracks, telling them that these were the tracks to look for since they did, in fact, lead to nowhere. Some of these hunters believed him. The others insisted that the animal was invisible, so that, of course, it could not be identified directly. But, every last one of these Faithful Hunters knew that it was a carnivore.
Details of power
On the microscopic level, a limited power might be defined as that which is subject to discohere in face of other powers. This definition seems to hold because, it may be that in every case in which an agent fails in the face of some other agent, that first agent actually fails by way of discoherence of the agencies of which that agent is composed. Imagine a man hung over a wall, with his hands holding onto a strong bar attached to cables cradling a ten ton boulder, and his feet on the other side of the wall bound to a million ton rock. If he tries to lift the ten ton boulder, the reason he fails is because some level of the microscopic agencies of which his muscles and bones and connective tissues are composed actually, empirically, discohere from one another. If they all could retain enough mutual coherence, then, like a strong steel motorized winch, he would be able to lift the boulder.
The fact that a horse is comprised of, and thus, can be reduced to, atoms means that the power which is a horse is reducible. The same can be said of atoms. To say that a particular power is reducible is simply another way of saying that that power is subject to fail to retain its coherence. And, to say that a power is subject to fail to retain its coherence is actually to say that that power is limited, or non-omnipotent.
But, for a power to be omnipotent, is must not only be irreducibly concrete, it must be, in effect, omnipresent. For, what is omnipotence if it lacks the power to effect all other objects at once? Field point transcend gravity space particle local presence, merely local presence is what?
According to the most strident of atheists, logic has the power to disprove the existence of God, by proving that omnipotence is incoherent. But, many such atheists say that logic is not a power, since, to them, power is strictly an empirical entity and thus cannot be a mental phenomenon. But, even these atheists insist that the following question both is about power and proves that God does not exist. “Can God, who is omnipotent, make 2+2=logical explosion?”
Now, if a being with what some call ‘absolute’ omnipotence (AO) is posited, then, from that being's own point of view, nothing would have inherent, essential, necessary meaning or substance, including that being's connection to its AO. In other words, AO is nothing more than the rational equivalent of a 'circular firing squad'---a destroyer rather than a creator. For, it is only by our creaturely presupposition that something, whatever it may be, both necessarily exists and has inherent, inviolable, positive meaning that we can have a sense of logical contradiction, of negation, and, hence, of paradox.
The creature's problem with understanding omnipotence is in the ideational compound of 'power' and 'omni', and as to the ontology of logic.
What, to us unpleasantly struggling fallen humans, is power? Is power essentially that of something being subject to something else? That is, is power a relationship of inferiority which something has to something else, caused by that something else?
Or, instead, is power essentially something which is something in itself? In other words, is power an agent prior to, or independent of, its action upon, or relationship to, some other thing?
If power is essentially a relationship between disparate things, then power is an effect, and the object effected, rather than a cause and the object which causes. If power is essentially a relationship of subjugation, then power is essentially tyranny in face of opposition: 'My god's power is greater than your god's power.' The world may be imperfect, but the world's imperfection does not mean that the struggle to live well within it ought to be allowed to shape our standards of rational thought. Our struggle to live and think well certainly should not produce a view about the nature of God which is merely a result of our own feelings of some kind of inferiority in face of someone else's god---someone else's logic. Not all logic is equal.
In fact, that abstraction which we creatures call 'logic' is not anything in itself. There must be something which is present, which exists, in order even for that 'logical property' called 'existence' to...exist. For all I don't know, I think there even may have to be many and varied things in order for us creatures to abstract that 'generic' notion of 'existence'. So, a generic 'logic' is not anything about which omnipotence is concerned. Similar to how some Buddhists attempt to discern something by their statement that 'there is no such thing as logic', the Greeks attempted to discern something by their placard 'to the unknown god'.
The human mind is limited in its power. This means that the human mind may fail to cohere as the human’s power to identify. Incoherent thinking can be as loose as a drunken man’s free-ranging blabbering, or as sharp as a sincerely maintained false conception of a basic notion. Sometimes a person sincerely maintains that the concept of omnipotence is something which is, in fact, two mutually contrary concepts masquerading as one concept: inviolably peerless, irreducible power and violable (i.e. contingent, synthetic) power.
Two basic points must be made about this conception of omnipotence, one is about its origins or causes, and the other as about the simplest result of this conception of omnipotence:
The one point is that the origin of maintaining that this is the logically correct conception of omnipotence is by the combination of: a) a progressive neurological entropy; and b) the sense that the power to identify reflects a Platonic object called ‘logic’ which, despite being perfectly immaterial or abstract, somehow is the ‘glue’ that holds all ‘concrete’ reality together, such that omnipotence is seen as subsumed to this ‘logic’ and, therefore, that omnipotence is impossible-by-definition: the human power to identify is more powerful than the greatest rational/coherent power, since such power admittedly is ‘bound by logic’, whereas the irrationally greatest power identifiably cannot exist.
The other point is that the result of maintaining that this is the logically correct conception of omnipotence is the notion that omnipotence, by definition, must be ‘capable’ of violating, changing, or reducing, even irreducible facts and meanings, such as identity, equivalence, and primacy. This result is what allows the most logically extreme version of this false conception of omnipotence: in adverse relationship to all identity whatever, including even the consistency of the fact that such a complete adverse relationship is complete and adverse. A simple example of this adverse relation is that it allows that omnipotence can make itself even more omnipotent.
So, in regard to identifying the logically correct conception of omnipotence, these two points comprise the rational equivalent of a Circular Firing Squad.
Now, in that a 'being that has AO' (by definition of AO) initially obtains as an absolute distinction between its own being and its omnipotence (since that being, by way of its AO, can become simply non-AO such that AO simply ceases to obtain for that being), then, like my motorcycle to me, that being's AO poses a certain danger to that being: that being has the initial opportunity to 'open the throttle all the way', such that that being is violently separated from its omnipotence and treated to an ontological version of an 'all-you-can-eat asphalt buffet'. You see, the problem is the question of whether or not that being initially realizes that it is in possession of AO--it very well may not, since AO does not necessitate that its initial possessor even know what power is. He better put on his helmet and skid pads before even getting on that thing! But, you can never tell a child what to do, what to think, or even what to presuppose.
Of course, since a 'being with AO' can cause itself to cease to exist (such that it, along with its AO, simply never comes back into existence), then such a being could make something to simply have inviolable meaning or essence (such that AO simply ceases to be AO). "But', say the atheists, 'we'll never know if that didn't actually happen, since we take AO as conceptually necessary [but logically impossible]."
From our own point of view as rational creatures (who presuppose an inherently or inviolably rational essence as the cause of our own being), we do not presuppose that omnipotence is AO; rather, we presuppose, at least, that omnipotence, prior to any act, is in a state of inherent coherence as the essentially peerless agent. This is, after all, how omnipotence can be construed as a paradox in the first place: by most profoundly assuming that omnipotence is, to begin with, coherent. Otherwise, we should not have a basis for perceiving paradoxicality regarding certain thoughts about omnipotence.
Curiously, omniscience is not, by us creatures, so readily misconstrued (such that it means knowledge of the same 'absolutely everything' that AO means). This is because, unlike our biker dude selves, we less easily view knowledge as something which may be inconsistent with...ourselves. But, if the very standard that allows omnipotence to be construed as AO is applied to omniscience, then an omniscient being would know, say, that 2+2 can equal logical explosion.
And, while omnibenevolence is virtually never misconstrued as a subject of the 'omni' half of the ideational compound of 'benevolence' and 'omni', it really can be so construed: benevolence toward 'absolutely everything', no matter how good or bad, righteous or evil, rational or irrational. It is said truly that 'God is love'. Creatures---especially those who, in living lives of unpleasant consequence, tend to become tyrannical when given full opportunity---can understand this saying far easier than they can understand the saying which, from their point of view, obtains on the opposite end of the spectrum: 'God is power'. But, in that we creatures are at all moved by so little as our own love, then love is a kind of power. No less so than our own logic.
There is the claim that 'directly paradoxical' questions on the ultimate conceivable agent (theologial omnipotence) are intellectually legitimate, in the sense that these questions are presumed to show that omnipotence (rather than certain thoughts about omnipotence) is paradoxical. One of the simplest examples of these questions is, ‘Can an omnipotent being create a rock too heavy for it to lift?’. The atheistic intent for these questions is to prove that the ultimate conceivable agent is inherently self-contradictory: such questions can seem impossible to answer without admitting that omnipotence is not inherently omnipotent. But, the attempt is motivated, in part, by the perception that omnipotence is identified as including power even to abolish or alter anything which we deem inherently meaningful, including our most implicit sense that omnipotence initially is in a state of coherence with itself.
Efforts to disprove the idea that an omnipotent being exists include observing that humans, who are not omnipotent, nevertheless seem to "have the power to compromise their own power". In other words, it can seem that a human's own power is not co-extensive with a human's own power. So, the question of whether an omnipotent being can create a rock too heavy for it to lift can seem to suggest that, unless an omnipotent being can compromise its status of ‘omnipotent being’, then it already is not inherently omnipotent.
Now, I take it on faith that most people who reject the idea that an omnipotent being can exist hold to the irrational definition of omnipotence. In other words, that atheists, and process theologians, claim that: 1) unless the proposed omnipotence can bring about both any possible or impossible state of affairs, then it is not, by definition, omnipotent to begin with; and 2) such an omnipotence is an impossible state of affairs. I’ll be mentioning these at the end of the next section.
My purpose for this article is to argue a) that an ‘impossible state of affairs’ is not, by definition, a state of affairs to begin with; and b) that maintaining that ‘an impossible state of affairs is a state of affairs’ is caused by an unwholesome motive.
Anti-qualified power vs. Simple omnipotence
Pure agency might better be described as anti-qualified power, since it has no inherent qualities in relation either to itself or to anything else, since it 'can' (if it existed) destroy even the sense in which it is an agent.
The claim that, "unless a proposed omnipotent being cannot reduce its status as ‘omnipotent’, it is not omnipotent to begin with", typically is used under the perception that this very claim pinpoints the ultimate extent of "direct paradoxicality in omnipotence". But, one of the ‘impossible states of affairs’ which it is possible for us to think of is that ‘omnipotence [can make itself/is] even more omnipotent’. In other words, one can ask, "if a being really is omnipotent, then can it make itself even more omnipotent?". This 'state of affairs' is exactly what is being allowed by asking, with irrational intent, whether an omnipotent being can create a rock too heavy for it to lift.
Of course, it is possible to imagine that directly paradoxical questions on omnipotence do not, in fact, allow the state of affairs that ‘omnipotence can make itself even more omnipotent’. But, unless we are willing to divorce our knowledge of our own powers from our knowledge of the powers of things outside ourselves, and willing to divorce these two kinds of knowledge from our knowledge that power does not reside in an abstraction of power, but in concrete objects, then the mental picture of "directly paradoxical questions on omnipotence do not allow that omnipotence can make itself more omnipotent" is an incoherent picture: it violates is own most implicit standard of conception-of-omnipotence. In fact, it is only by divorcing our minds from our empirical and intuitive knowledge of power that we are able to take at face value the claim that, "unless a proposed omnipotent being can compromise/exceed its own power, then it is not really omnipotent".
Worse, the claim that, "unless a proposed omnipotent being can compromise/exceed its own power, then it is not really omnipotent" allows that anything with any kind and extent of power, such as an ordinary bird, a tornado, or our own minds, has irrational omnipotence, since that claim divorces our "knowledge of power" from our knowledge of the fact that powers necessarily are concrete objects. In other words, to define omnipotence as irrational is to presuppose that the compound of ‘all’ and ‘power’ means power over, in excesses of, in antipathy to, all knowable, sensible things, including even the arithmetic---that is, the quality, the logic---of power. In short, irrational omnipotence is anti-qualified, inherently-unattached, pure "agency", a sort of circular firing squad of agency in which destruction and incoherence, not inherent integrality and construction, is the ultimate power.
So, the claim that directly paradoxical questions on omnipotence are intellectually legitimate allows that irrational omnipotence itself is intellectually legitimate, contra '2). The question is, on what basis is either of these claims rejected? I propose that that basis is none other than that, prior to contriving any directly paradoxical questions on omnipotence, omnipotence is most profoundly pictured in a state of coherence-with-itself (simple omnipotence). After all, how can omnipotence be construed as self-contradictory unless it has a basis in intellectual legitimacy?
In short, unless the idea of omnipotence is no more sensible than a nonsense word like zgbfxpf, then it has a basis in something that’s intellectually legitimate: the idea of an omnifarious, inexhaustible, inviolably coherent (not made of anything more basic than itself) agent.
The central issue is whether the concept of the 'logically possible' is different for a reality in which omnipotence exists from that in which omnipotence does not exist. The reason this is the central issue is because our sense of material paradox, and of the logical contradiction of which such paradox is an expression, are functions of the fact that we presuppose that there must be something which exists which is inherently meaningful or logical, that is, which is concretely not a compound of other things. So, for example, in a world in which exists a materially paradoxical omnipotence, its very paradoxicality seems either to be a material-paradox-of-a-material-paradox, or to be a non-paradox per the very proposition that it exists (i.e., nothing has inherent meaning). Whereas, a world in which exists simple (non-paradoxical) omnipotence, its own omnipotence is concretely coextensive with whatever is the concrete basis of our presupposition that something must be inherently meaningful. I spell it l...o...g...o...s.
Face values vs. Implicit knowledge
The mere face value of an irrationally construed omnipotence allows any absurd thing for an omnipotent being. It is this mere face value that allows the sincere claim that directly paradoxical questions on omnipotence are intellectually legitimate.
But, it also is this mere face value of an irrationally construed omnipotence that allows the sincere intuition that non-omnipotent beings are, in certain ways, materially more powerful than a being which has simple omnipotence: "a being with simple omnipotence lacks the power to compromise its own omnipotence, a.k.a., lacks the power to create a rock too heavy for it to lift, whereas a human being, who is not omnipotent, can make something which exceeds his own power."
This face value of irrational omnipotence is what I call ‘the confusion of omnipotence’. This confusion consists of two assumptions. The first assumption is the implicit sense that the very existence of any notion of omnipotence inherently confuses what omnipotence really means. The second assumption is that the natural solution to this supposedly inherent confusion of omnipotence is to throw up one’s intellectual hands and say "all notions of omnipotence are just tricks of language, and no one really believes in any notion of omnipotence even if they think they do, because such a 'thing' as 'omnipotence' does not exist."
But, in supposedly observing that "non-omnipotent beings are, in certain ways, materially more powerful than a being which has simple omnipotence", it is not actually the case that "humans have power to compromise or exceed their own power".
Consider, for example, your implicit knowledge of what it would take to make a bunch of dynamite, from scratch, sufficient to blow yourself up: You begin with the constituent chemicals in their natural state, manipulating a host of powers and potentialities that already exist outside yourself, such that the actually explosive force which blows you up is not your own power, but the dynamite’s power. As another example, consider your implicit knowledge of what it would take to break the fingers of one of your hands directly by using your other hand: all the powers of your ‘breaker’ hand, combined with those of your ‘breaker; arm-and-shoulder, when applied to your ‘victim’ hand, results in the ‘victim’ hand being broken: your ‘victim’ hand already is not omnipotently/inherently coherent.
Again, imagine you set off a stick of dynamite in your hand. Naturally, you’ll be blown up. The reason you’ll be blown up is because you are made up of powers which lack an omnipotent power to remain held together, and because the explosive force of the dynamite is sufficient to blow you up. In other words, getting blown up is case of a lack of power on your part, and a possession of power on the part of the dynamite. So, it would be misleading to say that you have the power to blow yourself up (it would be less inaccurate to say that dynamite has the power to blow itself up). This shows that concept of omnipotence is a concept which is drawn, to begin with, by algebraic comparison to powers which lack some power in the face of other powers. This is the algorithm for determining that an instance of active power is not infinite or otherwise inviolable.
Of course, if you use one of your hands to break the fingers of your other hand, both hands still are your own power. But, this is so only in the sense that you control both hands. So, in fact, you are not one power, but many, specifically, you are a synthesis, or contingency, of non-inherently integrated, exhaustible powers. Omnipotence is the contrasting power: inherently integrated, inexhaustible, unequaled, such that not only is it incapable of being exceeded in any material way, but is capable of exceeding the power to which the integrity---the constancy---of any other power is maintained.
So, to interpret the ‘confusion over the face value of omnipotence’ as proving that all notions of omnipotence are just tricks of language is like taking an equally narrow-minded ‘face value’ of the picture of ‘ you have the power to make a deadfall for killing a rhinoceros, and either the rhinoceros or the deadfall can kill you’: all notions of a deadfall are just tricks of language, and no one really believes in any notion of a deadfall even if they think they do, because such a “thing” as a “deadfall” does not exist.
Birds vs. worms
It is undisputed that birds are concrete objects. It is understood, therefore, that birds naturally have certain powers over other concrete objects. For example, birds can pick worms out of the ground. This suggests the idea that there can be no concrete objects which do not have some power over other concrete objects; Birds vs. worms.
But, if there can be no concrete objects which do not have some power over other concrete objects, then this suggests the idea that there can be no abstract objects without there being concrete objects from which to abstract them. If, for example, we say that birds have power to pick worms out of things, and if we then say that math problems are things, yet we cannot say that birds have power to pick worms out of math problems. This is because neither birds nor worms are kinds of objects which are effected by the abstractions that we call ‘math problems’. And, it applies even to math problems that have been incorrectly answered.
So, if one wants to understand the relationship between birds and worms, one cannot subject them to abstract math problems as if those abstractions were concrete objects. In fact, holding one’s hands over one’s ears and blabbering to drown out these words is a concrete action which attempts to abstract that these words are wrong. The question is, from whence does that abstraction come.
All this bears on the logical dispute as to the proper---or else intuitional---definition of theological omnipotence. The central problem in that dispute has to do with the fact that no side in the dispute is holding its hands over its ears and blabbering to drown out the obviously correct words of the other sides. The reason we know that this is not what the sides in that dispute are doing is because, from the normal human point of view, God, and, thus, his power, must be treated as an abstraction. After all, if God is supposed to be incorporeal---meaning present-without-form---then we cannot have knowledge of God in the same simple, concrete way that we have knowledge of birds and worms. In other words, the concept we call ‘God’ is just that: a concept.
Now, some people would contend that the God-concept is an abstraction-of-an-abstraction, meaning that it is a concept we derive from a collection of other concepts, including the concept of ‘logic’ and, thus, of ‘logically possible’. But, the problem with the concepts of ‘logic’ and ‘logically possible’ is that these depend on pre-conditions. For example, if the only pre-conditions for birds having power to pick worms out of math problems are the explicit conditions of ‘birds have power to pick worms out of things’, and ‘math problems are things’, then clearly it is logically possible, within those pre-conditions, for birds to pick worms out of math problems. So, the real problem in finding a proper definition of theological omnipotence is that pre-conditions themselves tend to have pre-conditions of their own. For example, what is power?
The pre-condition which compels someone to intuit that omnipotence must include, say, the power to make a rock which that same omnipotence cannot lift is that power is the simple, abstract condition of being over something. But, we know that this is not what real, concrete power is, otherwise we would grant that any concrete power has any kind-and-extent of power over any thing. Birds could pick worms out of math problems, tornados could blow 2-and-2 up into 5, and hammers could pound the implicit errors out of faulty lines of reasoning. Only if we are willing to grant that real kinds of power are not themselves concrete objects can we say that it is logically possible for omnipotence to mean simply the condition of being powerful over every knowable thing.
Oddly, what we know of everyday concrete objects is that they are made up of other, smaller, concrete objects. In other words, we know that what we normally call ‘concrete objects’ are actually synthetic objects comprised of smaller concrete objects. For example, a worm is made up of distinct macroscopic parts, and these macroscopic parts are made up of distinct microscopic parts, and etc.. So, we intuit that there must be a ‘root’ of all concrete powers, a kind of real, and most truly concrete, thing which, by being a power unto itself, gives power---substance---to other concrete things.
Only if any kind of real power can have all power over any given thing---such as birds having power to pick worms out of math problems, and even tornados having power to blow 2-and-2 up into five---can theological omnipotence be properly defined as power over all concrete things. But, such an intuition as to the nature of omnipotence is clearly the abstraction-of-the-abstraction, and a mistaken one at that.
So, if power is defined only in terms of concrete objects, then power cannot properly be defined as an abstraction of ‘being able to change something’. Thus, the only pre-conditions that allow one to ‘intuit’ that omnipotence must include power over logic are that ‘logic is a concrete object’ and ‘omnipotence is another concrete object’. But, what if omnipotence and logic are one and the same object? In other words, what if the root of the mere abstraction that we call 'logic' is a concrete object which, alone of all concrete objects, is not synthetic? Or, in yet other words, what if the root of the logic of all synthetic things is, of all possible things, the most properly called logic? In the beginning was the logos.
In sum, there is no such thing as a 'state of affairs' which immediately is the opposite of that which is the original and most meaningful state of affairs. In other words, the mental picture of an omnipotent being having, say, "created a being more powerful even than itself" is not a state of affairs ultimately any more than is "the eternal green verb qzspflglmzbf op and then over sdzcvxcfp into ibvfcophhhdmb pie." Only a non-omnipotent being, in an environment of other non-omnipotent beings, has the logical possibility, say, of being killed by the very device which it has made for the purpose of killing another being. And, if there is anything deeply true about the God-concept, then woe to anyone whose device is a logic made for the purpose of abolishing---or compromising---the truth of God. Because, error is not a power, error is a logical possibility.
The synthetic logic of Sudoku and motorcycles
To define omnipotence as pure agency is an act of deepest incoherence on the part of the mind which so defines it. Nevertheless, there is a certain coherence in defining omnipotence as pure agency: by abiding the abstraction of simple agency as the sole arbiter of determining the manner in which an omnipotent agent is to relate to all things, senses, and logical identities: synthetically, adversarially. In other words, pure agency is a mental synthesis of agency and the notion of non-inherence-of-agency-to-any-agency. Pure agency is a synthetically abstract construct, and one which does not cohere in terms of agency. At bottom, pure agency is an attempt to raise the human power of synthetic rationality over any agent which is supposed to be superior to that very rationality: anything we find in the familiar concrete world can be taken apart, so the concept of omnipotence is treated the same way.
The consistency of defining omnipotence is pure agency is like nominally "completing" a Sudoku puzzle for which you've wrongly filled in the first square. If you've forgot that you've wrongly filled in that first square, then you'll take for granted that your entire set of fill-ins is right, since they do not contradict either each other nor the puzzle's own initial squares. So, if you maintain merely your sense that you've filled them all in right, then you'll be forced to conclude that the puzzle's own intial conditions were wrong, and thus, that the puzzle is strictly impossible.
Is power to its possessing object like a motorcycle to its rider: able to be alienated from it? And, is power most essentially the condition of being 'over' something, such that power can change that something? What is power, really? In other words, what is the logic of power? What is its essence?
If one thinks of actual, concrete power as the condition of being 'over' something, then one shall be subject to the sense that having 'all power' (omnipotence, unexceedable power) is the condition of being 'over' every sensible essence (including over the essence even of power and all-power). And, if one has the sense that 'all power' is the condition of being 'over' every sensible essence, then one shall be subject to the sense that, say, 'unexceedable-power includes the power to exceed its on power' and that, say, 'a being with unexceedable power can cause itself to cease to have ever existed such that it never shall exist'.
Such senses are examples of ill-founded intuition, so that if one fails to sense their foundations, then, at best, one shall struggle to draw a conclusion as to what omnipotence is, and, at worst, shall conclude that there can be no such actual thing as an omnipotent being. (Or, in the case that the reader finds these words, say, over-simplistic, the reader nevertheless shall get the general idea, one hopes.)
So, there is a difference between a being that is the infinite root of every true, sensible kind of power, and a being that "has" power "over" every sensible thing. The first being is an agent which is an actual, concrete agency. The second being is merely somehow in possession of an agency which has no sensible essence other than that that agency is 'over' all sensible essences. In other words, there is a difference between power as an actual something in itself, and power as merely the condition in which something is inferior to, and alienated from, an amorphous 'nothing' which nevertheless is 'powerful over' that something.
Now, assuming the reader fully understands all of the foregoing, then it immediately shall be seen two mutually contrary intuitions as to how to answer a question like "Can an omnipotent being create a rock too heavy for that being to lift?". The reader ought to have a sense of two mutually conflicting ways by which such a question can logically be answered, and that one of those 'logical' ways is, at root, illogical (i.e, does not hold together).
When you run up against a question like "Does an omnipotent being have the power even to exceed or compromise its own power?" a first question to ask of it is, "Is the power of that being dissociable from that being, or, instead, is its power the very same thing as the being?" Is a motorcycle a different thing from the logic of its own power? Or, instead, is 'the logic of the power of a motorcycle' just another way of saying 'motorcycle'?
So, there is the matter of adopting the mental/logical image either of an ‘omnipotent being’ as a concrete synthesis of ‘being’ and ‘omnipotence’, or the image of that being as the same thing as its omnipotence. The difficulty in deciding which image, if either, is the better is in the fact that the ‘Greek-trained’, Western mind views 'omnipotence' and 'being' typically as necessarily different things, and that 'omnipotence' is the far more abstract of the two since it alone is so difficult for us to comprehend. But, a more concrete frame of reference may help clarify the unsuspected obscurities:
If my motorcycle, as merely a motorcycle, is fantasized to be omnipotent, then it still clearly is dissociable from me when I cause it to accelerate at its maximum power. I’ll be treated to the famous All-you-can-eat Asphalt Buffet. In other words, if my motorcycle, as such, is imagined to be omnipotent, then it is not possible to determine any features of its supposed omnipotence that are not part of that picture: it’s a motorcycle. Only if some other concrete features are added to it (at least fictionally) can it be pictured to have those other features. For example, if it has a science-fictional energy field that acts to eliminate inertia for itself and from anyone within that field, and if that field is made to be automatically activated when the power is turned on, then, when I floor the throttle, the motorcycle shall not leave me behind on my behind.
Additionally, a regular motorcycle, as such, has no ability to remain upright on its own while rolling down the road. If it were ‘omnipotent’, then it seems that the only way it could remain upright while traveling rider-less at a finite speed is if the physics of finite speed above a certain rate prevents an articulated object from bending, rolling, or yawing from the impact-friction of intervening particles.
Even the question of whether an ‘omnipotent’ motorcycle can ever be turned off once it is turned on can seem un-decidable if the picture one adopts is that in which the general metaphysical concept of omnipotence is emphasized over that of ‘motorcycle-ness’. Omnipotence naturally is perceived as the superior object of the two, so there is some tendency, on the part of people with comparatively too much abstract training, to an automatic adoption of such an imbalanced picture.
Then, there is the question of whether, when rider-less and in-motion, the ‘omnipotent’ mere motorcycle will run into things, violate traffic conventions, and otherwise make a mess of its path. Say I tape the throttle down, as I’m riding the bike, so the bike maintains a rate of sixty miles per hour, and then I jump off into the side of the road. The bike is going to run into whatever it is headed toward unless something, or someone, causes it to move otherwise. It isn’t automatically going to do things that we may wish it to do just because we paint it into a single picture with omnipotence.
In short, an 'omnipotent motorcycle' is limited in the kinds of actual, possible things that it can do, including is power to make the incoherent mental picture of an ‘omnipotent motorcycle’ coherent.
Excessive logic, and the Akido of agency
I wish to return, now, to the question about the rock: “Can an omnipotent being create a rock too heavy for that being to lift?" For the intuition of what I shall call “power as an over-something cause of an effect”, such a question presents a paradox, since, if power is assumed to be most truly and directly defined in the active sense of something being exceeded or otherwise changed, then for a power to be able to create something which exceeds or otherwise compromises that power means that that power is not un-exceed-able.
But, from the point of view of the intuition that power is an actual, concrete agent, the question about the rock is not a true paradox. In fact, from the point of view of that intuition, the only right answer to the question shall not be misleading: the omnipotent being is not, in fact, limited in its power if it cannot create such a rock.
And, the reason that the mental picture of an un-exceed-able agent is not found to be exceeded by being unable to exceed itself is because of the concrete, and quite empirical, reality of exceed-able agency. For an actual agency to be exceedable, there has to be other actual agents which are, in at least some features, superior to at least some of that exceed-able agent’s own features. This is how, for example, a human, who clearly is not unexceedably powerful in every way within his material world, and who can construct a devise for fatally bonking a rhinoceros in the head, can actually be killed by that same device.
It would appear, then, that nothing in the physical world can be omnipotent over the rest of the physical world, including an arbitrary physical ‘first cause’. Even if it is presupposed that some mere-and-indifferent physical ‘first cause’ can be omnipresent such that it ever-and-presently has as kind of actual omnipotence short of being able, say, to ride a motorcycle, then, by what manner is such a 'first cause' identifiably merely physical except by presupposing it to be indifferent? But, the omnipresence of the man holding the pool stick is more powerful than the pool game (the latter of which includes the pool stick), and yet the balls are the only things that remain on the table. This pool game picture may be an over-simplistic (that is, somewhat misleading) analogue to the distinction between omnipotence and all other agents; but, to this author's intuitions, it otherwise appears to be correct.
Let me now say some words that may be found by most (if not all) adversaries to my position to be a little too abstract:
The mental picture of an "agent" which is "over all agents" (pure agency) is tantamount to infinite regress and or logical explosion, assuming the two are not (contrary to the obscuring-ly pragmatic functions of the human creature’s mind) the same thing. Pure agency cannot actually be identified in terms of any actual kind of agent, which means pure agency is not any kind of agent, but rather is a pure abstraction of ‘effect’ for which something else is the ‘cause’. To posit "an agent which is over all agents" is a self-contrary position (i.e., two mutually contrary positions masquerading as one position), and therefore does not identify the ultimate conceivable agent.
Power, or agency, is not essentially the state of affairs that a thing is exceeded or inferior to something, but that a real something is greater than something else. Otherwise, power implies infinite regress if not logical explosion. In terms of cause/effect, if being ‘over’ absolutely any given thing, including any given instance of an agent/power, is what power is defined to be, then, within the confine/guide of this definition, power necessarily is exceeded by another power, and that other power exceeded by another, ad infinitum. Something must be located, or existing, in terms only of itself (which implies it is non-synthetic), otherwise nothing actually exists. But, things clearly do exist, even if unplumbed by the human mind.
The words of all my adversaries regarding the subject of omnipotence seem to me to treat the abstraction called ‘logic’ as the very thing which must alone exist of itself, and this concretely, locally. In any case, if that is the way in which logic is to be treated, then, of course, the natural or intuitive conclusion as to what omnipotence means is going to be something which cannot help but show such ‘logic’ up for what such ‘logic’ really is: nothing in itself. The fact that people can fail to see that that is what the immediately intuitive truth of power, or, actual existence of agency as something that exists as an actual agent, is doing to the kind of ‘logic’ that treats logic as a thing in itself is because such people are trying actually to attain an epistemologically superior view of everything that can possibly exist, a point of view from which all the actual topography of reality all that possibly can exist may be discretely look down upon. The mental ‘topographic map’ representing that actual ‘landscape’ certainly can be look down upon, but it’s just a map. There is no such thing as a perfect generalized abstraction of concrete things which is a kind of ‘glue’ that holds every concrete thing together and makes all those things be what they are (‘law of identity’, admission-of-knowledge-but-ignorance). Something must have an identity in itself. But, the Greek abstraction known as ‘logos’ has no identity in itself; otherwise, you could identify it without making even the slightest implicit reference to anything more sensible.
Now, for a synthetic living being (a living creature), its mind and person are in many ways distinct from its macro-mechanical power. For example, a human can become paralyzed, yet be fully aware, so that his most obviously relative power is absent while his mind and knowledge are present-and-undiminished. For another example, a human’s macro-mechanical power, when in particular coordination with gravity and external rigid masses, has the capacity to render the human paralyzed, unconscious, or even dead.
But, to abstract from empirically known powers the sensible notion that power is the facility to effect (or bring about) a state of affairs is helpful only in so far as that sense consists in itself. In other words, it is not a foolproof, or original, sense of power, because it is derived (abstracted) from the effective natures of actual, concrete objects.
When the mental generalization of power as the facility to effect a state of affairs is held as a kind of magic bullet for understanding the nature of concrete power, then it serves only to enhance a legalistically narrow-minded view of the very concrete things from which the generalization is made. Power itself is not a facility to effect a state of affairs. Power is a state of affairs. In other words, power is a concrete thing. Because, if power is not itself a state of affairs, then power consists of nothing. There must be a concrete thing which has/is the facility to act upon other concrete things.
That which most essentially exists must be concrete; it cannot be a mere mental abstraction from the concrete. In order for there to exist such a thing as the facility to effect a state of affairs, there must exist an actual thing which, by being a state of affairs, has/is that facility.
So, the proper definition of power is that it is the original, and thus the most meaningful, state of affairs.
To identify omnipotence as including the facility to exceed, compromise, or otherwise change even itself is not to have at all identified that in which power consists, but only to have identified power as including the facility to exceed, compromise, or otherwise change other powers. Other concrete things. Furthermore, since there must exist an original, or immediately meaningful, state of affairs, then any mental negation of that state of affairs does not represent a state of affairs. Which means that omnipotence cannot logically be identified as including the facility to effect the negation of any immediately meaningful state of affairs, since, essentially, all that which is truly immediately meaningful is included in that most concrete of all objects which is omnipotence.
But, to say that omnipotence (God) is the most concrete of all objects does not mean that God is not a spirit. It means, rather, that the spirit which is God is that very power which alone gives substance and animation to all creatures. The word 'spirit' is related to the word 'respiration', in which the latter means a repeated intake of an invisible-yet-concrete thing by which the life of the living creature is maintained. If air, for all its invisibility, is nevertheless real and concrete, then so much more is God both invisible and concrete.
A mental abstraction is a concrete thing only in so far as the mind is a concrete thing. The mind is not an unconditional, irrelevant abstraction, but a real, and meaningful, thing. If logic truly required that omnipotence include the facility to negatively effect its supreme status, then the mind would not be that which can represent reality, but would most essentially be that which, by being an unconditional facility for formalism, is the facility for self-delusion, and for which half-witted abstractions will serve the purpose of proving that nothing, in the end, has any meaning, except self-congratulation. Power is not fully defined as the facility to bring about a state of affairs, else any instance of power could bring about any state of affairs. Any motorcycle could accelerate at infinite velocity, no matter how heavy the motorcycle, and no matter how weak the engine.
Atheists find fault with the ontological argument. For similar reasons, I find fault with atheist's anti-omnipotence argument. If it cuts one way, then it cuts the other way, just by turning it around.
Logic is just another word for consistency/coherence. Just like this essay, logic is defined as ‘all pertinent points connected’, even though its connections shall not be found to be laid out in an order convenient for a simple-minded fool. For, while, in an imperfect world, natural language is an unfortunate necessity, in a perfect one it is a necessary constituent. Mathematical exactness is not a standard for natural language, while it is a standard for a natural mind; and, the fact is, that some parts of math are impossible to plumb, which in no way precludes its knowability to whatever finite depth it is known.
Now, the logic---the definition---of omnipotence is that nothing can logically be greater than it in power. In other words, it is not logically possible to define, (i.e., distinguish/limit) omnipotence as including being subject either to be exceeded or to be caused to discohere. For example, it is not logically possible for omnipotence to exceed itself by creating a rock too heavy for it to lift. To equate this logical impossibility with either a generic or concrete lack of capacity is logically (and concretely) erroneous.
“Omnipotence is not omnipotent unless omnipotence has the power to create a power which is more powerful than omnipotence. But, if it can create a power which is more powerful that itself, then it already is not omnipotent, since a greater power than itself can exist.”
Talk about not being able to make up one’s mind. Is omnipotence a power than which no greater can exist? Or, is omnipotence a power which can be exceeded by its own power?
Any synthetic object is consistent only in so far as it is synthetically coherent: in so far as its disparate constituents cohere to one another. There is no coherent logic that requires that omnipotence be distinguished as including being subject either to be exceeded or to be caused to discohere.
Does there exist a power which can exceed itself, or even a power which can destroy itself? Are such powers even logically possible? A man has power to accumulate, outside himself, other existing powers, such that the cumulative result has power to kill the man. This does not mean that the man has power to exceed his own powers; it means that there exist other powers which, together, are more powerful than the man’s own power to stay alive and well. Further, a man has power, directly by one of his hands/arms, to break the fingers of his other hand. This does not mean that his hand has power to destroy itself; it means that neither of his hands is indestructible, and that either hand has power, combined with the power of his arms, to break the other hand (his ‘victim’ arm must resist being moved by the other arm/hand in order to obtain sufficient leverage to break the fingers of the ‘victim’ hand). Therefore, to abstract that a man has power to exceed his own power is an erroneous abstraction, because a man’s power is not one power, but many, and the whole is coherent by a less-than-omnipotent bond. Such an abstraction is equivalent to saying that 2+2=5 (which allows logical explosion). All of which means that omnipotence must include omnipotent coherence.
The abilities of a human to perceive and to think are concrete powers, in that a human’s mind and sensory faculties are concrete powers. But, these are synthetically concrete powers, which means they are contingent on the collective powers of their parts. This means that the extent to which an individual human’s mind is coherent in regard to omnipotence depends on the extent to which the correlated concrete parts of his concretely real brain are coherent. This implies that an omnipotent entity, if it has a mind at all, has a mind which is inherently coherent. It further implies that, since all knowledge is a function of concrete things, an omnipotent entity knows all things by it being the most concrete thing in existence---for there is nothing as concrete as that which is non-synthetic and which has created all synthetic powers.
Coherence is not primarily an abstraction, but a concrete thing. Only if coherence is essentially a mental object can omnipotent coherence be denied to omnipotence. Omnipotent coherence is logically inherent to an object which is not made of things which are not itself. A finger is concretely distinct from a whole hand, so, a finger can be caused to discohere from the hand. And, the parts of the finger are concretely distinct from the whole finger, so, all the parts of the finger can be caused to discohere such that the finger is destroyed.
There is no such thing as a power which can exceed itself; so, by what power can unexceed-able power exceed itself?
It is not a state of affairs that there is a power which can exceed itself. It also is not a state of affairs that an unexceed-able power can cause to exist something which is not a state of affairs. It is this power which atheists are rejecting, by saying, in so many words, that such a power is not a state of affairs.
But, if it is not a state of affairs that an unexceed-able power can cause to exist something which is not a state of affairs, then by what state of affairs do atheists assert that unexceed-able power must be exceed-able in order to be unexceed-able? There is no such state of affairs. Rather, there are two mutually exclusive states of affairs which, mistaken by atheists for one state of affairs, compels atheists to so assert.
Power is not in a one-to-one relationship to its effect, but to the object it effects. That is, power primarily is an object, not an action by an object. In other words, power is not primarily a cause for a state of affairs, but is a state-of-affairs in itself.
Even in math, 1 is not reducible, or identical, to its role in 1+1=2. So, power is not the abstract state either of being superior to, or of the capacity to change, something. Power is something, concretely.
Causality, or superiority, is not something in itself, any more than effect or inferiority is something in itself. Causality is an abstraction of the knowledge that some things are concretely prior, or superior, to other things.
It is agreed by atheists that there is no power but what is concrete. They say, further, that there is nothing but what is concrete. So, all things that, to them, exist are, by, definition, powers; for, anything which, to them, is concrete, can change some other concrete thing, and can be changed by some other concrete thing, and, thus, no part of which can be distinguished as omnipotent. But, altogether, this equates, for the atheist, to there being no God.
But, whereas atheists say that the only things which exist are physical, I say that what they call physical is nothing but a synthesis of the concrete. Further, I say that what they call concrete is illusory to the human mind beyond its merely practical applications. In other words, I say that the world which we all call physical cannot be plumbed; that it is made of infinite gradations, and, thus, that it cannot be comprehended beyond the terminal uses to which we may put it. In yet other words, we can sense, in the physical usage of the term, only so much, and, thus, that we cannot comprehend the physical beyond the extent of our senses, such that, if the physical is made of infinite gradations of itself, then it is entirely a synthetic and contingent entity beyond which our minds intuit a non-contingent, or terminal, cause.
But, is our need for terminal applications of the physical so great a need as to so limit our thinking so that our intuition of a terminal cause is in error? If it is in error, then even the ‘physical’ is as I say: infinitely gradated. But, if it is not in error, then does this mean that the synthetic whole of the non-sentient physical world has a non-sentient terminal cause within itself (a power called a Unifying Field Theory, or UFT for short)? For, if there is a true UFT, then it exists at an arbitrary level in the ‘ground of logic’, and, furthermore, it logically can be harnessed by man such that man becomes omnipotent in terms of human needs, including entropy-free eternal life, and otherwise-mastery-of-the-physical-world-for-human-interests. All because sentient, or “subjective”, life is defined, by atheists, as the contingency of a late-model complexity of a finitely-graded non-sentient stuff.
Knowledge never is superior to its object. But, this does not mean that no kinds of knowledge are identical to their object. Some knowledge is, in fact, identical to its object. The same is true of power: it is not an abstract state of “being superior to”, rather, it is a concrete something to begin with, and, thus, which is superior to inferior things. So, the greatest power is that thing which is superior to all other things. An abstraction is a thing which is a thing only by being based on things which are concrete. The abstraction of a perfect triangle is based on a perception of a gradation below which the perceiver does not immediately perceive. No concrete line is smooth, because a concrete line is a synthesis of concrete points. Or, if a concrete line, and thus, a concrete triangle, may be perfect, yet it can be taken apart if it is synthetic. But, if it is not synthetic, then it is omnipotent at least in terms of its coherence, and in terms of anything of which it alone most basically comprises.
If omniscience is knowledge of all things, then omnipotence is power of all things. Though uncommonly ambiguous, this statement nevertheless is coherent. Furthermore, its ambiguity is precisely what allows it to be interpreted in such a way as to command the common-sense presupposition that knowledge and power pertain to concrete things.
But, some kinds of knowledge are, in a sense, abstract, by pertaining to things outside itself; whereas power, in order to exist at all, necessarily pertains to itself without regard for its effects on external objects. Therefore, to identify power as an abstraction is, at best, imprecise, and, at worst, the most misleading thing possible.
In order for cause and effect to exist, there must exist concrete things (objects and forces) which are, themselves, concrete things prior to their causality. But, many of the more abstract kinds of knowledge are, by definition, effects---including "logic".
So, knowledge is in view of concrete things, while power is concrete things. It is knowledge to know that the Earth orbits the sun, but it is power to cause the Earth to orbit the sun. And, in the case both of that knowledge and of that power, gravity is the primary concrete thing. (Some may object, by saying that gravity is, in fact, an abstraction. But, if by ‘abstraction’ they mean a theory about the origins and geometries of the action and sensible force between masses, then their objection misses the point by misinterpreting my words. Gravity must be an actual thing in order for theories as to its origins and geometries to be formulated. Gravity is not primarily a theoretical construct residing in the mind, but is a very concrete thing residing very much independently of theoretic mental action.)
So, when I claim that it is incoherent to hold that omnipotence includes power to make 2+2=explosion while not holding that omniscience includes knowledge that 2+2=explosion, it is palpably ignorant to object that this claim is nonsense. The objection is argued by stating that 2+2 does not, in fact, equal explosion, while the combination of the meanings of ‘power’ and ‘all’ necessarily results in power even to make 2+2=explosion. But, that argument poses power as pertaining to nothing (as being a mere abstraction of priority), while granting that knowledge pertains to something (as being something). But, it is obvious that, within the knowledge of the world of actual, concrete things, power pertains to actual, concrete things. Which means that for any power to exist, it must be something prior the fact that it has power over something.
Power is not the state of being over something. So, neither is all-power the state of being over exhaustively all things. To say that omnipotence must mean being more powerful even that itself is very clearly incoherent nonsense. Therefore, if all-power is meant merely as the capacity to change all things, then it is inconsistent not to allow that all-knowledge is the capacity to see that all things can be changed.
(And, if a mere abstraction of two-and-two apples cannot be changed into logical explosion, then how much more can an omnipotently coherent concrete thing not be changed. All the concrete apples will rot into dirt before the fool will see that his "logic" does not add up to proof of anything except the proof of his foolishness.)
There is no sound basis in our knowledge of power that allows us to infer that all-power is the capacity to change all things. In other words, while there is such a thing as the naked mental abstraction of capacity, there is no such thing as naked capacity: it’s a king who, by having no clothes, does not exist. The clothes, in this case, are the illusions which our abstractions paint when we take the abstract-ness of our abstractions for the real thing, so that once we remove the clothes off of that which we hail as King, we are left with nothing worthy of esteem. (Atheism abstracts God in the image of man, for the very motive of rejecting God at the outset, and so atheism cannot help but conclude that there can be no such God.) In short, logic is not anything in itself---yet atheists worship it by insisting that it requires that omnipotence includes an immediate ‘power’ to exceed or otherwise compromise its own logical distinction as omnipotence.
Power is not a nothing, so all-power cannot be a nothing either. Rather, all-power must be the most primary, most concrete thing, and thus which, unlike the functions of our physical minds, is, by definition, not subject to a failure to cohere.
Power is not the effect which a thing has on something. Power is the thing that effects---even when it seems to us not to effect, since the best we can do to identify it is to see what happens to our logics when we deny its non-contingent logical possibility.
Power does not consist in the abstract capacity to change concrete things. Rather, power consists of concrete things. In other words, in order for there to be a power over a given concrete thing, there must be a concrete thing over that given concrete thing. But, if that given thing is not concrete, but abstract, such as a perfect mental representative of concrete triangles, then there is no power over it, because it is not a thing in itself, but an abstraction of a thing in itself. A given concrete triangle does not, in itself, represent triangle-ness, any more than a given concrete apple represents the taste of apples. Your mind represents triangle-ness, just as your mind represents apples and your remembered taste experiences of apples. In other words, there is no apple in the world that can claim to know that such a thing as an apple exists. Each apple, in itself, is a representative only of itself---which means that the only other thing which can truly represent it is a sentient object whose sentience includes knowledge of every detail of that apple, as far down into the physics of it constituents as that apple exists.
A given concrete apple does not have any direct concrete connection to the apple-ness of other apples, living or dead: any concrete apple can be burned to ash without any other concrete apple ceasing to be an apple.
There is no changing a given meaning as such. When you mean a particular thing, that is what you mean. Wherever you go, there you are. To mean a triangle is not to mean a square, but a triangle.
But, to mean something for which you fail to see is foolish does not mean that it is not foolish. It means that you have a hastily flawed view of the nature, and mechanics, of your own synthetically-bound thinking. There is no such thing as “power-over-something”; power must be something itself, just like foolishness must be something itself; but, power must be the far more concrete.
Knowledge pertains to things. Power is a thing. Therefore, knowledge pertains to power. Therefore, to claim to know that it only makes sense that all-power means an abstraction of power over all things is to claim to know that everyone knows that this meaning makes only the right sense to them, and thus to ‘intuit’ that anyone who denies that it only makes sense to them is lying, even that they are lying for dubious reasons, such as that they want to have their theological cake and eat it too.
But, as I hope I’ve demonstrated to your mind by the particular set and sequence of words of this essay, it is the ‘New Atheist’ who is trying to have his cake and eat it too, by insisting that ‘power’ cannot mean any concreteness when it is combined with ‘all’ (even though the ideas of “all powers in existence”, and “an inherently coherent terminal power which has created all those powers” are genuine alternatives in regard to such combination). If there is no God, then so be it. But, even then, that does not preclude the fact that ‘power’, when combined with ‘all’, can mean something at least as concrete as my (and your) flimsy physical mind.
The problem of evil presupposes the ultimate objectivity of the good. So, if there is one thing which it is the most proper to call 'power', it is not anything like a motorcycle. It is, rather, a Living God who, alone, is the most truly called 'Love'. If there is no love, then 'power' means nothing but an indifferent trivia of mindless, endless, moisturless sand, with not even a struggling traveler to call it evil.
Matthew 26:59-64, John 18:35-38, John 19:7-11
Matthew 26:59-64 …Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, [yet] found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This [fellow] said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what [is it which] these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
John 18:35-38 …Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault [at all].
John 19:7-11 …The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
PatternOfPersona 02:48, 7 July 2011 (EDT)
(For a more thorough treatment of omnipotence by this author, see http://www.astorehouseofknowledge.info/User:PatternOfPersona/The_logic_of_power)