Proceedings of the Virgin Islands' Seminar on Unification Theology -- Darrol Bryant, General Editor - April 1, 1980

Unification Thought -- Joe Tully

In this lecture1 I would like to present an overview of what we call Unification thought. There are some limits to what can be presented here; the first is the time limit, and the second comes from the current state of Unification thought itself. The content, language, and methodology of Unification thought are somewhat different from traditional western thought, and a great deal of work remains to be done in order to bring Unification thought into a form in which it can be directly related to and compared with the western tradition. I myself have not been trained in philosophy, so I am ill equipped to do this.

I would like to begin with the origin and status of Unification thought. It is a complex philosophical development based on fundamental principles which are given within the theology of Rev. Moon. Briefly, some of these principles are the existence of an Original Being or God, who has an original purpose, the existence of man as the recipient of or inheritor of or expression of that original purpose, man's deviation from that purpose, and a process of restoration by which and through which man can and is to be restored to that purpose. Based on these fundamental principles, a philosophical development has been made, primarily by Dr. Sang Hun Lee in Korea, along with a number of others in Korea and Japan and elsewhere. It is currently written in English in a blue paperback book (hence often called the "blue book") entitled Unification Thought.2 In addition some outline and summary versions are available.

As I said earlier, most of Unification thought is in formative stages of development. The section on ontology is called the fundamental theory and is the most highly developed. The other parts of Unification thought are called partial theories because they are, as yet, only partly done.

One of the most essential features of Unification thought is that it is relational: all beings are seen as existing through relations, both internal and external. In addition Unification thought is relational in that it attempts to join or relate or unify the many received systems of thought; the underlying concept here is that in order to have a unified world it is necessary to have a unified and harmonious system of thought. This does not mean uniformity of thought, but harmony. This unification of thought is not simply an eclectic gathering from the previous philosophical traditions, but a unification and harmonization accomplished through use of certain principles which govern what is selected and how it is to be put together. The fundamental principle or basis on which Unification thought is developed and by which it attempts to solve fundamental problems is an understanding of Original Being or ultimate origin, also called God.

As currently written, there are six sections in Unification Thought. These are ontology, theory of original human nature, epistemology, axiology, ethics, and history. Three other sections -- logic, aesthetics, and education -- have been developed in unpublished manuscripts. At least two other important areas, economic theory and political theory, remain to be developed. The most highly developed section is ontology, and beginning with that section I would like to look briefly at and comment on each of these sections.

(1) Ontology.

Unification thought claims that there is an ultimate Original Being that (who) is the original base of existence, and that all other beings are created by that Original Being or God. This does not mean that each being is immediately created, but that each being can be traced back through a chain of causes to God or Original Being. Furthermore, the ontological structure of the Original Being is the basis of the structure of all other beings. Ontology explains the relationships between the attributes of existing (created) beings and the attributes of Original Being. Those relations have been covered, at least in basic form, in the lecture you heard earlier on the principle of creation, so I will not elaborate them at length at this point. I will however express what these fundamental attributes are. I stress the word fundamental.

The fundamental attributes of the Original Being are the aspect-pairs that are called sung sang and hyung sang, internal and external, nature and character, plus and minus, and masculinity and femininity (or male and female nature). In addition to those aspect-pairs, there are within the Original Being what is called heart, logos, and creativity, along with something called individual images, which are the prototypes or images of created beings. Heart is a combination of love and directed energy or impulse toward realizing that love. Within the Original Being, there is a particular relationship that occurs between these particular elements; much of that was explained in the principle of creation lecture. In the Unification view, the most essential element of the Original Being is heart, which is the very source and motivation of love.

In addition to the relationship between sung sang and hyung sang, within the sung sang itself there is a further relationship called inner sung sang and inner hyung sang. To put it differently, we can say that there are aspects of relational activity within the mind or inner being of the Original Being.

The process of creation takes place fundamentally through a two-stage process. In the mind (the sung sang) of the Original Being there is an interaction between the inner sung sang and inner hyung sang; the inner sung sang is comprised of emotion, intellect and will, and these inner elements of the mind of the Original Being interact with the outer elements of the mind, or inner hyung sang, which is comprised of law and idea. To put it simply, this comes to the same thing as saying that within the mind of the Original Being there are both originating or active elements -- thought, and the feeling and will by which thought acts -- and recipient or object elements -- law and idea -- by which or through which thought acts. The process of creation begins with this mind and comes about through interaction between these inner elements (i.e. inner sung sang and inner hyung sang), by which what we call logos is generated, and then through the interaction of this logos with the outer form (or hyung sang) -- what we might call energy -- a new created being is produced. To summarize: inner sung sang and inner hyung sang interact to produce a logos, and logos interacts with outer hyung sang (energy) to produce a created being. Within the Original Being the essential element is that of heart and it is around this that the inner nature is working and moving.

(2) Theory of Original Human Nature.

The second section of Unification Thought is the theory of original human nature. I think that this is one area in which Unification thought is more or less unique in that it has developed a theory of what the nature of man would have been had he/she not fallen. Most theories of human nature have attempted to describe man as he/she now is or now appears, but Unification thought deals here with man as he/she should appear or be. This is an important element from the Unification perspective because if, in fact, there is some original nature which we should have, but now fail to have, and if we want to attain that nature, then it is important that we first know what it is. To put it differently, we must know the ideal nature of human beings.

The fundamental elements of the original human nature are that people are beings created in the image of God, created to be the incarnation of God's heart and love and God's creativity and logos, and that people are beings of sung sang and hyung sang, as well as beings who are either male or female. The essential nature of the human being reflects the essential nature of the Original Being; a human being is supposed to be an image of the Original Being and therefore to have the same nature of love. A person is a being who stands in a dual position; in one position he/she stands as the object to God, responsive to God's love and direction, and in the other position a person stands as subject to the creation, responsible to give love and harmony to the creation. So people originally were supposed to be the center of harmony between God and the creation, the center or basis of harmony for the entire created order.

Man/woman has not attained or developed this original or intended nature due to human enslavement or imprisonment because of sin. The effect of the original sin was to disrupt this intended harmony; because of the original sin, man/woman has been unable to achieve this harmony. It is important that we see our social, political, economic, and ecological affairs as not now being in this originally intended state, and as needing restoration to that state. As we move toward that ideal, we are in fact moving out of enslavement in which we now find ourselves. So we can say that what we need is liberation; liberation from all the kinds of enslavement and mis-arrangement in which we now find ourselves. From the Unification perspective, both man/woman and the rest of the created order are in bondage as a result of sin. A proper understanding of the original nature of man/woman and of the intended relationship between people and creation is therefore both a prerequisite and a foundation for the necessary liberation of all of mankind and all creation.

(3) Epistemology.

According to Unification epistemology, we know things based on an interactive process between the knower and the thing that is known. This interaction is made possible because there is in the mind of the human knower a prototype of the known; the prototype is latent until the process of knowing "triggers" it. So the prototypes themselves undergo development in the interactive process that is knowing. Thus, we can say that the prototypes form the basis of our knowing of natural kinds. Knowing then is an interaction, it is neither purely subjective (as idealists would tend to hold) nor something purely objective that happens to the knower (as empiricists would claim). The Unification view is similar to Kant's view in that it combines perception and conception, but it is dissimilar to Kant in that the Unification view claims that the world as it is in itself is known to the knower as it is in itself; there is no cleavage, in the Unification view between the knower and the known, as there is in Kant's distinction between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds.

(4) Logic.

Unification logic is, as yet, almost completely undeveloped. Therefore I will not discuss that section of Unification thought at this time.

(5) Axiology.

According to Unification thought we have to differentiate between potential value and actual or realized value. The elements that provide the foundation for value, or the elements necessary for potential value, are purpose and, centered on that purpose, a harmony of all the elements involved, including both form and the particular elements of that form, or content. All these elements, centered in harmony on a purpose, are the objective or necessary conditions for potential value. Actual or realized value is created when there is interaction between a subject and object in such a fashion that there is stimulation of the potential value within the subject. Subjective conditions certainly enter into value; we can say that such things as a person's view of life, his/her actual background, history, perspective, beliefs, education, personality, and other things all are parts of the nature of that person as subject, and are part of the subjective conditions of any interaction between that person and anything in the position of object. These subjective conditions are the fundamental necessary elements that provide a basis upon which actual value is created. In addition to those elements that are peculiar to the individual, there are certain universal elements that are common to all persons. So not all persons will approach or see any particular object or person or thing or situation as having the same value; in fact each subject will perceive a different value according to the subjective conditions of that subject. But because of the universal conditions, each person shares with every other person some uniformity or similarity in his/her perception of value.

Considered from the divine perspective, since God is the Creator who has given the ultimate purpose to man and is the ultimate center of harmony of the universe, God is the ultimate standard of value as the ultimate subject who can perceive the true value of things.

(6) Ethics.

The foundation of ethics in Unification thought is based on God's being the origin of goodness. The ultimate standard or base of ethics is found in the fulfillment of God's will, and God's fundamental will is that the relationship of love be fulfilled, thus love itself is the core element of ethics. In the Unification view the family (or the so-called family four-position foundation) is the basic unit in which love is expressed and transmitted, and is the foundation for the full expression of God's love, therefore the family is integrally involved in any expression of love and goodness. Other ethical relationships, such as social ethics or business ethics or any other type of ethics, would be developed on the basis of this family model.

In the family four-position foundation, there is the so-called triple objective purpose, which means, in effect, that each person stands as object to three subjects, and stands as subject to three objects. The fulfillment of this triple objective purpose is the establishment of the family, centered on God. The triple objective purpose means that any being does not stand solely as related singly to any other being, but any being stands simultaneously as related to three other beings. Selfish or narrow relationships are, therefore, a violation of the family four-position foundation, and hence unethical, a violation of the Divine order. But the family four-position foundation also means that there is a proper nature to each type of relation, and that violation of that proper type or kind of relation is also unethical (e.g. the love or relation that is appropriate between spouses is inappropriate between children, or between parents and children). Because the family is the foundation of all other relationships, in the Unification view it is impossible to establish any other ethical relationships properly if the family relationship is not properly established.

(7) Aesthetics and Art.

In the Unification view, art involves the realization or creation of an appreciation of beauty. Beauty is whatever stimulates joy in its subject. The Unification view of aesthetics is closely allied with its view of value in that, in order for beauty to be achieved, there must be the interplay between the subject and object that we discussed above under axiology. Beauty is fundamentally an emotional stimulation that is given from the object to the subject perceiving it. Here again, as above, we must consider potential beauty and actual beauty. An object has potential beauty based on its characteristics. Actual or realized beauty depends on the reception of that beauty by the subject, so subjective considerations are also determinants of actual beauty or perceived beauty. According to this view, the meaning of the phrase, "The kingdom of heaven is within you," is that the conditions for determining what beauty (or goodness) will be perceived are within the perceiving subject; the subject's heart of love makes the difference as to what beauty and goodness will be perceived as being in the observed object.

(8) Theory of Education.

Unification thought is concerned primarily with the purpose of education, and not with methodology, although it does turn to consideration of methodology consistent with fulfilling the ultimate purpose of education. The purpose of education is based on man/woman's becoming the image of God, which means the fulfillment of the purpose of creation given to man/woman by God; it means that man/woman is to become a true child of God. As explained in earlier lectures, the purpose of creation for humankind is expressed as fulfillment of the so-called three great blessings, which are individual maturity, establishment of the family and extended social relations according to the divine ideal, and true dominion over the creation by human beings. The purpose of education then is to direct people toward the fulfillment of the three great blessings. In order to do that we must teach people how to be mature children of God, or true persons, how to establish true families according to the divine ideal, how to extend those relationships into other social relationships so that all social order will embody the divine ideal, and how to establish harmonious dominion over the created world.

The true person is one who is an image of God, which is to say an embodiment of the divine characteristics. The fundamental characteristic of God is love or heart, so the fundamental goal of education must be the teaching of people to embody divine heart or love. In addition to that heart or love, people must develop their other abilities, including such things as mental ability, creativity, technical competence, and so on. We can call these latter the external abilities, and we can call heart or love the internal character of man/woman. Both the internal character and the external abilities of people must be developed in order that people can function properly and fulfill their purpose and potential. In the Unification view the internal character takes precedence and is prior to external abilities, but internal character cannot be expressed except through external abilities. The development of both aspects is therefore an absolute requirement for, and the goal of education.

Although Unificationism sees that there is an ideal goal for a purpose of education, this must be seen in the context of the Unification thought view of human nature. In the Unification view, each person is a unique expression of God's character or being, and therefore each individual is unique. Therefore Unification theory of education does not claim that each person is to be trained to be like each other; Unification education is not monolithic. When Unificationism speaks of an ideal type of education this does not mean that it is claiming that each person should be trained to grow according to the same pattern as every other person. Instead, there is a general pattern for humanity but within that general pattern, there are variations for each individual.

(9) Theory of history.

The Unification thought approach to history has been covered to some extent in prior lectures. In the Unification view, history is not merely a series of unconnected events, but is an expression of mankind's fallen condition, along with the working of the divine providence of restoration. Because of the divine providence of restoration which must be worked out in human affairs, and because that restoration providence has both successive stages as well as provision for repetition in later history of earlier unsuccessful attempts, history exhibits both a cyclical and progressive character. Both the degree of progress and the speed (or lack of it) with which that progress can be achieved depends on the degree to which persons or groups of people fulfill their particular responsibilities in carrying out the given restorative tasks. Unificationism calls these tasks indemnity conditions. Unificationism sees the restoration process as a cooperative task between God and mankind, with God having the major part or portion of responsibility, and mankind having the lesser part or portion. Both parts must be fulfilled in concert in order for the given indemnity conditions to be successful and for the restoration providence to advance to the next stage or step. Because God is faithful in doing his/her part in the scheme or task, the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of mankind's part or portion becomes the key to whether the particular restoration condition at hand will succeed. In practice, therefore, Unificationism stresses what it calls mankind's portion of responsibility as being the key to restoration/salvation. This does not mean that Unificationism denies divine grace, but it does mean that human effort and fulfillment is the necessary condition for reception and appropriation of divine grace, and that human effort and fulfillment are therefore in practice the key to salvation/restoration.

Unificationism sees certain laws operating in history, as expressions of the divinely instituted providence of restoration. One of these laws is the law of creation (operating according to the principle of creation). This law was in existence from the beginning, and continues in operation even in spite of the fall, although the fall disrupted its proper functioning and fulfillment. The second major law is the law of restoration through indemnity; this law came about only after the fall. It was divinely instituted for the purpose of overcoming both the results of the fall, and ultimately the fallen state or condition altogether, so that ultimately the whole creation is to be as if the fall had never occurred. These laws of restoration are not meant to be permanent, but to be operational only as long as the results of the fall obtain; when these laws are no longer needed, they will pass out of existence (at least as operative laws). Within the law of restoration, there are more particular historical laws that are in operation; I cannot present those now; they can be topics for further study and investigation.


I have presented what I think are some major areas of Unification thought. All of these things need to be developed in much more detail, and with much greater sophistication. It is my belief that if this is done, if this development takes place, then this can and will be the basis for an ideal orientation of personal, social, economic, and political relations.


Frederick Sontag: I'll try to keep my remarks brief. Joe, you're a very good teacher; I have tried to read that book and your exposition is much clearer than the book. What I want to say is not so much anything about your exposition or the philosophy outlined there, but something about your basic premise, your beginning and your ending. And what I would say is that you shouldn't try to do it. Theologians are a very contentious group, but the only group I know that are more contentious and divisive are philosophers. The notion that somehow a theory is going to be a basis upon which you can unite is a very questionable premise. And if you want to take it to the American Philosophical Association and try it out, you'll find out in five minutes that it will split them wide open... if you can even get them to come and listen to it in the first place.

The very notion that a theory can serve as a unifying principle is, I think, very questionable. As I tried to explain to one of my friends, I think that the notion of theory as a unifying factor goes back to the assumptions underlying modern philosophy. The middle ages and classical times were more pluralistic. But modern philosophy got the notion that, somehow, a final philosophy could be written based upon their understanding of modern science. And one only has to take a look at contemporary scientific theory to see that only a handful of philosophers around still pursue that dream. Scientists don't even dream it any longer. I think theory is divisive, not unifying. These comments apply to the whole task of Unification Thought and the Divine Principle. One thing reading Unification Thought does is to make the Divine Principle seem like a model of clarity. However, you do find this concern to unify through a theory or ideology in the Divine Principle.

It is true, and quite well documented, that the first printed Principle was much briefer and even briefer than that for those who first heard it orally. It follows a classical pattern: Rev. Moon preached the principle orally before it was written. Yet there seems to be no question that the early principle preached is identical to the core of the present Divine Principle text, that is, the first chapters which I regard as the core of the principle. Then, the present book was elaborated. The weakest and most controversial aspects of the current Divine Principle book are not the opening chapters, which are the core of the theory, but the incredible elaboration that goes on after. When you start such detailed elaboration, you don't draw people together; you send them running for their shotguns or hiding in various areas. Looking for a philosophical base for unity involves looking in the wrong place.

From these comments I draw two simple conclusions. I suspect that, as your members go out into graduate work, they will begin to go in different directions theologically. One of my New Testament friends, who doesn't care much for the Moonies, was delighted when I said that the church was sending students to graduate schools. He said: That will cure them of their faith quickly. But I believe you should go that way. Unification students should go through the test to see if they can hold to a core and on that basis expand. I could show you letters from some of your friends who've had the experience of suddenly being thrown into a bath of a thousand theories and discovering how difficult it is. My other conclusion is that I believe that the core of the identity among Unification members is not the detail of the theoretical structure, but something that has to do with its practice. It is the practice that holds you together. So I would suggest that the real basis for unity will come more from the practice, the family structure and the kinds of communities you create, than from a single intellectual structure. Indeed, if you put the intellectual structure forward as a basis for unity, it may prove self-defeating.

Paul Sharkey: I have to begin by confessing that I was brainwashed by Professor Sontag. He taught me most of my philosophy as an undergraduate. Consequently, I would just simply reiterate much of what he's already said. But there is a specific point in Unification Thought that I'm totally mystified by. I found it an interesting but humorous text after a while because I couldn't take it seriously as a philosopher. I've also been through a seminar presented to some scientists in which Unification Thought was gone into a bit more deeply. And, as one interested in the philosophy of science and epistemology, I was absolutely horrified. First, I was horrified to find out that there is no philosophy of science in Unification Thought, even though the unification of science and religion is, according to the introduction of the Divine Principle, the major precondition to establishing the restoration. The other appalling thing is in the area of epistemology. We've all heard explained here the idea of the relationship between the internal archetype and the knower being somehow related to the archetype and the thing known. This is basically the epistemology that Plato presents in the Theoetetus and quickly rejects. He says that what is needed is some standard by which we can judge whether or not the archetype that we have in our minds as opposed to the archetype in the external world is correct. Without that standard there is no way of determining that connection. In the Sophist he then develops a notion which comes down basically to a certain definitional theory of truth. But that leads him into a great deal of trouble concerning language. What the form of a thing is, the Platonic form, is basically that set of necessary conditions which taken together are sufficient to describe or characterize the thing for what it is. But his latest development -- in one of his latest dialogues, the fimceus -- is what he ends up saying about science particularly. He also makes the same comments concerning religion; that at best these things are "likely stories" and that they can't be known clearly and described and set forth once and for all.

In other words the process of science and the process of theology in their theoretical aspects are continually ongoing. Consequently, there are bound to be these various, if you will, competing "likely stories." Indeed, that's what makes science and theology fun. It also leads to the comparing of these various "likely stories" in order to find out, perhaps by axiological and other kinds of criteria, which are the most plausible or most probable of them. I think that your way is dangerously mistaken especially when the Divine Principle is full of lots of things which are, in terms of contemporary scientific theory, just plain false.

I think that what Dr. Sontag was saying is that if you begin developing a position which philosophers say is just mistaken, and then you wed that to a wrong science as a justification for the theology, then nobody is going to pay any attention to the theology at all.

Frank Flinn: I have a comment that leads to a question. First of all, we have tonight's presentation which I thought was quite well done. It was nice, succinct and right on the mark. But I want to know where this is coming from. Classically speaking, the relationship between theology and what traditionally is known as metaphysics arose on the basis of the distinction between reason and revelation. The Church fathers tried to understand and appropriate Greek thought. They tried to see it as preparation for the gospel. Thus they distinguished what man can know by his natural reason and what is known through revelation. Some people find that that was a good thing and others that it was a bad thing. Regardless of our evaluation of this project, there was a firm foundation for making the distinction between reason -- what man can know by his natural powers -- and revelation -- things man cannot know by his own natural powers. What I want to know is this: what is the theoretical foundation underlying what now emerges as the difference between principle (that is, the religious or theological presentation in the Divine Principle) and thought (the philosophical presentation in Unification Thought). I don't see that theoretical foundation for making this distinction.

George Exoo: It strikes me that under consideration of "original human nature" there might be some very interesting ground for speculation on normative definitions of personality such as Abraham Maslow has done with his self-actualizing being. I'm curious to know whether you have attempted to expand Unification theology in that way. Perhaps another way of asking the question would be to note that it seems that a lot of the genius of the Moonies has to do with the way in which their community life operates. Is there a set of middle axioms by which you attempt to take that ideal and institutionalize it in a very concrete way in your community?

Kurt Johnson: I'd like to just throw out another question. But first of all, I would reject the notion that what we have in the Divine Principle or in Unification Thought is a false science. I say that standing on the foundation of my own doctoral work in a scientific discipline which is heavily related to all this. What bothers me is this: I think we're definitely obliged to examine what actually might be there in the thinking that comes out of Rev. Moon's thought. What I see as of possible interest to science coming out of the Divine Principle and Unification Thought are some models that can be very useful in relation to what I might call mechanics or in relationship to systems models. And the reason I say that is this. If I look at what now in biological science is pure science (and there are some methodologies now which rank in that area), I can't go from science to philosophy for the things that are needed. If I go to philosophy I find out things about logic and about falsification, questions about the nature of hypotheses. But what's not there is any intuition about models. And so then I ask a question: where does science start to see these models? There is some stuff available in Marxism. And this is interesting because what Marxism offers is not science per se, but something about structures, models, relationships, and the way things may be put together. This is what I think is available in Rev. Moon's thinking too -- even better models. If I take a look at, for example, evolutionary biology, the recent things that are considered real breakthroughs methodologically and in theory have been inspired by basic insights that have come from such things as Marxism, or metatheories of relationships, or hierarchies, things that have to do with other than word games or even critical thinking. These have value in themselves, but what we need are understandings that come from some deep insight about relationships and structures and their interrelationships. That is why I don't think we should be too premature in dismissing this material. It may be very relevant to science. I think it is.


1 This lecture has been edited, rewritten and expanded for publication by Lloyd Eby.

2 Unification Thought, New York, N.Y.: Unification Thought Institute. 1978. 

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