Ingolf Dalferth thinks we are Creatures of Possibility. By that, he means that “we are creatures in the making whose actual becoming depends on possibilities beyond our control that occur in our lives as opportunities and chances that we can neglect and miss or take up and use” (ix). We are free to choose and act, and we can determine “the mode of our choosing and the way of our acting in moral terms.” Yet this freedom “depends on conditions that are beyond our control: we can choose and act and determine ourselves only against the backdrop of a basic passivity that characterizes our life and cannot be replaced or undone by anything we can do” (x).
This is a fundamental reality of human life: “Most of what we are we do not owe to ourselves.” Our existence (Dasein), our particular way of existence (Sosein), and our truthful existence (Wahrsein) are all “molded by passivity”: “There is so much that happens to us and so little that we make happen. Before I can act as a self, I must become a self, and while I cannot be a self without acting, I cannot become a self by acting.” Before we can even us the nominative “I,” we first experience the dative and the accusative—we are objects and recipients. In short, “A primal passivity precedes all our activity. Before we can give, we must be a given, and before we can act, we must be an actuality” (xi-xii).
Peter Leithart on Ingolf Dalferth's Creatures of Possibility
"All his life, people would be giving valuable things to Fred Foley unasked: gifts, powers, lives, worlds, secrets."
-R.A. Lafferty, Fourth Mansions
"Simply, Freddy will continue to evolve as the four exterior forces give him outright gifts and accidental benefits. His role in life seems to be as recipient and beneficiary of the other forces in the world. This lets him become the first truly integrated person by the end of the novel, able to incorporate the characteristics of all the monsters."
-Kevin Cheek, from an essay to be published in the LaffCon2 booklet (yes, this is a teaser!)
“It may be that you will like Fourth Mansions and you may find yourself a little bit like Freddy Foley in it, in youth and openness at least. It was for his openness that a number of amazing worlds happened to him and can happen to you. I have picked out four human aspects or movements in this, out of many, which are deformities and monstrosities in isolation, but which should be strengths when integrated in the person and group personality. At least that is what I have tried to do. Even the Patricks must have their place in the integrated personality and they must have their place in you.”
—R. A. Lafferty, Letter to Guy Lillian, Challenger #16 (1969)