Swimming With the Big Fishes in the Ocean of Being (3.15.12)
Now, as I said, the human being is faced with a range of phenomena of which he needs to take account and make sense... of. And if he is to comprehend the totality of existence, then the True Philosopher, the extreme seeker after knowledge, the ardent lover of wisdom, the off-road spiritual adventurer, must exclude nothing (including, of course, nothing).
Being that he did not bearth or begaial himself and stands in a venerable stream of tradition, he will especially avoid dissing in it and dismissing the illustrious minds that went before, most of whom found the existence of Spirit to be soph-evident. If embracing the superfishy smells of a Dawkins or Dennett means rejecting the oceanic depths of Plato, Aquinas or Augustine, then so much the worse for the modern misosophers who are blind to the big lebowskis that exceed the limits of their reason, the denizen cohns of the deep that cannot be landed with their teeny poles.
Those who "go off the deep end" receive all of the attention from mental health professionals, but it is also possible -- more common, actually -- to fall off the shallow end, "to lose everything but one's reason," as someone once said. These people can't really be helped, since they find the shallow end to be quite congenial to their simple souls. They know how to wade, to tread water, to dog-paddle, and that's all they want or need to know. This blog is not addressed to them, so I don't know why they keep returning. They'll just keep crapsizing unless they overcome their dysluxia and learn to god-paddle in the bobtismal waters.
The materialists propose what amounts to an absurdly false hierarchy with man at the top, but no way to explain how he got there (since there can be no objective progress in a random and meaningless cosmos). As Schuon explains,
"To say that man is the measure of all things is meaningless unless one starts from the idea that God is the measure of man, or that the absolute is the measure of the relative, or again, that the universal Intellect is the measure of individual existence.... Once man makes himself a measure, while refusing to be measured in turn, or once he makes definitions while refusing to be defined by what transcends him and gives him all meaning, all human reference points disappear; cut off from the Divine, the human collapses."
This is why there can be no philosophy more anti-human than humanism; you cannot turn man into a god without placing him beneath himself, for you simply create a demon who is beyond good and evil.
"Intelligence is the perception of a reality, and a fortiori the perception of the Real as such" (Schuon). Therefore, intelligence is the ability to discern the Real from the unreal, or from the "less real."
Furthermore, intelligence itself must share something of the substance of the Real, or it could not possibly know it. Ultimately, Truth and Intelligence must be two aspects of the same thing, or both are meaningless, at least as far as humans are concerned.
As Schuon explains, "the sources of our transcendent intuitions are innate data, consubstantial with pure intelligence." This is a key insight into how and why the intellect "resonates" with divine revelation and with the "inward appearance" of things in general. As I mentioned a couple of posts back, just as our physical eye perceives empirical reality, our spiritual vision is able to perceive the vertical realm. Or, to paradoxaphrase Eckhart, "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."
To put it another way, Intelligence itself is proof of eternal values, since man's intellect would be inexplicable -- for it would lose its sufficent reason -- if deprived of "its most fundamental or loftiest contents," which include Truth, Reality, and the Absolute.
Conversely, you can say -- as do postmodernists and other tenured apes -- that objective truth doesn't exist; but if so, then neither does intelligence, so there is no reason to pay any attention to their avowed lack thereof.
Scientific materialism provides us with facts and details, but no wisdom as to what they mean, or even whether it is worthwhile to know them. Philosophy, in the words of Josef Pieper, is simply "the hunt for that which is worth knowing, for that wisdom which makes one unconditionally wise..."
In fact, Pieper's conception is quite similar to Schuon's, in that he regards philosophy as being concerned with reality as a whole and with wisdom in its entirety, which can be seen as two aspects of the same underlying unity. He quotes Plato, who wrote that the lover of wisdom seeks not this or that part, but "integrity and wholeness in all things human and divine."
Clearly this is not so of science (nor should it be), which explicitly limits itself (or should, anyway) to this or that aspect or part of the cosmos, not its totality. It does, however, assume that there is a totality, even though this totality can obviously never be observed or proven empirically. No one but the Creator has ever seen the cosmos. In fact, one could say that Cosmos and Creator are also two aspects of a single reality. There is no cosmos that cannot be known, nor knowledge in the absence of a hierarchically structured cosmos. Again, Being is Truth, at least around these parts.
Pieper agrees that "it is downright unphilosophical" to arbitrarily "exclude formally any attainable data concerning reality," including sexy bartenders and all they don't know. To reduce reality to what may be clearly and unambiguously known through the scientific method is to in effect say that "I want to know only what can be made compellingly obvious and is thoroughly demonstrable." Such an approach is not worthy of the name "philosophy." Philosophy begins where science ends, which is to say, at the edge of the known, where it shades off into the vast unKnown that shines forth with a dark light visible to the eye of the soul.
Which is why man is the pascally whybit who "transcends himself to an infinite degree." This is only possible in d'light of d'vine Absolute.