Cosmos and Reality, Infinite and Absolute
Being that man cannot bearth or begaial himself -- for no man is autochthonous -- and stands in a venerable stream of tradition, he will eavoid dissing in it and dismissing the illustrious minds that went before, the vast majority of whom found the existence of Spirit to be soph-evident.
If embracing the fancies of a Dawkins or Dennett means rejecting the oceanic depths of an Aquinas or Maritain, then so much the worse for the modern misosophers who are blind to any reality that exceed the limits of their narrow reason. For example, reader William, as usual, turns reality on its head by appealing to what he calls "the infinite" in order to maintain his rigidly finite, parochial, and earthbound attitudes.
What he forgets is that to posit the Infinite -- which only man can do, and which in a certain sense defines man -- carries with it certain immediate implications. If nothing else, to take seriously the principle of the Infinite is to leave vulgar materialism behind and enter the realm of pure metaphysics. If the Infinite "exists," then it is obviously a first principle, since it cannot be surpassed. If nothing else, it is the end of the lyin'.
As Schuon explains, "To say Absolute, is to say Infinite."
I mean, right? Again, the mind cannot surpass infinitude, so it is an absolute: "Infinitude is an intrinsic aspect of the Absolute." As such, "It is from this 'dimension' of Infinitude that the world necessarily springs forth; the world exists because the Absolute, being such, implies Infinitude."
Now, we know the cosmos is "expanding," for that is an implication of Infinitude. Schuon:
"The Infinite is that which, in the world, appears as modes of expanse or of extension, such as space, time, form or diversity, number or multiplicity, matter or substance.
"In other words, and to be more precise: there is a conserving mode, and this is space; a transforming mode, and this is time; a qualitative mode, and this is form, not inasmuch as it limits, but inasmuch as it implies indefinite diversity; a quantitative mode, and this is number, not inasmuch as it fixes a given quantity, but inasmuch as it too is indefinite; a substantial mode, and this is matter, it too being without limit as is shown by the star- filled sky. Each of these modes has its prolongation" in our world, "for these modes are the very pillars of universal existence."
Those who "go off the deep end" receive all of the attention from mental health professionals, but it is also possible -- and more common, actually -- to fall off the shallow end, "to lose everything but one's reason," as somewag once said. These people can't really be helped, since they find the shallow end to be quite congenial to their simplistic (not 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. Their little vessels will just keep crapsizing unless they overcome their dysluxia and learn to god-paddle in the bobtismal waters of Raccoon Central.
The materialists propose what amounts to an absurdly false hierarchy with man at the top, but no way to explain how he got up 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 secular (as opposed to Christian) humanism; you cannot turn man into a god without placing him beneath himself, for you will 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, the One, the Infinite, the Absolute. To recognize the Infinite is to reject all idols and graven images, including those of science.
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 of the whole.
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 blindingly obvious and is thoroughly demonstrable to the densest man."
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.