Thursday, October 18, 2012

What is Man that Man Should be Mindful of Him?

I have hardly any time this morning, and no time tomorrow, as I have to attend another continuing education seminar. So all you get is this brief and concentrated post:

What exactly is a person, anyway? Remember, we're talking about the interior, not the exterior, form.

Man may be defined in an exterior sense by, for example, the use of tools, or by the ability to reproduce with another member of the species. But what is man in the interior sense?

I think Schuon provides the most useful answer. To paraphrase him, man is composed of will (i.e., freedom and virtue), sentiment (i.e., love), and knowledge (i.e., disinterested truth and detached objectivity).

Thus, we begin with the premise that man is free, that he has a conscience that distinguishes good from evil, and that he has a mind that may discern the reality behind appearances.

But what is the source of these remarkable abilities? As mentioned yesterday, the scientistic mindset attempts to explain them away with recourse to an essentially reductionistic argument.

Such a simplistic approach holds no appeal to the intellect, although it may help its proponent to be less troubled by the promptings of his soul.

In any event, such arguments are self-refuting, for if there is no truth we couldn't know it, and if there is no freedom we could never conceive of it. There is nothing in us that compels assent to, or rejection of, truth.

Unlike animals, we can sink below ourselves, but for the same reason may rise above and transcend ourselves. And because we are human beings, we are privileged to see that nature points to trans-nature.

When we say that man is in the image of the Creator, this cuts both ways. In other words, I take seriously the idea that if we understand man essentially, this provides important clues as to the nature of God.

As alluded to above, there is no -- and will never be any -- naturalistic explanation for truth, free will, and knowledge of the good, as these emanate from above, not below.

But at the same time, this understanding of man's essence suggests that God's essence may also revolve around this trinity of love, truth, and freedom. Furthermore, these three must ultimately be one, in ways we don't normally think about.

However, as soon as we do think about it, we understand that there can be no truth in the absence of the freedom to pursue it, just as there can be no freedom unless we are free to choose what is good and true.

Likewise, love cannot be compelled, just as everyone knows that it is wrong to choose and love evil.

Now, man may know the absolute, which is just another way of saying that he may know, period.

In other words, any knowledge is underwritten by, or partakes of, so to speak, the absolute. As such, to say "man" is to say "God," just as "the very word 'relative' implies 'Absolute'" (Schuon).

To affirm "that man is made of intelligence, will and sentiment," writes Schuon, "means that he is made for the Truth, the Way, and Virtue." In other words, the way an object is made tells us something about its purpose.

Now, the purpose of religion is to remind man of the Purpose of purposes; or in other words, to stay focussed on reality and to steer clear of the illusions.

A religion may be reduced to doctrine and method, which is simply truth and the means of assimilating it. Note that we do not say "attaining," "acquiring," or "possessing" truth.

For obviously it is possible to have knowledge of the doctrine without it having the slightest impact upon one's being. Or, a mind parasite may warp the truth into its own image, which covertly elevates it to the status of a god, or a little human beastling.

Which provides another clue into both man and God, i.e., being. Genuine love, genuine knowledge, genuine virtue -- all are imprinted, so to speak, upon being; or, one could say that they are imbued with being.

And being is where subject and object merge into one. Thus, ultimate truth, which one might think of as being subjective, is also the most objective thing imaginable.

Which reminds me of an aphorism for you to chew on:

I distrust the system deliberately constructed by thought; I trust in the one that results from the pattern of its footprints.

15 Comments:

Blogger Cond0011 said...

"A religion may be reduced to doctrine and method, which is simply truth and the means of assimilating it. Note that we do not say "attaining," "acquiring," or "possessing" truth. "

Hmmmm... this almost makes me want to become a Bhakti. Trouble is, my questions sometimes ... many times ... runs counter to 'doctrine and method'.

Hmmmmm...

10/18/2012 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I AM, the Truth and the Way.

10/18/2012 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

Thats a pretty condensed thing he said, Bob. Could you give me a Reverse Cliffs-Notes on it and expand it a little bit (I'm a bit over my head at the moment)?

10/18/2012 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Wow, you are truly blessed. Love your insights.

10/18/2012 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In other words, any knowledge is underwritten by, or partakes of, so to speak, the absolute. As such, to say "man" is to say "God," just as "the very word 'relative' implies 'Absolute'" (Schuon)."

I was thinking of Meister Eckhart when I read this, who has said the same thing.
Good to see Schuon and Eckhart (and you) on the same page in that regard.

Excellent post, Bob!



10/18/2012 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And being is where subject and object merge into one. Thus, ultimate truth, which one might think of as being subjective, is also the most objective thing imaginable."

I SO-bject!

10/18/2012 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speaking of subjective and objective, Taranto nails down the cheering leftist scribes who covered the last Presidential debate:

"The Washington Times reports on a telling scene from just outside last night's debate:

[Mitt] Romney was trying to make the point that both his and [Barack] Obama's investment funds probably include investments in China--something the president has attacked Mr. Romney for.

"Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?" Mr. Romney said.
"You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it--it doesn't take as long," Mr. Obama retorted. His reply prompted laughter in the debate hall where the two men were squaring off--but across the way in the separate room where the press was stationed, a brief round of applause broke out.
It's a good idea for journalists to avoid applauding politicians, for we are supposed to be independent and, in the case of straight-news reporters, impartial."

These self-described reporters are also a good example of men and women sinking lower than themselves.

Taranto's post is aptly titled "The Envious Affluent."

10/18/2012 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it--it doesn't take as long," Mr. Obama retorted.

It doesn't take as long to not look at his pension?
I mean, Obama said he doesn't look at his pension so this doesn't make any logical sense.

The leftist scribes (love that description) were applauding the class warfare that they love to wage themselves (Man, they really love their envy, don't they?), or they might've caught that.

Idjits.

10/18/2012 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

In other words, I take seriously the idea that if we understand man essentially, this provides important clues as to the nature of God.

Indeed. In order to criticize someone or something, the critic needs -- like Archimedes, a place to stand. Where do those who would critique God stand?

10/18/2012 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Spears said...

Off topic, but the last time I visited this place integralism was rearing its ugly head, and translating Jerome's Bible I stumbled upon this mental nugget:

What wisdom is to prudence, prudence is to astuteness: it is the more practical and particular. But prudence, it must be said, moderates between wisdom and astuteness.

Moderation is to temperance, as salad-making is to the making of soup, or, more abstractly, as the harmony of combined yet integral opposites is to the harmony of homogenization, the homogenization of hot and cold, of course, being tepidity, or the temperance of warmth, whereas the moderation of warmth would be exactly the right amount of hot or cold in the right places--in the refrigerator, the oven, for example, or the room.

What the integralist asserts to be moderation, I must kindly remind him often of the times, is in fact temperance. And temperance, I must say, is not always proper, all things being in moderation. Which is why it is so unwise.

10/19/2012 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

Golly Brian,

Sounds like either Jerome was a bit off or the Translator was Dilbert:

http://f2.org/image/comic/dilbert-cooking.gif

10/19/2012 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Sowell man. The anti-Obama.

10/19/2012 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I saw his column earlier today. It struck me that he could be called Don Sowell...

10/19/2012 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger tillurdizzy said...

This is off topic but I would be interested in your comments... a few nights ago I saw a show on body language. In the politicians segment, it featured Bush and Putin and how they jockeyed for the "power" position. Hillary was an example of the "coached" body language, where she points and pretends to have personal friends in a large crowd. Today, Obama is on Drudge scraping and bowing to foreign leaders. Wow. What a difference between Bush and Obama.

10/22/2012 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I would like to formally petition Bob's subconscious for a few posts directly from he/she/it.

We haven't had a good Wild Post for some time.

10/22/2012 05:38:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home