First of all, even the ability to pose the question is fraught with implications. No other animal can ask the question. Therefore, we might say that reality is the thing human beings are able to ask about.
Here is why the question is not like any other question, and not susceptible to a cutandry answer: reality, whatever else it is, is singular, similar to the UNIverse. Now, our senses reveal to us the singular, but there is no knowledge of reality -- of totality -- at the level of the senses.
Conversely, the intellect deals with universals. But reality is not an abstract universal. Rather, it just is.
So, if we can't know it with our senses or with our intellect, how is it that we even have the word?
Along similar lines, Gilson asks "Why is there existence at all, seeing that the existence we directly know does not seem to have in itself a sufficient reason for its existence? And if it is contingent, does it not postulate a necessary existence as its cause and explanation?"
Yes or no?
We say yes, and we call this necessary existence O. If not for the Necessary, we wouldn't even have the word contingent. In the absence of O, literally nothing makes any sense, and yet, O is again neither an object of the senses nor a concept in the melon.
But at the same time, O is -- in a manner of speaking -- the Concept without which there are no concepts. Or, call it the orthoparadoxical "empty concept," so to speak -- a sort of "structured nothingness" which we spend our lives exploring and unpacking.
O has diverse degrees and modes of manifestation, but it is the unity within the diversity; or, in the words of Gilson, it joins "the diverse modes of existence to Him" -- Him being I AM, one of the names of O. One God, one Reality, one Truth, one Love, one Mind -- each of these is necessarily related to the others.
If we invert the cosmos and try to begin with thought, there is simply no way back to oneness except in fantasy, for oneness is something we could neither invent nor discover in the absence of the real One.
Indeed, to even be wrong about God is to prove his existence -- hence Eckhart's crack to the effect that he who blasphemes praises God. The Divine One "is a negation of negations and a denial of denials." He is the light that shines in the darkness of every mind, and in the absence of which there is only darkness upon the deep.
Sure, you can run around with that little candle looking for darkness, but the only thing you'll ever find there is tenure.
About that implicit two-way pre-structure of world and thought: "It is a characteristic of thought to be faced by what is opaque," writes Gilson.
But "as soon as that wall of opaqueness becomes translucent, there is always a similar one behind it," such that "thought progressively assimilates what is intelligible in a world given to it from without."
We do not create -- nor could we ever create -- "the intelligibility and existence of that world." Nevertheless, Deepak will be happy to sell you a very expensive bridge that ends in a shadow world where you can relax in the comfort of your ownan delusions.
Speaking of which, "the birth of the concept presupposes fertilization of the intellect by the reality which it apprehends. Before truth comes the thing that is true" (emphasis mine). Our mental womb must be penetrated and fertilized by a, you know, thing, pardon my French.
To put it another way, we must begin with O, "with the whole in order to distinguish the parts." We cannot begin with one of the parts, "to be posited as the pre-condition for the existence of everything else."
This very much comports with what we were saying last week about left and right brian differences. We begin with the holistic experience of the right brain, not with the abstractions of the left.
If we try to start with the left, we are essentially trying to get from thought to being, and that is like trying to capture a sphere with a circle. All the circles in the world don't add up to one lousy ball (hey, didn't Himmler have something similar?).
Oh. About how we know reality exists even though it is neither sensation nor concept. Very simple. In the real world, there is neither sensation nor intellect. Rather, there are men, and it is the whole man who apprehends being.
You will have noticed that we don't actually find human sensation or human intellect existing abstractly, separate from one another.
For the same reason, it would be absurd to state that a heart, isolated from the body, "pumps blood." In reality, the whole human body pumps blood.
As with the interior of the godhead, we can speak of distinctions but not divisions: "Properly speaking, neither the senses nor the intellect knows; it is the individual man who knows by means of the senses and the intellect."
There is only the "one subject, one being who possesses distinct yet harmonious powers and produces these diverse actions": one man and one cosmos under one God.