The fact that we fall provides the space with directionality. In other words, once we realize there is a down, this implies that there must be an up. We can also feel as if our lives are going nowhere, which implies being stuck at a certain level with no upward movement, just horizontal drift.
Now, I think everyone recognizes this space, even if they pretend to be otherthanwise. Even a nihilist wants to be a better nihilist than those other nobodies. Look at Nietzsche: he longed to be the superstud, even though I don't believe he ever kissed a girl.
Sometimes vertical space can be in-verted, so the person imagines that worse is better and lower is higher. Think of Miley Cyrus, who is convinced that if she can only debase herself a little more thoroughly, she will reach some sort of pinnacle of crudity. Why is this perfectionist so driven, so hard on herself?
These inverts think they are pushing the envelope when they are just being pulled by gravity. Being consciously unaware of vertical gravity, they don't realize that the whole point is to push back against it.
My son has been learning about space, so he knows that on the moon he could jump much higher, since gravity is only one sixth of what it is here. However, if we lived on the moon, our bones would be much thinner and our muscles much weaker. So, resistance breeds strength.
The same applies to vertical space, where adversity is the mother of evolution. Indeed, Obama didn't have to do anything for the world to know he is a weakling. He's a doctrinaire leftist, and that's enough. The notion of "San Francisco liberal" evokes the image of a flabby being devoid of substance because he lives in a world without restraint. As such, he never develops any vertical bone, muscle or sinew.
Some people think that religiosity is actually a covert form of surrender to vertical gravity. This is implicitly what they mean when they accuse us of, say, weakness, or intellectual cowardice, or an infantile need for security. I assure you that Bill Maher believes himself to be above you in vertical space, even while he categorically denies its existence.
Topping makes an interesting point, that scripture and tradition do not, as it were, chain us to the port, but rather, "serve as a fixed rudder" for our journey across an unknown sea.
I mean, you are free to build your own little dinghy and set off without a map, but it is doubtful that you'll get anywhere or even survive the trip. Or, you'll go "somewhere," just as you will if you put on a blindfold and get behind the wheel of your car.
At the top of vertical space is God. In my opinion, this is a necessary truth that should be self-evident. In other words, if there is a vertical scale, it has a top. The top is what conditions everything below, and allows us to know the hierarchy.
Conversely, to say there is no top is to say there is no truth and that all is relative. And if all is relative, there is only power. To the extent that there is truth or right, it can only be a cynical mask for power and might.
Schuon makes the soph-evident (which means as evident to wisdom as are material objects to the eye) point that "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."
For the same reason, "Once man makes of 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 his meaning, all human reference points disappear; cut off from the Divine, the human collapses."
Collapses into what? Yes, into nothing. But nothing is never empty. Rather, this is the Machiavellian or Nietzschean nothing of raw, amoral power.
To say that man uniquely partakes of the vertical and horizontal is to say that he is both free and determined. But freedom and determination exist in both modes. Our fundamental spiritual freedom is vertical, but this freedom would mean nothing without certain restraints, boundary conditions, archetypes, and final causes that help orient and vault us upward.
Horizontally we are restrained by such things as genes, culture, custom, and the like, but we are also "free" in the existential sense of being "condemned to nothingness."
This latter must be the conclusion of any honest atheist or materialist, in that the denial of vertical space means that man has this absurd and inexplicable freedom with which to do or be anything he wishes. There are no restraints except horizontal ones. Again, in this view freedom equates to nothingness, as Sartre well knew.
Schuon suggests that our determinacy and indeterminacy, our restraint and freedom, are iterations of Absolute and Infinite, respectively. Here again, this is something "everyone knows" by virtue of being human, even if they express it in a confused and garbled manner that generates absurdity.
For example, when some tenured yahoo claims that we have no free will and are completely determined by our genetic inheritance, that is Absoluteness in action.
Being that Absolute and Infinite are complementary, we must ask: where did the infinite go? It comes out in the doctrine of radical relativism, in which things are "good" merely by virtue of being instantiations of "diversity." In other words, since nothing can be judged on the vertical scale, infinite plurality takes the place of a vertical standard.
This leads to the absurdity of, say, Facebook providing users with 51 options for gender. The idea of male-female is rejected on vertical grounds, of course; but also on horizontal grounds. In other words, they don't just reject metaphysics and theology, but biology and natural selection as well.
So, if Darwin tries to claim you're a man or a woman, well, you tell Darwin to fuck off! Who does he think he is, God?