(Although I'm enjoying it, it's probably not worth the price for a used copy, especially if you haven't read other works of his such as The Four Cardinal Virtues, Guide to St. Thomas, the Anthology, etc.)
The reason I want to blog about it NOW is that it's provoking a lot of sparks that may not be recoverable when I return to it. You know how it is: Light from the past isn't the same as Light in the here and now. Sun and stars.
In fact, the book has triggered a lot of aphorisms that I've written to myself in the margins. I've no doubt mentioned a similar sentiment in the past, but it goes like this: Scientism is the religion of the part, while religion is the science of the whole.
I mean that quite literally. Scientism is science expanded to an ideology -- and idolatry -- via a false absolute, while the point of religion is to provide a way to understand and adapt ourselves to ultimate reality.
As we all know, profane science tends to conflate reality with its (properly) narrow method of studying it. This necessarily ends in the quantification of reality, and therefore the negation of qualities.
But qualities are the most important -- and certainly most interesting -- part of reality. In the absence of qualities we would not only be bored to death, but actually dead, being that life itself can't be reduced to numbers.
More gravely, to eliminate qualities is to inter man in a tomb of his own categories. Only man can distinguish good from bad, true from false, appearances from reality, beauty from ugliness, etc. This is why we are here. In other words, what is unique about human beings explains the purpose of human beings. Man's sufficient reason is conformity to reality, both horizontal and vertical.
Another note from mysoph says that Reality is the totality of our means of accessing and comprehending it.
This may sound Kantian, as if I am limiting reality to our categories, but that is not what I mean. Rather, it is a way of saying that reality is much wider, higher, and deeper than what can be accessed by the scientific method only. The beauty of nature, for example, provides real information about reality. More generally, qualities are windows into the Real.
Or put it this way: a decent map of the cosmos will take into account vertical perception. Science involves horizontal perception only. If elevated to a metaphysic it distorts the world beyond re-cognition; it banishes the very categories through which we may perceive and understand reality.
Schuon says something to the effect that the totality of the cosmos demands the unicity of man: the Everything of the World is mirrored in the All of Us. There are expansive visions of reality worthy of man, and pathetically narrow ones that hardly do justice to insects or even liberals.
Here is a pertinent pensée by Pascal: If you are not concerned to know the truth, then you have access to enough truth to to enable you to live in peace. BUT if you long with all your heart to know it, then what you have got is not enough.
Now, a Raccoon is in the latter category: what we have is never enough, even though -- orthoparadoxically -- it is more than enough.
What I mean is that God is the primordial More than Enough, ceaselessly flowing out of himself a la the Trinity. So long as we are oriented to and rooted in this reality... well, it's like Revelation says: the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
As Pieper puts it, we are interested in reality as a whole and in the totality of the world. By any means necessary. We are careful "to ensure that not one single element of reality is concealed, overlooked, forgotten or suppressed -- which could easily happen if the activity of the mind were to be restricted to what can be verified by the methods of exact science."
Atheistic science allows so much reality to evade detection that you might be tempted to believe it is a conspiracy against man. But just as there is a scientific method, there is a psychospiritual or pneumatic method, AKA verticalisthenic. This "critical posture" "implies the determination not to allow any element of the totality of truth to escape us."
Two attitudes are required, an "openness toward the reality of things" (o) and a kind of silence "at a level much more profound than so-called scientific objectivity" (---). This goes to Jesus' allusion to the "singleness of the eye which enables one's whole body to be filled with light."
Here again, the perception of an integrated cosmos is dependent upon a prior integration of the self. A psychotic or neurotic (or ideologically deranged) person perceives a fragmented cosmos because his own mind is fragmented. (Recall Schuon's comment about the relationship between totality and unicity.)
There are "an infinite number of ways in which we can close ourselves off from the world." In the book I used the pneumaticon (o) to symbolize the proper stance. This implies the existence of a counter-stance we might call (ø). Is there such a thing? Only since Genesis 3!
Often it consists of nothing more than "simple inattentiveness." Which implies that the loss of God often comes down to plain carelessness.
It is only too easy... to rest content with what we already know. But he who wishes to behold, and to continue to behold, the totality of things, lives in a perpetual expectation of new light. The truth is the whole, but we never see the whole of anything!
Nevertheless, we never stop trying, for we are open at the top.