Friday, November 10, 2017

What Privilege

Worth repeating: the sense of essentiality attracts us toward shores other than those of the limited plane of physical phenomena alone (Schuon).

Implicit in this statement is that our minds are attracted by and toward essentiality. Which is what? It is the nonlocal whatness of things. Animal intelligence can know that things are; but human intelligence is made to penetrate beneath thatness -- existence -- to whatness -- essence. Only humans are privileged to know the What of things.

No one knows how this is possible. No, check me on that; we do know how it is possible, but only with recourse to a trans-scientific, metaphysical foundation. Certainly science cannot explain how science is possible.

In this regard, it is difficult to say whether language is a cause or an effect, but either way, language is obviously central to the discernment of essences. It is like the shadow of essentiality. Not for nothing is it said that "In the beginning is the Word," yada yada.

Come to think if it, just as only human beings can know essences, only human beings can unknow or rebel against them. For example, we know that men are essentially men and women women. Indeed, this is why we have the words, the words following upon the essences. But what is the left but a rebellion against essentiality? We'll no doubt return to this subject... or maybe not, because the Aphorist can more than adequately summarize this diabolical inversion with just an astringent line or two:

Today the individual rebels against inalterable human nature [essence] in order to refrain from amending his own correctable [contingent] nature.

Boom! "I was born this way" is no defense for staying that way. It is the literal inversion of what Schuon says above, such that the rejection of essentiality compels man to remain landlocked on this shore, and to never set out for the other.

If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors.

Inane if you're lucky, but usually tending toward the horizon of genocide. For ultimately, Humanity is the only totally false god (because, orthoparadoxially, we are the only essentially partial gods, so to speak).

Here begins the gospel of Hell: In the beginning was nothing and it believed nothing was god, and was made man, and dwelt on earth, and by man all things were made nothing. This reduces existence to a vapid monologue in the void, AKA tenure.

Which is why Authentic humanism is built upon the discernment of human insufficiency. Truly truly, in order to understand what you are, you must begin by understanding what you are not. Which is to say, the uncreated Absolute. In the absence of the latter category, you can only imagine yourself to be man -- man being unthinkable in the absence of its eternal complement God. The mirror is not God; and yet, it is "not other than God" either.

At any rate, only the human being knows of essences and therefore appearances, and vice versa. But human beings can never penetrate to the essence of essences, or the holiest of holies, short of self-extinction. There is always a Mystery at the heart of it all, not in the privative sense of ignorance, but in the sense of radiating, or sometimes exploding, presence. Not too little light. Too much. One sees the glowing footprints, and knows they aren't just hanging there suspended by nothing.

"[I]f Being and the first principles which flow from it are incapable of proof, it is because they have no need of proof; to prove them is at once useless and impossible, not through a lack, but through a superabundance of light" (Schuon). If one sees, one doesn't have to prove the existence of sight. Besides, how would you prove sight to one who is blind? Nevertheless, reason can disprove anything -- for example, free will -- but that hardly means it doesn't exist.

Proving what cannot be is insane, humanly speaking. These self-styled free-thinkers only end up freeing man from freedom itself. But you cannot transcend freedom, only sink beneath it. Yes, an ant is free of humanness, while the leftist never stops trying.

Augros asks an intriguing question, which is to say, how is it that we can have five separate senses but experience their transcendent unity in our selves? From where does this unity come? Indeed, to the five natural senses I would add our transnatural senses of the personhood of others, of beauty, of truth, and of the Divine Presence itSoph.

Each sense involves increasingly subtle degrees of touch. We know, for example, that something can "touch our heart." Likewise, to be truly understood by another person is to be touched. We can all "sense" grace, even if most people allow their vertical sense detector to harden or dissipate through nonuse.

"Taken by themselves, the external senses are like five unrelated voices. Together they cohere into your universal sense, they interrelate and become integrated. They harmonize."

To which I would add that the unity is always at the top; if it weren't there, we could never achieve it. It reminds me of a good stereo that is able to reproduce an accurate 3D soundstage. This is only because the sonic unity is prior to the stereo separation (into two speakers) that tries to recreate it.

The senses are complementary. Think, for example, of what humanness might be like if we only had four senses, excluding vision. We are able to teach braille to the blind by transforming what is seen into what is felt. The point is, the higher or more subtle dimension is able to reach down into the lower, but what is the likelihood that a world of blind humans could ever have come up with braille? Braille is a way for fingers to see, but someone first needs to see in order to put sight into the form of touch.

And this leads me to the notion that faith is a way for the intellect to see what it cannot see -- not the intellect in its essence, for intelligence can know anything knowable -- but due to various contingencies. Just as blindness is an accident and not an essence, so too is atheism. If blindness were an essence, then we couldn't teach braille to the blind.

Analogously, think of teaching sign language to lower primates. This can only go so far, because lower primates do not have the essence of speech, and cannot really know essences. I suppose that the brightest among them can penetrate a bit beneath the surface, but no ape will ever be as wrong about existence as your average professor.


julie said...

Boom! "I was born this way" is no defense for staying that way.

These days, they are coming right out and announcing that they want to teach more kids to come right out. Can't find the link now, but this past week there was an article via Instapundit about some teacher who wants to use art classes to encourage kids to be more queer. There is an effort to make this the "queerest generation ever!" Even they can acknowledge that most are not born that way, though of course for any normal person to notice - and heaven forbid draw any rational conclusions - is hate speech.

Yes, an ant is free of humanness, while the leftist never stops trying.

It is almost amazing that after a century of unprecedented slaughter and human misery, so many people find communism and all its permutations appealing. Almost. Every person must learn for himself what happens when a people are driven by envy instead of gratitude; unfortunately, many people never do.

Just as blindness is an accident and not an essence, so too is atheism.

Hence the disgusting display of venom and fury aimed at Christians who had the audacity to pray for murdered Christians this past Sunday. They are enraged because there is no god and they hate Him.

Rick said...

I thought the heart of yesterday's post was "essence". Wonderful to see a whole post dedicated to it today!

I was going to say yesterday, but ran out of time, that the more I think about dreams and essences, the more I'm being convinced that what we "see" in dreams are not pictures (and not words spoken) but essences felt. Or re-felt.

The common instrument you touch on today also is "touch" and how this is the common method of communication (say) across all the senses. Essence seems to be a more complete form of communication. Perhaps that is why dreams can seem to lack no detail (of any kind) I mean, we don't know we're dreaming! (most times)

Recall I believe the Friends of Jesus not recognizing him at first glance after the resurrection. They had to experience him first. Which I think is a kind of essence experience and a way of really knowing him.

Is the word essence used in the Bible? Maybe it is nearly interchangeable with the work "know" which is probably used throughout. I know Adam knew Eve..

I'm forgetting more than half the things this post stirred up.
The best kind of post!

Gagdad Bob said...

What you say about dreams and essences (or archetypes) must be so, otherwise how to explain how other people in my dreams definitely emanate from or cohere around their own essences, and are not just projections of mine?

It reminds me of how novelists sometimes say their characters take on their own reality, such that the novelist doesn't so much write the book as wait for the characters to reveal themselves.

Gagdad Bob said...

Very interesting too that the gospels go to all the trouble to specify how Jesus initially wasn't recognized. If one were merely aiming to convince, one would invent a story of how Of Course it was Jesus.

julie said...

Mary Magdalene, upon meeting him outside the tomb, thought he was a gardener. She didn't know him until he called her by name. The friends on the road to Emmaus didn't recognize him at all until after he had disappeared. Notably, he never called them by name.

Gagdad Bob said...

Same essence but a mysteriously altered appearance....

julie said...

Yes; alive and in the flesh, but not exactly the same. To the eye, at any rate.

Anonymous said...

There is a small, stubborn residual of disbelief in each believer, which defies all efforts to remove or overcome.

Many saints over the ages remarked upon this fact. The most devout, the most dedicated, the most disciplined believer, will have doubts now and then.

The important thing is to recognize this universal affliction, and not get anxious or feel guilty over it.

I hope this advice is well taken.

doug saxum said...

Tell me how this "fact" became a conclusion.
Who has the authority to overrule my conviction?
Not an ounce of disbelief resides in my sorry carcass.

doug saxum said...

And I'll be the first to admit that I am not the most devout, dedicated or disciplined.
But through experience, I have no dought in my essence.

That is a fact.

julie said...

There comes a point, for some, where it is no longer a question of belief, but simply of knowing. God is. To put that knowledge in the realm of belief becomes as absurd as saying, "I believe in the color red."

In that context, the challenge of faith is not in the existence of God, but rather in our own worthiness to participate in His presence.

doug saxum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
doug saxum said...

You nailed it Julie.