Or, you could say it is eternally old -- Ancient of Days, so to speak -- which I do not mean in a self-aggrandizing manner, God forbid, but in a strictly soph-aggrandizing manner, God permit.
O Wisdom which reaches with strength from one end of the world to the other and makes extremes one! --Jacques Maritain
It seems to me that everything hinges upon whether or not man may know. If we cannot know, then our whole pretentious house of cards collapses, and we are reduced to competing forms of nihilism, or survival of the faddiest and frivolest. But if we can know, then...
To approach this question is truly to begin at the beginning, because no other questions can be answered until we establish the fact that questions are answerable -- i.e., that man may possess true knowledge of himself and of the world (which must -- somehow! -- be real reflections of one another).
Indeed, some thinkers believe we must go even further back, and first establish the existence of the world. For example, this is what Kant does, and concludes that it doesn't exist. That being the case, we cannot know anything about it. The end.
That's an exaggeration, but only an uncharitable one. The point is that Kant placed a dark line between What Is (noumena) and What We May Know About It (phenomena), which ultimately results in an unbridgeable chasm between the two -- between being (ontology) and knowing (epistemology).
Yes, we can still "know" under Kant's restrictions, but this knowledge is ultimately of our own neuropsychology, not of the Real. We don't perceive the world as it is, rather, only (through) our categories. We are in the position of a submarine captain who navigates by instrument but never sees or touches water.
Since truth is the conformity of mind to reality, the very notion of truth is poisoned at the root. Thought and Thing go through an ugly divorce, and Thing gets to keep all the real properties to herself, since you Kant take 'em with you. Man becomes closed upon himself, and tenure takes care of the rest.
The whole travesty can be boiled down even further, which is why I developed my irritating system of unsaturated pneumaticons. For truly, it all comes down to O or Ø, does it not? (To be perfectly accurate, note that while Ø -- the relative -- is a necessary consequence of O, the absurdity of "pure Ø" denies the very possibility of absoluteness. Which is what is meant by the phrase: tenure is forever.)
For Kant, while O supposedly exists (hello, noumena!), there is absolutely nothing we can know or say about it.
But isn't knowing nothing about something the same as not knowing if it exists? In other words, you can't have knowledge of an unknowable world. But still, our postmodernists insist with a straight farce on calling their omniscient ignorance knowledge.
Now, even if we ultimately conclude with our benighted friends that we may only have knowledge of phenomena, we shouldn't start there, because we cannot start there. In other words all men -- as men -- start with the pre-philosophical and pre-scientific conviction that of course there's a real world, doofus. WTF are you talking about?
Indeed, it takes many years of schooling to eradicate this conviction and replace it with its converse. Of course, no one actually believes it, but that's the subject of a different post. Let's just stick with what people think they believe.
"Every metaphysics that is not measured by the mystery of what is, but by the state of positive science at such and such an instant, is false from the beginning" (ibid.). Man is uniquely instructed by O, which is why the rigorous discipline of Truth is a transfiguring and purifying process. For man, as he inevitably finds himself in the herebelow, is a mixture of substance and accident, or truth and error.
Let us suppose that man may know. But what does this mean, to know? What is going on when we know something? The answer isn't obvious -- at least not anymore -- but for Maritain it is an irreducibly spiritual event through and through. For
"There is a vigorous correspondance between knowledge and immateriality. A being is known to being to the extent that it is immaterial."
This formulation, so obvious to common sense, is nevertheless filled with paradoxes that need to be resolved. For example, "to know is to be in a certain way something other than what one is: it is to become a thing other than the self..." Thus, knowledge isn't the thing, but nor is it the self. So what is it?
Being is, indeed, the proper object of the intellect.... [T]he intellect, if I may say so, "loops the loop," in coming back, to grasp metaphysically and transcendentally, to that very same thing which was first given to it in its first understanding of the sensible. --Maritain
I assume this is to be continued. But I suspect it ultimately goes to the trinitarian character of reality, or to the Subject, the Object, and the Truth that flows within and between them.