This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Intelligence and sincerity

When discussing intelligence there is a related concept that is often overlooked, and that is ‘sincerity’. To put it plainly, intelligence is not enough in itself, but has need of a kind of ‘nobleness of soul’ in order to rise above things and grasp Truth without interference and with clarity. ‘Nobleness of soul’ is another way of saying ‘virtue’, and this is why the virtues and right living have been such a focus of spiritual teachers. This is also the justification for morality, and is the real justification for moral philosophy. That is to say, morality is a means toward contact with the Truth, and is not an end in itself. It is one of the great failings of contemporary Christianity that it tends to make Christian doctrine into a kind of moralism that is the end-all-be-all of the Gospel, so that the means becomes the end and moral acts the sum total of the Christian life. The real justification for morality, however, which does not lessen its importance but transfigures it by placing it in relation to the Absolute, is that intelligence divorced from virtue lacks sincerity. Thus, intelligence without virtue is handicapped and easily disfigured. To say it another way, virtue allows us to conform ourselves via action to the transcendent order we seek to know, and so virtuous living is a way of participating in the good so that we can know it better.

Another point that is necessary to emphasize is that intelligence in itself does not belong to us but we participate in it in the way that a ray of light reflected on the surface of a pool of water is a participation in the light but is not the ray of light itself. We possess a particularized intelligence that is specific to each of us but the source is above us, beyond us, and One.

I can know God as ‘above me’ and as ‘within me.’ The former knowledge is gained via Revelation and ‘belief,’ the latter via Intellection.

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