This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Man as object

Eventually we must admit to ourselves that although we feel like we are the knowing subject, any attempt to understand ourselves results in the admission that the self we wish to know is actually an object, the thing known. Who then, is the knower? Wherein lies actual subjectivity? What we must begin to sense is that consciousness is some kind of ‘loan’ from above that does not belong to the “I” but is situated outside of it, and that all I can say of myself after all of this examination is that I am not that—that I see it but since I see it I know that I am somewhere else. The startling realization is the coming of a new question: if “I” am an object, then who is the subject? If my essence is that I am not actually an individual self, then who is the true subject, who is the knower who knows me but cannot be known by me?—who lends to me his comprehension that I am look upon myself only to realize that I am not my self at all? Speculation fails us, for even in having pursued the question this far we have defeated ourselves, since every time we actually frame the question we must admit that we are asking it, but we ask it of a subjectivity with which we feel a transcendent identity but which we cannot connect to our individual understanding. The moment we frame the question, we regress into an inward infinity in search of a true subjectivity, and we cannot find it. It is common for Christians to speak of the bodily dimension as being ‘borrowed’, but what we discover here is that our own consciousness is, we feel, derived: we do not know on our own, but only know by way of a transcendent knower who knows for us, who knows on our behalf, that our mind is a participation in some other mind that is beyond it.

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