This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Transcendence

Civilizations of a traditional character are ordered to the realm of transcendence. Their gaze is inward, toward the center, and upward, toward the heavens. Every institution within them has a higher justification for existing or else it is not allowed to exist. This is because man’s desired end is seen as existing above or beyond the purely physical plane. Usually this element can be seen most easily through the presence of a colorful and complex mythology, which we find in Buddhism and Hinduism, although this is not always the case. We can add that the presence of the transcendent principle does not necessarily imply a “religious” institution within the society. For example, ancient China (Taoism) and India (Hinduism) are both excellent examples of traditional civilizations, but their structure was not “religious” in the sense that we usually understand the word. There was no “church” or “theology,” only a body of doctrine taken as spiritual knowledge, and this knowledge was superior to all else. Anything that subverted, ignored, or impeded man’s pursuit of the transcendent principle was considered harmful and was eliminated from society as much as possible.

To frame the question using philosophical terminology from the Greek and Roman Catholic tradition, we can say that society must be ordered to man’s ‘final end’ and not simply his earthly happiness. Any political or social philosophy that does not first and foremost acknowledge the afterlife cannot properly account for man’s earthly well-being. The same goes for any area of knowledge, and not just politics.

The modern mentality looks not inward/upward but downward/outward. It is said, for example, that economics should concern itself with material wealth and not let any ‘ideals’ or ‘religious beliefs’ interfere with economic policy. This is a profoundly anti-traditional attitude, since it severs man’s ‘daily life’ from his spiritual life and converts what was once his ‘vocation’ into a series of mostly interchangeable career opportunities. What might have helped him become fully human now becomes a hindrance, since in the modern context his spiritual development must be sought during his ‘personal time’, which might not amount to any time at all. Likewise, the idea that the physical sciences have hierarchical dependence on philosophy, not to mention theology, and that scientists should be free to work out their own laws and theories based purely on observation of matter–all of this betrays a reversal of the traditional view and results in a perverse anthropology. Truth is here derived ‘from below’, always from the lower orders of things, instead of being sought via the ‘lights’ of transcendent knowledge.

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