This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

We are not our concepts

The more we develop our sense of the inexpressible, of the supra-rational, the more we become aware of the disparity between the mind’s eye and conceptual work of the reason; the more it becomes obvious that the concepts we stockpile are not identical with the things they represent; the more we become aware that we are not our thoughts, but rather something that stands apart from them and utilizes them, clumsily, to make a way in the world.

Religion begins with a twofold awareness: first, that not only are our concepts not identical with objects, but that we ourselves are not identical with our conceptualizing—we direct thought but are not identical with our thinking—and this is an awareness that allows us to situate ourselves at a level beyond the rational; the second aspect of our awareness is not of our separation from the below, but of the presence of the inexpressible beyond, which invites us, provokes awe in us, and impresses on us a knowing that is more real and more meaningful for being unspeakable.

One could say that man is intellectual amphibious, inhabiting two orders of knowing: the world of reason and discursive thought, where weighing and measuring result in easily demonstrable conclusions; and the world which transcends that which we are able to express but which is more immediate, more real, than anything known via sense perception and logged in the books of memory.

It is in the second world, that of transcendent knowing, where we encounter the essences of things, it is here we sense what can only be called the sacred, and it is in this order of knowing that we find the roots of religion, and it is only due to the reality of this order that we are able to give meaning to any knowledge gained through the machinery of the reason.

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