On Man As A Transcendent Being
Op-ed by Chris Veritas
“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!”
In a world seemingly becoming bereft of the transcendent, what is the true measure of a man? And what is it that makes a man fully human? Is he as “admirable” as Hamlet asserts, as he compares man to an “angel” and “a god”? And how strange that this same “paragon” provides him no “delight”; for, in the play, man uses his “noble reason” merely to execute base material actions.
Is the purpose of man to aspire to be angelic, or does he exist to serve the State, the Corporation, and the Economic Engine, as the ancients believed? And if the answer to the latter question is yes, should those who are found burdensome not be eliminated? I ask because the ancients believed that, also, and it seems we are heading in that direction once again.
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For today’s world, which has returned to a materialist conception, it’s important to point out there is a 1 to 1 ratio between the veneration of the imminent, and the reducing of human beings to mere objects and/or obstacles.
Backtracking a few millennia, Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, left to posterity a detailed record of the Roman practice of infanticide. The utility of such an action is clear enough, and was considered laudable to the Roman world, which saw human beings as being mere material objects. Not to be outdone, the vaunted Greek philosopher, Plato, argued for the elimination of “useless old men”. These two were among the greatest minds the ancient world ever produced, and they both favored doing away with the weak.
But after Christ, it was as if the world were split in two.
Spiritual reasoning raised the status of individuals above the all-powerful monolithic State, because after Christ it began to be acknowledged that human beings have immortal souls. Only spirit has true value; and we demonstrate our belief in this by how we treat animals. If we stop believing in spirit, we stop revering human life; and the revolution in human values is finished.
Paradoxically, this window into intangible eternity is what makes visible individuals count in reality; a thing like hope, tenable; and blind faith, sensible. On the face of it, it makes no sense that this should be the case; but with human beings, the supernatural tends to explain us better than anything else.
To hope is not rational in the same way an algebraic equation is; yet it is fitting for a creature that cannot be explained perfectly according to utility. Unreasonable hope advances life in the face of impossible odds, and is therefore perfectly practical. Blind faith leads men to cherish things that cannot be seen, but ends by enhancing the world of visible objects.
Most men don’t dream corporate dreams, or have reveries of working on assembly lines; but they do dream of the music of Mozart, the art of geniuses like Fra Angelico, and of the joys of family life. These things make no sense, really; after all, what have they to do with survival, production, or progress? But the truth is, our deepest desires are spiritual, even if we think we are only animal.
Now, you may object, “I don’t see Honey Boo-Boo listening to Mozart”.
Poor Honey Boo-Boo. She is the perfect example of what can happen when the question “what is the true measure of a man” is neglected.
Building on this, when man cherishes the Invisible, and looks with respect on supernal Eminence, it is a powerful incentive to infuse excellence into what is imminent.
When human beings abandon this principle, in favor of a material view, then they abandon transcendence; which is intricately tied to the sanctity of life. Thus today’s rampant abortions; objectifying pornography; infinite imprisonment; trash TV and degrading reality culture; and the odd absurdity of corporations becoming people, while people become the problem of statisticians.
For the modern world, it really is people that are the problem (although, all is well if you’re a Future or a Currency). Apparently, there are too many of us, especially in places where they can’t afford to buy Big Macs (like Africa); or are too old to flip them (like the Netherlands).
Societies that deal exclusively in trade or conquest (or both), exhaust human transcendence, which ought to be considered a human right. A life lived on the treadmill ignores the unrepeatable artist in the man, who becomes subject to the endless repetition of a lifeless product.
But when the same man is allowed to create, watch as he begins to crystallize some unknown aspect of eternity into an object, in the effort to still time, and enjoy some measure of Heaven. (This may not line a man’s pockets, but does man exist for money’s sake?)
Transcendence means that this sort of mechanization just doesn’t suit humanity, strange creatures that we are. Anything less than deep reverence for the Invisible makes us lower than the objects beneath us; but when we long for the Good with hope, only then do we begin to resemble the Image of our invisible Creator.
Indeed, our transcendence is a paradox, because what makes us fully human is our immaterial spirit. The flesh is of no avail.
Now, if we could just get Honey Boo-Boo on board. That, too, would be a paradox; for the first time, a drone turning into a Queen.