The Authentic Nature of Comprehension

The intellect plays a meager role in the comprehension of existential truth (good and evil, meaning and purpose). When such topics are presented (by renunciate and sagely men or women, ideally), the intellect will serve (as usual) to identify words and sort language into a recognizable structure; but it is powerless, of itself, to receive genuine insight. Of course, many suppose (fallaciously) that intellect is sufficient to fully comprehend any existentially concerned proposition.

By the seductive power of its vanity, intellect sets about the task of making reducible to its arbitrary interpretations, all potential truth. Vanity misunderstands the actual nature of comprehension. To a vainglorious mind (one obsessed with the “superiority” of its intellect), truth goes to the highest bidder: So long as your argument is fit to confound the perspectives of other men, you have a monopoly on truth. The irony of such ignorance is loathsome. Humility, on the other hand, recognizes that the truth or falsity of a proposition may be comprehended through genuine insight, and this through careful study of the proposition itself. A truthful (and therefore insightful) interpretation of human ideas will always be presented in the simplest way possible so as to aid the comprehension of any who would seek to understand. Humility, therefore, is immanently reasonable! And here it will benefit us to make a distinction between intellect and reason.

Intellect is implicit in the carnal nature of man, while reason is something of the kind that must be learned. Reason, therefore, is an objective measuring stick, up to which all propositions may be held. In the life of man, his intellect will either embrace its own subjective whims or the laws of reason. In other words, intellect is a faculty that one possesses and reason is a law to which it must submit, much like one would submit (despite his fancies) to the law of gravitation were he to walk off a cliff. Now if reason were contingent upon man’s intellect, its reliability would be undone; and this fact needn’t be empirically demonstrated, as man’s intellect has, historically, conceived of more absurdities than anyone would care to list. If then, reason (like truth), is not inherent of the intellect, it must be furnished by supreme reality. Affirming this, a spiritually-minded man (and make no mistake) would be justified in claiming that the exercise of reason is a participation in the wisdom of God. But I will touch on that point no further.

So what is our conclusion in all of this? It is merely that the vanity of intellect is often loath to submit itself before reason, but the insight of humility will readily do so. For each of us, it remains a vital necessity that we should (by grace) learn to be humble enough for insight to seize authority over our comprehension regarding existential truth. Let intellect recognize its rightful place in the caste, and reason be exalted through humility.


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