The degree to which one is completely offended and even repulsed by the paradox of Christ and the impossible price one must pay to be admitted into the domain of Faith indicates the degree to which the Spirit of God is manifesting in and through a person’s life.
For, as the Lord Himself said to the unoffended state of mind, “since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
The Lord, then, does not despise the fervent doubter and impassioned skeptic, insofar as such ones continue with their skepticism unto their frustrated ends, those ends which all too often result in the salvation of many a skeptics’ soul.
When confronted by the Offense of the paradox of Faith and its unsynthesizable contradiction(s), Revulsion is, of course, the expected and most “natural” response that a man might express. For, Reason – insofar as it manifests most poignantly in and through the dialectical synthesis and eventual sublimation of (initially) antithetical propositions – will naturally repulse and be repulsed by Paradox, inasmuch as Paradox can be understood as “an eternal irreconcilability of opposites”.
When confronted with Paradox, Reason must not merely surrender its ability to cast judgment on its innumerable predicates, it must also entirely cease “to be”. And because a man can only know himself, his body, and his relationality to “the world of things” by way of Reason, if Reason was to suspend its judgment for any length of time – no matter how brief – such cessation is akin, if not to death, then the utter annihilation of the sense of Self and all that the Self has worked for and toward throughout the whole of its existence. To complicate matters, the annihilation of Reason and the Self will (and even must) – at least from the perspective of Reason – appear voluntary and self-initiated. Against this self-annihilation will Reason struggle and strive by every conceivable means it has at its disposal, for it can do nothing besides.
In every way then, should one choose to embrace the irreconcilability of Paradox, it will undoubtedly come in the form of suicide: one must “die daily” to Paradox and by so doing allow Reason to be usurped of its position as sole arbiter of all that “is” or “might be” through the embrace of the Life of Faith.
Before Aristotle codified the foundations of logic, the Greek mind did not experience Paradox, at least not in a concrete and systemized way we would today be familiar. Yet, that the pre-Aristotelean Greeks no doubt perceived the irreconcilability of opposing predicates can little be debated – for such is the nature of Reason to perceive these contradictions embedded in Paradox.
Paradox is the boundary of Reason.
More than anything then did Aristotle not only define the bounds of Reason but also elucidate the totality of Reason’s machinations when he – I believe correctly – “discovered” (or identified) and thereafter systematized the essential elements of Logic by which he also “delimited” the laws of the domain of Reason. It stands to reason then that before Aristotle the shadow line that separates Faith or “paradoxicality” from Reason was in no way clearly defined. Thus, pre-Aristotelean man indubitably inhabited a much more fluid and, to us, “unstable” and “magical” psychological mind-space than that which we are presently accustomed.
In much the same way could the medieval mind, before Thomas Aquinas – he who, of course, sought to synthesize Aristotelian thought with the Truth of Christ and by so doing laid the foundation for modern empirical science and all its entails – also be said to inhabit a much more fluid and paradoxical psychological mind-space than what we would presently recognize. Before Aquinas, could it really be said that European man existentially “chose” to believe the Gospel message, or was it something he was born into, weaned on, and given no other choice whatsoever to disbelieve, inasmuch as to “disbelieve” would have, from a certain perspective, been largely impossible for the broad swath of European humanity given that they had not clearly defined psychological barriers to be able to disbelieve in the first place, save for a few literate monks in inaccessible chambers sequestered from the practical reality of life beyond the walls of the monastery?
To go out on the proverbial “limb” here, could the fluidity and osmotic psychological mind-space that predominated the European mind before Aquinas, just as the Greek mind before Aristotle, inasmuch as the so-called “supernatural” can be loosely assumed to be phenomena of the realm of Faith, Paradoxicality and Offense, be responsible for the eyewitness reports of the miracles, signs, and wonders attested by innumerable chroniclers of the lives of saints and others of great and noble deeds?
The “will” of Reason continually seeks its own annihilation and negation and cannot keep itself from doing ultimately that. If it did not unknowingly seek its own negation, Reason and our understanding of nature would not develop nor endeavor to grow so as to attain ever more rarified heights and depths of knowledge and insight.
Reason can only seduce but never consummate.
The “will” of Reason eternally seeks to locate the nexus of all meaning and purpose, as well as ultimateness and transcendent value, of which it is eternally safeguarded against. For Reason will, unfortunately, never find the eternal Value it seeks as long as it moves and does and “exists” at all, otherwise it would, having finally “found It”, cease forever from its relentless striving and thus cease to be at all.
So that life in its present form might continue, Reason will continue to be kept from “the transcendent” due in large part to the machinations of its own actions which necessarily constrict, confine, reduce, and shrink the Apeiron of Faith in its attempts to identify and thereafter intensify the products of its actions on its quest to “manufacture” (or “find”) the “one thing” that matters: that “single, irreducible Truth” by which its every product might be imbued with everlasting meaning and value.
The “logical” end of Reason’s actions can therefore be said to terminate in Nihilism; Nihilism being the refutation of transcendence and the negation of the possibility of an ultimate Value that might be “ascertained” by Reason in and through such a transcendent act.
Devil walks into bar. Orders drink. Asks Philosopher sitting next to him: “And what do you do?”