Self-Transcendence

…My favorite is the analysis of love in the Symposium. There Socrates defines love as the desire for the perpetual possession of Beauty, or the Good. Plato’s brilliant way of connecting love with both the aesthetic and the intellectual urge is one of the most important Greek ideas assimilated by Christianity. While philosophers and mathematicians are often faulted for being exceedingly cerebral, both have much in common with artists and mystics. If we all have the same ultimate end, this should not be surprising.

In the broader intellectual culture of the later twentieth century, the Christian vision has been largely lost. What’s more, even the vision of our classical Greek heritage has disappeared as well. The result is that the urge to self-transcendence is often inverted. What is perceived as liberating is often constraining; what is perceived as joyful is often saddening; what is perceived as fulfilling often results in emptiness. What people presume to call free inquiry is often simply directionless. It is not always easy to tell in what direction is joy and in what despair, and much of our culture has not yet learned that appearances can be deceiving.

~Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski, Vocatio Philosophiae, Philosophers Who Believe

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