Augustine & Plato on Happiness of Soul… (II)

Although Augustine was strongly influenced by Plato, the two have clearly different ideas of what constitutes human Happiness. For Plato, justice, or psychic harmony, is the dominant component of happiness and must be present in order for happiness to be possible. This psychic harmony is unsustainable without wisdom, and therefore so is happiness; this means we must study the Forms. Because the Forms are unchanging and present in everything, this study gives one the ability to inform the ruling part of one’s soul most reliably, and therefore to maintain justice most consistently within the soul. Once this harmony sustained by wisdom is established in a life, happiness will be most possible.

For Augustine in On Free Choice of the Will, happiness is the enjoyment of true and unshakable goods, or the pleasure derived from eternal things and real knowledge. Eternal things are those things which cannot be lost against one’s will. Real knowledge resides in the mind of God, and knowing Him allows one to possess and meditate on things not of this world, undying things that one cannot lose against one’s will. In order to know God, we must wholeheartedly will the Good and strive to attain four virtues which, while similar to Plato’s virtues, are much more explicitly tools for becoming happy. In this paper I will explain Plato’s view and contrast Augustine’s view with it in light of the central point of difference, Theism, from which all the other differences between the two radiate. My own opinion is that neither of them is wholly right. It seems to me that there are certain things that Plato instinctively knew about Grace even though he didn’t have faith in God. Augustine, though not lacking there, seems to rely too heavily on our own human efforts to be virtuous and happy. Perhaps a good sift through both of them is necessary.

For Plato, happiness is a consistent state of psychic harmony maintained through the virtues, which together result in reason’s rule of the soul. All decisions are then made on the basis of the wisdom the rational part of the soul has gained in contemplation of the Forms. In Plato’s Republic, justice, or psychic harmony, is the dominant component of happiness and must be present in order for happiness to be possible. This psychic harmony is not sustainable without wisdom, and therefore happiness (as a stable state) cannot be reached without it either; wisdom is necessary. Wisdom can be gained through engaging in and experiencing the highest and truest pleasures (rational ones), which involves being of a philosophic nature and studying the Forms. Because the Forms are unchanging and present in everything, this kind of study gives one the ability to inform the ruling part of one’s soul most reliably, to make better decisions about which pleasures would be the most appropriate for each part of the soul, and therefore to maintain justice most consistently within the soul. Once harmony is established in a life, happiness will be most possible in that life.

For Plato, justice is equivalent to a kind of psychic harmony, or deep peace, in which each part of the soul performs its own task well and does not meddle in the affairs of other parts or do their work (444 b, Republic). The three parts of the soul are the appetitive, the spirited, and the rational parts, having to do (respectively) with bodily pleasures and desires; anger, envy, and righteous indignation; and reason and knowledge. The psychic harmony of the just soul is beautifully described when Socrates says that “one who is just…
“… regulates well what is really his own and rules himself. He… harmonizes the three parts of himself like three limiting notes in a musical scale- high, low, and middle. He binds together those parts and any others there may be in between, and from having been many things he becomes entirely one, moderate and harmonious. Only then does he act” (443 d-e, Republic).

When these three parts are working together in harmony as they should, the rational part rules over both the appetitive part and the spirited part with its knowledge, or wisdom, reigning them in and keeping them in line for the good of the whole soul.

This harmony is not maintainable without wisdom, because the continued harmonious relations between the parts of the soul are made more and more possible to the extent that the rational part is informed by Wisdom. Plato’s description of how the philosophic nature manifests itself shows us that his greatest authority is the Forms:
“ the philosophic natures always love the sort of learning that makes clear to them some feature of the being that always is and does not wander around between coming to be and decaying” (485b), and that “it is the nature of the real lover of learning to struggle toward what is… until he grasps the being of each nature itself with the part of his soul that is fitted to grasp it.” (490b, Republic, emphasis mine).

‘What is’ and ‘what always is’ as referred to here are the Forms: things that are unchanging and present in everything. In the Republic, Plato contradicts the popular notion that pain is the absence of pleasure and pleasure the absence of pain. He maintains that there is a higher pleasure. This true pleasure comes from filling ourselves with “what is appropriate to our nature… with things that are more, [thereby enjoying] more really and truly a more true pleasure” (585e, Republic). Filling oneself with true knowledge of the Forms will reliably inform the rational part of the soul with wisdom and understanding, bringing the potential for a consistently maintained state of psychic harmony, and therefore for happiness. The more one meditates on the Forms and ‘what is’, the more just one’s soul will be since the ruling part will be making the wisest decisions about the which Pleasures are most appropriate for each part of the soul.

Basically, Plato says that psychic harmony is necessary in order to experience true pleasure and ultimately happiness. This is because only when each part of the soul minds its own business and harmonizes with the other parts is conflict going to cease so one can experience peace and pleasure. And only when the rational part of the soul is ruling do you see and act on what is best for each part of the soul and the whole, because only it chooses the rational pleasures (the truest pleasures) above mere bodily pleasures and honor and the rest. The rational part of the soul chooses to study the Forms and gain true knowledge of that which is unchanging (Wisdom) in order to make its decisions. As ruler, then, it makes the wisest judgments about the best Pleasures for each part of the soul, thereby preserving justice within the soul.

For Augustine, happiness is the enjoyment of true and unshakable goods, or the pleasure derived from eternal things and true knowledge. True knowledge here, just as with Plato’s Forms, is not earthly. However Augustine believed that this knowledge resides in the mind of God whereas Plato simply referred to true knowledge itself as his authority.
The differences begin with sources of authority. From Augustine’s central belief in God, one can see all the other differences between the two philosophers radiate. According to Augustine, God has written his eternal law upon our hearts and if we freely follow this law and live virtuous lives we will be able to know him and enjoy those eternal goods which can only be attained through communion with him.

Enter free will.

Free will is a whole new element in the happiness discussion, one which Plato doesn’t even address. Free will’s duality necessitates a moral component including judgment and law. Evil-doing is defined by Augustine and Evodius echoes him, saying that “all sins come about when someone turns away from divine things that truly persist and toward changeable and uncertain things” (p.27, OFC). But the eternal law which God has written on our hearts “demands that we purify our love by turning it away from temporal things and toward what is eternal”(p.25, OFC). Augustine makes it clear that the will was given to the human race for Good when he says that “the very fact that anyone who uses free will to sin is divinely punished shows that free will was given to enable human beings to live rightly” (p. 31, OFC). It was given to us in order that we might pursue the virtues, live the virtuous life, and through them know God and enjoy true and unshakable goods.

Temporal goods, which one can lose against one’s will, are material possessions, life, health, beauty, strength, family, friends, and honor. Eternal goods cannot be lost against one’s will. These are the mind or intellect, reason, virtue, and the good will itself. What we will constitutes a reality of vital importance to our happiness, because if our desires are for temporal things we will never be happy because they do not last and they are not good in the highest sense. We must desire eternal things and real knowledge; we must desire to know God; we must will the Good. Plainly there are two sides to the moral coin of free will according to Augustine.

Augustine’s stance on reason is similar to Plato’s in that he says it ought to rule the mind. If reason directs free will, he says, then virtue is possible. Vice is incompatible with reason’s rule. The person in whom reason rules the mind does not give in the inordinate desire and sin, but builds virtues into his life. “And surely
we do not doubt that every virtue is superior to every vice, so that the better and more sublime the virtue, the stronger and more invincible it is… Then no vicious spirit defeats a spirit armed with virtue” (p.16, OFC).

But virtues for Augustine are not so much an expression of the make-up of happiness as it is an explicit method for obtaining it. They represent constant engagement and will as opposed to criterion or content. For Plato the virtues are more of an expression of happiness’ make-up. ‘The well-ordered soul looks like this,’ he says. Plato’s setup is almost entirely one of letting go, of giving way to a pre-established order and discovering within the mind what the rules and boundaries are for that order, whereas Augustine’s setup is at core one with a solid commitment to striving and acting and willing in accord with the eternal law which God has written on our hearts.

I believe that Augustine is more on target here in a way, but that a healthy measure of each view ought to be combined into something more complicated than either is alone. I agree with Augustine about God; God exists and He is my ultimate authority. I believe that there is a resulting moral component to life and to my actions. I believe as well that we have free will, although with my feeble mind and limited experience I may not know how this is possible. But I also believe in Providence. I do not believe that where God has submitted to us in any way He is weak or in any way less than omnipotent—anyway, isn’t that a part of what Jesus lived as a message? That in submission and love lies a certain inexplicably great power? And this leads me to my objection, summed up in two words: be still. I think that Plato’s ultimate resting back on something immutable and higher has something to it. Granted, he was not driven by a religiously moral sense of responsibility to strive for virtue, he had no God to answer to. But if he did, he would have submitted to Him as surely as he submitted to the Forms and the order he conceived to be in the world. I think submission is key here, letting go and allowing God. We’re always trying to control everything; Augustine could possibly do with some settling down and letting God soothe his ruffled feathers. His system tries too hard, his ‘free will’ necessitates so much striving to become virtuous—as if there were no precedent for righteousness! As if God did not work in our lives as well as around them. I’m not saying we oughtn’t to try, just that we shouldn’t focus so much on trying.

A lot of our overcoming in life has nothing to do with our trying, just doing. Obeying. Peter didn’t need to focus on staying above the water and the waves; he had only to look at Jesus’ face. Plato may not have addressed free will, and I’m sure that was a very important articulation. Augustine did, and Augustine answered to the one true God as well. Plato’s faith in the Forms themselves was incorrect (or at least incomplete, a serious error); his laying back into the order he perceived may have been unfounded, but he seems to me to have had more of a notion of what believing in Grace really is than Augustine makes clear in On Free Choice of the Will. We are more than Overcomers, yet not of ourselves. It is not our own efforts that keep us from sinking in the stormy seas of life. It is not simply our own striving that allows us to walk on the water. It is only by concentrating on the face of our Lord that we are able to achieve these things which seem impossible.

c. Mary Kathryn Gough, university paper

(Katie Huffman (Gough, married), 11/26/02, Van Dyke, Philosophy 251)


theMechanics.Of:ceratlone —

(Or Tolerance, in the common tongue)

No one can be commended any longer for instilling values in others – least of all the young and impressionable. We used to think it was right to guide others or to advise them in times of confusion or growth, but we now realize that this was intolerant. No one can really speak to another’s uniqueness. Both individually and culturally we must let everyone decide what matters to them on their own, or they will not genuinely learn to be themselves. Interference, even to save lives or heal (as we once thought “good”), is actually stealing the decisions and experiences that others have a right to make and have. Therefore all attempts at this must stop. We’re too enlightened to limit each other that way.

Teaching our beliefs is in actuality the ultimate tyranny, because freedom requires that there be no willful outer influence from elders. Curbing freedom, especially in delicate years, is never an option. Everyone has a right to develop unhindered, choosing their highest good and pursuing their own desires without input from external, pre-developed systems. We will sanction anything to preserve the freedom of each single human being to do and be what they like. We will discourage speaking out in public about religion, faith, right, or wrong. We will curtail police action and authority in order to respect every person’s right in this respect. We will censor all schoolbooks and materials to prove our dedication in this concern, and to preserve each child’s original personhood, unmolested by non-neutral pressures and cultural assumptions. We will teach everyone that the validity of anyone’s traditional values, opinions, and desires (even ones we’ve never met) is merely personal (and therefore intrinsically void) in order to secure an open, equal footing for all knowledge. We will deaden the meeting of every passion that leads to friction, and even marriage and international relations will have the proper bumpers in place to still their heretofore inevitable conflict.

Agony must be stilled, conflict nullified, and peace made. No one may ‘win’ public ground, as this will encourage confrontation. The devaluation of everything in the public sphere is the answer here. In the case of difference and confrontation, we will no longer allow there to be stands made for the things thought to be ‘right’. A stand-off is the perpetual goal on all sides. In fact, if two differing parties can no longer see one another, our job is done; the pressure never appears, and peace is achieved. Each can go their way without molestation.

The more we instill these things into our children, the less identity- and belief-caused pain will exist in the world; people oughtn’t to experience such abominable friction. A successful world will have no wars because everyone on the planet will know that they have no right to demand anything of another and that every idea and belief ought to be left to flourish. The quelling of violence will not be necessary, simply because the highest ideal of all will be the undiscoverable and inconsequential nature of one’s neighbor, left untrammelled and pure. Our world and our neighbor’s are equally valid in every respect.

We will stop relating.
We will stop sharing.
We will stop loving.
We will live for our own self, each.
We will stop learning from other intelligences.
We will not be reasoned with.
We will grow stale and rigid.
We will stop creating.
We will stop expressing.
We will stop proliferating.
We will stop believing.
We will stop caring.
We will die.


I don’t know where necessity will come into play. Somewhere along about where one person believes that all children should be killed, maybe. . . Or before that? When having children and ‘caring’ for them becomes simply a matter of large-scale production and economics because lonely love has been imprisoned and suppressed? Perhaps when there is no intervention while someone in a deep and legitimate depression decides that blowing up the earth is the only way out of their pain? Is one person’s world really always so equally valid as to be unchallengable?

I hate to be cliché, but look at Hitler, at conflict resolution patterns, arguments between husband and wife, feuds, and general communication between two separate parties on something new anywhere. We would be nowhere without confrontation, conflict, passion, and the guts to stick to our guns! Those are (scale aside) what provide the opportunity for an understanding to be reached (not the weapons, duh, the other things). Burying each side forever is simply authorizing mass madness on a scale we’ve only had glimpses of before. Passionlessness is not wisdom, though it can lack it. When a husband and/or wife stops trying to make themselves understood, the possibility of love is diminished for each. Collaboration may breed stupidity and pain, but it also provides opportunity for exponential newness, creativity and positive learning. We’ve pruned the tree back at the trunk in order to address agony, and while I agree that agony and conflict should be addressed, permanent public silence is not the answer. It’s social suicide. It is an negating influence. It is NOT TOLERANCE.

Perhaps everyone dies alone. I wouldn’t know as I’m still alive.

I’ll tell you one thing I do know though. The more this ‘devaluing’ principle, in each and every aspect, pervades our living, the less free we are.

Is steam more free as steam when the boundaries and conditions of its existence are withdrawn? No. It is no longer steam. The same goes for us, our boundaries and conditions.

We are communal, social creatures, and generations of similar foundations have an awful lot right about the humane gears of society. We cannot live more and more cut off from each other this way. This is not genuine. This is not human.

Perhaps everyone dies alone, but now… ?

Now everyone must live alone.

c. Mary Kathryn Gough, 03/02/12, wales 10.01 pm

‘Transcendence & Temporality’

The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic

*Section 12: Transcendence and Temporality*
(nihil originarium)

by Martin Heidegger

Final Continental Philosophy Paper turned in to Professor Matt Halteman by Mary Kathryn Gough (Katie Huffman) PHIL 140 // Spring 2004

Time is a central theme for Martin Heidegger, recurring often in his philosophical writings. One of his goals is to properly link our conception of it with our conception of the nature of our own Being, and he therefore spends quite a bit of time attempting to discern and describe its nature. His various works show the development of his thought on this subject (the title of Being and Time seems to be more deeply significant when seen in this light). One good example of this development is found in his Metaphysical Foundations of Logic: leading up to and centering around the twelfth section is a condensed and careful exploration of the idea, within which it is easier to get a bird’s-eye view of the interconnectedness– and meshing– of the multiple naming concepts involved. “Time,” Heidegger says, “claims a central systematic function in metaphysics as such” because it has “some relation, however obscure [that relation] may still be, to the understanding-of-being as such” (p.197). The metaphysical notion of time must therefore be interpreted with that in mind.

The unity of the various aspects of Dasein’s character are very important to Heidegger, who holds that we are only (freely) existing when these aspects are fully integrated and thus applied (world-entry). The structure of the integration should be quite clear once the eleventh section is briefly reviewed and the text of the twelfth expounded upon. Following that, the question of responsibility is examined in light of Dasein’s free, transcendent being-bound-to-time and it is asked what this clarified understanding of time might demand of us in order that we may be Being authentically. A speculation on a theological approach to understanding the ecstatic character of time as related to Being will conclude the paper.

Martin Heidegger spends the eleventh section of his Metaphysical Foundations of Logic laying out the importance of freedom and world in their connection to the transcendence of Dasein. In fact, he shows that Dasein itself is the bridge, or conduit of the act of transcendence, or crossing over: that “to be a subject means to transcend” at the most basic, organic, or primordial level one can imagine (p.165, emphasis added). In the same way that Dasein does not ‘achieve’ a crossing over every once in a while, transcendence does not consist in crossing a barrier, per se between itself and an object.1 Dasein is already factically IN the world, ‘thrown’ amidst nature: beings to which it belongs (p.166), and the only way it is able to perceive the objects within nature at all as bodily existent is if it is already and has already/always transcended, or surpassed objects because it is in the very nature of its being to do so. Heidegger de-specifies the ‘object,’ stating that anything which can be encountered is surpassed (p.166) and “that towards which the subject transcends is what we call world” (from ‘Being-in-the-world’) (p.166).

Freedom is bounded; always it is bounded by Others, and thus it is rooted in responsibility. If we look at nature all around us we see this; every shape is held together as a shape by being collected within lines, every body of water is water, free to flow only because of its surface tension and the extent to which its constituent molecules obey chemical laws, evaporating slowly rather than all at once. We are sadly mistaken, according to Heidegger, if we think we understand “freedom most purely in its essence” if we “isolate it as a free-floating arbitrariness” (p.196). We ought to understand it in a way that is “precisely the reverse, to conceive freedom in its finitude and to see that, by proving boundedness, one has neither impaired freedom nor curtailed its essence” (p. 196, emphasis added).

Heidegger moves forward to address transcendence and temporality in section twelve. The common conception of time has these qualities: a) it passes, b) it is dependent upon its relation to the internal subjective world of an observer, making our idea of the soul (or our exact conception of the nature of Being) very important, c) it is not singular or central to Being because it is tied to space, and therefore our senses become involved in its perception, and d) it is contrasted with theological eternity, thereby causing the temporal to be defined by a conception of the heavenly (p.197). Yet according to Heidegger, “none of th[ese kinds of conceptions] touches exactly on the metaphysical essence of time” (p.198). He therefore introduces several new conceptions, naming five but then proceeding to examine only the first two:

    1. Time’s essence has what Heidegger calls ‘an ecstatic character/structure’, its three ecstasies being expectancy (then), retention (formerly), and making-present (now)

    2. It also has a horizontal character 2

First: the ecstatic character of time is threefold and unified. “Temporality in its temporalizing,” according to Heidegger, “is the primordially self-unifying unity of expectancy, retention, and making-present” (p.204). The names “then,” “formerly,” and “now” are used to designate things expected, things retained or remembered, and things held in attendance.

The “then” emerges from the ecstatic structure in the form of expectancy. Dasein is always living in expectancy of possibility– possibility generated by its own essence– and in light of its having-been, which brings us to the second ecstasy. The ecstatic character or structure of time stresses the historicity of Dasein, its “formerly” aspect, in which the things of its past are retained or remembered. And so we are always moving forward, from out of the past toward the possibility of the “then,” expectant. It is this movement in which the aspect of the “now” resides. Right in the center of time’s ecstasis is a temporalizing point in motion– an identifying motion in which time is truly defined. The “now” is not necessarily now-at-this-very-moment but is like taking the moment spoken of into one’s being in the now. It is a “holding something in attendance” or causing its presence by naming it in the now. In addition to being the primordially self-unifying unity of the three aspects of temporality, Heidegger continues, “the unity of the ecstasies is itself ecstatic. It needs no support and pillars, as does the arch of a bridge… we must say that [the] being [of the ecstases] lies directly in the free ecstatic momentum” (p.207, emphasis added).

Second: time has a horizontal character as well as this ecstatic character. We tend to think of horizon as the stretch of what our eyes are able to see,3 but actually it means ‘the enclosure’ as Heidegger is quick to point out here. It is just in the momentum, or the oscillation of the ecstases, that they are enclosed and horizon exists; thus, time has a horizontal character. Time as ‘the enclosure’ does not exist, exactly, but rather it temporalizes itself (p.208). The enclosure is nothing exactly definite, as Heidegger notes: “of itself the ecstasis does not produce a definite possible, but it does produce the horizon of possibility in general, within which a definite possible can be expected” (p. 208).

We also see that it is in horizon’s temporalization of itself that world-entry occurs, because the “ecstematic unity of the horizon of temporality is nothing other than the temporal condition for the possibility of world and of world’s essential belonging to transcendence” (p.208). If Dasein carries time with it, and Dasein’s essence is transcendence, then world-entry happens when transcendence happens (i.e. always already), in the oscillation of the ecstases of time. Time only exists as temporality is temporalized and world-entry occurs.4

Care is here a key element of transcending Dasein. Because of its expectance, Dasein is continually encountering itself in its interactions. Heidegger explains that expectance

implies a being-ahead-of-oneself. It is the basic form of the toward-oneself, or more exactly, it enables the like as such. Expectance means to understand oneself out of one’s own capacity-for-being; one’s own capacity for being is in turn understood in the essential metaphysical breadth to which belong being-with and being-by. Expecting one’s own capability-for-being as mine, I have also come toward myself already and precisely through expecting. This approaching oneself in advance, from one’s own possibility, is the primary ecstatic concept of the future,5

and yet the past is not left behind, for “the having-been-ness, rather, of what-has-been becomes the having-been, first of all and constantly, in the respective future” (p.206).

Thus, any Dasein that is taking its having-been forward into its expectance temporalizes phenomena by means of the concern integral to its being.

Since we are always encountering ourselves in the world, and care, or concern, is the metaphysical essence of the way we approach the world as a result; only through our concern for our own Being are we able to approach the world in such a way at all. That we are thus bounded and defined by this care is precisely what enables us to exist as an Other– separate and yet connected to other Daseins. Heidegger compares Dasein to Leibniz’s monad, saying that the monad “is a substance enclosed in its sphere” and the whole world exists within it, causing it to not need windows (p.210). Heidegger says that it is not because it contains everything already that it needs no windows, but because the enclosure is of a different nature than Leibniz envisioned. There is no inside or outside, he says, though it is still defined (p.210). This is because of the nature of Dasein’s transcending interaction with its world (“the ecstatic happening of world-entry” (p.210))means that time is not a “mundus concentratus” but a “self-opening and expanding into the world” (p.210).

Also, because of the fact that in encountering its world Dasein always encounters itself, one cannot truly say that time ‘flows away’ or ‘passes’. The stream of time is not a collection of nows but a continuum6— not passing, but temporalizing itself (motion) through the aspect of Being called care. Care temporalizes objects into experience, bringing them fully into Being within Dasein by completing the oscillation of time’s ecstatic continuum or raptus: unifying them.

So what does this new understanding of time and the relation of our own Being towards it require of us? It is not so obscure now as it was, and we can see clearly why the unity of these various aspects of Dasein’s character are so important to Heidegger: Dasein as transcending, Dasein as Free, Dasein in world-entry, Dasein as finite, Dasein as participating in time’s ecstatic and defining horizontal characters, Dasein as expectance, retention, and making-present, as temporalizing, as caring, as self-opening, as bounded. What do these things indicate is needful? The structure of the integration should be quite clear now, yet there is another aspect which cannot be overlooked, or all falls to pieces. If we are to be Being authentically, we must recognize the stuff of responsibility in our very essence.

Simply by being what it is, “every Dasein reveals time itself” (p.199). Time is so essentially a part of Dasein’s being and freedom– its transcendence– that it is imperative for us to realize our responsibility to grasp it firmly in each of its three ecstasies and make good use of it. We have to understand that time does not pass us by; we take it with us. We are so fundamentally interconnected with time– it is in us– that as a result we metaphysically are responsibility; we are made of the stuff of responsibility because we carry time with(in) us. We are free with a freedom maintained over and against freedom itself. Heidegger states that it is “only seldom [that] we take possession of time, which possesses our very selves in a metaphysical sense; only seldom do we become master of this power which we ourselves are; only seldom do we exist freely” (p. 199).

If one thinks of stewardship, one cannot help but think that we are accountable to something. But we are accountable only to be whole and holy: unified. We are accountable only as Christ was accountable: for the maintenance of his hidden, inward life and the outward-spilling of the fruits that carefully tended garden grew. He knew his father’s voice and was able to know and responsibly react to right and wrong because he was internally at one in his being: unified in all ways.

If transcendence is “defined essentially by the formulation and notion of that to which [it] transcends,” then our acting essence is as well, since it belongs to Dasein’s being to be always already transcending (p.162). Epistemologically that to which transcendence transcends is object, theologically it is inaccessible because it is infinite. The theological understanding poses the transcendent as the Absolute, that which is beyond us and sometimes (more specifically) the divine—“the infinite difference of the created from the creator, were we to substitute God, as understood by Christians, for the transcendent” (p.162). This understanding leads to an acceptance of the idea that this sort of transcendence is unnecessary, as its object ‘exceeds us’ it seems obvious that we were not meant to engage in it, in the end.

However from a Christian perspective it would seem that perhaps our inward relationship with Christ might call us to recognize that Mystery which is beyond us in the present moment and transcend, as we can with what we are given in each moment, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to commune with God and be at one with Him even as Christ and He were one while he walked this earth. Perhaps the triune God, to whom we are to be as little children, ‘opening up with child-like questioning,’ is in Heideggerian terms, our vital connection to Bying, and our escape from the devivification of ‘stopping with what is present’.

Stopping with what is present amounts to a retreat from the responsibility of being. It takes the life out of things– the life that Christ came to protect! Let us accept our finitude without losing sight of the Mystery we now have the means to connect to.

1See box example on p. 160 (MFoL)

2p. 198 MFoL

3p. 208 MFoL

4p.210 MFoL

5p.206, MFoL, emphasis added

6see p. 202 MFoL