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Transcendence is a state of being that has overcome the limitations of physical existence.


  • The world is suffering from lack of faith in a transcendental truth.
    • Charles Renouvier.
      • Benda, J. (1955). The Betrayal of the Intellectuals. (R. Aldington, Trans.). The Beacon Press. (Original work published 1927)
  • Until now, neither the distinction between “worthy, since durable” and “vain, since transient,” nor the unbridgeable abyss separating the two, has disappeared for a moment from reflections on human happiness. Nonentity, the demeaning and humiliating insignificance of the individual bodily presence in the world by comparison with the unperturbed eternity of the world itself, has haunted philosophers (and non-philosophers, during their brief spells of falling into and staying in a philosophical mood) for more than two millennia. In the Middle Ages it was raised to the rank of the highest purpose and supreme concern of mortals, and deployed to promote spiritual values over the pleasures of the flesh—as well as to explain (and, hopefully argue away) the pain and misery of the brief earthly existence as a necessary and therefore welcome prelude to the endless bliss of the afterlife. It returned with the advent of the modern era in a new garb: that of the futility of individual interests and concerns, shown to be abominably short-lived, fleeting and vagrant when juxtaposed with the interests of “the social whole”—the nation, the state, the cause.
  • A powerful case for that refurbished, secularized response to individual mortality was constructed and extensively argued by Émile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern sociology. He strove to insert and settle “society” in the place vacated by God and by Nature viewed as God’s creation or embodiment—and thereby to claim for the nascent nation-state that right to articulate, pronounce and enforce moral commandments and command the supreme loyalties of its subjects; the right previously reserved for the Lord of the Universe and His anointed earthly lieutenants.
  • Fellowship depends on appreciation while manipulation is the cause of alienation: objects and I apart, things stand dead, and I am alone. What is more decisive: a life of manipulation distorts the image of the world. Reality is equated with availability: What I can manipulate is, what I cannot manipulate is not. A life of manipulation is the death of transcendence.
  • Man is naturally self-centered and he is inclined to regard expediency as the supreme standard for what is right and wrong. However, we must not convert an inclination into an axiom that just as man's perceptions cannot operate outside time and space, so his motivations cannot operate outside expediency; that man can never transcend his own self. The most fatal trap into which thinking may fall is the equation of existence and expediency.
  • Whatever in any degree transcends the material impression, or sensuous experience, as well as all possible knowledge of, and faith therein, not merely in respect to … religion, but whatever is noble, beautiful and great, whatever can lead the mind to, or can be referred to something suprasensible and divine—all this, wherever it may be found, whether in life or thought, in history or in nature—aye, even in art itself, it was the ultimate object of this counterfeit philosophy to decry, to involve in doubt, to attack and to overthrow, and to bring down to the level of the common and material, or to plunge it into the skeptical abyss of unbelief. The first step in the process is a subordination of reason to sensation, as a derivative of it—a mere slough which it throws off in its transformations.
  • Before the age of adulteration it was held that behind each work there stood some conception of its perfect execution. It was this that gave zest to labor and served to measure the degree of success. To the extent that the concept obtained, there was a teleology in work, since the laborer toiled not merely to win sustenance but to see this ideal embodied in his creation. Pride in craftsmanship is well explained by saying that to labor is to pray, for conscientious effort to realize an ideal is a kind of fidelity. The craftsman of old time did not hurry, because the perfect takes no account of time and shoddy work is a reproach to character. But character itself is an expression of self-control, which does not come of taking the easiest way. Where character forbids self-indulgence, transcendence still hovers around. When utilitarianism becomes enthroned and the worker is taught that work is use and not worship, interest in quality begins to decline. … There is a difference between expressing one’s self in form and producing quantity for a market with an eye to speculation. Péguy wished to know what had become of the honor of work. It has succumbed to the same forces as have all other expressions of honor.
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Larison, Daniel (Sep 3, 2005). Voegelin, The “Loss of Reality” and Hatred of Transcendence. The American Conservative.