Intelligence is common to conceptions of transcendence, both ancient and modern. Even if God is the particular form a sense of transcendence takes it is still a matter of intelligence transcending inertial non-intelligent nature. The power of God is always a deliberate teleological power, the power of intelligence. The sense of the absurdity that there is beautiful nature, intelligences, and culture instead of nothing shares a kind of transcendence with the sense of God, because that mystery temps us to interpreted it as a deliberate act of creation. Intelligence itself is the only evidence for a higher plane of existence, and subjectivity is our primary acquaintance with intelligence. The encounter between individual intelligence and merely inertial nature begins to make transcendence thinkable.
The freedom of intelligence has two aspects: strategic insight in the choice of action in the world, and transcendence of mute nature. Moving in the grip of instinct, random impulse, or external forces is not freedom, and neither is clashing with rivals in reflexive efforts of self-inflation. For a person to be free there must be a continuity of evaluating action-impulses for self-definition, self-creation, self-declaration, and attachments to others. For choices of action, intelligence has more than sensory perception and immediate responses stimulated by perception. It has memory and enduring intentions to create a certain personal future-in-life. In adjusting its bearings out of the past and into the increasingly remote future, rational thinking has the power to identify relevant causes and effects from a context which includes remote features as well as possibilities, probabilities, and negations. Deliberative intelligence has powers of making sense of perceptions through conceptual invention, pattern recognition, pattern imposition, analysis, and extrapolation. It has the power of deliberation, of presenting itself with conflicting propositions and evaluating their merits by ranging over a substantial body of mental contents. Embedded in individual deliberative power, language endows rational mentality with a unique public voice. The rational will or intellect is an individuating personal genius with the dignity of deliberative freedom. Intelligence is able to rise above the brute actuality of any moment to judge action which will be good over-all with respect to increasingly remote lifetime outcomes and goals.
A voice is not the same as the language or words uttered. A voice is also more than the sounds of physiological vocal organs. In addition to the language and the vocal organs there are emotionally expressive qualities from an intelligence in a life-situation. The voice carries or expresses a character, persona, or avatar in addition to any meaning that might be denoted or connoted by linguistic utterance. The voice expresses a continuity of deliberate acts of self-creation, self-declaration, and attachments.
There are grounds for transcendence in these observations. For one thing there are no negations, possibilities, or probabilities in the brute actuality of nature. Neither are there temporally remote features. These are brought to the situation by a personal mentality and clearly transcend the actuality of nature. The rational will is free, beyond the compulsion of natural impulses and merely ephemeral appearances, because it draws upon powers which transcend nature.
Copyright © 2011 Sandy MacDonald. The moral right of the author is asserted.