Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 8

This demand accords with the strenuous effort, exhibiting itself as almost  heated and petulant, to rescue mankind from being sunken in what is sensuous, vulgar, and particular, and to raise men’s eyes to the stars; as if men had quite forgotten the divine, and were on the verge of finding satisfaction, like worms, in mud and water. Time was when man had a heaven decked out with an abundance of thoughts and images. The significance of everything that is lay in the thread of light by which it was attached to heaven; instead of dwelling in this present, the eye glanced away over the present to the divine being, away, so to speak, to a present in the hereafter. Spirit’s eye had to be directed under compulsion to what is earthly, and kept fixed there; and it has needed a long time to introduce that clearness, which only the otherworldly had, into the crassness and confusion shrouding the sense of earthly things, and to make it of interest and of value to pay attention to the immediate present as such, which was called experience. Now we apparently have the need for the opposite of all this; man’s mind and interest are so deeply rooted in the earthly that we require a like power to have them raised above that level. Spirit shows itself to be so poor that it seems to long for the paltry feeling of the divine in general, and to get refreshment from that, like a wanderer in the desert craving for the merest mouthful of water. By the little which can thus satisfy the needs of spirit, we can measure the extent of its loss.

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