On the lowness of human intelligence

Man, the limit at the bottom of intelligence. Every distinct thing we understand can only be understood by its own distinct idea. This need is a way of knowing, not required by knowing itself. For knowledge, it suffices to have some other within the knowing power, and so knowing as such does not need a distinct thought in order to understand anything that can be distinguished by thought- still less does it require a knower to use many distinct thoughts in order to understand anything distinctly by definition (this need to define using a multitude of words is in fact a result of our needing to have distinct concepts for whatever we can distinguish in thought).

This lowness of human intelligence made it fitting, and in some sense necessary that man’s intelligence is the cause of life in a body, even though it does not need a body to work. Plato’s understanding of the intelligence as “falling to earth” is the best introduction to our existence, but it’s a riddle in need of interpretation. We can be said to fall because the sort of thing we are comes to be by its very nature at the bottom of existence, and yet it came from a much higher source: not taking “from” as expressing a place, but as expressing an agent that made it, and who exists outside the natural order. We also “fell” to earth, as though it were an accident, not in the sense that we don’t belong here, but in the sense that we are supposed to be living in a higher place, and we are constantly called to it.   

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