Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Third Eye

Peter Kreeft has an interesting way of explaining how we see with the eyes of faith.  He refers to seeing with our "first" eye as using our bodily senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste), seeing with our "second" eye as using our mind or our reason, and seeing with our "third" eye as using our heart.

Anyone, animals included, use the first and the second eyes to see with.  The first is simple data gathering.  There is a wall there.  There is light coming in through the cracks in the wall.  The second eye reasons.  The wall is old and must be broken to be letting in the light.  The third eye however is used only by humans.  We go beyond reason just as reason goes beyond data gathering.  The third eye will look at the same crack in the wall and see along it.  It will see the hole reveals a world outside.  That the light is coming from the sun (which cannot be seen directly via the crack) and that it indicates a way out of the room.  There is more here than what meets the eye.

This third eye is how the heart sees.  It is also referred to as seeing by faith.  Animals do not understand a book, for example.  The dog sees the page.  It sees the markings on the page.  However it does not understand that the markings point beyond themselves to concepts beyond the print.  Only human beings can make the leap from a thing to what that thing symbolizes, to what it points to.

To a materialist, science is the limit of what can be seen.  The second eye, while very powerful for understanding and connecting the physical universe, is not sufficient to understand what cannot be seen by it.  To a materialist, a marriage is a simple pair bonding wholly explained by physical interactions, hormones and mutual advantage.  There is no more because the second eye can see no more.  On the other hand, the third eye can see that a marriage points to something beyond itself.  It is a sign of the love of God in the Trinity.  It understands that a man and a woman are created to be united as one in marriage, expressed in part by the physical, but the ultimate meaning of the marriage dwarfs the mere physical.

Just as reason makes sense of the data, the heart makes sense of reason.  This is not to say the heart is irrational, but that it goes beyond the merely rational.  As Pascal puts it, "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."



3 comments:

  1. Why must people constantly insist people are entirely different to animals rather than just more advanced in certain ways? Why must we have some special 'exceptionalism' that makes us apart from the natural order? It's simply not true. Every thing we think of as uniquely human has been found in the animal kingdom, albeit in a much less advanced state - from language to comedy to tool use.

    "Animals do not understand a book, for example... Only human beings can make the leap from a thing to what that thing symbolizes, to what it points to."
    Not true. It is possible to teach some animals that certain symbols represent real world things.

    "Marriage...is a sign of the love of God in the Trinity."
    Really? Only Christian culture has ever had marriage? Not Hindus, Aboriginies, Polynesians, Muslims, Ancient Greeks etc. etc.?

    "the ultimate meaning of [X] dwarfs the mere physical."
    This I entirely agree with.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 2 quick rebuttals:

    1. While it is possible to teach some animals that certain symbols represent 'real world things' can you also teach them that certain symbols represent concepts and ideas? Can you teach an animal that a poem represents love? No. Some of the higher animals possess various levels of '2nd eye' but not the '3rd eye'.

    2. Marriage in every culture has been a sign of the love of God in the Trinity, even if they didn't know it. The very nature of a man and woman unified (one flesh) points back towards the love of the Trinity (one Being, 3 persons).

    ReplyDelete
  3. D. Finn,

    It is entirely possible that some language functions may be only possible in humans, perhaps there is a region of the brain that performs metalinguistics or that allows the conceptualisation of ideas such as love, but perhaps not. Either way it is simply an extension of what current animals can do and I find it almost impossible to believe that other hominids, had they survived, would not be able to do the same thing.

    2. Wow! Back up. The majority of civilisations have practised some form of polygamy. This response is quite telling, not to mention patronising and presumptuous. So all people who have been married in history (including arranged marriages?) has pointed towards the Trinity, regardless of the lack of ANY evidence of the existence of the Trinity?

    ReplyDelete