Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Symbolical Destiny in a Symbolical World

As at present constituted, man feels that his state is pre-eminently symbolical : he sees in symbolism a necessary requirement for his earthly pursuits -- a substitute for those immediate powers of cognition which he has lost. And all this is true, independently of any use he may freely choose to make of symbols for the higher purposes of spiritual life.

Man, at the beginning, was placed on this earth as its firstborn son, in the midst of the telluric universe, or in other words, in the centre of a planetary world akin to and similar to his own. Now whatever may be the case, or whatever it may be allowable to think of any other of the starry spheres though in the invisible world of spirits all perhaps is more immediately full of and instinct with essence, and is not veiled in material emblems, this is not the case with this earth. Terrestrial nature, in all its organic productions and warring elements of life, is throughout symbolical. Man, therefore, viewed from this position of his earthly habitation, is surrounded by a symbolical world of sensuous emblems. And if we can, or rather, if we will, believe the grand intimation with which revelation opens, the first and highest destination of man is even symbolical—to be the Divine image.

Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophy of Life, Morrison, tr., p. 269