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In Deeper Darkness
From the Upanishads to Heidegger
“Into deep darkness fall those who follow action. Into deeper darkness fall those who follow knowledge.” (The Upanishads)
Regardless of the content, the form of X —> deep darkness, Y —> deeper darkness resonates.
In the Talmud, we find a similar dialogical form: “Woe unto us, teacher, that we should see you like this.” “Woe unto you, students, if you should not see me like this.”
The opposite of error is not truth, but another, sometimes deeper, error.
In the Upanishads, those who follow action follow illusion. But those who prefer knowledge by rejecting action follow the illusion that they are beyond illusion.
In Heidegger, we find a similar form. Those who reject metaphysics or technology or inauthenticity haven’t escaped. They’ve simply duped themselves into thinking that because they see a problem they have a solution. Materialists lie in darkness, spiritualists who reject materialism altogether lie in deeper darkness.
The form works for strategic considerations, too. Those who are caught up in Machiavellian power games lie in darkness. Those who naively think that these games do no operate and require consideration lie in deeper darkness.
Lacan offers us an archetypal image of two kinds of ignorance. One ostrich has his head in the sand, another watches him. And a third pecks at the behind of the second. We tend to think that we are exempt from the pitfalls of others, but just when we get on our own high horse, it turns out we are most deluded. Most great and ancient traditions offer us not just a via negativa, a path through negation, but a path that is doubly negative, requiring us to negate our negation and arrive at an affirmative stance. What matters is not the substance of that stance, but the grip with which we hold it. Dogmatism is the temptation of the mystic, cynicism the temptation of the skeptic. But conviction and revelation come to those who acknowledge that they lie both in darkness and in deeper darkness.