Self-transcendence and Eros: The human condition between desire and the infinite
This article treats self-transcendence – like all transcendence – as a fact of human life. Inter alia this means that the human mind perforce operates in terms of binary concepts such as finitude–infinity, inner world–outside world, self–other, desire–fulfilment, separation–union and the like. We find these concepts in most myths of origin. The concept of desire (Eros), combining unfulfilment and the infinite, particularly epitomises self-transcendence. Ralph Waldo Emerson is cited as a precursor of the mid-19th century transcendentalists, whose ideas are resurfacing in present-day secular spirituality. In this article, we examined desire in the Christian conception of the Fall as envisioned by the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and by Hegel, who integrates mind and nature in his philosophy of Spirit. The works of Emmanuel Levinas and Paul Ricoeur are used as points of reference to help us understand self and other in a framework of self-transcendence. The impact of these ideas on a postmetaphysical epistemology was also explored. Affectivity is a neglected area in Western thought and displays the same infinitude as rationality. The article concluded with present-day strategies of self-construction in a techno-scientific consumer culture.