Transcendence and Immanence

The opposition between what’s beyond us in some way - transcendent - and what is inherent to us - immanent, is one of the big tensions in history. But I think all opposites are fake. Take a company as an example, is it transcendent or immanent? We often talk about corporations as if they’re transcendent things, actual Beings that rule over us. But if you’ve worked in a corporation you know it’s not simple, people like you and me work in corporations, so they’re us in some way. They’re immanent. But they also go beyond us in some ways, nobody within an organisation actually controls it. There’s transcendence there.

Language is the same. I’m using these words, but I didn’t invent them, they’re transcendent to me in some way. But I can also shape them myself, have some choice how to use them; they’re also immanent. All things are both transcendent and immanent, at the same time. We often miss that I think, looking for transcendences like ‘God’ or ‘the government’ or ‘capitalism’ that will explain why things happen. Or pretending that all things are just immanent, like the free market fantasies of our time.

We love opposites. But they’re a fantasy.


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