“The Desires of Our Intellect”
by Deirdre Venturella
(Full article from Literary Arts Review Magazine September 2016 issue)
What do we truly desire? What truly makes us happy?
The things that our minds crave are Truth, Order and Beauty. These are immaterial goods that cannot be touched, tasted or smelled, yet our minds see them and delight in them.
The intellect is our highest faculty. It never sleeps, and it desires to always be in contact with Truth and to conform to it. More than anything else, our minds desire Truth; proof of this is the enormous amount of information available to people, and how the mind never tires of hearing it. Fiction and fantasy are food for the intellect in as much as they reflect reality. Even games are are an exercise of the intellect because the mind delights in figuring out how to win.
The human intellect also desires Order; our minds demand that something make sense to us. Our minds love logic. From mathematical equations to scientific problems, things must be in logical order in our minds. Orderliness in Nature is seen in the fact that it is governed by immutable physical laws, all perfect and predictable. If there were not a perfect order in Nature, even the plants could not grow. We see the order in the Earth and marvel at it with our intellect.
People also crave moral order in their lives, so they set down rules and laws to govern their lives and societies. As people are happy when life is morally ordered, they are unhappy when it is morally disordered. This misery drives them to seek consolation in material indulgences and distractions. Our minds do not want disorder, illogic, ugliness, nonsense, or perversions. They desire that which is true, ordered, beautiful, and good.
Along with Truth and Order, what our minds love and desire is Beauty. Beauty is an immaterial thing, visible to the intellect; we delight in its order of form, and seek its goodness. People must have Beauty in their lives. Enormous amounts of time, effort and money are spent producing and enjoying literature, art, music and drama. Think of any art museum in Florence, Italy — and how thousands of people line up to see the beautiful art inside. The beauty of creation can be seen in a flower, a sunset, or a full moon, and is the subject of many poems and works of art. We never tire of Beauty.
When we consider what we truly desire, we see that our intellects seek what we were made for: Heaven. The immaterial goods of Truth, Order and Beauty here on Earth are only a small foretaste of Heaven, where the human mind can be in perfect possession of the true, ordered, beautiful, and good.
Let us seek happiness by fixing our minds on Truth, Order, and Beauty.
* There are other things we desire, such as Peace (the tranquility of Order), and Love — to give our goodness to someone (or something) and to receive it in return. There is also the desire to live forever. These are great quests of the human soul, and worth their own space in another article.