In The Transcendence of the Cave, John Niemeyer Findlay continues the project he embarked upon in The Discipline of the Cave. Having already investigated the realm of bodies and the realm of minds, Findlay opens this series of lectures with a consideration of the realm of reason and spirit. The first lecture, ‘Foundations of the Realm of Reason and Spirit’, reviews the material covered in the previous series of lectures.
The second lecture, ‘The Realm of Notions and Meanings’, moves on from the re-casting of the older material to consideration of abstract phenomena: qualities, forms, relations, types, categories, requirements, values, etc. The third lecture, ‘The Realm of Values and Disvalues’, examines the way in which these abstract phenomena interact with the actions of the ‘lower’ realms of experience—the observable physical and cognitive phenomena discussed in the first series of lectures.
The fourth lecture, ‘Religion and Its Objects’, continues the phenomenological exploration, turning the area of consideration to religion, the crowning realm of the metaphorical cave through which Findlay has been guiding his readers. He argues that religion governs all that has been discussed previously, both concrete and abstract phenomena, and sets about examining the logical object of religion: a necessary and absolute being which incorporates and synthesises all values. In the fifth lecture, ‘The Collapse of the Realm of Reason and Spirit’, Findlay switches into the dialectical mode, and unpacks the subtle logical absurdities present even in this realm of being. He concludes that religion, as it is known in this world, is no less problematic and deceptive than any of the other phenomena thus far discussed.
The sixth lecture, ‘Otherworldly Geography’, turns away from the program of mixed phenomenological and dialectical examination of this-worldly phenomena that Findlay has followed thus far, and toward an examination of otherworldly phenomena, those that exist outside the ‘cave’. These, too, he organises into hierarchies, or ‘realms’. The seventh lecture, ‘The Noetic Cosmos’, sketches one of the higher realms of the otherworldly cosmos, drawing parallels between the noetic cosmos of Plato and the Dharmadhatu of Buddhism.
The eighth lecture, ‘The Life of the Soul’, seeks to relate the cosmos described in the previous two chapters back to this-worldly existence, and the ninth lecture, ‘The Life of God’, returns to the discussion of absolute being that was begun in the fourth and fifth lecture, demonstrating that the inclusion of the transcendent realm resolves the difficulties discovered in the previous examination. Finally, the tenth lecture, ‘Return to the Cave’, synthesises the subjects of the previous lectures, demonstrating the logical coherence that comes from the union of the natural and the transcendent.