RE: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Apr 05 2003 - 06:08:49 BST

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    Sam, Rick and all:

    > DMB quoted the Oxford Companion to Philosophy
    "Theologians sometimes claim that philosophical appraisal has no legitimacy
    in relation to what they see as a 'revealed' system of belief.

    Sam said:
    Your Oxford companion is (conventionally) misconstruing what theologians

    DMB says:
    Misconstruing? It seems that you said something very much like this claim

    Sam said to Rick:
    It is true (axiomatic) that a Christian will Jesus as representing the
    highest value. This is not something which can be *proven* by reason - but
    that, as far as I'm aware, isn't claimed by Christians. What is claimed by
    Christians is that it is compatible with reason, that there are no ultimate
    contradictions in the Christian faith. The perception that Jesus incarnates
    God is revelation, ie it is not something that can be achieved by the
    unaided human reason. Philosophically, it has no different status to a
    fifteenth century dispute between Ptolemists and Copernicans - you either
    'see' it or you don't.

    DMB continues:
    Not something that can be proven by reason? Can't be "achieved" by the
    unaided human reason? you either see it or you don't? C'mon, Sam. This is
    not very different from the Oxford Companion's "philosophical appraisal has
    no legitimacy in relation to". I think you're trying way too hard. It seems
    you're engaged in a disagreement with an encyclopedia and with yourself. :-)

    Backing way up, this discussion about the difference between theology and
    philosophy has spawned more than a few unintended insults. And usually this
    kind of misunderstanding is in close proximity to one of my assertions that
    such-and-such is not intellectual, but social instead. But here I think its
    easy to point to something specific that you yourself just said. This idea
    that some things can't be apprehended properly by reason, that reason is
    inappropriate for some things. I don't disagree with that. That's what the
    recent Campbell quote was about. The power of an "affect image", of a living
    mythological symbol is that it talks directly to the feeling system and
    immediately elicits a response, like a musical resonance. And the Watt's
    quote too. Its the poets and myth-makers who report of the living world.
    They alone have something really important to say. This is NOT intellectual,
    yet there is not what it seems you've been fighting. All this talk about
    "objectivity" and "assumptions" the myths of science and the science within
    relgion and so much more... It all seems aimed at denying the idea that
    social level things are any less true than the cold steel stare of reason.

    Myths are not facts. Doesn't that mean so much more now? I mean, don't the
    quotes help? Symbols function and operate upon us properly when the
    intellect is NOT engaged, it hits us at a different level, the social level.
    This is not a put-down. Its a designation. Claiming that such things are
    intellectual does not flatter or elevate, it only causes confusion and
    misunderstanding about the things. This is about different states of
    consciousness, among other things. Its about the different levels within
    each of us. I think they each have their own way, their own kind of truth. I
    think they are at odds, but that this is a temporary situation, historically
    speaking. Many thinkers besides Pirsig are working on the problem. Making
    the distinction between the social and intellectual levels is supposed to
    add clarity. He too, is trying to rescue myth from the realm of the "mere".

    Thanks fore your time,

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