Friday, March 9, 2007

Veritas non posse scire

So this is my elemental criticism of Martin, that he thinks it's possible to understand unknowable truth in logical terms. I was reading, there, thinking that he might endeavor next to explain Shakespeare or Coleridge in logical terms. It's worth our while, certainly, to try and interpret poetry, and religious experience. I would be beyond foolish to deny it.

But he accuses mystics of attempting to explain the ineffable, and calls their definitions and distinctions internally inconsistent, if not paradoxical and contradictory

My skills at simile fail me entirely! It''s explaining purple to the blind, explicating the clarinet to the deaf! Brain surgery!

The reality we're endeavoring to discuss is clearly not the reality with which we deal on a daily basis. There is no reason why it should necessarily play by our rules, by any stretch of the imagination. There's no reason why it shouldn't, either, which is his purpose in his negative principle of credulity, but just because our language and thought are presented with a universe we can't explain is no reason to stop trying.

My favorite accusation, and I use that word with care, is when he goes after mystics for saying something can't be explained, and then trying so to explain.

He's missing, of course, the human drive to try. Just because something is indefinable doesn't absolve us of the responsibility to make the attempt. Those of us blessed with religious experience and with liberal arts educations should endeavor to give every account that we can, until reason breaks down and faith alone remains.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't always be trying to reason further, but a world entirely run on logos ends with the darkest visions of Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury and Plato (if you don't think Republic is Dystopian literature, you need to take a careful re-examination of your life).
You need mythos, and philos, and eros, and all those messy human desires, emotions and stories for mankind to maintain its humanity.

Bah! Silly people with your desire for a fully explicable universe!

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