Friday, March 07, 2008

Secular Fundamentalists and Other Simple People of Faith (3.09.12)

[R]eligion translates metaphysical or universal truths into dogmatic language. Now, though dogma is not accessible to all men in its intrinsic truth, which can only be directly attained by the Intellect, it is none the less accessible through faith.... [I]ntellectual knowledge... proceeds neither from belief nor from a process of reasoning, [but] goes beyond dogma in the sense that, without ever contradicting the latter, penetrates its "internal dimension," that is, the infinite Truth which dominates all forms. --F. Schuon

As we have discussed in the past, what makes man unique is not just his capacity for knowledge, but his capacity to know so many things that are manifestly false. To call this latter thing "knowledge" is a perversion of the term, for knowledge that isn't true isn't proper knowledge at all. Then what is it? Why are human beings so prone to believe nonsense?

Even for most so-called intellectuals, most of what they know is not necessarily knowledge. Rather, it is plainly "belief." Belief is knowledge once or twice removed, for it means that we are placing our trust in the knowledge of another, or participating in the knowledge of another knower. We don't really know, but somebody does, and we trust them. For example, no one asks if you "know" about global warming; rather, they ask if you "believe" in it. Whether you believe in it depends upon whom you trust. In my case, I have enough common sense not to trust those who claim to know what the weather will be like in 100 years.

So much of what people think they know -- but which they really don't know at all -- comes down to whom they trust. For example, I generally read a few economics books per year, but I could hardly claim to be any kind of expert. And yet, I do have my opinions regarding economics -- even strong opinions. To a certain extent, my opinions rest upon which experts I trust. In my case, I trust a Thomas Sowell but deeply distrust a Paul Krugman. I expect the former to tell me the truth and the latter to lie and distort (there is also the critical matter of the "light" that emanates from the former and the "darkness" that radiates from the latter, but I don't have time to get into that). For example, the left is now claiming that we are in a recession. But since they claimed in 2004 that it was the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, this must be the worst economy in three years, which isn't saying much.

But it's much deeper than that, because one's understanding of economics is always shaped by one's values. For example, I value individualism, low taxes, and a limited government regardless of the economic implications, because I believe these values create better people. On the other and, the leftist values collectivism, big government, and high taxes. I derive my values from religion, whereas the leftist derives his from... from what? From his feelings, I suppose.

Belief cannot establish its own legitimacy, but derives its legitimacy from someone who either knows, thinks he knows, or pretends to know. In this sense, it is superficially similar to faith. However, belief is generally a static thing. It takes the unknown and superimposes the known upon it, thus foreclosing the unknown. Once one believes something, the issue becomes settled, even if in reality it isn't. Again, for those who believe in global warming, the science is "settled." But it's actually the reverse -- that is, the science is settled because they believe in the theory.

Again, this has certain superficial similarities to the religious person, who, for example, has faith that the universe was created. For me, this is a "settled" matter, and no amount of argument could change my opinion. But that is not to say that my opinion is "static." To the contrary, with the exercise of faith -- which is to be distinguished from mere belief -- one's understanding will deepen and deepen.

This is again because belief is foreclosure of the known, whereas faith is a dynamic engagement with the greater unKnown. Faith, properly understood, is not a cognitive structure or grid to be superimposed upon reality. Rather, it is a psychospiritual probe with which to explore transcendent reality -- somewhat like the way a blind person might use a cane to to construct an internal image of the dark space around him (to borrow an analogy from Polanyi).

Furthermore, unlike belief, faith should be convertible to real, i.e., "eternal" knowledge. It is actually a subtle and sophisticated way to gain knowledge that transcends the senses, not a means to provide false but comforting answers and to vanquish curiosity. Scientific knowledge, by definition, is always relative, whereas religious knowledge is the closest human beings can come to knowledge that is "absolute." In fact, religious knowledge partakes of the Absolute; or, to be exact, it is "infused" with the Absolute in holographic way, so that any "part" of revelation mirrors the whole, so to speak.

Thus, many people of faith are actually "people of (implicit) knowledge," whereas many so called intellectuals are actually no more than simple "people of faith." You can really see what little genuine knowledge people have when the discussion revolves around something you do happen to know about, whether it is quantum physics or plumbing repair.

For example, in my case, I happen to possess a lot of theoretical and first hand knowledge of psychology. Most intellectuals who claim to know about psychology don't actually have this kind of first hand knowledge. Rather, they have simply placed their trust in an expert whom they choose to believe. Thus, they have placed the will higher than the intellect; or, at the very last, their intellect is in service of the will. This is not a bad thing, so long as the will is in service to Truth. But most of the really serious problems of mankind -- the real wholesale evil -- is a result of the will in service to falsehood.

I remember having a number of discussions with a world-renowned leftist historian who shall go unnamed. His historical thinking presumed a great deal of psychological knowledge, for how can you claim to study human history without some kind of implicit or explicit theory of human development and motivation? And yet, his psychological ideas were so outdated and unsophisticated as to be laughable. Yes, he had his own psychological "experts" whom he relied upon -- probably some ideas he picked up here and there from leftist lizards in the faculty lounge -- but I knew that his faith in these experts was entirely misplaced. Incidentally, this man also happens to be an atheist who is extremely hostile to religion. But as it pertains to the human psyche, this cynical sophist remains a "simple man of faith."

Ironically, it is just so in any debate between an obligatory atheist, or secular fundamentalist, and a man of genuine faith or gnosis. True, many people of faith simply place their trust in someone who knows -- or claims to know -- and leave it at that. But others do know. They know directly, in the manner of vision or hearing. How then to discuss this knowledge with the obligatory atheist -- that simple and unsophisticated secular man of faith -- who has placed his faith in those who not only do not know but obnoxiously insist that there is nothing to know and no way to know it?

Imagine a medical expert in, say, the mid 19th century. He has all of the latest knowledge on disease. He knows all about the four humors, about the proper placement of leeches, about how germs are spontaneously generated by bad air, etc. Someone comes along and tells this arrogant fellow that germs aren't spontaneously generated. Rather, there are invisible microorganisms covering his hands, living things that he is actually unwittingly transmitting to his patients. Would this doctor not be far closer to the truth if he ceased believing his experts and stopped trusting his self-confirming personal experience?

As expressed by Josef Pieper, "belief has the extraordinary property of endowing the believer with knowledge which would not be available to him by the exercise of his own powers." Furthermore, "being wise with the head of someone else is undoubtedly a smaller thing than possessing knowledge oneself, but it is far to be preferred to the sterile arrogance of one who does not achieve the independence of the knower and simultaneously despises the dependence of the believer."

Since we begin the spiritual path without explicit knowledge, we must inevitably place our faith in the testimony of someone who does (or did) know (or who is perhaps knowledge itself). Ah, but how do we know that this person isn't a mere believer himself? How do we assess their credibility and trustworthiness? By what signs do we judge the false from the true prophet?

Human beings are equipped with means to apprehend exterior reality. But we are also curiously equipped to apprehend the interior reality of persons. It is said that a sophisticated scientist, strictly speaking, does not judge the merits of a scientific theory on the basis of whether it is "true" or "false." Rather, he does so (at least partly) on the basis of its generativity, that is, by how much it explains, how well it ties together various other facts and observations, and the extent to which it gives rise to new, "interesting" problems.

Have you ever known a generative person in whose presence you experience the bracing flow of "life" along your keel? Have you ever been in the presence of a stagnant and lifeless person in whose psychic presence you feel your soul being sucked out of your body?

The spiritually generative lumin being does not merely report reality. Rather, such an individual imparts reality. You might say that they are a door. Or you might say that they are a way. Or perhaps they are even the life.

They know. And we know that they know. And soon enough, we know too. Call it recognosis and ruahcollection.

An esotericism is addrssed precisely to those "that have ears to hear" and for that reason have no need of the explanations and "proofs" which may be desired by those for whom esotericism is not intended.... Christ necessarily spoke from an absolute standpoint, by reason of a certain "subjectivization" of the Absolute.... --F. Schuon

97 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Life imitates art:

Bob wrote,
"...for those who believe in global warming, the science is "settled."

In fact, it seems, even more than "settled."

If you still question the true believers, you're nuts!

3/07/2008 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

It would be bitterly ironic if all the efforts people are making to stop global warming actually worked, and we actually managed to bring on a premature ice age. If the cooling trend of this past year continues for a few more, will we be hearing cries to help save the earth by stopping global cooling? I wonder what the prescribed incantations will be at that point? Will they encourage people to burn more stuff to warm the atmosphere (laughable, actually; there's a reason it's pointless to run the heater with the doors and windows wide open), or will they instead claim that it must still be the pollution created by fossil fuels/ big industry/ overconsumption, with the caveat that they were wrong about the effect that those things have, but they are still eeeevil and only by abolishing them and living like pure stone age tribal folk can the earth reach and maintain the harmonious mean temperature that will bring about the advent of utopic peace with soma and free love for all?

I'm guessing it'll be the second one. For that matter, regardless of what global temperatures do in the next few years, that will likely be the socially mandated juju to keep unpleasant weather at bay.

3/07/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Let's see if I get this. "Faith" is a dynamic engagement with the greater unKnown -- a generative probe used to explore Reality, useful by how much it explains, how well it ties together various other facts and observations, etc etc.

Whereas "belief" has settled on the known -- or what someone, somewhere presumably knows -- foreclosing further thought. If that's the case, then most of what passes for expressions of knowledge in our day to day lives is "pimping".

And generative, as well -- but in a downward spiral, producing greater confusion, and general "ignorance."

How often do we hear "News" which consists of statements illustrated by 5 second sound-bites of someone saying "I don't believe it oughta be like that!" And if we're not paying attention, that passes into us as information.

3/07/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Only all the time, Walt.

3/07/2008 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey Julie,

My best argument and line of reasoning besides scientific data towards man-made global warming has always been that I prefer the heat anyway. So, I'm okay with it! I love the heat! Bring it on...

3/07/2008 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm with you on that one, Lisa. if the climate's gonna change, better warmer than colder.

3/07/2008 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Why else does one actually live in Los Angeles?

3/07/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

This sketch of your Epistemology demonstrates a large confusion.

The gulf you suggests that separates Belief from Knowledge is incorrect. Knowledge is simply a subset of Belief; Beliefs that are both true and that satisfy the rational norms of justification or warrant.

This is known as the tripartite analysis of Knowledge, which goes all the way back to Plato.

Person P has Knowledge of X if and only if:

P believes X
X is true
P's belief of X is caused by X and/or a process of inferences which violate no valid rules of inference.

Faith is also not separate from Belief, but rather a different subset of Belief. Faith is Belief caused by the necessity of that belief for the believer. One only resorts to Faith when Knowledge is unavailable or Knowledge contradicts a necessary Belief.

3/07/2008 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

X is true by what standard, epi?

3/07/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Well, pending the resolution of that apparent dispute, here's someone of faith who is expressing a belief and seems to have knowledge of what he's talking about: Bishop Alfeyev

"“The liberalization of moral standards, initiated by some Protestant and Anglican communities several decades ago and developing with ever-increasing speed, has now brought us to a situation where we can no longer preach one and the same code of moral conduct."

3/07/2008 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) I believe Episteme is a fool.

2) It is, in fact, true that Episteme is a fool.

3) My believe that Episteme is a fool is caused by his foolish attempt to so narrowly define true belief.

Therefore, P has knowledge of X.

3/07/2008 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's that strnage little saying that Alinsky was so fond of?

"Hoisted on his own petard?"

Indeed, you were, Episteme.

Whack!

3/07/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Episteme:

You missed the little quote at the end:

"An esotericism is addrssed precisely to those 'that have ears to hear' and for that reason have no need of the explanations and 'proofs' which may be desired by those for whom esotericism is not intended."

Respectfully, this blog is intended to benefit those who desire to understand and are capable of doing so, i.e., who "have ears to hear." How you stumbled here I have no idea, for it is fair to say that none of my readers would subscribe to your facile and deeply flawed epistemology that cannot even justify itself.

3/07/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Double Whack!!

3/07/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

How do you conclude who has 'ears to hear'? If someone disagrees with you, does that automatically mean they don't have 'ears to hear'?

Also, its not 'my' Epistemology, it is simply Epistemology. If I tell you 2+2=4, this isn't 'my' Math, its Math.

If all you mean by 'Esoteric' is 'something which doesn't have to be justified or supported', then Esotericism is nothing more than dogmatism in the most irresponsible sense.

On the other hand, if you say that there are truths which we come to intuitively rather than conceptually, this would make sense, though this doesn't remove a need for some kind of justification, albeit in an indirect, transcendental sense. I believe something along the lines of 'by their fruits shall ye know them' is part of the Christian tradition.

By what fruits do you think we evaluate intuitive, direct claims to Knowledge?

3/07/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Temps are up a bit in the greenhouse, and my 2K8 seed order arrived today. Rather than be a vegetable, I'm gonna grow a bunch!

I continue to judge One Cosmos by its "fruits." Unlike some others, I lack the words to debate its Epistemology -- but I sense that the soil hereabouts is fertile, and worth tilling.

After the debate and discussion, I intend to keep planting. I aim to harvest, if possible.

Not a door; not a way; not the life. This is not an Obama rally.

But generative, yes: "...by how much it explains, how well it ties together various other facts and observations, and the extent to which it gives rise to new, "interesting" problems."

Skully might say, "Yeasty!"

3/07/2008 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Sorry, epi, but I have no faith in you and your attempt at an answer nor do I believe you know what you are talking about.

Walt, I thought of the Obamamaniacs as well...check out the Obama man can on you tube

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Rgt6YQiZTkc

It's hilarious and catchy too!
Plus it's True!!!;)

3/07/2008 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Episteme,

What was your handle in a prior incarnation here? I'm smelling a rat. (either that or that heifer from 'boobs not bombs' just walked past)

3/07/2008 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>An esotericism is addrssed precisely to those "that have ears to hear" and for that reason have no need of the explanations and "proofs" which may be desired by those for whom esotericism is not intended<<

But I think the esotericism can be explicated, studied, debated, even, by those who have ears to hear - in common formal language that amounts to metaphor. The language is a code that is "hidden in plain sight".

As a code shared between the gnososcenti, it's virtually unbreakable - because the deaf, the un-gnosised, *think they already understand it*. Which, of course, they don't. Until they do, if ever they do.

3/07/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Walt, I'm with you, only I'm pondering flowers. This is my first spring here in my new digs & the blooming of the huge plum tree in the back yard last week has me considering what to grow.

Flowering vines are needed to cover some really nasty walls & fences & the 'lawns'??? are a mess. Don't care one way or another about grass & am tempted to just turn the soil over & hit the area with wildflower mix. There's a spot on the side-yard outside the kitchen window that should do nicely for a cutting-flower garden. Now we're talkin!

The almond, cherry & walnut orchards are in bloom & the air smells sweetly of flowers. Finally, can stop being a cave-dweller, get out & start replenishing vit-D in the sunshine.

Oh Yeah!

Currently reading a lovely book that might interest you:
"Epitaph for a Peach" by David M. Masumoto. A farmer/poet, with ears to hear - this guy gets it. (No episte-type nonsense) He's writing from my neck of the woods, so I know exactly what he's dealing with.

Just finished "In Defense of Food - An Eater's Manifesto" by Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma) that I can also recommend. Next in line for me is Pollan's "The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-eye View of the World". (funnily enough, an epi-clone wrote 'The most helpful critical review': same pissy, not-likely-to-ever-get-it tone. Ha!)

Just checked Amazon & they do list "Peach" for sale. Have you read any of these, do ya like these kinds of books & is so, what titles do you recommend?

3/07/2008 07:03:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Well, it's almost seven thirty. I finally got to the computer; Booger the Cat is at her station at my left elbow and I just now finished the post and comments.
I was going to write about the day I had, but there's just too much material to compress into a post in the comments section. Suffice it to say that it was a day that began at one thirty in the morning when I was jerked awake in a fit of toxic, radioactive rage, and a day that ended with an outpouring of grace.
But it's nothing that would rise to the level of proof that would satisfy our latest pedantic pedestrian.
It reminds of an acquaintance from the local Starbucks. Nicest guy in the world, really. He's a hugely talented artist, and a kind and very intelligent guy but he's a hard lefty and an atheist. What's odd, is that he's always reading stuff to reinforce his atheism. He has Dawkins, and Hitchens, and Skeptic magazine, and all sorts of material to keep proving to himself that there is no God. Strikes me as odd. If you really believe there is no God, that should, to my thinking, pretty much settle it. How much proof do you need that nothing is out there? But then again, atheism is a belief.
On the other hand, If you have faith that there is something out there, it opens the door to an infinite amount of speculation, testimony, and evidence that one can either accept, or reject.
Atheism is a cul de sac. Who needs a map for a cul de sac? Faith is the interstate, and all connecting by roads. Bring along your doubting Thomas guide. I'll catch you all for coffee at the next rest area.

JWM

JWM

3/07/2008 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

JWM what a teaser you are!

"Suffice it to say that it was a day that began at one thirty in the morning when I was jerked awake in a fit of toxic, radioactive rage, and a day that ended with an outpouring of grace."

Inquiring minds want to know.... & I do too.

3/07/2008 09:36:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>"Suffice it to say that it was a day that began at one thirty in the morning when I was jerked awake in a fit of toxic, radioactive rage, and a day that ended with an outpouring of grace."<<

That could be the beginning of a very interesting book, fiction or non. Would include generous amounts of humor.

3/07/2008 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I've been on repeated loan to a project that is a technological mind parasite (Btw, for those hunting for a fresh thesis - an interesting psychological study would be to study people seeking to have created for them a software application that will solve their problems; the expectations they invest into it, and then into its failure to do their jobs for them, it is very interesting to watch), and today I got to observe an interesting flavor of today's post on the small day to day level - a techie germ doctor situation.

The project mgr I'm helping out, who himself was involuntarily put in charge of this thing, overheard me speculating on how this application, created by someone who BS'd their way into a coding position above their ability to hide the results, was creating some unexpected situations. The Mgr is knowledgeable in his area, but ignorant of this one, and he caught a few words here and there, asked a question that was wide of the mark - I tried to clarify as much as possible, but he didn't quite grasp it.

In the mtg later with the dept mgr and staff seeking performance salvation through this app, he again used these words as buzz words in a fashion that clearly made no sense to those who knew what they related to, which I noticed as I glanced around the room, no one there did.

So here I was, listening to him explain in a ludicrous fashion, what caused the current problems and why this wasn't working, his audience was buying it completely, and then he turns to me and says "Van estimates he'll need 3-4 days to blah blah, and undo what blabedy blab did and undo the woo-hoo voodoo goo and deliver you from evil, right Van?"

So here I am, listening to complete ignorance, satisfying their desire for a sacrifice as well as predict rain to save the crops and the village - the only accurate statement was 3-4 days, and asking me to verify his explanation and promises. Now I know that anything I say to try to correct him is not only going to confuse him further, but completely leave the natives flummoxed and out for his blood, but if I go along with it I'm affirming complete crap - except for the 3-4 day estimate. I realize there is absolutely no way to convey either the truth of the situation, trying to explain what was really going on, would confuse them and cause them to reject the only true piece of info, 3-4 day estimate, and if I tried to inform them that even if this and the other problems lurking within it are fixed, it is NOT going to do what they expect it to, would be even more fruitless. I decided to let it go with "I do think its reasonable to expect that I can untangle this particular situation in 3-4 days, and get you back into a situation where you can continue your work."

There, the entrails were proved propitious, hope is restored, mtg adjourned. Not only is truth sometimes served by belief in dogma that is technically false, but often the Truth you hear is not the truth you think you heard (JWM – Aes Sedai are everywhere).

Rather unsettling.

3/07/2008 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

epissed2xi said "This sketch of your Epistemology demonstrates a large confusion."

Sure does.

3/07/2008 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Ximeze -

Here's to Vit-D, which only comes in "tiny bits" around here even in Summer!

Sorry for the slo-response, but I follow the old farmer's maxim, "Early to bed, early etc etc", and all I can say is that I prefer to "hunt" in the very early AM. Ben would say something like "I am hunting I AM in the A.M.," or some such....

Not familiar with those books, but Amazon is only a click away. Always fun to check out new titles.

I saw you mention Weston Price recently; that's kind of our style. Ha-ha, the epistemology of health!

3/08/2008 03:41:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

JWM:

"I was jerked awake in a fit of toxic, radioactive rage..."

This is not uncommon when sleeping with cats in the room. Believe me, I understand . . . .

3/08/2008 03:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

I don't recall posting here before, but maybe I did a few years ago. I don't remember every site I visit. If I did, most likely I used the handle Tat Tvam Asi.

You haven't answered by what fruit you judge someone's claim of direct, intuitive, knowledge.

One who possesses this kind of knowledge necessarily displays certain qualities. The most significant is a deep and universal Compassion. Along with Compassion is a kind of ease of living and of dealing with situations.

If someone claims to have direct intuitive knowledge of existence but fails to manifest deep and universal Compassion or lacks a seamless ease of living, they are either lying or are mistaken.

3/08/2008 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ah, so there it is. We're not nice to everybody, and don't always play well with others. Some people's feelings might be hurt by Bob's epistemology, ergo it can't be grounded in Truth.

3/08/2008 07:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

It has nothing to do with hurt feelings or even with the hearer of Truth. Certainly Truth can cause disturbance in some sense when heard by many whose awareness is orientated contrary to it.

Its a matter of the behavior of those who claim Knowledge or Awareness of Truth. If someone doesn't act with Compassion for all beings they haven't realized Truth. The very nature of Truth produces deep and universal compassion in those who Understand it.

Compassion manifests itself in many ways. Compassion shouldn't be confused with mere sentimentality. Compassion often requires firmness and directness, but it must spring from a deep inner wellspring of Compassion such as is the result of Understanding Truth.

Also, Bob's epistemology isn't related to this point at all. It is a separate matter. I did not originally question the truth of anything other than Bob's statements about Knowledge, Belief and Faith, which Epistemology concerns. Someone could very well be quite correct about many things and still have a confusion about epistemology. Its a meta-question about Knowledge, not a direct examination about any specific claim to it.

But if Bob, or anyone, fails to manifest and act from a deep and universal compassion while trying to teach about Truth, they are engaged in a performative contradiction.

3/08/2008 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Episteme:

Truth is the adequation of knowing to being, and is therefore ultimately impersonal. Compassion is recognition of pain, and the source of pain, in another, and the desire to, and knowledge of how, to alleviate it. Truth is absolute. Compassion is relative -- not "universal" -- in that it must be tailored to individual cases. So you're talking out of your ass again. Which I say with the deepest compassion.

3/08/2008 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

That Truth is absolute[or as I would say, Universal] and Compassion is relative[or as I would say, Contextual] doesn't contradict their inherent relationship. The one still necessarily follows from the other.

3/08/2008 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wizard of Oz said...

Why you clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk! Talk about "performative contradictions. Earlier you said that said "Knowledge is simply a subset of Belief."

A gift from my black bag: stop pretending to knowledge you do not possess, as it is harmful to that little knowledge you do possess.

3/08/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Frankly, Epi, you haven't said anything to demonstrate that Bob, or his epistemology, are not compassionate. You simply implied that it (or he) wasn't, and therefore that the epistemology must not be true.

as to this:
"You haven't answered by what fruit you judge someone's claim of direct, intuitive, knowledge."

The answer is quite simple, really. To borrow a metaphor from Whittle, you judge someone's knowledge or epistemology (or "map," if you will) by how accurately it describes the real landmarks around you. Here's your biggest clue: If you're looking at a mountain where the map indicates an ocean, it's probably not the mountain that is incorrect.

3/08/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Damn it all anyway. F*&^ing Blogger just lost a long post down the cybershitter. Here we go again:

Epi said:
If someone claims to have direct intuitive knowledge of existence but fails to manifest deep and universal Compassion or lacks a seamless ease of living, they are either lying or are mistaken.

What a load of baloney. Certainly there are some few individuals who exhibit such other worldly levels of compassion, and appropriately saintly behavior toward others, but those rare individuals are called -well- saints. Saints we ain't, and do not claim to be. Not even Petey. We are a bunch of flawed human beings struggling each in our own way to make some sort of progress, trying to see the picture just a little more clearly. To borrow a line from the twelve step folks, We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. In real world terms, that may translate into something like, oh- responding to a pedantic troll with a post rather than choking the virtual shit out him. If you're looking for saints or sages you're in for a boatload disappointment. You won't find them here, or anywhere else in this imperfect world. If you're going to play Diogenes, you can take up your lantern and move on.

JWM

3/08/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

I didn't try to imply that any thing or any one in particular wasn't manifesting or acting from Compassion. From reading things here I have doubts that Compassion or Truth is the driving force. But I can't conclude such things with any confidence on such limited exposure, hence my attempt to communicate. Its too bad you haven't thus far shown me the same level of openness since you have even less to go on about me than I do about you all since this site is a large record of past behavior.

I have made only a few points so far, all of which I take to be pretty much uncontroversial by anyone who knows about such matters;

1- Bob's epistemological remarks, characterizing Knowledge, Belief and Faith as he did, were incorrect.

2- Understanding or Knowing Truth produces, necessarily, deep and universal compassion. Therefore, if one claims Understanding of Truth without such Compassion being manifest, they are incorrect about their Understanding of Truth.

Now, Petey said that Compassion was relative and therefore couldn't have such a connection with Truth since Truth is absolute. But the connection isn't with Truth but with Understanding Truth. Truth is Universal, being Truth at all times and all places.

But the Understanding of Truth, which occurs only in what we commonly call 'minds' is therefore contextual and not Universal in the same sense as Truth is. Truth is present just the same whether we are talking about a rock, a tree or a mind. But only minds can Understand Truth, and likewise, only minds can Manifest Compassion. The connection between Understanding Truth and Manifesting Compassion is Universal, in the sense that anywhere there is the former there will also be the latter.

This Compassion is also Universal in another, equally important, sense which is that it is felt for all beings. Compassion takes on different forms in different contexts[hence the description of it being Contextual], but it is present for all[hence the description of it being Universal]

3/08/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Oh epi -

>>You haven't answered by what fruit you judge someone's claim of direct, intuitive, knowledge<<

The fruit is revealed thusly - gnosis is self-evident to the gnosisfied, that is, if one has ears to hear. Proof parsing of the sort of which you are so clearly enamored is useless when it comes to determining the fruit of which you speak.

Clearly - if one has ears to hear - Bob is speaking from a transcendent consciousness level. Reading as much as half a post of his is clear evidence of that. And the validating compassion - the fruit - of which you speak is also extremely evident in Bob's writing.

I know you can't see it, but that's because you don't have much in the way of transcendent consciousness - your knowledge, as it were, is purely theoretical.

3/08/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"Understanding or Knowing Truth produces, necessarily, deep and universal compassion."

Wow, that's quite a whopper. Actually, sometimes knowing real Truth produces just the opposite sensation. Try this little bit of truth, and tell me how deep and abidingly compassionate you feel towards the folk therein:

In Iraq, there have been cases of Al Qaeda members inviting people to dinner. About halfway through the meal, they casually announce to their dinner guests that the main course, which they have just consumed, was actually their own son, usually a boy of about 10 or 11.

Anyone who can commit such an act is utterly monstrous and subhuman. I happen to believe that, should such a individual ever turn away from their wrongdoing and open their heart to God and Truth, even such as they will find forgiveness. This does not change the fact that I can feel absolutely no compassion toward someone who would willingly commit such an act.

The Truth is that Evil does exist. If your epistemology can't handle that, then it is not based in reality.

You have still done nothing to demonstrate that Bob's epistemology is false.

3/08/2008 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

epissedtome said... "Its too bad you haven't thus far shown me the same level of openness since you have even less to go on about me than I do about you all since this site is a large record of past behavior."

You know, we usually get a relief of several months between drizzles of epistimologits such as yourself, but I suppose that the increased frequency of bouts probably has something to do with global smarming.

Our last episode with one of you was less than a month ago, still fresh in googles cache's, prior to that, I think... last April or May? In either case, though your borg mind takes on different names, qi, xi, zi, dr. qi, you all are doomed to say the same damn flatheaded foolishness. Here's some of what "you" had to say the last time you entered with equal vapidness:

Xi said...
what a curious epistemology you employ; 'the things I say are self-evident. If you don't see that they are self-evident then you are one of those Leftists who is beyond help.'
Very sound.
You might want to take a course on epistemology at your local community college[I'd suggest a real college but I'm not sure your intellect could get you in] to learn a bit about rational/irrational methodology.
...
Many of you have made the point that you 'get something out of' reading Bob's writing and therefore it must have some sense to it. But this is an inadequate explanation. My whole point is that you get something out of it, and that because you get something out of it that you really enjoy you assume that the things he is saying actually apply to reality."


...and then we'll get your variations on locutionary aspects, truth values, incomplete understanding... we get it, we've heard it, we're not buying, not interested, please go away.

Being possessed by the same flatland outlook, you won't have anything different to say than "you" did in any of your last four or five incarnations, so please just go back and read what "you" had to say last time, read what we had to say then, admire yourself in their mirror and spare us from having to reply to the same foolishness so soon after the last drizzle.

Friday, February 15, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

3/08/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

No, no Julie - you're not getting with the program.

"Understanding or Knowing Truth produces, necessarily, deep and universal compassion."

Says who?

Thus spake epi the wise!

Aaah zo: it must be so.

Prostrate thyselves, Bob's sockpuppets, & be taught!

3/08/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Col. J. C. Beaglehole said...

I say, can't we all agree that an argument a chap uses to describe to his fellow men what he knows is quite a different bird from one he uses on himself because he knows nothing?

3/08/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

Ximeze wrote "Understanding or Knowing Truth produces, necessarily, deep and universal compassion."

Says who?"

Everyone who has ever Realized Truth. Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, and thousands of others. Compassion is invariably tied to Truth. This connection is the one largest thing connecting the great wisdom traditions together, despite their other differences.

As to people who commit horrible acts, these people are in the greatest need of compassion since they are the farthest off the path. Compassion for them doesn't in any way mean failing to act appropriately in response to what they have done or will do. As I said before, Compassion takes different forms in different contexts. Even if there is nothing I can do for them, I feel compassion for them. Feeling compassion only for the innocent or Good is not compassion at all.

As to other previous posters who have mentioned the issue of Epistemology, it hardly seems appropriate to hold me to what anyone else has said. Perhaps a number of people have pointed out this flaw because it is such a basic ignorance of the subject. Ignorance of the subject on Bob's, or anyone else's, part is no great flaw. One may still possess vast knowledge of many things while misunderstanding epistemology. Most Scientists or Economists don't know the first thing about it, but this doesn't keep them from knowing a great deal. It simply means that they are ignorant of the meta-status of their knowledge or what precisely Knowledge, Belief or Faith are.

3/08/2008 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

As to people who commit horrible acts, these people are in the greatest need of compassion since they are the farthest off the path.
What a crock of shit.


Yes, yes. Have lots of compassion for jihadis, serial killers, and monsters of all persuasion.

And then kill them.


JWM

3/08/2008 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You da man, episty. Even if the blue-mein group here is incapable of the self-gnawledge inherent in your viewpoint. Remember, all the people here believe themselves to be good hearted innerlecturalls at heart. To larn something at the expense of losing face in their own face-painting booth is, well, unthankable. Compassion.

3/08/2008 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

I'm going to ignore our pious troll, and his clever sockpuppet, and follow through on what I mentioned last night.

It's been a tough month. For the second time in two years I've been wiped out financially. At least this time it was home repair, and not my health. To boot, I've had almost no work.
So I welcomed the six O'clock call last Tuesday to fill in for the plant manager at one of the nearby elementary schools. When I got there I learned that he was quite ill, and would be out for an extended leave. Too, it was no secret that the guy was going to retire this year. Of course, I don't like hearing that anyone is ill, but I need the work, and this would present me with an opportunity- a much hoped for foot in the door.
They know me pretty well throughout the district. I do good work, and most of the schools request me to fill in when someone is out. Except this one. The guy I was replacing has been there for decades. His job has become enmeshed with the faculty; he does stuff that is way outside the job description, and he's very much the big huggy poppa bear to all the teachers and kids.
His wife C*** works there too, as a noon duty aide. And they've pulled enough strings that she often fills in for him if he's going to be out a day.
I busted my ass for two weeks. The beloved poppa bear's school was in crummy shape. I had a lot of catching up to do to bring the plant up to what I consider an acceptable level of cleanliness.
Wednesday, C*** returned to work noon duty, and casually informed me that she was probably going to come in for a few days to make up for the money she lost staying home with her husband. Thursday I was informed that they were bumping me off the shift and bringing in C*** to finish out the extended absence.
This shift involves disinfecting ten bathrooms a day, hauling off a dumpster full of garbage on the lunch hour, cleaning the cafeteria, and kitchen in addition to the zillion other tasks that come up every hour. It's hard damn work. C*** you will note is about 5'4", and weighs in at around 280 lbs. Moves like it too. I left the plant Thursday night feeling gut shot. The longer I thought about it the angrier I got. Until I woke at one thirty or so Friday morning in the aforementioned rage.
I got in the car Friday morning with the flamethrower set to scorched earth and ashes. I was so pissed I was shaking, and sick.
I knew if anything set me off that I would uncork on someone. So I prayed. I prayed as hard as I could for a release from the anger. No release. When I got in there I didn't know what to do. So I called my boss, the head of maintenance. We had a long talk on the phone. Somehow, he said exactly the stuff that I needed to hear. He was no happier about it than I was, but the school proincipal gets what she wants, regardless. It was enough to get me through the morning.
When I got back from lunch, the shit hit the fan. The principal was gone; the head of maintenance was gone early that day. And every conceivable minor emergency that could possibly arise, arose. The contractor who was installing new doors had the wrong stuff. Call jwm, he knows who to call. They're having a PTA assembly, and the A/C went out. Some kid lost it in the nurses office. Nobody has the alarm code to the computer lab, and on and on. And somehow it was all stuff that I knew what to do with. I felt like the Powerpuff Girls, saving the day at every turn. Throughout all this I forgot completely about the radioactive anger that jeked me awake that morning. I ended the day exhausted, but with profuse thanks and appreciation from the kids, teachers, the office manager, and the PTA. Prayer answered.

JWM

3/08/2008 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Glad to hear you got the answer you needed, jwm. I hope you continue to get the answers you need - sounds like you could use them.

3/08/2008 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

JWM -

Great tale, and splendid Grace!

Performance trumps theory.

3/08/2008 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger debass said...

"Have you ever been in the presence of a stagnant and lifeless person in whose psychic presence you feel your soul being sucked out of your body?"

I call them "dementers" ala Harry Potter, and try to avoid them.

Julie-Global warming of the last 100 years was nearly erased in the month of Jan. with a 3/4ºC cooling in global temp. Here is the rest of the story.
http://www.newsherald.com/headlines/article.display.php?id=861

3/08/2008 05:38:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Epi, here's where I think your epistemological analysis fails in the face transcendent revelation, which is what Bob is basically addressing. Let's go back to your original sketch:

Person P has Knowledge of X if and only if:

P believes X
X is true
P's belief of X is caused by X and/or a process of inferences which violate no valid rules of inference.

True enough, by this schematic, Knowledge/faith would have to be subsets of belief.

However, "knowledge" in the sense Bob and others here define it translate as gnosis, which is ultimately a state of awareness, literally a higher plane of consciousness.

By this definition, person P might have Knowledge/gnosis/higher awareness and have no beliefs whatsoever, at least in the realm of spirituality or higher philosophy. In a sense, P's Knowledge/gnosis would serve as a tabula rasa on which certain perceptions eventually do arise, such as God exists, the material is the shadow reflection of the Eternal, etc.

Prior to Knowledge/gnosis, P did not, could not perceive - or if you will, believe - thusly.

Only after P attains, or is graced by Knowledge/gnosis, do perception and belief follow.

BTW, history is replete with examples of those who were graced, often suddenly, by Knowledge/gnosis and who then spent the rest of their lives spiritually and philosophically adjusting to it - honing their new perception into faith, so to speak, deepening the knowledge that Knowledge gave to them.

3/08/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're bang on with your points, Episteme. I'm acutally a bit surprised at the reaction you're having here. It seems like flat out hostility.

3/08/2008 07:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The conclusions made about the esoteric nature of Christ according to Schuon via Bob here might contain partial truths but ultimately point towards, what we would call in the old days, a form of heresy.

3/08/2008 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

anon, I don't think I was at all flat-out hostile re epi's remarks. I did address what I think is an honest semantic confusion on his/her/probably his part.

3/08/2008 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, would you like to bang on my point? Shoot me an e-mail big guy, I'm feeling reeeally compassionate. ;^)

3/08/2008 08:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is episteme French or just deliciously ghey?

3/08/2008 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Epi, I'll actually concede on one point you've made today - ideally having compassion for those who are as far gone as it is possible for a human to be can be a virtue, so long as it does not prevent you from acting rightly when faced with evil actions - for instance, when faced with a murderer bent on shooting a bunch of innocent unarmed students, there should be no hesitation in blowing said murderer's brains out if you have the means to do so. I personally don't claim to have such a noble sense of compassion, being merely human and no saint, yet I can understand feeling a sense of sorrow and loss for the once innocent soul that grew up to be an inhuman monster.

That said, Bob's post didn't touch on issues of compassion. Furthermore, nothing he said in the post (or anywhere else that I can recall; it would be helpful if you could put forth an example of his callous dispassion) is exclusive of the kind of compassion you think he should exude. Your objection shifted from one of simple logic to the fact that he didn't appear compassionate enough to you, after we were not impressed by your logic; you then claimed that what he said couldn't be true. Frankly, your argument is bogus.

As to the hostility, it's because we here have carried on variations of this same argument so many times we are frankly weary of the repetition. It is not possible to convince you of the wisdom behind what Bob has to say; you either see it or you don't. And if you don't then nothing you read here will make you happy or bring you enlightenment. Commenting that Bob is not talking sense is not going to make him start talking sense, it's just going to annoy the people who actually do get what he's saying.

3/08/2008 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Will said-
BTW, history is replete with examples of those who were graced, often suddenly, by
Knowledge/gnosis and who then spent the rest of their lives spiritually and philosophically adjusting to it - honing their new perception into faith, so to speak, deepening the knowledge that Knowledge gave to them.


That discribes where I'm at right now.
Something struck me as suddenly as a lightning bolt, but the build up to that moment was over forty years. Kind of like the way static electricity builds up without being aware of it until you touch someone or something and then the spark is realized.
Fascinating stuff.
I'm still trying to understand it and in doing so everything has to be "looked" at in a new light, or innersense.

My compassion has certainly grown, or rather my heart was circumcised, and with that growth comes a need to mentally protect the new heart.

I hope this makes sense.

3/09/2008 06:59:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Epi is like the old Jewish joke: The truth here is terrible. And such uncompassionate portions!

3/09/2008 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I for one was being hostile. Sorry, just fed up with the little blighters.

Epissedmeoff’s attempt to try to pass off his comments as having any real concern with epistemology, or understanding of it, just doesn't wash.

Gagdad's post discussed the tendencies and problems of confusing belief with knowing, to take that as a valid entry point to a discussion of epistemology, and then somehow dragging in a relation between truth and compassion is pure ignorance. Entering into a conversation you disagree with, and having your initial comment start with epistemology, is akin to entering a conversation about whether a tie goes with a shirt by pointing out that they aren’t paying close enough attention to vibrational frequencies of the electro-magnetic spectrum.

Epistemology is the foundation of all knowledge and philosophy, it studies what is knowable and how to validate your claims to knowledge - to claim it as a subset of belief, and then to attribute that to Plato, not only misapplies the tripartite analysis, but it is to grossly misrepresent or misunderstand all of his dialogs. How we grasp or convey knowledge, is not the same thing as the structure of knowledge - horrifying to imagine what you might attribute to Aristotle.

To say that knowledge is a subset of belief (let me guess, got your knowledge of epistemology from a Venn diagram?), and on top of that to say that Compassion is a corollary of Truth ipso facto no compassion, no Truth, and claim to be defending Epistemology, is to admit no comprehension of either epistemology or of any philosophy built upon it. To say that compassion must properly flow from a deep grasp of truth regardless of context (feel lots of compassion when contemplating 2+2=4, do ya?), would be to express compassion to Nick Berg as his head is being sawed off, and to the beast sawing it while witnessing the truth of the act, granting a moral equivalence to both murderer and murdered and corrupting all of ethics, right and wrong & truth and falsehood in the bargain.

I won't bother going any further into any actual epistemology such as Aristotle's or even Rand’s or it's corruption with Kant, you obviously don't know it (even - and perhaps especially, if you are a Professor of it), and you don't really have any care for it, it probably being little more than a cool trick you've found that you can use to get people to think that you say 'smart things' in a new agey 'deep' sort of way.

Unfortunately for you, no one here is going to fall for it, though some may have compassion upon your ignorance... eh... no, sympathy maybe, but not compassion.

3/09/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dilys here.

will: "with that growth comes a need to mentally protect the new heart"

Makes immense sense. Manipulative grappling for the high ground via ill-defined heavy-footed pre-determined "compassion"-in-theory overlooks
a) the moral solecisms of idiot compassion -- cheap sentimental niceness and failures of courage;
and b) the hallowed space of growth and insight. At a certain point it appears protection of that space is about all the human personality has left to do.

If, as I heard recently, the work of Lent is in the service of blooming like a flower, the implications combine the fragility of the bruisable flesh of a creamy calla lily, with the labors to give birth. My niece just spent 24+ hours in the intensity of that condition, and there's no space for a lot of theory or sentimentality, or anyone not on board with the purpose.

3/09/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dilys again.

The JWM Report: The Source of true compassion, at work.

3/09/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Dougman, it made perfect sense.

*

Speaking of the compassion police, it looks like the same mind parasite/ troll mentality haunts the medical blogosphere.

(And thanks, Van, for the mathematical point-of-view - that's probably a better argument to make, since there are generally no emotional components to basic math.)

(For some reason, this has been sticking in my craw, so I'm going to flog this ex-equine just a bit more; ignore me if you're sick of it already.)

Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it

So compassion is about identifying with and wishing to alleviate the pain and suffering of others. Compassion does not mean that you can't feel negatively towards those others at the same time. And for compassion to be effective, it must be tempered by a mighty big helping of truth and knowledge, otherwise it's about as useful as playing with yourself.

Back to my earlier example of the shooter who blasts away innocent people; can I empathize with the pain and suffering and generally f@cked up life that brought him to the point where he would joyfully (yes, joyfully - he's probably not feeling the slightest bit bad about what he's doing) murder innocent unsuspecting strangers, ending their lives and bringing excruciating pain to all the people their lives touched? Sure; whatever warped and twisted him so badly must have been pretty horrendous. Can I pity him, knowing that his actions will result in him likely spending an eternity in some unimaginable hell, completely cut off from God? Yep, I can muster a very little pity; odds are, he thinks God's going to give him 72 virgins, so he's apt to be rudely disappointed. Is there anything I can do to alleviate his pain? Probably not, short of ending his life before he can infect and harm others with his sickness; locking him away would not take away his pain.

All that can be done is what our military is doing in the Middle East right now - being no better friend, no worse enemy. Eventually, if we stick it out long enough, there may come a cultural shift away from monstrosity and towards humanity. That's the most compassionate thing we can do.


wv is getting downright salacious: vcokrub

3/09/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

Gnosis does fall within the analysis of Knowledge. Gnosis is exactly the sort of thing I meant when I talked about direct, intuitive Knowledge. It differs from Episteme[the Greek word, not my handle, obviously] which is Knowledge come to more methodically, such as by deductive or inductive inferences. They are different forms of Knowledge, but both are Knowledge.

To say that someone would have Gnosis without having belief is to misunderstand what Belief is. The person experiencing Gnosis might be unaware[most likely they are] of what belief is part of their Knowledge, but the belief is there just the same. Belief is not inherently an aspect of Conscious thought or awareness.

Van, you seem to fancy yourself a Philosopher. Reading some, even many, books on your own without guidance and without context, won't give you Knowledge, Insight or Wisdom. You have a lot of hostility[which you admitted] both to me and to Academia it seems. Having spent a good amount of time there I can relate to many criticisms of it, but lets not pretend that you have some vast or transcendent Knowledge of the subject or that the Knowledge present within the Academic world doesn't dwarf yours. It dwarfs mine as well, but I am open to using such a vast reservoir. I use it critically, as all intelligent persons do, but to dismiss it is childishness.

I'm sure in comparison to most here and to most people you meet you are very well read, but let me give you the opportunity to drop the act. Hostility is never the result of Wisdom or true Knowledge of something.

I certainly didn't misrepresent anything. Everything I wrote was correct, and you can check it out in any source you can find. While you are correct that Plato would not endorse all the specific details of the modern understanding of Epistemology or the analysis of Knowledge, I never claimed he would. I merely said that the tradition of thinking in terms of such a tripartite analysis goes back to Plato.

Nonetheless, Knowledge is a subset of Belief, in at least one significant sense, and Plato would have agreed on this point, even if he would disagree with other details of what we now know about Epistemology or the world in general.

Also, What Plato or Aristotle thought about anything is hardly relevant since what we want to find out is what is true, not what any person thought was true. Where their thinking helps us, we apply it, where it doesn't, we ignore it.

As to Compassion being a necessary result of Understanding Truth, I find it amazing that anyone could deny it. The words and deeds of all great men and women confirm it, as does the very nature of Truth itself.

2+2=4 isn't Truth, it is merely a truth. The difference between Universal Truth and individual contextual truths is a fairly accepted idea, I thought from my reading here, on this Blog.

So while knowing truths doesn't necessarily produce Compassion, Understanding Truth does.

To feel deep compassion for both Nick Berg and his executioners/murderers is in no way to admit a moral equivalence between them. Compassion, as I said earlier, is not mere sentimentality or permissiveness.

But there is no denying that if you don't feel Compassion even for those who commit horrible acts that you are Unaware of, and fail to Understand, Truth.

3/09/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Oh crap!
I'm sitting alone her with my wife,(the kids are with friends). She brought home the video "The Secret" for us to watch together to help in our putting our marriage back on track. It only took 5 minutes before we were on separate tracks.
She asked me what I thought of it so far.
I f'ed up and told her the truth the way I saw it. I thought it was bullshit.
A repackaing of the Tony Robbins type of feel good garbage that leaves God out of it until He becomes useful to sell it, just by using the term God.
That didn't go over well with her at all.
Could I get some help here.
When I open my mouth, the wrong words come out and just screws up my whole attempts to say what I mean.

wv= gocawxxa
I would if I had xxa's number.
Damn word verification thinks it gno-z it all!

3/09/2008 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

What can one say to Epi except Namasté, you magnificently clueless bastard! Your pompous archetype has been the source of classic comedy since antiquity.

3/09/2008 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

epi -

>>The person experiencing Gnosis might be unaware[most likely they are] of what belief is part of their Knowledge, but the belief is there just the same<<

Please explain how.

>>Belief is not inherently an aspect of Conscious thought or awareness<<

Then what is it?

>>Nonetheless, Knowledge is a subset of Belief, in at least one significant sense . . . <<

This would seem a concession on your part that knowledge is not a subset of belief in other significant senses - a deviation from your original, bald statement that "Knowledge is simply a subset of Belief".

3/09/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

There's always "woof."

Dougman, you have my deepest sympathies, since you're absolutely correct about "The Secret." She's upset, so arguing with simple tact, reason and logic (for instance, parsing the premises and explaining why they sound right, but actually aren't) may be useless.

3/09/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Thanks Julie.
I guess this is just another in a long line of disagreements that I'll just have to bite my tongue and let her discover for herself just how many dead-ends there are in her search for peace of mind :(

3/09/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

The real Secret protects itself.

3/09/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

In reviewing my last comment, it seems I'm on a search for just-ness.
Right now I'd settle for Justice.

3/09/2008 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"Could I get some help here.
When I open my mouth, the wrong words come out and just screws up my whole attempts to say what I mean."

Dougman, have you tried writing-out your attempts to say what you mean? You could work the phrases over til they express what you want to say without the visual cues (like pissed-off eyes & you-gotta-be-kidding smirks that go with face-to-face encounters).

How does your wife feel about Dr Laura?
The Doc has some very sensible stuff available that might help. According to Laura's callers/writers the stuff works & has saved plenty of marriages.

3/09/2008 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Epi, to echo what the Cousin said -

Don't you see how your overbearing, condescending manner and your bizarre and disjunct syntax - which suggests that English is your very recent second language - renders you the very image of the spittle-spraying, know-it-all, psychologically unbalanced nerd?

Well, no, of course you can't see it - anybody who actually saw it would do anything to avoid being it. Nevertheless, In the typical fashion of this comic archetype, you come in here and seem to expect to be treated as an "Authority".

You might as well have painted a target on yourself that reads "Arrogant Academic Dipstick Loser, Please Mock Me".

I don't know you, of course. Maybe you're the very manifestation of Truth and Compassion. But your very presentation does everything to counter that impression.

3/09/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Well, I for one thought everyone got a lot of mileage out of that magnificent clueless bastard. I do kind of get the feeling that it is really a brain in a jar.

I think, Will, that we probably have to concede It is right that some beliefs can exist that we are unaware of. My biggest problem is with the implicit assumption that all knowledge, in Epi's jar, stems from something conceptual. Seems to me that there are some obvious truths that we become aware of with our peripheral nervous system first and our CNS second, so that belief would have to follow at least some, perhaps primitive, form of knowledge in that kind of circumstance -- like when we come to know that the burner on the stove is still hot.

There are also deeper truths that we acquire in a more abstract but similar way, aren't there? Like when we process emotion that leads to an increased wholeness in who we are, certainly a kind of knowledge but one that we might think of as knowing something in our little toe. And from which changes in beliefs and belief systems follow rather than the other way around.

At least that's what it looks like to this philosophy lay person.

3/09/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Dusty said...

(sorry for the length)--coonified

A response to Episteme:

First off, I’ll say that I’m not a very good thinker, but your comments are contrary to the way I see things; so, I’ll just note what comes to mind on certain points.

“Gnosis does fall within the analysis of Knowledge”

Does it really?

Gnosis, meaning discernment of spiritual matters, is derived from the Sanskrit root gni, which is the same as gno, hence gnosis. In this way, the normal operation of cognition—that being present in the majority—and therefore the colloquial understanding of the operation, excludes the spiritual element that the word obviously implies, co-(gni)-tion. Cognition is really a co-element of uncreated non-dual awareness, a place that has no need for believe, hope, faith, etc, for precisely the reason that it is complete in and of itself as necessity itself, hence all other things are manifestly unnecessary. A person can’t really ‘experience gnosis’, but is rather, experienced by gnosis; the intellect of the ‘gnower’ does not evolve, and is not bound by space-time and the dualisms inherent in the fallen world. It is the creature that evolves through its adherence to the uncreated in the dialectical fashion of ascent (aspiration and prayer) and decent (revelation, or un-veiling). From this, there can be no ‘episteme’ in the no-realm of the uncreate; this is the uncreated intellect that that already ‘gnows’, and has no need to know.

Gnosis, then, manifestly implies an evolving episteme—an organ of sense intrinsic to the knowing-seeking creature that progresses in proportion to the extent of worship, or the degree that one becomes ‘naked and intimate’ to the uncreated eye, like a child playing before God, innocent and without self-consciousness (rather Self-consciousness). Knowledge is bound by categories of space-time, whereas Gnowledge is not; and here belief is not a subset to gnowledge. Furthermore, even in the manifest world, belief, in the process of learning, is always replaced by the certainty of attaining knowledge; actually, the attainment of knowledge—not a mere fleshing out horizontally of what the ‘episteme in action’ already knows—implies the evolution of a novel and new episteme that really already gnows everything that it currently sees manifestly. In this case, too, that of the emergent episteme, there is no need for belief, but rather an impulse towards hypothesis and theoretics about how things are and are not in the realm of the revealed. Belief is a temporary substitute, generally a “substitute gratification”—a lie—about how things are manifestly, ignorant (not in the negative sense) and in the dark, alienated and marginalize, (O is a beautiful terror) from the ultimately unknowable facts of the present, and the uncreated intellect that makes evolution, demands re-formation, possible to begin with. Gagdad said it thus:

“belief is generally a static thing. It takes the unknown and superimposes the known upon it, thus foreclosing the unknown. Once one believes something, the issue becomes settled, even if in reality it isn't.”

"Greek word, not my handle, obviously] which is Knowledge come to more methodically, such as by deductive or inductive inferences. They are different forms of Knowledge, but both are Knowledge.”

If Gnosis is a co-element to the complete process of knowing (learning), I don’t think Divine Wisdom comes within the analysis of an evolutionary and pluralistic epistemology.

“To say that someone would have Gnosis without having belief is to misunderstand what Belief is.”

What is the difference between Belief and belief?

“Belief is not inherently an aspect of Conscious thought or awareness.”

“Knowledge is a subset of Belief, in at least one significant sense”


Then the relative and evolving world is where belief lives. Or, is it where Belief lives? I really don’t know. Explain.

“transcendent Knowledge of the subject or that the Knowledge present within the Academic world”

Now days, transcendent and academia are oxymoronic, and anyone who generalizes differently are morons.


“Hostility is never the result of Wisdom or true Knowledge.”

Wow! What my life would be like if I didn’t project my justified anger outward. I really would have already pined away by now.


“As to Compassion being a necessary result of Understanding Truth, I find it amazing that anyone could deny it.”

“So while knowing truths doesn't necessarily produce Compassion, Understanding Truth does.”


“…in all ages God acts through the intermediary of solitary spiritual men—men of the elite, amongst whom the quth, or pole of the age manifest himself—men who are charismatic, independent, even “amoral,” and profoundly contemplative messengers.” -- Schuon

(Emphasis on amoral) And if compassion is amoral, what good is it? If your right, Mr. Episteme, then Schuon is making an “incorrect” observation.

Just say’n.

3/09/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous dusty said...

BTW, Wilber would call the confusion between morality and altitude, that they reflect one another in depth, the level/line fallacy. I believe that it (morality) is a multiple intelligence, and includes to possibility of a Darth Vader like figure, very high in the altitude, but underdeveloped morally.

3/09/2008 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Thank you Ximeze.
I gotta run and get kids now.

3/09/2008 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous episteme said...

I AM!
The Second Coming!
Those with eyes who cannot hear are blind!

3/09/2008 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous episteme said...

And Will,as far as English being my second language, I've been a student of the Reverend Jackson as well as the eloquent, Barak Obama and have, to a degree, been parroting their syntax. I find it very effective in lectures with the younger generation.

3/09/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Divine Truth is infinite. Divine Compassion can never be infinite, if only because Justice limits it. These integral new age clowns always want God's Mercy but never his Severity.

3/09/2008 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

epissedmeoff said "Van, you seem to fancy yourself a Philosopher. Reading some, even many, books on your own without guidance and without context, won't give you Knowledge, Insight or Wisdom. "

Neither will guidance or context alone, not even if you pay $50,000 a year for it - you have to figure it out and put it together on your own - no royal roads to wisdom - especially not through an academe which denies its existence. Been there, done that. There's plenty of guidance and context to be found, for those willing to look for it, and I don’t have to claim to be wiser than others in order to be able to spot a basic error. Neither does one need to be indoctrinated with numerous phd’s in order to be a philo of Sophia. Take a look at the thousands of books in a modern day University library – all of which, but for a very small handful, were unknown to Socrates or Plato – was their wisdom any less for their lack? It’s not in the reading or listening alone that you will find wisdom, but in thinking deliberately upon that which is worthy to be Known, the Good the Beautiful and the True. What little you are able to grasp from them will far outweigh any epistemic sophistry you might pay through the nose for.

"You have a lot of hostility[which you admitted] both to me and to Academia it seems. "

And a very strong appreciation for good comedy.

"...lets not pretend that you have some vast or transcendent Knowledge of the subject or that the Knowledge present within the Academic world doesn't dwarf yours."

Oh, if you want to pretend I do, I won't stop you - makes you look kind of foolish, but, hey, no need to stop on my account. I make no pretentions to vast or transcendent knowledge - I've read enough to know what I haven't yet read, and what still remains to be understood within what I have read. Case in point, "A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful" by Edmund Burke, the mind that wrote that, AND "Thoughts on Present Discontents" as well as his other political writings demonstrates a level of understanding and integrated worldview, which leaves me in absolute awe. And standing before the integrated knowledge of that mind, the disintegrated mass of facts which is representative of (most) of modern Academia, Academia dwarfs itself.

But neither am I reduced by what others have attained. And if you approach the examination of knowledge from the ground up - through something like the first set of the 'Great Books of the Western World' - working your way up from Homer, you could do far worse - again, as you've proven so well here. Such a method, starting from the ground up, allows a natural hierarchy of ideas to develop, you see how each piece, which may have originally been thought to be a solid whole, is itself a composition of a vast hierarchy of knowledge, and each piece of that integrates with the rest, and any one of those pieces which seemingly appears to be whole, is itself a hierarchy, and on and on and on (as I did on first venturing in here a couple years back, I found my seemingly solid wall of Objective Philosophy was not only in need of several additions from the religious view, but that that view would eventually suffuse all the rest - without disturbing my existing hierarchy one whit - it is, in fact, only more 'solid' today).

But an hierarchical view of knowledge completely flies in the face of an educational methodology that begins from the middle with memorization instead of understanding, such as teaching physics by starting off with Newton’s 3 laws, to say nothing of history, literature and philosophy - and nothing is mostly what they have to say about them - allowing that methodology to be your guide and context, leaves you in danger of becoming like... well... you. Pity.

The difference between my ignorance and yours, is that mine has room for ever more amounts of knowledge like a sponge to water, yours (assuming you are who you so far convey yourself as being) are already filled up with what you ‘know’, like a brick. Thick.

"...to most people you meet you are very well read, but let me give you the opportunity to drop the act. Hostility is never the result of Wisdom or true Knowledge of something."

Neither is a faux equanimity or pompous pronunciations of epistemological pretensions before the errant and unworthy. Such an entry as you made here marks you clearly, and we recognized you before you finished your first comment.

" I merely said that the tradition of thinking in terms of such a tripartite analysis goes back to Plato."
Except for the footnotes, pretty much all such thinking does - thank you captain obvious, for pointing that out.

"What Plato or Aristotle thought about anything is hardly relevant ..."
Unless you attempt to siphon off their reputations into your own authoritativeness, through referencing them – as you did – improperly, unclearly and ineffectively.

"As to Compassion being a necessary result of Understanding Truth..."
Compassion results from understanding Truth, but it does not spill out like slobber at every chewing upon what is True - sometimes comprehending the truth requires hostility towards that which would seek to dismantle or disintegrate it. Failure to do so is to betray what is Good, Beautiful and True. The level of understanding from which compassion could be legitimately given to those involved in barbaric atrocities, would require a superhuman, if not god-like grasp and perspective. Attempting to ape that stature from a position down here upon the human level, is presumptive and in the end, silly.

"2+2=4 isn't Truth, it is merely a truth."
2+2=4 is a fact. Understanding that 2+2 equals 4, integrates it into the whole of Truth which you know.

"So while knowing truths doesn't necessarily produce Compassion, Understanding Truth does."

Compassion is not something that is produced and excreted like sweat. Compassion, properly understood and given, is a recognition of and comprehension of another persons state, and the truth of their worthiness to deserve and achieve better. Thinking that you can separate truths from Truth, or knowing truth from understanding truth, will inevitably lead you into a belief in some variation of moral relativism and a Ghandish non-contextual passivity that writes admiring letters to an Adolf Hitler, while denouncing the Winston Churchill's of the world (another practitioner of hostility with whom I would be proud to be acknowledged to be unworthy of being compared to).

Basically, you’re full of it. And until you learn to empty yourself of what you don’t gno, please begone.

3/09/2008 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"...I've been a student of the Reverend Jackson as well as the eloquent, Barak Obama and have, to a degree, been parroting their syntax."

Ah. Well, that explains a lot, I suppose.

3/09/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Epi filtered through the ebonics translator:

This sketch o' yo' Epistemology demonstrates uh
large confusion.

The gulf ya suggests dat separates Belief from
Knowledge iz incorrect. Knowledge iz simply uh
subset o' Belief; Beliefs dat iz both true an' dat
satisfy da rational norms o' justification or
warrant.

This iz known as da tripartite analysis o'
Knowledge, which goes all da way back ta Plato.

One who possesses dis here kind o' knowledge
necessarily displays certain qualities. The most
significant iz uh deep an' universal Compassion.
Along wiff Compassion iz uh kind o' ease o' living
an' o' dealing wiff situations.

If someone claims ta gots direct intuitive
knowledge o' existence but fails ta manifest deep
an' universal Compassion or lacks uh seamless ease
o' living, dey iz either lying or iz mistaken.

Also, Bob's epistemology ain't related ta dis here point at all. It iz uh separate matter. I did not originally queshun da truth o' anyfin' other than Bob's statements about Knowledge, Belief an' Faith,
which Epistemology concerns. Someone could very
well be quite correct about many things an' still
gots uh confusion about epistemology. Its uh meta-queshun about Knowledge, not uh direct
examination about any specific claim ta it.

But if Bob, or anyone, fails ta manifest an' act from
uh deep an' universal compassion while trying ta
teach about Truth, dey iz engaged in uh
performative contradiction. Don't make me shank ya!

3/09/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

And as for Van, ya seem ta fancy yourself uh Philosopher. You gots uh lot o' hostility [which ya admitted] both ta me an' ta Academia it seems. Having spent uh pimp-tight amount o' tyme dere I can relate ta many criticisms o' it, but lets not pretend dat ya gots some vast or transcendent Knowledge o' da subject or dat da Knowledge present within da Academic world don' dwarf yours.

I'm sure in comparison ta most here an' ta most
peeps ya meet ya iz very well read, but let me
give ya da opportunity ta drop da act. Hostility iz
never da result o' Wisdom or true Knowledge o'
sumfin.

As ta Compassion being uh necessary result o'
Understanding Truth, I find it amazing dat anyone
could deny it. The werdz an' deeds o' all great men
an' biAtchez confirm it, as do da very nature o'
Truth itself.

3/09/2008 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Maines -

>>we probably have to concede It is right that some beliefs can exist that we are unaware of<<

Yeah, that's fine, I agree, but with regards to the original question of gnosis/knowledge preceding "belief" - as these terms are commonly understood - it becomes bone-picking to the point of asinity. It's like commenting on a beautiful sunset and then having some pedant suddently appear at your elbow to explain that the sun isn't really going down, it's going over the horizon in relation to your terrestrial location, and the colors you see are atmospheric refractions of light, blah blah . . all true in their own way, but missing the point all together.

wv - qelbpie. Y'all ain't tasted nothing tils y'all try some of muh quelb pie. Y'all come back now, yah hear?

3/09/2008 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>I've been a student of the Reverend Jackson as well as the eloquent, Barak Obama and have, to a degree, been parroting their syntax. I find it very effective in lectures with the younger generation<<

Even if you're lying about that, epi, or trying to lay down some heavy irony, it makes you even loopier than I previously thought.

I enjoy loopy, actually, but solely for its entertainment value.

3/09/2008 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

For the record, I didn't post the following:

" I AM!
The Second Coming!
Those with eyes who cannot hear are blind!

3/09/2008 02:18:00 PM
Anonymous episteme said...

And Will,as far as English being my second language, I've been a student of the Reverend Jackson as well as the eloquent, Barak Obama and have, to a degree, been parroting their syntax. I find it very effective in lectures with the younger generation."

This was someone using my handle[which is unregistered].

3/09/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous episteme said...

Cousin Dupree,

I see that your grasp and comprehension of the diction of the good Reverend far surpasses my own.

3/09/2008 04:35:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

"...and the princess and the prince discuss
what's real and what is not.
It doesn't matter inside the gates of eden."

Bob Dylan

Dilys:
Thanks! It was just plain spooky (in a good way) to read that. It reminds me of a chunk of onxy that I carved a few years back. The stuff was a beautiful grass green, but if you looked very closely, you could see that the stone was composed of striations of pale lime, and darker forest green. The layers were only a few thousandths of an inch thick and perfectly consistent in width. What made the rock so cool is that it was opaque unless you turned it at exactly the right angle to the sun. Then the light flooded the pale translucent layers, and the whole stone lit up. One degree more and the opacity returned.
So it is with scripture. And gnosis too, I believe. I'll leave it to epi to measure the striations with a micrometer. I prefer to turn the stone until it flashes.

JWM

3/09/2008 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Oh-
Whoever is nic-jacking epi for goofy posts- That is not cool, and not funny.

JWM

3/09/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Okay, I realize the guy's a douche but it's still un-cool.

JWM

3/10/2008 01:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Old yeller said...

Episty–

Your decorum speaks for your knowledge base and your familiarity with it in a way that words alone can't convey. The disdain and ridicule your decorum engenders here is one clue that you are speaking above most of the spiritual egoists loitering about this blog. The sputtering and outrage that follow your comments is what passes for a direct hit in these here parts. I salute Van's down-dressing – a powerful piece of understatement, performed to a largely unappreciative audience. You won my admiration. The all-gnawing Petey seems unaware of the irony when it speaks of integral new age clowns wanting God's Mercy but never His Severity. You've dished up a heaping helping of severity here and it doesn't seem to be to anyone's liking. Hmm. Integral is as integral does. Chalk up another point for the relativity of absolute truth as spoken here.
You've outdone them at their own game. I will hold your cloak any time, sir.

3/10/2008 02:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

I have compassion for grog therefore I must be full of it.

3/10/2008 03:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Fess Parker said...

Old Yeller, you do realize you're a pile of rabid bones, don't you?

3/10/2008 03:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Episteme said...
For the record, I didn't post the following:

" I AM!
The Second Coming!
Those with eyes who cannot hear are blind!

3/09/2008 02:18:00 PM
Anonymous episteme said...

And Will,as far as English being my second language, I've been a student of the Reverend Jackson as well as the eloquent, Barak Obama and have, to a degree, been parroting their syntax. I find it very effective in lectures with the younger generation."

This was someone using my handle[which is unregistered].

3/09/2008 04:27:00 PM

Epi-
You don't have a handle.
I say that with all the compassion I can muster.

3/10/2008 04:01:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

JWM said:
I prefer to turn the stone until it flashes.


I prefer that method too, JWM!
There's just somethin' about shiny stones, and bein' the catOlyst behind the shiny stone. :^)

3/10/2008 04:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Oscar said...

I can haz compashun? Duz that come with cheezeburgers?

3/10/2008 04:16:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Yeller,

Judging from your post, I would guess you're an Obama supporter, you reductionistic old dog,you.

3/10/2008 05:46:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Just a quick note:
1:04AM was the same jerk,and not me. Bob, can you ban this clown by isp address?

JWM

3/10/2008 07:12:00 AM  

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