Friday, March 14, 2014

Adventures in God

Although Buber (as mentioned two posts back) denies the implications of his own theology, he writes in his most famous work, I and Thou, that "we know unshakably in our hearts that there is a becoming of the God that is" (quoted by Harthsorne).

If there is becoming, then there is change. But Buber doesn't like the sound of that, so he stops well short of pursuing his own common sense -- or common experience -- to its theo-logical deustiny.

But for Hartshorne, Buber's words are just plain logic, "neither less nor more," so theologians (including Buber!) who balk at their implications are being "wonderfully illogical."

Some say that to affirm change in God is to deny omniscience, because if God is omniscient then he can by no means be "surprised" by change. In this view, God is the last jaded word in Been There/Done That.

That is, what looks like change to us must be as one big spatiotemporal block to God, where everything -- past, present and future -- is taken in at once. Or in other words, for God, time is not temporal, but rather, spatial.

To which one can only respond with a shrug of the shoulders and the old "that's one way of looking at it."

But that way has never appealed to me, neither emotionally nor intellectually, not to mention spiritually. Rather, I like the idea of adventure, including Adventure in God. What if God is the quintessential adventurer and creation is the ultimate E-ticket adventure?

To which one may well respond with a shrug of the shoulders and the old "that's one way of looking at it."

I mean, far be it from me to start an argument if you prefer to be a religious couch potato resting in the comfort and safety of your own delusions.

I want to briefly skip ahead to the contribution by a Nahum Glatzer, professor of Judaic Studies at Brandeis. It seems to me that he absolutely Nails It in observing that the prophets teach "the freedom of choice."

Now, "Israel is in the hand of God like the clay to a potter's hand." However, this does not mean the future is settled and that our freedom is an illusion.

For on the one (potter's) hand, "God plans the destiny of nations and of men." Bueno. I think we can all agree on that.

However! "In choosing the good," it is as if man "causes" God to renounce his plan for what would have occurred had man turned away from the good. Or, in choosing evil, man "causes" God to adjust his plans accordingly.

Thus -- common sense again -- "Because there is a covenantal relationship between God and man, man has the power of turning to the good or the evil, and thus also the power of turning the tide of events."

Therefore, what happens to man is "the divine answer to his choice." This is no "mechanical relationship of cause and effect," but rather, "a dialogical correspondence between God and man."

This is because "God wants man to come to Him in perfect freedom"(emphasis mine and God's). This being the case, the future "cannot be a result of pre-determination," for "the spirit of God assumes the attitude of 'waiting' for man to fulfill the intention of Creation."

But predetermination always creeps back in like the worship of Ba'al, for any ideology that denies man's freedom and claims that the future is written is an iteration of the same old gnostic ba'algame, from Hegel and Marx on down to our own contemporary progressive clownocracy.

If Hollywood has taught us anything, it is that "Truly, for some men nothing is written unless THEY write it" (Lawrence of Arabia).

Of course, God is always the cowriter, and he has a contingency plan for every eventuality, but that does not equate to omniscience in the sense usually understood.

Rather, for Hartshorne -- common sense again -- omniscience is "limited" to what can be known. And what can be conceivably known is EVERYTHING that has happened and is happening. But unless we deny all distinctions between past, present and future, then "knowledge" of the future must be a different sort of thing.

For some reason, religious people are generally uncomfortable with this idea, but I am profoundly uncomfortable with its alternative, for there would be no reason to get up in the morning if it weren't for the opportunity to participate in a new adventure in and with God. I mean, is he just faking the interest?

84 Comments:

Blogger JP said...

"Rather, for Hartshorne -- common sense again -- omniscience is "limited" to what can be known. And what can be known is EVERYTHING that has happened and is happening. But unless we deny all distinctions between past, present and future, then "knowledge" of the future must be a different sort of thing."

I think I was point out issues with precognition to Niggardly Phil a few years ago.

This makes me want to watch Minority Report.

3/14/2014 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Some say that to affirm change in God is to deny omniscience, because if God is omniscient then he can by no means be "surprised" by change. In this view, God is the last jaded word in Been There/Done That.

I've recently joined a women's Bible study class, more for the social opportunities and kids classes than anything. It's "non-denominational," which means it's not traditional, and in many ways not particularly logical. Lots of milk, which they think is meat. NTTAWWT.

Anyway, one thing I hear expressed with great frequency is the idea that everything is planned by God. Usually followed by talk of being called to do this, that, or the other. Again, NTTAWWT. But what I find amusing is the idea that an all-knowing, all-planning God would bother calling anyone to do anything, since to call is to imply that the person being called has a say in whether they respond.

3/14/2014 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Of course, God is always the cowriter, and he has a contingency plan for every eventuality, but that does not equate to omniscience in the sense usually understood.

Yes! I like that.

I was walking the property yesterday we bought from our neighbor Alvin and I was thinking to myself, Yeah, it's nice and all that but this is nothing like the thrill of discovery exploring it for the first time.

I dunno, maybe that is analogous to how God would feel if he knew past, present, and future.

3/14/2014 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


"Everything happens for a reason" logically equates to nothing happens for a reason, for there would be only the one thing, indistinct from any reasons at all.

Nothing can be that simple, let alone everything.

3/14/2014 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Exactly. I much prefer the idea that everything that happens is an opportunity to alter our deustination. Otherwise, the implication is that when we suffer, it's because we either deserve it, or because god is a cosmically-sized asshole who doesn't mind inflicting misery on his creation. If either of those is the case, I want a different cosmos.

3/14/2014 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, notice how they try to resolve the same conundrum in the east, with recourse to the concepts of karma and reincarnation: bad things happen because of something you did in a previous life. Another spiritual heist of man's freedom and dignity, only by way of the past instead of the future.

3/14/2014 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"Otherwise, the implication is that when we suffer, it's because we either deserve it, or because god is a cosmically-sized asshole who doesn't mind inflicting misery on his creation. If either of those is the case, I want a different cosmos."

A significant portion of bad things that happen to me are caused by prior actions of me.

The problem is when you blame people for things that are outside of their own control.

For example, being within a blast radius.

I'm not sure what to say to people who live near volcanoes or on earthquake fault lines.

I live in a hurricane-prone area. And if I ever was severely injured because of a hurricane, I would only have myself to blame.

3/14/2014 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think the San Andreas fault runs directly under my house, so it's definitely my fault.

3/14/2014 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Hmm, hmm, and more hmm.

I'm sympathetic and trying to square this with some thoughts about God's Being.

In what way, if any, is God present to a human being's future?

If He is not present to that future, then is God *in* time, like us?

Time is an arbitrary measure of motion. How can God, who created the things in motion, exist in the terms of his own creation?

<- not a philosopher, just wondering

3/14/2014 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think God is in time because he is in eternity, and vice versa.

3/14/2014 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No one, of course, is under any compulsion to agree with the host.

3/14/2014 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just don't cross Cousin Dupree.

3/14/2014 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Life's a gamble, baby.

3/14/2014 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

lol - that looks a little too close to "Bob Flambe" for comfort. Better make sure Dupree aims his blowtorch in the other direction...

3/14/2014 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

We're all under the compulsion of logic, however speculative the premises.

Interesting stuff: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hartshorne/

God is not outside of time, as in the Boethian view that is influential among traditional philosophical theists, but rather exists through all of time, on Hartshorne's view. On the neoclassical view, God's permanent “being” consists in steadfast benevolence exhibited through everlasting becoming.

I have to get back to work, but this makes me want to read Aquinas on God as a dynamic Action.

3/14/2014 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Bob, your pic makes me question why I haven't been out this winter to see my brother in California.

3/14/2014 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

All this sounds right to me. Doctrine and dogma are good servants, to paraphrase Washington, but dangerous masters.

To further John's point, I like my fences because of what's in between them.

3/14/2014 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

but I am profoundly uncomfortable with its alternative, for there would be no reason to get up in the morning if it weren't for the opportunity to participate in a new adventure in and with God.

Exactly!

Besides, people don't really live what they think they believe, because then they wouldn't pray. Ever. But people pray all the time and think to move the heart of God, without understanding its theological implications. It's in our spiritual genetic code to pray, we just do, and let the spiritual giants duke out the implications.

What if Jesus hadn't prayed for us in the Garden? Did His prayer help create redemption?

3/14/2014 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"But predetermination always creeps back in like the worship of Ba'al, for any ideology that denies man's freedom and claims that the future is written is an iteration of the same old gnostic ba'algame, from Hegel and Marx on down to our own contemporary progressive clownocracy."

There is a difference between knowing every possible ramification of every possible action... and knowing what will happen next... and even more between that and it actually happening.

Going back again to a relational database, there is a query, appropriately enough called a 'Cartesian Query', that doesn't relate table data on their ID's, as a good data should (as all of the features of your home are related to your street by its address #, which is related to your street name, which is related to your City, State, etc.), but instead every bit of data is related to every other bit... just because it can be (your doorknob is related to your State,and to your City), which, although it produces every possible combination of data... it is a meaningless glop (and can quickly fry most databases if more than a few tables are used).

If you had a super D duper database that could handle infinite amounts of data, plus some, and could easily relate the coffee ground floating in my coffee, to the main course of Einstein's 2nd to last meal, then you could conceivably know every possible outcome of every possible thought and action.

But that wouldn't be nearly the same thing as watching good data being entered - lives being lived and related to others and to all by meaningful choice and action. Knowing everything that could possibly happen, is not nearly the same thing as experiencing it as it actually happens.

"... there would be no reason to get up in the morning if it weren't for the opportunity to participate in a new adventure in and with God."

Yep.

3/14/2014 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

From Hartshorne:

See James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for a vivid picture of the dark side of classical theism. It has been shown that the sermon given in that book is no mere invention of Joyce's, but, almost word for word, an actual sermon written by a priest or monk of the Catholic church. There was a dark side of traditional religion, and Joyce very reasonably disliked it. The idea of God as supreme love enjoying (or, if you prefer suffering, or neutrally cognizing) the spectacle of sinners everlastingly punished for eternally predestined actions is not a pretty one; but there it is in classical theism.

3/14/2014 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That is an awesome sermon. Disturbing, but awesome.

3/14/2014 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Only one objection (but not really): Whether I "like" this or that "idea" about God or whether it "appeals to me", I know, as a sinner, is no way for me to determine if an idea about God is true or not. I prefer instead: "this or that idea sounds like the God or Jesus I know, or it doesn't." Since I know me like the back of my hand, I know I tend to follow the path of least resistance.
On the other hand, I "don't object" because I know Bob doesn't really mean "like" or "appeal to me" in the common, emotional sense, because it doesn't sound like the Bob I know.

3/14/2014 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Watched this the other night. The full movie is on youtube:

"Francesco is a 1989 film relating, in flashback, the life of St. Francis ... stars Mickey Rourke (as St. Francis) and Helena Bonham Carter. Greek composer, Vangelis, provided the musical score."

Was actually pretty good. Rourke's heart was in it and no over the top, shallow, stereotypical, characterizations of religious leaders. Refreshing, actually.

3/14/2014 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Rick (and Bob, I hope you'll pardon my opinion on Rick's opinion of your opinion), I took it to mean the post and ideas aren't so much a certain pronouncement on what is, but rather an exploration with the full recognition that he may be sniffing up the wrong alley. Hence more waffley terms. It's not as unknowable as what happens after we die, but it's not as knowable as the fact that, for instance, I AM.

For some things, you just have to go with your gut. Even knowing that your gut may be leading you wrong.

3/14/2014 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Or in other words, some ideas have to be followed to their logical conclusions in order to discover whether they're any good.

3/14/2014 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Or in other, other words, the meaning isn't fully known, until it is experienced.

3/14/2014 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie said, "Or in other words, some ideas have to be followed to their logical conclusions in order to discover whether they're any good."

Yes, precisely. I believe we're on the same page.
Simply, if I maintain Truth as the Poppermost, then I shouldn't reject an idea due to its difficulty for me. This is logic is in accord with yours.
I should recognize also that in one sense Jesus also followed the path of least resistance, He however washeaded for the Kingdom, where as when I follow the path of least resistance, I'm just lazy for a worldly path. He claims it will get easier, yoke is light and so forth. And it is on my better days.

3/14/2014 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger friendsafire said...

On the one hand God says in Isaiah "so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."

But for God to really be in on this Grand Adventure, does it mean that there is, even for God, the possibility of failure or God is not free?

Perhaps this is why Israel never fulfilled its stated purpose? Why the Kingdom of God remains a possibility (albeit one we can touch now and then) rather than a universal reality? Why Jesus said "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son but only the Father"?

And does that last statement hint at the Godhead having within itself both ways of relating to time and change? So that what looks like defeat and delay do not imply ultimate failure but merely plot complications?

3/15/2014 04:11:00 AM  
Blogger friendsafire said...

“Life is not a play,” the fisherman said. “No one writes your lines for you, though there are some parameters. You are born when and where you are born and to whom you are born, and these are the setting and the back-story of your drama. You choose to recognize your need to connect to the greater Good, or you ignore it. You seek the Truth that walks in the garden of your spirit, or you hide from it. Whether you be hero or villain and whether your role be comic or tragic is up to you. Otherwise, I would be the author of evil. No. If ‘all the world’s a stage,’ I designed the set and provided the outline. Oh, and I did have the key walk-on role. The rest is an improvisation. Other than periodically sending someone onstage to tell the players to consider the bigger picture and to treat each other nicely, I work with the free choices people make..."
— Organ Pipes of the Soul

3/15/2014 04:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I like that quote.

Re. does it mean that there is, even for God, the possibility of failure or God is not free?

I'm not sure the question is quite right. As I see it, God Is. Failure doesn't really enter into it on His end; if the ground of existence fails to exist, then nothing exists. Or perhaps, in the context of perfect freedom, if existence chooses not to exist. Whether that's possible is above my praygrade, but if it is, then apparently existence has resisted the temptation to not be.

However, I do think it is possible for mankind to fail. Or, so to speak, it is possible the creative project of Creation could fail to become what it was meant to be. So in that sense, God could "fail," but I'm not sure if that's what you were getting at.

3/15/2014 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Neuroprosthetic. Good word. Now, when will they come up with a pneumoprosthetic?

3/15/2014 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Re friendsasfire's comments, we first have to define what "success" would mean to God. Perhaps it occurs any time a being relates to him an an I-Thou manner.

The other day, when driving to work, it occurred to me -- not for the first time -- that man is the "last word" of creation. Not only that, but each thought we have is the last word.

Or in other words, we are always at the leading edge of creation. There is no further horizon, except the vertical, and that end is reached with, say, sainthood or mystical union. That is what I was attempting to convey at the end of the Coonifesto. It's always alpha and omega, origin and end.

A contributor to the Buber book made much the same observation. Let's see if I can find it.

"That man exists at all is the original mystery of the act of creation" (Buber). The contributor adds that "Creation is not meant to fail, but to achieve ever greater realization in the history of man.... Creation and Redemption are analogous events, interrelated factors. The redemption of the world," or perfection of Creation, is "the establishment of a unity in all the multiplicity of the world."

In another passage, Buber writes that "Creation is the origin, redemption the goal. But revelation is not a fixed, dated point poised in between the two." Rather, one might say that Creation and Redemption, Genesis and Revelation, alpha and omega, are always now. They are the rhythm of being.

3/15/2014 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

we first have to define what "success" would mean to God. Yes - I should have said that. I blame the lack of coffee.

we are always at the leading edge of creation.

Interesting. I'd never thought of it that way, but I suppose it can't not be so.

3/15/2014 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/15/2014 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "we first have to define what "success" would mean to God."

Yep. But don't we also have to define what 'failure' would mean?

For instance, not too many people understand Algebra. Fewer understand Trigonometry, and fewer still grasp Calculus.

Does that mean that Mathematics has failed?

The ability of people to be mistaken, to be misled, to flat out lie, is not a design flaw, but a central design feature... so... how can the fact that people persist in doing all of those be seen as failure?

I think we tend to give too much weight and credibility to the power of our own words and to our current skill level and willingness to recognize what is real and true - our failure and refusal to do so does not sully what is real and true.

IT IS. I AM. The Kingdom of God is at hand, and like those who attend to their mathematical theorems, postulates and exercises, it is fully accessible to those who willingly put in the time and effort to learn, practice and appreciate them.

We fail, not God... and that isn't a design flaw. It's a feature.

3/15/2014 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

A quote I need to keep in the back pocket:

"...the specialist is one who never makes small mistakes while moving toward the grand fallacy." --Marshall McLuhan

3/15/2014 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Dishonest Cosmos? I should sue the producers for defamation.

3/16/2014 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

How wonderfully revealing that they should illustrate their childish understanding with a 2-dimensional cartoon.

3/16/2014 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Interesting too that those cowards would never be as honestly critical of contemporary Islam, let alone dishonestly critical.

3/16/2014 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A Dishonest, Childish, and Cowardly Cosmos.

However, at least it won't be a gendered one.

3/16/2014 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I heard Jeremy Irons did the voice of Cruela De Pope.

3/16/2014 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No, I think it was Mike Myers with his Dr. Evil voice.

3/16/2014 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In the second episode, the Koch Brothers are accused of bullying Galileo.

3/16/2014 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

lol - while at the same time giving Islam credit for discovering black holes.

3/16/2014 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Separated at birth?
Head Bad Dude looks remarkably like Head Bad Dude from Aladdin. Seriously.

3/16/2014 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Reading the article, I do have one quibble. He states that "Many now reject the argument from authority..."

No; if that were so, more people would laugh in the face of anthropogenic global warming. Or Neil Degrasse Tyson. People today tend to reject the argument from traditional authority; call it "scientific" and they swallow it hook line, and sinker.

3/16/2014 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Scientistic authorities agree that argument from authority is the weakest of arguments.

3/16/2014 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This book linked at Patheos looks really interesting: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash. I'll start saving my amazon points & coupons.

3/16/2014 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That does look interesting.

Amazon has points?

3/16/2014 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, for their Visa card. I charge EVERYTHING on it, and use the points at the end of the month for books & CDs. A great way to rationalize my addictions.

3/16/2014 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, if the deal is still on, you get $25 off on your first purchase with the card. Plus, you get double or triple points for amazon purchases. I buy everything I can on amazon -- audio equipment, baseball bats, body paint, whatever.

3/16/2014 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, those kind of points. I just discovered last week that my main card has something similar, but they have a big list of stuff you can use your points for. I have enough to get a $100 Amazon card; I should redeem those soon...

Body paint? :D

3/16/2014 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think you'll agree that body paint really enhances interpretive dancing.

The amazon card is set up so that the points are transferred directly to the "payment method" page, so it'a very convenient.

3/16/2014 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Good point. Body paint is especially helpful if you don't have a unitard.

3/16/2014 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

I heard the Koch Brothers are the shadow owners behind Amazon. Hence, the reason why conservative books even make the Top 10. Also explains why Amazon recommends Coal Fired Furnaces for me. :)

3/16/2014 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If the Koch brothers didn't exist, liberals would have to invent them. Or in other words, if not for their delusions, liberals would have to hallucinate their enemies.

3/16/2014 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If I were one of the Koch brothers, I would be tempted to build a supervillain lair and set up a fake persona for the rabid leftists to go really nuts over. Perhaps then the world's grownups could get things done; even if not, though, it would be entertaining...

3/16/2014 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

All the conspiratorial minded people in my life sum it up this way: the wealthiest 1% are all sociopaths with an evil plan, and the rest of the world are just fine (except rednecks).

3/16/2014 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Do they know that the wealthiest 1% are disproportionately liberal, and that something like 9 of the wealthiest 10 counties vote Democrat?

3/16/2014 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

So it's true, then...

3/16/2014 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

IT'S ONLY EVIL WHEN REPUBLICANS DO IT ®

3/16/2014 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They told me that if I voted for Romney, oligarchs and crony capitalists would take over the country.

3/16/2014 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

When a poor Republican votes against his "class interest," it's bad. When a rich Democrat does, it's enlightened.

3/16/2014 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or, it's only acceptable for liberals to vote their values.

3/16/2014 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

The people I am referring are beyond party lines (and apparently rational thinking too). They believe there is a shadow government (aka Illuminati) of wealthy sociopaths both on the left & right conspiring to take over the world. It's utter paranoia drivel.

3/16/2014 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

From the 'Dishonest Cosmos' link, regarding Giordano Bruno: "He was not a scientist, conducted no experiments, looked through no telescopes, and wrote no scientific works. He was a mystic, a radical heretic, and an occultist. He abandoned Christianity in favor of Hermeticism (believed to be derived from ancient Egyptian wisdom) and magic."

One of the things that sent me back to Gilgamesh & Homer to start working my way forward myself, was listening to a lecture on 'Religion vs. Science', where the lecturer (an Objectivist bigwig) very dramatically reading the one quote of Bruno's that everyone wishing to be seen as an edgy and fearless pro-science! person simply must know and repeat, often, that 'You, my judges, pronounce this sentence upon me with greater fear than I receive it.', and stated how the date Bruno was burnt at the stake should live in infamy and serve as clear warning of Religions fear and hatred of Reason.

Well. That certainly seemed to be something I should know more about. So, this being before Google, I went to do some digging at the local library... and as its info was obviously defective, I went to other libraries... and then finally realized that either the libraries books were all defective, or what was being peddled to me as 'Scientific Fact!' was. In that same process I also discovered that the central legitimizing Objectivist tenet of "Aristotle's law of identity-A is A", is not only not a law, but that Aristotle never said it... I realized that those who like to say they know, are far more likely to like to appear that they know, than to bother with actually learning whether or not what they like to say they know, is worth knowing.

So I went back to ground zero of the West and started working my way forward, and soon found out that learning philosophy, literature and history from the people who actually wrote and lived it, is way more interesting and fun than forcing down the pre-chewed faux food that's regurgitated at us by 'those who know'.

And ever since I've appreciated it when someone very meaningfully refers to Bruno or the martyring of Hypatia, for like bells around the neck of slow moving cattle, it helps me to avoid having them blunder into me.

3/16/2014 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Good point Van Harvey! I remember reading Bryan McGee's Confessions of a Philosopher, where he made a good point that most students of philosophy these days have read only the secondary literature. And that until you go back to the original, you are in no place to make a general statement of the author's point of view.

3/16/2014 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Correction: Bryan Magee

3/16/2014 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Although, speaking of secondary literature, I did enjoy his bio of Schopenhauer....

3/16/2014 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

I am guilty of this also. I have read more about Plato and Aquinas that actually read their work. Partly that is just the laziness I have about reading old style classical works.

3/16/2014 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

That was a great read also Bob!

3/16/2014 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Yep Ted. It's also important to realize that if, like me, you aren't able to read Greek or Latin, a translation is itself what the translator tells you the original was saying.

What's really interesting is to put two or three translations of key passages side by side - you get a fuller grasp of what was originally said, and you also begin to see what you still aren't getting.

Also helps to keep you from becoming one of 'those who know'.

3/16/2014 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Not to mention those that are still translating English speaking authors into meaningless ideas (aka postmodernists).

3/16/2014 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

That Goodall book looks great! So many in the queue now!

3/16/2014 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Although one reviewer on Amazon accuses him of being overly political correct.

3/16/2014 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

...and giving too much reverence to Wagner and hip-hop.

Yeah, I dislike it when music critics compare the similarities of blues/jazz to hip-hop as an American art form. Doesn't work for me.

3/16/2014 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I heard about it from a writer in the latest edition of Stereophile. Said he'd only just begun reading it, but that it was already worth the price.

3/16/2014 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It will no doubt be flawed, but I'm sure I'll learn a lot. Besides, I don't really need help with 20th century music. Rather, everything before, including caveman tunage.

3/16/2014 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

I'll still check it out. Looks good enough to dive in!

3/16/2014 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

To accompany the book, the BBC music series he did appears to be up on YouTube.

3/16/2014 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No new adventure in O this morning. The math just doesn't add up. So, progress in cosmic evolution is delayed another 24 hours.

Oh well. It took 13.8 billion years for us to get this far. We can wait another day for a slightly wider now in which to get nothing done.

3/17/2014 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Tine enough to point out that the wealthy 1% of Democratic elites (mentioned in a comment above) are actually supporting their class interest.

3/17/2014 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

OT:
Subject: Good News/Miracles Dept.

I'll make it quick.
If you remember some time ago, I mentioned a young pregnant couple (I work with the young man). The baby in the womb was discovered to have a heart problem. One of the four chambers was almost non-existent. While still in the womb, the heart was already transforming its plumbing on its own in order to deal with this problem. The doctors would do the 1st round of surgery (to help things along; or try to keep up, whatever) when he was only 5 days old. Did that. Went perfectly. There would be more surgery in a year. Did it. Perfect. He has another this coming September. Should be the last one. I believe he only takes 1/2 a baby aspirin a day. That's it. Oh, and it's effectively a one-chambered heart now. That and he looks like he will be a weightlifter some day. Or a lumber jack.

Maybe we can have nice things.

3/17/2014 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's really amazing, Rick. I remember you telling us about him the first time; we do live in an age of miracle and wonder. May they continue to be blessed.

3/18/2014 07:18:00 AM  

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