Therefore, knowledge must always be subordinated to something beyond knowledge, at risk of sinking beneath itself. As Green writes, knowledge may well fuel pride, as in the timeless stories of Adam, Prometheus, Icarus, Gruber, and countless others.
But this should not discourage one from seeking knowledge, any more than Charles Manson's impending nuptials should steer us away from sex. In short, misuse of an object or idea does not detract from its proper use.
"The fact that knowledge can puff up," observes Green, illustrates the point that "knowledge is inherently a moral reality," and "can be used for good or ill" (emphasis in original).
This is elementary, similar to the principle that rights not only come with responsibilities, but that the responsibilities must be prior to the rights. In other words, you cannot give rights to an irresponsible entity, or one without free will. You can't give a bear the right to roam free through a city. Why? Because the bear has no responsibility.
The left, of course, never stops talking about rights, but these rights are always in the abstract, disconnected from the responsibilities that legitimize them. The notion of rights without responsibilities is precisely analogous to the absurdity of knowledge without truth or art without beauty. Not only is the one severed from the other, but rights, knowledge, and art are deprived of their sufficient reason. They become meaningless if not pernicious.
Want to confuse a liberal? Try this: let's assume for the sake of argument that you have the constitutional right to abort your baby. What is the corresponding responsibility in which this right is grounded, and without which it makes no sense? Remember, it must be something even "higher" and more fundamental than a dead baby. What could it be?
Now, one of our cosmic principles is that any truth speaks of the One Truth. It is this latter to whom (or in whom) our knowledge is ultimately answerable. "[W]henever we come to know something, our very capacity to know is brought about and sustained -- in every instance -- by God." So long as we bear that in mind, we avoid pride on the one hand, and the temptation of a false absolute -- idolatry -- on the other.
Yesterday I had a conversation with the mother of one of my son's friends. He's extremely bright, full of philosophical and theological questions that don't occur to most adults. He's also very interested in science; at nine years old, Stephen Hawking is one of his heroes. Therefore, he was quite distressed to learn of Hawking's pronouncement that God doesn't exist.
This is a fine example of knowledge not only severed from truth, but even from the possibility of truth. It's an elementary metaphysical error, entirely self-refuting but self-aggrandizing at the same time. It equates to saying: "there is no God, and I am that one." For if God doesn't exist, obviously only He can know it.
I would add that Hawking's denial serves as a kind of implicit acknowledgement of God. As Green writes, "all persons, at some fundamental level, know God but suppress this knowledge."
As we have discussed in the past, since our human personhood exists in a vertical space, we are just as prone to repress the higher as we are the lower. Just as one can only pretend that the unconscious doesn't exist, one can only pretend that the supra-conscious doesn't exist. But once one stops pretending, one sees evidence of both everywhere.
Imagine the vertical as an AM radio band reaching from 540 to 1600 kHz. The average station is set somewhere in the middle, at 93, or 1070, or 1110. But the rest of the band is always there, waiting for someone to tune into the frequency. Much of what we call "higher knowledge," for example, is just regular knowledge tuned to a higher frequency.
Take the example of a church. On the one hand it's just a building, not fundamentally different from any other. But tune into the higher sacred frequencies, and it is transformed to "heaven on earth." For that matter, a sacrament is an occasion for the inflow of those higher frequencies.
This also goes to why we cannot comprehend certain evils and certain people. We just can't pick up the frequency they are hearing. This is because "The mind's pursuits are always, and without fail, related to one's 'loves,' or to the state of the heart.... we really cannot know what we do not love" (Green).
This would explain a great deal -- for example, why Obama doesn't understand the constitution, and why we do not understand his animosity toward it (or toward Israel, or the police, or our military, etc.).
Well, the contractors are back, so that's the end of this post.