Guided Ignorance and Faithless Stupidity
Plato, of course, thought that these universal forms were more real than their instantiations, while Aristotle simply saw them as co-present in all existents: the form is somehow "in" the substance without inhabiting any shadowy realm of its own.
As an aside, many of my beliefs are simply intuitive. But intuitive doesn't necessarily mean arbitrary, because it seems to me that intuition is a kind of rapid-response, right-brainish cognition that instantaneously excludes countless other possibilities.
Indeed, this is how science itself proceeds. Polanyi has written of this at length, of how the scientist's "guess," AKA hypothesis, is founded upon a host of subsidiary clues that point toward their hidden coherence.
"Polanyi maintained this was a genuine paradox, because 'to see a problem is to see something that is hidden. It is to have an intimation of the coherence of hitherto not comprehended particulars" (Prosch). This is definitely not a deterministic phenomenon, as two scientists can look at the same set of particulars, with only one seeing the hidden possibilities.
As we've discussed before, in the years leading up to Einstein's great discoveries, it was thought that physics was pretty much "complete," with only a few loose ends to tie up. But those few unanswered questions ended up being the point of entry into vast new worlds, both on the macro and micro scales: those little holes ended up being huge windows and doorways.
So, Einstein looked at the same phenomena, only he saw deeper and further than other minds looking at the same things. But the implications were always there, at least implicitly. To put it another way, where other physicists saw only answers, he saw fascinating questions. His mental state was characterized by the Raccoon principle of Higher Unknowing, or dynamic ignorance.
Obviously, not-knowing must precede knowing, or no genuine discovery can be made. Rather, what we call a "discovery" will simply be the logical extension of what we know. However, it appears to me that worldviews function like complex systems, in that a small change in one variable can lead to massive changes at the other end. If you're aiming a rocket toward mars, the tiniest deviation at the start will cause the rocket to miss the target by orders of magnitude.
This, of course, is the problem with climate science: their models simply don't map the phenomena, such that their accuracy quickly breaks down completely. For Polanyi, "if all knowledge is explicit, i.e., capable of being clearly stated, then we cannot know a problem or look for its solution." In short, you can't have a solution if you don't have a problem.
Which is precisely why liberal solutions don't ever solve anything: they either ask the wrong question or don't properly see the problem. For example, to what is Obamacare the solution? Certainly not healthcare. Moreover, Obamacare now is the very problem it sets out to solve.
Which is almost a universal law of liberalism: liberalism is the problem it sets out to solve. Because it inhabits a closed circle of cognition -- of Bad Omniscience -- it renders progress strictly impossible.
Importantly, knowledge of a good problem is already a kind of sophisticated knowledge. The more intelligent you are, the more you will see interesting problems where lesser minds see... I don't really know what they see. Ideology, I guess. Or hedonic opportunities. Or possibilities for power. Or just surfaces, like an animal. Animals don't see any interesting problems, but are hardwired for a narrow range of solutions to a few biological and biosocial ones.
In this regard, many humans -- no offense -- but many humans are more animal than human. They don't necessarily have to be this way, but they simply choose to foreclose the Great Unknown and drift along on the surface of things. But to live this way is to cash in one's humanness, since a human being is not so much a "thing" as a vector, an arrow shot into the nature of things. You might say that we are aimed toward the only sufficient reason that can adequately account for our existence (including our relentless seeking) -- which I call O.
"Polanyi thought the intimations we have of a problem are akin to the intimations we have of the fruitfulness of any discovery that we come to accept as the solution to a problem. Somehow we are able to appreciate the wealth of its yet undiscovered consequences."
Again, note the orthoparadox: not knowing in this way is actually a richer and more sophisticated mode of knowledge. Indeed, it is a tacit foreknowledge of what is yet to be explicitly discovered.
And guess what? This is faith. The very essence of faith is foreknowledge of the as-yet-undiscovered God. Which goes to Paul's gag about faith being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Do you (un)see how this is identical to scientific faith? In both cases, faith is a kind of superior knowledge, in that it sees beyond the boundaries of mere knowledge -- or what in the book I call (k). The latter is fine, as far as it goes. It's just that we render ourselves stupid of we imagine that it is -- or ever could be --- complete.
For Polanyi, "we are guided by sensing the presence of a hidden reality toward which our clues are pointing." He's talking about science, but it is the same vis-a-vis religion. Really, "all knowledge is of the same kind as the knowledge of a problem." Ultimately we might say that faith is the answer to the problem of God, just as scientific faith is the answer to the problem of dealing with physical reality. This is one reason why science developed only in the Christian west and nowhere else: our faith in a rational creator.
Faith is "knowledge of an approaching discovery." To bring it down to bobworld, I approach each post with an attitude of faith that one will appear. They are very much structured by an attitude of open not-knowing, such that I am guided by what it is I am looking for. It very much feels as if there is an invisible attractor out there, and as soon as it starts tugging at me, it attracts the right ideas and books and other resources to fill it out. When I started typing this morning, I had no earthly idea I was going to snatch this book on Polanyi from the shelf. Rather, it just pulled me into its orbit.
But just because this is happening, it doesn't necessarily mean we have discovered a universal truth. I mean, there are false paths, dead ends, and nul-de-slacks everywhere. But you can tell when you've reached one of those, because there will be no more interesting problems.
"Our conviction" that we are on the right track "is always a fiduciary conviction," i.e., rooted in faith. Interestingly, this means that there are no "facts" out there, untouched by subjectivity. Indeed, a fact is already the result of a belief that something is a fact. One man's fact is another man's trivia, and vice versa. Think about "historical facts." Is there really such a thing? Yes, there are literally countless facts in history, but it is only the judgment of the historian that elevates one to a historical fact.
Notice that this is one of the functions of the liberal media, albeit in reverse. That is, they work furiously to "inform" (unform?) us what not to pay attention to, such as Benghazi, or the Clinton Foundation, or what actually happens during an abortion, or what happens when you raise the minimum wage, or the risk factors of homosexuality, or the science of human intelligence. Liberals literally have no faith, in that they cannot permit themselves to ask questions about these and countless other subjects.
About those nonlocal attractors that dot the psychic landscape:
"Our search for deeper coherence is guided likewise by a potentiality: 'We feel the slope toward a deeper insight as we feel the direction in which a heavy weight is pulled along a steep incline....' The gradient of deepening coherence tells us where to start and which way to turn" (all quoted material from Prosch).