The Endless Search for Questions to Our Answers
Which is interesting in itself, because that cannot be literally true. Rather, it is simply exchanging one vapidity or superficiality for another; or fleeing the non-intellectual for the anti-intellectual. Really, it is leaving the surface of a bottomless ocean for the surface of a desert. But whatever it is, it isn't "intellectual" -- unless one is using that word ironically or as an epithet.
My wife tried to raise this issue with the parish priest (a very nice man), but he waved it aside, essentially saying that the heart is all that matters. Well, yes. Not the heart of sentiment, but the heart-intellect, two very different things. True, the heart of sentiment is sufficient for the bhakti, and there's nothing wrong with that form of practice.
But not everyone, to say the least, is a born bhakti. The intellect has its legitimate needs and rights, and it is wrongheaded and ultimately oppressive to reduce a full-service religion to just one of the items on its celestial menu. If the intellect cannot find satisfaction in religion, it will simply look elsewhere. It will continue searching for truth, but in all the wrong places.
But to say that "X (e.g., science, philosophy) is for truth, while religion is for Y (e.g., consolation, anxiety, meaning)," is to guarantee the development of Split Cosmos Syndrome. It creates an insurmountable bifurcation in the world and in the soul. One becomes an implicit or explicit cartesian, with no way to reunite body and soul, matter and psyche, subject and object.
This goes directly to what we've been saying about the imaginal realm. Corbin notes that "there has ceased to be an intermediate level between empirically verifiable reality and unreality pure and simple."
In other words, the three-storey cosmos of empirical-rational-imaginal has been reduced to a one-storey empirical shack surrounded by unreality. The latter is no longer a cosmos at all, or at least not the cosmos -- rather, just an impoverished declension from the real deal: "between the sense perceptions and the intuitions and categories of the intellect there has remained a void" (Corbin).
You could even say that sensory fullness equates to spiritual emptiness. Think of lower animals, for whom there is no space between perception and reality; or rather reality is perception.
This is never true of human beings, and Gödel forever liberated us from that nonsense (or puresense) in proving that we always transcend whatever empirical or rational box we try to enclose ourselves in. There is and can never be any manmade "theory of everything," for it can never account for the man who makes it. Rather, there is only one rational theory of everything, in the absence of Whom we plunge into un- or anti-reason.
This whole subject is fraught with paradox, but it is orthoparadox, which is really another way of saying that what appear to be irreconcilable opposites are really harmonious complementarities. If anyone is keeping track of the various Raccoon Principles I have annunciated over the years, Bohr's principle of complementarity, filtered through Hartshorne, would be one of them.
Actually, it goes back to my days in psychotherapy. My analyst was a brilliant but quirky punster with a deep appreciation of paradox, who helped me realize that the most important things tend not to be conflicts but complementarities. Indeed, if you try to resolve such a complementarity, you're setting yourself up for a life of conflict!
Transforming conflicts into complementarities. That's one of the tasks of cosmotherapy.
You can come at the problem via the path of science or of religion. Polanyi, for example, "thought a false idea of science has left us with a skepticism about the nature of man and his works. We must, therefore, revise one to restore the other." In short, man cannot be treated, or even diagnosed, with a false idea of science.
One complementarity that unites Polanyi and Corbin is that of invention and discovery, or of reality and imagination. For example, "there are no explicit rules for making a discovery and since no discoveries can be made 'without creative passion,' the individual scientist cannot be directed in his work by other authorities."
Discovery is obviously not merely a logical extension of what is already known, or we would already know everything. Rather, by dwelling in the known, we make leaps -- not into the dark, but into a twilit world of possibility. The scientist must start with a good problem, but there is no logical operation that can distinguish between good and bad (i.e., fruitful and unfruitful) problems.
Indeed, "there seems to be a *paradox* involved in the very notion of a 'good problem,'" first gnosissed by Plato. That is, "To search for the solution to a problem... would seem absurd, since, if you know what you are looking for, then there is no problem." And if you don't "know what you are looking for, then you cannot expect to find anything."
Paradoxically, to (explicitly) conceive a good problem is to already (implicitly) perceive its solution: "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." It is as if the right brain runs ahead of the left, the latter of which searches for confirmation of what the former has intuited.
It gets more paradoxical, for "if all knowledge is explicit, i.e., capable of being clearly stated, then we cannot know a problem or look for its solution." So again, to recognize a good problem is already a kind of deep (fore)knowledge of its solution. Ultimately -- and this is pretty weird -- "all knowledge is of the same kind as the knowledge of a problem." Thus, there are no "solutions," only better or worse questions!
Can this possibly be the case? Well, as Dávila said in yesterday's post, Christianity does not solve "problems"; it merely obliges us to live them at a higher level. Furthermore, Catholicism does not solve all problems, but it is the only doctrine that raises them all.
In any event, you will have no doubt noticed that most of our political problems are a consequence of good answers to bad questions and bad answers to good ones.
To be continued...