Monday, November 28, 2022

Critical Ignorance & Perpetual Notions

Dear Diary:

I’ve now finished six books by -- and another two about -- the big-brained theologian Bernard Lonergan, most recently one called Understanding and Being


This one is my favorite so far, and not just because it was the cheapest to obtain, rather, because it had the highest ratio of (!) to (?). In other words, I understood much of it, and there was less glazing of the eyes.

I shall now attempt to translate it to plain Coonglish, because what good does it do anyone if two large-brained primates -- say, Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel -- conduct private conversations to which no one else has access and few others would understand anyway?
To avoid the difficulty of an Atlantic crossing, the Gödels sailed from Japan to San Francisco, which they reached on March 4, 1940, then crossed the US by train to Princeton. There Gödel accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study. Albert Einstein was also living at Princeton during this time. 
Gödel and Einstein developed a strong friendship, and were known to take long walks together to and from the IAS. The nature of their conversations was a mystery to the other Institute members. Toward the end of his life Einstein confided that his "own work no longer meant much, that he came to the Institute merely... to have the privilege of walking home with Gödel” (Wiki).
What about the restavus? How are we supposed to march forth into the great unknown? Well, one of the guiding principles of this blog is that normal folks have their rights, and that ultimate reality is not some exclusive private club, but rather, in the words of the Aphorist,
In each moment, each person is capable of possessing the truths that matter.
Indeed, I could write a whole book on that subject, and maybe I already have. Maybe I should even stop, but here we go: let the flipping begin!
In Lecture 1, Lonergan brings up the old paradox that "seeking knowledge is seeking an unknown,” so how do we know what to look for, and how do we know when we've found it? 
If we knew what we were looking for when we were seeking knowledge, we would not have to look for it, we would have it already…. 
But no one just starts out blindly looking for "knowledge." Rather, we begin with a theory, a hypotheses, a paradigm, etc. Moreover, as discussed in yesterday’s post, we ultimately begin with -- whether we acknowledge it or not -- an implicit link between Intelligence and Intelligibility which we (Bob & Co.) call faith
So, “seeking knowledge” already presupposes a great deal, at the very least that knowledge exists and that seeking it will be fruitful, i.e., that the link between our seeking at one and and the Great Unknown at the other never stops flowing.
In thinking about this yesterday, an image popped into my noggin from the movie Avatar, when the main character, Jake, plugs his hair into that beast and connects to some superior magical nonlocal Gaia wisdom or something. 
In James Cameron’s clumsy iconography, I suppose it’s supposed to be analogous to God and Adam, only better this time. In his Manichaean world, "Avatar views tribal people as an honest group, whereas a technologically advanced imperial culture is fundamentally evil.” Okay. No wonder he supports Hillary, despite already having four ex-wives.
Back to our titanesque subject -- literally, since we are hot on the trail of Everything -- “there is a combination, then, of knowledge and ignorance,” and not just the buffoonish ignorance of glitzy but ditsy Hollywood nit-wits, but a systematic and methodical -- AKA critical -- ignorance.
In short, if you’re ignorant and you know it, clap your hands. Conversely, if you’re ignorant and you don’t know it, you don’t have to keep voting Democrat. Rather, there is a cure, but there is some pain involved. Some disassembly is required, followed by reassembly, or what Lonergan describes as
A double movement of analysis and synthesis -- analysis to discover causes, and synthesis to move from causes to the things.
In the past we have symbolized this double movement as (↓), bearing in mind that it is actually an endless spiral, or a sort of perpetual notion machine, in that we never stop having generative notions about Being, which generate further notions. 

The order of discovery is just the opposite of the order of doctrine. In doctrine you start from the principles and draw the conclusions, but in discovery you discover one conclusion after another and gradually you move on to your principles.

I guess that's it for today. Lecture 2 tomorrow. 

15 comments:

Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know why the font changed there at the end, but I like it.

John Venlet said...

In order for one to be aware of their critical ignorance, they must possess critical intelligence.

Anonymous said...

So Einstein and Godel were gay. They certainly weren't big brained.

Cousin Dupree said...

Yes, but they broke up after Gödel proved that Einstein didn't complete him.

julie said...

Ha - literally snickered aloud at that one.

Anyway.

In his Manichaien world, "Avatar views tribal people as an honest group, whereas a technologically advanced imperial culture is fundamentally evil.”

I was just reading one of Vanderleun's Daze links, about the death of Michael Rockefeller. Noble savages, who only killed and ate their neighbors and that one white tourist for the very best, most noble, wise and compassionate of reasons...

julie said...

Rather, there is a cure, but there is some pain involved. Some disassembly is required, followed by reassembly

I've had the thought frequently lately, that if you really want to make a wicked person suffer, you must pray for his true repentance.

Gagdad Bob said...

That's a good one. Willing the good of the other isn't willing the absence of suffering.

julie said...

Just imagine being a Clinton and coming face-to-face with the enormity of all the things you have done, knowing yourself for what you are, seeing that in the context of Christ's love... from this side of the veil, Hell may actually seem preferable, I dunno.

Anonymous said...

The terms gay, homosexual and bisexual have been dispensed with here in Ireland by the National Broadcaster RTE and replaced by 'men who have sex with men'. At least parents won't have to be explaining to their children the meaning of the no longer necessary cloaking words. Today's news was that from today men who have sex with men will be treated like everyone else when donating blood. Apparently the subverting of natural order in all things can have no consequences as there is no God. And global warming is caused by smokey coal.

Gagdad Bob said...

The whole country needs to be deprogrammed. Except Van Morrison. He took a lot of abuse for coming out against the lockdown madness.

julie said...

Yep, I almost linked that one here. Reminds me of those before & after photos people used to show of the pretty, wholesome, happy looking young women before college, and the dead-eyed, shaved-head & tattooed psycho after a couple of years of secondary "education."

Gagdad Bob said...

They're going to need a federal loan program to cover the cost of deprogramming.

Gagdad Bob said...

Japanese review of the Raspberries:

If you were obsessed with the Beatles in the '60s, you should be able to understand the goodness of these raspberries naturally. The sound is nostalgic, sweet and sour.
Every song is filled with a man's heart in love. He is a great artist who can make it a song and sing it up.

I first heard Raspberries when I was in high school, and when I became a member of society, I bought a compo in Akihabara with a total value of over 100,000 yen, which was normal at that time, and bought about 10 LPs every month. Well, it's also true that it tastes good with it. Things like that don't fade over time, don't they? Eric, if you're doing well, I'd like you to perform in Japan.

For me, when it comes to power pop, it's not Bad Finger, Cheap Trick, or Billy Joel, but this Raspberry's. The music struck my favorite dragonfly.

It is a band that combines the melody of the Beatles with guitar riffs like The Who, and the chorus like the Beach Boys. It's a mellow tree strawberry that condenses your favorite bands. On top of that, the shout is decided intensely and coolly. As a white vocalist, I can't complain. I praised him a bit too much, but he's a really dexterous vocalist.

julie said...

It struck his favorite dragonfly? Poor thing, I hope it recovered!

I can't say I've listened to the Raspberries all that often, now I'm intrigued.

Gagdad Bob said...

Maybe "struck my favorite dragonfly" means something like "slap yo mama."