1.23.16

-If reason gives us only probable truths about the world, we can interpret our desire for certitude as a desire for revelation from one “who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Arguendo, take the most tendentiously antagonistic account of faith as true: belief without evidence. Don’t I want it even under that description? Not being an ideal mind, evidence is usually something I can be deceived about. What if I want a more robust belief than that? You say I wander off into transcendental illusion, I say you are failing to follow out the logic of your desire to know.

-Descartes grounds the cogito on the fact that denying it involved a contradiction. But he then makes a crucial argument:

a.) The cogito established I have absolute certitude about something

b.) Therefore, I have a standard of absolute certitude

c.) This standard is that my ideas are clear and distinct.

The objection to (c) is immediate: “You told us that the cogito is certain because denying it involves a contradiction. Now you are telling us it is certain because it is a clear and distinct idea”. But doesn’t Descartes have a point? We would never be able to judge “A is B involves a contradiction” without a previous insight into A. The principle of contradiction is a moved mover.

Analytic philosophy: (1) They’ve ended up with a system where “intuitions”  means, by default, “suspicious foundational beliefs” or even “things everybody believes with no reason and which are probably false.” (2) In grounding all rationality on the proposition, they occlude the role of insight.

-Hume declared insight a mystery best left unspoken. But there is no comparison between a skeptical philosophy that makes this act of reverence and one that doesn’t.

-With reasoning, the greatest certitude is spoken, distinct, concluded to. With insight, the greatest certitude is unspoken.

-We hide our insights from reasoning. Reasoning is too busy, too profligate. Show it any actuality and it will immediately become fascinated with mere possibilities. We rationally store our deepest insights in the unconscious. The adverb means both “for the good of reason” and “for the sake of truth”.

Nature loves to hide. First, for the reason just given, next, because it executes a rational action without having to reason about it. We shouldn’t be shocked when we put a reasoning-grid over it and miss something.

-Consider this sense of philosophy as “love of wisdom”.  While slumming around Amazon or walking the stacks at a library, you see that text from a philosophical mentor that you’ve never seen before, or never knew was translated, or have never been able to find until now, etc. The sophia of philosophy is also this love of how our mentor thinks.  There is something deeply unphilosophical about someone who lacks this.

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1 Comment

  1. stevegbrown said,

    January 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    After having read Lonergan’s Insight a few times but never in one sitting the whole thing, I have to wonder: Which the act of the mind Is Insight part of? Apprehension, Judgement, or Discursive Reasoning?
    To me it resembles the act of abstraction. If you define abstraction as: “to see one aspect that unifies”, then it seems that insight requires a higher vantage point than its object. Insight is also uses analogy (Lonergan)


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