Monday, March 15, 2010

Wisdom - Gods

Thanks to the advance of science, the existence of God is not really a question of experimental hypothesis anymore. Wisdom also wants to bracket the question of the expectation of a world to come as it influences belief in Gods. He wants to instead focus on belief in a world here but beyond our senses. The question about the existence of God (divine Mind) must be expanded into a few related questions, including 1) are we ever justified in believing in mind, 2) are there non-animal or non-human mind patterns out there in the world, and 3) how do we know something is mind-like enough?

Wisdom recounts the story of two people talking about whether a couple is happy. Nothing from reason can settle the matter definitively, which is to say that science/reason does not have an exclusive grip on revelation. He tells the story of the unseen gardener to the same effect: one person thinks a gardener has been there to clean up the shrubs, the other thinks not. Arguments are deployed, but those arguments do not change the fact that the two people are observing and acknowledging the same reality.

The theistic issue is not settlable by calculation. In courts of law, for instance, we often are dealing not simply with facts but with showing whether certain parties displayed care or negligence (194). The reasons deployed in such instances are like the legs of a chair, not like the links of a chain. Reasoning is horizontal, not vertical. They are deployed with the hope of providing a cumulative effect that has a logic of its own.

As with two people judging art, there is a certain logic to it but its not simply rationality. Wisdom invokes the "connecting technique:" as in law, one can look for precedence, connecting the current situation to others analogically. Sometimes, wrongheadesness/heartedness can be traced back to a mismanagement of language, but more often, it stems from that which has not even been put into language (200).

In arguing about these things, we look for unconscious reasons, both good and bad, that the discussant is not aware of. Wisdom thinks of our reliance on unconscious motives to explain these things is a continuation and not a break with a certain theological discourse about the existence of gods. The "facts" which makes belief in God seem childish are "hidden powers" within us (204). The Greeks didn't talk about repressing instincts but they did speak of not appeasing Dionysus. Similarly, we may not be talking about the existence of God but we do talk about the unconscious.

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