Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hope left for Western philosophy

This lecture series on the philosophy of religion is redeeming formal academic philosophy for me. Just on the drive down to Charlotte and back, I picked up four or five really solid ideas that bear more scrutiny. It gives me hope that maybe there is a place for me in academic thought after all.

One of the things that James Hall mentioned in passing was, "There are very few scholars who are both good philosophers and good theologians. Usually they are either strong theologians with only a rudimentary grasp of philosophy, or they are solid philosophers with only a dim understanding of what it means to see the world religiously."

Something about that rang inside me. I immediately thought, "I could be both." That might even define what it was that Augie saw in my Kierkegaard paper -- the ability to bring a genuine spiritual perspective to an otherwise impossibly tangled philosophy. And that might even be a calling worth the trouble -- to redeem thinking for those who believe in more than thought.

Some areas that might be worth a deeper look:
  • The logical realm of philosophy seems to have a very hard time with paradox. "P" and "Not P" do not mix without violent explosions of nonsense in the logician's world . . . but it would be good to provide a framework to address paradox sensibly, recognizing the possibility of paradoxical truth without surrendering to complete nonsense.
  • Intuiting premises. Rational philosophy freely concedes that all conclusions are dependant on the premises from which one starts. But I've read very little about the actual process by which one evaluates premises. It seems that this is the realm where immediate knowledge is not only possible, but absolutely necessary.
  • Applied leaps of faith. What are the principles, if any, that guide us in action when we don't know everything? What's the right way of acknowledging intuition while still testing it?

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