Friday, November 23, 2012

Michel Serres on philosophers...

"It is the function of the philosopher, the care and passion of the philosopher, to protect to the utmost the possible, he tends the possible like a small child, he broods over it like a newborn babe, he is the guardian of the seed.  The philosopher is the shepherd who tends the mixed flock of possibles on the highlands, heavy ewes and shuddering bulls, the philosopher is a gardener, he crosses and multiplies varieties, he safeguards the vastness of the old-growth forest, he is on the watch for the inclemency of the elements, a carrier of new seasons of history and of duration, fat cows and lean cows, the philosopher is the shepherd of multiplicities.

The philosopher... protects neither essence nor truth.  It is the function of the politician to be right and rational, it is the function of the scientist to be right and rational; there are plenty of functionaries of the truth as it is, without adding more.  The philosopher does not wrap himself up in truth as in breastplate or shield, he does not sing nor does he pray to allay nocturnal fears, he wants to let the possibles roam free.  Hope is in these margins, and freedom."

Michel Serres - "Genesis"

Friday, November 16, 2012

"The fool has said in his heart..."

At the risk of alienating everyone :-), I'm going to make what seems to me a statement of obvious truth:

It is neither unreasonable nor foolish to believe in God, AND it is neither unreasonable nor foolish to be skeptical about God's existence.

On the face of it, this perhaps seems like a contradictory statement.  How can it be reasonable both to believe in God and to be skeptical of God's existence?  Well, I don't want to get onto a rabbit trail right off the bat, but it all depends on how one defines 'reasonable'.  And I am not defining that word in purely rational terms; in other words, I don't equate 'reasonable' with 'Reason'.  Something can be perfectly reasonable even if it doesn't fit neatly into a logical equation or a statement of fact.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cottingham on Trust...

I've been reading a lot of Hegel lately, as I continue work on my dissertation.  But Hegel hasn't inspired me to post anything on this blog yet (assuming I even understand what he's saying!). Rather, here is a quote from another book I'm reading, "The Spiritual Dimension" by John Cottingham. I like this one, and it's fairly straightforward. :-)

"The unavoidable nature of our human predicament is that we can only learn through a certain degree of receptivity, by to some extent letting go, by reaching out in trust. This, after all, is how we began to learn anything as children, and this, though we may struggle to resist it, is how we have to be, as adults, if we are to continue growing towards the knowledge and love that are the most precious of human goods. The necessary trust, sadly, may be abused, for there are no guarantees. Just as the individual moral development of a child may go astray, as a result of trust given to those who promised love but delivered only selfishness, so in any other sphere (including that of organized religion) one will find many cases where trust is misplaced. But the primacy of praxis is in some sense a feature of the whole human condition: we learn to be virtuous, said Aristotle, by being trained in virtuous action before we reach the age of rational reflection. We learn how to grow morally by being immersed in a community before we fully understand what morality means. And we learn to trust by trusting. But in human life, there is no other way."