Monday, January 28, 2013

Jacques Ellul on our conceptions of reality...

"Truth is the absolute or eternal. We are not able even to approach its outskirts. We do not construct truth out of bits and pieces added to one another, so as to enable us to remove them and dismantle the construction. By means of language we transmit and understand this truth that is as tightly closed and solid as a dot, reliable as a map, translucent as a crystal, but hard as a diamond. We transmit it and even discern it only through language. Truth is connected to the word and communicated by it. That is, truth is communicated by the most uncertain means, the one most prone to variations and doubt, as we have seen -- by the word, that fragile thing that does not last, evaporating as soon as it has been said. Thus what we are surest of is connected with the most uncertain thing in existence; our most changeable means has to do with what is most certain.

Now here is the amazing thing: this is a godsend for us. How could we live if our senses advised us that the reality in which we live does not really exist in the final analysis, that it is only a tangle of whirlwinds and illusions? How could I walk if my senses showed me nothing but emptiness in front of me? How could I eat if my senses showed me the utter unreality of what I am eating? Not that everything can be reduced to the impressions of my senses. That is not what I mean. My point is that sight and touch, the senses of certainty, give me the guarantee indispensable for living, concerning a milieu that is strange and foreign to me. My certainty is false as far as exact reality is concerned, but this certainty allows me to live."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Well, it's a new year...

...and I've gotten off to a slow start blogging. I won't bore anyone with the details, but part of it involved a defective laptop. Anyway, the new term at Oxford is underway, and I don't have anything too exciting to mention (but everything's going well!). So, here's a little food for thought from the man himself, S.K. (from Concluding Unscientific Postscript)

"The object of faith is the actuality of another person; its relation is an infinite interestedness. The object of faith is not a doctrine, for then the relation is intellectual, and the point is not to bungle it but to reach the maximum of the intellectual relation. The object of faith is not a teacher who has a doctrine, for when a teacher has a doctrine, then the doctrine is eo ipso more important than the teacher, and the relation is intellectual... But the object of faith is the actuality of the teacher, that the teacher actually exists. Therefore faith’s answer is... not in relation to a doctrine, whether it is true or not, not in relation to a teacher, whether his doctrine is true or not, but is the answer to the question about a fact: Do you accept as fact that he actually has existed? Please note that the answer is with infinite passion."