Musings of a Disgruntled Academic Philosopher

2 03 2009


An excerpt:

And the form of this performance, Wilshire continues, is court-room litigation, a form that “fits no historical model of legitimate philosophical dialectic” — indeed, it is antagonistic and antithetical to it, for it is about winning the debate, a rhetorical theatrics for the sake of making a good point, and closing down your “opponent”… In other words, the very opposite of what Socrates, for example, was engaged in: a sincere inquiry into truth, goodness and, finally (perhaps ultimately), beauty. “If all this is true … then there has been”, writes Wilshire, “a return of what Plato and Socrates stigmatized as eristic, a mere disputation, something unworthy of a philosopher”, for it trumps pure theoria — a glimpse of the sacred structure of Being as such — in favor of mere sound opinion, that is, mere verbal soundness, integrity of the discursive, rhetorical wit. A performance, theatrics for its own sake. Truth is long; truth is arduous; truth is dialectical: the movement of an idea ’round the great expanse of being, out towards beings back towards Being. Back and forth; energetic, erotic, poesis.

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Truth – Tradition – Authority

2 03 2009


Recently I picked up again Jacques Maritain’s book, Three Reformers, written in his earlier, more “reactionary” phase. Things that I have read on the Internet as of late have made me contemplate the relationship between authority, truth, and tradition. According to a few de-historicized Internet Catholic pundits, the Catholic Church is the true church since it is the only one that dodges the bullet of “private interpretation”. Human reason coupled with ambiguous historical evidence is unable to reach the truths of Divine Revelation, and through some interesting thought processes, these individuals reach the Catholic Church due to an absolute certainty that while they themselves cannot be certain, something must be. By an intuitive leap and using of abduction, they conclude that that something is the Catholic Church, or more specifically, the Roman Pontiff. Though the arguments are often more subtle than this, personally I come away with the impression that what has won out here is not the human intellect but human ineptitude. Reason has to be stripped of its power to achieve truth.
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