an obession with first principles

One Thing I Wish Occupy Would Think About

Posted: Monday Oct 31st | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Epistemology, Philosophising | View Comments

Is a positive understanding of suffering

We are all aware of the negative aspects of suffering. But we would be remiss to never contemplate the positive aspects. Both of self-induced suffering, and of externally-produced suffering. When I say self-induced, I do not mean that we revile our own selves. Rather, that we forcibly, violently, push ourselves beyond our current abilities. Both physically, and mentally.

This, of course, is not to blame the victim, or validate the suffering inflicted upon groups or individuals. I know for a fact that in Theology the Black Church has had a huge amount to say on this topic. I regret that I have not been able to be read in it yet. Just as Cone argued for God’s own identification in blackness, the cross argues for God’s identification in suffering. What can we say about our this cruciform image of suffering?

I recognize that if Occupy is anything – the last thing it is is theological. So I don’t expect them to co-opt a theologian’s understanding of cruciformity or of suffering. Yet, I do hope (and at some point expect) a broader treatment of suffering in relation to the long history of its thought in this country, and in philosophy.

The Church is historically and intrinsically an artistic operation – Brueggemann

Posted: Sunday Oct 30th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Anthropology, Epistemology, Philosophising | View Comments

West Wing Hermeneutics

Posted: Tuesday Jul 12th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Dialogue, Epistemology | View Comments

Models of Knowing

Posted: Wednesday Jan 12th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Dialogue, Epistemology | View Comments

Over at Maxistentialism Max writes about the epistemological problem of observations, and our own models of the world. He doesn’t have comments, so I decided to respond here (Hi, Max). How do you know if what you believe about what you observe is actually true? We build up models of the world and map data onto them. Only when enough data (and we are conscious of it) doesn’t match are we free to redraw our model of the world we observe.

I claim that the only escape from this epistemological trap is science

I think he takes it as a blow to his claim that Stephen Hawking doesn’t think this is accomplishable. I don’t think it is either (Max, take a read of Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi, a chemist and philosopher who also doesn’t think it is possible). But what I find really funny is that St. Augustine in the 4th century pretty much came to the same conclusions regarding epistemology (I’d recommend St. Augustine’s Theory of Epistemology by Bubacz – you’re likely to only be able to find that in a good library.)