Saturday, April 27, 2013

Putting truth into words, but not into statements

(Now reading: Jean Grondin, The Philosophy of Gadamer)
Making a statement is always a dangerous thing to do. Statements can be taken out of context, distorting or obscuring the message one means to communicate in a statement. We cannot say anything without putting it into words, but it would be a mistake to confuse the words we say (that is, the words we have said already, in the past) with what we are saying. In other words, ongoing conversation is a much better way of expressing and uncovering truth and meaning than a fixed doctrinal statement. Which is one of the reasons I object to creeds and confessions of faith in the Church, when we take them to be authoritative statements that capture and contain the truth. Truth is bigger than any finite box we can make to put it in.

Truth can be put into words, but it cannot be put into any finished set of words, only into an unfinished, ongoing conversation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Idolatry of Modernity and the Impossibile State

In the concluding chapter of his book The Impossible State, Wael B. Hallaq argues that the crisis of the Muslim world is not a uniquely Muslim crisis, but is the crisis faced by all of humanity in our present times. This crisis stems from modernity, from Enlightenment philosophy, from a humanism that says “man is the measure of all things”.
Hallaq presents two worldviews in fundamental contradiction to one another. On the one hand, we have a theology that says we live in a universe saturated with moral values, with reasons that make normative demands of us (165). These moral demands transcend human subjectivity: they are part of the created world in which we live, and they come from God, the only Sovereign. On the other hand, we have a humanism that says we live in a value-free universe, and that the only moral constraints on us have their origin in human Reason.