The Order of Knowledge

James Daniels just reminded me about the order of knowledge and showed how you can see it disintegrate in western philosophical thought.

At the top of all knowledge is theology, the knowledge that holds all other knowledge together.

Below that is philosophical knowledge, knowledge of metaphysical things like being, mode, and change.

One more step down we find moral or humane knowledge, the knowledge of how we fulfill our natures as human beings in community (politics) or by ourselves (ethics).

Then comes natural science, or the knowledge that we can gain of the physical world around us through modes like observation and measurement.

Each kind of knowledge is gained when you ask questions that require that kind of knowledge for an answer, such as what is being (philosophy), how can I be happy (ethics), what makes a tree grow (science), or what is truth (theology).

Asking the right kind of question causes a person to develop the sorts of tools that sort of question requires.

Using those tools then arouses a given faculty in the human soul – a faculty of perception that fits the knowledge sought.

James showed me how in the 13th century you begin to see an attack on the validity of theological knowledge, which put philosophy at the top of the ladder. Of course, it couldn’t answer theological questions, so people got mad at philosophy for not being able to do what it isn’t capable of doing, so they dropped it for the moral sciences.

Need I say that they proceeded to fail? So people gave up on the moral sciences and trusted only in the natural sciences.

Then came the 20th century. Now the natural sciences are still highly regarded, but nobody really believes they provide ultimate truth except maybe Richard Dawkins.

Thus we live in an age of complete epistemological scepticism, newspeaked into “tolerance.”

Then to undermine the whole project, children are no longer taught how to gain knowledge because people don’t believe it is there to be gained anyway. So they grow up believing there is no knowledge and they live accordingly.

Thus the Hebrew intuition is verified once again: “The fear of God is the beginning of Knowledge.”

Literary Quiz

Answer below:

Thanks to all who participated. The answer is Edgar Allen Poe, who “invented” the short-story in the late 19th century. There were stories that were short before then, but he saw into the heart and soul of the short-story and was able to explain it to others. Since then, it has become one of the most powerful and dramatic forms of writing available.

One of these days I hope to develop a workshop on how to write a short story (and therefore how to read one). Interested?

Rich mind; Poor Mind

The spiritual mind rejoices in the abrupt change of the new life. Then it settles down to the hard work of spiritual growth.

The spiritual man may be fleshly (carnal, our fathers called it), but when it is borne in to his heart that it is so, he rises in fear and responds. The carnal man who realizes his carnality and rests in it is simply a carnal man.

The spiritual mind finds its limits – and then it rests. Psalm 131.