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.”

Don’t forget

The early conference registration ends tomorrow. Here’s a taste of some of what you dont’ want to miss:

  • Vigen Guroian: The office of childhood
  • VG: The Liturgy of Creation: The Melody of Faith
  • Martin Cothran: The Nature of Nature
  • MC: Education: Agrarian or industrial
  • Karen Kern: The Nature of the Moral Imagination and how to cultivate it
  • James Daniels: The Nature of the Liberal Arts and how to teach them
  • JD: The Implications of the Incarnation on Teaching
  • Andrew Pudewa: Teaching Boys and Other Kids who would rather be making forts (what the neurosciences are revealing about the nature of boys and girls and how to teach them)
  • AP: Nature Deficit Disorder
  • John Hodges: The Effect of Naturalism on the arts (whatever happened to beauty?)
  • Leah Lutz: The Nature of Thought: How to simplify and unify your teaching with the mimetic mode
  • LL: The Canons of Rhetoric; the backbone of the Language arts

In addition, I’ll be opening with a talk that sets the table for the other speakers, but the thought that has been invigorating me and causing me to realize how important this theme of nature is arises from the person of Christ the Logos, the glory of learning. Our Lord really can be the unifying principle of all things because He brings together in one person two natures: the Divine and the Human.

And that means we need to think hard about what human nature is.

Can we transcend it? If we can, then we can transcend God, because God, in Christ, is a man. Not gonna happen!

Is it evil? How can it be if Christ has taken it on. The crucial distinction lies in the difference between a state of nature and the essential nature. We are in a sinful state, but our human nature is essentially good. Long after sin has been completely washed away, “when we’ve been there 10,000 years/bright shining as the sun,” we’ll be nothing but humans who “participate in the Divine Nature.”

This mind-numbing doctrine is brought to you straight from the pages of the New Testament, or I’d never dare say a word of it.

I sincerely hope you can attend this conference. Every day I’m more convinced of its importance.

And don’t forget Marcus and Laura Berquist – winner’s of the Paideia Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Classical Education!!

Register by 4/30 and you’ll save something like $15/person while ensuring a seat (they are filling up pretty quickly now that the school year is winding down, though I’m pretty sure you don’t have to panic yet).

The Christ-Centered Curriculum and the Idea of Nature

I lifted my head from conference preparation to find myself on the brink of an ecstacy, so I figured I’d better write something to get my spirit under control. It happened when I was talking with Vigen Guroian about our theme: a contemplation of nature, and we got talking about what to read during the poetic knowledge panel. We were running through some ideas when he slipped in an innocent comment about Christ possessing two natures and the sun came out and the angels of heaven let out a cry of “HOLY!” and all the saints gathered round the throne and threw down their crowns at His feet and I got just a little carried away with the excitement of the moment.

Two natures; Joined together; United in one Person; Human Nature brought into the Godhead; The Divine Nature brought into Humanity;  Man Deified; God humanized.

Is Human Nature fallen? Things have changed!

I get excited about the CiRCE conference every year because of the ideas we discuss, but I had a feeling that, regardless of excitement, this might be the most important conference we have had. I’m beginning to see why more clearly.

I spoke with Andrew Pudewa and he’s going to do a workshop about teaching students whose nature would drive them to playing in forts instead of sitting at a desk.

I spoke with James Daniels and he’s going to talk about the implications of the Incarnation on the way we teach.

I spoke with Martin Cothran and he, being Martin Cothran, is going to do a talk about the nature of nature, which sounds highly theoretical, but is as practical a discussion as you can possibly engage.

I spoke with John Hodges and he’s going to talk about the nature of music and the arts and their centrality in the classical curriculum.

I spoke with others too, but I have to run. And I also came to see very clearly what I need to say in my opening, table setting talk. Let me say right now that it will give meaning to the term Christ-centered curriculum in a way you may have never realized before.

We’re a bit behind on posting conference news on our web site because we’ve had some trouble with formatting so we’re getting that fixed. But please don’t hesitate to sign up for this conference. We’re going to see Christ glorified, I promise you that!