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F Michael Lee

Exterior and Interior Senses

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Am I understanding your graphic and explanation correctly? The exterior sense: mainly physical blends into the interior which is how we perceive that which is no longer physical. I am not sure how to put that last part. On page 43, you state the inner senses as common sense, imagination, memory, and estimative. Then farther down the page, you quote Aquinas as stating common sense is, "the common root and principle of the exterior senses." To be honest, I often get too caught up in words, but I am wanting to understand this as well as I can. 

 

Thanks for any insight. 

Pam

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Well, clarity in trying to paraphrase some of the philosophy of Aquinas via Aristotle has not been my strong suite.  Thank you for your patience.  First, "common sense", has the popular idea of "horse sense", kind of fundamental natural logic; whereas, Aquinas, following Aristotle, does not mean this; he means we possess a "common" sense category of the soul where all senses are sorted out, so to speak, to follow their various acts. For what it's worth, I have since abandoned for the most part this line of analysis in attempting to talk "about" beauty and poetic knowledge and experience, and instead, to try and find a more more poetic vocabulary in itself to give the "experience" of what is meant.  You will find, if you have not already discovered, there is a great divide between those -- teachers, students, all of us to a certain extent -- who find it more convenient to speak at the expository and informational levels rather than the narrative, rhetorical and poetic modes that harmonize both the intellect and the heart, the rational mind with the intuitive sense of truth.

Maybe this helps a little, though I will not be offended if I have continued to be murky.  We are, after all, conversing about things that do not have "clear and distinct" answers, as demanded by Descartes; we are on an adventure (as Tolkien would have it) where experience often leads to mystery which, as has been said, is not irrational, but simply above and superior to rational knowledge.

Thank you again for the questions.

Br. James  

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8 hours ago, Br. James said:

above and superior to rational knowledge.

In class you took the time to say poetic knowledge isn't superior, just different (and they're both necessary and part of the whole picture), and you quoted Pope Benedict saying something very similar. (It was a beautiful quote. I loved it. Thank you for posting it. And thank you to the original post-er.) Do you mean something different here?

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Do I mean something different? That would imply I understand what I am talking about. ;)  I have to be honest, I consider myself a fairly intelligent person; I am treading water here. All of this is floating just above my head like a cloud, visible, but elusive. I catch wisps of it and hold it for a moment in my mind but then it is gone. So no I don't think I mean something different. :D

Edited by F Michael Lee
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Dear Pam,

I am so sorry! I meant to direct that question to Dr. Taylor. 

In class last night Dr. Taylor said that no one mode of knowledge is superior to the others and pointed out that Pope Benedict says the same thing. But in his comment above he says that mystery is superior to rational knowledge (if I'm understanding correctly). I'm no expert either !! Ha! So I'm hoping to clarify, since this is related (I think) to the parts of the class I keep getting hung up on.

Again, sorry for the confusion. I'll be more careful in the future.

Anne

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  It is true that we need all the modes of knowledge -- in fact, we can't help but have them.  They all help us know, to know our world, each other, and ourselves, to the extent we can.  But, I recall saying several times that in terms of being able to recreate the experience of wonder and mystery, either in the poem or in teaching, the poetic way of knowledge, which is not deductive nor does it participate in rational discourse in the way of modern science, is superior in that respect.  It is the difference between speaking about things and giving the experience of a thing which involves both the senses of the body and the soul. When we return from the 4th of July break we will be examining the "lesson plan" for the elementary level of astronomy where these distinctions should be seen more clearly.

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Pope Benedict wrote: "Being struck and overcome by the beauty of Christ is a more real, more profound knowledge than mere rational deduction. Of course we must not underrate the importance of theological reflection, of exact and precise theological thought; it remains absolutely necessary."

I don't recall writing that all forms of knowledge are equal, though I may have said something like that in class, something that I tried to clear up in my previous comment, above.  Nor does it seem to me that Pope Benedict is saying no one mode of knowledge is superior to another -- in fact, the first sentence of his quote sounds that he is claiming just the opposite, certainly, that the "being struck" (experience) by the beauty of Christ is more real than rational deduction (the stuff of apologetics, for example).  However, I am a little confused by his next sentence that on the one hand he praises theological "reflection" (which I take to include contemplation and not discursive theology), and, what sounds like a Cartesian demand to be "exact and precise" in theology at the same time.  How are we to be exact and precise when conversing about the Holy Trinity, or Incarnation, and so on?  Interesting.

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Hi,

Maybe what I was thinking of didn't happen in class. Possibly I was thinking of your book on p. 48, in the first paragraph. 

"[Poetic knowledge] ... needs to be taken seriously once again as a way of knowing, distinct from but in no way inferior to scientific knowledge."

I suppose calling them "equal" isn't quite the same as calling one "in no way inferior to" the other. "Equal" can be an equivocal term. :)

Also, about Pope Benedict's words you comment:

On 7/4/2018 at 1:59 PM, Br. James said:

I am a little confused by his next sentence that on the one hand he praises theological "reflection" (which I take to include contemplation and not discursive theology), and, what sounds like a Cartesian demand to be "exact and precise" in theology at the same time.  How are we to be exact and precise when conversing about the Holy Trinity, or Incarnation, and so on?

Maybe I have poetic knowledge (though not in a positive sense, if that's possible) of what he means. The church I grew up in was good in many ways. (Please hear me say that.) But one of its flaws (in my opinion) is that it was very experiential and emotional (and held that up as a standard by which to judge "good" Christians) and actually ANTI-intellectual (e. g., preaching against tradition, higher education and psychology). I didn't grow up in a cult (really!), but there is at least one split from that denomination that IS a cult. (Historically it was actually the smaller group that stayed "orthodox" and this is what I grew up in.) I'm not sure of the parameters of who is attending this class, & not everyone may identify as Christian. But "orthodox" (with a small "o") Christianity believes in the Trinity, and the (larger) splinter group no longer affirmed that. I think the Pope's comments refer to that sort of thing. It takes some rational examination to evaluate one's experience & emotion and make sure they're actually what the Church teaches. Otherwise the whole Church could end up like where I came from. I've read several books on the development of the doctrine of the Trinity. It was in no way intuitive. In a nutshell, my understanding is that It was the result of rationally wrestling through the clash of the Jewish "deep knowing" of God as One on one hand, and the "deep knowing" of Jesus as Lord on the other (and how each fit with Jewish tradition, esp. scripture). The fact that the wrestling occurred in both Greek and Latin, often through written correspondence & not face-to-face, with neither side completely understanding the other language, and with words intentionally being used in completely new ways (e. g. Latin persona), increased the need for accuracy in expressing what they were trying to say. As cumbersome and un-poetic as all that sounds, one may be tempted to say, what's the point? Just believe in God & don't sweat the details. But another book I read, called The Cruelty of Heresy, points out, over and over, one of the points in your book: "one becomes like what one loves (p. 74)." God calls us to become like him (imitation, transformation, (& a word often misunderstood by Protestants) deification). Cruelty traces what we become when we start with a wrong understanding of God.

None of that is directly related to the subject of pedagogy. But it's what was in the back of my mind when I read the quote from Pope Benedict. It also may be an example of the spiral relationship between poetic & more scientific/metaphysical knowledge. (Our ancient Christian ancestors had pre-rational wonder experiences (and divine revelation) of God that they needed to understand & put together in rational ways so that later we are able to develop within that truth, and I can feel God give me a hug every time I cross myself in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. :)

I am realizing more and more that my thoughts and comments often have little to do with pedagogy. I think you pointed that out a while back. Since this comment also doesn't directly address pedagogy, and that's what the class is supposed to be about, please feel no obligation to comment! Thanks for your patience. 

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On 7/18/2018 at 11:50 AM, Anne Rowland said:

Hi,

Maybe what I was thinking of didn't happen in class. Possibly I was thinking of your book on p. 48, in the first paragraph. 

"[Poetic knowledge] ... needs to be taken seriously once again as a way of knowing, distinct from but in no way inferior to scientific knowledge."

I suppose calling them "equal" isn't quite the same as calling one "in no way inferior to" the other. "Equal" can be an equivocal term. :)

Also, about Pope Benedict's words you comment:

Maybe I have poetic knowledge (though not in a positive sense, if that's possible) of what he means. The church I grew up in was good in many ways. (Please hear me say that.) But one of its flaws (in my opinion) is that it was very experiential and emotional (and held that up as a standard by which to judge "good" Christians) and actually ANTI-intellectual (e. g., preaching against tradition, higher education and psychology). I didn't grow up in a cult (really!), but there is at least one split from that denomination that IS a cult. (Historically it was actually the smaller group that stayed "orthodox" and this is what I grew up in.) I'm not sure of the parameters of who is attending this class, & not everyone may identify as Christian. But "orthodox" (with a small "o") Christianity believes in the Trinity, and the (larger) splinter group no longer affirmed that. I think the Pope's comments refer to that sort of thing. It takes some rational examination to evaluate one's experience & emotion and make sure they're actually what the Church teaches. Otherwise the whole Church could end up like where I came from. I've read several books on the development of the doctrine of the Trinity. It was in no way intuitive. In a nutshell, my understanding is that It was the result of rationally wrestling through the clash of the Jewish "deep knowing" of God as One on one hand, and the "deep knowing" of Jesus as Lord on the other (and how each fit with Jewish tradition, esp. scripture). The fact that the wrestling occurred in both Greek and Latin, often through written correspondence & not face-to-face, with neither side completely understanding the other language, and with words intentionally being used in completely new ways (e. g. Latin persona), increased the need for accuracy in expressing what they were trying to say. As cumbersome and un-poetic as all that sounds, one may be tempted to say, what's the point? Just believe in God & don't sweat the details. But another book I read, called The Cruelty of Heresy, points out, over and over, one of the points in your book: "one becomes like what one loves (p. 74)." God calls us to become like him (imitation, transformation, (& a word often misunderstood by Protestants) deification). Cruelty traces what we become when we start with a wrong understanding of God.

None of that is directly related to the subject of pedagogy. But it's what was in the back of my mind when I read the quote from Pope Benedict. It also may be an example of the spiral relationship between poetic & more scientific/metaphysical knowledge. (Our ancient Christian ancestors had pre-rational wonder experiences (and divine revelation) of God that they needed to understand & put together in rational ways so that later we are able to develop within that truth, and I can feel God give me a hug every time I cross myself in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. :)

I am realizing more and more that my thoughts and comments often have little to do with pedagogy. I think you pointed that out a while back. Since this comment also doesn't directly address pedagogy, and that's what the class is supposed to be about, please feel no obligation to comment! Thanks for your patience. 

Dear Anne, Some background whether pedagogical or not. :)  This is the way of conversation: it leads over all the place, it is not traveling on a super highway -- it takes the backroads as more interesting.  Anyway, my stumbling journey led me through some of the best of Catholicism  and also into one "cult" like group as well, I, who was in the Methodist Church until I was around 12, then somewhat unchurched for a long period but never unspiritual. The Church of Rome has become increasing schizophrenic.  Emotional feel-good religion on one hand, and to a smaller degree rigid, Jansenistic, legalistic.  Lord have mercy on them.  There is are rare middle ground parishes here and there.

 I am planning to be more clear about poetic knowledge and its differences from Christian experience.  The poetic way of life is propaedeutic (preparatory) to the spiritual life -- it is not the spiritual life as conceived, say, by the Fathers of Church of Christianity. Socrates seems to have known this, thus his theological concern with their presence in early education in the Republic.

Another clarification, I think I would take back what I said about poetic knowledge and scientific knowledge being equal.  Poetic knowledge is superior in that it contemplates the whole, the scientific examines the part and may or may not theorize about the whole.  The first is experience (not just feelings), the second is mental awareness.

I just acquired a few weeks ago Cruelty of Heresies.  I will take a look at it soon.

Christ is in our midst / He is and always shall be.

Br. James

 

Edited by Br. James
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Thank you for sharing some of your own background. I hope you enjoy The Cruelty of Heresy. I found it helpful enough that I've read it at least 3 times so that I can have a loving answer to the questions Why the Trinity? or Who Cares? Jansenism keeps popping up on my radar. (Very different perspectives from Protestants and Catholics.) So I've ordered a biography of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who is supposed to be one of the main teachers who got Catholics back on track, and also a short-ish book on Jansenism. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

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Great.  One straight forward antidote to Jansensism (the Catholic version of Puritanism or more directly perhaps, Calvinism), are the notes, letters, and lectures of Fr. Daniel Considine -- https://www.amazon.com/Confidence-God-Encouragement-Instructions-Considine/dp/0243282362/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1534013199&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Fr.+considine

And, Fr. Gerald Vann's, The Heart of Man -- https://www.amazon.com/heart-man-Gerald-Vann/dp/B0007EBD46/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1534013352&sr=1-3-fkmr0&keywords=Fr.+Gerald+Vann

These were two British priests of the 50s and 60s who saw ahead of their the dangers of the rigorism and legalism of the Catholic Church and of some of the Protestant churches, though they do not take these topics on directly but rather approach spirituality much like the tradition of the Eastern Churches, dare I say, "poetically"?

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