Thursday, November 10, 2005

Self Knowledge and Knowledge of God: November 11, 2005

Self Knowledge and Knowledge of God

"Knowledge by Experience of the Self."

1) We are confronting the Absolute existentially in death, judgement, Heaven and Hell. It will happen to you necessarily, and it is final.

2) All experience involves the self. There is no such thing as experience where there is no one experiencing. Experience is an action of the self that is cognitive. Karol Wojtyla introduced “The Acting Person” with: “Man’s experience of anything outside of himself is always associated with the experience of himself, and he never experiences anything external without having at the same time the experience of himself” (3).

3) Experience works on two (2) levels: 1) sense + abstract thought; 2) the acting self involving cognition such as love, responsibility, freedom, obligation, guilt, joy, etc.

Meaning of Experience: “sense of reality” and “sense of knowing.” Wojtyla wants to disclose “experience” as larger than just sensation. He struggles with this on 115 -117 of “The Problem of Experience in Ethics.”[1]

Wojtyla’s rendering of Christian faith as the response of the whole person as being that becomes gift is a new metaphysics that embraces the two traditions of classical metaphysics (reaching it apogee in St. Thomas) and modern subjectivity from Descartes to the present day.
There is a constellation of thinkers[2] who have been circling around this same flame with this same insight but have never passed through the flame of recognizing the ontological source of their deep awareness. However, it has been Wojtyla who has passed through this flame and struck at the heart of both dimensions – the experience of the I, and the experience of the I experiencing things as sensed.. Wojtyla has had the sensitivity not to confuse the I with consciousness as thought. The disclosure of this hitherto obfuscated experience binds together the two seemingly incompatible threads of idealism and empiricism that have come down to us as static intelligibility (the universal concept) and ceaselessly changing irrationality of a constantly changing world. Wojtyla, instead of trying to solve the conundrum from within conceptual rationality, has begun from lived experience, concretely the mysticism of lived Christian faith as a privileged access to an as yet undisclosed dimension of being - the “I.” For him, the truth of Being[3] is the dynamism of self-transcendence as found in action, or as we find in Gaudium et Spes #24, one comes to the truth of oneself by the dynamics of the act of self-gift. In this regard, Josef Seifert has pointed out,

“The philosophical originality of the work [The Acting Person] manifests itself especially in the deliberate attempt to overcome a one-sidedness in the philosophical approach to the person which has dominated philosophy since Descartes, but which actually goes back to Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy. The one-sidedness in question lies in approaching the person primarily through knowledge and cognition. The book The Acting Person tries to correct this one-sidedness by viewing the person primarily as he manifests himself in action, and action as it reveals the person. This approach itself is highly original…”[4] (italics mine).

1) The experience of the self when sensing and conceptualizing is objectifying, reductive and leaves the existential reality of the self out, as well as the existential reality of the object. As Walker Percy says: “The fateful flaw of human semiotics is this: that of all the objects in the entire Cosmos which the sign-user can apprehend through the conjoining of signifier and signified (word uttered and thing beheld), there is one which forever escapes his comprehension – and that is the sign-user himself.
“Semiotically, the self is literally unspeakable to itself. One cannot speak or hear a word which signifies oneself, as one can speak or hear a word signifying anything else, e.g., apple, Canada, 7-Up.
“The self of the sign-user can never be grasped, because, once the self locates itself at the dead center of its world, there is no signified to which a signifier can be joined to make a sign. The self has no sign of itself. No signifier applies. All signifiers apply equally
…. (see Lost in the Cosmos 107 *)

2) The experience of the self mastering the self, possessing the self, governing the self and finally either giving or taking back the self for itself gives one a consciousness of self as “I.” That consciousness appears as a value of self-approval or self-disapproval, either “good” or “bad.” And if the self is real being (and just thought), then the experience of good and bad is empirically based in concrete, existing being. Ultimately, the experience of the self conforms or disconforms with the ontological tendency as created persons in the image of relational Persons. If we have been affirmed and have made the gift of ourselves, we experience ourselves as O.K., or “good.” If not, if we have not been affirmed and loved for ourselves simply because we are what and who we are, then we cannot accept ourselves, nor others, nor the world. All of the neuroses of self-hatred, unworthiness, lack of self-confidence which boils over into criticism, negativity, contempt for the other and ultimately into revolutionary disconformity with the world of social injustice such as Communist revolution and terrorism, stem from the experience of evil in the self and therefore the recognition of evil outside the self.

This experience of real value – good and evil - is achieved not by reflective thinking but by the “mirroring” of these moments of self-determination in which the self is conscious of passing from potency to act in itself by its own agency. The grasping of the passage of the “I” – by Wojtyla’s unique attempt at phenomenological description – from potency to act testifies to the ontological reality of the “I” as totally transcending consciousness, although consciousness is the vehicle of this self perception. This is the same account John Henry Newman gives of the experience of causality that is not found in the senses(see footnote 2). Notice that this is not done by reflective thinking but by direct pre-conceptual mirroring. There are no concepts. Therefore there is no medium that would distort the perception. It is for this reason that John Paul II says in Fides et Ratio #83 that “in a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being [actu essendi], and hence with metaphysical enquiry.”

This is a huge step in the history of thought since 300 hundred years of Enlightenment thought had not known how to solve the riddle of the dualism established by the Cartesian “cogito” as irreducibly other than the empirically senses “body.” The best philosophic minds of the period perceived that good and evil resided in the self (Kant, concretely, found value to be category of the practical intellect), but they were not able to see through “consciousness” to self as “being.” Wojtyla was able to do so from the experience of himself as believer and real being. Did he not suggest that the entire proposal of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council was the question, “What does it mean to be a believer…” rather then “What should men believe?”[5] He steeped himself in the methodology of phenomenology that is the description of inner experience and discovered that there was indeed an experience of the self as being in the moral act. And that experience was not about thought but about being, the being of the “I.” In the light of it, John Paul II was able to give an account of the faith experience as an experience of the absolute: “what good must I do to gain eternal life” (Mt. 19, 16)? The answer to that “good” is the radical response: “go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mt. 19, 16-21). Make the gift of yourself!
In sum, as Josef Seifert says, all the philosophic inquiry prior to Wojtyla sought the initial access to being through the senses. This includes the latter Greeks like Plato and Aristotle through St. Thomas and down through a scholasticism that became increasingly rationalized. The only experience that was acknowledged was the sensible: Nihil in intellectu nisi in sensu (“There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses”). But we have learned from modern science that Nihil in sensu nisi per intellectum (“There is nothing in the sense without the prior action of the intellect”). For example, we sense the sun rising and setting, but the intelligence corrects the senses that it is the earth that is rotating, and not the sun that is moving. What is actually taking place is not the way it is perceived through sensation. “The senses experience nothing if no question has been raised, if there is no preceding command from the intellect without which sensory experience cannot take place. Experimentation is possible only if natural science has elaborated an intellectual presupposition in terms of which it controls nature and on the basis of which it can bring about new experiences. In other words, it is only when the intellect sheds light on sensory experience that this sensory experience has any value as knowledge and that experiences thus become possible.”[6]
Ratzinger points out that this lesson learned from modern science is exactly what he had discovered in his study of the meaning of revelation and faith in St. Bonaventure: “I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of `revelation,’ by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as `revelation.’ Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, `revelation’ is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of `revelation.’ Where there is no one to perceive `revelation,’ no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (`by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.”[7]

The revelation that takes place because of the giving of the self is the goodness that is God and is experienced in the self on the occasion of responding to that Good. In a word, like is known by like; Good is known by good.


3) The Experience of the “I” as the value “Good:”

a) The “good” is the “I” experienced (not an a priori nor deduced) as affirmed by another:

“The root of man’s joy is the harmony he enjoys with himself. He lives in this affirmation. And only one who can accept himself can also accept the thou, can accept the world. The reason why an individual cannot accept the thou, cannot come to terms with him, is that he does not like his own I and, for that reason, cannot accept a thou.
“Something strange happens here. We have seen that the inability to accept one’s I leads to the inability to accept a thou. But how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one’s I? The answer may perhaps be unexpected: We cannot do so by our own efforts alone. Of ourselves, we cannot come to terms with ourselves. Our I becomes acceptable to us only if it has first become acceptable to another I. We can love ourselves only if we have first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist…When the initial harmony of our existence has been rejected, when that psycho-physical oneness has been ruptured by which the `Yes, it is good that you are alive’ sinks, with life itself, deep into the core of the unconscious – then birth itself is interrupted; existence itself is not completely established.”

b) The “good” is the “I” experienced as affirming the other: This is the great work of Veritatis Splendor, Chapter 1, #6-21.

Veritatis Splendor opens chapter 1 with “Teacher, “what good must I do to gain eternal life?” (Mt. 19, 16) and receiving the answer, “go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mt. 19, 16-21). That is, the good as absolute value (“You therefore are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” [Mt. 5, 48]) is the action of self-transcendence that is relation. This action belongs to empirical experience that has forbidden us to look for absolutes in the sensible, contingent finitude of experience. But Wojtyla has opened up another level of experience that has no mediation either in sensation or in conceptual symbolization. (And that is why it was not discovered by entire previous tradition of philosophic thought. Only phenomenology has yielded it). By describing an experience that is consciousness but is not symbolized by concepts, Wojtyla has given us the unmediated experience of the being that is “I” for which we have no symbol or category. This is the key to answering the whole Enlightenment dualism that had split thought from things. They sought an empirical experience of absolute value. Failing to find it, they denied the absolute, and have delivered to us the “dictatorship of relativism.” Wojtyla has retrieved this experience and the absolute in the experience of the self in the act of faith. Hence, the goal of all direction (as well as all catechetics) is the recovery of this experience: to listen and freely let oneself be controlled, rather than control.

Faith As Existential Experience:

[It is reported that the theme of Benedict’s first encyclical is a 46-page spiritual meditation focusing in large part on “Eros” (love) and “Logos” (the word) and their relationship to the person of Christ. The below is Ratzinger’s development of that]

“In `existential experience,’ on the contrary, the decisive factor is not control but letting oneself be controlled and the new way of `going where one would rather not go’ that is thus made possible… Let us quote Hans Urs von Balthasar on this subject: `It can be said with certainty that there is no Christian experience that is not the fruit of the overcoming of one’s own self-will or, at least, the determination to overcome it. And with this self-will we must include also all our willful efforts to evoke religious experiences on the basis of our own initiative and by our own methods and techniques.’ `It is only when we renounce all partial experiences that the wholeness of being will be bestowed upon us. God requires unselfish vessels into which to pour his own essential unselfishness.’[9]

Ratzinger continues: “I regard the last point as essential. To say that God is Trinitarian means, in fact, to confess that he is self-transcendence, `unselfishness,’ and, consequently, that he can be known only in what reflects his own nature. From this there follows an important catechetical conclusion: the being-led to a religious experience, which must start in the place where man finds himself, can yield no fruit if it is not , from the beginning, directed to the acquisition of a readiness for renunciation. The moral training that, in a certain sense, belongs to the natural sciences, as does the asceticism of transcendence, becomes more radical here because of the meeting of the two freedoms…. The possibility of `seeing’ God, that is, of knowing him at all, depends on one’s purity of heart, which means a comprehensive process in which man becomes transparent, in which he does not remain locked in upon himself, in which he learns to give himself and, in doing so, becomes able to see. From this perspective of Christian faith, we might say that religious experience in its most exalted Christian form bears the mark of the Cross. It embraces the basic model of human existence, the transcendence of self. The Cross redeems, it enables us to see. And now we discover that the structure of which we are speaking is not just structure; it reveals content as well.”[10] The Biblical Example: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. They talk “thing” (water). He suggests water of eternal life. She, unknowingly, asks for it. He challenges her to transcend herself by telling the truth about herself: “Bring me your husband.” She answers: “I have no husband.” She reveals self. He then reveals Himself: “I, who speak with you, am he.” That is, to know Him who is self-gift, one must become self-gift. One experiences Christ and knows Him when one experiences self as self-transcending. Ratzinger will say importantly below: “One must know oneself as one really is if one is to know God” And one knows self only when there is the existential experience of self-gift, of telling the truth about self which is already the faith of entrusting self to the Other. Keep in mind that the only “I” you can experience is your own “I.” You experience that when you freely determine self, i.e., master self, get possession of self and therefore are able to make the gift if you so choose. Then, in doing that, you experience yourself as imaging God and therefore being like Him [one being with Him] who is the image of God as pure Relation: Logos. You know yourself as image, and you know Him who is the prototypical image. You are then able to say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God [“I and the Father are one” Jn. 10, 30] because I, too, am Christ the Son of the living God [by sacramental and participation].
Therefore, we do not know God the way we are in ourselves, but the way He is in Himself. Christ is total relation to the Father. And we achieve this likeness to His relationality by this internal experience of self-determination in the act of faith that is the gift of the whole person, and not merely the accidental activity of the faculties of intellect and will. The whole self must be given to be likened to this Relationality, which is symbolized in the changing of the name of Simon, son of John into “Peter” (rock). The name of Jesus Christ is “cornerstone” (Acts 4, 11). The name of one who “knows” Him, who reads Him from within the self (intellegere = legere ab intus [to read from within]), knows Him as a Self, an “I.” One must experience oneself as relation to know Him who is relation. This unmediated experience (no sensation or concepts/symbols) of self as gift (and therefore as relation) is transferred to the Person of Christ. Thus one knows the divine Person of Christ as one knows self experientially.
This is the reason for a deeper examination of conscience as to whether one is really making the gift of self – or simply running on fumes.

Josef Ratzinger on John 4: The Samaritan Woman and the Experience of God

“This periscope seems to me to be a beautiful and concrete illustration of what we have just been saying. It opens with the meeting of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the context of a normal, human, everyday experience – the experience of thirst, which is surely one of man’s most primordial experiences. In the course of the conversation, the subject shifts to that thirst that is a thirst for life, and the point is made that one must drink again, must come again and again to the source. In this way, the woman is made aware of what in actuality she, like every human being, has always known but to which she has not always adverted: that she thirsts for life itself [Zoë] and that all the assuaging that she seeks and finds cannot slake this living, elemental thirst. The superficial `empirical’ experience has been transcended.
“But what has been revealed is still of this world. It is succeeded, therefore, by one of those conversations on two levels that are so characteristic of John’s technique of recording dialogue, the Johannine `misunderstanding,’ as it is called by the exegetes. From the fact that Jesus and the Samaritan woman, though they use the same words, have in mind two very different levels of meaning and, separated thus by the ambiguity of human speech, are speaking at cross-purposes, there is manifested the lasting incommensurability of faith and human experience however extensive that experience may be. For the woman understands by “water’ that of which the fairy tales speak: the elixir of life by virtue of which man will not die and his thirst for life that is familiar to her, whereas Jesus wants to reveal to her the true life, the Zoë.
“In the next stage, the woman’s full attention has been attracted to the subject of a thirst for life. She no longer asks for something, for water or for any other single thing, but for life, for herself. This explains the apparently totally unmotivated interpolation by Jesus: `Go and call your husband!’ (Jn. 4, 16), It is both intentional and necessary, for her life as a whole, with all its thirst, is the true subject here. As a result, there comes to light the real dilemma, the deep-seated waywardness, of her existence: she is brought face to face with herself. In general, we can reduce what is happening to the formula: one must know oneself as one really is if one is to know God. The real medium, the primordial experience of all experiences, is that man himself is the place in which and through which he experiences God. Admittedly, the circle could also be closed in the opposite direction: it could be said that it is only by first knowing God that one can properly know oneself.
“But we anticipate. As we have said, the woman must come first to the knowledge of herself, to the acknowledgement of herself. For what she makes now is a kind of confession: a confession in which, at last, she reveals herself unsparingly. Thus a new transition has occurred –to preserve our earlier terminology, a transition from empirical and experimental to `experiential’ experience, to `existential experience.’ The woman stands face to face with herself. It is no longer a question now of something but of the depths of the I itself and, consequently, of the radical poverty that is man’s I-myself, the place where this I is ultimately revealed behind the superficiality of the something. From this perspective, we might regard the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman as the prototype of catechesis. It must lead from the something to the I. Beyond every something it must ensure the involvement of man himself, of this particular man. It must produce self-knowledge and self-acknowledgment so that the indigence and need of man’s being will be evident.
“But let us return to the biblical text! The Samaritan woman has achieved this radical confrontation with her own self. In the moment in which this occurs, the question of all questions arises always and of necessity; the question about oneself becomes a question about God. It is only apparently without motivation but in reality inevitable that the woman should ask now: How do things stand with regard to adoration, that is, with regard to God and my relationship to him? (cf. Jn 4, 20). The question about foundation and goal makes itself heard. Only at this point does the offering of Jesus’ true gift become possible. For the `gift of God’ is God himself, God precisely as gift – that is, the Holy Spirit (cf. v10-24). At the beginning of the conversation, there seemed no likelihood that his woman, with her obviously superficial way of life, would have any interest in the Holy Spirit. But one she was led to the depths of her own being the question arose that must always arise if one is to ask the question that burns in one’s soul. Now the woman is aware of the real thirst by which she is driven. Hence, she can at last learn that it is for which this thirst thirsts.
“It is the purpose and meaning of all catechesis to lead to this thirst. For one who knows neither that there is a Holy Spirit nor that one can thirst for him, it cannot begin otherwise than with sensory perception. Catechesis must lead to self-knowledge, to the exposing of the I, so that it lets the masks fall and moves out of the realm of something into that of being. Its goal is conversion, that conversion of man that results in his standing face to face with himself. Conversio (`conversion,’ metanoia) is identical with self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is the nucleus of all knowledge. Conversio is the way in which man finds himself and thus now the question of all questions: How can I worship God? It is the question that means his salvation; it is the raison d’etre of catechesis.”


Sin is the act of turning back on self. It is the loss of the act of self-gift that had been the obedience to till the garden and name the animals. As Adam had experienced the “original solitude” that is crossing the threshold from being “Adam” – man - as “rational animal” to being a subject – “I” – as God is a “We,” now by sin, that experience of subjectivity is lost. And with it the consciousness of being image of God in act. Hence, sin and bourgeois life where the self is unengaged in self-transcending as gift leaves the human person with an ignorance of self.

The experience of responding to the call of Revelation in the Person of Christ activates the “I” precisely as “I” and awakens reason to the ever fuller exposure to the act of being that is its light. This is the profound reason for the statements of Ratzinger that “reason shut in on itself does not remain reasonable or rational…”[12] The goal of spiritual direction is always to activate the person to give self in prayer (that is the first act of faith [fourth part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church]) so as to climb the road of anamnesis (non-forgetting). Ratzinger reinterprets natural law in terms of the law of the person (or as “Law of the Gift” as in John Paul II). It is the recovery of conscience as the memory of what it was like to experience God as Person in Paradise. This means that “the first so-called ontological level of the phenomenon conscience consists in the fact that something like an original memory of the good and true (bot are identical) has been implanted in us, that there is an inner ontological tendency within man, who is created in the likeness of God, toward the divine. From its origin, man’s being resonates with some things and clashes with others. This anamnesis of the origin, which results from the godlike constitution of our being is not a conceptually articulated knowing, a store of retrievable contents. It is so to speak an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so that the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears its echo from within. He sees: That’s it! That is what my nature points to and seeks.”[13]

It is because of this that Ratzinger quotes John Henry Newman’s remark that “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing), I shall drink – to the Pope, if you please, - still, to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.”[14] This means that the voice of the truth of the being of the person must be liberated by the action of self transcendence, and it is to this voice that seeks the absolute that the voice of Revelation interpreted by Tradition and Magisterium answers. The answering voice is not imposed on the person but reveals to the person what he is seeking from within his own being as imaging person. But first that ontological tendency must be activated. That is the deep work of spiritual direction.


As in the periscope of the Samaritan woman, sincerity as gift of self must be elicited from the person. One must tell the truth about self.

“We never really face ourselves, until we face someone else as well, some other human being. This is, for example, at the heart of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. You must not only face your faults and the harm they have caused, but you must face someone else and admit this to him. The very existence of the Sacrament of Penance is psychologically sound. This is why we need confession of our sins before another human being.
“It is all too easy to try to console ourselves by thinking that we need only go to God. In fact, this really means that we simply stay inside ourselves. I can speak of this with a good deal of certainty, because it is part of my own experience. For a long time I preached on penance and spoke of the necessity of it, but I was not really using it. There were parts of me that I did not want anyone to see, and I was convinced that I could handle them myself somehow, and then come before God or another human being with the satisfaction of being repentant, but having done a good job at self-rehabilitation. It did not work…”

“Why must we face God and another? Because we cannot change ourselves, and we must be able to see that clearly. We must never make the mistake of thinking that we can change ourselves by will power…
“By using will power I had tried to change myself. I prayed for will power, and God gave me will power. Jesus said that if we pray for a fish or bread, God will not give us a snake or a stone. But what does He do if we pray for snakes and stones? And that was really what I was dong! I was not asking for the grace to be changed internally, I was merely asking for self-control over my own actions. And that I received. It was usually enough to stop sinful actions. But it was never enough to change my own sinfulness, because that is never changed by mere will power. If the sin was in my heart, it was still destructive whether it took the form of actions or not.

I can look back now and understand the cause for what I was doing. I was trying to cure myself so that I could somehow stand before God and be commended. I could stand before Him and deserve to be loved. But that was ridiculous. There is no way in which any of us can earn love. God simply loves. He knows my sinfulness better than I do. But he can change me from within, and yet there Iwas praying for the ppower to do it all by myself. I was simply standing in His way. Will power could never accomplish what I needed, because greater will power made me rely more and more onmyself, and that was the problem, not the solution….

“True victory over self is the victory of God in the man, not of the man alone.”
Go back to the absolute need for affirmation to have an identity and the desire to master self. This affirmation is the love of God for me that gives me precisely my “I.” Without this there can be neither self-identity nor the desire that becomes the freedom of self mastery.

Continuing need of the Sacrament of Penance:

“We all have the tendency to take our lives back into our own hands, especially when things seem to be going well. This is what makes regular use of the sacrament so important, because it causes us to continue to face ourselves. Regular confession lacks the drama of great conversion, but it is regular confession which sustains the conversion.

“Signs of the need: Hurried and harried. Rushed and restless. Impatient. Being constantly annoyed by the faults of others. Have a confessor who knows you. Realize that the form of your confession will change somewhat.”

The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis): A third example of the role of mentors in The Great Divorce occurs in the episode of the Ghost and the red lizard. Embarrassed by the creature's constant talking and its conspicuous position, the Ghost is leaving Heaven when he encounters a flaming Spirit. The Spirit acts as a mentor with his offer to kill the lizard. This mentor differs, however, from the others. He does not speak of love or theology, he only offers the Ghost a choice and exhibits the power of God to heal. Still, this approach qualifies him as a mentor. When the Ghost tries to rationalize his decision to keep the lizard, the Spirit does not try to persuade him; instead, he rejects the Ghost's self-serving arguments and offers again, "Shall I kill it?" (Divorce 97-99). What the Spirit lacks in eloquence, he makes up for in power; he is the only mentor able to take care of the problem on his own. Unlike the Dwarf, this Ghost listens to his mentor and is freed from his bondage.

“I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder….What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard…. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. "Shut up, I tell you!" he said….
"Would you like me to make him quiet?" said the flaming Spirit…."Of course I would," said the Ghost."Then I will kill him," said the Angel, taking a step forward…."….I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.""The gradual process is of no use at all.""….How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did…..""It won’t. But supposing it did?""You’re right. It would be better to be dead than live with this creature."

A True Feminist Epistemology

It is true that Western thought has been dominated by a male epistemology, which Ratzinger would characterize as “experimental.” It is the attempt to dominate reality by controlling it, rather than listening and receiving it. The result, or course, is distortion and necrology of the real. If the approach to reality is analysis, which demands breaking it down into parts, the result inevitably will be to kill it. Ultimately, to render reality intelligible to us, we have to – Procrustean like – make it fit into our conceptual categories. Self-gift as reception is distinctively female and must be the other epistemological dimension that we must assume. Hence, Sandra Harding as editor introducing others on this topic:

“The attempts to add understandings of women to our knowledge of nature and social life have led to the realization that there is precious little reliable knowledge to which to add them. A more fundamental project now confronts us. We must root out sexist distortions and perversions in epistemology, metaphysics, methodology and the philosophy of science – in the `hard core’ of abstract reasoning thought most immune to infiltration by social values…. Human experience differs according to the kinds of activities and social relations in which humans engage. Women’s experience systematically differs from the male experience upon which knowledge claims have been grounded. Thus the experience on which the prevailing claims to social and natural knowledge are founded is, first of all, only partial human experience only partially understood: namely, masculine experience as understood by men. However, when this experience is presumed to be gender-free – when the male experience is taken to be the human experience – the resulting theories, concepts, methodologies, inquiry goals and knowledge-claims distort human social life and human thought…. (Contributors to this volume) show how men’s understanding of masculine experience shape Aristotle’s biology and metaphysics, the very definition of `the problems of philosophy’ in Plato, Descartes, Hobbes and Rousseau, the `adversary method’ which is the paradigm of philosophic reasoning, contemporary philosophical psychology, individuation principles in philosophical ontology, functionalism in sociological and biological theory, evolutionary theory, the methodology of political science, Marxist political economy, and concept ions of `objective inquiry’ in the social and natural sciences. On the other hand, many of the contributors also begin the feminist `reconstructive project.’ They identify distinctive aspects of women’s experience which can provide resources for the construction of more representatively human understanding. Some of the essayists focus extensively on this reconstructive project, showing us what is required in social practice and in scientific inquiry to make women’s experience into a foundation for a more adequate and truly human epistemology, metaphysics, methodology and philosophy of science.;” Sandra Haring and Merrill B. Hintikka, Discovering Reality D. Reidel (1983) Introduction IX-X.

[1] Person in Community, Lang (1993) 117- 119.
[2] John Henry Newman, "The assent which we give to the proposition, as a first principle, that nothing happens without a cause, is derived, in the first instance, from what we know of ourselves; and we argue analogically from what is within us [experienced] to what is external to us. One of the first experiences of an infant is that of his willing and doing; and, as time goes on, one of the first temptations of the boy is to bring home to himself the fact of his sovereign arbitrary power, though it be at the price of waywardness, mischievousness, and disobedience. And when his parents, as antagonists of this willfulness, begin to restrain him, and to bring his mind and conduct into shape, then he has a second series of experiences of cause and effect, and that upon a principle or rule. Thus the notion of causation is one of the first lessons, which he learns from experience, that experience limiting it to agents possessed of intelligence and will. It is the notion of power combined with a purpose and an end" Grammar of Assent, p. 70-71; Michael Polanyi, Walker Percy; Charles Peirce, Bernard Lonergan, etc.

[3] The justification for alternating between uppercase B and lowercase b will be the immediate and/or mediate access to reality by two types of experience.
[4] “Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) As Philosopher And The Cracow/Lublin School Of Philosophy,” Aletheia, Vol. II, 1981, p. 132.
[5] Karol Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal, Harper and Row (1979) 17.
[6] J. Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology Ignatius (1987) 348.
[7] J. Ratzinger, Milestones Ignatius (1997) 108.
[8] See Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love Ignatius (1997) 163-210.
[9] Josef Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology Ignatius (1987) 353-355.
[10] Ibid. 349-350.
[11] Ibid. 353-355.
[12] J. Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics, Crossroad (1988) 218.
[13] J. Ratzinger, “Conscience and Truth,” The Pope John Center, Proceedings of the Tenth Bishops’ Workshop, Dallas, Texas (1991) 18-22.
[14] Ibid. 14-15.
[15] Talk given in Washington, D.C. in 1991 by Msgr. James Mulligan.

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