Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Epistemology Disclosing God

As apologetic for the previous blog, my enthusiasm over the Giant win on Sunday stems from the presentation made by Michael Lewis of the choice of Eli by general manager of the Giants, Ernie Accorsi. As I read it three years ago, it struck me as having a strong likeness to the epistemology that is at the core of the affirmation of the Personal God revealed by Jesus Christ. This may seem like a stretch, and perhaps it is. But I sense it to be of the same genera of knowing. And I repeat it because the point is not obvious, or at least recognizable, although it is sitting right in front of us in the most ordinary and obvious of situations. I have read and listened to a bit of post-Super Bowl commentary, and none of this has appeared (probably because they had not read Michael Lewis’s “The Eli Experiment” in the New York Times Magazine of December 19, 2004). The example, to my mind, is timely and apposite for grasping the point.

I believe this epistemological point to be the main thrust of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. In a nutshell, the point is to recognize that there is another level of experience going on in the knowledge of persons. Benedict talks about “Stages of experience” that are “empirical,” experimental” and “existential.”[1] The paradigm existential experience is the Christian experience of the Person of Jesus Christ, Who is God. This consists in the experience of the “self,” the “I,” as ontological reality in the free moral act. This level has not been recognized save by a few of the minds around the Second Vatican Council.

Even C.S. Lewis remarks as his last gambit in “The Abolition of Man:”

“Is it, then, possible to imagine a new Natural Philosophy, continually conscious that the ‘natural object’ produced by analysis and abstraction is not reality but only a view, and always correcting the abstraction? I hardly know what I am asking for… The regenerate science which I have in mind would not do even to minerals and vegetables what modern science threatens to do. When it explained, it would not explain away. When it spoke of the parts it would remember the whole. While studying the It would not lose what Martin Buber calls the Thou-situation. The analogy between the Tao of Man and the instincts of an animal species would mean for it new light cast on the unknown thing. Instinct, by the inly known reality of conscience and not a reduction of conscience to the category of Instinct. Its followers would not be free with the words only and merely.In a word, it would conquer Nature without being at the same time conquered by her and buy knowledge at a lower cost than that of life.”[2]

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” Ignatius (1987) 346-350.
[2] C.S. Lewis, “The Abolition of Man,” MacMillan, (1970) 89-90.

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