Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Pure Objectivity Is an Absurd Abstraction"

“Pure Objectivity Is an Absurd Abstraction”[1]

Epistemology: the key: knowing the subject = knowing the real. The ultimate reality is the "Word of God" Who is the "I" of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God.

Joseph Ratzinger uttered the following in New York City in 1988:

"Now, if the natural science model is to be followed without hesitation, then the importance of the Heisenberg principle should be applied to the historical-critical method as well. Heisenberg has shown that the outcome of a given experiment is heavily influenced by the point of view of the observer. So much is this the case that both observer's questions and observations continue to change themselves in the natural course of events. When applied to the witness of history, this means that interpretation can never be just a simple reproduction of history's being, "as it was." The word "interpretation" gives us a clue to the question itself: every exegesis requires an "inter" an entering in and a being "inter" or between things; this is the involvement of the interpreter himself. Pure objectivity is an absurd abstraction. It is not the uninvolved who comes to knowledge; rather, interest itself is a requirement for the possibility of coming to know."

My Comment:

Consider why: in our way of knowing, the sensible perception and well as the abstract concept conceal and distort in the very act of revealing. Is the blue in the sky or in the way we receive the radiation reflected off the atmosphere? Is the intelligibility of the reality understood really the way we understand it as a category? As Karol Wojtyla offered in the Introduction to "The Acting Person:" "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." That experience of the acting self is the unmediated and undistorted experience of being. And so, John Paul II (Wojtyla), in his "Fides et Ratio" (#83) affirms: "In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical inquiry." And this, in its turn, offers the most profound interpretation of the relation of faith and reason because the act of faith is precisely "the acting person" since faith is the act of the whole self. By going out of self to receive the Revelation of the Person of Christ, and by so doing, becoming another Christ, one "knows" Christ by experiencing the self as "another Christ." Christ, then, is directly experienced and understood (intellegere = legere ab intus) without mediation of sensible perception or reductive (objectified) categories of conceptualization. Of course, this contemplative and mystical kind of knowing is open to reflection and conceptualization otherwise it could not be known according to our proper way of knowing that is abstractive and discursive and communicable. But that is a secondary kind of knowing.

This is also the philosophic underpinning for Benedict's presentation on the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. In the most recent document of November 11, 2010: "Domini Verbum," he engages the topic of "The Interpretation of Sacred Scripture: In the Church." His first insight is "Mary's fiat:" "Authentic biblical hermeneutics can only be had within the faith of the Church, which has it paradigm in Mary's fiat." Saint Bonaventure states that without faith there is no key to throw open the sacred text: 'This is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, from whom, as from a fountain, flow forth the certainty and the understanding of all sacred Scripture. Therefore it is impossible for anyone to attain to knowledge of that truth unless he first have infused faith in Christ, which is the lamp, the gate and the foundation of all Scripture." Therefore, he goes on: "Here we can point to a fundamental criterion of biblical hermeneutics: The primary setting for scriptural interpretation is the life of the Church. This is...something demanded by the very nature of the Scriptures and the way they gradually came into being. 'Faith traditions formed the living [read subjective] context for the literary activity of the authors of sacred Scripture. Their insertion into this context also involved a sharing in both the liturgical and external life of the communities, in their intellectual world, in their culture and in the ups and downs of their shared history. In like manner, the interpretation of sacred Scripture requires full participation on the part of exegetes in the life and faith of the believing community of their own time. Consequently, 'since sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit through whom it was written," exegetes, theologians and the whole people of God must approach it as what it really is, the word of God conveyed to us through human words."

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Biblical Interpretation in Crisis” – St. Peter’s Church, New York City, Jan. 27, 1988.

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