Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mind and Matters

I am a comfortable slab of meat. Why is this, you ask? Lack of achievement or initiative perhaps. True, there is much that I have not devoted myself unto. I have not gotten a graduate degree and many of the works that smart people have read I have not. I wouldn't last five minutes in the scholarly sphere where published people rub antelope suede elbow patches one with another. In spite of this, I am that aforementioned comfortable slab. Not only that but, in my comfort, souls arrive and ask "O Oracle, how hast thou reached this state of comfort?" Startled, I look up over the current cigar and acknowledge their presence with a "What?" They ask again and suggest that, although I know little, those little things have aligned themselves for the good of comfort. It is, this comfort, what all men and women seek. They want to know what it is I know and how I got to know it (considering the manifest inactivity they see beached in The Big Haus library). Loving, if loving nothing else, the sound of my own voice, I tell them the answer to the first of their two points, I tell them a few things that I know. It will be mere tidbits mind you, for more would spoil them for the greater truth of the Oracle's Path to Calm. The second and greater truth is this; get answers to only your own questions. The things that matter most to you will, once answered, mean (in the mind sense) the most to you. You will remember the answers to your own questions. You have to memorize those of other people. If you are given the answers to someone else's questions (see The Shorter catechism) it only becomes important to you by the insistence and threats of some other agent. You learn for fear of the teaching agent not the desire for the thing learned. The comfortable, calm life is not for such people. Their knowledge is inserted like an artificial heart built in a factory somewhere. They don't even know that they don't know well. This is even if they know all true things. They are less humane, and more like a trick pony that can stomp out the correct math answer if it gets a sugar cube.
Still, a warning must be given to the individualist. Autonomy is not an epistemology any more than the magisterium. You will not be at peace and calm just for having thought for yourself. You must think correctly for yourself.
Consider this simple path that all men, from car mechanic to PhD can follow.
1. Have a question of your own. Out of all circumstances come "which, why, what, how, who".
2. Justify the validity of the question. Is it answerable? Is it logical?
3. Know what makes an answer true. To what authority will the answer need to appeal to prove to you it is true?
4. Follow where it leads you. All this puts you in a new circumstance, a more knowing circumstance where new questions, deeper questions are raised.
It is your insight, not C.S. Lewis', that will bring you peace. For his insight to benefit you he must answer your question. I always said that Lewis had answers where I didn't know of a question. While always impressed by his lucidity, those are the parts of his writing I can't remember. Where he is answering my thoughts, God bless him, he is remembered down to what part of what page.


Mark said...

Prime Rib or Rump Roast?

The Oracle said...

I gather that there is a consensus already forming across the nation. I will not use my powers of persuasion to push for a higher standing. I will merely note that the Rib has a higher fat content but the Rump, golly, the name alone calls out for recognition. Someone undoubtably, if they confer with the shopping authority in their tribe, will note that a five-pound tube of ground beef is called a "chub". I can take it as long as my friends and enemies remain carnivores.

Lincoln Davis said...

This was a brilliant post. Both unconsciously and directly this practical philosophy has shaped my own thinking, and I am a better man for it. Thanks, father.

The Oracle said...


Jen said...

You've said before that people pursue peace, and I can see that the pursuit of comfort is related to that, though it seems to me distinctly physical. While we are to pursue peace as a fruit of the Spirit, are we also to pursue comfort?

tmm said...

I suppose this would also mean that, if I don't know exactly what questions I am trying to answer, I should think back to what parts of a book or story I remember best and find what questions these were answering