Lecture 33

The subjective world of mind over against the objective world of matter – when it comes to it, how can the subjective being have knowledge of the objectuve being?The correspondence theory of truth – we know of mind things are parallel to the structure of the universe.

Many scientists have abandoned a fixed order of the universe! It has been replaced by the idea of a model.

Ontology and epistemology is very different in the Calvinist theory of thought. Last time we looked at the Locke and Cartesian background. Sketching the problem as it has developed in the modern world – there have been some dissenters, Jaspers, Lévy-Bruhl and Ortega y Gasset etc. but there was a lack of insight into what makes the scientific scientific.

Some call that other knowledge ‘saga’ or ‘myth’ – a groping after something they can’t properly access, because they lack a clear insight into what makes the scientific scientific.

Take any scientific textbook – somewhere there will be a chapter on the scientific method. Scientists talk as if every one knows what science is – but no one does. The criteria are deficient.

There is a necessity to define precisely what is meant by scientific knowledge. For pre-scientific, ‘myth’ is not adequate.

The Cartesian search for certainty, for absolute certainty in the light of reason brought a crisis not only in religious circles which built upon his foundation (for example, Nicolas Malebranche) but also of those followers of his interested in natural science and this is why even today though some are appreciating the limits of the validity of scientific results and to understand there is knowledge outside the limits of the scientific, we are still beset with confusion on all the important points: what is the distinguishing mark science? what is the nature of that other knowledge?

We will come to this but do one other thing first

How is one to distinguish between science and non-scientific? We have got to come to grips with this fundamental matter.

We begin by re-examining; take a new and close look at real-life situations – the structure of God’s creation is revelatory.

Let me describe/ analyse a number of incidents – some taken from my book The Relation of the Bible to Learning

1. Luke the surgeon
(a) Luke is a busy young surgeon. He wakes up early tp perform an operation. His ‘victim’ is his long-time friend Mark. A couple of weeks ago Mark expressed a number of complaints. Luke talked to him of a number of things – the noise and disorder from adolescence, a second mortgage. All pressures and tensions that might have a bearing on his complaint.

Now Mark was in for surgery. Luke does his work. There were differences in relations on the two successive occasions.

The first the two men talked about the awareness of the connectedness of life relations – as a whole person. In the operating room there was a different realtion. Both were present, yet mark the patient, is not present in one sense, he is not conscious. Luke is ot in wholeness of person relating to Mark as a whole person. Mark under the covers, so is a large part of Luke. He is a steady analytical ‘Cyclops’ – one cycloptic eye of analysis is peering into the organs of Mark. They were not confronting each other as a whole person. Luke was reduced to an analytical aspect, Mark reduced to a biotic functioning.

It is this difference we have in mind when experiencing pre-scientific and scientific. The biotic is a functional aspect of this person the analytic is a functional aspect of this person the relation between two kinds of function.

(b) As Luke is on the way to his surgery where he is to perform an operation he is about to enter the front door of the hospital he finds himself suddenly face to face with the man who had been his favourite professor in the medical school, a man who, though now retired, likes to linger about the hospital. For one second their eyes meet, they shake hands and exchange a few words and pass.

A few hours later we discover our young surgeon in a nearby dining room waiting for a couple of his colleagues to arrive. He is sitting at the table lost in thought. He is, in fact, thinking of his brief early morning encounter with old ‘Doc’ Warren. The old man, so our young surgeon is thinking to himself, still cuts quite a figure. In spite of his years he still walks sturdily, appears firm, has eyes like flint; he remains still a ‘warm’ personality, with eyes that literally draw you to him. Our surgeon smiles faintly to himself as he recalls his renewed experience of the incisiveness of the old man’s eyes, something which in the old days had provoked frequent student comment. And again this morning, our surgeon muses, he had had repeated his sense of something unusually harmonious and pleasing about the professor’s presence; and then, of course, also his gregariousness.

You will have noticed that in the dining room it takes our surgeon a long time to ‘recount’ what he experienced in but a moment of time early in the morning at the front door of the hospital. Further, at the table the surgeon is able to distinguish a number of ‘sides’ or ‘aspects’ to his ‘experience’ of old ‘Doc’ Warren. At the moment of their meeting he was not strictly aware of any such diversity of aspects; he had simply experienced the ‘Doc.’ Yet if he had not experienced them in the morning he would not have been able to recall them as experienced at noon. But there they were. The eyes like flint (organic). The warm personality and drawing eyes (psychical). The piercing or incisive look (logical). The gregariousness (social). The pleasing harmony (aesthetic). In the morning these aspects had been experienced only implicitly; at noon, explicitly. These several aspects become the fields of investigation of the special sciences. The science of the organic, for example, disentangles (abstracts) from its interwovenness in the whole concrete experience that which is peculiarly organic, that which is subject to organic laws. Psychology does the same thing (or should) with ‘the psychical’; logic or analytics, with ‘the analytical’; aesthetics, with ‘the aesthetic.’

In daily life, however, we experience persons like ‘Doc’ Warren, things, events and institutions concretely, i.e. in the wholeness of their meaning.

The pre-scientific is integral knowledge in the sense that it is the knowledge we can and do obtain of persons as persons, of things as things, of events as events, of acts as acts, of relations as relations, of institutions as institutions, in the intact or concrete wholeness of several aspects or sides of the experience.

Scientific knowledge is an explicit drawing away of such aspects as we find to constitute these person, things etc.

towards the end of the school year a young man find the right place to take his beloved on a picnic. The tree on the hill, under which the young man chooses to picnic with his beloved, is for that youth ‘good’ not only in the biotic sense, but also psychically, socially, aesthetically, etc. But our youth is not aware of all these distinctions. (As soon as he is he abandons, for a moment, the everyday attitude.) Rather, he grasps the ‘sense’ of the situation integrally. This kind of experience is presupposed in the later scientistic abstraction; it is thus not only non-scientific but also pre-scientific. This common or everyday experience we call naïve experience (from Latin, nativum, meaning ‘original’).

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