Adjectives on the Typewriter

she moves her words like a prizefighter

05 April 2005

More Parmenides

Ahh, now I have the time to elaborate more on philosophy. I don't have my previous post in front of me at the moment, so this may be a little difficult- forgive me if I misquote myself.

Anyway, and without sounding contradictory (I hope), I have developed a new respect for Parmenides. I haven't changed my opinion about his argument, but after giving it some thought I can't say he's completely off track. Even my own Christian worldview is based on paradox, so I can't exactly expect some pagan to come up with all the answers without bumping into a few "non-explainables."

Here's why I respect the guy: I think a lot of the problems I noticed in his argument before are evidence of the impact our materialistic society has had on me. Yes, even as Chirstians we are sometimes pulled into the world's current. In a "post-modern" society (whatever that's supposed to mean), we want everything to be scientific. Everything needs an "intellectual" disecting before we can accept it as true. And if we can't see it, it must not exist because our senses our supremely rational. We love to rely on our empirical conclusions.

Now I'm not trying to discout the value of science; what I'm saying is that even true, sincere science sometimes fails to come up with an explanation for things. We are fallible, finite human beings and we need to admit it. That's where I agree with Parmenides-- not everything we "sense" or observe is as it appears. I won't go so far as to say it's all an illusion, but I will grant that some things, perhaps many more than we realize, simply defy our human perception. Modern "academics," however, absolutely cannot bear to acknowledge that they don't know all the answers. They delight in being Skeptics, questioning and criticizing theism/the metaphysical without end. But when it's all said and done, what have they to offer? They pride themselves in their knowledge and yet what do they know? Only the suffering and instability of this world. That is what they spend their time observing, after all.

But Parmenides, though also fallible, goes a step beyond this arrogance. He at least can admit that "the One" is infinite, unknowable, far above "all we ask or imagine." And that is an amazing breakthrough for a pagan philosopher.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Em2ile2, why would you say that Christianity is based on paradox? Many thought that the division of matter (whether or not it was infinitely divisible) was paradox. Isn't it true that paradox is based solely on what the observer is capable of? So, for example, even though we are finite beings with limited eyesight, we made microscopes that showed the cause of disease, the building blocks of human life and organization, and even the basics of matter itself. God is not paradoxical--we are finite.
-T.N.O.

April 18, 2005 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

First of all, TNO, get your own profile!!!
I would define paradox as the discrepancy between the world as we see it and the world as it truly is. The sensory distortion of the finite mind. So yes, God is not paradoxiacal- but we are still humans, even if redeemed, and thus we often misuderstand the workings of reality. In that sense Christianity is based on paradox.

April 18, 2005 at 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the world as it truly is can, I would argue, be defined to a certain point. We see the results of the laws that apply which we cannot define and attempt to compose these tendencies into "law". The problem only exists when the true law takes precedent over the tendency. Then, we should be able to make the "law" (or maybe principle) clearer; unfortunately, we usually discount the observation as impossible. This is our fault.
-T.N.O.
P.S. I'm not getting a profile until I decide to make a blog. Which may be never. So nyah nyah. There.

April 18, 2005 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

TNO, you're confusing me again. Of course the world can be defined "to a certain point." The question is how accurately? We make laws that reflect/encapsulate the tendencies we see in the world, but what if we're seeing all wrong? Our senses are (frequently) wrong- how do we know what to trust and what not to trust? I'm not gnostic or anything, but I just don't buy the modern view of empiricism or its child, materialism.

Well, maybe I'll just disable anonymous comments. So nyah nyah to you. What now?!?

April 18, 2005 at 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, first of all it would seem pointless to say that the world does not exist as we experience it. Surely you are familiar with Ockham's Razor, no? Besides, when we make observations, they tend to be accurate more often than not. The theories made from the observations tend to be skewed.
-T.N.O.
And if you disable anonymous messages, you'll not be silencing only me.

April 19, 2005 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

Nope, not familiar with Ockham's Razor. I think a more accurate statement is that when we make observations, WE THINK they tend to be accurate more often than not- but again it goes back to human pride and ignorance. Is that a veiled threat???

April 20, 2005 at 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Ockham's Razor basically requires that the simplest and most viable answer be true. I don't think that the accuracy of a human observation stems from human pride, because it is important that one do the best he can. However, pride in theories, like the quantum physical "I can affect the quantum foam" is rather wrongheaded. We are not gods.
-T.N.O.

April 21, 2005 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

You're right- I'll also be disabling the wierdos with a cumpulsion for bad language.

Obviously accuracy does not stem from human pride. It's quite the opposite: flaws and errors stem from human pride. That's why we can't assume something's true just because it looks true or tends to be true, for that matter.

April 21, 2005 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that our observations can be very close to objective. I think that the flaws and errors from human pride mainly affect the theories from the observations.
-T.N.O.

April 22, 2005 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

You THINK, but I'm questioning what IS. There's a difference you know.

April 22, 2005 at 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not good to say that what we experience is not the same as what is. I mean, at best it is trivial and confusing, and at worst makes God a liar. I would tend to think that God made the whole of Creation for us to learn from, and making truth esoteric would make God contradictory or fail in His purpose.
-T.N.O.

April 26, 2005 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

But what if it's only "trivial and confusing" because we're so hopelessly finite? It definitely does not make God a liar- he sets the truth before us and we have openly rejected it time and time again. We were blinded at the Fall and though our sight has been partially recovered through God's grace in the Incarnation, it will not be fully restored until Christ returns.

April 26, 2005 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because we reject the truth does not mean that the truth is not there for us to see.
-T.N.O.

May 2, 2005 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

Very nice summary of what I just said...

May 2, 2005 at 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why do you differ?
-T.N.O.

May 23, 2005 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger em²ile² said...

No, why do YOU differ?

May 26, 2005 at 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*pouts and stomps away, sticking his tongue out at emmilee*
-T.N.O.

May 27, 2005 at 10:23 AM  

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