Saturday, October 17, 2009

Radical Unintelligibility

Thoroughly understand what it is to understand, and not only will you understand the broad lines of all there is to be understood but also you will possess a fixed base, an invariant pattern, opening upon all further developments of understanding.

Bernard Lonergan, the 20th century Canadian Jesuit priest, taught at several colleges including Boston College. His work A Study of Human Understanding was published in 1957, and his work Method in Theology was published in 1973. His philosophy is called the Generalized Empirical Method (GEM)or critical realism. Realism means true judgments are made using facts and values. The word critical means knowing and valuing using a critique of consciousness. He also coined the phrase Radical Unintelligibility. That phrase means we can act against our better judgment. We constantly refuse to choose what we know is worth choosing for one reason or another.

Lao-tzu explains knowing this way:

Without going outside, you may know the whole world

Without looking through the window, you may see the ways of heaven.

The farther you go, the less you know.

Thus the sage knows without traveling.

Reality waits for us to experience it. How and when we choose a reality is based on our beliefs. Individual reality is rooted in a time when we focused on another reality. That fact can be considered critical realism. We overlook the fact that we existed before physical birth, and will continue to exist when we change our focus, and leave our body. Our existence before birth and after death are as normal a phenomenon as our present reality. There are different kinds of nature within consciousness of Nature. We limit the nature of our reality. We believe we have a beginning and end, but energy has no beginning or end; it just changes forms. We are a specific form of energy. We are composed of atoms, molecules and cells. Those energy forms translate into other living forms when we change our focus, but we choose radical unintelligibilty instead of inner knowing to define ourselves.

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