Monday, 30 September 2013

The Idiot Questioner


To say that a proposition is true is not to say that we are justified in accepting it as true, and to say that we are justified in accepting it as true is not to say that it is true.
(from The Myth of the Given by Roderick Chisholm)

There is a flux of immediate experience of which it makes no sense to say that we are justified in accepting it perhaps because that would entail a justification of our not accepting it in some circumstance. Justifications and foundations are an element of the mental or as Santayana might say, metaphorical constructions of reality. But are they true the idiot questioner asks?

The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man
This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal
“Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway”
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examination.
To bathe in the Waters of Life; to wash off the Not Human
I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration
To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour
To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration
“To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albions covering”
“To take off his filthy garments, & clothe him with Imagination”
“To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration”
That it no longer shall dare to mock with the aspersion of Madness
“Cast on the Inspired, by the tame high finisher of paltry Blots,”
“Indefinite, or paltry Rhymes; or paltry Harmonies.”
Who creeps into State Government like a catterpiller to destroy
“To cast off the idiot Questioner who is always questioning,”
But never capable of answering; who sits with a sly grin
“Silent plotting when to question, like a thief in a cave;”
Who publishes doubt & calls it knowledge; whose Science is Despair
(from Milton by William Blake

In dreams there is no negative and therefore no logic. If we want to negate something we have to undo it. In a dream a man wants to find the source of the self. A guide instructs him to proceed 5 steps to the right, 10 steps forward, 5 steps to the left, 10 steps back and then 5 steps to the left. He is to dig there to find the treasure. He is digging in the spot he started from. Why not say ‘dig where you are now’? The instructions symbolise the spiritual discipline that enable one to ‘know the place for the first time’.

We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
(from Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot)

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