Monday, May 11, 2009

Faith & Belief on the One Hand

Dear Dialecticians & Colleagues Across the
Curriculum (Courses without Borders Series)

Faith & Belief and Can they Just Get Along?

More on the Faith/Belief distinction seeing as it's
been a small thorn in the flesh since you brought
it up, a pea under the mattress — provocation.
As good an exercise in the practice of dialectic as any.

Prelude (before the play, game)

Can we agree that the heart of thinking is
drawing distinctions? And the heart of
academics: arguing them out? And the
heart of liberal art: relating them, since it
is an ongoing temptation to draw the
distinction and then vote for one side
and either revile the other or forget about
it—leaving it to fester in the cellar or cook
in the attic, so to speak. OR even more
common: just be using/abusing the distinctions
already drawn in play—not even aware of
the fundamental either/ors at the root of
IT all.

IT, I said.

“So to speak” is one of my disclaimers, along
with “for the sake of argument” and “improve
my terms and images”--all three acknowledge
the fact that whatever I say is inadequate: a
\rip-off and reduction of the “whole”-- the
more criminal: the more seemingly applicable
& instrumental, useful and sensible, occluding
the rest of whole--our attention deficient
efficiency & lucid schemes.

Always a moving violation, yes? Need we argue? .

The challenge in distinction-drawing as a dialectical
or liberal art practice: separating, polarizing, and
characterizing the 2 sides so that neither side bleeds
into or contaminates the other. An act of purgation
(purification) : purging each of the other: talking
mental process here, conceptual purity not physical
process where of course it's all “gray” in real-time,
mixed and relative and related and no such a thing
as purity except in manners of squeaking about
manners of speaking, so to speak.

And we’re talking about differences that make a
difference not the differences that don't—and if any
of us can't tell the difference between those two kinds
of difference, well—we're in trouble from the start.
(We won't agree on which actual real-time differences
make a difference, but we can still agree on the concept:
differences that make a difference are not the same kind
of differences that don't—because there's a DIFFERENCE,
damnit, and if that difference is sustained, then it's possible
to consider the ratios and relationships between:

1) differences that make a difference and
2) differences that don't :

The heart of thinking: differentiating, naming and
\characterizing the parts, arguing IT out. (Purification).
Relating. .

Something like that. You can improve my terms and we
can argue.

LUDE (the play, game)

Faith is a feeling deal: confidence—analogue process &
illogical, irrational (please: don't let your common feeling
for those last two words obscure their perfectly intelligent
descriptive capacity: the opposite of logic, the opposite of
rational—differences that make a difference and then we
show our bias by loving the one and hating the other
blurring the difference between “aesthetics” and “ethics” yes?
And oh what a web it is when first we practice to perceive.

Belief is an intellective deal: knowing—logical, rational,
recognizing ratios and relationships among parts. .I believe
in Brazil, having never been there but seen evidence. I may
say I believe in God or “old nobodaddy” or Jesus, or the
Demi-Urge, the paraklete, the power of prayer, the goodness
of the universe because it seems logical and rational to do so:
so many do, after all and it's the same as with Brazil. Belief
is an intellective deal: what I can say I know, don't matter
for certain or in part. I know stuff. Belief is a from of knowing.

Feeling and Knowing are radically different and
incommensurate notions: can't compare them,
although we collapse this distinction, conflate
and confuse in common talk,

I feel that we do.
I know that we do.
I know that we do but
I feel like we hardly know
that we do. I know that we do
and sometimes I feel bad about it,
don't feel right. I feel that we do
but know it's wrong—or I know
that it is-what-it-is but feel that
it's wrong.

I know some things are correct,.
but I feel that they are not right.

I trust my knowledge.
I trust my feelings
And I also don't trust (fidelity) either.


S'all GOOD, says Snoop. Alexander Pope, and
Jane Goodall even as acts of despicable horror
abound—rape, pillage, war, flood, disease, fire,
strong winds and swine flu.

Would you characterize that overall attitude in
terms of belief or in terms of faith? Or just plain
foolishness: ludicrous?

Postlude. (After the play, game)

Fanny Faith and Ben Belief bump into each other at
the cross-roads. Collide. They repair to the
Do Drop Inn to smoke it over while
the constables come to sort out the
damage, damnit. .

Put them In Play: imagine the dialog. (Would it be dialectical?)
Whom do you suppose will carry the dominant weight in the
converse-action? Be boss. Or will they Just Get Along?
How? So...what?

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