Friday 1 April 2016

Errors in metaphysical thinking - doing more than one thing at a time

Yesterday´s post was about how the starting point for metaphysics - once the subject has been raised - must be intuition. This is the only path to subjective certainty.

But people typically become distracted by trying to answer other questions at the same time. For example, they want to be not just intuitively certain, but for there to be no possibility of any error - they want to eliminate the possibility of being wrong. It is a case of 100 percent accuracy and completeness of undistorted knowledge forever... or nothing. Not surprisingly, adding this requirement destroys any possibility of anything, indeed adding such conditions eliminates every form of knowledge ever known (at least in this mortal life).

Another error is to notice that my intuition differs from the intuitions of others. But this is, of course, a feature not a bug, otherwise there would be no need for intuition and each person could be fed the same knowledge - or, more likely, have it built-in. It is precisely because each person needs to know for himself, from the depths of his primary thinking; that intuition is required. ´Other people´s knowledge´ is not enough, and in a sense not relevant (or, not necessarily relevant, anyway).

The point is that intuition is the starting point - a necessary start but only the start - of a virtuous cycle of knowledge. Once we have intuited the validity of some source, then we can begin to learn - but at each important step we need to test knowledge by intuition, again and again - and this potentially modifies pre-existing knowledge in many ways.

It seems clear this is how Christianity is supposed to work, and that the imposition of official knowledge by coercion is an historical error and corruption. Christians are meant to be learning and evaluating - not just blotting-up stuff because other people say so. For example, the validity of authority needs to be known intuitively.

(Of course the institutions of Christianity are legitimately allowed to insist on knowledge and behaviours for membership, but the individual ought also to be evaluating them by intuition - e.g. by personal revelation - because otherwise the individual does not really know.)

The same process must be applied to our own motivations, these require intuitive evaluation - and very often this will reveal that the true self is not at work, but instead some other partial and externally-manufactured self.

Intuition is therefore part of various cycles of trial and error, and evolutionary progress or corruption, in practice.

But this ought not to distract from the fact that a starting point is necessary, and the primary thinking of the true self - which I am terming intuition - is the proper starting point.


AdamW said...

This is reminiscent of the thinking of Michael Polanyi ('Personal Knowledge', 1958) - though he credits St. Augustine ('nisi crederitis, non intellegetis').

Seeker said...

Dr Charlton: You don't intend to, but you are worrying me. I equate intuitive knowing with the truest truth, and now it seems as though you are saying that everybody's intuition will be subjective. It sounds like chaos. But you surely don't mean that at all. I am failing to understand this, but I want, need to understand. Please tell me how different people can arrive at truth when their gut feeling/hunches/intuitions may be different.


Imnobody said...

I don't know, Bruce. My intuition is highly atheist. It has been a lot of effort to start believing in God and Christianity and I only did it because non-intuitive reasoning. Even now, even when I read the Bible to pray, I often get glimpses of atheist intuition. And I know other people like me.

Maybe your intuition is healthier, but not everybody is that lucky.

Bruce Charlton said...

Imn- This post is for people starting out from nihilism. Someone starting out as a Christian has different priorities.

Bruce Charlton said...

Seeker - You need to read the post more carefully.