Sep 4, 2013

"How Can This Be?" Rainbows and Metaphysics

Many are being swayed by the "dictatorship of relativism" because they do not have enough confidence in the human capacity for truth. Looking the other way when our leaders fail to secure the necessary conditions for a just war is only one example of this problem. Acting in accordance with our capacity for truth is not only a right, but a grave duty, precisely because we have the capacity for truth. The way to truth is traveled by means of dialogue, and this way of encounter is the only path to peace. 



How can there be "certainty" of knowledge?—Is any knowledge absolute?

A good scientist knows that what he studies is reality. His quest is to understand "that-which-is." He has an inquisitive and active imagination, and as he experiences a given reality, he approaches that reality with the question, "how can this be?," searching for possible explanations. 

Often, there are many possible explanations, and a persisting sense of wonder and awe before the reality indicates that there are still more not-yet-thought-of explanations regarding the thing's manner of existence, of it's way of being. He does not approach the reality alone, but in dialogue with the rest of humanity. This dialogue will critically examine the many different hypotheses that are put forward, and it will falsify some. But it does not stop there, because that is not sufficient for scientific understanding. Real scientific knowledge comes also from demonstrating an understanding of the thing--an understanding which would provide sufficient cause for that thing's manner of being--an understanding with such clarity and grasp of the reality (i.e. "completeness") that the scope of all possible explanations could be seen, within which all but one explanation is shown to be false or insufficient. 

This kind of true, certain knowledge of reality is possible, and actually exists when the attitude of Aristotle, the attitude of "Metaphysics" is utilized as the most fundamental philosophical approach to reality. The closing of the modern mind to the horizons of truth is due to the fact that Epistemology and Logic has replaced Metaphysics as being the most fundamental, and this causes us to first ask the question, "how can I know this?," a question that seeks only certainty, but not understanding of being, leaving us stuck in our own minds, seeking to know ideas rather than the reality itself, and these ideas are dogmatically imposed as scientific conclusions, without, along the way, making any differentiation between theories and demonstrably certain truths, because we often do not have the prudence or the courage to enter into the kind of dialogue that is oriented toward demonstratiive, scientific knowledge. For a more complete explanation of the role of Metaphysics in the areas of Philosophy and human knowledge, I intend to read "Being and Truth," by Martin Heidegger. 

One example of real scientific knowledge is with the way a rainbow is formed. Here is a video where someone demonstrates both scientific and unscientific knowledge. http://goo.gl/HWk0Fn He demonstrates scientific understanding of the way in which a simple rainbow is formed, but not when he attempts to explain the formation of the second rainbow. [Also, isn't the refraction of light still kind of "mysterious"?] Perhaps a few more diagrams would have been helpful to demonstrate the reality:http://goo.gl/MH2J5L http://goo.gl/glhJBu Those pictures are worth a thousand words.

Here is another person whose demonstration (and excitement) comes more from a sense of understanding (understanding not just the ideas that he has been taught but the reality itself) and an attitude of wonder and awe at the depth of the reality, recognizing the element of mystery involved for the learner, and what it is like to be "surprised" by truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k85eD_tQZo . 

Here's the Bottom Line:  Let's question authority the way Mary did, "How can this be?," rather than the way Zechariah did, "How can I know this?"