Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Readings: from The Notebooks

When Kyle, the major-domo of Postmodern Papist quoted the French Catholic existentialist philosopher, Gabriel Marcel, here, it reminded me that one of my purposes in launching this blog was supposed to have been posting excerpts from notes I had taken in the course of my various readings. For the most part, however, new readings have prompted immediate postings, and the contents of my notebooks have gone untapped.

Well, Kyle reminded me that I had been reading Gabriel Marcel some months back, so I went to the notebooks to look for a pithy quote from Marcel in order to give it an airing here. I found several quotes, from two different texts, to choose from. As a consequence of the fact that I refer to myself as a “pilgrim” in the profile adorning Rodak Riffs, I offer the following from Marcel’s book, The Mystery of Being:

There is not, and there cannot be, any global abstraction, any final high terrace to which we can climb by means of abstract thought, there to rest forever; for our condition is this world does remain, in the last analysis, that of a wanderer, an itinerate being, who cannot come to absolute rest except by a fiction, a fiction which it is the duty of philosophic reflection to oppose with all its strength.

But let us notice also that our itinerate condition is in no sense separable from the given circumstances, from which in the case of each of us that condition borrows its special character; we have thus reached a point where we can lay it down that to be in a situation and to be on the move are modes of being that cannot be dissociated from each other; are, in fact, two complementary aspects of our condition.

There’s your pilgrim. And while looking for a good Marcel quote, I came across whole pages of notes that I had scribbled down while reading Kierkegaard’s Training in Christianity. I find the excerpts quoted below to have particular relevance to the rather heated disputation in which I was involved in the comments section of What’s Wrong With the World here. And so, Kierkegaard:

That an individual man is God, declares himself to be God, is indeed the “offense.” …Can one demonstrate that to be a rational reality which is at variance with reason? Surely not, unless one would contradict oneself. One can “prove” only that it is at variance with reason. The proofs which Scripture presents for Christ’s divinity—His miracles, His Resurrection from the dead, His Ascension into heaven--are therefore only for faith, that is, they are not “proofs,” they have no intention of proving that all this agrees perfectly with reason; on the contrary they would prove that it conflicts with reason and therefore is an object of faith.

…the certitude of faith is something infinitely higher [than a “proof” from history]

Everyone who has the least dialectical training can easily perceive that the whole argument about consequences is incommensurable with the decision of the question whether it is God…whether he will believe that He is what He said He was; or whether he will not believe.

…”History,” says faith, “has nothing whatever to do with Christ…”

Jesus Christ is the object of faith; one must either believe on Him or be offended. For to “know” signifies exactly that the reference is not to Him. …Knowledge demolishes Jesus Christ.

Given that the discussion got a little bit hot at WWWtW the other day, it is probably just as well that I didn’t come across the following Old Testament tidbit at the time:

May the Lord strike you with Egyptian boils and with tumors, scabs and itches, for which you will find no cure. [Deut.28:27]

I feel much better now.