[percy-l] Post modernism

James Piat piat1 at bellsouth.net
Wed Aug 20 06:38:56 EDT 2003

MessageDear Rhonda,

I probably have stretched an analogy beyond the breaking point in trying to equate the Hiesenberg uncertainly principle, which I think may only apply to the measurement of quantum phenomena (whatever that might be), to the concept of knowledge.  Moreover I personally am not convinced that the nature of knowledge based upon religious faith is the same as knowledge based upon the scientific process.  These types of knowledge may be the same in some respects (in the sense that both reveal to one something about the world) but differ in other respects such as how they are acquired, to what aspects of the world they apply and what counts as proof of them.  For example I do not see how scientific knowledge "directly" reveals much to one about the moral aspects of the world. Science, it seems to me, may provide us knowledge about the consequences of our actions, regardless of whether or not they are based upon moral considerations, but not whether the acts are themselves moral or not.  

(Continuing my musing out loud)  Perhaps for those of us living today whether or not Jesus rose from the grave is largely a matter of knowledge based upon religious faith, but for those living at the time who may have witnessed his resurrection a different sort of knowledge was also involved. 

Rhonda I don't mean to be coming of across as anything more than wondering or speculating in any of my comments  -- and especially I don't mean to be trying to establish or refute by logic or evidence anything about another person's religious convictions as I personally don't think religious convictions are subject to that sort of approach.   

So thanks for your comments and reservations about what I had written -- You've both expanded my understanding and helped me to see some of the error in what I'd said. 

  If, as you say, there is absolute uncertainty at the core of our knowledge of every event, then that includes Christ's incarnation as man and his entrance into time, as well as the covenant made between God and Abraham.  I'm willing to concede that we need to be uncertain of all matters human (including perhaps the manner in which institutional religion is practiced--I'll give the post-modernists that).  However, despite lack of positive scientific proof, I am not uncertain in my knowledge of the two events I've listed -- nor was Percy, despite his love for the elegance of the scientific method, and his concordant belief that "scientific truth and philosophical understanding are friends of religion and need not be feared."

  Of course, maybe my musings are influenced by my crankiness with students who misread Nietzsche, think they are uber-men, and that their MTV personal "truth" is reason not to listen to anyone else.  So keep explaining this business of "absolute uncertainty" to me, and maybe I'll get it.


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