Monday, May 31, 2021

"Whereof One Cannot Speak" (Without Degrading...)

I found this blog post from another blogger when I was trying to find "whereof one cannot speak..." to use in this post. He makes the point that Wittgenstein (source of the quote) initially was interpreted as saying that since we don't know that God, beauty, etc. exist in as rigorous a way as scientific things, that it was meaningless to try talking about them. But that Wittgenstein's later notes say more that these realities exist, but that talking about them degrades them.

If we find that talking about God or beauty (etc.) degrades them, then we perhaps do not talk about them or act on them, and to the extent that our epistemology, the way we trust so that things are real to us, is practical, we don't trust them as much as if we could have spoken of them and acted on them in some way. Does God want to be taken as an unspeakable mystery? Or would he rather we approached him as according to our concepts as they are, though they make him into a cheap formula to us? I think the way of relationship is somewhere in the middle. A trustworthy, mature spousal relationship (I would guess) is a good model for a good interpersonal relationship. I like what Ursula LeGuin suggests, about how spouses can cross an abyss of difference very casually, when they relate. I would say that they speak words to each other, which mean something different to each of them, and yet basically the same.

I would assume that in any spousal relationship, there is both the relating to what is known and to what is unknown. If we approach each other with respect, we allow each other to be what we are, and this lets us trust each other without fully understanding each other. If we relate to God with respect, we can use the words we know to use about him -- and they are the same words he uses to speak to us about himself or any other conceivable topic, although he understands them in a somewhat, but not fatally, different way than we do.

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