Saturday, January 28, 2006


D. R. Khashaba
A marginal note on: I. 'The Possibility of God: An Essay in the Philosophy of Religion' by John Paolini, and II. 'The (Im)Possibility of (Desire of) God: a Response to John Paolini' by Brian Tee, Issue number 51 of Philosophy Pathways,

I was charmed by the humane, feeling, and insightful essay of John Paolini, whose searching, candid words speak directly to the heart. But in the end he leaves us with the unanswered question, What is this God we yearn for and where do we find him? On the other hand, I have to confess that I find Brian Tee's adversative approach uninspiring.
The vital question we have to face is, How can we rescue the spirituality we seem to be losing with the loss of traditional faith in established religions?
When Hume taught us that 'is' does not yield 'ought', we had need of Kant to reinstate the balance. Kant regained for us the 'ought' – without which there can be no kosmos (in the original Greek sense) – in Reason: pure, yielding logical necessity; practical, yielding moral obligation; judgematic, yielding aesthetic value.
But empiricism in its various guises – positivism, naturalism, physicalism, scientism – seeing that 'ought' is not to be found in the objective world, simply jettisoned it and was content with 'what is'. We were left to choose between supernaturalists marketing their various brands of God on the one hand and naturalists and secular humanists on the other hand telling us that we have no need for anything beyond 'what is'. (That is why I felt it necessary to oppose Quine's "On What There Is" in my essay "On What Is Real".)
I hold that this is a phantom dilemma, that we have a third viable option. We need spirituality if we are to realize the full potential of our humanity, and we can have that spirituality without institutionalized religion.
The ideas and ideals, the dreams and flights of imagination, that constitute the spiritual life of humankind, are realities in the intelligible realm, and that spiritual life itself is our reality. As a mutable being, ceaselessly flowing from moment to moment and from one state of transient existence to another, I am only half-real, or only real by sufferance; but in creative thought, in deeds of love, in the awesome sense of beauty as I cry with Wordsworth,
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky
I am truly real. And that reality is not epiphenomenal, or accidental, or a figure of speech; it is all we know of reality and all the reality we know. It is the objective world with all its appearances and all its happenings that is an adjunct to this reality, not the other way round. This is the truth we lost when empiricism and cynicism combined led us to lose faith in idealism; and this is the truth we need to regain if human life is not to be
a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.


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