Friday, November 28, 2008

Knowledge and Truth

I just finished an old book on epistemology called Kowledge and Truth (here’s a partial review) that sort of took an odd turn at the end: the author suggests that aesthetics, and works of art in particular can express truth, whereas propositional truth is to be found in statements or assertions. I’ll reserve judgment, for now, as to whether or not art can be objective, or truth-bearing in a meaningful way; but I will highlight a passage that gets at the problem of ‘higher’ knowledge (e.g. faith, which I contend is distinct from mere belief, as the former qualifies as known truth, as opposed to the latter, which can be construed as a species of speculation):
If philosophy with its syllogisms shuts its eyes to the existence of any sort of experience whatsoever, however it may explain it, then so much the worse for philosophy.


Your philosopher, who refuses to believe that there is reality in what he has never experienced, and may possibly be incapable of experiencing, is a poorer philosopher for his lack of sympathy, and he has, of course, simply no right to judge. He cannot hope to be a ‘synoptic man’. Even the philosopher who is more tolerant and sympathetic, but who has no direct experience of mystical or aesthetic experience, is so far less of a philosopher. The richer and deeper the individual experience, the better the materials for the philosophic edifice. Every philosophic man is the better philosopher for having lived, and without it his metaphysical games of chess are more worthless than the paper they are played upon. p.235-36