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Thursday, April 08, 2021

How then shall they know?

The fact that the modern mind is not "advanced", but is considerably degraded from the great minds of the past, can only be understood by reading the philosophers of the past, including the early theologians and martyrs, and comparing them to the shallow bumblings and blatherings of today's scientists, philosophers, and theologians.

One seldom puts "the martyrs" into an intellectual category, but there are no shortage of ante-Nicene examples to demonstrate that one reason Christianity triumphed over noble paganry was the formidable minds of its early advocates, such as Justin Martyr. It is frankly astonishing at times to witness atheists crowing, and Christians quailing, about concepts that were conclusively dealt with to the satisfaction of all parties nearly 2,000 years ago.

Can you even imagine what noble pagans like Aristotle would have made of today's world of mutating pronouns, diversity science, and paedoalethic relativism?

"I will tell you," said I, "what seems to me; for philosophy is, in fact, the greatest possession, and most honourable before God, to whom it leads us and alone commends us; and these are truly holy men who have bestowed attention on philosophy. What philosophy is, however, and the reason why it has been sent down to men, have escaped the observation of most; for there would be neither Platonists, nor Stoics, nor Peripatetics, nor Theoretics, nor Pythagoreans, this knowledge being one. I wish to tell you why it has become many-headed. 

It has happened that those who first handled it, and who were therefore esteemed illustrious men, were succeeded by those who made no investigations concerning truth, but only admired the perseverance and self-discipline of the former, as well as the novelty of the doctrines; and each thought that to be true which he learned from his teacher: then, moreover, those latter persons handed down to their successors such things, and others similar to them; and this system was called by the name of him who was styled the father of the doctrine. Being at first desirous of personally conversing with one of these men, I surrendered myself to a certain Stoic; and having spent a considerable time with him, when I had not acquired any further knowledge of God (for he did not know himself, and said such instruction was unnecessary), I left him and betook myself to another, who was called a Peripatetic, and as he fancied, shrewd. 

And this man, after having entertained me for the first few days, requested me to settle the fee, in order that our intercourse might not be unprofitable. Him, too, for this reason I abandoned, believing him to be no philosopher at all. But when my soul was eagerly desirous to hear the peculiar and choice philosophy, I came to a Pythagorean, very celebrated—a man who thought much of his own wisdom. And then, when I had an interview with him, willing to become his hearer and disciple, he said, 'What then? Are you acquainted with music, astronomy, and geometry? Do you expect to perceive any of those things which conduce to a happy life, if you have not been first informed on those points which wean the soul from sensible objects, and render it fitted for objects which appertain to the mind, so that it can contemplate that which is honourable in its essence and that which is good in its essence?' Having commended many of these branches of learning, and telling me that they were necessary, he dismissed me when I confessed to him my ignorance. 

Accordingly I took it rather impatiently, as was to be expected when I failed in my hope, the more so because I deemed the man had some knowledge; but reflecting again on the space of time during which I would have to linger over those branches of learning, I was not able to endure longer procrastination. In my helpless condition it occurred to me to have a meeting with the Platonists, for their fame was great. I thereupon spent as much of my time as possible with one who had lately settled in our city, a sagacious man, holding a high position among the Platonists, and I progressed, and made the greatest improvements daily. And the perception of immaterial things quite overpowered me, and the contemplation of ideas furnished my mind with wings, so that in a little while I supposed that I had become wise; and such was my stupidity, I expected forthwith to look upon God, for this is the end of Plato's philosophy.

"And while I was thus disposed, when I wished at one period to be filled with great quietness, and to shun the path of men, I used to go into a certain field not far from the sea. And when I was near that spot one day, which having reached I purposed to be by myself, a certain old man, by no means contemptible in appearance, exhibiting meek and venerable manners, followed me at a little distance. And when I turned round to him, having halted, I fixed my eyes rather keenly on him.

"And he said, 'Do you know me?'

"I replied in the negative.

"'Why, then,' said he to me, 'do you so look at me?'

"'I am astonished,' I said, 'because you have chanced to be in my company in the same place; for I had not expected to see any man here.'

"And he says to me, 'I am concerned about some of my household. These are gone away from me; and therefore have I come to make personal search for them, if, perhaps, they shall make their appearance somewhere. But why are you here?' said he to me.

"'I delight,' said I, 'in such walks, where my attention is not distracted, for converse with myself is uninterrupted; and such places are most fit for philology.'

"'Are you, then, a philologian,' said he, 'but no lover of deeds or of truth? and do you not aim at being a practical man so much as being a sophist?'

"'What greater work,' said I, 'could one accomplish than this, to show the reason which governs all, and having laid hold of it, and being mounted upon it, to look down on the errors of others, and their pursuits? But without philosophy and right reason, prudence would not be present to any man. Wherefore it is necessary for every man to philosophize, and to esteem this the greatest and most honourable work; but other things only of second-rate or third-rate importance, though, indeed, if they be made to depend on philosophy, they are of moderate value, and worthy of acceptance; but deprived of it, and not accompanying it, they are vulgar and coarse to those who pursue them.'

"Does philosophy, then, make happiness?' said he; interrupting.

"'Assuredly,' I said, 'and it alone.'

"'What, then, is philosophy?' he says; 'and what is happiness? Pray tell me, unless something hinders you from saying.'

"'Philosophy, then,' said I, 'is the knowledge of that which really exists, and a clear perception of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and wisdom.'

"'But what do you call God?' said he.

"'That which always maintains the same nature, and in the same manner, and is the cause of all other things—that, indeed, is God.' So I answered him; and he listened to me with pleasure, and thus again interrogated me:

"'Is not knowledge a term common to different matters? For in arts of all kinds, he who knows any one of them is called a skilful man, in the art of generalship, or of ruling, or of healing equally. But in divine and human affairs it is not so. Is there a knowledge which affords understanding of human and divine things, and then a thorough acquaintance with the divinity and the righteousness of them?'

"'Assuredly,' I replied.

"'What, then? Is it in the same way we know man and God, as we know music, and arithmetic, and astronomy, or any other similar branch?'

"'By no means,' I replied.

"'You have not answered me correctly, then,' he said; 'for some [branches of knowledge] come to us by learning, or by some employment, while of others we have knowledge by sight. Now, if one were to tell you that there exists in India an animal with a nature unlike all others, but of such and such a kind, multiform and various, you would not know it before you saw it; but neither would you be competent to give any account of it, unless you should hear from one who had seen it.'

"'Certainly not,' I said.

"'How then,' he said, 'should the philosophers judge correctly about God, or speak any truth, when they have no knowledge of Him, having neither seen Him at any time, nor heard Him?'

Only a man with no understanding of evil can possibly delude himself into believing that a clear perception of the truth is tantamount to happiness.

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59 Comments:

Blogger Harambe April 08, 2021 6:26 AM  

HUR DUR CAN GOD MAKE A ROCK TOO HEAVY FOR HIM TO LIFT? <-- the level of modern atheism

Blogger Unknown April 08, 2021 6:37 AM  

I have always been a fan of Aquinas and the scholastics myself.
I think that with the industrial revolution and the current technological one, minds have grown lazy.
Common sense becomes revolutionary and everything old is new again.

Blogger Rusty Page April 08, 2021 6:48 AM  

Wow!

Blogger Randomatos April 08, 2021 6:59 AM  

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." If you aren't humbled when faced with infinity, then you aren't tall enough for the ride of philosophy.

Blogger James Fox Higgins April 08, 2021 7:15 AM  

It is piteous to spend so much of my time desiring to live in bygone ages, but I do nonetheless. However, God saw fit to put us all into *this* age, and we must be bearers of the light, even if we look to our contemporaries as Nitzchean madmen futilely swinging lanterns. This is why I read, write, build my library, and hold my children to high standards of language and reason. That, at least, can be my contribution to this time and the future it leads to, that we might one day forge men as admirable as those of old.

Honk honk, in the meantime.

Blogger FALPhil April 08, 2021 7:46 AM  

Alas, the fruits of government-run schooling, and the delegation by parents of their primary responsibility to educate their children. Deut 6:6-7; Prov 1:8-9; 1 Tim 4:11

Blogger Daniele Grech Pereira April 08, 2021 8:17 AM  

One thing I really enjoy about the old philosophy, is the style of dialogue. It is an early form of infotainment. There is an ancient style of spoken poetry in Sicily, where the speaker narrates a dialogue between ancient personalities including Greek philosophers, historical figures, etc. It's like a "What if?" series: What if Frederick II debated Socrates on rule of law? Anyways, it's a lot more interesting than the likes of Daniel Dennet.

Blogger Taqiyyotomist April 08, 2021 8:20 AM  

Is there even an equal today of Francis A. Schaeffer?

Blogger megabar April 08, 2021 8:21 AM  

Part of the problem is that pursuit of growth always leads one to chase the more common, and essentially all Western institutions worship growth -- even our intellectual ones.

Growth is wonderful in some sectors, and not so great in others.

Blogger Ronius_Maximus April 08, 2021 8:25 AM  

Beautiful. May we bind it in leather now?

Blogger Gregory the Tall April 08, 2021 8:29 AM  

a man can either be a man or not be a man - tertium non datur.

Blogger Silly but True April 08, 2021 8:35 AM  

Excess causes atrophy. The excesses of the modern Western world have driven evil men to connive about sillier and loonier nonsense unmoored by our natural world and the repeated failures of the ambivalent and cowardly have driven them to accept them.

Blogger John Rockwell April 08, 2021 8:36 AM  

What happened to such Men? How have we been deprived of such nobility since those days?

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 08, 2021 8:57 AM  

That dialogue, almost like:

Luke 24
32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Blogger dienw April 08, 2021 9:10 AM  

What good writing; so much better than that of today's "scholars"; one can focus on the content and not have to stumble on the convolution and jargon of today's academic writing. This is the type of writing meant to convey knowledge, not to score points with your fellow academics.

Blogger rumpole5 April 08, 2021 9:16 AM  

Your posts are frequently a delightful surprise, causing me to speculate "What brought THIS on?". Thanks for the impromptu tutorial.

Blogger sappbe April 08, 2021 9:23 AM  

If Q was anything, he was an informant. The world is wicked in ways I never thought possible. Molech and Bahopmet are as alive today as they were in times past. I was agnostic for most of my life, the devil showing his face changes things.

Blogger Doc April 08, 2021 9:24 AM  

James,
Not piteous, but unprofitable. God placed you where you are in time because it is personally necessary for you as a unique individual and the impact you will have on others

Blogger Iskander Magnus April 08, 2021 9:25 AM  

Any chance of getting a Castalia special edition of core Patristic texts? An introductory essay for each author is probably needed nowadays.

Blogger Br'er Shaygetz April 08, 2021 9:30 AM  

Having just recently found out that apparently, the last bastion of the Gospel is naturism, my theological and philosophical carbon footprint shrank a bit.

Blogger Harambe April 08, 2021 9:47 AM  

dienw wrote:What good writing; so much better than that of today's "scholars"; one can focus on the content and not have to stumble on the convolution and jargon of today's academic writing. This is the type of writing meant to convey knowledge, not to score points with your fellow academics.

I had the same sort of thought after reading the Dialogs of Plato after struggling through an academic book written ABOUT the dialogs.

Blogger FacelessBro April 08, 2021 10:05 AM  

Compare this to the dumbed-down preaching in most U.S churches, and it's no wonder less and less people are attending.

Blogger Cappuccinobear April 08, 2021 10:08 AM  

Between government and entertainment, my guess is many people aren't in control of their own minds enough to actually use them for anything not resembling addiction, let alone philosophy or free thinking.

Blogger travvyboy April 08, 2021 10:35 AM  

John Rockwell wrote:What happened to such Men? How have we been deprived of such nobility since those days? let's just say their hat is small

Blogger Dan Karelian April 08, 2021 10:53 AM  

@2 You're a fan of Aquinas, who with his pagan Hellenic philosophy, destroys the logical possibility of the Incarnation, the Trinity and therefore man's salvation, whilst simultaneously confessing all these positions?

You're a fan of that guy and his contradictions?

Blogger Crush Limbraw April 08, 2021 11:19 AM  

"Faith comes by hearing, but understanding comes from knowledge - which comes by sight!" - Augustine 400 AD
https://crushlimbraw.blogspot.com/2016/03/christian-action-project-notes-and.html?m=0

Blogger Ominous Cowherd April 08, 2021 11:36 AM  

FALPhil wrote:Alas, the fruits of government-run schooling, and the delegation by parents of their primary responsibility to educate their children. Deut 6:6-7; Prov 1:8-9; 1 Tim 4:11
Also a couple thousand years of inbreeding and gene decay. It's a fallen world, and it's not falling upward.

Blogger Greg from the Piedmont April 08, 2021 11:47 AM  

This was the best thing I have read in a long time. Thanks for posting

Blogger Swamp Fox April 08, 2021 12:15 PM  

Atheism is the red headed stepchild of philosophy and the human experience. I honestly think most mainstream atheists know they are lying or know atheism is nonsense. To deny the obvious immaterial aspect of reality is unnatural and should be called out and relegated to the back of the room.

Blogger Expendable Faceless Minion April 08, 2021 12:19 PM  

It makes not a damned particle of difference if Jesus resurrected or not. Or even if God exists.

The only possible relevant question is: Is humanity better off for Christians existing, believing, and acting as they have for the last 2000 years or not?

Obviously, Christianity has been worth whatever cost it has had on civilization.

Therefore, the Theory of Christianity has been, as the scientists say, a "useful" theory. And should be kept, regardless of its believability to anyone.

Blogger Kevin April 08, 2021 12:40 PM  

Justin Martyr was smashing that like and subscribe button awfully hard before he found Christ.

Blogger DudeThatLovesProverbs April 08, 2021 1:04 PM  

This is why knowledge of the holy one is insight. Truly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

Blogger Mamabear37 April 08, 2021 1:10 PM  

@FALPhil the actual, honest to God answer I got when I challenged a relative's thinking on the subject of daycare being equivalent to parental neglect and intellectual dishonor was 1) 2 months worth of silent treatment, and 2) the "reason" being, "my kid is happy and I work so I can give them healthcare"
I kid you not. Women are selling their souls and the minds of their children for a 9-5 mediocre paycheck, therapy for anxiety, and "healthcare". It literally made me cry, thinking, "Oh ye of little faith."

Blogger Mamabear37 April 08, 2021 1:12 PM  

Easy. Feminism. If you cut off the head of the family unit, it'll flop around a bit and then die. The root is spiritual warfare.

Blogger Arcane Rhino April 08, 2021 1:14 PM  

What fantastic read. I am still digesting it and need a second read through, I think, so have nothing pithy or insightful to add, but just wanted to say thanks.

Blogger xevious2030 April 08, 2021 1:52 PM  

If the clear perception is limited to the physical world, and has no true reckoning of what fills the gaps. The mind of a Christian, is a mind. It is the Wisdom, and that does not come from man. That is the distinction. To receive greatness that is not yours, and to share it, from the Divine. From the Holy Spirit. Anything else is a bunch of monkeys groping one another and feeling smug about it.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine April 08, 2021 1:56 PM  

"The fact that the modern mind is not "advanced", but is considerably degraded from the great minds of the past, can only be understood by reading the philosophers of the past, including the early theologians and martyrs, and comparing them to the shallow bumblings and blatherings of today's scientists, philosophers, and theologians."

YES! YES! YES!

Rubbing their noses in their own waste has been the only meaningful response to many people for a long while, soon to be literal rather than metaphorical.

Blogger Troushers April 08, 2021 2:04 PM  

It is astonishing the extent to which people will outsource generation of their opinions and knowledge to a media outlet or wikipedia.

My family-in-law are surprised when I occasionally, by virtue of wider reading, bring up pertinent facts about current events that are unreported in their favourite sources, but they do not learn or change habit.

There is a fundamental laziness in the modern world - the expansion of leisure has increased appetite for it, and now so many peers and friends waste their lives watching mediocre TV or indulging in social media onanism.

I need to put serious thought into my young son's education - I will be sending him into an evil world.

Blogger LM April 08, 2021 2:13 PM  

> Only a man with no understanding of evil can possibly delude himself into believing that a clear perception of the truth is tantamount to happiness.

How can you reasonably make a statement like this unless you have perfect knowledge?

Blogger Doc April 08, 2021 2:20 PM  

Read the whole thing. Thank you Vox. His knowledge and breadth of scripture was inspirational.

Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit April 08, 2021 2:43 PM  

@13

At least one may be found right here: https://www.scifiwright.com/2021/04/foreknowledge-and-freedom-of-the-will/

Blogger shadohand (akuma sock account# 7373636 ...crazy only responds to crazy) April 08, 2021 2:45 PM  

And this is why Psychiatry, and its sister disciplines, are nothing more than Satanic Pseudoscience.

Blogger xevious2030 April 08, 2021 3:09 PM  

“reasonably make a statement like this”

Perfect knowledge is not the issue. Romans 14: 17, 21-23.

Sin, being to miss, or wander off the path. Happiness, being set aright, or to go straight. Joy, the exuberant.

Taking the contemporary, Western (ask a China Chinese what happiness is, and you get “diligence,” “work,” “perserverience”) usage of happiness, its’ result is a choice of attitude, to take pleasure or distress in relation to. And attitude is not necessarily rational or reasonable.

Blogger idprism April 08, 2021 3:43 PM  

Very hopeful this foreshadows some inclusions in CL.

Blogger RC April 08, 2021 4:38 PM  

> Only a man with no understanding of evil can possibly delude himself into believing that a clear perception of the truth is tantamount to happiness.

"How can you reasonably make a statement like this unless you have perfect knowledge?"

Vox summarizes Ecclesiastes in one sentence, setting LM off into nonsensical blatherings. Well played.

Blogger Didas Kalos April 08, 2021 4:39 PM  

Amongst many others. Job 28:28
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Blogger Yukichi Sensei April 08, 2021 5:06 PM  

Utilitarian arguments are the worst.

Blogger Yukichi Sensei April 08, 2021 5:08 PM  

Used to feel the same, myself.

It means we must be in this time. Men with eyes on God and tradition are needed to preserve and spread it.

Blogger M In The 517 April 08, 2021 5:12 PM  

@25

Always with the negative waves, Moriarty.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine April 08, 2021 9:24 PM  

"It makes not a damned particle of difference if Jesus resurrected or not. Or even if God exists."

There lies the path to nihilism.

"The only possible relevant question is: Is humanity better off for Christians existing, believing, and acting as they have for the last 2000 years or not?"

Pray exposit why the existence of humanity is relevant, let alone their well-being, absent an omnipotent entity guaranteeing them?

~Love and fishes, Cthulhu.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine April 08, 2021 9:28 PM  

"Always with the negative waves, Moriarty."

Moriarty was generally sane and coherent.

Blogger Teleport me off this rock April 09, 2021 12:16 AM  

This is why bitter SJWs are always inventing new ways of "knowing" and new types of "intelligence": because they know all the important stuff has been covered, by people far more perceptive and intelligent than themselves, and that hurts them down to their black little hearts. Therefore, destruction and replacement with inferior "knowledge" that they at least think they understand.

Blogger T.L. Ciottoli April 09, 2021 12:53 AM  

"That is why some people say: 'These passages are incomprehensible. Is it really possible for people to see God so openly?' But there is nothing incomprehensible here. This failure to understand has come about because we have departed from the simplicity of the original Christian knowledge. Under the pretext of education, we have reached such a darkness of ignorance that what the ancients understood so clearly seems to us almost inconceivable."

- "St. Seraphim of Sarov's Conversation With Nicholas Motovilov"

Blogger T.L. Ciottoli April 09, 2021 2:25 AM  

"The school was almost a curse word to the ancient Christians. "School" was the name of the heretical communities which separated from the Church, as can be seen from the works of Saint Irenaeus of Lyon and Hippolytus of Rome. Using this name, they emphasized their own view that outside the Church there is no Christian life, there is room only for a school of rationalism, for scholastic philosophy."

- "Christianity or the Church" by St. Ilarion (Troitsky), Holy New Martyr of Russia

Blogger Catchthefox April 09, 2021 4:40 AM  

idiot.

Blogger FALPhil April 09, 2021 6:49 AM  

@33 Mamabear37, it is absolutely astonishing to me that educated women think that minimum-wage vibrants can raise their children better than they can. And the lengths they go to in rationalizing it is hilarious.

Blogger Unknown April 10, 2021 8:13 PM  

M In The 517 wrote:@25

Always with the negative waves, Moriarty.


Woof, woof, woof.

Blogger Unknown April 10, 2021 8:32 PM  

VD, I suspect Johnson, the first public founder of American Philosophy, also attempted to address Justin's concerns and integrate the fields of philosophy--the True, Right, Beautiful--as follows:

"(Philosophy is:) The Pursuit of true Happiness in the Knowledge of things as being what they really are, and in acting or practicing according to that Knowledge."—Samuel Johnson An Introduction to the Study of Philosophy (1743), page 1.

My understanding is that Jefferson had that in mind in the drafting of the Declaration. This from one my namesake ancestor, who outlined what became the Bill of Rights with Madison and Jefferson. I've found it helpful to organize along lines of There is happiness, and therein one might seek a state of holiness.

Thank you for yet another deep post.

--MG

Blogger William Hughes April 12, 2021 12:53 PM  

""'That which always maintains the same nature, and in the same manner, and is the cause of all other things—that, indeed, is God.' So I answered him; and he listened to me with pleasure, and thus again interrogated me:"

A lovely succinct summary of the evanescent approach.

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