Participation, theory, wisdom and love

Etymologically, to comprehend means to grasp-together.

What does “together” comprise? It is the new object of knowledge together with the existing body of knowledge.

In comprehension, new and old knowledge are grasped together and integrated.

Not all forms of knowledge can be grasped together. Whenever we comprehend some matter, some remainder of the matter refuses to be integrated.

The remainder that is left out of comprehension we call “irrelevant”.

The remainder that remains, but which can’t integrate, we call “contradictory”.

The part of comprehension that is intentionally integrated through a mental assembly process we will call “synthesis”. Etymologically, to synthesize means to put-together. Syntheses are held together with logic, causality, hierarchy or other formal organizing principles. This is the stuff of theory, epistemology and logic.

The part of comprehension that is spontaneously integrated through spontaneous intuition is concept. Etymologically, to conceive means to take-together. What is conceived is taken-together as a given. This is the stuff of ontology.

Sometimes when we synthesize a new idea from an assembly of ideas, the new idea is spontaneously intuited as a whole, so we comprehend it both as a synthesis and as a concept. Or sometimes when we carefully examine a concept and disassemble it into components we find that the components are each intuitively conceived. The components can now be disassembled and reassembled both synthetically and conceptually. When we know this way, we understand through “analysis”. Etymologically, analysis means loosen-up.

When we are able to analytically loosen a synthesis up into concepts, then re-synthesize the parts into a concept whose conceptual sub-components remain visibly present as parts of a whole, our understanding is “articulate”. Etymologically, articulate means to separate into joints.

Ultimately, all understanding, whether conceived or synthesized or both, is developed up from givens, which, as explained above, are taken as givens. But we can only take what we have capacity to conceive. Anything we cannot conceive, even if it is real and actually present is inconceivable, and we are oblivious to it. Etymologically, oblivious means smoothed-over. When we are oblivious to something, not only is nothing there, but the nothingness is smoothed over, so nothing is missing. The thing exists, but to us, it is non-existent.

All of this is theoretical knowing. And it is only one kind of knowing.

Theoretical knowing that conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is one-third of wisdom. As philosophers would say it is a necessary condition of wisdom but not a sufficient condition.

Practically knowing how and morally knowing why conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is the other two-thirds of wisdom.

Wisdom is known in our hearts, felt in our souls and done with our strength.

But even wisdom is not enough.

Wisdom must also be wisdom that loves, because love is our participation in being in whom we are only part — an organ — together with others who, with us, are participants in a being who sustains us as who we are. When we love our spouse, this is our participation in the being of our marriage . When we love our friend, this is our participation in a friendship. When we love an organization, we participate in the life of a group who sustains who we are as a person — a member — an organ of this living whole.

These wholes in whom we participate are inconceivable and incomprehensible in theoretical terms. We can certainly theorize about the limits of theoretical knowledge, as I am presently doing, and it can be helpful (which is why I am doing it) but it is insufficient.

Without threefold loving wisdom that not only conceives, but also does and feels, we are oblivious to the beings in whom we participate, and we remain oblivious to the Being in whom our own being and all being has being.

Obliviousness to the the Being in whom our own being and all being has being is atheism. We say with Bertrand Russell “I have no need for that hypothesis” without recognizing that belief in God not a matter of theory.

We must wisely love beyond the limits of ourselves, with the entirety of our hearts soul and strength, and this is actualized by loving our fellow participants in being and in Being.

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