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This chapter explores Plato’s negotiation of friendship, and similar modern considerations, particularly those of Kant and Derrida. It suggests that Plato, far from advocating an abstracting position in opposition to Christian love, prepared the way for the gospel insofar as he tended to show that love and knowledge were inseparable, even at the highest level.
Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Taylor contrast knowledge as ‘contact’ with knowledge as ‘mediation’. They refuse the pre-modern mode of contact as continuity of form (eidos or morphē) between material things and spiritual mind, and seek to substitute contact as haptic knowledge through the body.
I consider the way in which even modern thinkers, trying to escape the myth of the given and the espistemological frame, remain impeded until they countenance meaningful form ‘out there’ in things, as well as ‘in here’ in one’s mind. Without this embrace of non-reductive naturalism, such thinkers are unable to appreciate the body as a mediating sphere between the material and the spiritual, despite their attempt to do so.
If truth is not epistemological ‘correspondence’, coherence or correlation, then, following Rowan Williams, one’s poetic ‘additions’ to reality must be appropriately expressive of that reality, if there is to be any parrying with truth.
I explore the possibility that the mark of genuine realism is not whether things remain ‘true’ in the absence of a subjective knower, but rather, a metaphysical continuity between all existences and the knowledge possessed by spirits. I argue that Western philosophical lineage, since Socrates, has called forth a metaphysical turn to the subject which is to be differentiated from the later epistemological turn to the subject, espoused by Kant, and I draw a connection between this claim and the question of dialetheism explored in the previous chapter.
Truth, I have argued, is not a matter of reference but of addition. In his early dialogue, Laches, Plato reports Socrates as saying: ‘For if we know that the truth of something would improve some other thing, and are able to make that addition, then, clearly, we must know how that about which we are advising may be best and most easily attained.’1 The improvement in this case is virtue. For Plato, this is a matter of pursuing the Good which can only be known through contemplation of truth. Eternal truth radiates forth to one as Beauty which incites one’s desire to pursue the Good as one’s true end.
Following Graham Priest, I argue in this chapter that the dialetheic (or true-contradictory) violation of this law with respect to recursion and infinity is called for by logical consistency itself. However, I suggest that the resulting nihilistic hypostasisation of emptiness may arbitrarily construe the dialetheic as a dogmatic gesture at the margins of the Principle of Non-Contradiction, rather than, as for Nicholas of Cusa, an apophatic gesture which may indicate an unknown plenitude rather than an enthralling absence.
I enunciate the contrast between epistemological and ontological or metaphysical approaches to truth. I look at the way in which the ‘foundationalisms’ of these structures, whether in the domain of facts or conceptual suppositions, have since been deconstructed, while basic logical assumptions have been shown to conceal lurking paradoxes.
the notion that speculative metaphysics must be as much performed as theorised is extended beyond language and poetics into a consideration of liturgy, especially with regard to its links with integrated, ‘synaesthesic’ bodily sensation and spiritual formation.
a rejected inert ‘givenness’ of either reality or logic, and a pre-modern provision for thinking of reality and cognitive reflection in terms of ‘gift’. I consider whether the notion of gift, as combining ‘thing’ with ‘sign’, might resist epistemological dualisms.
the claim that the possibility of truth involves elusive ontological bonds between known things and the knowing subject is explored through a reading of three Seventeenth Century English Platonists: Edward Herbert, Robert Greville and Anne Conway.
What is 'truth'? The question that Pilate put to Jesus was laced with dramatic irony. But at a time when what is true and what is untrue have acquired a new currency, the question remains of crucial significance. Is truth a matter of the representation of things which lack truth in themselves? Or of mere coherence? Or is truth a convenient if redundant way of indicating how one's language refers to things outside oneself? In her ambitious new book, Catherine Pickstock addresses these profound questions, arguing that epistemological approaches to truth either fail argumentatively or else offer only vacuity. She advances instead a bold metaphysical and realist appraisal which overcomes the Kantian impasse of 'subjective knowing' and ban on reaching beyond supposedly finite limits. Her book contends that in the end truth cannot be separated from the transcendent reality of the thinking soul.