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Questions are your friends

“Curiosity killed the cat, but the satisfaction brought him back.” -Eugene O’Neil

Wisdom is born out of our willingness to make love to the tension that accompanies our unanswered questions.

The initial sense of disorientation that results when our pre-existing beliefs and pre-packaged ideologies fail us is the precursor to an awareness of new paradigms and fresh possibilities.

When we put mystery out of misery by gunning it down with an “any answer will do” attitude, we achieve superficial peace at the expense of a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

Here’s today’s two cents:

Unanswered questions are not your enemy and the security that comes from a rash answer is the furthest thing from your friend.

Do not be threatened by mystery. It is the maker of sages and the molder of saints alike.

Questions are angels of light. “Be not afraid!”

Follow them. Speak to them. Listen to them. Nourish them.

They will usher you to vast realms within your own mind.

Inquiry is the path to illumination.

Walk it, and you will see the light, and you will be forever free.

That’s today’s two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

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  1. Yes, your above comments are very…tantalizing. I read a booklet entitled “Working Hypotheses vs Ruling Theories” that advises not to elevate a working hypothesis into a ruling theory too prematurely. That the mind is so constituted it will only only consider evidence supporting the hypothesis-as-ruling-theory and ignore any evidence to the contrary. Impeding the growth of knowledge. Thus, false imprsonments, junk “science,” snap judgments, conspiracy theories, etc.

    Francis Bacon wrote that “If you begin with certainties you will end in doubts. But if you begin with doubts, you’ll end in certainties.” Doubt (intellectually, not psychologically) was considered the path to knowledge because it induces one to ask the questions. (Suspension of premature conclusions.)

    Indeed, “Inquiry is the path to Illumination.”

    Regards,

    Alana

    1. Hi Alana,

      Do you have a link for that booklet (or an author’s name)? I tried to find it, but was unsuccessful. It sounds like a good read.

      I like that approach very well and I agree with Francis Bacon’s observations. I owe a great deal to skeptical philosophers like Hume, Russell, and Descartes for helping me to feel at home with my questions.

      Cheers,

      TK

      P.S. Happy Belated Thanksgiving 🙂

  2. Hi again, T.K.

    I will see what I can resource for “Working Hypotheses vs Ruling Theories.” I bought it about 25 years ago by mailorder from a New York bookstore and it may be out of print. I believe the author was Chamberlin. (?) Trying to locate it in my own library—just moved so lots of books I’m sorting and shelving. (Been collecting them since I was about 12.) Definitely a worthwhile read.
    Once I locate it, you may have prompted me to reread it.

    The dilemma of the reader: Go on to the next good book or reread the good ones on hand. Yes, heaven is a place to read all the wonderful books, as you say.

    Hope your Thanksgiving was superfantastic!

    Regards,

    Alana

    1. Hi Alana,

      Thank you. My Thanksgiving was wonderful. How was yours?

      I appreciate the info on the book. The author’s name was key. I found it the Auburn University library. It’s titled “The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses” by T. C. Chamberlin

      Here’s the link http://www.auburn.edu/~tds0009/Articles/Chamberlain%201965.pdf

      Thanks so much for that one.

      And that dilemma is so true. My curiosity compels me to the next book, but each time I go back to an old book I find it to be an entirely different experience.

  3. Hi T.K.

    So glad you found the link! Oops, didn’t have the title quite correct, did I. (I tend to write from memory extemporaneously for conversational purposes.) Kudos you found it. Very beneficial to philosphical inquiry. And as a mental posture for all of us.

    I first knew of you from your interview with Isaac Morehouse. Among the many very interesting
    insights you make is that you’re the son of a preacher man. That you’re “one of the lucky few
    pastor’s kids who grew up in an environment of organized religion without being emotionally scarred or turned off by many of its negative aspects.” Is this attributed mainly to your parents?

    I’m an atheist, (by philosophical choice,) which I found to be a stimulating intellectual journey

    I attended Catholic elementary and high school. And I have very fond memories of those years. The academic standards were very high and most of the teachers (both lay and religious) were exceptional. They were value-oriented people who cared very much for their students. I was so
    fortunate to have benefitted from the excellent caliber of those educational years.

    (Am saddened/outraged by the current surfacing of the history of abuse that was hidden for years, and its affects on the children and believe it reflects a small percentage of priests.The higher ups (archbishops, etc) hid the findings and are not pious men so much as politicians in the church.)

    Realize that whether a person is religious or not tells you nothing about their character. And
    one’s character is defined by one’s day-to-day life and how that is lived.

    The difference to me is contrasted by the evil priest, Claud Frollo, in Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame” vs the bishop in “Les Miserables.” After Valjean’s grim imprisonment for almost 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread, he escapes (almost broken and in danger of losing his soul.) He finds himself at the bishop’s rectory where he is fed and treated humanely. When he leaves he steals the bishop’s silver candelsticks and is discovered by the town’s gens d’armes (Javert) who promptly returns him to the rectory to exact justice. Without hesitation the bishop turns to Valjean and says: “You forgot the plates” handing them to him. This one gesture restores Jean Valjean’s soul and manhood and sets him on a different path in life. And this is only a prelude that lauches us into the main story. Sublime.

    You also said you “enjoy pretending that things are more complicated than they really are.”
    Hm-m-m. I think this speaks of a mind ready to take on many challenges. Have you thought of writing a book?

    My Thanksgiving was truly enjoyable. We celebrate it in October, here in Canada. But I feel like I get to have 2 with the U.S. holiday, since we are a border town to Port Huron, Michigan and travel quite a bit from Sarnia (here) over the Bluewater bridge. (Beautiful little city, Sarnia.)

    OK. I’ve gone on again. Will stop now.

    Regards,

    Alana

    1. Hi Alana,

      Please pardon my delay with some of these replies.

      It’s been somewhat of a crazy past week and a half in terms of getting online as consistently as I would have liked, but I am here now and I do wish to make it clear that I enjoy oue dialogues tremendously.

      Regarding your question about my attitudes towards religion and my upbringing, I would have to give at least half of the credit to my parents. They live what they preach and they successfully embody the Christian message of compassion in all they do. Although I have observed hypocrisy in the religious world, I am lucky to have had religious parents who remained scandal-free in their 40 years of ministry. Their actions of service and faith has done more to shape my perception of religion and religious people than anything else I have experienced or observed. I would also have to give significant credit to Christian Philosophers. Were it not for the writings of St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, St. Anselm, Alvin Plantiga, Richard Swinburne, John Warrick Montgomery, Ravi Zacharias and other Christian apologist, I would have never discovered the broader worlds of epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and aesthetics that I now call home. I don’t subscribe to the evangelical paradigm of those writers, but an in-depth awareness of their arguments has made me more than a little respectful of some the more intelligent and respectful things that can be said on religion’s behalf. The last element of influence would probably be my inherently skeptical nature. I tend to be very skeptical of sweeping judgments and radical claims about anything. Religion has its flaws, but such is the nature of all human institutions. I’ve observed enough diverse manifestations of human corruption to know that, although some institutions are more easy to identify than others, corruption and beauty exist wherever there are people gathered together for any kind of cause whatsoever.

      With that being said, I completely sympathize with your sentiments regarding the abuse of religious authority and the many lives that have been harmed by it. Blind faith in church leadership combined with a lack of accountability makes for a deadly combination indeed.

      Regarding your philosophical views on Theism, I have a deep appreciation for atheism. Many of my best and brightest friends are atheist. One of my favorite philosophy professors in College was a man by the name of Quentin Smith. We would have coffee or McDonald’s after class and he would take my mind to some pretty amazing places. If you’d like to get a glimpse of him, here’s a link to some of his articles on The Secular Web:

      http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/

      What are some of the influences and factors that contributed to your journey in this regard?

      I haven’t found a label that satisfies me as far as Theism goes, but “mystic” is my favorite term so far. I tend to take a non-dogmatic, experience-based approach questions regarding the nature/being of Ultimate Reality. I like the term “Psychonaut.” This is someone who, just an astronaut explores outer space, devotes himself to conducting experiments and explorations in the inner space of consciousness. My influences in this regard range from Vedic Brahmanism and it’s notion of the Supreme Self, Advaita/Non-dual philosophy, Transpersonal Psychology, and Radical Solipsism.

      This whole topic fascinates me endlessly. Exploring the mysteries of “what is” is my heart’s greatest delight!

      I intend to write many books. I’m working on it now. I’ve only been writing for a year and a half, but it is such an amazing journey.

      Any big plans for Christmas?

      1. Hello T.K.

        No pardon required for delayed response. I’m impressed that you answer so often to all the responders. And so eloquently.

        Many thanks for the above link on Quentin Smith. Am going to explore his articles. I’m curious.

        We seem to both enjoy two controversial subjects: politics and religion. You bet.

        When it’s established that I’m an atheist, I don’t get the strong reactions I used to get years ago. But this only tells other/s what I don’t believe in. It doesn’t tell them what I do believe in. And it’s important that one’s beliefs are ideologically positive. Often the concern is whether mankind can have a moral code of ethics without religion. And that becomes a fascinating field of inquiry.

        Influences and factors that contributed to my journey:

        Thomas Aquinas: Reached back into history and found Aristotle. Infused his logic into that time and sparked the Renaissance after the Dark and Middle Ages. He’s on my list of people who made the world a better place. We studied him in high school so my journey may have started with him. “If you have to choose between god and man, choose man, because therein lies the concept.”

        However, Father O’Brien, our grade 11, 12 and 13 religion teacher probably started it all. (He introduced us to Aquinas.) Our religion classes were more like philosophy classes, and he would stride into the room in his robes and booming voice and start up many healthy debates, that explored a lot of these issues. I found him…fearless…in the realm of ideas. In the seminary priests in training have to grapple with all these issues and ultimately make a “leap of faith” away
        from the Aristotelian logic they (used to) learn then via Aquinas, into the mystical realm of belief in god. That’s an interesting epistemological process. Stirred up my thinking in different directions and we had many lively discussions together. He treated my questions and comments earnestly. Bless him. Wonder what he’d think now, setting me on the path to atheism?

        Books that brought me to Aristotle and the early Greeks, (again) Thomas Aquinas, Nietzsche (with many reservations), Rand, David Kelley, Paul Johnson and books on philosophy, history, biographies, etc. Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Robert Parker, Victor Hugo.

        An uncle. An aunt. (My dad’s brother and sister.) My dad. He became an alcoholic, filled with rage, and anger with me, and died an alcoholic. Fractured a family.) But as I began to recall that he taught me to read & write when I was 4 years old. That he read good books, loved poetry, brought me good books, would talk to me at length about interesting subjects. Before the serious drinking took hold (when I was 11 years old.) After which we lost one another. Been in foster homes, some good, some bad. But the true gift he gave me was reading good books and his conversations. (He had a good mind at one time.) From that I was to cherish reading, thinking, the intellectual world and the boundless knowledge that comes from so many other thinkers. (Past and present.) Realized that his anger at me was really at himself. (I was like him in temperament and appearance, so came to understand the dynamics of this.)

        He’d quote a line from a Swinburne poem that always stayed with me: “Life is a watch, or a vision, between a sleep and a sleep.” He was searching for something, a longing in him, that I wish he could have fulfilled.

        Remember in “Contact” when she meets her deceased father again during her space travel. (Is it in her mind? Wish-fulfillment? Did she actually see him again?) That scene resonated with me. The notion of meeting up again with someone
        from the past, now deceased, resolving conflicts, healing old wounds, soothing old injuries. And KNOW that if the whole point of learning is to make us bigger, not smaller, then we are “stronger in the broken places.”

        Also read very good self-help books (Dyer, Berne, Thomas, Branden, et al.)

        Indebted to their wisdom.

        Believe that we live the first half of our lives to figure out the next half.

        Hope this gets to you OK. Having some computer problems.

        Regards,

        Alana

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