Some of these come from things I’ve tweeted – I wanted to format them and consolidate them a bit more here.
It seems like a lot Christians think that explaining, or harmonizing, Scripture is almost like doing an injustice to Scripture. Folks like that seem to be the ones who always insist that Scripture is ‘messy’, so to try and harmonize it is to go against what Scripture is. I guess if you accept that definition of ‘messy’ and everything that goes with it, that’s a reasonable position to take. But what exactly does ‘messy’ mean, and does it entail necessarily that Scripture can’t be explained or harmonized? I blogged on this before in the context of theology and spirituality, but the same points apply. For me, I guess, the idea that Scripture is fundamentally ‘not supposed to be’ harmonized/explained/systematized is just odd. I do think that a general resistance to systematization is the underlying issue. Systematic theology has a place, obviously – but those who are opposed to the ‘finality’ of some systematics no doubt disagree.
Imagination is an important thing when thinking about philosophy, but it all too often is merely invoked instead of examined. Not there seems to be anything even remotely resembling a consensus on what the imagination is. James K.A. Smith has interesting ideas on it (he draws mostly from Merleau-Ponty, at least in the book I’ve read), but they seem to just be a rehash of the Aristotelian active intellect. I do think that he’s correct to move discussions of the imagination away from thinking of it like a ‘making things up’ ability – ‘use your imagination’, for example, and more towards a faculty of formal causality, albeit one oriented in an ’emotional’ and ‘affective way’. But, like I said, that seems to be the active intellect, with a slight tune-up.
I’ve begun to realize that a big problem in philosophy of mind stems from what I’ll call the ‘philosophical anthropology’ that is more or less the received wisdom. The general idea is that humans are primarily cognitive, knowing creatures, who are distinguished primarily by the rationality – and that’s it (yes, I’m aware that this isn’t a universal picture). Everyone knows, however, that there is far more to being human than merely being cognitive. Actually, as James K.A. Smith notes, the cognitive aspects of how we know and acquire knowledge really seem to be the last and possibly the most minor aspect of our existence – and recent cognitive science really seems to back that claim up. So much of our ‘knowing’ (for lack of a better term) is done on the tacit level (Polyani) that it almost seems like most philosophy of mind doesn’t really know what a human is. Think of how many arguments hinge on something like ‘knowledge’ in the abstract – when ‘knowledge’ in the abstract seems to really be something that doesn’t exist.