Monday, July 5, 2010

Giussani on knowing

Whether you know or not, you operate with an epistemology, which means nothing other than the way you approach the world, the way you interact with the world. Further, your epistemology arises from your metaphysics and results in your ethical/moral stance. In his book, The Religious Sense, Luigi Giussani argues for the need for a realist, as opposed to an idealist or skeptical, epistemology.

He does so by writing about three high school philosophy teachers, the first of whom is an idealist, the second a skeptic, the third a realist with enough of a phenomenological sensibility to be convincing. The inquiry is into what is that white, rectangular object lying on the desk (i.e., a notebook):

"We all have the impression that this is an object outside ourselves. This evidence is primary, original. But if I do not know it? It is as if it did not exist. You see, therefore, that knowledge is the encounter between human energy and a presence. It is an event where the energy of human knowledge is assimilated to the object. How do you produce such an assimilation? This is a fascinating question that we can only partially answer. We are certain, however, that knowledge is composed of two factors" (pg. 8).

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