Sunday, May 29, 2011

Virtue acquisition in the hurly-burly is the work of Another

Much like yesterday, which is probably due to the on-going cold and rainy weather, I am in an overly introspective mood, which is always a danger, making me somewhat hyper-sensitive. So, it is funny that someone would e-mail me today asking my help with getting his mind around Husserl's edetic reduction, specifically asking me to provide an example of it. So, I used an example provided by the Norwegian philosopher, Dagfinn Føllesdal, taken from his useful article, Husserl’s Reductions and the Role They Play in His Phenomenology. Well, this required the unpacking of two other terms employed by Husserl, namely noema and hyle. On my understanding, it is by means of the noetic that Husserl tries to get at the essence of an idea.

Many of Husserl's students, certainly Martin Heidegger, eschewed the very concept of the essence of ideas. Heidegger viewed it as a hangover from traditional Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics that it was his philosophical project to destroy. Anyway, I will be the first to admit, as I was this morning to my correspondent, that even though I had the unique advantage of studying largely continental philosophy, it has been a long time since I have done any serious philosophical work, especially given that I have devoted whatever academic time and energy I have had to completing my thesis on the value of married permanent deacons to the church's pastoral ministry, which has left no time to any serious philosophical reading.

Edmund Husserl

With these caveats, I spent the better part of an hour thinking about and trying to explain these two terms in the context of Føllesdal's example of perceiving dice before typing my reply. What did I get back? A complaint about Husserl's writing ability and an accusation of being dismissive of the question! I suppose I could get angry, which was my immediate reaction, but taking a breath and giving it a moment's thought helped me to see that a sigh and a prayer are a more appropriate response for me today. Even after many years, it is still difficult for me to see just what Christ is getting at by means of these kinds of encounters. I guess that is why I am a "practicing" Christian. Who knows, maybe someday before I die I'll get it right for His sake?

In this instance, I think patience and forebearance are in play, but also not letting myself be taken by flattery out of pride. I suppose the really honest answer was, "Sorry, I don't think I can clarify that for you," even given that the honest answer could more realistically taken as dismissive. I have been praying that my life will become simpler, more centered at home with fewer distractions. This shows me something that must change, which is also the work of Another, albeit one that requires me to act on my desire. After all, simplicity requires humility, n'est-ce pas?

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