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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Heart has its Reasons

Spinoza's Solitude and New Jerusalem (see two blogs ago) raised the issue of sacrificing the truth and the search for truth through reason for the sake of love, e.g. Esther in Solitude; Clara in Jerusalem, and of course Rabbi Mortera, and the Jewish community abandoned by not compromising with a desire to know.

Spinoza's contemporary, Blaise Pascal, though a devotee of mathematics and science, remained a believing Catholic even in the face of (or maybe because of?) inquisition and disapproval. He introduced a new dualism: "The heart has its reasons that the mind knows not thereof," he said. No, religious beliefs are not scientific. They must be accepted by faith. Nevertheless, religious beliefs cannot be disproved (which of course makes them unscientific according to Karl Popper) and are still reasonable in the way of love.

With Pascal, love of and by God and love of neighbor are not rational in the scientific sense. And there is a whole realm of reality that cannot be accessed through intellectual reason. The heart has its own reasons apart from intellect. Otherwise we take the wonder, the mystery, the feeling out of life. "There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I think Pascal's thoughts lead to an anti-science that rationalizes untruth. It furthers religion as the "god of the gaps." It also demeans poetry and mysticism by making it a sort of elitist enterprise. It separates the imagination from thought and critical reflection from belief.

Methinks that the dualism of mind and heart, like the dualism of soul and body and the dualism of nature and super-nature, is a false dualism--a fallacy that can be explained by neuroscience. In the human activity of adapting to the environment through the artifacts of imagination (images and symbols), these is an experience of self, distinct from one's artifacts, in upon with others and the world. We call this consciousness. It is there unreflected upon in the focus on objects in the world.

This feeling is not separate from symbolic activity or thinking or reason but a ground or contextual sense in the process. Here is the "reason of the heart," the feeling of being whole, the sense of transcending the senses, the wonder of mystery, the faith that surpasses beliefs, the magical part of reality.

Yes, the rigid intellectual can neglect the wonder of his faith and activity by being so captured in objects and facts "out there." He can get lost in the formalism of his mathematics and so be unmindful of the informalism of his imagination. He can neglect the artistic dimension of science and all human knowledge. He can literalize the metaphor. But I know no seekers for truth through science that neglect the wonder and the mysterious and the poetic. Just read Dawkins: The Magic of Reality.  Deutsch's: Beginning of Infinity.

In an integral humanity, there is no mind without heart, no faith without reason, no truth without quest, no reason without love.

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