I’ve had some time to think, and, in my mind, the question is settled. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, scroll down a bit to catch up on reading some part 1. Anyways, I think that there is something which can clarify the matter, even though I am going to end by conceding that the way I presented it before was an insurmountable paradox.
So I hope this doesn’t scare you, but it’s true. If we assume that faith and reason are polar opposites and that they necessarily antagonize each other when one is forming one’s belief, then It’s true that we are all ontologically fragmented and irreparable selves. In my eyes, they just cannot be reconciled, because there is no playing field on which they can both simultaneously play out their respective functions of propagating one’s belief. To argue the contrary would be to use the standards of one or the other, since this argument must either presuppose the truth of inductive/deductive reasoning or appeal strictly to a kind of dogmatism. I don’t see a way out of this. I won’t claim that my claim is true because of this apparent impossibility – as that would be arguing from ignorance – but rather very likely. To be sure, though, maybe you can help me by giving an interpretation that will untangle this paradox!
But even if we’re left with a broken self, this isn’t such a bad thing. Because, actually, it makes a lot of sense. I’ll put it in the form of another paradox, just to make this exercise more interesting. We are completely incomplete selves, who on our own, will never really come to believe the truths of our world in a way that promotes true understanding. What it takes is experience; specifically, our day-to-day experiences out in the world and our relationships we have with others to do this.
So to clear this up a little bit, we are essentially unable to have the sense of epistemic robustness in our beliefs without some source of aid from other people. In this way, we are incomplete. But that is perfectly fine – it is the way it should be – because it allows us to seek out something more. To be sure, every social situation and conversation that we enter into typically leaves us with a perspective, bit of information or experience which we readily incorporate into our own selves. Whether it be good for building our web of interests or helping us get by on a difficult day, we readily implement both what people do and do not say into our own selves. The values, interests, etc. that we gain from hearing other peoples’ stories, for example, allows us to grasp something true about the world which we just couldn’t have done alone. This attitude may merely be due to the fact that humans are social animals, but I would go further to claim that it is actually because there is something more true, more real to take away in the experience one has with relating to other people.
We can’t find all of the answers on our own. We need to use our social setting to mold all of our ideas out of. We need to be pushed into the direction of finding the value, rather than the flaws, in someone’s viewpoint. We need to listen and understand each other. Because, in the end, this is what is going to get us along. It’s not to say that we should become entirely dependent on others for our beliefs, but to slow down just enough to see their worth in making our own experience a little clearer. From there is where we discriminately listen to the voice of either faith or reason to give rise to the appropriate belief which we feel puts it all together. This notion of choosing where to go – who to listen to – is tough to explain, but this ambiguity is what makes life worth living.
Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure. You might not always get it “right,” or how you wanted it to be, but in the end your choices are essentially you and, for that, there’s little to regret. If you try to page ahead and see where you’ll end up, then you’ll often be surprised, in both good and bad ways, about the outcome of these choices. But life isn’t really a book – I know that. There’s no going back or flipping forward. You can only reread what’s been read, you can’t change the words once they’re printed. For better or worse, that’s just how it is. But we can learn a lot from recognizing this and making the most of it by putting in a conscious effort to learn from others as we approach our final chapter, our final human destiny – whatever that may be. Don’t ask me about it, I still haven’t figured it out yet.