Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Memorandums

I thought I was figuring out how to use the scheduling feature of blogger to set publishing ahead of time, but apparently not.... sigh. Ironically, it's a post on Perfection: What it Isn't, that's showing up when it shouldn't be, like a demonstration of its own thesis.... Perfect? NOT!

Since Sunday is usually the day that I work on catching up on my blog read list, here are a few links that I wanted to remember. Sorry, this is long!


I. The Problem with Reductionism

Here's an interesting article Philosophical Refutation of Reductionism by Peter Kreeft (HT: The Deeps of Time).

It is usually thought today, by both reductionists and transcendentalists alike, that reason (in the modern sense of severely logical reasoning rather than in the older sense of the word "reason" that included intuitive or contemplative wisdom) leads to reductionism, and that the only way to justify transcendentalism is to reduce reason to a secondary or instrumental status and to exalt something else over it -- for instance, intuition, desire, imagination or religious faith. The purpose of this paper is to refute that idea by demonstrating, by strictly logical reasoning, (1) that reductionism is self-contradictory, and (2) that transcendentalism is self-evident once we admit data from our three most valued and distinctively human powers, namely our power to think anything true, to choose anything good, and to appreciate anything beautiful.

You have to read the whole article to see the careful proof but here is the part that clarified something I have been trying to think through.

by science we can know the universe, and combine it with our first premise, that the knowledge of any thing is not one of the parts of that thing, and you get the conclusion that our knowledge of the universe is not part of the universe, but an addition to it, transcending it.

I just recently found an article on a related topic; it's called A Scientist Seeks Mystery, Metaphor, Myth and Magic: Threads Linking Chesterton, Lewis and Tolkien and Even Hawking to the Deep Sinews of Reality LOL. From that one:

Systemic to the Myth of the Machine is the process of understanding termed reductionism. Reductionism seeks an understanding of the whole in an understanding of the parts. It is itself the core of the Myth of the Machine. Only for machines, made things, is reductionism clearly a legitimate process. ...


II. The Problem with Training Replacing Education

An interesting quote from The Truth will Make You Free (HT: Homeschooling: A Family's Journey) "Training is Not Education":

“The well known experience of the Montessori schools have shown us that in a prepared environment children develop an affection for the materials they work with and have their inmost energy set free to assimilate movement and sense experiences into their own inscrutable purposes. Their growing toward maturity and loving union with the environment is not forced from without, as Freud would have it with his social pressures and sublimation, but by a spontaneous movement from within. This movement will depend on the degree and quality of freedom the child is given to be and to become himself. When the child’s mind is controlled and manipulated by adults, it is trained under social pressure.

But mental training fails to release the inmost energy of the human mind. In fact, such a training forces the child to repress much of his true nature and to remain unconscious in his motivation. His sublimated behavior is willed behavior that does not benefit from his natural and spontaneous feelings. He is made to repress these feelings under the pressure of the superiority complex of adults and the ironic tyranny of loving parents. This tragedy of repression is the social sickness in man that Freud described well but did not interpret correctly, as his view of human nature is derived from sick, repressed man, not from man as he is when educated in freedom.

“Whether one approaches the subject form a philosophical or psychological point of view, the final conclusion is the same Training is an inadequate method of development man’s emotional and mental life, precisely because the human creature is not an animal! Education is based on respecting children as human beings, on giving them the freedom within a prepared and safe environment with an adult to act as a guide rather than a trainer.

Only in education, never in training, are children allowed to be and to become with they really are: uniquely themselves. Only when affirmed by mature parents and educators, i.e. loved for being what they are, even for their ‘otherness,’ and allowed to assimilate spontaneously in their own tempo their whole being into their mental and spiritual life, only then will children find their unique identity and fulfilment, never to be plagued by an identity crisis in later life!”

This reminds me of Fr George Rutler's words on Kindergarten (HT Naru Hodo)

I urge you to keep your child out of kindergarten, because kindergarten will only lead to first grade and then the grim sequence of grade after grade begins and takes its inexorable toll on the mind born fertile but gradually numbed by the pedants who impose on the captive child the flotsam of their own infecundity.
Also, this article on Incarnational Teaching in Kindergarten, from Quiddity.

III. Thoughts on Lenten practices

Lastly, I've been thinking about Lent and here is Pope Benedict's message on Lent 2009 (HT: Blog by the Sea)

We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it.

.....Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself” (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322).

...The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as “twisted and tangled knottiness” (Confessions, II, 10.18), writes: “I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness” (Sermo 400, 3, 3: PL 40, 708). Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.

.....In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.
The kids and I were discussing yesterday what to give up for Lent this year. Brendan gives up the internet and all computer games; he does this every year and also digs through his closet and discards some of his old treasures, very difficult for him because he is temperamentally a collector and keeper of treasures. I admire him; my kids usually devise better penances than I do.

I gave up coffee one year (ouch) and naps another year (OUCH) and blogging last year (that one actually surprised me because it wasn't so bad, surprising because I love blogging; reminded me of the Lent I gave up meat and hardly missed it, even though I'm as much of a meat-eater, or more as the next person). Giving up chocolate is always good for some genuine growing pains. Jen at Conversion Diary recommends that bloggers shut off their comboxes for Lent. That probably works well for some bloggers but I'd hate to lose the contact with my few, faithful commenters who I rarely get to interact with any other way except through trading off comments on each others' blogs ;-). If I do keep blogging, that is. Finally, here's a really really tough penance in my book. Give up reading while eating? The sun would grow dark in my eyes. I'm not sure if I CAN eat without reading. I don't think I've tried it since I COULD read. But maybe I'll give it a shot this year.



Almost forgot: this post on Getting Kids to Behave in Church. Though I know childrens' behavior in church is often a vexed issue and there are a lot of good tips there, that wasn't what almost knocked me over. My main strategy in dealing with Mass behavior is to contemplate whether or not to dip the child's head in the holy water font. I never actually have done, but contemplating it usually gets me through the worst moments, along with thinking that by the time they are old enough to actually confess being disruptive in Mass, none of them ever have had to confess it any longer.

Really, the post for me was about:

The Eucharist as the Heart of the Week.

1 comment:

lissla lissar said...

Next time Nat throws a tantrum in Mass, I'll dunk him. That's perfect.

Also, I asked this on my blog, but I'm not sure how often you check it- Nat still wakes every two hours to nurse, and I'm slowly dying. Any advice on nightweaning or heavy chains or something?