Saturday, May 28, 2011

Polanyi on the indispensability of submission

"An art which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example from master to apprentice. This restricts the range of diffusion to that of personal contacts, and we find accordingly that craftsmanship tends to survive in closely circumscribed local traditions. Indeed, the diffusion of crafts from one country to another can often be traced to the migration of groups of craftsmen, as that of the Huguenots driven from France by the repeal of the Edict of Nantes under Louis XIV. Again, while the articulate contents of science are successfully taught all over the world in hundreds of new universities, the unspecifiable art of scientific research has not yet penetrated to many of these. The regions of Europe in which the scientific method first originated 400 years ago are scientifically still more fruitful today, in spite of their impoverishment, than several overseas areas where much more money is available for scientific research. Without the opportunity offered to young scientists to serve an apprenticeship in Europe, and without the migration of European scientists to the new countries, research centres overseas could hardly ever have made much headway.
"It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continually adding new ones. These losses are usually irretrievable. It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts—equpped with microscopy and chemistry, with mathematics and electronics—to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago.
"To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explictly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition."

Michael Polanyi, Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy I.4.3 ((London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973 [1962, 1958]), 53).

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Where there is no Election, there is no history."

Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, The promise, trans. Rebecca Howell Balinski, Msgr. Richard Malone, Jean Duchesne, & Rivka Karplus (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), 104.  I have not read this book, but was put on to it by Pierre d'Ornellas, "L'évêque et l'histoire," Communio: revue catholique internationale 33, no. 3 (mai-juin 2008):  58 (53-62).  The material on election that follows this in the article and book appears on p. 32 in the English translation.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Balthasar on the doctrines of election and predestination

"When God's universal plan for the world, for its creation as for its redemption, thus definitively moves into view, it becomes impossible to interpret the doctrine of election in the Old and New Covenants, with their clear preference for one individual vis-à-vis others, other than as a moment within this universal plan. . . . Israel is called for the sake of the Gentiles, and this call of Israel becomes a model for the call ('calling out,' ecclesia) of the Church, which takes place for the sake of the world, and thus also for every personal call within the Church, which without exception demonstrates this same ecclesial figure of meaning:  to be called for the sake of those who (for the time being) are not called.  This biblical-patristic and modern understanding leaves behind once and for all every theology of individual predestination (the most consistent form of which was the theology of double predestination), according to which the one chosen is chosen primarily for his own sake, so much so that he must stand amazed and trembling before the mystery of others not-being-chosen (perhaps even being rejected)whether these others be many or few.
"We can and must formulate this very simply:  everyone who is called in a biblical sense is called for the sake of those who [for the time being] are not called."

Hans Urs von Balthasar, "Vocation," trans. Michelle K. Borras, Communio: international Catholic review 37, no. 1 (Spring 2010):  113 (111-128).

"the most astonishing thing is not that Jesus could be raised, but that he could die."

"The power that is his to lay down his life by relinquishing it (theinai) is by that very fact the power to take it up again (labein).  Thus, on the evening of the Last Supper, Jesus will 'lay aside' (theinai) his garments in order to place himself before his disciples in the attitude of the servant who washes their feet (Jn 13:3ff.) and, after having 'taken up' (labein) his garments again and returned to his place in their midst, he can ask them whether they 'know' what he has just done.  The parallelism with the paschal mystery as a whole is remarkable, and the resurrection, signified here by the taking up again of his garments, appears as the revelation of the divine love at work from beginning to end in this mystery."

Jean-Pierre Batut, "Believing in the resurrection, or:  The logic of love," Communio: international Catholic review 37, no. 1 (Spring 2010):  37 (34-46).  The headline comes from p. 35:  "If Life made itself manifest in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the question of his resurrection takes second place: the most astonishing thing is not that Jesus could be raised, but that he could die."