Sunday, June 10, 2012

"This hope is a clue to God. . . ."

     "The stage on which we thus resume our full intellectual powers is borrowed from the Christian scheme of Fall and Redemption.  Fallen Man is equated to the historically given and subjective condition of our mind, from which we may be saved by the grace of the spirit.  The technique of our redemption is to lose ourselves in the performance of an obligation which we accept, in spite of its appearing on reflection impossible of achievement.  We undertake the task of attaining the universal in spite of our admitted infirmity, which should render the task hopeless, because we hope to be visited by powers for which we cannot account in terms of our specifiable capabilities.  This hope is a clue to God. . . ."

     Michael Polanyi, Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy, pt. 3, chap. 10, sec. 10 ((London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962 [1958]), 324).
     But I wonder if there isn't a trace of a kind of gnosticism here ("the historically given and subjective condition of our mind" as the consequence of a "Fall").  What, for example, of the Fall of the will?  Is what Polanyi calls "objectivism" (charged with moral ills unlimited) what we got when we reached for the forbidden fruit?
     Part Four may tell.

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