I have shared with a number of friends that a couple of years ago I read Husserl. I have continued to read phenomenology, and am going to try and read some more during this research leave. There is a longer story I would like to tell, but the short version goes something like . . . About 20 years ago, when Dianne and I were working with college students in Waco, when I was in school at Baylor, Dallas Willard came to town. I contacted him in advance, and asked him if he would be willing to visit with the college students we were working with. It was a fantastic evening, with Dallas fielding various questions from the group, after having already spoken at a more formal event at Baylor. During that conversation I asked him what one should read if one were interested in affirming/understanding the objectivity of knowledge (yes, I know, my more post-everything friends are already balking at how the question was asked). Dallas said that if one were serious, one must go back and read Edmund Husserl. Well, some 18 years ago (two years ago) I took a stab at it--reading Husserl's The Crisis of the European Sciences. Currently I have just started Logical Investigations.
The "Translator's Introduction" (by J. N. Findlay) is very helpful. Here is a snippet, which nicely gives the reader a sense of what Husserl was trying to do, and why it might benefit contemporary readers to understand what Husserl was trying to accomplish. Here is Findlay:
[Husserl's Logical Investigations is important] "because it uses its investigations of logic to illuminate much more fundamental topics: the nature of meaning, the ontology which meaningful discourse presupposes, and infinitely most important, the nature of those conscious acts in virtue of which alone our words point beyond themselves to things in the world, and in virtue of which alone there is a world for us and any fellows with whom we can communicate." (p 3)
The sobering reality continues! . . .
Gilson writes the following (on Augustine on teaching):
"Masters merely explain, with the help of words, the disciplines they profess to teach; then those who are called students search within themselves to see if the things their masters tell them are true." (Augustine, 74).
About two years ago I was helped immensely in reading two of Etienne Gilson's books on realism. I hope to write a biblical theology of knowledge, and Gilson has proved helpful. Interestingly, Gilson had some influence on the French Reformed theologian, Auguste Lecerf, as seen in Lecerf's An Introduction to Reformed Dogmatics (mentioned elsewhere on this site). In discussing Augustine's understanding of "rational knowledge," there are some gems in Gilson. He writes: ""finding [i.e., finding knowledge/truth] is not making." And: "the manner in which the mind arrives at truth does not allow us to assume that the mind is the author of truth." (page 73 in Gilson's The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine).
Etienne Gilson, in summarizing Augustine argues that for Augustine, the teacher in a key sense does not "teach" the person he is (purportedly!) "teaching." Rather: teachers "invite him [the student] to enter into himself that he may acquire knowledge of the truths already there." (page 70)
One of the things I am doing while on research leave is trying to finish a book on Augustine. It is an introduction, and is being written for Christian Focus in Scotland. It is--to say the least--a tad intimidating to try and write an "Introduction" (!!!) to Augustine. But on we go. I am working through Etienne Gilson's The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine. On page 69 Gilson is discussing Augustine on the nature of teaching, and whether a teacher really teaches anything at all (a sobering thought for a professor).
Here is Gilson on Augustine:
"When a teacher instructs a pupil, does he put into the pupil's mind the ideas signified by the words he uses? In short, is there such a thing as teaching?"
Greetings Friends. The Greens are on Research Leave at Tyndale House in Cambridge, England. It is a great place to study. I am thankful that my employer, Union University, gave the green light for this. Happy to be here!