Ep72-Knowledge is Being (Pt 2) - Vol 5

Topics Discussed:
1. How Are We Aware of Noumenal Experience?
2. How Could Post-conceptual Language Expressed in a Publicly Available Dialogue Be Known to be True Subjectively?
3. Kierkegaardian Subjectivity.
4. Interpersonal Encounter with a Thou that Precedes and Exceeds Me: A Levinasian Addendum to Buber.

Show Notes:

B. The Objection that Spiritual Experience Lacks Cognitive Content.

If the Mormon epistemic practice in fact results in non-conceptual knowledge, then it is worse than merely interpreted experience. It is meaningless. Even if it is self-authenticating, intuitive and unmediated by concepts, ideas, beliefs and practices, such knowledge based on mere feeling cannot be described in objective language. It doesn’t convey anything that can be expressed to another. No belief at all can follow from an experience that is prior to all belief

It is a fact that the spiritual experience of the burning in the bosom and the expansion of the mind doesn’t convey propositional knowledge in se. It doesn’t follow, however, that the burning in the heart doesn’t stand in a confirmation relation to the truthfulness of the message of the restoration of the gospel.

It is the message that is communicated and received in the heart that occasions the recognition of having always already known the truthfulness of that message.

Lens analogy

The epistemic practice outlined in the Mormon scriptures is precisely that the heart burns with recognition in response to the truth. The heart knows, or in other words, senses that the message is inspired and expressive of truth. The heart vibrates with life and declares “God is in this message.” It is either the affirmative exclamation, “yes,” of the heart or the confusion of the mind that decides it must keep looking.

Perhaps a fair analogy is the experience of a baby that hears its mother’s voice. The voice is known as familiar, loving and already within one’s experience. Babies know the voice already from being in utero. However, that recognition is not a rational or conceptual recognition. Babies are not conscious of their recognition of the voice and they don’t reflect on their knowledge of the voice in consciousness. The baby doesn’t know how it recognizes the voice – it just does

Jesus said the sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd

1. How Are We Aware of Noumenal Experience?

how could I be conscious of the burning in the heart at the core of my being if somehow the experience is not mediated through the categories? “Conscious noumenal experience” is a contradiction because there is no noumenal experience of which we could possibly be conscious because the phenomenal world mediated through the categories is given in the act of becoming conscious.

I believe that Kant is fundamentally correct about the perception of sensible data, but the knowledge that resides in our hearts is not sensible data even though it is analogous to the senses. Further, I don’t accept Kant’s claim that the categories are the logically exhaustive and necessary condition for conscious experience.

I can be aware of knowing at my very core, in the burning of my heart in response to the truth that is manifest. I can be conscious that I am experiencing myself knowing the truth in my response to the truth because it is given as a datum of my conscious experience even though the experience itself is not an object of sensible cognition. We clearly have non-cognitive experiences of which we are conscious. The complex of feelings, conative experiences and emotions are also such experiences of which we are often conscious.

How did Kant reconcile the view with free will?

2. How Could Post-conceptual Language Expressed in a Publically Available Dialogue Be Known to be True Subjectively?

Written Revelation (Scripture)   
Still small voice

the most dramatic example of the relation between hearing the voice and discerning what it says and the burning of the message in the heart is set forth in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi at the time that Christ visits the Nephites:

And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
  “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.” (3 Nephi 11:3-7)

But doesn’t the quotation from 3 Nephi in fact show that the spiritual experience characterized as a burning heart cannot be merely subjective because it was shared by a number of gathered Nephites?

Gelato example

Wittgenstein and hinge proposition

Wittgenstein concluded: “It strikes me that a religious belief could only be something like a passionate commitment to a system of reference. Hence although it’s belief, it’s really a way of living, a way of assessing life. It’s passionately seizing hold of this interpretation.”

Language game

Realist vs anti-realist conceptions of truth

the position that I affirm is a realist position regarding the spiritual experience of the heart burning in recognition, but an anti-realist position regarding any public discourse regarding such experiences . My view is that of a critical realist view.

3. Kierkegaardian Subjectivity.

Kierkegaard asserts:
“Subjectivity is the truth. By virtue of the relationship subsisting between the eternal truth and existing individual, the paradox came into being. Let us now go further, let us suppose that the eternal essential truth is a paradox. How does the paradox come into being? By putting the eternal essential truth into juxtaposition with existence. Hence, when we posit such a conjunction within the truth itself, the truth becomes a paradox.
The eternal truth has come into being in time: this is the paradox. “

The paradox is that, as an individual existing in the noumeal realm of reality, I know the truth of concrete reality of my own existence as a thing-in-itself by knowing my own existence, but the minute I begin to think about it, I bring it under the conceptual means of understanding and thus I transform myself into a mere phenomenon of my thought.

I also want to make clear, just in case what I have said completely escapes you, that Kierkegaard does not advocate that something is true just because it is believed passionately.

4. Interpersonal Encounter with a Thou that Precedes and Exceeds Me: A Levinasian Addendum to Buber.

if I know by becoming subjective and looking inward to my particular, concrete existence as a noumenon, then how do I experience anything outside of myself? How does the experience give any knowledge of a reality that is independent of myself? If subjectivity is truth, how does it point to God who certainly cannot be reduced to my subjective experience?

solipsism overcome in three ways:
First, the heart responds to what is “other than.”  is preceded by what it responds to. Thus, there is a reality that transcends the subject that calls it out of a self to be a self.

Second, the heart’s response is not a conceptuality, not a subjective schema that reduces everything that it encounters to its own confines of com-prehension by circumscribing it in a pre-existing schema or world-view. What calls to the heart transcends the subject and calls it out of itself to be in relation. What calls to the heart and to which it responds cannot be reduced to the mere conceptual structure of the subject and thus the subject is undone in response. As Isaiah said when he saw Yahweh in the temple: “Wo is me! For I am undone.” (Isaiah 6:5) The subject must expand beyond its present confines to touch the Other to which it responds.

Finally, the subjective self is called out of itself to transcend its “self,” and in this transcendence to become a self-in-relation that has always been preceded as a Thou that is already a presence given in experience.

The most characteristic facet of the experience of the heart burning in recognition is that the burning is always a realization of presence of another already given in that act of becoming conscious of experience. I discover a presence, an Other, an encounter with a Thou who is already part of my consciousness, before I create a conscious realization of this Otherness. This Holy Other, this Thou who is always already present with me at the core of my being, is rediscovered every time I open my heart.

In the call of the Other, I am obligated with an infinite responsibility for all others. I could never justify myself to or before this Other. Rather, only the Other could justify me if I am justified at all. Because the holy Other precedes me, I encounter in my heart a grace that is already given and I am already accepted into relationship. Having encountered the Other, I am called to a decision, an existential choice about my life and relation to the Other. If I choose to remain open to Otherness and its constant call to me in its presence within me, then I commence a new life – a new way of being in the world. In this way I begin a life shared in relationship with an Other that is always already present and living in my heart. In this encounter I am redeemed and snatched from the abyss of a self-enclosed and totally self-absorbed subjectivity that constitutes total alienation and isolation. Thus, I am saved by grace in the encounter. I am justified in the encounter. I am already in relationship as one accepted in “right relationship” by the Other.

...In this encounter the Holy One enters into me to take up abode, to reside and dwell. I am transcended in this relationship of mutual glorification in which I am in the Holy One and the Holy One is in me. I find my home in thy presence – in thy very being  – Beloved Holy One.


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  3. It would help a lot if you clearly explained the foundation of your beliefs and claims. You quote from philosophers and theologians, but you’re very selective about which of their claims you believe. You quote scripture, but I know you don’t trust scripture as a reliable source of truth either. It sounds like you’re following some higher principle that tells you what is truth and what isn’t, but you don’t explain what that principle is or where it comes from.

    Talking about otherness, transcendence, and noumenal experiences sounds very spiritual, but what’s the point if none of those ideas are from God? The Apostles certainly never taught those ideas. Israel had a habit of mixing God’s truth with other religions and doing what was right in their own eyes, and it never worked out well for them. How can we be sure we’re not making the same mistake they did?


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