The Birds and the D’s
If ignorance were bliss, my fellow humans, we’d be permanent residents of Nirvana.
Because we will always be ignorant.
The Age of Enlightenment upended that dreary calculus, seemingly, by highlighting mankind’s powers of reason, transforming the intellectual and philosophical landscape of 18th century Europe and ushering in unprecedented discovery and inquiry. “Sapere aude!” proclaimed Immanuel Kant, summing up the exuberance of that era: “Dare to be wise!” Or, more loosely, "Dare to think for yourself!"
And on that foundation of reason we’ve built a towering edifice of science and knowledge - towering, that is, compared with what was known before. As I’ve written elsewhere, every era finds us basking in an age of unprecedented enlightenment – until the rear-view mirror of history exposes it as an age of slightly less ignorance. We scale mountains of knowledge and swim oceans of discovery - only to find mountains more magnificent to tackle and oceans more vast to explore.
As a good friend likes to remind me, “the truth is.”. But getting to that truth is maddeningly elusive. The Apostle Paul observed long ago that we “see through a glass darkly”: pure comprehension of truth remains perpetually out of reach. It’s best that we proceed humbly, holding the lamp of our current understanding as high as we can. Read the rest of this entry »