Monday, 22 January 2018

Reason-belief rift

Only today did I commence my reading directly pertaining to my doctoral research.  Among the very many things I need to initially sort out, is this question of reason and belief. I've always considered that philosophy, at least of the modern and contemporary era, distanced itself from faith or belief.  Perhaps in the same way or as a revolt against the medieval era wherein philosophy was faith-based.  So does this mean that the ancient Greek philosophy did not have this divide of reason and belief?  Was it something that did not differentiate the two, if not juxtapose one as the antidote or opposite of the other? 

I'm now aware (though not clear how and why) that Charles Taylor in a way redefined reason in his earlier writings.  His emphasis on Plato and Augustine throws open understandings of which I've not really come across. For me those two were always a sort of 'villains' and predecessors of the Cartesian dichotomy.  In comparison to Aristotle and Aquinas, they not only maintained the divide but advocated one as better and against the other: soul better than the body, faith greater than reason... At least that's the pattern of thought I came across so far.  Perhaps our 'religious philosophy' (philosophy taught and promulgated in our formation settings) is responsible for this outlook. However over the past year, listening to the various philosophies and professors, now makes me question this.  The reading and understanding of Plato and Augustine is very different in the college circles. 

So am wondering if Plato and Augustine had much more to contribute to the discussion between reason and belief, than I preferred to read or hear about?  Charles Taylor in one of his interviews challenges, the conviction that faith does not question.  He states that we have presupposed that faith does not raise questions.  That believing means not questioning.  While I grant him that, his arguments points to something much more than mere doubts and initial curiosity.  Fides et Ratio, the encyclical of John Paul II states
Faith unmoored from reason wanders into fideism and superstition.  Reason emptied of faith, collapses into skepticism and relativism. 
But this only goes to prove that reason and belief are complementary.  But when actually did belief and reason part?  At which point did belief and reason begin to be different, leave alone opposed to each other?  

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