Advaita Vedānta, al-Hallāj, Arianism, Aristotle, Docetism, Emmanuel Lévinas, Four Noble Truths, James Doull, Jesus, mystical experience, natural environment, Nicene Creed, Nicholas Gier, nondualism, Qur'an, Śaṅkara, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī, Stephen Prothero
I’ve been thinking some more about the idea of encounter, which I blogged about in these posts and which I take to be central to the philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas: the idea that we can never encompass the wholeness of truth, it must remain irreducibly other to us. I’m wondering whether the basic idea animating encounter philosophies is the virtue of humility – a virtue, I think, in both epistemological and ethical contexts. Aristotle, on the other hand, saw pride as a virtue, modesty as its lack – and while I do think humility is a virtue myself, I would remain an Aristotelian in seeing humility, like justice, as a mean. It is far too easy to be too humble in action, to be servile and self-abnegating – an excess which, I’ve suggested before, hurts women’s struggle for equality. And with respect to knowledge, too little humility can lead us to an inappropriate feeling of certainty; but realizing that lack of certainty can spur us to too much humility, leading us into a self-contradictory denial of truth and knowledge.
The issue surrounding encounter, in that case, goes well beyond one’s relationship with God, even one’s relationship with other human beings. Continue reading