More notes on Chapter 2:
In the first place, our senses tell us that things are-- for instance, that fire is hot. They do not tell us why it is hot. That question introduces the scientific or experimental branch of knowledge.
The concept of fire can be isolated into parts that are then analyzed as to why it works the way it does, thereby providing additional knowledge. But this knowledge isn't necessarily a better kind of knowledge than the sensory knowledge of fire, which is the knowledge that enables us to *recognize* a thing as fire when we see it. (I think we can all agree that no matter how much theoretical knowledge you have of fire, if you cannot recognize that a fire is a fire-- the fire-ness of it, so to speak-- when you see it, you are not only severely lacking in knowledge, but may also be a danger to yourself and others!)
He gives a new definition for the term gymnastic: "a 'naked wrestling' with reality, unencumbered by microscopes, textbooks or tests."
I begin to see that the terms "gymnastic, poetry, music" can actually be used as adjectives to describe the idea of the poetic mode of learning, which would be "gymnastic, poetic, musical". I wonder if he is going to give a better sense of the adjective "musical". The best I can figure out right now is that since melody and rhythm are imitative of virtues or vices, "musical" as a term to describe instruction would be imitative of virtue. In this way, the heroes in books that inspire us to *be* them-- to sympathize or empathize-- would be musical. This is running right into Triss' and my Volume 4 study, which this week was on Sympathy. Sympathy would be musical. (I wonder if I am getting this or just running on into my own tangent?)
Wisdom: "That mode of knowledge that is in its own right higher than poetic knowledge....the study of things in their causes, a very rigorous, mature, complex discipline for the trained philosopher." (He makes a little note that says there are some instances in which formal training is not necessary to gain this kind of knowledge.)
Now he is talking about the senses, and how the satisfaction of them proves that people have a desire to learn. This is confusing: "The senses, of their own nature, make a proportionate selection of what is pleasant, what is the mean-- not unlike the tale of Goldilocks who finally selected the bowl of porridge that was not too hot, not too cold, but 'just right.' This 'just right' is poetic knowledge..."
Sensory discrimination develops eventually into memory, and from there turns into 'experience'. It is the beginning of knowledge.
Now he is talking about 'wonder'. I'm still not quite clear on the idea that delighting the senses is the beginning of knowledge, but I'll move on to 'wonder' with Mr. Taylor, seeing that I am puzzled and wondering myself:
"A man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant..."
Wonder is based in "fear produced by the consciousness of ignorance". I have to say I have never thought of wonder in this way before. To me it is too calm to be fear, but maybe I am thinking of anxious fear. He says that since man has a desire to *know*, this ignorance is perceived as a kind of evil, something to be remedied.
He contrasts the modern "Wow!" kind of wonder that we get when we see the laser-light show at Disneyland with the traditional kind of wonder, which he is referring to here. The traditional wonder appears in ordinary things, not in amazing special effects or 3-D.
"Wonder is the most rational kind of fear." Hmm. I'm still not completely convinced about the fear thing.
"Wonder arises, not from ignorance, but from the consciousness of ignorance."
Wonder arises from something unpleasant (consciousness of ignorance), but gives rise to a desire to know and a pursuit of knowledge, which are two pleasant things. They are pleasant because it is right and good for man to want to know and to attempt to find out.
(For some reason I am thinking of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis. Man's-- and Woman's-- desire to know got him in trouble then!)
"A man imprisoned will find his condition unpleasant, but he will take delight in planning his escape!"
I did not understand one sentence on this page. It was about wonder being the beginning of philosophy, but I didn't get it.
(I started reading a different book yesterday, a parent's guide to adolescent neuroscience, and I have to say it was a relief to read that book after struggling almost halfway through Chapter 2 of Poetic Knowledge! This book is *hard*!)
He says we get a "breather" now. Whew. Now we will talk about St. Augustine and St. Benedict. Augustine is important because he is a kind of link between the Greco-Roman tradition and the education of the Middle Ages. Benedict is important because he thought deeply about monastic living, and left rules of order that embody the poetic mode of life.
I think I am going to take a break and read this part later.