HOW DO WE GROW?

We may say that when we use language, or a probe, or a tool, and thus make ourselves aware of these things as we are of our body, we interiorize these things and make ourselves dwell in them. Such extensions of ourselves develop new faculties in us; our whole education operates in this way; each of us interiorizes our cultural heritage, he grows into a person seeing the world and experiences life in terms of this outlook. (from Michael Polyani “The Logic of Tacit Inference” (Knowing and Being)

What do you think of this quotation?

I love it because it challenges the idea that education is an accumulation of facts, of external knowledge, of developing skills detached from who we are.

Education is to do with “indwelling”, within a science, an art, a language, a literature, a history; so that it becomes “interiorised” within our person.

It challenges the idea that education is simply for utility and not for our personal growth.

Let me know what you think.

PLATO’S CAVE

Look carefully at the above image ( with thanks for this to WikkiMedia) which presents a picture illustrating Plato’s allegory of the cave. Note the hunched figures bound so they look in one direction. They see, point to and talk about reflections on the back wall of a cave. The light reflected is caused by a fire behind a wall. Actors bearing images of, say, animals, a soldier pass in front of the fire but behind the wall so that only the artefacts they are holding are seen. Nearer the front of the cave a prisoner who has escaped from the back of the cave has difficulty adjusting his eyesight to the brighter light of the sun and to the outside world. However, an escaped prisoner further advanced into the sunlight is taking in the reality of the world unfolded to him.

In the allegory the prisoners are presented with shadowy pictures they assume must represent reality. It is of course a false impression; but even if one escapes it is difficult for him to adjust his seeing to the new reality. However, if he is able to advance beyond this stage the possibility of full awareness is open to him. The light of the fire has been replaced by the sun. The surrounding world is seen in its animated fullness.

Were the two escapees to return to the cave to their former colleagues, they would have difficulty with the lack of light and appear to the prisoners confused. Therefore should they claim a superior reality lies beyond if only the prisoners could escape their word might well be doubted.

What do you make of this story? Does it accord with anything in your life or in our world that makes it an allegory of continuing significance for our time?

Note. Allegory: “A story or visual image with a distinct second meaning behind its literal or visible meaning. An allegory may be conceived of as a metaphor that is extended into a structure system. In written narrative, allegory involves a continuous parallel between two (or more) levels of meaning in a story, so that its persons or events correspond to their equivalents in a system of ideas or a chain of events external to the tale.” (From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms Chris Baldick. OUP 1990)

“THE EYE IS THE LAMP OF THE BODY”: PLATO AND JESUS ON TRUE SEEING.

Both Plato and Jesus demonstrate the need to see clearly. Following the last post on Plato’s Cave here is a poem based on one of the miracles of Jesus.

        THE SIGHTING
           John 9

Out of the shame of spittle,
by the scratch of dirt,
he made an annointing.

Oh, it was an agony- the gravel 
in the eye, the rude slime, the brittle
clay caked on the lid.

But with the hurt
light came leaping, in the shock and shine, 
abstracts took flesh and flew;

winged words like view and space,
shape and shade and green and sky,
bird and horizon and sun,

turned real in a man's eyes.
Thus was truth given a face 
and dark dispelled and healing done.

(Luci Shaw "The Sighting"The Lion Book of Christian Poetry 1981) 

The miracle is descibed in John’s Gospel thus:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a blind man , which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master,who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle and he annointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, Go,wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation, Sent). He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (John 9 1-7 KJV).

The prisoners in Plato’s cave are not blind but they do not see clearly. In the gospel passage Jesus, in declaring himself the “light of the world”, is, as the sun in the Plato story. He is also the redemptive force that heals. In the poem the healed man is able by the light of healing to give meaning to words that had remained meaningless or abstract to him. Things were made real. “This was truth given a face”.

The Plato allegory follows stages of enlightenment. Because of lack of true knowledge the prisoners cannot see properly. In the shadows of the cave they do not see the world as it is and by their “education” they are misled in understanding what reality is. They can readily be indoctrinated with a false view of what things are like. When the prisoners escape, the possibility of true education is opened to them. At first their seeing is confused. The sun dazzles. Curiously, in the Gospels, there is another Jesus healing of a blind man that works like this. In Mark 8:24-25 when Jesus puts spittle on his eyes he reports “I see men like trees walkng” Only when Jesus “put again his hands on his eyes, and made him look up” was he restored and he “he saw every man clearly”. True seeing, distinguishing what is there, clearly take time.

Ultimately, if he goes far enough, the escaped prisoner can see clearly. It is not just a case of identifying things. The sun shines and provides the light by which one sees. The sun is the source of light. First, the escapee sees things like trees and hills but then he realises the source of seeing is the sun. The final stage of his development of proper sight is to see the sun as the source of what he sees and understands. What is around him is good-especially when compared with the shadowy reflections in the cave, so the source that enables him to see is good. To Plato that is the ultimate intuition reflecting the nature of the Source, as the Good.

Jesus also speaks of clear sightedness. In the Sermon on the Mount he declares: “the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye be unhealthy your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light within you is darkness how great is that darkness!”(Gospel of St. Matthew 6. 22-23. New International Version). To Jesus God is the Father, the Shepherd , the Creator. Jesus sent from God reflects His nature and character. He heals the blind and the blind through him see the Father. The seeing is something given, a redemption, salvation.

Plato is concerned with education. The prisoners back in their cave need to be released. Only education can do that. Those who see must go back to educate those left behind. But here is a problem. Once they return to the old world, because their sight is blinded by the dark, they find it difficult to express their seeing. They might tell the prisoners what they see is a false reflection of reality. But, an artefact passing, an alert prisoner can identify the object to his fellows’ satisfaction whereas the returned educator does not offer what seem to be clarity. They may well prefer the world they have. And the returned educator may be mocked as a misty-eyed dreamer, seeing other worlds that do not exist.

We go back to Christ. Is this what he means by the “light in you is darkness”? -like that of the alert prisoner within his cave he is assured and confident in his identification but the identification is misleading because nothing is seen in the clear sight of day, in the sunlight, from the source of good. Jesus, in the St. John Ch 9 healing, refers to the Pharisees. The Pharisees objected to the healing because it was done on the Sabbath. Their knowledge of the Law has become so elaborate and complex, their rule-making so rigorous that they do not see the blindingly obvious truth that something wonderful and good has been done, someone who was blind, now sees. Jesus says in that gnomic, paradoxical, poetic way he often adopts. “For judgement I am come into the world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind“. (Gospel of St. John 9. 39). The rule-makers, the so-called teachers, like Plato’s false rhetorists, the sophists, do not encourage insight, only bewilderment.(see Note) Pharisees who are with Jesus and heard his words ask him “Are we blind also?” Jesus said unto them: “If ye were blind ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see therefore your sin remaineth”. (ibid41) Sin is the assumption of knowledge when there is failure of true understanding. In the face of revelation of the wonderful they are in denial.

Plato seeks to lead us to true-seeing by educating the understanding to the point where we see or intuit the source of goodness. Jesus, reflecting God’s love, has the power to heal us of our blindness, so revealing to us that love.

NOTE: Plato was suspicious of the emphasis on rhetoric by many teachers of his time as he saw them encouraging sophistry. “Plato generally treats them (ie. Sophists)) as charlatans who talked purely for victory and took money for teaching the technique” ( Simon Blackburn (Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy O.U.P 1996).

This is refected by our modern meaning of sophistry: “Specious or over-subtle reasoning, the use of intentionally deceptive arguments; casuistry; the use or practice of specious reasoning as a dialectic exercise”. (S.O.E.D.)

On the developments of Plato’s thought, I have found very helpful Understanding Plato David Melling. OPUS 1987)

OLD STORIES THAT TELL US WHERE WE ARE NOW

Myths are not factual but they incorporate profound truths.

The Biblical myth of the Tower of Babel speaks of the usurpation by Man of the place of God, claiming power which he is unable to maintain, leading to disintegration.

Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, devised what might be called a myth-the myth of the cave-though, more properly, it is an allegory showing the differences between living in the shadows of misunderstanding or in the full light of reality.

We have been following Coleridge’s work as a Romantic poet and thinker. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, his greatest poem, recounts a sea- going tale involving a mariner shooting dead , the albatross that has been following his ship. The tale , involving the hard-won redemption of the mariner, points forward (among other things) to our present ecological cisis.

These three works, are I believe of great significance for our time. I am running a series of posts on them explaining why, starting with the Tower of Babel.

Keep on the look-out!

WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU GOD DOES NOT EXIST QUESTION IF HE MEANS GOD OR DOES HE REALLY MEAN THE DEMIURGE?

Suddenly God-or the demiurge- has entered the conversation! The exciting thing about running this blog-post is I have ideas as to where I might like to take them but nothing is pre-determined. It is all a rather exciting journey. I did somewhere early on promise an evolving series. If we have evolved towards God that may seem to be the wrong direction to go about things. If, however, we are discussing the demiurge we might be on the right track. Because whoever God is he is not the demi-urge.

The “demiurge” is here because recently I have posted late poems of D. H. Lawrence on the nature of creation which brought in Lawrence’s idea of the demiurge. Lawrence’s poems distrust an-all- planned- in- advance creation and suggests God is an urge working through creating seeking incarnation. It is a polytheistic vision of God. I was also interested in it as we have been looking at the connection between creative activity, divine and human, raised by Coleridge (see post “Let There Be Light” )

Well the word “demiurge” sent me into further exploration. I turned to a theological writer I have found brilliant, David Bentley Hart. His work The Experience of God Yale University Press 2013 lays the basic understanding of God the great faiths agree on in opposition to what he considers to be a weakness of modern thinking; we have come to rely -under pressure from the arguments of scientific naturalism, mechanistic thinking , scientism- on a stereotype of God which is not the reality the major faiths proclaim. Our “world-view”, that is, has increasingly since Newton (again see post “Let There Be Light”) become dominated by the idea of scientific process: how did things start, get going, what was the originating cause. The argument has become framed by science which is seen as providing the answers and the arguments theists make are therefore often conditioned to be made within this framework. If God exists, western theists assert he directs the process; the argument of thinkers like Dawkins and the new atheists is that such a god does not exist. Hart’s argument is that the subject of such an argument is not God merely the demiurge :

he is the god who made the world “back then”, at some specific point of time, as a discrete event within the course of cosmic events, rather than the God whose creative act is an eternal act of being to the whole of space and time, sustaining all things in existence in every moment. It is certainly the demiurge about whom Stenger and Dawkins write; neither has actually written a word about God. And the same is true of all the other new atheists as far as I can tell.”

That strong, critically alert, combative power is one aspect of Hart’s style. He combines philosophical assurance, expansive knowledge of the spiritual works of the various theistic traditions, with a confident and knowledgeable critical appraisal of the limitations of modern scientism. But he is not simply cerebral. Elsewhere he has a marvellous passage introducing the significance of the sense of wonder, which both Plato and Aristotle recognised as the starting point of all true philosophy. However, I shall explore Hart’s work more widely in a future post. For the moment with our eyes focused on the word “demiurge” let us return to Hart’s discussion. Here is a passage from Hart’s first chapter, entitled “God is not a proper name”

The most pervasive error one encounters in contemporary arguments about belief in God-especially, but not exclusively, on the atheist side-is the habit of conceiving God simply as some very large object or agency within the universe, or perhaps alongside the universe, a being among other beings, who differs from all other beings in magnitude,power and duration, but not ontologically [ Ed. ontology: the study of the nature and essence of being ie. the assumption is God does not differ in being; he is simply another thing given a proper name] and who is related to the world more or less as a craftsman is related to an artifact.…….

As it happens, the god with whom most modern atheism usually concerns itself is one we might call a demiurge (demiourgos): a Greek term that originally meant a kind of public technician or artisan but that came to mean a particular kind of divine world-maker or cosmic craftsman.. In Plato’s Timaeus the demiurge is a benevolent imtermediary between the realm of eternal forms and the realm of mutability [ed.ie change] ; he looks to the ideal universe-the eternal paradigm of the cosmos-and then fashions lower reality in as close a conformity to higher as the interactable resources of the material nature allows. He is , therefore, not the source of the existence of all things but rather only the Intelligent Designer and causal agent of the world of space and time, working upon principles that lie outside and above him. He is an immensely wise and powerful being, but he is also finite and dependent upon a larger reality of which he is only a part.

In following this characterisation of the demiurge Hart demonstrates the inadequacy of the conception of God in much of the kind of debate we hear around us in which we become aware God is seen to be or not seen to be the Great Originator of Things. But to see God in this way is not to see him as God, simply as the demiurge. Hart’s work is not, however, simply focused on the negative aspect of our conceptual understanding but in raising our eyes to an understanding going back to Plato and shared within the spiritual understanding of theistic thinkers from all the major faiths :

God, is not in any of the great theistic traditions, merely some rational agent, external to the order of the physical universe, who imposes some kind of design upon an otherwise inert and mindless material order. He is not some discrete being somewhere out there, floating in the great beyond, who fashions nature in accordance with rational laws upon which he is dependent. Rather, he is himself the logical order of all reality, the ground both of the subjective rationality of mind and the objective rationality of being, the transcendent and indwelling Reason or Wisdom by which mind and matter are both informed and in which both participate.

Futher explication of this is required for a future discussion of Hart but in the meantime if someone argues with you about God make sure it is God you are talking about and not the demiurge!

“THE BODY OF GOD”

Here are two further “Last Poems” of D. H. Lawrence on the subject of the demiurge:

                          DEMIURGE
They say that reality exists only in the spirit 
that corporal existence is a kind of death
that pure being is bodiless 
that the idea of form precedes the form substantial.

But what nonsense it is! 
as if any mind could have imagined a lobster 
dozing in the under-deeps, the reaching out a savage and iron claw!

Even the mind of God can only imagine 
those things that have become themselves: 
bodies and presences, here and now, creatures with a foothold in 
creation 
even if only it is a lobster on tip-toe.

Religion knows better than philosophy.
Religion knows that Jesus was never Jesus 
till he was born from a womb, and ate soup and bread 
and grew up, and became, in  the wonder of creation, Jesus, 
with body and with needs and a lovely spirit.
  

For the contemporary reader puzzled by the idea of the spirit preceding the body Lawrence is reacting to neo- platonic ideas and the bodiless spirituality of his upbringing suppressing the body in favour of the spirit. Ever a non-Christian (though raised on the Bible, a Congregationalist) he had yet hopes in his last years that the Christian idea of the resurrection as the risen body might become empowering for the generation, which following 1914 had known so much sacrifice and death.

                            THE BODY OF GOD

God is the great urge that has not yet found a body
but urges towards incarnation with the great creative urge,

And becomes at last a clove carnation: lo! that is god!
And becomes at last Helen, or Ninon: any lovely and generous 
woman 
at her best and her most beautiful, being god, made manifest,
any clear and fearless man being god, very god.

There is no god
apart from poppies and flying fish,
men singing songs, and women brushing their hair in the sun.
The lovely things are god that has come to pass, like Jesus came.
The rest, the undiscoverable, is the demi-urge.  

NOTES

“D. H. Lawrence Complete Poems (ed. V. de S. Pinto) Penguin Books 1977.

Definitions:

Demiurge(Gk. craftsman). The intermediary that makes the physical world in the cosmology of Plato’s Timaeus.

neoplatonism…..Plotinus concived of the universe as an emanation or effulgence of the One, the omnipresent, transcendental Good derived from Plato’s Parmenides. The One gives rise to the realm of nous (ideas, intelligence), and that in turn to soul, or souls, some of which sink into bodies(others remain celestial)….

From Blackburn, Simon Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy O.U.P 1996.

CORRESPONDENCE : ON “GOD SAID ” LET NEWTON BE.”

Replies to my blog-posts are very welcome. The following written is a very thoughtful and well-argued response to my most recent post. I add a reply. Further contributions are welcome.

“Thanks, Alan, for a well written and argued piece, ably outlining the development of an important process of enquiry and understanding in the realms of Science, Religion, Philosophy and the Arts, which I much enjoyed working my way through. And now, of course, you’re waiting for the “but”-so I won’t disappoint you.

What I find difficult with the piece arises from its dualism. You suggest, I think, that the eternal and infinite God is separate from all he has made – that his creation is outside himself. Being eternal, he must indeed be “outside” Einstein’s space-time. My problem is that, being infinite, there cannot be anything “outside” of what is infinite, or it would no longer be infinite! Additionally, you are, I think, suggesting that as well as being “outside” his creation, God is simultaneously “inside it”, and I find it difficult to make sense of this immanent/transcendent connundrum. It seems to me the equivalent of saying that “a” is simultaneously “not-a”, in which case old Aristotle, with his logician’s hat on, must be vehemently protesting from his grave!

I’m reminded of the difficulty Descartes ran into, when he separated mind from matter, and declared them to be different “substances”. His problem then was how to explain how they can interact with one another. A brain is a piece of matter, which has weight, shape and occupies space. The thoughts, feelings and experiences of a mind are utterly different, being weightless, shapeless and occupying no space. Where, then, is the link between mind and matter? Descartes settled for the pineal gland in the brain, the function of which was unknown at that time, a piece of nonsense that dented his philosophical reputation.

We can experience the problem for ourselves by putting a pebble on a table in front of us. We can then introduce into our mind the thought of moving the pebble without touching it. We can’t do this, however, there being no link between the two categorically different “substances”. If God, as John 4:24 says, is Spirit-invisible and intangible (compare, above, mind as “weightless, shapeless and occupying no space”), how can he interact with the material realm? One way of addressing this issue is simply to state the paradox of God being both transcendent and immanent is only to be expected, since we are dealing with what lies beyond the limits of human understanding. It might be argued, however, that this is more of an evasion than an explanation.

Interestingly, Newtonian physics has been, not replaced, but greatly enhanced by Quantum physics, one outcome of which, surprisingly, (and strongly resisted by some) has been a “re-introduction” of mind and consciousness into the objective realm of matter. Out of this, there has arisen a growing interest in , and exploration of , the age-old concept of Panpsychism, which leaves dualism behind. Mind is the inwardness of matter, and matter is the outwardness of mind. There can be a head and a tail but still only one coin. One is tepted to say that, “In the beginning there was Mind”- and therefore matter as its correlative outward expression. There is here, perhaps, a possibility for a re-marriage of religion and science, because, although, Panpsychism can be “Godless”, it can also be a foundation for Pantheism, if one wishes to travel in that direction- Spinoza’s alternative to Descartes or, picking up on your own references to Romantic literature, my favourite lines from Wordsworth:

                    "....... a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is... in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things."      

My concluding thought is that Creation is not a one-off event, but an ever-ongoing unfolding of all that is, which one may wish to call God-as more of a verb than a noun, more of a process than a person as such-although a process that has given rise to life, mind, consciousness, self-awareness and personality. “Salvation” may then have less to do with the dualism of the restoration of a relationship between the categorically different-God and Humanity-and more to do with the realisation of an identity that transcends dualism. This takes us into the every bit as important and relevant realm of the religions and philosophies of the East-but space and time, alas, have now run out!

So, thanks again, for writing a splendidly thought provoking piece, and for stimulating a too often idle brain to respond with not just a provoking reply.

Ray Inkster.

Reply from Editor

Good to get your response Ray and a very thoughtful well considered argument it proves to be! I enjoyed reading and learned much from what you have written. Nevertheless I feel you have tended to use argument as a springboard for your own preoccupation, criticising dualism as an illogical connundrum. I have to ask the question after some re-readings how is it are you connecting your argument with mine? The question you deal with may be in the background but because background it is not really what I am focusing on: the challenge raised to an earlier world-view (based on Newtonian physics and empirical philosophy and celebrated by Pope’s epigram ) by the Romantic movement ( Blake and Coleridge in particular). You do not comment on this. The high point of my argument was the Coleridge quotation. The connection between God’s infinite creativity and that of the creativity of the great poet/ artist is to me fascinating and deeply relevant to how we conceive God today. But again there is no comment on this.

In my post, I relate three Biblical understandings of how God’s power of creation manifests itself. These might be worth your consideration. As it is, it seems clear to me that Coleridge’s quotation emphasises the primary significance of “emanation” a link which I would like to have seen you explore further.

On the Transcendence/ immanence connundrum you diagnose so well you advance one unsatisfactory explanation as mystery which we just have to accept. This you call “evasion”. My understanding is Christian theologians have sought to balance the two, though with differing emphases. Some mystics emphasise the transcendence so that there is little emphasis on God’s immanence. Others like Paul Tillich, who speak of God as the “ground of our being,” emphasise this so much there is little emphasis on the transcendent God. Perhaps those of us not theologically or philosophically minded can get by satisfactorily by accepting the mystery -“we know only in part”.

That said I must again acknowledge my gratitude to you. Your reply has encouraged me to get involved in reading David Bentley Hart’s very wonderful work “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss (Yale University Press 2013). Of this work Rowan Williams has said, ” David Hart can always be relied on to offer a perspective on Christian faith that is both profound and unexpected. In this materpiece of quiet intellectual and spiritual passion, he magnificently sets the record straight as to what sort of God Christians believe in and why.”

As you know Hart, belonging to the Eastern Orthodox persuasion is among the foremost theologians of the U.S. and is extremely well-read in the scriptures and mystical works of all the faiths and he discusses these in this work. He is a brilliant philosopher and sharp-minded critic of what was once called the New Atheism.

A challenge of mine to you would be to write a review of this work, yourself, as a guest-post! Something to keep your brain working in your retirement!

Yours ever,

Alan

IMAGINING AN UP-TO-DATE PLATO’S CAVE.

(Please not this is a reblogged post as part of the series on Old Stories That Tell Us Where We Are Now following the earlier ones on the Tower of Babel and Plato’s Cave).

I made the claim a few week’s ago that Plato’s cave, along with the Tower of Babel, are two ancient stories that help to tell us where we are in the modern world. (I also included Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” but it is hardly ancient.)

What is the state of modern knowledge? How advanced is our human consciousness?

Plato considered that knowledge based totally on sense experience-what we might learnedly call empiricism- shows only images and reflections of reality, not the real thing. The real thing is consciousness of ideal forms in the eternal world that lead us to understanding of what, for instance, true beauty and goodness and justice are. Only the clear- minded who have escaped the imitation world of shadows and reflections can attain this knowledge. They draw on the light of the sun, the source of all true seeing and representing the Good. He tells the allegory of the Cave to reveal the process.

That summary is my very simple reading of the philosophy behind the allegory. But the significance of the allegory seems to spread far beyond Plato’s world-picture to challenge ours.

For the cave still exists. Indeed it is ubiquitous; it cannot be escaped. Plato’s prisoners were only to understand reality through media that distorts, from reflections thrown by a fire, of things-artefacts- supposedly making up the real world. In the modern cave there need be no such obvious prisoners. People are free to inhabit the cave and are apparently happy to do so. The media of the fire, with its images, has been replaced by the vastly more efficient and powerful media of modern technology. Imagine not a cave stretching back some little way but a great underground cavern, that stretches interminably on all sides, full of screens. Some of these are great public screens for mass viewing-you might see there important political happenings or speeches or sporting events, as on television screens ; others are huge banks of small screens like you see in the background of a news studio with people able to choose their own chosen programme. But apart from these public areas there are built into the sides of the cavern masses of tiny cells for private viewing. Almost magically everyone has access to this world of screen by their own route-from home, from work. So people might gather in crowds before the big screens; or else they retire to private viewing screens. People inter-relate with the screens. In their hands they hold a mobile which enables them to connect with any of a forest of screens. They connect with others through screens: “Friends” they know only by media. “Enemies” they engage with and condemn through media. A world that is all social media. A place of distractions, a place where you can be assured your illusions are real and you can meet with others to confirm the illusions. A place where there is factual news reporting and a place which claims the factual is fake. A place where you can feed your mind on fantasy sex, on aggression, on revenge, on hate and where you can express your own outraged feelings on a screen held before you.

You will say I am missing the good stuff, the beneficial information, the positive interactions between people far apart, the beauty of places you cannot see nor will ever see in person. There is very much of course that is good, that provides us with information that is useful to us. There are interactions with family and friends who live far away; opportunities for sending and receiving positive messages are available. If it were not so I’d be a hypocrite typing this blog post from my little private cell to you in yours!

But the good stuff is dependent on another world. It is dependent on people knowing the reality of the world beyond, and the beauty of the world beyond and communicating that to others within the cave who recognise the same or want to recognise the same.

But if people fail to draw on sources of life and strength in the world beyond then the world of screens has the power to dominate and diminish their consciousness and limit them to a world of images and reflections that lead them away from reality rather than towards it. You see people “distracted from distraction by distraction, Filled with fancies and empty of meaning” (T.S. Eliot “Burnt Norton”). You see people with short attention spans, looking for the image that will excite attention and switching rather desperately from picture to picture. You see children particularly adept and smart in their handling of the technology. This is the world they have grown up with. You fear for them, that their very proficiency makes it difficult for them to understand other sources of knowledge. They think they have it all here.

To revert to questions asked earlier you have probably forgotten What is the state of modern knowledge and consciousness? In so far as knowledge is information it is, most of it, there in our metaphorical cavern. But information does not “form” the inner -me. It does not inwardly form my mind and character. It merely gives us facts to possess. Only through being inwardly formed, mind and spirit is our consciousness-our knowledge of the good, the beautiful , the true developed. Only then do we see clearly, not in the cave, but in the sunshine of the upper world. It is there reality is to be known and lived.