Saturday, January 3, 2009

Nothing but the Truth (guest post by Marshall Massey)

Marshall Massey posted a response to a previous post that I think warrants a posting of its own:
You quoted me where I wrote, "Truth, as Friends have historically understood it, is neither tolerant nor intolerant; it simply is." You then commented, "That view has been carried on largely over the last 400 years not by religions but by science."

I understand why you might say such a thing, but actually, you are misreading what I wrote. For the sentence you quoted comes from a paragraph in which I consistently used "Truth" with a capital "T", and this was to signify that I was not using the word in the sense of factual accuracy, but in the sense in which it was normally used by early Friends, and continued to be used by traditional Friends of later generations, when they spoke of being "Friends of Truth", "Publishers of Truth", and the like.

Back in the days of the first Friends, "factual accuracy" was not yet the dominant meaning of the word "truth". Let me quote two older meanings from the Oxford English Dictionary that had greater currency in those days:

1) "The character of being, or disposition to be, true to a person, principle, cause, etc.; faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, constancy, steadfast allegiance."

2) "Disposition to speak or act truly or without deceit; truthfulness, veracity, sincerity; ... sometimes in wider sense: Honesty, uprightness, righteousness, virtue, integrity."

It may be easier to grasp these meanings if I illustrate.

The first of these meanings uses "true" in the sense of an arrow "flying true", i.e. faithfully, to the target at which the archer aimed, or a lover "being true", i.e. faithful, to his beloved. For Friends to be "Friends of Truth" in this sense was for them to be "Friends of Faithfulness", friends of faithfulness to Christ and the Gospel as the churches in apostasy were not, and friends of faithfulness to the Inward Guide which the worldly around them were not obeying very well.

The second meaning uses "true" in the sense of "true witness", i.e. honest reporter of what happened, or "true parent", i.e. parent who does what is really right for the child. "Friends of Truth" in this sense meant "Friends of Doing the Right Thing, the Thing that the Relationship Really Needs, In Every Circumstance".

Neither of these senses of "Truth" are senses in which fans of science speak of "truth". Even today, they are more the province of religion.

You go on to speak of "imperfect understandings of truth". Such things are inevitable if we're speaking of factual accuracy, because accurate perception and accurate articulation are very difficult things in relation to messy real-world phenomena. In terms of faithfulness, though, or of doing what a relationship really needs, accurate perception and articulation are often easier. We may faithfully follow the teachings of the Inward Guide even when we're not sure what's going on; the Guide may, in fact, instruct us to wait until we know more, and we can agree that we are being faithful in doing so. Or we may do what a relationship requires even when we don't fully know what the other person is going through, simply by caring, listening, giving hugs, or providing food and shelter if need be.
I won't respond here except as a separate comment, and I will also repost James' response to Marshall as a comment, so as to keep this thread intact.


natcase said...

[copying a response by James Riemermann from the previous thread]


I've long been troubled by the way upper-case "Truth" in conversations about religion is often confounded with the more mundane sense of truth as "that which is the case." I appreciate your calling attention to this. But you seem to leap from the origins of specific English word "truth" in something closer to "faithful", to a suggestion that the whole concept of accuracy as used in science emerged in the Enlightenment. I think this is not, um, true. The use of "veritas" to mean "that which is the case" goes back to Aristotle and probably much farther. And 'tis certainly true that Shakespeare used "true" it in the sense of accuracy well before 1669.

Any sentence beginning along the lines of "It is true that..." is talking about accuracy. Another way of seeing this is "faithful to reality," which just might be how the transition from the word's earliest usage took place.

Also, I am finding other, far less established sources than the OED( tracking the use of truth in English to mean "consistent with fact" going back to the year 1205. Perhaps this source is all wet, but my first sense would be that he consulted the OED to write this entry. Do you see any usages in the OED that might reflect this? I really ought to have an OED, but they're so expensive.

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

I appreciate your research, James!

I use something called the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary: it's the original OED, not the one that costs a fortune to subscribe to on-line today, but it's unabridged, and when I bought in 1978, it cost me only a dollar, brand-new. Such a deal!

Now let's try thinking clearly about this matter, as best we can.

It is a fact that the use of veritas to mean "that which is the case" goes back a long ways. It does not go back to Aristotle, though. This should be obvious, because veritas is a Latin word, and there is no evidence that Aristotle, a Greek who lived in an age when Rome was still a merely central Italian entity, ever wrote or spoke in Latin. The word Aristotle used, which is also the word that the four Evangelists used in recording the teachings of Jesus, was the Greek alêtheia.

The distinction is important, because we cannot assume, without actually examining the evidence for both words, that the Greek alêtheia had precisely the same meaning as the Latin veritas, any more than we can assume, without actually examining the evidence for both words, that veritas had the same meaning as our English word "truth". The abstract words of one language very frequently do not correspond well to the abstract words of another. The OED reports that Levins, in 1570, defined "trewth" as veritas. But veritas actually means something like "the actual state or nature of things; reality" (see Cassell's Latin Dictionary), and "truth" doesn't quite mean that, even today. And Levins's definition, which comes from his compact Latin-English dictionary, certainly does not tell us what the dominant usage of "truth" was in ordinary English usage in 1570; it only tells us that Levins saw veritas as the nearest thing to a corresponding Latin word.

And then what does it signify, when your online source, in the course of defining, not the word "truth", but the word "true", says, "Sense of 'consistent with fact' first recorded c.1205"? We might start by noticing that this is not a definition of the word "truth" at all; it is a definition of the word "true", which is related, but not the same word. (So is "sanctimonious" related to the word "saint", but we had better take great care in generalizing from the meaning of the one to the meaning of the other.)

My copy of the OED also records that the oldest written usage of "true" in the sense of "consistent with fact" appeared c. 1205: it's a citation from Layamon's Brut, in barely comprehensible Middle English. But even with regard to the word "true", my OED also says that the meaning of "faithful" antedates the meaning of "consistent with fact" by two whole centuries. And what, then, does this imply about the word "truth", as distinct from the word "true"? Does it tell us that the word "truth" was likewise being used that early in that sense? It may in fact be so, but there doesn't appear to be any written evidence; the oldest example of "truth" as meaning "conformity with fact" that the OED has to offer is the aforementioned appearance in Levins's 1570 Latin-English dictionary, which is unsatisfactory for the reasons I have given.

Does the fact that "true" was being used as meaning "consistent with fact" around 1205, tell us that "factual accuracy" was the dominant usage of "truth" before the eighteenth century? Not in itself, it doesn't. Or leaving the dominant usage aside, does it show that "factual accuracy" was the meaning of "truth" in the religious sense, which was the sense in which early Friends were clearly using it? That is something I'd like to see proved, before I believe it.

You write that "Shakespeare used 'true' ... in the sense of accuracy well before 1669." What springs to my mind here may not be the passage you are thinking of, but I will give it so that we can consider it together: Polonius, in Shakespeare's Hamlet, describes the prince to the queen thus: "That he is mad, 'tis true, 'tis true 'tis pity, And pity 'tis 'tis true...." That was written around the year 1600, give or take a bit. And indeed, yes, it uses "true" (though not "truth"!) in the sense of "accurate". But it is describing the character of a private, confidential report from one person to another, rather than an impersonal declaration on a printed page. Polonius is not simply saying that the description "mad" is an abstractly accurate description of Hamlet; he is saying that the statement, "he is mad", does not stray from the path from its point of departure, Hamlet, to its target, the queen, but flies true. You will recall I used the example of an arrow that "flies true" to illustrate one of the older usages of truth in my previous comment. So at least in this one instance from Shakespeare, "factually accurate" is indeed the dominant meaning, but the other, older usage of the word is still present. And indeed the older usage is not just present but significant; Polonius stresses the word "true" in this statement to the queen, and thereby stresses his own faithfulness as a reporter and a servant.

Still, as I have noted, I was not speaking of the word "true" in my comment, but of the word "truth". And while the OED notes the employment of "true" in the sense of "consistent with fact" as early as c. 1205, it notes no parallel usage of "truth" prior to the late sixteenth century. It would seem that the older meaning of "faithful/ness" persisted more strongly in the case of the word "truth", than in the case of the word "true".

What is the difference, then, between these two words? It's not just the difference between an adjective ("true") and a noun ("truth"). When we shift our attention from "true" to "truth", we begin the attempt to reduce a relationship between a subject and its referent (the one being "true" with regard to the other) to a supposedly substantive "thing" (not palpable, but still treated by us as a substantive "thing") that is embodied in that relationship. We are reifying something, in the word "truth", and the reification is the attempt to reduce something very complicated to its essence.

And yes, the thing we start with is complicated. It includes ourselves, the reporter who speaks to us, the thing described, the speaker's intention (Polonius was in fact not always faithful to the queen's best interest and, accordingly, not always truthful), the speaker's character (Polonius was a weasel), the speaker's perception of the thing described (Polonius did not have the wit to understand Hamlet), and what we want to hear.

Many languages have multiple words to point out different substantive essences within the same complicated context. Hindi, for example, has vrit, meaning "factual accuracy", and also sat, meaning "being on the same side of the issue as your soul". Greek has alêtheia, which covers "factual accuracy" and "the character of someone who represents things accurately or fairly", and also dikaiosunê, which is generally translated "righteousness". We have "truth", but also "honesty", "dependability", "faithfulness", etc.

When we use "truth", though, nowadays, we imply that the real essence is a sort of Platonic ideal of accurate portrayal, a perfect map.

And yet in 1535, when Coverdale translated the Bible into English, and rendered Psalm 119, verse 30a, as "I have chosen the ways of treuth", the word he was translating was the Hebrew 'emûwnâh, a word whose meanings revolve around the central idea of solidity or firmness, and by extension suggest the sort of trustworthiness that a thing has when you know it will bear your weight or will not crumble in your hand. Most modern Bibles translate this word, in this particular verse, as "faithfulness" or "loyalty" — i.e., "the quality that a relationship has when you know it will stand up to testing" — e.g., in the New American Bible: "The way of loyalty I have chosen..."; and in the Revised English Bible: "I have chosen the path of faithfulness...." Yet Coverdale did not choose either "faithfulness" or "loyalty" to translate the Hebrew, although those words existed in his day; he chose "truth", and did so because, in his day, it captured the meaning of the verse.

"I have chosen the ways of treuth" meant, "I have chosen the ways of someone that You, O God, can rely on." It's maybe worth noting that "troth", a word meaning "faithfulness, loyalty, honesty", and from which we get our word "betrothed", meaning "publicly pledged to be loyal", was no more than a regional dialectical variant of "truth" in Coverdale's time.

The OED cites Coverdale's translation of Psalm 119:30 as an example of what I numbered as "older definition #2" of "truth": "Disposition to speak or act truly or without deceit; truthfulness, veracity, sincerity; ... sometimes in wider sense: Honesty, uprightness, righteousness, virtue, integrity." But as you can see if you look at the verse in context (and I would certainly encourage you to do so), even this definition does not quite capture the way Coverdale was using "truth" in this particular place; "faithfulness" really is a much better definition. The Psalmist was saying, "I have chosen to be like the arrow that flies truly to the target you assigned it, O God." It is not just an accident that he then continues, two verses further on, "I will run in the way of your commandments."

natcase said...

Marshall: getting back to your original post, the point of which was parse out my assertion that the view of truth as "simply being" has largely been carried forward by science.

When you say that "truth" as faithfulness is what early Friends mean, rather than "truth" as fact, you are missing the root of scientific "truth." See my earlier post regarding Douglas Allchin's paper on naturalization and the idea of "natural law." His point is that our idea of nature as governed by laws is itself a human construct. Indeed, it comes out of a religious framework in which God gives laws.

I think the idea of truth comes from similar ideas. Early scientists were not atheists, though they deeply opposed church orthodoxies that supported factual untruths -- lies. While their particular trajectory was different from Protestant religious reformers, the notion of seeking Truth does in fact underlie much of the basic premise of science even today.

In fact (to tie things back into a neat little bundle), I'd even suggest that the adoption of planimetric projections (looking straight down on the earth at each point, as opposed to oblique or perspective views) in modern cartography, owes something to the way in which Truth was defined both in natural philosophy and in theology, back in the 16th and seventeenth centuries. Not clear to me exactly what the connection is, but all of these things (natural law, Truth as a primary value, "objective" and democratic maps) come from the same basic source sometime in the sixteenth century.

Marshall Massey said...

Friend Nat, I would be happy to see your earlier post if you will kindly provide me with a link. For some reason, I cannot find it in the list of earlier posts on the right side of your home page; nor does a Google search turn it up.

I've studied a bit of the history of science, and see no evidence that early scientists were driven by a search for truth-in-the-sense-of-keeping-faith-with-others. Galileo, timing the swing of the cathedral lamp by his pulse, was simply observing the way things were; relationships with God or the bishop or his next-door neighbor had no part in it. Eppur si muove, his famous (and apocryphal) statement of defiance, did not mean, "And yet I have been loyal to the Earth," it meant, "and yet, the physical fact is, the Earth moves."

Harvey, unravelling the circulation of the blood, was doing the same as Galileo: just observing how things were. Tycho Brahe was an obsessive observer; a classic example of such.

Kepler was an observer, too, but also a searcher for patterns that knit the observations together. And Newton was obsessed by working out a formula that accurately mirrored the actual procession of the moon around the earth. Certainly what Kepler and Newton were doing was mapmaking, but it was mapmaking guided by a focus on factual accuracy, not by a focus on keeping faith either with God or with others.

If anything, Galileo's downfall lay in the fact that he did not try hard enough to keep faith with God and others. The ending of his Dialogue of the Two World Systems shows him losing control of himself, and doing what the Church required but in a way that betrayed utter disrespect for the men who required it of him. It was a break with Truth-as-keeping-faith for the sake of truth-which-is-factual-accuracy, and it did him in.

I agree that the search for "physical law" was something new. But let us note that that search began, not with Galileo (who simply insisted on factual accuracy), nor with Kepler (who pointed out harmonies, but did not state them as laws), but with Newton. Thus the date of its beginning is later than you assert; Newton was a creature of the second half of the seventeenth and the first quarter of the eighteenth, and not of the Reformation but of the Enlightenment.

Certainly the Enlightenment had some roots in Protestantism, but the relationship between the two is not straightforward; it goes back to Fausto Sozzini and the other Italian rationalist evangelicals (Fausto's uncle Lelio Sozzini, Matteo Gribaldi Mofa, Sebastian Castellio, Bernardino Ochino, etc.), who were never wholly convinced by either Luther or Calvin, and who trusted more to human reason than, as Luther and Calvin did, to faith. (Faith begets "truth" in the loyalty sense, reason begets "truth" in the factual-accuracy sense.) It's worth noting that Newton's anti-Trinitarian views led him to be accused of Unitarianism, the very movement that Sozzini and his fellow Italian rationalists founded.

natcase said...

Marshall: I will respond to your post more fully later, but here is the link you requested:

Marshall Massey said...

Nat, thank you very much for the link! You were right that it was well worth my looking at.

Allchin's argument should come as no great surprise to anyone who has followed the evolution of thought in physics in the probabilistic era. Nowadays they say that the path of an object curves in the presence of a gravitational field, not because some deterministic "law" said it "had to", but because that is how the probabilities averaged out in that concrete instance. This is in essence a movement back from Newton toward Kepler, from the idea that the correspondences we see are the result of knowable laws to the idea that they are simply observed phenomena that embody stateable harmonies.

The link to Steinle was more helpful to me, because his essay reminded me that it was Descartes, in 1644, not Newton, who came up with the fruitful idea of deterministic "laws of nature". (If I were a real historian of science, I'd never have forgotten such a basic fact!)

Unfortunately the fact that it began with Descartes does not seem to strengthen your hypothesis that the idea of "natural laws" came "from the same basic source" as the ideas of "Truth as a primary value" and "'objective' and democratic maps", "sometime in the sixteenth century". Even according to Steinle, 1644, the mid-seventeenth century, was where deterministic "laws of nature" began. If we want to go further back, then we have to switch from deterministic "laws of nature", either to determinism without formulated laws of physics, in which case we wind up with sources much earlier than the Reformation — Muslim kismet, Biblical talk of things "foreordained", Hindu karma, etc. — or else to "laws of nature" that are mere non-determinative tendencies, in which case we wind up back with Aristotle.

In any case, Descartes' own primary mentors and sources of inspiration were not those who inspired the Friends in their talk about "Truth", but rather, people like Spinoza and Leibnitz: pioneers of Enlightenment thinking, whose methodology derived from mathematics and from the logical-analytic methods championed by the Italian rationalist evangelicals, and whose religion owed far more to Greek philosophy than to any piece of Protestantism.

I look forward to reading your further thoughts.

natcase said...


Well, they sure feel like they come from a similar broad movement of thought that came to fruition in various ways in the early-to-mid seventeenth century, viz:

Plain, sober clothing and simplicity as common values in Puritan, Quaker, and Continental Anabaptist churches, in a similar time frame that the "plain style" in science writing and cartography emerged, and indeed as experimental science itself was emerging. See my post from 10/07, and the Merton thesis.

The standardization of planimetric views in cartography, at the same time that the view of the Divine Eye was coming to be seen as, well, democratic. Coincidence, perhaps, but I can't help but thinking that one of the reasons maps came at some point to be seen as "definitive" or "reference" works, is that they reflect a popularly-held model of what an objective, omniscient view would look like.

Marshall Massey said...

Dear Nat, I'm sure you don't need to be told that a thing's "feeling" true is no guarantee of its being true. You're scientifically trained, and so must be very familiar with the phenomenon of intuitions that run counter to the way things actually work, from optical illusions and phantom limbs, to the certainty of so many early twentieth century experts that spaceships couldn't possibly work because they had nothing to push against in a vacuum, to modern logical challenges like the Monty Hall dilemma.

The Wikipedia page you've linked to, concerning the Merton thesis, seems straightforward enough in describing its weaknesses.

The Wikipedia page notes that the Merton thesis is essentially analogous to Max Weber's thesis concerning the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. So let me point out that the Weber thesis was largely discredited by H. R. Trevor-Roper in his essay "Religion, the Reformation, and Social Change". Trevor-Roper showed through, among other things, a survey of church enrollment records, that the capitalists of the sixteenth and seventeenth century were refugees from the Catholic south of Europe who fled to places in the Protestant north where they would not be persecuted. Lutheranism and Calvinism were not in fact the origin of their capitalism, for in the first place a great many of them were not Protestant at all, and in the second place their families had been capitalists before Luther.

The weaknesses in the Merton thesis strike me as similar. The leading scientists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were in most cases not Lutheran or Calvinist in outlook; they were Enlightenment thinkers, carrying forward a heritage that had can be traced in their writings back to Socinian rationality, Renaissance humanism, and Greek Neoplatonism. Just like the capitalists of the time, they shared a continent with the Protestants; but does that prove their thinking followed a Protestant shape? You yourself share a continent with all kinds of people who exert considerable cultural influence but do not truly shape your own thinking.

As for planimetric projection, I am mindful that this was the great age of European navigation, and planimetric projection was precisely what navigators needed. It seems significant to me that it did not follow the same sort of logic as plainness of dress and of speech. Plain speech and plain dress were about the rejection of vanity; they were popular not because people liked plainness for its own sake, but because the people who adopted them wanted to go to Heaven and to do so they felt they had to live by the truths of the Gospel as they understood it. Planimetric projection was about building a more useful map, and thus it did sell for its own sake — because it was helpful in and of itself to explorers who wanted to find treasures and avoid shipwrecks. These then were plainnesses generated by very different logics.

Have a look at portraits of Mercator, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Descartes, and Newton, and tell me what you think. I don't see any of them as plainly dressed by Quaker standards. Quaker plainness was a deliberate, even ostentatious plainness: the plainness of people who thought hard about what they were going to put on because they felt that it was important to salvation. What I see in these portraits is simply the moderate garb of men who had to dress up for the portraitist, but for whom dress was no big deal.

Conversely, early Quaker explanations of the shape of the present world were anything but planimetric or "democratic" mappings; they were elaborate interpretations of what was going on, in which certain positions and certain groups of people were greatly favored over others. Fox taught his readers to read the world as a parable, in terms of of types and antitypes tying the Old Testament to the New and both to the present day. His map was highly ornamented with the distorted perspectives and here-there-be-monsters of Apocalyptic expectation: "Little children I write unto you that it is the last time, whereof you have heard say, antichrist should come.... It is granted there was a time when Jacob bowed to Esau, and there was a time that Pharaoh and his host was in the sea, the family of Jacob rejoicing over them; there was a time that the house of Esau must be as stubble, and Jacob ride over the high places of the earth, and Nebuchadnezzar brought down amongst the beasts to eat grass like an ox, until he knew that the most high did rule in the kingdoms of men, and the elder must serve the younger; he that hath an ear let him hear." (Fox, "The Pearl Found in England", Works (1831, 1990), vol. IV, pp. 170, 174.) I just don't see how this was planimetric!

natcase said...

Actually, I'm no more scientifically trained than any liberal arts graduate. I was a fine arts major, and came to cartography via design.

That said, your very thorough deconstruction and shattering of my most cherished beliefs is greatly appreciated :-)

No, seriously, you've filled in some very useful holes in my knowledge, and given some good food for thought. The differentiation between plain style in science and plain speech and dress is a very useful one; a case of outward similarity and inward deep difference. I remember a wonderful snippet form the movie Witness when the young Amish boy wanders around 30th St Station in Philadelhia, and runs to a familiar-looking black-garbed man, who turns and looks down at him, and is a Hasidic Jew. Not the same thing.

It's like people being attracted to Amish or Shaker "lifestyles". Or people coming to Quaker meetings because they're "full of people looking for peace." Only it turns out we're not about looking for peace, we're looking to be faithful to God, and peace is the means to that end. Or something like that.

It does potentially put those of us who joined the Society (or at any rate became part of the community) under the "people looking for peace" rubric in an awkward position.

Marshall Massey said...

Hey, Nat, I wasn't trying to shatter your most cherished beliefs! My apologies!

What I am actually after is "shattering" the web of misunderstandings about Quakerism that has grown up among liberals who don't study Quakerism very carefully. It is a web that distorts nearly everything about Quakerism, and is dramatically false in the way it represents some things, and yet (like all webs) it is self-reinforcing and hard to tear. And it is a web that gets in the way of clear vision about things like our Quaker obligations toward the environment! So my aims are not personally directed at you, and they are probably too big for me to realize, but they express something I care about fairly deeply.

What a wonderful metaphor that image from Witness is! Thank you for it!

The business of finding yourself in a Friends meeting because you are looking for peace is interesting. At a deep level, the experience of oneness with the Judæo-Christian God and with one's neighbor — the fulfillment of the two Great Commandments — is, of course, shâlôm, the thing that "peace" is a superficial imitation of. If the newcomer "gets" this, then it seems reasonable to expect that the rest of the challenge of learning Quakerism will work itself out. And we may ask, if shâlôm is not what she is hungering for, why is she wasting her time on an hour of quiet worship & community togetherness every Sunday morning?

natcase said...

Marshall asked:
"And we may ask, if shâlôm is not what she is hungering for, why is she wasting her time on an hour of quiet worship & community togetherness every Sunday morning?"

Because it's the closest thing she's found to what she is really looking for. Because it is lonely and crazy-making to be focused on spiritual issues and not have a spiritual community. Because she hopes she will be allowed to continue to treat the theist element of shâlôm as a metaphor, and to translate it into her metaphor-which-is-other-than-theist, and so continue her search in company. She hopes the company will not require her to conform to the beliefs, and indeed perhaps she hopes the members of that community will open themselves to the idea that their theism is not an essential basis to the community, that her company will be fully valued for what it is, not just tolerated as the company a fellow-traveler.

But that is a lot to ask.

natcase said...

I should also say, the "shattering of beliefs" was said pretty much entirely in jest (hence the smiley face). I grumbled, I gritted my teeth, and then I was done. It is salubrious to have a false theory thoroughly disproven. It opens up the mind and spirit to more productive questions...

Marshall Massey said...

Nst, I'm darned if I can see how any of your "because"s demonstrate that shâlôm is not what she is looking for.

As for the theory being false, I'm not sure I've proved that! I think I've shown that the evidence I'm familiar with appears to weigh heavily against it, but that's only the evidence I'm familiar with, it's only the appearance I see as an amateur, and anyway we're talking likelihoods, not proof. And while your theory may indeed be unlikely, it does have great charm. Let's not just throw it out entirely!

I'm curious to know if you've ever read Giorgio de Santillana's fine essay "The Role of Art in the Scientific Renaissance". It was printed in Leonard M. Marsak, ed., The Rise of Science in Relation to Society (Macmillan, 1964), and may also be available elsewhere.

Your friend,

natcase said...

"Nat, I'm darned if I can see how any of your "because"s demonstrate that shâlôm is not what she is looking for."

No, but your question was "if shâlôm is not what she is hungering for, why is she wasting her time." I was assuming the person in question had decided shâlôm was not it exactly. Hence the way I rephrased the question.


"I'm curious to know if you've ever read Giorgio de Santillana's fine essay 'The Role of Art in the Scientific Renaissance'."

Nope, but looking at it on line got me looking at Roy Potter's books, which look like fun, in particular The Creation of the Modern World : the Untold Story of the British Enlightenment. I have it on order. I am now officially intrigued at the relationship between the Society of Friends and the Enlightenment, especially the English and American versions (Ben Franklin anyone?).

natcase said...

I tried starting in on Roy Potter's book, mentioned in the previous comment, and finally gave up not for lack of interest but lack of time... I do still find the connections intriguing. Even if there was no "direct descent" commonality, surely there are significant influences between Enlightenment thinking and the direction of Quaker (especially liberal Quaker) thought and practice.