The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 32 July 2020 - Page 39

really given by the grace of God: it is a mystery: but Augustine indicates a way of attaining knowledge, namely submission to authority by which he that would learn becomes fit to learn." Presumably the above requires acts of contemplation and perhaps this is a manifestation of submission to God's authority: submission to a Being we know so little about and whose presence we intuit at the very best of times through a glass darkly. This in its turn suggests that we must travel in a circle of believing in order to understand and understanding in order to believe: a journey without a clear view of our destination: " a mystery to be contemplated"! The interesting beginning of this journey is "the will to learn" given to us by another mystery, the grace of God which the above exercise of dialectical reasoning fails to reveal the essence of. Kant interestingly decries the use of dialectical reasoning which in his view inevitably ends in a cul-de-sac of contradiction. In Kant's view, to take one example, there is no resolution to the antinomy concerning whether the world has a beginning in time or not. There is, however, a form of philosophical contemplation which for Kant is revelatory of the power and freedom of the human soul to know the good. This "revelation" occurs in the domain of the soul concerned with willing when contemplation of the essence of the rightness of its past, present or future action is at issue. In this form of contemplation, Kant argues that if I can will that the maxim or principle of my action can be thought to become a universal law then the action contemplated is/was/will be virtuous. there is nothing mystical about such acts of contemplation and there is further nothing problematic about the idea that a good will is the universal foundation of all virtuous action(defined by Aristotle as doing the right thing in the right way at the right time). Even Kant's idea of God loses its mystery when he claims that the idea of God is the guarantor for the belief that a virtuous life will be in some non-materialistic sense, a flourishing life. It is, of course, something of a mystery as to just how this consequence follows from its conditions but it is a mystery that the religious man understands. This understanding moreover brings with it a spiritual form of contentment with his existence that transcends all earthly forms of suffering. This is probably what Plato and Aristotle would have thought of as "contemplating the form of the good". The strength of the Kantian account also points to a weakness in the account of Augustine when it comes to his discussion of the relation between the earthly city of Babylon(De Civitate Terrena) and the spiritual city of God(De Civitate Dei). Introspection and revelation appear, in different ways, to remove us from the spheres of public and political judgment and action, whereas the kind of ethical