Intellectual Self Defence

Brains are delicate things…

cognitive humility from catholic anarchy

Via Leavergirl’s notes in her Ludda project to the Catholic Anarchy site

“The reality of which we are a part is infinitely rich, complex, and dynamic. Our capacity to know, understand, and transform such reality is extremely limited. What we might be able to grasp is in fact just a tiny portion of our surroundings and relation, and its knowledge, at any rate, is partial, partisan, provisory, presumptive and polemic. What we ignore, what we don’t know, is practically immeasurable. Nonetheless, our need for clarity and certainty has made us forget these limitations, as we tend to absolutize and universalize our perceptions of reality, while closing our minds to other perspectives on our world.

A humble and courageous theology, conscious of its own limitations and temptations, has the ethical duty to ask itself which are the aspects and new situations arising from our context that we may be forgetting; which experiences and which cries we are blind and deaf to; whome we are overlooking and who might be the possible victims of our particular viewpoints. For these reasons, I want to recognize the particularity, finitude, fallibility and provisionality of our knowledge and therefore the duty to revise, doubt, question, rethink and constantly criticize what we know, and how we use our knowledge in terms of people’s relationships. In other words, I am referring to to the duty to patiently search and attentively listen to people who have different life experiences from ours, who hold other viewpoints and understandings of our reality; especially if we are dealing with people usually considered irrelevant, absurd or disturbing. It is in the contrast that we shall be able to see the limitations, contradictions, mistakes, incoherencies and holes in our ways of grasping reality.

Otto Maduro, “Once Again Liberating Theology? Towards a Latin American Liberation Theological Self-Criticism,” in Liberation Theology and Sexuality edited by Marcella Althaus-Reid (Ashgate, 2006), pp. 19-31.

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2011 by in Cognitive Humility.
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