Reason and Faith: A Lenten Reflection
Manent, Pierre, Modern Age
What is truth? This is a question that we seldom formulate in these terms, but that we often ask, when we ask ourselves if we really see what we see. Do we really see what we see? To verify, we try to touch. Truth needs a touchstone; it is itself a touchstone. We sense that we have hold of the truth when we can touch what we see. We are in error when we cannot touch what we see--or, rather, that is, what we think we see. A child tries to catch his shadow; the adult has learned to distinguish between what he thinks he sees and what he can grasp. Reason, one might say, is what allows us to link sight to touch. This is often very difficult for us, unlike the cat, which, perceiving the mouse, does not hesitate over what he has to do. One glance and whoosh! Our movements are much less graceful than the cat's; we are a wandering and limping species because it is hard for us to link sight and touch. It is hard, and so we need reason, and reason is work. Why do we make mistakes, why are we capable of error? Because our eye is much bigger than the cat's, bigger even than the lion's, because our eye is huge; it is the eye of the mind. We can see all that is, all that can be, because our intelligence is open to being as such. We can even see what does not exist, since we can imagine it--thus the disproportion between the unlimited scope of what we conceive and the narrowness of what we can touch and verify. And reason ceaselessly runs from one to the other, from what we conceive to what we can verify.
I shall not attempt to define faith, since I am not a theologian and thus have no authority in this area. I shall only observe that the notion of faith in the strong sense that interests us this evening appeared with Christianity and has remained proper to Christianity. With the Incarnation, truth offered itself to be seen …
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Publication information: Article title: Reason and Faith: A Lenten Reflection. Contributors: Manent, Pierre - Author. Magazine title: Modern Age. Volume: 50. Issue: 1 Publication date: Winter 2008. Page number: 84+. © 2009 Intercollegiate Studies Institute Inc. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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