The Art of Thought

It is not uncommon that upon entering a metaphysics discussion with an atheist or agnostic I find my intellectual partner to be rather excited about and in agreement with most all of what I have to say.  Usually, I find that people react most positively to my arguments, almost with a feeling that they know it’s true even beyond any intellectual inquiry–it simply “sounds so right.”

I am not writing this to tell you how great I am at debate or the like.  That is entirely irrelevant.  What makes my debating so effective is the content of its argument.  I cannot, in fact, come up with any other reasonable explanation for why what I have to say would resonate so well with others except that perhaps it’s because it’s true.  Indeed, it seems our minds have some sort of mechanism in their design such that they recognize truth when they see it.  I theorize that perhaps just as our souls are made for Heaven and may only find their perfect function there, so are our minds made for truth.  When we hear something true, it resonates with us better than something false simply because our minds were built for it.

It is for this reason that romantic philosophy is not entirely pointless.  It sounds strange that one would turn away from logic and “towards the emotions” to be used as faculties in the quest for truth.  What merit can be found in what one “feels to be true?”  But, while I would certainly not replace the role of logic with that of the emotions, a gut feeling about truth should by no means be regarded as utter human deficiency.  In fact, and with a largely overly simplified model, I believe that it is upon the marrying of these two faculties that our greatest intellectual progress is made.  If God made our minds to house truth, then it should be no surprise that they would have an instinct as to what is true.

Humanity must largely rely on this instinct in the debate between absolutism and relativism as well as for establishing any kind of logical scope.  While we cannot logically prove that logic is true, we know it is.  This is the art of thought.  For, as C. S. Lewis describes in his essay “Is Theology Poetry,” truth is very much like a pleasing aesthetic.  This is why much of good intellectual writing, even prose, seems like poetry, and why, conversely, much of good poetic or fictional writing is based upon sound philosophy. As Aristotle writes in his Poetics, and pardon my failure to find an exact quote: good poetry (as in theatrical tragedy) portrays the sort of thing that might happen if the beginning circumstances arose in real life; in other words, it is pleasing to the audience that the plot should follow the same “rules” or “natural progression” that real life does.  Thus good thinking and good art are much the same thing.

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