Sunday 17 July 2016

The sun rises

When I look at the sun rising every day, I still think of it as having made the whole long journey around the world in 24 hours, and I marvel - despite all I have learnt in school. I know somewhere in my mind that it is the earth, this earth on which I am standing and walking, that is spinning around itself like a top, at top speed, while also hurtling around the sun at who knows how many thousand km.p.h. I know all this, or perhaps it might be better to say I believe this is true. And yet I am able to "stand still" and "walk around" this earth, and if I jump I land back - usually - in the same place. I know - or I believe - that this is the famous law of inertia - or perhaps it is in some way part of the relativity of motion. And then I remember all sorts of things, like for example the "lack of intelligibility" of uniform motion, and that it is change of motion - acceleration or deceleration - that requires to be explained. "A body continues to be at rest or in uniform motion unless and until it is acted upon by an equal and opposite force" or something like that. So the book that I drop in a swiftly train usually falls at my feet and not at the last station that we passed... And I can stand and walk and run and jump on this swiftly moving globe that is our earth. And I learn to make sense of "things-as-related-to-us" and "things as related among themselves."
"Modern science has in common with the Aristotelian notion of science only one feature: the movement from the 'first-for-us' [priora quoad nos] of the commonsense cognitional perspective expressed in ordinary language to the 'first-in-themselves' [priora quoad se] of a theoretical cognitional perspective expressed in technical terms and relations. As Lonergan explains, commonsense understanding is descriptive in the sense that it understands things-in-relation-to-our-senses. Thus, operating in terms of common sense, we speak of the sun rising and setting, and of the sun as revolving around the earth. In contrast, the perspective of theoretical understanding characteristic of science is explanatory in the sense that it understands things-in-relation-to-each-other. So the scientist puts the sun at the center of the solar system, and knows that the earth spins on its axis every 24 hours at the same time as it revolves around the sun." (Fred Lawrence, "'Transcendence from Within': Benedict XVI and Jürgen Habermas on the Dialogue between Secular Reason and Religious Faith," D. Modern Dehellenization.)

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