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Befuddlement


There is a crucial distinction between mystery and mere befuddlement. All great poetry invites us into mystery, to some degree. A great poem gestures through the physical world toward the ineffable. In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke explains to the would-be artist that we must




befuddlement



All of this leads me to my fairly complicated feelings about the fake AI Joe Biden clip. It was shared by a group of right-wing influencers and it shows Biden declaring he\u2019s reinstating the draft. I can\u2019t say I fell for it exactly when I first saw it, but it did confuse me quite a bit at first. And it was that moment of uncanny valley befuddlement that freaked me out a little bit.


It started with questions regarding the flight attendant safety speech, when I openly wondered whether there was anybody left on earth who does not know how to fasten a seatbelt. It quickly degenerated from there. Several others provided examples of similarly ridiculous traditions and practices that generally cause befuddlement if you bother to actually think about them. This was an eye opening conversation, and I felt it worthy of further reflection. I have thereby assembled a collection of odd and hard to explain traditions and practices in our society today. A couple of them are indeed items suggested by my seat mates, and I must take a moment to honor the contributors from Southwest Airlines Flight 1172. This one is for you.


Therefore, without further ado, I present to you my list of the top 10 things that cause me general befuddlement and bewilderment. If you are paying attention, they should do the same for you. Please make sure your seat backs are pulled forward and your tray table is locked in the upright position:


A book for thinkers young and old, Befuddled is a journey back in time to explore the lives, legends and ideas of ancient philosophers. Theories on the origin of the universe, the nature of the mind, and much more are presented alongside bizarre stories of mad emperors and talking skulls. Featuring an array of iconic figures, including Socrates, Pythagoras and the Buddha, Befuddled superbly illustrates how lives devoted to confusion and wonder not only give rise to fascinating ideas about reality, they also brim with wild moments and remarkable tales. Author David Birch invites you to add your own life to the collection. With questions and activities designed to start you on your own extraordinary explorations, Befuddled will help you discover your own powers of thought while you experience for yourself the freaky thrills of befuddlement.


Graham and Maitzen think my CORNEA principle is in trouble because it entails "intolerable violations of closure under known entailment." I argue that the trouble arises from current befuddlement about closure itself, and that a distinction drawn by Rudolph Carnap, suitably extended, shows how closure, when properly understood, works in tandem with CORNEA. CORNEA does not obey Closure because it shouldn't: it applies to "dynamic" epistemic operators, whereas closure principles hold only for "static" ones. What the authors see as an intolerable vice of CORNEA is actually a virtue, helping us see what closure principles should-and shouldn't-themselves be about.


As Father Greeley has so keenly noted, the trouble lies precisely in the anti-intellectual atmosphere so common now among "theologians." Or, to put it another way, scientific theological method has been scrapped by so many. The result is, quite naturally, befuddlement, a major level of befuddlement.


We can see, then, a means of helping to clear away the befuddlement. When any theologian today says: Lo, here is Christ! we need to check his credentials. Is he really following theological method, as proclaimed by Vatican II? If so, he may have made progress-we still need to check further, of course, on how well he has used the method, and on additional details. But if he does not use that method, if he instead just emotes and bubbles: "Before, we used to believe this; but now, thanks to good Pope John and the Council, we believe that"-such a man is no theologian, but a quack. He does not even deserve a hearing. Of course, if he can quote a teaching of the Council or the Pope, and then show, by careful study, precisely what its meaning is, we will gladly accept it. But all too often there is no quote from the Council, still less, any careful study of a Council statement. There is merely a general, vague, appeal to the Council and/or "its spirit." For example, some say now there is only one good form of religious life: one with little or no structure, habit, etc., and with its work in the inner city or slums. Now the Council did approve that sort of life: it was actually approved before the Council. It is a Secular Institute pattern. But the Council was not so narrow as many "liberals." It recognized many good forms of religious life, e.g., speaking of contemplatives, it said: "No matter how urgent may be the needs of the active apostolate, such communities will always have a distinguished part to play in Christ's Mystical Body, where all members do not have the same function."9 As to active communities: "The religious life ... takes on many forms ... it serves the pastoral work of the Church so usefully by educating the young, caring for the sick, and discharging other services."10 And it reaffirmed the value of the old spiritual ideals saying: "... the counsels [poverty, chastity, obedience] contribute greatly to purification of heart and spiritual liberty. They continually kindle the fervor of charity."11 And again: "The members of each community should recall above everything else that by their profession of the evangelical counsels they have given answer to a divine call to live for God alone not only by dying to sin but also by renouncing the world."12


10. Finally, there is a most important teaching, which, strange to say, has been overlooked by so many who claim loudly that they are following the Council. It is found in the constitution on the Church: "... the body of the faithful as a whole, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief."26 Really, this statement is not entirely new: what is new is its great clarity. But that very clarity makes it all the more strange that it has been overlooked. It means simply this: Even if the Magisterium of the Church has not yet defined a point, still, if only the whole Church believes it, that is, accepts it as revealed, then there cannot be any error. Such a universal belief is equivalent to a solemn definition.27 Yet there are so many who often say: "This matter is not defined, so let us doubt it." And they do not stop to see if the point in question is part of the belief of the universal Church, even though it may not yet be formally defined. This is for certain a real sleeper in the Council texts. If the noise makers would follow just this one teaching of the Council, a great step would be taken to remove the plague of confusion and befuddlement.


To sum up: there are two procedures needed to remove confusion and befuddlement. For progress can be made within a Council (or within Papal teaching) and it can be made outside of a Council. To remove confusion on what changes the Council itself has made, we need only to study the actual texts-and to avoid most commentators and second hand sources. To remove confusion in regard to claims of progress made outside of the Council, we have only to judge the claims according to the criteria laid down by the Council. Examined under such principles, some claims, especially many in the biblical field, turn out to be true, but many others turn out to be purely fraudulent. They are the "intellectual fads" which are "a pretext for rejecting precise scholarship and serious intellectual investigations" of which Father Greeley complains.


Following the teachings and principles of the Council we can have true renewal of theology. In the opposite direction lies quackery and befuddlement and the negation of scholarship evidenced by Daniel Callahan: 041b061a72


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