The Unity of Knowledge

What’s the point in doing philosophy if you can’t “air it out” from time to time? Why not throw it deep on occasion (to use American football terminology)? Go for the low percentage, big plays rather than dink-and-dunk your way down field towards truth (or a touchdown).

Now, of course, philosophers have to concern themselves with “empirical evidence” or “logical truths” if they want to be taken seriously. But I’m not a philosopher nor am I taken seriously. So I’m free to say what I want without fear of losing credibility.

As explored in the last post, about “disunity with God and Nature” and the Hegelian system of thesis, antithesis, synthesis, I never fully explored a way we might regain this unity. Now I’m not going to lie, because Hegel deliberately made himself difficult to understand, I find it difficult to pay attention when I study him. So I’m not wholly concerned with getting Hegel correct (if such a thing is possible). I am just using Hegel as he’s generally perceived. And as I perceive him, he appears to concern himself with unity of knowledge. (Again, I am guessing here. I’m “airing the ball out” so to speak)

And, as stated above, the Hegelian system of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis (not his own words) is the way we achieve a unity (or at least ONE way). So what does this mean? Where we have a thesis…like a conception of a monotheistic God….and an antithesis….like an entirely different system of belief like Buddhism….we would later have a brand new synthesis of new system. Under this Hegelian method is the way in which the universe unfolds. Ideas aren’t to be considered only to later be rejected. Instead each system of thought builds upon the system or idea that came before it. This pattern of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis continues on until the universe achieve absolute knowledge of itself.

(If this is not the proper way to interpret Hegel, I don’t care. If that is so, then I am simply borrowing from Hegel and creating my OWN theory. How do you like THAT?!)

As discussed earlier, this system of thought isn’t all that dissimilar to Meister Eckhart’s theology. This system was developed in the late 13th or early 14th century, and it may or may not have laid the foundation for Germanic tradition of philosophy, which held sway on up to the 19th century.

One such idea that synthesises these various theological theses is the Baha’i Faith. Those that practice this faith may not agree, but its quest to find unity within the world certainly echoes Hegel. This is evident with the Faith’s three central tenets (the number three runs central in various religions and philosophies: The Holy Trinity, the aformentioned Hegelian method, etc). These tenets are: Oneness of God, Oneness of Humanity, and Oneness with Religion. And all of these assertions are a synthesis of various systems that came before.

The Oneness of God asserts that there is only ONE God, so it essentially upholds monotheistic doctrine, BUT this belief also states that the various assertions of God from other religions are just addressing the same God. Again, there might be a different theology for each religion, but under Baha’i doctrine, ALL religions are explaining the same Deity.

The Oneness of Humanity is something we can all endorse, I hope. The Baha’i Faith appears to be forward thinking in its eschewing of such man-made constructions like nationality, class, race, sex, and so on. These are only divisions that separate the wholeness of humankind. Every human being is created equal. The extra Hegelian step is to not only forgo such notions of “race” and inequality of the sexes, but to also move past any ideas of nationalism. We are not simply citizens of a country, but we are citizens of the WORLD. So our MAIN allegiance is to our fellow humans. NOT that this means to let go of any connections to culture or community, but it means to celebrate the diversity of mankind. Because in this diversity, we find a new understanding and strength. So this requires us to value not only our own culture, but the cultures of others around the world.

Finally, the Oneness of Religion is perhaps (in my view) the most Hegelian. In this tenet, God has revealed Himself to various prophets over the centuries. And these prophets can be found among many different religions. These Messages all come from the same God, but how they were INTERPRETED was based on the time and place. But these Messages were used to progress humanity forward. And because manifestations all came from the same God and for the same Purpose, all of these interpretations can be considered equal. So we require not only an understanding of one religion, but we also require an understanding of other religions and prophets, if we are to comprehend the full meaning of this Oneness of Religion. So basically thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. 

But here’s the kicker: there isn’t a “final” prophet which will reveal ultimate meaning to the world. I guess we can say that the Baha’i Faith doesn’t see itself as the religions to end all religions. Truth and religions must change to fit the needs of a time and place. Revelation changes. Truths are born, Truths are replaced by newer Truths, and on and on this evolution goes…in the never ending Hegelian cycle.

So I guess we never arrive at “Final Truths”, that is if I’m interpreting the Baha’i Faith correctly. HOWEVER, this repetitive and evolutionary cycle of revelation blossoming into higher revelations is all flowing out of One Source. While we may never arrive at any final truths, there appears to be an Absolute Spirit which guides humanity forward. It doesn’t appear the Baha’i Faith has a final destination, but Hegel does appear to think there is a final unity, which is ultimate self-awareness of the Absolute Spirit.

Like I said, I don’t pretend to know EVERYTHING. But I do believe that if you’re going to do philosophy, you got to take some chances.

And I hate Hegel.

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