The Hermetic Seal • 24 January 2007

This is an experiment in dissolution. My life is in two disciplines: academic analysis, and inner experiments. At the melding point, is the stew any good?

Here is why I ask.

Even for a breakout preacher’s kid, it’s not ok to look faith askance in the ivory tower.  Colleagues I love run tight poisson models of the probability of social protest, predicated on certain assumptions about the nature of the universe during bankers’ hours.  And then in the rest of life we have, unexamined, the belief, faith, meaning, and the morality, religion, conviction, habits, and relationships, entitlements and things we choose not to see… that are the conditions of our productivity.  Keeping things in their separate spheres.  Uncontaminated.

Social science, where we’re more insecure about our truth claims than the natural scientists, can be a dry, 20th century realm. Abstraction; deduction; certainty. Suspicious not just of metanarratives but of metaphysics, meaning, and definitely of mystery.

I’m not looking to bring matters of the spirit up to the ivory tower, or transfer the intellectual wonder of the latter into some folk realm of meaning. Those are two versions of arbitrage—bringing the ideas of over to the other. Great career-builder, arbitrage.  But neither the first—some taxonomy of consciousness—or the second—self-help for scientists—strikes me as all that great.

Rather, my question is whether the two hemispheres of inquiry can, pulled to center, make a more interesting whole. Don’t know yet.

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