Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Making things better than they were

Fred Lawrence mentioned something yesterday in his comment on my paper, about making Sankara better than he is. And yes, I thought, that is how De Smet has proceeded, not only w.r.t. Sankara, but w.r.t. to the whole Indian tradition that he studied: his eye of love enabled him to see things as perhaps better than they were. And, if that sounds terribly triumphalistic, perhaps it was that his eye of love saw and highlighted and promoted the good.

So interpretation and history might concentrate on What did he mean, and What really was going forward, but dialectic tries to develop the positions while reversing the counterpositions. Developing the positions: making things better than they were. Taking the good things forward in directions that perhaps were not actually taken by the protagonists.

So De Smet's interpretation of Sankara, even if proved 'wrong,' would certainly be in the line of such dialectic. And that is a legitimate thing!


  1. This was the same question I had in mind, about De Smet, making Sankara better than he is.

    It's all wonderfully clear to me now.

    But how does one decide objectively what the good things are (positions?) in someone else's work?
    Is it by comparing it with Aquinas and other catholic thinkers?

  2. How to decide objectively between positions and counterpositions?

    one way is by reading good authors.

    how to know which are the good authors?

    one way is by asking the experts.

    how to know which experts to trust?

    so there has to be some other criterion.


    the inbuilt criterion of our minds and hearts.

    what are these?

    Aristotle calls them 'principles of movement and of rest'.

    One of these is our conscience: it is disturbed, it is at rest. when disturbed, it is a sign that something is not quitre right. when at rest, a sign that things are okay.

    is that not too subjective?

    yes. so one must say: the criterion is the good conscience of a good man.

    is that not very circular?

    yes, but that is how we grow... and we do grow...

    THINK ABOUT IT! and when you do, we could discuss that further.