Pithy quotes from our current reading which give us pause to reflect

I appreciate Gardiner’s summary of K’s thoughts here:

and here:

It’s so easy “just to talk” about things that need to be done, speaking with conviction, but never putting feet to the words. In every possible area of our lives we can state our morals and values, but never actually DO anything. I think this was what Penner was talking about, when he brought up hemeneutics as something Christians live, and also our mode of living as our ethics of belief.

It’s much, much easier to quote doctrines than actually to wrestle with them in the day to day or to perform our current grasp of truth out in front of everyone.

I need to knukle down and finish this little gem (along with some notes, so I have something to refer back to as needed). The Present Age and Fear and Trembling await (along with many many related and unrelated books. Must finish this one.

Mighty early over there to my faaaar left. Seems like lousy sleep didn’t just occur at this house. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Lia in spite of the sleeplessness. I hope your cooking goes well and that the company is a delight. Enjoy!

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What I was just reading about creativity in McGilchrist’s TMWT probably led to my reading the Kierkegaard (and his biographer’s) quotes the way I did. Almost through the first part of the book. Then, finally, new ground.

You can’t make the creative act happen. You have to do certain things, otherwise it won’t happen. But it won’t happen while you are doing them. They create the terms on which the thing will arise. It’s a question of how we dispose our consciousness – that is, how we attend. Attention is a creative act, and creation is really about the induction of a highly attentive state. It is like an ear that is listening and receptive, without actually having anything at all clear yet to hear. You’ve got to have some intimation of what it is that’s coming, however, because otherwise it couldn’t come. On the other hand, you can’t actually close down too precisely on what sort of thing it is, because if you do, you will undoubtedly close down on something else. It involves remaining open, and yet being able to receive something which is, in the end, quite specific and particular. (In this, it is somewhat like prayer.)

At the opening of Book XII of his greatest work, The Prelude, subtitled Growth of a Poet’s Mind, Wordsworth describes how inspiration requires both the effort by which the mind ‘aspires, grasps, struggles, wishes, craves’ and the stillness of the mind which ‘fits [the poet] to receive it, when unsought’. An effort must be made at first, but, despite the effort, inspiration still only comes unsought.

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Mark, thanks for this from McGilchrist. I ran out of time earlier and didn’t end up writing everything I should have, which ended up discounting what you had see in the quotes from K’s VSI. Sorry.
I think these points about creativity are perceptive and important.

There are some kinds of problem-solving that happen best in the back of my mind. From experience, biased observation of a sample of one, it feels like there’s a back and forth between back- and front-burner thinking that goes on. And that’s not always neatly divided, either. I’ve got a couple projects I keep putting off designing right now that need that front-burner thinking and planning with graph paper, ruler, maybe even a protractor and definitely scratch paper and a calculator. I’ve got to put the handwork and head work in for the next stage of percolating. I just keep putting that off.

Thanks for sharing this one, Mark. I think it’s right on.

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This wasn’t what I was looking for, but it is what I found that I needed for myself. This very thing has been on my mind quite a bit. It’s good to read it in such well-chosen and placed words:

Sabbaths - 1993, I

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

  • Wendell Berry

And @MarkD
This reminded me of your most recent quotes from McGilchrist:

How To Be A Poet
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill— more of each
than you have— inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.


My reaction too b I like them both. Thanks.


I know that being perplexed while trying to read Heidegger has vexed @Kendel and @Jay313 as well as myself. So this might be helpful.

While reading McGilchrist on creativity I came across this quote of Heidegger’s biographer which seems to suggest his remarks on thinking may have been focused more on creativity than discursive rationality.

Preconceptions hamper the generation of solutions since they easily turn into constraints. Consequently, one of the ways to encourage flexibility is the relaxation of self-imposed constraints. And, most importantly, the adoption of the stance of someone who does not know, and is prepared to listen. Those who are creative do not know their outcomes in advance, even though some idea of a purposive goal may exist. As George Steiner puts it, speaking eloquently of Heidegger:

“As knower and user, the ego is predator. For Heidegger, on the contrary, the human person and self-consciousness are not the centre, the assessors of existence. Man is only a privileged listener and respondent to existence. The vital relation to otherness is not, as for Cartesian and positivist rationalism, one of ‘grasping’ and pragmatic use. It is a relation of audition. We are trying ‘to listen to the voice of Being’. It is, or ought to be, a relation of extreme responsibility, custodianship, answerability to and for.”


Mark, you give me way too much credit. I have only provided moral support to others, who were attempting to understand Heidigger. I have no such aspirations. :blush: But I appreciate the quote nonetheless.



“we mean, specifically, that the experience is not of our own making”

(As any who know me would expect, my mind immediately goes to the language of Providence. ; - )

The source of the ‘saying’ to which Heidegger exhorts us to listen is Being. But Being is not distinct from this ‘saying’ – it would be more accurate, Cooper suggests, to say that Being “is a ‘Saying’”

The fits nicely with Being being the Word, the Being of God is the Logos of God.

As Heidegger puts it, “We are trying to listen to the voice of Being”, where the word ‘of’ is used with care owing to the intimacy of language and Being which Cooper highlights: language is, Heidegger tells us, the “language of Being” as clouds are the “clouds of the sky”

Nice metaphor (yeah, I know, it’s a simile ; - ), not entirely unrelated to “‘In him we live and move and have our being.’”

“We are trying ‘to listen to the voice of Being’. It is, or ought to be, a relation of extreme responsibility, custodianship, answerability to and for.”

Most definitely. What’s sad though is that neither Heidegger nor anyone else can ‘listen to the voice of Being’ if they disingenuously and a priori preclude and disallow one of the essential attributes of the Being, or the essential Being, namely his ‘spiritness’ far beyond all the merely natural and illimitably far above the merely material, amalgamate and homogenize the latter as you will. So in that case, ‘listening to the voice of Being’ is an oxymoron and an impossibility, and if we think we are listening, a self-deception, denying “a relation of extreme responsibility, custodianship, answerability to and for.”

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You reminded me of this poem. It certainly fits BioLogos!


That’s digestible. Thanks. I’m familiar with Heidegger’s thinking mostly through second-hand sources that I trust (meaning other philosophers, not Christian apologists!). He’s just one of those I can’t read as a primary source because his sentence structures and choice of words are atrocious. The same goes for Kant. I would blame it on German-to-English translation, but Nietzsche is readable, if objectionable.

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Unfortunately Kant made enough sense to me that at the time it infected my writing and very rarely still does. Heidegger is safely out of my reach but reading this makes me more sympathetic to what caused him so much trouble. Too bad he didn’t take up poetry.

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I’m also not that interested in Heidegger because of his whole-hearted adoption of Nazism. I know he’s an important figure in 20th century philosophy, but it’s hard to get past that.


By contrast, Wittgenstein was the son of the steel tycoon of Austria, one of the richest men in Europe, and he happened to be home when WWI broke out. Rather than leaving the country or buying an officer’s commission, he volunteered for service in the infantry as an artillery spotter on the Italian front. That was typically a death sentence, since they snuck behind enemy lines to direct cannon fire. During his entire service, he was known as the “Gospel man” since he carried Tolstoy’s Gospel in Brief the entire war. By the outbreak of WWII, Wittgenstein was a world-famous philosopher at Cambridge, but he volunteered and spent the war as an orderly in a hospital.

Give me Wittgenstein over Heidegger every time. The same goes for Camus and Sartre.


@Jay313 and @MarkD ,
Heidegger and Kant (as well as Thomas Mann and plenty of other prose writers) exploited the nuances of German grammar and sentence structure with impunity. The structure lends itself to incredibly long and complex sentences that conclude with a precisely laid out log jam of verb forms that have been piling up for at least a page. Speaking of being “aufgehoben” (suspended)! As a student of German, there were times I would get to the end of a sentence (after the 3rd attempt) and mutter in triumph, ,Endlich! Ich hab’s!” (Finally! I got it!)

One day in my German language class in Munich, my overly-optimistic instructor, the dear Roland Meinart, presented us with a few pages of Kant, certain of our success. Today, Jay and Mark, I feel entirely vindicated. Thank you.


A bit off-putting to say the least.


And then there are compound words.

And sentences made of compound words.

With the longest German word in the article apparently made obsolete, I wonder if this Finnish one takes the cake? I lived in Finland for a year but fortunately never had to learn this one :grin: @Kendel
Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas – This supposedly is the longest Finnish word with 61 letters, and it means an airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student. Learn it, you may need to use it one day


That’s a brain full!

Wittgenstein’s story is so much more admirable but I don’t know how I would do if some would be dictator successfully revolted against the government and once in power turned his brown shirt thugs loose to terrorize everyone. I can’t judge that situation from my perspective. It isn’t hard to imagine it happening any more but it is hard to imagine how principled I would be if people I cared about were threatened. So I’ve always dismissed the idea of ignoring what he had to say on that basis.

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It would take too long – I’m in my mid geezerhood and I haven’t got that much time. :grin:

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To be fair, based on the few biographical sketches I’ve picked up, I wouldn’t describe it as ‘whole-hearted.’ While I don’t think he ever apologized to Hannah Arendt, she remained friends with him.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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