Stanley L. Jaki: "The Mind and Its Now"
In the paper, it is first argued that the motto of this conference, or Augustine's phrase, "Quaestio mihi factus sum," is given a false meaning if taken out of context. It is Augustine's puzzlement about the right measure of enjoying Church melodies as part of prayer which he held to be "the raising of the mind to God.” Augustine the Christian, or rather the Catholic, never suffered for a moment of what the moderns call "identity crisis.” Then it is argued that any such crisis is tied to the slighting of the importance of man's self-awareness which has two fundamental aspects: One is the connection of self awareness of man's experiencing it through moments which he calls now. It is still widely recognized by anti-metaphysical positivists who stake all on scientific knowledge that the now cannot be handled by exact science, either experimentally or theoretically. The other fundamental aspect is that the momentary experience of the now fuses into a unitary awareness of self-identity which reaches from the present moment, even into the distant past of fifty or eighty years, and confidently anticipates future moments in the life of the individual. Such is the basis of social life, including its legal aspects, and also of man's longing for a lasting or eternal now for himself and indeed for a union with that eternal NOW which is a personal God. To slight this longing as a sort of wishful thinking involves disastrous consequences for the construction of a cohesive world view.
15 July 2008