27 May 2013

My theological autobiography

Here's a great excerpt from Alasdair MacIntyre's "Whose Justice? Which Rationality?":

"...the adherents of a tradition which is now in this state of fundamental and radical crisis (elsewhere identified as an epistemological crisis--my note) may at this point encounter in a new way the claims of some particular rival tradition, perhaps one with which they have for some time coexisted, perhaps one which they are now encountering for the first time. They now come or had already come to understand the beliefs and way of life of this other alien tradition, the language of the alien tradition as a new and second first language."

This, roughly, describes my life c. 1987-2000. MacIntyre continues:

"When they have understood the beliefs of the alien tradition, they may find themselves compelled to recognize that within this other tradition it is possible to construct from the concepts and theories peculiar to it what they were unable to provide from their own conceptual and theoretical resources, a cogent and illuminating explanation--cogent and illuminating, that is, by their own standards--of why their own intellectual tradition had been unable to solve its problems or restore its coherence. The standards by which they judge this explanation to be cogent and illuminating will be the very same standards by which they have found their tradition wanting in the face of epistemological crisis. But while this new explanation satisfies two of the requirements for an adequate response to an epistemological crisis within a tradition--insofar as it both explains why, given the structures of enquiry within that tradition, the crisis had to happen as it did and does not itself suffer from the same defects of incoherence or resourcelessness, the recognition of which had been the initial stage of their crisis--it fails to satisfy the third (elsewhere, described as showing a fundamental continuity of a new conceptual structure with the shared beliefs of the tradition in crisis). Derived as it is from a genuinely alien tradition, the new explanation does not stand in any sort of substantive continuity with the preceding history of the tradition in crisis.
In this kind of situation the rationality of tradition requires an acknowledgement by those who have hitherto inhabited and given their allegiance to the tradition in crisis that the alien tradition is superior in rationality and in respect of its claims to truth to their own. What the explanation afforded from within the alien tradition will have disclosed is a lack of correspondence between the dominant beliefs of their own tradition and the reality disclosed by the most successful explanation, and it may well be the only successful explanation which they have been able to discover. Hence the claim to truth for what have hitherto been their own beliefs has been defeated."

These paragraphs describe my life c. 2000-2005, and my conversion to the Orthodox Church.