While out on my run this evening, I was listening to a "Speaking of Faith" podcast with Martin Marty. It was a pretty interesting discussion of religion in American life, and there are probably lots of things worth commenting on. But one interesting things stood out to me in particular: He referenced a (hitherto unknown to me) Dutch philosopher named Eugen Rosenstock-Heussy (which took some doing to find how his name was spelled).
He claimed (according to Marty) that the history of learning in the western world can be written in three Latin phrases:
1. credo ut intelligam (I believe in order to understand). This is what led to the birth of universities in the middle ages.
2. cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). Here is the skepticism that characterizes modern thought.
3. respondeo etsi mutabor (I respond although I will be changed). Truth has a social character and we learn by conversing with each other.
I like this kind of thing. I like it when historians can impose a structure on the past in such a way that it gives meaning (or brings out meaning?). I suppose I feel more comfortable when there is structure. Of course there is a lot more to be filled in, but these claims are the like the joists (or are they rafters?) upon which the rest of the planks can be laid to make the roof.
(sorry for all the parentheses)