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Paperback Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People Book

ISBN: 1587430606

ISBN13: 9781587430602

Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People

We don't often think about the act of knowing, but if we do, the question of what we know and how we know it becomes murky indeed. Longing to Know is a book about knowing: knowing how we know things, knowing how we know people, and knowing how we know God. This book is for those who are considering Christianity for the first time, as well as Christians who are struggling with issues related to truth, certainty, and doubt. As such, it is a wonderful...

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5 ratings

Longing and Reasons of our Hearts

This is a delightful book on epistemology written by a college classmate of mine. Don't let the fact that the book is philosophical scare you. It is actually fun to read. Meek in developing her argument uses illustrations and word-pictures on almost every page. You will read about magic-eye 3-D pictures, copperhead snakes, throwing a Frisbee or playing golf, and movies like The Hunt For Red October. Part of why this book is so delightful to read is the imaginative ways she conveys her ideas. In one place she compares the act of knowing to a wedding ceremony and putting on leotards. What is her basic argument? Meek makes a case that we know God the same way we come to know other people or things. Knowing God, she says, is like knowing your auto mechanic. She defines knowing as "the responsible human struggle to rely on clues to focus on a coherent pattern and submit to its reality." Meek also wants to replace the notion of certainty with the notion of confidence. She also emphasizes that knowing is an activity; it is not something that happens to us but something we seek to accomplish. I think Meek accurately describes the "epistemic act." There is more to knowing than meets the eye. As I read through her book, my mind kept going back to Pascal. His insights affirm the viability of truth that transcend the limits of rationality while at the same time affirm the distinction between the longing and the reasons of our hearts. Meek also helped me understand that my body functions as an axis or bridge that makes knowledge possible. Meek's book is a passionate handbook toward confident faith. Its conducive for group study with questions at the end of each chapter.

And it's good for strange people, too!

Who knew epistemology could be such fun?! Meek's down-to-earth approach and real life personal illustrations make for a delightful read. At the same time, her gracious but unapologetic applications to her Christian faith give the work an impressive weight. In the face of modern despair and post-modern whateverism, Dr. Meek couragously seeks to answer the troubling fundamental question: How do you know? Amazingly, her answer rings true. Many stubborn conundrums, ones I had long considered insoluble, fell like so many Berlin Walls before her gentle, evocative words. To call LTK an eye-opener would be a huge understatement. It has given me more "Oh! I see it!" moments, as Meek colorfully calls them, than any other book aside from the Bible itself. By offering a model for confident contact with the real, LTK has the potential to restore hope to those who have despaired for a lack of absolute certainty, humble those who thought they had absolute certainty, and aid understanding in every legitimate field of human endeavor I can think of. It even helped me understand my wife better! Boy, was that an "unexpected future manifestation"! Oh, uh, if, perchance, you don't consider yourself an ordinary person, despair not. The Polanyi/Meek model is helpful for us eccentrics, too. :-)

Don't 'Question Everything', but Question how we question!

This is an excellent resource for those who think they know too much. We are given Scripture, revelation from above, in order that we might truly know God and ourselves. However, the same Scripture that gives to us "true truth" or true knowledge is the same Scripture that teaches us humility with regard to what we know. Why? Because we cannot fully know all things because our minds are tainted by sin. We rightfully interpret the world and ourselves when we look through the lens of Scripture, but we do not consistently interpret God, ourselves, or our world through the lens of Scripture. Every sin that we commit, every time we doubt or are skeptical, this is a misinterpretation of reality. This book by a Polanyi scholar is helpful in addressing the 20th century church's, particularly the evangelical's temptation toward accepting a modern worldview, and interpreting God, the world and ourselves through this modern lens. It is ironic that many Christians today would argue adamantly against secular humanism and modernity in its self-centered, autonomous, rational manifestations, but then they would gladly welcome and receive the self-centered, autonomous, and rational methodology of knowing that was born in the Enlightment by self-centered, autonomous, and rational individuals. This book if read carefully will remind us that all knowledge is ultimately "covenantal knowledge". Who God is, who we are, what world we live in is all revealed in Scripture so that we might understand reality from God's perspective and submit our knowledge and understand to his- - humbly. All of us interpret the world according to what we know, from whom we have learned it, and through the lens of our own biases and presuppositions. In order to rightly interpret God, ourselves and the world around us faithfully and accurately, we must first be aware of this, then humbly seek to know through the Scriptures God has given to us, in the Church Jesus is building for us, and remind ourselves of the authorities and the loved ones who have taught us and continue to teach us. If you are struggling with your knowledge of God, yourself, and the world, and if you are completely honest enough to humbly admit it, then read the Book of Ecclesiastes first, then read Esther Lightcap Meek's book on "Longing to Know"! Many Christians today want absolute knowledge about God. What is frightening about this mindset is that it was born from a secular, autonomous, humanist way of thinking. It is not merely inquisitive, but rabidly proud. For many Christians I have known have left the Church and their faith because they thought that to question was a sin and therefore something was wrong with their faith. Those who want absolute "proof" and "evidence" should check to see where their faith is directed. At God in Christ by faith? Or in their ability to prove God in Christ by reason? Christians need to repent of their pride in wanting too much evidence, and be confident in the Script

A lack of certainty does not outlaw knowledge

A lack of proovable certainty does not mean that knowledge ceases to exist, it means instead that the relationship between a person and knowledge is more like a relationship between two people. Longing to Know suggests that what we view as "reason" (science, math) and what we view as "faith" or stuff outside the box (religion, and artistic talents) are really acts of coming to know with very similar major features. In other words, knowledge is a confidence (for example, that the floor will hold me when I walk on it; although I have confidence that the floor will hold me, the floor will not necessarily hold me) rather than a proovable certainty.

Great introduction to "how we know stuff"!

This text is written for people who want to begin thinking about how we know "stuff" with any level of assurance. Meek sets the stage by exploring the big questions and lays out an very comprehensible epistemology based on her vast knowledge of Michael Polanyi (if you don't know Polanyi, don't worry). I rated this 5-stars because she accomplishes all that she sets out to do in concise clear language. She also introduces the reader to the idea of a biblical epistemology (how we can talk biblically about knowing reality and God). She rightly dissects modernism and post-modernism and gives a more realistic view of knowing things, people, and even how we can know God. Meek is writing a entry-level text on what might be the most complex and abstract topic in humanity. She explains the topic systematically and historically. She gives plenty of "street level" examples. No advanced degrees are required. For these reasons, I do not hestitate to recommend this book to people who are interested in the topic.
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