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What is the difference, Nancy, for Eliot, between truth and immediate
experience...?

On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> To quote an equally brilliant poet, Wallace Stevens, "There are many
> truths, but they are not part of a Truth." The question I have tried to
> raise is who can really know TRUTH and be certain they have it. Even if
> Eliot is right about permanent truth, and one can take that as a worthy
> basis for the sake of argument, who is to say, and on what basis, that his
> version of it was or is the only right one. Tell it to any Muslim, Jew,
> Hindu, agnostic, or atheist. It is not the possibility of truth that  is at
> issue for me but the intractable problem of establishing any one belief as,
> in fact, TRUTH. No one, so far as I know, has ever resolved that, including
> those, like Descartes, who thought he had an infallible formula. Eliot's
> method is reiterated assertion; it is not--since there is none--a proof.
> Nancy
>
> >>> Ken Armstrong **01/16/13 12:26 PM >>>
>
>
> I had the pleasure of being sent off to the library recently to look up
> some references to Bonamy Dobree and thought it might be worth sharing part
> of a letter from TSE that Dobree quotes in his essay on Eliot in Allen
> Tate's *T S Eliot: The Man and His Work*:
>
>  "I think there is some misprision on your Part about my Truth. I would
> not wish to make truth a function of the will. On the contrary, I mean that
> if there is no fixed truth there is no fixed object for the will to tend
> to. If truth is always changing then there is nothing to do but to sit down
> and watch the pictures. Any distinctions one makes are more or less
> arbitrary. I should say that it was at any rate essential for Religion that
> we should have the conception of an immutable object or Reality the
> knowledge of which shall be the final object of that will; and there can be
> no permanent reality if there is no permanent truth. I am of course quite
> ready to admit that human apprehension of truth varies changes and perhaps
> develops, but that is a property of human imperfection rather than of
> truth."
>
> Can't help but think that "to sit down and watch the pictures" is a nice,
> if not allusion to, image of Plato's cave. At any rate it was probably
> pre-television. Eliot goes on to say:
>
> "You cannot conceive of truth at all, the word has no meaning, except by
> conceiving of it as something permanent. And that is really assumed even by
> those who deny it. For you cannot even say it changes except in reference
> to something which does not change; the idea of change is impossible
> without the idea of permanence."
>
>  I think that for those given to this kind of understanding, the
> similarity in kind will be apparent to the relation of "absolute meaning"
> to meaning "not exhausted by any explanation."  In truth, if one takes the
> time to work out the consequences,  it is only an object of knowledge with
> absolute meaning that can have meaning not exhausted by any explanation. I
> realize that this could be taken by those who are not given to the kind of
> explanation of truth Eliot pronounces above as a sleight of hand. I'd only
> say that it's not, if taken on its own terms.
>
> Ken A
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