Offhand, the recommended combination of logical thinking and intuition sounds like quite a package. Take a large whole, divide it into smaller sequential pieces, and consider one piece at a time. Whatever cannot be divided or sequenced should be considered as such.
Reclining on a sofa, we were reading aloud the instructions for the use of human reason given by Descartes in Étude du bon sens. We found them quite useful. Even so, we were not fully convinced of how we should comprehend each other’s disparate worlds.
We opened the Bible.
We chose the Book of Job, because the friend with whom I was reading named him as her favorite character. She said Job lists guidelines for life just as well as do women’s magazines, but does it much more beautifully.
Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its blanket, when I determined its boundaries and put its bars and doors in place, when I declared: “You may come this far, but no farther; your proud waves stop here”? (Job 38: 8–11)
The Book of Job is quite savage, too, the grim destiny of a man for whom a good attitude did not guarantee a happy life.
If I said, “I will forget my complaint, change my expression, and smile,” I would still live in terror of all my pains. (Job 9: 27–28)
In the midst of his suffering, Job wanted to be heard and seen.
I wish that my words were written down, that they were recorded on a scroll or were inscribed in stone forever by an iron stylus and lead! (Job 19: 23–24)
This actually happened. The book that we were reading is full of both human wisdom and literary grandeur.
Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you. He eats grass like an ox. Look at the strength of his loins and the power in the muscles of his belly. He stiffens his tail like a cedar tree; the tendons of his thighs are woven firmly together. His bones are bronze tubes; his limbs are like iron rods. (Job 40: 15–18)
I was astonished to find so many elements of old fairy-tales in the Bible. But the fabulous restoration of happiness in Job’s life is actually true, true through faith.
So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named his first daughter Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch. No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers. (Job 42: 12–15)
The comforting message of Job is the same as that of the millions of black marks on thousands of pages of paper. We need not understand anything more than we actually do, and acceptance of the prevailing preconditions leads to satisfaction. We can use our reason for things that are manageable by reason.
And sure enough, we can even find handy tools in the old philosophies. If you enter a new open-plan hall and wonder: what on earth is this place? you may come up with this simple Cartesian proposition > place is the inner surface of a body within which the thing is enclosed.
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