Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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Source: Studies in Comparative Religion, Spring, 1969 (Vol. 3, No. 2). © World Wisdom, Inc.



I cannot answer Mr. Bolton's long and interesting letter on my article, Man and the presence of evil in Christian and Platonic Doctrine, because I don't think there is anything to answer; Mr. Bolton asserts what he calls the "complete principles" of "true metaphysics" and that is that. The only question to be asked, consequently, is not whether my interpretation of Christian or Platonic doctrine is right or wrong over particular points, but whether Mr. Bolton's complete principles of true metaphysics are right or wrong, or at least whether they can pretend to that absolute and overriding authority which Mr. Bolton attributes to them. Mr. Bolton's statement that "the ideas of emanation and creation are in no sense equal alternatives... the idea of creation relates to an altogether more relative point of view than that of emanation", will serve to illustrate what I mean. This statement presupposes the possession of certain principles of understanding which are derived from a doctrine that Mr. Bolton must claim is superior—metaphysically superior—to the Christian doctrine, because according to Christian doctrine it is the idea of emanation that is more relative than the idea of creation, and this is the reverse of what Mr. Bolton says is true. Similarly, his statement that finite being "does not exist at all (his italics) for the Infinite" must also derive from a doctrine which Mr. Bolton accepts as metaphysically superior to Christian doctrine, because of course Christian doctrine affirms a point of view which, it claims (mistakenly, Mr. Bolton would say, and certainly illogically), goes beyond the logical categories of thought which produce that concept of "irreversibility" he has in mind. And so on, where the other arguments are concerned. It is so easy to appeal to "complete principles" of "true metaphysics" while forgetting that this appeal begs an endless number of questions. Ultimately the degree and firmness of the assent one gives to a particular doctrine depend not on any demonstrable probability or proof of its metaphysical superiority over another doctrine, but on the strength of one's acceptance of it, or faith in it, in the first place. That is why I cannot answer Mr. Bolton's letter without first going into the whole question of the nature and authority of the principles of the doctrine he asserts—obviously something that cannot be done in a letter.

Athens, 27.11.68


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