Plato’s Cave

     Harville (Dad) and I had such an interesting discussion about Plato’s Cave!  I was saying that my faith tradition helps me to stay in the positive place that he had been describing in Imago terms.  I said, “Maybe my faith is just a hermeneutical holding place, pragmatically helping me to do what is right for human happiness.”  He smiled.
     I followed up with: “But we are all in Plato’s cave: none of us knows anything but shadow expressions of God or God’s ways.  That is also a tenet of the Catholic faith: ours is an intellectually humble faith, knowing that we all ‘see through the glass dimly.’  What I really can’t stand,” I said, “Are people like Joseph Campbell, and Bultmann before him–and Jung did it too–who think they can ‘demythologize’ other people’s belief systems.  What hubris!  How ridiculous!  They think they got out of the cave?  Can ANY human being get out of the cave, with regard to mental concepts or words?  No, the human mind simply cannot know the fullness of God in this life.  We all, in my opinion, see dimly.  Some people’s beliefs are better than others; some access the Spirit of God while others can go against God’s nature and truth.  But no one can say, ‘I have broken through the darkness of the human intellect; I know how it really is.'”  
     Now of course, the whole point of Plato’s Allegory is that one person did get out of the cave.  But when he did, Plato said that it was beyond words, beyond expression.  In fact, it was “beyond being.”  That is my point: some may go past the shadows, and into the fullness of the light.  But it is not by demythologizing or looking down on other people’s concepts or words.  The truth is beyond words.  But words help us find the truth.  
     That is why I love the mystics–they are humble in their intellect, while rich in their intimacy with God.