I’m not sure if this belongs in the philosophy section, but I placed it here because I wanted the discussion to be open to conceptions of light, knowledge, and truth that are more spiritually and subjectively oriented than philosophical concepts alone. Not that those two are mutually exclusive, I suppose. But I don’t mind if the thread is moved if that is a more appropriate fit. This may be a long post.
I’ve been pondering the nature of light (in a spiritual sense), knowledge, and truth and would be interested in hearing from other minds on these topics. I may be struggling somewhat to express myself in this post. I’ve been pondering some of these matters for a long time, but they’re difficult.
Mind you, I have no doubt that there are different ways people use these words with different concepts underlying them, and I’m still exploring that. But I think of knowledge in two different senses at the very least. There is knowledge of the objective world which I understand to be a statement or idea that is true (meaning that it corresponds to reality insofar as that is possible) and which I have good reason to believe is true.
Of this knowledge I can never be certain. I haven’t had that kind of certainty in a long time. I do put faith in reason because it is so useful, and it has seemed to work up until this point in time in both history and my personal life, but I could never know if it might stop working in the future, and sometimes models (scientific or otherwise) can be useful and reasonable but come to be replaced by other models once we acquire more (provisional) knowledge.
Then there is what I call direct knowledge. The only direct knowledge I have is of perception. My knowledge of the objective world, assuming the objective world exists, is mediated by perception and so is indirect, but I know my perceptions directly. This is a different kind of knowledge than we can have of the objective world, and the truth of the statement must be different, too because this is not correspondence truth. Another concept of truth I might mention is coherence truth — such as the rules of mathematics or reason — although I am not sure this kind of truth is what I’m talking about here, either.
I have because of these matters been pondering what light means in a spiritual and metaphorical sense, especially since some gods are associated with light. I think of light in terms of bringing knowledge (the illumination of darkness) and in terms of bringing a new perspective (shedding “light” on a matter). I’m sure there are other ways, too. Hekate, although she is often thought of as a goddess of darkness, bears torches in some images, illuminating that darkness. It can be difficult to know what light means in a spiritual context: according to one Christian hymn, the Phos Hilaron, God dwells in “light inaccessible.”
One scripture very often used as a weapon against people of different spiritual orientations than Christianity is the one proclaiming Jesus as the “the way, the truth, and the life,” but I tend to think of that one in a very different way from its common usage. If we’re going to conceptualize of truth as a person rather than coherence truth or correspondence truth, well that gets interesting.
Insofar as I know a person, I know that person through my relationship with hir, and I might know that person in a very different way than the way you know that person, and we might even come to completely different conclusions about that person and different conceptions of that person. So if we’re going to talk about truth in terms of a person, we might very well come to different conclusions and conceptions of that truth. I gather that this is a very different take on what that scripture is saying when compared to how it is often used!
Now, one type of knowledge and truth I am passionate about is the inner workings of my subjective world: what various religious concepts do for me, how my emotions respond to various concepts and stimuli, what effects various people have on me, and so forth, but this type of knowledge might be termed wisdom. However, it’s still provisional.
My subjective world is always changing, and I don’t know that it will always work the same way. My religious path looks much different than it did five years ago and radically different from how it looked 15 years ago. I am not static, so these things are always changing. Therefore, if my inner world has been illuminated for me such that I have gained wisdom about what choices and religious concepts work for me in my life, this is a type of knowledge or truth that is changing and provisional.
If a god of light has shed light for me on my inner, subjective world, I tend to think of this in terms of having “shed light on a matter.” I see the world in a new light, from a new perspective, and five years from now that same god of light may still yet shed a different kind of light on this world, a different perspective. And both of those perspectives may have been valid and useful during their respective time frames, but still different, and we might call these perspectives a kind of truth, albeit a subjective type of truth.
I hope I have made some type of sense in this post because these are all very difficult matters for me. I have discussed light, knowledge, and truth in a way such that I hope the concepts were interconnected. But I am interested in hearing of others’ conceptions of these matters taken collectively or individually and separately, whatever is wished, especially how others may conceptualize of light or gods of light in a spiritual sense.