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Help on Modes and Metaphors of Cognition in GTh?

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  • Rick Hubbard
    Lately I’ve been trying to re-visit the issue of “modes and metaphors of cognition” in GTh. My efforts have not been particularly satisfying, not because
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 6, 2001
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      Lately I’ve been trying to re-visit the issue of “modes and
      metaphors of cognition” in GTh. My efforts have not been
      particularly satisfying, not because there isn’t ample material
      to work with, but because I’m having difficulty in articulating a
      cogent descriptive terminology. Perhaps list members who are
      interested will be willing to give me some assistance.

      BACKGROUND
      It seems to me that there is a pervasive “motif” of cognition
      that winds its way through GTh. There are multitudes of explicit
      references to cognitive acts such as knowing, understanding,
      seeing and hearing. There are also many less obvious themes
      attached to *circumstances* that are fundamentally cognitive.
      These include instances of the discovery of what was previously
      unknown, of the disclosure of what was hidden, and the
      reclamation of what was lost. To this may be added both positive
      and negative “cognitive metaphors” (for lack of a better word)
      that include explicit or implicit juxtapositions of
      light/darkness, thirst/drunkenness, and sight/blindness. Less
      certain, and perhaps irrelevant, are frequent contrasts between
      inside/outside, unity/division, and life/death (which **perhaps**
      are metaphors of understanding).

      There are no less than 60 examples of the above in GTh (the
      complete list of which I will spare you from).

      QUESTIONS
      FIRST, it seems to me that seeing, hearing and
      knowing/understanding are acts of cognition, and that it is
      appropriate to group them together under this classification
      (i.e., Cognition). What are your thoughts?

      SECOND, circumstances within which cognitive acts occur are
      events of “discovery” (in which one finds something through one’s
      own effort); “disclosure” (in which one finds, learns or sees
      something *not* as the result of one’s own effort); and “finding”
      (reunification with something that had previously been in
      possession). Do these make sense? Are there additional examples?

      THIRD, besides actions and circumstances there are metaphorical
      *conditions* that seem to have some correspondence with the
      positive and negative poles of cognition (which I touched on
      above).

      [BTW, here is where I am encountering some particular difficulty.
      If the positive pole of Cognition is cognition itself, what is
      the appropriate description for the opposite pole? Should it be
      labeled in-cognition, ignorance or something else altogether? For
      now, I’ll settle for settle for the polarities of
      Cognizance/Ignorance merely so I can finish asking what I set out
      to ask.]

      Here are some of what I call metaphorical conditions present in
      Thomas and their correspondence to the poles of cognition.

      COGNITION IGNORANCE
      Light Darkness
      Thirst Drunkenness
      Sight Blindness
      Revealed Hidden
      (Apocalypse) (Mysterion)
      Found Lost
      Unity Division
      (One) (Two)
      Heard Unheard
      Inside? Outside?
      Living Dead
      [? ] World
      Emptiness? [? ]

      I’d very much appreciate any thoughtful remarks on this effort.



      Rick Hubbard
      Humble Maine Woodsman
    • Andrew Smith
      ... Apologies for isolating two words from such a thoughtful post. I m currently working on my own version of GThomas using Mike s interlinear translation as a
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 6, 2001
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        --- In gthomas@y..., "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@m...> wrote:

        > Inside? Outside?

        Apologies for isolating two words from such a thoughtful post. I'm
        currently working on my own version of GThomas using Mike's
        interlinear translation as a guide to the Coptic (basically a
        translation more than a paraphrase, but particularly trying to bring
        out my understanding of the text) and I'm amazed how often the in/out
        motif crops up. Some of this is probably Coptic idiom with which I'm
        unfamiliar, but the in/out/inner/outer/inside/outisde motif is really
        embedded in the original in a way that a readable translation can't
        bring out.

        Best Wishes

        Andrew Smith
      • Michael Grondin
        ... 1. Emptiness should, I think, go in the Ignorance column, since one is admonished not to leave the world as empty as one entered it. The opposite
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 6, 2001
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          >COGNITION IGNORANCE
          >Light Darkness
          >Thirst Drunkenness
          >Sight Blindness
          >Revealed Hidden
          >(Apocalypse) (Mysterion)
          >Found Lost
          >Unity Division
          >(One) (Two)
          >Heard Unheard
          >Inside? Outside?
          >Living Dead
          >[? ] World
          >Emptiness? [? ]

          1. "Emptiness" should, I think, go in the 'Ignorance' column, since one is
          admonished not to leave the world as "empty" as one entered it. The
          opposite would presumably be fulness (the Pleroma).

          2. I'd add the pair 'spirit' and 'flesh/body'.

          3. The pair 'apocalypse/mysterion' doesn't seem quite right, unless what is
          meant by 'mysterion' (AKA 'sacrament' in Latin) is that which remains
          hidden to the ignorant, because they aren't "worthy" to receive it/them.
          But 'apocalypse' (as revelation) seems to be of the same order: hidden from
          the ignorant, but revealed to the seeker/knower. So they seem not to fit
          the two columns, because in cognition both are known, but in ignorance
          neither.

          4. The pair 'thirst/drunkeness' is an example of Bill's point, I think. It
          depends on whether what one thirsts for and becomes drunk on is of this
          world or not. It's OK, for example, to be "drunk on the words" or on the
          "living water".

          5. The entry 'world' brings to mind the distinction between 'this aeon' and
          'the other aeon' found in the Gospel of Philip. In GTh, the only opposing
          term I can recall is the phrase 'the new world'.

          Mike
        • Rick Hubbard
          Geeez I wish I had not included this table in my previous post- ... Nevertheless, doing so invited some thought provoking response. [Mike wrote:] 1.
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 7, 2001
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            Geeez I wish I had not included this table in my previous post-


            >COGNITION IGNORANCE
            >Light Darkness
            >Etc.....

            Nevertheless, doing so invited some thought provoking response.

            [Mike wrote:]
            1. "Emptiness" should, I think, go in the 'Ignorance' column,
            since one is
            admonished not to leave the world as "empty" as one entered it.
            The
            opposite would presumably be fulness (the Pleroma).

            Thank you. I've pondered this, unsuccessfully, but to no certain
            conclusion. The question I have is whether one's coming in and
            going out empty is good or bad. In the classical gnostic sense,
            when one comes into the world, one does so as a spark of the
            divine. It is only after one arrives in the world that one
            accumulates the baggage of body and corruption. So, if when one
            dies and leaves that all behind, does one leave empty? Is that
            not a good thing? Does 28.3b have anything to do with this in the
            first place?

            2. I'd add the pair 'spirit' and 'flesh/body'.


            3. The pair 'apocalypse/mysterion' doesn't seem quite right,
            unless what is
            meant by 'mysterion' (AKA 'sacrament' in Latin) is that which
            remains
            hidden to the ignorant, because they aren't "worthy" to receive
            it/them.
            But 'apocalypse' (as revelation) seems to be of the same order:
            hidden from
            the ignorant, but revealed to the seeker/knower. So they seem not
            to fit
            the two columns, because in cognition both are known, but in
            ignorance
            neither.

            What I should have done, in first place, was contrast Greek
            APOKALUPSIS (as revelation) and MYSTERION (as that which is
            hidden). But you still managed to key in on it and make an
            interesting observation. That which is revealed is simultaneously
            hidden except to the seeker/knower (initiated?). The paradox that
            you point out can perhaps be resolved if one distinguishes
            between revelation/mystery as "thing" or as "event." If
            revelation and mystery are "things" then what you say ("in
            cognition both are known, but in ignorance
            neither") is paradoxically correct. On the other hand, if
            revelation is an "event" in which one participates and mystery is
            a condition that maintains a state of hidden-ness, then the
            original juxtaposition holds. Thanks for pointing this out. Now,
            tell me, which one works best, in your thinking?


            4. The pair 'thirst/drunkeness' is an example of Bill's point, I
            think. It
            depends on whether what one thirsts for and becomes drunk on is
            of this
            world or not. It's OK, for example, to be "drunk on the words" or
            on the
            "living water".

            Yeah, you mean kinda like the whole business with emptiness?

            5. The entry 'world' brings to mind the distinction between 'this
            aeon' and
            'the other aeon' found in the Gospel of Philip. In GTh, the only
            opposing
            term I can recall is the phrase 'the new world'.

            As I said, I regret including this matrix in the first place, and
            even more I wish I had not included the term "world." This has
            nothing at all to do with modes of cognition (sorry for the
            confusion). On the other hand, "the world" does seem to be an
            object of a cognitive act (the one who has *found* has *found* a
            carcass 56.1). If finding is related to knowing in that they are
            both acts of cognition (as I suggest is the case), then perhaps
            there are qualities of cognition. There is "knowing and there is
            knowing. There is Finding and there is finding. Taking the test
            is not enough, you have to get the right answers (an observation
            made by an acquaintance after he had taken the CPA exam for the
            4th time).

            Thanks for the feedback.

            Rick Hubbard
            Humble Maine Woodsman
          • Rick Hubbard
            [Andrew wrote:] ... Apologies for isolating two words from such a thoughtful post. No apology necessary, Andrew. As I said, I would have served my purpose
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 7, 2001
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              [Andrew wrote:]
              > Inside? Outside?

              Apologies for isolating two words from such a thoughtful post.

              No apology necessary, Andrew. As I said, I would have served my
              purpose better if I had not included the table in the first
              place.

              Neither of these [inside/outside] have anything directly to do
              with modes of cognition, but as you say, the juxtaposition of the
              two is frequent. I'd like to hear more, when you have a chance,
              about how you read it.

              Rick Hubbard
              Humble Maine Woodsman
            • Michael Grondin
              ... Dunno why. Although it may have diverted direct attention from the abstract issue, the mulling over of particulars may also have indirectly clarified the
              Message 6 of 6 , Aug 7, 2001
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                [Rick]:
                >Geeez I wish I had not included this table in my previous post-

                Dunno why. Although it may have diverted direct attention from the abstract
                issue, the mulling over of particulars may also have indirectly clarified
                the general issue. I find this often to be so in my own thinking.

                >The question I have is whether one's coming in and
                >going out empty is good or bad. In the classical gnostic sense,
                >when one comes into the world, one does so as a spark of the
                >divine. It is only after one arrives in the world that one
                >accumulates the baggage of body and corruption. So, if when one
                >dies and leaves that all behind, does one leave empty? Is that
                >not a good thing? Does 28.3b have anything to do with this in the
                >first place?

                I think so. Bear in mind the Hymn of the Pearl, wherein the heavenly figure
                is sent to earth to get something of value. Similarly, the reader of GTh is
                evidently supposed to get something out of it - whether some piece(s) of
                wisdom which would prepare him/her for the journey back, or a state of
                being (filled with pneuma) that would facilitate that "journey", or both,
                I'm not sure. In this regard, the saying "If you don't find me while you're
                alive, you won't find me later" (rough paraphrase) seems appropriate. So
                while it's true that it's good to be empty of worldly stuff, it apparently
                ain't good to be empty of (Christian) spiritual stuff when you die. As you
                say, similar to the 'thirsty/drunk' pair in that whether it's good or bad
                depends on the object.

                As to the 'apocalypsis/mysterion' pair, what you say seems right, though
                how it would translate into table-entries, or even whether it should be
                included at all, I'm not sure. Maybe as parenthetical additions, as in
                'hidden (mysterion)' versus 'revealed (apocalypsis)'? But then, if you're
                going to de-emphasize the particulars anyway, you're probably more
                interested in the implications of the discussion of this pair for the
                abstract distinction(s) you're trying to draw.

                Mike

                The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
                http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
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