Item description for Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People by Esther Lightcap Meek...
Overview This entertaining and approachable guide is ideal for those who are considering Christianity for the first time, as well as Christians who struggle with issues of truth, certainty, and doubt. Questions for reflection make it ideal for students of philosophy and those wrestling with the questions of knowledge.
Publishers Description We don't often think about the act of knowing, but if we do, the question of what we know and how we know it becomes murky indeed. Longing to Know is a book about knowing: knowing how we know things, knowing how we know people, and knowing how we know God. This book is for those who are considering Christianity for the first time, as well as Christians who are struggling with issues related to truth, certainty, and doubt. As such, it is a wonderful resource for evangelists, pastors, and counselors. This unique look at the questions of knowing is both entertaining and approachable. Questions for reflection make it ideal for students of philosophy and all those wrestling with the questions of knowledge.
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More About Esther Lightcap Meek
Esther Lightcap Meek (PhD, Temple University) is professor of philosophy at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
Reviews - What do customers think about Longing to Know?
Longing and Reasons of our Hearts Feb 17, 2005
This is a delightful book on epistemology written by a college classmate of mine. Don't let the fact that the book is philosophical scare you. It is actually fun to read. Meek in developing her argument uses illustrations and word-pictures on almost every page. You will read about magic-eye 3-D pictures, copperhead snakes, throwing a Frisbee or playing golf, and movies like The Hunt For Red October. Part of why this book is so delightful to read is the imaginative ways she conveys her ideas. In one place she compares the act of knowing to a wedding ceremony and putting on leotards.
What is her basic argument? Meek makes a case that we know God the same way we come to know other people or things. Knowing God, she says, is like knowing your auto mechanic. She defines knowing as "the responsible human struggle to rely on clues to focus on a coherent pattern and submit to its reality." Meek also wants to replace the notion of certainty with the notion of confidence. She also emphasizes that knowing is an activity; it is not something that happens to us but something we seek to accomplish.
I think Meek accurately describes the "epistemic act." There is more to knowing than meets the eye. As I read through her book, my mind kept going back to Pascal. His insights affirm the viability of truth that transcend the limits of rationality while at the same time affirm the distinction between the longing and the reasons of our hearts. Meek also helped me understand that my body functions as an axis or bridge that makes knowledge possible.
Meek's book is a passionate handbook toward confident faith. Its conducive for group study with questions at the end of each chapter.
And it's good for strange people, too! Sep 18, 2004
Who knew epistemology could be such fun?! Meek's down-to-earth approach and real life personal illustrations make for a delightful read. At the same time, her gracious but unapologetic applications to her Christian faith give the work an impressive weight.
In the face of modern despair and post-modern whateverism, Dr. Meek couragously seeks to answer the troubling fundamental question: How do you know? Amazingly, her answer rings true. Many stubborn conundrums, ones I had long considered insoluble, fell like so many Berlin Walls before her gentle, evocative words. To call LTK an eye-opener would be a huge understatement. It has given me more "Oh! I see it!" moments, as Meek colorfully calls them, than any other book aside from the Bible itself.
By offering a model for confident contact with the real, LTK has the potential to restore hope to those who have despaired for a lack of absolute certainty, humble those who thought they had absolute certainty, and aid understanding in every legitimate field of human endeavor I can think of. It even helped me understand my wife better! Boy, was that an "unexpected future manifestation"!
Oh, uh, if, perchance, you don't consider yourself an ordinary person, despair not. The Polanyi/Meek model is helpful for us eccentrics, too. :-)
Don't 'Question Everything', but Question how we question! Jul 23, 2004
This is an excellent resource for those who think they know too much. We are given Scripture, revelation from above, in order that we might truly know God and ourselves. However, the same Scripture that gives to us "true truth" or true knowledge is the same Scripture that teaches us humility with regard to what we know. Why? Because we cannot fully know all things because our minds are tainted by sin. We rightfully interpret the world and ourselves when we look through the lens of Scripture, but we do not consistently interpret God, ourselves, or our world through the lens of Scripture. Every sin that we commit, every time we doubt or are skeptical, this is a misinterpretation of reality.
This book by a Polanyi scholar is helpful in addressing the 20th century church's, particularly the evangelical's temptation toward accepting a modern worldview, and interpreting God, the world and ourselves through this modern lens. It is ironic that many Christians today would argue adamantly against secular humanism and modernity in its self-centered, autonomous, rational manifestations, but then they would gladly welcome and receive the self-centered, autonomous, and rational methodology of knowing that was born in the Enlightment by self-centered, autonomous, and rational individuals.
This book if read carefully will remind us that all knowledge is ultimately "covenantal knowledge". Who God is, who we are, what world we live in is all revealed in Scripture so that we might understand reality from God's perspective and submit our knowledge and understand to his- - humbly. All of us interpret the world according to what we know, from whom we have learned it, and through the lens of our own biases and presuppositions.
In order to rightly interpret God, ourselves and the world around us faithfully and accurately, we must first be aware of this, then humbly seek to know through the Scriptures God has given to us, in the Church Jesus is building for us, and remind ourselves of the authorities and the loved ones who have taught us and continue to teach us.
If you are struggling with your knowledge of God, yourself, and the world, and if you are completely honest enough to humbly admit it, then read the Book of Ecclesiastes first, then read Esther Lightcap Meek's book on "Longing to Know"!
Many Christians today want absolute knowledge about God. What is frightening about this mindset is that it was born from a secular, autonomous, humanist way of thinking. It is not merely inquisitive, but rabidly proud. For many Christians I have known have left the Church and their faith because they thought that to question was a sin and therefore something was wrong with their faith. Those who want absolute "proof" and "evidence" should check to see where their faith is directed. At God in Christ by faith? Or in their ability to prove God in Christ by reason?
Christians need to repent of their pride in wanting too much evidence, and be confident in the Scriptures that God has given to us. As Jesus said himself, they have Moses and the prophets listen to them...for even if one rises from the dead they will not believe." What this means is that even if we have all the evidence in the world that demands a verdict, if we don't humble ourselves before Jesus and His Special Revelation, we will not believe and paradoxically we will not truly know.
Humility by God's grace in the Scriptures is the way toward true knowing, any other way is pride that goes before the fall.
You will be challenged in this book helpful and clear philosophical book. But even the strongest, most mature Christians doubt sometimes and find themselves being skeptical. Allow this book to remind you of what knowledge is all about. Allow this book to humble you and turn you toward the living God in Christ. Allow this book to help you engage those who are struggling with their knowledge of God, themselves and their world.
Don't Question Everything, but Question how we question everything!
Nonsense Jul 18, 2004
A book on epistemology it ain't. Pity the poor soul to whom I gave my autographed copy to. If I could remember who it was, I'd buy it back in order to burn it. This is the kind of baloney being taught at a seminary(!) in Saint Louis. Mrs. Meek (at least last year) teaches LOGIC!
I chose one star to rate it only because zero was not an option.
A lack of certainty does not outlaw knowledge Jul 3, 2004
A lack of proovable certainty does not mean that knowledge ceases to exist, it means instead that the relationship between a person and knowledge is more like a relationship between two people. Longing to Know suggests that what we view as "reason" (science, math) and what we view as "faith" or stuff outside the box (religion, and artistic talents) are really acts of coming to know with very similar major features. In other words, knowledge is a confidence (for example, that the floor will hold me when I walk on it; although I have confidence that the floor will hold me, the floor will not necessarily hold me) rather than a proovable certainty.