SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.58 issue2 author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


DE BEER, Fanie. Prophesy, myth and delirium: The urgent quest for true knowledge in the age of informationalism and knowledge depreciation. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2018, vol.58, n.2, pp.411-432. ISSN 2224-7912.

In this article, it is emphasised that in the age of informationalism, knowledge has been reduced to a manageable entity for sale in the marketplace. In this process, the knowing activity of the sciences of the spirit in particular is sacrificed in favour of knowledge as an exchangeable economic entity. Such reductionism is deemed to end up in a situation of total disaster and catastrophe that is currently experienced worldwide. Its strategy is that of the development of a sterile engagement of methodological approaches, in compliance with positivism, empiricism, and rationalism, with specified but limited aspects of the real. The objective of this article is the neutralisation of this obsession with methodological approaches with its arrogant claim to produce or deliver the only true and universally acceptable knowledge adequate and able to solve all possible problems. Such a conception of knowledge is questionable due to its extremely limited scope with respect to reality. In order to articulate reality in its fullness it would be necessary that an expanded notion of knowledge be entertained that will include the non-calculable and the non-algorithmic dimensions of the real as well. For this purpose, a revised notion of logic, which will create room for different logics, needs also to be accommodated as proposed by a number of scientists and other thinkers. For this purpose, attention is given to prophesy, myth and delirium as examples of the extra-empirical domains of human understanding and knowing activities. These types of knowledge are contributions to the expanded notion of knowledge and take us far beyond the empirical and the positive, the measureable and the calculable. In order to achieve a full and comprehensive grasp of human understanding, insight, knowing and knowledge we have to move far beyond the mere empirical, factual and calculable. It has been indicated that numerous thinkers, philosophers and scientists from diverse disciplines are taking us in this direction. Issues such as mystery, affectivity, uncertainty, totality, multiplicity, phantasm, imagination, dreamery and infinity cannot be neglected. The contemplation of and reflection on these issues are taking us far beyond the limitations and restrictions set by the restrictive methodological approaches informed by empiricism, positivism, and even rationalism, later on to be amplified by industrialism and economism under the pretention that this is the only sound route to real, valid, true and meaningful knowledge. However, the validity and significance of knowledge are to be brought about on a much wider scale in order for it to offer significant contributions to human individual and social well-being. This can never be guaranteed on the basis of measurement, calculation and verifiable facts alone. For the sciences of the spirit, but also for the sciences in general, to be of any significance to human existence in the world these issues should be carefully articulated and incorporated in the scientific endeavour. In taking them seriously, the road is opened to a new and fuller appreciation of the value and place of dimensions of human knowing and knowledge as it is manifested in prophesy, myth and delirium. New dimensions of understanding, insight, knowing, and thinking, as well as different views on truth and meaning, are to be discovered in the worlds of prophesy, myth and delirium. Ricoeur's distinction between truth as manifestation and truth as verification shows the relevance of testimony and revelation for a more comprehensive understanding as well as experience of truth. Truth can never be exhausted by verifying strategies and can never offer humans adequate expectations to hope for. In a similar way, it is emphasised that myth as a form of human discourse offers imaginative patterns, networks and powerful symbols that suggest ways of interpreting the world and shaping its meaning for humans. Myth is to be seen as a more authentic form of knowledge, untouched by the devastating fanaticism for quantification and objectification. Against all expectations it has been emphasised that the effort to build a science of the normal without being careful to start with the pathological, considered as the immediate given, may end up as ridiculous failures. The acknowledgement of madness as a relevant and significant form of human discourse, far from being totally and only senseless, is a recognition of delirium as a condition for the desire to speak and to know about the truth of the real. Insanity can be the condition for genuineness and authenticity. De Waelhens may be right: the normal is not intelligible without the pathological. From the exploratory work in the article it would seem that prophesy, myth and delirium offer dimensions of human knowing, understanding and insight that is of decisive importance for the full realisation of human knowledge as well as the meaningful fulfilment of human existence.

Keywords : affectivity; delirium; phantasm; myth; myths of salvation; informationalism; knowledge; mystery; revelation; prophesy; imagination; knowing.

        · abstract in Afrikaans     · text in Afrikaans     · Afrikaans ( pdf )


Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License