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CCIV

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

More of my history of philosophy in limericks.  You’re welcome.

THE PRESOCRATICS

Limericks # 26-30

 

Men once thought that it would be nice

To step in the same river twice.

But then Heraclitus

As if just to spite us

Said, “No!  Once will have to suffice.”

Heraklitus

“The water is flowing away;

The new that arrives does not stay.

Therefore, my conclusion:

All else is illusion.

There is Change; that is all we can say.”

 

Parmenides answered, “Not so!

The stream doth eternally flow.

What is permanent’s real;

So, whatever you feel,

There’s no motion and no place to go.”

 

He went on, “Heraclitus, you dunce,

Why attempt such ridiculous stunts?

With no motion or change,

You can’t even arrange

To step in the first river once.”

Parmenides

Is the world all in flux or immutable?

The answers both seemed irrefutable.

But while they were debating,

Some children went wading,

Once–twice–and it seemed somewhat suitable.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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CCI

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

One of my pet projects is to write a complete history of philosophy in limericks.  Why?  Because I can.  But don’t worry, this is only one chapter.

SOME SKETCHES FROM THE HISTORY OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY

Limericks # 20-25

 

If a tree in the forest falls down

When no one with ears is around,

Though it crashes like thunder,

Philosophers wonder

Whether there’s really a sound.

 

Or else, when you exit a room,

Is it logical then to presume

That the Table or Chair

That you left is still there

Until your sensations resume?

Bishop Berkeley

Bishop Berkeley set briskly about

Proving beyond any doubt

That the Table and Chair

Were really still there:

God still saw them when you had gone out!

 

Dr. Johnson kicked stones and said, “Thus

I refute this ridiculous fuss!

They may think I’m dense,

But I’ve got Common Sense.”

He was surely an ornery cuss.

Dr. Samuel Johnson

Do you think we have learned any more

Than our ancestors knew back before?

Now the Chair and the Table

Are only a fable;

The Room has a lock on the door.

 

Deconstruction has buried the key

In the depths of the Post-Modern sea.

So we all stand around

Or we sit on the ground,

And we call it the freedom to be.

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLXXXXII

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 Plato started a lot of conversations that he couldn’t finish.  He was trying to find the universal and the absolute by looking in the wrong place.  He sought well, but the final answer was beyond his grasp.  But he sets the questions up better than anyone.  What if there was someone who could come into Plato’s Cave from the outside world of the sun?   What then?

Plato

REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE

The fleeting shadows flow across the wall;

That’s all we know.  We think they may arise

Outside our minds, and bring before our eyes

Some glimpse of Truth–but by the time they fall

To us, a faint and hieroglyphic scrawl

Is all that’s left.  We try to analyze,

Deduce from patterns what the shapes disguise–

They’re hard to catch and harder to recall.

 

We think reflections of Reality

Are cast by Sunlight shining–how we crave

To turn and look–but still we strive in vain.

No merely mortal man will ever see

Whether the Door behind us in the Cave

Is there, so firmly Fate has bound our chain.

 

So many years we strove against the chain

That gradually some gave up, and hope was dead.

“There is no Door; there is no Cave,” they said,

“No explanation, nothing to explain.

It’s just a game you play inside your brain:

All the poetry you’ve ever read

Makes chemical reactions in your head;

That’s all that Pleasure is, and also Pain.”

 

What of the Beautiful, the True, the Good?

“They’re all illusions; they are all the same,

Sounds upon the wind, an empty name,

And that is all that can be understood.”

But then the rule that says that nothing’s true

Must be applied to their denial too!

 

So hope could not completely be denied.

Yet still the shadows flicker on the wall,

And we’re not certain what they mean at all

In spite of every theory we have tried.

If only one of us could get outside

Into the Light that fills that vaster hall

And not go blind, but come back and recall

For us the land where the True Shapes abide!

 

If only–but the ancient Grecian knew

No way that it could be.  It seemed absurd

To hope or to despair.  So still the True

Was but in shadows seen, in echoes heard–

Until the birth of a barbaric Jew

Who was in the Beginning; was the Word.

The Word

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLXXXXI 

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 One of my life goals is to write a history of philosophy entirely in limericks.  Why?  Because I can.

Rene DesCartes

INDUBITABLY

Limericks # 15-18

There once was a man named DesCartes

Who asked, “Where should Philosophy start?”

He said, “If I can doubt it,

I’ll just do without it.

Now, that ought to make me look smart!”

 

So he doubted the clear and the plain

To see what would finally remain.

‘Twas thus he found out

There was no way to doubt

The doubt in the doubter’s own brain.

 

“I exist!” then with joy he concluded.

“On this point I cannot be deluded:

Even though it sounds dumb,

If I think–ergo sum!”

To this day he has not been refuted.

 

If you ask what this tale is about,

It’s that doubting must always run out.

For you never can doubt

That you’re doubting the doubt

That you doubt when you’re doubting your doubt.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

The Adventure of Reading

A poster one sees in Kenya proclaims, “Literacy for Improved Food Production!”  I don’t doubt that improved food production is a worthy goal and literacy can help attain it, I told the students of St. Philip’s Secondary School in Kitale. But there is so much more to reading than that!  Reading makes available three things that are hard to access without it: the Word of God, the world of ideas, and the world of imagination.

The Word of God

The Word of God

The Word of God contains the personal revelation of the Creator of the Universe, including His wisdom, His commandments, His love, and His plan for the salvation and eternal fulfillment of His creatures.  The world of ideas gives us the cumulative experience and thinking of the human race as it follows or rebels against the Word of God in its history, its science, its philosophy.  The world of imagination shows us the stirrings of the human spirit, stimulating our own spirits to make creative applications of what we learn from Scripture, history, and science.

The World of Ideas

The World of Ideas

Any of the three worlds to which reading gives us access—Scripture, Ideas, Imagination—can expand the mind in such a way as to facilitate things yet undreamt of (including better food production).  When we combine them together, their capacity to do so is increased exponentially.  So pursue the adventure of reading with all your might, both in school and out of it!  It was Newman’s Idea of a University recycled impromptu for an African context: not a bad exhortation for Americans, either.

William Shakespeare: A Citizen of the World of the Imagination

William Shakespeare: A Citizen of the World of the Imagination

Remember: for more commentary like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds, Inklings of Reality, and/or Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical poems and essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 30, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover