Aside from the employment of a wide range of data and sources as well as the surfacing of deep issues, the existential and phenomenological method of research requires a technique known as “bracketing” or “memo-ing.” In essence, “bracketing” or “memo-ing” is when a writer documents his or her personal experiences with whatever subject is being discussed in order to remove himself or herself from the writing process. In a sense, this entire blogging experience has had a “bracketing” or “memo-ing” aspect to it, in order to preserve a sense of detachment from what goes on so that a degree of objectivity can be preserved in the analysis and observation of events and phenomena. In turn, “bracketing” or “memo-ing” leaves behind a wealth of data and information to be analyzed and mined by readers and researchers if they choose to do so.
In the last blog post, I touched on the concept known as “The Hierarchy of Knowledge,” which was coined by the Persian and Islamic philosopher and scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr. In order to illustrate this concept, Nasr once gave an analogy or a metaphor. Nasr said that knowledge is like an orange, in the sense that the peel represents empirical and positive knowledge, whereas the pulp is actually philosophy and religious knowledge. It was an analogy and metaphor that has stuck with me until now, and it will perhaps stick with me forever.
Moreover, aside from recourse to philosophy and religious studies, the pivot from empiricism and positivism towards an existential and phenomenological outlook and ontology requires what certain experts and scholars have called a “leap of faith.” In the end, richness of lived experience requires this pivot or “leap of faith.” Thus, the rational thing to do – which is to have a fulfilling and satisfying life experience – actually requires a completely irrational act. Thus, the truth is an “absolute paradox.”
Also, one’s personal truth cannot come from outsiders. One’s personal truth can only be found from within once the bracketing and memo-ing process bears fruit. And in the end, truth is essentially a resolution towards belief and faith when empiricism, positivism, and ratiocination have reached their limits. Confronting one’s truth in a state of loneliness and reflection while in an environment that requires a certain level of engagement with others is known as “Dasein” in existential and phenomenological jargon. “Dasein” is a term that became popularized by the famous German existential and phenomenological philosopher and scholar Martin Heidegger.
Thus, “Dasein” is what facilitates this “leap of faith” towards “the loving arms of God.” After this leap of faith is facilitated, ratiocination and reflection are replaced by belief and poetry. As a result, Shakespeare becomes one’s personal truth, and at the heart of Shakespeare are his sonnets. In turn, Shakespeare’s Sonnets are defined by a love-hate relationship between “The Fair Youth” and “The Dark Lady,” which ultimately concludes in the triumph of love one way or another. Shakespeare as the ultimate truth was also the conclusion reached by V.S. Naipaul, who was a 20th century British writer of Indian and Caribbean origin. With that said, it takes time to absorb and digest the idea that ratiocination, rationality, and reason can end with a “leap of faith” and Shakespeare’s Sonnets. But the alternatives, counterfactuals, and hypothetical scenarios relative to this reality may not be that great.