Nature and Spiritual Use of Outward Acquisitions of Knowledge

Nature and Spiritual Use of Outward Acquisitions of Knowledge

Truth known is one thing, rational truth is another, and in­tellectual truth another; they succeed each other. Truth known is a matter of knowledge; rational truth is truth known confirmed by reason; intellectual truth is conjoined with an internal perception that it is so. (AC n. 1496)

Knowledges are procured in childhood with no other purpose than for the sake of knowing…. The knowledges which are procured in childhood are very many, but are disposed by the Lord in order, so that they may be subservient to use; first, that he may be able to think; afterwards that by means of thought they may be used; and finally, that he may bring them into effect, that is that his very life may consist in use, and be a life of uses. These are the offices of the knowledges which he imbibes in childhood. Without these his external man cannot be conjoined with the internal, and together with it become a use. When man becomes a use, that is, when he thinks of all things from a purpose of use, and does all things for the sake of use (if not by manifest yet by tacit reflection, from a disposition thus acquired), then the knowledges which had subserved the first use, that he might become rational, are destroyed, because they are no longer serviceable; and so on. (ibid. n. 1487)

So far as a man has become rational in the world by means of languages and knowledges, he is rational after death; but not at all in proportion as he is skilled in languages and knowledges. I have talked with many whom they in the world believed to be learned, from the fact that they were acquainted with ancient languages, such as Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, but who had not culti­vated their rational by the things that are written in them. Some of these appeared as simple as those who knew nothing of those languages; some appeared stupid; and yet there remained with them a pride as if they were wiser than others. I have conversed with some who in the world believed that a man is wise in proportion to the capacity of his memory, and who. had also enriched their memory with many things; and they spoke also from it alone, thus not from themselves but from others, and had nowise perfected the rational by the things of memory. Some of these were stupid, some foolish, not at all comprehending any truth, as to whether it is a truth or not, but seizing all falsities that were commended as truths by those who call themselves learned; for of themselves they cannot see whether anything be so or not so; and therefore they can see nothing rationally when they listen to others. I have also conversed with some who had written much in the world, and indeed on matters of knowledge of every kind, and had thereby acquired an extensive reputation for learning. Some of these, indeed, could reason about truths as to whether they are truths or not; some when they turned to those who were in the light of truth understood that they were truths; and yet they did not desire to understand them, and therefore denied them when they returned into their own falsities, and so into themselves; others had no more discernment than the unlearned vulgar. Thus each was differently affected, according as he had cultivated his rational by the matters of knowledge he had written and copied. But those who were opposed to the truths of the church, and thought from their acquisitions of knowledges, and confirmed themselves thereby in falsities, did not cultivate their rational, but only the faculty of arguing, which in the world is believed to be rationality. But it is a faculty different from rationality; it is the faculty of confirming whatever one pleases, and, from assumed principles and from fallacies, of seeing falsities and not truths. Such can never be brought to acknowledge truths, since truths cannot be seen from falsities. But falsities can be seen from truths. The rational of man is like a garden and floretum, and as land newly ploughed; the memory is the ground, truths known and cognitions are seeds, the light and heat of heaven cause them to spring forth; without these there is no germination. So it is also if the light of heaven, which is Divine truth, and the heat of heaven, which is Divine love, are not admitted; from these alone the rational exists. The angels very much grieve that the learned in great part ascribe all things to nature, and that they have thus so shut the interiors of their minds that they can see nothing of truth by the light of truth, which is the light of heaven. Therefore in the other life they are deprived of the faculty of arguing, lest by argumentations they should dissemi­nate falsities among and seduce the simple good; and they are sent into desert places. (HH n. 464)