The Mary of this post is not Mary, the mother of Jesus, but Mary, Frank Jackson’s neurologically omniscient scientist. For some time now, I’ve wondered if there’s a connection somewhere between this inquiry in philosophy of mind and explorations of the Divine. This post is attempt to find that connection.
Christians may have an interest in an argument that could prove physicalism false. An ontological view of the world as composed of entirely physical things is not particularly friendly to concepts like “the soul” and “the holy spirit.” This Christian, however, is not convinced that it matters whether or not its all matter. Reasons for this could be explored another time.
Christians might care about Mary because her first experience of color poses an interesting question about the nature of our experience. Any study of anything or anyone is, essentially, a look at the work of the Divine. It is an opportunity to marvel at the wonderful world we find ourselves in. This isn’t a particularly new or compelling reason to study Mary for me, so I must keep looking.
Mary could, for Christians, represent a distinction between “knowledge about the Divine” and “experience of the Divine.” Frank Jackson’s project, in some sense, was to show that there’s something phenomenologically extra that you gain when you have an experience. Its something that you can’t have when you have just “knowledge about.” Mary could, in this sense, stand as a critique of current Christian education.
(Its odd that this re-appropriation of Jackson’s Mary feels odd, even wrong, whereas a re-appropriation of some artistic work of some myth would involve no discomfort on my part.)
This Sunday, I think I might be leading a discussion on “the healing power of God.” Perhaps, with Mary in mind, I should remember that experience of healing has something extra about it.