Aristotle especially made clear that "first philosophy" is seeking knowledge (episteme) about being, what is. It includes knowledge of causes. In his Physics, Aristotle explores various problems of matter and motion (and hence, present a form of science), and in his work on “first philosophy” or “theology” he explored the nature of reality as a whole.
Presently I am puzzled by, wondering about, the whole in which all share. The Cosmos in the Greek sense is not just the physical universe, but includes all beings, even the gods. At times one needs to suspend knowledge of what we think we know to open up to a more complete vision or understanding (noesis) of reality. What especially interests me now is reality's seeking to be known in human beings. We are in a process of unfolding light, incomplete, it seems. For our minds, consciousness, reality is ever both things to be known, and the mysterious whole in which we are precious partners with all beings. The whole seems, in some ways, to move us to search for truth about reality.
What so disturbs me in Descartes, and in much of modern thought, is that man is speculatively reduced to being only the knower knowing things. The sense of being known, of being partners in the cosmic processes, seems nearly lost. Every gain is loss, as knowledge of parts can obscure "primitive" awareness of the whole, even as we gain so much “scientific knowledge” of these parts of reality.
This issue puzzles me, and I am out of my depths, but in the search for truth, one must keep responding and pressing on. Or so it seems to me. Recently I went to a dinner at the Rescue Mission for homeless in Great Falls. It was hosted by self-described evangelical Christians. They talked. I wonder if they think, or question. Their speech sounded canned to me, as if their intellects were not engaged. That disturbed me. Any answers--whether true or not--are flat and stale without living questions. Evangelicals mean well, and the folks at the Rescue Mission do try to help the homeless--but they also try to "convert" them to their way of believing. A mixed blessing. The main speaker said that he had been on death row in Saudi Arabia for preaching Jesus. The story was disturbing. I am not sure why he would have gone to Saudi to evangelize. Did this preacher not know the likely consequences for such illegal activity? Had he not known that all “religions” are illegal in Saudi Arabia, except Islam, and that the penalty for proselytizing a non-Islamic religion is death? Why would one walk into such a situation, especially when he could have broadcast his message into the country without risking his life and that of his wife and small child?
As I prepare for early Mass, I keep wondering: How to break through canned speech, perhaps closed or dulled minds? What was once a search and living questions in our hearts can settle down into “beliefs” and all-too-ready answers.