AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
'Seeing-as', or aspect seeing, has long been recognized as having significance for religious belief. Its prominence in philosophical discussions of religious belief over the last several decades can be traced to Wittgenstein's reflections on the category. Wittgenstein did not create the concept of 'seeing-as', but he drew it to our philosophical attention and used it in the exploration of philosophical issues and puzzles in the Philosophical Investigations, notably issues about perception. (1) It is fairly easy to see how the notion of 'seeing-as' might be applied to religion. The religious see the world in one way, the non-religious see it in another, and among the religious those in different religions see it in various ways. John Hick has made this suggestion, except that he has extended the category of 'seeing as' to that of 'experiencing as'. For Hick, 'there are different forms of religious experiencing-as', so that for Christians and for Jews and Moslems the 'world may be experienced as God's handiwork ', while in Hindu traditions the world may be experienced as 'the cosmic dance of Shiva'. (2)
The religious -- Jews, Christians, Moslems -- may see a flower, a mountain, the day's dawning, and much more as God's creation. The event seen as God's creation maybe something quite ordinary or familiar. 'Wonder', as N. K. Verbin says, 'is not necessarily at something unusual'. (3) With the dawning of such a religious aspect, one may see a flower, or a toothache, as a miracle, as an event embodying God's presence, as we might put it. It is not just events that go counter to the laws of nature, such as Lazarus being raised from the dead, or greatly impressive events, like a hurricane, or events that have defied explanation, like the movements of heavenly bodies, but the quite ordinary events of one's life that can be seen as miraculous. We can feel wonder at each of these. And, of course, one can feel wonder at there being anything, and come to see the world -- all that is -- as God's creation, or as Hick says in the language of the Psalms, as God's handiwork (Psalm 19).
However, wonder is not exclusively religious. A naturalist who denies there is a religious significance to the world and life may yet feel wonder, and if an aspect dawns for him or her, it may be that of seeing the world as a vast panorama that cries out for investigation.
'Seeing-as' and discovery
The question that arises is: who has seen aright, one who has come to see the world as God's creation or one who sees the world non-religiously? A further problem has to do with the fact that discovery, or seeing 'truly', relates in the right way to only some kinds of 'seeing-as'. If I fail to see the snake before me as a snake, but instead see it as a stick, I see wrongly what is before me. Similarly, if I fail to see the power in a Picasso painting (fail to see it as powerful), I may well have missed something and be seeing the painting wrongly, and, as John Wisdom appreciated, there are things that others can point out to me to help me see what is there to be seen so that I do see it rightly. (4) But discovery, where it is seeing truly or aright, does not always relate to 'seeing-as' in this way. Two people may entertain themselves by looking at …