Journal of Inspirations

Reasoning through Empathic Devotion to St. Joan of Arc

“I tried to affirm my faith through reason. I believed but needed to prove this belief to be reasonable using deductive logic based on known premises.” ~ Royaume France

This is a nuanced statement. I do not mean that faith and reason are incompatible. They are compatible and cannot be otherwise. In fact, that is precisely the point I am making. Faith and reason come together more easily in a Platonic framework than in an Aristotelian one. Aristotle demands a-posteriori proof from the bottom up. He must understand in order to believe. Plato reasons a-priori from top down and believes in order to understand. The first seeks to test faith based on observable premises. The second begins with accepted a-priori axioms of faith and deduces from them the meaning of the observable.

Reason is a process that is exercised in either model. Determining what is true from accepted faith premises is no less a reasonable derivation than to decide what is acceptable to believe based on observable premises. The difference is the orientation, Platonic or Aristotelian, by which we accept the very premises from which we reason.

This is why Royaume France’s empathic devotion to St. Joan of Arc, using Edith Stein’s model of empathy, is critical and a consistent theme in our own model. Experiencing Joan devotionally as a person gives us axioms of faith (premises) to believe from her point of view (empathy). To understand as she understood (empathic devotion) requires both empathy with Joan and an a-priori reasoning process based on her axioms and on reasonable theorems derived from those axioms. We start devotionally with Joan’s premises and deduce from there the meaning and reality of what we observe here. Her point of view challenges our own. We allow Joan to “best us.” We follow her path “from grounds to conclusions” as Edith Stein’s model of empathy would have us. Joan transforms our lives in this manner through grace by the divine will.

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