Deconstructing revelation


Yesterday during conference, Elder Scott provided a phenomenological breakdown of revelation that was refreshing. He spoke of feeling a flash of inspiration, trying to convert his inspiration into words, reflecting on those words and then revising them until the Holy Spirit confirms their truth. I enjoyed the talk and almost completely agree with that perspective.

President Hinckley said similar things and I think there's support for this perspective in Joseph Smith's teachings as well. I wonder, however, if E. Scott realizes what a double edged sword this view can potentially be, deconstructing the experience of receiving a revelation like that. It's so subjective and informed of deeply held values and desires that may or may not congrue with the world around you. It's like he bails himself out of the oncoming existential crisis at the end by committing to this idea the Holy Ghost will at the end of the day confirm that what you've come to in this subjective experience is “Truth.”

But that just begs the question about the experience with the HG confirmation a nd what that really tells you -- what knowledge it really gives you. Deconstruct the experience of confirmation by the HG at the end of the revelation experience and you will find that it is just as subjective as the revelation experience itself. You can't escape the subjectivity of the experience. There is no epistemic access to some objective realm that stands independent of what we subjectively experience. Again quoting Bourdieu: “Religion can produce the objectivity that it produces only by producing the misrecognition of the limits of the knowledge that it makes possible.”