Mobile Site

« Home | <$BlogPreviousItemTitle$> » 

Friday, August 19, 2005 

Topic: Philosophia Christi

Reading: R.L. Dabney's "What Is A Call To The Ministry?" and the latest Credenda/Agenda
Enjoying: #2 of 5 Onyx
Listening: I've got some of my old music re-uploaded - Tschesnokoff "Salvation Is Created"

Some of you may know my difficulties with the externalism/internalism debate. For those of you on the outside looking in, two things: 1) you're not missing that much, and 2) its about a debate amongst epistemologists.

Basically, this debate is about how we know things, and how we know what we know. Epistemology was a favorite issue of mine during my undergrad. Sooner or later I'll post a paper I presented about Plantinga and hard core externalism over Thunder Speak.

So back to what we're talking about today. A good definition of internalism would be:

that belief b is to be epistemically justified if and only if all the factors necessary for belief for a given person be cognitively accessible for that person;
cognitively accessible is understood in that ideas obtain internally through introspection or reflection.

And a good definition of externalism would be:

that at least some of the justifying factors need not be thus accessible [that is, cognitively], so that they can be external to the believer's cognitive perspective, i.e., beyond his ken.
So for some of you, this is no doubt ridiculous. These are attempts at answering, "What is knowledge, and how do we know something?" The way this has been most faithfully answered is, "In order to *know* something, a person must be justified, it must be true, and it must be believed." Thus, for a person to have "warrant" to "know" something, we speak of justified true belief (JTB). But then this guy named Gettier comes along, and he throws everything out of whack. Let me give you an example of what has come to be known as "Gettier problems."

Your Aunt Eunice, a wondeful lady in her sixties, has always been one of your favorite relatives. Her husband died a decade ago, which led to her spending much more time with you and your sister as you were growing up. You've always thought your aunt a bit wild and free-spirited, and prone to do crazy, fun things. Soon you learn that Eunice is going to London. You volunteer to giver her a ride to the airport. You drop her off at the terminal, say your good byes, and head for home - knowing that in eight hours she will be in the London airport.
However, what you didn't know is that your Aunt Eunice had developed a raging heroin addiction. Once you dropped her off at the airport, she threw away her phony tickets for London that she had bought off a guy on the street, and took out her real tickets for Las Vegas where she was going to meet up with a dealer and his fence named Redfoot to buy a large cache of heroin. She boarded the airport for Las Vegas, and the flight was going smoothly. That is, until over St. Louis terrorists overtook the cabin, held the passengers at gun point, and forced the pilot to turn the plane around and head for London. Seven hours later, your Aunt Eunice disembarked from the plane into the city of London.

Now, you are thinking at home that, "Well, Aunt Eunice is in London by now." So you *know* she is there. But is it fair to say that you *knew* she was going to London? All Gettier problems are narratives with two twists: one that invalidates the justification of knowing, and a second twist to leave the content true. (Scary that I can think of these kind of stories, huh?)

Externalism and internalism help philosophers deal with these kind of things. Currently, I tend toward extenalism, but I'm still probing and reading.

Anyway, I got some help in my thinking from The Puritanboard.
First, here is a helpful definition:
'Belief' is: a positive cognitive attitude towards a proposition, an action guiding mental state on which a person relies (whether intermittently or continuously) in his theoretical inferences or his practical actions or plans.

This comes courtesy of Paul Manata. He has a great blog that everyone needs to read often.

Also, I got some good help in seeing how it is possible to confuse *understanding* an idea, and *knowing* its truth-ladenness. That is,
I can understand a position or doctrine without believing it, but I can't in this case be said to know that the doctrine or position is true. The conflation is related to a similar one. For any proposition, p, I can be said to know the truth of second-order propositions *about* proposition p, even if I don't believe p itself. (I realize some of this language is technical, but bear with me.) I don't believe any of the propositions that constitute Arminian theology, but I do know (and believe) many propositions about the propositions of Arminianism, e.g., that Arminianism consists of doctrines x, y, and z, that these doctrines have certain logical relations, and so on. In such cases, I can be said to know *about* Arminian doctrine even if I don't know that Arminian doctrine is true. I can be said to believe propositions about Arminianism even if I don't believe the propositions *of* Arminianism.

So anyway, especially in philosophy, so much of our dueling must be carried on proper semantics. I hope some of this was as helpful to you as it was to me.


Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
My profile

Web Blog



FAQ - Author|Site
Upcoming Events |30 Boxes|
blund Frappr Places
Looking for Poem|Eliot information?

Thunder Sites

Thunder Mobile
Thunder Photo Album
Thunder Media
Thunder Frappr Map
Thunder Directory

Popular and Favorite Posts
Liturgical Bingo: BBC
Updated Video Roundup
Levinas and the Inner Demons


under construction

Recent Posts

How does Rowling and the "Harry Potter" series stack up against Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy?
Rowling is the new dreamweaver. She is reigniting literature and fantasy as we know it.
Tolkien is the undisputed favorite. We have not yet seen a match for his philogistic skill.
This is apples and oranges. You might as well compare ping pong with Halo. Two different animals.
Rowling wins, but only by one quidditch goal.
Tolkien still stands, but only barely. free polls

Firefox 2