Saturday, August 12, 2006

Subject/Object and the Logos of God

I have been having an interesting conversation with a kind gentleman or lady who has been using the name Erasure. We have been discussing Constructivism and the nature of knowledge which you can read here. This person asked me a couple of prudent questions, regarding the terms “universal truth” and “universal reality.” Specifically they wanted me to define them. I thought this discussion might be helpful to others, and I thought some of you might want to join in the discussion.

When I use the term “universal truth” it is directly related to “universal reality.” As I am sure you are aware, in the philosophical world, this is the subject/object distinction. The object is the thing being known and the subject is the one doing the knowing. “Universal reality” is the object being known and the “universal truth” is what can known about the object as it really is. A good example of this is, in reality “God exists” and “God knows He exists” this is a reality which is true whether or not someone knows it or accepts it. It is a truth independent of the knower. When the knower (man) knows God exists He knows something true, because he knows something that God knows. All objects are known by God.

This basic idea has been held down through the history of the church and was specifically held by Augustine, Calvin and others. It is usually known as the Logos doctrine as expressed in John 1, along with other places in Scripture.

Carl F. H. Henry puts it like this…

“The rationality of knowledge of God implies not simply the self-rationality of the knower, therefore, as if rationality has its basis in human reasoning, but a rationality relating man’s thought processes to the objectively intelligible reality of the Logos. True as it is that the Word of God intends to be not simply heard and understood but appropriated and obeyed, the Logos disclosed in knowledge of the objectively real God meets us as a rationality to be apprehended and cognized. The divine Word is a Word whose self-interpretation takes priority over our own necessary interpretive processes. (C.F.H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Vol. 3, p 170).”

What makes possible a correspondence between the subject and object? It is the Logos (the mind, reason, Word) of God, for He knew all things before he created them, and then created them according to His knowledge. To deny the posibility of a correspondence between the subject and object is to say that there is not anything that God knows which corresponds to what He created.

Because of Christ,

Doug

10 Comments:

At Saturday, August 12, 2006 11:40:00 PM, Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Great post Doug! I read the interaction with Erasure . . . and thought your "stock" ;~) responses were great; and actually pointed out the "circular" nature of "Erasure's" epistemology. Here's one little quib anecdote that I like in regards to this discussion: "God precedes logic ontologically, but logic precedes God epistemologically." I think this little statement illustrates philosophically the object/subject distinction that you so aptly articulate in this post! It asserts how the two (object/subject) are inseparably related yet distinct.

It's interesting those who deny the correspondence theory of truth must appeal to it in order to deny it; as Erasure does. There is no such thing as "consensual reality", unless one believes in an infinite regress . . . since one would have to assume, apart from God of course, that in order for man to have any meaningful dialogue, that linguistically there has always been an agreement, amongst man, on terminology and symbology (i.e. "constructed truth") so that we could engage in the construction of truth in the first place--but the problem is, apart from Christ, there never would be a "first place" to begin with only an infinite regress. But of course we all know this isn't the case, at least some of us do . . . those of us who believe in "universal reality (truth) that it is.

In Christ

 
At Monday, August 14, 2006 8:57:00 PM, Anonymous erasure said...

Thank you for starting a new post to continue this discussion.

This seems like the most powerful question you have asked up to now:
"When you say that we (as mankind) cannot know ultimate reality, is that ultimately true for everyone?"

The Logos of God is the ultimate reality. That's what you're saying, right? If so, how can we know it scientifically? We can assent to it, we can believe in it, but can we prove it? I contend that we cannot.

Your definition helps me show the strength of my point. Whatever you name as the Universal (the Logos of God in this case), you will have to prove using the phenomena with which it is associated (by assertion). You can never talk about it directly. My point is simply that we can't prove the Logos of God, or the logos of the Greeks, without constructing a system of signs that represent it. We cannot describe the Logos of God itself. Our logic cannot reach into our symbols and pull out pure meaning. Meaning is always hiding itself; it is always inferred; it is never open to us.

Truth, as something behind the phenomenal world, cannot be scientifically proven. This truth--the proposition of my last sentence--is true in that it corresponds to the research into phenomena, done by scientists, linguists, philosophers, etc., and in that way, it is not the contradiction you say that it is. In short, my intellectual truth is up for debate. Your Truth is an immutable, unquestionable Truth that is beyond all reason. Sure, you reason about the phenomena that you say are produced by your Truth but you can never intellectually explicate the Truth itself. You are always in the business of interpreting signs of the Truth.

Your Truth may very well be universally true but it is inaccessable through reason. Reason may be an echo of your Truth but it is something that resists man's intellect and direct philosophical contact.

For the record, I believe that Jesus is the Truth. This is not an intellectual belief. Yes, the God of the Bible is consistent with natural laws, history, and all that I can know, but any foundation is taken by faith, whether it is under the name "Science" or not.

I have been accused of a circular epistemology by Bobby. Just after he accused me of that, he quoted something that is, on the face of it, nonsense and as circular as it gets. That quote, were it written as a syllogism, would easily qualify as a fallacy of presumption, more specifically as the fallacy, petitio principii.

Look forward to the response(s).

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Which quote, Erasure? If you mean the logic quote (i.e. God preceding it ontologically, etc.), there is nothing circular about this, logically. Notice the two separate categories: ontologically--epistemologically.

Erasure,

So you deny that there is "mind-independent" reality--or just that we cannot access it? Of course when we speak of God's love for example, we in fact are speaking univocally, and not just analogically (as you seem to assert), in the sense that we are directly accessing "reality" beyond construction. In other words the God that has revealed Himself "economically" in time in space is the same God in his immenent nature. Thus another illustration of man's ability, because of God's work, to access directly a reality beyond your constructed reality. In other words our "symbols" are directly penetrating and getting at, and reflecting the "really real".

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Erasure,

Bobby has nailed it, and what was this statement. “For the record, I believe that Jesus is the Truth. This is not an intellectual belief.” What in the world could this possibly mean? First you make an intellectual statement, and then intellectually say it is not intellectual. This is a completely nonsensical statement. If it is true that this is not an intellectual belief, then you have refuted yourself again because you have said it intellectually.

You have exemplified my arguments that your position is self-contradictory.

Doug

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Good point, Doug (i.e.the intellectual point . . .)! IMO, PoMo epistemology is intellectually dis-honest; in the sense that it assumes, rationalist principles, in order to deny them. Erasure only illustrates the reality that all Postmodernity is is the logical conclusion of modernity.

 
At Wednesday, August 16, 2006 11:37:00 AM, Anonymous erasure said...

Doug and Bobby,

Obviously I overestimated your willingness to question your own epistemologies. If you won't do that, we have nothing to talk about. You contend that my arguments are nonsense because you are unwilling to look at my arguments in the light of an alternative epistemology. Of course, when you look at what I am saying within your epistemological framework, it is nonsense. But that sort of argumentation is not fair, so I see no sense in continuing this discussion unless we can talk about the possibility that the epistemological framework, developed over the last few hundred years, is flawed. That's probably too big an issue to discuss in this forum, especially with our inability to focus on one thing at a time. Thank you both for the discussion.

 
At Wednesday, August 16, 2006 2:16:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Erasure,

I apologize if we have been unfair, but to be honest I don't think we have. In the previous post I had been arguing against your espistomology from within your epistomology.

You also have to realize that the epistomology I have laid out is much more than a few hundred years old. In fact Augustine explained this epistomology and he lived in the 400's.

To the contrary, it is your strong bent toward the scientific method as being the only source of (tentative) truth, that is the modern invention.

Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

The problem is not knowing God or even truthfully knowing about his attributes. The problem is the sinful nature of man and the suppression of that truth and this is true for all mankind.

Maybe we can discuss more in the future.

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Thursday, August 17, 2006 1:28:00 PM, Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Erasure,

I'm sorry if you felt under attack, or that myself or Doug were'nt being fair. I re-read my comments and Doug's; and don't see any ill-will or ad hominen in any of the inter-change. All I wanted to get across was that I believe your perspective is "question begging". Which you really never responded to, except to say that you were'nt. I would like to continue in further discussion in the future as well . . .

In Christ

 
At Thursday, August 17, 2006 3:21:00 PM, Anonymous erasure said...

I wasn't offended or hurt in any way; I never felt as though I was under attack. I think we have become unproductive and would like to discontinue our conversation. There are very few people in this world, who honestly examine their presuppositions, so most conversations should be cut short.

 
At Thursday, August 17, 2006 3:57:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Erasure,

Thank you for your time and willingness to discuss. Though we disagree, the desires of my heart are for you to blessed by the Lord. You are in my prayers.

God Bless,

Doug

 

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