Butter in the Fridge?

September 16, 2007

Quotes from Simon Blackburn’s “Truth: A Guide”

“…we can also describe ourselves as people who want to know what happened, or as people who want to find the truth, and a good thing too.” – p. 164

“And only what is true explains what happens.” – p. 184


A Satisfying Saturday Afternoon…

September 8, 2007

A cup of tea (English style), jazz in the background, deciphering Blackburn’s “interpretation” of Nietzsche!

Note:  The category “Simon Says…” refers to musings that sprung from Simon Blackburn’s Truth:  A Guide.

Minimizing Truth

September 7, 2007

“What is truth?” – is the classic question Pilate asked of Jesus.  Is truth something internal to me such that I determine what is true.  If I believe it, it is true.  Astrology is true.  Astrology is not true.  Relativistic confusion abounds.

Or is truth outside of me?  Is there some “other” out there?  A form. A logos. A God. A universal code to which all things must aspire?  Thus some more enlightened, whether it be in science, history, language, ethics, are more right in their assessment of what is true about the world?

Of is there really a third way, another lense through which to peer such that truth is neither inside us nor outside us.  Rather truth is just not.  Perhaps when we say “x is true” we are really saying “x is the case.”  And if I present x to the public sphere for investigation, the results will confirm that “x is the case.” 

For instance, the temperature at 9News in denver on Sept 7th at 8:24 am is 62 degress Farenheit.  I make that claim and you and your friends can go confirm that it is or it is not.  And interestingly, in the process you will not use an anemometer (mearsures wind velocity)or a barometer (measures atmospheric pressure).  You will use a specific instrument that measures temperature.  You will use the investigative tools that are germane or local to the issue at hand.  Moreover, in this instance, the measurement of temperature is to a scale that has been instituted by “just us humans.”  There is no other “temperature logos” out there – “just us.”

So if I take this minimalist conception and apply it to some of Jesus sayings, what do I find?  Often Jesus says “I tell you the truth…”  And in context he’s saying “this did happen or was said and you should go investigate the facts to indeed confirm that x is the case”  In this context (and yes I fully admit Jesus uses “truth” in may other contexts and I’ll get to that later) can this minimalist view of truth fit with Jesus’ use of language?

Advice from an Atheist

September 6, 2007

Simon Blackburn writes an engaging, persuasive, and witty book about his conception of the nature of truth in “Truth:  A Guide.”  As he introduces his audience to the seminal debate between the absolutist and the relativist he has this to say, “I try to write with the creed that we need to think and to reflect, if we are to be in control of our words and ideas rather than be controlled by them.”

Whether it is philosophy, politics, theology or just our everyday personal lives – we should heed Blackburn’s advice!

So What Do You Know?

September 4, 2007

So how much can we really know anyhow.  I have my perceptions about reality and yet I only have access to my thoughts, my experiences and my perceptions.  Yes, I converse with others but none of us has direct access to how another truely thinks or feels.  Our perceptions of another’s thoughts may be utterly in the opposite of the facts.  Like what happened on my jog yesterday.  I’m running (albeit rather slowly in the 85 degree heat) on the sidewalk in the typical suburban neithborhood.  With my sunglasses on I can’t make direct eye contact with anyone.  So I see this guy with a tatoo and what looks like a bag of beer and he’s on the phone.  Now, I’m normally this cheery type, always saying or waving “Hi!” when I jog by someone.  But this time the shadiness of the guy prompted me to keep my head fixed squarely in front of me.  So when I actually do pass him he says into his phone “f….in  jogger not even f…in”  Well, I didn’t hear much after the two f_bombs.

So he clearly made assumptions about me as I was not courteous to him.  So what is his vision of reality in the burbs such that I negatively reinforced his perception of reality?  And is his conception, which would lay to waste the facade of suburban paradise, the more accurate one?

Grapples and Smart Epistemology (one more reason I love my husband)

December 8, 2006

A friend of mine invited me to lecture in his class this week and the text for the class has been “Mapping Postmodernism” by Robert Greer. One hole in the book comes in the chapter on “Foundational Realism” where Greer incorrectly paints all foundationalists as Cartesian and picks Francis Schaeffer as their representative. He then proceeds to blast the straw man. So I chose to speak on relativism in general and then more specifically address the current state of epistemology and bring Tim McGrew (strong foundationalism) and Robert Audi (modest foundationalism) in to the discussion. Wow – this was a big task and a blast. I am incredibly indebted to Becky’s wisdom and advice and her previous ponderings (not sure that’s a word) that integrate epistemology into spiritual formation. Posts and fascinating discussion can be found here, here, here and here. So I had my work cut out for me (boy do I have renewed appreciation for profs of all stripes). Audi is hard to read, but builds a strong argument. McGrew was clear and fun to read (still craving an In-n-Out burger). Fortunately, for those not inclined to shell out $50 for Pojman’s anthology, McGrew’s cogent defense of foundationalism can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »

Aesthetically Speaking

July 14, 2006

This pic is evidence of beauty that can only reside in the eyes of the beholder. This was my 4 year old’s Birthday cake that was decorated by her and her 6 year old brother. But it does beg the question about beauty. Is true beauty (and in my limited understanding about aesthetics I’m defining it as that which in some capacity reflects the glory of God) something that each and every Christian, regardless of training in aestheics, should be able to recognize? Can art that bears similarities Jackson Pollock’s “One” (which to my untrained eye is similar to my daughter’s cake) be truly beautiful? I have so many questions…perhaps I’ll glean some answers as the Saturday philosophy party…