Are All Presuppositions A Priori?

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Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Okay, so a standard is good or bad based on how many people use it?

Not necessarily. A standard without someone using it is just an abstraction---it does no one any good. Why should we accept it in logic when we don't accept it in practice?

So you are rejecting it not based on a standard? It sure looks like a standard.

I reject it because accepting it isn't an option.

It would seem that you reject Marxism because you fails to see how it is any better than your current system.

Actually, I reject it because it doesn't work. That's not an internal inconsistency, though.

My only issue is that pre-commitments don't become into unexamined biases.

What exactly do you mean by unexamined?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I see; you are getting hung up on the word "classical." For the incorporation of foundationalism in modern Reformed epistemology please consult Ronald Nash's "Life's Ultimate Questions," 275ff.

Well in your first reply you used the term "classical foundationalism", that is why I assumed that that was what you meant by further uses of the term "foundationalism". Nash is good, he is a Clarkian (but that is no bad thing in itself, see Carl Henry), and favorable to Reformed Epistemology. Classical foundationalism is one thing, modest foundationalism another, and reformed espistemology yet a third thing. If you meant the last option than o.k. that clears things up. My apologezes for assuming but you were kind of unclear.


See Nash, as above. It seems to me that you are denying the distinctive presuppositional incorporation of foundationalism. You really should allow a position to speak for itself.

From a philosophical p.o.v. foundationalism doesn't use presupositions in the same way that Van Til would. They have always used basic beliefs. Remember I am familer with this subject as a philosopher and there is a history of debate and discusion about foundationalism that may or may not have happened withen theological circles. I have not sought to understand how you, or Nash, use them so again my apologezes.


If you mean "logical circularity," then I fail to see the relevance as I have not presented an argument in a logical form. It appear that you are reading things into my statements. May I suggest you give others an opportunity to present their own position in the future.

Again my philosophical bias here may be the culprit of misunderstanding but because these are philosophical issues I imagine that that is a little understandable. As above my apologeze, I was not trying to be overbearing in my responses. Please then explain your position and we will go from there.

---------- Post added at 09:03 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:54 AM ----------

No, it's a very broad view. Meaning is a function of language ("in many cases, the meaning of a word is its use in the language" ~L. Wittgenstein). We ask "what exactly do you mean?" and we do not mean "to what are you referring?"

Granted but I am beginning to think that our disagreement here is merely semantical.


I just am not sure that it is a useful model. He isn't correct about presuppositions being a prerequisite for meaning

Again I think you are wrapped up in semantics.


this has devastating effects in theology, as a matter of fact. I've been reading (for a long research project which I will be writing next semester) some postliberal theology which takes this very point as the starting point, taking doctrines as presuppositions.

I am a little familer with postliberalism. But they are very different from Van Til or Reformed theology, see Micheal Horton on this (his book Covenat and Eschatology deals with postliberalism I have read in other places). I would be interested in reading your work if that is o.k.?


Take the doctrine that God is triune: for a postliberal, the fact that this is a presupposition of Christian theology means that in Christian dialogue, saying God is not triune is meaningless. All well and good, right? Except that all you're doing is excluding something from the dialogue---you're not saying anything that is meaningful outside the Christian Church. See the problem? With this model, both Christianity and Islam could be true, as systems because truth is a function of meaning and meaning is a function of presuppositions. A meaningless statement cannot be true. That's the danger I see in adopting Strawson's model of presuppositions: it changes the debate to one about language rather than one about truth.

Your right but again I think you are hung up on semantics. Strawson and I define meaningful not by saying that a sentence can be understood by someone by by whether or not it can be true or false in the first place. That is different from what saying.

---------- Post added at 09:13 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:03 AM ----------

Not at all. I have few logical arguments against Marxism (certainly none that would convince a consistent Marxist).

You know Philip I have never quite understood your obsession, or apparent obsession, with an argument needing to convince someone. If I have, and I do, arguments against Marxism than I don't really care if they convince the Marxist or not only if he or she can answer them. For a Marxist to say "well I can't answer that but I am still a Marxist" doesn't affect me at all. I would say "o.k. come back and debate me when you can".
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
For a Marxist to say "well I can't answer that but I am still a Marxist" doesn't affect me at all. I would say "o.k. come back and debate me when you can".

But this is my whole point, because this is not how a Marxist would answer your argument. He would say, "That's a bourgeois argument." The terms of your argument are ruled out by definition.

Your right but again I think you are hung up on semantics. Strawson and I define meaningful not by saying that a sentence can be understood by someone by by whether or not it can be true or false in the first place. That is different from what saying.

No disagreement from postliberalism on your definition there: that's exactly what they are saying. They would say that doctrinal statements are only possibly true or false in the context of a religious form of life.

Again, I would define meaning as use (in most cases). Words, not sentences, are meaningful.

I am a little familer with postliberalism. But they are very different from Van Til or Reformed theology

No kidding. I'm really going to be going for post-Wittgensteinian theology in general (on the function of doctrinal statements) and trying to critique various folks on it.

Granted but I am beginning to think that our disagreement here is merely semantical.

Actually no. Can I have a meaningful discussion about unicorns? Is "all unicorns have horns" a meaningful statement? How about "some unicorns have wings"?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
But this is my whole point, because this is not how a Marxist would answer your argument. He would say, "That's a bourgeois argument." The terms of your argument are ruled out by definition.

But that is just the fallacy of absurdity. Why should be concerned with a position that uses logical fallacies as a defense?


No disagreement from postliberalism on your definition there: that's exactly what they are saying. They would say that doctrinal statements are only possibly true or false in the context of a religious form of life.

Again, I would define meaning as use (in most cases). Words, not sentences, are meaningful.

Yes for them it is only true or false withen a given cultural or religous context or community. If you assume that that is the only place a proposition can be true or false in than but you are criticizing them so I assume that you don't mean that. Strawson was saying that it isn't capable of being true or false for anyone, regardless of their cutural or religous community.


No kidding. I'm really going to be going for post-Wittgensteinian theology in general (on the function of doctrinal statements) and trying to critique various folks on it.

Again I will be interested in reading it, if you do not mind?


Actually no. Can I have a meaningful discussion about unicorns? Is "all unicorns have horns" a meaningful statement? How about "some unicorns have wings"?

Yes but unicorns are an established thing. If Lewis had never written The Cronicles of Narnia, could we have any meaningful discussions of Aslan? Fictional things can be meanigfully talked about so long as there is some established "history and facts" about them.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
I must say that, in reading this thread, my IQ has jumped five points! :D

Back to the op, a presupposition by its very nature requires some sort of prior knowledge. You must have some sort of knowledge about "x" before making a presupposition about it. For example, if I say "I don't like chocolate" (a blasphemous statement, btw ;) ,) at the very least I have to acknowledge the existence of some sort of object or idea that has the name chocolate.

Somebody is going to have to explain to me the concept of foundationalism, btw.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I must say that, in reading this thread, my IQ has jumped five points! :D

Back to the op, a presupposition by its very nature requires some sort of prior knowledge. You must have some sort of knowledge about "x" before making a presupposition about it. For example, if I say "I don't like chocolate" (a blasphemous statement, btw ;) ,) at the very least I have to acknowledge the existence of some sort of object or idea that has the name chocolate.

Somebody is going to have to explain to me the concept of foundationalism, btw.

Yes, not liking chocolate is blashphemous. Foundationalism is the idea that we have basic beliefs (like that I exist, my senses work fine, other people exist, etc...). On top of these basic beliefs it is beleived that we can build a certian, or nearly certian, foundation for all knowledge. Hence foundationalism. It is like building a building and the basic beliefs are the cement and rebar foundation, all other beliefs are built on top of this like the steel beams and such.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
But that is just the fallacy of absurdity.

What fallacy is this, exactly?

Strawson was saying that it isn't capable of being true or false for anyone, regardless of their cutural or religous community.

But that's exactly my point. Take the existence of God: for a postliberal, this question only makes sense in the context of religion and has no bearing whatsoever outside that form of life. Outside a Christian context it would make no sense, the argument goes.

Again I will be interested in reading it, if you do not mind?

I'll get it to you when I write it (sometime next semester).

Fictional things can be meanigfully talked about so long as there is some established "history and facts" about them.

But in this case we can talk meaningfully about whether Jack beats his wife, the follicle challenges of the present King of France, etc.

Yes, not liking chocolate is blashphemous.

Indeed. It's the heresy of anti-Cacaoian party of the 16th century, which was condemned by Johannes Euphineas at the Synod of Cadbury in 1563. A similar position was also one of the lesser-known cannons of Trent. ;)
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Well in your first reply you used the term "classical foundationalism", that is why I assumed that that was what you meant by further uses of the term "foundationalism". Nash is good, he is a Clarkian (but that is no bad thing in itself, see Carl Henry), and favorable to Reformed Epistemology. Classical foundationalism is one thing, modest foundationalism another, and reformed espistemology yet a third thing. If you meant the last option than o.k. that clears things up. My apologezes for assuming but you were kind of unclear.

Your reading may have been unclear, but what I wrote was plain and straightforward. I stated, "In classical foundationalism our apriori equipment for knowing is itself knowledge." That is a fact. Dispute that fact if you please, but it is clearly stated. I then went on to say, "I regard foundationalism as the traditional reformed approach." Another fact that is clearly stated. Shifting blame for misunderstanding is not an admirable quality.

From a philosophical p.o.v. foundationalism doesn't use presupositions in the same way that Van Til would.

This is precisely what I stated in my first post, where I distinguished foundational, Van Tillian, and Clarkian use of presuppositions.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Are there good books on Classical Foundationalism you could recommend for a layman like me? Preferably from a Christian point of view, and even more preferably from a Reformed point of view.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Are there good books on Classical Foundationalism you could recommend for a layman like me? Preferably from a Christian point of view, and even more preferably from a Reformed point of view.

The best one out there is probably Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief (admittedly, Plantinga hasn't been a Calvinist for a while. Nonetheless, he is one of the leading advocates of reformed epistemology at present) where he argues for a moderated foundationalism (it's foundationalist---just not classically so, like Descartes).

You might also try (if you can find it) Thomas Reid's classic Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (Reid was a Church of Scotland minister in the 18th Century who wrote in response to David Hume).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Are there good books on Classical Foundationalism you could recommend for a layman like me? Preferably from a Christian point of view, and even more preferably from a Reformed point of view.

Many of the works are going to be rather technical. For something simple you might be better served by looking up "common sense realism" in an encyclopedia or even a dictionary of theology. In the Free Church tradition we have numerous apologetical lectures written from that perspective. Chalmers' Institutes, Cunningham's Theological Lectures, Buchanan's Faith in God and Modern Atheism, Hetherington's Apologetics. Coming in to the modern period two of the more important foundationalists are James McCosh and James Orr. These two had already moved foundationalism in an overtly presuppositional direction. Historical research might yet reveal the degree to which Van Til was indebted to Orr. Be careful to distinguish "evidentialism" from "foundationalism." The Ligonier apologetic which calls itself "classical apologetics" is a reaction away from presuppositionalism, and on that account loses the commitment to basic beliefs, even though it will share some of its evidences in common with foundationalism.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Your reading may have been unclear, but what I wrote was plain and straightforward. I stated, "In classical foundationalism our apriori equipment for knowing is itself knowledge." That is a fact. Dispute that fact if you please, but it is clearly stated. I then went on to say, "I regard foundationalism as the traditional reformed approach." Another fact that is clearly stated. Shifting blame for misunderstanding is not an admirable quality.

Well I must say it seems to me then that you are misunderstanding what "foundationalism" of any sort is. That is not really the best definition of it to begin with. You "clearly" used the term "classical foundationalism" so my "misunderstanding" was understandable. The confusion on my part is that you seem to be using terms and definitions differently from what they are traditionally defined. If that is so than please clear the confusion. Foundationalism as you defined it is not how it is traditionally defined. It has never been concerned with our "apriori equipment" but with types of beliefs (this is true going back all the way to Descarte). Kant was concerned with such things but never foundationalism.




This is precisely what I stated in my first post, where I distinguished foundational, Van Tillian, and Clarkian use of presuppositions.

Fair enough, but foundationalism as it has always been understood is not the traditional Reformed understanding because they have always believed in immediate knowledge of God (which is the opposite of what foundationalism, besides Plantinga, have always said).

---------- Post added at 10:16 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:57 AM ----------

What fallacy is this, exactly?

It is when someone declares, for whatever reason, that your premise or opinion is wrong or absurd without ever actually dealing with the substance of your argument.


But that's exactly my point. Take the existence of God: for a postliberal, this question only makes sense in the context of religion and has no bearing whatsoever outside that form of life. Outside a Christian context it would make no sense, the argument goes.

Well I see your point but a trans-cultural idea is above and beyond any one culture or religion. On the other hand you are right, talk about the sacraments is only "meaningful" for christians so it is contexual in that sense.


I'll get it to you when I write it (sometime next semester).

I appreciate it. When I finish community college and go to UNF I will return the favor on any paper I think will be interesting to you.




But in this case we can talk meaningfully about whether Jack beats his wife, the follicle challenges of the present King of France, etc.

Of course, I think that the difference between Russell's analysis and Strawson's analysis may be more taste than anything. Despite how bald the "present king of France" is!


Indeed. It's the heresy of anti-Cacaoian party of the 16th century, which was condemned by Johannes Euphineas at the Synod of Cadbury in 1563. A similar position was also one of the lesser-known cannons of Trent.

That Synod didn't outlaw those Cadbury eggs did they? If so than I will gladly be a heretic.

---------- Post added at 10:19 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:16 AM ----------

Are there good books on Classical Foundationalism you could recommend for a layman like me? Preferably from a Christian point of view, and even more preferably from a Reformed point of view.

The best one out there is probably Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief (admittedly, Plantinga hasn't been a Calvinist for a while. Nonetheless, he is one of the leading advocates of reformed epistemology at present) where he argues for a moderated foundationalism (it's foundationalist---just not classically so, like Descartes).

You might also try (if you can find it) Thomas Reid's classic Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (Reid was a Church of Scotland minister in the 18th Century who wrote in response to David Hume).

I thought Plantinga regected classical foundationalism? I know that he is a foundationalist of a different, much better, sort.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
How do presuppositionalism and foundationalism differ from one another? Is there some overlap between the systems?

For foundationalism you have roughly two different kinds of beliefs, basic and non-basic. Non-basic beliefs are built upon logical consequences of basic beliefs, which are basically beliefs that are self-evident. Imagine a building in which the foundation, or cement and rebar, are the basic beliefs and the whole structure built on top is non-basic beliefs. This gives a level of certianty to our beliefs, if successfully worked out. I know that the non-basic belief X is true because it is based on basic belief Y. Does that make sense?

A presupposition for Van Til is more a belief that we hold so deeply that it skews how we view the world. I live in Florida, it rains a lot here, and my belief that it will rain today can be disproven by it not raining today. That belief of mine is not very important in the grand scheme of things. That is that it being wrong won't affect my other beliefs at all. But my belief in God is a very dear and central belief for me, if I wrong about that than I it would change a lot of my most central beliefs. That is a presupposition, a belief that affects how we view the entire world.

So a presupposition is not a basic-beliefs because we do not base our logical certianty of non-basic beliefs on our presuppositions. Foundationalism has to do with how we "prove" the logical certianty of our beliefs and presuppositions are about our most central beliefs that affect how we interpret the world around us.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
It is when someone declares, for whatever reason, that your premise or opinion is wrong or absurd without ever actually dealing with the substance of your argument.

So if Descartes questions the existence of my hands, I have to give him a logical argument for their existence? That's rather backwards, in my thinking.

Well I see your point but a trans-cultural idea is above and beyond any one culture or religion.

Is the existence of God something unique to Christianity, or is God just an object among other objects? The postliberal would argue that the existence of God is a rule for Christian speech: a presupposition that makes sense in the larger context (it goes without saying that I dispute this).

Here is the question, though: does the proposition "God exists" make sense outside a Christian context? Can an atheist understand what we mean when we say it?

The other question that I would ask you is this: how is it that presuppositions make sense? How are they meaningful?

That Synod didn't outlaw those Cadbury eggs did they? If so than I will gladly be a heretic.

They divided on that score. The high-church party wanted the eating of Cadbury eggs restricted to the time of Lent, whereas the low-church party argued that eggs could be eaten at any time. The disagreement was such that instructions for eating of Cadbury eggs never made it into the revisions of the Book of Common Prayer.

I thought Plantinga regected classical foundationalism? I know that he is a foundationalist of a different, much better, sort.

Correct---he would reject classical foundationalism. I don't think that Rev Winzer is advocating the classical model of foundationalism (Leibniz, Descartes, Clark, etc).
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Correct---he would reject classical foundationalism. I don't think that Rev Winzer is advocating the classical model of foundationalism (Leibniz, Descartes, Clark, etc).

I don't think so either. I have nothing but respect for Rev Winzer and have been greatly edified by his comments on this board. Accusing me of engaging in acts that are not "admirable" when I only tried to be nice and correctly use historically defined terms seems a little below his normal charector.


So if Descartes questions the existence of my hands, I have to give him a logical argument for their existence? That's rather backwards, in my thinking.

Have you found that Anscombe paper I recomended? If I could scan to computer I would but we'll see. If someone disregards a valid point in the context of a debate without ever adressing the argument than they are guilty of this fallacy. There are ways to deal with extreme skepticism like you are refering to that does not resort to this fallacy. You are absolutly correct to regect as "absurdity" such extreme Humian type questions.


Is the existence of God something unique to Christianity, or is God just an object among other objects? The postliberal would argue that the existence of God is a rule for Christian speech: a presupposition that makes sense in the larger context (it goes without saying that I dispute this).

Here is the question, though: does the proposition "God exists" make sense outside a Christian context? Can an atheist understand what we mean when we say it?

The other question that I would ask you is this: how is it that presuppositions make sense? How are they meaningful?

Yes but I think the question is can there be trans-cultural ideas like this? Presuppositions are merely the most central of beliefs in our "web of beliefs" (Quine). So they make sense in that context.


They divided on that score. The high-church party wanted the eating of Cadbury eggs restricted to the time of Lent, whereas the low-church party argued that eggs could be eaten at any time. The disagreement was such that instructions for eating of Cadbury eggs never made it into the revisions of the Book of Common Prayer.

Well herectic or not those eggs are good. I didn't realize that christianity engaged in such central issues as this.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
If someone disregards a valid point in the context of a debate without ever adressing the argument than they are guilty of this fallacy.

And if I don't think the argument worth bothering with? If I believe an argument to be nonsense, then engaging it on a logical level compromises this position.

Presuppositions are merely the most central of beliefs in our "web of beliefs" (Quine). So they make sense in that context.

But they make sense only in that context. Out of context they should make no sense whatsoever, if Quine is right. I'm not exactly sure what a trans-cultural idea would look like in this framework. Even if you could have such an idea, its function in one context would be completely different from its function in another, such that their functions would be equivocal at best. For example, the Christian and the Deist mean very different things by the existence of God.

Again, my contention is that presuppositions aren't beliefs at all, but attitudes manifesting themselves propositionally such that one may maintain the same attitude in a different guise if the belief is challenged.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The confusion on my part is that you seem to be using terms and definitions differently from what they are traditionally defined. If that is so than please clear the confusion. Foundationalism as you defined it is not how it is traditionally defined. It has never been concerned with our "apriori equipment" but with types of beliefs (this is true going back all the way to Descarte). Kant was concerned with such things but never foundationalism.

I think you need to do a little more reading of historical texts.

Fair enough, but foundationalism as it has always been understood is not the traditional Reformed understanding because they have always believed in immediate knowledge of God (which is the opposite of what foundationalism, besides Plantinga, have always said).

What reformed theological texts have you read to give you such confidence to make this ridiculous assertion?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I think you need to do a little more reading of historical texts.

With all due respect I have been studying philosophy for over 10 years. This is a philosophical term that we are discussing not a theological one. Foundationalism doesn not mean what you are saying but if you would like me to go to my library and post quote after quote after quote from various philosophical books than I will. You are entitled to define terms anyway you like but to knowingly or unknowingly depart from how they have been used and defined results in any misunderstanding being on you.


What reformed theological texts have you read to give you such confidence to make this ridiculous assertion?

It is true that I am not as familer with the original authors, as you are, but I rely on others authority for this one. Again "immediate" knowledge of God is the very opposite of foundationalism as it has been historically understood in philosophical circles, which is where it originated. Again I can post these sources if you wish? I know you asked me to post these, and the philosophical sources as well, it is just that thi swould be a chore to gather up. I am more than happy to do so but I know for a fact what foundationalism means, so when I do post those philosophical sources it will vindecate my position and show that you were out of line in accusing me of not engaging in "admirable" actions becaus it is you unfortuanatly who is wrong on that issue at least. There is no need for that in mt opinion, I don't do that to people.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
With all due respect I have been studying philosophy for over 10 years. This is a philosophical term that we are discussing not a theological one. Foundationalism doesn not mean what you are saying but if you would like me to go to my library and post quote after quote after quote from various philosophical books than I will. You are entitled to define terms anyway you like but to knowingly or unknowingly depart from how they have been used and defined results in any misunderstanding being on you.

I'm not sure why you keep saying "with all due respect" when you proceed to extend none at all. How old are you? If you have been reading philosophy for ten years I have been reading it for at least over twenty. Do you really want to make that the criteria for judging of the correctness of the statement?

You seem to be little concerned with the context of my statements in light of the original question that was posed. The OP was concerned with presuppositions and a priori knowledge. There is a distinct school of foundationalism which has developed a presuppositional approach. That is the school which I represent. You have obviously read nothing from that school. Given your attitude towards me in this thread you probably care nothing for that school of thought. So be it. The fact is, it exists. All I can say is, that if you choose to remain ignorant out of prejudice you will continue to come off less than admirably in discussion of this kind.

It is true that I am not as familer with the original authors, as you are, but I rely on others authority for this one.

You may want to consider exchanging authorities because this one has led you terribly astray.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
There is a distinct school of foundationalism which has developed a presuppositional approach.

I would go so far as to say that "presupposition" language makes more sense in a foundationalist conception of knowledge than in a coherentist one.

You may want to consider exchanging authorities because this one has led you terribly astray.

Actually, given current philosophical parlance, he is warranted in his assumption. Most Christian epistemologists today, even if they actually lean in a foundationalist direction, hesitate to apply the term to themselves given its associations with Logical Positivism and other forms of scientism. Your use of the term is correct historically, but is not the current usage.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Actually, given current philosophical parlance, he is warranted in his assumption. Most Christian epistemologists today, even if they actually lean in a foundationalist direction, hesitate to apply the term to themselves given its associations with Logical Positivism and other forms of scientism. Your use of the term is correct historically, but is not the current usage.

In this specific part of the discussion, to which you are replying, the original claim was that "the traditional Reformed understanding ... have always believed in immediate knowledge of God." Given the reformed commitment to ectypal theology and revelation this claim is simply ridiculous.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
In this specific part of the discussion, to which you are replying

I misread---my reply was to the definition of foundationalism.

"the traditional Reformed understanding ... have always believed in immediate knowledge of God." Given the reformed commitment to ectypal theology and revelation this claim is simply ridiculous.

That would be correct. God reveals Himself to us in a multifold manner. However, I would say that in some sense knowledge of God could be said to be immediate given the agency of the Holy Spirit in enlightening our minds to show us Christ and through Him the Father as He is revealed to us in Holy Scripture.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Best that you seek out the references Rev. Winzer noted here.

AMR

Ok I missed those, but as I read books and internet definitions for foundationslism I fail to see any corelation between the two. Here is just some source:

Foundationalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Foundationalist Theories of Epistemic Justification (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

I also consulted these books, all of which agree with me:

Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church By D.A. Carson.
The 2000 edition of the Penguin Reference Dictionary of Philosophy edited by Thomas Mautner.
J.P. Moreland and Garrett De Weese's article "The Premature Demise of Foundationalism" in this book Reclaiming The Center, any of the essays in that book will only prove my definition of the terms.
Essays in the Philosophy of Religion edited by Christian Miller, these are all essays by Philip Quin. I am refering to his two essays on Reformed Epistemology.
Acceptable Premises by James Freeman, an new version of modest foundationalism.
Dr. Oiliphant's paper "Old-new Reformed Epistemology" in the book that he coedited Revelation and Reason.
And last but not least Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers by Richard Rorty who is critical of all forms of foundationalism.

James Orr looks very interesting to study but he died long before contemporary debates on this subject.


You seem to be little concerned with the context of my statements in light of the original question that was posed. The OP was concerned with presuppositions and a priori knowledge. There is a distinct school of foundationalism which has developed a presuppositional approach. That is the school which I represent. You have obviously read nothing from that school. Given your attitude towards me in this thread you probably care nothing for that school of thought. So be it. The fact is, it exists. All I can say is, that if you choose to remain ignorant out of prejudice you will continue to come off less than admirably in discussion of this kind.

I am not prejudece, I have been waiting for you to pin down your position a little better that distinguishes it from all other historical forms of this position. That makes more sense. As far as the OP goes we do want these schools of thought in their proper context? You appeared to be making your version of foundationalism as the monolithic view of the subject, but it is common knowledge that it is only version that has developed along very different lines. Foundationalists have always, except for your school of thought, regected circularity of anykind. You rightly defend the inevetability of some circularity. That is a pretty big, but good, departure from historical foundationalism of anykind.

I believe that if anyone reading this discussion were to take your definitions of foundationalism into any philosophy class they would be out of accord with historical philosophical definitions of this term. I wasn't trying to be rude and if it came off that way than I apologize but you were using the terms to refer to a certian school of foundationalism without proper qualification and than accusing me of immoral behavior and being ignorant of history. The way your posts appeared was that that is what what all foundaionalists are, I can name off 6 or so that are different than your particuler school of thought you are refering, but you did say that your foundationalism was the historical view and that I should consult with the sources.

Again since you are refering to this one school of thought and the 99% or so of foundationalists than in my opinion you probably should have been a little clearer. My references vindicate my insistance that the major schools of thought that have been known as foundationalism are exactly as I have defined them. I look forward to studying the school of thought that you are refering to. I have only asked for clarafication on your part but I could never get it until now.


And if I don't think the argument worth bothering with? If I believe an argument to be nonsense, then engaging it on a logical level compromises this position.

Very true btu it is in the context of a debate, on onlooker can do whatever they want.


But they make sense only in that context. Out of context they should make no sense whatsoever, if Quine is right. I'm not exactly sure what a trans-cultural idea would look like in this framework. Even if you could have such an idea, its function in one context would be completely different from its function in another, such that their functions would be equivocal at best. For example, the Christian and the Deist mean very different things by the existence of God.

Again, my contention is that presuppositions aren't beliefs at all, but attitudes manifesting themselves propositionally such that one may maintain the same attitude in a different guise if the belief is challenged.

You raise a good point. I also enjoy that you ascribe a level of depth to presuppositions that most poeple who criticize Van Til don't.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I am not prejudece, I have been waiting for you to pin down your position a little better that distinguishes it from all other historical forms of this position.

You have rejected the definitions I have provided without waiting for any explanation.

You appeared to be making your version of foundationalism as the monolithic view of the subject, but it is common knowledge that it is only version that has developed along very different lines.

Have you done any study on the history of thought? Are you aware that modern broad foundationalism has revived the substance of Thomas Reid's thought concerning belief-forming mechanisms? This is not "my version," but an historically accredited school of thought.

Foundationalists have always, except for your school of thought, regected circularity of anykind. You rightly defend the inevetability of some circularity. That is a pretty big, but good, departure from historical foundationalism of anykind.

I rejected your specific charge of circularity, which is nothing more than a charge of having a finite understanding. That is inevitable for all theories of knowledge, and fits in well with the explanation given by broad foundationalism. When you were answered you decided to change your tactics and claim the circularity related to the logical form of the argument, whereupon it was pointed out to you that no logical form was presented. Now you are reverting back to your original charge. Perhaps you should sit down and work out a strategy which you could stick with for more than one post.

I believe that if anyone reading this discussion were to take your definitions of foundationalism into any philosophy class they would be out of accord with historical philosophical definitions of this term.

More study on the history of thought and some reading of historical texts would help you to bring some light to your darkened philosophy class room. McCosh's Scottish Philosophy might be a good place to start. Note, for example, the following characterisation of the Scottish school (pp. 6, 7):

"it resolutely maintains that we can discover principles which are not the product of observation and experience, and which are in the very constitution of the mind, and have there the sanction of the Author of our nature. These are somewhat differently apprehended and described by the masters of the school, some taking a deeper and others a more superficial view of them. Hutcheson calls them senses, and finds them in the very constitution of the mind. Reid designates them principles of common sense, and represents them as being natural, original, and necessary. Stewart characterizes them as fundamental laws of human thought and belief. Brown makes them intuitions simple and original. Hamilton views them under a great many aspects, but seems to contemplate them most frequently and fondly after the manner of Kant, as a priori forms or conditions. But whatever minor or major differences there may be in the fulness of their exposition, or in the favorite views which they individually prefer, all who are truly of the Scottish school agree in maintaining that there are laws, principles, or powers in the mind anterior to any reflex observation of them, and acting independently of the philosophers' classification or explanation of them."
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I also consulted these books, all of which agree with me:

Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church By D.A. Carson.
The 2000 edition of the Penguin Reference Dictionary of Philosophy edited by Thomas Mautner.
J.P. Moreland and Garrett De Weese's article "The Premature Demise of Foundationalism" in this book Reclaiming The Center, any of the essays in that book will only prove my definition of the terms.
Essays in the Philosophy of Religion edited by Christian Miller, these are all essays by Philip Quin. I am refering to his two essays on Reformed Epistemology.
Acceptable Premises by James Freeman, an new version of modest foundationalism.
Dr. Oiliphant's paper "Old-new Reformed Epistemology" in the book that he coedited Revelation and Reason.
And last but not least Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers by Richard Rorty who is critical of all forms of foundationalism.

James Orr looks very interesting to study but he died long before contemporary debates on this subject.

Beginning with the last first, James Orr, Christian View, pp. 104-105:

"If we analyse the act of knowledge, we find that in every form of it there are implied certain necessary and universal conditions, which, from the nature of the case, must be conditions of experience also, otherwise it could never be experience for us at all. Thus, any world we are capable of knowing with our present faculties must be a world in space and time, — a world subject to conditions of number and quantity, — a world apprehended in relations of substance and accident, cause and effect, etc. A world of any other kind — supposing it to exist — would be in relation to our thought or knowledge unthinkable. These conditions of knowledge, moreover, are not arbitrary and contingent, but universal and necessary. They spring from reason itself, and express its essential and immutable nature. Thus we feel sure that there is no world in space or time to which the laws of mathematics do not apply; no world possible in which events do not follow each other according to the law of cause and effect; no world in which the fundamental laws of thought and reasoning are different from what they are in our own.... For whence these laws of thought — these universal and necessary conditions of all truth and knowledge — which I discover in myself; which my own reason neither makes nor can unmake; which I recognise to be in me and yet not of me; which I know must belong to every rational being in every part of the universe? They are necessary and eternal in their nature, yet they have not the ground of their existence in my individual mind. Can I conclude otherwise than that they have their seat and ground in an eternal and absolute Reason — the absolute Prius of all that is, at once of thought and of existence?...

This argument, which has been called that of 'Rational Realism,' is one which in varied forms has been accepted by the deepest thinkers, and finds widespread acknowledgment in literature."

D. A Carson only examines a foundationalism which excludes God and makes man the centre of all things.

K Scott Oliphint, p. 213, states clearly, "Without spelling out the details of this structure," and then confines his comments and subsequent criticisms to basic beliefs. Such a statement takes for granted that there is more to foundationalism than "basic beliefs."

I strongly suggest you take up an independent study of the subject and use either original sources which speak from this point of view or secondary sources which attempt something like a detailed analysis.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
You have rejected the definitions I have provided without waiting for any explanation.

No actually I presented what is the contemporary understanding of things. I merely asked for clarification of things.


Have you done any study on the history of thought? Are you aware that modern broad foundationalism has revived the substance of Thomas Reid's thought concerning belief-forming mechanisms? This is not "my version," but an historically accredited school of thought.

Yes my references would prove that I done much study in this area. I am curious since you have not provided any theory of the criterion of proper basicality essential to any form of foundationalism, kindly provide your theory of proper basicality in its logical form so that we can place you withen the proper epistemological context so that we can move forward from this. You have provided no such theory so it is hard to place you without you be more clarifying.


I rejected your specific charge of circularity, which is nothing more than a charge of having a finite understanding. That is inevitable for all theories of knowledge, and fits in well with the explanation given by broad foundationalism. When you were answered you decided to change your tactics and claim the circularity related to the logical form of the argument, whereupon it was pointed out to you that no logical form was presented. Now you are reverting back to your original charge. Perhaps you should sit down and work out a strategy which you could stick with for more than one post.

I did provide a logical form of presupposition and for foundationalism you refused to logically prove that the two were identical, which I challenged you on. You claim that circularity is part of foundationalism, well the internet references I provided refute that outright, not ot mention any philosophical text on the matter. Again we cannot get anywhere here if you insist that your view is the majority report, its not Rev. Winzer, as my references vindicate. No one, including me, is saying that you cannot claim the mantle of foundationalism only that contemporary foundationalism is not what you are talking about. I am trying to be cordial here, I really am.

Those criticisms are standered criticisms for foundationalism in any philosophical work on the subject. Be my guest to consult the works I provided to better understand where I am coming from.


More study on the history of thought and some reading of historical texts would help you to bring some light to your darkened philosophy class room. McCosh's Scottish Philosophy might be a good place to start. Note, for example, the following characterisation of the Scottish school (pp. 6, 7):

"it resolutely maintains that we can discover principles which are not the product of observation and experience, and which are in the very constitution of the mind, and have there the sanction of the Author of our nature. These are somewhat differently apprehended and described by the masters of the school, some taking a deeper and others a more superficial view of them. Hutcheson calls them senses, and finds them in the very constitution of the mind. Reid designates them principles of common sense, and represents them as being natural, original, and necessary. Stewart characterizes them as fundamental laws of human thought and belief. Brown makes them intuitions simple and original. Hamilton views them under a great many aspects, but seems to contemplate them most frequently and fondly after the manner of Kant, as a priori forms or conditions. But whatever minor or major differences there may be in the fulness of their exposition, or in the favorite views which they individually prefer, all who are truly of the Scottish school agree in maintaining that there are laws, principles, or powers in the mind anterior to any reflex observation of them, and acting independently of the philosophers' classification or explanation of them."

Rev. Winzer I am not disputing that these theologians that you quote agree with you. What I am doing is quoting philosophers who have taken this subject up in the last century or so. You have not quoted a single one of them nor refuted my definitions given. No one disagrees with you on these theologians, their opinions or their worth. But they are not contemporary philosophers dealing with this issue. You chose to use contemporary philosophical terms and I only played off of those.


Beginning with the last first, James Orr, Christian View, pp. 104-105

I believe it obvious that if he died long before contemporary debates about the history and theory of philosophical foundationalism took place that he would not know anything about these, right?


"If we analyse the act of knowledge, we find that in every form of it there are implied certain necessary and universal conditions, which, from the nature of the case, must be conditions of experience also, otherwise it could never be experience for us at all. Thus, any world we are capable of knowing with our present faculties must be a world in space and time, — a world subject to conditions of number and quantity, — a world apprehended in relations of substance and accident, cause and effect, etc. A world of any other kind — supposing it to exist — would be in relation to our thought or knowledge unthinkable. These conditions of knowledge, moreover, are not arbitrary and contingent, but universal and necessary. They spring from reason itself, and express its essential and immutable nature. Thus we feel sure that there is no world in space or time to which the laws of mathematics do not apply; no world possible in which events do not follow each other according to the law of cause and effect; no world in which the fundamental laws of thought and reasoning are different from what they are in our own.... For whence these laws of thought — these universal and necessary conditions of all truth and knowledge — which I discover in myself; which my own reason neither makes nor can unmake; which I recognise to be in me and yet not of me; which I know must belong to every rational being in every part of the universe? They are necessary and eternal in their nature, yet they have not the ground of their existence in my individual mind. Can I conclude otherwise than that they have their seat and ground in an eternal and absolute Reason — the absolute Prius of all that is, at once of thought and of existence?...

Thank you for providing a wonderful example of a transcendental argument, it seems that maybe you confuse the two. That is a transcendental argument and not a form of foundationalism.


This argument, which has been called that of 'Rational Realism,' is one which in varied forms has been accepted by the deepest thinkers, and finds widespread acknowledgment in literature."

D. A Carson only examines a foundationalism which excludes God and makes man the centre of all things.

K Scott Oliphint, p. 213, states clearly, "Without spelling out the details of this structure," and then confines his comments and subsequent criticisms to basic beliefs. Such a statement takes for granted that there is more to foundationalism than "basic beliefs."

I strongly suggest you take up an independent study of the subject and use either original sources which speak from this point of view or secondary sources which attempt something like a detailed analysis.

That is all there is to foundationalism as my references prove, you are mixing different strains of thought together or something but honestly you are all over the map philosophically so it is hard to keep with you.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Yes my references would prove that I done much study in this area. I am curious since you have not provided any theory of the criterion of proper basicality essential to any form of foundationalism, kindly provide your theory of proper basicality in its logical form so that we can place you withen the proper epistemological context so that we can move forward from this. You have provided no such theory so it is hard to place you without you be more clarifying.

Your references show that you know how to pick and choose from random statements in a variety of books, that is all. I referenced the type of logical argument I would make earlier in the thread when I pointed you to Nash's work. The only reply I received pertained to his rationalism, in keeping with your dismissive tone throughout this thread. You seem oblivious to a whole range of contemporary discussion of foundationalism which has appropriated the earlier realism. I've quoted the "rational realist" arguments of McCosh and Orr, and you ignorantly claim Orr as making a transcendental argument. It is a foundationalist argument based upon the a priori mental equipment, which I referenced in my first post, and you rejected. I can see that no reasoning will convince you, and I certainly do not have any inclination to waste further time on you, so I leave you to your own devices. Feel free to have the last word.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Your references show that you know how to pick and choose from random statements in a variety of books, that is all. I referenced the type of logical argument I would make earlier in the thread when I pointed you to Nash's work. The only reply I received pertained to his rationalism, in keeping with your dismissive tone throughout this thread. You seem oblivious to a whole range of contemporary discussion of foundationalism which has appropriated the earlier realism. I've quoted the "rational realist" arguments of McCosh and Orr, and you ignorantly claim Orr as making a transcendental argument. It is a foundationalist argument based upon the a priori mental equipment, which I referenced in my first post, and you rejected. I can see that no reasoning will convince you, and I certainly do not have any inclination to waste further time on you, so I leave you to your own devices. Feel free to have the last word.

believe it or not I am beyond last words. I am sorry for being rude if that offended you so much. I took it as rude when you accused me of bad things. But I have no inlclination to carry on this debate for the reason that respect you, despite what you may think. I hope this does not come between us.
 
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