Thursday, June 09, 2005

One Final Thought

All right, just one more thought on epistemology. Then I'm walking away. I promise.

Isn't the post-modern critique of certainty an implicit affirmation of foundationalism? As I understand it, post-modernity's objection to certainty doesn't have as much to do with the idea that there are no absolutes, but rather that we do not possess the resources to access them. Were we able to step outside of our own context and view the raw data with absolute objectivity, then certainty would be possible, at least in some realms. But since we can't--bye bye certainty.

But (assuming the above is accurate) doesn't this critique of certainty simiply end up affirming that science, rationalism, etc., (the epistemic tools of modernity) are indeed the only way to access truth absolutely? In other words, both foundationalism and soft-foundationalism appeal to the epistemic tools of modernity in their search for truth. The only difference is that soft-foundationalism is less optimistic about our ability to use them adequately. Both appeal to natural means of knowledge. And as I've noted before, this is not the epistemology of the Church.

All of that to say this: Soft-foundationalism, or any other post-foundational epistemology that denies that ability to arrive at certainty seems to undercut the historic epistemology of the Church. Foundationalism is out, but let's not simply trade yesterday's garbage for today's newer version.

And one final clarification. I affirm soft-foundationalism in regard to natural knowledge, assuming my definition of full and meaningful certainty, but I do not affirm it in regard to heavenly knowledge, or knowledge of the divine. This requires more than any human epistemology is capable of. Yet such a knowledge is possible through the Spirit.

OK. I'm done with the epistemology stuff. It's safe to get back into the water.

No comments: