Sunday, May 6, 2012

Epistemic Justification and Axioms

Among some interesting things I have been discussing with Drake Shelton, a fellow Scripturalist, one of the main subjects is the nature [and role] of axioms in [the justification of] an epistemic system (link). Drake has said that he is skeptical with regards to the truth of his axiom, which I argue undercuts his whole system of "knowledge." Rather, I have proposed the following:

One can know a theorem is true if it is contained in the body of propositions validly deducible from an axiom which yields a self-attesting, consistent philosophical system in which the ground and means of knowledge are explicated. Hence, while axioms by definition cannot be proven, there is nevertheless a mutual dependency inherent in the relationship between an axiom and its respective theorems. “By the systems they produce, axioms must be judged.”[5] As a theorem can be discredited if it does not follow from a purported axiom, an axiom can be falsified if it bears contradictories.

Gordon Clark, Clark and His Critics, 53.


I’m saying an axiom must be self-attesting, not that it is. Empiricism isn’t self-attesting because nothing one discovers empirically could ex hypothesi attest to the idea that empirical procedures alone are a means to knowledge: the claim is arbitrary. For this reason Clark is concerned in the early part of God’s Hammer to show that Scripture claims to be God’s word. There must be a mutual dependency in an epistemic system: an axiom which prescribes knowledge as coming through certain means yet cannot by those means prescribe the axiom itself is self-defeating. This is illogical and, hence, cannot be a system of knowledge.

Of course the question may be asked: how do I know the criteria of knowledge? Ultimately, by my own axiom, Scripturalism. Proximately, by necessary inference which, since such is accounted for in Scripture, refutes your charge of rationalism. I don’t begin with logic, I begin with Scripture which, since logic is accounted for in it, allows me to use logic to come to these conclusions.


Max said...

Yup, you know the Bible is true because God said so... I believe God has revealed himself to everybody. Tell me if you think this is a good argument:

Objection: “But then you do not know your existence, for it is not in Scripture!”

Let me show you two verses which demonstrate this is not the case. The first is Romans 1:32:

“Who [men] knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Paul tells us that these men know that whoever commits the things aforementioned is worthy of death, but they continue in their ungodly ways. He is implying that they also know of their existence, and that they are included in the number who do those things. They know what they have done against their Maker, and so they know they exist.

Paul’s statement applies to all men; it is universal in scope. All men know of their existence because God reveals it, as well as God’s existence and their obligation to Him, for the same reason. To recap, God revealed Himself to men, and He revealed those men to themselves. I am a man; therefore God revealed Himself to me, and some things about me to me; namely my existence and obligation to Him. I know I am a man for the same reason, namely He did it. This is a deduction from Scripture alone; no extra information is needed to establish these facts. One’s assurance of salvation is also obtained by a similar reasoning process. (I will explain later that God first reveals that you are saved, and by that, you know you have faith. Not that you gain knowledge of your faith first, and then conclude you are saved.)

Ryan said...

As I pointed out to Drake when he asked a similar question, "even if first and second person pronouns logically ought to be erased from epistemic discussion, my epistemic system would remain unaffected." Scripturalism is necessarily true whether or who I am or am not; that is the most important point because it is the most fundamental point.

I too intuit that the "ego" can be [perhaps innately] accounted for on Scripturalism. It probably requires more nuance, but it was a tangent from the point I was trying to make.

Drake Shelton said...

Ryan, I already admitted that I agree with you on the way you are using the words "self-attesting". I misunderstood your use with the idea of self-evident.

Ryan said...

Yes, that became apparent the day after this post.

parsonsmike said...

"Scripture is true" is a faith based statement that can not yet be proved. But it will one day be proved, for all will bend the knee and proclaim Jesus as LORD.

Ryan said...

//"Scripture is true" is a faith based statement that can not yet be proved.//

It depends on what you mean. As an axiom, it can't be deduced from a premise. If that what you meant, then you're right. But if you mean the statement can't be known, I would disagree. Given that an axiom must be self-attesting (or else self-defeating), the statement can be known because Scripture itself attests to its truth. The proposition "Scripture is true" can be deduced from the axiom for that reason.