Sunday, May 20, 2012

Scripturalism and self-knowledge

I've recently been discussing the possibility self-knowledge with some Scripturalists. Intuitively, I think that self-knowledge is compatible with Scripturalism. I’m simply not satisfied with what appears to be the current Scripturalist defense; perhaps that means I'm just slow on the uptake. In any case, the most powerful [and perhaps the only] objection can be strictly put as follows:

P1. There is no Scripture from which propositions in which “I” is the subject – where “I” implicitly refers to some individual who is born after the close of the canon – can be deduced.

P2. Until the second coming, Scripture comprises the extent of divine revelation.

P3. Propositions not deducible from divine revelation are unknowable.

C. Until the second coming, propositions in which “I” is the subject – where “I” implicitly refers to some individual who is born after the close of the canon – are not knowable.

This is a valid argument, so the question is whether or not the premises are true. I’ve probably argued for P3 half to death in a dozen or so posts on my blog. I haven’t found a Scripturalist who has rejected this premise, so I’m going to take it for granted. I thought P2 is sola scriptura and necessary to maintain that the canon is closed, but it seems a few Scripturalists would take exception to this and qualify it as follows: “Until the second coming, Scripture comprises the extent of public divine revelation.” P1 is what I expected most Scripturalists to reject.

Before examining P1 and P2, it is worth wondering what epistemic function self-knowledge serves. What is the fuss? Why would it be so bad to relegate self-knowledge to the level of opinion?

Can one who is born after the close of the canon know Scripturalism is true even if no proposition in which “I” is the subject – where “I” implicitly refers to some individual who is born after the close of the canon – can be philosophically known? It doesn’t seem so. It may be true that “one who is regenerate can know Scripturalism is true,” but if there is no such individual to whom this principle can be said to apply, that proposition can’t be verified. Why? One cannot hypothesize what one would believe if one were regenerate, for only actual regenerates know God’s voice. Without self-knowledge, for all one “knows” it may be possible that “one who is regenerate can know Scripturalism is false.”

This is a critical problem. It shows that unless one can know he is regenerate, a third person statement that the so-called Protestant canon of Scripture comprises the extent of [public] divine revelation is arbitrary. The connection between self-knowledge [of regeneration] and the need (on Scripturalism) for recognition of the canon of Scripture as such implies first person pronouns aren’t epistemically eliminable. Hence, P1 or P2 must be false.

As for which (or both) is false, I lean towards rejecting P1. Rejecting P2 would either entail a rejection of a closed canon or some distinction between canonical as public revelation and private revelation. I’m not aware of any Scripturalists who reject a closed canon. I do hear Revelation 2:17 cited as support from the latter distinction, but this just seems like sloppy exegesis. Revelation 2:17 refers to a point logically posterior to the second coming as seen in paralleling it to 2:7 (cf. Revelation 22). But that still leaves open the question as to whether or not those living in the last days prior to the second coming can possess self-knowledge.

I think a stronger argument would say that passages such as Romans 8:14-16 or 1 John 2:18-27 show that a believer possesses the Holy Spirit by which one is able to know, not merely opine, some his beliefs. This requires two considerations 1) a distinction between a historic/ontological order and an epistemic/logical order – i.e. “one can have self-knowledge only after he is regenerated” is true but still predicated on whether or not it can be deduced from Scripture – and 2) an understanding that these and similar passages can be legitimately interpreted as enthymematical – i.e. as applying to all Christians rather than only to those for whom the letters were originally written – a reasonable assumption because [hyper-]dispensationalism is false and the authors of Scripture didn’t personally know every Christian to whom they were writing (Romans 1:9-13, for instance, makes this clear).

But if an enthymematic interpretation is possible, that begs the question as to why an appeal to extra-canonical revelation is even necessary. One could seemingly reject P1 alone because “I” is implicit in such universal propositions. Abstract knowledge of the ego or “I” as a reflexive indexical can be deduced from Scripture; what else, then, would be necessary (also given the condition of regeneration) for self-knowledge?


UPDATE: Perhaps the temporal aspect needs to be addressed. At the time Scripture was written, anyone who was born later than the close of the canon was not alive by definition. On an A-series view of time, this would be problematic because it would not have been true at the time Scripture was written that "the Holy Spirit testifies that [Christian x who was born after the close of the canon] is a child of God." At best, then, a Scripturalist who would wish to compatibilize the belief that "all knowledge is now derived from Scripture" would have to say the meaning of Scripture changes concurrently with changes in individual assent to the Gospel. This doesn't appear feasible. On the other hand, a timeless God's knowledge never changes (neither in mode nor content). So the individuals who comprise the set of Christians would be immutably known and testified by God.

Also, to expand on what I meant by "...the "I" is implicit in such universal propositions...," the “universal proposition” to which I was referring was the enthymematic proposition “all those for whom the Holy Spirit testifies that they are children of God are Christians.” This proposition takes for granted a set of individuals for whom the Holy Spirit testifies that they are children of God. The individual members are implicit in any reference to the entire set.

Now, I don’t have anything against a public and private knowledge distinction that Scripturalists like Cheung make per se just as long as it doesn’t imply a source of knowledge other than Scripture. After all, I can’t demonstrate that I am not a figment of your imagination; knowledge claims about who I am are, by comparison, less fundamental. If it’s not a problem that I can’t demonstrate the former, there’s no reason to suppose it’s a problem that I can’t demonstrate the latter.

So while I may not be able to demonstrate to you, the reader, that the Holy Spirit indeed testifies that I am a child of God – that I am an individual implicit within any reference to the entire set of those for whom the Holy Spirit testifies that they are children of God – it is both possibly deducible from Scripture and true. And if it’s true, I both can and do know from Scripture that I am a Christian.

25 comments:

Drake Shelton said...

"a third person statement that the so-called Protestant canon of Scripture comprises the extent of [public] divine revelation is arbitrary"

>>>What do you mean by this?

"The connection between self-knowledge [of regeneration] "

>>Making man infallible.

"Abstract knowledge of the ego or “I” as a reflexive indexical can be deduced from Scripture"

>>>I do not understand what you just said.

"Holy Spirit testifies that they are children of God. The individual members are implicit in any reference to the entire set."

>>>If that is the case you would have to change your theory of demonstration from a logical decustion fo propsotions to a chronological experiential induction system to get the knowledge that you are in that set.

" a distinction between a historic/ontological order and an epistemic/logical order"

>>>Are you saying that the historic/ontological refers to private knowledge whereas epistemic/logical refers to public knowledge? If so, will you admit that the word "knoweldge" changes meaning from one to the other as would the theory of demonstration?

Ryan said...

"What do you mean by this?"

I mean that it's a statement which cannot be necessarily inferred. If one cannot identify himself or anyone else as a regenerate, he cannot claim to know the voice of the Shepherd. But then there is no grounds upon which to state that "the Protestant canon of Scripture comprises the extent of [public] divine revelation."

This is the fault I've found with a pragmatic view of the ego: Scripturalism can't be knowably true because one cannot hypothesize what it is like to be a regenerate. One either is or isn't. If he doesn't know he is a regenerate, to claim to know what is Scripture - what is the voice of the Shepherd - is inductive guesswork.

"Making man infallible."

How does that follow from my statement? Perhaps you are suggesting the sheep do not hear and follow the voice of the Shepherd?

"I do not understand what you just said."

As you do not know who you are, that is understandable.

"If that is the case you would have to change your theory of demonstration from a logical decustion fo propsotions to a chronological experiential induction system to get the knowledge that you are in that set."

I think not, because as I said in the post: “one can have self-knowledge only after he is regenerated” is true but still predicated on whether or not it can be deduced from Scripture.

"Are you saying that the historic/ontological refers to private knowledge whereas epistemic/logical refers to public knowledge? If so, will you admit that the word "knoweldge" changes meaning from one to the other as would the theory of demonstration?"

I think that is approximate. But in that case, I don't see how the meaning of knowledge changes; the scope of knowledge does. Knowledge is a belief in a proposition in which the possibility of error is precluded. But God is the one who enlightens whom He wills.

Drake Shelton said...

“Scripturalism can't be knowably true because one cannot hypothesize what it is like to be a regenerate.”

>>You’re changing the definition of knowledge from logical deduction of propositions to experience.


“One either is or isn't.”

>>>Sure but God has not given us propositions that give us post canonical persons that kind of certainty.

“If he doesn't know he is a regenerate, to claim to know what is Scripture - what is the voice of the Shepherd - is inductive guesswork.”

>>>Sure. But scripturalism never claimed that experiences were objects of knowledge so I don’t see where you are going with this.

Dr. Clark comments on section 18 of the WCF,
"I must confess I do not like the word infallible in this context…Scripture is infallible ; nothing else is." (Sanctification, pg. 35-36)…"If we wish to distinguish a valid assurance from a false assurance, how can we know that we have a sufficient theological knowledge and a sufficient degree of obedience to have met the requirements?" (pg. 38-39, Sanctification)
Sounds to me like you are starting to abandon scripturalism.


“How does that follow from my statement? Perhaps you are suggesting the sheep do not hear and follow the voice of the Shepherd?”


>>>Because knowledge requires zero variable error.


"I do not understand what you just said."

As you do not know who you are, that is understandable.”

>>Yeah see, you are making clear breaks with Clark here. You are backing away from scripturalism here clearly. Just because that is technically accurate does not exclude colloquial language. I’m just using the language as it is commonly used.


“I think not, because as I said in the post: “one can have self-knowledge only after he is regenerated”

>>I failed to see your proof for that.







"Are you saying that the historic/ontological refers to private knowledge whereas epistemic/logical refers to public knowledge? If so, will you admit that the word "knoweldge" changes meaning from one to the other as would the theory of demonstration?"

“I think that is approximate. But in that case, I don't see how the meaning of knowledge changes; the scope of knowledge does. Knowledge is a belief in a proposition”

>>>I disagree here. The way you are using the word “belief” means an action. In the phrase “justified true belief”, belief does not mean an action or volition of faith, it means the object of faith.

Ryan said...

"You’re changing the definition of knowledge from logical deduction of propositions to experience."

I've provided an explicit definition of knowledge already. You will have to show how that definition is being changed, not merely assert it.

To explain my position once more: that our knowledge is dependent on a certain ontological fact (regeneration) does not imply that we know such by means other than Scripture. So I see no problem. It seems to me that you are confusing the logical/justificatory/deductive/epistemic order of knowledge with the historic/ontological/experiential order. Knowledge of the latter order is deduced by means of the former order, though this is able to be done only if the latter order has occurred (a fact itself which is deduced from the former). Hence, we know that regeneration (an ontological experience which occurs in history) is necessary for knowledge because that is what is necessarily inferred (deductively, logically, etc.) from the source of knowledge.

To put it as simply as possible: the source of knowledge is Scripture; a necessary means by which we are able to recognize such is regeneration.

"Sure but God has not given us propositions that give us post canonical persons that kind of certainty."

How do you know? You cannot identify the word of God unless you are regenerate. If you don't know that, then your assertions as to what God has or hasn't given to "us" is guesswork.

"Sure. But scripturalism never claimed that experiences were objects of knowledge so I don’t see where you are going with this."

How can you say "sure" and proceed to make knowledge claims? You don't know what Scripturalism claims because you don't know anything. You can't, unless you know you're a regenerate. I am honestly astonished at your admission of self-defeating skepticism.

I have seen no reason to renounce my view of Romans 8. In fact, in light of your open concession of the alternative, I am more convinced of it.

I have not advocated the infallibility of man. Man can err. But if a conclusion follow from the true premises - known premises - then neither you nor anyone else will convince me that the conclusion is possibly false.

"Because knowledge requires zero variable error."

I.e. you do not know you are a sheep and so cannot even know what knowledge is. You cannot know anything. This conversation is obviously pointless if you admit this to be the case. I cannot argue an irrational individual into rationality. I can only pray God will open your mind to see past some Clarkian errors in epistemology as you have seen past them in Christology. But this is not a denouncement of Clark as a whole, for I accept Scripture as the sole available expression of God's word.

Ryan said...

"Yeah see, you are making clear breaks with Clark here. You are backing away from scripturalism here clearly."

I believe, unlike some other Scripturalists with whom I have conversed on this subject, that Clark rejected knowledge of the ego in this life. I simply think that if this is the case, his claim that the Bible is the source of our knowledge cannot be sustained. Every sentence you write that you cannot claim to know (i.e. every sentence you write) demonstrates this.

"I failed to see your proof for that."

It's in the post and I've repeated it several times. Syllogistically:

P1. Knowledge precludes the possibility of error.
P2. If you may not be a sheep, you cannot know you've heard the voice of the Shepherd.
P3. If you cannot know you've heard the voice of the Shepherd, you cannot know which propositions are God-breathed.
P4. If you cannot know which propositions are God-breathed, you cannot know anything.
P5. You may not be a sheep.
C. You don't know anything.

Of course, you cannot even know that you don't know anything - hence I allude to the self-defeating nature from your perspective. But I can know that you don't know anything and that "one can have self-knowledge only after he is regenerated."

"I disagree here. The way you are using the word “belief” means an action. In the phrase “justified true belief”, belief does not mean an action or volition of faith, it means the object of faith.""

Ok. But that just shows that my definition and yours disagree. It doesn't show that my definition is used inconsistently.

Drake Shelton said...

“It seems to me that you are confusing the logical/justificatory/deductive/epistemic order of knowledge with the historic/ontological/experiential order.”

>> I just said that was what you were doing.

“Knowledge of the latter order is deduced by means of the former order, though this is able to be done only if the latter order has occurred (a fact itself which is deduced from the former).”

>>>How do you deduce that Ryan Hedrich has been regenerated from scripture?

“Hence, we know that regeneration (an ontological experience which occurs in history) is necessary for knowledge because that is what is necessarily inferred (deductively, logically, etc.) from the source of knowledge.”

>>>But the scripture only tells us something general about this not particular. It does indeed say that the elect are united to Christ and in him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. But it does not say who the elect are. Second, a precondition for knowledge is not the same thing as an object of knowledge.


“How do you know? You cannot identify the word of God unless you are regenerate.”

>>That is not true. That is Van Tilism. The Scripturalist view is that the image of God in man is rationality which has been damaged but not lost. Felix understood that Paul’s words were divine and he understood what they meant so well that he physically trembled in Acts 24. Lastly again, you are making a precondition for knowledge an object of knowledge.

Drake Shelton said...

“If you don't know that, then your assertions as to what God has or hasn't given to "us" is guesswork.”

>>So what you are saying then is that an unbeliever cannot understand the scriptures and the best he can come away with from reading them is guesswork?

“How can you say "sure" and proceed to make knowledge claims? You don't know what Scripturalism claims because you don't know anything. You can't, unless you know you're a regenerate. I am honestly astonished at your admission of self-defeating skepticism.”


>>I misunderstood what you were saying. After you have fleshed it out some more I would not say “sure”. I deny that regeneration is a precondition for knowledge.

“'is in the post and I've repeated it several times. Syllogistically:”

>>>OK but I have rejected the idea that regeneration is a precondition for knowledge. If that was the case God could not justly condemn the reprobate upon pain of Romans 1:32 “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

Ryan, you are a valuable friend and I don't want our necessarily heated dialogues to exasperate one another. I confess my sinful contentiousness and ask for forgiveness if I have unnecessarily frustrated you. Keep it coming. You are a valuable rod of iron to sharpen myself upon and I don't want to to jeopardize it.

Ryan said...

“How do you deduce that Ryan Hedrich has been regenerated from scripture?”

Why does “Ryan Hedrich has been regenerated” have to be deducible from Scripture? I have not claimed to know “I am Ryan Hedrich.” I have claimed to know “I am regenerate.” I think that follows from

“But the scripture only tells us something general about this not particular. It does indeed say that the elect are united to Christ and in him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. But it does not say who the elect are. Second, a precondition for knowledge is not the same thing as an object of knowledge.”

Consider it this way: suppose, hypothetically, some person A is united to Christ. Titus 1:1 says the elect know the truth which is according to godliness which, from 2 Peter 1:3ff., we can infer to be whatever has been divinely revealed. Agree or disagree? Even if you disagree, I think you would agree that Titus 1:1 requires that the elect know some propostion[s].

That being the case, what do you think “A” knows, and if “A” can neither know “A is regenerate” nor “I am regenerate,” then how can A know?

“That is not true. That is Van Tilism.The Scripturalist view is that the image of God in man is rationality which has been damaged but not lost.”

I do not see where I have contradicted the Scripturalist view. In my TF essay. I noted what Clark did: unregenerates can construct valid arguments; unregenerates cannot construct sound arguments. A sound argument requires true premises. The only sound first principle (the ultimate, axiomatic true premise) is the one which unregenerates reject (1 Corinthians 1-2), preventing them from knowledge; viz. “Scripture comprises the extant extent of divine revelation.” They may pay lip service to some (or even all) of Scripture, but they do not actually believe it. They don’t know anything (not in the philosophical sense, anyways).

“Felix understood that Paul’s words were divine and he understood what they meant so well that he physically trembled in Acts 24.”

That the “knowledge” is related as relatively more exact seems to me to imply a pragmatic rather than epistemic context. His fright can be attributed to what he thought could [probably] be true. For instance, if someone told me my family died, I would be frightened but not know it to be true.

Ryan said...

“Lastly again, you are making a precondition for knowledge an object of knowledge.”

Why is that problematic? How can one claim something to be a precondition for knowledge without its being the case that that something is an object of knowledge?

“So what you are saying then is that an unbeliever cannot understand the scriptures and the best he can come away with from reading them is guesswork?”

No. I am saying that because the unregenerate cannot assent to the fact “Scripture is God-breathed,” they cannot justify any knowledge claim. The relevance is that if you don’t know whether or not you are regenerate, you are admitting you could be unregenerate. And if you could be unregenerate, it could be the case that you cannot justify any knowledge claim. Hence the ineliminability of self-knowledge.

“I deny that regeneration is a precondition for knowledge.”

I have explained why I think it is above. But do you also deny that self-knowledge is a precondition for knowledge?

“If that was the case God could not justly condemn the reprobate upon pain of Romans 1:32 “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.””

Firstly, that those who know and disobey the ordinance of God are worthy of death does not imply those who do not know it are not worthy of death. It could be an a fortiori argument.

You don’t have to apologize for heated discussion with a fellow Christian. I like it. It’s slightly annoying when I feel I need to repeat myself, but I’ve similarly tried people’s patience (yours included, perhaps), so I try not to make a fuss out of it. If you sense I am, just ignore that and don’t worry about hurting my feelings. Lol.

Drake Shelton said...

"I have claimed to know “I am regenerate.”

>>>Hmmm...interesting.

"Consider it this way: suppose, hypothetically, some person A is united to Christ. Titus 1:1 says the elect know the truth which is according to godliness which, from 2 Peter 1:3ff., we can infer to be whatever has been divinely revealed. Agree or disagree?"

>>>Agree

"They may pay lip service to some (or even all) of Scripture, but they do not actually believe it. They don’t know anything (not in the philosophical sense, anyways)."

>>>I think you may be confusing knowledge with union with Christ. The activity of Faith is the point at which union with Christ is made. One goes from understanding to faith. I guess if you said that they don't know anything in the sense that the knowledge has not been written in the heart, it has only been understood by the heart I would agree.

"His fright can be attributed to what he thought could [probably] be true"

>>>Ok, but he thought it could possibly or probably be true only because he first understood what was beign said.

"Why is that problematic? How can one claim something to be a precondition for knowledge without its being the case that that something is an object of knowledge?"

>>Because an experience is not a proposition.

"No. I am saying that because the unregenerate cannot assent to the fact “Scripture is God-breathed,” they cannot justify any knowledge claim."

>>But I thought justify simply meant giving some proposition a logical account, not an experiential one.

"But do you also deny that self-knowledge is a precondition for knowledge?"

>>Your use of knowledge in self knowledge means something different from the ;latyter sue of knowledge. By the former you mean an experience. By the latter a proposition logically deduced from another.

"Firstly, that those who know and disobey the ordinance of God are worthy of death does not imply those who do not know it are not worthy of death."

>>The point of the passage is that all know it. There is no group that doesn't know it. That is why no one has an excuse.

I suppose that I could agree that there are two aspects to knowledge: 1. The realm of propositions logically deduced in a logical real and 2. The activity of those propositions in a man in a chronological realm. I just don't understand the correlation right now.

Drake Shelton said...

In my dialogues with you you seem to be keenly aware of all my writings. If that is so, I'm wondering why you have not given much attention to my writings on the trinity. That is what i get the most attention about from other people and you seem to avoid it. The One person three person issue was one of the biggest if not the biggest issue between clark and van til. I believe I have fleshed out that issue as well as can be:

http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/time-to-edit-those-reformed-confessions/

Clark clearly advocated a Nicene 325 social trinity against the monad view of the Van Tillian post Constantinople 381 construction.

I would have thought you would eat that stuff up but you seem to be non committal on it. What up wid dat? That is like the nuclear warhead issue for our side here man. Every thomist and Van Tillian reformed person I have met runs terrified from the issue and the recent jim dodson (covenanter.org-also swrb writer)exchange was delicious. The guy told me in a recent email, "I did not address you publicly because I sought to win you as a friend. I thought you might well have a genuine concern (I am now sure your concern is legitimate)."

He is probably one of the most learned people in the Reformed community, especially online and he's admitting this stuff.

Ryan said...

“I guess if you said that they don't know anything in the sense that the knowledge has not been written in the heart, it has only been understood by the heart I would agree.”

I am saying they don’t know anything according to the philosophical sense of knowledge I have defined in previous comments as “the belief state in which the possibility of error is precluded.” Because they do not accept divine revelation as their first principle or premise, whatever functions as their alternative will either be false or itself depend on divine revelation. Either way, they cannot “know” what they claim because they do not have recourse to what Scripturalists do.

“Ok, but he thought it could possibly or probably be true only because he first understood what was beign said.”

True. But that does not mean Felix could have justifiably made that knowledge claim. We only know that he understood because it’s been divinely revealed.

“Because an experience is not a proposition.”

“I am regenerate” is. Also, if you agreed with my interpretation of Titus 1:1, I am not sure why you continue to dispute self-knowledge. I think you missed my question: what do you think “A” knows, and if “A” can neither know “A is regenerate” nor “I am regenerate,” then how can A know?

“But I thought justify simply meant giving some proposition a logical account, not an experiential one.”

That’s correct. But since unregenerates cannot assent to the fact “Scripture is God-breathed,” what do you propose as their logical account?

“Your use of knowledge in self knowledge means something different from the ;latyter sue of knowledge. By the former you mean an experience. By the latter a proposition logically deduced from another.”

The only self-knowledge I have referenced in this post is the proposition “I am regenerate.”

“The point of the passage is that all know it. There is no group that doesn't know it. That is why no one has an excuse.

I suppose that I could agree that there are two aspects to knowledge: 1. The realm of propositions logically deduced in a logical real and 2. The activity of those propositions in a man in a chronological realm. I just don't understand the correlation right now. “

I was going to suggest that the knowledge referenced in Romans 1 was different than the philosophical definition I provided above, but I don’t quite follow your alternatives.

“In my dialogues with you you seem to be keenly aware of all my writings. If that is so, I'm wondering why you have not given much attention to my writings on the trinity. That is what i get the most attention about from other people and you seem to avoid it.”

I’m not avoiding it, I just have read your stuff on Nicene Triadology and honestly do not think I could add much to it. It makes sense to me. Unless I am forgetting something, I believe the only disagreement I found between my position and yours was the issue of whether God is free in a non-necessary sense. I think chapter 10ff. of Helm’s book Eternal God solved the dilemmas you presented in an earlier discussion we had. I can loan it to you if you want.

In any case, practically speaking, you know more about Trinitarianism, Christology, and several soteriological and biblical theological issues than I do. My interest primarily lies in philosophical theology; this is not to claim I know more than you do in this field as much as it is to say I would prefer to speak for myself because I feel comfortable doing so, having a particular view of and concerns regarding epistemology I think I can defend and press better than anyone could do for me. On the other hand, I usually do not wade into discussions I feel others are more apt at defending, especially when I can refer them to said others, such as you and the Trinity. I also would prefer to learn Greek and Hebrew before I started firing certain guns. From reading David Waltz’s blog, at least, it seems that it would help.

Drake Shelton said...

I am no doubt asking you to re write somethign you have already written but I am a bit lost in our discussion. Could you then summarize your understanding of the proposition "I am regenerate"? Meaning, could you summarize your understanding of the correlation between the historic/ontological order of knowledge and the epistemic/logical/propositional order of knowledge?

Ryan said...

The logical order refers to the order by which a proposition is demonstrated to be known. For instance, a proposition can be known if it is Scriptural or, more abstractly, divine revealed. In the logical order, some propositions may function as middlemen between a given knowledge claim and the explicitly relevant divine revelation. Propositions which by good and necessary consequence follow from Scripture are just as knowable as explicitly Scriptural propositions.

The historical order simply refers to the order in which events which occur in time (on the B-series view of time events are ordered in the direction of causation). For example, spiritual rebirth presupposes physical conception. The one event follows the other in time.

The distinction is this: while "spiritual rebirth follows physical conception" is a proposition which describes a historical event - that is, it is a fact, the meaning of which relates something about the historical order - it is no different from any other proposition in that it cannot be known unless it has been divinely revealed (implicitly or explicitly; cf. John 3:1-8).

So then, let's the example from my post: "one can have [self-]knowledge only after he is regenerated." Again, this is a fact, the meaning of which relates something about the historical order: viz. just as spiritual rebirth follows physical conception, [self-]knowledge follows regeneration. But, again, it is no different from any other proposition in that it cannot be known unless it has been divinely revealed (cf. 1 Corinthians 1-2).

So much for the difference between the logical and historical orders. Now to explain the reason I think this is relevant to the ineliminability of knowledge of the ego ("I," self, or reflexive knowledge).

Only regenerates can accept divine revelation as such, and unless one can accept divine revelation as such, his epistemic views will reduce to self-defeating skepticism. The import of the syllogism in my earlier post becomes clear: one must know he is regenerate (a sheep). To summarize the syllogism, if you may not be a sheep, you cannot know anything (in the philosophical sense I have already defined); you cannot even know that you cannot know anything. Hence, self-defeating skepticism. So one must [be able to] know he is a regenerate - and this requires knowledge of propositions in which the subject is the ego. The person must be able to know the proposition "I am regenerate." Hence, the ineliminability of knowledge of the ego.

Finally, we come to how the historical and logical order is relevant. You have said that the necessity of one's knowing "I am regenerate" in order to know anything makes my beliefs dependent on experience rather than Scripture. But I am saying that while "I am regenerate" is a proposition which describes a historical event - that is, it is a fact, the meaning of which relates something about the historical order - it is no different from any other proposition in that it cannot be known unless it has been divinely revealed (implicitly or explicitly; cf. Romans 8:14-16 and the last six paragraphs of the original post). The source of knowledge for any proposition is divine revelation, but that fact isn't relevant to the fact that divine revelation itself elsewhere outlines what must first occur in time (regeneration) in order for one to know anything.

Drake Shelton said...

Ryan,

So what you are saying then is that it is deduced from the propositions of scripture that an historical event must precede and make possible knowledge of scripture, ergo, having received a self attestation from the scripture of its truth, the ego becomes self aware, that is aware of its regeneration; it is still a closed system?

Ryan said...

That's it.

Drake Shelton said...

ok. That makes sense. I think you convinced me.

Ryan said...

Cool.

Max said...

Hey Ryan, I can't seem to be able to send you emails!

Anyway, I got a question:

On your blog, have you discussed how we can know the Bible is God's Word if the Biblical books don't contain the prefixes "God said the following"? I know it's an axiomatic assumption, but the Scriptures still don't have those words before the beginning of every biblical book. I thought this was a cool thought.

-Maxim

Ryan said...

Max,

If you were trying to contact me through my yahoo email, it didn't work because I deleted that account. I've updated my email info, so you can try again.

//...have you discussed how we can know the Bible is God's Word if the Biblical books don't contain the prefixes "God said the following"?//

Implicitly, yes. See point 2 in this post on the self-authenticating nature of divine revelation and this post I wrote on regeneration and identification of the canon of Scripture.

Max said...

I think I already know the answer... EVEN IF all the biblical books were prefixed with "God said the following," we STILL could not know whether THAT was true unless God enlightens us... so the only way we know is if God causes us to have the correct assumptions... I see!

Ryan said...

Sure. Any Muslim can lie by saying "God said the following..." Of course, that we are able to show contradictions in what they claim God says is helpful.

Max said...

Hey, it's 2 years in the future. A lot has happened. I've embraced the view of eschatology known as "Full Preterism" - Christ's second coming is a past event. I do not think it is incompatible with Clarkianism.

What is the Scriptural proof for P2? "Until the second coming, Scripture comprises the extent of divine revelation."

BTW my blog is fullpreterism.blogspot.ca

Ryan said...

I haven't studied eschatology myself, but see here:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/04/two-dozen-or-so-orthodox-arguments.html

Max said...

Do you want me to make a response to those arguments on my blog?