Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Scripturalism and Self-Knowledge Revisited


Having recently updated one of what I have argued to be necessary preconditions for knowledge (link), I have been meaning to update another, the necessity of self-knowledge (link), and Sean Gerety’s reference to and rejection of my view here will make for a useful foil. While I agree with Sean that knowledge, opinion, and ignorance are different, how I would categorize some beliefs about oneself would differ from how Sean would. That is, with reference to the class of mortal men, I think some beliefs about oneself can and indeed must be [unmistakably] known. Sean would argue any such beliefs must be opined or possibly erroneous.

Now, despite the title of Sean’s post – Biblical Epistemology 101 – Gordon Clark held that self-knowledge was one of the most complicated philosophical subjects:
The one piece of ignorance that Reymond seems most anxious to press against my view is knowledge of oneself. Self-knowledge has indeed been a philosophical ideal ever since Socrates said, GnĊthi seauton. But it is very difficult. Plotinus’ Enneads, the extreme difficulty of which philosophers all acknowledge, can be understood as a gigantic attempt to achieve self-knowledge. Even those who think the ideal is possible of attainment must wonder whether anyone has succeeded. (Modern Philosophy, pg. 273)
Further, Sean himself has cited John Robbins as saying that while he did not believe self-knowledge is currently attainable, he was open to correction (link). In any case, a dogmatic rejection of self-knowledge is clearly not necessary to be a Scripturalist, let alone to understand the “basics of [Gordon Clark’s] epistemology.” So perhaps Sean rather meant that “not all truth is knowledge” is what is epistemologically basic. But in that case, disagreement as to whether self-knowledge is possible or justifiable does not imply either party has a low understanding of [Clark’s] epistemology, a reckless accusation Sean has made elsewhere (link). This dubiously contrasts with Sean’s own repeated allusions to my placement in two TrinityFoundation essay contests. Then again, Sean has not dealt charitably with me in recent discussions of the Trinity, so when he says the following, I unfortunately can’t even feign surprise:
I would think all this is an obvious and if it’s admitted that we cannot know who God’s elect are, the same applies to us even when we look in the mirror.  Yet, when George Macleod Coghill made this point on a “Clark” Facebook discussion group, even adding that “all knowledge has to be truth, but it is not the case that all truth has to be knowledge,” a number of self-styled “Scripturalists” went bonkers.  Even people like former Trinity Foundation Worldview Contest winner Ryan Hedrich, a young man who claims to be in “broad agreement” with Clark’s epistemological views, if not much else, took issue with Clark’s theory at this point (so much for any “broad agreement). Hedrich said: “I do have true knowledge about myself. ‘I am regenerate’ is a proposition I can and do know.”  Now, admittedly, this is assertion from a young man who has recently come out of the closet rejecting the Trinity and the doctrine of God.  Needless to say I tend to be considerably more skeptical concerning Hedrich’s claim even if I wish I could be more charitable.  Frankly, I find it hard to think of any Christian church that would find Hedrich’s profession of faith credible for membership. The point is, and despite his bravado, unless a person like Hedrich can provide an account for how he arrived at the knowledge of his own regeneration, it appears to me to remain an opinion, and, in this case, one I have little confidence in as should he.  Besides, how can anyone be so arrogant to ignore Paul’s warning to the Corinthians; “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”  I would think that would be enough to humble even a Trinity Foundation Worldview Contest winner.
Firstly, Sean is lying about what statements George made with which I disagreed. I never argued “all truth has to be knowledge.” I argued that Scripturalism can and must be able to account for self-knowledge. Clearly, saying that some truth has to be known does not imply all truth has to be known. For someone who pontificates about basic epistemology, Sean either has a poor grasp of it himself or, what is more likely, is resorting to misrepresentation here as he did in our discussions of the Trinity.

This inference is also justified by Sean’s challenge for me to “provide an account for how he arrived at the knowledge of [my] own regeneration.” Now, I wonder whether Sean is capable of outlining what it means to “provide an account” for truth. What does it mean for true belief to be “justified”? If it simply means to show that one’s knowledge-claim is not capable of being mistaken, I justified [the need for] self-knowledge numerous times in our discussion on facebook. Each time, Sean evaded engaging the argument, though he did take the trouble to “Yawn” once in response. It’s always impressive when a man twice my age acts like a child to those who attempt to have a serious discussion about epistemology and then moralizes on his blog about the need for humility instead of arrogance. Yes, I’m sure anyone would agree that Sean’s references to “mother’s basements,” “witlessness,” and the pejorative nicknames he has delighted in bestowing on me are indicative of the sort man from whom I should take ethical advice seriously. Just the same, as Sean is a self-admitted potential reprobate, I think I will decline. 

The reader will excuse my attempts to turn the subject matter to more serious lines of inquiry, such as what my argument for self-knowledge was. It is actually the same argument I made in one of my comments on my last post on self-knowledge:

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.

P1. is by definition (cf. link). 
P2. and P3. follow from John 8:43-47, 10:1-5, 26, 1 John 4:1-6, etc. Essentially, the point is that only regenerates can know the canon of Scripture (link) because only regenerates can know that they aren’t suppressing God’s self-authenticating and revealed truth in unrighteousness.
P4. is Scripturalism. 

Since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating (link), that leaves P5. as the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity. Excluding P5., I have argued for each of these premises in separate posts. One would think, then, this would warrant some attention from fellow Scripturalists who have every reason to wish to know themselves. Or maybe not. 

Instead, Sean continues to cite Jeremiah 17:9 as if he knows it’s God’s word. Well, he can cite it until the cows come home, but I will give the same reply here as I did when he mentioned it the first half dozen times, at least until he answers my questions: how does he know it is God’s word? Only God’s sheep hear, listen to, and follow His voice. Is Sean a sheep? How do he know? These are questions which require self-knowledge, and answers to them are necessary in order for Sean to know Jeremiah 17:9 is Scripture. Ironically, Sean can’t even begin to use Jeremiah 17:9 to support his argument unless he admits his argument against self-knowledge is false. That is, denial of self-knowledge on the basis of Jeremiah 17:9 presupposes self-knowledge, for otherwise he wouldn’t be able to identify Jeremiah 17:9 as God’s word in the first place. I’m not interested in what Sean’s opinion to the contrary. I would be interested in his knowledge to the contrary.

Moving on, another tactic Sean uses is the argument that since the name “Sean Gerety” can’t be found in Scripture, self-knowledge is impossible. This is obviously question-begging: Sean assumes his name is “Sean.” I never said one’s own individual name can be found in Scripture. But that doesn’t preclude self-knowledge. Knowing “I am regenerate” does not imply I know “Ryan Hedrich is a regenerate.” Remember Sean’s reference to the difference between knowledge and opinion? Why can’t that distinction be applied here? I know I am regenerate. I opine I am Ryan Hedrich. Therefore, I opine Ryan Hedrich is a regenerate. What’s the problem?

I have already been down the road Sean is traveling. I have already tried to construct Scripturalism as an epistemic system from an objective, third-person perspective. It doesn’t work. One must himself be a regenerate to know what God’s word is. One can’t hypothesize what regenerates believe is God’s word, for one cannot know anyone other than himself is regenerate (that we are excluding those explicitly named in Scripture is obvious). Although the above argumentation is sufficient to demonstrate the epistemic need for self-knowledge of one’s own salvific status, there is no harm in explicit Scriptural support:

1 Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

In addition to contravention of Scripture and a self-defeating epistemology, there are other interesting implications which follow from a denial of self-knowledge. To highlight the most amusing ones, Sean may actually agree with my view of the Trinity, or Sean may not even know the difference between knowledge, opinion, and ignorance. He may protest against both of these possibilities, but the problem is that his denial of self-knowledge has in effect prohibited him from stating as fact any proposition which begins with the phrase, “I know...” So Sean can’t say “I know I don’t hold to this or that view of the Trinity.” He can’t say “I know the difference between knowledge, opinion, and ignorance.” Whereas Van Til has no access to God’s thoughts, Sean has no access to his own thoughts. But both are epistemologically critical.

Less humorous is the fact Sean has no possible assurance of his own salvation. He can’t say “I know I’m saved.” No matter what our differences are, that’s sad. He has basically negated the whole purpose of 1 John. John, Paul, Peter, and other authors of the New Testament wrote letters to elect believers in which a chief concern was to impress upon them the knowledge that while they may suffer in this present life, they yet had the knowledge of an imperishable inheritance. They directly addressed these letters to specific churches and even mention specific individuals. The epistles were not written “to whom it may concern.” What point would there have been in these letters if no one could know to whom they applied? If persons can’t even know what they opine, what reason could anyone have to consider himself a Christian? And could that reason be known? Is it not evident such questions demonstrate an infinite regress of groundless opinions?

Little more needs to be said. In the historical order of events, I read and heard Scripture, was regenerated by the Spirit, believed the gospel, and was therefore able to recognize the canon of God’s word according to which, in the epistemic order of justification, I am thereby able to justify philosophic knowledge, including the necessity of these historical events. Whether Sean is deceiving himself with regards to his salvation, I don’t and can’t know. But he is deceiving himself with respect to the possibility of self-knowledge.

188 comments:

Max said...

Great post man, way to brighten up my day. The knowledge in Jeremiah 17:9 could be in reference to the heart's deceitfulness and not the mere existence of the heart. Good job...

Ryan said...

Thanks for the encouragement.

Max said...

How do you interpret the not knowing the stranger's voice in John 10:5? The word "know" there must mean, to act kindly towards or be acquainted with. Anyway, St.Peter says that his readers know something about themselves in 1 Peter 1:17-19.

Ryan said...

"Recognize" would seem to be a suitable synonym. Or as you said, they are not acquainted with Him (cf. 10:26ff.).

Max said...

But an opponent will say that to recognize is not the same as to have knowledge of your recognition.

Ah, I see your point. I know the Bible is God's word, and that statement carries some knowledge about myself also. But can any unbelieving person know the Bible is God's word?

Ryan said...

Not in the philosophic sense, anyway, and that is all I am concerned about.

MikeD said...

It seems to me that your argument proves to much. Namely, that if we replace "You" with "Person X" then we could conclude that all people are His sheep, for they all know something. Of course, I'm not sure you would agree with the premise I inserted there at the end... do you? Do you believe that an unbeliever has no knowledge? I'm not at all convinced this is what Scripturalism teaches. I'll wait for your response before adding more. Thanks.

Ryan said...

"Do you believe that an unbeliever has no knowledge?"

Yes. I don't see how one who agrees with Scripturalism can think otherwise, for no unbeliever reasons from the sole sound axiom, divine revelation.

MikeD said...

Thank you for your time in advance.

Your definition of Scripturalism presupposes that knowledge requires subjective justification, meaning, that the individual must be able to give a valid account of their knowledge, which we both know can only come through scripture. I do not define Scripturalism as such, nor do I think Clark would see it that way. He repeatedly writes that the unregenerate have knowledge, for they must in order to be judged, and they are judged. More importantly, Romans 1 teaches this as do many other scriptures such as John 5:18 where the Pharisees knew that Jesus claimed equality with God. That is, they assented to the proposition that Jesus claimed to be God (fine details of trinitarianism notwithstanding). And this leads me to what I think I understand Scripturalism to be: that God’s creatures can be said to have knowledge only if they assent to understood propositions that are explicitly in Scripture or can be deduced from it. So when an unregenerate Jew assents to, “David was the king of Israel,” because it is in the OT, they have knowledge. But so also does an atheistic archaeologist, who for whatever dumb reason he thinks is valid, assents to the same proposition.

Finally, I guess I don’t see a problem with saying that the unregenerate has some unsaving knowledge, but has no rational account or valid justification for it. Related to this is the example that young children can believe the gospel and know His word, that perhaps their parent taught them, without knowing that that information was God-breathed or even that it came from the Bible. Heck, when asked their reason for repentance and faith, which only the Spirit could cause, they may say that they trust their dad or mom tells them the truth and so believed what they said. Of course, they are not saved through correct opinion. If I misunderstand what JTB is then I’d appreciate a correction. Thanks.

Ryan said...

"Your definition of Scripturalism presupposes that knowledge requires subjective justification, meaning, that the individual must be able to give a valid account of their knowledge, which we both know can only come through scripture."

Philosophic knowledge, yes:

"One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished." - Clark, An Introduction to Christian Philosophy, pg. 90.

But I never denied that knowledge can have more than one meaning.

"God’s creatures can be said to have knowledge only if they assent to understood propositions that are explicitly in Scripture or can be deduced from it."

This is a necessary condition. But when one rejects Scripture or deductions from it, he is in no position to recognize that to which he assents as divine revelation. He has no account. Belief without some sort of justification is opinion, not knowledge, for so far as the individual is concerned, his belief could be mistaken, correctable. Knowledge can't be either.

"So when an unregenerate Jew assents to, “David was the king of Israel,” because it is in the OT, they have knowledge. But so also does an atheistic archaeologist, who for whatever dumb reason he thinks is valid, assents to the same proposition."

It's not about the validity of the arguments, it's about the soundness of them. A valid argument can have a false conclusion.

"Finally, I guess I don’t see a problem with saying that the unregenerate has some unsaving knowledge, but has no rational account or valid justification for it."

That's because you are using a definition of knowledge with which I am not concerned. I have given my reasons why I think the philosophic knowledge I describe is necessary here.

"Of course, they are not saved through correct opinion."

Why not? By the terms of your example, are they not correct in their opinion of the gospel?

MikeD said...

1 of 2

Thanks for the timely response.

“Philosophic knowledge, yes”

I noticed you had used this term earlier. I will be glad to look into the link you provided below, thanks. I agree there are many ways that the word “knowledge” is used, even in Scripture, but then why the category “correct opinion”? Where do we see that in Scripture? Where, in Scripture do we see assent to true propositions called merely correct opinion. Of course we see the refutation of systems of belief because there is no valid account of the true propositions the unregenerate assent to. Perhaps we can find agreement if we call what I call knowledge as “knowledge” and what you call knowledge as “justified knowledge.” But if I’m not mistaken, Clark often spoke against bifurcating knowledge.

"One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished." - Clark, An Introduction to Christian Philosophy, pg. 90.

I’m not sure what the import of this quote is. I agree that it all person’s duty and privilege as being in covenant with God to not have a system with contradictions in it. Only Christians could hope to do this as they account for knowledge from God-breathed propositions. But I think that JTB confuses the Christians task of systematization or the apologetic imperative with the act of subjective knowing.

“This is a necessary condition. But when one rejects Scripture or deductions from it, he is in no position to recognize that to which he assents as divine revelation. He has no account.”

Amen with one caveat, the Jew I mentioned in the case I mentioned is not rejecting Scripture… he’s assenting to it. Is the archaeologist rejecting Scripture or it’s deductions when he assents to the proposition mentioned? I think not, unless you mean as a system or complex of ideas, which is my point exactly.

"Belief without some sort of justification is opinion, not knowledge, for so far as the individual is concerned, his belief could be mistaken, correctable. Knowledge can't be either.”

Again, I look forward to reading the link you provided. Hopefully it demonstrates why justification is necessary for knowledge, or what you call philosophic knowledge, and from Scripture too. But I do think that there is a confusion about subjective certainty (from your “as far as the individual is concerned”) and the objective truth of a matter. For example, as I understand it, you are a paedobaptist (forgive me if I’m wrong). Would you call your assent to those doctrines knowledge or merely correct opinion? If the former, you must also agree that there’s no possibility of correction… is that the case?

MikeD said...

2 of 2

“It's not about the validity of the arguments, it's about the soundness of them. A valid argument can have a false conclusion.:

I’ll grant you that, but a sound argument must have a true conclusion. For example,
(P1) The OT is inspired of God and therefore inerrant,
(P2) The OT teaches that David was the king of Israel, therefore
(C) The teaching that David was the king of Israel is true.

And all that knowledge from an unregenerate Jew!

“That's because you are using a definition of knowledge with which I am not concerned. I have given my reasons why I think the philosophic knowledge I describe is necessary here.”

Fair enough, but I think my definition fits better with the way the word is most often used in Scripture, for I believe that Romans 1 is propositional knowledge? Out of curiosity, do you hold that it is propositional knowledge but not philosophic knowledge?

“Why not? By the terms of your example, are they not correct in their opinion of the gospel?”

Your objection holds for any proposition you call knowledge as well for do you not have a correct opinion of the gospel? Perhaps I should have said that they are not saved by merely correct opinion, for eternal life is to know God, not to opine of Him. All who have the faith that justifies have knowledge, but this is not the case of the converse.

Ryan said...

"...why the category “correct opinion”? Where do we see that in Scripture?"

If you are asking about the actual phrase, I retort by asking where we find "Trinity" in Scripture. If you are asking where we can find the concept, it's an inference. Can you philosophically know a person by his fruits? No. But such evaluation can lead to a correct opinion.

"Perhaps we can find agreement if we call what I call knowledge as “knowledge” and what you call knowledge as “justified knowledge.”"

The field of epistemology is not a field about belief states which are merely opined. Your use is even less colloquial than mine, something I had not thought was possible :)

"I’m not sure what the import of this quote is."

How do you distinguish [correct] opinion from your understanding of knowledge? Or do you?

"I think that JTB confuses the Christians task of systematization or the apologetic imperative with the act of subjective knowing."

I think you confuse the act of knowing with the act of believing something which is incidentally rather than justifiably true. I could be wrong.

"Amen with one caveat, the Jew I mentioned in the case I mentioned is not rejecting Scripture… he’s assenting to it."

The concept of the canon is a complex issue because it is related to the epistemic justification of axioms or presuppositions, but I don't think your example affects my case. My question regarding Jews is, for what reason do they accept the OT but not the NT? Essentially, I see this as little different than Clark's point regarding the neo-orthodox who refer to Scripture as containing rather than itself being God's word. Cherry picking what one wishes to be the word of God and suppressing the rest is subjective and arbitrary. Again, this is not compatible with philosophic knowledge.

"Is the archaeologist rejecting Scripture or it’s deductions when he assents to the proposition mentioned? I think not, unless you mean as a system or complex of ideas, which is my point exactly."

Okay. But does anyone operate without an implicit philosophic system? Everyone has presuppositions, right? If those presuppositions are unsound, then the ground on which they supposedly reasoned to their acceptance in a given proposition is undercut. I don't see how such beliefs can therefore be equated with knowledge.

Ryan said...

"Again, I look forward to reading the link you provided. Hopefully it demonstrates why justification is necessary for knowledge..."

To clarify, I don't deny you can use a string of letters to refer to something other than what I do. For us to agree, there must be univocal correspondence at some point. Fortunately, it seems like we are merely quibbling over the meaning of one word. But it is the meaning of "philosophic knowledge" with which I am concerned, for I think this meaning is a belief state with cannot be denied without absurdity.

"If the former, you must also agree that there’s no possibility of correction… is that the case?"

No. I am not as dogmatic on paedobaptism as I am on these epistemic issues.

"I’ll grant you that, but a sound argument must have a true conclusion.

(P1) The OT is inspired of God and therefore inerrant,
(P2) The OT teaches that David was the king of Israel, therefore
(C) The teaching that David was the king of Israel is true.

And all that knowledge from an unregenerate Jew!"

You will not corner me so easily :) For as I alluded to above, these [axiomatic?] premises are also in need of justification. Epistemology is a systematic enterprise. I don't believe Jews have a epistemic system which can stand on two feet.

"Out of curiosity, do you hold that it is propositional knowledge but not philosophic knowledge?"

Yes. And if it turns out that Scriptural usage is closer to your meaning than mine, that does not much matter, for I can simply qualify what I mean - as I am presently doing.

"Your objection holds for any proposition you call knowledge as well for do you not have a correct opinion of the gospel?"

To be sure - but the difference is my belief is not mere opinion.

"Perhaps I should have said that they are not saved by merely correct opinion, for eternal life is to know God, not to opine of Him. All who have the faith that justifies have knowledge, but this is not the case of the converse."

Given your understanding of knowledge, this is a fair point.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sharpening... it's been stimulating and helpful.

MikeD said...

"Anonymous" was me.

MikeD said...

Ryan,

I'm trying to get a better hold on P4. Could you please reword it as its logical equivalent, the contrapositive. I'm struggling with what the negations of antecedent and consequent would be, especially the negation of "You cannot know anything"

Thanks

Ryan said...

P4. If you cannot know which propositions are God-breathed, you cannot know anything.

Contrapositive: If a proposition cannot be known, then that proposition has not been God-breathed (= divinely revealed).

MikeD said...

If I'm not mistaken the contrapositive (CP) of A->B is ~B->~A. That is, the new antecedent is the old consequent negated and vice versa. I'm having trouble understanding your negations which are as follows:

"You cannot know which propositions are God-breathed" is negated to be "that proposition has not been God-breathed."

The problem here seems to be that you have an individual knowing in the original but that concept is lost in the CP. So "knowing" is negated in one and "God-breathed" is negated in the other.

and

"You cannot know anything" is negated to be "a proposition cannot be known."

Here knowing is negated in both but this cannot be in the CP. That is, they basically seem the same rather than negations of each other. I was asking because I would have thought you would have said the negation here is something like "you can know something," but I wasn't sure.

Of course, you are under no obligation to give it a shot again, but unless going nuts this is not the CP.

Ryan said...

Let me try again:

P4. If you cannot know which propositions are God-breathed, [then] you cannot know anything.

Contrapositive: If you cannot not-know anything, then you cannot not-know which propositions are God-breathed.

Or, if you must [be able to] know something, then you must [be able to] know which propositions are God-breathed - viz., any and all of those propositions which you know.

MikeD said...

Very helpful, thanks. I'm not too hip to the ins and outs of modal logic, but I see it on the horizon here. I'm wondering what it means that one "must be able to know something." Perhaps, "have been made to know by an omnipotent being" or "it is impossible to not-know at least one proposition," or even "it is undeniably true that a given person knows a truth." I would think that the spirit of the original P1-P5 had in mind something more like, "If one is able to know at least one proposition, then one must know which propositions are God-breathed."

Ryan said...

Yes. A main point is to condemn skepticism as self-defeating, so knowledge is always implicitly claimed, if not actually possessed.

Anonymous said...

Is p4 known in the philosophical sense? Please demonstrate. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

How do you know that you have heard the voice of the shepherd?
you wrote
"Little more needs to be said... [I] believed the gospel"

How do you know that you believed the gospel? are any of these philosophical knowledge? Please demonstrate. Thanks.

Ryan said...

"Is p4 known in the philosophical sense? Please demonstrate. Thanks."

Yes. It follows from several premises:

1) there are no omniscient beings except the members of the Trinity;
2) the only communication we have from these beings that is in our possession is Scripture;
3) partial knowledge is possible only if one has received self-authenticating communication from a person or persons who are omniscient.

"How do you know that you have heard the voice of the shepherd?"

Is the emphasis of your question on the aspect of self-knowledge - that I in particular have heard - or on the source of what I have heard is - that who I have heard from is, in fact, the shepherd? If the first:

1 Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

If the second, the voice of the shepherd is self-authenticating.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply
I asked *how* not *what*. Let it be true your spirit does the knowing (which is all you can derive from the adduced Scripture) *how* do you know was my question.
Please demonstrate.

Please clarify/logically reduce 2) and 3) -I don't want to misinterpret what you intend.

As it stands, the way you wrote 2) above is Only A is B which is All b is A
3) above is A only if B which is A is (implies) B

translated:

All scripture is [communication,etc..]
all knowledge is [communication, etc..]

and the logical form turns out to be AAA-2 invalid

Thanks!

Ryan said...

When you ask "how" I know, are you not looking for what justifies my knowledge claim? If not, you'll have to explain what it is you are looking for.

To be honest, I couldn't follow your translations of what I said. To try to clarify, the only communication we have from omniscient beings that is in our possession is Scripture. No other communication from the only omniscient persons in existence is in our possession. But it turns out that in order for we, partial knowers, to know anything, we must be able to ground it, our knowledge, on self-authenticating communication from a person or persons who are omniscient. Scripture alone fits the bill because Scripture alone comprises the extant extent of communication from omniscient beings. This gives us:

P4. If you cannot know which propositions are God-breathed (= communicated from one who is omniscient), you cannot know anything.

Anonymous said...

Again, Thanks for the reply.
Let me try this: the verse you adduced as 'justification' (I think you meant it that way?) justifies the belief that the spirit in man does the knowing. It does not justify any belief on how a spirit comes to know, neither does it justify the belief I heard the voice of the Shepherd, or the belief that I believed [the Gospel]. I'm looking for the demonstration that grounds/justifies your belief that you believed [the Gospel] such that said belief then becomes philosphical knowledge.

As for the syllogism, I will take it that you meant that only Scripture is communication. OK. In this case I would proceed by asking for a demonstration of 3) - you wrote, "But it turns out that in order for we, partial knowers, to know anything, we must be able to ground it, our knowledge, on self-authenticating communication from a person or persons who are omniscient." From where does that "turn out" - what is the demonstration that "turns it out"?
Thanks for your patience and reply only at your leisure - have a great day :)

Ryan said...

Answering the last question first:

"From where does that "turn out" - what is the demonstration that "turns it out"?"

I've written about that quite a bit on this blog. See here:

http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2013/06/hegelian-internal-relations-and-van.html

and here:

http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-precondition-of-omniscient-person.html

and here:

http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2013/07/gordon-clark-on-problem-of-partial.html

for my more recent conveyances. Briefly, the only means of avoiding the implications of Hegelian internal relations - which would require us to know everything in order to know anything, since we allegedly cannot know anything apart from its context (which turns out to be everything) - is to posit an omniscient person (or persons) who knows that this doctrine is false and has communicated it to us in such a way that it is self-justifying that the communicator is, in fact, omniscient (i.e. self-authentication).

"It does not justify any belief on how a spirit comes to know, neither does it justify the belief I heard the voice of the Shepherd, or the belief that I believed [the Gospel]. I'm looking for the demonstration that grounds/justifies your belief that you believed [the Gospel] such that said belief then becomes philosphical knowledge."

Ah. But I would say the demonstration is in the original post:

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.

A friend of mine was having trouble with the same thing until I put the matter like this (continued in the next comment):

Ryan said...

//If self-knowledge is necessary, knowledge currently comes from Scripture alone, and belief in the gospel is the means by which one can determine whether he has been regenerated (though historically, regeneration precedes such belief), you can and in fact must assume for the sake of argument that the Spirit has regenerated you and compare what you think with what Scripture teaches. If your views line up with the gospel, there is nothing more you need to do to justify your assumption that “I know I am regenerate.” And epistemically, the assumption you make isn’t arbitrary. It’s necessary. It’s the conclusion to the prior preconditions of knowledge informed by Scripture, the sufficient first principle.

Self-knowledge is a precondition for knowledge because one must know one is regenerate to know he isn't suppressing truths regarding the canon of Scripture. If nothing else is said - if no other Scripture is cited than John 10 - from this it would follow that it must be the case that self-knowledge is compatible with Scripturalism. Indeed, as the rejection of it has been reduced to absurdity, Scripturalism must be compatible with self-knowledge. The burden of proof is on our opponent's to say why it is not compatible.

Now, I must be a regenerate to know that I am not "suppressing truths regarding the canon of Scripture" - so "I am a regenerate" is a precondition for knowledge - but likewise, there is no necessary reason why we cannot assume this to be true too. Again, the assumption is not arbitrary - it is a recognized precondition for knowledge. This is compatible with Scripturalism, and, in fact, we can verify it by comparing what we believe the gospel is to what Scripture states the gospel is. For with respect to humans, regenerates and regenerates alone necessarily believe the gospel.

All of this epistemic order of reasoning indeed presupposes that the historical order I mentioned in my last email has actually occurred. But if the actual occurrence of those events is a precondition for knowledge, so be it...

I can assume I'm unregenerate for the sake of argument, I can assume I can't know anything about myself or about my regenerative status in particular, etc., but as each of these assumptions can be reduced to absurdity, what logically follows is that I must be able to know "I am a regenerate." Such is compatible with Scripture, so there is no reason to suppose it false. Indeed, it must be true that I know I am a regenerate because all else fails. The mistake is to think this is insufficient without explicit Scriptural support when, in fact, the previous sentences constitute Scriptural support insofar as Scripture accounts for principles of logic.

Now, Scripture says all regenerates are believers. So as a matter of consistency, it must of course be the case that my beliefs about the gospel must align with what Scripture says the gospel is. I can compare these two for verification to confirm the historical order has actually occurred, and this comparison is possible because I am operating on the [necessary] presupposition (perhaps "assumption" gives a false connotation of what I mean) that "I am a regenerate" is necessarily true.//

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. You are gracious. You are also a great writer. But you bite off way more than I can chew - so I will only take small chunks. Please be patient.

So, do you or do you not have a deduction from Scriptures (I did not say these were explicitly in Scriptures) justifying:

3),

p4,

I know I have believed,

"in fact [you] must assume for the sake of argument that the Spirit has ,regenerated you and compare what you think with what Scripture teaches. If your views line up with the gospel, there is nothing more you need to do to justify your assumption that “I know I am regenerate”,

"knowledge currently comes from Scripture alone",

"all regenerates are believers"

Thanks!

Ryan said...

Let's try this:

"If you cannot know which propositions are God-breathed, you cannot know anything."

Imagine a circle. Everything inside this circle is what you claim to know. You admit you are ignorant of everything outside of this circle because you presumably admit you are not omniscient. You are a partial knower.

Here's the problem: what if you can't know the things that are INSIDE the circle unless you also know everything that is OUTSIDE it? How do you account for that possibility without denying that partial knowledge is possible, i.e. without requiring that you yourself be omniscient?

If you try to come up with an answer which doesn't require you to rely on anything or anyone else, you will always be left in ignorance of whether what you have left outside your circle could impact what is inside it, because there always will be an outside of which you are ignorant.

So there's only one solution: someone who is omniscient - who knows everything inside and outside the circle - must tell you that you don't necessarily need to know what is outside the circle in order to know what is inside the circle.

That doesn't mean everything inside the circle is right; you might think you know things that on further evaluation turn out to be false. But this does allow in principle for the possibility of even having a circle, i.e. partial knowledge.

So inside all of our (partial knowers') circles - yours, mine, atheists, etc. - is an implicit knowledge claim, namely that we have received communication from a person or persons who are omniscient.

So right now, we have "If you cannot know which propositions are communicated from a person or persons who are omniscient, you cannot know anything."

This doesn't explain who it is that has communicated to us. Is it the God of the Bible? Islam? Who? I say the God of the Bible, you seem to want to know how I know that. The answer is that Scripture is self-authenticating. It is what it claims to be, and we're justified in believing that for no other reason than that it's true.

I'm not sure if you are familiar with foundationalism, but basically, the idea is that we can't keep asking "how do you know?" forever without coming to some basic belief that doesn't require a further premise. I can elaborate if necessary on why I think this is logical. The foundationalist thinks, though, that the truth of his foundational, axiomatic proposition is itself sufficient reason for his belief. (continued...)

Ryan said...

Given that everything we know must be sourced in revelation or communication from one who is omniscient, this brings up an interesting point: how do we know that one who claims to be omniscient is, in fact, omniscient? The answer must be that we know it by the very revelation or communication from one who is omniscient. It turns out that we must consider this communication to be self-authenticating - our first principle or axiom or foundation - in order to know anything.

All of this is an informal justification of "If you cannot know which propositions are God-breathed, you cannot know anything." Again, given that the Trinity alone are omniscient, the Trinity can each be referred to as God, that Scripture alone is what has been communicated to us by them, and that what we can know must come from one who is omniscient, the conclusion follows.

You might ask how we engage with others who claim the same thing for their own allegedly omniscient gods. But note that this is a different question. You are asking how I know God is omniscient. The answer is He has told me through self-authenticating communication. This communication also warns against false gods. This answers the question of knowledge.

But what of the separate question of apologetics? Are we at an impasse? Is everyone left with his own omniscient communicator without any common method of counter-argumentation? No, because the content of our different claimed sources of knowledge (e.g. Scripture vs. the Koran) also differ, and in this way we can internally critique others to show how they fail on their own grounds as well as ours.

I'll answer your question on self-knowledge in the next comment.

Ryan said...

Nevermind. I see that 3) and p4 refer to pretty much the same thing and that I answered the question of self-knowledge in my last post.

Anonymous said...

Again, thanks. I appreciate your time and effort and patience. I usually am brief - so please forgive the length of this post.

What you say, you say quite well - but please look at my posts - indeed I am calling to you from within that circle, crying out for you to show me where in that circle are the beliefs/propositions you adduced as knowledge. I admit I am getting nervous that perhaps they are not in that circle.

let's take one such:
You said that you know you believed. If I read you correctly, much depends on that knowledge.
I ask your patience as I flesh it out:

let P be the axiom - Clark's axiom was Only the Bible is God's Word, that is, All God's Word is the Bible (this comports with what I took to be your premise that I corrected previously viz Only Scripture is communication -extant of course, that is, All communication is Scripture). How does a man come to choose the axiom? Clark said that answer has to come from within the circle (to use your picture) - thus Clark adduces Scriptures demonstrating the Holy Spirit causes a man to believe P. And then Clark says you can go on to deduction, etc...

[Aside: Clark gave a cause, from Scriptures no less, but you add - nicely - that there is also justification for believing P: self-authentication. The self-authentication that comes from a true proposition communicated from an Omniscient Being. John Robbins taught this as well and I'm glad to pay respects at this moment to both men. Despite my own miserable failings I will always admit they were giants in this dark world of lesser men.]

So far we have
I believe P
and that belief is justified, since P is true, since P's within the circle (its the axiom), since P was caused in you by God, since it's self-authenticating, etc... Cool. so let it be true also that
I know P

but wait....you make a new and different claim:
I know [I believe P] -
since knowing involves believing so, and please allow me, your claim can be reduced to
I believe [I believe P]
and I have asked where in the circle does this higher order belief receive justification such that it becomes knowledge? Since this new belief does not have the axiom as its object, nor is the object self-authenticating as is the axiom, I was hoping you could deduce it from within the circle so as to demonstrate that it indeed was a deliverance of the Omniscient Being. I admit I have not been able to do it (among many others unfortunately).
[aside: John Robbins admitted a corollary which, interestingly, is quite pertinent to the Scripture you adduced previously - John admitted he could not know he was a man since he could not make the deduction. Oh my - were you there for that admission? I was and man did it startle his interlocutors. It also satisfied them - at least on that point. Good times...Good times..] Alas, if you cannot make the deductions then my nervousness may get the better of me. Sadly, a harsh dilemma may be in your future, but let's put that aside for now - I have hope -that's why I call out from within the circle.

Thanks!
PS sorry for the flowery language.....but your circle is very creative/inspiring I must say! Bravo.

Ryan said...

"I have asked where in the circle does this higher order belief receive justification such that it becomes knowledge?"

Looking back at your last post, I seem to have misread you. So you want to know "I know I have believed" as well as p4 and 3)? I had thought the quotes you cited after that and the thanks at the end was an indication you understood how the email I posted was relevant to the answer of that question, which was why I didn't bother to respond further on that point.

Self-knowledge is another topic I have addressed quite frequently on this blog. Type in "self-knowledge" in the top left to read it. If your nerves still are getting the better of you after what I have said and will say in the following, maybe it will come as a comfort to see that Clark seemed to accept it:

http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2013/05/clark-on-self-knowledge.html

Clark takes the simple route:

//But the most crushing refutation of skepticism comes when Augustine asks his opponent, Do you know that you exist? If he so much as hears the question, there can be no doubt about the answer. No one can be in doubt as to his own existence. “We both have a being, know it, and love both our being and knowledge. And in these three no false appearance can ever deceive us. For we do not discern them as things visible, by sense…. I fear not the Academic arguments on these truths that say, ‘What if you err?’ If I err, I am. For he that has no being cannot err, and therefore my error proves my being.” Thus in the immediate certainty of self-consciousness a thinker has contact with being, life, mind, and truth.//

My aim is to take the a step further. Now, you say:

"Since this new belief does not have the axiom as its object, nor is the object self-authenticating as is the axiom, I was hoping you could deduce it from within the circle so as to demonstrate that it indeed was a deliverance of the Omniscient Being."

As an aside, if I did so, would it not mean the belief has the axiom as its object?

At any rate, if I can show why I must be able to account for self-knowledge in order to avoid self-defeating skepticism, I have as good as shown how. Agreed? In other words, I think we should accept self-knowledge for the same reason that we accept logical principles - we must presuppose them in any argument against them.

In the case of logical principles, this is perhaps more obvious. Every statement we make, to have meaning, must mean something definite... which also means it cannot mean something else. An objection, to even be an objection, must be meaningful. It must adhere to logical laws. So we can reduce to absurdity one who opposes logical principles. (continued)

Ryan said...

Likewise, we can reduce to absurdity one who denies self-knowledge. As I said in the original post:

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.

As I said earlier:

"Self-knowledge is a precondition for knowledge because one must know one is regenerate to know he isn't suppressing truths regarding the canon of Scripture."

If say that it is possible that I am not a regenerate, I would be allowing for the possibility that I've suppressed what has been communicated to me. Obviously, just because what communication we have received from an omniscient person is self-authenticating doesn't imply that everyone will accept it as such. There is a moral element involved. But as I said a little later:

"I can assume I'm unregenerate for the sake of argument, I can assume I can't know anything about myself or about my regenerative status in particular, etc., but as each of these assumptions can be reduced to absurdity, what logically follows is that I must be able to know "I am a regenerate." Such is compatible with Scripture, so there is no reason to suppose it false. Indeed, it must be true that I know I am a regenerate because all else fails. The mistake is to think this is insufficient without explicit Scriptural support when, in fact, the previous sentences constitute Scriptural support insofar as Scripture accounts for principles of logic."

To give a bird's-eye view of how I justify knowledge that "I am regenerate," then, I start with my first principle, Scripture. Scripture is the source of knowledge. But this source of knowledge says something about the history of events which led to my being able to know anything. Namely, it says that in order for one to have come to know Scripture as God's word (the voice of the shepherd), he must have been regenerated. If I don't posit myself as regenerate, I can't necessarily know Scripture is God's word. And if I can't know that, I can't know anything. I would be reduced to absurdity unless I know that I am regenerate.

Obviously, I have been regenerated long before any of these questions came up. And so I understand that there is sometimes confusion between the actual history of events in my life and the justification of how I know what has occurred in history. But hopefully that clarifies things.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply -
sorry for long pause - at this time of year work and family consume most of my time. Thanks for your patience.

Before we go on, let me ask you: based on and just on Augustine's argument/what Augustine says (and following Clark's comments there as well), can or does (or both) the skeptic know he exists? can or does (or both) the skeptic have self-knowledge?

Thanks

Ryan said...

I think not, though some other Clarkians disagree with me. I don't think unbelievers know anything in the philosophical, infallibilistic sense.

For one thing, a truth can be indubitable yet rejected. For another, for a true belief to count as knowledge, one has to hold it for the right reasons. Accidental true beliefs aren't knowledge. Ultimately, this involves holding to the right axiom or axioms, i.e. because God has revealed it.

Also, one can't know a single truth in isolation. A [claimed] knowledge of one proposition implies [claimed] knowledge of others. It's possible for a truth to be indubitable yet mutually dependent on other truths (e.g. laws of logic, principle of language, etc). Some of these truths are what I call necessary conditions for knowledge; they are things which can be recognized by us as having to be true in order for knowledge to be possible. Not that one must accept them as true in order to know, for the axiom or axioms alone are fundamental for one to be able to account for knowledge. But in apologetics, being able to show that one's axiom can account for these necessary truths is useful. Self-knowledge is one such truth, for the alternative reduces to absurdity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

Unfortunately I did not ask what you think. So, please, answer my question.

Thanks again for your patience,

Anonymous said...

P2premise "If you may not be a sheep"

reduced logically and with an eye to both the great Augustine and Dr. Robbins, is:

P2premise: "I am either a non-believer of the Gospel or a believer of the Gospel"

Now such is an indubitable truth and as such an object of knowledge. Now, let's say that a believer of the Gospel believes P2premise, and hence knows P2premise. But alas the believer who asserts P2premise by the syllogism you propose knows nothing. This is absurd.
This amounts to a reductio of your syllogism since a believer who asserts what he certainly knows is now said to know nothing - despite the fact he certainly knows P2premise.

Thanks for your patience,

Ryan said...

"Unfortunately I did not ask what you think. So, please, answer my question."

If I didn't answer your question, that should indicate you need to make your question clearer to me. Otherwise I'm still in the dark as to what you're after. Are you asking me to disregard the philosophical context in which Clark's and Augustine's quotes are found?

"Now, let's say that a believer of the Gospel believes P2premise, and hence knows P2premise."

What? Where did the "hence" come from?

Non-basic beliefs have to be grounded on the right source in order to be known. The point of P2 is to posit the logical possibility that I am unregenerate. That is assumed. The assumption is shown to be reducible to absurdity because 1) only regenerates know the canon of God's word and 2) only by grounding knowledge claims on God's word can a partial knower know anything. Unregenerates don't have this capacity. So to say it's possible that I am unregenerate is to admit it's possible I don't know the canon of God's word and therefore possible I am incorrectly grounding my knowledge claims. This reduces to absurdity; hence the need to know I am regenerate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply

Let me address it this way:
Mr. R is a regenerate believer of the Gospel. He studies the Bible and comes to believe that Peter denied Christ three times. As it turns out, Mr. R does not know (in the philosophical sense) that he is a believer of the Gospel.

My question is - does Mr. R know that Peter denied Christ three times?

Thanks

Ryan said...

Yes.

Anonymous said...

Wait, did you say "yes"?

I'm confused - I thought you said that self-knowledge (specifically knowing that one is a believer/regenerate) was a necessary (if insufficient) condition - a precondition - of knowledge. Without which you cannot know anything.

Mr. R does *not* have this self-knowledge - doesn't that disqualify him (on your theory) from knowing anything, since as far as he knows (philosophical sense), he may or may not be regenerate?

Ryan said...

//Now, it is clear one cannot reject that or those principle[s] which suffice for knowledge yet still possess knowledge, at least given said principle[s] alone suffice[s]. But I think one can reject a necessary principle yet possess knowledge. Why? Because he may simply be being inconsistent; that is, it may be the case that from what he accepts as sufficient follows the necessary principle[s] but that the person does not realize it. If upon a logical examination of a worldview itself the necessary principles would be compatible with it, then the possibility that one might erroneously reject said principles would not mitigate against his worldview and, thus, what he has actually derived from it.

So when I refer to a “necessary precondition for knowledge,” what I mean is a proposition which must be accountable within a worldview for it to be true. The laws of logic, a philosophy of language, an omniscient source, self-knowledge, etc., must be necessarily possible for Scripturalism as such to be true, though individual Scripturalists really only need to hold to the sufficient condition - divine revelation in general and the Bible (as the extant extent of divine revelation) in particular - by which these propositions may be justified in order to possess knowledge.//

http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2013/02/necessary-and-sufficient-conditions-for.html

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply.
if in order to know anything, one must know that oneself is a believer/regenerate, then if one does not know that oneself is (thru rejection,ignorance, etc...) then one does not know anything. If A implies B, then not-B implies not-A.
Your own quotes as to the necessity of knowing that one is a believer in order to know anything:
"So to say it's possible that I am unregenerate is to admit it's possible I don't know the canon of God's word and therefore possible I am incorrectly grounding my knowledge claims. This reduces to absurdity; hence the need to know I am regenerate."
"If I don't posit myself as regenerate, I can't necessarily know Scripture is God's word. And if I can't know that, I can't know anything. I would be reduced to absurdity unless I know that I am regenerate."
"Self-knowledge is a precondition for knowledge because one must know one is regenerate to know he isn't suppressing truths regarding the canon of Scripture."
These could be multiplied.
If a necessary condition requires you to know that you are a believer/regenerate in order to know anything, well then that condition had better be met or you know nothing.
Unless of course you wish to say that knowing oneself is a believer is *not* a necessary condition.
btw Thanks for the conversation and Happy Thanksgiving.

Ryan said...

It's necessary in the sense that one can know it and must [be able to] know it in order for his worldview to hold up to apologetic scrutiny. But it's not necessary to know it in order to know anything. If things I've said in this conversation conflict with this, it's probably because I have been speaking conversationally and so imprecisely on some points.

Anonymous said...

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving,

OK, so, (previously) regenerated believer Mr. R knows Peter denied Christ three times (in the philosophical sense) without having to know (in the philosophical sense) that he is a believer. Good.

But if he doesn't know (in the philosophical sense) that he is a believer*, and let's say Mr. R is an avid reader of Clark, and reads what Clark says in "Language and Theology" and "Speaks from the Grave" about Jer 17:9, self-knowledge, question-begging, and "judging a credible profession as opposed to claiming to know" isn't it possible for Mr. R. to accept/assent/entertain (however weakly) the opinion (the doubt as it were) that possibly he may not be a believer? And let's say he briefly does entertain the doubt,

Does it follow at that moment that he does not know (in the philosophical sense) Peter denied Christ three times?

Thanks,

*he also does not know (in the philosophical sense) that he is a non-believer

Anonymous said...

sorry for the multiples

the little "prove you're not a robot" thingy seems to have malfunctioned...

Ryan said...

Yes, it is possible that he can entertain the possibility that he is not a believer. Assurance of salvation is not a prerequisite for knowledge.

No, it does not follow that "he does not know Peter denied Christ three times."

Anonymous said...

"Yes, it is possible that he can entertain the possibility that he is not a believer."
I suppose also that he could entertain the possibility that he is not a sheep? But what about the syllogism?
"If say that it is possible that I am not a regenerate, I would be allowing for the possibility that I've suppressed what has been communicated to me" and ultimately the syllogism concludes that such a one cannot know anything.
The reductio ought to result in Mr. R not knowing anything thus forcing him to admit that he has to know he was regenerate in order to know anything; yet you just admitted that even in entertaining such notions he still has knowledge.
What then exactly is the force of the syllogism?
Thanks for your clarifications,

Ryan said...

As I said in what I quoted from another link, the force of the reductio is that it proves a person who denies self-knowledge is simply being inconsistent. But that doesn't suggest that all of one's beliefs need to be consistent in order to know anything.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again,

"the force of the reductio is that it proves a person who denies self-knowledge is simply being inconsistent."

Well, not "self-knowledge" in general - it is knowing that one is a sheep/believer/regenerate.
That means that "person" here is a regenerate (since its not inconsistent for an unregenerate to deny that he knows he is a sheep).
Also I think "denies" is too strong a word. Someone may just not have the knowledge (as our Mr. R) and may entertain the possibility that he is not a sheep. No need to "deny" at all.
But then, what is the inconsistency?
How is it inconsistent for a regenerate to deny that he knows that he is regenerate - unless, of course, he also affirms that he does know it?

-I do owe you a reply on Augustine above:

Augustine countered skepticism by giving examples of certain knowledge -as you point out - that are termed intellectual intuitions. The one you select is nice:

“We both have a being, know it, and love both our being and knowledge. And in these three no false appearance can ever deceive us. For we do not discern them as things visible, by sense…. I fear not the Academic arguments on these truths that say, ‘What if you err?’ If I err, I am. For he that has no being cannot err, and therefore my error proves my being.” Thus in the immediate certainty of self-consciousness a thinker has contact with being, life, mind, and truth.

Knowing that one exists is a sure intellectual intuition; self-authenticating truth, well grounded in the immediate certainty of self-consciousness as Clark puts it. Augustine even adds an argument for good measure.
What I'd point out is that this example of knowledge is not conditioned on regeneracy. Both believer and unbelieving skeptic can have (cannot escape) this knowledge on the same grounds and with the same certainty. And to top it off, this is an example of self-knowledge. Augustine does not refute skepticism by claiming one must be regenerate in order to know anything - no - he refutes it by pointing to (self)knowledge even an unbeliever skeptic can (cannot help but) share in. Good strong (self)knowledge. "Crushing" is the word Clark used correct?

On the flip side - just how can a regenerate know that he exists on your view? Can't be the way Augustine goes simply because his way does not favor regenerates over unregenerates -the knowledge is for both. Whatever you reply, just remember you're against Augustine and Clark here - look at your quote again in context. Regeneracy is not in view. Immediate certainty of self-consciousness is.

Thanks,

Ryan said...

"That means that "person" here is a regenerate (since its not inconsistent for an unregenerate to deny that he knows he is a sheep)."

An unregenerate's affirmation of a truth that precludes knowledge still leads to inconsistency. For either he denies that the affirmation precludes knowledge, which is false, or he accepts it and then admits he cannot know anything, which is self-defeating.

"How is it inconsistent for a regenerate to deny that he knows that he is regenerate - unless, of course, he also affirms that he does know it?"

Because only a regenerate can know anything. To entertain otherwise is to entertain an inconsistent view.

Again, I must say I think you are being a little too picky with what words I'm using. The central point should be pretty clear, and you seem smart enough to make deductions from that on your own.

"What I'd point out is that this example of knowledge is not conditioned on regeneracy. Both believer and unbelieving skeptic can have (cannot escape) this knowledge on the same grounds and with the same certainty... On the flip side - just how can a regenerate know that he exists on your view?"

Remember that earlier in the conversation I said my aim was to take this argument a step further. I did that by noting 1) that our knowledge must be sourced in communication from one who is omniscient and 2) that the actual communication from one who is omniscient entails that one must be regenerate in order to be able to know that it is what claims to be: the omniscient, self-authenticating, canonical word of God. Remember that self-knowledge and the omniscient communication arguments are merely necessary truths.

But they are not sufficient for knowledge of themselves, because neither alone (nor together, for that matter) can function as sufficient first principles. Does Augustine's argument refute skepticism? Yes. But as Robbins said:

"Yet Rand seemed peculiarly susceptible to the idea that the self-refutation of skepticism and relativism is in itself a theory of knowledge: It is not. Skepticism is inadmissible precisely because it is absurd, that is, internally contradictory. But to make such a statement is not to show *how* knowledge is possible to man, only *that* it is possible." (Without a Prayer, pg. 32)

Or even better, in order to even refute skepticism presupposes a positive, epistemological framework of one's own, on which principles he is operating:

http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2013/03/epistemic-neutrality.html

A refutation of a person's position is not enough for that person to be able to know anything. He must know your epistemological position for that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks,

I asked two questions:

"How is it inconsistent for a regenerate to deny that he knows that he is regenerate?"

your reply

"Because only a regenerate can know anything."

is not adequate. the notion that only a regenerate can know anything is logically compatible (consistent) with a regenerate who denies that he knows he is regenerate.

Before I get to the second question - just some comments:

"Remember that earlier in the conversation I said my aim was to take this argument a step further."

unfortunately by introducing ideas into Augustine that are not there. Yet, oddly, you admit Augustine refuted skepticism - so go back and read your own quote of how he did that - examples of certain knowledge that do not deceive, cannot be escaped, are "crushing". Weird you then quote Robbins on Rand - you do realize that Augustine's listing examples of intellectual intuitions which are certain knowledge is not the same thing as pointing out the internal contradictions of skepticism. Of course Augustine was not putting forth a theory of knowledge - he does that elsewhere - but he was putting forth examples of knowledge.

My second question:
"just how can a regenerate know that he exists on your view?"

Have a great night!

Ryan said...

"the notion that only a regenerate can know anything is logically compatible (consistent) with a regenerate who denies that he knows he is regenerate."

Ontologically, yes. There are situations in reality in which this occurs. Epistemologically, no. There is no set of truths in which one can know something/anything and yet be logically consistent in his denial of self-knowledge, specifically knowledge that he himself is regenerate.

"unfortunately by introducing ideas into Augustine that are not there."

Whereof Augustine does not speak, thereof I must remain silent? Lol.

"Yet, oddly, you admit Augustine refuted skepticism - so go back and read your own quote of how he did that - examples of certain knowledge that do not deceive, cannot be escaped, are "crushing"."

You don't address my comments on the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge, so there's really nothing for me to reread. I've already told you that while self-knowledge is a necessary truth, it cannot be known in isolation. Nor does it suffice as an epistemic axiom. So the point that it refutes skepticism is not really relevant to my point that an unregenerate is nevertheless unable to know it.

"Weird you then quote Robbins on Rand - you do realize that Augustine's listing examples of intellectual intuitions which are certain knowledge is not the same thing as pointing out the internal contradictions of skepticism."

Read between the lines. They are both instances of reductions to absurdity. But reducing one's argument to absurdity does not provide that person with a positive epistemological framework on which he can rationally accept the contradictory of that which has been shown to be absurd.

"just how can a regenerate know that he exists on your view?"

Because denial to the contrary leads to skepticism. But take note that I do not abstract this item of knowledge from the axiom of Scripturalism on which it is founded. For the laws of logic themselves are insufficient foundations for a sound epistemology.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

we can come back to Augustine later, for now, I want to center on your syllogism.

So far, rather than showing that one who entertains the possibility that he might not be a sheep knows nothing (which is actually what's written), the force is merely to show that one who entertains the possibility is logically inconsistent.

"There is no set of truths in which one can know something/anything and yet be logically consistent in his denial of self-knowledge, specifically knowledge that he himself is regenerate."

Sure there is: the set of truths our dear regenerate Mr. R knows (his circle) which happens not to include knowledge that he himself is regenerate. He'd be logically inconsistent if in the set of truths he knows, the knowledge that he is regenerate is included, and he still denied it....

Keep in mind that based on what you said during our discussion of Mr. R, knowing that one is a believer/regenerate is *not* a necessary (nor sufficient) condition for knowledge.

Have a great day!

Ryan said...

"So far, rather than showing that one who entertains the possibility that he might not be a sheep knows nothing (which is actually what's written), the force is merely to show that one who entertains the possibility is logically inconsistent."

That's what I said, yes.

//"There is no set of truths in which one can know something/anything and yet be logically consistent in his denial of self-knowledge, specifically knowledge that he himself is regenerate."

Sure there is: the set of truths our dear regenerate Mr. R knows (his circle) which happens not to include knowledge that he himself is regenerate.//

That doesn't warrant *denial* of one's own regeneracy. Again, if one knows anything, it is necessarily true that he is regenerate. So in order to claim to know anything, it would have to be the case that one is regenerate. So denial of this being the case would undermine the claim one knows anything (though it would not preclude it). That is, it's logically inconsistent to deny that oneself is regenerate.

"He'd be logically inconsistent if in the set of truths he knows, the knowledge that he is regenerate is included, and he still denied it...."

Okay, but that misses my point.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

you wrote,

"That doesn't warrant *denial* of one's own regeneracy."

ummm....Mr. R is *not* denying his own regeneracy. Mr. R. is denying that he knows he is regenerate. I have done my best to keep this distinction before you - there is a huge difference between:
Mr. R. knows the gospel
and
Mr. R knows he knows the gospel

a difference between
Mr R. is regenerate
and
Mr. R knows he is regenerate.

it is the latter (in both cases) which you have maintained as "self-knowledge".

Please do not confuse the two, for I have not.

As it stands, Mr. R is not logically inconsistent.

Have a great night,

Ryan said...

Okay, I see your point now. Yes, I agree.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the delay - and thanks for the reply.

I will take the force of the syllogism to simply be:
If one is unregenerate then one cannot know anything. Is this ok?

But is this really true?

Clark himself ascribes knowledge to the unregenerate - not just the self knowledge of existence, but also the (innate apriori) moral knowledge that grounds reponsibility:
Biblical Doctrine of Man, Essays on Ethics, What Do Presbyterians Believe and God's Hammer come to mind, etc...

The verses alluded to are Romans 1:18-22, 32 and 2:15 and the epistemological understanding of John 1:9.

In this I think Clark is being a good Augustinian.

I am still puzzled as to how you can deny knowledge to the unregenerate, especially the self knowledge of existence, when that knowledge is well grounded in something that both the regenerate and unregenerate share (divine image, self-consciousness).

Surely a Scripturalist epistemology can allow for this? (for example, W. Gary Crampton allows for this knowledge in his essay.)

Have a great night.

Ryan said...

Yes, Clark does say that, but here he and I differ. Or maybe not, depending on how he defines innate "knowledge." I would say that because unregenerates suppress truths at least to such an extent that they deny God's word as the authoritative epistemic ground for their beliefs, what they think cannot count as philosophic or infallibilistic knowledge. All knowledge that is not axiomatic must be derived from a true axiom, after all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

Clark makes it clear that this knowledge is a natural knowledge/ obtained via general revelation - NOT from special revelation/regeneracy. By definition this knowledge does not fit your condition [God's word as the authoritative epistemic ground for their beliefs]. The ground for this knowledge (as per Clark's derivation from Scriptures) is the divine image/enlightened by the epistemological work of Christ on every man.

The problem here isn't a suppression of knowledge - the problem is that your condition rules out such knowledge (suppressed or not) by definition.

Until you amend that condition, it seems to me that you are begging the question.

Thanks, and have a great night,

Ryan said...

I don't see why I need to amend my definition. I focus on a particular kind of belief for a reason, whereas whether Clark's idea of innate knowledge even strictly refers to a kind of belief is contestable:

//The Logos is the rational light that lights every man. Since man was created in the image of God, he has an innate idea of God. It is not necessary, indeed it is not possible, for a blank mind to abstract a concept of God from sensory experience or to lift sensory language by its bootstraps to a spiritual level. The theories of Empiricism, of Aristotle, of Aquinas, of Locke, are to be rejected.

The positing of innate ideas or a priori equipment does not entail the absurdity of infants’ discoursing learnedly on God and logic. To all appearances their minds are blank, but the blankness is similar to that of a paper with a message written in invisible ink. When the heat of experience is applied, the message becomes visible. Whatever else be added, the important words refer to non-sensuous realities. (Christian Philosophy, 2004, pg. 203)//

In fact, I think Clark would agree with me that knowledge (viz. the kind of knowledge I am interested in about) of the a priori must be grounded in Scripture:

//As a matter of fact, the doctrine of the image of God in man, a doctrine learned from Scripture, is an assertion of an a priori or innate equipment. As such, it will receive emphasis. But only as such, for so precarious are arguments otherwise based that there would be little confidence in the existence of an a priori and no possibility of identifying its forms, were it not asserted in a verbal revelation.

A systematic philosophy must take care of epistemology. Knowledge must be accounted for. It may be that the a priori forms cannot be listed; it may be that botany or some other subject remains obscure; but knowledge of some sort must be provided. Hence the postulate here proposed is not revelation as natural theology, not revelation as ineffable mysticism, not an inexpressible confrontation, but a verbal and rational communication of truths, the revelation of Scripture. (Clark and His Critics, 2009, pgs. 54-55)//

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply- and sorry for the long delay - thanks for your patience.
First, I did not say definition, I said condition - but that may not matter anyway.
I respect your quotes from Clark - but I don't see how what you quote supports your notion that the regenerate cannot know anything. The first two paragraphs you quote are a denial of empiricism and an assertion of innate ideas or apriori equipment. Now I think before - and perhaps I wasn't too clear? - I mentioned that the knowledge that Clark refers to which the unregenerate have is (epistemic) grounded in the innate/apriori. So not only does Clark find in Scripture that the unregenerate can have (and do have since responsible) knowledge, but he finds that Scripture grounds their knowledge in the innate/apriori - the Divine image enlightened by the epistemological work of the Logos.
The next two paragraphs I agree with you - or at least I think I do. The knowledge of the apriori comes from Scripture. Following Clark, I have affirmed that - Romans 1 and 2, etc...I think what Clark is saying is that we get our account of the apriori from Scripture. Our account of knowledge (epistemology) is from Scripture. For example, Clark derives the epistemological Logos from John 1:9.
Clark never denies that the unregenerate can have knowledge. On the contrary he affirms they must have knowledge in order to be held responsible. I will not quote Clark since I assume you know the many places (God's Hammer, Ethics, What Do Presbyterians Believe, Biblical Doctrine of Man, etc...) where Clark affirms this along with affirming the apriori in opposition to the Thomistic understanding.
But I would like to point out a quote from God's Hammer in a Chapter entitled "The Bible as Truth", subheading "The Effect of Sin on Man's Knowledge" in which Clark is opposing Van Tilians who claim that the unregenerate man cannot know anything because regeneracy changes the meaning of words: "An unregenerate man can know some true propositions and can sometimes reason correctly".
The section is a worthy read and brings up a further question that Clark touches on - it's not just that the Philistines can understand, and know, that David killed Goliath but, and here's my question to you - can an unregenerate man know that the Bible teaches David killed Goliath? That is a belief - so is at least a candidate for knowledge. And the truth of that belief does not hinge on regeneracy nor whether or not one believes the Bible to be God's Word. It doesn't even hinge on one's account of knowledge (epistemology). Both the regenerate and the unregenerate can believe this truth - and even have the same epistemic ground for it: it's found in the Bible. Why is it knowledge in the one case and not the other?
Thanks,

Ryan said...

"I respect your quotes from Clark - but I don't see how what you quote supports your notion that the regenerate cannot know anything."

That's because they weren't meant to. They were just meant to show that the kind of knowledge Clark calls innate or natural is not relevant to the kind of knowledge I say unregenerates cannot possess.

Yes, unregenerates have innate knowledge. But for Clark, innate knowledge does not refer to beliefs which are precluded from the possibility of error, they refer to one's possession of rational or reasoning faculties.

Also, yes, I have mentioned on 12/21 that I recognize Clark believed that unregenerates possess philosophic knowledge.

"Both the regenerate and the unregenerate can believe this truth - and even have the same epistemic ground for it: it's found in the Bible. Why is it knowledge in the one case and not the other?"

They don't have the same epistemic ground in the sense of proper basing. Sherlock Holmes and Watson can cite the same evidence ing arriving at the same conclusion without its being the case that the reasons they arrived at that conclusion are exactly the same. For instance, arriving at a concluded belief because the Bible as a mere, historical document attests to the truth is not equivalent to arriving at a concluded belief because the Bible as the word of God attests to the truth. Mere historical documents can be false. God's word can't. But philosophic knowledge can't be falsified.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply -

a concluded belief (the Bible teaches David killed Goliath) is properly based precisely because such is indeed found in the Bible. Such does not depend on whether you think the Bible is false or not, God' word or not. All it depends on is it is indeed in the Bible. Can the truth that the Bible teaches David killed Goliath be falsified?
I doubt it.

Thanks,

Ryan said...

Knowledge requires justification. I don't think the unregenerate's justification for belief that the Bible teaches David killed Goliath can be the same as a Scripturalist's... or a Christian's, for that matter. Relying on one's own senses or reason as the ground or source of knowledge is a far cry from compatibility with a Scripturalist epistemology.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply -

Wow - That's quite a seismic shift.
Ok, for starters I'll bite - what's the justification that each have that makes the unregenerate not able to know that the Bible teaches that David killed Goliath?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

Fundamentally, that the Bible is God's word.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

If it's ok with you, I am going to take a break - and go read some of your other writings!!

Thanks again, and I will - hopefully - be back some other time,

Ryan said...

Sure, thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

"Knowledge requires justification."

Hi - oops - I forgot to ask these questions a few months ago concerning the above statement:
Do you know this? How do you know it? What justification do you have? What Scripture proves this?

Thanks again!

Ryan said...

In context, yes, I know it.

That justification is a requirement for philosophic knowledge is entailed in the definition of philosophic knowledge I've provided elsewhere (link). Justification just is that by which one can non-accidentally believe a true proposition.

That's by definition. If "What justification do you have?" is a question of the philosophy of language, as long as we have the same idea in mind, any word will do.

As for Scripture, whenever you read someone ask God or a messenger of God how they can know something (e.g. Genesis 15:8-11, Deuteronomy 18:21-22, Luke 1:18-20), they are always given some reply by they should be or should have been able to discriminate truth from falsity, i.e. non-accidentally believe.

See also the above link for why any less strict form of knowledge (e.g. merely "true belief") would presuppose philosophic knowledge in that one cannot consistently reject philosophic knowledge, which explains why no matter what kinds of knowledge you think there are, each requires the concept of epistemic justification.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment,

I must've been unclear, so,

P1: "Knowledge requires Justification"

P2:"justification is a requirement for philosophic knowledge"

P3:" Justification just is that by which one can non-accidentally believe a true proposition."

Do you know any of these propositions in the philosophical sense?

If so, please provide the justification,

Thanks,

Ryan said...

I believe I've already answered yes to those questions and provided the justification for each in my previous post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again

please be patient - what exactly is the justification for these provided in your previous post?

Thanks for the clarification,

Ryan said...

P2:"justification is a requirement for philosophic knowledge"

//That justification is a requirement for philosophic knowledge is entailed in the definition of philosophic knowledge I've provided elsewhere (link). Justification just is that by which one can non-accidentally believe a true proposition...

As for Scripture, whenever you read someone ask God or a messenger of God how they can know something (e.g. Genesis 15:8-11, Deuteronomy 18:21-22, Luke 1:18-20), they are always given some reply by they should be or should have been able to discriminate truth from falsity, i.e. non-accidentally believe.//

P3:" Justification just is that by which one can non-accidentally believe a true proposition."

//That's by definition. If "What justification do you have?" is a question of the philosophy of language, as long as we have the same idea in mind, any word will do.//

P1: "Knowledge requires Justification"

//See also the above link for why any less strict form of knowledge (e.g. merely "true belief") would presuppose philosophic knowledge in that one cannot consistently reject philosophic knowledge, which explains why no matter what kinds of knowledge you think there are, each requires the concept of epistemic justification.//

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

Ok, one at a time

you wrote,
//That justification is a requirement for philosophic knowledge is entailed in the definition of philosophic knowledge I've provided elsewhere (link).
Definition:
"I define philosophic knowledge as propositional belief in which the possibility of error is precluded or, more simply, as belief that cannot be mistaken."

It does *not* follow from this definition that *justification* is a requirement of knowledge at all. Having no grounds on which to doubt a belief is not the same thing as holding a belief for the right reasons (ie having justification for believing). And certainly does not entail that it involves holding to the right axiom or axioms, i.e. because God has revealed it. All it entails is that the belief cannot be mistaken, in error, or doubted.
If we look back to Augustine/Clark, the knowledge he contends for meets your criteria in that it cannot be in error, or mistaken or doubted -
//But the most crushing refutation of skepticism comes when Augustine asks his opponent, Do you know that you exist? If he so much as hears the question, there can be no doubt about the answer. No one can be in doubt as to his own existence. “We both have a being, know it, and love both our being and knowledge. And in these three no false appearance can ever deceive us. For we do not discern them as things visible, by sense…. I fear not the Academic arguments on these truths that say, ‘What if you err?’ If I err, I am. For he that has no being cannot err, and therefore my error proves my being.” Thus in the immediate certainty of self-consciousness a thinker has contact with being, life, mind, and truth.//

And yet previously you *denied* that this knowledge is philosophic knowledge precisely because the one who holds it must hold it for the right reason, *despite* the obvious fact that it cannot be in error or doubted.

Now either you must accept on terms of your own definition that the unregenerate can have philosophic knowledge (as per Augustine) or you must amend your definition to include holding a belief for the right reasons.

Thanks,

Ryan said...

"It does *not* follow from this definition that *justification* is a requirement of knowledge at all. Having no grounds on which to doubt a belief is not the same thing as holding a belief for the right reasons (ie having justification for believing)."

Read the next sentence:

//Justification just is that by which one can non-accidentally believe a true proposition...//

"And certainly does not entail that it involves holding to the right axiom or axioms, i.e. because God has revealed it."

I don't remember you asking that. Now, if you want to know a reason why I think foundationalism is true, I am more than happy to tell you that it is because all other alternatives (skepticism, infinitism, coherentism) fail.

"If we look back to Augustine/Clark, the knowledge he contends for meets your criteria in that it cannot be in error, or mistaken or doubted...
And yet previously you *denied* that this knowledge is philosophic knowledge precisely because the one who holds it must hold it for the right reason, *despite* the obvious fact that it cannot be in error or doubted."

The indubitability of a truth does not preclude one from possibly professing rejection of it. People deny they exist all the time. I said knowledge is *a belief* in which the possibility of error is precluded, not a necessarily true proposition.

"Now either you must accept on terms of your own definition that the unregenerate can have philosophic knowledge (as per Augustine) or you must amend your definition to include holding a belief for the right reasons."

Or you could read more carefully.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply,
I ask for your patience, and I am reading carefully – that's why I am pointing out to you, for instance, that your definition of philosophic knowledge does not entail justification of/for a belief as a requirement. The definition, once again, is,
"I define philosophic knowledge as propositional belief in which the possibility of error is precluded or, more simply, as belief that cannot be mistaken."
What *is* entailed is that the requirement for philosophic knowledge is that a belief cannot be mistaken or in error. The definition doesn't imply anything about the reasons basing/for holding the belief, or how a belief came to be held in the first place – it only says about the belief that it precludes the possibility of error.
Now, based on our conversations, I don't think this is what you have intended. For example it seems to me that you wish to deny the unregenerate can have philosophic knowledge. Why not? Again, based on our conversations, it has been not because of the possibility of error of the belief held, but because the belief lacks the right kind of justification (held for the right reasons, came to be held non-accidentally, etc...). Let it be true that an unregenerate can have a belief that precludes error, your point all along has been that such a belief can still be precluded from being knowledge (since it is not justified in the right way). And I am pointing out that based on the definition above that yes indeed the unregenerate can have philosophic knowledge since the definition neither says nor implies anything about justification.
May I request that you amend your definition such that justification does indeed become a requirement? For example,
“I define philosophic knowledge as a justified (correctly, conclusively) true belief in which the possibility of error is precluded or, more simply, as a justified true belief that cannot be mistaken.”
Then we can move on to the second thing, justification, and what exactly that requires.
Thanks again, especially for your patience,

Ryan said...

"Let it be true that an unregenerate can have a belief that precludes error, your point all along has been that such a belief can still be precluded from being knowledge (since it is not justified in the right way)."

No. When I say philosophic knowledge is propositional belief in which the possibility of error is precluded, I'm not just talking about the proposition believed. A belief can be necessarily true and yet not have been precluded from the possibility of error. I'm also talking about what justification one claims to have for his belief. Accidentally true belief implies insufficient justification because in such circumstances the possibility of error has not been precluded.

“I define philosophic knowledge as a justified (correctly, conclusively) true belief in which the possibility of error is precluded or, more simply, as a justified true belief that cannot be mistaken.”

That's more explicit, although "conclusively" could be interpreted as meaning that justification requires a target belief to have been a conclusion from "reasons basing/for holding the belief." That would lead to infinitism, which I don't believe.

Anonymous said...

So,

What exactly is "non-accidentally"
since it seems that all hinges on this.

Thanks,

Ryan said...

It means that our true belief that a proposition is true is not in any respect lucky. There is no element of chance involved. Think Gettier cases.

Anonymous said...

Ok

What underlies/conditions "chance" here

for instance is "chance" here the kind of thing such that the unregenerate always have an "element of chance" in their true belief of a true proposition?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

For all they know, yes. Let's assume an unregenerate says he begins with God's word as his epistemic authority. But God's word itself says only God's sheep hear the voice of the shepherd. It says unregenerates don't hear or listen to God or His messengers. Etc. In that case, while the unregenerate's belief in God's word as such is true, that belief itself undermines his capability of precluding from the possibility of error that he actually is able to recognize God's word as such.

It's like Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism applied to Scripturalism. If naturalism were true and one believed it, his belief would be undermined by the fact of naturalism. If Scripturalism were and an unregenerate believed it, his belief would be undermined by the fact of Scripturalism.

Anonymous said...

Thanks,

what justification do you have for your belief that what you take to be God's word (The Bible) says

"only God's sheep hear the voice of the shepherd."

What justification can you provide that it doesn't say

"God's sheep do not hear the voice of the shepherd".

Thanks,

Ryan said...

That is self-justifying/axiomatic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, I deeply appreciate your patience.

what justification do you have (for your belief) that the sentence just above [Ryan wrote March 25, 2014 at 1:40 AM]
says
"That is self-justifying/axiomatic."
rather than
"That is not self-justifying/axiomatic."

or is that self-justifying too?
Thanks,

Ryan said...

None. It's an opinion. That doesn't mean I can't know the [alleged] corresponding proposition as a thought I have.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply,

wow, none? interesting.

Actually now that I look at it I see that I have justification for thinking I erred:
I wrote,
[Ryan wrote March 25, 2014 at 1:40 AM]
but actually it ought to have read,
[Ryan wrote March 25, 2014 at 2:04 AM]

but even so - no justification at all?

I think this non-justification is a weak link in your Scripturalism. Afterall, you would lack justification that what appears written in the Bible is

"God's sheep hear the voice of the shepherd"

as opposed to

"God's sheep do not hear the voice of the shepherd"
(that is if any of these indeed do appear there)
For Scripturalism is mainly about quoting/adducing texts from a book. What justification do you have that you have not misread the text and missed the word 'not' as easily as I missed the '2:04' above? Your 'thought' can be wrong if based on a misreading of the text. The possibility of error is what I'm driving at - and without some justification there's always the possibility you erred in what you thought you read thus causing unjustified belief.
Or the belief that you have not misread is just an opinion? So if I press, and ask you to please justify that you have not misread what appears in the Bible - there's no justification and it's just an opinion with you?

Thanks so much, especially for your patience,

Ryan said...

"Afterall, you would lack justification that what appears written in the Bible is..."

Knowledge is propositional. Insofar as God's word can be known, God's word is propositional. Literally, we don't know physical marks, we know propositions. We only know Scripture metonymically. That's point one.

Now, I'm not sure if you've read other posts I've written on the theory of language, but I hold that physical words can correspond to propositions such that they can be representative of propositions and can play an occasional role in knowledge acquisition a la Malebranche (pertinent example). However, knowledge of any proposition itself is directly mediated to our minds by God. Divine illumination of the sort Augustine spoke of... and yes, I am aware that we can't philosophically know what Malebranche and Augustine said :)

What you're asking is basically the old question Clark fielded several times, viz. "Don't you have to read your Bible?" Clark's answer was that this assumes an empirical epistemology where our concepts and propositional thoughts are formed from senses and perceptions. But Clark's epistemology is in no respect empirical. Assuming you don't have Clark's book Language and Theology, listen to A Christian Construction, parts 1 and 2, here for more of what Clark has to say in response to this line of questioning.

Does all of this this mean we can't know Scripture - God's word written - is what we think it is? No, because one of the propositions we know is that God's word was inscripturated. When we talk about the Bible, we just are talking about the original autographs or transcriptions which are in line with those original autographs, right? And we know God has preserved His word. So metonymically, we can still say we the Bible or Scripture because we can know those propositions to which the autographs (and correct transcriptions) corresponded. It's just a matter of getting the epistemic grounding right: our awareness of propositional realities ground our awareness non-propositional realities, not vice versa.

"For Scripturalism is mainly about quoting/adducing texts from a book."

Rather, Scripturalism is mainly about quoting/adducing propositions. These propositions may be conveyed through various media - including texts - but it is the propositions which are important in the adjudication of worldviews, not the media themselves.

"The possibility of error is what I'm driving at - and without some justification there's always the possibility you erred in what you thought you read thus causing unjustified belief."

In some cases, you are correct. But my point has been that pure fallibilism is self-defeating. One thing we can philosophically know is that there is a self-authenticating revelation from a person or persons who are omniscient. That's a necessary truth, and it presupposes our ability to infallibly understand God's word, at least to that extent and to the extent of infallibly recognizing other recognizably necessary truths. But that's all that I am asking for.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply -

"What you're asking is basically the old question Clark fielded several times, viz. "Don't you have to read your Bible?"

No. I asked what justification do you have to support your belief that you have not misread the Bible in the example provided.

"the reading or hearing of the message of these texts would merely provide the occasion upon which God mediates the propositional knowledge that the text signifies to our mind."

ok, on this theory the text signifies, or again, those letters are but tokens of recognition;
clicks of the telegraph key signaling thoughts to our spirits along the lines of our visual and auditory nerves.

so, for example, the appearance of the physical marks/words "not" in a sentence (as in the previous examples) changes the proposition so signified significantly.

But how do you know you haven't misread the physical marks/words? Or missed some, or mixed them up (as I did in a previous post)? What's your justification that supports your belief that you haven't misread the Bible? The possibility of error remains.

Thanks,

Ryan said...

What do you mean by "misread"? It's one thing to misinfer a proposition from reading - a physical activity - it's another to misunderstand a thought. What you say in the following seems to suggest the former:

"so, for example, the appearance of the physical marks/words "not" in a sentence (as in the previous examples) changes the proposition so signified significantly."

Yes. 100% agree. But then:

"But how do you know you haven't misread the physical marks/words? Or missed some, or mixed them up (as I did in a previous post)? What's your justification that supports your belief that you haven't misread the Bible? The possibility of error remains."

Although you seem to think I miss the mark, I think I covered this in my last reply. For Clark, concept formation and propositional thoughts are not grounded on sensory inputs. So there is no possibility that knowledge is the result of "misreading" per se, for that idea would imply Clark thinks we make knowledge claims on the basis of inferences from physical tokens in the first place.

Rather, knowledge is directly mediated to our minds. Divine illumination. Further, we can still know that God's word corresponds to what has been inscripturated:

//Does all of this this mean we can't know Scripture - God's word written - is what we think it is? No, because one of the propositions we know is that God's word was inscripturated. When we talk about the Bible, we just are talking about the original autographs or transcriptions which are in line with those original autographs, right? And we know God has preserved His word. So metonymically, we can still say we the Bible or Scripture because we can know those propositions to which the autographs (and correct transcriptions) corresponded. It's just a matter of getting the epistemic grounding right: our awareness of propositional realities ground our awareness non-propositional realities, not vice versa.//

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply -

Yes. 100% agree.

do you also agree that there's such a thing - as I just demonstrated in my own example above - as misreading; that is missing/skipping words, mixing them up, correct? It happens to the best of us correct? And if one misses a 'not' in the text, well that can certainly significantly affect what proposition one takes away/is conveyed/tagged, right?

So, What justification do you have that you have not misread the text in question?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

I'm sorry if I am failing to depict my position in such a way that you are able to understand it, but as I've already said, what I claim to know isn't inferred from physical tokens. Our awareness of propositional realities grounds our awareness non-propositional realities, not vice versa. The causal means by which we become aware of these propositional realities is divine illumination, i.e. direct mediation of the knowledge to our minds by God.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,
actually, you have been clear:
"what I claim to know isn't inferred from physical tokens."
And I never insisted on it - let's face it: there'd be no rules of validity upon which to base such inference (like Clark's critique of Blanshard). Rather, you have opted for occasionalism. Thus what you claim to know is *occasioned* by physical tokens.
Afterall, you said "It says unregenerates don't hear or listen to God or His messengers. " What is the "it" here? God's Word? Not quite. The "it" here is the Bible. And the Bible as written is indeed a physical token. You take the propositions tagged by the tokens in this written book called the Bible as God's Word.

Unfortunately there seems to be a very important connection between physical tokens and the propositions got on any occasion (not just reading, or reading the Bible). For our example, it matters deeply to the proposition so occasioned whether or not for example the token "not" is written. But, it also matters deeply to this occasion that you read (at the very least perceive and remember) the tokens correctly. But both perceiving and remembrance are fallible. I have already mentioned that misreading is a possibility and that the propositions so occasioned on misreadings are still propositions(albeit the wrong proposition).
What you miss is that I am not questioning your occasionalism. It is actually beside the point - upon the occasions of perceiving and remembering physical tokens, God illumines/causes a proposition to your mind - but the point is that activity goes on even if you misread the tokens and wind up with the wrong proposition. Thus occasionalism provides no justification for anyone's belief that he read the tokens correctly. The possibility of error remains (interesting aside: God does cause persons to believe falsehoods -2 Thess 2:11,etc...)
So, just what is your justification that you have not misread the text in question?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

"What is the "it" here? God's Word? Not quite. The "it" here is the Bible."

Do you think that when Jesus and John said and wrote those that unregenerates cannot hear or listen to God and His messengers, they had in mind the visual or audible tags of the propositions God has revealed? Was Jesus' and John's audiences blind/mute?

"For our example, it matters deeply to the proposition so occasioned whether or not for example the token "not" is written."

Yes, because there is a necessary correspondence between the two.

"But, it also matters deeply to this occasion that you read (at the very least perceive and remember) the tokens correctly."

Why is that so, given my belief in God's word is not grounded on or justified by the physical activity that occasions my belief?

"I have already mentioned that misreading is a possibility and that the propositions so occasioned on misreadings are still propositions(albeit the wrong proposition)."

That doesn't sound like beliefs are merely occasioned by perceptions. It sounds like you think that under such circumstances, beliefs are formed based on perceptions. This is why I asked you what "misread" means.

"...the point is that activity goes on even if you misread the tokens and wind up with the wrong proposition. Thus occasionalism provides no justification for anyone's belief that he read the tokens correctly. The possibility of error remains (interesting aside: God does cause persons to believe falsehoods -2 Thess 2:11,etc...)"

Just because there is a necessary correspondence between certain physical tokens and certain propositions doesn't mean I need to have a visual image or auditory recollection of one of these tokens in order to know the propositions to which Scripture corresponds.

And while God causes falsehoods, I don't see how that's relevant given the fact I've explained how one can justify philosophical knowledge and that process has nothing to do with what tokens one has or hasn't been stimulated by.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

You previously wrote,
"It says...." and now you write "Jesus and John said and wrote..."

OK, so what justification do you have that you have not misread the text? Have not misread what they said/wrote?

Thanks,

PS I never said that belief was occasioned. I said propositions were occasioned - whether you believe the proposition so occasioned or not is not at issue. That also means knowledge of said proposition is not at issue. The thing at issue is your claim "it says" and my query concerning your justification for believing you have not misread the relevant text.
you also wrote,
"there is a necessary correspondence between certain physical tokens and certain propositions"
Umm not quite right. Occasionalism teaches that upon certain sensations/perceptions *in you* God causes [something] *in you* - so that means the above ought be something like,

there is a necessary correspondence between the physical tokens you sense/perceive and the propositions God causes in you upon the occasion of the sensings/perceptions

Ryan said...

"You previously wrote,
"It says...." and now you write "Jesus and John said and wrote...""

In the first case, in the sentence before that I had also said, "God's word itself says..." So it's clear I was referring to the propositions revealed, not the visual or audible representations. You didn't answer my question.

I'm also going to need for you to explain what you mean by "misread" so that we don't talk past each other, if indeed that is what is happening.

"Occasionalism teaches that upon certain sensations/perceptions *in you* God causes [something] *in you*"

Yes. But I'm a necessitarian, which is why I hold there to be a necessary connection between that knowledge which God causes in us and those propositions God caused to be written in the original autographs of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Thanks,

misread means a reading mistake - missed a word, mixed words up, read them in the wrong order, etc.. Just like the example I gave previously where I misread the times on the posts, viz,

I wrote,
[Ryan wrote March 25, 2014 at 1:40 AM]
but actually it ought to have read,
[Ryan wrote March 25, 2014 at 2:04 AM]

the necessity at issue is between the physical tokens you sense and the propositions God causes in you upon the sensing.

What justification do you have that you sensed the tokens correctly and did not mix them up or miss them or overlook them?

Thanks

Ryan said...

"What justification do you have that you sensed the tokens correctly and did not mix them up or miss them or overlook them?"

I guess I have no idea what it means to sense "correctly." That would imply that one can sense incorrectly? How? How? What do you mean? Surely the ideas of correct and incorrect have to do with beliefs, right? So somehow, you are asking how or whether what sensations I have are related to whether a belief I have is correct? But I have answered that question many times already. Again, none of my philosophical knowledge-claims are formed on the basis of sensation, so this whole line of questioning seems misplaced. It plays no parts in my justificatory process except a trivial, circumstantial happenstance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply and patience,

I do not think misplaced or happenstance. To clarify, may I try this:

is this set of tokens:

"God's sheep hear the voice of the shepherd."

the same as this set:

"God's sheep don't hear the voice of the shepherd."

If so or not so, what justification do you have that they are or are not the same?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

If both are what I opine they are - opine because I am relating sense-images to propositions which are or aren't being represented - then yes, they are different.

But I make no pretense of philosophically knowing that the sense-image I have has not been distorted from what is actually written.

So if this question is analogous to your earlier question, my answer remains the same: "None. It's an opinion. That doesn't mean I can't know the [alleged] corresponding proposition as a thought I have."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply -

OK, without the justification that you do or don't have a visual distortion (using your language), and given the necessary correspondence between what you see/read and the proposition God causes in you, how can you justify that the proposition God causes in you corresponds to [the tokens that] are actually written (ie that which is not a distortion) as opposed to a distortion?
Or is this an opinion as well?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

Are you asking for justification just of the proposition that "the proposition God causes in you corresponds to [the tokens that] are actually written"? If so, yes. But the justification doesn't involve comparisons between propositional thoughts and images or pictures or visions. The justification just involves what it means to be a necessitarianism, as I mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply -

No, um I was not quite clear I guess - let me try this:

what is your justification that you have or haven't [upon the occasion of your seeing/reading the text] a God-caused proposition which corresponds [necessitarianism] to a visual distortion?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

That question would seem to require a knowledge of what visual images correspond to propositions, so "none" would be my answer :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks

No - all that question requires is occasionalism.

If you cannot have justification that in reading the text you did not suffer a visual distortion, then you cannot have justification that the proposition God causes in you upon that occasion does not correspond to such a visual distortion and thus you cannot have justification against the possibility that you have the wrong proposition.

Ryan said...

By "wrong proposition," do you mean a proposition which does not correspond to the actual physical reality independent of my visual experience, or do you mean a proposition which hasn't been God-breathed? Or both?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply and your patience,

What I mean is:
Given occasionalism, upon visual experience of seeing/reading the text, God causes your mind to think/have a proposition; but only such that there is a necessary correspondence between what you see (in that experience) and the proposition so caused.

But is that visual experience a distortion or not? If it is, it is possible (is it not?) that you have "misread" the text and thus possibly have a proposition which is not the same proposition that God would cause if the distortion did not occur. Thus the possibility of error. The chain of occasionalism is only as strong as its weakest link I'm afraid.

But is there any justification you can provide that your visual experience was not such a distortion?

And what's worse, is that on a Clarkian take there is plenty of reason to think visual experience is untrustworthy from the get go (Language and Theology)*.

So, I still think the possibility of error exists for you.

Thanks,

*aside: Clark says this:
"First, sensation or perception is untrustworthy....Hence the Bible in your hands is not itself black; and if we do not know what color it is, how can we know it is a book at all? This question must not be ignored"
Now wait - is Clark really asking the right question? Oh well, but even so, note that visual experience is untrustworthy per se. Not that the empirical theory of sensation/perception is wrong (that will come later) - but that the everyday experience of sight itself is unreliable. So one may be forgiven for thinking that such skepticism when it comes to the Bible - not just seeing the color of its cover, but seeing the tokens that are allegedly in it - must be answered by Clark too.

But then comes this "-if one wishes to be an empirical apologist." Wait; what? OK sure - but doesn't a Scripturalist have to answer that skeptical question too?

Ryan said...

"Given occasionalism, upon visual experience of seeing/reading the text, God causes your mind to think/have a proposition; but only such that there is a necessary correspondence between what you see (in that experience) and the proposition so caused.

But is that visual experience a distortion or not? If it is, it is possible (is it not?) that you have "misread" the text and thus possibly have a proposition which is not the same proposition that God would cause if the distortion did not occur."

I don't see how necessitarians can admit the possibility of counter-factuals. Also, if we look at it from the perspective that given two people who have exactly the same visual experience (which is possible), God can cause two different beliefs, I don't follow how you think one can use one's visual experience to falsify his beliefs. Perhaps refer back to my post April 12 to see if what your question relating to what you mean by "necessary correspondence" - which seems to me to be different from the way in which I use it in the context of necessitarianism - isn't answered in that.

Regarding your skeptical question, Clark would not say he could know the color of the Bible in his hands is black (on the assumption there is actually a Bible in his hands). But that isn't relevant to Clark's grounds for believing the Bible to be a book, so I'm not sure what it is you want Clark[ians] to answer. Clark is internally critiquing empiricism. His own grounds for believing the Bible to be a book would depend on what God has revealed the Bible to be as well as what Clark would define as a "book."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply,

hmmm...I did not say beliefs; I said propositions. Nor have I expanded it beyond one's own occasionalist experience (yours actually).

I assume you admit the possibility that in seeing/reading the text you may experience a visual distortion (of the tokens of the alleged text).

Do you also admit the possibility that the God-caused proposition upon the occasion of the visual distortion might be different than the God-caused proposition if the distortion did not occur?

Thanks

Ryan said...

Thinking a proposition entails belief. The point about God causing different beliefs is that it is not the visual experience in se which necessitates the caused belief. Given this, I don't see how the visual experience itself is relevant to whether the caused belief on that occasion is justified/true.

"I assume you admit the possibility that in seeing/reading the text you may experience a visual distortion (of the tokens of the alleged text)."

Yes.

"Do you also admit the possibility that the God-caused proposition upon the occasion of the visual distortion might be different than the God-caused proposition if the distortion did not occur?"

Like if I had a visual distortion and later didn't? Sure, it might be different. But must be different? No, I don't admit that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Sure, it might be different.

OK sure - but (1) you have no justification that the previous experience or the later one is the distortion or not. You have no justification of which of the [possibly] differing propositions is or is not the wrong one.
and (2) - which is what I was driving at - You also have no justification that your current experience is a distortion or not. You have no justification that the current proposition in your mind is or is not the wrong one.

The possibility of error remains.

Thanks,

Ryan said...

...again. Our awareness of propositional realities ground our awareness non-propositional realities, not vice versa. Whether or not I'm having a visual experience in which my vision is being distorted is not relevant to the issue of justification.

Anonymous said...

Thanks,

so is it only your opinion that you see "the sheep hear his voice" in the Bible?

Ryan said...

Like I said back in March. "It's an opinion. That doesn't mean I can't know the [alleged] corresponding proposition as a thought I have."

Anonymous said...

Thanks,

I am curious - how do you justify that "the sheep hear his voice" is Scriptural if you don't have justification that you've ever seen/read it at all?

Thanks,

Ryan said...

Is "Scriptural" a reference to something is physically written or divinely mediated to our mind? I think you know where I'm going to go with this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks,

limiting this to propositions,

"Scriptural" is a designation given to props corresponding to what is written in the Bible.

So someone who never saw/read the Bible may have a Scriptural proposition in mind (from some occasion - perhaps hearing a preacher, etc...) and not have justification that it's Scriptural.

In order to have justification that a proposition is Scriptural, one needs justification that the prop corresponds to what's written in the Bible. But, in order to do that, (ultimately) (some)one must see/read what is written in the Bible. A visual experience is required (in the chain somewhere).

Thanks,

Ryan said...

"In order to have justification that a proposition is Scriptural, one needs justification that the prop corresponds to what's written in the Bible. But, in order to do that, (ultimately) (some)one must see/read what is written in the Bible. A visual experience is required (in the chain somewhere). "

I don't see how that follows. If God directly mediates knowledge to my mind the fact that what I know has been written or inscripturated by various prophets and apostles, why is that insufficient?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply

"God directly mediates knowledge to my mind the fact that what I know has been written or inscripturated by various prophets and apostles"

Well, I've not seen that in the Bible. So not only do I think it insufficient but I think it's false too. So I was going to..um..ask you if you had seen any Scriptural references that may justify that proposition but then I remembered that you cannot justify seeing anything anyway.
So, I suppose, God just directly mediated that to your mind too?

Deepest Thanks for your time and thoughts,

PS:thinking a prop does not entail believing it; whereas belief does entail thinking. To believe is to think with assent (at least that's what Clark and Augustine said). But I can think without assent - I may dissent, I may withhold assent/dissent. etc..

Ryan said...

I don't think you can justify having seen anything in the Bible. Two can play at that game.

"thinking a prop does not entail believing it; whereas belief does entail thinking. To believe is to think with assent (at least that's what Clark and Augustine said). But I can think without assent - I may dissent, I may withhold assent/dissent. etc.."

True. My earlier point was just that all thoughts entails beliefs. Doesn't mean they are about the thought occasioned per se, but certainly about the meaning of other thoughts which are presupposed.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is unregenerate then that one cannot know anything

since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating, that leaves the premise as reduced to absurdity.

No one is unregenerate.

Ryan said...

Well, an individual may claim he is a regenerate if he likes in order to avoid the force of the argument, but that requires him to acknowledge himself as a believer to be consistent. It's fine with me if everyone takes that approach :)

Anonymous said...

Given the self-defeating conclusion of the argument it follows that the premise is absurd (as by your own method) hence, no one is unregenerate.
But that is unacceptable too - the upshot is that the absurdity is thinking that the unregenerate cannot know anything. That is to say the argument itself is absurd.

Conclusion: the unregenerate can know some things.

Ryan said...

People implicitly accept absurdities all the time. Knowledge of the sort I wrote about in this post can only be achieved when one consistently rejects said absurdities - but I never said people (e.g. unregenerates) were necessarily consistent.

To this end, I also noticed you switched the use of pronouns in the argument from the second person to third person. The point in it being in the second person is to show the unregenerate he is himself being inconsistent.

Anonymous said...

People implicitly accept absurdities all the time.

Yes, you yourself have accepted an absurdity. Upshot: you don't have the kind of knowledge as you wrote about in this post.

but I never said people (e.g. unregenerates) were necessarily consistent.

You said unregenerates cannot know anything. And that is absurd.

Ryan said...

"You said unregenerates cannot know anything. And that is absurd."

On the stated definition of knowledge I provided, it's not.

Anonymous said...

Bingo - that's exactly the point: your stated definition is itself absurd. Go back to the argument and deal with it.

Of course I can help you:
P1: If anyone is unregenerate then he cannot know anything;
p2: one is unregenerate
C: one cannot know anything
Since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating (linkhttp://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2012/02/irrationalism.html), that leaves P2. as the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity.

Ryan said...

That conclusion is not self-defeating. It is self-defeating for a person to claim he knows nothing. It is not self-defeating to, from a third-person perspective, note that a different person (read: unregenerate) knows nothing.

Get it?

Anonymous said...

you wrote,

C. You don’t know anything...
Since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating (link) that leaves..the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity..

p1. if you are unregenerate then you don't know anything,
p2. you are unregenerate
C: you don't know anything

is a valid argument correct? Yes obviously. Note that the C is the exact same as your original argument and is thus self-defeating - therefore P2 is to be rejected as absurd.

Ryan said...

Once again, it's not - repeat, not - self-defeating for me to say that "you" (i.e. an unregenerate) don't know anything. It would be self-defeating for unregenerates to themselves say they don't know anything. I don't know how to simplify this any further for you.

You haven't made any attempt to explain why that conclusion is self-defeating, so feel free to change up your stale replies by doing so.

Anonymous said...

stale? ok sure why not...

what is self-defeating according to your original argument is the conclusion

you don't know anything,

not,

you say/claim (about yourself) you don't know anything.

Ryan said...

Yes, stale. Again, just how is the conclusion that "you" (referring to the unregenerate) don't know anything self-defeating?

Anonymous said...

LINK:
I think most who have spent any amount of time studying philosophy will have come across philosophical skepticism, the idea that certainty, knowledge, and/or truth is impossible. It is one of the more persistent positions in history. But most people either know or can easily understand that it's also self-defeating. By definition, one can't know that philosophical skepticism is true.

Interestingly one's regenerative status is not in view at all in this quote - the self-defeat has nothing to do with the regenerative status of who holds the thing - its the thing itself that is self defeating.

Ryan said...

For some reason, you really seem unable to grasp the basic distinction between a statement made in the first-person (e.g. "I am a skeptic") and a statement made in the third-person ("he is a skeptic"). The first statement is self-defeating because what the person himself claims to accept implies its contradictory. The second statement is not self-defeating because it takes his claim at face value; the claimant is inconsistent and can be shown such since his own making of the claim is self-defeating, but he nevertheless actually does make the claim in reality. Yes, the position itself is self-defeating... but it's still a position which can be believed. You can indeed replace "skeptic" with "unregenerate" and the point would be the same. It's just not the point you want.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the position itself is self-defeating.

OK. However, your argument is in the second person, so,

P1: if you are unregenerate then you don't know anything
p2: you are unregenerate
C: you don't know anything

since it's a valid argument,
and C is absurd, P2 "the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity".

Ryan said...

Speaking in the second person is just like speaking in the third person. The person I claim does not know anything is someone other than me. For me to make that claim is not self-defeating.

It would be absurd or self-defeating if there were something in the nature of the claim which implied the contradictory, i.e. if "you/he don't/doesn't know anything" somehow implies "you/he do/does know something." But it doesn't, and you haven't demonstrated it has. Because you can't.

Anonymous said...

Again, your argument is completely in the second person - there's no 1st or 3rd person delineated *in the argument*- furthermore the second-person point of view has the nifty property of addressing the reader of the argument - whether that reader is me, or you (Ryan), or him (Sean):

If you (dear reader) are unregenerate, then you (dear reader) don't know anything.

and that conclusion is most certainly self-defeating for you (dear reader)

Ryan said...

"that conclusion is most certainly self-defeating for you (dear reader)"

"For you" changes the perspective to the first person. But we're not talking about that. We're talking about the fact that my noting that someone else claims to hold to a self-defeating position is not itself self-defeating. This note can be made through either a second or third person perspective without problem:

"If you (dear reader) are unregenerate, then you (dear reader) don't know anything."

My saying this is not self-defeating. It implies that the dear reader is himself holding a self-defeating position and so, "for him/you," his position is self-defeating.

Ironically, what you're arguing basically amounts to "no one can claim someone else holds a self-defeating position." Good luck doing apologetics.

Anonymous said...

""For you" changes the perspective to the first person."

Good I take it that you now concede that an argument stated in the second person can refer to the reader whether that reader is you or him or me. Unless, of course, you deny that if I read it I can apply it to myself, which ironically is the position that no one can apply an argument stated in the second person to one's self - if so, good luck doing apologetics.

also, let me repeat, there is a difference between,

you don't know anything,
and,
you say/claim (about yourself) you don't know anything.

your argument is the former not the latter.

and, for clarity, here's the argument put forward,

If you are unregenerate then you don't know anything

Now, you have admitted that it is indeed self defeating for him - so what exactly is self defeating for him? The conclusion that he does not know anything. By your own method (reductio) the premise that he is unregenerate is to be rejected.

Ryan said...

"Good I take it that you now concede that an argument stated in the second person can refer to the reader whether that reader is you or him or me."

No, I essentially said that an argument in the second person can be restated in the third person, not the first person. Try again.

"Unless, of course, you deny that if I read it I can apply it to myself, which ironically is the position that no one can apply an argument stated in the second person to one's self - if so, good luck doing apologetics."

I don't see why it is ironic to point out that the second person pronouns refers to someone other than oneself.

"...your argument is the former not the latter."

"Knowledge" in a specified sense. To claim you don't have said knowledge is to not have that knowledge, precisely because the position is self-defeating.

"Now, you have admitted that it is indeed self defeating for him - so what exactly is self defeating for him? The conclusion that he does not know anything. By your own method (reductio) the premise that he is unregenerate is to be rejected."

But he doesn't reject it. If he does, he has to further accept the gospel to maintain consistency. When he doesn't do the latter, he is still inconsistent and so still holds to a self-defeating worldview.

Anonymous said...

Do you deny that if I read an argument in the second person I can apply it to myself (first person)?

"To claim you don't have said knowledge"

again - is it the 5th time now? - your argument has nothing about anyone 'claiming' anything - again, there is a difference between [knowing nothing, being unregenerate] and [claiming you know nothing, claiming you are unregenerate] etc...

"But he doesn't reject it."

He doesn't have to - the self defeat is not in his claiming or rejecting, the conclusion(reductio) comes just because he is unregenerate if he is - not whether he claims to be or not.

Merry Christmas to you and happy new year as well,

Ryan said...

"Do you deny that if I read an argument in the second person I can apply it to myself (first person)?"

How would that even work? How do you apply "you (someone other than you) don't know anything" to yourself?

"again - is it the 5th time now? - your argument has nothing about anyone 'claiming' anything - again, there is a difference between [knowing nothing, being unregenerate] and [claiming you know nothing, claiming you are unregenerate] etc...

He doesn't have to - the self defeat is not in his claiming or rejecting, the conclusion(reductio) comes just because he is unregenerate if he is - not whether he claims to be or not."

And again, if someone doesn't claim to know x, he can't know x. A skeptic, for instance, who claims he doesn't know anything indeed couldn't know anything - including that claim - for while his statement is true, he by the very terms of the claim can have no justification for believing it. His true belief doesn't rise to the level of knowledge. Point being that people can indeed fail to possess any knowledge.

There is no contradiction in my noting this to be the case for others. It's when I myself try to put myself in the position of the skeptic that I will have to make self-refuting statements, the only resolution being to accept that I possess knowledge and am not a skeptic. But this resolution requires me to acknowledge many other things, including knowledge about my regeneration.

Anonymous said...

"It's when I myself try to put myself in the position of the skeptic...."

Look, unfortunately, your argument is *not* about putting oneself in the position of being a *skeptic*, but being *unregenerate*. You do grasp the difference right?- at the very least that many unregenerates claim to have knowledge and are not self-claimed skeptics? Oh well. Please stop trying to slink from the terms of your own argument - it really does you no good.

Anyway, I note with pleasure you've applied your argument (okay again let it pass that you're not using exactly the correct terms) to yourself and following the reductio conclude that you are regenerate. You've done this as a reader of your own argument. Bravo. Now, my point has been this all along: given the force of your argument/reductio, your conclusion applies to me or him or anyone just as it applied to you. No matter who takes it up or to who it applies (and are in the position of skeptic as you say), will come out regenerate due to the force of the argument/reductio.
-If you are unregenerate then you don't know anything.
Assert the antecedent and you get a reductio therefore you are regenerate.

And *that* is absurd since it makes unregeneracy impossible (no apologetics needed afterall).

On a deeper level, it turns out that your argument is itself a reductio of your core definition which conditions knowledge on regeneracy. That and whatever that comes from must be jettisoned. Until you do that you will always have this absurdity looking you squarely in the face, even if you choose not to regard it.

Happy new year.

Ryan said...

You understand how parity of reasoning works, right? If self-admitted skeptics needn't possess knowledge, then unregenerates, given their position logically leads to skepticism, likewise needn't possess knowledge. So the question becomes whether they do, in fact, possess knowledge. My argument leads to the conclusion that no, they don't. If you can grasp that, then you should be able to grasp your criticism fails.

"No matter who takes it up or to who it applies (and are in the position of skeptic as you say), will come out regenerate due to the force of the argument/reductio."

I already went over this. If you did not catch it:

You wrote: "Now, you have admitted that it is indeed self defeating for him - so what exactly is self defeating for him? The conclusion that he does not know anything. By your own method (reductio) the premise that he is unregenerate is to be rejected."

I replied: //But he doesn't reject it. If he does, he has to further accept the gospel to maintain consistency. When he doesn't do the latter, he is still inconsistent and so still holds to a self-defeating worldview.//

A person has to accept the idea he is regenerate to maintain the possibility of knowledge - the other route indeed leads to his having no knowledge, which is the thrust of the argument. But unless he accepts the other necessary conditions attached to this, including his being a believer, then it does the respondent no good.

It'd be like saying "I accept the laws of logic but reject the principles of language." In such a case, does my position allow me to know anything? Nope. Language is just as must a necessary precondition for knowledge as is logic. So too with acceptance of the gospel and regeneracy. You can't have it half-way.

So that you think this makes apologetics unneeded just demonstrates you aren't following my arguments.

Happy New Year to you as well.

Anonymous said...

My argument leads to the conclusion that no, they don't.

umm actually your argument continues on to showing that not knowing anything is absurd, etc...

"which is the thrust of the argument."

Unfortunately that's false. The thrust of your argument is that if you are unregenerate then you don't know anything, which is shown to be absurd because self-defeating. Your argument proves that unregeneracy is impossible. That's the thrust logically of your argument as stated -whether you like it or not.
Thx

Anonymous said...

If A therefore B,
so, not B therefore not A

If you are unregenerate then you don't know anything

but the consequent is false due to self-defeating absurdity, therefore the premise is false as well.

assert the antecedent - you are unregenerate - and it follows necessarily that you are not unregenerate by the valid argument form (modus tollens).

upshot: you cannot assert unregeneracy without absurdity, and, by the terms of this argument, neither can anyone else. Thrust: unregeneracy is impossible.

Thx.

Ryan said...

One's claiming to not know anything is absurd. One's claiming to know something while rejecting that which makes knowledge possible is absurd. My noting that an unregenerate does not knowing anything is not absurd. They don't know anything. This is true. They can't consistently state this, but that just follows from the nature of the truth itself.

You haven't shown why this elementary distinction is absurd. Do you really not see that?

"assert the antecedent - you are unregenerate - and it follows necessarily that you are not unregenerate by the valid argument form (modus tollens)."

Point? A valid argument isn't necessarily a sound argument. Unregenerates can make valid arguments, but as they cannot make sound arguments due to their rejection of Christianity, they can't know anything. I, however, can make this valid argument soundly, because I am not an unregenerate. Again, you're completely missing the first vs. third person issue.

Anonymous said...

"They don't know anything. This is true."

Not by your own argument sir. If they are unregenerate then they don't know anything, but the conclusion is absurd, ergo...please pay attention to the terms and progress of your own argument.

The rest of your reply talks as if there were unregenerates. But are such things even possible?
[the regenerate] Ryan makes this valid argument soundly:

-If you are unregenerate then you don't know anything
-You are unregenerate
-therefore you don't know anything
but, alas, the consequent is false due to self-defeating absurdity, therefore the antecedent is false as well.
If A then B; not B therefore not A
Modus Tollens
Ryan has soundly proved that unregenerates are just not possible.

Ryan said...

The conclusion isn't absurd, as I have said several times now. You haven't even attempted to show how it is "self-defeating absurdity." "B" can be true without its being the case that A can consistently affirm "B." Keep repeating yourself, I'll do the same until you come up with something new.

Anonymous said...

The conclusion isn't absurd, as I have said several times now. You haven't even attempted to show how it is "self-defeating absurdity."

*I* don't have to show it -you did the work already (thanks) - here's your own words:

"C. You don’t know anything...
Since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating (link), that leaves the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity."

you continue,
"B" can be true

No it can't - not based on what you yourself have argued. look above.

heh - funny but you do realize that you're arguing against your own argument? you do realize all I've done is turn your own argument right back at you...So keep repeating yourself too - it's fun to watch someone fight their own argument (especially one in which so much is invested). So far the argument, not you, is winning. So keep trying...Thanks!

Ryan said...

I told you back in November that "[t]he point in it being in the second person is to show the unregenerate he is himself being inconsistent." Since after 2 months you're evidently still having problems understanding what I was arguing, how about this:

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

This conclusion is self-defeating. So from the perspective of another regenerate (or God), either I know something and so am not an unregenerate, or I am an unregenerate and cannot consistently claim to know anything. What cannot be the case is that I know something and am an unregenerate. That would require an objection to one of the earlier premises, each of which I've defended and linked to in the OP. P5 is the problem.

Anonymous said...

The form of your argument is modus tollens (via reductio):

If A then B, not B (absurd), therefore not A.

Yet you claim God sees

If A then B, A, therefore cannot consistently claim not B

I deny God is that irrational.

Ryan said...

"If A then B, A, therefore cannot consistently claim not B."

Why is this irrational? If I said "I don't know anything," do I know something? What? Or is not it just that my statement implies a claim to know something and thus my statement is self-defeating? Same principle applies here.

Anonymous said...

It's irrational precisely because your argument is a modus tollens, and yet you say that God sees the modus tollens as

if A then B, A, therefore cannot consistently claim not-B

which is *not* a modus tollens.

Try again.

Ryan said...

No, the modus tollens is:

If one knows something (A), then he is a regenerate (B). One is not or may not be a regenerate (~B), therefore he knows nothing (~A).

Again, the unregenerate cannot consistently state this argument in the first person. That's the whole point, though. Please answer my question:

"If I said "I don't know anything," do I know something? What? Or is not it just that my statement implies a claim to know something and thus my statement is self-defeating?"

Anonymous said...

Nice try -but not quite. Please go read your argument *again*. It is a *reductio* - The reductio is the form of a modus tollens:

If you are unregenerate then you don't know anything

but the consequent is self-defeating absurdity thus the premise is false.

If A then B, not B(absurd), therefore not A.

ironically, in your revamped argument the absurdity is in *being regenerate* [not B(absurd)] which is *not* the absurdity your original argument was driving at.
Please remain faithful to your original argument.

Ryan said...

"...but the consequent is self-defeating absurdity thus the premise is false."

Once again, you still have not established this. So for the third time now, please answer my questions directed at this now stale assertion:

"If I said "I don't know anything," do I know something? What? Or is not it just that my statement implies a claim to know something and thus my statement is self-defeating?"

"...ironically, in your revamped argument the absurdity is in *being regenerate* [not B(absurd)] which is *not* the absurdity your original argument was driving at."

There is no self-defeating absurdity unless it is an unregenerate applying the argument to himself, in which case refer to the above questions.

"Please remain faithful to your original argument."

If I can highlight how your position is false by a clearer argument, you're going to have to deal with that. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I did not establish that - you did.
Let me remind you by quoting you:

"C. You don’t know anything.."
Since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating (link), that leaves P5. as the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity."

further,
"If I said "I don't know anything," do I know something?

No matter how interesting a question that may be - it is simply not your argument - your argument is:

if you are unregenerate then you don't know anything

further,
"There is no self-defeating absurdity unless it is an unregenerate applying the argument to himself"

unfortunately that is precisely *not*
the self-defeating absurdity in your original argument, let me quote you again,
"yet the conclusion is self-defeating"
and that conclusion (that is self-defeating) is "you don't know anything".

Ryan said...

We've been over this. I already have pointed out twice now that "The point in it being in the second person is to show the unregenerate he is himself being inconsistent." That's what I meant when I said the conclusion is self-defeating. I have tried to make that clearer throughout these comments, but you still don't get it or don't want to get it.

Anonymous said...

oh so a new argument?

If you are unregenerate then you are inconsistent

but being inconsistent is self-defeating absurdity ergo you are not unregenerate.

not only is that *not* your original argument - but it actually does not help your case one iota. The key that you continue to miss is the form of your own argument - for example, quote,
"the conclusion is self-defeating(absurdity)"
that's what makes a reductio so nice - the conclusion is absurd so the premise is rejected as absurd as well.

Ryan said...

How is it a new argument when I clarified it was what I meant in the post back in November?

"but being inconsistent is self-defeating absurdity ergo you are not unregenerate."

No, the argument implies no such thing. It means they're being inconsistent. To resolve that inconsistency they have to actually become and admit to being regenerate. You do see that the inconsistency isn't resolved unless this happens... right? But then they don't know actually anything until and unless this happens.

"the conclusion is self-defeating(absurdity)"
that's what makes a reductio so nice - the conclusion is absurd so the premise is rejected as absurd as well."

That is what we can say to them is the logical outcome of their position. They must acknowledge themselves to be regenerates, which is an acceptance of self-knowledge, which is what was denied as knowable in the first place. But just because they should acknowledge this doesn't mean they do, rather like how the fact I've repeatedly shown you should accept this argument doesn't mean you have.

But thanks for unwittingly showing my "*original*" argument and clarification to be sound, yet again.

Anonymous said...

"How is it a new argument when I clarified it was what I meant in the post back in November?"

Because that's not your argument from November which is

if you are unregenerate then you don't know anything,etc...

*not*

if you are unregenerate then you are inconsistent.

Changing your argument midstream is not a clarification. You also dropped the reductio in the new version - not a very promising clarification.

"No, the argument implies no such thing. It means they're being inconsistent. To resolve that inconsistency they have to actually become and admit to being regenerate. You do see that the inconsistency isn't resolved unless this happens... right? But then they don't know actually anything until and unless this happens."

This is ridiculous on (at least) two counts:
First, your original argument does not hinge on a conversion. Your argument hinges on a reductio - the premise is not rejected due to a change in belief but precisely because the consequent is absurd - conversion is not a reductio.
Second - you argue invalidly:
if unregenerate then inconsistent,
so become regenerate therefore not inconsistent
If A then B, not A therefore not B -fallacy of denying the antecedent.

"That is what we can say to them is the logical outcome of their position. They must acknowledge themselves to be regenerates, which is an acceptance of self-knowledge, which is what was denied as knowable in the first place. "

Again you argue invalidly:
If unregenerate then you don't know anything, but if regenerate then you have self-knowledge. Same fallacy as before.
The problem is the logical outcome not of anyone's position or claim, but of your argument which is a reductio afterall -
if unregenerate then you don't know anything but that is absurd ergo you are not unregenerate.
The upshot, as I said before, is that your argument -the logical outcome - makes unregeneracy impossible - thanks to the reductio.

"But thanks for unwittingly showing my "*original*" argument and clarification to be sound, yet again."

You pat yourself on the back way too cheaply sir.

Ryan said...

“Changing your argument midstream is not a clarification. You also dropped the reductio in the new version - not a very promising clarification.”

One whose axiom entails inconsistency cannot know anything. I didn’t drop the reductio, I just didn’t realize I needed to hand-hold you through everything.

“First, your original argument does not hinge on a conversion. Your argument hinges on a reductio - the premise is not rejected due to a change in belief but precisely because the consequent is absurd - conversion is not a reductio.”

My original argument hinges on the premise the person in question doesn’t claim to be regenerate and so doesn’t claim to be converted. You’re right, the argument itself doesn’t hinge on conversion; once again, the resolution of the problem the argument creates for the claimant does. I didn’t address this in the OP, but why should I have? It doesn’t affect the points I make.

“Second - you argue invalidly:
if unregenerate then inconsistent,
so become regenerate therefore not inconsistent
If A then B, not A therefore not B -fallacy of denying the antecedent.”

If regenerates and unregenerates are both fundamentally inconsistent, knowledge is impossible… in which case this argument is unknowable. Congrats, you’ve reductio’d yourself.

“Again you argue invalidly:
If unregenerate then you don't know anything, but if regenerate then you have self-knowledge. Same fallacy as before.”

Same reductio and hand-holding as before.

“The problem is the logical outcome not of anyone's position or claim, but of your argument which is a reductio afterall -
if unregenerate then you don't know anything but that is absurd ergo you are not unregenerate.”

Non sequitur. It’s absurd for one to claim he doesn’t know anything, but that is only because his claim implies he knows something. A third party can still consistently state he doesn’t know anything. You have yet to address this.

Anonymous said...

"One whose axiom entails inconsistency cannot know anything."

This is a new argument altogether. But, it's not quite up to snuff with your original - so let me hold *your* hand:

If you are one whose axiom entails inconsistency then you cannot know anything.
However,
"You don’t know anything..
Since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating (link), that leaves the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity."
thus you are not one whose axioms entail inconsistency.

"My original argument hinges on the premise the person in question doesn’t claim to be regenerate"

False. Your original argument hinges on the premise that one is or may be unregenerate - which is most certainly not the same thing as "doesn't claim to be regenerate".

"If regenerates and unregenerates are both fundamentally inconsistent"

Weird. I point out your fallacious argument and rather than improve you interject something neither one of us has said...strange indeed sir.

"It’s absurd for one to claim he doesn’t know anything"

It's absurd that you cannot tell the difference between the consequent of your original argument which states that you cannot know anything - and claiming such. Since your original argument has nothing about anyone claiming anything, I am under no obligation to deal with such a red herring.

Finally, let's make your current interpretation and see -
is this:

If you are unregenerate then you cannot know anything

the same as

If you don't claim to be regenerate then you claim to not know anything.

AND if you add in the reductio -well you ought by now know what the conclusion is: it's false that "you don't claim to be regenerate".
etc....

Ryan said...

"thus you are not one whose axioms entail inconsistency."

No:

P1: If you are one whose axiom entails inconsistency then you cannot know anything.
P2: One's denying self-knowledge (specifically regarding one's own regeneracy) leads to axiomatic inconsistency.
C: The one who denies self-knowledge (specifically regarding one's own regeneracy) doesn't know anything.

"False. Your original argument hinges on the premise that one is or may be unregenerate - which is most certainly not the same thing as "doesn't claim to be regenerate"."

//The point in it being in the second person is to show the unregenerate he is himself being inconsistent.//

How has it been 3 months and you still don't get it? If you keep making this mistake I will just ignore your comments.

"Weird. I point out your fallacious argument and rather than improve you interject something neither one of us has said...strange indeed sir."

If you think regenerates aren't fundamentally inconsistent, there was no fallacy in my argument. So I assumed you thought the opposite. Otherwise, you're just wasting space.

"It's absurd that you cannot tell the difference between the consequent of your original argument which states that you cannot know anything - and claiming such."

It's absurd you're still whining about this after 3 months of my having clarified what the argument means.

"is this:

If you are unregenerate then you cannot know anything

the same as

If you don't claim to be regenerate then you claim to not know anything."

No. Nevertheless, only God's sheep hear His voice.

Anonymous said...

oh my...another new argument -

"P1: If you are one whose axiom entails inconsistency then you cannot know anything.
P2: One's denying self-knowledge (specifically regarding one's own regeneracy) leads to axiomatic inconsistency.
C: The one who denies self-knowledge (specifically regarding one's own regeneracy) doesn't know anything."

However,
"You don’t know anything..
Since the argument is valid yet the conclusion is self-defeating (link), that leaves the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity."
thus you are not one whose axioms entail inconsistency, and thus,
you are not one who denies self-knowledge (specifically regarding one's own regeneracy).

Ryan said...

It's the same argument I made before, only it's put into a syllogism.

"...that leaves the premise I argue is reduced to absurdity."

You consistently miss this part of my post and then for some reason act as if I am at cross purposes with myself.

Anonymous said...

I did not say you are at cross purposes with yourself.

However, the logical outcome of your argument is obvious: not only is unregeneracy impossible (your original argument),
but now (your new argument) inconsistency and the lack of self-knowledge are impossible too.

And as I said before on a deeper level, it turns out that your argument is itself a reductio of your core definition which conditions knowledge on regeneracy. That and whatever that comes from must be jettisoned. Until you do that you will always have this absurdity looking you squarely in the face, even if you choose not to regard it.

Ryan said...

The logical outcome of my argument is that one who is not unregenerate and/or does not claim to be regenerate cannot know anything, and that their having to admit such in accordance with this argument is self-defeating. You're again just repeating yourself.

Anonymous said...

oh my...so the latest argument is

If you are both (regenerate and do not claim to be regenerate) then you cannot know anything.

You do realize it's not well thought out - research shows that the Sean fellow in your post indeed makes that claim - it's obviously a very strong opinion with him. I think he claims he does not know it - so let's amend:

If you are both (regenerate and claim not to know that you are regenerate) then you cannot know anything.

We could stop and make the reductio here - but I don't think this is quite right either - claims can be false, so

If you are (regenerate and do not know you are and claim not to know you are) then you cannot know anything.

Ahh too many terms - just drop the "claim" thing since now it really doesn't matter, thus:

If you are (regenerate and do not know you are) then you cannot know anything.

Apply the reductio to the conjunction - the denial of a conjunction is the disjunction of its' terms separately denied.
So either you are not regenerate or you know you are regenerate (but not both since that makes no sense)
But this is absurd since in Sean's case the latter is false, thus leaving the conclusion that he is unregenerate - which is absurd if he actually is regenerate. And let us assume that is a truth. It follows that your conjunction leads to an absurd false conclusion. That is to say your conjunction itself is absurd.

Get a new argument please!!

Anonymous said...

OK maybe getting a new argument is not the issue.

Let's go over one more time:
if A then B, not B (absurd) therefore not A.

In the case of Sean, it would follow that he is not both (regenerate and one who does not know he is) - but that is patently false (assuming etc..). So maybe drop the approach altogether.

Maybe what you ought do is explain how the state of being both (regenerate and not knowing that you are) is not only undesirable but not the only state one can be in - yes it is a state one can be in - but there's a better one. So explain how Sean can know that he is regenerate - but, please, not through arguments that are absurd.
I mean, really if your just stand back and look at it, the argument says that a *regenerate* cannot know anything unless he knows that he is regenerate - you even denied that in an exchange previously (Nov 28 2013 1:51am) and in that exchange you said he can know it -

leaving aside fallacious arguments please explain exactly how Sean can know he is regenerate - I'd be very interested to hear that.
Thx

Ryan said...

All that text and still nothing new. Heh.

I didn't say Sean can know he is regenerate. In principle, though, it is possible for a regenerate to know he is regenerate. That's the point. If it were not possible, then one couldn't know he's heard God's voice, which is the only means by which we know anything.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately you've done exactly what I asked you not to do in light of the failure of your arguments- you've created a new argument:

If you don't know you've heard his voice then you don't know anything

but the conclusion is self-defeating absurdity, so thus, you know you've heard his voice.

you've made not knowing you've heard his voice impossible. And that's absurd.

So, please show how it is possible for a regenerate to know he is regenerate without resorting to absurd arguments. Thx

Ryan said...

So you think it is possible to know anything apart from knowing what God has revealed?

Anonymous said...

We both know your arguments are absurd. Is that knowledge "revealed"? If not, then perhaps it's time for a better philosophy?
Thx

Ryan said...

Was that a yes?

Anonymous said...

I repeat,
please show how it is possible for a regenerate to know he is regenerate without resorting to absurd arguments.

aside
do you deny knowing
P1: Either your argument is absurd or not

Ryan said...

I've done so repeatedly, which leads me to think you must be fixated on this for a different reason.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately your reply is not a serious rejoinder to the exposure of the self-defeating absurdity in your argumentation shown repeatedly thru various iterations you've put forward.
It follows that you have not shown self-knowledge (of regeneration) to even be possible - let alone a condition of knowing anything. The best you've done -so far - is to show us how *not* to argue for it.

- Thx

Anonymous said...

But there is an upside to the collapse of your deeper conditions: it turns out that everyone can know something.. And that is in line with Augustine who, as Clark in Thales to Dewey wrote, asserted that knowledge was impossible to miss. And that included the heathen too - that section is very instructive. Augustine even laid out how self-knowledge can be had easily enough even by the heathen (but thankfully it has nothing to do with absurd arguments).
Thx

Ryan said...

You're equivocating on my use of knowledge vs. Clark's. Mine is much more specifically defined.

People can read for themselves and decide who has the better of this argument, but I'm over attempting to convince you.

Anonymous said...

"You're equivocating on my use of knowledge vs. Clark's. Mine is much more specifically defined."

Your definition is false. Augustine's isn't.

"People can read for themselves and decide who has the better of this argument"

ad populum fallacy

"but I'm over attempting to convince you."

Convince me of what? Of what your argument logically implies? Seriously?

One last time: in your argument the self-defeat comes precisely at the absurdity of you (or anyone) not knowing anything hence the premise that you (or anyone) is both (not unregenerate and claiming to not know that one is regenerate) is absurd/false.
Look at it another way - It's also an indirect proof:
let's say you want to prove that you (or anyone) is either not regenerate or knows that they are regenerate (but not both since that makes no sense) - thus you construct an argument which takes the negation of that as the antecedent and derive a conclusion from it that is absurd thus proving your thesis by an indirect proof - reductio.
That's the logical outcome of your argument. You have shown that is absurd/impossible to be both (not unregenerate and claiming to not know that one is regenerate) thus proving your thesis that one is either not regenerate or one knows he is regenerate (not both).
But that itself is absurd since in fact one can be (and at least one is) regenerate and not know it (as per Sean) etc...

Thx
(Shakes dust off sandals....)

Ryan said...

Definitions can't be false, that makes no sense. Words can bear more than one or a specific vs. broader meaning, it's simply a matter or which is being used in a particular context.

"ad populum fallacy"

I'm not saying you or I are right or wrong based on what other people think. But as this conversation is going nowhere, the only point to it now would be for the sake of others.

It's as absurd for a skeptic to claim he knows nothing as it is for a skeptic [regarding his own regeneration] to claim he doesn't know whether he's regenerate. The simple follow-up point is that neither absurdity actually implies the skeptic knows anything or that he is a regenerate, only that his claiming he doesn't know such would rather presuppose the opposite being true. Your attempts to pigeon-hole me into a different interpretation have been addressed generously by this point.