Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Communicability of Self-Knowledge

In a recent post, I said:
I can know that I myself am elect without knowing anyone else is. Paul names specific elect individuals in his letters. Why should my knowing that I am elect be any more of a problem than the fact these individuals could know that they were elect even during their own lifetimes? 
One objection to this has been that I can’t have deduced self-knowledge from Scripture, for if I had, it would be truth I could “readily communicate to others.” I said in that post that this objection is question-begging. To expand on that, why does philosophic knowledge require that I be able to communicate the account of my knowledge to others?

Given Scripturalism, divine revelation is necessary and sufficient for philosophic knowledge. So suppose that God revealed “[no one] knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person,” allowing for trivial exceptions like God. Now, would I be able to prove to you, reader, that I actually believe this to be divine revelation? Not necessarily. After all, Scripturalism would dictate that your knowledge of my knowledge of what I actually believe must come through divine revelation. Even if you could know things about me, I’m not unquestionably trustworthy. So apart from divine revelation, what I would say I believe isn’t necessarily what I actually believe. You could take what I say I believe for granted, but your belief about what I believe is still opinion, not knowledge. But would an inability on my part to epistemically enlighten you about my reflexive knowledge mean I am myself am unable to account for it? Of course not, given a person’s thoughts can be known by his spirit.

And remember, the argument for self-knowledge I have provided isn’t predicated on my ability to show that I actually believe it or, for that matter, any other proposition. Once again, here is the argument:
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. 
Which premise requires my belief in it in order for the reader to know it? I have shown that at the present time, beliefs about oneself and particularly one’s regenerate status are knowable. That doesn’t imply anyone else can know that I actually believe any of what I’ve argued, but it’s still an account for the general necessity of self-knowledge. Focusing on whether I actually know myself doesn’t affect the truth or falsity of this argument. So even if it were a problem (though it’s not) that I can’t directly communicate my self-knowledge to others, this objection is a red herring against the above argument.

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