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February 27, 2013

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The "justified true belief" idea might suffer from an infinite regression. What justifies your belief in the justification of your other belief? Etc. If you really want to get philosophical.

I hope Christian young people will also pay attention to their motivation for believing, in addition to their justification. For me, motivation is the better reason.

In my studies, I've heard this classical definition of knowledge. Justified true belief. But can you or someone else comment on the so-called "Gettier-Style Cases" forwarded by Edmund Gettier in 1993? This seems to be shifting the definition of knowledge more broadly and I was wondering if anyone had a resolution from a Christian perspective.

For example, you might wake up at 7:30 AM, look at your typically reliable clock which reads "7:30", and conclude that it is in fact 7:30 AM. And you'd be right. But what if that clock had actually stopped 24 hours earlier? Certainly you still have belief, justification, and truth, but your knowledge was still arrived at by a chance of luck. This is the classic Gettier-style case.

I would love to hear Greg or Brett address the more recent developments like this in modern Philosophy.

Justin, Craig and Moreland address this at length in "Philosophical Foundations for A Christian Worldview. In summary, they offer at least three strategies as responses to Gettier-type examples (they go into significant detail on each):

Strategy #1: Retain the standard definition and show that the Gettier-type examples do not work because the people in them didn't really have justification, i.e., it is still the case that knowledge = JTB (justified true belief)

Strategy #2: Accept the examples, hold that JTB is necessary not sufficient and look for a fourth condition, i.e., knowledge = JTB + ?.

Strategy #3: Accept the examples, abandon the tripartite analysis of knowledge but replacing "justification' with something else to form a new tripartite definition of knowledge, i.e., knowledge = ?TB.

While they aren't necessarily affirming these arguments they lay them out in great detail and show their strengths and weaknesses appropriately.

Moreland, James Porter, and William Lane. Craig. "Epistimology." Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003. 75-89. Print.

Strategies 2 and 3 aren't too useful unless they can replace the question mark with something substantial.

Strategy 1 seems straightforward, but again we might have an infinite regression because we can never get totally certain justification.

Maybe we should stop using the word "knowledge" because it strongly implies certainty and its definition is therefore tainted. Maybe belief is all there is.

Isn't anything we believe controlled by presuppositions? Basically we all assume things or have faith. I guess intellectual endeavors are crucial to determine what worldview actually contains the preconditions of intelligibility.

"Maybe we should stop using the word "knowledge" because it strongly implies certainty and its definition is therefore tainted. Maybe belief is all there is."

Hi John, if knowledge is grounded in sense perception, or experience, I think your observation would apply. There is special revelation though, information from an Authority that provides justification for belief that sense perception cannot by itself provide.

Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga has gone with strategy 3, and defined knowledge as warranted true belief (WTB). For him a warranted belief is one formed by properly functioning cognitive faculties in a congenial epistemic environment, according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth. To avoid an infinite regress of warrant/justifification for a belief, he holds that certain beliefs are "basic", in that they are not dependent on others. See his trilogy of books on warrant for further details.

Part One:

Epistemology just is Triune within Uncreated Knowing there inside the Triune God and therein trumps the death of circularity and infinite regress which materialism cannot escape.

“He who loves his own wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28

“As for knowledge, it will pass away when the total comes….” I Corinthians 13

He who loves Other loves Self. Such is the Singular-We. That which is Poured Out is found being Poured In. That which dies lives. That which is forever Sacrificed is found forever Restored.

We find in Christ, within Love’s Interior there within the Triune God, this: The Eternally-Sacrificed-Self. That is just what Self does there within Love’s Triune of I-You-We and in Dying we find yet more Living.

We find here within Love’s interior a matchless source to a River filled with an inimitable flavor of Water. We find within Actuality’s relational community that All-Things are Eternally Poured Out-Of and in like manner All-Things are Eternally Poured In-To. We find both our Beginning and our End to something which is everlasting and herein the Regress is necessarily quenched, and fatally so, and whether we speak of Ontology or of Love or of Epistemology we find ourselves diving into this triune topography.

More to follow....

Part Two:

Husbands, love your wives, for you are one flesh. In loving her, you are loving yourself, for you and her are one. Is it I? Yes. Is it You? Yes. Is it We? Yes. Actual Actuality there within Uncreated Love within the God of the Hebrew and the Christian gives to us that which we need to find Truth everlastingly Pouring Out-Of and everlastingly Pouring In-To. And we find that it is not only Truth which fills this Uncaused River but it is also Ontology and therein also Epistemology which fill this Uncaused River which is Itself Eternally Emptying only to be Eternally Filling as the Eternally Sacrificed Self is therein Everlastingly Restored.

The infinite regress and the death of circularity which within simple materialism are fatal due to ultimate absurdity are within the Triune God that which is Necessarily Self-Existent, which the materialist seeks but cannot find. The Materialist suffers his death on two fronts. First, all of science must be ignored by him. Not a little science here and there, but all of it, for all of it, every data point whatsoever, shows us all material stuff, every bit of it, screaming but one testimony into our ears: Precursor! Material Stuff just does not behave in any sort of isolated, uncaused manner. Secondly, the infinite regress of Materialism cannot be traversed.

Materialism is here fatal to Knowledge on two fronts. First, Knowledge cannot traverse materialism’s necessarily infinite regress. Secondly, Knowledge is enslaved to physical systems and therefore never free to think a thought. “Thinking” is at best psychic phosphorescence as cascading dominoes reverberate within the physics of Net-Force-Sums. But, as always, the Agnostic and the Atheist are slowly catching up to the Hebrew and the Christian and are forever borrowing from them as we now here academia’s hollowed corridors regressing out of the material realm and into the immaterial realm within references to vague and spooky pseudo-things such as Law or Word as the uncaused cause.

More to follow...

Part Three:

Epistemology is itself Triune. Uncreated Knowing within the Triune of Love’s I, You, and I-You is not merely within Self. It, Knowing, is also that which occurs both In and By reference to Other. Our good friend Ben loves this and thinks it a proof of agnosticism, but it ends up a testimony of the Triune Fabric of just Every-Thing. In Knowing, we find that which is Known purely within, by, of The-Self, and, we find that which is Known purely within, by, of The-Other, and, we find that which is Known purely within, by, of the Singular Self-Other. Knowing just is Triune. Epistemology just is Triune for the God Who Is-Love just is I-You-We for that just is what Love is. Further, we find here that subtle hint of Christ when He speaks of the Father not only Knowing the Son (and vise versa) and of the Son not only Knowing the Father (and vise versa) but, also, or in addition to that knowing there is that other nuance of Keeps-On-Knowing which is but a bridge to those Transcendent vs. Immanent modes of Knowing-Among-And-Between-Real-Selves.

More to follow...

Part Four:

In Knowing we find the In-Here and the Out-There as well as the Singular In-Out for we find within the Triune that which is The-Self, and, we find that which is The-Other, and, we find that which is the Singular We of Self-Other. Ontology itself is Triune for within Being's singular and pleural amid the I and the You and the singular I-You Being itself regresses to Love's embrace among the I and the You wherein the Singular-We streams uncreated. Ontology itself, and, Epistemology itself, and, lest we forget, Love itself all flow inevitably into this topography. Scripture shows us that which is Known within, by, of the Father, and within, by, of the Son, and that which is known within, by, of the Spirit. Is it I? Yes. Is it You? Yes. Is it I-You or a Singular-We? Yes. And each is Distinct from the other in Capacity, in Agency, in Know, in Know-ing, and so on worlds without end. That which I know is not that which my Wife knows, and, that which either of us know is not that which that distinct and singular We knows. Internal. External. In-Here. Out-There. And all of the above in relation as Each-Context merges within the All-Context. The Context of the Triune overwhelms and swallows up whole not only Love but also Ontology and also Epistemology.

Each Distinct within Love’s Triune of I, You, and We testifies of this for scripture shows us their odd modes of “I know this, He knows that, We know all” and so on, and so on, worlds without end. Epistemology just is Triune. We know by and in the Context that is Self and by and in relation to other things in the Context of that which is outside the Self and by the Singular Context that just is the Singular We of the Self-Other. That just is the triune topography of Uncreated Knowing, and we are made in His Image. It is not only that Epistemology is Triune, it is also that Know and Know-ing cannot be otherwise.

More to follow...

Part Five:

And what is Truth?

We find within the Triune God the inevitable Flavor and Nuance of Word, call it what we may, be it Proposition, be it Presupposition, be it Premise, be it Law, be it Property of Thought, or be it Content of Thought, and so on and as we will see such just is relational within all Vectors whether we speak of Ontology or of Epistemology. The Materialist finds himself borrowing from the Hebrew and the Christian for he finds his Uncaused-Cause of the Just-Is type testifying by Self-Evidence that it just is a sort of Everlasting Free Lunch emerging as Necessary regardless of which vectors break through as No-Thing ever escapes Necessity's uncaused IS which forever shouts through all known vectors I-AM. Logic feigns a regress to Self-Evidence and is found sustained quite easily within Epistemology's Triune Topography. Through all these windows our Uncaused-Cause is Self-Evident as a necessary Everlasting Free Lunch emerging atop a sort of terrain that has multiple yet perfect fronts all of which comprise a singular whole and all available evidence points towards the Immaterial as the source of this Everlasting IS which exacting Necessity inflexibly testifies of.

More to follow....

Part Six:

And this is why we are told in Corinthians that the entity which we call Knowledge is going to pass away. Truth, the Whole that is the Singular-We, which we find Christ praying for in John’s seventeenth chapter, will come to be, and, when It enters us, or rather when we enter It, or both, the thing we call Knowledge will no longer be. Our Knowledge is not that sort of Knowledge, that sort of River, which we find within the Uncreated Triune where that River of Truth, of Knowledge, of Love, of Being, of Know-Ing which is forever Poured Out-Of is found being forever Poured In-To, where that which dies lives, where that which is forever Sacrificed is found forever Restored. Our knowledge cannot give to us that which we need to find: Truth everlastingly Pouring Out-Of and everlastingly Pouring In-To.

Our Knowledge is necessarily a one-way river which we find perpetually emptying but never refilling within The-Now and thus Knowledge void of Truth’s Triune Interior cannot but reach to Created-Things in its quest to everlastingly fill-up itself and this is its fatal and inevitable infinite regress which just no-thing can ever fill-up. It seeks but never finds. At best we get but temporal fragments which themselves only eventually succumb to that very same emptying-out which they initially promised to abate. But abate the fatal regress they cannot ever do for created things are in the end enslaved not to Truth Itself but to the death of all knowledge within materialism: Net-Force-Sum.

Our river, our knowledge, is going to pass away. And the mechanism which shall bring this about is Truth of a Triune sort. And we find that it is not only Truth which fills this Uncaused River but it is also Ontology and therein also Epistemology which fill up this Uncaused River which is Itself Eternally Emptying only to be Eternally Filling as the Eternally Sacrificed Self is therein Everlastingly Restored. Truth which is Himself forever poured out, which is Himself forever filled up, and so on, and so on forever is that River called Life there in Love’s Garden which gives to us a Water called Truth which fills a Cup thus offered and should a Man drink from that Cup it is said he will never thirst again. Some rivers run dry. There is One which never can. It is not so much that it will not run dry. It is more so that it cannot.

End.

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