History of Philosophy and Christian Thought - Lesson 42


Discussion of criticisms and questions about Kant's ideas.

Ronald Nash
History of Philosophy and Christian Thought
Lesson 42
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Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

Part 3

I. Immanuel Kant (part 3)

A. Understanding Kant

B. Kant's Two Worlds


C. Response to Kant's Philosophy

1. Comments, Criticisms, and Questions

2. An Alternative to Kant's Epistemology

  • Thales and Anaximander were two philosophers in the sixth century BC that lived in Miletus.

  • Heraclitus and Pythagoras lived into the 5th century BC.

  • Any worldview addresses the subjects of God, ultimate reality, human knowledge, ethics and human persons.

  • Fundamental beliefs of a naturalistic worldview is that nothing exists outside the physical universe and that all things evolved.

  • Plato was a student of Socrates and lived into the fourth century BC. He opposed hedonism, empiricism, relativism, materialism, atheism and naturalism.

  • Plato described the universe as having three levels: the world of particulars, the world of forms, and the form of the good.

  • Plato's view of the universe was dualistic.

  • One of Plato's fundamental arguments is that the human soul is immortal.

  • Evaluation of Plato's arguments and comparison of Plato's philosophy with biblical theology.

  • Empiricism teaches that all human knowledge arises from sense experience. Rationalism teaches that some human knowledge does not arise from sense. experience

  • Aristotle was a student of Plato and lived in the fourth century BC.

  • Aristotle rejected Plato's doctrine of two worlds.

  • Discussion of Aristotelian philosophy as it relates to the incarnation.

  • Aristotle's philosophy as it relates to attributes of God and fundamental assumptions about psychology.

  • Aristotle made a distinction between passive intellect and active intellect.

  • Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the law of non-contradiction.

  • Discussion of the nature and substance of matter.

  • Hellenistic philosophy was an approach that was popular from the fourth century BC to the fifth century AD.

  • Stoics were determinists who believed in living according to nature.

  • Hedonism emphasized pleasure as the greatest good. "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we might be dead."

  • Philo's philosophy was based on a synthesis of Stoicism and Platonism.

  • Implicit "Logos" Christianity is an underlying theme in the book of Hebrews.

  • Plotinus lived in the third century AD and is considered the founder of Neoplatonism.

  • Augustine is a Latin church father, is considered by many to be one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity.

  • Augustine wrote Confessions as an autobiographical work to record his experience as a sinful youth and his experience becoming a follower of Christ.

  • Augustine wrote to refute some heresies of the day by focusing on the concepts of faith and reason.

  • Augustine writes about the problem of evil and describes evil as the absence of good.

  • Augustine writes to refute Pelagianism by focusing on the biblical teaching about sin.

  • Augustine writes to refute Donatism.

  • The fundamental idea of skepticism is that no one can know anything. Augustine this statement contradicts itself because the skeptic is claiming that you can know that you can't know anything.

  • When Augustine wrote "The City of God," he had a linear view of history.

  • In Augustine's theory of knowledge, he says that eternal reason and human reason are two different levels of reason.

  • Augustine was personally convinced of the importance of divine illumination.

  • The intellectual background of Thomas Aquinas was influenced by the discovery of ancient manuscripts, the rise of universities, the rise of religious brotherhoods and the rise of Muslim philosophy.

  • Aquinas describes faith as whatever a human can know through special revelation, and reason as whatever a human can know outside of special revelation.

  • Aquinas attempts to prove God's existence.

  • Aquinas describes four kinds of law as eternal, divine, natural and positive.

  • The rationalists and empiricists set the stage for Kant and other philosophers of the modern era.

  • Kant argued that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality he dubbed the “Categorical Imperative."

  • Kants two worlds are the phenomenal world and the noumenal world.

  • Discussion of criticisms and questions about Kant's ideas.

  • Similarities between Kant's ideas and postmodernism.

  • The dialectic is a central idea in Hegel's philosophy.

  • Ideally, Marxism begins with class struggle, then revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat, withering away of the state, and a utopian classless society.

  • Discussion of four faces of Marxism.

  • Nietzsche proclaimed that, "God is dead." His cure was to live life knowing there is no ultimate meaning. Kierkegaard emphasized a worldview based on true faith.

In this class, you will explore the rich history of philosophy and its relationship with Christian thought. The course begins with an introduction to the definition and importance of philosophy in Christian theology. You will then delve into the evolution of philosophical thought from the Pre-Socratic era, through the Classical Greek philosophers, and into the Hellenistic period. As you progress, you will discover how early Christian thought emerged and developed during the Patristic period, with a special focus on Augustine. The class continues with an examination of medieval Christian thinkers, such as Anselm and Thomas Aquinas, and concludes with an analysis of modern philosophers like Descartes, Kant, and Kierkegaard, and their influence on contemporary Christian thought.

Dr. Ronald Nash
History of Philosophy and Christian Thought
Lesson Transcript


I'm now going to I'm not going to follow fairly closely the material on pages 266 and following. And here's why I'm going to do this. Aside from the fact that we're going to meet next week and look at other stuff that I guarantee will be on the final exam. This is really the culmination of a big part of this course in which I try to tie together a whole lot of things that we just sort of touched base with. So I call this section of the chapter comments, criticisms and questions. All right. Do you have your book open page 266? We have let's go down these points. Point number one, forgive me for reading, but why not? Many believe the concept histology was a synthesis of rationalism and empiricism. After all, they point out, Khan stresses the importance of both precepts and concepts. Is this not a way to merge the most important elements of reason and experience? I'm afraid not. Keep in mind that quite clearly states that all human knowledge begins with sense experience. This claim identifies comp as an empiricist conscious belief that precepts are a necessary condition for human knowledge is highly problematic and it is a telltale sign that card is an empiricist. A genuine rationalist insist that there can be genuine and reliable intellectual intuitions that is intuitions not dependent on prior sense experience. One example of such an intellectual intuition would be our knowledge of our own existence. And if one instance of intellectual intuition exists, the door is open to the possibility of others. Okay. Now, that's not that's not the be the biggest tiger in the forest here.


[00:02:16] But that's that's a you know, that's a comment. All right. Not every comment is a criticism. Comment was an empiricist point to. Now we're beginning to move in the direction of criticisms. Kahn insisted that it is impossible for the categories of the understanding, including the category of causation, to be applied beyond his wall to the world of things in themselves. This is a wall, this vertical line. Kohn called it The Wall of an Enemy. I'm sorry about that. The wall of antipathy. And Tennessee is a kind of synonym for contradiction. Can't believe that because this is where the categories are over here. Any time a human being tries to extend the categories, these 12 organizing rules or principle, any any time anybody tries to extend the categories to the world of things in themselves. Contradictions arise. It cannot be done. That's why the the world, the moment a world is unknowable because we can't have knowledge of anything to which we cannot apply the categories. Now, one of the categories that concepts cannot be applied to the nominal world is the category of causation. I'll give you an example of causation. Watch my hands here. I'm clapping my hands and you hear a noise. Every one of you believes that it was the bringing together of my hands that causes the noise. Why do you believe that? Because your mind won't let you think in any other way. Clearly, if someone if some member of this class said, I don't believe the noise was caused by the clapping of the hands. We have someone whose cognitive faculties are malfunctioning. Do you understand? I mean, in the old days, we used to put people like this away somewhere. Families would talk about them, but they would never see them at Thanksgiving dinner.


[00:04:50] All right. They were in the in the funny farm. So this was one of Conte's reasons why there can be no proof for God's existence over here, because the proofs for God's existence all presuppose an application of the category of causation to the real world. And that can't be done. I'll give you an example. The cosmological argument for God's existence. Says that everything has a cause, the world has a cause, and the only thing that could possibly function adequately as a cause for the world would be a being like God. That's the cosmological argument. But the problem is the cosmological argument assumes something that can't be done. You cannot apply the category of causation beyond the wall of antipathy. Okay. But now watch how we've got cut. How he cheats. Let me go back and read this card insisted that it is impossible for the categories of the understanding, including the category of causation, to be applied beyond his wall to the world of things in themselves. But he also believed that those pesky, unknowable things in themselves existing in the normal world are the ultimate cause of our perceptions. Court did what he said no one can do. Can't. She did by applying the category of causation because he said. Things in themselves. Cause our poor saps. We can't let him get away with that. Okay, now let's keep reading. This is a flagrant contradiction in which Conte does what he says cannot be done, namely, take one of the categories and extended beyond his wall into the world of things in themselves. Remember, forgive me for bringing up this analogy one last time, but we've talked all semester long about the innocent philosopher who simply takes reasonable step after reasonable step and suddenly finds himself in quicksand.


[00:07:12] I didn't want to say do do finds himself. He's and this is what can't dance. He's he's hoist by his own petard. He stabbed by his own sword. He shoots himself in his own foot. Okay, Point three. Any theory of knowledge that tells us that the real world is unknown and unknowable is close enough to skepticism to make any thinking person shudder. Keep in mind my earlier warning that any belief that implies a false belief must be false. Any belief that implies a false belief must be false. In Chapter eight, I explained why skepticism is a logically self-defeating theory. Therefore, skepticism is false. And since it's false, any theory that entails skepticism must also be false. This is enough to dash the hopes of any follower of concept system ology. But now we come to what I think is my or the most telling complaint about God. And I want you to put a star here or checks here, because here is this. Number four is final exam stuff. Okay. And let me stop reading for a while because I want to make this looking right. Looking you right in the eye. Can't said that every human being possesses all 12 categories of the human to understand. Consider every human being possesses the same cognitive faculties. Now, you might say, What about mentally unstable people? What about insane people? What about crazy people? A carton would say, Don't worry. They possess the same faculties, the same categories, but they're just not working right. They've got them, but they're they're all screwed up somehow. Okay, so every human being possesses the same cognitive faculties, all 12 of them. Now, what would a normal person expect Conte to say next? Well, what would we expect Conte to do next? Wouldn't we expect him to ask a question? Why do all human beings possess the same cognitive faculties? Right.


[00:09:57] Why? W h y You want to know something? Conte never asks the question why? Now stop and think with me here. This is an incredible claim. It is a true claim, but it is a claim that invites the question. Why? Let me ask you this. Let me point this out to you. The fact that all human beings possess the same cognitive faculties constitutes a dismissal of a Darwinian theory of human evolution. Because if human beings evolve from lower forms of life. It would take a miracle. Rule. We don't want to use that word two weeks to to produce a human species in which everybody possesses the same 12 categories. And listen to me, if you doubt that in the case of some of these crazy people who are going around the world shooting people and killing people, all you got to do is take their guns away and sit down and say, let's have a rational conversation. I remember when my children were young, maybe I said this, okay, I repeat myself a lot one day and I think I did repeat this. I am repeating this. I, I asked my young three year old daughter certain questions, you know, that had to do with an innate understanding of logic. And she demonstrated the fact that she did have, as part of her innate cognitive equipment, an understanding of the difference between being non B truth and falsity. And I won't repeat the examples and I'm sure I gave you earlier. Now, why does Court not ask the question? The answer is simple because the only proposition that answers this question is the existence of a rational personal creator God and can't can't allow that. The question why do all human beings possess the same cognitive faculties? Drives us inevitably to the answer of a personal god, and that constitutes a proof for God's existence.


[00:12:29] And can't, doesn't, won't accept any proof for God's existence. And so simply because Scott doesn't even want to point us in the direction of a proof for God's existence, he refuses to take the next step that any good philosopher would have taken. Why? He's cheating. Now, let's read a little bit. Page 266 Reflect a bit on consent systems that every human being possesses the same set of categories. What is his explanation for this astonishing piece of information? When we search through Conte's writings, we encounter an even more incredible situation. Conte never offers an answer to the question. In fact, Conte never raises the question. Is there some explanation for Conte silence on this issue. There is assumed, for the sake of argument, that every human being, as a matter of fact, possesses the same structure of rationality. And I think we can make an argument for that. What hypothesis best explains this remarkable state of affairs? No theory of evolution yet known to humanity will do if such a state of affairs were the effect of a non purposeful collocation of non rational forces, we would have to stand in the presence of a truly astounding coincidence according to a different hypothesis. Now all humans are created by a rational God who made humans in his own image. We have a name for that. We call it the Log US Doctrine. Pardon me. I'm in. I'm having a mystical experience here. Right. Hmm. In the John Wayne movie, there's heavy fog. But, you know, as I've just uttered that sentence, you know what's happening to the fog? It's disappearing. It's disappearing. Let's keep reading. This looks very much like the theory we discovered in the world view of Augustine. Is there a good reason why can't might have avoided such a suggestion? Of course, there is a theistic answer to the question of why all humans share in the same structure of rationality would constitute the kind of argument for God's existence and provide the kind of knowledge about God.


[00:14:46] The concept was impossible, Conrad to ignore and avoid such a theory because it entails the falsity of his theory of knowledge. Okay, now an alternative to Kahn's theory of knowledge final exam stuff, an adequate theory of and this is the whole Word of God book here to the Word of God and the mind of man. Any adequate theory of knowledge ought to satisfy at least the following conditions. And there are five of them. One An adequate theory of knowledge must affirm the existence of universal and necessary truths that transcend sense experience. That's the old proposition. Some human knowledge does not arise from sense experience because that kind of knowledge exists. And if you can't get it, what if I ask you to give me ten examples of necessary and universal human knowledge that does not arise and cannot arise from sense experience? Let me think. And I don't write these down because these would constitute answers to this question. All right. Don't write these. I forbid you to write these down. The knowledge of equality. Absolute goodness. Oh, don't write these down. Two plus two equals four. Oh, man. Oh, I'm okay. I shouldn't say that out loud. Number two, it ought to preserve conch recognition for the need for an a priori structure of human rationality. Now, here was right. Okay. Conch said a blank mind cannot have knowledge. A blank mind cannot have knowledge. A tabula rasa can never produce knowledge. There must be innate structures of knowledge. Cognitive faculties can't was right there. Okay. .23. An adequate theory of knowledge ought to avoid current skepticism about the real world. That means it must eliminate the unknowable, numinous world. We've got to get rid of things in themselves. We got to get rid of that ding on seek.


[00:17:08] We got to get rid of the new one whole world, because that leads to skepticism. So a good theory of knowledge has got to do that. Number four, it ought to contain an explanation for why all humans contain the same categories, the same structure of rationality. Right. Any theory of knowledge that can't do that isn't worth I. I got to forget the things that I was almost going to say there. Well, you fill in the blank. Number five, it ought to offer an account of how the human mind can attain knowledge about the real world as well as about God. That would be quite an accomplishment. And I think it's already been done. Okay. And it's been done by Saint Augustine and by one of his followers named Nash. Yeah, there it is. Now, an alternative to Khan's position, somewhat similar to the description in the previous paragraph, existed in his own time. Now, this is not known. They don't know about this in Philadelphia or California or Saint Louis. Okay. It is sometimes referred to as the pre formation theory. Now, I'm going to let you in on a secret. What I'm going to describe here is the pre formation theory is very similar to the Lagos doctrine. It is it is very hard to know whom Scott is talking about here, but I think he's talking I think this is a guess. I think he's talking about liveness. But it's hard to say because it doesn't give any names. Okay. According to the pre formation theory, which Conte does mention in the critique of Pure Reason in section 27. I think that's the footnote here. Yeah. Section 27 of the critique of pure Reason. According to this view, knowledge is possible only because God has endowed humans with certain innate ideas, along with dispositions or aptitudes, to think in certain ways.


[00:19:31] These forms of thought correspond to the real world, which is also a creation of God. In other words, Cart admits in a little, little known section of the critique of pure reason that somebody whom he won't name in his day in his century was saying the categories were created by God and correspond to the real world. But Conte doesn't want anything to do with that theory. Why? Because he doesn't understand it. What he goes on is probably the worst material that can't ever wrote because he totally misrepresents the position that he's attacking. Let me read the next paragraph. Can't mention this possibility in an often overlooked section in the second edition of the critique of Pure Reason, not the first edition. The second edition. Here's the quote. Someone might propose to adopt a middle way between the two, and we won't worry about the alternatives. One of the alternatives is his position, namely that the categories are neither. Self-produced first principles are a priori of our knowledge nor derive from experience, but subjective dispositions of thought implanted in us with our existence, and so arranged by our Creator that their employment should accurately agree with the laws of nature which determine experience. Well, do you know? Let me tell you who whose views correspond to their pre formation theory. Reformed epistemology. Read the next chapter. Reformed Epistemology Leiden. It's Thomas Read. Now, you may not know about him, but he was a Scottish philosopher. Thomas read Man Now. And Agustin. And Nan. And Alex. Same name. Any others for the sake of the tape? Thousands of hands are ascending to the heavens. In some cases, you're raising two hands because this is really a mystical experience here. Cons criticism of this pre formation theory is so off target as to suggest that Conte misunderstood whatever source he had in view, for example.


[00:22:02] Can't deny that on the pre formation view, the aptitudes of thought could be innate and our priori first principles of knowledge. Yeah. I mean, my goodness, if anything is innate in our priori it would be these God endowed dispositions to think in certain ways. And then I quote from Gordon Clarke. Yes, we mustn't forget Gordon Clarke here. If such implanted aptitudes are not innate, then surely nothing is. Furthermore, how could can't possibly describe the aptitudes of the pre formation as does optional. Since human beings are so made that they cannot think in any other way, their necessity appears undeniable. All right, now you can read the rest. But let me just show you this. Once you understand that whatever our cognitive faculties are, they're given us by God as a part of the image of God, and that they are given us by the same God who created the real world. Then you've got no normal world to worry about. Because the same God who created the rational universe in which we live is the same God who endowed us with the rational faculties that are necessary to know that rational world and also to know the rational God who created both.