• Aesthetics,  Epistemology

    Beliefs and Imagination

    The strength of my faith rests in part on repeated readings of the Chronicles of Narnia. The imagination is a powerful faculty of the human mind. As Gordon Graham writes, “Assembling evidence is often a rational strategy in arriving at a verdict, but imagination … can be another means by which reality is brought home to us” (Gordon Graham). What I want to consider in this post is the comparison Graham makes between imagination and a rational strategy. Presumably, by ‘reality is brought home to us’ and ‘arriving at a verdict’ Graham means belief. A ‘rational strategy’ for forming a belief (presumably) involves a proposition, p, being justified by evidence and basing…

  • Epistemology

    On Intellectual Method

    Broadly speaking, there are two competing intellectual methodologies: One either starts with the details, attempting to solve particular problems one at a time, or one starts at the top by attempting to develop maximally coherent systems. In a recent recent interview, James White said the following about his conversion to postmillenialism: “Postmillennialism is a top-down theology.  It begins with over-arching themes that flow naturally and beautifully from Reformed theology. Instead of starting down at the bottom and trying to build up a system based upon interpreting symbols and apocryphal texts, postmillennialism starts with the over-arching purpose of God in Christ.” White starts with a system and then fits the details…

  • Epistemology

    In Defense of Correspondence

    I don’t know from where I got the following argument. I’m not even sure it’s any good. Here it is anyway. Some preamble: There are three broad theories of truth. According to a correspondence theory of truth, a statement is true if and only if it in some way corresponds to, or is in harmony with, a state of affairs. In contrast, a coherence theory suggests that a statement is true iff it does not contradict other statements which are part of a set of statements. Finally, according to a pragmatic theory of truth, statements are true when they are useful/beneficial when believed.  Now, here’s the argument. Assume that the correspondence theory is…

  • Hermeneutics

    Intentionalism Defended

    Intentionalism is the view that the meaning of a text is just what the author meant by it. In the following, I am going to lay out a case for it given by E. D. Hirsch, perhaps its most well known recent proponent. First, a distinction: According to Hirsch, there is a difference between the meaning of a text and its significance. He writes, “Meaning is that which is represented by a text; it is what the author meant by his use of a particular sign sequence; it is what the signs represent. Significance, on the other hand, names a relationship between that meaning and a person, or a conception, or a situation,…

  • Education,  History of Ideas

    What’s the Point of Studying the History of Philosophy?

    The project of constructing a history of philosophy comprises at least three projects, two of which are explanatory and one evaluative. First, a history of philosophy seeks to explain our present circumstances, especially their intellectual foundations. As A. C. Grayling puts it, “Philosophy’s history … is a retrospective construct. It is chosen from the wider stream of the history of ideas in order to provide today’s philosophical concerns with their antecedents” (A. C. Grayling, The History of Philosophy, xv).  Tracing the origin of an idea explains how we got where are. It also demonstrates that the intellectual problems we presently face are not novel. They are problems with an intellectual history. Often we…

  • Aesthetics,  Education,  History of Ideas

    Should We Read Books by Bad People?

    I am sometimes asked why we assign readings by people who exhibit bad character or perform immoral acts. Of course, there aren’t any morally perfect writers, but there are plenty who have done or supported pretty terrible things. Why lend their lives credence by exalting one of their works to a list of ‘great’ books? On one view, certain immoral acts should be condemned by ignoring all the works of those who perform them. After all, works are expressions of the characters of the people who authored them. Consequently, those expressions are as bad as the one who expressed them. Call this the strict censure view. According to this view,…

  • Ben Holloway

    2020 In Review

    In May, I obtained a PhD in Philosophy of Religion from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The title of my dissertation was so long, it didn’t fit on the spine of the bound version. I had a sterling supervisor in Dr. Greg Welty. I was also privileged by two brilliant readers, Drs. Little and Poythress. After graduation, I promptly went from being an instructor to assistant professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Southeastern. During the year, I taught classes on the history of ideas, logic, Christian philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of language, and world religions. In March, my family grew by one when we adopted Bryson. The adopted went through…

  • Epistemology

    Epistemic Pessimism

    In a recent post, I described replacement epistemology, the project of replacing traditional questions such as justification for beliefs with psychology and sociology. Recently, I came across an article by Dr. Natalie Ashton, a philosopher at the University of Stirling who specializes in epistemology. The title of the article was “Why Twitter is (Epistemically) Better than Facebook.” But the article swaps epistemology for psychology. Consider the following paragraph: “Most of us know the tense, jarring feeling that comes with encountering a view very different than our own. In his book The Epistemology of Resistance, José Medina calls this feeling epistemic friction, because while it’s challenging, it can also be productive. Rub your…