• Epistemology,  Language

    Meaning and Material

    Does matter have meaning? Aquinas thought that it is impossible to understand some instance of a material entity solely by the entity impinging on the senses. One needs to abstract sense data through the use of concepts. At the formation of concepts there is understanding. The object of understanding is an ‘intelligible species’ and resides within us. One understands a material entity, X, by understanding what it means to be X, but the object of knowledge is transformed from the material entity, X, to the mental entity, X: “a thing is knowable in so far as it is separated from matter” (De Veritate 2. 2.) Aquinas thought that only mental entities…

  • Creation,  Epistemology,  Language

    Back to First Thoughts: Defending Davidson with Theism

    Donald Davidson In an earlier post I looked at an argument by Donald Davidson that supported the idea that thought depends on language. Thought is possible through learning of the concepts of true and false through interpreting another person asserting something about an object in the world. Davidson calls this “triangulation.” I suggested that the problem with Davidson’s argument is that, from an non-theistic perspective, there appears no way for a “first thought” to emerge from non-thought. It only takes one person who has language, and therefore thought, to get the ball rolling. But if there is no language and therefore no thought then there can be no first thought.…

  • Epistemology,  Language,  Trinity

    Communitarian Epistemology: Why Humans Need Each Other to Think.

    Two men “triangulating”  Knowledge acquisition is the process of extracting and organizing knowledge from a given source. Some naturalistically inclined philosophers have argued that community—minimally speaking, more than one functioning person who shares a common language with another person—is a necessary condition for knowledge acquisition. I will argue in favor of this view but will suggest that, given naturalism, the view is flawed. However, the view is compatible with theism and theism holds a solution to the problem facing the naturalist. I will argue that human higher-level thought is a minimal requirement for knowledge, but that thought and language are not possible without one another. Furthermore, since it is not…

  • Ethics,  Language

    Speaking Assumes Morality

    We need people who are trustworthy in the world. This is, in part, because want to know about things that are not immediately verifiable. When we miss the game we want to be able to trust our friends to tell us who won. We pity the gullible person who is prepared to overhaul her entire set of assumptions about the world because her friend tells her that there are people in a far off land who have wings. We don’t enjoy watching her being taken for a ride. Similarly, we feel for the person who trusts no one and lives in permanent relational isolation. If we are lied to we…

  • Creation,  Language

    How Humans Learned to Speak (a tentative, speculative post)

    Consider the following: Adam and Eve are created by God, are conscious and can understand God and each other when they speak. Although it is possible that both human beings were made with a fully working language system programed in from the start, it is more likely that both human beings had to learn to speak and understand after they were conscious. Just like children, Adam and Eve could have been trained by God to understand and speak. There are some good reasons for believing such a hypothesis. First, it seems implausible that the first humans would have innately known a language. Of course, it is not beyond the power…

  • Language,  Trinity

    Triunity and Thought

    The Discussion by Guttuso God, in order to create the world, must be a multiplicity of persons. A person who has thought has a language. If there is no language then there can be no thinking. In order to create the world God would have to think. He would have to have intentional, highly complex thoughts about laws of nature, complex mathematical theorems, counterfactuals etc. In order to think about the world God would need a language. A picture is not a thought. A picture is of something, but not about anything. In order to have a language a person needs someone else to speak to. There could not be…

  • Ian Markham,  Language,  Philosophy of Education,  Rabbit Problem

    Language Assumes Realism

    One purpose of language is to explain reality. We know this, Ian Markham argues, because we seek to use language across linguistic divides, from one language or culture to another: “the purpose of language is to explicate reality: and translation can only happen if this is assumed…Communication and related activities involved in communication, such as translation, are only intelligible if one assumes that language constructs emerged as an attempt to explain reality.” Language is developed over time in communities and is developed, in part, in order to make sense of reality: “We all live in communities. Language provides the framework in which we interpret the world.” Each linguistic group develops…

  • Acts 17,  Language,  Religious Pluralism

    Reference: God

    When two people, one Christian and one non-Christian, reference God are they referring to the same God? If a Muslim says “Allah be praised” and a Christian says, “praise God!” are they referring to the same God? If one thinks it is the same God, it appears that one would have to lower the differentiation between the two religions. If one says that the references are completely separate, then is it at all possible for an unbeliever to refer to the Christian’s God at all? In his speech to the Athenians, Paul refers to the Athenian temple to an unknown god. And what the Athenians deem to be unknown, Paul proposes to declare (or make known) to them. In this case…