Archive for July 2006

Lecture 5

26 July, 2006

Down the ages it has been thought that besides a body man has possessed a mind (rational logic).

Question: is there such a thing as a purely logical thinking – are there other elements?
What is going on in man when he thinks? Can it be restricted to mind or logical/ rational thought?

Who is this man? What is functioning when he thinks- when he is doing the philosophical enterprise? The general philosophical tradition is steeped in cultural elements, that is why I don’t want to speak of just philosophy.

Return to diagram [?]- general framework. (When I repeat things I always add something.)

Matter – the ‘physical universe’ (single quotes indicate that it is up for discussion – an abstraction; an idea in someone’s mind that has come to stand for something real).

There are two reasons why the term ‘physical universe’ is inadequate and is a falsification of what is. By making it the whole she-bang, it means we can’t add things to it.

‘Physical universe’ has nothing to do with creation – it excludes man’s mind. The whole of the cosmos’s history depends on man’s covenant relationship.

The ten commandments are not called that in the scripture – they are know as the ten words. We are not always coventantly obedient but in Christ we are. Christ’s righteousness – right with respect to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God for his creation. Sanctification is a process – justification is an act. Christ’s righteousness is reckoned as our own.

In the traditional pattern the ‘physical universe’ doesn’t include mind. We don’t have auniverse without man in it.
‘Physical universe’ is a hypostatsis (Latin: substantial) = to cause to stand under. Sub = under, hyp = under.

In this sense, that men talk about things having qualities. (Language is subject to law – it is part of God’s creation. Language is normed.)

The traditional way has been to think of things having qualities (red, moist, dry etc.), but what are the qualities of? The things that stand under – the sub-stance. Underneath these qualities are the substance that possess these qualities.

The ‘physical universe’ is a hypothesisation, or substantialisation, of an aspect – there is truth in it but it is also falsification.

Everything that is created has a physical side to it, but that aspect doesn’t exist concretely as a thing. They are falsifying what they are experiencing. It is a distorted way of seeing.

To talk about the ‘physical universe’ is wrong. It is much more than physical – so it is not a physical universe! There isn’t a universe that is just physical.

Matter is a hypostisation, there is no matter that is a thing.
Descartes: res extensa and res cogitas
A physical universe doesn’t exist anywhere – it doesn’t have existence in itself, it’s part of something else.
Logical thinking doesn’t exist by itself, it an only exist in a person.

Created things. A plant exists concretely, its processes do not. They exist as part of the whole.

In the history of western philosophy the ‘realm’ of mind became known as the human subject. Why? Me as a thinking being [end of side 1 of tape]

I is the thinking substance.

Epistemology – man is the thinker who knows the objective world of objects.

Thinking – subject Thought – object.
(subjective) (objective)

The external world is outside the thinking substance/ mind. This is the way that the epistemological problem has been set up right down through the centuries.

How can mind, which has nothing whatsoever in common with matter, know matter, which has nothing whatsoever in common with mind?

When the problem is set up in that way it is unsolvable. They only come back to the same old drivel! How can they come together when they have nothing in common?

Metaphysics (alternative word is ontology)
The Greeks had man and gods existing. If gods exist and humans exist – they have one thing in common: they exist, be-ing. There is a divine and creaturely being.

We can’t take our place in this long history of philosophy!

What is being? Withdraw being from the being you are talking about. This is an abstraction – ‘drawing away from’. (latin a- ab- abs – = away from)

Being – God = faithful to the law, but not under it

– Man = under the law

There is a difference of creator and creaturely being. Abstracted the being from God.
Church fathers and scholastics have taken this over and have adopted this way of talking: ‘being’ in general.

Can’t put it this way – you have to talk about God or man. Can’t talk about ‘being’ as such. Draw it away from the things that are.

Metaphysics is then the study of being the study of something that isn’t!
Don’t find being except in the being that be.
There is nothing called being by itself.

Read Diemer’s Nature and Miracle a second time.

Read S G DeGraaf Promise and Deliverance to understand how I read the scriptures. Intoductions to vol 1 and vol 3. Covenant is the central revelation.

Read my 1968 lecture ‘Christianity and humanism’

picture of Runner

25 July, 2006



25 July, 2006

life-is-religion-4.jpg hearing.jpg

John Kraay and Anthony Tol (editors) Hearing and Doing: Philosophical Essays Dedicated to H. Evan Runner (Wedge Publishing: Toronto, 1979)

Henry Vander Goot (editor) Life is Religion: Essays in Honor of H. Evan Runner  (Paideia Press, St Catherine’s, Ontario, 1981)

A list of some books and articles by Runner

25 July, 2006

The Development of Aristotle Illustrated from the Earliest Books of the Physics Kampen: Kok, 1951 (PhD Free University of Amsterdam)

The Relation of the Bible to Learning (Unionville Lectures for 1959 and 1960) Toronto: Wedge, 1974

Scriptural Religion and Political Task (Unionville Lectures  for 1961) Toronto : Wedge, 1974



‘ARSS and its reorganisation’ Calvinist Contact 26 Jan 1962: 5-7

‘Place and task of an Institute of Reformed Scientific studies’ Hamilton: Association for Reformed Scientific Studies , 1965

‘Some observations on the condition of Calvin College at the celebration of its centennial’ Prism 1976: 30-39

Dooyewerd’s passing: an appreciationThe Banner 22 April, 1977: 20-23

Lecture 4

24 July, 2006

[Tape starts part way in]

The word of God is God himself speaking.  The word of God is lively and penetrates to the inner most being.  God actively takes the meaning of his word and enlightens our hearts in the truth – they are not some objective words there and I have to make the best sense of them.  The word of God gets us out of the relativity of historicism (every thing is historically dated).  Historicism means that the second century truth will not be valid in the twentieth century.

An  –ism means that we have absolutised something; in historicism we have absolutised historical change.  It is one of the greatest errors and dangers of our times.  Many twentieth century theologians and philosophers are historicists.  They don’t believe that there is truth that remains valid for all centuries.

Historicism is a denial that the Holy Spirit is the authority of scripture and that God brings his word to man at all times.

There are two distinct meanings to the word theology.  (i) Guided by the scripures, the word of God, ‘theologically guided’ (ii) the other meaning theo logos = science of God (I won’t argue if it’s a good definition or not).

Those who do scientific research – systematic themes, schools of theology (Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist etc.), theology is the scientific expression of theologians who have worked with the word of God, they may be bound by traditions of which they are not aware.  Remember there is a 2600 year long tradition of accommodation of the scripture to philosophy.

There are different schools of mathematics and they interpret mathematics differently – there is a war of schools of mathematics going on. It is the same for other disciplines, the same is true in theology.

From the middle of the second century Justin Martyr – shows how much biblical thinking had manoeuvred into the form of Greek philosophy.

Read Diemer Nature and Miracle – get the feel of it.

Since modern times (end of the sixteenth century) the realm of the ‘physical universe’ (single quotes indicate that I think it’s an abstraction of a mental construction’) with Francis Bacon, Newton etc in 1750 it became a mature expression.

They thought in terms of a causal (not casual!) determinism.  The view that is taken of this ‘physical universe’.  Methodological determinism – the search for all the causes.

Many Christian theologians simply accepted this concept of the ‘physical universe’.  (It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a physical side to things.) It is not the same as what the scriptures call creation.
1. The ‘physical universe’ excludes man (apart from his body).
2. Creation includes heaven (and this doesn’t mean the starry heavens) and earth.
ISBE – a good place to consult; look up heavens.

The notion of a ‘physical universe’ that is casually determined is thoroughly pagan – it has nothing to do with scripture.  Modern physics has developed so rapidly since Copernicus, that Christians were overwhelmed by it.  Many Christian theologians accepted this ‘physical universe’.

Newton had a deistic attitude – God must simply intervene, miracle had to be an interruption. if interruption then there can be no causal determinism!  If you interrupt the chain how can it be determined? There is no chain anymore!  Therefore miracle is impossible.

The Christian who has fallen for that idea of miracle as an interruption because thay had fallen for the idea of the ‘physical universe’ can’t believe in miracle anymore.  That’s how liberalism grew.

Another assignment: read Bernard Zysla’s preface to Relation of the Bible to Learning (5th edn)

Subdivisions of philosophy

•    Is truth and knowledge the same?
•    Do our minds possess only opinions or knowledge? [end of tape]
•    If there is no certainty
knowledge is something that abides, it is not subject to change, opinion changes
The religious drive behind the whole epistemological enterprise – we need to know what abides as the basis for action.

•    If there is knowledge how can we recognise it?
•    By what criterion does knowledge announce itself?
•    How may kinds of knowledge are there?
•    What are the limits to human knowledge?

Axiology – we will come back to that later.

Most twentieth century people hear the word cosmology and think of astronomy.  I’m not using it in that sense.
Cosmos = beautifully ordered whole (cf cosmetic). It is not just the ‘physical universe’, but the structure of the created world/ universe (at least as far as the earth goes).
Where does it belong?  In someways an subdivision of metaphysics.

Since the nineteenth century there has been a rapid rise in the social sciences – anthropology, physical and cultural, not talking about that side.
anthropos = man, a theory of man
going to consider it under metaphysics.

I will argue later against the use of the term metaphysics in favour of ontology.

Being – created being, cosmology and anthropology.
For the Greeks human beings and divine beings had one thing in common being.  A general ontology is a theory of being.

Lecture 3

24 July, 2006

[The tape quality is very poor. Tape starts part way into the lecture]

Metaphysics – theories about being. The 2600 year-old Western tradition with many subdivisions. Each subdivision has many things in common. One common tradition is matter and mind.

As far as man is concerned he is a material body and a rational soul.

Dualism means that there are two different things.
What is matter? No mind.
What is mind? No matter.

Abortion – when does a foetus become a person? One answer is when the soul enters. It supposes that there is some entity called ‘soul’ and an entity called ‘body’.

Monism – there was originally one point of being – originally there was one being.

The world as we know it has come into being by a process of differentiation. Monism as far as the present world is no different to dualism. It is speculative.
Behind the world as we experience it there is a unitary one.

Dualism has an awfully long history. It goes back to ancient Persia and Zoroastrianism.

In ancient Greece there was the Orphic movement

By the end of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd century the Gnostic movement presented a great threat to the Christian church and much was written against this heresy.

In the 3rd and 4th centuries in ancient Rome Manicheism (Mani)– this was popular in the Roman army and spread rapidly.

4th century Carthi – comes from the Greek meaning ‘pure ones’.

God and creation is not a dualism. Dualism is the view that creation is made up of two unlike principles. It rejects the unity of creation. Good and evil are equal.

Dualism never refers to creator and created.

The cosmos is made up of two things. Dualism is a philosophical view of cosmos.

9th century In the east (what is now Bulgaria) Bogomils – literally ‘God lovers’. (Bog is Russian for God.)

Late Middle Ages the followers of Peter Waldo known as the Waldensians.

At times of the Protestant reformation Calvin had influence in Eastern Europe and Italy for a time – a number of Waldenisans joined the Reformed churches and dualism entered again the Reformed churches.

Task: Look up information about Zoroastrianism, Gnostics, Mani, Bogomils, Cathari and Waldensians.

Ought to get a one-volume dictionary of philosophy an keep it in front of you as you work; eg [Dagobert D. ]Runes Dictionary of Philosophy.

Aspects of the philosophical tradition

Metaphysicsontology: Ont = be-ing.

Epistemology: episteme = knowledge

Axiology: axios = worthy of worth; theory about value(s)
Axiology is a very recent discipline in philosophy – it became a separate discipline in the twentieth century. Al Wolters connects it to the neo-Kantians; it became a separate discipline because of the neo-Kantian point of view.

Kant d 1804 – there are some dates you have to memorise.

The mind and matter attitude meant that there was matter – the ‘physical universe’, a world of observable facts – and mind – not a world of facts, values have to be put on the facts. This means that the whole ‘physical universe’ is value-less. Mind adds them to a world that doesn’t have them.

My viewing these physical facts of the so-called external world, in my mind, somethings are more important than others. My mind reads these values onto a world that has no values

Think about what that says about God’s creation. Causal determinism ruled out miracles – there is no room for miracles, a miracle would break the chain of causal determinism.

1. There is no such separate physical world – it is not merely a physical world.
2. The creation and the physical world are not the same. if there were it wouldn’t be without meaning or value.
3. What is this talk about value(s)?
• are there different dimensions of values? ecomomic values, aesthetic values, legal values etc?
• is value just value?
• is there one basic value? Or different ways of looking at value?

What is this value? norms of behaviour, oughts, how we ought to act legally, ethically etc.

The law of God for our behaviour – they are making the mind the origin of values. The human mind out of its elf reds values on to the world.

Autonomous = self law; himself the law, the law is him.

Axiology – the neo-Kantians accepted the ‘physical universe’, but wanted to hold onto values.

What is meant by this value?
Are there norms that we must obey?

Rom 2: 14-15.

Portrait from Hearing and Doing

22 July, 2006