Lecture 2

How you perceive what philosophy is comes out of all different things.
No use giving a text as you won’t know what to make of it – need preliminary training.


Note taking is a most important thing – notes need to be complete and accurate. By the end of the second week re-write your notes.

Find a group of 3 or 4 students – congenial souls – to discuss the lectures:

  • what not sure of
  • what insight
  • what disagree with

You will profit by this the most.

We don’t approach philosophy from scratch – we are affected by tradition.


Reading: Ideas have Legs by Al Wolters.


There is a split tradition: thinking and doing.

The patterns of words heard by a child form structures of thought.

What is your attitude to it? Do we long for the creation of new mind or content with pagan mind?

We all have a pagan pattern – how do we respond? Put on the new mind of Christ.

Paul wrote to Timothy ‘Hold fast to the pattern of sound words’. This is not the same as conservativism. (Liberal or conservativism is not an acceptable choice.)

Conservatism always has to do with human ideas in human history – deserving of preservation. These may be good or may be bad – depending on the response to the word of God.

Christians can’t accept the totality of the human past, we are to preserve creation order. This is very different to conservatism.

We need to understand what Plato, for example, is saying in light of the word of God: Christian philosophical enterprise in the light of biblical prophecy.


If we read in a Physics textbook ‘all of the progress of mankind to date results from the making of careful measurements’, we may not blink an eye, because of the modern trend of secularisation.

Hope centring on man – man and the scientific enterprise. Science and technology have become modern goddesses. We have become absorbed into that tradition – how badly we have confused God the creator with man the former. ‘We make babies’; we create all kinds of things.

Nineteenth-century German Idealism – there is No God, man is the final result of the evolutionary process with rational abilities – man is the only one to create things.

Difference creation structure – limits and boundaries. we can do many things to form new species of plans etc. but it is never the same as setting the law boundaries of creation order.

1830s man as only creator, 1850s Darwin and Comte – the Positivist movement.

We don’t think how badly we have treated divine providence, God’s restraining grace.

In the 1950s Whittaker Chamber’s wrote Witness. (Random House, 1952)He was in the communist underground. Foreword – letter to my children. should read it.


[long quote from book]


2600 year-old philosophical tradition/ enterprise. There are a number of subdisciplines [end of side 1] (Not saying that I accept these.)






Theory/ philosophy of Being

Ontology (I prefer the term)

  • What is?
  • What exists?
  • What kind of beings are there?
  • is there something? or mere appearance?
  • If there is something:

· is it of one kind? (monism)

· or two distinct fundamental kinds? (dualism eg matter/body mind/ rational soul

· is there a real world out there?

· is this that is – static or is there development?

· is there mechanism (clockwork) or purposiveness (aimed at fulfilling a goal – teleos)



From the Greek episteme = knowledge

  • Is there true knowledge?
  • How does knowledge differ from opinion?


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