Lecture 18

There is an origin of our thinking which transcends the cosmic order. We know by revelation that there is more than the cosmos itself – to know that is not philosophy. We know things doesn’t come from our philosophising. There is a knowledge we have – some people call it intuition.

Herman Dooyeweerd uses the term immanentistic to describe philosophy that the scientific work of philosophy is all there is. All we can philosophise about is creational order – but we do it in the light of revelational given. In the light of that revelation we understand the meaning of cosmic order itself.

Others have to fill in that revelational given, they do it by philosophical effort – it is restricted to the cosmic order. The effort to establish the existence of God, soul, mind or law etc is by philosophical reasoning itself. Philosophical reasoning that uses the data supplied by philosophical order itself.

What is being replaced?

For example, is there a God? Is there a human soul? Is there a cosmos? Do these all constitute one cosmic history? Revelation: God created heaven and earth, God from the beginning has a purpose, to guard and develop the garden, God intends to bring reconciliation. Metaphysics can only answer these by data from the cosmos.

God gives us such answers we can’t get on philosophical reasoning alone.

Substitutes include:

  • Carefully planned state – the state comes to the equivalent to the order of human society (they are not identical the state is more)
  • Glorification of physical strength (Nimrod)
  • Acquisition of fame – to be remembered in subsequent generations
  • Determined pursuit of wealth
  • Cultivation of sexual power
  • Pursuit of philosophy – it seems to offer a penetrative means of insight and power of individuals, pleasure of understanding, superior role in arguing.

William James

I the beginning of the century he was connected with Harvard (d. 1910), he bought Freud over to us. The worship of Freud has diminished since the second world war. After the second world war we began to look at other psychological possibilities.

He was born in 1842?, the brother of Henry James, the father of William James a theologian. He had three successive occupations: neurologist, psychologist and philosopher. He was a psychologist at Harvard. He was the second American to give the Gifford Lectures at Scottish Universities: Varieties of Religious Experience (c. 1902). (The first was a close friend of James: Joyce)

The book of the lectures was filled with data about religious experience. He also wrote a 2 volume work Principles of Psychology which is still regarded as very important. It contains an important chapter on streams of consciousness).

As a philosopher he started a new school: Pragmatism comes from a Greek word (what doesn’t!?); pragama – a thing. A philosophy that doesn’t go off on abstractions, but hard solids…

The book is available as a paperback in the meridian series Pragmatism and The Meaning of truth .

[Runner reads a long section from James’s book]

rationalistic systems by which your serious believer in facts is so apt to feel repelledFor a hundred and fifty years past the progress of science has seemed to mean the enlargement of the material universe and the diminution of man’s importance. The result is what one may call the growth of naturalistic or positivistic feeling. Man is no lawgiver to nature, he is an absorber. She it is who stands firm; he it is who must accommodate himself Let him record truth, inhuman tho it be, and submit to it! The romantic spontaneity and courage are gone, the vision is materialistic and depressing. Ideals appear as inert by-products of physiology; what is higher is explained by what is lower and treated forever as a case of I nothing but’- nothing but something else of a quite inferior sort. You get, in short, a materialistic universe, in which only the tough-minded find themselves congenially at home.

If now, on the other hand, you turn to the religious quarter for consolation, and take counsel of the tender-minded philosophies, what do you find?

Religious philosophy in our day and generation is, among us Englishreading people, of two main types. One of these is more radical and aggressive, the other has more the air of fighting a slow retreat. By the more radical wing of religious philosophy I mean the so-called transcendental idealism of the Anglo-Hegelian school, the philosophy of

(7) such men as Green, the Cairds, Bosanquet and Royce. This philosophy has greatly influenced the more studious members of our protestant ministry. It pantheistic, and undoubtedly it has already blunted the edge of the traditional theism in protestantism at large.

That theism remains, however. It is the lineal descendant, through one stage of concession after another, of the dogmatic scholastic theism still taught rigorously in the seminaries of the catholic church. For a long time it used to be called among us the philosophy of the Scottish school. It is what I meant by the philosophy that has the air of fighting a slow retreat. Between the encroachments of the hegelians and other philosophers of the ‘Absolute,’ on the one hand, and those of the scientific evolutionists and agnostics, on the other, the men that give us this kind of a philosophy, James Martineau, Professor Bowne, Professor Ladd and others, must feel themselves rather tightly squeezed. Fairminded and candid as you like, this philosophy is not radical in temper. It is eclectic, a thing of compromises, that seeks a modus vivendi above all things. It accepts the facts of darwinism, the facts of cerebral physiology, but it does nothing active or enthusiastic with them. It lacks the victorious and aggressive note. It lacks prestige in consequence; whereas absolutism has a certain prestige due to the more radical style of it.

These two systems are what you have to choose between if you turn to the tender-minded school. And if you are the lovers of facts I have supposed you to be, you find the trail of the serpent of rationalism, of intellectualism, over everything that lies on that side of the line.


‘rationalistic system’ – he is proposing something new.

Traditional philosophy has no explanation – a substitute, remedy, a way of escape

How sickening – James identified this philosophy with the Protestant world.

Tough – nature exists and we are the victims of it.

2 main types radical (Hegelian, transcendental) and slow retreat (theism)

So much for Wiliam James – one of the reasons the church is – because of philosophy the church has weakened herself.

Attempting to find answers – it says we have no answers – God hasn’t said anything to us.

James saw what was going on ‘slow retrat of Christians’ before rationalism and Marxism.

Second illustration of how philosophy has taken the place of religion (= all life in covenant with God).

In 390 Plato founded a school – the academy (the academics were the followers of Plato). Aristotle at age 17 came to school in 367 and joined the academy.

In 348/7 Plato died – so who should take over from him?

A number, including Aristotle, left the academy. Aristotle went to Asia Minor at first. A number of people enamoured of Plato had come from Asia Minor and so now returned.

Island of Sicily at Syracuse – given advice to a tyrant (tyranos = a non-heredity monarch), one near Assos. Hermias, a student of Plato, had returned and Aristotle asked if he could establish an academy there.

When Plato died Aristotle became head lecturer at Assos among the philosopher Hermias had gathered there.

Hermias was caught between Macedonians and Persians. The coast of Asia Minor was a hot spot between Greeks and Persians. Hermias arranged a secret treaty with Philip of Macedonia – gave him a bridgehead – opening a way for the Macedonians to attack the Persians.

However, someone informed the Persians. Hermias was seized by the Persian general and taken prisoner. He was tortured and crucified.

Why include this?

Hermias had been given political advice in return for allowing an academy. Hermias was a committed Platonist. He asked what was his last favour before his death; his answer: tell my friends and companions that I have done nothing weak or unworthy of philosophy.

He meant by that, philosophy was for him a way of life – but a way of life identified with theorising. A theoretical life, what the Greeks called bios el radicos . Theorising was their whole life. This is what James is getting at – dealing with abstractions, rational fantasies, not living in hard realities of the facts – the pragma.

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