Lecture 28

Ended last session with quote from Werner Jaeger on Aquinas. He showed the full humanistic meaning of Thomas’s philosophy: ‘how man eternalises himself’: Man should be content with human things but be thinking of eternal things. By philosophical thinking the spirit immortalises/ eternalises himself

Dante’s poem The Inferno (he knew Aristotle). One part has been translated ‘how man wins eternal fame’, but that is not what it says. How come? Jaeger says, it fits the spirit of Renaissance humanists, it fits the classical passion for glory. Intervention of the Renaissance spirit. Immortality – we live on in the minds of our children and in our books, or reputation. But this was not what was in Dante’s mind!

Aristotle is thinking of the contemplative life of a philosopher, in this way he participates in eternal life.

Aristotle wrote three books of ethics; including: Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics.
In Book X ch 7 p 1117 of the Berlin edition he writes:

‘… but he should make himself divine as far as possible’ by pursuing intellectual life making self immortal. This concept adapted by Aquinas and Dante – despite being known as a Christian philosopher – it is pure Greek thinking!

Overview of what we have looked at recently
1. Philosophy for some is a substitute for religion (religion is not exercises, that is cult).

Metaphysics is a striving to obtain answers to questions that we shouldn’t need answers. It is a rejection of answers that have been given by God’s revelation. It is contraband for Christians, it is finding answers that revelation has already given us that is unbelief. In that sense it is apostasy, an idol. It is worshipping self as the source of truth. Many Christians have been caught up in itand attempted to synthesise it with revelation.

Reasoning always expresses the faith of our hearts. To ‘bring faith and reason together’ is medieval scholasticism.

2. For the Comtean positivists philosophy becomes one of the special sciences . It takes the facts of the special sciences ans puts them in order – philosophy becomes logic. This is too narrow a view as the other was too broad a view.

3. Aquinas – a turning point, a line drawn consciously, philosophical activity withdrawn from the directing power of the word of God. Philosophy is merely a natural thing in itself, can be influenced externally by the supernatural sphere.

If philosophy is a human work – human work of what kind? It as to do with knoweldge; philosophysing is about acquiring knowledge.

We have to go a step further.

Everyday experience – a salesman has a knowledge of his product, but not philosophical knowledge of his product. We have to begin to distinguish a number of different kinds of knowledge.

Lab technicians, hundreds of thousands of them in different labs aroudn the world do scientific work, but are not full blown scientists. But most wouldn’t claim to have philosophical knowledge – they are deeply influenced by Comtean positivists.

Salesman a knowledge of his product; lab technician a knowledge of his working. But these are not philosophical knowledge.

We have to distinguish different kinds of knowing and knowledge.

End of one series of lectures – the start of another.

Reads a quote from Butterfield The Origins of Modern Science

How many basic different kinds of knowing and resulting knowledge are there?

‘The correspondence theory of truth’

God coming down to our level and talked in our terms. We know him as he is revealed – that is true knowledge of the father.

How can mind know matter? It has never been solved when its put that way.

Aquinas had an equivalence of one thing to another point-for-point resemblance, mind corresponding image of the world then we have the truth.

I think its abominable – it lacks a Christian foundation.

NCTT vol II second half deals with this.

God we can know truly, brought down to our level.

Reads from a footnote from a Christian philosopher:

“It may even be that the belief content of my authentic Christian commitment contains certain falsehoods. Frequently, when teaching children one tells them what is strictly speaking false so also it may be that some of what God says to us may be strictly speaking false, accommodated to our frailty, yet it may be we are obliged to believe it”

A conflict with what Calvin says!
God himself validates it is the truth for you; for you to know me in the place of Jesus is the truth.

We have to talk about different kinds of knowing.
First example
The knowledge the salesman displays at the front door is a knowledge both of his product and the housewife and her situation.

At first glance this appears to be knowledge of non-scientific sort.

Behind all these knowledge that he is operating with elsewhere in the company we would discover

other types of knowledge: psychological studies of motivation, economic and scientific analysis of what the market will allow, rhetorical and logical scientific analysis of presentation.

Knowledge that is visible at the front door has another form and certainly a fortori no one would ever think of calling it philosophical knowledge – what we see between salesman and housewife.

People trained scientifically, but at the front door don’t display that.

Second example

Knowledge found among 10,000s of technicians all over the world a form of scientific knowledge – chemistry, biology, or motivation, or traditions of market – usually formed in the positivist climate. Most won’t have anything to do with philosophy.

We distinguish a number of different kinds of knowing – we have to account for this sense that we have structurally different kinds of knowledge. If we want to bring clarity we shall find it essential to distinguish two kinds of knowing/ knowledge we shall find it even necessary to do so. Necessary in the sense of being obligatory: we are obliged to make the distinction because in the course of our experience we become more aware of a structural difference between them which manifests itself. This distinction is not just a model that we invent or has contents spun out of our heads autonomously and proves pragmatically (in the sense of Dewey) useful – but it is in part our obliged response to an observed or sensed structure that is present in the creation itself, which is revelation .

Assigned reading: Relation of the Bible to Learning chapter on scientific and pre-scientific.

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