1. Truth exists
2. Belief in Truth is Good
However, he also raises an issue that appears to have long troubled him, which I did not fully address in earlier posts — namely “how Ernie gets from his principles to Christianity without any other ‘inputs’ “.
The short answer is that there are other inputs, and in fact identifying those is the goal of my epistemic framework. [Read more] for my attempt to elucidate them.
Let me first try to elucidate a few other supporting principles for our epistemic framework, then sketch out a rudimentary outline of how that connects to Christianity.
3. Knowledge imperfectly reflects Truth
4. Better Knowledge produces Better results
5. Knowledges improves through honest collaborative inquiry into shared Reality
That is, I reject both the Platonic idea that knowledge is truth, and the postmodern idea that knowledge is disconnected from truth. Rather, I explicitly affirm both Community and Reality as the critical inputs necessary to enable my Knowledge to asymptotically approach Truth. In spirit, I often find myself much closer to Aristotle than any other school.
This simultaneous reliance on both a priori assumptions and a posteori experiments is the basis what I call “Empricial Essentialism“, which I’ve elaborated upon before. This approach may seem like merely common sense, but (from what little I’ve read) it doesn’t seem very popular among modern philosophers (though critical realism is probably close). That said, I don’t think Alan will object to very much of this, though he may later be surprised by how much I infer and justify from those principles.
In addition, my epistemology implies that:
In other words, my vision of knowledge is as an ever-increasing spiral. Starting from a few “hard” truths, it interacts with my Character, my Community, and our Reality to generate ever-more “knowable” truths with ever-increasing confidence and accuracy. Not monotonically, necessarily — sometimes new knowledge invalidates old knowledge — but progress nonetheless; as long as we possess sufficient Humility to keep learning and questioning.
There’s also a feedback process, where the increasing spiral of truth generates “back-pressure” which reshapes my understanding (and confidence) in my axioms. I sometimes summarize it this way:
That is, one can’t merely observe something working well and conclude that the naive description of “why” is the whole truth. However, if anything does work well, then surely it must embody “some” truth, and the more we “spiral” around it the better we can understand what that truth is.
Note that “Works” in this context means “successfully creates Good.” Thus, it is important to note that my epistemology is incomplete without a companion ethical framework, which is logically the next thing on the agenda. However, I hope that this is coherent and complete enough that we can reach agreement about this aspect before going on that.
Despite that, I do still want to give Alan at least a partial answer to his question about my belief in Christianity. Let me try to put it this way:
And further, in my (reasonably broad) experience of belief systems, I find that Christianity:
To be sure, I am not saying that any of this “proves” that Christianity is true. However, it does mean that within my paradigm I can validly claim to “know” that Christianity is essentially true, and that submitting to the authority of the Christian tradition (even as I critique it!) is a virtuous act.
Again, I don’t think I’ve yet provided enough information to validate these claims, but I wanted to at least sketch out where I’m going. Hopefully that will provide enough fuel for Alan to heat his next Porsche…