Discussion of Brent Schmidt’s book on grace. Argues grace is “a reciprocal or covenant relationship between two parties. These parties that enter into a charis relationship are essentially a benefactor who grants a gift or donation of some kind and a beneficiary who reciprocates the gift with his or her own contribution, regardless how small or incomplete, of service and dedication to the benefactor.”
Dan Peterson on Alvin Plantinga. I’m not quite as impressed as Dan with Plantinga’s epistemology. I think there’s serious problems to it Dan doesn’t get at — especially relative to understanding the LDS notion of a testimony.
I’ve been meaning to get back to my whole epistemology investigation I started in the spring. Then I asked what truth does. A lot of the recent posts I’ve done have actually been me thinking about that issue. Certainly the post “Hebrew Conceptions of Truth” is important as is the post from the summer “Pierce vs. James on Truth.” But of course “truth” is just a term we pick up from our language and culture. Just because the Hebrews thought of truth primarily as about objects (roughly akin to an Aristotilean essence, but in terms of reliability towards a purpose) doesn’t mean we have to. There’s no reason we can’t talk about all this from our own language.1 Within our own broad framework it seems there are two main issues we are concerned with. The first is whether we ought believe what we believe. The second in the nature of our beliefs. (I’d add that a third one is inquiry although that tends to be caught up with the question of ought)
This is important to get clear. It may be after all we’re justified in believing something but can’t tell if we’re justified. This is a common theme among the movement called reliabilism in epistemology. We may have some process that justifies our belief but with regards to some particular belief we can’t give an account of that justification. While I think reliabilism is an important consideration I think it misses something key in that with regards to knowledge it seems we want to know if we know. That is we want to be able to adjudicate, if only to ourselves, between beliefs. A reliabilism in which the ground of our knowledge might be cut off from us seems problematic. Yet, from a Mormon perspective, we might consider ourselves guided by the spirit but only recognize that we’re guided looking back at our life.
- I’m a firm believer that the Sapir-Worf hypothesis is wrong. I accept that language may bias us and certain frameworks may be thus be a more useful way to think. However I’m extremely skeptical it stops us from conceptualizing most things. ↩
I’ve been falling down on the job with regular posting. My apologies. However there is something I can’t forget. The SMTP conference, one of my favorite LDS themed conferences, is at BYU this week starting Thursday. While I’m swamped with work I’m hoping to make it for several sessions on Thursday and Friday.
Some of the more interesting sessions are at 3 pm on Thursday. Unfortunately at the same time. One is a session on embodiment by Steven Peck and the other is on Finitism and Atonement by Jeremy Talmage. At 4 pm Steven moves to an evolution session with Blake Ostler. On Friday at 10 there’s a session on divine foreknowledge and freedom by Nate Rockwood and then a session by Joe Spencer on time, being and negation. (Not sure what that means) Of course all the sessions sound quite interesting, but those are the ones I’m most interested.
I do truly wish I could attend the session Saturday morning by Rosalynd Welch and Sam Brown on whether faith is a matter of choice. I’ve written a fair bit on that topic. Unfortunately it’s my son’s birthday and family of course comes first. I might do something on that later. Likewise James Mclachlan is doing a session on William Chamberlin’s social conception of God. This gets into some of the themes of a discussion he had in one of the philosophy collections whose name escapes me right now. (Expect an edit of that sentence later tonight)