Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Epistemological Problems

Gordon H. Clark
During the panel session devoted to assessing my book, Foundations of Economics: A Christian View, at the Christian Scholars Conference, one of the participants wondered if on page 8 I did not make too abrupt a leap from Kant's apriorism to Gordon Clark's Christian theist presuppositionalism. He suggested that a humanist perspective, along the lines of what Mises does in Human Action would work just as well. He was afraid that some students might bristle if they suspected they were being force fed an epistemological theory unnecessarily.

I responed by saying that upon re-reading page 8 of my book, I fully admit that my pace is brisk and the transition too abrupt. I also noted that I am not a philosopher even though I play one from time to time in the classroom. Nevertheless regarding epistemology I find the arguments of philosopher Gordon Clark and theologian Herman Bavink compelling.
Herman Bavink

It is Gordan H. Clark in his A Christian View of Men and Things who convinced me of the problem of Kant’s subjective mental categories. In my book I repeat Clark’s solution to the knowledge problem. It turns out that Clark's solution was also recognized and affirmed by Bavink, noting in his Reformed Dogmatics, that science requires a common innate disposition toward learning which includes possession of “the laws of thought” (Bavink 2004, pp. 70–71).

Like Clark, however, Bavink understood that appealing to a common human trait is not enough. We must be confident that our perception of human cognition is correct. He writes:
It seems strange, even amazing, that converting mental representations into concepts and processing these again in accordance with the laws of thought, we should obtain results that correspond to reality. Still, one who abandons this conviction is lost. But that conviction can, therefore, rest only in the belief that it is the same Logos who created both the reality outside of us and the laws of thought within us and who produced an organic connection and correspondence between the two. Only in this way is science possible, i.e. knowledge not only of the changing appearances but of the universal, the logical connections inherent in things (Bavink 2003, p. 231). 
In light of these considerations, it does seem to me, as I argue in my book, that a sound epistemology must begin with presupposing the God of the Bible creating nature and man in a way that allows us to perceive reality. Ludwig von Mises' work is attractive to me because he begins with reason and the reality of human action. This begs the question, why do we accept reason? How do we defend it? It is my conviction that is the Biblical view of man and creation that allows us to use our laws of thought with confidence that we can indeed perceive reality. I embrace Mises' work, therefore, because it is compatible with the Christian view of man.

No comments:

Post a Comment