Tuesday Aug 27, 2019

Faith to the Aid of Reason

In this episode I give voice to my cri de coeur that argumentation, debate, and even discussion have been ruled out of court by the present cultural currents, which reduce us to disputing sources instead of drawing out implications of facts, and in which every witness reads as either will-to-power or advertising. Who shall rescue us from this mind of death and how? Does reason need faith's help nowadays? If so, how can we bring it to bear in civil contexts where we cannot presume, much less impose, convictions of faith? Dad advises epistemological humility and interpersonal charity—easier said than done. Follow our conversation if you too are wondering how on earth to say anything anymore.

1. Tertullian is attributed with the expression credo quia absurdum, but on investigation I found out that he didn’t really say it quite like that.

2. Anselm did actually say fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding) in his Proslogion. Whew!

3. Not quite sure about Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” But a good line, whoever said it first.

4. Reinhold Niebuhr discusses the limitation of the social sciences in The Nature and Destiny of Man

5. Arnold Kling, The Three Languages of Politics

6. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

7. Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy

8. Plato talks about how lousy a form of knowledge pistis (faith) is in The Republic

9. For Bonhoeffer's discussion of reason and faith in his Ethics, see pp. 339–341 of this edition, and the opening chapter for more on God’s love for the world.

10. Thomas Aquinas’s insistence on treating your opponent’s argument with charity and understanding is exemplified in the formal method of disputation he employs; see pretty much anything in his Summa Theologiae

11. “Hinlicky’s Law” paraphrases this into a hermeneutical rule: “You are not permitted to criticize until you can restate an opponent’s position with such sympathy and insight that, were your opponent present, she would exclaim, ‘That’s it! I couldn’t have said it better myself!’ Then and only then may you criticize because then and only then are you dealing with the real thing, not a convenient fiction of your own imagination.”

12. Michelle Obama is the first lady who said: “When they go low, we go high.” (See everywhere on the internet.)

13. The Martyrdom of Polycarp

14. For Luther on pacifism and civil resistance, see my article “Martin Luther, Pacifist?”

15. See Dad’s Beloved Community pp. 42–55 for more on the ubiquity of believing in human reason and pp. 82-84 on the tripartite form of knowledge with subject, object, and audience.

16. President Lincoln spoke most famously and eloquently about the cost of slavery extracted by the war from white Americans in his Second Inaugural Address.

17. Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes

18. For Kant on the subject-object split, see Frederick Beiser, The Fate of Reason

19. Auguste Comte, Introduction to Positive Philosophy

20. Charles Saunders Peirce, "How to Make Our Ideas Clear"

21. For more on the denominational competitiveness lurking behind theories of church history, see my article “Beggars All: A Lutheran View of the 2017 Reformation Anniversary,” in Remembering the Reformation

More about us at www.sarahhinlickywilson.com and www.paulhinlicky.com!

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