A Few Epistemological Thoughts

Common sense realism: reality exists independently of our experiencing or perceiving it, based partly on Thomas Reid’s Common Sense Philosophy:


As well as a more Thomistic flavoured realism, notably articulated by Stanley Jaki and Etienne Gilson. More on this forthcoming.

Positing skepticism beyond necessity to arrive at a foundationalist-esque certaint is unwarranted (‘Skepticism is palpably senseless’, – Wittgenstein) – foundationalism of any kind seems to me to be quite dead, or at least dying:

“Foundationalism has been the reigning theory of theories in the West since the high Middle Ages. It can be traced back as far as Aristotle… Aquinas offers one classic version of foundationalism. There is, he said, a body of propositions which can become self-evident to us in our present earthly state. Properly conducted scientific inquiry consists in arriving at other propositions by way of reliable inference from these (demonstration). A few of these (for example, that God exists) can be inferred from propositions knowable to the natural light of reason …within the community of those working in philosophy of knowledge and philosophy of science foundationalism has suffered a series of deadly blows in the last 25 years. To many of those acquainted with the history of this development it now looks all but dead. So it looks to me. Of course, it is always possible that by a feat of prodigious imagination foundationalism can be revitalized. I consider that highly improbable…” (Nicholas Wolterstorff, Reason Within the Bounds of Religion, pp. 26-27).

This approach is then somewhat dismissive of lots of skeptical attacks – Descartes project, for example, would have little merit to someone holding this view.

Experience and reason work together, and do not compete. One without the other leads to nowhere – empiricism and rationalism are both, to quote a friend, illusory roads to nowhere. Idealism a la Kant is also subject to scorn.

Subjectivist hand-waving also falls flat here – pointing out that we are in fact unable to step outside ourselves to gain an “objective view” of things accomplishes little or nothing. We perceive the reality that exists independently of ourselves – else, what/how would we percieve?



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