T.F. Torrance on Knowing

‎’In all authentic knowing we distinguish what we know from our knowing of it and at the same time distinguish ourselves from whatever we know. We recognize our own free independent existence and are aware of ourselves as rational subjects in the activity of knowing. But obversly we recognize what we know as having reality “on its own”, independent of our knowing of it. In distinguishing ourselves from what we know we are aware of ourselves as irreducibly real subjects, who have reality in ourselves independent of other realities with which we stand in relation. But by the very same token we are aware of the other as having reality in itself independent of our knowing of it. It is this personal mode of being as subject which is precisely the mode of being in which we are aware of the objective world around us. Personal subject-mode of being is thus the bearer of objectivity.’ (T.F. Torrance, ‘Reality and Scientific Theology’, p. 109)

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5 thoughts on “T.F. Torrance on Knowing

  1. gaudetetheology October 30, 2012 / 7:28 pm

    In all authentic knowing we distinguish what we know from our knowing of it and at the same time distinguish ourselves from whatever we know. We recognize our own free independent existence and are aware of ourselves as rational subjects in the activity of knowing. But obversly we recognize what we know as having reality “on its own”, independent of our knowing of it.

    Doesn’t this have to be very carefully qualified, given that our knowing of what we know is inextricably bound up with how we know it? From sensory perception to perspectival location, everything we know is strongly conditioned by how we know it.

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    • whitefrozen October 30, 2012 / 7:40 pm

      Definitely. Torrance’s is simply making the case for critical realism, in opposition to say idealism, where we in effect create reality through our mental workings – whereas here, obviously, reality exists apart from us. Etienne Gilson argued a long the same lines.

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      • gaudetetheology October 30, 2012 / 7:52 pm

        Ah, I see – thanks for the clarification! I hope you’ll review the book when you’re done. 🙂

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        • whitefrozen October 30, 2012 / 7:54 pm

          I’d like too – but I’ll tell you, it’s one of the most dense books I’ve ever read. I am completely dumbstruck at how intelligent Torrance was. But I’ll be throwing up bits of it here and there with hopefully some kind of coherent commentary :p

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