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Progressive Epistemology


McKenna
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I keep seeing the word 'epistemology' thrown around on these boards, but I don't know if I've seen a cohesive definition of what exactly a progressive epistemology would be.

 

On what do progressives base our knowledge? How do we "know" what we know?

 

How does reason fit in? Or revelation? The Bible? Jesus? Personal experience?

 

... :)

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Epistemology is the theory of knowledge - how do we know things. 'Common sense' is a form of knowledge which might include the wisdom literature. Intuition is another form of knowledge as is empirical knowledge more favoured by science.

 

Ontology, a word often confused with epistemology, is the theory of existence - of what really exists as opposed to that which appears to exist.

 

The two studies have a close affinity and feed on each other and, when con-joined, often called 'cosmology' - a 'world-view'.

 

'How' I might see things will influence 'what' things I see. This is what is know as the 'subject/object duality' - when I look at something, be it a garden sparrow of a moral ethic, I will inevitable apply my own 'cosmology' to the thing observed.

 

These theories of thought are applied in disciplines such as Theology, Philosophy, Anthropology, History and I understand such empirical disciplines such a Psychology are now using these theories. The so-called 'hard' sciences general shy away from such words as they are rather nebulous for the scientisitic community - which you might note is an example of their cosmology as it is mine.

 

How then I might 'read' the Bible will depend on my 'cosmology'. How I 'see' Jesus will, gain, depend on my cosmology. How I view white/black relations will depend on my cosmology.

 

If all of this is so very individual, how then do we arrive at a consensus. Science does that largely via the 'scientific method'. However we 'do it' the final answer lies with authority - or more penitently, power. Jesus did not have power, the Church does. But, Jesus probably has more influence than the Church ever will even with all its power.

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I keep seeing the word 'epistemology' thrown around on these boards, but I don't know if I've seen a cohesive definition of what exactly a progressive epistemology would be.

 

On what do progressives base our knowledge? How do we "know" what we know?

 

How does reason fit in? Or revelation? The Bible? Jesus? Personal experience?

 

... :)

 

 

Reason is very important to Progressives but we also recognize that human abililty to reason is limited to the information we have at hand. This humbleness is in many ways what separates us from conservatives. They are arrogantly convinced they know everything there is to know and cannot, therefore, make room for new information (earth isn't flat, earth moves around the sun, evolution, etc.).

 

The bible is filled with stories of Personal Experience which supercedes previous edicts. Think of Peter and keeping Kosher. It is his personal experience which changes the law for gentiles who are converting. Paul also writes of his personal experience on the road to Damascus which moves him from a persecuter to a convert. Much of the stories of the bible are about personal experiences with God. I think it is one of the most imporant pieces of being progressive. We find that our personal experience with God does not match up to Conservative idealogy and thus leave it.

 

Jesus is also key because Paul focuses on him when he fashions Christianity. He became so important that four or more poeple sit down to compile stories about him in writings that were passed around. They seek to tell the story of what Jesus did before it is lost. Jesus was by far a social reformer, a progressive Jew. He certainly did not seek to start a new religion only to return Judaism to its roots. His teaching fit in precisely with Jeremiah & Isaiah about what is truly important to God -- social justice. Other religions and the non-religious all seem to come to the same conclusions when it comes to the importance of social justice.

 

The Bible is given its due. Many progressives have recognized that it has been made into an idol and have sought to knock the false god off of its pedastal. We have demistified it by pointing out its contradictions and the reality of how it came to be. It still holds a special place for us because it contains so many important precepts. What we don't do is worship it as is done in Conservative and Fundamentalist congregations. We aren't afraid to actually look at it and understand it.

 

I hope that helps some.

Edited by October's Autumn
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I find it very interesting that some can be so proud of their 'humbleness'. :rolleyes:

-

McKenna- I knew it would be you to have the intellectual courage.

 

I knew others could only express an uncertainty. Say: " ...(it is) rather nebulous... " or "...all of this is so very individual, how ...do we arrive at a consensus." Or use Biblical reference, followed up with denial of Biblical veracity.

-

I hope I can offer some assistance.

Simply put:

Epistemology means the theory of the method or grounds of knowledge: the theory of knowledge, or how we know, or how we know we know. (I have to go over that several times to fully comprehend it myself.)

 

Greek philosophers spent a lot of time grappling with this problem of knowledge. The one grappler with the most sensitivity was Plato. He genuinely understood the basic problem in knowledge, like morals, there's got to be more than 'particulars'. At any moment, we are faced with thousands, millions, of individual things in the world (particulars). What are the litmus test's (universal truths) which give these particulars any meaning? This is the heart of the problem. (I believe it was Autumn that recognized it on another post.)

 

Take apples. There's hundreds of different varieties we could speak of every time we spoke of apples. But in practice, we draw these all together under the word "apple" and so have a greater comprehension of what in the heck we're all looking at and what we're talking about. We move from particulars to universals.

 

Science does the same thing! It looks at particulars and tries to make laws which cover sufficient numbers of particulars for us to be able to see the association and understand properly. "Super" Laws (Gravity; electromagnatism) go even farther than that, reducing all the particles in the material universe to as few universals as possible! So in learning we are constantly moving from particulars to universals.

 

It's not just linguistic, it is the way we know! It's not abstract, or some kind of scholasticism, but it's the matter of actually knowing, and knowing that we know.

 

Plato, and his fellow greek philosophers, were seeking the universals which would make the particulars have meaning.

 

Well, Plato conceived of the 'ideal' to provide the needed universal. For example, think of chairs. Somewhere there is an ideal chair, and this ideal chair would cover all the particulars a chair would ever have. Thus a chair had meaning in reference to the ideal one, not a particular one. 'Chair' has the meaning that is beyond our mere gathering of particulars about chairs. It would cover all possible particulars about chairs, and anything outside this universal or beyond the concept, was not a chair.

 

The Greeks ran into a problem. Who was going to draw up the ideal? The problem was even more evident when they began to speak of morals. This solution of the 'ideal' became unsatisfactory.

 

They came up with two solutions; 1. The polis. This word in Greek had a meaning beyond the geographic city. It had to do with the structure of society, and that society could supply the universal. The Greeks were wise enough to know this would be doomed back to a 51% vote, or a small elite, or philospher kings.

2. The gods. But these 'gods' were inadequate. They fought amongst themselves. All the classical gods put together were not big enough with regard to knowledge.

 

So, Plato and the boys understood that unless there was a universal, nothing was going to turn out right. They never found a satisfactory place from which the universals could come.

 

It wasn't until Thomas Aquinas that the Greek dilemma was advanced. The Byzantines hadn't been intereted in nature or its bits, but thanks to Thomas and his interest in nature, he brought the importance of nature back into man's thinking. And there arose a tension.

 

to be continued....

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The bible is filled with stories of Personal Experience which supercedes previous edicts. Think of Peter and keeping Kosher. It is his personal experience which changes the law for gentiles who are converting. Paul also writes of his personal experience on the road to Damascus which moves him from a persecuter to a convert. Much of the stories of the bible are about personal experiences with God. I think it is one of the most imporant pieces of being progressive. We find that our personal experience with God does not match up to Conservative idealogy and thus leave it.

 

What about the personal experiences of others...in other words can we rely on others' "personal experiences"? Should the revelation to Peter about keeping Kosher apply to us as well? By what criteria to we accept or reject others' personal experiences...merely our own opinions?

 

Jesus is also key because Paul focuses on him when he fashions Christianity. He became so important that four or more poeple sit down to compile stories about him in writings that were passed around. They seek to tell the story of what Jesus did before it is lost. Jesus was by far a social reformer, a progressive Jew. He certainly did not seek to start a new religion only to return Judaism to its roots. His teaching fit in precisely with Jeremiah & Isaiah about what is truly important to God -- social justice. Other religions and the non-religious all seem to come to the same conclusions when it comes to the importance of social justice.

 

Additionally, some progressives (I'm thinking of Borg here) view Jesus as a Revelation of God - the "decisive revelation for Christians" to use Borg's language. But then we return to the same problem of...how do we decide that Jesus is the decisive revelation.

 

I'm not disagreeing with you (in fact I more or less agree), I'm just not sure exactly where this epistemology comes from. What's the common denominator? What do progressives ultimately rely on for our epistemology? I know what DavidK would say in response to the questions I've posed above; and his answer would be similar to other conservatives' answers, because they have a common epistemology which (if I'm not mistaken) ultimately goes back to the Bible. What do progressives ultimately rely on?

 

DavidK has frequently made the point that progressives are caught in "an uncertainty of not knowing anything." Perhaps this is true, perhaps not; I'm trying to figure out which is the case. (Though, I must say, even if it is true, it doesn't bother me; after studying philosophy I've come to the conclusion that it is pretty much impossible to actually objectively prove anything, at least without having a 'universal' off of which to base the proof, as DavidK said in his post. So if this is the case with progressive Christianity I can regard it as honesty and thus not a huge problem. But, David has frequently said that progressive and conservative epistemologies defer drastically and that is why we cannot get anywhere in conversations with conservatives/fundamentalists, regarding religion I mean. Thus I am curious if we can nail down what a progressive epistemology would be exactly. Again...what is our "common denominator"? Or do we not have a true epistemology? Do we just differ from conservatives in that we do not accept the basis of their epistemology? But we cannot build a faith on a mere negative reaction, can we? There must be some assertions made...but where do they come from?)

 

David, I really would love to hear your POV, because you have said that epistemology is your thing. If you really feel you need to leave, though, I'll respect that, of course :)

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I find it very interesting that some can be so proud of their 'humbleness'. :rolleyes:

-

McKenna- I knew it would be you to have the intellectual courage.

 

I knew others could only express an uncertainty. Say: " ...(it is) rather nebulous... " or "...all of this is so very individual, how ...do we arrive at a consensus." Or use Biblical reference, followed up with denial of Biblical veracity.

-

I hope I can offer some assistance.

Simply put:

Epistemology means the theory of the method or grounds of knowledge: the theory of knowledge, or how we know, or how we know we know. (I have to go over that several times to fully comprehend it myself.)

 

Greek philosophers spent a lot of time grappling with this problem of knowledge. The one grappler with the most sensitivity was Plato. He genuinely understood the basic problem in knowledge, like morals, there's got to be more than 'particulars'. At any moment, we are faced with thousands, millions, of individual things in the world (particulars). What are the litmus test's (universal truths) which give these particulars any meaning? This is the heart of the problem. (I believe it was Autumn that recognized it on another post.)

 

Take apples. There's hundreds of different varieties we could speak of every time we spoke of apples. But in practice, we draw these all together under the word "apple" and so have a greater comprehension of what in the heck we're all looking at and what we're talking about. We move from particulars to universals.

 

Science does the same thing! It looks at particulars and tries to make laws which cover sufficient numbers of particulars for us to be able to see the association and understand properly. "Super" Laws (Gravity; electromagnatism) go even farther than that, reducing all the particles in the material universe to as few universals as possible! So in learning we are constantly moving from particulars to universals.

 

It's not just linguistic, it is the way we know! It's not abstract, or some kind of scholasticism, but it's the matter of actually knowing, and knowing that we know.

 

Plato, and his fellow greek philosophers, were seeking the universals which would make the particulars have meaning.

 

Well, Plato conceived of the 'ideal' to provide the needed universal. For example, think of chairs. Somewhere there is an ideal chair, and this ideal chair would cover all the particulars a chair would ever have. Thus a chair had meaning in reference to the ideal one, not a particular one. 'Chair' has the meaning that is beyond our mere gathering of particulars about chairs. It would cover all possible particulars about chairs, and anything outside this universal or beyond the concept, was not a chair.

 

The Greeks ran into a problem. Who was going to draw up the ideal? The problem was even more evident when they began to speak of morals. This solution of the 'ideal' became unsatisfactory.

 

They came up with two solutions; 1. The polis. This word in Greek had a meaning beyond the geographic city. It had to do with the structure of society, and that society could supply the universal. The Greeks were wise enough to know this would be doomed back to a 51% vote, or a small elite, or philospher kings.

2. The gods. But these 'gods' were inadequate. They fought amongst themselves. All the classical gods put together were not big enough with regard to knowledge.

 

So, Plato and the boys understood that unless there was a universal, nothing was going to turn out right. They never found a satisfactory place from which the universals could come.

 

It wasn't until Thomas Aquinas that the Greek dilemma was advanced. The Byzantines hadn't been intereted in nature or its bits, but thanks to Thomas and his interest in nature, he brought the importance of nature back into man's thinking. And there arose a tension.

 

to be continued....

 

Interesting stuff. It's all coming back from philosophy class! :lol: I have a feeling I know where you're going with this, but I'm interested all the same :)

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What about the personal experiences of others...in other words can we rely on others' "personal experiences"? Should the revelation to Peter about keeping Kosher apply to us as well? By what criteria to we accept or reject others' personal experiences...merely our own opinions?

 

My basic philosophy is as long as no one is hurting anyone they are free to go on their own experience. If you come to my church and claim your experience says that homosexuality is wrong then you aren't going to get anywhere. Likewise, if you claim your experience allows you to have sex with someone who is not a consenting adult you aren't going to get anywhere. So that is where the line is drawn -- if you are hurting someone else or yourself.

 

Additionally, some progressives (I'm thinking of Borg here) view Jesus as a Revelation of God - the "decisive revelation for Christians" to use Borg's language. But then we return to the same problem of...how do we decide that Jesus is the decisive revelation.
That is where we recognize and respect each other's opinions but do not have to agree with them. Again, the beauty of being a progressive and not a conservative or a fundamentalist. We aren't forced into false agreement. Nor do we need to split churches because people refuse to be okay about diagreement.

 

I'm not disagreeing with you (in fact I more or less agree), I'm just not sure exactly where this epistemology comes from. What's the common denominator? What do progressives ultimately rely on for our epistemology? I know what DavidK would say in response to the questions I've posed above; and his answer would be similar to other conservatives' answers, because they have a common epistemology which (if I'm not mistaken) ultimately goes back to the Bible. What do progressives ultimately rely on?

 

Our common denominator is respect. davidk is full of a lot mistaken ideas. Conservatives and Fundamentalists disgree with each other on many things. In fact, that is why there are so many church splits and denominations. They can't agree on what the bible says or which parts to ignore and which parts to take to heart. There supposed common ground is a falsehood and sometimes an idol they worship.

 

DavidK has frequently made the point that progressives are caught in "an uncertainty of not knowing anything."
See above ;) Also keep in mind that conservatives and fundamentalists often delude themselves into thinking they know anything. They may make claims but there is little if any truth to them. More arrogance than anything. I know this from my experience of "been there, done that."

 

Perhaps this is true, perhaps not; I'm trying to figure out which is the case. (Though, I must say, even if it is true, it doesn't bother me; after studying philosophy I've come to the conclusion that it is pretty much impossible to actually objectively prove anything, at least without having a 'universal' off of which to base the proof, as DavidK said in his post. So if this is the case with progressive Christianity I can regard it as honesty and thus not a huge problem.

 

davidk often asks the wrong questions. This is a prime example. He is emphasizing something that is wholly unimportant. When I was learning Spanish my Spanish teacher told to be careful not to put the emphasis on the wrong syllable. But if you here someone say that "put the emphasis on the wrong syllable" putting empasis on wrong syllables it sounds completely different. That is what davidk is doing. He is drawing attention to something that is of little or no consequence. I believe it is called a straw man argument. Wayseer can tell us for sure.

 

As far as you thoughts go, I would say the willingness to not know and acknowledge it is part of how progressives are honest vs. conservatives and fundamentalists who self delude.

 

 

But, David has frequently said that progressive and conservative epistemologies defer drastically and that is why we cannot get anywhere in conversations with conservatives/fundamentalists, regarding religion I mean.
I agree with David. I've found it all but impossible to dialouge with conservative/fundamentalists because there is a lack of respect. They are often more interested in determining if we are truly christians or if we are all bound for hell whereas progressives are more interested social justice being inclusive.

 

Thus I am curious if we can nail down what a progressive epistemology would be exactly. Again...what is our "common denominator"? Or do we not have a true epistemology?

 

I would say it is respect. Social Justice is a common denominator. One we share with people from different religions and non-religious people. We don't claim to corner the market on it!

 

Do we just differ from conservatives in that we do not accept the basis of their epistemology? But we cannot build a faith on a mere negative reaction, can we? There must be some assertions made...but where do they come from?)

 

 

Since many of us came out of that mindset in some ways it is a rejecton of their epistemologies. Mainly the epistemology of knowing everything (no matter how much they disagree with each other or how wrong they are). Sometimes you just have to know what is wrong. It can take time to find out what is right. That is part of my story. First I rejected what I knew to be wrong and the process of finding right is part of the rest of my journey which will take a lifetime.

 

The assertions are made. Social Justice is a big one. And it comes directly from Jesus. Jesus is not about a birth and resurrection, Jesus is about everything that was done in between.

 

David, I really would love to hear your POV, because you have said that epistemology is your thing. If you really feel you need to leave, though, I'll respect that, of course :)

 

 

Ditto, David!

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DavidK,

 

If you want to talk epistemology you need to answer how you know the Bible is objectively true. That means that you need to answer the question of how you know any writing is objectively true. Once you realize that any writing is affected by the writer then you have to conclude that the Bible has also been affected by those who contributed to the process (there is no such thing as objectively true writing). Once you realize that you are well on your way to becoming a Progressive. There is no super/separate god that has come to save you from this process.

 

There is much more to epistemology than this. Showing that the Bible is not objectively true and does not tell us the world is not flat is the easy part. Understanding what leads to truth in writings in spite of this takes someone from the child’s table to the adult’s table.

 

Wayseer,

 

Your response raises more complicated issues than raised by DavidK. You have noted that how we know something is based upon our context and our mutual context is based upon power/authority. I would suggest that power/authority is only part of the context and not the “final answer” for consensus.

 

I would suggest that one of the fundamental structures for knowing is “knowing in relationship”. There is the kind of knowing that can only be found in the experience of relationship. You can not know how to love outside relationship. Much of knowing goes on within relationship so with others we know more than we know by ourselves. Those relationships are not held together by just power and authority although that is part of the context. I see more of the “final answer” in love and justice that can only be known within relationships. That love and justice can be based upon consensus if the relationships are there. This means that although how we know is personal, what we know is “in common”. I can not prove that to you; it is only known by experience within relationships.

 

Autumn,

 

As a teacher I am sure you are aware of the whole foundation of what we call a “liberal education”. In that “liberal education” we learn how we think as being probably more important than the specific areas that we think about. It seems to be that “we think about” Jesus/the Bible; they are not the sources of our thinking/our epistemology. Epistemology is based upon intuition,etc which gives us the ability to “think about” Jesus/the Bible. Jesus/the Bible are related to “what we know”. It seems to me important to always raise to our consciousness the difference between how we know and what we know.

 

I agree so much with your conclusions on “what we know” because we are both progressives. For instance, I agree that social justice “keeps us together” as much as anything. Part of that is based upon how we know within relationships. But “thinking about” what that should mean within politics is more about “what we know” rather than “how we know”. Sometimes it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins, but at other times it is more clear (as in seeing the difference between doctrine and experience as foundational).

 

McKenna,

 

The basic difference between a fundamentalist epistemology and a progressive epistemology is that the progressive will trust that their experience is the window through which we see the light-- however the window distorts. For the fundamentalist the light has to be understood without distortion. For the progressive the distortion is part of the knowing process. That does not mean there is no light; it just means that it is not seen without windows that distort it some.

 

The mystic may claim that there are no windows, but the mystic will not attempt to objectively describe the light with words because words distort. For the mystic there may be an undistorted light experience, but it is distorted when it is described to others. The mystic and I share in common that knowing the light is not something that can be written down in an “answer book” because we both agree that words distort that which seems much less distorted in the experience. Both the mystic and I base how they know on that experience with “light”. Both distrust doctrine as being able to fully reflect the “light”.

 

On the other hand the fundamentalist sees doctrine as clarification and objectification of experience so that doctrine is trusted more than experience. The fundamentalist will not want to dwell too long on epistemology based upon intuition which does not lead to any objective certainty. For progressives it is just this lack of objectivity that we know based upon our experience that allows us to talk to each other. Not only do we talk to each other, but we have relationships that are not possible for fundamentalists (see the importance of relationships in the knowing process in my response to Wayseer).

 

This does not mean that progressives lack certainty of knowledge. I know when I am experiencing love. That does not mean that I can objectively explain it to you or relate that knowledge to an “answer book”. But I can point towards that knowledge and if you also have known love then I’m pretty sure we are talking about the same thing because of our “common” experience. That kind of knowing is fundamental for the progressives but just makes no sense to the fundamentalist. The fundamentalist will claim this is just all too subjective and not to be trusted.

 

The difference in epistemology results in the progressive embracing pluralism and the fundamentalist rejecting pluralism. For progressives we will either agree based upon our experience or we will conclude most any discussion that does not lead to agreement with a statement based upon pluralism. It is possible for the Divine to be experienced in multiple ways. That does not mean that there is no Divine or that we can not be certain in our knowledge of the Divine. We just recognize the different windows through which the light shines.

 

Minsocal and I just had a great discussion basically about knowledge that we are “born with” which then is affected by culture. I think we need to seriously consider this but it is important to me that even if we have such knowledge it is still known through our experience. Instead of “knowing the light” (which I associate with the Divine) we come to know that which we were “born with” (Jung’s archtypes) via our experience. I still see a major divide between this and fundamentalism that seeks to take experience out of epistemology as much as possible.

 

You will notice that I have not argued for logic or rationalism to support either the progressive or the fundamentalist. We both use logic but we start from such different places that logic does not clarify the differences between us. That is why we only talk past each other rather than with each other. We do not share the same epistemological starting points. That is why I have found it rather useless to argue with fundamentalists. It is especially useless to argue the Bible when we start from such different points. Our arguments may sound logical or rational but we are just talking past each other and not with each other.

 

I am sorry that I have tried to put too much into one post. I probably should not have posted at all because I can not continue the conversation for as long as the conversation may continue. But it is one of my favorite subjects. I hope you all continue to hash this out and I will be interested in seeing the whole conversation at a later time.

 

David

Edited by David
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I would suggest that one of the fundamental structures for knowing is “knowing in relationship”. There is the kind of knowing that can only be found in the experience of relationship. You can not know how to love outside relationship. Much of knowing goes on within relationship so with others we know more than we know by ourselves. Those relationships are not held together by just power and authority although that is part of the context. I see more of the “final answer” in love and justice that can only be known within relationships. That love and justice can be based upon consensus if the relationships are there. This means that although how we know is personal, what we know is “in common”. I can not prove that to you; it is only known by experience within relationships.

 

David,

 

Here is an excellent example of "knowing in relationship". It is quoted from Haidt (2001), he is relating a story told to him during his research.

 

"There's another kind of tear. This one's less about giving love and more about the joy of receiving love, or maybe just detecting love (whether it's directed at me or at someone else). It's the kind of tear that flows in response to expressions of courage, or compassion, or kindness by others. A few weeks after Mother's Day, we met here in the sanctuary after the service and considered whether to become a Welcoming Congregation [a congregation that welcomes gay people]. When John stood in support of the resolution, and spoke of how, as far as he knew, he was the first gay man to come out at First Parish, in the early 1970s, I cried for his courage. Later, when all hands went up and the resolution passed unanimously, I cried for the love expressed by our congregation in that act. That was a tear of celebration, a tear of receptiveness to what is good in the world, a tear that says it's okay, relax, let down your guard, there are good people in the world, there is good in people, love is real, it's in our nature. That kind of tear is also like being pricked, only now the love pours in."

 

minsocal

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Hello David,

 

I would add this example of "knowing in relationship". It is quoted from Haidt (2001), he is relating a story told to him during his research.

 

"There's another kind of tear. This one's less about giving love and more about the joy of receiving love, or maybe just detecting love (whether it's directed at me or at someone else). It's the kind of tear that flows in response to expressions of courage, or compassion, or kindness by others. A few weeks after Mother's Day, we met here in the sanctuary after the service and considered whether to become a Welcoming Congregation [a congregation that welcomes gay people]. When John stood in support of the resolution, and spoke of how, as far as he knew, he was the first gay man to come out at First Parish, in the early 1970s, I cried for his courage. Later, when all hands went up and the resolution passed unanimously, I cried for the love expressed by our congregation in that act. That was a tear of celebration, a tear of receptiveness to what is good in the world, a tear that says it's okay, relax, let down your guard, there are good people in the world, there is good in people, love is real, it's in our nature. That kind of tear is also like being pricked, only now the love pours in."

 

minsocal

Absolutely Beautiful.

Thank you.

Progressives love stories. Stories like this show how we know what is real.

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Absolutely Beautiful.

Thank you.

Progressives love stories. Stories like this show how we know what is real.

 

You are most welcome.

 

I was editing my post when I realized you had already responded. So there is a minor difference now. Not important.

 

 

minsocal

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"The fundamentalist will not want to dwell too long on epistemology... which does not lead to any objective certainty. For progressives it is just this lack of objectivity that we know..." - David

-I need add nothing to that! God's Grace to you.

-

McKenna and others;

As Thomas Aquinas's emphasis on nature spread, it began to be understood and disseminated through the arts. For example, in literature, Dante began writing with his emphasis on nature. But there arose a tension. A tension between nature and grace.

 

Now in nature you have men, and the natural cause and effect affecting the world. In grace you have the heavenly forces and how these unseen forces affect the world. Nature=body, all the bits, all the particulars; grace= the soul, the universal.

 

Anyway, as we learned earlier, it would eventually boil down to the problem of particulars and universals. In nature, you've got the particulars; in grace, you have the universal. Dante, Cimabue (look how his painting changed), Giotto and others in the arts began to emphasize... nature.

 

This was good. But there was a problem. Good because nature was being reestablished in man's thinking; but bad because it was making all the bits autonomous. We were losing the universal that gave all the particulars any meaning.

 

There's a principle here. That is; If nature, or the particulars are autonomous from God, then nature will devour grace. O.K. this may take a bit more explanation. So, read that again. Or we could put it another way: all we are left with is the particulars, and the universals are lost. Lost in the area of morality, and that would be bad enough, but also lost in the area of... knowing! We are left with all this mass of particulars and no way to get them together. Nature would have devoured grace in morals and epistemology.

-

Along comes Leonardo, da Vinci that is! The first modern mathmetician to really understand the dilemma. He understood, in the time between himself and the future modern man, where Rationalistic* man would end up if man failed to find a solution to nature and grace. Genius is in understanding ahead of your time. Leonardo understood, if you begin on the basis of Rationalism*, you would have only mathematics and particulars and would end up with a machine without any universal or meaning!

 

So, in the vien of Plato's 'chair', Leonardo tried to paint the universal- the soul (now this was not the Christian concept of soul, but of a tree or of the ocean), the unity. Being the good Neo-Platonist that he was, he said, "Let man produce the universals."

 

But, which men? The mathmetician, no; the Painter, ah, the sensitive man! So, he painted and painted and painted, never succeeding, and with only a relatively few completed paintings. Having failed to paint the universal, Leonardo died in despondancy. But he did not abandon the hope of finding a rational solution to unity between the particulars and the universal; the educated man insisting on a unified field of knowledge.

 

Leonardo is crucial in the area of humanistic epistemology.

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The Rennaisance's overlapping relationship with the Reformation in attacking the problem of unity, in the field of... knowledge:

 

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* Rationalism or Rationalistic; a belief system that man begins with himself without having any outside knowledge. Not to be confused with; rational, having reason or understanding.

 

to be continued

Edited by davidk
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Rational, adj. 1. Having or exercising the ability to reason. 2. of sound mind; sane. 3. Manifesting or based upon reason; logical.

 

Rationale, n. 1. The fundamental reasons for something; a logical basis. 2. An exposition of principles or reasons.

 

Rationalism, n. 1. The theory that the exercise of reason, rather than the acceptance of empiricism, authority, or spiritual revelation, provides the only valid basis for action or belief, and that reason is the prime source of knowledge and of spiritual truth.

 

Rationality, n. 1. The quality or condition of being rational. 2. A rational belief or practice.

 

Rationalization, n. 1.The act, process or practice of rationalizing. 2. An instance of rationalizing.

 

Rationalize, v. 1. To make comfortable with reason; make rational. 2. To interpret from a rational standpoint. 3. Psychology. To devise self-satisfactory but incorrect reasons for (one’s behavior)(one’s thinking).

 

Where did you get your definition of Rationalism? (Could that possibly come from your doctrine?) (Could you possibly be rationalizing?)

 

Where above do you see any hint of “outside” knowledge? How can you have “outside” knowledge? “Outside” of what? Is this god of yours “outside”? “Outside” of what? Where is this “outside” that you speak of? How is the “outside” related to the “inside”? “Inside”of what? Does the “inside” ever touch the “outside”? How?

 

Somehow you are trying to insert some theological concept into Platonic thinking and it just is not working. You could argue that everything is just so darned subjective that I can not see anything objective, but that is a much different argument than saying that somehow the Platonic universals disappear and only the Platonic particulars remain. I don't see how Plato supports that the universals would be "devoured" by the particulars. This is not Platonic thought and I'm wondering where this thinking is coming from.

 

I do not see the problem, again in Platonic terms, of not painting the universal. Plato can explain why a painter can not paint a universal. Plato would say that the mind’s eye can no more look directly upon the Good than one can look directly into the sun (many religions would agree that you can not paint the Divine nor can you box the Divine into an “answer book” like the Bible--why is that a problem for you?).

 

You state that “Plato and the boys understood that unless there was a universal, nothing was going to turn out right. They never found a satisfactory place from which the universals could come.” Why do the universals have to come from another place besides their relationship to the particulars? Are you saying that for universals to have meaning that they have to come from another place? Where would such a place be? Could that place be the same place as this “outside” that you speak of? (see above questions)

 

You have defined “grace” as being these “heavenly forces” that “affect the world”. Where did you get this definition of grace? Did it also come from the “outside”? This seems foundational for your argument and it appears to be based upon some theological doctrine that you attempt to hide behind mixed up Platonic thought. If you want to talk about doctrine why are you posting on the epistemology thread? I keep trying to tell you that this is not epistemology. It remains doctrine.

 

I asked you before to tell me how you know Santa Claus is not real, but yet you know that the god that supplies you with all of this doctrine is real. Both seem to me to be “outside”. How do you come to know his "outside" and know that Santa is not there? What is the basis of this epistemology based upon the "outside"?

 

You also have not spoken to how the Bible is known to be objectively true in relationship to other writings that are measured by the same standard. I assume all will be rationalized here in the near future.

 

I still think you have more potential as a symbol than someone I can communicate with. So accept this as a symbolic example of how we can not communicate.

Edited by David
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I see more of the “final answer” in love and justice that can only be known within relationships.

 

Which is your personal epistomology - which is what I thought I'd explained.

 

However, what you now have to do is provide some way of demonstrating how your particular theory becomes 'acceptable'.

 

Or, are we talking about 'emotions' again?

 

I know you addressed the follow remarks to DavidK ...

 

If you want to talk epistemology you need to answer how you know the Bible is objectively true. That means that you need to answer the question of how you know any writing is objectively true. Once you realize that any writing is affected by the writer then you have to conclude that the Bible has also been affected by those who contributed to the process (there is no such thing as objectively true writing).
... but what 'if' you are wrong in your assumption - that such writings may well be 'objective'?

 

And, herein lies the issue. Just because a range of academics make some proclaimation, like 'the Bible is not obectively true', does not in itself laid claim to objective truth that 'the Bible is not objectively true'. What we have is a way of arriving at some sort of conclusion that might serve humanity for a time - remembering all truths seem to change. It's about 'power' - which is probably the major reason wht the mystic escapes to caves in order to meditate.

 

Progressive Christianity, like their fundamental counter parts, also use power. That rather strident approach is evidenced through these web sites.

 

For example, this treatment of Davidk ...

 

I asked you before to tell me how you know Santa Claus is not real, but yet you know that the god that supplies you with all of this doctrine is real. Both seem to me to be “outside”. How do you come to know his "outside" and know that Santa is not there? What is the basis of this epistemology based upon the "outside"?

 

... is not only unkind but unfair and I can understand the frustration DavidK must feel when dealing with academics who can put up such comments and have them accepted as somehow 'logical'. I'm questioning that 'logic'. Fundamentalists would ask the same question - 'How do you know it is not real'?

 

What you end up with is the position that your particular brand of epistemology is true and not others. Which is where I came in I think.

Edited by Wayseer
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Rationalism, n. 1. The theory that the exercise of reason, rather than the acceptance of empiricism, authority, or spiritual revelation, provides the only valid basis for action or belief, and that reason is the prime source of knowledge and of spiritual truth.

 

Where did you get your definition of Rationalism?

Same place you did.

 

 

I do not see the problem...

Obviously.

 

 

So accept this as a symbolic example of how we can not communicate.

Accepted!

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Which is your personal epistomology - which is what I thought I'd explained.

 

However, what you now have to do is provide some way of demonstrating how your particular theory becomes 'acceptable'.

 

Or, are we talking about 'emotions' again?

 

I know you addressed the follow remarks to DavidK ...

 

... but what 'if' you are wrong in your assumption - that such writings may well be 'objective'?

 

And, herein lies the issue. Just because a range of academics make some proclaimation, like 'the Bible is not obectively true', does not in itself laid claim to objective truth that 'the Bible is not objectively true'. What we have is a way of arriving at some sort of conclusion that might serve humanity for a time - remembering all truths seem to change. It's about 'power' - which is probably the major reason wht the mystic escapes to caves in order to meditate.

 

Progressive Christianity, like their fundamental counter parts, also use power. That rather strident approach is evidenced through these web sites.

 

For example, this treatment of Davidk ...

... is not only unkind but unfair and I can understand the frustration DavidK must feel when dealing with academics who can put up such comments and have them accepted as somehow 'logical'. I'm questioning that 'logic'. Fundamentalists would ask the same question - 'How do you know it is not real'?

 

What you end up with is the position that your particular brand of epistemology is true and not others. Which is where I came in I think.

When I suggested to you that “knowing in relationship” could not be known outside that experience I meant exactly that. You were given an excellent example of this at work. I'm not sure I can not provide you with any more “demonstration” of why this view is “acceptable”. What would you accept as an “acceptable demonstration” of what I am talking about?

 

I suggested to you that power is a part of the context within the “knowing in relationship” dynamic. My disagreement with you had to do with whether it was all about power or not. I recognize the power argument. I’m not sure you recognize my position. I do not understand the comment about how love/justice in relationship is based upon emotions. Perhaps you could elaborate.

 

I have suggested that there is no such thing as objectively true writing. I am especially addressing this towards the Bible which is lifted up by the Church of DavidK as being just the type of objective writing that I am rejecting. You have suggested that my position that is based upon “personal knowledge” is based upon an “objective” claim just like the “objective truth” claim that I am rejecting. I have no problem with this. I will continue to suggest that the position that I represent better describes “what is real” than the Church of DavidK. If you want to call that an “objective” claim that is fine even though I reject the objectivity that the word objective refers to. I am not bothered by maintaining that this epistemology actually reflects “what is real” more than the Church of DavidK. What do you want to do now? Do you want some “acceptable demonstration” of that? Again, what would be “acceptable” to you?

 

You evidently did not find my statement with the reference to Santa Claus as logical. Your expertise on logic is far and away more than mine. Please provide me with the logical analysis. Maybe I can put it in a more understandable, logical way? I certainly am saying that the god of the Church of DavidK is no more real than Santa Claus. How can I say that more logically?

 

So yes I see a fundamental difference when we look at epistemology and each position comes with truth claims or claims to “what is real”. What is your point? To me this is not on the level of which flavor of ice cream you like. On the other hand I would not send out troops to enforce the position in a war. To me the matter is not inconsequential, but if you do not see it as important for yourself, then that is fine.

Edited by David
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davidk, since you are not a progressive Christian this is not an appropriate place for you to be posting. Stick to threads which are asking opinions of conservatives and fundamentalists.

 

Yes, somehow this sustains the divisions and not at all healing.

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Yes, somehow this sustains the divisions and not at all healing.

 

 

I defer to David's comments on why conservatives and fundamentalists cannot dialouge with progressives. There is no reason for him to be on this thread except to divert attention away from the discussion. I've seen nothing in his posts of value to this discussion. There is nothing to "heal" here.

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Yes, somehow this sustains the divisions and not at all healing.

Not all divisions are a bad thing. "Healing" may not be possible or appropriate.

 

Certainly Autumn has shared with us that she “has been there, done that”. I see that in her statement that she was looking for that “safe place” that you and I talked about. She knows the world of DavidK and the dangers that world presents.

 

DavidK is such a great symbol. My position is that we need to have a boundary between the Church of DavidK and the Progressive Christian Church. Here is how one progressive minister handled the "Unwelcoming" when there was going to be an “open meeting”. This pastor obviously has had experience with fundamentalists before. So the Pastor tells people:

“People might wonder who is welcome at such a meeting. Is this a place to debate the Bible or the appropriateness of the organization?

Answer: No.

The meetings are open; however, the purpose of PFLAG is support, education, and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their parents, families, and friends. This is the vision statement for PFLAG:

'We, the parents, families and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, celebrate diversity and envision a society that embraces everyone, including those of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Only with respect, dignity and equality for all will we reach our full potential as human beings, individually and collectively. PFLAG welcomes the participation and support of all who share in, and hope to realize this vision.'

As we form a speakers' bureau, we will communicate at more public events in which people can dialog about other things”

 

READ MY LIPS: FUNDAMENTALISTS WHO WANT TO SPREAD THEIR RELIGION ARE NOT WELCOME. Why is it so hard for us to recognize that this is not a division that is healthy to bridge? Notice the inclusive language that is so much associated with Progressive Churches. But in order to have that “safe place” for being inclusive: READ MY LIPS: FUNDAMENTALISTS WHO WANT TO SPREAD THEIR RELIGION ARE NOT WELCOME. Note the pastor created another space that was "more public" so "people can dialog about other things". READ MY LIPS: YOU FUNDAMENTALISTS CAN COME AND TALK AT OTHER TIMES.

 

That’s what I hear Autumn saying. More power to her.

 

I would suggest that when we want that "safe place" that we post in the protected Progressive portion on this message board. If we post in the Debate section we should expect DavidK and others. I would have posted this topic in the more protected area but maybe McKenna wanted to see the discussion between DavidK and others. We have a choice to post or not. We also have the choice to include DavidK or exclude him as I have done (even when I address him it is only as a symbol for what he represents). So no, I don't think this is about the need for healing. As Jen, who got frustrated with DavidK, would say. it is more about "tough love".

Edited by David
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That’s what I hear Autumn saying. More power to her.

 

I would suggest that when we want that "safe place" that we post in the protected Progressive portion on this message board. If we post in the Debate section we should expect DavidK and others. I would have posted this topic in the more protected area but maybe McKenna wanted to see the discussion between DavidK and others. We have a choice to post or not. We also have the choice to include DavidK or exclude him as I have done (even when I address him it is only as a symbol for what he represents). So no, I don't think this is about the need for healing. As Jen, who got frustrated with DavidK, would say. it is more about "tough love".

 

Perhaps 'healing' was a poor choice of words on my part, 'tough love' may well be better. I had to leave the discussion abruptly so I did not know what happened until this morning.

 

minsocal

Edited by minsocal
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David, you have a way with words. Thank you for expressing my thoughts and feeling so much better than I could. You were 100% on. As a progressive I don't believe in converting people to my way of thinking or believing. People become progressive through their own experiences and willingness to be not know everything *now* but be willing to take the time to learn over a lifetime. I'm summing up, but that seems to be a common thread for most people who were not born into a religiously liberal home. I'd rather see a few people be progressives honestly through their own journey than tons converted out of fear of divine retribution (which seems to be the most frequently used means of converting people into Christiainity -- believe what I do or go to hell).

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"The fundamentalist will not want to dwell too long on epistemology...which does not lead to any objective certainty. For progressives it is just this lack of objectivity that we know..." -David

As I said, "...liberal philosophy is caught in an uncertainty of knowing anything."

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Just for everyones edification: This had purely been a discussion on the history of Philosophy and the thoughts behind the philosophers, which forms a rational and reasonable epistemological basis. Any personal preferences to religion, God, and the Bible have been purposefully avoided.

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I wish to apologize to you, McKenna, for the mockery that has been made of your questions. They're notable for their discernment and should not have been treated the way they have.

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There has been a lot said and much of it I find fascinating. I hope the discussion can continue. I don't have anything of value to add at the moment (I need to think a bit about what's been said I think), but I do find the point about "learning in relationships" particularly fascinating and thought-provoking.

 

I do want to say that I chose this area for a purpose - "Debate and Dialogue" - because I wanted to leave room for some debate. The guidelines at the top of the page state, "...we'd also like to provide a place for those who wish to engage in debate and dialogue with those who may have more widely differing views...Have at it, but beware... We will continue to delete posts in all areas of the boards - including this one - that we do not feel are presented in a manner that is respectful of other viewpoints, or seeks to convert, or coerce, or attack."

 

Therefore, DavidK has every right to be here as long as he does not "seek to convert, coerce, or attack," which so far he has not done in this thread. The only attacks I can see have been made at him and his views. I did find his history of philosophy interesting personally; sorry if others did not. I do find it a bit hypocritical that we say much of our worldview boils down to "respect" and yet we are not very respectful to DavidK (and I am guilty of this as well).

 

That being said, this thread is about progressive epistemology, so I'd rather we stay on that topic rather than delving into comparisons between progressives and conservatives. (That may well come up, of course, and has, but I don't want it to be the focus of the thread.) Also, if straw man arguments (or other logical fallacies) are made, it's perfectly legitimate to point that out. I just ask that we be respectful. And I'd love to stay on topic too...the posts that were on topic I found fascinating :)

 

But that's just my two cents. Hopefully this won't scare people away. I really was enjoying the conversation.

 

And David, thanks for giving us your input after all :)

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