NEW HERMENEUTICAL HORIZONS IN LOGIC, EPISTEMOLOGY,

AND LANGUAGE COMMUNICATION

 

 

"There must be in everything that changes a part that is unchangeable." (G. K. Chesterton's What's Wrong With The World? (London, 1913), p. 129.

 

The profundity of Chesterton's dictum becomes obvious as soon as one considers that a world of change rationale, that is meaningful judgments, must assume a connection between the starting and end points of any process. This logical connection is absent from the world of pluralistic-deconstructionistic 'discourse.'

 

Today there is an all but ubiquitous awareness that the modern era, ushered in by Descartes and the Enlightenment, is passing. That is has in fact passed in science, philosophy, literary criticism, hermeneutics, and theology is all but self-evident. Recent hermeneutical and communication theories emphasize that the interpretative burden is placed on the acts of fusion by and through which one's historical horizon becomes binding for another. Public communication requires communal validation without which hermeneutical theory remains unable to emancipate itself from the sphere of privacy.

 

0.1 Hermeneutical Filters: Community of Interpretation (cf. Kuhn's Paradigm)

 

The community paradigm is the source of communal validation. Communication requires a community of interpretation and is the horizon through which our various interpretations and signs are filtered for acceptance, rejection or modification (cf. Distortions via the hermeneutic theories of Gadamer and Heidegger). Each individual achieves both internal and external semiotic transparency only through the constant sign translation that forms the living traditions of the community. Therefore the community and not the self forms the horizon for each hermeneutical act. The changing paradigms of science provide fundamental case studies for the rational relationship between the "received paradigm" and creative transcendence of the community horizon. Examples such as the paradigmatic revolution from Aristotle to Newton, Newton to Einstein, Einstein to Quantum Mechanics, non-linear Physics (chaos physics cf. New Age use), and the challenge to this world paradigm presently being exposed in high speed particle physics at Los Alamos. The physical world is structured. The crisis in Quantum Physics lies in the presupposition that Mathematical Physics necessarily describes real physical structures. Structure in reality precludes that all reality is 'socially' constructed. Structure in physics necessitates the priority of logic to language and language mysticism (structure appears within a horizon (see my paper Neo-Realism, Knowing and Communicating).

 

See all of Nida's and Pike's works; David A. Black, ed., Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation. Essays on Discourse Analysis (Broadman 1992); the classic work of Anthony Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics (Zondervan 1992); the classical essay of Carl G. Hempel in A. J. Ayers, ed., "The Empiricist Criterion of Meaning" Logical Positivism reprinted from Vol. 4 of Revue International de Philosophic (1950) pp. 108-129; also my papers, Critique of Thiselton via "Pluralism of Horizons: Animism/Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism"; "Non-Linear Physics and New Age Monism" in Fall 1993 Journal of Christian Studies; "Search for Meaning: Criterion of Meaning, Verification Principle, Falsibility Principle and Problems in Empiricism"; "Demise of Transcendental Explanation in Categories of Reality" "Philosophical and Psychological Horizons of Post-Modern Hermeneutics."

 

0.2 Concept of Horizon and Communication: 

 

The concept of horizon emerged in the work of Husserl (see my Husserl's Phenomenological Method) as a way of dealing with surrounding phenomenal fields of our intentional acts.  It was the work of Gadamer which further defines 'horizon' as, ". . . not a rigid frontier, but something that moves with one and invites one to advance further. Thus horizon intentionality, which constitutes the unity of the flow of experience, . . . For everything that is given as existent is given in terms of the world and hence the world horizon with it." (Truth and Method, p. 217) Both subject and object belong within the intentional structures of a moving and open horizon.

 

Another way of understanding the concept of 'horizon' is in terms of the notion of 'perspective.' A perspective is not merely a subjective coloring of reality that can somehow enter into at will (cf. Kuhn's Theory of Paradigm). Rather, a 'perspective', like a horizon, is something larger than the subject. Justus Buchler rethinks the nature of 'perspectives' in a way that is not unlike Gadamer's account of 'horizon.'

 

A perspective is a kind of order, that kind of order in which a given set of natural complexes function [sic] as precepts for a given preceiver or (distributively) for a community of preceivers. . . . But some relations or orders are unique and unrepeated, even though they are, in part, of a common and repeatable character, and an instance of such an order would be the preceptive domain itself.  (Buchler, Towards a General Theory of Human Judgment, 2nd rev. ed. (NY: Dover, 1979), pp. 124-5).

 

For Buchler, a perspective is a "humanly occupied order" that has a direction and a meaning beyond given conscious intents. Buchler's phrase, "whatever is in whatever way" functions as precepts for the individual or the community. Because horizons are not self-contained monads but must, often with tragic urgency, interact with other horizons. For Gadamer, this process is known as fusion.

 

0.3 Centrality of Language: Mysticism Heidegger and Gadamer's Hermeneutic of Language:

 

In cross cultural (horizon) communication when one entire perspective often confronts the community of interpretations, we have to deal with whole sign series as they function in an alien environment. Gadamer, under the impact of Heidegger, sees language as the essential expression of meaning in our finite situation. In Heidegger's reflections on language, three stages can be distinguished

 

(1) The first, in Sein und zeit, where he distinguishes between authentic discourse (Rede) and idle talk or unauthentic discourse (Gerede); (2) The second, in the 1930's, where he speaks of language as Sprache; and finally, (3) in the 1950's, where he speaks of language as saying, or saga- Sage. The differentia between discourse, authentic or otherwise, speaking and saying must be kept in view to obtain an adequate grasp of Heidegger's hermeneutic of language. His hermeneutical cohort, Gadamer, expresses the centrality of language as follows:

 

The occasionality of human speech is not a causal imperfection of its expressive power; rather, the logical expression of the virtuality of speech, that brings a totality of meaning into play, without being able to express it totally. . . . That is why the hermeneutical phenomenon also can be illuminated only in the light of this fundamental finitude of being, which is wholly linguistic in character.  (Truth and Method, p. 416)

 

Our finitude can come to expression only in speech acts. Gadamer places the stress not so much on the product as on the speaking. Yet the emphasis is still on the utter centrality of language as the carrier of meaning. Like Gadamer, Heidegger assumes that only language in its speaking (saying) can present and preserve meaning. In his 1959 essay, "The Way to Language," he states, "Language first of all and inherently obeys the essential nature of speaking: it says. Language speaks by saying, that is, by showing. ... We accordingly, listen to language in this way, that we let it say its Saying to us." (Heidegger, On The Way to Language,(NY; Harper, 1971), p. 124.

 

"Saying" grants us our very place in the world and lets meaning become present to us. At no point can the individual listener appeal to a larger community in order to test and validate that which Saying evokes and provokes. Heidegger, as has often been said, cuts off all possible relation to a living community, thus precluding escape from solipsism or radical subjectivism. Heidegger is, of course, correct when he criticizes the conception of language that stresses the exclusively denotative function of terns.  Only a conception rooted in the paradigm of the noun which in turn rejects verbal and gerundial functions, can see the sentence (proposition) as constituted by simple one-to-one reference to an independent state of affairs. Indeed, Wittgenstein moved to the same insight in rejecting his own earlier "picture model" of the proposition according to Heidegger. Language can no longer be seen as the lineal carrier of discrete meanings and reference. This radical rethinking of the nature of language and meaning forces Heidegger to deconstruct what he understands as the tradition of metaphysics in Western Philosophy. Metaphysics emerged as a separate discipline when Plato turned away from the primal notion of truth as presence to his doctrine of the Forms, in which being becomes the merely correct (i.e. Schaeffer's "true truth"); see M. Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959), esp. pp. 13,14; his "The Nature of Language" (1957-8) in On The Way to Language. This issue exposes the crisis in God and Revelation talk. Truth is the presence of Being, rather than linguistic propositions that represent/refer to the actual state of affairs in reality. According to Paul Ricoeur, "The kind of ontology developed by Heidegger gives ground to what I shall call a hermeneutic of the "I am", which is the repetition of the cogito conceived of as a simply epistemological principle." (P. Ricoeur, The Conflict of Interpretations (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974), p. 223. See radical change in Ricoeur's  volume Time and Narrative, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

 

Heideggerian solipsism precludes a 'communication community.' Yet, community is essential to any convergence of knowledge. True communication is symmetrical in that it is shareable or publicly testable. It is asymmetrical in that a sign translated is a sign changed (see esp. Buchler, Theory of Human Judgment, p. 33). Our intersubjectivity involves the dialectical interplay of the numerous prejudgments or paradigmatic presuppositions that guide rational reflection and speech. Hermeneutics seeks to be horizontal in scope. It drives toward the empassing perspective in which all signs are located vis-a-vis each other and in terms of human communities that sustain and articulate them (cf. Density of sign function, e.g. Symbol of the Cross— has cultural, historical, psychological, theological, and aesthetic values that can be articulated and ramified by the community of interpretation; the pioneering work of Karl Jaspers on the concept of Encompassing (das Umgreifende); see his Von der Wahrheit; note Luther's fundamental distinctions between Theology of Glory and Theology of the Cross. Truth within framework is not discoverable through specific semiotic structures or through the use of analogy. The only access we have to the ‘Encompassing’ is through a kind of via negative that shatters all categorical projections. Therefore all classical western language, truth, logic and communication are illusionary projectories.

 

0.4 Post-Modernist Linguistic Tradition:

 

"Media religion appeals to a homogeneous mass audience of isolated individuals."  (H. Cox, Religion in The Secular City: Towards a Post-Modern Theology, p. 128)  Heidegger's theory of language and American individualism (Bellah's, Habits of The Heart) express a paradigm of 'isolated individuals.' Neither individualism nor solipsism are symmetrical with consensus essential for a community of communicators. This turn to the 'finite subject' represents a 'Cartesian turn. '  It is the era in which epistemology became the center of philosophy, replacing cosmology and metaphysics, at least until philosophy took the (still modern) "linguistic turn."  (R. Rorty (ed.) The Linguistic Turn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967). It is the age of skepticism, reductionism, individualism and the "flight from [traditional] authority." (J. Stout, The Flight from Authority (Notre Dame: University of Notre Press, 1981). George Lindbeck has pointed out to us what seem self-evident upon reflection: the characteristics that we here denote "modern" like those we will denote "postmodern" and those we might denote "premodern," have to do in the first instance not with changed practices (for these tend to persist) but with backings and warrants, i.e. with justifications (of. legitimization crisis). In the modern period, for example, many premodern practices persisted, but were given new, modern warrants (cf. for excellent account of modern foundationalism and skepticism see Richard Rorty, Philosophy and The Mirror of Nature (Princeton University Press, 1979).

 

1.0  Three Philosophical Theses of The Post-Modern Mind: 

 

The first is epistemological foundationalism - the view that knowledge can be justified only by finding indubitable 'foundational' beliefs upon which it is constructed.

 

The second is the representational expressive theory of language, the view that must gain its primary meaning by representing the objects or facts to which it refers; otherwise it merely expresses the attitude of the speaker. The fact-value distinction (cf. Kant's First Critique) requires that all ethical discourse, classified as non-factual, be merely expressive (cf. Positivism (Vienna Circle), Encyclopedia of The Unity of Science; and A. J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic; and my Christian Ethics in The Post-Modern World).

The third pillar of modern thought is atomism or reductionism, an attempt to understand reality by reducing it to its smallest component parts (M. Polanyi, Post-critical Philosophy). Here we locate the modern approach to ethics and political philosophy, which sees the individual as prior to the community, and the community as merely a collection of like individuals, a mass (cf. Rousseau's naturalistic Social Contract theory, first published in 1762); radical individualism deriving from Locke, Hume's empiricism, modern democratic social theory (see Bellah's brilliant critique of radical individualism in Habits of The Heart; and his critique of the modern presupposition that institutions are value neutral in The Good Society.

 

1.1  Cartesian Foundationalism:  (Mathematical Model of mathematics and the origin of the Post-Modern Mind). Irrefutable presuppositions (see my Mathematics and The Changing Paradigms of Science)

 

The first Scientific Revolution (Galileo - Newton) was a direct confrontation with Cartesian rationalism. Modern epistemology has been much concerned with Skepticism (see Popkin's History of Skepticism, from the Greeks to Descartes). If the foundation fails or construction breaks down, knowledge lacks justification and skepticism follows. Thus a particular form of skepticism accompanies foundationalism. Modern skeptics and modern foundationalists have held the same view of knowledge and one becomes a skeptic insofar as one becomes aware of difficulties in the foundational program (see Rorty, above). Therefore modern epistemological thought may be conceived as falling along an axis with optimistic foundationalism at one end and pessimistic skepticism at the other (cf. see Bernstein's Beyond Skepticism and Absolutism). For Descartes the foundations of knowledge are intuitions ("clear and distinct ideas", see esp. Rule III in Rules for The Direction of The Mind, first published in Amsterdam, 1701; see my Mathematics above for critique of 'intuition' as source of proof and the 'fact' of mathematical fallacies in 19th century math, because of this presupposition; compare Schleiermacher's 'Gefuhlen' as intuitive access to ultimate reality and Buddhist theory of 'intuition', see my Theories of Logic; Descartes' theory maintained that God guaranteed that ideas represent a real world; note also that Leibniz's rationalistic epistemology is the origin of Lessing's "Ugly Ditch" during the historical revolution).

 

Hume continued Descartes' foundationalism; however, he turned to sense impressions for the foundation, and realized that deductive reasoning was no longer an appropriate means of construction (Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748); there was no way to demonstrate the truth of a generalization on the basis of finite number of experienced instances (cf. see Mill's Logic and Popper's critique of "Induction.").

 

During the early years of the Vienna Circle (1922-1938), the Logical Positivists set out to reconstruct all scientific knowledge on the apodeitic foundations of sense experience. The developments in scientific epistemology/methodology after Einstein refuted the very 'foundations' of Machian and Post Machian forms of Positivism.  I propose the method of history and logic of the Physical Sciences as legitimizing procedure to escape this post modern impasse (Kuhn, Popper, Feyerabend, et.al.). 'Realism' dominates the work in High Particle Physics at Los Alamos, New Mexico. World class practicing physicists reject the notion that the mind constitutes the "theoretical entities" described in particle physics. There is presently much dissatisfaction with the mathematic physics of Quantum Mechanics. Often reality is not what the mathematical equations propose, (which suggests that mind/logic transcends research data (of. non-linear physics/chaos physics). No logical method could be found that would transmit the certainty of the foundation to the rest of the structure.

 

1.2 The Representational-Expressionist Theory of Language.

 

Modern philosophy of language has by and large sought to understand the meaning of language in terms of 'objects' in the world to which it refers (see my discussion below). Language has been thought to work by referring to (naming) objects and by reflecting or representing facts about those objects. This view of language might be called a representative or a referential theory (of. Frege's "Sense and Reference" and of "Concept and Object" in Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege (Blackwell, 1980). As a matter of fact, in some areas sentences having the grammatical form of statements seem not to refer to objects, ethics being one such area of discourse. Hence, a second theory of meaning (see article "History of Semantics" in Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edwards; note the tension between Truth and Meaning, i.e. relevance) has usually been appended to the representational theory. The expressive or emotivist theory of meaning holds that ethical discourse and all other discourse that is taken to be significant but not referential, merely expresses the attitude or emotions of the speaker. Thus post-modern philosophies of language can be imagined to fall along an axis whose poles are emphasis on Representation or an Expression (see my Christian Faith and Theories of Language and Truth and Ordinary Language and Kenneth Pike's Theory of Tagmimics; and Religious Discourse).

 

1.3 Link between Modern Epistemology and Post-Modern Philosophy of Language is in

the Idea of Representation: 

 

For Aristotle, knowledge consisted in the intellect's grasping the substantial form; the 'forms' themselves got into the intellect in the same way they inhered in objects. Therefore Aristotle has no problem In explaining how accurate perception is possible, but instead to account for the possibility of illusions and perceptual errors. But for Descartes, knowledge was by means of ideas that merely represented the objects. This change shaped the whole of subsequent "modern epistemology," (see my Episteaologlcal Paradigms: Differing Presuppositions Concerning the Nature of Subject and Object) which has been concerned in one way or another with whether the ideas (Voratellungen, impressions, sense data, etc.) represent and how accurately they do so (see my Scientific Epistemology and Realism in an Anti Dualistic Post-Modern World). At the zenith of the modern period the problem of accurate representation has been taken up in the philosophy of language. The main concern was no longer with ideas (mental entities), but now with propositions or sentences (cf. Russell's Theory of Propositions) that represent the world more or less accurately (see Rorty's Mirror of Nature).

 

John Locke occupies an instructive intermediate point in this development. Locke was primarily concerned with ideas and how they were produced in the mind by experience, but he devoted some attention to the topic of language. Locke understood words to be names of ideas. Simple ideas, in turn, were images produced by the objects in the mind. Ideas of primary qualities (heat, weight) actually resembled qualities in the objects, he thought, although secondary qualities (color, odor) did not (see Burtt's Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science for excellent exposition of primary and secondary qualities. Primary qualities reduce to mathematical equations (Positivism); secondary qualities via Kant and Hegel become the source for conceptual relativism). Complex ideas were produced as the mind rearranged simple ideas (a’ la’ creativity, Kant, Hegel, Berger Social Construction of Reality toward Derrida’s Deconstructionism). Thus language requires, besides names, words to signify the connection between simpler ideas or propositions. Truth, according to Locke, is "the Joining or separating of signs, as the things signified by them do agree or disagree one with another" (Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), vol. 2, chp. 5). Thus Locke's Theory of Language is indirectly representational; language represents thought, which in turn, represents the world.

 

Hume adopted Locke's representational theory of language, and in Hume's work we find as well a clear distinction between moral and factual judgments. While judgments of fact can be true or false. Judgments concerning values or morals cannot. To consider an act or a character trait virtuous or vicious is only to have a certain feeling of pleasure or displeasure toward it. Thus Judgments of fact are still (indirectly) representational; judgments of value are merely expressive of ideas, and these ideas are of a particular kind, namely, one's own emotions or passions (Enquiry Concerning The Principles of Morals (1751) (see my Ethics in our Post-Modern World).

 

1.4 Wittgenstein's 'Picture Theory' of Reality:

 

By the time Wittgenstein wrote his Tractus Logico Philosophicus at the beginning of this century (G, Hunnings, The World and Language in Wittgenstein's Philosophy (NY: State University of New York, 1988), the central concern had shifted to language and the manner in which it 'pictures' reality. Earlier, Wittgenstein did write about thoughts as logical pictures of facts, but he gave much more attention to propositions, which he said express thoughts in a manner perceivable to the senses. Propositions represent facts first because of the conventional correlation between names and objects, and second by correlating the relations among the names with the relations that obtain among the objects themselves (cf. Theories of Internal/External Relations). The interfacing between the representational theory of language and epistemological foundationalism is most fully developed in the logical atomism of Wittgenstein and of Bertrand Russell, and in the works of logical positivists such as Rudolf Carnap. All three sought to develop artificial languages whose structure would mirror the structure of reality and at the same time provide paradigms to clarify the (regrettably crude) operation of natural language (but, only presuppositions concerning the priority of mind and logic over language can escape this rational impasse!). The mind cannot escape the impasse by itself nor can it accept the impasse.

 

Basic sentences were to represent simple facts in the world. Wittgenstein never made clear what were to be the simple objects or atomic facts in his system, but for Russell, at one stage of his thought, as well as for Carnap, simple facts were the momentary contents of sense experience (Russell's, "Philosophy of Logical Atomism," Monist 28-29 (1918-19); Carnap's Atlfbau). The logical positivists took a hard line on any language that did not fit the representational paradigms. Their verification theory of meaning stated that what could not be verified on the basis of sense data was either analytic (e.g. definitions) or entirely meaningless.

Because of the integral connection between theories of language and of knowledge, the linguistic and epistemological axis may be used to define a two-dimensional 'space' in which post-modern philosophers may be located (the axis are (1) Representationalism/Expressivism, and (2) Skepticism/Foundationalism; see my Philosophical Ethics for critique of C. L. Stevenson, et al., who developed the expressivist theory of meaning without questioning epistemological foundations; also on the reactions against the referential-foundational programs of the Positivism and Existentialism).

 

Cartesian Rationalism gave prominence to the thesis that the "finite ego" is both origin and source of validation of truth claims (see Caton's, Origins of Modern Subjectivism). The rise of the importance of the 'individual' was not unconnected with the epistemological changes instigated by Descartes. In the Middle Ages authority had been a central epistemological category. The Enlightenment mind can be characterized as flight from traditional authority (the Bible, the Philosopher, the Theologian, the Church) and as a relocation of authority within the individual (cf. theme is also developed in theories of law and political science, art, literature, e.g. all categories of reality). Thus epistemological authority was granted to the individual's foundational beliefs, be they Descartes' "clear and distinct ideas" (via Euclidean Geometrical paradigm) or the empiricists' "sense data." Likewise political authority came to be based upon the consent of individuals, by way of "social contract" theory of democracy, and moral authority was ceded to the individual rational will (Kant's moral theory; Stout's Flight from Authority and my paper, Kant's Theory of Ethics).

 

Historically, individualism appeared in at least two forms in modern political theory:  (1) the thesis that the individual has ontological priority over the collective; only individuals are 'real'; the group is nothing more than its members (cf. R. Bellah's recent critiques of both theses). (2) Modern Individualism has functioned as a methodological thesis to understand the operation of groups, study the laws governing the behavior of individuals (cf. 19th century developments within the social sciences presupposed the paradigm of the hard or physical sciences) See my Law of Transcendent Explanation Paradigm). Ontological individualism (atomistic individualism) asserts the equality and integrity of individuals prior to their agreement to enter into society. Society is at root a collection of individuals united for their mutual benefit (cf. Hobbe's Leviathan expresses this atomistic theory based within his scientific paradigm. Totalitarianism vs. democracy; Locke used the social contract in support of democracy; see for theory Hegel's collectivistic critique of individualism; Marx' collectivism vs. individualism).

 

1.5 Existential Fall into Expressivism:

 

Here we identify a third axis of modernity. Most existentialists fall into the expressivist-skeptical individualist space. The mood of all species of existentialism is the anxiety of the solitary individual faced with the task of choosing in an irrational meaningless world. Perception of the absurdity of life issues in skepticism. Phenomenologists (including J. P. Sartre) attempted to eliminate the distinction between appearance and reality by constructing both the physical and the mental out of neutral appearances following the lead of Franz Brentano's intentional objects.  (Brentano, Psychologic vom empirischen Standpunkt (Leipzig, 1874), 2 vols, 2nd ed.; cf. (1) Polarizations and fragmentation, Representationalism/Expressivism; (2) Skepticism/ Foundationalism; (3) Individualism/Collectivism).

 

 

1.6 Three Pillars of The Post Modern Mind:

 

Relativism, Radical contextualization of thought (Freud's Copernicus, Marx, Freud and Darwin; Freud lists three when there are several more) Nineteenth century Post-Hegelian developments in the Social Sciences produced both cultural and conceptual Relativism. There are three features of Post Modern thought essential for our purpose:  (1) Holism in Epistemology (anti Dualism, mind/body problem from Descartes forward); (2) Relation of meaning to use in Philosophy of Language; (3) Presupposition of organic (Panentheism) view of global community in ethics and political philosophy, a corporate metaphysics. These shifts in thought represent paradigmatic revolutions (or more specifically, a resurgence of classical pantheistic gnosticism representing both Near Eastern and Graeco Roman perspectives). It is an intellectual mistake to assume that the pillars of post modern thought are new; only the literary form of the articulation is new.

 

1.7 Quine, the First Postmodern Epistemologist:

 

Willard V. 0. Quine is perhaps the first postmodern epistemologist for his explicit rejection of the foundationalist model of knowledge and replacement with a holist (paradigm dependent) account. His "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" has become a landmark in contemporary philosophy. He traced the fate of the "reductionist dogma", the view that all meaningful discourse can be translated into language about immediate experience. For Locke and Hume, individual terms were supposed to be so reducible, while Russell, Wittgenstein, and Carnap recognized that word by word reduction was impossible and tried instead to translate sentences as minimal meaning units (vs. literary genre context, literary criticism). It was Quine's judgment that "the totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most causal matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a man-made fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges. Or, to change the figure, total science is like a field or force whose boundary conditions are experience.

 

A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the field. Truth values have to be redistributed over some statements, . . . because of their logical interconnections, the logical laws being in turn simply certain further elements of the field. ... No particular experiences are linked with any particular statements in the interior of the field, except indirectly through considerations of equilibrium affecting the field as a whole." "Two Dogmas of Empiricism," Philosophical Review LX (1951); reprinted in T. Alshewsky, ed., Problems in The Philosophy of Language (NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969), p. 413; Compare Quine's 'Holistic Epistemology' with the concept of 'Paradigm' in Thomas Kuhn's, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970).

 

From a Quineian perspective four kinds of questions arise concerning the justification of belief:  (1) Individual beliefs and whether they fit properly into the paradigm's network; (2) Recognition that the paradigm network could be adjusted in numerous ways to maintain consistency (priority to logic of consistency); in fact entirely different networks can be imagined; (3) Is cross paradigm confrontation rationally possible? Are paradigms rationally incommmensurable? Post Modern Epistemology moves towards a new forms of Piercian pragmatism in attempting to answer the question, "Why this network (this rearrangement) rather than another?" (4) How does one legitimate criteriology, if all thought is radically contextualized or context bound? Being context specific is not the issue here.  Karl Popper's Logic of Discovery  states explicitly that the facts upon which science is based are not indubitable; they may themselves be called into question when they fail to square with accepted theory. What is the logical content of "accepted theory"? What is the criterion of "accepted theory?"  (But why accept theory rather than facts? See my K. Popper's Philosophy of Science; his Theory of Demarcation; and Kant and Popper on Demarcation between science and metaphysics.)

 

1.7.1  The One and The Many in Kuhn and Quine:

 

A major difference between Kuhn and Quine is Kuhn's interest in revolutions, those intellectual episodes in which entire systems of thought are torn out at once and replaced with a new scientific paradigm. The criteria for such radical change comes from repeated failure of the older paradigm to solve problems seen as important by the priests of the "received view" of science (see my paper, Kuhn's Theory of Paradigm in the library). The mind can recognize that new data may or may not fit in the "received view". If not there could be no scientific advancement theories therefore!

 

1.8 Post Modern Perspective on Language: (See my Philosophical and Psychological Horizons for Post Modern Hermeneutics in library)

 

Wittengstein, writing in the 1930’s and 40’s at Cambridge and J. L. Austin in the 40’s and 50’s at Oxford produced a paradigmatic revolution in philosophy of language. Before the radical shift in language theory reference had been seen as the key to meaning; from this point on, it becomes use of language in discourse. Prior to this linguistic revolution the proposition, the bare assertion of a fact, had been the paradigm for all language; from this point forward, the multiple uses of language and its many complex relations to the world, to the speakers and hearers came to be appreciated (of. audience analysis, etc. in hermeneutics and homiletics).

 

1.8.1 Austin's Theory of Speech-Acts:

 

Austin's Theory of Speech-Acts: destroyed the old distinctions between two classes of language: (1) the purely referential and (2) merely expressive. He claimed that all languages are to be understood in terms of their social world, within their linguistic and other conventions, in which they play a role. Speech-acts can go wrong in a number of ways, so there are a number of conditions they must meet in order to be happy or consistently used. These conditions vary somewhat depending upon the type of act involved:  (1) Requesting, (2) Promising, (3) Stating or affirming, etc., but they ordinarily include: (1) Purely linguistic considerations - happy utterances employ conventions that determine whether one is, or is not requesting, promising, stating, etc.; (2) Representative conditions - happy utterances evoke some actual or possible state of affairs, but notice the different relation to that state of affairs required for the happiness of a request for a raise in pay, a promise of a raise (see Thiselton’s critique) or a statement that one has received a raise; and (3) Affective or Psychological Conditions - happy utterances variously express desire for that which is requested, presuppose, both power and sincerity on the part of promisers, invoke a speaker's intention to use the appropriate conventions in speaking, a hearer's taking in the speaker's utterance (cf. Thiselton's critique in New Horizons in Hermeneutics (Zondervan, 1992).  According to Austin's theory of language, it ordinarily relates to the world, to the deeds and attitudes and standpoints of the speaker and hearer, and to the employed linguistic conventions of the community. None of these relations can be ignored, none made the exclusive focus in accounting for the meaning, or reckoning the success of the utterance. Austin's new approach to language, focusing on the act performed in the social world by means of an utterance, partly subsumed but partly rejects both the representational and expressivist theories of meaning [(cf. Austin, How To Do Things With Words (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962); James W. McClendon, Jr., and James M. Smith, Understanding Religious Convictions (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975), esp. chp. 3).]

 

1.9 Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations

 

Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations presents a post modern philosophy of language (compare with his Tractatus). In Philosophical Investigations he seeks "to show" how language works. Languages are "forms of life." To study language is to examine "language games" in which speakers participate (see my paper, Kenneth Pike's Theory of Languages;  Tagmimics, the Relationship of Language to Culture). There is no one way, and for Wittgenstein, no finite set of ways, in which language relates to the world; there is no one account or set of accounts of the conditions for the meaningfulness of an utterance (cf. road to Derrida and DeMann's Deconstructionism; no singular meaning to any text; see my Whorf-Sapir Linguistic Theory: As Many Worldviews As There Are Languages).  Wittgenstein made one crucial contribution to postmodern philosophy of language by showing that "private languages are in general impossible, and in particular, that there could be no language that merely expresses private sensations. Up to the postmodern revolution, it was presupposed that language, logic, rationality and meaning were universal for all 'reasonable minds.'

 

After Wittgenstein, one's point of attack in understanding an age will no longer be the study of its ideas, but the study of grammar, not, say English grammar, but the way in which crucial words such as 'knowledge,' 'true,' 'God,' etc. fit into typical language games (cf. Domain Lexicon vs. etymological structure of words). How may we use the word God and how does this restrain or shape ideas about God and even our very experience of God? This view represents a linguistic paradigmatic revolution whereas, for classical Greek thought (at least all species of Platonism) ideas determined both reality and language, and for postmodern, at least within the empirical tradition, experience determined ideas, which determined language (cf. Chomsky's, Transformational Grammar; Empiricism and Language Acquisition), in postmodern thought language makes possible both ideas and experience (cf. all experience and reality derives from social construction or Kantian constructivism). This position entails that even the scientific enterprise arbitrarily constructs reality (e.g. Quantum Mechanics and the paradigm employment by New Age Panentheism (non Linear Chaos Physics at Los Alamos, NM, etc.) (cf. The constitutive activity of The Transcendental Ego also appears in PostModern Ethical Theory; see esp. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 2nd ed. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981; also his Whose Justice? Which Rationality?  (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988; compare with works of Thomas Kuhn, and Paul Feyerabend on the traditional relevance of theoretical reasoning).

 

MacIntyre's example of postmodern ethics transcends the individualism of the modern positivistic period without falling back into premodern structures of thought. The Emotivist Theory of ethical discourse leads inevitably to manipulation; it dismisses rational debate as impossible and encourages one to use other techniques for imposing his or her will on others. Emotivism can be avoided only by grounding rational discussion in an organic view of society. In such a world there are no autonomous individuals, but individuals participate in moral discourse through complimentary interaction. But this leaves us without criteria for 'choice' from

among ethical alternatives, other than by arbitrary selection.  Human qualities required for successful participation in practice are candidates for virtue, according to MacIntyre.

 

2.0  Emerging Unity in Postmodern Thought:  Unity via Panentheistic Monistic World

View - The One and The Many. 

 

The conventions and the language games in which one participates in precedes individual speech and determines what can and cannot be said of individuals in that community. In short, language and search for knowledge are practices, dependent upon tradition; they are communal achievements. The fused horizons of epistemology and language remove the barriers between epistemology and meaning. Belief, once the exclusive domain of epistemology and meaning, one the exclusive province of philosophy of language, are now internally related (see the journal, Modern Theology for constant attention to Post Modern Thought). In order to distinguish modern from post modern thought, the key question is whether their "ideas" reflect a fundamentally new vision or whether the ideas were ones the thinkers were more or less forced into because they still retain certain problematic modern presuppositions.

 

2.1 A Word About Words or Symbols: A Counter Proposal (cf. Recovery of The Power of

Myth/Symbols - New Age Monism)

 

About that dynamic or existential manner which is present in the use of words as means of reaching the 'real world,' two remarks are in order:  (1) Words are not the mechanical images of things physical or of physical actions and qualities.  (2) Whatever else words are, they cease to be words unless they are in the "active service" of the mind (cf. see my paper, Philosophy of the Mind: Mind, Brain, Computer Analogues; over 7000 languages and dialectics and The Science of Linguistics). In fact, all words are the intellect's free creation as shown by the incredible variety of languages. The mind can extend the semantic domain of words by metaphoric extension (e.g. English "bit" can denote a very wide variety of objects and actions). This is why words exist only inasmuch as the mind uses them as signs that mean something only because the mind actually 'signals' with them things, actions and qualities (cf. Popper's turning of the world of phonetics and written symbols into a 'third world' is dangerously misleading; Popper's 'third world' is a realm on equal footing with the mind and purely physical objects).

 

When one moves to the area of words dominating everyday discourse that are not primarily quantitative, the formalistic aspects no longer have the definite contours that most mathematical concepts have. While much of mathematics may be built up from the juxtaposition of units, and much of geometry from similar operation with an extended point, leaving aside the problem of formalizing a non-extended point, other areas of discourse rely on words with no strict contours. This is why defining most words in any dictionary is always an unfinished job. Even in the case of objects with markedly geometrical forms, the "extent" of their meaning can indeed be rather indefinite. The more "exact" a definition is of a word, the greater is its share in those not strictly circumscribable overlappings. The more of them there are on hand, the greater is the "formal" imprecision, both with respect to content and to total outline, that is, the "extent" of meaning. Such is a graphic rendering of the reason that prompted Whitehead to speak of the "Fallacy of the Perfect Dictionary;" (compare Nida's Domain Lexicon and the Kittel enterprise (Whitehead, Modes of Thought (NY: Putnam, 1958, p. 235).

 

2.2 The Poverty of Reductionism:

 

The intelligible character of the spoken word that carries a meaning has an epistemological primacy even in that realm, mathematics and geometry, where the formalized aspect may seem self-explaining. Actually, it was in connection with the most formalized systematization of mathematics, the one worked out by David Hilbert, that his foremost disciple, Hermann Weyl, wisely stated that even there "one must understand directives given in words on how to handle the symbols and formulae (H. Weyl, "Knowledge As Unity" in The Unity of Knowledge, L. Leary, ed. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1955), p. 22). That this is also true of the notations of symbolic logic should seem all the more logical, except perhaps to someone infatuated with it. Those who are strangers to what Hilbert, Weyl and other leading mathematicians deal with still can grasp the priority of words over "formulae" called zero. Unless an intellect substantially superior over matter were at work in the pronunciation of the word "zero," the word itself would necessarily stand for "something," the very opposite of nothing.

 

The formalization in the shape of a small oval circle of the concept of zero may indeed by the most explosive among all the discoveries of the minds, "the coming of Nirvana into dynamos" (expression of Hasted, quoted in B. L. Van der Waerden, Science Awakening (NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1963), p. 56). At the other end of the quantitative spectrum is that infinite whose description is the realm where "zero is the magician king," and will appeal only to the wise (P. Carus, "Logical and Mathematical Thought," The Monist 20 (1909/1910):69).  (Cf. Cantor's "Transfinite Numbers", D. Hilbert, "On the Infinite" in Philosophy of Mathematics (Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964; we have no "experience" of Transfinite numbers).

When one moves from basic words used in mathematics to words relating to everyday realities one encounters an increasing disparity between "meaning" and its formalization. A similar situation is on hand when one moves from mathematics to the empirical sciences. This fact received a poignant recognition in a remark of George Wald, a Nobel laureate for his studies of the physiology of vision. Much as we know about the physics and chemistry of vision, he remarked, "we don't know what it means to see." (P. J. Davies, R. Hersh;, Descartes's Dream; The World According to Mathematics (NY: Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich, 1986), p. 245.

 

One cannot discuss intelligent behavior without knowing what it means to be intelligent. There Philosophy begins with Descartes (or with Ockham), grows into pragmatism, logical positivism, and linguistic analysis, and ends with the illusion that no respectable philosopher would ever consider problems that are but "analytical" (of. J. V. Grabiner, "Computer and The Nature of Man: A Historian's Perspective on Controversies about Artificial Intelligence" Bulletin of The American Mathematical Society (Oct. 15, 1986): 113-126). It is therefore supremely ironical that Quine, one of the originators of the Post Modern Mind, could be referred to as the "titan of American philosophy," unless, of course, for the unintended reason that his definition of "to be," if taken logically, that is, with full consistency, is a foolproof directive to a titanic catastrophe of thought and life.

 

Communicating the gospel in the Post Modern world must reveal instances of the mind's inventiveness that should seem magical, if not plainly absurd, from the reductionist viewpoint. Prospects for finding some formalization of that inventiveness are nowhere in sight. In That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis offers perspective couched in medieval garb about those who lose their hold on human words, because of their growing insensitivity to the Word of God, "Qui Verbum Dei contempserunt, eis auferetur etiam verbum hominis." (p. 357).

 

3.0 Linguistic Revolutions and Theological Discourse: Demise of Doctrine, Truth and

Meaning in a Post Modern World.

 

There are a number of post-liberal theories of the nature of doctrine: (1) George Lindbeck's The Nature of Doctrine (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984; compare with L. Gilkey's Naming the Whirlwind), gives expression to cultural-linguistic understanding of religion derived from the social sciences and the postmodern philosophies of Heidegger and Wittgenstein. Lindbeck claims that the prepositional theory of doctrine is dependent on a representational theory of language; and that his theory is based on experiental-expressive theory of religion. Doctrine, to Lindbeck, fits the ‘use of discourse by the community’ and is the clue to the meaning of its language.  (2) Honald Thiemann's Non-Foundational Theory of Revelation is given expression in his Revelation and Theology (University of Notre Dame Press, 1983). Thiemann's thesis attempts to show how modern theology pressed the doctrine of revelation into the service of foundationalist epistemology (see T. C. Oden, The Agenda for Theology; After Modernity What? (Zondervan, 1990). The foundationalist model, when applied to theology, called for a source of indubitable knowledge of God. Thiemann critiques three such models: (1) John Locke, (2) Friedrich Schleiermacher, and (3) Thomas Torrance and attempts to show that all three theologians follow Descartes in construing claims to knowledge of God as in need of Justification and that all three adopt foundational epistemological theories to justify such claims. Thiemann conceives of non-foundationalist theology as primarily descriptive of Christian belief and practice, in contrast to explanation or theoretical defense. It attempts to show the "intelligibility, aptness, and warranted assertibility" of Christian beliefs. Thiemann's account lacks a central concern of Lindbeck's concern that is with evaluation of the religion as a whole, why be Christian rather than Muslim, Hindu, Animist, Atheist, or New Age Panentheist? (cf. Harvey Cox's, Religion in The Secular City: Towards a Postmodern Theology runs in the same track). Central to Cox's theology is his Wittgensteinian view that the meaning of discourse is only determinate when one sees how it figures into a form of life.

 

Another major effort is Mark C. Taylor's Erring: A Postmodern A Theology (University of Chicago Press, 1984). It is deeply indebted to French-deconstructionism {esp. Derrida and DeMann). Deconstructionist's disavowal of metaphysics derives from Post Kantian thought, especially logical positivism and linguistic analysis. Such a perspective precludes the necessary ‘Holism’ of a community's use of discourse, at least for rational communication in changing cross-cultural context. Taylor's dependence on postmodern philosophers of language is exposed in his shifting away from referential theories of language. Though Taylor agrees with other postmoderns in 'presupposing' that without reference there is no fixed meaning. Taylor's deconstructionist rejection of author's intent as a locus of meaning delivers him beyond expressivism. Taylor's deconstructionist conclusions are derived from an unsupported correspondence theory of truth. These efforts leave us with conclusion that there is nothing that can be communicated let alone that should be communicated that is distinctly Christian (They together present the Church with the greatest challenge in history to "communicate" Christ to the world, but from what set of presuppositions shall this project be attempted? Adequate tools are still future projects).

 

4.0 This influence comes directly to contemporary media (see my Dancing in The Dark: Influence of Media on The Youth Culture).

 

Media denies that communication is primarily discursive, i.e., through language and logic.  Rather, it derives images and emotions! The shaping influence of media on the youth culture is only the most significant challenge to the Christian faith as we race toward the 21st century. Authoritative content is impossible if media dominates. It effects hermeneutics, homiletics and every form of communication. Media influence on the youth culture is another paradigmatic revolution (cf. Education and Preaching; science and technology still presupposes the validity of discursive reasoning; see Adult Education and World View Construction (Malibu, FL: Krieger Pub. Co, 1991); and my paper Communicating Christ Cross Culturally: Preaching and Teaching in a Post-Gutenberg World). 

 

The Christian perspective of language and reason is that it is derived from God's creation. From the first scientific revolution to the 21st century language, logic and communication remains a central challenge to the commission of Christ in the World.  We can trace the demise of any authoritative word of God through the past two centuries. This represents the most crucial challenge to Christianity as we end the 20th century. Almost all contemporary Christian education, homiletics and youth culture have been converted to this new knowledge/ communication paradigm. Since we clearly live in a right brain culture we must address the left brain influence!  (See Wineskins, July, 1992, "Right-Brain Christians in a Left-Brain Church", Lynn Anderson, and Philip Patterson "Television, The Electronic Millstone" Christian Parenting in a Media Age (see J. Michaelson, Like Lambs to the Slaughter (Harvest, 1989); J. Sykes, A Nation of Victims (St. Martin Press, 1992); David Wells, No Place For Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (Eerdmans, 1993).

 

Rise up, oh men of God, to address the challenges of Post Modern Logic, Epistemology and Communication!

 

Dr. James Strauss

Lincoln Christian Seminary

Lincoln, IL 62656