Is the existence of God a reasonable metaphysical hypothesis? So asks A. C. Ewing in his important posthumous work, Value and Reality. Thus the topic of the book is theistic religion, not in its entirety, but rather merely in its intellectual part. That it does have such a part, and further that it makes claims ‘to objective truth in the field of metaphysics’, is defended on the grounds that a fictional ‘story’ about God has what religious or ethical impact it (...) may have because, or at least mainly because, it is taken precisely not as fictional, but as expressing an objective theological truth; and that a story, or an account, can constitute a good reason for one's acting in a certain way only if the account is, in fact, objectively true. Bearing on both points is Ewing's observation that ‘emotion, at least except in pathological cases, requires some objective belief about the real, true or false, to support it for long, and if it exists without knowledge or rationally founded belief with which it is in agreement, it is to be condemned as irrational or unfitting, as it would be unfitting to rejoice at something disastrous or be angry with an inanimate thing’. The claim is not, we are told, that religious statements are literal as distinguished from symbolic. The door would seem to be left open, in fact, to their all being symbolic. What is essential is that some of them symbolise distinctively metaphysical truths, or truths ‘going beyond the realm of science’ and ‘throwing some light on the general nature of the real’. We should indeed distinguish, Ewing notes, ‘belief in’ from ‘belief that’. Yet the former is not possible without the latter. ‘Unless I believe that God exists I cannot believe in God’. So in Ewing's opinion, statements of metaphysics—if not concerning God, then at least concerning certain general aspects of reality—are most important for religion as a whole, and are, in being true, conceptually necessary to its validity, or to its ‘fittingness’. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that becoming, Or passage, Is not merely paradoxical, But positively contradictory. On the assumption that events become, We are entitled to say that at certain times, Certain events are earlier or later, As the case may be, Than such temporal events as the characterization of events by presentness. But since temporal relations are permanent, They cannot be said without contradiction to obtain at any one time as opposed to another.
What were seen widely in Hume's time as "the obvious dictates of reason" are rarely if ever seen as such today. One reads now that the table does not seem to diminish as one removes oneself from it; instead it appears roughly the same in size all the while. And, what if it did seem to diminish? This would not prove that the existent of which one is visually aware is diminishing, and is therefore but the image of the table (...) rather than the table itself. The appearance of an object is not another object; it is just the original object appearing. Quite simply, things may seem otherwise than they are. (shrink)
We shall get to the crux of the issue if we ask, "What is it that reason is after, and hopes to achieve?" According to Blanshard, it is the grasp of necessity; it is the knowledge not simply of what is, but also and at the same time of what in the strictest sense must be. For reason seeks a final answer to the question, "Why?"; and only when one's knowledge is necessary is a further "Why?" found to be entirely (...) superfluous. Now perfect necessity may be grasped, thinks Blanshard, only in a context of total knowledge. The final goal of reason is thus a knowledge of the world which is perfectly necessary, and by virtue of this fact perfectly complete. (shrink)
According to J. M. E. McTaggart, all that exists is spiritual, where spirituality is defined as “the quality of having content, all of which is the content of one or more selves”. In view of the importance which he thus assigns to selves, one properly expects of McTaggart a clear, certainly a consistent, account of what a self is. Yet the picture one receives remains clouded—clouded mainly by positions which may be contradictory within themselves, and by what plainly look to (...) be incompatibilities of one position with another. In this paper, I shall try to clarify, and insofar as possible to support, McTaggart’s doctrine. In part I shall be seeking to decide which ones, if any, of the seeming contradictions are genuinely unresolvable. And then, in case no one consistent doctrine can be educed, I shall ask which one of various alternative positions would be most in harmony with McTaggart’s system as a whole. (shrink)
Certain facts about subjective successions support, I hold, a theory of mind?dependent sensory data. Suppose that no such theory is true and, furthermore, that as one experiences a visual subjective succession, that of which one is visually aware consists typically in a static physical array. Nevertheless one will, I hold, experience a certain change taking place within one's visual field; and under the imagined conditions, it is hard to fathom what this change could be. Various seemingly plausible and helpful suggestions (...) are examined and rejected. I conclude that neither a common?sense realism nor, in fact, any view which rejects mind?dependent sensory data can deal satisfactorily with subjective successions. (shrink)
Taxation and government policy related to it have only episodic appearance in classical Protestant ethical sources. Of the early sixteenth century reformers, Luther gave most attention to the subject, justifying taxation in general as necessary for the just service of government to the public good and calling the princes to spend tax monies for that good rather than their own luxury. Calvin made much the same claims but called more clearly for official church scrutiny of all government than did Luther. (...) Two centuries later John Wesley criticized English tax policy, appealing to standards of economic efficiency and compassion for the poor with little reference overtly to theology. The churches of colonial and post-revolutionary America developed no systematic, theologically rooted rationale for taxation ethics, either; but official Protestant denominational concern for such ethics has grown measurably in the most recent fifteen years. After a survey of these recent national church statements, and on the basis of them and the slender Protestant heritage on this issue, we end by posing four questions which we see as worthy of much serious thinking by contemporary American Protestant ethicists and church bodies. (shrink)
The year 2022 marks a century since the death of Reverend JohnKnox Bokwe, a minister of the United Free Church of Scotland Mission in South Africa. Although little known, Bokwe was an important member of the emerging African intellectual elite towards the end of the 19th century. He demonstrated the creative tension that arises when two cultures encounter each other as he confronted and made sense of the historical meaning of modernity. He emphasised the value of his (...) traditional culture in a context where western culture was making a significant transforming impact on African life, which produced a creative tension throughout his working life in various contexts. This paper analyses his particular contribution as an active committed Christian through a number of overlapping lenses – his life in clerical work, journalism, literature, theology, education, music and his involvement in social and political issues and ministry. In all this he operated with a holistic vision. The paper offers an assessment of his life’s work using a combination of primary and secondary sources. Contribution: This article adds to the growing body of work that is derived from studies on the emergence of indigenous leadership in South Africa by looking at the life, work and Christian witness of Rev JohnKnox Bokwe from the perspective of the creative tension that he experienced and navigated in the varied professional and vocational perspectives he engaged in during his life. (shrink)