Thursday, 8 August 2013

In Context

Courtroom Scene:
I put it to you that the defendant before you today accused of murder may not have been the one who actually committed the crime, that in fact an exactly similar replica produced by an alien intelligence did it. You ask: ‘But what of the fingerprints, the cc camera footage, his mother’s identification, ‘Son what are you doing here’ - all, of, this, is really a carefully fabricated plot by a civilisation with incomprehensible levels of technical expertise at its disposal. I further put it to you that you cannot possibly know that what I say is true or false and that therefore a reasonable doubt has been established which allows you to acquit my client.

In terms of context and its high demands and the irresistible claims of scepticism a murder trial is as serious a trial of knowledge as any we know. Why doesn’t epistemological contextualism apply here? Perhaps we need a Harvard professor to explain. I call on Keith DeRose.

Recently he has been considering the knowledge of God. He has been exercised by the doubt that when he thought he knew God or knew with assurance the existence of God, that he could not have done so because now that he no longer believes in God his knowledge must have been a figment. Why? Because knowledge stays knowledge.
I thought I knew

The error here, a standard materialist one, is the univocal use of the term ‘knowledge’. I offer the notion that knowledge of God or awareness of God is more a context in which we live than something that can be expressed propositionally. You live your life as if the presence of God pervaded it. When I say ‘as if’ I do not thereby imply that one is suspended over a void of uncertainty. The practice of the presence brings its own validation but if the interior life is neglected the assurance that we call knowledge can fall away and fade into the light of common empiricism.

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