The twentieth century has produced a twofold reaction against traditional philosophy: in Europe phenomenology and existentialism, and in Britain analytic philosophy. This paper attempts to place this reaction in context of "the crisis of the sciences", and to relate it to the quest for meaning in a scientific age and for apodictic foundations of human knowledge. Particular attention is given to the effect of existentialisms historical relativism on religious knowledge, and to the discussion of religious language among British analysts. In both cases it becomes essential to reunite conceptual to existential knowledge within the framework of a metaphysic made modest through chastening.
The mention of "challenges to the Christian faith" immediately suggests a series of attacks which imperil revealed truth and endanger the believer, a suggestion which implies that we should narrow down our attention to points at issue. But this would limit our overall understanding. It appeals to a negative, defensive mentality which is unworthy of the Christian scholar with his positive mandate to exploit all fields of learning for the glory of God. I should like, therefore, to reinterpret the term "challenges" to include as well positive opportunities afforded by contemporary philosophy for Christian thought to develop its own distinctive contributions. The relationship between faith and learning should after all be a positive and creative thing.
Contemporary philosophy regards the modern mind as desperately sick. Two somewhat different diagnoses are offered and two different remedies prescribed. Existentialism, on the one hand, points to a severe case of scientism, contracted in the Cartesian tradition, and which is sapping the meaning from human life. Analytic philosophy, on the other hand, points to mental puzzles and intellectual uneasiness as symptoms of linguistic confusion. Many, if not all, philosophical problems are due to the misuse of language. The obvious therapy is a linguistic analysis which will unmuddle the muddled thoughts of traditional-type philosophers. In both diagnoses traditional philosophy is at fault. Both prescriptions call for the discovery of meaning. And while existential meaning is vastly different from linguistic-use meaning, both traditions originally sought their end apart from metaphysics. In this paper we shall sketch some paths they have followed to their present frontiers, so as to indicate points at which they already intersect with Christian interests and areas of opportunity looming on the horizon. In particular I want to suggest that without metaphysics neither existential nor analytic nor Christian thought makes much progress, and that it is in metaphysical concepts that some of the most fruitful encounters between these approaches are possible.I Existentialism
1. What is scientism and what are the symptoms which existentialism finds so repulsive? We should, of course, note that the objection is not to the sciences per se, whether natural or social, nor to scientists. Scientism is rather a reductionist attitude which restricts all knowledge to the scientific sort and regards science as self-sufficient and self-explanatory. It is "scientific exclusivism." We should also note that "science" and its cognate terms are here used in the European sense, not simply for those disciplines using experimental and statistical procedures, but for any disciplined pursuit of theoretical knowledge. What we call the sciences may exemplify this discipline most
* Arthur F. Holmes is Professor and Director of Philosophy, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. Paper read at thee 2200thh Annual Convention of the American Scientific Affiliation, meeting jointly with the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at The King's College, Briarcliff Manor, New York, August, 1965.
closely, but the terms "science" and "scientism" carry considerably wider connotations.
Scientism appears in various forms. In philosophy it found overt expression in the 19th century positivism represented by Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill, who regarded theology and metaphysics as kinds of of thinking which we have outgrown in the evolution of positive, scientific knowledge. They encouraged the development of behavioral studies as empirical science, and so detached sociology and ethics from their religious and philosophical moorings. The laws of logic were interpreted psychologically as empirical descriptions of how people think, probably reliable for practical purposes but without necessary validity. "Psychologism" ' this particular form of scientism, therefore precluded anything more than relativism in regard to truth and values, yet a relativism which, paradoxically enough, was imposed in the name of the truth of scientific knowledge and the absolute value of scientific progress. But scientism also appeared in philosophic rationalism in the attempt to forge a rigid philosophic system. Descartes is a good example and he, along with Hegel, are the chief scapegoats for existentialist indignation. Descartes, you recall, devised a philosophic method modeled on mathematical reasoning. He began with intuitive axioms and proceeded by chains of deductive inference to demonstrate the existence and nature of God, the soul and matter. As long as the mechanistic world-view prevailed, this seemed quite appropriate, but the advent of biological vitalism and philosophic romanticism proved an upsetting experience. The new concern for emergent novelty, creative individuality and human freedom could not be accommodated within the mechanistic model. Historicism is another form of scientism, one which regards the scientific study of history as self-sufficient and objectivity as entirely possible and which dispenses with metaphysical interpretations of historical causation. In religion, analogous situations developed: first, Hegel's attempt to evolve religious symbols into scientifically philosophical concepts and, second, the subordination of personal faith to historical research.
Scientism, it can be seen, lays such exclusive emphasis on scientific knowledge that it obscures other values and human individuality. Indeed, it is held responsible for the present cultural crisis. Modern science has placed at our disposal unprecedented technological resources. Physical and economic benefits, increased lifeexpectancy, exploding populations, booming demands for manufactured goods, widespread educational opportunity, mass communication media, social technology and the means for political manipulation-these have created new economic, social, and political theories, new totalitarian regimes, new restrictions on human freedom. The central problem is that scientific technology, denuded of the guidance of values rooted in enduring concepts concerning man and God, dehumanizes the individual. In a mass society men and machines alike become tools, impersonal objects. Literary works like Brave New World and 1984 and Camus' The Plague have dramatized this crisis for our generation.
The problem, then, is that scientific knowledge objectifies man and treats him as a universal phenomenon; in doing so it fails to grasp the inner pulse of his existence-a man's historical concerns, his individual anxieties, his values. The scientist himself is caught in the same predicament for his professional interests, including the selection of a field of endeavour and the motivation he brings to his work, are related to his values, values which he pursues in his scientific work but which science itself neither discovers nor creates. The very value of the scientific enterprise is in this sense independent of science. Its logical validity is also in question. Hume's problem of induction, the built-in difficulties of the probability calculus, the quest for the logical foundations of mathematics by Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Brouwer, Husserl, and others-all this indicates the fact that science, for all its eminent advances, has not succeeded in grounding its own existence. Such, at least, is the insistence of a wide range of contemporary philosophy. The crisis in our culture is coupled with "The crisis of the sciences".
The Christian is properly concerned about this, not only because of his professional involvement in science and culture but also because of the value he places on the human person, and of the meaning vested in human existence by the Divine work of Creation and Providence, Incarnation and Redemption. The dehumanization of modern man is a matter for Christian concern and Christian action. It would be easy simply to proclaim that Jesus Christ gives life the meaning we need, but the task of Christian scholarship extends beyond the proclamation of the gospel. Some Christians have taken an interest in existential psychotherapy as a means to meeting the need of modem man, but existential psychology depends on the insights of existential philosophers. In any case the Christian philosopher is not himself either a preacher or psychiatrist. His concern focuses on the theoretical dimensions of the problem. He could pass off the "crisis of the sciences" by declaring that the possibility of human knowledge rests on the law-structure of creation, but such a declaration is only a starting point for the more careful treatment incumbent on Christian scholarship.
2. in response to scientism, the neo-Kantians maintained a distinction between the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). Whereas positivistic methods are regarded as appropriate for the former, the latter remain autonomous. In the human sciences, personal and historical factors preclude scientific objectivity; to objectify man is to dehumanize him. A transcendental method is more appropriate, one which probes beneath the cultural, historical, and psychological phenomena to the conditions which make such activities possible, conditions which distinguish man as a selfconscious and valuing being from the impersonal objects of his natural environment. But while this distinction helps clarify the problem it does little to resolve it, for in response to the threat of scientism it makes human beliefs and values dependent on and relative to the men and the cultures which create them. Existentialism grew in this neo-Kantian soil where historical and cultural relativism precludes scientific objectivity in the study of man. In place of objectivity we must enter into the subjectivity of others, by means of an empathetic understanding, Verstehen, which grasps the human situation from within.
Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) applied this neo-Kantian historical relativism to philosophy. Philosophy is a cultural phenomenon, a product of history. As such it is to be studied by historical methods. The internal structure of a philosophic system can be seen, not through the grid of formal logic or Hegelian dialectics, but rather in terms of the beliefs and values of its creators. A system is a world-view (Weltanschauung), the elaboration of a primitive Weltbild. It structures the value-laden experience of historical individuals. In so far as it is "true to fact", it is true to the facts of their "lived-world" rather than the facts of theoretical science. Philosophies, therefore, are relative. They can be refined and they can be classified. By means of them we can give meaning and value to all kinds of experience, including the scientific, but their validity is historical and personal. Unchanging metaphysical truths and scientific objectivity are not attainable in philosophy. All philosophy is perspectival.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) reached similar conclusions. All philosophy is ultimately autobiographical, the ego-prGjection of the intellectual, the unbridled assertion of a will to power. The positivist with his cold adherence to hard facts is really expressing his democratic prejudices and asserting his freedom from all ideological masters. The sceptic who reserves judgment reveals a nervous sickliness; his philosophy is a gentle sedative to settle an upset stomach. All philosophies, in fact, are relative to the individual and to the balance of power between strength and weakness in his personality. Philosophy is a voluntaristic activity which gives meaning to life and to scientific thought. It is one of a number of devices whereby the strong-willed can assert their dominance in society and so overcome the sickly dehumanization of modern man.
The delayed-action influence of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is, I think, best understood in the same general context. Scientism in his day was the twoheaded monster of Hegelian philosophy and the historical criticism of Scripture. He respected scientific investigation and speculative philosophy in their proper places but sarcastically rejected their encroachments into life. In the realm of the human spirit, scientific method is blasphemous: it "cheats men out of the simple, profound, and passionate wonder which gives impetus to the ethical". The philosophic system is "a plebeian invention", which ousts the aristocratic luxury of being an individual, a real authentic person.
Life must not be robbed of its wonder nor faith of its intensity. Christianity is more than a historical phenomenon to be probed and dissected by historical science. Whereas historical knowledge amasses probabilities and approximations, faith is qualitatively distinct. It is an unbounded passion that cold, calculating reason can neither induce nor destroy. Kierkegaard is all too often and too easily misunderstood. He speaks of subjectivity and of freedom. But subjectivity is not for him an epistemological category, as in Berkeley's theory that the objects of perception have only a subjective status in the privacy of the mind. It is rather an ethical and a psychological term, denoting the passionate concern and intense wonder of a man standing alone before God. It is the antithesis of scientific objectivity and detachment. Likewise "freedom" does not deny the facts of historical causation and psychological conditioning. Such facts are recorded when we look at man from without, scientifically. From within, we discover another side: the decisiveness with which we authenticate ourselves as individuals. Logic is like science; it deals in essences and the universally necessary. Logical systems are possible-lots of them-but not an existential system. For existence is individual, free, and unfinished; it is lived, not contemplated. An existential system is impossible for any man, possible only for God.
I think enough has been said to indicate a pattern in the response to scientism. Stress is laid on dimensions of human selfhood which are not amenable to the objective methods of scientific history, logic, or psychology and which defy the systematizations of metaphysics. More recent existentialism continues this pattern. Gabriel Marcel, a Christian existentialist, describes the structure of down-to-earth experiences like hope and love by which a man rises above the impersonality of a scientific age. Martin Buber, a Jew, explores the lived-ness of I-Thou relationships, both social and religious. Jean-Paul Sartre traces in both his literary and his philosophical works the nauseating state of man condemned to freedom in a world without God, yet striving to create meaning and value which he knows cannot survive. Martin Heidegger has described the universal characteristics of lived-time as against scientific time, and historical existence with its "being-unto-death." Karl Jaspers pleads for communication between historically relative viewpoints, communication that will both preclude ideological totalitarianism such as he faced under the Nazis, and "trigger" a recognition of the richness of selfhood which empirical science, rationalistic philosophy and social technology have all alike impoverished.
Let me make two brief observations. The first is that Christian thinkers, both Protestant and Catholic, have participated in this existentialist response to scientism by applying the resources of the Christian faith to the re-humanization of man. They have responded to the challenge of contemporary philosophy. The second observation is related, that I find a considerable amount here that is both insightful and telling, a wider and deeper empiricism than we have been accustomed to.
The fact of our subjectivity and historicity, the fragmentary and unending nature of the philosophic quest, these are hard to avoid. In the final analysis a philosophical perspective is chosen not proven, postulated not deduced.
3. With this in mind I wish to dwell for a few moments on the problem of relativism which underlies existentialism. It should be stressed that existentialism did not create the problem; rather it attempts a reply. If our moral values, religious beliefs and world-views are historically conditioned, if historical investigation and philosophical inquiry are themselves fragmentary, historically relative, and perspectival, then no amount of science or logic can help. Eternal truths cannot be established; they cannot even be fully conceptualized. Existentialism turns, therefore, from cognitive or propositional truth to existential truth or personal authenticity; from scientific history (Historie) to existential, history (Geschichte). The value of the history of philosophy, for Jaspers at any rate, is therefore existential: it aids authentic self-knowledge rather than furthering scientific investigations. And the value of historical religions, similarly; they abet existential fulfillment rather than providing objective, propositional truth about God. Historical science may thus cast doubts on the integrity of the Bible without affecting its religious worth, for Historie does not impair Geschichte. Religious faith is personal, passionate and existential, not a collection of historically relative beliefs and concepts. Revelation is the existential disclosure of the depths of our being, or perhaps a self-authentieating encounter of the I-Thou variety; but in neither case is revelation a cognitive disclosure of objective information in propositional form.
This is very evident in Paul Tillich. God cannot be conceptualized. Theological ideas are symbols which cannot be translated into cognitive form. Their function is not to. inform but to express in historically relative garb the ultimate concern with which faith regards the Ground of its Being. The concept of a personal God, for instance, is inadequate: whose notion of personality? The Greeks' or the Hebrews'? Descartes' or Schelling's? Allport's or Watson's? God transcends all such relative categories. He cannot be called "personal" in any such sense, nor can he be called "impersonal". Nothing can be said of God in this conceptual language except that the Ground of all Being is the ground of our personal being. But what concepts cannot do, since they are weak through historical flesh, the Ground of all Being does existentially, stirring in us the courage to be personal and authentic.
me suggest two lines of inquiry which I find promising. First, I suspect that
existentialism has uncriti colly accepted
the neo-Kantian disjunction between Natur and Geist, and so perpetuated the gulf
between scientific and existential interpretations of history, between Historie
and Geschichte. I do not think that historical science floundered on
the rocks of relativism, so that only the existential can be salvaged.
In fact, it has been argued quite successfully that existential knowledge itself depends on other more cognitive forms of knowledge. How can authenticity be triggered unless it is possible to conceive and to communicate what authenticity is all about? And how can history and historical religion be interpreted existentially unless we know what transpired in history and what the historical religion entails that elicits the courage to be. In other words, we would do well to explore the problem of historical knowledge before we sell out to an existentialism built on shaky premises. Second, the disjunction between Natur and Geist is the post-Kantian equivalent of Descartes' highly debatable mind-body dualism. This is a metaphysical problem which existentialism prejudges in its overwhelming attention to individuality and freedom rather than to concepts and essences. Is man as free as many existentialists imply? Is history the creative activity of the human spirit? Are there no economic and sociological determinants, no logic to history, no providence in God? What then is the relation between human freedom and such factors? These are metaphysical questions, and they too must be faced in connection with the existentialist claim.
I am happy to see that some existentialists, particularly those in the phenomenological tradition, are facing these issues. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, a French phenomenologist, has done sterling work in the borderland between scientific psychology and existential philosophy. Christian thinkers like Paul Ricoeur and Alphonse de Waelhens are actively involved in exploring the relationship between history, phenomenology and metaphysics. We may hope for considerable amelioration of the extremes to which existentialism has gone in its historical, religious and ethical thought, and for an increasing rapprochement between traditional philosophic interests and those of existentialism. This, as I see it, is perhaps the greatest challenge of existentialism to the Christian faith, to reestablish liaison between historical knowledge, metaphysical and theological concepts, and existential self-knowledge. Biblical Christianity embraces all three. That Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, for instance, is, Paul argues in I Con 15, (1) a well attested historical fact, (2) the conceptual meaning of which is to be found in the nature of the Person involved and in the doctrine of a future resurrection, and (3) the existential value of which is seen in the vitality of faith and hope. All three are essential to Biblical Christianity, and therefore, we believe, to the fullest rehumanization of fallen man in a scientific or any other age.
Another aspect of the problem of relativism applies to the diversity of and disagreement between philosophical positions. The existentialist recognizes the historical and personal factors which engender such differences, and the phenomenologist attempts to "bracket" these variables in order to intuit more clearly the universal structures of consciousness and so transcend the relative. But "bracketing", I suggest, is an ideal never actualized-witness the disagreements between phenomenologists in their descriptions of consciousness. As a result existentialism is not able to mediate philosophical differences, even with phenomenological assistance. Our understanding of philosophical decision may have been enriched by its contributions, but in itself existentialism cannot establish one perspective as against another. The question for our day, in this regard, concerns the juxtaposition of existential and cognitive elements in the nature and criteria of truth, the relationship between the personal authentication a belief affords on the one hand, and its empirical adequacy and rational coherence on the other.II. Philosophical Analysis
Around 1900 British philosophy was dominated by the rationalistic systematizing of neo-Hegelian idealists. By 1935 idealism had lost its lead and by 1965 it has become almost insignificant as an intellectual force. This change is due not to any upsurge of an antithetical materialism but to a revolt against speculative metaphysics and rationalistic systems in general, a revolt which is usually traced, in British philosophy at any rate, to G. E. Moore's 1903 manifesto, "The Refutation of Idealism". Trained as a classicist and lured into philosophy by his friend Bertrand Russell, Moore (1873-1960) was naturally oriented more to details of language and meaning than to wide-ranging ontological and cosmological schemes. The thing that incited his philosophic interest, he tells us, was neither the discoveries of science nor experiences of the everyday world, but the odd, Pickwickian utterances of philosophers. That "time is unreal", to use an idealist thesis which he painstakingly refuted, simply makes no sense, for then he could not be at Cambridge while Joachim was at Edinburgh as actually was the case. To deny the existence of material objects is patent nonsense, for, as he demonstrated to the British Academy, here is one hand for you all to see and here is another. 1 + 1 = 2. Therefore, at least two external material objects exist. This is something everyone knows for sure; how then can some philosophers deny what they know to be true?
The significant thing in all of this is not his return from idealism to realism, nor primarily his appeal to common sense rather than logical abstractions, but rather the combination of a diagnosis and a method. The diagnosis is that traditional philosophy contains a large number of downright muddles, confused ideas that need unravelling piecemeal before we can even think of turning to the construction of systems. The method required is analytic, the painstaking sorting out of possible and impossible meanings that lie jumbled in philosophic expressions. Moore was want, therefore, to take a seemingly simple expression like "time is unreal", to pose four or five different interpretations of it, each with several sub-possibilities, to show the impossibility of many or all of these making sense out of ordinary experience (as philosophical theories are supposed to), and so to clear away the undergrowth of linguistic and conceptual confusion.
Such a procedure has obvious benefits. It provided a needed counterbalance to speculative thought, one which holds philosophers responsible to more than formal logic. It makes clear that the question of meaning precedes the question of truth, and that a lot of so-called truths flounder before they cross this first reef. it accordingly succeeds in sharpening issues, in exposing cul de sacs, and in explaining the origin of some vexing pseudo-problems. But analysis has its limitations: its results are piecemeal, and it contributes little to world-views except precision in fine points. Moore recognized this and confessed his inability to settle questions. His work, however, in epistemology and ethics is of lasting value and he may well be said to have changed the course of Anglo-American philosophy in the 20th century.
I have taken time to speak of him for two reasons: first, for his profound influence on later analysts whose work bears more directly on the Christian faith; second, for the fact that he helps us see that analytic philosophy per se is neutral with regards to religious and moral questions, so that its principle challenges to the faith are the demand for clarity, the insistence on precision of thought and expression, and the invitation to unearth unnecessary paradoxes and semantical quibbles. This is a challenge we should welcome.
Analytic philosophy, meantime, was developing along other lines. Bertrand Russell's work on the foundations of mathematics and on symbolic logic led him to acclaim mathematical and logical language as the ideal medium not only for scientific work but also for philosophy. This is the persistent purpose undergirding his prolific output and changing views. Philosophical analysis requires the use of an ideal language in which every basic proposition denotes some atomic fact, and every logical relationship parallels the molecular structure of the factual world. He thus combined analysis with (1) the proposal of an ideal language, and (2) the theory of logical atomism. This gained further importance because it was largely adopted by his even more influential student, Ludwig Wittgenstein (18891950), who shares with Moore the distinction of having changed the course of philosophic history in the English-speaking world. In his Tractatus Logica-Philosophicw, Wittgenstein expressed the ideal language theory and logical atomism in a "picture theory" of meaning: the view that each word represents an object or a relationship and that the function of language is accordingly limited to communicating denotational meaning. The meaning of any statement, then, can be determined by inquiring into the state of affairs it depicts.
It is only one step from this to the verification principle of the logical positivists, a view which Wittgenstein himself is sometimes supposed to have held, but which was effectively introduced into British analysis by A. J. Ayer. The verification theory insists that the meaning of a factual statement is to be found in the empirical data to which it refers and which would be used to verify it. I assume you are familiar with this, and with the positivistic application of it which ruledout both metaphysical statements as meaningless because not empirically verifiable, and statements of ethical norms as likewise meaningless except insofar as they denote the emotional state of a moralizer. On these terms, "God is good", "God created the heavens and the earth", and "Stealing is wrong" all lack factual reference and are therefore nonsense syllables. The question of their truth or falsity cannot even be discussed.
For reasons which are quite widely known, connected with the inadequacy of the verifiability theory, of logical atomism, of the ideal language proposal, and of the picture theory of meaning, logical positivism is now effectively dead as far as philosophers are concerned. The principle mortician was Ludwig Wittgenstein himself, whose Philosophical Investigations criticises ruthlessly his earlier position and develops an idea of philosophy which since 1940 has become dominant in British and Australian thought, and plays a leading role in the U.S.A.
Wittgenstein retains the conviction that philosophic problems arise from the misuse of language-"when ordinary language goes on holiday"-and declares that the task of the new philosophy is entirely therapeutic. He retains also the view that language arises for purpose of communication, but he now points out that these purposes are much more richly diversified than the picture theory, the verification principle and any denotative view of meaning. supposed. Positivism was not sufficiently empirical about this. A wide variety of "language games" arise to serve a wide variety of purposes, so that we can never suppose that one word or phrase denotes the same atomic fact all the time, nor do all words denote, nor can we reduce all language games to one ideal language. Instead, when we encounter some "odd usage" we inquire into the logic of its operation-its own unique functional logic -and when we look at a philosophical problem we discover that it is merely a pseudo-problem, a puzzle produced by mixing the rules of different language games. Gilbert Ryle, for instance, speaks of "systematically misleading expressions" like "Pickwick is fictional" which have lead philosophers to ascribe quasi-ontological status to Pickwicks as subsistent but non-existent beings, and to speak of "fictionality" as a real universal in which subsistents like Pickwick participate. Philosophy, as Wittgenstein and his followers conceive it, is devoted simply to the task of unmuddling such muddles.
Oxford philosophers have gone one step further. Dissatisfied with being linguistic therapists and no more, and unwilling to believe that all philosophic problems arise from linguistic abuses, they have explored ways of using linguistic analysis to do constructive philosophic work. J. L. Austin, for instance, engaged in a sort of lexicography intended to bring to light subtle philosophic nuances embedded in centuries of developing word-usages. And men like Ian Ramsay and P. F. Strawson have rekindled interest in metaphysics as conceptual mapwork to guide in the proper use of language and the proper understanding of beliefs.
It is evident that this post-positivistic analysis, which is usually distinguished from the "ideal language" type by the "ordinary language" label, presents to Christian faith a very different situation than the logical positivistic iconoclasm of the 1930's. No more are metaphysical, theological, and ethical statements promiscuously obliterated as devoid of meaning. The challenge now is to determine what sort of meaning they do have, what is the inner logic of such languages. We find therefore that the new methods are being applied to ethics by people like R. M. Hare, to metaphysical questions by people like Gilbert Ryle and P. F. Strawson, and to theological issues by men like Anthony Flew, Basil Mitchell and a raft of others. And it is fair to say that the religious language question has now become one of the leading and most live problems under discussion in the philosophy of religion.
Since another paper in this convention is concerned with that subject, I shall not attempt to sketch the various viewpoints which have arisen. Instead, let me indicate what I take to be the principle challenges arising from the history-so-far of the analytic movement.
1. The problem of meaning. Whereas logical positivism confined itself to denotational or extensional meaning, ordinary language philosophy concentrates on functional meaning-how elements of a language operate in appropriate situations. A third variety of meaning is still largely overlooked: conceptual or intensional meaning. Take a statement like "God is love". We would say that (1) it denotes something about the divine being which is evident in our experience of providence and redemption. The early logical positivists refused to call this verifiable and so labelled the statement meaningless; some analysts still do the same; others broaden the scope of experience to include the religious, and even eschatological confirmation. (2) It operates in a religious community so as (e.g.) to elicit faith and encourage feelings of comfort and gratitude; in this way it has existential meaning. Some analysts however confine its meaning to the emotive-existential level. (3) It symbolizes theological doctrines, part of a larger conceptual scheme, a theistic interpretation of life and history and the world which Christians and others affirm as true. The Christian thinker can hardly be satisfied with any treatment of religious language which does. not do justice to all three of these. But to assert all three levels of meaning is to say that religious language is both cognitive or propositional (in its denotative and conceptual meanings) and existential. The problem we face is to explicate the conceptual meanings of our private language with its archaic vocabulary. We must not fall into the scientistic trap of assuming that the only meaningful propositions are either literal descriptions or analytic tautologies. Symbol, analogy and metaphor play an enormous role in articulating the content of faith, as they do in any literary expression of beliefs and values of any sort.
2. The nature of metaphysics. Conceptual meaning such as we have just referred to, and the elaboration of a set of theological concepts and categories, overlaps into metaphysical thinking. Beliefs concerning God and man and creation are metaphysical beliefs. The Christian thinker will therefore watch with concern the fate of metaphysics in analytic philosophy. Present prospects seem to be improving, but there is some tendency still to regard alternative beliefs as alternative languages devoid of truth-value, the option between which rests more on operational and existential than on evidential or cognitive grounds. Analysts generally have not provided the means for deciding between conflicting perspectives! and world-views. I do not hold a brief for metaphysics A la rationalist, deductive inference and closed systems included. I envision rather the careful elaboration of a world-view that is clearcut in its guiding principles but open-ended and tentative in much detail, open to dialogue and criticism, to new ideas consonant with the essential genius of the view itself, and to new ways of structuring old ideas. We may expect further work in metaphysics of this sort and the Christian thinker is challenged to contribute his distinctive perspectives to the task.
3. The relationship of logic and language to reality. Logical atomism supposed an identity between the structure of an ideal language and that of the world. Ordinary language analysis supposes that the logic of linguistic usage hides distinctions and perspectives which, when brought to light, can enrich our understanding of human experience. Aristotle and Hegel both supposed that the laws and categories of logical thought are also the laws and categories of reality. Which logic, then, is correct: Aristotle's or Hegel's or Russell's or Mill's or that of ordinary language? Or does reality reveal itself at all to logic? Is the wisdom of God amenable to human categories? Or are we confined to a phenomenological description of existential moments, as: Sartre and Kierkegaard variously suppose, or to alternative languages which tell us nothing of the real? Christian theology along with philosophy hangs on this problem, as does the possibility of commending the truth of Christianity by means of a rational apologetic. We have to show that religion does speak of reality, and to develop a logic which will enable us to argue that the Christian religion speaks truly. I do not think this can be confined to either deductive or inductive logic or any combination of the two, for these apply primarily to formal systems like mathematics and to scientific verification. The logic of philosophic decision and of religious belief fits neither of these models. Yet it is a logic that is more than existential. What this is, is something about which philosophers and apologists are equally concerned.
4. What bearing have existential and analytic philosophy on each other and on traditional philosophic concerns? As we have seen both of the more recent movements have made signal contributions both to our methodology, in getting us away from narrow senseempiricisms and from logics that cramp the subtlety and subjectivity of philosophic thought, and to our understanding of the problems, and to our sensitivity to the human situation. But both of them have limitations: they appear hungry for more than they alone can afford. Some philosophers look for closer rapport between them, and some for an increasing rapprochement with traditional philosophic interests. In any case, philosophy can never again be the same; the Christian thinker must reckon with this fact. We cannot go on resurrecting old answers to defunct problems, nor will old answers necessarily fit new problems. Christian truth must become incarnate anew in every succeeding milieu, if it is to identify with men in their perplexed gropings and to point toward the Logos of God in whom, ultimately, are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
As you see, Christian philosophers have their work cut out!
following materials are recommended for the philosophic layman who is interested
in exploring these areas. The list is both arbitrary and selective. In addition,
The Christian Scholar carries articles on the subject for Christian
professors in non-philosophic disciplines.
Walter Kaufmann (ed): Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre (Meridian Books)
S. Kierkegaard: Concluding Unscientific Postscript (Princeton U. Press)
W. Dilthey: The Essence of Philosophy (U. of N. Carolina Press)
F. Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil (Gateway Books) K. Jaspers: Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time (Yale Univ. Press)
R. Bultmann: History and Eschatology (Harper Torchbooks)G. Marcel: Homo, Viator (Harper Torchbooks)
E. Husserl: Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philo-sophy (Harper Torchbooks)
P. Th6vanez: What is Phenomenology? (Quadrangle Books)
John Wild: The Challenge of Existentialism (U. of Indiana Press)
H. Schoeck and J. W. Wiggins (ed.): Scientism and Human Values (VanNostrand)
G. J. Warnock: English Philosophy Since 1900 (Oxford U. Press)
B. Russell: My Philosophical Development (Simon & Schuster)
A. J. Ayer, et al: The Revolution in Philosophy (Macmillan)
L. Wittgenstein: The Blue Book and the Brown Book (Basil Blackwell)
V. C. Chappell (ed): Ordinary Language (Prentice Hall)
A. Flew and A. Macintyre: New Essays in Philosophical Theology (SCM Press)F. Ferr& Language, Logic and God (Harper)
Ian Ramsey (ed): Prospect for Metaphysics (Allen & Unwin) and Models and Mystery (Oxford)